Thursday, 7 February 2013
Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold: and in Rotenburg usually with a side-helping of leech fricasee. Brooding darkly, Landgrave Choldwig of Hesse-Rotenburg plots revenge against King Vlad. The punitive reparations imposed by the Peace of Kayck have ruined the Landgrave's grandiose plans for a new age of Alexandrian splendour. To cap it all, stepping carelessly backwards in the harbour a sailor has knocked over the 'Great Lighthouse of Alexandopolis (Not to Scale)'. And the marble-lined Acropolis Potting Shed leaks when it rains heavily. Utilising the services of Rotenburg's well-oiled Secret Police machinery (though in Rotenburg many things are well-oiled, not least the Landgrave's midriff), contact is made with elements in Vlad's own Royal Guard, disgruntled, it transpires, that they now seem only to do night shifts. Plans are laid to smuggle into the palace quantities of garlic baguettes, of which Vlad is reputed to have a fatal aversion, hidden inside crates of Vlad the Impaler and Swiss Musical codpieces. Still blaming Nabstria for their defeat in the Seven Beers War, Choldwig also establishes secret communications with Nabstria's adversary, Grand Fenwick. Once Vlad is laid low, Rotenburg and Imperial troops will march on Gross Schnitzelring and establish once again a Mittelheimer monarch in Gelderland. Smiling grimly, Choldwig ruminates on the ills done to his Landgravate and looks forward to a time of change. Revenge!
'Revenge!' cries Burgrave Falco of Nabstria. In Nabstria, the mood has become increasingly febrile. Members of the party known as the Enten Gesellschaft have taken to wearing stuffed ducks as headgear and shouting 'Liberate the water-fowl of Nottelbad!': they receive a major boost when Burgrave Falco is seen at the theatre wearing a stuffed mallard as head-wear. His wife, the Burgravina, has also done the same (or possibly grown a mutton-chop beard - it seems impolite to ask). Unreconciled to the loss of Nottelbad and its handsome duck pond, Falco comes to the conclusion that war must be contemplated if Grand Fenwick refuses to give it back. Seeking desperately to rehabilitate himself, Bishop Munschrugge consults the most able of Nabstria's legal profession, and declares to his Burgrave that he has 'a cast-iron legal and moral case for the renunciation of the Peace of Kayck': to whit 'I had my fingers crossed.' Upon this sound legal premise, Nabstria plans for war. Falco is clear, however: Nabstria must not be seen to be the aggressor - some way must be found of provoking Grand Fenwick.
'Revenge!' cries Emperor George of Grand Fenwick. For the fatal wounding of Baron Stensch, King Vlad has ordered that Joachim, heir to the throne of Grand Fenwick, should be arrested 'and then damn well hung'. This edict is met with a refusal from Emperor George and the comment from Joachim that this would be an entirely redundant activity since, as his codpiece surely indicated, he was 'already hung damn well'; Joachim then reportedly made a lewd gesture to the Gelderland ambassador and invited King Vlad to take a most unlikely anatomical excursion with a soup spoon. Announcing 'no compromise and no un-'cod'-itional surrender' to Vlad's unreasonable demands, Emperor George imposes a ban on the import of codpieces, and defenestrates the Gelderland ambassador. In the town of Fenwick, incensed mobs roam the streets searching for Gelderland citizens: however, both have already slipped away, and when the crowd happen upon a vegetable stall with a vaguely suggestive parsnip, thoughts of violence are quickly lost in an evening of traditional Fenwickian 'fnars.'
'Pigs!' cries Prince-Palatine Rupprecht of Saukopf-Bachscuttel: 'I love them', he declares; 'and I want more'. Having gauged correctly the rather limited nature of Bachscuttel's foreign policy objectives, Bishop Munschrugge is able to secure a secret alliance with the Palatinate at the cost of forty Nabstrian Old Grunters, peerless porcine breeding-stock, and a large collection of antique pork scratchings, reputedly belonging to Pope Gregory the IX and taken on Crusade against the Saracens: being both holy and pig-related, Rupprecht has the latter placed with reverence in his private chapel.
In Gross Schnitzelring, King Vlad has had enough: dismissing Choldwig's protestations of innocence as an 'infamous concotion of lies, calumny, slander, untruths, half-truths, semi-truths, and mostly-porkies', Vlad declares: 'Who will rid me of this turbulent Landgrave?'; and then, in case no one has heard, he has this published in seventeen different Mittelheim newspapers. Declaring himself to be 'the most loyal of the King's allies,' Burgrave Falco declares war upon Rotenburg! Amidst riotous scenes of enthusiasm in the village green, the Empire of Grand Fenwick asserts its support for Rotenburg and declares war against Nabstria! Nabstria activates its alliance with Bachscuttel, which declares war on both Fenwick and Rotenburg in the name of the King!
Having completed his limbering up routine in Bohemia, Death takes a practice swing or two. The armies of Mittelheim are again on the march! The Cod War has begun!