Empire of Night- Outside the City of Eternal Night
The memories of the city for Jacob were fairly intact, but it had grown since the last time he had seen it. The three original massive walls were now surrounded by two more rings of walls and buildings. A tower for Airships was also present built outside the wall with a dozen Airships present loading and unloading cargo and people. The fortifications around the road that led to the nearby harbor had been enhanced. So many changes, "We received a population boom after the Great Migration and the conquest of the Dark Lands. When you went into your coma, the population of the city was over one hundred and fifty thousand, now it's close to four hundred thousand and growing." Darren said from nearby.
"My plan for the Arathia Basin? The farmlands to provide food for the Empire?" Jacob asked.
"It succeeded and its populations have grown as well. Both Aramore and Middlebrough have turned into small cities. The Basin provides more than enough food for the whole Empire. Areas around the cities to the north have begun to be developed as well into farmland, within a year, we will be able to start exporting food again to the northern nations." Cathrine replied.
Jacob grunted in response as he saw a large line of people, carts, and wagons waiting to enter the city. From what Jacob could see, there were three gates in the outer most wall, but only two were currently being used. At Jacob's questioning look Darren responded. "That gate is only supposed to be used for those coming too and from the port. It causes some delays for the other two gates, but it helps get cargo and people into and out of the city faster. Supposedly." Darren replied as he rolled his eyes while mouthing Imperial Council.
"How much business and commerce does the harbor get daily?" Jacob asked as they continued to walk towards the large city.
"Between twenty and forty ships arrive and depart daily. Broken Anchor in the east, Aramore for the Arathia Basin, and Stormsurge in the north are all major trade hubs along the coastline. Ordstead, in the Lost Islands Region, has become a gateway for Atlantis and all the Immortals there. Its a fact that the Kingdom of Arang'mor tried to make a play to gain control of the islands, but we started raiding their coastline in retaliation. After about a month, they finally backed down. Once they did, Atlantis decided to allow the Empire to keep control of the Region instead of contesting us for it." Cathrine told him.
"What about an uprising I heard about in the Arathia Basin. Stories I heard was someone tried to claim the whole Region and the town of Anderforge was behind it." Jacob asked as he stared at Darren.
"People that immigrated here, some of them didn't want to live under Imperial rule. They used that town and a rallying point and Weighted Chance backed them, well most of the guild did. They tried to claim the whole Region and got crushed hard by the Legions. Over two thousand Immortals were imprisoned and sentenced to a century of hard labor. Another four thousand Immortals were exiled from the Empire, Weighted Chance was Blacklisted and exiled from the Empire, Anderforge and the surrounding villages were brought within the Empire after that. The Locals there blame Immortals for losing their independence and Immortals are banned from the area." Darren replied although he refused to look at Jacob.
"It wasn't the best time for anyone, more than one national power had a tough time accepting all the Immortals fleeing your world." Cathrine placated.
"Weighted Chance had an understanding with me, they knew I would never have accepted them trying to take the whole Region. Their limited independence was another thing though, they should have been happy with what they had.' Jacob replied as he summoned Star. The huge Void-Wolf appeared and glared at Jacob, their reunion had been less than stellar, but the Void-Wolf still came when he called. 'Thank you, my friend, for coming. Please watch over my daughter." Jacob told the wolf who looked at him then snorted before walking over and standing next to Cathrine and Alexis. The little girl giggled and grabbed the wolf's whiskers. Star froze then collapsed as if dead earning a giggle from the little Banshee. Star looked at her then rolled to her feet before assuming her position again.
"Why doesn't her voice hurt anyone?" Jacob asked as he continued to study Alexis.
"A Banshees' voice does not become a weapon until she matures, so we have several years to enjoy the laughter," Cathrine responded as she touched the collar at her throat absentmindedly. Several men and women dropped out of Stealth around them and fell into step with Jacob's small party.
"Friends of yours?" Jacob asked as he looked at Darren and Jason.
"Friends and comrades, also loyal to you. It's also the signal that they are ready for us to enter the city." Darren replied and Jacob nodded as he started to check his gear to make sure he was ready.
"Lord Darkwalker, you are required to be here with the other heads of the Eight Houses as is by custom and law. So, be patient." The Master of Shadows replied with a smirk. Lady Iona Lighttouch of House Bloodkol looked around to all those present, the Eight Houses, the Imperial Council, the Seneschal Gloria, Captain-General Nadal Despval, Captains Thorgron Shadowsteel, and James Shadowstrider were all present. She smirked at Ezekial and smiled before turning back to the city street that led into the city and outside the palace grounds. Ezekial wanted to glare at the woman, but she had been a key ally in keeping the Imperial Board in check, the better question was what she wanted in return for her assistance.
Suddenly the roar of the crowd was heard and of the Legion slamming their shields in the ground. "What is this? What is going on?" Lady Selena Night demanded.
"What you have so desperately been looking for over the last two years." The Master of Shadows responded causing the woman to pale and start to move but a half-dozen of the Heart Guard were there instantly.
"Lady Selena Night, I think it best for your own health that you stay right where you are." Captain Shadowstrider said as he glared at the woman.
"Yes, I am certain the Emperor will wish to speak too you about what your House has been up to Selena," Ezekial said with a smile.
The rumble of the crowd was slowly turning into a roar, "Well guess they either like the fact I am back or hate it." Jacob yelled out over the sound.
Cathrine rolled her eyes and Jacob squeezed Alexis's hand to assure the little girl everything was fine. Jacob had not wanted to bring her or Cathrine on this part of the trip. However, Cathrine had insisted that the people, the Eight Houses, and the Imperial Council were all aware that he was who he said he was and Cathrine's support and the support of the Heart Guard and Dawn Guard, would be crucial in this. "Did they at least stick to the city plans we had in case we had to expand?" Jacob asked as they pushed further into the city.
"Yes for the most part. The Dwarven District is still there, we now have a Drow District as well, by the way, the Drow did finally send and official Ambassador. The yearly games are still ongoing and will start in a couple of weeks, we have expanded them to include three and five-man groups. It's still only for Immortals though as you originally planned. It has become widely popular and after the second year, the Imperial Council expanded the Coliseum and it can now sit eighty thousand comfortably. We built three more Amphitheaters within the city, and there are talks of opening a zoo. We have several circus acts traveling throughout the Empire now." Cathrine yelled over the crowd.
"So morale is good overall within the city? What about the Empire overall?" Jacob asked.
Cathrine rolled her eyes and squeezed his shoulder, "Gloria will have a report for you once we get to the palace. Enjoy your return." Cathrine replied as the palace came into view.
"How is everything working out with the Seekers?" Jacob asked and Cathrine frowned.
"Overall the core of the guild is good, but with anything, time changes it. Right now concentrate on dealing with today." Cathrine replied and Jacob nodded as they neared the huge palace.
"Understood, whatever happens to me, keep Alexis safe.' Jacob told her before squeezing her hand one more time before putting some space between him and the two most important people in his life. Jacob strode forward a squad made up of the Dawn Guard and Heart Guard falling in around him as he strode through the outer palace gates. His eyes raked over the heads of the Eight Houses and the Imperial Council till they finally settled on Lady Selena Night. 'Lady Night, I heard you were looking for me. What did you want?" Jacob asked the woman who was looking everywhere but at him.
"What, you have dozens if not hundreds of your House and mercenaries scattered across the breadth of the Empire searching for me. Well, I am right here Selena, what do you want?" Jacob prodded as he strode over until he was right in front of the woman who finally glared back.
"Where were you hiding," Selena responded and Jacob just smiled.
"Your people have caused much suffering in their quest to find me. Captain-General, every single Hunter team across the Empire is to be arrested on sight, if they refuse to come peacefully or resist, they are to be summarily executed on the spot. Those that surrender will be held until investigations against each team are completed and if any crimes are committed they will be punished for them.' Jacob told Nadal as he continued to stare at Selena in the eyes, 'Selena Night, House Nightshade will compensate every person and family that suffered in your search, every Hunter will face justice for the crimes they committed, you will be stripped of your title and another will be appointed as Head of House Nightshade that I will approve. Captain Shadowstrider, please take her into custody and transport her to the cells underneath the palace." Jacob commanded as he walked away from the screaming woman and looked at the Imperial Board.
"Members of the Imperial Council, you are hereby relieved of your duties, responsibilities, and any authority you presumed to take.' Jacob said loudly causing more than one member to shift uncomfortably with the subtle accusation. 'I would request that none of you leave the city and insist that you will remain as my guests within the palace for the time being." Jacob told them and more than one noticeably paled.
Jacob looked at the remaining Heads of the Eight Houses, "All of you helped keep the Empire going and when pressed by circumstance and temptation, you stayed loyal, I will not forget this you have my word. Given time, I will see that loyalty repaid. Thank you all for coming, in the days ahead I will need to see each of you on an individual basis, I will make sure my Seneschal reaches out to you so we can arrange it. Now if you all will excuse me, I have two years of bureaucratic torture to catch up on." Jacob quipped and grabbed Alexis's outstretched hand as the impromptu meeting broke up as he led his family back into the palace.
Empire of Night- City of Eternal Night
Palace of Night- Council Chambers
"Well, that was...stressful.' Jacob said to no one in particular. 'Ok I need to form a new Advisory Council since the last one went all power-hungry on me, I want Nadal or someone he appoints representing the military, Ezekial and Darren representing Internal and External Security, someone from Sylfemel and the Obsidion Kingdom, someone from the Dark Lands Regions, the cities too the north, the Arathia Basin, and someone from our holdings in the Underdark to be appointed to the new Advisory Council." Jacob said as Gloria, Nadal, Darren, and Ezekial followed him into the room.
"What are the criteria for an appointment?" Gloria asked.
"Someone the Regional Governors can work with to inform me of their people's needs and worries and know how to put aside their ambitions for the greater good," Jacob replied and Darren snorted.
"You want a selfless politician, I think you would have better luck finding an honest poloticion," Darren replied with a smirk.
"I will inform the Governors of my needs, I plan on going to every Region over the coming days to reconnect with them all and meet the new Governors of the Dark Lands. My wife assured me they were loyal, but I want to get a feel for them myself. What else do you want to put on my itinerary that is absolutely necessary that I need to check on?" Jacob asked as he sat down.
Gloria took a deep breath and sighed as she sat down, the others quickly joined her, it was going to be a long meeting.