The torches flickered merrily in their sconces, casting playful shadows on the stone walls (of course, “merrily” and “playful” aren’t often words used to describe things in a tomb, but Bri thought they were quite lovely). The firelight glittered off of her silver earrings and the lenses of her glasses, which she thought added a little bit of a magical flare to her entrance. She perched cross-legged on a ledge near the open coffin, adjusted the sleeves of her leather jacket, and cleared her throat. “Rise and shine!”
A blue vapor glittered over the coffin, condensing into a human shape as the soul of the old king returned to the mortal world. The blue apparition sat up and blinked a few times. Then, as you might expect from someone who had been dead a full century only to return to life in a see-through blue form, he screamed. Naturally, Bri screamed in response. In the quiet stillness that followed, the king looked at her in disbelief. “Are you afraid of me?”
“Oh… no,” Bri replied casually. “But you were screaming and I didn’t want you to feel weird, so I just figured it was the thing to do. Anyways… hi! I’m Bri, and I’d like to ask you a few questions, if that’s alright.”
“O-okay…” The king squinted at her, very unsure of what to make of this girl.
“Just one minute,” Bri said, smiling apologetically. “Erasthmus, come in here!”
The king’s eyes rounded in fear at the intimidating name. “Who- who is that?”
“Oh, it’s my dragon friend. His full name is Erasthmus, Breaker of Worlds, but that’s a bit much to be saying all the time, so,” she waved her hands in a vague gesture, “just Erasthmus. He likes to wander off and I want to make sure I give you my full attention.” Just as she finished speaking, the sound of claws scratching on stone could be heard at the entrance of the tomb. The king waited anxiously as the sound grew closer and the “breaker of worlds” made his way towards him.
Finally, Erasthmus rounded the corner, his tiny blue and purple wings flapping furiously as he landed haphazardly on Bri’s shoulder. He tilted his head to look at the king and licked his eyeball. “Right then,” Bri clapped her hands together, “let’s get started!” She produced a small notebook and pen from her pocket and flipped open to an empty page. “So. According to my study of the weather patterns over the past few years, this kingdom is going to experience a drought in a few months. Seeing as how the last drought was during your reign, our rulers don’t have a lot of experience to deal with this. Do you have any suggestions of how we could best prepare for this?”
The king cleared his throat, his gaze flickering between Bri and Erasthmus. Never in his many years alive, and even more years dead, had he been so confused by a meeting. “Well… it is important to begin stockpiling resources now, so that you have plenty when the drought comes and resources become scarce. The… present ruler should also form strong connections with allies outside the reach of the drought to have other sources of help and resources if needed.”
“Mm-hmm,” Bri murmured as she jotted down her notes. “Thank you. That was very helpful. Now, if I may ask one more thing before we part ways, could you give me your best piece of advice for ruling well?”
“Of course,” the king said, nodding decisively. This was something he always had prepared. “The ruler must care for their people. Genuine care and love for the people is the source of decisions made for their good, which is the most important thing as a ruler.”
Bri smiled as she put away her notebook and pencil. “Wow. It’s no wonder you’re considered one of our greatest kings. Thank you so very much for your time. And now… I can let you go.”
The king returned her smile, only a little hesitant this time. “You are quite welcome. And,” he paused to fully make up his mind before he committed to anything, “should you ever have any more questions, I would be glad to answer them. You and your… Erasthmus are lovely interviewers.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty. Sweet dreams!” With a wave of purple vapor, the king’s form disappeared and the coffin was resealed. Bri stood and stretched. “And now, off to the palace!” Of course, Erasthmus had fallen asleep on her shoulder and didn’t respond, but she didn’t mind. It would be easier to stop by the library and learn more new things without him trying to light the place on fire anyways.