Prompt: “The King of the North, The Queen of the South, The Emperor of the East, and The Prime Minister (barely hanging on to a minority coalition while trying to pass a new budget) of the West.”
King Anders Eriksen of the North stood up from his chair.
The council room fell silent beside a few whispers in the back.
Queen Isabelle Beauchêne of the South, Emperor Itō Syng-man of the East, and Prime Minister Harold Miller of the West all sat around the council table with King Eriksen. They all had large amounts of staff present for the wartime meeting.
“Now Prime Minister Miller, as you were saying,” King Eriksen nodded towards the Prime Minister.
“Thank you, King Eriksen. Like I was saying, I cannot supply more troops to the Far Eastern Front. War-time weariness is at a all-time high in The West. I don’t see any way to fund such efforts in my Parliament, ” Prime Minister Miller said.
Emperor Syng-man stood.
“This is an outrage,” Emperor Syng-man said. “We need assistance in the battles waging on our shores. We were promised aid. Now the Prime Minister is going back on his pledge.”
There were murmurs in the crowd.
“Please Emporer Syng-man. I understand your frustration, but there is no more money in our budget for foreign aid,” Prime Minister Miller said.
There were more murmurs in the crowd.
Queen Beauchêne of the South stood up.
“Why don’t you pull the money from the people. A simple tax increase on luxuries should supply enough money to fund an increase in troops,” She said.
There were a few murmurs of agreement.
“The problem with that, Queen Beauchêne, is that The Western Parliament must approve tax increases as well as troop deployment,” Prime Minister Miller said.
“Raising taxes is out of the question then?” King Eriksen asked.
Prime Minister Miller turned to acknowledge the King.
“My Parliament is currently split politically. As you know I am the Prime Minister as well as the leader of the Liberal Party which has made a coalition with the Far-Left Party to form a Majority Government. There is; however, a very strong minority party made up of Conservatives who are against raising taxes on the people. The Far-Left Party would not be opposed to a tax raise, but are opposed to foreign wars. They are more isolationist. I don’t believe that a tax raise at this time would be possible.”
Emperor Syng-man begun talking to his foreign minister. The other officials around the table began speaking to one another. Queen Beauchêne looked bored by the meeting while King Eriksen looked annoyed by the whole ordeal.
Prime Minister Miller’s secretary leaned over and whispered to him.
“Minority Leader O’Conor is speaking in Parliament right now. He plans on calling us globalists for being in this meeting.”
“Great,” Prime Minister Miller said with a sigh.
Emperor Syng-man stood from his seat.
“I will hear no more excuses from The Prime Minister. We demand he upholds his promise for troops and aid on the Far-Eastern Front!”
There was murmurs and then full on yelling.
King Eriksen began yelling over the crowd trying to silence them.
Prime Minister Miller hung his head in his hands. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the sight of Queen Beauchêne. She smiled at the Prime Minister and then stood up.
“Excuse me,” She said.
Her voice was drowned out by the noise.
“Excuse me,” Queen Beauchêne said a little bit louder.
Her staff quieted and then the whole room grew quiet.
“Thank you,” She said. “It seems to me that this wartime meeting is going nowhere. May I suggest we take a five minute break to cool some tempers.”
“That is a great idea, Queen Beauchêne,” King Eriksen said.
The four groups of World Leaders and their staff dispersed in different directions. Emperor Syng-man kept giving Prime Minister Miller dirty looks, but he tried not to notice them.
Prime Minister Miller stepped out in the hallway. They had some refreshments out there to enjoy. Water to drink. Fresh fruit and aged cheeses to eat.
“How does your government get anything done?”
Prime Minister Miller turned from the food to see Queen Beauchêne standing there with her bodyguards.
“Your government. It sounds horrible. Do you even have roads or lights?” Queen Beauchêne asked.
“Yes we have roads, and lights. We are armies and schools. We have everything you have in your country,” Prime Minister Miller said.
“Besides the ability to raise money and fight wars,” Queen Beauchêne smiled.
“If it’s the people’s will -” Prime Minister Miller began.
“I am only joking, Prime Minister,” Queen Beauchêne said. “It does sound frustrating though. All those people and all those voices.”
“Kind of reminds me of the meeting in there,” Prime Minister Miller said.
“Yes, sometimes I think it would be easier if we had one central power instead of our four nations. But I could never be a subject of anyone.”
“Our countries are very different. Different cultures and different governments. You may make fun of my Parliamentary system, but at least I have a coalition of people behind me. My Parliament gives the power to the people instead of trusting it all in one person.”
“True,” Queen Beauchêne said picking an orange off the table.
They stood in silence for a moment while the Queen peeled the orange.
“Honestly we were worried after the Western Czar was toppled. Such a violent uprising. We thought it might set off a chain event leveling every kingdom. Just chaos and mutiny without order. This Democracy you have set up is still young and has a lot to learn. However, any leader that can harness that kind of chaos and make it function, deserves a lot of credit,” Queen Beauchêne said.
“Thank you,” Prime Minister Miller said.
“I have heard rumors that Emperor Itō Syng-man’s Eastern Empire might be the next to fall. With the wars on the Far-Eastern Front and talks of corruption throughout the government, the people are weary and on edge. All it takes in one matchstick and the whole Empire could be up in flames.”
The Queen nodded.
“I believe that is why he resents you so much. The East and the West had good relations when the Western Czar was in power. Now the ideas of Total Control and Western Democracy are at odds with one another.”
“What about you? How do you feel about my Western Democracy?”
Queen Beauchêne sighed.
“Honestly I believe it’s the next step of governmental evolution. Your country started something and it is going to have a domino affect on the rest of the world. I can already feel the winds of change coming to the Southern Queendom. It’s just whispers for now, but soon your influence will spread and the idea of a constitution will become a reality. Hopefully by then we can change enough to satisfy both the royal members and the people.”
“Like a Hybrid government of Monarchy and Parliament?” Prime Minister Miller asked.
“I don’t know if it is even possible, but the same thing was said about your form of Government,” Queen Beauchêne said.
“What about the Northern Kingdom?”
Queen Beauchêne laughed.
“Oh, Prime Minister. You know as well as I do that King Anders Eriksen and his Northern Kingdom is behind the times. If it wasn’t for his lucrative trade routes, abundance of luxuries, and large centralized armies, the whole place would be an icy, wasteland of cannibals by now.”
“You really think so?”
“He has the luxuries to distract his citizens while his large army stomps out the fires of opposition before they begin. Plus he grows more and more paranoid in his old age. I’m surprised he hasn’t locked down his entire Kingdom yet,” Queen Beauchêne said.
“I’ve heard that his brother has been missing from the Kingdom,” Prime Minister Miller said.
The Queen’s expression stiffened.
“I know. I have him in one of the guest rooms in the palace,” She said.
Prime Minister Miller’s mouth fell open.
He began to speak, but Queen Beauchêne cut him off.
“If you say anything or leak anything to the press, I’ll adamantly deny it and consider boycotting your produce for the next century,” Queen Beauchêne said. “King Eriksen’s brother escaped the Northern Kingdom and seeked political asylum in my Queendom. That’s where I am getting all of this information.”
“Queen Beauchêne,” One of her servants bowed before her. “The meeting is starting up again.”
“Well I guess that’s our cue to get back in there, good luck,” Queen Beauchêne said.
“Wait,” Prime Minister Miller said. “Where do you fall on the issue of the Far-Eastern Front?”
Queen Beauchêne shrugged her shoulders. “Anything to keep the bloodshed off my soil. My people are fed and happy. The longer they are like that, the less likely my head will be on a pike.”
Queen Beauchêne and her group of servants and bodyguards made their way into the council room.
“Should we go back in there?” The Prime Minister’s Secretary asked.
He nodded. “Yeah I guess I should.”
He walked into the chamber with his entourage of people behind him.
“Let’s get back to business,” Queen Beauchêne said.
“We have already come to an agreement,” Emperor Syng-man said.
“What kind of agreement?” Prime Minister Miller asked.
“The Northern Kingdom is going to pledge 10,000 troops to the Far-Eastern Front,” King Eriksen said.
“They were only asking for 5,000,” The Minister of War whispered to the Prime Minister.
“Furthermore, because the Western State is unable to provide troops at this time, they will instead be obligated to increase food exports and military supplies to the Eastern Empire by 5.4%.”
Prime Minister Miller stood.
“You can’t just call on me to provide my food -”
King Eriksen cut him off.
“The Prime Minister will also have to come up with a plan in coordination with his parliament,” He said it like it the word was sour in his mouth. “In order to replace the 5,000 troops he is unable to pledge at this time.”
“Aren’t we going to have a discussion about this?” Prime Minister Miller said.
“There will be a vote,” King Eriksen said. “If the plan fails or stalls, we will open it up for discussion.”
Prime Minister Miller and Emperor Syng-man exchange looks of anger.
“So let’s begin the voting,” King Eriksen said. “How does Emperor Syng-man vote?”
“That is one vote for. How does Queen Beauchêne vote?”
Queen Beauchêne and Prime Minister Miller exchanged glances. Hers seemed to say ‘Sorry. I hope we can still be friends.”
“Aye.” She said.
The Queen’s words echoed in Prime Minister Miller’s head.
Anything to keep the bloodshed off my soil.
“That is two votes for the plan. How does Prime Minister Miller vote?”
“That is two votes for and one against. I will vote ‘Aye’ for the plan. So that is three votes for and one against. May the record show that this plan passes,” King Eriksen slammed a gavel. “That is all for this wartime council. If no other needs for an emergency meeting arise, the plan will be to meet in three weeks time.”
He slammed the gavel again ending the meeting.
There was an uproar of chatter from the entire chamber. King Eriksen and his group of military men and secretaries left the chamber first followed by Emperor Syng-man and Queen Beauchêne.
Prime Minister Miller called out to his staff, “I need diplomatic meetings with Queen Beauchêne set up this week. Then plan meetings with King Eriksen and finally Emperor Syng-man. Also contact the Budget Office and find me a way to get 5,000 troops without raising taxes or major cuts to programs. I need my communications department to whip up some statements. We’re going to get hit hard in Parliament.”
He left the council room followed by his entourage of people.
“This was going to be hell of a week.”
Header Photo Credit to Pathfinders’ Guild of Berkeley
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/sketches1637