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 12, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
The gates of the capital have been busy as always. Especially now, when the Grand Council is coming up, a lot of people were arriving to the capital. The line was quite long and the guards were working sunrise to sunset to be able to verify everyone. They had to check all the people, because they couldn’t let any troublemaker into the capital, that could disturb the Grand Council. Anyone suspicious was rejected entry or imprisoned.
Two warriors approached the gate guards. Both of them had a strong aura, making the guards cautious against them. Although they weren’t week people, they had the feeling that these two men could slaughter them without blinking an eye.
“Stop right there” the captain of this gate shouted. “You have to pass inspection first”.
“Do we really have to?” one of them sighted. “Captain, can you do something about this?” he whispered to the other one. It seems that he was a rank higher than him.
“Let’s go through the proper channels. If problems will arise, I will take care of it.” the captain responded with a smile. “Mister guard, please proceed with the inspection”.
A bit annoyed by the attitude, the guard started to ask the usual questions: name, occupation, purpose of visit. Usually the capital wasn’t that hard to enter. But the fact that the Grand Council was just a few days away the Imperial Guards took measures to protect the capital and the important people that will be present for the Council.
The captain and his companion gave some fake answers. They couldn’t shout out loud that they were here to visit the Emperor. First of all, nobody will believe them, and on the other hand, until Marco gave his approval, everything had to be done in secrecy.
The guard marked their answers on a paper and take a good look at them. He didn’t trust these two men. From the look of their armor they seemed to be rich and he decided to squeeze some money from them. Both of them told him that they were mercenary and have come here to discuss business with a merchant association. The guard asked for the mercenary token that every mercenary had to have and also for further proof of business, a letter of some kind.
“Sir Guard, I think we told you enough to let us pass. It seems that you have something against us”, the one referred to as the captain said in a cold tone. “If you try to make things hard for us, you will regret it later. I will tell you beforehand, if you are looking for money, you won’t see a copper coin from my hands. I won’t pay my way into the capital”
“Are you threatening a guard of the capital?”the captain of the guard immediately shouted “You are claiming that I asked you for money. I never did that. I’ll have you arrested. Men, capture them” he made a sign for his men to seize these two mercenaries.
“Sigh, I told you that you will regret this” the captain said and placed a small round medallion on the table.
“Money won’t help you now” the captain of the guard sneered. But then he looked at the medallion and his face changed, because that medallion represented the Mar family. The family of Grand Duke of Mar, former Prime Minister of the Empire and one of the closest friends of Emperor Augusto. The guard lost all the blood on his face.
The mercenary took back the medallion and asked:
“Can we enter the capital now?”
“Yes, my lord. Please enter. I’m sorry for the inconvenience”. The guard didn’t know where to hide now, under the cold look he received. How he should’ve known that they had such item in their possession. Why they didn’t use it earlier?
“I thought you said that you will never use this token” the mercenary asked his captain.
“My dear Qat, sometimes it’s useful” the captain said with a sad smile.
The name of this mercenary was Arthur White, a bastard child of the Grand Duke of Mar. He was a little older than Marco and because of the friendship of the Emperor and the Duke they spent quite some time together. Arthur was one of the reasons why Marco developed a love for adventures. He knew many stories from his mother, a servant from a western country, that was conquered by the Empire many years ago.
Because of this he was often scolded by the Duke, who was thinking that it was dangerous to put the prince into peril. The rebellious side of Arthur led him into fights with his half brothers, that hated him for being a bastard. An inevitable big fight with his family made Arthur to leave the Mar family. Soon after that, Marco formed the Seven Hills and Arthur became the captain of this group. And now he was returning into the capital after so many years.
“Let’s go to the old Sigurd place ” Arthur said. ”We will ask him to notify Marco about our arrival”.
In a big office, behind a desk stacked with papers, an old man was reading with high interest some of them. From time to time he would take a sip from a cup of tea, then returned to reading those balance sheets.
This old man was Sigurd Tennessee, the chairman of the merchant guild that bared his name.
“Sir, there are two mercenaries from the “Seven Hills” that are here to see you”, one assistant entered the room to let Sigur know.
“Hmm!... What?! Invite them in the meeting room” Sigurd hastily said.
Sigurd knew who the Seven Hills mercenaries were. He was one of their founders, in a way, fronting a part of the necessary money to found to group to Marco. And Seven Hills became one of the contractors of the Tennessee merchant guild, having protection contracts with them for several merchant routes and warehouses.
“My on my, what honor has been bestowed on me” Sigurd said when he entered the meeting room. “Arthur the Dragon, captain of the “Seven Hills” is paying me a visit. Welcome my friend” and he hugged Arthur.
“Old Sigurd, I’m glad that you are well. How the business is going? Do you have any problems? Seven Hills would be more than glad to expand to other territories” Arthur laughed.
“Ha, ha. Business is going quite well. And we are happy with the other routes. Of course Seven Hills is the best group we work with. Your routes are the most protected. How did you manage to keep everyone in check?” Sigur asked.
“With an iron fist. We hammer everyone down, so nobody dares to cross the line we’ve set up”
“Very nice, very nice. Keep up the good work and you will continue to flourish. But I assume you didn’t come here to discuss business. Or not this kind of business.” Sigur slyly said.
“Hmm, you old fox. You never miss anything. Of course I didn’t come here to see your old bones. I want to see Marco, but with him being the Emperor I can’t just go and ask for an audience. Especially in my situation.” Arthur replied.
“You “Seven Hills” fellow keep popping up near Marco, driving the Imperial Guard crazy. I’m assuming this friend near you will become another guard for Marco.” Qat slightly nodded. “The other day Marco asked for a meeting with several people, including the Commander Abruzzo. That fellow Scilla gave him a great rebuke to him, because he kept complaining about the new guards of the Emperor. What is exactly Marco has in mind for you?” Sigurd asked.
“I don’t know exactly myself what he is having in mind. But does that really matter? He has always done what he wanted. We just need to follow him and be sure that he will be safe. Can you find some way to meet with him? I don’t want to stay in the capital too much.” Arthur tried to hurry the meeting with Marco. The capital had too many bad memories for him. The “Seven Hills” fortress was the only place where he felt like home now.
“Don’t worry, I will send him a message and arrange the meeting. Now let’s drink. Bring us some wine” Sigur yelled at the servants that were waiting nearby.
Thank you for reading and thank you for the support. In this chapter we found out an interesting thing. The captain of the Seven Hills, it's the son of the Grand Duke of Mar. How will this affect the future interactions and how will this affect Marco?
In the next chapter, Marco and Arthuro face to face making plans for the upcoming Grand Council. And we will also be witness to the birth of the undercover organization lead by Mario and Maria. Stay tuned