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 24, so if you want to read from the beginning please click here
Teacher? What the Emperor meant by this, the nobles asked themselves?
But seeing that Marco hugged the man, it seems that the relation between them was not simple.
“Your Highness, do you know this man?” Grand General Basta asked full of curiosity
Marco looked around him and regained his composure. He went back to the throne and said:
“Grand General, my dear nobles, this one is my teacher, the man that taught me the way of the sword. The young one beside him is his son, also a good friend of mine. They are also members of my guard group, with the teacher being the captain of the seven of them. And speaking of my guards, let me introduce another one. Enmanuel, come here” Marco asked Enmanuel, who just arrived from the south gate together with Commander Abruzzo.
“This is Enmanuel, also called the Zealot. By chance, he infiltrated the group of assassins that attacked me this night and managed to save my life in the process. Commander Abruzzo, how is the south gate?”
“The gate is safe. The ones that wanted to leave the city are either imprisoned or dead.” the commander gave his report.
“Thank you commander. Bring up the prisoners” Marco orders.
A group of soldiers entered the Grand Hall, bringing into the hall the three leaders that were leading the attack from the inside and also the general and few of his staff that were attacking from the outside.
“Teacher, can you take the lead on this?” Marco asked his teacher to interrogate the prisoners.
The old man made a sign to the soldiers to leave the prisoners in the middle of the hall. The group of men were pitiable, all injured, covered in blood and mud. It was obvious that they also received a “treatment” from the soldiers as well, the way their faces was didn’t happene because of the battle alone.
“Give them some water, ” he ordered to a servant.”My name is Cien Andrade, Grand Elder in the Order of the Sword. Answer me honestly and I promise you won’t suffer. Lie and… let’s say you prefer to answer honestly”.
Everyone present almost fell down when they heard Cien say Order of the Sword. This Order was an ancient martial sect, that existed way before the Empire formed. The legend was saying that the first Eldobal Emperor was the grandson of a patriarch of the Order. The members of the Order didn’t mingle outside the martial arts world, they were very traditional about this. But seeing a sect Member, and probably two since the son was most likely member of the Order as well, was big news.
“What the hell! Why a member of a martial sect is on Imperial court?” the defeated general sect asked furiously. Of course he was angry. Two sect members defeated his staff and captured him. How could he not be furious?
“I’m asking the questions here” Cien replied, giving a slap to the man who dared to speak. “Your turn will be later, first, let’s begin with the ones that dares to attack the gate from inside. Now fine gentlemen, let’s talk. Let’s present ourselves. You already know who I am, but who are you?” he asked the three men.
“Would answering you save my life? I doubt that!” one of the men said while spatting a mouthful of blood on Cien boots.
Cien smiled. A big smile, like a grandfather that see his grandson playing. He looked over and made a sign towards his son to come over.
“Gentlemen, this is my son, Aral. He doesn’t talk much, but he is good with the sword. He will now demonstrate why you should answer my questions as fast and as honest as possible.”
Aral went towards the man that just talked and drew the sword. With a sole swing, he cut the clothes of the man in two, revealing his back. Another swing left the man naked from the waist up. After this, Aral took a cup of water and poured it over the man, washing some of the blood that he was covered in.
After a few cups of water, the man was now a little bit cleaner. His body was not that injured that one might believe from the blood. Aral placed the tip of the sword on the man's shoulder, right under the collar bone. Then, with a swift move he made a cut across the chest from the should to the end of the ribs. A deadly scream filled the hall. Although the cut was not deadly, it was hurtful as hell. The man was screaming in agony, making some of the nobles to cover their ears.
“Your Highness!” someone dared to speak, “It is really necessary to do it in front of us?”
Marco looked at that noble with dead eyes and give a laconic answer “Yes”.
“But, your Highness, this scene is not suitable for the presence of the nobles and….”
“Captain Abruzzo, the next noble that dares to speak on this matter will be arrested for treachery. You will stand here and you will endure. I don’t care what is suitable or not. We are at war and this is a battlefield right now. It is our duty to find out who did this!” Marco raised his voice, covering the screams of the prisoner.
Aral continued to cut the prisoner, leaving a pool of blood in the middle of the hall. Soon the screams faded away, only a bloody snorting could be heard, followed by a silence. The prisoner died in a matter of minutes, in utter agony.
“Now, do you want to join your friend there or answer me?” Cien asked keeping his smile on the face.
The other two prisoners looked at each other and nodded.
“Fuck, stop them” Cien shouted, but it was already too late. Both of the prisoners bite their tongues and died soon after. “Put them cloths in their mouths” Cien growled angrily pointing towards the rest of the prisoners. “I’m sorry Marco, I didn’t think they would do that!”
“Don’t worry, Teacher! I know who they were. Mario, tell them” Marco looked towards his brother who just received a note from one of his men.
“They were mercenaries. Flaming sparrow, based on their badge and flag. They entered the capital as guards for several noble families. All of those families seem to be dead right now. We will continue to investigate if the whole body of Flaming sparrow was on this plot or this was done by a rogue group. Sir Cien, you can continue your interrogation” Mario ended his presentation.
Gemini men moved fast and interrogated the rest of the prisoners as well, without losing any time, and informed Mario right away when they managed to put some of the pieces together.
“Right, dear general, can I remove that cloth from your mouth or you want to bite your tongue as well?” Cien headed towards the enemy general.
“I am a man of noble birth, I demand the proper respect.” the general shouted.
“He, he, at least tell me who you are to see if you deserve my respect” Cien said.”You will die anyway, the question is how you will die. Swift and painless or in agony, like that poor fellow” Cien pointed out to the man that Aral killed. “And in your case, trust me, you will want the treatment he had, because I won’t give you any mercy. Now talk!”
The enemy general lost the colour in his face when he heard this, but he kept his composure.
“You won’t make me say a word. Do your worst. I won’t betray my country” the general said with all the courage that he could muster.
“Oh, you don’t need to try to be brave” Cien said. “I already know the who, my dear general. I just need to know the why. So we could know what kind of punishment to lay down. Isn’t that right?” Cien asked, looking towards Marco, that nodded with a smile.
“Now, my dear general of the Bluerigard Kingdom, can you tell me what I want to know? Why did you attack? Who gave you the information? Who is the mastermind behind all of this?”
The general looked with horror at Cien. How the hell did he knew that? They were very careful about this. They didn’t used any of the kingdom flags or armor. They moved the men in small groups, to avoid attracting attention. How the hell does he know who they were?
Bluerigard was a small kingdom, that could be smashed into oblivion by the might of Eldobal Empire. Only the policy of Augustus saved Bluerigard from becoming a part of the Empire. They managed to exist until now because of this. They've even made an alliance with Augustus, to protect themselves from the peril of the other kingdoms that we're looking at them live wolves. Basically, they bit the hand that fed them and they will have to pay the price.
Marco looked at Cien with big eyes asking himself the same question like the general. How did Cien know this information? But for Marco it didn’t matter anymore. Because he already knew what he had to do. He let Cien continue his interrogation.
“Don’t fret your mind about how I know. I just know. It doesn’t help you to know how I found it out, what will help you it will be to answer my questions. Based on your answers, not only your life, but the fate of the kingdom can be changed as well.” Cien asked once again, looking directly in the eyes of the general.
“The Prime Minister. The Primer Minister gave me the order.” the general finally gave in and answered Cien his question.
“Hearing this Marco immediately rose from his throne.
“Grand General Basta, prepare the army for an immediate attack on the Bluerigard Kingdom. Your mission is to capture the Prime Minister and the king of this Kingdom and bring them to justice in front of me. I want you to head out in a maximum of two days, ” he ordered to the grand general.
“Your Highness, my army is always ready for battle. We will head out tomorrow by dawn.” The grand general saluted and left the grand hall heading towards his army base.
A little bit over a month in Marco’s reign, and he gave his first order of war.
Quick development of events, right? We find out quite a lot of informations is this chapter: we find out who is behind the attack, the small kingdom Bluerigard. We find out who the teacher is and we find out about a the Order of the Swords, who seems to be a major player in the history of the Empire.
How will the things play out now with the Empire engaging in a war? How will the things in the Capital develop? Will the political enemies of Marco make a move or they will wait in the shadows? More on this in the next chapters.
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