Welcome to a new chapter of Imperial Struggle, the story of the young Emperor Marco, and the struggles he has with his new imperial position. Imperial Struggle is my first web novel, so any feedback is welcomed. This is chapter 16, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
While Marco headed towards the throne a young man, with the uniform of an Imperial Guard Captain on him, approached Marquis de Sar.
“Uncle, I think I recognize one of the Emperor’s men.” he said in a low voice
“Oh, from where? Which one is it?” the Marquis asked.
The background of these men was the question of many lords in the past month. There was a rumor that they were men assigned by someone that was pulling the strings from behind. Finding out who these men were might bring some light into this.
“Do you see the one that seems to be the oldest? The one from the right?” the guards said, indicating towards Scilla.”He looks like a former brigand from our land. Scilla the Red Brigand I think he was named.”
Marquis de Sar raised an eyebrow when he heard this. Brigand? Why would a brigand be on the Emperor side.
“What’s his story?” the marquis wanted to find out more. Maybe he might get something to work with during the Council.
“He killed Lord de Assar son and tried to kill the lord himself, but didn’t manage to do it. He only injured him. After that, he retreated towards the forests and formed a small brigand group, pestering the lord operations. He asked for our help and we set up an ambush for him. He supposedly died in the ambush.”
“When this happened?” The Marquis didn’t have time for all the troubles of his vassals. He focused on the grand schemes. This brigand thing was a small issue that never mattered in his eyes.
“I think it was five or six years ago. It happened before I went to the capital to join the Imperial guards.”
“Hmm, ask the Emperor about this.” the Marquis said. ”Ask him now before he starts speaking.”
“Wouldn’t that be rude to the Emperor. I could get some retribution because of this”, the captain was said with a glimpse of fear in his voice.
“With this kind of news, nobody will hold it against you if you speak now. Use the pretext of the honor of the Imperial Guard, that I’ve heard you lamenting so much. I heard that even Abruzzo question the Emperor about this and got rebuked in a big way.” de Sar said.
*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?”*
The young captain de Sar, took a deep breath and made a step forward and kneeled down before Marco.
“Your Highness, forgive my rudeness of interrupting you, but I have a question regarding one of your personal guards” he said with a trembling voice.
The Grand Hall of Rites froze at the time. Who was this puny imperial guard to interrupt the Emperor? The lords who recognized him as a de Sar family member realized that the Marquis has already made his move. He didn’t even waited for the Emperor to seat properly on the throne. What a man, many of them thought.
“Insolence” the angry voice of the Guard Commander was heard. “Your Highness, please forgive this Commander for not discipline his Guard properly. I will punish him and myself today”.
Commander Abruzzo still remembered the argument in the garden. Fortunately for him, that was a small meeting and only a small group of people were present. If that scene would repeat once again, in front of so many nobles, he would probably would have to resign from his post because of embarrassment.
“Now, now Commander. No need to be rushed. Let’s see what this captain has to say”. Marco said.
The fact that he mentioned one of his guards, meant that somehow, this captain recognized one of them. And that intrigued him.
“First of all, let us know your name, brave captain of the guard” Marco said with a smile. He wanted to know who was behind this. This man in front of him wouldn’t have the guts to confront him alone.
“Jacques de Sar, Your Highness, ” he said.
“Oh, so you are from the de Sar family?” Marco said, looking towards Marquis de Sar and giving him a smile. “Let’s hear what you have to say. What do you want to know about”.
“My lord, we all have wondered who are the men that become your personal guards. We, as the Imperial Guard, we always took pride in being the protectors of the Emperor. Declining us this honor took a deep blow in our pride. I might accept that you need your own people around you, but Your Highness, why do you have a brigand as your personal guard? One that was supposed to be dead, nonetheless?”
Scilla froze when he heard this. Unconsciously, his hand tightened on his sword until his fingers become white.
At the same time, the nobles in the Grand Hall were astonished and started to talk among themselves.
A brigand? The brigands were the most vicious criminals in the eyes of the lords. They deliberately targeted the nobles properties, wreaking havoc, killing and pillaging. When a brigand group rose, the nobles of that area joined forces to stop them, because such groups sometimes lead to rebellion. Many noble families perished at the hands of brigands. How come the Emperor had a brigand at his side.
The nobles looked towards Marco to see what kind of reaction he would have. They thought they might see fear or surprise or anger, but Marco still kept smiling.
For Marco it wasn’t a surprise that someone recognized Scilla. It wasn’t as their identities were secret. They had a past of their own, and if they encountered people from that past, of course they would be recognized. But using Scilla past to try to hurt him, that made Marco a little mad. Marquis de Sar had to pay for this, not because he tried to take a jab at him, but because he made Scilla remind those painful memories.
“Scilla, can you tell us your story? I won’t force you if you don’t want to” Marco said, looking toward the big man at his side.
“Don’t worry about this, little Marco… dammit, I forgot, Your Highness, ” Scilla said while taking the middle of the room.
Surprised of the twist? Actually, I'm surprised myself on how the story turned out to be. I didn't planned this, but the idea fit right in. Marquis de Sar tried to take a jab at Marco. How the response will be? Next chapter, we hear about the story of Scilla. What made him to become a brigand? How did he meet Marco?
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