Hello guys, I'm here with the second chapter of Imperial Struggle. In case you missed the first chapter you can find it here. Enjoy
Marco drops the egg he was having in his hand. This was the first reaction in the room. You could see that he didn’t expect this either. Well, to be honest, nobody expected Augusto’s decision. Nobody thought that the Emperor will name is youngest son the heir to the Empire. And this is why nobody could have a good reaction. They were overwhelmed by this decision.
“Your Majesty, what’s the meaning of this?” one of the nobles was the first to react. “How could you choose Marco? What about Armando or Gustavo, for that point. Marco is too young, he doesn’t know too much at this age. How could he rule the empire?”
The one who spoke was the Grand Duke of Darin, a very wealthy province and the leader of one of the noble factions. He desired Armando of the throne, hoping that he would become the prime Minister of the Empire. Many machinations that were happening behind closed doors where, most of the time, his work.
Hearing him, many of the present nobles started to mumble their concerns as well. Many people from the capital didn’t liked Marco. He was a rebel young guy, most of the time rude, impolite, crude and a real pain in the ass. He didn’t know a thing about diplomacy and many times pointed out the flaws of the nobles. With him on the thrones most nobles would have a bad time, because Marco, from a young age didn't like these pompous old men and they didn’t like him either.
“I don’t think his Majesty has to explain his decisions to you Grand Duke” another noble intervened. “He is the Emperor of this great empire and we, as his subjects, will have to obey his will. Your majesty, this old fool wish you a rapid recovery and I’m so glad that you recovered”.
This was the Grand Duke of Mar, another influential figure into the noble ranks. There were many groups and factions into the empire, many with different grades of loyalty to the Imperial household. If all the nobles, all the influential people would be against the Eldobar family, their Imperial dynasty would have perished long ago. They had friends, many and loyal, and this is why they were the ruling family.
Seeing that the room was starting to get noisy, the Augusto intervened.
“Everybody, that you all for your thoughts, but as you can see I’m quite tired. I would like to have some words alone with my children”.
All the room cleared out, only the seven children of Augusto remained in the room. All of them had different thoughts and feelings about the Emperor decision.
“Father, can you tell us why you choose him?” Gustavo was the first to ask. For a long time he wanted to be on the throne, working his ass off in the military, trying to impress his father and to be named the heir of the Empire. But in the end, Marco was chosen. Of course he felt depressed now.
“Gustavo, you always wanted to be on the throne. But tell me, do you know a thing about being a ruler?” his father asked.”Do you know about the people and their needs? How could you be a good emperor when you spend most of your time in the barracks. I’m afraid that with you on the throne you will succumb to the generals and start waging wars that will split this country apart. You are a very good military man, an extraordinary general, but you wouldn’t make a good Emperor. Do you understand this?
Think really good, deep down your heart and think about what you really want. Do you want the seat of the Emperor because you want to help the people, or do you want the Emperor seat because you want to wage war? This is the reason why I didn’t choose you, although you had the support of so many generals and factions”.
“Then what about Armando or Rosaria?” Gustavo continued with his questions.”They also have support from the powerful people. You can’t tell me that they wouldn’t make good make Emperors either.”
“I didn’t want it” both of them answered at the same time.
“What?” Gustavo couldn’t help blurting out. “Then why had Darin and the Pope always pushed you in front?
“See Gustavo, this is one thing that you didn’t learn in the military” the Emperor spoke.”The backstage politics are always unseen. The Grand Duke of Darin always wanted to rise above all others and got close to Armando because of this. This is why he wanted one of his kids to get married with one of Armando daughters. Because that is a power mongrel, looking for more and more power. And the Pope… don’t get me started with him”
Visibly tired, the emperor looked at all his children once again thinking that this might be the last time when all of them are together.
“I know you all have your questions, especially you Gustavo. I don’t have much time. I can feel it in my bones. Death is waiting for me. Marco will be the next emperor and I expect that all of to give him your support. You all need to stick together. If not, the great Eldobar family will perish. And the empire will die with it.”
“I want to get some sleep now. You can all leave. Marco, stay behind a little bit”.
“Why me?” Now that the room was empty Marco finally got his voice back.
For this whole time he was silent and lost in his thoughts. For all his life, he was a carefree man. He liked to play pranks to the nobles and the guards. He would sneak out of the palace and play with the common people into the dirt, until the guards dragged him back into the palace. He always likes to do what he wanted. And now, he was the next in line for the Emperor seat.
“Do you remember the times when you were a little kid and snuck out of the palace? Just to play with the kids in the market? Nobody knew who you were, but every time you became their leader, their kind, leading them into battle with other kids and always been the winner?
These were the times when I thought of myself that you would make a good emperor. A true born leader, that could mesmerise the people around him, that could make them loyal to him and protect him during his rule. Sigh… I know that I’m placing a great burden on you, my dear son, but I have to do it. I don’t think of anyone better that you to be the protector of this family, and protect this dynasty from peril. A great storm is approaching and you will have to lead the empire into standing this tribulation. Cough, cough….”
August shoulders start to move erratically from a violent couch. A mouthful of blood was spilled.
“Don’t call the medics, cough. I don’t have much time left. Listen to me… cough, cough. In the background of the empire, many powers are moving. In the last couple of years I saw many strange things happen. Weird rebellions, out of nowhere, village massacred, enemies attacking our borders. I have a feeling that something strange is happening in our empire. I don’t have the whole picture yet. You will find everything into my papers…”
The coughing was increasing. Augusto took a break from speaking to catch is breath. He took Marco hands into his own.
“I think I was poisoned, this is why I suddenly fell ill. I don’t know who did it, that will be your job to find out. Keep your friend close, find loyal people to help you out. Keep your enemies closer, keep an eye on them all the time. I know you can do it.
Cough, cough, cough… Listen to me my son, I love you so much, be a great emperor for our people.”
And then, he died with a smile on his face, leaving Marco with thousand of questions in his mind. But right now, that didn’t matter, because his eyes were filled with tears. His father just died. And he just became the Emperor.
Thank you for reading this chapter. If you liked the story, you can give it an upvote or leave a comment. Any feedback is appreciated. I'll be back soon with Chapter 3.