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 13, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
The Lily Garden. The same small garden where Marco invited the some of the most powerful people in the capital to talk about his plans. In here, Marco and Arthur were face to face, for the first time since Marco became Emperor. The 4 Swords were somewhere nearby as well, keeping an eye out for those two pillars of the “Seven Hills”, or better to say the new pillars of the Empire.
“I’m sorry for not coming to the funeral. Uncle Augusto was like a second father for me. Hearing about him being poisoned it makes me sick” Arthur had a fire in his eyes when he said this.
“Don’t worry, brother. They will pay. But we have to have patience. Slow and easy.” Marco calmly said. “So, what is the reason for visiting me? Other that bringing Qat up? I know you didn’t leave the fortress just to see me.”
Arthur looked at his sworn brother with love and worry and the same time. Since they were kids Marco has been always the more reckless one, going into dangerous situations and dragging Arthurs after him. And slowly, more people were gathering around them. People attracted by Marco natural magnetism. He was a natural leader. He will be a great Emperor, Arthur thought. And “Seven Hills” will need to protect him with their life.
“Can’t I pay my respects to my Emperor, without any reason?” Arthur laughed. “Joking aside, I need to talk some things with you. First of all, I want to know you are safe. Even if you will have the “Seven Swords” around you, you still aren’t safe. They could handle a couple of people, but if something happens and you are attacked by an army… They are monsters of martial arts, but they can’t handle an army by themselves. I want to move a detachment of “Seven Swords” closer to the capital. Not too many. A thousand people will suffice.”
“You want to move a thousand people? Don’t you think this will raise suspicions?” Marco raised an eyebrow.
“I’ve already thought of that. In the small mountain range, east of the capital, there are two small villages of thieves. As long as the they don’t mess up with the properties of the nobles, the army won’t do a thing. Mercenaries will protect only their employers and won’t move a finger for the common people living nearby. Those thieves made that mountain range their territory, collecting taxes from the people and making their life a living hell. We will use this as a pretense to move our men, and at the same time we will clean up these scum.” Arthur laid out his plan for this.
When Marco heard about this situation, he became mad immediately. He calmed down, little by little. He knew about this kind of situations around the Empire. The nobles were getting bolder and bolder, looking only for their own interest.The army wasn’t listening to the word of the Emperor anymore. And the common people were stepped on by everybody.
“Sigh… do it. Not for my sake, for the sake of those people. Do it. Ah, my dear friend. This is why we need to change the way thing work in this Empire. If we keep neglecting our people, this empire will crumble.”
Arthur nodded slowly. He knew Marco would agree with him. Ever since they were little Marco put the good of the people above his own sake. That is what it means to be a good leader, a good Emperor. Now the only thing that he had to do was to make sure that nobody would put this Emperor in peril and he could rule in peace.
“It’s a good thing that you arrived.” Marco said. “I had some things to talk with you and you saved me some time. But we need to wait for some guests before we start that talk. Argento!” Marco shouted “When will my siblings arrive?”
“They should arrive any moment now. I sent someone to them right after the captain arrived.” Argento answered.
“That’s good. We will talk about that when they will arrive. I don’t want to say the same thing over and over again” Marco cut off Arthur that was about to ask some questions.”Where are the 3 remaining Swords? It’s quite strange to have people popping up each day around me.”
“Eh, about that… I don’t know exactly what they are doing either. When Scarto arrived, Scilla and Escarte where in the base, while Qat was on patrol. This is why they arrived so fast in the capital. The rest of them… I’m not sure. The 4th Sword, Enmanuel, is in the East, hunting an evil cult. I hope we will be able to meet him in our incursion there. But the other two... They left a while ago. Their martial sect had some trouble and requested their help. They didn’t tell me anything, but it sounded important.”
The Seven Swords were all martial artists, each and one of them being a monster in their own right. But the first two were the only one that belonged to a sect. They were born and raised by that sect and for them it was family. It wasn’t strange that they left immediately that they received the request for help. Both Marco and Arthur understood this and didn’t hold any grudges against them. They just hoped that their friends would be safe and sound.
“Your Majesty, price Mario and princess Maria have arrived” a chamberlain voice was heard.
“Invite them in” Marco said.
Mario and Maria left their mansion in haste when they received the summons. The request of coming as soon as possible to the Imperial palace seemed a bit strange, so they arrived now with a puzzled look on their faces.
“Mario, Maria, please have a seat” Marco pointed to two empty chairs. “Thank you for leaving your important activities and arriving so soon.”
“When the Emperor is asking you for a meeting, you leave everything and head to his summon” Mario said with a grave tone.”Can you tell us what happened?”
“The reason why I’ve called you with such haste it’s because it is the time for you two to start the organization that we talked about. I don’t know if you remember this gentleman here” Marco said while pointing to Arthur.
“I’m sorry I don’t think I remember him. And I think I should remember a man so handsome” Maria chuckled.
“Sister Maria, you are breaking my heart. Did you forget that we already saw each other naked bodies?” Arthur said with a big smile, leaving both Mario and Marco with the mouths open.
“What, who, who are you?”Maria suddenly became red. Even though he was in her 30’s she was still single and never shared the bed with a man. She was wholly dedicated to her science, and nobody managed to conquer her heart. Not for a lack of trying.
“Yeah, who are you?” Marco laughed from the bottom of his heart. “How come I didn’t hear about this story”, he asked Arthur.
“It was a long time ago, when I was still a child. I went swimming in the river near the capital. And there she was, in whole her splendor. When she found out that I was looking she gave me one hell of a beating. I still have scars because of that” Arthur started to remember those sweet childhood memories.
“Little Arthur? Arthur White?” Maria started to recall the event as well. “You bastard, why the hell did you had to tell that story” Maria raised her small fists threatening Arthur.
“Arthur White?!” Mario shouted. “Didn’t you disappeared a few years ago after the fight with your brothers? I thought you were dead.
“Maybe you are familiar with his other name” Marco smiled. “Arthur the Dragon, captain of the “Seven hills” mercenaries”.
Mario and Maria remained baffled. Arthur White was the captain of the Seven Hills, the group that their brother claimed to be his hidden card. How come nobody learned about this? Who taught Marco to be so crafty and sly. And most of all, how did he hid his identity as the patron of Seven Hills for so long. Both of them looked at their little brother with new eyes. He was a monster. A genius monster. Whoever stands in his way will know what Hell means.
“Since we all know each other let’s start the talk. Time is of the essence now. Arthur, my siblings will be the heads of a new group. A hidden group, not like the “Seven Hills” that are well known through the Empire.” Marco started the meeting.
“You mean, like a spy group?” Arthur asked.
“Exactly. They will be my eyes and ears, while the Seven Hills will be my shield and sword. With this I hope we will be able to stand the tribulations that will come in the future. I will need the help of the Seven Hills to gather the people we need for this organization. I know we have some people within the mercenaries that would be more suitable for becoming spies than warriors.”
“Hmm. We do have some people that could help you with this. Not many, but we have them” Arthur replied after a moment.
“We don’t need many people. Just a few good people to start with” Maria said. “After that we will grow by ourselves. But now we need people that are skilled and loyal”.
“I will leave today. One of you should come with me to the “Seven Hills” fortress to have a look over the men and choose from them.” Arthur said.
“I will come with you” Maria said immediately, attracting the smiles from Mario and Marco.
“That’s good. We could leave right away if Marco agrees.” Arthur said. “By the way, how will this group be called? Have you thought of a name?
“I want to talk one more thing before you leave. That idea of yours that we talked about… I might have some more plans for it. And about the name, yes. I thought of one. It will be Gemini.” Marco said.
Thank you for reading and thank you for supporting this story.
Marco finally started his undercover organization, Gemini. What will they role be in the grand scheme of all? How Mario and Maria rule their spy network? What Marco plans to do with the "Seven Hill" incursion in the east? More about this in the next chapter.
And the biggest question of them all ... does Maria has a thing for Arthur?