the bloody empress

There once was an empress who sacrificed everything to her twin gods of Image and Profit. Tied down tight upon the altar, Probity and Integrity gave up their spirits in a spray of blood. The empress felt not a moment's hesitancy in swinging the sword. Principles pay no dividends, she muttered, wiping viscera off her cheek. 

The empress moved in circles in the sky, mincing and mingling with other false demigods who toasted one another in approving solidarity. Up there she felt safe, shielded by shared culpability from facing the shame of her dishonesty.

Far below her, though, in the soldiering, sublunary ranks - the disgust was undisguised. They knew. They talked. They mocked.

And when the blood of the lies to which they were bound rained down upon them, they looked skyward. They saw the empress holding high her sword, ready to split asunder any who dared dissent. But the soldiers were smart. They knew that deep down, she was afraid. There was no hiding the vastness of her corruption, and the silence they kept left her beholden to them, a debt accumulating interest exponentially faster than she could find new values to slaughter.