The Emperor’s Favourite

From the IRC archives of #crypt, originally from February 2008:

[16:32] <halcyon> tio: tell us a story

[16:35] <tio> okay

[16:35] <tio> once upon a time

[16:36] <tio> there was a rich emperor, the ruler of a great land

[16:37] <tio> as befitted his status as leader of such a wealthy land, he had everything he could want, and was a royal pain to buy birthday presents for

[16:37] <Vhata> (“royal pain”, clever!)

[16:38] <tio> knowing this, and his birthday coming up, he offered a reward for the most amusing and interesting birthday present

[16:39] <tio> soon enough, inventors and nobles from throughout the kingdom came, each presenting a gift that he or she thought would win the emperor’s eye

[16:40] <tio> from the south came a mechanical duck; a massive ruby; and an astrolobe that could foretell the future

[16:41] <halcyon> ok …

[16:41] <Vhata> (he means “astrolabe”)

[16:41] <halcyon> (i thought so)

[16:41] <halcyon> (i read astrolube to begin with, thought he’d choose that)

[16:41] <tio> from the west came a herd of elephants; shutupshutup or do you want to hear the story?

[16:41] <tio> I meant astrolobe… a cosmic brain

[16:42] <tio> I’m allowed to make things up!

[16:42] <Lonewolf> sssh! I want to hear the story

[16:43] <halcyon> ok, fine, go on

[16:43] <Vhata> tio: please continue

[16:44] <tio> from the west came a herd of elephant; a captured djinn with three wishes for the emperor; and an airship

[16:47] <tio> from the north came a coat made of the skin of the greatest of polar bears; a fragment of the sun, bottled with strong wards; and a device that could magically create whatever sort of food it was asked for

[16:47] <halcyon> wait, i need a piece of paper

[16:47] <Vhata> (SHUTUP! Lonewolf, make him be quiet.)

[16:47] <halcyon> (ok fine, sorry sheesh)

[16:47] <tio> and from the east… two men came from the east, promising the emperor fabulous clothing

[16:49] <tio> the emperor was a vain man, and the two promised him clothing of a sort that no man had ever seen before, created only for him

[16:49] <tio> the thought delighted the emperor, and he promised them whatever they needed, and they set to work

[16:51] <tio> after a week, the emperor bored of the mechanical duck, and he came to see how the wondrous new fabric was doing

[16:51] <tio> “It’s not yet ready, your Majesty!” cried the men, “you must not see it until it is ready, or its magic properties will be lost!”

[16:52] <tio> The emperor grumbled, for he was a man used to getting his own way, but was even more keen than before to see what these fabulous new garments would look like.

[16:53] <halcyon> (I love tio)

[16:54] <tio> by the end of the second week, the emperor was in a bad mood: he had quarrelled with and lost the djinn, after he had used two of his wishes and then wished for more wishes, after which the djinn had turned his favourite concubine into a goldfish.

[16:54] <tio> So, to cheer himself up, he came to see how the clothes were coming along.

[16:55] <tio> “It’s not ready yet, sire!” yelled the men from their chairs by the side of the imperial pool. “This is a delicate phase, and the fabric must not be disturbed!”

[16:57] <tio> by the end of the third week, the emperor’s eldest son had crashed the airship into an old part of the palace, and the emperor was hopping mad. In a temper, he had thrown the fragment of the sun at his grand vizier, and the man had been burned alive, almost instantly.

[16:58] <tio> After that, he felt a little better, and went to see how his clothes were looking.

[16:59] <tio> “Sire, your clothes are almost ready,” said the men, “but not quite. You cannot see them yet.”

[16:59] <tio> The emperor glared at the them and turned on his heel, muttering. The two men glanced at one another with troubled looks.

[17:02] <tio> By the end of the fourth week, most of the elephants had disappeared after wild elephant banquets all week, and the cooking device was looking distinctly worn after the emperor had demanded hundreds of thousands of calamari steak burgers

[17:02] <tio> (“Like the ones they serve at Gourmet Burger,” he told it.)

[17:04] <tio> The emperor went to see his new clothes.

[17:05] <tio> “But sire, they’re not quite ready!” trembled the men. “Next week, Your Majesty, next week they’ll be ready.”

[17:06] <tio> The emperor stared at them. “We are sure they will,” he said, menace thick in his voice, and went to play with his astrolobe.

[17:09] <tio> By the end of the week, it was common knowledge in the court that the emperor had announced that the winner of the competition would be announced at a huge celebration at the arena, which would be held with gladiators and wild animals and fireworks and bacchanalian festivities

[17:09] <tio> “the astrolobe has foreseen it!” he pronounced.

[17:12] <tio> The great day arrived, and the whole kingdom (or as much of it could fit) turned out for the festivities.

[17:12] <Vhata> (I might have to duck out, must I wait till I come back to read the ending, do you think?)

[17:13] <tio> it could take me a while… I’m doing work while I’m telling it

[17:14] <Vhata> (keep going)

[17:14] <tio> and what a day!

[17:15] <tio> naked gladiators taunted a bear, and several of them had their heads torn off

[17:16] <tio> other romanesque things happened (at that point, too much wine had flowed for me to recall the details)

[17:16] <bisybackson> tio: gasp you were there?!

[17:16] <Vhata> shshhhshhhh

[17:18] <tio> yes, young grasshopper, I was a young man once

[17:18] <tio> eventually, after much excitement, the emperor announced that the presenters of the girts step forward

[17:18] <tio> gifts, even

[17:19] <tio> a buzz went through the crowd: this was to be the highlight of the day

[17:19] <tio> Each stepped to the podium to present his gift to the emperor

[17:21] <tio> The mechanical duck inventor demonstrated his invention, and the crowd gasped

[17:21] <tio> The emperor yawned and gave the man a bag of gold for his efforts

[17:23] <tio> The noble who presented the ruby held up the magnificent gem, to the awe of the crowd: it was as large as a man’s head, and the glow of the sunlight on it flashed and gave the arena a red tint

[17:24] <tio> The emperor nodded thoughtfully and awarded the noble an earldom (for earldoms are free, he thought, cheaper than a bag of gold)

[17:25] <tio> the keeper of the elephants came forward with a solitary forlorn elephant, and the emperor smiled and put them both in his zoo.

[17:26] <tio> The aeronaut, who had repaired his vessel, brought the lumbering thing in from the sky, and landed it on the sand of the area

[17:26] <tio> The crowd gasped at the incredible flying machine

[17:27] <tio> The emperor bid the man fly it around the arena to test its military capabilities, and had his arches shoot down the craft. The emperor shook his head sadly, but with a smile.

[17:28] <tio> archers, even

[17:31] <tio> then the emperor ordered forward the two men from the east

[17:31] <tio> he favoured them with a smile, and said, “Today, in anticipation of your magnificent gift, we have had your families brought from the east, to witness your moment of glory.”

[17:32] <tio> The two men rubbed their hands and bowed to the emperor, and waved to their wives and children, noticing that their parents and siblings and cousins were there too.

[17:33] <tio> “His Majesty is too generous,” they said with oily smiles, and bowed to the ground.

[17:33] <tio> “If you’ll just follow us for the fitting, Your Highness…”

[17:35] <tio> The king shook his head and said, “Ah, but sirs, you must do us the honour of showing off the clothes first!”

[17:36] <tio> The men replied, “Sire, these clothes are meant only for you!”

[17:36] <tio> The king considered this.

[17:37] <tio> Then he said, “Gentlemen, even food meant only for my lips is tasted before I partake.”

[17:38] <tio> The two men bowed and went to fit the garments on themselves, to show to the court.

[17:39] <tio> After a brief pause, the two men came out, dressed in the fine clothes they had made for the king.

[17:39] <tio> And if their knees were shaking, who could but say it was because of the huge audience they had attracted in the arena.

[17:39] <tio> The crowd gaped.

[17:39] <tio> The crowd gasped.

[17:40] <tio> The crowd pointed.

[17:40] <tio> Silence reigned.

[17:40] <tio> Then a small child burst into tears.

[17:41] <tio> A small voice was heard to say, “But… but… but they’ve got nothing on!”

[17:41] <tio> The king bolted up and shouted, “Release the lions!”

[17:41] <tio> “you tried to trick me, did you, relaxing by my pool, eating my food?”

[17:42] <tio> “You and your entire families will be given to the wild animals!”

[17:43] <tio> After that, the inventor of the astrolobe was called forth and given a life post as inventor to the royal court

[17:43] <tio> for a device that had saved the emperor from a bit of embarrassment by foretelling the future.

[17:43] <halcyon> haha

[17:44] <halcyon> could’ve left the last line out :)

[17:44] <tio> And if the old inventor’s investiture was spoiled a little bit by the screams and yells of the two men from the east, well he was happy enough for all that.

[17:44] <tio> The End.

[17:45] <halcyon> very good

[17:47] <tio> thank you :-)

[17:48] <Lonewolf> hurrah for tio!

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