This is the first in a three part series about the recent events in Hunan, told from the unique perspective of a métis Louisiannan, Hiro LeFevre.
As a child my mother always spoke of home. We all knew she wasn’t talking about our house in the rapidly developing suburb of Sion. Lyons-sur-Mizouri was her home away from home. Our trips to Little Yamato each week proved it, as she exposed and immersed us in Japanese, her mother tongue.
I didn’t appreciate it as a child, but when I got my first job serving in the Japanese embassy because of my dual-citizenship, I most certainly did. Because of her insistence, I spoke like a native in either Francien or Japanese, and was an invaluable resource to the ambassador, Tomohico, Prince Asaca.
When he resigned and his assistant replaced him, I replaced his assistant. And that led me here, to Xinchangsha (新長沙), Hunan, to watch as his son, Haruhico, Prince Asaca walked with his bride, Lady Eri into their interview with the Special Committee of the Hunanese Parliament. The Hunanese wanted an Emperor.
Prince Haruhico was one of three finalists chosen for these interviews. The other candidates each waited their turn with their wives in the spacious and well-appointed hall. The first man waiting was a distant cousin of Rama IX of Mÿqan̊ Ðaij, who refused to acknowledge me, staring straightly forward until he was called to an interview.
The second I knew well, a scion of the Imperial Japanese Family, Hiroyuqui, Prince Comaçu. He smiled when he recognized me and we each sketched a bow. Comaçu-san has long lived without titles, serving in industry, working his way up the management ladder to his current Vice-Presidentship at Dorris Motorworks East.
I asked him if he was surprised to be here, in Hunan.
“Hai, I had to cancel meetings in Quiòto to be here.”
His candor belied the truth. Each of these candidates has known they were being considered by the Hunanese Parliament for the last year. The vetting process has been extensive. They have been observed in home, in office, and in any interactions possible, determining their fitness to rule.
What began as a field of hundreds from royal lineages across the Far East and Farther India was whittled down. Some were removed because they had no charisma, like the potato seller on the streets of Phnom Penh, who had no clue he was the distant cousin of Emperor Bao Long of Nam Viet, nor did he care to hear what the envoys had to tell him.
Others were removed for their over-abundance of chairsma, in the case of the second cousin of the Raja of Lo, who greeted visitors with a burlesque of Sufi worship.
Some had unfortunate histories. Others had married the wrong families. Still others expressed too much interest in their consideration for the post. Some had hidden scandals. Many simply were too foreign for the Hunanese people to ever accept.
So it was, in the course of a year, the field of hundreds was whittled down to three.
After an hour, Prince Haruhico was ushered back to the waiting area, and the noble of Mÿqan̊ Ðaij led away. Pleasantries between the distant Imperial cousins had barely been exchanged when the doors were flung open and armed security led the wrathful royal away, and out of the palace, never to return.
And then there were two.