Empress Kaileana strode gracefully along one of the spruce tree lined paths of the imperial gardens. Today she had chosen to wear a scarlet dress that hung loosely on her body which was fastened with a golden broach and thread. the cuffs with also made from golden threads. a long strip of the scarlet fabric hung from each arm by the elbow. Her stylist had plated her chocolate brown hair into a single plat which was adorned with small sapphire rings. Summer had come to the empire and around the the trees were in full bloom, birds sang in the trees and squirrels scampered up and along the branches. She needed this daily walk. As empress of the Serenton empire, her day was generally long and stressful with the numerous people and responsibilities that required her attention. She took a two hour break in the middle of the day to loose herself in the gardens that surrounded the imperial dome which the caretakers kept in pristine condition.
She walked into a clearing to see several children playing football in a field that the caretakers had set aside for them and marked out for the game. All the servants of the imperial dome either resided within it or in the apartments nearby they had been given. Their children were always at liberty to play within the gardens, provided they did not trample the plants or anything else. Kaileana smiled, remembering her own childhood when in the gardens playing games like football, hide and seek and soldiers and barbarians back when her father, Lukas Sendovola resided on the throne. May he find peace, wherever he may be she thought. The empire had no official religion, although there were plenty of cults and sects within its borders she knew well. She had heard of cults where they shaved their hair and scared symbols into their skin to worship their gods or even people who drank each others blood for their spiritual rituals. The things people would do for religion never ceased to amaze her and she was thankful that it was not widespread throughout the empire's population.
At that moment a ball came sailing through the air towards her. Kaileana ducked and it missed her head my centimetres. it landed with a soft thud next to her and rolled a few centimetres more. One of the children came bursting through the bush in front of her, laughing and coming to retrieve thee ball. He had blonde hair and was dressed in a blue shirt and re shorts. He froze when he saw her, still slightly crouched with her hands covering her head. He dropped his gaze and folded his arms behind his back." F- forgive me empress, it was an accident, i did not see you..!" he pleaded. She smiled at his display. he must have been ten at most and had better manners than people she had met twice his age. " its all right child" she said calmly to him " i am sure you did not mean your empress any harm" she picked up the ball and handed it to him. She bent down to his eye level. " What is your name child?" she asked him. "F- Frederick Boyle your majesty" he stammered. "But my friends just call me Freddy" he said with a smile having regained his confidence. "Boyle.." Kaileana pondered the name for a moment. "Is your father Augustus Boyle?" she asked him. He nodded several times. "He makes the best stake i have ever tasted" she told him. He beamed at her, taking this statement for the compliment it was.
He looked past her and Kaileana turned to see what had caught his attention. Standing behind her was Honoured Commander Anderson. someone who caught her attention a lot too. " Run along to your friends Freddy, I'm sure they would like to resume their game" she said, rising. The child ran back to his friends and she turned to face the commander. He was a handsome man in his early thirties. He had broad shoulders and and well built frame, his black hair was kept short and he had faint stubble on his chin. His skin was lightly tanned from the campaigns he had spent in the eastern desert. He wore a uniform of dark blue with coloured armour plates on his arms and shins of the same dark blue colour, similar to the city guard he commanded. The summer heat did not seem to effect him in this apparel. His emerald green eyes stared into hers as he spoke. " your majesty, forgive me for intruding, I know your are fond of your afternoon walks but this matter was deemed important to be brought to you at once" He folded his right arm across his chest and bowed slightly as he handed her a note. "Its the autopsy of General Tiberius" he said politely. She took it from him and scanned the pages which included a photo of the generals mug, his face frozen in shock by rigor mortis .Her brow began to furrow as she did. "so it is as it looked, a stab wound to the neck" she asked him "why was this considered urgent?" He replied "Because that type of puncture would was not caused by any blade of imperial origin, furthermore that was a professional stab". She thought this over. "Do we have any motive for his murder?" "Plenty" he replied. "People who want to move up the chain of command, he was not always popular with other ranking officers and we found evidence that suggests he was stealing from the military budget". He looked at her with a mixture between seriousness ans worry. "what else it there?" she asked, worried at the response she would get " The night of his murder a member of the city guard and a stormwalker crew member were both found sedated, they both claimed to have been attacked by a man in a mask"