When I felt recovered enough, I went with my mother back to Cambay. With the exception of the gold streak across the floor, all traces of my first visit had been wiped away, and to finish the job, I replaced that streak, and the rest of the floor, with a shiny black marble that my mother oohed and aahed over. I returned the gold to the treasury, which had been depleted what with the hunt for corruption, especially since such corruption didn’t feed it any more.
Of course, I got involved with the security here even more than I ever did while working for the emperor. There, all that had been asked of me was to protect the emperor from assassination no matter the form. Here, I poked around and made sure the men were doing all they could to ensure my family’s safety. They were good and they were loyal. According to the logs, very few assassination attempts had made it inside the palace doors and that record had improved over the years.
Mother tried to involve me in the government. After all, I was expected to be the next baron. I tried very hard, but it was like putting on a shirt of thorns; I was very uncomfortable with it. It was my duty though, and I hadn’t stood at the emperor’s shoulder and learned nothing.
I constructed a private office along much the same lines and began to lay in the infrastructure that made it all possible. It took a couple years, but eventually, I had spies and eyes in almost every place that concerned us, which included every bureaucratic office here on Cambay and other planets in our district, as well as every other great house in the empire. My magic was very handy in that. They wouldn’t be finding any mechanical bugs or cameras of mine.
I bought a small shuttle, and when my thorny shirt dug too deeply, I would go out into orbit and spend some magic where no one would notice. Most all that I did was turn off the life support and meditate. Cambay didn’t have a moon so I couldn’t construct a small chamber in its core to use, but this worked well enough. A rain dance can be very interesting in space at several hundred degrees below freezing.
Victoria didn’t have a shirt of thorns. Quite the contrary, she developed a crafty mind and a strong personality. All things considered, I wasn’t too surprised when the emperor offered a betrothal between her and his youngest son. I think it was his way of keeping his friends close, especially since he couldn’t convince me to come back to his side. I didn’t tell him that I still watched over him; but with everything else I was doing, it wasn’t a very close watch.