Drashon stood before the gold-plated doors of the throne room. He stared at the dragon emblems emblazoned on each door while he awaited entrance. Huge tapestries hung on either side of the doors featuring the once common dragons soaring among the clouds. He resisted the urge to pull out his time piece and check the time. He knew it was a nervous tick and he didn’t want to betray his emotions to the guards standing on either side of him.
The captain of the guard emerged from the throne room and, after he closed the heavy door behind him, said, “Chancellor, if you would permit a search of your person.”
Drashon unclasped his coat and held out his arms. The captain signaled one of the guards to search him. The guard patted him down and checked the pockets of his coat, inside and out, looking for dragon bones or Energy powered Machines. The guard found the rolled-up parchment in his inner pocket and briefly examined it without breaking the wax seal. There was nothing suspicious about it, so he returned it to its place. The guard then found his timepiece, took it out of its inner pocket, and showed it to the captain.
“I’ll need to keep this until you’re finished,” the captain said.
The guard handed it to the captain and then, finding nothing else, returned to his place at Drashon’s side.
“Thank you, Chancellor. You may enter.”
The guard to Drashon’s left stepped forward and opened the door.
Drashon took a deep breath. Meeting his father here instead of in his personal quarters made him uneasy. He let the breath out and stepped through the gilded doors. He passed through the entryway with stairs on the left leading up to the viewing area, into the throne room.
At the far end of the room, up the stepped dais, his father sat on his throne, illuminated by the sun. Drashon’s step faltered when he saw that his father was wearing black armor. The dragon statues perched above the throne looked toward him ominously. He forced himself to approach the dais where his father clutched the Dragon Scepter. A golden dragon clutched the scepter, its tail winding down the gilded bone. He wished desperately to fill himself with Energy, but he couldn’t. The shields over the glass ceiling blocked the sun from reaching him. Even if he had access to Energy, it would be a mistake. Watchers would undoubtedly be keeping an eye on him from the balcony.
When he arrived at the foot of the dais, he knelt on one knee, bowed his head, and waited.
“You may rise,” the emperor said.
Drashon stood and clasped his hands behind his back.
“No point in delaying the matter at hand, Chancellor. I’ve waited fifty years for the astronomer to finish. Do you have his report?”
“Y-yes, Your Blessed Highness,” Drashon said, matching the formality his father chose to utilize. “Though, I don’t think you’ll be pleased with his conclusions.”
“Did you take care of the astronomer’s… needs?”
“Yes, Your Highness. The astronomer won’t be sharing his discovery with anybody. The only person that knows what’s contained within his report is me.” Drashon reached into his overcoat and drew out the rolled-up parchment sealed with wax. He held it out and said, “May I?”
The emperor gestured with his hand in a sweeping motion toward himself.
Drashon climbed the steps and squinted when the sunlight shined directly into his eyes and handed the parchment over. As he stood in the sun, he briefly considered filling himself with Energy, but abandoned the thought just a quickly. Instead, he stood helplessly before his father.
The emperor took a few moments to study the report. He looked up and said, “This is much worse than I’d imagined, Drashon.”
“Indeed, father,” Drashon replied, matching his father’s drop in formalities.
“It’s been almost three hundred years since I first sat on this throne, Drashon. And it wasn’t until now that I finally understand the full ramifications of the war.” He paused for a moment and stared blankly at the parchment. “I’ve often wondered why my father surrendered. We fought for thirty years, neither gaining any significant advantage over the other. And now, I think I might understand why.” After another pause, he added, “Perhaps his way would have been better.”
Drashon look at his father, confused, “Father, the war was necessary. What grandfather proposed was—”
“Yes,” Drakonias said. “But this,” he said, shaking the parchment, “proves our actions weren’t worth it.”
“It would be treasonous for me to agree…”
“Son,” the emperor said, eyeing Drashon pensively. “It seems that everything we fought for was for naught. Unless this problem is remedied—if that’s even possible—we’re all going to die.” Drakonias paused again before continuing. “You understand how vital it is that this information not leak out, don’t you?”
“Imagine the wide-spread chaos should this ever escape this room.”
“I agree,” Drashon said. He hadn’t wanted to kill the astronomer, but he understood why it had been necessary.
“I simply cannot allow what’s contained within this report to ever get out.”
“Word of this will never—” Drashon stopped when he felt a familiar warmth enter his body. He looked at his father, confused. The emperor was directing Energy into him. “Father? I-I’m not due for Regeneration…”
“No,” Drakonias said, “you are not.” He rose from the throne with the Dragon Scepter in hand and said, “But this is necessary.”
Drashon panicked when he realized what his father was doing. He turned and stumbled down the steps of the dais as his body filled with Energy. He’d grown accustomed to the sensation from the many times his father had restored his youth, but this didn’t feel quite right. Normally the intense heat dispersed as the Energy wove through his body, undoing the ravages of time, but the heat didn’t abate. It was building. He ran for the doors, pulling the Energy into his Core, but it was building too fast. The heat overcame him, and he stumbled. He fell to the floor a dozen paces short of the exit. He dispersed Energy into the marble floor, but it was too late. The acrid smell of his burning flesh filled his nose.
Drashon writhed in pain. He forced himself to lift his head with the little strength he had left and looked toward his father. He reached out with a hand, pleading for mercy, but screamed as his body burst into flame.