Durgadoresh's star had risen so quickly - even from its already somewhat elevated state - that it seemed probable that if he were actually elected he would have nowhere to go but down, with the Council taking control of most of the business of government. But now, with its being clear that neither Raul Entebe nor the Prince-Elector had the votes to challenge him, barring a real surprise he could expect to be installed as Emperor.
And everyone knew it, which was why he found himself tailed everywhere not only by the inevitable bodyguards but by a cloud of flunkies and petitioners, seeking his approval or notice, while the crowds parted at his approach as if by magic. For a man who still at heart considered himself a civil servant, it was a disconcerting experience, and he recognised that he would have to be careful not to let it go to his head.
He stopped at the Duenem pavilion to pull off one of the vines and observe the effect, to sycophantic applause from his tail of onlookers, at the Brewmaster's Pavilion for a drink (not the Mystery Brew, to the disappointment of the crowd) and even stepped inside the Syndrome pavilion to look at the Stormwrack and the Stellae Nostrum museum, though the difficulty of keeping well-wishers at bay prevented him from lingering to appreciate the exhibits in full.
Eventually, and ironically in search of something approaching peace and quiet, he made for the Temple of Art and the debate contest, where he arrived shortly before Captain Yvex was about to begin her argument . Even there, Donál, a Kaynite aristocrat who had attached himself to the C-G's party leaned in just as the Captain got to her feet.
"Of course, this is all academic, your excellency. Whatever arguments are made today, the necessity of-"
Durgadoresh silenced him with a raised hand and a glare. "I want to hear this, and it's dreadfully rude to talk while they're speaking."
As Jerry Gates reviewed the Sunset he would likely have become aware of a relatively discreet but nevertheless present observation from security. The Tribunes had identified the key foreign delegates and kept a close eye on them. It would not do for any harm to befall them.
After the General Secretary had had time to form his own impression, a man in military uniform approached him and saluted. "Your Excellency, I am Captain Dumuneshar of the Imperial Navy, retired. I hope you are enjoying the exhibition, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have."
Some time later...
"Good day, sir. I represent the interests of Lord Donál, who wishes to present his entire stock of slaves for sale at auction. Two hundred and thirteen individuals, full particulars as to age, sex, fertility, labour experience, et cetera, to follow and available on request. When do you think you will be able to present the lot?"