Prologue

The Austrian Empire is at disbelief, the people are baffled, and the court officials are confused; their beloved Emperor died and the lands are thrown into confusion.

At the Altes Schloss at Laxenburg, the young eighteen-year-old crown prince Hadrian is sitting by the veranda over-looking the pond reading a book when he was disturbed by his butler.

His stature is fragile, with pale complexion and dark black hair, his striking green eyes lowered earnestly at the book he's reading, his gentle hand cradling the literary work. He hardly spends time inside the palace when not in the veranda he can be found at the garden tending and studying about the plants he planted or talking and working with the old man named Marco, he is also known to have kept himself from any kinds of luxury which his noble relatives found as taboo. He has acquired that habit from reading several books about society, authored by ordinary people, who involved people living in poverty, he is found often reading a book titled "Die Räuber (literally: The Robber)" which he reads more often than any other book he has.

'Your Highness!' the butler called breathing deeply stopping before the table where the young prince is seated. 'Your Highness!'

'What is it?' the young prince asked closing his book and standing up, with a hint of annoyance in his voice clearly he didn't like being disturbed.

'His Imperial Majesty the Emperor…' the butler huffed. 'His Imperial Majesty died a few minutes ago!' Hadrian's eyes widened and dropped his book. Without another word, he rushed to his room.

'Ready the carriage, Anton,' he said hurriedly as he wore his coat. 'We're going back to the capital.'

'But Your Highness, you can't! In your condition you can't travel!'

'My father just died and you're telling me to stay put? My relatives kept me from my father long enough!'

True, his relatives, and with the reluctance of his father, sent him to Laxenburg. It was done so because the Imperial Family doesn't want the people to know that he is suffering from a mysterious illness.

'But Your Majesty…'

'Tell me Anton, who is your master?' Hadrian said seriously not looking at his butler. 'Answer me!'

'Hi-His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Josef Hadrian Francis Emmanuel von Habsburg…'

'Yet why do you question me?' the young prince asked. 'Why do you forbid me from simply seeing my father?'

'I'm sorry, Your Highness…I will ready the carriage now.' Anton answered and left his prince.

As the butler left, Hadrian can no longer stop his tears and fell on his knees as he cried for his father. He was angry at his relatives, angry at his younger twin brother for not doing anything, and above all angry at himself for letting them do as they pleased. He started punching the wall in his fit of rage, crying as hard as he can muttering his father's name and apologising.

After a few hours, the members of the Imperial Family who gathered at the wake of the deceased emperor quieted down as they heard that the Crown Prince of their country has arrived at the Hofburg Palace, the residence of the Imperial Family. They went to the gates of the palace to meet him there.

'Prince Hadrian, what is the meaning of this?' a middle-aged woman asked. 'I thought we told you to stay at Altes Schloss?'

'And what? Stay put?' Hadrian said with scorn present in his tone. 'You've locked me up far too long, now that His Majesty has passed on, I believe I have a role to take up.'

'But you're ill, how can you…'

'You underestimate me, Lady Alexia…' Hadrian said as he walked to the main hall, where the Emperor's body is kept, with his other relatives just looking at him. Before the door of the hall he saw a young man who looks exactly like him, waiting. 'Josef…' Hadrian murmured.

'Brother…' Josef murmured walking closer to his brother. 'How have you been doing?'

'Fine, my brother.' Hadrian answered smiling despite his bitter feelings towards his little brother, wanting to see his father badly; he passed his brother and into the room. He breathed deeply and closed his eyes and prepared himself for what he's about to see.

When he opened his eyes, he saw his father lying in the coffin which is open for all to see. Flowers surround the coffin and are guarded by soldiers. The people who came made their way as one of the attendants announced his arrival. As he made his way through the crowd he saw his little sister at the side of his father's open coffin, crying. When she saw him coming, she ran to him and hugged him as tight as she could.

'Brother!' she cried. 'Father is…father is…' Seeing his sister like this, he can no longer stop the sadness that pierced his heart and let his tears flow again hugging his sister back; he gulped and wiped his tears away.

'Marianna…' Hadrian called kneeling to face his crying sister. 'Hey, Marianna do you remember what father told you?' the little girl nodded and looked at her big brother who simply smiled. 'I'm sure father would be sad if he sees you crying,' he said as she tried to stop crying. 'So…don't cry ok?'

'Will we see him again?' asked the little girl innocently surprising the older male. 'Will we, Hadrian?'

'Yeah, someday…' he answered honestly smiling as his sister hugged him again. 'But we have to wait for that day to come, alright?' the girl nodded.

Having finished his conversation with his little sister, he approached the coffin where his father lies with his sister still hugging his arm, refusing to let go.

'I'm sorry I haven't been on your side,' he thought looking at the peaceful face of his father. 'I'm sorry for my shortcomings; thank you for being a good father to me all these years, even though you've always been busy with your work. Thank you always father, now…it's my turn to stand in your shoes while being true to myself.'

He paid his last respects to his father as a resolution formed in his mind. 'I will not back down; even in my condition I will ascend the throne.' A few days later, the people prepared to send the diseased emperor to his last resting place. As the heir to the throne, Hadrian led everything despite his relatives' rejections. Knowing that his behaviour will cause them trouble in the future, they plan to sabotage him in any way they can.

Right after the emperor's burial, as the late emperor himself willed it, his eldest son Josef Hadrian Francis Emmanuel will succeed him as the Emperor of Austria with the title:

"By the Grace of God, Emperor of Austria,Apostolic King of Hungary,King of Bohemia, of Dalmatia, of Croatia, of Slavonia, of Galicia, of Lodomeria, and of Illyria,King of Jerusalem, and so forth, Archduke of Austria,Grand Duke of Tuscany and of Cracow, Duke of Lorraine, of Salzburg, of Styria, of Carinthia, of Carniola and of the Bukovina, Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave in Moravia, Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friuli, Ragusa and Zara, Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca, Prince of Trient and Brixen, Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in Istria, Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg, and so forth, Lord of Trieste, of Cattaro and of the Wendish Mark, Grand Voivode of the Voivodship of Serbia, and so forth, Sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece."

It is a large leap for the young eighteen-year-old, but it's is something he was taught to accept all his life and now is the time to put his father's teachings into action, not as Crown Prince Hadrian but as Emperor Josef Hadrian.