Plummer Cobb is a writer and communications consultant based in Arlington, Texas.

The Traveler and the Emperor

Visitors are forbidden. Only a few have ever been allowed on the planet, and only with permission from the Emperor, directly.

The Traveler intrigued the Emperor and was granted permission to visit, not only to the planet but the imperial palace itself, and he would have a seat with the Emperor, which was unheard of.

The Traveler was escorted to the emperor's chamber and asked to tell of the worlds he had seen.

"On one world, I saw a great divide in the planet's surface so vast, intimidating, and inspiring that people would come from the other side of the world to see it.

"On another, the world was so cold and barren that nothing should ever survive there, yet it is inhabited by people who find it endlessly fascinating.

"On another, the most diverse and enduring life forms on the planet cannot be seen by the naked eye.

"On another, densely populated cities thrive with people who live over and under each other."

"On another, some of the planet's greatest mysteries and most unusual beings are hidden away miles below the surface, and the world's inhabitants risk their lives to learn more about the creatures that live there."

The Emperor nodded and ran a paw across the scales on the top of his head. 

"I would count these worlds under my empire."

"Great Emperor, I'm afraid you cannot."

The Emperor lunged to his feet. "You will not tell me what I can and cannot do!" 

"Great Emperor," said the Traveler, "it is not for me to say what you can and cannot do. You may go to those worlds, but they have already been lost. All you will find there are the remains of those who lived there and the remains of those who destroyed them. They are one and the same."

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