Wrote this a while back, after re-reading it still seems to fit into the background.
EDIT: Apologies for the double-post.
The Magnaura, Great Palace of the Despotate. Spring IC2217.
The steady tick tick of yellowed bone on the ornate marble floor resonated through the thick oak door, inlaid with ivory and strapped with polished gold. It was joined moments later by the thump of a score of booted feet, their steps heavy with weight and the clink of armour and weapons.
The noises stopped, all was silent in the Council chamber, with its vaulted ceilings, mozaic floors, giant stain glass wondows showing scenes of Reman History, glorious classical warriors subduing Greenskin beasts, Foul undead abominations and of course leering, demon-faced Miraglianese.
The Councillors, Officers and landowners of the Reman Empire stared about each other nervously, their courtly robes and hats of office seeming far too hot all of a sudden and causing them to sweat. Many of the higher ranks of the Reman Court were conspicuously missing among their number. Some were indignant, having been dragged out of bed in the early morning and had, only moments ago voiced their opinions loudly and in some cases obscenely. Once the ominous footsteps had started, however, their tongues had abruptly stopped.
The door opened. The perfectly oiled hinges swinging the immensely heavy wooden portal open, the draft of air causing the innumerable candles to flicker, their light dancing off the alcoves and causing the eyes of the warriors in the stain glass windows to brighten up with sudden, momentary life.
Lucius Valerius Maximus, the one-time holder of the most esteemed office of Basileopator, known as the Skeleton Man, The Tyrant of Bones and others spoken only where the whisperer knows no-one is listening stood in the portal flanked by armoured soldiers of the regular army, their red cloaks slung over their shoulders, large triangular shields in one hand and the other resting on the hilt of their sabres.
Many of the councillors flinched openly. Maximus was dressed in a simple grey robe, hanging limply on his – literal – bony frame; the deep cowl hid most of his skull, the twin pinpricks of bright blue light giving away the position of his empty eye sockets.
If the braver Councillors did not flinch when the long-dead Reman entered the room, they did when he spoke.
Lords of Remas, Councillors of the Empire, Gentlemen. The Tyrant Empress is Dead. Steps have been taken to preserve the state of the City and the glorious Empire of the Remans we all serve loyally and diligently.
There were many white faces among those in the crowd, the contrast between their drained faces and the brightly coloured silks of their clothes would have been slightly amusing in another setting.
I have judged your loyalty and usefulness to the Eternal City. The words seemed to enter the mind directly, bypassing the ears entirely. And to that of the previous regime...
Several of the newer members of the Council shuffled their slippered feet.
And Solkan Invictus has deemed you worthy of his love and that of His Chosen City.
There was much expelling of breath and sighing of relief at those words, never mind the being they came from.
And now onto the matter of the succession... The Princess Irene has, as you all know joined the Sisterhood of the Merciful Shallya and thus has foregone all rightful claim to the throne of Remas.
“What of Her Maj... The Tyrant’s Son, Titus Augustus?” called one of the most brave of Councillors, the Logothetes tou genikou, the Official in charge of Taxation in the city. Those around him stepped aside swiftly.
A northern barbarian! One of them cannot take the purple.
There were murmurs of agreement.
“Who then?” the bold Councillor called back.
Indeed, who? I know of one natural born son of the last true Despot, the illustrious Nikephorus III.
“The Bastard, what is his name? Manuel? Michael?” he snorted
The Basileopator turned that piercing gaze upon the Logothetes. The man cowered.
A Bastard, yes. But legitimate still by the laws set down by our Ancestors. And I am one of them.
A few chuckled.
Michael is a true Reman, his mother from a good family. He will bring about a new age to Remas, return to us the lands lost these past ten years that we fought so hard to regain after the Mercenary War. Luccini is lost to us, Verezzo has constantly insulted Imperial authority with late tribute, even with the help given by us in ousting the Bretonnians. The Golden Principalities are once more growing boisterous and charging our trade convoys over the mountains. Pirates run rampant all across the Tilean Sea.
There were rumblings of agreement at this.
Remas needs a strong leader, with energy and strength. Luccini has suffered from wars and incompetence, it is ripe for the taking. The old Cerulean League has broken up, theyre now bickering little fiefs with no central control. Michael will conquer us these lands for the glory of the Empire. Before the young Duke of Miragliano can do so.
There were roars of anger at the mention of the arch-enemies’ name.
He is just a lad, yes but already he is brilliant, body and head and has been schooled by the greatest minds in Tilea in the sciences of politics and war. However, he will need your help, esteemed Councillors, he will of course favour those that provide the greatest of aid to the young Prince in turbulent times such as these.
There were loud shouts of approval now, clapping of hands and cheering for Prince Michael to assume the throne. Unnoticed in the back, a number of high-ranking military officers in civilian garb filed into the room.
“Where is the fine lad?” called several Councillors, all sense of fear gone now.
Alas, he is far to the north, a diplomatic mission to the Empire of Middenland. I propose that the esteemed members of this council pass through a vote that we equip an army to send north and retrieve His Imperial Majesty from the frosty clutches of the north.
There were more shouts of approval at this.
A voice from the back; “Who shall rule while this is being done?”
I propose that this Council calls for a vote to choose one particularly dedicated citizen to assume regency of the Empire while the Prince is returned to us and assumes the purple as is his birth-right.
“I propose Lucius Valerius Maximus, honoured Basileopator to take that title once more”
Some of the Councillors turned to see who had spoken, but he was amongst the crowd and could not be seen. Re-hearsed cheering followed the proposal nonetheless and was quickly taken up by the social-climbers of the Empire.
Maximus lifted one bony hand to his hood and pushed back the thick cloth from the smooth and polished dome of his skull, revealing the grinning skull that many dread to look upon.
Very well, if it is what the Council wishes...