THE EVENTS IN THIS POST FEATURE NATIONS THAT NO LONGER EXIST, AND THUS, THIS POST IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED PART OF THE GLOBAL CANON. HOWEVER, DESCRIPTIONS OF LOCATIONS, CHARACTERS, CULTURE, AND HISTORY IN NATIONS THAT STILL EXIST ARE STILL CANON. USE THIS POST ONLY AS A REFERENCE FOR THE AFOREMENTIONED MATTERS.
PART 1 OF 2
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 left leg. 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.