"And that unlikely blend
of my funny friend and me…"
"I love me…I love me…"
The song was no lullaby, and sung by no angel. The pitch wavered between words, never staying constant or true to any rhythm, and sung in a sharp nasal voice. Every three-worded verse was followed by a chuckle, done for ego, not humor. The song was clogged with smugness, turning it to acid for ears.
Unsurprisingly, the room was empty.
Kuzco slouched deeper into the cushion on his throne. Legs thrown up over one arm, sitting sideways, Kuzco held up one hand and absentmindedly flicked specks of dirt off his square fingers. All the while chanting the nauseating tune.
The song died, both in sound and in the user's interest. Kuzco squinted around the royal throne room, every surface polished, buffed and scrubbed. Kuzco sniffed once, only the faint trail of flowers and garden air filling his nose. Kuzco flipped over, now sitting on his stomach, bending into uncomfortable positions.
"Maids! I need my pillows fluffed!"
The most amazing trait of the palace staff was their ability to ignore Kuzco's voice. Years of taunts, insults and negative remarks taught the servants to tune out Kuzco unless he commanded them to a task, knowing that the emperor's voice would sting them should they listen. Instead, they self-taught themselves to answer to the snapping of Kuzco's fingers. The sound was softer, but less irritating than Kuzco's whines.
At the snap of his fingers, two servants arrived to assist. Both had kind worn faces, smiling with closed mouths to please the emperor. Over the years Kuzco had discovered more complaints about his servants; some smiled too much, others too little, some never made eye contact with him and others always stared at him. The maids, butlers, chefs and crew desperately tried to keep within a narrow satisfying range of service for their picky boss.
Kuzco eyed their work warily, but still could find no fault in it and sent the servants away.
Bored and critiquing his surroundings, Kuzco was pleasantly surprised when the messenger climbed the stairs to the throne, scroll tucked under arm.
The messenger was dark-skinned, wore a whitish-blue hat that distinguished him from the butlers and other palace servants, and had dark hair that never seemed to be cut. It covered up his forehead and his eyes, obscuring nothing but his nose and mouth from view. Kuzco had found this was for a good reason, as the only parts of his face he used were his nose and mouth. The messenger was constantly sniffling, and breathing through his nose as though trying not to sneeze. Despite his small stature—the same height as the Theme Song Guy—his mouth stretched as wide as his face. Though usually reserved for proclamations across the empire, the messenger handed Kuzco the scroll and said, softly and curtly, "Your schedule for the day your highness, from your advisor." The messenger quickly hopped down the stairs as if late for another appointment.
Kuzco sighed deeply, unrolling the scroll to see his schedule for the day.
"Oh, this won't do."
Kuzco snapped his fingers again. The messenger returned.
"Send for my advisor. I have things to discuss."
The messenger nodded curtly and shuffled off.
Kuzco picked his nose until the advisor arrived five minutes later.
Clothed with the finest Aztec garments, the advisor's outfit was a remarkably plain, loosing fitting but stiff looking Mayan business suit. Though the most skilled tailors made the robe, crafted from the finest cotton and the embroideries actual gold, it was not recognized as clothing for someone of the royal court. Mesoamerican square designs were easily seen on the cuffs and along the seems, but those were the only decorations. The robe a pure lavender tint of the twilight sky, but a shade that could be easily overlooked in any audience. The color was not for fashion purposes, but to show a place in the palace hierarchy. The emperor always wore red, his servants a light blue, and the advisor dressed accordingly to their status: above the servants, below the emperor.
"Hello Emperor, sir," came the advisor's drawl to Kuzco's catcall. "Your highness has received his activities for the day, correct sir?"
Kuzco nodded, giving the scroll a sharp yank to snap it up like a window shade. "Yeah…about that," Kuzco tapped the scroll on his forehead. "I have nine things to do today, it says."
"That it does, your grace."
"Ya see, I don't think nine things in one day will be healthy for me, what with all the stress and all."
"Your highness must meet with the representatives of the villages council," the advisor stated flatly in a non-arguing tone. "They are lower than the royal court, emperor, but their influence on the villages they lead is greater. You need to negotiate the trade equivalents for the villages this season, great leader. You cannot cancel your appointment at the sacrificial shrine, sir, for it is the festival of the moon and a religious affair, your greatness. And…"
Kuzco clicked his teeth and sliced through the air with two shut fingers. The advisor immediately stopped. "You see all the things I have to do today? I need a break. I'll tell ya what, I'm going to tour the gardens for the day, rest and relax, R&R, ya know? And you," Kuzco took a fake politeness, "will take care of these insignificant little details in the empire for me. After all, it is your job…and all." Kuzco dropped his scroll into the advisor's hands. "Toodles!" he waved over his shoulder. Kuzco snapped his fingers again, summoning a servant carrying a chair on his shoulders.
A sudden breeze, and Kuzco was gone.
The advisor, Andy, sighed. Rolling out her own scroll—stretching down to her feet while Kuzco's was only shoulder length—Andy compared the times of her appointments to his. She coordinated their daily events for this; Kuzco never followed the tasks she asked him to do.
She could never command Kuzco to do anything either. He was the emperor, and nobody had power over him.
A brief sigh, and Kuzco's events were copied into Andy's schedule. Rolling up her parchment, containing Kuzco's appointments added to the seventeen appointments in her usual day, Andy stretched her arms above her head and went to work.
Everyone in the palace knew who ran the kingdom. Kuzco was emperor by birth, raised in nobility with the kings of the past bound to him by blood.
But everyone knew Kuzco was just the figurehead. Kuzco did not run the inner mechanisms of the kingdom. Kuzco was the spoiled brat with the regal profile adorned on every vase in every hall. Kuzco's ego flourished in all decorations in the palace.
But Kuzco never met with the village leaders at the end of every month. Kuzco didn't set the trade prices for the markets. Kuzco didn't level out the currency for the kingdom. Kuzco didn't come to the sacrifices for the sunrise, or the masses at the equinox.
The palace workers knew their leader was an idiot, completely unfit to hold the throne. But with the blood of the gods in his veins, who were they to protest? They could not deny him the right of his inheritance, a law that ruled the land since the touch of creation. Sons inherited what was started by their fathers, though apparently the competence to rule wasn't in the genes.
The workers knew who was the real brains. The one who sat with all the village elders while they puffed smoke. The one who went to masses every day, and attended the daily rituals atop the shrouded mountain. The one who could organize the people, and let the emperor have his way.
Yzma followed the same set up during her years. Yzma ruled for Kuzco's father when he was a child, and repeated her performance for Kuzco. However, even when Kuzco came of age, Yzma still dressed him, reprimanded him, and exhorted him constantly. As years went by, Kuzco passed into the 'inferno years', years when a grown boy became a man. During that time, in a streak of independence, Kuzco demanded more responsibility. He asked for council duties, which he ran late for and then gave up attending; populace appearings, that he made Yzma do at the last minute; and for more interaction with the villagers, which he complained and detested. It did not take long for the responsibilities to come crashing back down onto Kuzco's shoulders, that Yzma decided to bear again.
In another fit, Kuzco decided that Yzma was trying to steal his job away from him, and fired her.
The kingdom went into calamity for weeks. It was rumored that Yzma tried to kill Kuzco during that time, a plot that involved a llama and some pool. The details were never set in stone, or taken for fact. The story itself was taken from a talking cow who claimed to be a palace guard under the influence of a magical potion.
Kuzco had taken a vacation for several weeks after Yzma left. When he came back he locked himself in his room for a week, until finally pestered back into running the kingdom and taking a new advisor.
Andy was a wildcard. Most advisors were chosen scholars, or recommended by members of the court. Kuzco, ever rebelling from the advice of his cabinet, held an interview open to all who would take the job. From what was known, Andy was a country girl who, apparently, had received a higher-level schooling. She knew how to read and write, skills known only to the high court and merchants, and all of the men. No one even knew her formal name, or referred to her by the name Kuzco catcalled her.
Kuzco dumped his entire load on her from day one. Without even the experience on how to handle the pressure, she took up his burden, and her own duties, and went to work. Kuzco cascaded his responsibilities down to her, always claiming that her authority had jurisdiction.
Over time it was questionable what the emperor had the authority to do. Even the highest matters were pushed to Andy.
A complete contrast occurred in the hallway in the middle of the night. Sitting in a simple wooden basket sat a content and purring white cat. No bigger than a human head while primed and puffed. Its tail swishing by its side, the cat looked up acceptingly at its new owner, a bed-rattled girl in her worn plain pajamas, looking as if her head had been dipped in glue.
"Wha-?" the girl moaned, rubbing one eye. The cat did nothing but continue to stare cutely and swish its tail.
Easing herself to her knees as gracefully as her half-awake form would allow her, the girl brought the tag tied to the basket into the light.To: Andy
"For all your contributions to the kingdom."
The girl looked from the cat to the card, no more awake after reading it. "He sends me a cat instead of a promotion. Whoopie," she said as happily as a pillbug before it was sucked dry. She loosely gripped the basket handle, bringing the present into her room and closing her door behind her.
The cat continued to purr. Andy looked around hopelessly.
"I don't have anything to feed you at the moment. You can wait until morning, I guess. Cats can hunt their own food, can't they?"
The cat's smile broke for a moment, twisting into a hateful grimace.
When Andy looked back the cat was smiling again.
"I guess I should plan for tomorrow then," she yawned, stretching her arms over her head. Her patched and tattered pajamas arched back to reveal her stomach as she stretched. She made clicking sounds against her teeth, then paddled off to a corner of the room.
Yzma's snarl broke out as soon as the new advisor's back was turned. Yzma was taking blow against blow at her pride, and grinning and bearing it.
A few insults were nothing when a kingdom could be regained as hers.
Yzma hopped out of the basket and followed the girl. The new advisor was surprisingly young—especially considering how old Yzma was when she began her job—and nowhere near as pampered as her predecessor. The room was near the servants quarters of the palace, and small. Yzma had expected her replacement to inherit not only her job, but her room and other possessions.
When not on duty the girl could be taken for a housemaid.
A bed made of straw and feathers was arranged in a corner of the room, neatly fluffed into a box. Yzma held her nose up at it.
Raising her head even further, Yzma saw the one redeeming quality of the advisor's quarters. The ceiling arched back, forming a single, fifteen foot wall. On the wall were a series of shelves, sticking out no more than a few inches. A table was nearby, holding numerous rectangular tiles ranging in size. A long stick with a metal shovel-like end leaned against the wall.
"Lessee," Andy scratched her head, pulling up a clipboard on the desk. "He has a meeting at 5, 6, 7, and 8PM, and a 11AM ceremony. Those are the essentials. 2PM he has a Fountain of Grace speech—which I should start writing for him—and at 3PM there's a new temple that requests his audience."
Yzma coiled and jumped up onto the desk, finally appreciating her cat body. As the advisor girl dictated her schedule she wrote down each event on one tile. Yzma watched as the girl slipped the tile onto the shovel-like end of the long sick and used the stick to shove the tile into a shelf. As the sequence repeated Yzma realized the girl was making her schedule, and each shelf corresponded for a time frame.
The advisor's day went from 6:30AM to 10PM, with a shelf for each half hour increment. Yzma, herself, had never had such a long work day.
"Those are his times," the girl said aloud, speaking to herself more than her guest. "And now for my stuff." She unrolled a list that fell to the floor and unraveled a few more inches.
"Meetings with the heads of 4 villages, 11:30, 1PM, 12 Noon and 2:30. Inspection of the crop harvest, I can set that up for 4PM. Sacrificial ceremony, that's at 1:30 always, I can't reschedule that. I can reschedule the Emperor's speech for a later time, maybe 3:30…"
Yzma watched in amazement. Seventeen different events were arranged and fit into the schedule blocks. Gradually Yzma found the pattern in the scheduling. All of Kuzco's appointments (symbolically red tiles) and the advisor's appointments (a light purple shaded tile) were arranged so they would mesh. In the chance of Kuzco forsaking his duties, his advisor could pull double duty and be at the events for him without missing a beat.
Yzma stared transfixed at the organizing, the girl shuffling tiles for half an hour before everything fit into place.
The girl took three steps backwards, admired her work, checked over the times and events, then nodded in satisfaction. Yzma watched the girl humbly stumble over to bed. Yzma had watched over Kuzco like a hawk and badgered him constantly, but she never did his work if he commanded her to. Yzma's seniority had scared Kuzco through a few boring appointments in her day.
But this…the girl wasn't even planning for Kuzco to do his duties. She knew she inevitably would handle them and planned ahead.
Yzma hopped up onto the girl's bed, settling beside her with a sense of respect. The girl curled up into a ball, and scratched Yzma's head affectionately.
Beneath her happy purr Yzma schemed.
"The girl's smart. Too smart. She'll have to go too."
Emperor's New Groove story. Why? Because all fanfics in this section sound the same. Let's have a little variety, shall we? If all the stories have to have fancharacters (and we all know they do, how can we help ourselves?), let's try and make the fancharacters a little interesting, and not in the breasts and figure category.
Honestly people, I read this section of and cry. I want quality fanfiction. Hopefully some readers will read this story, and start on something that doesn't reek of lemons.