This is a serialized story, Part 1 can be found here
He enjoyed the company of each of the women of of his garden as he saw fit, for Emperors did not take Empresses. He would chose in time, as his father had chosen before him, of his many sons the one who was best suited to rule. The Emperor himself had 5 brothers: the eldest of the same mother served as Steward of the City of Legend, Housecarl to the Palace of the Emperor; youngest of the same mother commanded the Imperial Army. The Emperor also had a half brother, nearly the same age, who wandered the Empire at will, bringing news from the furthest reaches of the realm. Another half brother was gone, disappeared into the darkness of a battle lost, fallen into death or enemy hands; they did not speak of him. The youngest brother was still young. Young and foolish enough to think he knew the world better than all of his learned tutors, and so he, too had vanished. The Emperor had a sister, married to a nearby lord, chosen only for the virtue of his proximity to her adoring brother, and six more for whom he cared little. These girls had either been sent home to their mother’s native land at the death of the old Emperor, or disappeared into the labyrinth of the City of Legend.