Don Diego-Halfdane de la Chevrolet-Vega scanned the astounding document again, hoping against hope that he had somehow managed to read it entirely wrong. Finally he dropped it on the desk as if it were a live serpent, and turned an imploring glance to the rather nondescript individual who had delivered it. "Schwinglein, are you absolutely certain of this letter?"
"Of course, I was not there myself, my lord," replied Schwinglein in a calm voice, "but he who gave it me certainly was. Also, when I left Nuevo Narvik three days ago, the Ministry of the Interior was boiling like an overturned beehive."
Don Diego-Halfdane tapped the mahogany desk, gazing out the window over the beloved hills of his home in northeast Cuatrofenia, near the Gallian frontier. How much longer, he mused, would those hills repose in peace?
"Once again we are in your debt, Schwinglein," he said at length. "You had better rest today and then return to the capital with all speed. I suspect it would be best for you to be near His Majesty the High King in the days to come. I myself will set out for Nuevo Narvik the day after tomorrow; I fear it will take that long to put my affairs here in order."
Don Diego-Halfdane was a nobleman and a diplomat, not a merchant, but he knew how to read an account ledger. On those narrow terms, the contents of the letter made a certain sense, but from every other frame of reference he knew of, it reeked of madness.
10 months ago