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 14, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
There might be some cursing in this chapter. But that is something to expect where you are dealing with warriors and mercenaries, right?
Gemini. That was a good name for the organization. A name that honored their leaders, the twin siblings of Marco. It seems that he thought a lot of this.
Marco looked at the sky and let a big sigh. He was Emperor for only a couple of days now, but he was already tired. He wanted to be free, to ride his horse through the wilderness, with the Seven Hills behind his back. This was the life that he dreamed of. But, sometimes life doesn't give us what we want, and we have to play with that we have.
“Arthur, what you said regarding those bandits. I wonder how many regions are under the same situations. How many regions we have in this empire that are ruled by bandits or rogue generals.” Marco asked.
“I think there are many of them. In our field of work you can see many cases like this. Before Seven Hills took over the Golden Road region, there were many bandit groups there as well. Even now, there are dangerous people that go into this kind of life, driven by misery and hunger. Most of the bandits and the robbers are led into this life by the nobles and their vicious ways. Of course, there are some people that are just evil by nature.”
Marco pondered for a bit.
“One of the first missions that I want for Gemini is to get me a map of these bandit groups. Start with the ones in the central plains, near the capital. I want to get rid of these kind of pests. After I have all the information I will task Armando with this.” Marco said.
“Arthur”, Marco turned afterwards to his friend. ”Make an example of these thieves. Let none alive. Make your mark into the eastern regions.”
Saying this Marco turned silent, looking at the sky. Arthur understood that Marco has said his piece and now the meeting was over.
“Then I will take my leave” Arthur said.”Sister Maria, I will leave right now. I have my horse at the old Sigurd place. Do you need to make some preparations before leaving?
“I will meet you in about 2 hours at uncle Sigurd house” Maria replied.
Somewhere in the Eastern regions of the Empire. In small tavern, near the outside of the rural town, a man was drinking a cup of wine, listening to the conversations around him. Near his table a big broadsword was resting, attracting the looks of many people.
“Have you heard. Another girl disappeared last night from one of the surrounding villages” someone said.
“Another one. Isn’t that the 4th or 5th this week?” another voice asked.
“Indeed. There are too many young virgins disappearing at night. Some say that there are some demons in this area that are kidnapping these you girls” the first one answered.
The young man smiled a little bit when he heard this conversation. He left his table and went over to the table of the two talking men.
“Waiter, a big bottle of wine to my two friends here, ” he asked the waiter while sitting down. “I find your story interesting, ” he said. “Can you tell me more about it?”
“Hmm. You don’t seem from around these parts, do you?” one of them asked.
“No, I’m not from around here. But I like scary stories, and yours seems like a good one. Tell me more about these demons that are kidnapping girls.” the young man asked.
“As long as there is one I will tell you” the talkative one agreed.
A few months ago the first girl disappeared. At first the people didn’t place any importance, putting the blame on the beasts of the forest. But after that more and more girls started to disappear near the mountain forest nearby.
In the beginning there were only 1 or 2 per month, but in the last weeks, the numbers grow more and more by the week. In the last week 5 girls disappeared, some even from their own houses at night. People were starting to get scared, and the authorities didn’t know what to do either.
The young men frowned more and more when he heard the story. He didn’t like what he heard. Leaving a silver coin on the table, he left the tavern and headed towards the mountain forest that the people started to believe that was the home of demons.
The name of this young man was Enmanuel, known to us also as the Fourth Sword of the Seven Swords from the Seven Hills mercenary group. He also was known for another name, the Zealot. When he was a kid, he was raised by the Church of Light, with the purpose of becoming a Knight of Light, the knights that were protecting the Church. His rebellious nature and lack of discipline made the Church to banish from their ranks, but he maintained that fanatic attitude of a Light God follower, sometimes to the extreme. He hunted evil cults and got into various troubles because of this.
This is how he got in touch with Marco, Arthur and the Seven Hills. In one of their adventures they rescued him from a bad situation when he bite more than he could chew with an evil cult. And he became a member of the Seven hills, with the rank of the 4th Sword. But he still followed his ways of hunting evil cults.
Now he was doing the same. The demons that the people of the tavern were talking about, were in fact an evil cult, that sacrificed young girls in the name of their god.
Emmanuel took his sword and headed to the forest. After days of investigation through the surrounding areas he finally found out where the evil cult might have the base. The fact that the cult started to kidnap more and more girls, meant that they were preparing for something big, and they didn't kill the girls yet. Because of this the girls might have a chance of being saved.
The forest was big, but with his experience in hunting evil cults he knew where he could find them. Most of the time, these people liked to hide in big, dark caves, with one or two escape routes, in case somebody would go after them.
From the investigation that he did in the past days, there was only one place in the whole mountain forest that the cult could pick, so he headed that way with big strides. After an hour of walking he found what he was looking for. A small cave entrance, with strange symbols around it, hidden from the normal paths. A strange smell was rising from the cave, a smell of death and decay, meaning that he found the place he was looking for.
Enmanuel kneeled and made a short prayer to the God of Light, then entered the cave with haste with sword in hand.
Inside the cave, under a dim light from candles 20 men were forming a circle. Inside the circle 5 young naked girls were crying. They saw what happened to other girls before and knew that these men will kill them soon.
A short mumbling chant could be heard. Suddenly the chat stopped and a man broke the circle and headed towards the girls. He picked up one of them by the hair and raised a knife in the air.
“In the name of Chaos God, I offer this sacrifice for the glory of our brothers”, he said and the knife went down.
“Noooo, please no. Of, God, please someone save me” the girl started to scream.
A knife flew through air, landing in the throat of the man with the knife. Enmanuel arrived just in time saving the girl.
“Who??!!” the other cultists screamed alarmed by the situation.
“Oh God, it’s Enmanuel the Zealot. Run, run now” someone recognized Enmanuel.
“Oh, it’s the Chaos God bitches” Enmanuel cursed.”I thought that I’ve eliminated all of you bastards two years ago in the West. You’ve come to the east now. Die” he roared as he swing the sword making one head fly.
“Ahaha. You will never kill the followers of the True God, you maniac. We will always rise again” one of the cultist said before he died.
Chaos God followers were a vicious group, that used young girls as sacrifice for their god. They were dealing with assassinations, most of the time and this kind of sacrifice ceremonies were training for their new members. Enmanuel almost eradicated two years ago all the members, but it seems that some of them survived and rebuilt.
Enmanuel started to kill left and right. Soon the cave was filled with body parts from these cultists. From the 20 cultists that were in the beginning, 10 died, 5 managed to escape and 5 were gravely injured.
Seeing that the killing part was almost done, Enmanuel tied the 5 injured cultists with a rope and headed towards the girls that were still in shock.
“Are you ok” he asked. “Did they do anything to you? Ok, ok, you can stop crying now. When I’m finished with them, I will let you have your revenge as well.” he said with a grin on his face.
Then he headed to the tied cultists. All of them were bleeding hard and were barely living.
“Ok bastards. Wake up!” he hit them in the leg. “I have some questions for you and based on your answers, I will decide how you die. Fast or slow! Don’t forget you can choose” he said with a flicker in his eyes.
“Ptew” one of the cultists spat him in the face.
“Ok, I guess you are the first one” Enmanuel grinned at him. “Here are the questions: Where is your main base? How many of you are out there? What are you bastards planning? Simple, right? Answer and die fast, don’t answer and .. he he he.”
“Fuck you. I will never tell you anything. I will die with glory in the name of the Chaos God.”
“So… slow, then” Enmanuel concluded and cut down the little finger of the cultist. “Still don’t want to answer?” Seeing that this was a stubborn one he proceeded with the rest of the figures from the hands, then the legs, then the ears.
After each cut, like a good doctor, he would burn the wound so the blood loss won’t kill the victim, filling the cave with a burning smell. He continued to cut piece by piece until the cultist died.
“Next” he said and headed to pick another cultist from the group. “Same questions”
“I don’t know” the cultist said. “I joined the cult just a few months ago, I don’t these answers”.
“Are you sure?!” Enmanuel asked with a mocking tone. “These answers could help you a lot. Think really gooood about this.”
“Don’t say a word to him, you traitor” one of the other cultists said.
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Have patience, little doll. Your turn will come” Emmanuel said to the cultists that just raised his voice. Then he turned to the one he choose a few minutes ago.”I’m waiting”.
“I really don’t know. But, but check the robes of the High priest. A few days ago we received a letter from above and then we started to haul more girls than usual. The priest was acting strange after he received the letter. He should have it on him. Check him.” and he pointed to the first man that died.
Enmanuel checked the robes of the man named High Priest. Indeed, he found a note. When he read the note, his face immediately changed.
“Goddammit! I need to hurry back. I need to let the captain know about this. Fuck! Fuck! Girls get ready to get home, I don’t have much time to take care of you now!”. Enmanuel roared.
With a short flick of a knife he sliced the cultists head, took the girls and left the damned cave to the forest beasts to clean it up.
Thank you for reading and thank you for support this story. If you liked the chapter and want to know when the next one will be up, you can follow me @sstefan
What a rush this chapter was. Enmanuel is quite the character, right? What do you think was written on that note that made Enmanuel so flustered?
Next chapter we finally begin the Grand Council. Stay tuned for more action packed chapters