The Imperial Mourners March Emperor's Necropolis, Ravelin Bastion, The Fel Imperium 430 ABY The streets of Ravelin quaked beneath the heavy footfalls of Imperial Walkers, the screeching of their joints drowning out the rising crescendo of the Imperial Mourners March. Maxim Fel watched through tear-blurred vision as a golden sea of Praetorian Stormtroopers marched ahead of the walkers in thunderous unison - past a horizon of Imperial citizens who cried, waved banners and saluted the Emperor's First as they accompanied their liege one final time. Even in death his father led the most brave and loyal in the Empire from the front - his ornate marble and gold sarcophagus ferried atop a repulser lift platform at the head of the procession. Stationed in guardian formation around the casket all 12 of the Praetorian Knights, the Gold Blades of The Imperium and the most elite of the Imperial Knight Order, stood their final guard to Ronin Fel. As the grand procession marched closer, Maxim could just begin to make out his father's visage carved into the stone tablet covering the sarcophagus. Somehow he looked even older in stone...the wrinkles of his face ran deeper and the peaceful sleep they'd captured him in was unnerving. Maxim stifled a sharp squeak that threatened to escape his chest - but when the dagger-shaped eclipse of an Imperial Star Destroyer blacked out the sun and a wing of TIEs screamed overhead...he took the only opportunity he would have to sob. But he did so stoically. Only the sounds of his suffering escaped the facade of strength he knew The Imperium needed right now. Standing on the steps of The Emperor's Necropolis, a massive Fel Mausoleum that housed the late Emperor's and Emperesses of the Imperium, Maxim was flanked by countless others and in full view of the citizens of The Empire. He needed now, more than ever, to be strong. Wing after wing of TIE fighters soared over the streets, the shriek of their engines shaking building and being alike with powerful shockwaves. Maxim wiped the tears from his eyes and turned to either side, looking over the dozens of Moffs, officers, Fel extended family and foreign dignitaries in attendance. He couldn't tell if any of them had seen him cry, but when Barron's hand gently squeezed his shoulder...he knew at least one person had. He turned to his younger brother, whose eyes were deep red and puffy, and gave him a quiet nod. Maxim glanced once at Nikitis Fel and Aella Fel as he turned back towards the procession, he gave neither much more than the same suffering look he'd given Barron. As the procession neared, the rows of Praetorian Stormtroopers came to a crashing halt - their weapons dropping from their shoulders with mechanical precision. Each trooper extended their rifle outwards, towards Maxim, then pulled them close to their chests with barrels raised high into the air. The Praetorian Knights marched on until they reached the first step of the necropolis where his father's casket came to a slow pause and all but one Knight stood silent and motionless. Maxim recognized this man well, it was Axius Loram the Captain of the Praetorian Knights and loyal follower of the Throne since long before Maxim was born. Axius marched up the steps, a small silver box tucked beneath his arm and the sun beaming off his balding head. When at last he reached the top he stood tall and proud before Maxim. Deep blackness encircled his cherry red eyes, and it was like looking into a mirror. The man hadn't slept since his father had died. None of the Praetorian had. All day and all night they had stood watch over his body, guarding their Emperor until the moment he was to be laid to rest. "Your father was a great man" Axius said quietly as the crowd and music fell silent behind them, "it was an honor to serve him as it will be to serve you, my liege." Taking a step back, Axius knelt to a knee and bowed his head. Seeing their captain bow, the Praetorian Knights fell to their knees - followed quickly by the Praetorian Legion who clattered to a kneel, their standard barriers raising high their purple banners emblazoned with the golden cog and number 501st. Maxim's knuckles turned white as he pulled back on the tears that screamed to get out. "The Praetorian serve faithfully the rightful heir, holder of the Emperor's Blade" Axius untucked the box and raised it high above his head and presented it towards Maxim. As he did, a set of locks hissed and the box slid open to reveal an electrum plated saber sat upon a velvet cushion. Maxim felt something wet in his palm and realized there was four sharp pains in his closed fist. He quietly loosened his grip and stared at the saber for too long...far too long. Barron tapped him on the back to proceed. Quietly, Maxim took the saber in hand...and just like that, his life changed forever. Axius stood and tucked the box back under his arm while the rest of the Knights stood from their kneel and marched up the steps to take formation at his side...then quietly the sarcophagus rose up the steps and entered the necropolis where all the moffs, dignitaries and family would bare witness to Ronin's final rest.