"Hear ye! Hear ye! Bartholomeau, by divine right and the grace of the Gods, Emperor of all Vendameria, hereby declares that all who deny his lawful right to ascend to the throne after the death of his father, Leon IX, in glorious battle against the Zheskans, an outlaw and a rebel! Long live the Emperor, and Old Vendameria forever!" The musketeer standing on the scaffolding in the town square of the village of Bolorosa wound the scroll back up, and gave the signal to the firing squad. The musketeers mowed down two blindfolded prisoners.
The townsfolk already knew who was denying Prince Bartholomeau's right to ascend to to the throne: President Jauxe Calone. The fanatical democrat had attempted to seize power after Emperor Leon IX's death. The prince had driven him out of the Vendamerian capital, Ajaxxia, three days ago with the help of 15,000 Imperial soldiers. Calone and his cohorts were now in hiding, still plotting against newly-crowned Emperor Bartholomeau I.
The new emperor was not about to let Calone gain more followers. The new decree was expected to put an end to people joining his ranks. Already, many rebels were preparing to flee the country. Some had already landed in the Republic of Ferdinland and Larazia. Some had even fled to such far-off places as Dracovania.
While the townsfolk watched the firing squad drag away the corpses of the executed, a group of pikemen goosestepped down the street to the beat of an army drum.
The Emperor had bolstered local garrisons since being crowned. It was not that he was evil or tyrannical, but he intended to make examples of rebels and deter dissidents.
Caldwyn, a young man from the Vendamerian province of Kouleaux, swaggered down the street of the Imperial capital, Ajaxxia. He was a mercenary, like his father, Baldwyn. When his father retired, he passed his gear and job down to Caldwyn.
Right now, what Caldwyn wanted most was a drink, so he stepped off the street and walked into a tavern. Inside the large saloon, there were probably fifty lowlifes enjoying their ales, beers, chicken, sandwiches, and what have you, though there were a few innocent civilians sipping from some tankards. Sitting down at a table, Caldwyn reviewed the piece of paper which passed for a menu. Spit flooded into his mouth as he read about the beer and cheese. Five minutes later, a young waitress came up to his table, "Blessings of the Gods be upon you. What'll it be?"
"You, too. I'll have three slices of bread, a plate of cheese, and the best beer you have."
"That'll cost you a pretty penny! You don't wanna wind up washing dishes, now do you?"
Caldwyn laughed, "I can afford it. I just received a payment for helping the gendarmerie round up some cattle thieves on the border with Zheska. The darned Zheskies were trying to steal our animals!"
"Well, that sounds exciting! So, all right, I'll be back with your meal in a minute." She walked back to the kitchen.
Caldwyn propped his legs up on the table and put his hands behind his head. As soon as he was feeling relaxed, a haggard man stumbled into the building and stood out. A musketeer,
thought Caldwyn. The long hair that the Imperial musketeers kept universally neat was hanging limply from the man's bearded head, sweat gluing some of the strands to his forehead. His plumed, broad-brimmed, cavalier hat was beaten and dirty and his uniform was muddy. The soldier paced slowly through the rows of tables, his spurs jangling with every step. The myriad of voices and sounds within the tavern died down as all eyes followed the unusual fellow. Suddenly, the musketeer eyed a middle-aged man with a cloak on. The strange customer seemed alarmed that the soldier was coming his way. Within the blink of an eye, the musketeer let out a battle-cry, drew his sword, and cut the customer's table in half. The cloaked man leapt to his feet and punched the musketeer in the jaw, which sent the soldier sprawling. The man ripped off his cloak to reveal what Caldwyn expected: a rebel uniform jacket. The rebel, who was known in the northern regions as Sedgwyk, a rake who was an incendiary Calone supporter, drew his double-edged short sword and swung it in an arc over the Imperial's head, barely missing taking it off. The musketeer countered and clashed his sword against the rebel's. The two, with blades locked, struggled for supremacy. At last, Sedgwyk was shoved to the floor. Just as the fight appeared to be over, the rebel did an amazing backward roll and stood back up. He sprinted over to a large stack of crates that he used as steps to reach a window high up on the wall. He was climbing onto the roof. Fuming, the soldier gave chase. Being pro-Bartholomeau, Caldwyn drew his cutlass and followed the other two up the makeshift stairs. As all three were now on the rooftop, the tavern customers and workers swarmed out into the street to watch further.
There were plenty of loose bricks, crates, and barrels on the flat tavern roof and the rebel picked some of the lighter ones up and chucked them at his pursuers. Dodging them, Caldwyn and the soldier pushed on. Suddenly, a medium-sized brick hit the Imperial in the head. The crowd gasped as the musketeer collapsed.
Confident from knocking out the soldier, the rebel stopped running and threw an even larger brick at Caldwyn. Doing an incredible sideways spin, while using his momentum to carry him forward, and then a split-second side run on a wall of crates, he dodged. Sedgwyk cursed. The crowd applauded and cheered.
The rebel continued to flee. Jumping off the roof, the man used an awning as a trampoline to reach the next roof, Caldwyn doing the same, but making it more swashbuckling by doing an acrobatic flip while shooting off the trampoline. Sedgwyk stopped to catch his breath for a moment; he wasn't as youthful as Caldwyn, and it showed.
Finally, a wagon-load of Imperial footmen with crossbows and iron helmets arrived to help deal with the rake. However, they were unable to fire, for Caldwyn was getting too close to Sedgwyk to fire safely.
The chase continued.
A couple of minutes later, the Calone-supporting rake found himself at a dead end. Below the roof was a stable. It was risky, but he had to try it. Taking a life-threatening leap, he jumped off and crashed onto the stable roof. He was still alive. Quickly, he stood up again and frantically eyed his surroundings; there was Caldwyn, getting ready to jump himself.
Sedgwyk saw that the soldiers were closing in. Making a last stand, he drew his sword, preparing to duel with his young pursuer. The two slashed, parried, riposted, and hacked, but finally, Sedgwyk realized he was losing the fight. He jumped down onto the ground and tried to get to the opposite side of the street, but before he could do so, Cedgwyk grabbed a soldier's crossbow and put a bolt in his back. Arms flailing, Sedgwyk crashed down dead in the middle of the street.