“They whisper,” the Crowned one heard her confession. “They whisper all sorts of things to me, and I’m never which advice to follow.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“Big Nose said I should trip Samuel as he was reaching the top of the stairs. I thought he might tumble and slide. I didn’t expect to hear the cracking sound. Or for his head to turn all the way ’round like that.”
The Crowned One frowned. “Samuel died at the bottom?”
“He was very pale… and so quiet. There wasn’t any blood though. I thought there was always blood when people die.”
“Not always, Georgia. Not always. What other whispers have you heard?”
“Twisted Lip said Nanny was plotting against me and I should switch my teacup with hers.”
“And did you?” the Crowned One was concerned as well as curious. What would the child’s answer be?
“Yes, I did. We’re looking for a new Nanny now. Because that Nanny started foaming at the mouth and then went all twitchy and fell off her chair. She’s not dead though, just really sick.”
“I see. It would seem Twisted Lip’s advice was wise, then.”
“Yes, but… I miss Samuel.”
“I am certain that you do. You and he have always been good friends.”
“Except he said that he would ascend to the throne because he’s a boy even though I’m six weeks older,” the little girl announced. “And Mother said those rules don’t matter anymore, because she sits on the throne now, after all.”
“Yes,” the Crowned one confirmed. “Yes, she does. Have you spoken to your mother about these things, Georgia? Told her what the Advisors are whispering to you?”
“I have,” she told him, nodding her head up and down. “She said it’s the way of things. People always try to eliminate the people who have power so they can have power instead. And sometimes we must act to protect our own interests.”
The Crowned One understood his role in Princess Georgia’s life. As a former head of state and current, well, state head, albeit a disembodied one, he was to offer the child as much wisdom and guidance as he could. He had hoped this could have happened without so much intrigue. He had fervently wished for a lot less murder. But it was the way of the world. The other heads – former guards and statesfolk, all – would whisper to the Heir, their advice to be heeded or not, as the child’s will dictated.
But his counsel was given openly.
At that moment, he wished he could give more than counsel. A friendly hug, perhaps. A pat on the head. But the reality was that this small girl was, at ten, already more ruthless than half a dozen mercenaries. She had to be, if she truly meant to take the throne someday.
All he could hope was that his wisdom would temper her more… expedient… choices.
“Dark Eyes also whispers,” the young princess offered, perhaps to assuage his obvious unease. “Dark Eyes says I must remember to be compassionate, when I can.”
“That is wise advice,” the Crowned One said.
“I’ve tried to heed it. Benjamin and I have been playing together since Samuel left us.”
“Since he died, you mean?”
“It’s good that you’ve reached out to his little brother.”
“Benjamin will never sit on the throne.”
“It is highly unlikely that he will.”
“But… he makes me laugh, and when we are together, I don’t focus so much on the whispers I hear from the Heads.”
“It’s good,” the Crowned One said, “that you can still be a child from time to time. Stay young as long as you can, Georgia.”
“I will try.”
“It is late. You should rest.”
“Yes…” She released the magic holding him in place, and the Crowned One floated up to the Keeper’s Space. “Goodnight, sir.”
The little girl was soon asleep. But the Crowned One was still fretting. She was becoming too hard, too cold… he was concerned. A leader must be able to act swiftly and make tough decisions; it was true, but a leader must also be able to be lenient, to know when kindness was the better path. He would speak with Dark Eyes in the morning. They would push Compassion at her a bit more heavily.
A line from Shakespeare went through his brain, and he chuckled softly. Old Will had really nailed it with that one.
“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”