Mister Benedict Truebaum, head chairperson of the Hypnosian Parliament, hated the first day of each month. It was the day he had to go up to the Castle and meet with the royal entourage of Hypnosia. Each time he was about to attend another one of these meetings, his mind would run wild with possible things that could, and most likely would, go wrong, and this time was no different.

Truebaum adjusted his tie as he walked towards certain doom, more commonly known as the Throne Hall. The walk itself seemed bad enough. The royal castle of Anonymous, aptly named as the Castle, was an enormous structure that defied all concepts of common sense. Each member of the royal blood line from the Górgolas to the Buduars had added more and more wings to the seemingly ever-growing anarchic collection of architecture. The trend had been started by Queen Yemma the Developer, who had also been the primus motor behind most of Truebaum's worries.

It had been Queen Yemma's idea to take a try at a revolutionary new idea called democracy. She had founded the Hypnosian Parliament and declared that all citizens of the realm had the right to vote for the parliament's members. It did not take too long to discover that the idea, though nice in theory, simply did not work. It was easier for one person to make the decisions than it was for two hundred to do so. So most of the power given to the parliament was hastily diverted back to the ruler of Hypnosia simply to keep the kingdom functional. However, because the people had already grown used to the thought of voting every five years or so, the parliament had not been permanently disbanded. Even centuries later it still existed, if only for tradition's sake.

Of course the members of parliament still did all the things that parliamentarians were expected to do. They had meetings where nothing really happened, they made long and tedious speeches and voted on things that nobody cared about, and they bickered among each other over personal issues that no one, apart from them, found interesting. It was these inconsequential affairs that Truebaum had to report about on a monthly basis to whoever was the ruler of Hypnosia.

It was not that Truebaum was malcontent about not having any real power. As a politician, he was just delusional enough not to notice the fact. It was the nagging feeling of not being appreciated that was bothering him. And nowhere did this notion become as strong as it did when Truebaum visited the Castle.

It was no secret that the young ruler of Hypnosia, Simiel of Buduar, had no interest in politics. According to what Truebaum had heard, it was not befitting of Her Majesty's modern and rebellious image to be interested in something as conventional as politics. Simiel was more concerned about partying with common people and having unscheduled adventures than she was about attending to matters of the realm. It actually surprised Truebaum that Hypnosia was doing as well as it was.

Taking one last breath, Truebaum entered the throne hall. Simiel was sitting on her throne, apparently looking for split ends in her shimmering hair. She was by far the most beautiful ruler Hypnosia had ever had. There was no physical blemish to be found. If only that flawlessness would have extended to her personality as well, Truebaum thought.

Standing next to Simiel was Lord Serafyr Halfdrake of Draakoa, the Grand-Mogul Fighter of the Order of the Unreasonably-Majestic Palace-Elite-Body-Guard Knights, Truebaum's worst nightmare. The heroic warrior was everything that Truebaum was not. Serafyr was flamboyant and grandiose in every way imaginable, and he had no hesitation to insult Truebaum whenever given the chance.

On Simiel's left side sat Azaril Lamentamagicka, the resident Court Wizard, though only by name. While being undoubtedly the most powerful mage in Hypnosia, the adolescent, little wizard was also the most catastrophic creature one could encounter. For the time being Azaril was amusing himself by throwing sparkly magic dust at Serafyr.

"Stop that immediately, Azaril!" Serafyr snapped at the wizard before he turned to see Truebaum standing in front of the throne.

Truebaum often felt as if he had an uncanny ability to become invisible. He could be standing right next to people and they would pay absolutely no heed to him. The only people who would note him immediately were other politicians. Truebaum had enquired of a wizard about this strange phenomenon, but the wizard had not noticed him at the time.

Truebaum put on his best smile."Greetings, Your Majesty. How are you today?"

Simiel lifted her gaze. "What? Is it the first already?"

"Yes, Your Majesty." Truebaum nodded.

Simiel rolled her eyes and sat up. "Why do I do this?"

"Pardon?" Truebaum asked.

"Nothing. I was talking to Serafyr," Simiel replied, giving Serafyr a questioning look.

"Tradition perhaps?" Serafyr suggested.

"No. I only follow the traditions I like. If I'm the boss around here and can't do what I want, what's the point?"

"Cause it's fun?" Azaril piped up, digging out a set of cards from his oversized robe's sleeve.

"Definitely not."

"For the sake of your glorious image?" Serafyr said.

Simiel shrugged. "Yeah, probably that. But is it worth it?"

Serafyr shook his head. "Not all things are enjoyable. But if you desire to have an immaculate public image, you must go through the unpleasantness of such things. It is the burden of supreme power."

"The things I do for my image," Simiel thought out loud, then she turned to Truebaum. "Okay, what have you got for me?"

"Well I have the notes from all the cabinet meetings from last month." Truebaum held up a large stack of paper, which he then placed on a nearby table.

"Did you do anything?" Simiel asked, growing increasingly bored with Truebaum's presence.

"Um... not really. But we did have quite the conversation about the directives concerning all the coffee machines in the realm."

The royal party exchanged odd looks with each other.

Simiel stifled a yawn. "What could the parliament have to say about coffee machines?"

"A lot, Your Majesty. We... Uh… Your Majesty?" Truebaum noted that Simiel had closed her eyes and was obviously nodding off.

"Oh, honestly. This is rather inappropriate," Truebaum muttered.

Serafyr raised an eyebrow. "What did you say?"

"Her Majesty's sleeping!"

“Simiel shall sleep whenever it pleases her," Serafyr said matter-of-factly.

"But how can she sleep when I'm stating important state affairs?" Truebaum asked.

"She's really good at falling asleep when boring people are talking to her. You should‘ve seen her during the Fabelian ambassador‘s last visit, she went out like a candle." Azaril smiled, completely oblivious to what was really happening.

"Boring? How could I be boring? Politics is an extremely interesting thing. And quite frankly, Her Majesty's behaviour towards it is insulting." Truebaum felt all his frustration surface as he looked upon the slumbering monarch.

"What?!" Serafyr yelled. His red eyes flashed with primal anger and smoke was rising from his nostrils.

Truebaum choked, realizing that he had managed to upset the half-dragon, which was not generally thought of as a good thing to do. "Uh... What I meant to say was, that I feel strongly about politics and I'm deeply saddened by our supreme ruler's lacking interest in domestic affairs. I wish her the best and hope that she would show more vigour in the future."

"Your political nonsense cannot fool me, Truebaum! You have offended Simiel, and I shall defend her honour till the death, preferably yours." Serafyr pulled out his Sword of Might and swung the huge blade above his head.

Truebaum backed away. "Now, now, Lord Serafyr. I believe that we may overt any hostile actions between us by simply negotiating a peaceful solution."

Serafyr growled, "to the Pits with your peaceful solution! My noble heart demands blood! Fight me, you scum!"

Truebaum looked frantically for a safe way out. But knowing that Serafyr was as fast with his legs as he was with his blade running away would not ultimately do any good.

"Help! A bureaucrat in danger! Help!" Truebaum screamed, hoping he could attract some of the Castle's guards into the Throne Hall.

Unfortunately his cries of help went unheard by everyone. Truebaum inwardly cursed the general indifference felt towards parliamentarians. It was, of course, nice that most people left politicians alone so they could go about their duties unhindered. But when no one bothered to assist Truebaum when his life was at stake, that could be considered an extreme inconvenience.

Serafyr laughed maniacally and drove his sword through the table where Truebaum had left the meeting notes. "No amount of paperwork will save you now!"

Truebaum ran to where Azaril was sitting and kneeled down to be on the tiny wizard's eyelevel. "Lord Azaril, you must assist me!"

"Huh?" Azaril stopped shuffling his cards for a moment. "Sorry, but even I'm not dumb enough to get between Serafyr and his concept of blood drenched honour."

"This is completely against the law," Truebaum cried as he dodged Serafyr's blade.

Serafyr halted and rested the sword against his shoulder. "And precisely which law would that be?"

"The anti-killing law."

A wicked smile crossed Serafyr's face. "Such laws do not apply to one such as I. I am a member of the nobility. Any member of the nobility or a random adventurer can kill all the people they want. That is decreed in the Cliché Law. Am I right, Azaril?"

Azaril put away the cards and a scroll appeared in his hand. He looked through the scroll and nodded. "Yep. All heroic deeds, no matter how bloody and gruesome, are legal."

Truebaum paled in horror. The Cliché law was the highest legal code in Hypnosia. Even though most of the things decreed in it were absurd and by all accounts pointless, the law was held in great regard. That made legislation in the realm rather difficult, since the Cliché law was full of loopholes and "convenient" parts that made almost anything legal. And the only person who could change the law was currently taking a nap.

"As I thought," Serafyr said. "Off with your head!"

Serafyr roared and charged forward. Truebaum tried his best to elude the bloodthirsty warrior as he tore up most of the throne hall. Priceless flags, handmade furniture, gilded ornaments, marble columns, all met their end when the Sword of Might slashed its way through them. Truebaum thanked the gods for Serafyr's bad aim; the furniture was easier to replace than his head.

After a while Azaril, who had been following the ferocious chase, seemed to have grown bored. As Truebaum reached the point of exhaustion, he heard Azaril moan slightly in disappointment. Eventually Azaril stood up and gently poked Simiel on her arm.

The queen snorted and opened her eyes. “What? I didn’t take any. Call my publicist!”

“Sorry to wake you. It‘s just that...” Azaril said and pointed to Serafyr and Truebaum.

Simiel rubbed the back of her slender neck and yelled, “The meeting’s over!”

Serafyr lowered his sword. “Aw. But Simiel...”

“You’re not killing Truebaum. It would take days to get rid of the smell of blood.”

“Could I not just stab him a little?” Serafyr asked.

“No. Go slay a monster or something, but you’re not spilling blood on the new carpets,” Simiel said.

Serafyr sheathed his sword and walked over to Simiel, who was getting ready to leave the Hall. Azaril and Serafyr followed her lead.

On her way out the door Simiel turned to Truebaum. “I had a really nice nap. See you next month!”

Once the royal party was gone, Truebaum heaved a sigh of relief. He pulled himself up from the floor and walked towards the Castle's main gates. Next month he would send his assistant over with the notes. He would stay home and get a better life insurance policy against rampant heroics. Yes, things were already feeling much better.

As Truebaum exited the Castle a dove flew over him and emptied its bowels on his suit.

Next Month: A Matter of Credibility

Stories and artwork Copyright 2009-2010 by Mette Pesonen. Copying in whole or in part is prohibited. However, you may link to this page.

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