Blessica of Urnst

On Those Who Covet Power

Jared Milne

Belissica looked up from the letter she was writing to gaze thoughtfully into the mirror standing on the side table. The exhausted look on the face in the mirror signaled, as her personal cleric Jhennifer insisted, it was time for her to stop for the night. Belissica remembered the argument with Jhennifer on the subject. She was, after all, the Countess of Urnst! But Jhennifer pointed out that she only harmed the County if she did not look after her own health.

And it had been a long, tiring day: reading reports from her spies in the Bandit Kingdoms, writing instructions to the delegation she was sending to the Gamboge Forest, mediating between military leaders who argued for more defense spending and exchequers who insisted that the treasury could not sustain such expenditures over the long term…

The countess conjured invisible servants to take her completed paperwork downstairs where it would collected by her officials tomorrow morning. Belissica rubbed her eyes and muttered to herself. She occasionally wished she had more time to pursue the magical research she so enjoyed, but her conscience would never have allowed the self-indulgence. Her responsibilities weighed too heavily on her.

She rose from her desk. As her personal guard escorted her to her private chambers, Belissica mused on how many people coveted power like hers and envied the people who had it. She wondered if they would enjoy the constant, endless demands on their time, or the feeling that their decisions could affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. That was the lot of leaders such as Duke Ehyeh of Tenh or Nyrond’s King Archbold III. Belissica believed that both men were as driven as they often were because of that sense of responsibility.

The countess wondered if those who coveted power were eager to constantly live under threat, needing protection day and night against anything from assassins to demons who wanted their heads. That was the lot of Furyondy’s King Belvor IV, now heartbroken after the loss of Prince Thrommel. And how many Bandit Kings had to sleep with one eye open, lest they wake the next morning to find a dagger in their backs?

Or perhaps those who covet power were eager to be exploited by others with their own private agendas. Such was the fate of her counterpart Duke Karll, whose preference for thinking about the wilderness and the mysteries of the forest made it easy for the likes of Hadric, the Lord Mayor of Leukish, to manipulate him and effectively become the true power in the Duchy of Urnst. Belissica clearly saw it all, but what could she do without provoking a disastrous scandal?

Or perhaps those so eager for power were also eager to bear the burdens of their fathers’ sins. Most people hated and feared the Great Kingdom’s Overking Ivid V, but Belissica almost felt sympathy for him. She saw him doomed as the lead character in his own tragic downfall with all of Aerdy as his stage.

As another conjured invisible servant helped Belissica change into her nightclothes, she mused, How many of those who covet power would actually be able to cope with it?

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