Not that the Slothjemian capital of Jordrakenschloss was ever anything other than a hotbed of chaos, but the last few weeks had been especially eventful. A large part of the problem was that the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Bortimer, had been unusually active in the royal castle. What he was working at could only be guessed at by most because Bortimer had a reputation hard-earned and well-deserved for being a lazy fellow who kept his cards close to his chest. Normally the wayward royal wasn’t in the capital unless it was absolutely unavoidable, preferring instead the seedier and more dangerous parts of Slothenburg to the comparatively well kept and orderly existence that defined Jordrakenschloss. Not only had there been no apparent reason for the prince to be knocking about the capital, but he had had no fewer than eight private visitations with the Queen. Three of these had been with his father, the Herzgraf, in attendance as well. Speculation was running wild at what mess the Clown Prince of Gluttony had gotten himself into.
Had his sister, Archduchess Lersha of Renatus, been around she could have told them. She and her brother had a bond as the family oddballs that gave them a unique insight into each other’s peculiarities. This bond was also a barrier to outsiders, though, so while she could have told them what was going on, she wouldn’t have even if asked. Lersha had however had a hand in what was playing out in the center of power of her homeland. It was she that had suggested Bortimer seek their mother’s help and to make sure their father was on board as well. The Herzgraf was a difficult nut to crack. As a paladin with his own reputation to uphold he found it difficult to deal with his youngest son even in the best of circumstances. This isn’t to say that they didn’t get along. On the contrary they had teamed up several times for the good of the family and the empire. But they had dramatically different views on the world and how to deal with the difficulties they encountered. The Herzgraf was inclined to prayerfully seek counsel. Bortimer was more prone to stabbing somebody in the back, forcing them face down into the gutter, and then kneeing them in the groin for good measure. Lersha knew better than anyone that Bortimer would need to make sure that his approach to what he was now dealing with needed to be as crafty as he was but also as thoughtful and carefully handled as his father and mother could be.
With time ticking by faster than Bortimer felt it capable of, the prince had finally gotten his mother to agree to his notion. The Herzgraf had agreed as well, realizing that resistance to this was futile and his best option was to mitigate the potential damage if anything went wrong. To prevent anyone from guessing what was going on the Herzgraf had even offered to send his own squire to run the final errands in the capital to help seal the deal for Bortimer’s scheme. This meant that when Prince Bortimer left for Renatus to visit his sister and celebrate that country’s famous Oktoberfest in Bozageest he would be taking with him an additional guest. It was going to be something of a surprise for somebody close to Bortimer’s heart. Bortimer was under the mistaken belief that all of this was terribly secret. Maybe in Slothjemia it was a secret. But not so much in the Archduchy of Renatus. In fact word was already beginning to spread about the possibility of a happy surprise during the Oktoberfest. Which was a welcome change, really. Most of the time the surprises at the Bozageest Oktoberfest tended to be of the bloody brawl sort. And while this might well turn out to be a riotous fight, at least if Bortimer’s bodyguard had any say in it, most likely it wasn’t going to be that bad.
Not at first, anyway.