"The Reich-Duke Wilhelm and theDuchess Lydia are coming here. Here to Heidlebeerunberg?!", the Margravine inquired.
"Yes my dear. Otto assures me that everything is under control for the State Visit and that we should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."
"Did our beloved Prime Minister have that far away, glazed over look in his eye when he said that?"
"Well....he did look sort of frazzled, now that you mention it."
The Margravine closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I suppose you planned to entertain our guests by hunting at the Lodge during the day and carousing at the local inns at night?"
"Errr....Yes? The Gamemeister said that the grouse are getting too thick, and he finally found where that big boar that got away last Fall has gone. Wouldn't that be a fine centerpiece for a feast? The Brewmeisters said that the Winter Dark is particularly fine this year."
The Margavine again closed her eyes and took another deep breath. "God in Heaven! Men!", and with a snap of her fan, she set sail for the nearest exit, calling for the Meister of Ceremonies.
The last thing he heard as she departed was, "After the Reception, a Ball....that means the Hall Of Mirrors must be readied. The gardens are in good shape....Fireworks! Fireworks launched from the Felsigberg so they reflect in the river! Good! Good! What else now...."
Ever since then the Palace had been at the center of a whirlwind of activity not seen since the Thirty Year's War. Squads of servants opened and aired rooms that had been closed since the Markgraaf's Grandfather had ruled. Companies of maids dusted, mopped, and swept and then dusted, mopped, and swept some more. The cooks planned menues and inspected the cellars looking for rare vintages and casks. Carpenters and tradesmen constantly paraded from the town to the Palace and back again.
The Markgraaf took it all in stride - an island of calm in a frenzied sea. He knew that beneath her facade of long suffering, that the Margravine was enjoying herself immensely already. And why shouldn't she? The Reich-Duke's visit to Raubenstadt would be the first visit of a person of consequence since Wallenstein had come through.
The Markgraaf shuddered. "God spare us from such another visit. Perhaps enough time had passed for the High Nobles to acknowledge that the grandson of a Frei Captain who had taken the Fortress of Felsigberg, had a right to rule, and the threat from Baden-Baden would fade. That would be nice." Then another thought crossed his mind, "I wonder if my boy Andrew, Major Thirst, and Professor Dryasdust will be in the Ducal procession? Herr Krause should be in his service by now. It will be nice to see all of them. With the new Stagonian 'King' nearby, one could not be too careful. Maurice was bad enough, but this Ludwig....from under what rock did he crawl? Von Mack would know...hummm....No one has reported hearing from Von Mack for a couple of weeks now." The Markgraaf wondered what the old horse thief was up to that would keep him from getting in contact or at least sending a message?