Polymath Redux Annex
Chapter 61 – The Right Hand of the Imperium
On the lower southern corner of the world existed an aggressively expansionist empire. The ‘Baliazoural Empire’, a state led by the warmongering ruler known as the ‘Blood Emperor’. This relatively young nation who spanned a brief history of only about three hundred years amongst other civilization that existed for millennia, had conquered half of the known southern hemisphere. The credits for such feats of militarism could be claimed by the exceptional talents of the ‘elites’ of Baliazoural military society. Only a minority- albeit a treasured one- were posted in non-military offices; most of the aristocracy were raised as either warriors and commanders. Tempered from an early age, they were all taught that the ‘glory of battle’ was the pinnacle of one’s existence.
‘War’ replaced their religion. Having burgeoned to such a glorified history of conquest, there were no shortages of volunteers who sought that honour of battle. Countless thousands stepped up to the stage intending to continue their empire’s warpath.
The larger empire harboured many military factions, of them existed one prominently established as the ‘Right Hand of the Imperium’. A deathly competent corps under the direction of an entity known as the ‘Lord General’, subordinate only to the Emperor himself.
As a rather eccentric person, the Lord General’s hobby included overseeing the training of low ranking foot-soldiers and new recruits. He watched and partook in their exercises with the same gaze a parent might show to their child.
“Lord Ilyich! Prepare yourself!” shouted one such foot-soldier. He charged with the determination of a straight-flying arrow. He raised his sword to strike. ‘Calling out to an opponent on the battlefield is folly,’ thought the Lord General as he tensed up his body to accept the trainee’s attack. He liked to think even fresh recruits weren’t stupid enough to so obtusely charge in without thought. ‘If that’s the case,’ he scanned his gaze behind him. ‘Ah… indeed,’ he smirked as he understood the recruits’ intentions.
The moment the trainee’s sword clashed with the Lord General’s sword’s hilt, another soldier appeared immediately behind to continue the attack. ‘The first was diversion, the second is the real attacker,’ with the leisure to see through their intent, the Lord General had merely to shift his body slightly to the side to get into the perfect position to catch the attacker’s blade with his gloved hand. As a follow up, the he promptly swept the legs of the sneaky attacker to floor him and then moved his focus back to the first soldier. A sturdy push with his sword and kick to the stomach decommissioned both trainees.
The Lord General sheathed his sword but still gave applause to the trainees’ interesting strategy, “a rather crafty approach but not at all bad and could prove practical on the battlefield.” The Lord General personally prided practicality over ‘glory’ or ‘honour’ on the battlefield. These kinds of tactics were some of his favourite. “However, screaming so loudly to grab my attention only betrays your true intents. Try to go with a subtler approach next time.”
“Y- yes! Thank you very much!” the first soldier bowed with a large grin across his face.
“As for you,” his eyes turned back to the second soldier, “your footwork was silent enough, however your failure was a lack of a follow up. Even when your partner’s intention was known, if you had prepared a second blade, perhaps a dagger, then you could’ve continued the assault. Then when you are countered, your partner is in a more suitable position to attack while you held my attention.”
“I see! Thank you, Lord General, this has been an eye-opening experience!”
The Lord General nodded, “yes, yes, learning is a valuable part of becoming a first-rate soldier. Continue on your practice!” As the Lord General returned to the sidelines to watch the trainees carry on, a female soldier ran up to him.
She bowed and started off with an apology, “Lord General Ilyich, I’m sorry for disrupting your free time, but the Emperor has requested for your presence.”
“All right, then tell him I’ll be at the imperial castle shortly.”
The Imperial Castle of the Baliazoural Empire was a marvel of architecture. Built into a small mountain, it impressed everyone with its complex winding structures and a marvellous subdued sanguine mist that could be observed from a distance.
The Blood Emperor: ‘Zhiglov Balia’, was often seen on the upper terrace overlooking the capital. An open garden located rather high beside the mountain’s peak, the spectacle of the city below would regularly be obscured by clouds, but far from souring the sight, it only added to the atmosphere. Balancing on top of the marble railing of the dangerously high terrace was a mischievous child. Looking no older than ten or possibly eleven, he laughed merrily as he balanced and traced around the garden. The maid servants tried desperately stop him, often fainting and drenched with sweat when they saw him nearly tip over.
Lord General Ilyich entered the terrace with a slightly more dignified appearance than the garbs he wore while overseeing training. He preferred lighter armour, opting mostly for dark coloured, leather armour with added steel plating on top. That said, the one piece of impractical article of clothing was his short, regal-looking red cloak that bore the imperial house’s signet: a dark red ‘x’ with a smaller circle at the centre. This, he had worn as an obligation.
He knelt as he approached the terrace’s centre towards the mischievous child, “as you summoned, I have arrived, Your Imperial Majesty.” He kept his head lowered until reprimanded by the child.
“Ehh…” the child made a sour face as he pouted, “you’re as stiff as always, Lord General Ilyich. You can just talk like normal, you know?”
“Even if you say, this is how I normally talk,” Ilyich raised his head. The child smirked down upon him through his mysterious heterochromatic stare of blue and orange. There was an unidentifiable aura about the child that made those around him feel intimidated though veteran warriors could easily sit through unhindered. The child wore nothing that dignified his title of ‘Blood Emperor’; a small noble child’s clothing: a white button-up shirt with black shorts and leather boots. A small short sword tied to his waist that bore the imperial crest. He wore an odd set of steel chest plate and steel gauntlet as if a child pretending to be a soldier. However, the most eye-catching detail was the small pendant around his neck: a small black iron cross with a ruby embedded into the centre. It was about the size of a child’s hand and was said to be the origin design of the imperial house’s signet.
“Well, whatever. Anyway, thanks for coming Ilyich!” laughed the ‘Blood Emperor’ in a childish tone. The child clasped his hands together in an apologetic manner, “actually, you know~ I feel reeeaallly sorry for doing this, because I know you were supposed to be on break, but there’s something I can only trust you to do.”
“Whatever your Imperial Majesty commands, I shall happily get it done.” Though upon the Lord General’s face was the same stoic expression, having the complete trust of the Emperor was a compliment other people would kill over. He felt a little happy about it.
“Really?! Thanks! I knew I could count on you!” the child let out a sigh of relief, “I was worried you might say no.”
“Please perish the thoughts.”
“Okay, so, let’s see~ You know how the other generals are constantly whining about how I don’t invade Xagontetia even though we totally could wreck them in like a week?”
“Certainly. I would be lying to suggest I wasn’t slightly curious myself.”
“It’s not something I really want others to know. Since there are no shortages of those in the empire who want my position, I have to cover all my tracks, right? Anyway, there’s a certain ‘package’ that I need you to retrieve from those scum at the Xagontetian Church. You see, I can’t really invade that shitty bumpkin country without first getting back that package.”
“I understand. Would it be okay for me to ask what form this ‘package’ takes?” several theories ran through the Lord General’s head. ‘Something significant enough to stop the Emperor from invading a country,’ there were only a few such things that came to mind.
“Obviously, otherwise, how can you get the package?” the childish emperor awkwardly sat and gathered himself from the terrace’s railing. “It’s… ummm, a bit embarrassing. It’s an illegitimate child of mine. It ran away when it was still in its mother’s stomach, but I heard it was still alive and negotiated with the Xagontetian Church to get it back.” Suddenly, the air around the child grew sinister; hard to breathe, tense even for the veteran Lord General who had personally seen frontline battle countless times. The maids in the terrace had fallen unconscious long ago so they could not hear any of their conversation. Even some of the flowers of the garden started to wilt. “Leaving such a dangerous thing alone, without checking whether it’s alive or not… would not do, right? And I can’t really trust those Xagontetian scum to carry out an assassination. So, I want you to go as my eyes and check on it. Bring it back alive if you can, otherwise make definite sure it’s dead, okay?”
“If I may, is there a way to distinguish your child?”
The child raised his shirt and exposed his chest. On the left side, above where his heart should be was a distinct birthmark. An ‘x’ with a small circle in the middle; not at all dissimilar from the imperial house’s crest. “It should have a mark like this somewhere on its body.”
Lord General Ilyich nodded, “I understand. I shall carry out this assignment swiftly.”
“Thank you~ Ah! But don't take over thirty or so soldiers, because I want this to remain covert operation. Don’t worry about your other subordinates, I’ll get… er, what was her name? Sasha? I’ll get your secretary to come up with a reasonable excuse for your absence.”
“Of course. Your Imperial Majesty’s will be done.”