Dedication: Still for my wife, MeiLynn64.

Kingdom of Hearts

Chapter 3

Concubines

The day was beautiful. However, the young Emperor gazed around the garden dully, following behind his graceful mother. His eyes wondered around the breathtaking sight of the castle with absolutely no interest instilled in them. He wanted some sleep. Never before had he felt so tired. One thing he learned was that sleeping on the floor wasn't a good idea. And his mind wandered everywhere between work, taking care of reports, finding out the situations and conditions of other towns and cities, watching out for corrupt governors, checking in on whether his people is living in happiness and…

"Roxas."

"Yes mother?" the Emperor was immediately jolted out of his state of mind. However, he didn't show any sign that his mind was wandering elsewhere while walking with his mother.

"Please, at least pretend that you enjoy walking around the garden with me," Aqua stated kindly. A sweet smile graced her expression. Her elegant composure charmed even the butterflies as the little creatures circled and danced around the High Empress' form.

"Oh Mother. I do enjoy it," Roxas forced a small smile.

"Do not play a game of trick with your mother now, Roxas. You are my flesh and blood. I know you better than you do."

At the remark, Roxas chuckled. "Yes, Mother. My apologies. I shall enjoy this beautiful and rare day with you."

"There is no need for apology," High Empress Aqua smiled charmingly. "Roxas, do you know the reason why I want you to accompany me today?"

"Are there matters you would like to discuss, Mother?"

"Roxas, I do not ask you out because of formalities. Please do not be so tensed. Dear, you are merely fourteen. Straighten up, relax your shoulders, open your eyes to the world, give the sun a smile, and embrace the world with your happiness. Do not dread the coming day. Instead, open your arms and let it jump to your embrace."

Roxas chuckled. "Mother, I do not understand."

"All I'm saying is… my son…" Aqua smiled wisely and knowingly, cupping her hand on Roxas' cheeks. "Enjoy your life while you can and at the same time rule the country wisely, like how your father was when he was the ruler of this great Kingdom."

"But how can I do that, Mother? I have a lot to do and…" Roxas tilted his head to the side, not understanding the whole point.

"Roxas, you are a very smart and bright young man. Remember what your father told you. Remember about the past. Did your father ever desert us even when he was busy?"

The Emperor contemplated a bit before whispering a small 'no,' shaking his head.

"That is correct, Roxas. The country and its people are important. However, your own relationship and health is more important. After all, one should learn to be able to protect oneself before protecting and ruling over others."

"That was what… father once said…" Roxas smiled weakly.

"Yes, Roxas. Please take care of yourself."

"I will, mother. I'm sorry to have worried you."

"You are a great ruler, Roxas. Remember that."

Roxas blushed, releasing a small chuckle. "Alright."

"Ah! It's the Emperor!"

A girly shout could be heard from within the garden, accompanied by a crowd of giggles. Roxas tilted his head to the side. However, his confusion soon disappeared when he and High Empress Aqua reached the deepest part of the Imperial Garden.

A beautiful, small framed raven haired girl who looked no older than the Emperor stepped forward and gave a gorgeous bow, wearing silky smooth dress that brought out her composure perfectly. "Xion is pleased to meet with Emperor Roxas and the High Empress Aqua."

"Please stand up," Aqua smiled.

The other concubines who were in the garden bowed and gave respect to the Emperor and the High Empress.

In the calm garden, waterlilies and lilipads could be seen floating on the tranquil water, following wherever the wind went loyally.

Roxas admired the beauty and tranquility of the slowly moving pink colored flower. However, he posed no interests in the beautiful ladies displayed before him.

"Roxas, this is Xion. She is the daughter of Lord Xemnas from the south."

Roxas gave a warm, fake, practiced smile that he always used in front of the ladies. "It is nice to meet your acquaintance, Lady Xion."

Aqua went on to introduce the other girls who giggled before the presence of the Emperor, admiring the Emperor's composure.

Roxas listened, trying to memorize the names of the girls, but eventually realized that he didn't have a good enough memory to do so. Each lady fared from a different country. Some, he knew made their way from maids and became concubines. After all, concubines were chosen by the countries' representatives. The most beautiful maiden in the town would be sent to the castle to serve the Emperor. Some girls came from a poor family, worked as a maid, dreaming of marrying the Emperor one day in order to bring honor to their family.

"Roxas, I will take my leave."

"Huh? Yes, Mother. Then I shall to—"

"No, Roxas. Stay here and talk with Lady Xion. I'm sure the both of you would get along well."

The Emperor frowned the slightest bit. Was his mother trying to set him up? He released a small sigh and bowed down. "I will. Have a nice day, Mother."

"You too."

And High Empress Aqua walked out of sight, heading towards the direction of her chamber. Lady Xion stepped forward, dressed in her pink laced kimono that showed out her beautiful blossoming breasts. "My Emperor," she bowed humbly.

"Ah yes…" Roxas gave a smile. "Let's go for a walk, shall we?" he walked on ahead.

The other concubines glared and stared, obviously jealous over the attention Lady Xion received due to her status. They pouted and began whispering words to one another that went unheard to the ears of the Emperor and the Lady Xion. Lady Xion followed the Emperor obediently from behind.

--

Emperor Roxas never once laid eyes on the Lady. They were walking in complete silence. However, the Emperor certainly knew that he should break the silence soon. He should strike a conversation. "How are you faring today, my Lady?" he asked humbly without even lying eyes on the Lady.

"I am doing very well. Would you like to sit down and have a cup of tea, my Lord?"

"Ah, most definitely. That would be lovely."

Afterwards, the two headed over to the small resting house built over the small lake, surrounded by a beautifully cared garden. The maids stationed there immediately dispersed from their chattering and went over to give a bow to the Emperor and the Lady. Roxas gave a small smile, giving them permission to stand up before sitting down on the clean bench. He stared at the flowing river down below the small shack.

Xion went over and elegantly poured tea for the Emperor. "My Emperor, please drink this cup of tea," she said with her sweet voice.

Emperor Roxas looked at Xion and took the small cup of tea, placing it to his lips and drinking it. "It tastes bland," he commented.

"Ah! My apologize, my Lord!" Xion immediately bowed down and the other maids followed the gesture, asking for forgiveness.

Roxas was surprised. "Ah, no. Please stand up. This is none of your fault. I was merely stating my thoughts," he stated humbly.

"But, my Lord, your thoughts are our commands," a gentle but humble voice rang through the silence of the garden. The Emperor recognized that voice almost immediately, for it was one of the many that he frequently heard.

The Crimson General walked freely into the small house build above the river and knelt down on one of his knees. He directed a confident grin towards the Emperor, which the Emperor took as one of mocking.

"Please stand up, all of you. This is not a cause of uproar," Roxas commented wisely, making a motion to tell his subjects to stand up. "I merely think that the tea is bland," he added as if that meant nothing at all.

Axel was the first one to stand up. He took a step towards the Emperor. "But you see, Emperor. That also means that we could have done something better and we have failed you by not doing so and therefore, we deserve to be beheaded."

"Beheaded? That is absurd, General. I have no intention of taking such action."

"I am merely stating our state of my mind, my Emperor," Axel gave a smile. "And of course, of how important your words mean to us."

"Is that really what crosses your minds when I said that?" Roxas laid eyes on each one of the still kneeling maids and lady Xion. "And please. stand up. All of you," he rubbed his temple using an index finger, having a headache from his subjects.

The maids and Lady Xion finally stood up but none had the courage to gaze into the Emperor's eyes. Xion finally spoke in her smooth voice. "I apologize, my Lord. I shall take note of..."

"Please, stop," The Emperor released a small groan of dissatisfaction. "Rather than worrying about tea…"

"My Emperor, my coming here is of urgent matters. I am sorry to interrupt. But I need to discuss the matters with you." The crimson general stated, quite humbly and calmly. His eyes gazed deep into the Emperor's cerulean ones, implying that he meant no humor in his words.

"Very well."

"I will excuse myself, my Lord," Lady Xion gave a short bow with a charming smile attached to her expression. "I hope to be able to spend more time with you one day again, Emperor."

Roxas nodded.

Afterwards, the maids and Lady Xion left the area, leaving only Emperor Roxas and General Axel there.

Roxas shifted his attention to the General. "What is this matter, General? Is my people in danger?" he inquired, worry in his voice.

Axel gave a small grin. "Please do not concern yourself, Roxas. Everything's alright."

Roxas frowned. "What?"

"Your humble servant merely wants to have you all by himself, Roxas."

"How dare you…" Roxas hissed. "I can behead you anytime for this mockery, General."

"Oh please don't, Roxas. I am merely stating the truth. After all, you are like a son to me. Or a brother… or possibly, a lover."

"What are you trying to say, general?" the Emperor asked, feeling disgusted, sickened to the stomach.

"I mean what I say, Roxas."

"You sicken me, general."

Axel laughed out freely. "Ah yes, about the matter. I have heard words of rebellion from down south. I am here to ask for your permission to send me there for investigation," his face turned into one of seriousness.

Roxas released an annoyed breath. How he loathed the crimson general. The general's ability to shift between one mood to another was disturbing. "I will consider it, general. I do not wish to alert anyone by sending you to the small southern village."

"Ah, you are very well informed, Emperor. Indeed, the word of rebellion comes from the village of Farmira. One of the…"

"One of farmer villages in the country. You need not inform me, General," the Emperor stated strictly, trying to remind the general of his place. "I will inform you if I've approved of the investigation. As of now, please do not speak a word of it, general."

"But why? I can head there immediately and perform investigation."

"Oh, general. Please do not humor yourself. You are a general well known for your raging temperament. I am very well informed of your hot headed-ness. I do not mean to speak ill of you, but I also do not wish for the tragedy that happened five years ago to occur again."

Axel narrowed his eyes, grimacing. "Kid, are you trying to bite me back?"

"How absurd!" the Emperor roared. "Know your place, general. I am the Emperor and you are but a servant to the country! Do not treat me as if I am your acquaintance."

Axel immediately bowed down. "My apologies."

"Do not test my patience. You might be a general trusted by my father. But my father is no more, general. And I am the Emperor now. Please impale that information into your thick skull. I can easily summon the guillotine and feed your remnants to the castle's dogs."

The crimson general scoffed. "Yes, you can do easily do that. But it won't benefit you any. You won't get anywhere with that temper, Emperor. You might be the Emperor, but you do not run the empire by yourself."

"What…"

"The whole empire, like a family, function through its leader and members' contribution."

Losing his patience, the Emperor took a step forward and hit the general's face. The slap rang across the silence. And the Emperor's palms curled into fists. Without saying a word, the Emperor stormed away from the area.

General Axel stood up, holding his reddened cheek. "A feisty one," he grinned. But then, he grimaced. "I sure hope you'll grow into a good Emperor someday… son of Ventus…"

--

How sickening. Was this how the generals treated his father? He was the Emperor and everyone treated him as if he was a child—even worse, as if he was nothing! He took over the throne after his father's death. He needn't anyone to teach him how to rule the kingdom. It was absolutely humiliating.

He couldn't believe the fact that he didn't behead the crimson general. Might it be that the subjects grew unruly because of his father's death? If so, would that mean that he would need to behead every single subject that proved disobedient?

A lot of blood would be spilled then.

No, that was not a wise option.

What the crimson general said was true…

Without his subjects support… he was nothing.

He couldn't rule a country by himself.

He must prove his worth soon…

--

Sorry for the lack of updates and replies lately. I've been horribly caught up in life and such and yeah... I apologize.

Hope you enjoyed. (:

Love.