Welcome to a new chapter of Imperial Struggle, the story of the young Emperor Marco, and the struggles with his new imperial position. Imperial Struggle is my first web novel, so any feedback is welcomed. This is chapter 11, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
Armando head was a mess right now. It was very hard for him to accept the reality. He knew what being a member of the Imperial family meant. Even his father had to deal with his brothers and sisters. But he thought that his own brothers would be better. They won’t be at each other's throats for power.
It wasn’t Marco fault. He knew that. Because of Gustavo ambitions, anyone else would have the same issues. Somehow he was relieved that he wasn’t the Emperor and didn’t have to deal with all these problems, like keeping the Empire in one piece.
But he already made his choice. The only that he could have done, to be honest. Knowing that Gustavo might have been involved with his father's death, there wasn’t really any other choice. Without proof, they couldn’t do anything against Gustavo. But at least, he could help Marco establish a foundation. He must create a faction that would support Marco on the throne. He must create an the Imperial faction and gather all the loyalists under his banner.
With this decision Armando lightened up a little bit. He started to pace through his office, thinking of the people he might need to pull in.
A short knock on the door interrupted his flow of thoughts.
“My lord, Grand Duke of Darin request an audience” a voice was heard behind the door.
A smile appeared on Armando’s face. Right now he needed the advice of his best friend. Darius Darin, didn’t have any idea that Armando included him, by default, into the new Imperial faction that will stand behind Marco.
A few short moments after, Darius entered in the room. He had traces of wonder and worry on his face. Obviously the short meeting with the Emperor, took his tool on him, especially since it was so cryptic and without a definite conclusion. The meeting ended very suddenly, leaving baffled all the people present, especially those that left early.
“Darius, my good friend, just the man I wanted to see” Armando gave a big hug to his friend while inviting him to take a seat.”Let’s wait for some wait and after that we could talk. How is the family? Quite fine, I expect?”
“Armando, thank you for the good thoughts, but I didn’t come here to make a social call. I want some answers regarding that meeting. What happened there? What did you talk to the Emperor and that Tennessee guy after we got dismissed?”.
“What happened to you, Darius? Usually you are more relaxed and composed. Did Marco startled you so much?” Armando couldn’t help but smile. “A, the wine is here. Put in there on the table, ” he said while directing the servant that just entered into the room with a carafe of wine a some cheese to go with it.
Armando filled it two glasses of wine, handing one over to Darius. Like a good connoisseur of wine, Armando swirled the wine into the glass a little bit, and took a small sip from it, letting the flavour to invade his mouth.
“Ah, that’s a good wine, don’t you think?” he said satisfied with the wine. “I see that you are a little bit impatient, so I won’t play with you anymore. Darius, what do you think about our Emperor? Did you ever cross your mind to support him? I mean openly, with everything you’ve got?” Armando looked at Darius with a gleam in his eyes.
“Hmm, good wine” Darius mumbled while sipping from the glass. “Wait, what did you say?” he was almost on the point of showering Armando with the wine he was drinking. “Why are you asking these questions?”
A small frown appeared on Armando’s face.
“I want to first promise me that you won’t tell anyone the things what I am about to share. We are long time friends and you supported me to the Imperial throne. But this is more serious than this. So I want to swear that you will keep a secret our discussion, either if you will agree or not with what I’m about to say. Without my consent you won’t reveal anything to anyone.”
Armando felt the need to ask this kind of commitment from his fire, was because of the position that Darius has. The Grand Duke of Darin was the leader of one noble factions, most of the nobles from the central regions, powerful nobles, close to the capital. Although both of them valued their friendship, their political views wouldn't always be on the same page. Not many nobles liked Marco before, and many of them didn’t like him now. Marco idea regarding the knights was, somehow, against the old ways that protected the nobles. The old will always be against progress. And this why Darius had to make this kind of promise.
“Fine, I swear by the gods that without your permission I won’t say a word. Can you tell me now what is happening?”.
“Marco offered me the Prime Minister position. And I’ve accepted” Armando slowly said.
“That’s great.” Darius couldn't help to shout. He always wanted to have more influence in the court, with Armando as a Prime Minister, he would be able to have that.
“Wait, don’t be so excited. I don’t want to use this position for my own power. I will truly support Marco from the bottom of my heart. I think he deserves that. As he said during the coronation ceremony, my father saw something in him when he picked him as the Emperor. And I’ve always trusted father in his decisions. I want to create the Imperial faction, to gather supporters that will loyal to Marco and the throne. Because you are my friend, and because you have some influence within the noble circles I would like you to join me. You are the first one that I’m asking this. Would you be willing to renounce your own ambitions and support our young Emperor?” Armando asked.
Darius looked at his friend with an amazed look. Supporting Marco? That was a tough question. Marco always had issues with the nobles and it would be hard to gather support for him. He knew that many nobles wanted to use the Grand Council to ask for more rights and power from the Emperor. Without support from the nobles, Marco was like a leaf in the front of the autumn wind. Who would’ve thought that he would make this kind of move. This Emperor was indeed intriguing, Darius thought. Who knows what kinds of different cards he holds in his hands. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to support him.
“That is a tough question, my dear friend. I believe you know the implications of what you are suggesting. Can I ask you what made you make this kind of decision? I know that you were loyal to your father and that you are the epitome of an imperial loyalist, but what exactly made you to want to support Marco with such vigor?” Darius couldn’t help to ask. If he would join this ship, at least he wanted to do it for the right reasons.
“Fine, it seems that I can’t persuade you with my own charm. I hope you will see reason.” Armando took a few moments drinking a glass of wine.“Before father died he told Marco that he suspects that someone poisoned. Marco tested that with Maria and Mario. They reached the conclusion that it might have been true. And the obvious suspect might be Gustavo. Or at least someone from the south who supports him. Marco told me that a rebellion of the southern nobles is not out of his expectations. This is what made me take this decision.”
The eyes of Darius were getting bigger and bigger. He knew that the southern nobles supported Gustavo. He also knew that Gustavo would have become the Emperor, if Augusto died without naming an heir. Nobody could’ve stood in front of him, because of his support from the army and the whole south.
“If what you say it’s true, things will get complicated. A rebellion in the south, might cause a lot of problems in other regions as well. The whole Empire might crumble.” Darius knew that he had to make a decision right there. Since Armando decided to support Marco till the end, a refusal right now might have implications in the future. “I will trust you, Armando. I will support Marco, although I don’t like him that much, but I will trust you on this. Heaves are my witness, that I will support you and Marco from now on, and help you in all your endeavors.”
Without the knowledge of Marco, a big faction was born in the office of Armando. Neither Armando or Darius, would realise the implications of their swift decision from this day for their own future. But that’s a story for another time.
Thank your reading and thank you for supporting this story. Armando took matters in his hands and started to gather people around his younger brother. How will things play out in the future? Only time could tell.
Stay tuned for the next chapter, when we will be able to meet again the captain of the "Seven Hills" who is coming to the capital to discuss matters with Marco. Of course, he won't be alone, a member of the "Seven Swords" will arrive as well.