Reginald let the music wash over the balcony as he began to conjure the lines he would affix to his next publication. He hadn’t written anything of a literary or academic nature since the incident with Naomi–her file sealed beneath the most stringent of DENT protocols–and he felt his mind turning to mush. Every day was another agonizing descent into mental atrophy. He yearned to do something productive, something other than being ground into the minutiae of operating a Holding.

Katerina was a godsend. Her perspective on operations was refreshing, gently guiding him out of the ruts and tribulations that had ossified with time and tradition. He leaned back into his seat, watching the sun lazily amble across the azure sky of Huola. She was his muse, his inspiration, though he often wondered if she knew he thought so highly of her, or if she felt the same way.

He closed his eyes, bathing in the golden rays as thoughts began to coalesce around something presentable. He would settle for anything at this point–an economics paper, a treatise on political philosophy, a commentary on Scripture. And yet nothing seemed to manifest beyond the opaque ethereal amalgamation of competing thoughts, fantasies, and dreams.

An intriguing harmony pulled him away from the rumination, his memories drifting towards his performances as a child. He could remember the hours of practice, how he had been forbidden to play outside, how his mother allowed the switch to be used to reinforce the importance of making no errors. Perfection. That’s what had been demanded.

But who would want to read about such trivialities? Everyone had challenges growing up as children, so why would his comparatively comfortable upbringing generate any interest? He sighed, wondering why inspiration left him empty, listless, floating on a sea of existence but denying him the pleasure of life.

Yes, that’s what the real problem was. It was an issue he had not even begun discussing with Katerina. Something was missing from his life. Something intangible, though he was certain that if he saw it, he would recognize it immediately. And yet he felt without drive, passionless, and without–as the Gallente called it–a raison d’être.

But he had everything that a Holder should have: A Holding, a loving wife, God.

“You don’t even believe in him, anyhow.”

He paused, Red’s childish voice resonating into the depths of his soul, a memory of a memory of a conversation.

He had been going through the motions, certainly. Saying the right prayers. Attending Mass. Kneeling when he was supposed to. But all of it felt like mere pageantry, an obligation to keep up appearances as an example to those he ruled. Nothing more.

Suddenly, on the balcony, beneath the warm rays of the sun, he felt alone.


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