Chapter 37 | The Enocrote

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ENOCH

I'm not sure why we're having a family meeting in the library. Usually, such things are held in the courthouse.

Mother sits beside Adler at the long table in the library's center. Our empirical advisors sit across from them.

"Enoch, have a seat," Mother tells me. I listen and watch the emperor signing leaflets of parchment. Neither of them seems put off by the other.

Have they come to some agreement at last?

"So, what is this all about?"

Adler looks up briefly from the parchment. "I'm divorcing your mother," he says as if talking about the weather.

"So this is your compromise?" I mumble in utter shock.

Mother adjusts her bracelets. "And I am maintaining ownership of this property since it is in my family's inheritance. We both will still live here, but your father is no longer considered part of our family nor is he allowed here without my permission. I am giving up my title as wife so he can sleep well at night with his whores."

Adler's face turns dark purple. If I know my father at all, I doubt he simply is going to hand everything over to me. He'll find some way to maintain control over me and everything else here. I'll just become his puppet so long as he lives. This is not how I planned my rise to emperor to be.

"Femke, you know I am not the same man you married. My interests have changed. I am doing this for our family. For Ashtium's sake, I'm giving up my title as emperor!"

That may be true, but I guarantee he won't completely step out of our empirical affairs.

Chelk, a young advisor mentored by Urdmin, continues showing them where to sign off. Eventually, they complete their agreements and changes of title and the advisor proclaims them seperated.

I feel like I'm dreaming. The moment Chelk shuts up about their divorce, every head in the room turns to me.

***

ENOCH

"Adler said I'd find you here," I announce while stepping out from behind an unlit sconce. The enocrote is where our empirical guards exercise. Greta turns away from lifting the rock weights with her bare hands. Has no one showed her the chalk to protect her from getting blisters? "He says you told him you want to be a man. You don't have to be a man to be my guard."

She does look more masculine I admit with that haircut, but her body is too frail to be on the ranks of the training soldiers in here. What in Ashta has gotten into her mind? I thought she was dead and now I've discovered she's just been in hiding.

I walk around the stone bench she sits on to make sure she can see me.

"Greta?"

Soft little tufts of her hair fall just above her ears. The rest is trimmed very short so as to remain unmoving.

"It's Keon," she says simply while lifting the weight back up and ignoring me. If any building needs to be expanded in this empire we should definitely start with this one next year. It's utterly disgusting in here with all this heat and stink.

Greta frowns at my attempt to help her set the weight down.

"Enoch, leave me alone."

"No! Why? I thought you were dead. What are you thinking dressing up like this?" I ask.

I'm not sure how to go about telling her I'm emperor right now. It's probably best to wait until I sort out what has been going on with her first.

Greta covers my mouth with her hand. I step back and cross my arms. Where did the naive little desert girl I used to know go? She looks like she's ready to murder me now. 

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