“‘My Lord?'” the guardsman quoted as soon as the scrying faded. The man’s query was both amused and uncertain.
Rogan grimaced. He had to forgive Koursh’s careless use of the honorific; the man was the son of a court retainer. He’d been born and reared in close contact with royalty and peers in Orosjo, a feudal backwater on Cantaree. A tenth-part of the people surrounding him in childhood had demanded to be addressed as ‘Lord’, or ‘Lady’ or similar make.
At least Koursh had restricted himself to ‘My Lord’ rather than ‘Your Wisdom’, or worse, ‘Your Imperial Wisdom’.
This ‘Lord’ would just as soon not receive the same honors from a fellow lawman, though. He told Jack, “Let this be the last time you ever use the words ‘My Lord’ toward me, Guardsman. Some fools in Parha may demand such noises, but for my part they’re just an annoyance.”
“And ‘Sir Rogan’, too,” Jack observed. “Not many cops in my precinct get knighted.”
Clenching his teeth and nodding with a wry smile, he began gathering the vision glass and its works to pack them away. “Aye, ‘Sir’ does indeed designate knighthood, but ours is not quite the same concept as you have on your world. We don’t knight celebrities in Parha. Unless they perform distinguished military service, of course. It is a military honor bestowed by my country. I earned it in the Imperial Navy. “
After triggering the embedded pattern that would whisk the optical sands back into their bag, he looked Jack in the eye. “My advice is, do not get yourself hung up over it. The Dominion is comprised of many hundreds of bits and pieces, many times more constituent regional governments than you’ve ‘states’ in your land. Each has its own style of government, and the majority of them feature some form of nobility. Kick an anthill in the city of Parha and you’ll watch a dozen aristocrats go scurrying. But it’s commoners, by choosing their Electors and Burgesses in Parliament, that actually decide our law. Noble titles are largely just remnants of older times. We of the aristocracy spend our time making our careers either in armed service or in the ministries, so you’ll generally find us working for the people. I’ve done my military duty already, so now I’ve taken up a civil servant career.”
“And your title is…” Jack prompted.
“Unimportant.” He tucked the last bits away and stood to brush some of the stray particles off his trousers. They never all got back in the bag in the end.
“The attitude with which that man spoke to you didn’t say anything that seemed ‘unimportant’ to me. I suspect your claim isn’t quite true.”
Rogan sighed. “Look, I’ll confess that I am more than an ordinary hunter. The Ministry escalated this case a few months ago, and that meant putting it into the hands of personnel with… special resources. Nam and I aren’t the only such people, but we are a proper example of the sort that get this nature of mission. Our resources include our flux artistry skills, our field experience, and yes, the special influence that comes of my being the Imperial Lord mac Brath. That might sound like I have an unfair advantage, but I use whatever I need to use, for the sake of my countrymen.”
Jack didn’t respond, so he decided to add, “If you must know, as I just said, my title is Imperial Lord, which means I’m one of the peers of the Imperial City of Parha itself. I once held noble titles in my home province, where I’m formerly a Duke, but I’ve passed those over to my sons. As I said, do not get hung up on it. What’s important here and now is that I’m Hunter for the Lord Minister of Civil Security. That is no lie, Lad, and it has more practical significance than any title I hold.”
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