Before they retired to their suite for the evening, Grundoon knew he wasn’t going to get any sleep tonight. He was tense, excited, and just a little worried. He had never been patient with bureaucratic process, and now here he was being tossed into a nightmare of paperwork, reports, and mundane duties. There would be plenty of things to do that would be a challenge for him, but the old orc couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that he was going to be miserable a fair amount of the time.
While everyone else prepared for bed, Grundoon took a chair out on to the balcony and sat down. He watched the lights twinkling in the huge city down below. The night sky was bright with stars, and he could see easily the outline of the mountains to the west of the swamp. He wasn’t aware that he was smiling as his mind danced from one nostalgic thought to another. So many pleasant memories of the coreland. Outsiders found the swampy heart of Slothjemia to be hostile, forbidding, and dangerous. But for goblinoids it was a very different impression. People like Grundoon loved this place, and leaving it just felt irksome. He had adapted to life on the far side of New Vilhelmia in his small valley filled with apple orchards, but it had taken twenty years. Hoping his assignment in Romilmark was going to be over quickly had kept his spirits buoyed. Now he was pondering the possibility that the job of Governor-General would take a while, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about that.
Aggrylia came out to kiss him goodnight, and gave him a big hug. “Don’t stay up all night, my dear.” She whispered.
Grundoon nodded and smiled at her, squeezing her hand. “Good night, darling. Sleep well.” He watched her go back inside, and turned his attention back to the night sky and Slothenburg. There were just a few scattered clouds drifting by on the breeze. He wanted to see if he might see dragonriders coming and going, and some hours later he was rewarded with just such a sight. It looked as though the riders were flying right into the side of the mountain below Jordrakenschloss. Grundoon wondered if he would be given temporary command of the Red Guard’s dragon cavalry. He might even get to go along on a flight.
Jandle stayed up with his lord, bringing him beer he didn’t ask for, and sitting quietly on the floor of the balcony, peering out through the railing posts. The night slipped by. Grundoon fell asleep a couple of times, but not for long. Jandle and he were both awake when the dawn began to slip in from the east, behind them. It was a very inspiring sight. Grundoon was inspired to find a chamber pot, and Jandle went out to locate Galwin to see when breakfast was going to be served.
Most everyone in the party went to the military dining hall for breakfast, but Jandle and Grundoon stayed in the suite. The Governor-General and his squire had work to do, so they started at it while eating just to get a head start. Grundoon compiled a list of things they would need, and Jandle wrote them down in his peculiar, haphazard calligraphy. There was no rhyme or reason to the list, just random things that popped into the baron’s mind. A communication crystal would be necessary, more than most anything. He would have to be in constant contact with the throne, his military assets, and other resources. A diplomatic contact would be needed, somebody from the Lord Ambassador’s office to function as a mediator with Romillia, to make sure that the dwarven king didn’t misunderstand the actions and intentions of Slothjemia during the integration of Romilmark into Slothjemia. A new army would have to be created to defend Romilmark. Grundoon could not expect the Red Guards, 8th Army, and the 2nd Army to remain there indefinitely, so forging an entirely new army to keep the peace in Romilmark was going to have to begin immediately. Surveyors for marking out the property boundaries, at least three teams of them, would be needed if they had any hope of getting this task done in a timely fashion. The property measurements and census would allow the throne to begin the process of awarding titles to new or established nobles in the realm.
The list kept growing. There would need to be at least three pairs of urban constables capable of training the new police forces in the towns and cities of Romilmark. Rural constables would also be needed, to teach whatever was left of the regions sheriffs how to function as Slothjemian law enforcement. Grundoon had to rely on martial law for the time being, but getting these other forces up and running would be important steps in the transition. New judges would have to be found, or existing judges would need to be educated on the peculiarities of Slothjemian law, if there were any judges left. Grundoon had no idea who was, and wasn’t, still a part of the establishment in Romilmark.
If the 8th Army had an engineering unit, that was fine. But Grundoon would need his own engineers; there were multiple projects that he wanted tackled at the same time. There were fortifications to construct on the three passes that led into Romillia. Bridges would probably need to be rebuilt, and the city of Brakoff had some of its defenses ruined during the war. Then, of course, there were going to be new business opportunities for those that had the money and the foresight to jump into region. Coach lines, banking, services of almost any description, all of these would be needed. Assays for mineral extraction, tree surveys for lumber, all manner of resource harvesting and storage. The Governor-General would not have to do all of these things, but his office would oversee all of it in order to keep Reichsha properly apprised of what wealth she had available.
Coinage would be central to all of it. Old Romillian coins would be used, when needed, but Grundoon would have to have a large amount of money on hand to get and keep things going. He would need accountants to keep track of it all. There would have to be a steady stream of revenue from the throne, at first, before taxes could be properly levied and collected to make Romilmark self-sufficient. Some things could be negotiated, of course, but cash was always an excellent and reliable ally.
Jandle read through the list, and Grundoon grunted approvingly. He told Jandle to write it all up and get it to the Empress. “Use the good stationery.” He said. Jandle smiled, and padded off to carry out his master’s instructions.
Galwin arrived a short while later with the tailors, who proudly presented Grundoon with his brand-new uniforms. The old orc took them into his bedroom to try them on, and was delighted with the results. He returned to the central sitting room with a big grin, wearing the finest fitting clothes he had ever owned. “Well done! Excellent work, sirs. Excellent!” he exclaimed.
The valet also had a little oaken chest for the baron, engraved with the insignia of the Governor-General. Inside were a number of small pins, each one denoting that the wearer was a member of the Governor-General’s staff. It was a simple red enameled button pin, round, with tiny silver letters that read “G.G” to designate his office. Grundoon could give these to anyone he saw fit, military or otherwise, so that everyone would know they were acting under his authority. It wouldn’t mean anything here, of course, but in Romilmark it would mean everything.
Galwin and the tailors took their leave, and Grundoon went into Jandle’s room to give him one of the pins. The kobold took it, and happily pinned it to his tunic. Grundoon looked at him. “You know, I got a promotion. You were a big reason why. I think you need new insignia too, sergeant.”
Jandle looked at his lord with awe. “Thank you, milord!” he exclaimed.
“Write up something to that effect for me to sign. Then you can swing by headquarters and pick them up when you deliver that list.” Grundoon pointed to the paper that his squire was working on.
Jandle nodded his head with great enthusiasm, and went back to work. Grundoon left him, and put a few more of the pins in his pocket. He went back to the sitting room, and wrote down something on a piece of parchment. He smiled to himself as he did so. When he signed, he did so with a great flourish. Governor-General. He liked how that looked. He took the letter in to Jandle and said, “Deliver this to headquarters as well, when you go.” Grundoon smiled and went back to the lounge to await the return of the rest of his group.
When the rest of his family returned from eating, he took his daughter by the arm and whisked her right out of the suite again. She made a funny “ack!” sound and everyone looked on with bemusement. “Where are we going?” she asked. She made no attempt not to be taken on a walk, but she was curious as to why.
“I have something to discuss with you.” Her father said. That much had been obvious, so Hilde didn’t ask any further. She just took her father’s hand and went where he led.
Grundoon led her up several flights of stairs, not entirely sure himself where he was going. He just wanted to go someplace private. They went up inside a couple of spiral stairways, and found themselves on one of the high battlements of the capital. Banners fluttered angrily in the wind, and the view of the valley below was breathtaking. The two orcs blinked in the morning sunlight. Hilde watched her father’s face earnestly.
They stood silently for a while, he enjoying the valley view while he thought about what to say, and she watching him. “I need your help, Hilde. More than I thought that I might.”
She stood quietly, shivering slightly in the cool morning air.
“Originally, my intention was to have you close by to help Aggrylia with the children. But I think you’ll be far more valuable in another capacity.” He looked at his daughter.
She was beautiful, in her way. She had the misfortune of being a little too orcish, if that was to be considered a downside. There was more tusk than many men found attractive, more muscle and meat. Hilde was never going to be considered a beauty by human standards, that is for certain. His daughter stood quietly watching her father.
“I want you to rejoin the army, and serve under my office.” Grundoon said abruptly. He wasn’t actually giving her a choice. He was concerned that if he did offer her a choice, the strong-willed girl would do something other than what he wanted. She was good at that. He trusted her to do right, but at this time he really needed her to do what he wanted. There was going to be the chance that her natural inclination to follow her moral compass would override her ability to obey her father, but it was a chance Grundoon was willing to take.
“Ok, papa.” She said, still watching his face.
“That’s it? Don’t you want to know what I need you to do?” he asked incredulously.
She smiled. “I am yours to command, milord. If you believe I can be of service, then it is my honor to serve.”
“You need to get a uniform, then.” Her father said. He reached into his pocket and withdrew one of the little red pins. “Here.” He said, handing it to her. “You’ll need this too.”
“I need reinstatement orders, papa.” She said.
“I already gave them to Jandle.” Grundoon replied. “You’ll be back on the roster this afternoon.”
She smiled, and kissed her father on the cheek. “I’ll get my uniform once I get those orders, then.”
They made their way back to the suite. “What am I to be doing, anyway?” asked Hilde.
“You are going to be my Sergeant-Major.” Answered Grundoon. “I need you to help coordinate training for a new army, and provide logistical support for our military actions in Romilmark.”
Hilde smiled proudly. “Oh good. Finally, a chance to be in charge. I think I’ll enjoy abusing power.”
They both laughed. Grundoon had a nagging suspicion that letting Hilde get too close to him might backfire someday. It had been a consideration for quite some time, now. He knew her character. She was not prone to irrational anger, and she had a tendency to always err on the side of virtue when it came time to make decisions. The very quality that made her perfect as a soldier, or henchman, was the same quality that made her dangerous to Grundoon.
Once back at the suite, Hilde and Cloe took turns braiding each other’s hair. Hilde was extra talkative, and told everyone, loudly, that she was rejoining the army to serve as the Sergeant-Major for the Governor-General of Romilmark. Trangdor laughed, and teased her about nepotism being the surefire gateway to success. She pretended to scowl at him, but the laughter in her eyes betrayed her. She was too happy to be dragged into a foul mood.
Grundoon gave Aggrylia a big hug, and kissed her forehead. “I think you had better get busy finding a nanny for the whelps.” He said. “Our Hilde is going to be babysitting a brand-new army, instead of helping you.”
Aggrylia laughed, and nodded her head. She set out to find Galwin, to begin getting things in order for such a search. Porger went with her, just as an excuse to go out and see more. Grundoon gave a small, red pin to Kreg, and one to Trangdor. He had already acquired an official staff of four. He chuckled to himself. So far, so good.
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