The empress suggested a path up the cliff into the mountains. The path from the fields was easy for the Fool to follow. Going from the fields the path was surrounded by lush greenery on either side, the smell of earth and growing things all around. The greenery gave way to rocks and hard packed soil the further into the mountains he traveled. The path became steeper and harder to climb with the breeze which was pleasant in the fields below, becoming a chill that hurt the skin as the day wore on.
The Fool wondered what kind of person would live so far up the mountains, where nothing seemed to live. With nothing but rocks all around, it was no wonder the Empress spent her time with the growing things. Who would remove themselves so far from that which he seemed to control and watch over, for the Fool knew that he would be spending at least one night on the path leading to the home of the Emperor.
Walking for as long as he could in order to stay warm, the Fool continued into the night. When the uneven ground made the way too difficult to travel without some form of light, the Fool propped his bag against a large rock and tried to get some rest. Thankfully, the many nights along the path helped the Fool rest enough to be able to continue with little trouble the following day.
The walls of the Emperor came into view as the landscape started to darken with the onset of the Fool’s second night of travel. The walls surrounding the estate were high and well built, made with large smooth river rock. The estate was large but the lights coming from the windows gave a warm welcome feeling. The doors to the estate were open so the Fool went into the home of the Emperor.
“Welcome friend, we have been looking forward to your arrival. My wife sent word ahead. A room has been prepared and if you desire food can be prepared.”
“Thank you, sir. A bed would be most appreciated.”
“Then I will have someone show you to your room and we can talk in the morning.”
The following morning, after a comfortable night’s sleep, the Fool was invited to see the Emperor before his day truly started. The Fool was brought to a large room with many shields upon the walls, many of them with eagles depicted in different forms. The Emperor was seated on a large stone throne in rich soft looking robes that were a deep red. The presence of the Emperor filled the room; he was a man that even at ease was in complete control of every aspect of life or death in his presence.
“I hope that you have slept well. Please feel free to consider this your home for as long as your journey allows. All that I ask is that you not interrupt the servants in their work or enter any rooms where the doors are closed.”
“I must continue upon the morrow and your home is wonderful. I slept very well last night, better than I have in a while.”
“Thank you, I built the walls that surround the area and much of the dwelling myself. I believe that in order to rule over something you must be the one to build it.”
“How far do you rule, sir? I apologize for my ignorance, and I mean no disrespect.”
“None taken,” the Emperor laughed. “I rule for as far as you can see upon this mountain to the next range of mountains on either side and as far as you can see from them. I rule everything. I maintain the traditions of the local areas while making sure that they won’t interfere with the traditions of others. All are my subjects, but few ever visit my home even if all are welcome. I shall make sure that you have what you need to continue your journey.”
Understanding that he had been dismissed, the Fool left to wonder the land of the Emperor. The Fool never thought to meet the nameless Emperor that ruled his village. He was known as a kind ruler unless you went against him. The Emperor was one of the reasons the Fool felt he must leave his village. He felt he needed to overcome the life that was made for him and make his own way feeling that he must leave the protection of an overly protective parent.
He would leave first thing the next day.