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 23, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
Chapter 23: Aftermath
The battle for the North gate has ended. The soldiers that arrived started to round up the prisoners and tend to the wounded.
Marco took a seat on the steps of the wall looking at the scene that was unfolding in front of him. Around 100 prisoners, many wounded guards and dead. Pools of blood were everywhere, spread out from those that stepped on them. The smell of blood and guts were filling the air, but for these hardened men was nothing.
Scilla approached Marco giving him a clean rag to wipe the blood from his face. Marco realised now that he was full of blood. Not his, but his enemies. His hair, face, neck and the rest of his clothes and body were reeking with blood, that already started to dry. He wiped some of the blood from his face, but he needed a good bath to get rid of the stench.
“What’s the next step?” Scilla asked.
“I’m thinking. Something doesn’t feel right… Who would mastermind this kind of operation of such scale?” Marco asked.
Horses were heard approaching fast, making Scilla and Marco raise their heads to see who was coming. There were many groups of soldiers that arrived with haste, but many of them left with Grand General Basta in pursuit of the enemies.
“Marco, are you alright?” Mario voice was heard through the noise.
“Mario?” Marco asked, surprised. “What are you doing here?”
“How could I stand aside, when all these things happen in the capital?” his brother answered.
Marco looked at the men that were following his brother and he recognized some of them. They were the new members of Gemini. All of them were wearing red and blue clothes and on the left arm there was the sign of Gemini, the Yin-Yang made by two scythes. The sign meaning was that they were the peacekeepers, even if peace meant death.
“It’s actually good that you are here” Marco said after a few moments of thinking… “Captain Abruzzo, how are you and your men?”
“We are fine, your Highness. Some bruises and scratches, but nothing serious”. The captain answered.
“Good, I want you to go to the south gate, relieve your father from the command and tell him to meet us in the Grand Hall… Next, I need some paper, now”.
Hearing the order, some soldiers ran to the nearest buildings and brought Marco the papers he asked. Marco took out from his clothes the imperial seal and wrote some words on the papers and marked them with the seal.
“Mario, I need your men to gather all the nobles in the Grand Hall. The Imperial Seal will be their proof that they talk in my name. Now go…”
After this Marco headed towards the soldiers that were guarding the group of prisoners. Seeing him approach, the soldiers kneeled down and greeted their Emperor.
“Who are the leaders?” Marco asked the prisoners. Nobody dared to answer. “Who are the leaders, tell me now or you will die on the spot” Marco asked again, making a sign to the soldier to draw their swords.
Seeing this, the prisoners immediately pointed out to the three men that were their captains.
“Scilla, take the captains with us, the rest of them send them to prison” Marco said.
The Grand Hall. Gemini’s men moved really fast and announced all the nobles about the Imperials summon, so all the nobles were arriving with haste. With all the commotion in the capital, all of them were prepared for anything, so it wasn’t surprising that Marco called them all up. Some of them suffered attacks as well, either by the enemy forces or internal adversaries that wanted to take advantage of the situation.
Marco took his time to arrive to the Grand Hall. He knew that it will take a while until the nobles have gathered, so he didn’t hurry. It was a long way from the North Gate till the Grand Hall anyway.
Inside the Grand Hall, the nobles were fretting and talked about this attack. There were some nobles that died this night, betrayed by their own men. Strange things happened and they were putting out various theories about this.
Everyone stopped talking when Marco entered the Grand Hall. They looked at him like he was a ghost. His clothes were soaked with blood, his hair was a mess, blood dripping from it. Slowly, Marco crossed the hall and seated on the throne.
He looked at everyone present and saw that some of the nobles were missing. He knew that they were dead. This was a very calculated attack. The masterminds behind it, planned it very carefully.
“Your Highness, what happened? Why are you in this state?” some of the nobles asked.
“The Emperor was attacked by assassins this night. He fought them off, with the help of the Imperial Guards and his own guards. Then he took the field and lead a group of Imperial Guards to protect the North Gate, which was under enemy attack” Mario answered instead of Marco.
Many nobles knew some of the events, but the news that Marco personally was involved in defeating the enemy shocked them.
“Thank you Mario. As my brother said, this night we were under attack. Not just me personally, but this was an attack over our Empire. From what I see some of our nobles aren’t present here tonight. I assume they died in the attack”, Marco said. “My nobles, we were under a vicious attack today. Our enemies thought that after lost our emperor Augusto, we were weak. They thought that I was weak. I will assure you that I am not. Right now General Basta is pursuing our enemies that dared to attack the capital and we will have our answer then.”
As soon as Marco finished his sentence, Grand General Basta entered in the Grand Hall with haste. Marco raised an eyebrow, seeing the Grand General returning so soon.
“Grand General, why did you return so soon. Did you manage to finish the enemies, so soon?” Marco asked.
“My Emperor” Basta tried to find his words. “It’s a little bit more complicated than that. We pursued the enemies, but after we find out that they were already defeated and their general captured”.
“Defeated? Captured? By whom?”
“Your Highness, I can’t explain this. They were only two men present in their camp, with a huge pile of bodies around them. I have never seen anything like this in my whole life”.
“Who were these men?” Marco asked.
“They didn’t say, but they had Imperial papers with them and they said that they will deliver the enemy general only to you, so we brought them here”.
“Then invite them in” Marco said with curiosity, a feeling that everyone present had.
Hearing this, an old man entered the Hall followed closely by a young man. They looked like father and son. The old man had a calm aura around him, each step he made seemed to be calculated. With one hand on the sword and the other behind his back, the old started to speak:
“You look good on that throne, little Marco. But you still didn’t learn how to fight without making a mess around you”.
This sentence attracted many frowned faces, but Marco eyes lightened up. He rose from the chair and headed to the old man to give him a hug, while saying with joy in his voice:
Marco's teacher arrived on the Grand Hall delivering him the General that lead the attack on the North Gate. Who is he? What is his purpose and why did he arrived right now? Coincidence or deliberate act? Next chapter, Marco impose is will as Emperor as a new Prime Minister is appointed. Stay tuned for more of the "Imperial Struggle"
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