So Much Will Die With Me
King Lassic looked out through the great glass windows of his throne room. He had visitors waiting, but his servants knew better than to disturb him when he was in this mood.
It overcame him more and more often these days, a feeling of despair and depression. It was called getting old.
Lassic thought about what he had accomplished in his life. Under him the Palman Empire had grown beyond all earlier boundaries. He had united the planet and virtually ended all war in the solar system. The technological advancement under his rule had been stunning.
Motavia was being settled by brave Palmans, under the supervision of the Governor Sirius, and interplanetary trading stimulated commerce on all three planets. Palmans were richer and better educated than ever before.
He was loved by the people, or so they told him, and he struggled every day to deserve that love. He had accomplished everything anyone could ask of him. But he was getting old.
Lassic remembered how it had all started, so many years ago.
They had grown up at the court, the three of them, himself, Sirius and Alex. Alex, who would become King Ossale after the old king died without leaving an heir.
Alex had always been the most able of them all, but his heart lay not in matters of politics and ruling, where he could not see the people whose fates he decided. No, he was to practical and down-to-earth to be a monarch. And Alex hadn't stayed more than a few years on the throne before he got sick of it.
So it had been unexpected, but not shocking, to him and Sirius when Alex decided to leave the crown behind and move to Dezoris with his family to join the new settlement there.
They all agreed that a man like Alex would do much more good in a place like that, but it had been uncomfortable, to say the least, for him and Sirius to mount the sort of responsibility it would require.
They had split the solar system in three parts, each of them governing one planet.
Sirius became the Governor of Motavia, something he was not all too happy about at first. Alex officially remained king of Algol, at the same time as he was Governor of Dezoris.
But the main responsibility landed on Lassic, as Governor of Palma. Suddenly he found himself in charge of a planet with more than half a billion inhabitants, some of them not even aware of the fact that there was a king, or that he had moved to Dezoris.
Those had been days of hard work, but also of great excitement.
And then Alex and his family had died in that horrible accident.
After negotiations with the native Dezorians they were able to bring Alex and his wife back to Palma for a royal funeral, but the children were never found.
Lassic often stayed awake at night, wondering what had happened to them. Sirius told him just as often not to worry, as it was out of his hands. But he couldn't help caring.
Not a day after the funeral he received a letter from Sirius. It was the last will of King Ossale.
Lassic was to become king of Algol.
It shouldn't have come as such a shock, as the only two candidates for the title was him and Sirius, and, honestly, Sirius did a good job on Motavia, but he probably couldn't handle an entire solar system. But still, it was overwhelming.
Lassic was moved from his mansion and into the royal palace. They placed him on a throne, and the priests came in and put a crown on his head. And that was it.
In a moment the quite discrete Governor Lassic of Palma had turned into King Lassic of Algol, expected to serve his people's every need. And so he had done. For many, many years he had done everything anyone could have asked of him.
But he couldn't do that for much longer. He was only mortal. And soon his time was out.
Who should he pass this glorious empire to? He had few friends left, since he and Sirius had grown apart. Sirius had never quite come over the fact that Lassic had been appointed king, and not he.
And he knew of Sirius' bitter hatred towards the Dezorians, as he accused them of causing Alex' death. Sirius would probably plunge the solar system into a devastating war. No, Sirius was to old and bitter.
None of his advisors would do. He did not trust most of them any more. They knew as well as he did that it was just a matter of time before the throne would be empty, and they took every opportunity to get closer to the power. He wouldn't give them the satisfaction.
Doctor Luveno, his science advisor, was an able man, but too eccentric to rule a solar system.
Lusar, his personal aide, was also a good man, but unpopular among the advisors. They would undermine his power.
In the clear light of truth, Lassic could see the undoing of all he had struggled for in his own actions. He had tied up too much power around himself. He trusted no-one else to strive for the common good, not as faithfully as he did.
So he had made sure to have control of all governmental activities on the planet. Taxes, trades, city councils, everything worked on his command.
And when he passed away, so would that power. It would all crumble away, like so many empires before his.
The peaceful, glorious Palman Empire would be divided into hundreds of petty states. Lassic could already envision how his advisors would make themselves warlords over his people, and make wars against each other in the ruins of Camineet.
So much would die with him! Lassic covered his face with his hands, struggling to hold back the bitter tears.
Lassic looked up. Lusar was standing in the doorway, a worried expression on his face.
"M'lord, there's someone here I think you should see."
"Very well," Lassic made a distraught gesture with his hand. "let him in, then." He could need something to take his mind of these dark thoughts.
Lusar stood back to let in a small man in a dark robe, and then closed the door behind him, leaving Lassic and the visitor alone. The stranger slowly approached the throne.
"Your Majesty." The hooded man bowed. "I was sent for by your servant, Lusar, since he fears for your spiritual health."
"If you've come to talk about souls and gods," Lassic said warily, "I've already consulted a priest. It didn't help me. My problem is of a more secular kind."
"I know, your Majesty. Your servant has informed me of your peculiar situation. I am a priest, yes, but I preach another kind of faith. I am confident that I can help you."
"You can?" Lassic cocked an eyebrow.
"Your Majesty, what would you say if I offered you eternal life?" There was a strange, dark undertone in the priest's voice.