The Democratika

Full Version: Deep in the Wood
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Originally posted on March 23, Democratika 3

Of all the places to have picked a quiet place for a Chancellery, the core of New Konigstadt seemed like the wrong place. New Konigstadt was notorious throughout the country, and indeed, the continent for its gridlock traffic jams clogging up the inner city blocks, with skyscrapers rising up hundreds of stories above the average pedestrian. Streetcars and buses and automobiles lined the narrow streets, with barely enough space left for a sidewalk that pedestrians shared with the rare New Konigstadt cyclist. Billboards and signs covered the sides of buildings and jutted out from storefronts, and modern office buildings fought with traditional apartments for space in the core of the metropolis. People here walked fast, talked fast, and lived their lives fast. Indeed, the capital of the Kingdom of Candanadium was one of the least quiet places in the entire nation.

Yet behind the concrete jungle was a forgotten haven, a peaceful world in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle. There lay Deepwood Hall, originally the summer home of the ancient kings of Magnarstaat, nestled between the skyscrapers of the Central Business District and the neon lights of the traditional entertainment district of Bayview Park. Surrounded by a thick forest of ancient oaks, willows, and pines, the modest but comfortable manor was now the home and office of the Chancellor of Candanadium. Its front facade was noted for the six delicate marble pillars with vines of marble ivy coiled all around them, an exquisite work of craftsmanship. The halls were decked with lush carpets and various pieces of artwork and cultural relics from across the world, brought back to the capital by the various Kanadiaans explorers who had braved the seas over the centuries. Ancient bamboo scrolls containing the wisdom of the Akarean elders, Trefjalli carvings and rune tablets, relics of the nameless goddess of Caskhomir, and the supposed crown of the mythical King Wilhelmus of Magnare himself, Deepwood Hall was a home, an office, a cultural relic, and a museum.

For Pieter von Juppertal, the 33rd man to make Deepwood Hall his home, this was perfect. During the little free time he had, he could often be found wandering the corridors of the manor, quietly observing a particular relic or a painting on the wall, or taking a stroll in the ancient forests or the lush gardens. He had often joked to aides and secretaries that the real reason incumbent Chancellors campaigned so hard during election years was because no man in their sane mind would voluntarily give up Deepwood Hall as their home. The Chancellor's office was located in the heart of it all, a large, airy room with a magnificent skylight, decorated with the same kind of stained glass illustrations of the glory of the Kanadiaans as that in the Magnarplatz Palace, spilling rays of rainbow light across the entire room. Two comfortable semicircular sofas sat below the skylight, used for negotiations and by those waiting to speak to the Chancellor. The Chancellor's desk was made of solid dark oak, magnificently carved and lacquered, and had seen use by 17 chancellors before von Juppertal. Today, it was teeming with paperwork and internal memos and bills to sign, as ever. The Chancellor was just about to put his name on a bill passed by the Privy Council regarding the water standards in the nation when one of the four phones on his desk rang. He had one phone for Crown affairs that went straight to Magnarplatz Palace, one for Federal Affairs that went to the office of the Minister of Federal Affairs, one for Foreign Affairs that went to that office, and another one for general purposes. Today, it was the Foreign Affairs ministry that wished to bother him. The caller ID display read that the call was coming straight from the Candanadian Embassy in Sonvarim. That was peculiar to the Chancellor. Usually the ambassadors reported directly to the Ministry, so if something required his attention, it must be significant. He picked up the receiver and spoke curtly into it.

"This is the Chancellor. May I know who I am speaking with?" The Chancellor spoke instinctively in his native Kanadiaans.

"Good day, sir, this is Ambassador Jonathan Bridge, chief of affairs at the crown mission in Voravia. We met at a state banquet in Klettastrond three years ago, you might recall." The man had a nasally voice and an Oseanian accent that made his words sound tilted and almost musical to the Chancellor's ears. The name was vaguely familiar to the Chancellor, but he had no recollection of said state banquet, nor the man behind the voice.

"Yes, of course. What can I do for you, Ambassador Bridge?" The Chancellor switched to near-perfect Oseanian. He had the faintest trace of a Kanadiaans accent, but spoke it well for a native of Eisenstaat. Years of politics had made the Chancellor an expert at lying through his teeth, no matter how much he detested it.

"Well, sir, I was summoned to the Sonvarian royal palace late last night to meet with the king. It seems that the King Alexei has taken up His Majesty's offer at last, about coming to New Konigstadt to discuss the Karelograd question. King Alexei intends to leave as soon as possible, and was quite secretive about the whole affair. Much more so than normal, and I'm sure you know how the Sonvarians are normally." This news came as a shock to the Chancellor. The announcement from Magnarplatz Palace had come almost a year earlier, about Candanadium asserting her claim over Karelograd. It was meant to make the Sonvarians nervous, and although the King had offered to meet them at talks, the Sonvarians were characteristically quiet about the offer. Until now. This could only mean two things to the Chancellor - either the Sonvarians had finally decided to open themselves up to the world and reveal what was happening in their secretive land, or that Alexei had gone rogue. Both situations seemed about as likely as Edofasia rejoining the Crown, and that was saying something.

"I see. I shall arrange accommodation for him in Deepwood Hall. If you have the time, please inform him that His Majesty the King is currently visiting the troops in the Westland, unfortunately, not be able to meet with him. Whatever he has to say, he can say to me as well. Did he say anything in terms of security?"

"He mentioned a platoon of Sonvarian Royal Guards. They're meant to be the elite forces in the nation, but from what I've seen they're not exactly up to par with our standards."

"I shall ask for some Palace Guards from Magnarplatz then. Thank you for informing me, Ambassador. I will see to it that the necessary preparations are made."

"Thank you, sir. Have a good day."

"You too, Ambassador." The Chancellor hung up the phone. No matter what the young Sonvarian monarch's intention was, this was bound to be a turning point for both nations. As he sipped at a glass of iced water, he found himself musing upon a phrase he had heard somewhere in the years past.

If you want peace, prepare for war.