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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chapter 13 - Changes


Chapter 13 - Changes


All the Cardinals from every Catholic nation had assembled at the Dessau palace, however the meeting and purpose of the Electoral College turned out for many to be an anti-climax. The results of the elections were known before anyone sat down to formally discuss the business of the college.
Once it was known that Hapburgia would vote for Iberia, the Franconian Cardinal Palet had withdrawn his sovereigns bid (as per King Juan’s instructions) before the college even sat down for the formal business. King Juan I had realised there was a possibility that Hapburgia might do the unthinkable and support his rival because he had not agreed to promise to remain neutral in the Hapburgia-Wartenburg argument. It had been a risk in not issuing that promise and now Franconia paid the price for it. Juan was certain that Ferdinand of Hapburgia would weigh up the two remaining candidates and decide Juan was more reliable than Miguel Fernandez of Iberia.
In his heart of hearts Juan was not too disappointed that Franconia would not have the papacy, it merely complicated his plans but it would not stop them, and at least now he had a free hand to rule for Franconia and not the Catholic faith. He had sent cardinal Patel to represent him at the Electoral college, so uncertain was he that he would gain the papacy he decided the risk of loss of face in being there personally was too great, if by some miracle he had gained the Papal throne he could have been in Hapburgia for the Papal coronation within a week.
In the end King Juan realised he had misjudged Ferdinand, obviously the new Emperor of Hapburgia was playing a longer game than Juan had given him credit for, but he had other ways of tweaking the Hapburgian king. The first things to do would be to write to the Prince and Princess of Wartenburg with a few words of encouragement and advice.
Cardinal Palet King Juan’s Papal representative was not at all surprised at the result either, in fact he had kept the Iberians informed of what King Juan’s attitude to the Papacy was, the Iberians were just as concerned as Cardinal Palet  that perhaps King Juan was turning his back on the Catholic faith.
If the surprise was to be complete for anyone it was to the man who received the honour, for Emperor Miguel Fernandez this was the moment of crowning glory, he had finally reached the cherished goal of Pope, the highest office in mother church. He was 72 years old but this was literally his crowning glory. To him the past Popes had been too weak, the Papal throne had fallen into disrepute and the word of God was not given the respect nor the priority that it deserves, but all that will change now he decided.
When he arrived in Hapburgia for the Electoral College vote he was surprised to find the new Emperor Ferdinand had prepared rooms in his own palace for him to stay in, it was he realised a singular honour that was being presented to him however  as Ferdinand had said on his arrival it was beneficial for both to learn more about each other.
On that first night, Ferdinand had told Emperor Fernandez that he would be supporting him in the vote, in that moment the Iberian monarch knew he had the papacy and his gratitude was manifest at this unexpected boon. He like King Juan had expected Hapburgia to vote for Franconia, so this new development needed to be explored further.
Over the next day or so Ferdinand had explained the treachery that Prince Konstantin and Arabella had displayed towards him, though the Iberian had heard the story as gossip to learn the details first hand raised his anger. In fact so much so Ferdinand had to cool the Iberians ardor for he feared the man might go to war then and there. So passionate was he about a sovereigns own princes being faithful to their liege lords that he said he felt almost as insulted as Ferdinand was.
Ferdinand had explained to Miguel that he had sought an assurance from Franconia that they would remain neutral, and when Franconia had not agreed to give that assurance in writing Ferdinand said he realised King Juan was not the man to hold the Papal throne. It required a man of integrity and wisdom and that was why he had decided to give Miguel his full support.
Miguel Fernandez King of Iberia and Emperor or the Iberian Empire as well as Pope elect was horrified that a fellow Catholic sovereign would conspire with another’s Prince to try and steal his lands, he at that moment assured Ferdinand his new friend that Hapburgia would have Iberia’s full support, no matter the consequences.
From that moment on the Papal elections were but a formality, at the end of the whole process Pope Miguel had left Hapburgia full of love and goodwill to his new friend Ferdinand, the other cardinals left soon after.
Now alone at last Ferdinand wondered how his first minister Count Manfred von Lustburgerstein was doing in the Herzogtum von Rechburg.

Rechburg
The journey to Ulrichstein had been a long and arduous one, the roads were often blocked by snow and long detours had to be made, however 2 weeks after leaving he arrived in the  Ulrichstein capital Quedinburg, he rested there for two days having to get over the effects of a serious chill he had picked up on his journey. However once rested and feeling much stronger he made his way to Ulrichsburg to meet with Prince Wilhelm.
The Prince had initially expected the Hapburgians would negotiate an Ulrichstein treaty with him personally but after Manfred had assured him though no disrespect was intended his brief was such that he needed to speak with the Herzog directly.
Prince Wilhelm left the army in winter quarters and decided to accompany Manfred back to Rechburg. Wilhelm had taken the precaution of sending a courier ahead to warn of the Hapburgian Ministers arrival.

As the coach arrived at the steps of the Herzog’s official residence Manfred was surprised to see the Herzog’s family were all out  on the steps to welcome him, even though it was late at night.
 Manfred was only too well aware that he was the first Hapburgian Minister to visit the Herzogtum in decades, so he was really uncertain of the nature of the welcome he would receive. After the many years of animosity and wars between the two nations there was every reason to suspect he would be received very coolly or at least with suspicion.

The Herzog descended the steps and waited for Manfred to step down from the coach; Prince Wilhelm did the introductions and then in turn received the biggest welcome from his sister Caroline followed by bear hugs from his younger brother Leopold who had come up from the south for this special occasion. Caroline literally smothered him in kisses and hugs then getting between her two brothers shook hooked her arms between theirs and marched them up the steps.

 A footman helped Manfred step down from the coach; Constantine was there to greet him as he stepped down on the snow covered pathway.

As his children made their way up the steps they left Constantine and Manfred smiling at each other,
 Constantine said, “I must apologise Minister Lustburgerstein, my family have been separated for some time and as no doubt you will discover they do have a rather nasty habit of allowing family bonds to overrule official duties, but please let us go in out of the cold, you must be very tired and I am sure you will need a rest”

Manfred simply said, “Sire you have already shown me a great consideration in allowing me to share in the family reunion and yes I must confess the journey has been a long and a very tiring one, sadly I am not as young as as I once was when I used to race around the continent on the Emperors business. But please sire, if you will allow me one instant of informality please call me Manfred as I am afraid my name becomes a mouthful when in official discussions.”

Constantine nodded “Manfred it is then, so Manfred a nice warm fire and a good nights rest, a chance for you to gather your strength and a chance for me to listen to my children tell tales all night.”

The two men climbed the steps, Manfred was offered a supper which he respectively decline, Constance made polite conversation but he could see Manfred was wearying  and Manfred eventually asked if he could excuse himself as the journey had taken a severe toll on him, he was shown to his rooms and allowed to rest.

Meanwhile down in the family room, the Herzog’s family was laughing and jesting with each other, Constantine stood with his back to the fire basking in the warmth of the fire and the joy of having his family together.

Wilhelm came over, Caroline was still attached to him, arm in arm.

“So father” Wilhelm said “what do you think the Hapburgians want.”

Constantine had been wondering just that since he had received the message that the Hapburgian First Minister wanted to discuss new terms and arrangements over a host of new issues. It was apparent they were to discuss more than Ulrichstein, and apart from that he wondered what else they had in common, he hoped it was not some issue with Pomona and Vandahalla; he had enough on his plate right now.

“Well son I am at a loss, so I guess we will find out in the morning.”

The rest of the night and into the early hours of the morning Constantine and his family discussed much from wars and battles to Caroline’s plans to marry their father off to Princess Charlotte of Danemark, eventually the whole family tired and made their way to bed.

The next morning Manfred who was by now usually conditioned to waking at 4:00am and going to work this morning struggled to get out of bed early, he realised as he dressed that he was far more tired and weary than he first thought so by the time Manfred eventually made his way down stairs it was 8:00am. Even at that late hour the only one of the family up and about was Princess Caroline, she as was her manner immediately latched on to him and walked him around the palace, her arm through his as she explained paintings of the family and various Rechburgian scenes. They eventually made their way into what she described as the family room, it was a large comfortable and quite informal room, the fire was already burning and the staff had just laid out what clearly was a breakfast table. Manfred was a little aghast at all the informality, he wasn’t sure of the protocol when one found themselves in another sovereigns family room waiting for the family to descend for breakfast.
Caroline asked Manfred if he would like a tea, which he eagerly thanked her for, before long she had him seated in front of the fire and was bombarding him with questions about society matters in Hapburgia.

He found it difficult to remember that Hapburgia and Rechburg were still enemies even more so than when he found he was being treated almost like one of the family. It was vastly different from the stiffness and formality of court life in Hapburgia, and it was many years that he had even remotely enjoyed the sense of a family gathering. Eventually the whole family came down and gathered in the family room, once more there were the hugs, kisses amongst Herzog and the family and all came and shook his hand once again.

Constantine then lead them all to the table and Manfred who had expected to be lead out of the room while the family ate, found instead he was expected to sit down with them, Caroline patting a seat beside her, “Come sit here Manfred I have hundreds of questions to ask yet.”

“Now come on Caroline, leave the poor man alone, there will be time to pester him later”.

As the servants were bringing platters of breakfast foods for them to choose from, Constantine looked at Manfred and said.
“Now Manfred, what brings you all this way from Veronia to Albany in mid winter, it must be of some urgency.”

Manfred was once more thrown of balance,
“Well Sire I have been instructed to discuss matters of mutual interest to both our nations including peace in Ulrichstein”

“Excellent, I am all ears on what your new Emperor proposes.”

Manfred looked at him, then at the others gathered around the table,

“You mean now Sire here, I thought we would talk these matters over err privately as it were.”

The whole family smiled, Constantine looked up, with a piece of bacon hanging from his fork, he looked around and there were no servants so he said

“We are fine now, the servants won’t come back in until we finished….”

Caroline then giggled, she whispered overly loudly to her father.
“Father I think Manfred means he feels you and he should talk privately, is that not right Manfred?”

“Err yes well your highness, that is the normal way we discuss diplomatic matters”

Caroline reached across with a reassuring arm

“Manfred we do things very differently here don’t we father”

Constantine had to quickly swallow the bacon and taking a napkin he gently wiped his lips
“Oh indeed Manfred, if you have matters to discuss with me, you must tell all of us. Don’t worry I will make any decisions but my family will always have input into our nations business, so please my friend, talk away; I’m all ears.”

Manfred swallowed and it wasn’t the food that made a lump in his throat, however he had decided if this is the way one does business so be it.

“Sire, Emperor Ferdinand very much regrets the situation our two nations have found themselves in over these last few months, in particular of course I am referring to Ulrichstein, he has personally asked me to assure you that Bishop der Plonk will be punished most severely for the actions he committed in the Bishopric. Furthermore Sire the Emperor asked me to let you know that what the Bishop has done in Ulrichstein was totally without our knowledge, his actions were his own and as such even if Rechburg had not responded he would have been treated as a criminal by us. His actions were unforgiveable and for that you have my Emperors most sincere apologies..”

Prince Wilhelm placed his fork on the plate,
“I am sure the apologies are well meant Manfred, but you did not see the suffering and inhumanities the Bishop and his men inflicted on the Protestants, and might I add not all were Protestants there were Catholic people who suffered at their hands as well. It will take a lot more than the Emperors well meant apologies to make matters right.”

“Your highness you are quite correct and the little damage I did see was horrific enough without seeing the worst of it all, My Emperor did not only wish me to pass on his sincerest apologies he has asked me to ensure that the Protestant people of Ulrichstein are kept safe from future reprisals.”

Constantine looked around the family, here it comes he thought,
“And how does the Emperor intend to do that Manfred?”

“Emperor Ferdinand is convinced the way nations viewed each other in the past must change, the old Catholic versus Protestant or Calvinist attitudes are attitudes of the past, we must all view each other as neighbours who share similar values, be they religion, political policies or even similar cultures.
His Majesty believes the way we connect together as neighbouring nations will reflect the new emerging Europia, it is he feels obligatory upon us all to find new ways of understanding each other, failing to do so means we continue on a pathway of eternal war and conflicts simply because we are off different religious persuasions.
He feels nations should be tied together for economic, military or even philosophical reasons, these are attitudes that become tangible and real to the people; alliances and relationships based purely on religion are doomed to repeat the failures of the past simply because they are based on bigotry and bias.”

Constance looked around his family; all of them had stunned looks on their faces, if what Manfred was suggesting were true, the religious wars could indeed finally be a thing of the past.

“Manfred, the views you have just reiterated here are very much the attitudes of this house, we have always been convinced of the failings of diplomatic relations simply being based on religion, however sadly in the past it is how nations of Europia would only view each other.”

Manfred continued, “My Emperor would be heartened to hear that Sire, it is the  same view  he has cherished for many years, but until he was in a position to implement change it has remained an unfulfilled desire, possibly until now it seems.”

Manfred looked around the room, he had seen how is Emperor’s views had impacted on them, he knew those views were getting a sympathetic hearing so he continued.
“Sire it is my Emperors most cherished wish that the Hapburgian Empire and the Herzogtum von Rechburg put the enmity of the past behind them and show Europia a new way for nations to respect each other, not based on religion but on respect and mutual necessity. The possibilities for trade between our nations are wholly undeveloped, for example, there are potential markets in both nations that have for decades remained unexplored simply because we walked into different churches.
Based on this my Emperor has asked me to put forward these basic principles to you, the details of each can be worked through  at a later time so can if you understand this is his new broad stroke of how he wishes relations between our nations to develop.

a)     In the first instance a cease fire in Ulrichstein is declared with a view to discussions on how the matter in Ulrichstein can best be resolved.
b)    We declare a trade agreement between our nations and allow each nation to develop markets within the other.
c)     All religions in our combined territories are respected, no religious intolerance in any of our territories will be permitted.
d)    An alliance be negotiated between our nations that will ensure that war between us is a thing of the past. Such an alliance would have immense repercussions throughout Europia therefore my Emperor believes it would be best if our relationship as an alliance was based on a royal marriage between the two houses”.

Manfred looked around the family circle, he thought to himself

If a pin were to drop now the sound when it hit the floor would be like a thunderclap

Each of the family were literally stunned, Constance simply smiled and said
“Well Manfred I can certainly say your new Emperor has vision, but with so much at stake in all you suggest I am sure you will understand that we will need some time to discuss your proposals, what sort of time frame was Emperor Ferdinand thinking in allowing discussions.’

“Emperor Ferdinand has suggested that I leave Rechburg as soon as practical and return to Quedinburg in Ulrichstein, there are matters there I need to settle, not the least ensuring a cease fire is maintained at least until I hear from you. If you agree with the proposals in the basic format then my Emperor has suggested you and he meet in either Quedinburg or Ulrichsburg to discuss the details.”

Princess Caroline asked “In this royal marriage, just who is marrying whom?”

Here comes the deal breaker Manfred thought to himself.

“Your Highness the marriage would be between yourself and Emperor Ferdinand, you would be Empress of the Hapburgian Empire”

“Oh, I see” she said keeping a perfectly straight face,

My God she has such self control; I wager she would make a formidable Empress.

The others in the family were less controlled, all looked immediately to her, and taking the cue from her they tried to maintain the same self control.

“Manfred, give us two days before you leave, by then we will, be able to tell you what we agree to and what we don’t and then your Emperor can decide if he wishes to continue.”

“Sire my Emperor expected that you might need a week or more to discuss this, it was for that reason
He suggested I return to wait in Ulrichstein for your reply, but if you feel you able to arrive at a decision within two days then yes, I would certainly like to wait, there is just one request my Emperor asked of you and that was that all I have spoken should remain secret for now, I am sure you understand there are many nations that would seek to take advantage or sabotage any agreement between our two nations.”

Constantine nodded, he placed the knife and fork down on the plate, wiping his lips with a napkin again he smiled at Manfred,
“Well that was an excellent way to start our day, Manfred would you prefer to enjoy the comforts of the palace or would you like me to arrange a tour of Albany while the family and I begin to discuss these matters.”

“Sire I would be most pleased if I could perhaps enjoy the benefits of your library, Princess Caroline was most kind to show me around this morning and I was most interested in some of your books, so indeed a book or two and a warm fire and I would be most comfortable.”

Caroline asked “Manfred, I don’t know anything of your Emperor and before I sit down and discuss any possible marriage there are things I need to know, so perhaps while the men in my family get themselves ready for what will be a heavy day of talking, perhaps I can have a chat with you in the library, at least I can then have a inkling of what I am likely to get into by marrying a man I have never met”

“Most certainly I would be most pleased and in my room I have a small picture of the Emperor he thought it best for you to see the likeness before you even considered it”.

The other members of the family then finished their breakfast discussing everything but the purpose of Manfred’s visit, then following the meal Constantine and his sons retired to the Herzog’s office to discuss business, and Caroline and Manfred departed for the library where she questioned  Manfred about the Emperor Ferdinand.
He had gone and retrieved the picture of Ferdinand and as she asked questions she would often look to the picture perhaps trying to imagine the answers this man would give her. By the time they were finished Manfred had divulged everything about his Emperor he ever knew; he was sure she had a reasonably good mental picture in her mind of the man she would possibly married.

Following the interrogation Caroline left Manfred to his books and before she joined the others Caroline sent a message to the family she would join them directly and she went to her room, it was the one place in the Palace that she could hope to find peace and solace.
Walking into the room, her beds were already remade and the room cleaned, Caroline made her way to the bedside table and gathered a small picture from it and then made her way to the large armchair in front of the window, sitting down she looked outside, it was snowing heavily and the ground and trees covered by the snow looked so pure and clean. She burst into tears.
In her lap she held two small pictures, one the Emperor Ferdinand the other the man she had been in love with these last few years the Brittanic Ambassador to Rechburg Lord Geoffrey Anders.

Caroline had extracted a promise from her father many years ago that he would never arrange a marriage with a man she didn’t want to marry, over the years that agreement had frustrated her father as he had hopes of making dynastic alliances through her marriage, however on each occasion she had declined the man and despite his own hopes and desires he respected her wish and the matter passed.

Several years ago Lord Geoffrey Anton had come to Rechburg as the Brittanic ambassador; Geoffrey had been a soldier but had lost an arm in the Gurania wars so had ended up in a diplomatic career. Since his arrival in Rechburg Geoffrey and Caroline had fallen in love, though they kept their relationship as secret as possible but it was generally known by the family. Geoffrey never asked for her hand in marriage because he knew her father still held hopes of a royal marriage. Caroline though she pestered her father never urged him beyond a certain point that she be allowed to marry Geoffrey. It was as if there was this unseen line that none would cross so the Caroline and Geoffrey’s relationship just drifted on and existed. 

However now Caroline knew this was different, this was no marriage to a Protestant prince of some small unimportant Duchy. Her marriage into the Hapburgian Royal family would heal a breach that existed between Hapburgia and Rechburg for over a hundred years; it could alter the way Europia moved forward. She looked at the picture of King Ferdinand, it surprised her to find he was so handsome and from what Manfred had told her he was a man of strong character and determination, clearly this was evident in the proposals that he had suggested through Manfred.
So she sat in her chair, looking at the likeness of the two men, the man she loved and wanted to marry but couldn’t, and the other the man she could marry and change the future of her beloved Rechburg possibly Europia.
She knew what her father wanted, but she also knew no matter how important this was he would never insist she make a choice that she wouldn’t accept.

She sat for a long time just watching the snow fall, then eventually there were no more tears she walked over to her bedside kissing the picture of Geoffrey she gently placed it in a draw, the picture of the Ferdinand was placed on the top of the bedside table and she left the room to see her father.

The discussions of the other matters that Ferdinand had proposed were actually quite easily agreed on by Constantine and his family, from the outset they all knew that the entire agreement had hinged on Caroline. That was why none would urge her, it was decision she had to come to and when she came back into the Herzog’s office they knew she had made the right choice. It broke Constantine’s heart to see her trying to be so brave, because he knew what she was giving up, he had been in a similar position many years ago when he was told he was not allowed to marry the woman he loved, the woman that would carry his bastard child, he too had to make a dynastic marriage and now his daughter was in the same position.
They had asked Manfred for two days to discuss the proposal but by the end of the first day they had Manfred come to the Herzog’s office, As soon as he entered the office he knew history was being made, he glanced at Caroline, but she had her back to him looking out the window, at the still falling snow.
Constantine signaled to Manfred that he should take a seat and then Constantine handed him a sheet of paper, on it were the conditions that Rechburg would agree to.

a)     The treaty of Ulrichstein be settled on the basis of land occupied by the forces currently in place, in other words except for Quedinburg all of Ulrichstein would become Rechburgian territory.
b)    It was agreed that trade be expanded between the two nations.

c)     Everyone living in Hapburgian and Rechburgian territories were to be guaranteed religious freedoms and protection from persecution.

d)    The alliance and marraige would only be agreed on under the following conditions

i)              Princess Caroline and King Ferdinand would meet and if both parties were agreeable to the match then a marriage would be agreed upon.
ii)             Each would maintain their own religious choice, so two marriage ceremonies would need to take place.


As Constantine pointed out, these were in response to the Emperors broad stroke proposal, there would need to be details to be hammered out at a later time.

Manfred read the brief document, he looked up at the Herzog and then he glanced towards Caroline, she in turn was watching him with a stone cold face, he thought to himself

I would dearly love to know who the man is you have just given up.

Manfred smiled at Constantine,
“Sire don’t you think its rather a anti-climax that nations of opposing religious beliefs can war against each other for a 100 years without giving an inch and then in one afternoon peace can be made.”

Constantine nodded, looking at Caroline then back to Manfred,
“Well Manfred it is only possible now because of two extraordinary and brave people, Emperor Ferdinand for making the proposal and my daughter Princess Caroline for having the selfless courage to accept them. They are going out into a world that will do everything it can to break this marriage and the alliance between our two houses, so if this agreement does happen the wars are far from finished my friend and they won’t be limited to catholic against protestant.”

“Indeed sire, we are all going to enter a new age and for a while it will be rocky but things will change for the better, of that I am sure”

Constantine replied, “yes well it has taken a hundred years of war to get to this point, I suppose ten years to force peace may not be unrealistic.”

Manfred stayed on in Albany for another three days, the weather being so bad it had prevented any movement for that time, eventually he left the capital accompanied by Prince Wilhelm who was returning to Ulrichstein, it was agreed that in one month they would all meet again in Quedinburg to determine if the alliance and marriage details could be settled.

4 comments:

  1. H'mmm... Would Ferdinand seriously agree to ceding all of Ulrichstein other then Quedinburg - even supposing that territory was in his gift? (Is it actually part of the Imperial Empire then?) Just asking...

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  2. The reason for Ferdinand allowing the ceding of Ulrichstein was due to pressing issues he had facing him.
    His Empire was in decline, he had just lost several battles in Ulrichstein and his hold on the Bishopric was physically limited to His own brother and sister were involved in a shoddy attempted coup against him so it appears his own throne may be in jeopardy and finally he suspects quite correctly that Wartenburg will rebel, mainly due to its ambitious rulers Prince Konstantin and Princess Arabella.
    He has been out voted in maintaining the Papacy and realises that without the Papacy his Empire risks being outpaced by Iberia and Franconia. He suspects Franconia is intriguing with Wartenburg so if he makes a move to hold Wartenburg by force he could end up fighting Wartenburg and Franconia as well as Rechburg.

    What out of all these enemies he needs peace, it is easier to make a peace with a enemy than with risk a foreign war with friends who have shown an inkling for intriguing against you and has an eye on your territory just standing by. He suspects if he continues the war with Rechburg his friends will likely stab him in the back. If he is to escape the trap that is waiting for him, if he is not to be dominated by other Empires and the overpowering dominance of a foreign Pope he needs leverage, by taking on a Protestant wife
    he gains a strong ally in the Protestant camp which counter balances his falling fortunes in the Catholic camp.

    Survival calls for desperate measures.

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  3. Aye, well... I have to remember that the Ulrichstein of Europeia I had in mind is not the Ulrichstein of Europia. Apart from the different worlds, a good 60 years and more has elapsed between the one and the other.

    In any case, he can always try and get it back in better times. After all, he can claim that the concessions were extracted under duress... Mind you, I can't really see Ferdinand doing this. He strikes me as a straight up and down sort of monarch. Maybe it will be left to a less scrupulous successor to wrest back the coveted lands of Ulrichstein...

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  4. Exactly, Ferdinand is ambitious and ruthless, even the beautiful wife can be expendable, what Ferdinand needs right now is a strong ally, he feels he has that in Rechburg so he must treat his new Queen with love and respect and more importantly keep her safe.
    Meanwhile he has to rebuild his Kingdom, then he needs to have the Pope die, so everything is up in the air for now.In this coming season above all else he has to survive.

    Yes you are correct a lot of time and distance between our two worlds, thats the beauty of Imagi nations.

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