The Democratika

Full Version: The Maple and the Golden Eagle
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Originally posted on March 24, Democratika 3

Being Candanadium's capital and largest city, New Konigstadt was served by three international airports, those being the oldest and largest King Edward I International Airport, the newer Maple Ridge International Airport, and the smallest, New Konigstadt City Airport. The City Airport sat upon an artificial island in the middle of Maple Bay, connected to the downtown core by a wide four-lane causeway and a light rail service, offering tourists and business travellers alike a fast and convenient way to get to the very core of Candanadium. Today, though, the causeway was decked in Candanadian and Sonvarian flags, completely devoid of life, sealed off by patrol cars and signs prohibiting access as curious onlookers were held back by police constables in full riot gear. It was a unique occasion for the airport and the city, as it would be the first time in eight hundred years that a Sonvarian king had set foot in a Kanadiaans kingdom with his head still upon his shoulders.

Or so the Chancellor had claimed to his deputy and right-hand man earlier this morning. Ethan Wagner had served the crown for the better part of his life, and became first acquainted with the young, charismatic Chancellor candidate while on the campaign trail two years ago. Hailing from tiny and rebellious Belkhomir, it was unusual for someone of his background to rise this high in federal politics. As a young man, he had distinguished himself during service with the Royal Belkhomir Regiment in the Second Edofasian Crisis, by dragging a wounded comrade to safety even after having taken three rounds in his hip. That had won him the Maple Cross, Second Class, but left him with an awkward limp that saw his discharge from the Regiment two years early. Since then, he had made it his life goal to serve the Kingdom in whatever way he could, eventually being elected to the Belkhomirian Assembly at just age 24, and later the Federal Parliament. Four decades of service in the Parliament had made him familiar with all the intricacies of the federation's politics, and he complemented the popular young Chancellor well, offering tidbits of wisdom he had gained over the year whenever he could. Thus, it was no wonder he was appointed as Deputy Chancellor and Minister of Federal Affairs under the then-newly elected Pieter von Juppertal.

Of course, the office of Deputy Chancellor came with certain responsibilities and duties, such as greeting important foreign dignitaries on the Chancellor's behalf, which was exactly what he found himself doing this chilly February morning, standing on the freezing runway of New Konigstadt City Airport, watching the Sonvarian plane taxi towards them. The Chancellor had found it improper to send his deputy alone to greet a foreign monarch, so waiting by his side was the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Hans von Magnar. The Prince was in the first year of his service in the Marine Corps, and although the royal family was, in name, exempt from the draft, King Richard took it upon himself to see that all three of his sons would be no different from the average Candanadian man in this matter. The Prince looked older beyond his nineteen years in his dress uniform, but the Deputy Chancellor could see him shivering beneath his ceremonial black tunic.

"This chill reminds me of the whistling winds of the Juppertal. Have you ever been, Minister?" The Prince addressed him by his ministerial title, as most government officials did. Officially, the office of Deputy Chancellor came with no additional titles, and Candanadium was known far and wide for being strict about protocol and procedure.

"Yes, your highness, once on the campaign trail with the Chancellor. That was during the summer, though." Oseania, especially northern Oseania, was a stronghold for the Democratic Party, but Ethan liked to think that they were part of the reason the Constitution Party won a pair of seats in Jupperton.

"Was it like this in Edofasia, back during the Crisis?" The Prince had a noted interest in the Deputy Chancellor's service in Edofasia, and had been bombarding him with questions the entire morning. Ethan didn't find it particularly annoying, but had to keep reminding himself that the Prince was barely a man yet.

"Much worse. I was up along the northern front, and we never anticipated that they would swarm over the border like that. It was every man for himself when the Line of Control broke. War is a hell of a thing, your highness. I pray that you will never experience it in your lifetime." Just thinking about it made Ethan shiver some more. The decades had turned the hairs on his chin from a deep brown to various shades of grey, but the memories he had of northern Edofasia remained as sharp as the events of yesterday. Those woods had seemed devoid of life, but behind every pine needle and rock was an Edofasian bayonet, poised and ready.

"I do as well." The Prince said, almost absentmindedly. Ethan closed his eyes and exhaled deeply. The Sonvarian plane had made its way over to the waiting Candanadian party. Foreign words were written across the fuselage, and the famous golden eagle stretched out its cruel wings on the dorsal fin. A long red and black stripe ran from the nose to the tail, and the aircraft's pearly white exterior gleamed in the New Konigstadt morning light. The massed army band began sounding the notes to what Ethan could only assume was the Sonvarian anthem as the aircraft's engines sputtered out and the wheels rolled to a halt. The Prince beside him snapped into a salute, and the gathered honour guard presented their weapons, the polished bayonets shining with the reflection of the sun.

In time he'll make a good king, Ethan found himself musing. Not that he would be around to see the Prince don the bronze, silver, and steel tri-maple crown of the federation. King Richard was younger than he was, and was bound to have a long reign ahead of him. The band had switched to the familiar notes of The Maple Leaves Forever, and Ethan could see people pushing past each other through the small porthole-like windows of the plane. As the anthem came to a final musical flourish, the door hissed open, and out stepped the King of the Sonvarians.

He was a tall man, and lean, scarcely older than the Prince beside Ethan. He had a longish face, clean-shaven, with a tightly cropped haircut resembling a soldier's buzz. Instead of the pompous uniforms the Sonvarian generals wore, bedecked with medals and heavy epaulets, the King was dressed in a sharp black suit, with a black, yellow, and red tie, the colours of his nation. A small golden eagle graced his lapel, and a heavy wristwatch was coiled about his left wrist. It was clear to Ethan that this King was not one to conform to convention, unlike the three advisors that followed him down the stairs. They were men around Ethan's age or older, with receding hairlines and grey beards, eyeing the Candanadians suspiciously with beady little eyes nestled below bushy brows. What followed them were a small group of what he assumed to be Sonvarian soldiers in fatigues, with pistols holstered by their side. Ethan hadn't seen fatigues like those since the days he served in the Security Forces, and just seeing them made memories that he would rather forget come alive again.

The Prince broke his salute as the King made his way towards the welcome party. Ethan bowed slightly, and the King offered his hand with a confident smile. He shook it and returned the smile.

"Your majesty. It is good to have you here in Candanadium at last. I am Ethan Wagner, Deputy Chancellor and Minister of Federal Affairs. This gentleman is the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Candanadium, His Royal Highness Hans von Magnar." Ethan said in Oseanian. The King smiled and shook the Prince's hand as well. A translator rushed forward, but the King waved him away. This was not a surprise to Ethan, as his briefing had claimed that the Sonvarian King was conversant in Kanadiaans and fluent in Oseanian. The Prince, however, had evidently not been told about this, and raised an eyebrow at the King's action.

"Minister, your highness, it is good to be here. I am King Alexei I of Sonvarim, as you may already know. I have heard many wonderful things about your country. I hope this will be the start of something new between our two fatherlands." The King's accent was noticeable, but did not hinder his speech in any way.

"Indeed. Perhaps your majesty would like to join us on the journey to Deepwood Hall? His Majesty the King is unfortunately out of the city at the moment and will not be joining us, but the Chancellor begs the privilege of meeting you in his stead." The Prince spoke as eloquently and politely as his father. It was obvious that he had been taught well.

"I most certainly would. Lead the way, your highness." The Prince gestured toward the awaiting armoured limousine with miniature Candanadian and Sonvarian flags on the hood, the door held open by an honour guard who saluted them as they ducked inside. The limousine had four wide, comfortable recliners at either end of the vehicle, with a retractable table separating them. The King took the innermost seat as the Prince and Ethan filed in. As soon as he fastened his seatbelt, the door of the limousine was shut and the convoy began to move down the flag-lined causeway into the city.

"If you would care for refreshments, your majesty, there are drinks to the side of your seat." Ethan informed him, gesturing towards the small shelf holding bottles of water, iced tea, kwass, and other carbonated drinks. Although they were all from brands popular throughout Candanadium, their labels had been replaced by a plain white one that simply displayed the crowned maples along with the drink's name in Oseanian and Kanadiaans.

"My thanks." The King took a bottle of water, opened it, and took a small sip. He peered outside through the window as the limousine pulled off the causeway and onto the now-empty Federation Avenue, seemingly impressed by the modern architecture of the skyscrapers that lined New Konigstadt's main street. One of them stood out, however. A classic Kanadiaans-style building, but with a large glass-and-steel protrusion extending from it, almost like a spear point. This piqued the King's interest, who made a query regarding the purpose and history of said building.

"That's the Royal Candanadian Museum, your majesty. The largest in the Kingdom. It holds many artifacts and pictures from all the world over. Perhaps you would like to book a private tour?" The Prince answered.

"Maybe on another visit, your highness. I fear I do not have much time in your magnificent city, though I feel as if it's grown on me already." He gave a sly smile to Ethan. "I have been told that I will be staying at the Chancellery?"

"Indeed. Normally foreign guests are housed at the Coronation Hotel down the street from here, but the Chancellor insisted on inviting a guest of your status to stay at his humble abode. I hope you will not mind?" Ethan offered.

"Not at all, quite the opposite. I have heard tales of the beauty and history of Deepwood Hall, it would be my honour to stay with the Chancellor." This man has done his homework, thought Ethan, or he just had a vested interest in Candanadian history and culture. The former seemed more likely to him. He was beginning to understand why the King had come here with only a handful of advisors.

"In any case, the drive won't be long now. We're about to turn left on to Deepwood Way." And so they did. The driver made a sharp right immediately after turning on to Deepwood Way, stopping briefly at a heavy security checkpoint as the anti-vehicle barriers were lowered. The driver said something to the security guards, and they were through. Glass and steel and concrete gave way to a cobbled path snaking through a lush, green forest of pines, oaks, and willows, hiding the true face of Deepwood Hall from the rest of the city. In an instant, the sights and sounds and smells of the city had disappeared, replaced with wild forest. The Sonvarian King looked out the window in what seemed to be genuine wonder.

"This is where the Chancellery is?" He asked, incredulous.

"The Kings of Magnarstaat of old wanted a summer palace that was in a central location but shared all the serenity and beauty of a country estate. The result was Deepwood Hall. The forest around us is thousands of years old, the only bit of land in core New Konigstadt that has been left untouched throughout the centuries, or so I'm told. Not only is it serene, it's also secure. There are no direct lines of sight into the Chancellery from the street." Ethan saw a sparkle in the King's eye.

"Truly wonderful. I applaud the ingenuity of your people. Only a Candanadian could think of such a unique design." It was Ethan's turn to smile. The limousine came to a halt before the marble pillars of the Chancellery building itself, and two guards rushed up and opened the door while snapping into attention. Hordes of reporters began snapping away from behind a cordon manned by the Magnarplatz Palace Guards, the most elite of any protective force in Candanadium. Ethan and the Prince stepped out and stood to the side, awaiting the King while the King's advisors and security detail filed out of the limousine behind them. As the King stepped out of the vehicle, Ethan wondered where the Chancellor was. Surely he could not be absent for an occasion as momentous as this? His thoughts were interrupted by the Chancellor's booming voice, coming from the balcony above.

"Welcome to Candanadium, your majesty. I must beg your forgiveness, I seem to have lost track of the time. Please, go ahead, I shall be with you in just a moment." The Chancellor smiled to his deputy.

You cheeky bastard, thought Ethan. This was a move characteristic to the young Chancellor. That picture of him on the balcony talking to the King below would be all over the news in Candanadium and around the world in a matter of hours.

The Chancellor was letting the King know who was truly the dominant power of the north. And the answer wasn't Sonvarim.
Deep in the bowels of Deepwood Hall was a series of rooms that, officially, didn't exist. As far as the outside world was concerned, the Chancellery had never been modified significantly since the declaration of the federation, to preserve the structural and cultural integrity of the manor. However, under the directives of various Chancellors over the years, a series of tunnels and bunkers were built underneath the manor, to be used to house the Chancellor and any essential staff should the above-ground prove unsafe, commonly referred to by Chancellery staff as the Kanzlerbunker.

One of these rooms was the backup War Room, a near perfect replica of the Privy Council Chambers at the Crown Council Buildings, even down to the stained-glass windows. To improve the morale of those who potentially had to suffer the fate of being holed up below the Chancellery for months on end, soft yellow lights were installed behind the faux windows to give the impression of sunlight. Despite lacking some comforts when compared to the regular Privy Council Chambers, it was the perfect place to hold a meeting that, officially, never happened, which was exactly what was happening in the room right now.

"You must pardon the shabbiness of the facilities, sir, but I fear given the circumstances, this is the best we are able to offer." The Chancellor said apologetically as he led the small party of Privy Council members, Sonvarian advisors, and the Sonvarian King down the steps to the Kanzlerbunker. The passageway was hidden in what seemed like a cabinet door in one of the main hallways of the Chancellery, with a false door at the back of the cabinet.

"Not at all, I understand." The Sonvarian King gave a conservative reply as the Chancellor nodded to the two guards standing in front of the heavy blast door that led to the war room. One of the guards proceeded to turn around and began to turn the heavy round handle of the door, which swung outward with a mighty groan, revealing the pre-prepared War Room inside, with miniature Candanadian and Sonvarian flags set upon the table. The Chancellor showed the King to one end of the table, the one usually reserved for the King of Candanadium, while he took the seat at the other end as the Privy Councillors and the Sonvarian party took their seats. The two Candanadian guards were bolstered by two Sonvarian guards, with golden eagle badges on their flat peaked caps. Last to enter the room were the Sonvarian translators, but were stopped by one of the guards.

"I must apologize again, but protocol dictates that we cannot allow translators in the room as, officially, this meeting never took place. Candanadian translators will be able to brief your advisors after the meeting has concluded, your majesty." The Chancellor explained again, now in Kanadiaans for the benefit of the gathered Privy Council. The King nodded, and said something to his three advisors, who looked at each other uneasily. "Shall we proceed then?"

"Indeed we shall." The King held out his hand to one of the advisors, who handed him a rolled up scroll of paper. "We all know that my purpose here is to discuss the situation in Karelograd, and the reason for this is that the Sonvarian Parliament has approved a peace plan for the future of the Karelograd territory. We have heard Candanadium's concerns and plans regarding Karelograd, and we can empathize to a degree." The Sonvarian advisors didn't seem to understand much Kanadiaans, but nodded along whenever the King said the words "Karelograd", "Sonvarim", or "Candanadium". The King unrolled the scroll of paper, revealing a map of the entire Karelograd region divided into three parts, one green, one dark blue, and one light blue. "Sonvarim is willing to allow Karelograd to be split between Candanadian, Trefjalli, and Sonvarian administration, provided that freedom of movement between Candanadian, Trefjalli, and Sonvarian Karelograd is maintained." The King gestured to the various parts of the map as he spoke.

"Your majesty, with all due respect, this is not good enough. We demanded a creation of a Karelo Free State, free from Sonvarian or any other kind of foreign influence. Your nation has done various, uh, questionable deeds in Karelograd, this is well known." Sir Markus Pearson was normally more blunt than this, but the Minister of Defence had to pick his words carefully when in the presence of a foreign monarch.

"Questionable deeds? I question you deeds, Kandanadier. Karelograd is part of Sonvarim since ancient time. We being very generous and merciful. I suggest carefully consider you our offer." One of the advisors pounded the desk and snarled at the Minister in the best Kanadiaans he could muster up. The King barked a sharp command at the advisor, who refrained from speaking any further, but not before giving the Minister a fearsome look.

"Yes, thank you, your majesty. As my colleague the Minister of Defence has just pointed out, our initial request was a complete withdrawal of Sonvarim from Karelograd and Sonvarian support and cooperation in building a new, independent Karelograd. We will need some time to think on your offer, and it is evident that you and your accompanying ministers must be weary after your journey, so I propose that we break for lunch, to give our Privy Councillors to consider the offer and to give your party a chance to rest. What do you say?" The Chancellor suggested, attempting to salvage the quickly deteriorating meeting.

"I think that would be a wise decision. Chancellor, will you join me on a walk? I would quite like to explore the famous Deepwood Hall." The King's voice hinted that there was something he wanted to discuss in private with the Chancellor, who nodded.

"Lunch will be served in the Hall of Oak. Please speak to one of the attendants if you cannot find your way." The King repeated the message to his three advisors, including the one who had snarled at the Minister of Defence. The Chancellor understood the general gist of what he had said, as he had studied Trefjalli in University, which had certain similarities to the Sonvarian tongue. He thought the King said something along the lines of telling them to calm themselves, but he couldn't say for sure. The Chancellor followed the tall man hastily up the stairs, emerging once more in the hallway where they had ended up.

"I have heard much of the artifacts kept on display in Deepwood Hall, some have even said that you keep the skull of an Edofasian king here. Is this true?" Alexei had switched to Oseanian again, now that he was alone with the Chancellor. The Chancellor laughed.

"Not exactly, your majesty, the Edofasians don't believe in monarchy. It's even enshrined in their religion. We do have a few items of interest from Edofasia, would you care to look at them?"

"Certainly. Lead the way." The Chancellor took him on a journey through the heart of Deepwood Hall. As they turned a corner, the King looked back behind his shoulder, and when he saw that nobody had been following them, he began to speak again, but in a much softer tone.

"I'm sure by now a man as intelligent as you has deduced the true purpose of my visit, am I correct?" The King whispered. The Chancellor's face showed no emotions, but deep down he knew that his first instincts had been correct, when the Ambassador had first informed him of the King's intentions of visiting the nation.

"Of course, but I would hear it from you first." The Chancellor kept his voice low as well.

"Sonvarim is a nation collapsing in on itself. The Yetkians and Donvians are tired of their years of servitude toward the crown, and trouble brews. These colonies, even Karelograd, have proven to be too costly for the crown. We throw cheques at the governors whenever they request military aid or an economic boost, and those cheques go straight into their personal Belkhomirian bank accounts. The Parliament is filled with corrupt old bags like the three that came with me, who are drunk on delusions of the glory days long ago. I fear if we do not change, our nation will not survive. This is why I have come, to seek your help." The Chancellor knew of the troubles plaguing the Empire down south, but had never guessed that the King would be the main source of opposition.

"What of Karelograd then? We made it very clear that we would not accept anything but complete withdrawal." The Chancellor tried probing a bit deeper.

"Believe me, dear Chancellor, that if it were up to me, we would have withdrawn from Karelograd long ago. The Parliament is of a different opinion, however. It was a task and a half to gain their approval for this three-way partition, which is why I came as late as I did."

"So what support would you have from us?"

"I wish for the best of my nation, but-" The King was interrupted by the Chancellor grabbing him by the shoulder and turning him towards the enormous tapestry hung on the wall.

"A depiction of the 36 Lessons of Lugh, your majesty." The Chancellor said in a louder voice. Out of the corner of his eye the King could see one of the Sonvarian advisors making his way towards them. "A text holy to the Edofasians. It tells the story of the war between the gods, holy A'ru and dark Lugh, and the origin of the Black Book, the longer holy text. This depiction is incomplete, unfortunately. It only features the first through fifth Lessons." The Chancellor continued. "Perhaps it would be wiser for us to take a walk through the grounds." He said in a lowered voice again, once the advisor had passed.

"Yes, I agree." The Chancellor led the King down to the end of the hallway, and proceeded to open a glass door, leading to the maple tree grove.

"The Oseanians believe that the maples are sacred, and that whenever an agreement is made under a maple, the Gods have bore witness." The Chancellor mused.

"Then let this agreement be made under a maple. Liars and murderers surround me, Chancellor. I fear that my life is already in danger. The monarchy is popular among the Sonvarian people and military and I know that they will follow me, but the Military Police is firmly in the grasp of the Parliament. There has been a buildup of MP forces in Yetkia, near the border with Caskhomir. There is a war coming, and when it does come, I would ask for the support of the North. For a new Sonvarim." The King's voice was filled with emotion, and it was hard for the Chancellor to deny him this request. Once the Sonvarian Empire fell and opened up its markets, there would be ample opportunity for Candanadium to expand its business interests into the nation. A war against a single branch of the military would be a bloodbath in their favour.

"You will let go of Karelograd, Yetkia, Donvia, and the other colonies." The Chancellor affirmed.

"I will."

"You will end the suppression of information and allow foreign reporters within your borders."

"I will."

"You will open up your markets to the world."

"I will."

"You will end hostilities with Candanadium and implement democracy to the best of your ability."

"I will."

"Then let the Gods bear witness to this agreement." The Chancellor held out his hand.

"Let the Gods bear witness indeed." The King took it and shook it firmly, three times, as was the custom of Candanadium.

With the shake of a hand, it seemed that Chancellor Pieter von Juppertal had just won Candanadium a war. Deepwood Hall would be his for another four years after all.
^bump to fix the order