2 Chapter 2: In Heart of the Empire

Seeing the crystal palace with all it's numerous towers overshadow the Imperial Capital in the distance, Marcus arrived at the journey's campsite riding the a white Stalion and wearing his new set of sturdy but flexible Marauder Armor.

Witnessing his arrival spread fear and silent anger among his competitors, a large crocked smile could be seen on Sir Strong's face.

Stopping infront of his assigned tent, he got down from his horse to recieve a message delivered by a trembling servant. 'Weakling' was all Marcus thought, as he craked the seal and unrolled the raven delivered messade.

In bold and strong letters clearly written personally by the King of the West himself, the message red.

-I agree and will arrive four weeks after the Imperial Tournament. Best of Luck.-

Remembering the long letter he himself had previously send to his liege, Marcus couldn't keep himself from smiling. Very soon the Imperial Princess would be his but first he had a tournament to win, an Empress to blackmail and an Imperial Advisor to meet.

"Squire my warhorse!..." Marcus shouted before he addressed his loyal entourage of murders, mercenaries and rapists. "... No need to follow me. Prepare the Lances and have the horses watered."

That said, he rode of to the Imperial Capital, the Crystal Palace to be more specific to meet the Most Honorable Man in the Country.

Attracting attention where ever he went thanks to his intimidating stature and bad reputation, Marcus soon arrived infront to the majestic palace in the heart of the empire.

But instead of being greeted by a trembling member of the Imperial Guard, he met the all to familiar figure of his half brother. "Hello, brother... Didn't think I would see you again so soon."

"Sam." Replied Marcus not even the least bit bothered by his brother's remark. How them meeting after ten years be considered 'soon'.

Taken aback by his brother's uncharacteristically calm demeanour, Samson Strong asked, neither surprised nore fearful. "Why are you here?"

Sizing up his brother that was only slightly smaller than himself, Marcus calmly replied. "Tournament."

Rolling his eyes, Samson hissed. "That's not what I asked and you know it, brother."

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"Yes, I know..." Stated Marcus, as he calmly walked past his brother before he stopped and added. "... Seasons are changing and I regret what I did that day to you brother. Maybe one day you find yourself able to forgive."

Leaving his stunned brother behind, Marcus found his way to the Imperial Advisor's office.

"Tell the King of the North, Sir Marcus Strong is here to see him." He told the guard infront of the Advisor's office before spotting a tomboy nearby playing with a thin rapier. Hadn't Marcus red his book attentively, he wouldn't be able to identify the girl to the Annabel Northborn, the youngest daughter of Norman Northborn aka the King in the North.

"Please, wait a moment." Marcus heared the guard reply but was already walking over to the girl playing.

"Your feet are to far apart!..." He told the girl, who instantly curned around to face him but fell on her ass by doing so. Kneeling down to help the little lady up, Marcus introduced himsel with a friendly smile. "... Marcus Strong."

Looking cute as she took his comparatively huge hand, An asked. "The butcher?"

"I prefer 'Titan' but some do call me a butcher..." Replied Marcus, as he stood back up and pulled the girl back on her feet. "... Might I know your name?"

Curiosity and fright "Thank you and I am Miss Annabel Northborn..."

"Annabel what are you doing!.." Suddenly interrupted a tall man, two years Marcus senior with a long face, long brown hair and a closely-trimmed beard that was beginning to grey that made him look much older. Shielding the young Annabel behind him, the man angrily asked Marcus with disgust in his voice. "... Sir Strong what do you want from my daughter!"

"Didn't think a busy man such as yourself got time for a lowly knight like me, your highness..." Replied Marcus calmy instantly defusing the King's rage. "... Oh and I wanted to talk to you about the circumstances that lead to the previous Imperial Advisor's untimely death."

"Annabel, please go to your chamber and give me a moment with Sir Knight." The King in the North told his youngest daughter while keeping Marcus in his sight.

With the girl gone, Norman instantly asked. "What do you know of Sir Railand's death?"

"To dammed much..." Honestly replied Marcus before he demanded. "... But first I want your word, that you don't act on what I tell you until the eastern King has arrived in the capital and not a word to the Emperor."

"Sounds suspicious coming from you, 'Sir' Strong..." Stated Norman curious about what exactly the Butcher knew. "... Oh, well I bit. I swear that I neither tell the king nore act on what you tell me until the Tristan arrives."

Nodding, Marcus took a quick look around before he said rather satisfied. "Good... Now let me tell you about the Empress's lover..."

That said, Marcus began to tell the King in the North about the Empress giving birth to her brother's children, poisoning the previous Imperial Advisor and the true heir to the Imperial Throne working in the suburbs of the capital as the apprentice of a blacksmith. Marcus even told Norman not to trust the other members of the Imperial Council, especially his wife's childhood friend's Lord Peter Bartholomew. But what he didn't tell him was that the Emperor would soon be mortally wounded on a hunting trip that may or may not be the Empress's doing.

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