“I watch the Earth turn from the Ocular Sphere, a glass chamber suspended atop the highest pinnacle of the Citadel of Light. It floats like a teardrop escaping from the tip of a bronzed sword. Octavia would often come here for meditation and solitude.
The Sphere is mine now, as are so many of Octavia’s trophies. While she lived, her talisman and icons—the Dawn Scepter, Lake Silene, the Sphere, the Pandemonium Chair, the Sovereigncy itself—were wrapped in mystery and portent. As if they held some great secret of life that I was too young, too foolish to possess. But now, in possessing them, I see them for what they are; and they all, and indeed the world itself, feel lesser for that possession. The scepter is a hunk of iron. Lake Silene a house. The Sphere a clever device. The Chair a monstrous perversity. Cities measured by cold statistics of consumption and output. Planets by their loyalty and strategic importance.
Of all the people that lived in these last seven hundred years, none know the minds of the Gens Lune as I do now. None know the weight, the fear, the anger, the ambivalence, the pride, the love, the disgust, the disappointment, the hope, and the utter frustration of ruling over billions of souls. I thought I could rule wisely. But wisdom has less to do with reign than does sacrifice.
Octavia lost her daughter. If I lost my son, could I carry on?”
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