“I do, as you say, have the power to grant your request,” said the Empress. “But what, then, will I do for the other seekers that will come here, just as worthy as yourself, seeking just such a boon?”

I bowed as politely as I was able. “That would be up to your majesty to decide,” I said.

“Would it, though?” said the Empress. “In making the decision to grant such a favor to one such as yourself, am I not stating that the palace is open for business, and that anyone who thinks themselves worthy of such a gift needs but to tickle my ear with it? When, then, would I have time for affairs of state, besieged as I would surely be by those seeking royal favor?”

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