The half-orc that moved with obvious determination through the massive Bureaucratic Palace of Jordrakenschloss was not the sort of minor-ranking lackey that could be easily dismissed or not noticed. His name was Ferrik, and he had been working his way up through the ranks within the Office of Diplomacy. He was not particularly gifted in languages or decorum, and he was rarely on the guest list for any state functions which demanded etiquette and tact. Ferrik was more inclined to civilized behavior than many of his coworkers, but he would never be mistaken for a diplomat.

Ferrik made his way past the guards in the corridor outside of the door to the suite of rooms belonging to the Office of Diplomacy. He nodded at those busy inside and without missing a beat continued going through one door after another as he made his way deeper into the inner sanctum of the department. Finally he reached the last door upon which he knocked and stood waiting. A moment passed before a booming voice on the other side of the door called out “Enter!” Ferrik clicked the latch and swung the door open.

Stepping inside quickly, Ferrik closed the door and stood awaiting a greeting from the occupant of the large office he had just entered. On the far side of the room in front of an ornate wall hanging that depicted the coat of arms for the Slothjemian Empire was a desk, and seated there was a rough looking middle-aged man with slicked back salt and pepper hair and a five o’clock shadow that seemed to be three days along. He looked up from the ledger he was writing in and said, “Ah, Ferrik. What news do you bring?”

Ferrik stepped forward and handed a bundle of carefully folded papers to the man at the desk. “We’ve gotten a message from Redemption, my lord. They’ve sent along a detailed account of a plan that is being enacted by some in Maelonbourg to act against the Lotharingians when the Fallen Knights embark upon their trespass to get at Fanolania.”

The man at the desk sat back in his chair and unfolded the papers. “Ah, Redemption. Our agent in the little states of the north.” Chuckling he looked at Ferrik and said, “They certainly have had an active couple of years, haven’t they?” He then turned his attention to the papers. Ferrik waited patiently with a smile on his face.

It was obvious from the facial expressions of the man at the desk that what he was reading was both remarkable and highly amusing. “Dear God.” he whispered almost to himself alone. Looking back to Ferrik he asked, “Are they going to actually try and pull this off?”

Ferrik laughed and said, “Yes, they are going to go for it. Look at who they enlisted to take the point.”

The man at the desk flipped through the pages and found the portion that Ferrik was talking about. He looked in baffled amazement at the half-orc. “Is that who I think it is?”

Ferrik just nodded his head.

The man at the desk continued chuckling as he said, “I have always said that if you want something done right you need to have a professional. And Maelonbourg has the best of the best for this plan to succeed. Who suggested this idea?”

Ferrik paused his own laughter enough to say “Originally it was Redemption who suggested the idea. Remember that money that they requested a couple months ago? This was what it was for. But the money isn’t needed any longer. One of the barons in Maelonbourg came up with basically the same idea on their own, and put up the money for Redemption to make it happen. So that problem solved itself and gave us a local noble we can pass the blame on to.”

The man at the desk continued reading, occasionally shaking his head in disbelief. “There will be repercussions to this. Make sure the Herzgraf doesn’t get wind of it beforehand and we’ll just bluff our way through once the deed is done. The Queen needs to be told, though. I’ll get word to her. In the meantime bury this information where nobody in the Council of Schönbrunn can find it because those goody-two-shoes will absolutely come unglued at this plan. Say, isn’t the fellow in command of Maelonbourg’s military a paladin? Did he sign off on this? That is a shortcut to finding oneself on the wrong side of divine punishment.”

The half-orc sneered and answered, “Nah, the noble that set this up did so without any permission from anybody in the belief that asking forgiveness is a hell of a lot easier than getting prior approval. They are probably right. Maelonbourg runs as much on chaos as it does dumb luck.”

The man behind the desk set down the papers and cleared his throat. His mood was no longer as jovial as it was although the bemusement had not fully left his heart. “That is where you are wrong, Ferrik. Maelonbourg is developing almost precisely in the same way Slothjemia did under Papa Slothjem. The similarities are startling. The only difference is that Archduke Kovak isn’t as aware of the strengths he has at his disposal as was Manfriedreich the First. But he’s going to start finding out who he has at his command, and who is willing to do these monstrous acts without a moment’s hesitation. And then Partum is going to discover that there is more than one Slothjemia in the neighborhood.” He leaned in close and his voice dropped. “And Ferrik, we must make sure that we are on Maelonbourg’s good side when they realize just how strong they are.”