Coming to consciousness in a trash-strewn alley behind a dive bar on a rough-and-tumble mining world was quite a rude awakening, let me tell you. I suppose it beat the alternative, though – not waking up at all. Not that Sam would’ve let that happen.
I could tell there would be a knot on the back of my head even before I managed to convince my hand to undertake the monumental task of venturing up there to check it out, and I was right. I didn’t expect that hand to come away bloody, but that it did so didn’t really surprise me, either.
It had been one of those nights.
I suppose I’d better back up a little bit since I don’t know who might end up reading this account. First off, I am Prince Edj Dumarc LaRand Bronacious Tarkle, son of Emperor Risherd Fontanue LaRand Bronacious Tarkle, Crown Prince and Heir to the Crystal Throne of the Empire of the Ninety-Nine Stars.
Yep, that Prince Edj. You might have heard of me, but if not, that’s okay. You’d be surprised how many Imperial subjects don’t even know they are Imperial subjects, much less who their next monarch will be. And you know what? That doesn’t bother me one bit.
See, I know something that all those pompous, overdressed, kowtowing arrogant fools back at my Father’s court can’t even begin to comprehend: the average person couldn’t care less what goes on in the Glittering Palace. What concerns them are their day-to-day affairs, not what’s happening light-years away to people they’ve never met and who think themselves so much better than the commoners that, if they ever did meet them, would treat them like dirt anyway. Less than dirt, really. Dirt has value, while commoners are simply numbers in a database.
I guess that explains what I was doing out there on the very rim of the Empire. I don’t have any more to do with those self-important, ego-inflated aristocrats than I absolutely have to. Don’t get me wrong, now – I love my father. It’s all the fools he’s surrounded by I can’t stand. And since in an Empire the size of the Ninety-Nine Stars there are always a ton of minor situations that need attention before they become major problems, I can always find reasons to be anywhere other than Alphum.
Like, for instance, on Herrig’s World.
The reason I put myself in dangerous situations is not because I want to die. It’s because I want to really live. Since I know I’ll keep on breathing until I reach a ripe old, old age, my challenge is to make my life worth something.
And how can I know this, I can hear you asking.
It’s because Sam won’t let me die.
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