- Plane Weaver
“Mamaaaa, I can’t see!” came the whine of a small girl with a head full of red curls, standing on her tiptoes in a cheering crowd, teetering over with the effort to make herself taller to see over the top. Her mother laughed, and picked up her daughter and placed her on her shoulders.
“Is that better, Natascha?” she asked, as her daughter shrieked with excitement at being so high from the ground.
“I can see all of Wastaban!” the girl shouted, “I can see Telemere and Esteban and Wom and-”
“I thought I put you up there so you could see the Silent Regent,” her mother teased, “not so you could see the city’s sights.”
“I caaaan’t see the Silent Wegent, Mama,” Natascha replied with a harumph, “what if she doesn’t come?”
“She always comes, Natascha,” her mother laughed, shaking a little to make her daughter laugh and hold on tighter on her shoulders, “you have to be patient! Tell me about the parade, what can you see?”
“I can seee Torch Pally-dins, they’re dancing with fire!”
“Paladins, Natascha, with an ‘ah’.”
“I can see Thwone Palardins, they’re being carried on chairs!”
“What kind of chairs?”
“Can you see any Wheel Paladins?” her mother asked, with a sense of curiosity, “they’re very rare you know.”
“Why?” her daughter asked, straining her neck to try and see further, “why are Wheel Pal-ar-dins ware?”
“Some say they all left the city a thousand years ago before the Edict of Isolation was made,” her mother explained, “others say that with the Edict, the Wheel was stifled and followers couldn’t uphold their holy vows.”
“Oh no! But we need Wheel Pal-ar-dins to keep the law!”
“Well quite right! Maybe you’ll become a Wheel Paladin one day and keep the law for us, Natascha! You are very good at cartwheels!”
Natascha laughed on her mother’s shoulders, and carried on looking around, “I can see wod Pal-ar-dins too - there’s Madam Temelesta!”
“Close enough - do you think you’d be a Rod Paladin, Natascha?”
“I don’t think I’d be stwong enough,” she said, with a sigh, “you need to be weeeeaaaally stwong to be a wod Pal-ar-din!”
“Weeeeeaaaaaallly stwong,” Natascha confirmed, missing the joke and stretching again to look around, a growing sense of confusion about her.
“What’s wrong?” her mother asked, and Natascha carried on looking around.
“I can’t see any Shwoud Pallydins,” Natascha sighed, “I never see any Shwoud Pallydins.”
“I rather think that’s the point, dear, don’t you remember what-”
Whatever Natascha’s mother was about to remind her was lost to a deafening chorus of trumpets, and the excited squeak of her daughter on her shoulders, “She’s coming! She’s coming!”
“Who’s coming, Natascha!”
“The Silent Wegent!!”
The crowd was all cheers, all pressing forward and closer to the boulevard to hope to catch a glimpse of the Imperial Palanquin passing by. The little girl with red curls sat with her head just above the crowd, her cheers as loud as her lungs would allow as the palanquin went past, but something didn’t sit right with her, and as the parade ended she was quieter than usual.
“Is everything okay, Natascha?” her mother asked her, and Natascha frowned.
“Does the Silent Wegent have many fwiends?” she asked, and her mother stopped dead. She looked around, with a look of worry that her daughter didn’t notice, before crouching down to talk quietly to her daughter.
“Of course the Silent Regent has friends, my dear, hundreds of friends, thousands of friends,” she smiled, hoping to coax a smile from her child, “why would you ask something like that?”
“She lives in the palace all alone,” Natascha replied, “and I think I’d get vewy lonely if I lived in a palace alone, and she didn’t have anyone to go with to the pawade, she was alone in her pallyquin.”
“Palanquin,” her mother corrected, her eyes flickering up to behind her daughter before meeting her eyes, “and she was riding alone because she’s the most important. So everyone could see her. You wouldn’t want her lost in a crowd, would you?”
“No, Mama, but-”
“And she’s not alone in her palace, she’s got hundreds of people there with her - that’s what the Imperial Bureaucracy is for.”
“The Impewial Buwockwacy are the Silent Wegent’s fwiends?”
“They’re all of our friends,” her mother smiled, glad they were onto safer ground, “do you think you might be a Bureaucrat one day?” she asked, offering her hand.
“Maybe,” Natascha replied, taking her mother’s hand to walk along, “I think I’d like to be the Silent Wegent’s fwiend.”
“Be a good citizen, Natascha, and you always will be.”