"No one is totally useless. They can always serve as 'The Bad Example'."
General Ritter Hugo von Schwillensaufenstein
Otto Weisenheimer, the Chancellor of Raubenstadt, looked down at the piece of paper in his hand. As he had foreseen the Prince-Bishop had refused to return the disputed territories. There would be no further negotiations on the matter. A declaration of war would be the next step. He didn't know if he was happy or sad. Happy because he had served his lord well, or sad because of the loss of life that was bound to happen as a result of his actions. He went to see the Markgraaf.
He found him closeted with the General and a fellow he did not know. "Come in Otto. We were just about to send for you anyway!. This is Herr von Mack. He's an old friend of the von Kerns. The Margravine trusts him completly. We suspect that Stagonian provocateurs were involved in my "accident" back in January. Von Mack is going to try and get us some proof that "King" Maurice was involved. He may need some assistance from yourself or your office to help flush them out. Good luck with your fishing Herr von Mack." Von Mack bowed and left the room. Otto had a vision of von Mack following his trail, and involuntarily shuddered at the thought.
"Tell me Otto, what do you know of the vile Stagonian?", the Markgraaf asked. "Vile is indeed the word, my Lord." the Chancellor responded. "There was never much love lost between Raubenstadt and Stagonia. A distant cousin of your father's was killed in one of Maurice's convoluted plots, before he declared himself to be King. Your father blamed Maurice and severed all political relations with the Stagonian." "How many Stagonian barges have had trouble on the river recently?" "Seven, my Lord. They were carrying mundane cargo for the most part, but we did find uniforms on board all of them that do not match any worn by the Stagonian Army. Further inquiries provided matches for the Duchy of Stollen, Hesse-Homberg,
Frankzonia, and some postage stamp sized place down South called, 'The Pressipality'. We can only assume that these are all some part of another of his insane plots."
"Do you think my 'accident', might be Maurice's way of protesting the loss of so many barges?" the Markgraaf asked. "It's very hard to tell what the madman is thinking at any time my Lord, but I have another, more pressing matter. The Prince-Bishop has refused." He handed the message to the Markgraaf. The general said, "Our army is ready. Everything is in place. We can begin operations immediately."
"Not yet General. Not yet." The Markgraaf turned back to his Chancellor. "Otto, send the declaration of war to the Prince-Bishop. General, operations will begin twenty-four hours later. Gentlemen I will not keep you from your duties any further." Otto returned to the Chancellory to put the finishing touches on the declaration. The general returned to his headquarters.
As he rode back, the angrier he got. By the time he had returned, he had worked himself up into a towering rage. The Markgraaf endangered by unseen agents of Stagonia?! The General's aides stood silently by while the old soldier swore for twenty minutes, in a variety of languages, using colorful anatomical impossibilites, and never once repeated himself, while slowly turning an interesting shade of purple. "...unnatural spawn resulting from relations with a Cod Fish! He's worse than that fellow who thinks he's a Lobster. By the Powers! If I thought "Graf" Maurice had a speck of honor left, I'd call him out for pistols at dawn! I'd shoot out his left eye, and he'd spend the rest of the day looking up at the sky out of the right one and seeing nothing!" No one in the Headquarters Tent doubted him. The General's vision was still excellent and his duelling pistols had been fitted out with hair triggers. Schwillensaufenstein was no stranger to the Field of Honor and was still alive to tell the tale. Not everyone he had confronted could say the same.
"Double all the guards at once. Nobody gets in or out without a signed pass from me. Heaven have mercy on anyone who let them get so close, for I shall have none!" Each sentence was punctuated by a large beefy fist pounding the table. "If they are still hanging around to see how successful they were, or to try again, there is a small chance that we might catch them. If any suspects are captured alive, tell Cyril the Blade to fire up the coals, I may have some business for him. A 'St. Petersburg Special With A Ginger Beer Twist' ought to do the trick. Beer....Somebody bring me a beer! Swearing is thirsty work." It was at this moment of monumental bad timing that Heinz von Stein, Colonel of the Truerpfalz Freicorps entered the tent, came to attention, and said, "You wanted to see me, Sir? If this is an inconvienent time, I could come back later."