The Imperial Palace that served as the capitol and residence of the Emperor of Geldenreich had a special meeting room that was set aside for the exclusive use of the Council of Schönbrunn. This was considered an almost sacred place. It was the only room that the emperor himself could not enter freely. It was tucked away in the innermost portion of the palace and was an octagonal room with no windows. It was spartanly appointed with a large octagonal table with fifteen chairs set about around it. In the middle of the table sat an ornate stand that normally held a communication orb. Along the walls of the room were built-in bookshelves that held the leather-bound notes for the council’s business as well as the archives of all correspondence received by this august assembly. A modest chandelier holding enchanted lights hung over the table, bathing the room in soft light.
There was a single entrance to this room, double doors made of the finest hardwood in the empire. Outside of these doors stood ten guards, five on either side, hand chosen from among the finest the empire had to offer. They served the Council of Schönbrunn and even if the emperor ordered them aside, they wouldn’t comply. Today they stood at attention as the council began to assemble in the corridor outside of the hallowed chamber. When the chairman of the group arrived, they nodded to each other, and the guards stepped aside to allow them entrance.
The chairman was Prince Toth Gabor of Gyepekmark, one of the contenders to become the next Emperor of Geldenreich and a paladin of some renown. He took a seat around the table and the other members followed suit. Baron Martin Riedl of Hendort, a human warrior, Vicar Niklas Wolf, a human cleric, and Lord Vordragon the Heavy-Handed, a dwarven warrior were the other members of the Geldenreich delegation. From Lusatia the councilors were Lord Brazej Dragon, a human cleric, Countess Adriana Rolek, a human warrior, Sister Magdalena, a human priestess, and Sir Bozomir Toczek, a human paladin. Fanolania had sent along it’s councilors for this meeting as well. They were Marquis Raymond Stephane Cuvillier of Sandorne, a human warrior, Sister Melodie Jacquemoud, an elven priestess, Father Alexandre Treebender, a half-elven cleric, and Lady Celeste Le Marchond, a human paladin. Lastly were the councilors from Slothjemia. Led by Herzgraf Shr Archibald Speedblade II, a human paladin, they also included Vicar Shar Regalia Mossbloom, a wild elven priestess and Baron Shr Borgorros Axeshatter, a dwarven warrior. The fifteen people settled into their chairs and waited for the chairman to address them.
Prince Toth smiled at his comrades and said, “Greeting to all of you, and it is good to see you all in such good health in such difficult times. As you know we have invited our friends from Maelonbourg to join us, and they have indicated that they will be here for our general meeting which we will have on the 15th of this month. Before they join us, however, I wanted to go over a few things.”
Marquis Cuvillier took notes as the chairman spoke and the other councilors gave their full attention to what was being said. Prince Toth continued, “Doubtless you have already gotten word of what our allies have been up to in the area of the Wenigzustand. From our sources in Fanolania we know that a new way station has been set up to assist the drow elves as they journey to Havre d’Anges. None of us were expecting this, but it is an agreeable and well-received development.” The councilors murmured in agreement and nodded their heads.
“Of course, we are also well informed of the happenings of last month when some truly evil influences were dealt with swiftly and judiciously by Archduke Kovak.” With something of a chuckle Prince Toth added as an aside, “It seems as though we don’t need to be concerned about a northern version of Slothjemia taking root in central Partum after all.” While there was polite subdued laughter at this jest, it being a reference to some of the people sitting at the table meant an awkward moment. It had become something of an inside joke among the councilors from Geldenreich, Fanolania, and Lusatia that Maelonbourg was rapidly turning into another Slothjemia what with all of the mayhem it seemed to embrace and the varied racial population that was quite unlike anything considered acceptable by the standards of these more “civilized” countries. Slothjemia didn’t find the joke amusing, but they were confident enough in their own strengths to not make an issue out of it.
Prince Toth realized he had made a faux pas and blushed a bit. However, he had to continue. “As the actions of the Archduke and his companions have made clear, it is their intention to bring peace to this part of the continent even if it means defeating foul entities in battle or by other means. Their methods might not be the most elegant, however none of us can question their desire to elevate virtue and resist evil. I hereby propose that we begin discussing what measures we are willing to take corporately to reward them for their good works, and what concessions we might make to allow them more influence in the region.” Prince Toth looked at the councilors as they began to whisper among themselves. “And bear in mind we will also require from them concessions as well. If there is to be order and stability in Partum, they must continue to prove their worth and determination.”
Motioning to the assembled group Prince Toth said, “We have much to decide. Let us begin with the issue of Kastallia and work our way northward. Agreed?”
The councilors nodded their heads and murmured their approval. The fates of realms not represented were soon to be decided, for this is where the power resided.