I felt that this chapter was too short and didn’t have enough happening in it to merrit being a regular chapter. I try to have my chapters be around 2 000 words long. So from now on, if a chapter is shorter than around 1 700 – 1 800, I will publish it on a Wednesday as a bonus chapter! Unless I only finish it afterwards, in which case I’ll release it alongside the regular one on a Sunday.
Oh, and don’t forget to check the links I have in chapters (like this chapter’s one regarding epaulettes). If I use a term or saying, or refer to something I think many might have questions about, or had to look up myself, I’ll link it in the text to help you guys out!
Antoine half-trotted along. His footsteps echoed up and down the long, wide hallway. His pace was brisk, causing his hair to sway gently. The right side of the corridor was lined with massive windows. They stretched from the floor to the ceiling, and cast regular boxes of light across the hallway and onto the wall opposite. The wall opposite, on the other hand, was a beautiful white wall. Every couple of steps was a door leading to the office of one official or another.
The hallway was quite long, easily reaching a hundred metres. Every twenty or so another corridor split off and headed deeper into the building.
Antoine’s destination lie at the far end of the corridor.
‘Ah… I’m so excited!’ Antoine shouted in his head, ‘It’s been a year already. I can’t believe it.’
In his mind’s eye appeared the figure of a gentle, kind, friendly, and majestic old man wearing what could only be described as angel’s workwear. Antoine giggled slightly at the description of the Emperor’s clothing, but it was true. He had been wearing completely white clothes. Everything from his shoes to his gloves were completely white. The white even extended to his beard and the hair at the top os his head, which, despite his age, hadn’t thinned in the least and was still thick as a mop. The white was only broken by a thin golden trim at the collar and tips of the sleeves. There was also a golden embroidered imperial crest on the left of his chest, and another crest, but this time the crest of the nation, embroidered on the right of his chest, nearest his heart.
Antoine himself was wearing a white uniform, but it was far less complete in its whiteness. The shoes, pants, shirt, jacket, ad gloves were white, but four golden lines ran down his sides, two to each. They started on his shoulder, emerging from beneath his epaulette, ran down his sleeves, and continued along the outside of his legs on his pants all the way to his shoes. The tips of his sleeves also had two thick, golden lines running along them.
His epaulette was rather simple. It was a simple pad on his shoulder with a two-cord twisted golden rope running along its edge, and no more than a dozen tassels hanging from it, each with several small glass crystals attached to it, and terminating in a single pinkie finger nail sized glass crystal. On the flat top of his epaulette was embroidered the imperial crest, also in gold.
Government officials had different coloured lines running down their uniforms that designated the nature of their positions. Full-fledged staff members a single line, about as thick as a thumb was long, running down their sides, whilst staff-in-training had two lines, about a third the thickness of the line full-fledged staff wore, separated by a space also a third-thickness.
Staff members responsible for enforcement, such as the officers of the military constabularies and the Royal Constabulary had blue lines. The public administration staff, those that dealt specifically wih the citizenry, wore lime green lines. General administrations staff, those responsible for the paperwork of all the various departments, had green lines. Executive managerial staff, those responsible for sections or sub-departments, and even entire departments, had bronze lines. Only ‘national officials’ – the Emperor, the Prime Minister, and the various other ministers and their tems of advisors and aides – wore gold.
The uniforms themselves also came in three different colours. General government – those responsible for running the country – wore white, civilian enforcement – the civilian constabularies – wore bule uniforms when on duty – with white stripes instead of the blue ones of their military and royal counterparts, for obvious reasons – and the military wore black uniforms. Regardless of the colour of the normal unifoems, everyone wore white uniforms during ceremonies. Those uniforms had several other ways of distinguishing between the branches of government (General Governance, Civilian Enforcement, and the Military).
The military had many lines specific to them alone as well, but the only one that Antoine had come across with any kind of regularity was that of the Royal Guards. They wore white, instead of black, uniforms with regal purple lines.
In addition to the colours of the uniforms, and the lines, there was a third way to differentiate between various staff members. The colour of the uniforms signified the branch of government one was part of, the lines differentiated the nature of of the job one did, but the final signified one’s loyalty. Staff members elected by the people wore the crest of the section of the population that voted for them; city Mayors wore the crest of their city, Ministers wore the crest of the nation, etc. Those within the general government that were appointed rather than elected wore the crest of the government. The constabulary wore the crest of the royal family. Most of the military wore the crest of the country – which isn’t the same as the crest of the nation.
Those of minor nobility – such as knighed – and other staff members, who had sworn their personal allegiance to the emperor, wore the imperial crest on their left shoulder – which was closest to the heart to signify where their strongest allegiance lie. Their other shoulder had the normal crest as was appropriate of their position. The Imperial crest was unique for each emperor, though throughout the entire history there had only been one emperor, and so only one imperial crest.
Those who wore the imperial crest could be found throughout all three branches of government, as it didn’t depend on your position, but on swearing your allegiance to the Emperor. Though, theoretically, one could gain the right to wear the imperial crest regardless of one’s social standing or one’s position in the branches of government, this wasn’t the case in reality. One had to swear allegiance to the Emperor in person, and only very high-ranking members of society, or those with extraordinary achievements, could even get an audience.
Antoine arrived at the final door in the hallway and knocked on it twice.
“Come in,” a familiar voice sounded from within.
Antoine took a deep breath, straightened out his uniform, and, only once he was sure everything was as perfect as he could ever get them, opened the door and stepped inside.
In front of Antoine, at the other end of the quite spaciour (read: enornmous) office, stood a alarge desk. It seemed to be heavy, both from the dark ebony wood it was made of, and the two mountains of paperwork stacked on top of it, one at each end. The two sides of the office that lead up to the desk were books. They filled the shelves from the floor to the very top of the five-metre ceiling.
The chair behind the desk was turned away from him, so he could not see the man sitting in it, whom seemed to be staring out of the window. He could only see the arm on the armrest.
“Come forward, child. No need to be shy,” the same voice sounded from behind the chair.
Antoine swallowed and, step by step approached the desk, holding his few papers in front of him, stiff-armed.
The chair slowly swung around.
“Good morning, Your Royal Majesty.”
Several birds leapt into the sky, rustling some leaves as they left.