Deal 823: Lottery

The books are there for those willing to risk their perception of the world around them. Any may read them. But some will come away from the experience even more trapped in a rigid worldview. Others will come away humbled by their place in the huge and uncaring universe. A few will learn from the experience that the universe values the trickster, the impulsive, those willing to decide large outcomes on the throw of a die or the fall of a card and still come out the winner.

The lottery was soon. By tradition, the exact date and time had not been publicized, or even leaked to a favored few. It was one of the few things kept actually secret. Regardless, it was past due, so it was far to imagine that it was going to be soon.

Candidates had come from far and wide to submit their names for consideration. They climbed mountains. The crossed vast snow-covered plains by dogsled. One and all they demonstrated they were fearless and prepared. Or insane.

The lottery would choose two names.

One would become the leader, hailed by all, whose every whim would be obeyed. And yet, somehow, he would be exactly as effective as any corn king of old. The tides would ignore his command as always, but the people would blame him for their failures as readily as they praise him for their successes. Occasionally, leaders had found themselves beheaded. A rare few survived to witness the next lottery beloved by all. None survived their terms unchanged.

The other would would have the harder role. Their choosing is in secret, and they are expected to serve in secret. To them falls the necessary work of keeping the balance. In some terms, they would be the executioner. In others, the widely travelled, suave, debonaire, untouchable master of disguise and espionage. They drew on hidden accounts, in practice had few limits on their actions, and as long as they acted without a provable link to the state, were absolved from all crimes.

Two names.

One paraded in public, lauded for success, blamed for failure, and in practice powerless to actually cause either.

The other secret and unseen, ready to strike from the shadows to preserve the ship of state.

Both serving until circumstance or chance dictates.

Both chosen tonight.

Which, if any, would you want to be?

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