Don’t eat that.
What? Why not? What’s wrong with it? Poison? It’s poisoned, isn’t it? All my food is poisoned these days. The great tragedy of being Emperor for life is how short other people want to make that term of office. Bring out the Food Taster, come on. Where is the dispensable little fucker?
No, not poisoned. Just not good.
Nope. You’ve said it now. BRING OUT THE FOOD TASTER for the love of God, what’s keeping him?
I. DON’T. CARE. If he’s eating my poisoned bloody food he’ll be DEAD so the fucking SNIFFLES doesn’t matter one iota.
No, he’s being sick. Vomiting. Because he has already tasted this meal.
Oh. Is he dying? Is the poison already working its way through his body and shutting down his most vital organs?
Not exactly, sire, but he does wish to communicate most urgently to you the inadvisedness of consuming any of the food on this table.
He said that, did he? While puking his guts up?
His exact words were more briskly communicated, perhaps. And punctuated by the occasional groan and blasphemy.
He didn’t insult the personage of the Emperor at any point, did he? Can’t be too careful about that sort of thing and I’m not one hundred percent certain my Food Taster loves me as much as he could.
No, your majesty. He was very careful, even in his distress, to maintain respect.
Good, I’d hate to have to find a new Food Taster before this one dies of natural poisoning. Right, right, get rid of all this.
Very good, sire.
Even the roasted quail? Must that go? Did he taste that? It’s just I noticed the skin when it was brought in. Golden and crispy, flecked with herbs and exotic spices. Burnished to a succulent buttery shine.
As I understand it, once any part of a meal has… afflicted the official Food Taster, it must all be destroyed. Fed to the palace hogs, I believe.
THE HOGS ARE GOING TO EAT THAT QUAIL?
As I understand it, yes. They seem to not mind whatever it is that upsets the Food Taster.
What about whatever it is that upsets the Emperor? Like not having plumply delicious quail?
We cannot risk the person of the Emperor for life, even for perfectly-roasted fowl.
Fine. FINE. Take it all away, dish it up to the hogs.
Very well, sire.
How many times is this now?
How many times has this happened? I feel that it is happening more regularly. Do we have a new chef? Can they not cook? Should I make THEM Food Taster, see if they improve when it’s their guts on the line? Tell the chef that next time the Food Taster is sick because of something other than poison… I’ll have them gutted.
Now, what’s the alternative?
To… to the chef being gutted?
WHAT AM I GOING TO EAT INSTEAD OF THIS?
You have no suggestions?
Hog roast, sire.