'Dam' politicals!' he fulminated, 'There looked to be a jolly little war developing there: wretched Rechburg and dinky Danemark on the one side, and Bloody-minded Bergatonia and Sly-beria on the other.'
'Surely, Sire, thou jesteth,' demurred his Minister of the Exchequer and breakfast companion, Count Manfred von Lustburgerstein. 'Things are delicate enough in Europia right now, what with the Papal election looming, and - begging your Imperial Majesty's pardon - the question of the Imperial succession unresolved-'
'Yes, yes, you are right, Manfred, of course,' The Emperor sighed. 'A large war - even the small wars we actually have - are not good for us, not good for trade, not good for peace and order, not good for the exchequer. But it might sufficiently have distracted the Herzog for us cheaply to make good the situation in Ulrichstein... Has Ferdinand yet got over that dreadful muddle he got into the other week? Terrible business...'
'He's recruiting vigorously, Sire, and seeks only the chance to redeem his reputation.'
'Very well. But we would have preferred the Herzog to have asked for terms to keep the Empire out of his disputation with Iberia and Bergatonia. Or even were we forced to take the first overtures, we might well have obtained an arrangement - I gather the issues are religious rather than dynastic or territorial - an arrangement we would have been sufficiently happy to accept.'
'Constantine would have demanded Bishop der Plonk's removal, Sire...' The Count murmured.
'I dare say, and, after a deal of harumphing, and appeals to precedent and the legal ramifications, blah, blah, blah, we would have agreed to that,' The Emperor mused. 'To ease Bishop der Plonk's deposition, I feel sure an opening might well have appeared in the College of Cardinals - the price of Our support in the coming Papal elections, of course.
'I do believe a friendly rapprochement would have been on the cards.'
'But we might equally well have been dragged into a Europian-wide war with who-knows-what consequences,' The Count shuddered at the prospect.
'Yes... Good thing events have turned out the way they have, really...' The emperor paused, deep in thought, seeming to drift off into a reverie. Suddenly he banged the flat of his hand on the table.
'Meanwhile, what of Ferdinand? What are his requirements? How soon can he try conclusions once more with those Ulrichstein rebels?'