Episode 55: The Great Hall of the Imperial War Academy

Worried-looking watchmen quickly gathered at intersections before retreating to separate corners. Overhead, a glowing, robed figure floated in the direction of the gate. Bells began ringing out, sounding the alarm, and hastily-dressed men and women lined up to be admitted into the nearest watchhouse. All this Isabelle saw as she followed Arthur to his mysterious destination.

Their destination became clear a few minutes later. Cobblestones gave way to the neatly paved bricks of the Imperial War Academy, and Arthur finally reined in outside of its massive Great Hall. Isabelle and the others tied their horses up next to the several already there as Arthur spoke quietly to the guards. They were quickly ushered inside and the door secured behind them. After passing through the antechamber, the party emerged into the Great Hall proper.

There was a reason that they called the few such rooms in the empire "Great Halls." The entry's double doors opened onto a balcony running around three sides of a room that took up almost the entire length and width of the building. Only at the far end was there no balcony, for at that end there was a giant tapestry, two stories tall and equally wide, that rippled and shifted as if alive. On the floor a story below stretched maps and diagrams of the empire and the city with cast-metal figurines marking the locations of military forces. Tables and cabinets lined the walls underneath the balcony, and the balcony level had doors and even windows opening onto various offices. Sitting, standing, and pacing all over were Academy faculty, top students, and semi-retired military officers. They all looked up as Arthur entered the room.

An official-looking lady seated near the doors asked, "What's the situation?"

"Causeway two has been breached via magical transportation; the island gate is unable to close but hadn't been breached by the time that I left." He rattled off the military units and movements that he'd spotted.

"Damn it, you know we can't activate on our own unless there's a full breach."

Below, people scurried to update the city map. Isabelle and the others spread out to get a better look at what they were doing, but it turned out that the next excitement was back by the entrance.

The doors slammed open and two lightly-armored guards with no obvious identification strode in. They quickly surveyed the assembly and waved the people behind them forward. A moderately handsome, middle-aged man in a golden suit of plate stepped through. His shield was blue with thirteen golden crowns.

The entire assembly snapped to attention and saluted the Emperor.