The Emperor’s New Clothes
By Elizabeth Ellister (TheCroissantThief)
Twisted from The Emperor’s New Clothes
Once upon a time, there lived an emperor who had an obsession with clothes and all things regalia.
So much was his obsession that he forwent his duties as emperor to satisfy this unearthly hunger for grandeur.
There came a year during his reign when plague and famine racked the Empire. The citizens, ill and starved, approached their emperor’s castle gates and pleaded for guidance. Yet, he dismissed them with a wave of his hand. This action sparked hatred within his people and whispers of his feeblemindedness found their way into every nook and cranny of the land.
The emperor, oblivious to his decreasing popularity, carried on in ignorant bliss when, one day, the rumor of two weavers possessing the magic to create mystical clothes captivated his attention. As a clothes connoisseur, the emperor thought it only right that he be the one to acquire such treasure and immediately sent his retainers to apprehend and deliver the weaver pair to him.
It was spoken that the fabric woven by the two weavers would only be visible to those who were “competent or fit for their office.” “With this I can weed out the incompetent and foolish!” the emperor announced, for never did he entertain the thought that he himself might be incompetent or foolish.
When the two weavers arrived on a midsummer day’s eve, the emperor was met with a feeling of disquiet. Had he encountered these two men before? Their faces struck chords from a past long forgotten. “They’re famous! Of course I would recognize them!” the emperor reasoned. With a small quirk to his lips, the emperor disregarded his fear and in its place greed came to reside. The emperor’s dear half brother, the prince, happily volunteered to oversee the makings of the magical clothes and assured him that, if anything were to seem amiss, the emperor would be the first to know.
And so the weavers worked. Minutes turned to hours, and days turned to weeks until, one day, the prince arrived with sweat on his brow and a smile as big as the emperor’s crown.
“It’s finished, your Majesty! You must come and see!” Anxiety radiated from every step the emperor took as he made his way toward the throne room. When he arrived, he was met with a sight quite unsettling.
Two men, the weavers of course, stood side by side, one having raised his right hand and the other his left, as if to indicate they were holding something between them, something that didn’t appear to be there.
“Isn’t it beautiful, brother? Those colors so exquisite!” But the emperor could
not respond, for he saw neither its beauty nor its exquisiteness. He saw nothing.
“Does this mean I’m foolish or unfit for my office? Am I both?” the emperor thought. “No! This cannot be!”
He remained silent for quite some time before deciding what course of action
“Ah yes, clothes fit for an emperor such as myself! Come, come, bring it hither. I wish for this piece of art to adorn me at once!” Having donned the regal clothes, the emperor gazed into his full-length mirror with the greatest of interest. “Surely I do not look as big a fool to others as I do to myself!” the emperor thought wistfully.
Oh, how wrong this train of thought was, as the emperor would soon find out. But only when it was far too late, for destiny’s hand was already in motion. The emperor’s fate was sealed.
The emperor’s advisers would bicker about many things, but for once they all agreed. The emperor would wear his new clothes to the upcoming procession. And so the emperor, under his royal canopy, led the procession as its centerpiece attraction.
And what an attraction he was! For there the emperor stood, in nothing but his trousers to protect his dignity. “Remember,” he assured himself, “most of the crowd sees you as their benevolent ruler, draped with the most beautiful clothes they’ve
“But he hasn’t got anything on!”
A voice cried out as time stood still and a deathly silence befell the street. The icy stillness was broken only by the fluttering image of a golden griffin attached to a black cloak as its wearer darted into the crowd. Another voice spoke up, “He’s right! Where are his clothes?” This line continued to multiply until the whole city seemed to burst into laughter. The emperor, realizing that he really didn’t have anything on, hung his head in shame and quickly recalled himself and his noblemen to the castle before any more damage could be done. Locking himself within his bedchamber, the emperor refused all visitors and anyone who tried to persuade him otherwise was berated with the utmost hostility.
More time passed. “This is madness! It’s been over a month now and his Majesty has yet to set even one foot outside that accursed room!” These words emerged from a group of elderly men as they sat around a large round oak table with intricate designs carved into its surface.
“Don’t act so surprised,” interjected another elder. “We all know the emperor was never truly right in the head. All we’re seeing now is that truth made manifest.”
“I would appreciate you not insulting my brother in my presence, Senators,” the prince stated as he entered the room, before sitting down in the only remaining seat, the emperor’s.
“I meant no disrespect,” the elder defended. “I was simply stating a fact that has been apparent for quite some time now.” Resting his right cheek on his index finger, the prince gazed at the elder with a look of amusement, before refocusing his attention toward addressing his new audience.
“As you are all aware, after the unfortunate incident that took place during the procession a month ago, my dear brother barricaded himself in his bedchamber, leaving his neglected royal duties for us to resolve. However, I’ve come here today to tell you that this fact isn’t completely true.” The elders looked toward each other, confusion evident in their eyes. “My brother, the emperor, hasn’t been within the protective embrace of our Holy walls for 20 days now.” Varying emotions clouded
the room upon hearing this statement, but only one was strong enough to be
practically tasted. Shock.
“How is this possible!?! If what you say is truth then surely we would’ve been told!” an elder exclaimed with vigor.
“Not if it was the emperor’s will,” the prince countered nonchalantly.
A loud noise reverberated throughout the council room as its large double doors swung open. Panting wildly, a middle-aged man scurried toward the prince and handed him a wrinkled envelope closed with the royal seal.
Meticulously, the prince chipped away at the wax seal and lightly perused the letter as he continued.
“A few days after the procession, my brother beckoned me to his room, stating he wished to partake in the search for the weaver duo. As emperor, he is needed here. However, he was quite adamant about participating in the hunt so I decided to remain reticent about his little adventure.” At this point, the prince’s speech went quiet, and his face contorted into one of disbelief as he digested the letter’s contents.
“My Prince, what is wrong?”
Dropping the parchment, the prince looked at the elders, deep sorrow having taken root on his visage.
“My brother, he, he’s dead.”
A dagger to the heart was the assumed agent of death, or so the letter declared. Poetic if not brutal. It wasn’t uncommon for caravans and the like to be besieged by bandits, though never before was a royal escort targeted, much less attacked.
No one in the Royal Entourage was left alive and anything of potential value had been pillaged from the corpses long before any rescue party arrived.
Burials for royalty were normally managed with the utmost finesse but, with the abrupt death of the emperor, the Royal Court had to hastily scrounge up what little resources it could muster. Even so, the burial was a sight to behold. Hundreds of noblemen were present for the ceremony and those who couldn’t attend paid their respects with a plethora of gifts spanning a wide array of diversity.
The emperor was buried with the one thing he loved most in the world, his clothes, and the sets that wouldn’t fit within his coffin were destroyed so none could ever wear them again. With the emperor now six feet under, the prince had no choice but to succeed him and assume responsibility for the empire.
On the day of the new emperor’s ascension to the throne, two figures stood atop a large balcony overlooking a crowded courtyard. “Sirs, I here present unto you, the prince. Wherefore all you who are come this day, to do your homage and service. Are you willing to do the same?”
“Long live the Emperor!” the city cried out.
An old man, the archbishop, recited an even older pledge as he hovered over the kneeling prince. “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the peoples of this Empire according to our respective laws and customs?”
“I solemnly promise and swear,” the prince responded.
While the archbishop continued his part of the coronation, the prince allowed
himself to be lulled by the delicate touch of the wind. The air smelled of the monkshood flower, just as it did that fateful day …
The familiar outline of a griffin clung to a long sumptuous mantle; in its handler’s grasp shone the steel of a dagger.
Unaware of his intruder, the emperor continued studying the contents of a report that had been laid out before him.
“Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgment?”
Feeling a slight chill, the emperor turned to face the mysterious trespasser.
“Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of our Religion?”
“Who are you? And what are you doing in my camp!” the emperor shouted in apparent fear. Horror devoured the emperor’s face when the trespasser brandished a weapon.
“Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the Empire the Religion established by law?”
“Guards—” Blood trickled down the emperor’s vest as the assassin’s dagger pierced his chest.
“Your guards are dead, and you’ll soon join them,” the assassin muttered.
In an attempt at retaliation, the emperor lunged for the assassin’s head but missed, grabbing the hood instead.
“Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in the empire?”
The unmistakable eyes that the emperor beheld were those of his dear brother, the prince, who stared at the emperor in disdain, before shoving him to the ground. “Brother …?” The emperor stuttered in bewilderment.
“I suppose finding me out isn’t so bad. It makes this moment all the more … intimate, wouldn’t you say?”
“Brother what—?” Another stab to the chest knocked away whatever strength the emperor had left, leaving him to convulse in a puddle of his own life.
“It’s about time you left the stage, dear brother of mine; having the same actor play the same parts gets dull after awhile.”
“And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of the Empire, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?”
The prince wiped his dagger clean before sliding it back into its sheath.
Pulling his hood above his head, the prince began walking toward the tent’s exit when the voice of a dying man halted him in his tracks.
“Help me …” A rasping voice called out in the vain hope of salvation. The prince contemplated for a moment, before returning to the emperor’s side.
“Your Majesty?” the archbishop breathed.
Gazing upon the emperor with a thoughtful demeanor, the prince caressed his sibling’s cheek. “As I thought, I can’t leave you to bleed out.” With a swift and effective motion that could only come from years of experience, the prince took hold of the emperor’s neck and snapped the thread that tied his soul to his body. “Yes, this look suits you better.”
Lifting his caring facade, the prince returned to his natural, monotone expression.
What remained for the prince outside was a battlefield’s worth of bodies. One of the two “weavers,” a longtime spy in the prince’s employ, emerged from the twilight and came to a halt at the prince’s feet.
“Take anything of monetary value and torch the rest,” ordered the prince. The weaver appeared hesitant. “Cheer up, Chuckles, you’ve performed your duties well.” A response was not given as the weaver signaled archers to let loose a wave of flaming arrows at the remains of the encampment.
Blinking his eyes in rapid succession, the prince was dragged back into the present.
“Are you all right, your Majesty?” the archbishop whispered.
“Oh, yes, I am just fine,” the prince replied with a knowing smirk.
“Do you vow?”
“Yes, Archbishop, I promise and swear.”
“Then by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you emperor of this great nation!”
With these words, the archbishop placed a large, golden crown atop the prince’s head.
Nothing was safe from the monster of flame as it ravaged all that was left of what once was the Royal encampment. Amid all this destruction, the prince stood, watching as the one he once called family degraded into a smoldering corpse.
Quashing the lingering memory, the newly crowned emperor took hold of the archbishop’s proffered hand and, using it as leverage to pull himself forward, raised his scepter to the sky, igniting wild cheers from his subjects below.
“Long live the Emperor!”