The Emperor's Edge
THE EMPEROR’S EDGE
* * * * *
Copyright 2010 by Lindsay Buroker
Corporal Amaranthe Lokdon paced. Her short sword, night stick, and handcuffs bumped and
clanked at her thighs with each impatient step. Enforcer Headquarters frowned down at her, an
ominous gray cliff of a building that glowered at the neighborhood like a turkey vulture, except
with less charisma.
Amaranthe drew her pocket watch and checked the time. Where was her partner?
At the soft squeak of boots on snow, she looked up. A narrow side street expelled a squat,
burly man in enforcer grays. Morning light glinted against the large brass rank pins crowding his
collar: four bars under two crossed swords, the mark of a district chief.
Amaranthe fought back a grimace and straightened, heels clicking together. The chief’s dark
gaze latched onto her from beneath shaggy gray eyebrows that crashed in the middle when he
scowled. He was scowling now.
She swallowed. “Good morning, Chief Gunarth.”
“Lokdon,” he growled. “Does the city pay you to loiter in front of headquarters? Because if
the capital city of the Turgonian Empire, the most powerful nation in the world, pays its
enforcers to loiter uselessly in front of my headquarters building, I’d think somebody would have
mentioned it to me.”
Amaranthe opened her mouth to give him an obedient “yes, sir.” Or was it a “no, sir”? She
had lost the question in his diatribe. “I’m waiting for my partner, sir.”
“It’s five minutes into your shift. Where is he?”
“He’s...” Hung over, still asleep, trying vainly to find a uniform that isn’t wrinkled….
“Investigating some suspicious activity at Curi’s Bakery.”
The chief’s already-lowered eyebrows descended further. “Let me explain something to you,
“Sir?” Amaranthe tried to look attentive.
“Your first loyalty is to the emperor.” He reached above his head, demonstrating a lofty
plateau. “Your second is to the city, and your third is to everyone above you in the chain of
command.” His hand descended in increments as he spoke until he finished with, “Way down
there by your boot is your loyalty to your partner. Understood?”