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 15, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
It was the time for the Grand Council to begin. Usually, the Grand Council would happen every five years, but after an Emperor’s death, the Council will reunite in an extraordinary session to convey the thoughts of the new Emperor and see the next direction of the Empire.
The Grand Council was attended by the members of the military branch, administration branch and the nobles of the Empire. Of course, with few exceptions, everyone was a noble, because commoners had to be exceptionally good to join the upper levels of the Empire.
The military branch was led by Grand Generals and they answered only to the Emperor. They were the backbone of the military, with the power to lead hundred of thousand of men into battle. There were a few of them at the moment, five to be more exact. Even Gustavo, who was an Imperial Prince, didn’t have this title. The Grand Generals were men that proved themselves into battle and had the respect of everyone.
The administrative branch was led by the Prime Minister, the role that Armando will take after this Grand Council. The Prime Minister was in charge with everything that meant administering the Empire, from infrastructure, treasury, health system. Of course, the big decisions were taken with the approval of the Emperor. Because one man can’t take care of an entire Empire, there were Governors assigned to each region that took care of the administration, in the name of the Emperor. They reported directly to the Prime Minister.
The nobles took care for their lands. Each noble had assigned a piece of land, some had more than others, according to their rank or greed. The nobles had to pay taxes to the Emperor and provide him with men when it was necessary for war. At the rest of the time, the nobles didn’t have much work to do. This is why they had a lot of time for scheming and plotting to increase their power. There were many feuds between the lords, some ending in small skirmishes between their private armies. The Empire didn’t forbid the lords to fight themselves as long as they didn’t affect the lives of the common people, and their power didn’t extend too much. The Empire wouldn't want to have lords with too much power in their hands. If a lord crossed the line, the Imperial Army would step in.
Of course, if the Emperor was a person with a weak will, he would be at the mercy of his nobles. In the past, there were cases where the Emperor has been just a puppet of the some noble faction, that managed to get hold of the power and rule the Empire instead of the Emperor. These were the dark ages for the Empire, because these kind of people are often greedy and vile, and they didn't care for anyone outside their own interest. Internal wars and rebellions were the end of such a rule, but the Empire was left in dire straights afterwards.
Many of the lords were wondering what kind of Emperor Marco will be. Will he manage to rise above the intricacies of the lords, or he will submit to the pressure and will become a puppet. The rumors that are flowing around the Emperor right now, made most of the small nobles to question what kind of Emperor will they have.
The Grand Hall of Rites, the place where the Grand Council will take place, was noisy today. Noble lords from all over the Empire arrived in the capital for this event, and slowly they arrived at the Hall of Rites. Many of them were friends and neighbours so small groups were formed while they talked small things or about the events that will happen today. The Grand Council was supposed to take place at least two weeks, each they with a different agenda on the table. Today was only the first day, the Emperor was supposed to greet the nobles, give a small speech about the future of the Empire and his plans.
Since it was a Grand Council for a new Emperor, probably some factions will try to push their men into the Administration of the Empire. Some will want the Governor position, some will want ministerial ones. The Prime Minister seat was still vacant and the fight will be harsh for it.
This is why, some neutral nobles were eager for this Council, to see who will be victorious from this political battle.
“The Grand Duke Darin has arrived”, the voice of a chamberlain was heard, making many heads turn towards the entrance.
Grand Duke Darin was a known figure into the nobles circle, because he gathered quite the political power around him. Many knew that he tried to place Armando on the throne during the time Augusto was ill, but he faced the wall that Gustavo and his southern fellows stopped him in his tracks.
Darius went to say a few words to some of the nobles that arrived before him. It was important to keep good relations and Darius knew that. Especially now, when he joined Marco side. He and Armando didn’t manage to gather that much political power around them. Darius former faction left him alone when they heard that he wanted to support Marco now. The nobles didn’t trust Marco that much.
“Marquis the Sar has arrived” the voice was heard once again.
This Marquis made the heads turn once again. He was the de facto leader of the south. He was the right man of Gustavo and the one that rallied the nobles of the south to support this prince. He was a force in the Empire and he could turn the state of the Empire upside down with just one word. The most impressive fact was he a young noble, having a little bit above 30 years.
Many of the nobles went to greet this powerful man, trying to curry his favor.
“Marquis the Sar, what a pleasant surprise to see you. Is everything fine in the southern regions? After Emperor Augusto funeral, you left in such a hurry that I thought something happened in the South”, the voice of Darius was heard.
The funeral was over a month ago. Many of the nobles present at the time, decided to stay in the Capital or around her. It would have taken too much time to go back to their territories and return in time for the Grand Council. Marquis de Sar used some fast beasts to go back and forth in the short amount of time, but that wasn’t the reason why Darius pointed this thing out. From De Sar point of view he encountered a loss that night when Augusto died, so he went back into hiding, like a child.
“Hmph!” De Sar snorted. “My dear Grand Duke, do you still linger around the capital? If you don’t take care of your land, you will lose the respect of your people”.
“Don’t worry, I know how my people are. They don’t need to see me everyday to know that I will take care of them” Darius rebuked.
“Enough the two of you, don’t act like two children” Grand Duke Mar intervened between the argument become bigger.
Although the Grand Duke of Mar was mostly retired from the political scene and his family business was run by his oldest son, he still held a lot of sway and respect among the nobles. He was a former Prime Minister afterwards.
“Greetings, Grand Duke Mar” both de Sar and Darin greeted the old Grand Duke.
“Imperial Prince Armando Eldobal has arrived”
“Imperial Prince Gustavo Eldobal has arrived”
Two voices were heard at the same time, making the heads turn towards the entrance. The two people that everybody thought will be the focus point of this Council had arrived.
While Gustavo went straight to the corner where Marquis De Tsar and the rest of the nobles of the south were located, Armando went and greeted most of the notable people from around the hall.
“Look at him” Gustavo said with a sound of disgust in his voice looking at Armado.”Does he think that if lick his boots of every poor bastard in here he will get something from them? He doesn’t have real power, only the a title. All his life he was daddy little puppy, he didn’t do anything on own.”
Gustavo hated Armando because he stayed in his father's shadow and thus managed to get some political power, working on several ministerial offices and gaining the praise of Augusto from time to time because of his good work. He, on the other side, although he was a good general, he never excelled in his campaigns.
“Patience, Gustavo, patience. Let’s wait for that little Emperor to come and see what he has to say. We will get what we want, if not… he, he. I think everybody here knows our power and don’t dare to mess with us. Patience.” the Marquis tried to temper this hot-headed prince.
Although, De Sar and Gustavo, didn’t manage to take the Imperial throne, because of Augusto deathbed decision, they still wanted to control the whole Empire. One of the ways they could do that was to make Marco name Gustavo Prime Minister. De Sar knew that it was much easier to control Gustavo from the shadows, that him stepping directly into the light. Gustavo was looking for titles and power, he didn’t care about anything else.
“The Emperor is arriving” the chamberlain voice was heard for the last time.
Everyone ended their conversation and prepared to greet the Emperor.
Marco entered into the hall, flanked by the four Swords. He was wearing a white tunic, with matching pants. At his waist a sword with a golden handle could be seen. Marco decided to renounce the big ceremonial robes, because it was too uncomfortable for him.
Seeing the Emperor is such simple clothes, made many nobles to raise an eyebrow, but they couldn’t deny that Marco looked majestic even in those clothes. He had a special aura around him, he really looked imperial.
Marco seated on the throne, with the four Sword taking stand behind his back.
“We greet the Emperor” all the hall bowed in front of him.
“I greet you as well, my dear subjects” Marco said with a smile “Then, let’s begin this Council, I think everybody is eager to hear want I have to say. Am I right?”
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
So the Grand Council finally begins. We could see in this chapter the shadow leader behind Gustavo, the young Marquis the Sar. What are his future plans? What Marco intends to say? How will he handle the pressure from the southern nobles, that will want Gustavo as Prime Minister? Stay tuned for next chapter :)