The lightning would flash and be reflected in the water of the river for a few seconds. The thunder would roll and echo back and forth in the hills of the river valley, while the wind driven sheets of rain relentlessly fell from the night sky. The Markgraaf savored the view from a palace window for a moment, before closing it. The weather matched his mood. He turned to face the four people he had summoned to this gathering. They looked worried and exchanged anxious glances between themselves. "As well they should.", he grumped to himself. The Markgraaf liked to think that he was a benevolent, kind, and patient ruler, but he was not a happy man, and in Raubenstadt, when the Markgraaf is not happy, no one is happy, or at least doesn't allow the happiness to show.
"She's been gone far too long! Something has gone terribly, terribly wrong! ...and NO one has had ANY communication with her, officially or unofficially since she and her escort left?!", he said.
"There has been no contact with the Margrafin verbal or written, or with the officers of her escort." Secretary Bueller blandly stated.
The Markgraaf turned his gaze to Ernst v.Kerns, the commander of his guards, "Not a peep from your brother David, or from Colonel Guyovich?"
The brigadier levelly looked the Markgraaf in the eyes and said, "Martin...I have heard nothing from either of them. They would gladly sacrifice themselves before they would let even the shadow of danger come near her."
The Markgraaf nodded. More to himself than anything else. He knew the Von Kerns valor well, and what they were capable of doing. "The shadow of danger...the shadow of danger...", he murmured. "Chancellor Wisenheimer! Has there been no message at all from von Mack?"
"Not that I'm aware of, your Grace.", the Chancellor replied. "Von Mack is a very resourceful and capable fellow. I have no doubt that he would find a way to alert us if something had happened to her Grace, her brother, or Colonel Guyovich."
"You're putting an awful amount of faith in one man.", the Markgraaf sighed and shrugged his shoulders.
"The Frankfurters have been undergoing a turbulent time.", the Chancellor said to try and reassure his friend and ruler, but could not resist adding, "But then again, when have they not had turbulent times?" This drew some chuckles of agreement all around.
"The Fartzen have been known to be upsetting and quarrelsome in their day to themselves and their neighbors, but if the Grand Duke or one of his many relatives has allowed the slightest harm to come to her..." The Markgraaf paused to calm and compose himself, "...the consequences will be severe."
The Markgraaf sat down by General Schwillingsaufenstein, and asked, "What was the name of that Frei-Korps that was marching though here the other day?"
The general took the last sip of schnapps from his glass, wiped his moustache with the back of his hand, "Schrieber's. Bunch of down on their luck Saxons from the Ducal Houses looking for a contract. A couple troops of ratty looking Dragoons on nags, a company of shoddy Grenadiers, and a smattering of ragged Jagers. Nothing special, but their weapons were in good order."
"Hire them Hugo.", the Markgraaf said. "Give them the standard agreement, but keep it quiet. Quarter them in one of the smaller towns near the Frankfurter border. I may soon have need of troops who's reprehensible actions I can disavow."