Tuesday, 15 January 2013
And so, the din of war subsides: the cannons fall silent; the rolling of drums ceases; the womanly screaming of Nabstrian and Rotenburg soldiery fades into the distance. Death, laying aside his scythe, pauses to inhale an imaginary lungful of peaceful Mittelheim air, before gagging on it. With the final victory of the Mockers' party at the battle of Heyenkarbz, Juan Cornetto's bid for the Gelderland throne is at an end. Amid extraordinary displays of Gelderland pomp that consume nearly seven sacks of tinsel, Vlad Drakul enters the Gelderland capital, Gross Schnitzelring, where he is crowned as King Vlad I. Vlad immediately sacks the palace's French Chef because he 'likes not garlic' and orders an expansion of the royal cellars for 'er, you know, storage.'
Meanwhile, on neutral ground, outside of the Zentan border town of Kayck, plenipotentiaries from the respective belligerents meet to negotiate a measured and lasting peace settlement. Their Zentan hosts lay out in the lush meadowlands surrounding Kayck a new village of silken tents and log cabins, all provided with the best comforts that the Sanjak can provide. The ensuing days of negotiation prove to be an epic adventure in labyrinthine skullduggery and political machination. Representing the Burgravate of Nabstria is His Excellency Reinhardt the Bishop of Munschrugge; Rotenburg relies for the defence of its interests on the shrewd Austrian, Wilhelm the Baron Woffeltop. Representing the Empire of Fenwick is the Emperor's younger brother, Franz; Saukopf-Bachscuttel places its trust in the scholar-pig farmer, Baron Albrecht Steinhagen. The negotiations are not easy. Steinhagen, in particular is a difficult fellow: describing him in his dispatches home, the British observer Sir Malileu Fitzbuttress asked his superiors to 'imagine an idiot-savant who, sadly, is just an idiot.' Bachscuttel, it would seem, has foreign policy objectives that do not extend much beyond the acquistion of pigs, an objective which renders redundant some of the subtler schemes for Mittelheim power-balancing pursued by the other diplomats. In the end, a settlement is acheived mainly by ignoring Bachscuttel, Steinhagen instead spending his time measuring local pigs and sketching out plans for the sty of his dreams.
After three days, the Peace of Kayck is signed. The Empire of Grand Fenwick takes the Nabstrian border village of Nottelbad, a place long-coveted by the Emperor on account of its strategic positon and marvellous duck pond. Ruprecht, the Prince-Palatine of Bachscuttel, is made Bishop of Schrote, the previous incumbent having disappeared mysteriously after being invited by King Vlad 'for dinner'. Despite the best efforts of Bishop Munschrugge and Baron Woffeltop, reparations set at some 100,000 marks are extracted from both Nabstria and Rotenburg. Levies of such magnitude quickly have serious repercussions: in Rotenburg, for example, Choldwig's plan to grace Alexandopolis with a marvellous copy of far-off Athens' Parthenon must be down-scaled to neo-classical renderings of a small gazebo and potting shed. Duties are also placed on Rotenburg false moustache and leech exports, whilst Nabstria is required to remove its punitive tarriffs on the import of Herzo-Carpathian codpieces. The Bachscuttel army withdraws from Nabstria with a spring in its step: having survived for some weeks on fiberous local muesli, even the conscripts are now remarkably regular. In Rotenburg, the Imperial army receives commemorative victory leeches before heading for Fenwick and home.
Finally, as the plenipotentiaries leave Kayck, the Zentans can only look on in a mixture of bemusement and horror at the consequences of the Mittelheimers presence: not a maid's backside has gone unpinched; not a bottle of wine remains unopened; not a bathrobe, coffee pot or small package of complimentary biscuits remains in their tents. Pockets bulging with individually packaged soaps, the plenipotentiaries leave the Sanjak like a horde of steppe nomads, many dressed in Zentan bath caps and slippers, and carrying packages that look suspiciously like they contain the breech-presses provided by their thoughtful hosts. Nevertheless, even as the rest of Europe continues to tear itself apart, in Mittleheim, surely, a new golden age of peace has commenced.