“Of course it had to be a family. Actors would soon be exposed for lack of familial resemblance, and there had to be someone to marry off. But they were always at the beck and call of someone with a much longer view, and deviations…were not tolerated.”

“So that explains it, then. A perfect, immortal ruler from the shadows.”

“Yes. And every few decades, someone stumbles onto that secret. Sometimes, they can be useful. Other times, they are not. In both cases, they are a threat to me. You will see there, on the table, a contract. And a knife. If you wish to serve me, you will sign in your own blood and the knife…well, if you wish to live, let us say that my secret must not be spoken.”

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