King Alfonso started the turn in a bad mood, but unexpectedly for more than one reason. However it was below a king to let his emotions reign him, so he kept an impermeably face. But he knew that there was always someone he couldn't fool, and that someone was Carnegy, his Date-a-mancer. With that unsettling thought he kept on listening to his chief warlords plans for the next turns. Duke Garcia's plans were sophisticated as always, and Alfonso used the time to brace himself for the expectable argument with his son prince Raymond, when Garcia would announce to send him to the south western border for an punitive expedition against a few impudent barbarian tribes. Everyone knew this was coming since Alfonso ordered another royal warlord, and even for the less attentive courtiers Raymond's face was now a dead give away. He tried to identify the latter to send them into battle and replace them in the coming turns. He had neither use nor rations for blind courtiers. He latter would consult Carnegy about this.
But right before Garcia could come to the main topic of the session, the other reason for his bad mood entered the throne room, Vicount Vicente, who had just transferred 10.000 schmuckers to Charley, and above all came late to the court's session. To express his anger he raised an eyebrow, creating a whisper under his courtiers. His other eyebrow promptly followed when Vicente broke all protocol and disrupted Duke Garcia.
“Your Majesty, forgive me the interruption, but I have gathered decisive information that may affect our kingdom's future. I beg to speak before the court now.”
Alfonso paused a few seconds and allowed his face a reluctant expression to show his dissatisfaction. Of course he would allow Vicente to talk. He was one of his more capable courtiers and he made him the chief advisor and contact person for non-bordering territories for a reason. But it was important to emphasize that rules and traditions were nothing to be shoved aside easily. After Vicente got jumpy enough for his taste he nodded to allow him speaking.
“Thank you your majesty. Charley contacted me and offered information about Eusebia and Ossia. Ossia popped a few turns ago a luckamancer. They tried to level him up and sent him out into battle with a max stack. Eusebia got wind of this somehow...” Alfonso didn't need to hear what Garcia spat out silently, he knew it was 'Charley', “... and set a trap with their foolamancer. The battle was hard, and Ossia hardly won. But their only remaining unit was a sand gulper. So both casters are croaked, and a lot of high level units on both sides with them, including both chief warlords, who were the heirs to their respective sides.”
Alfonso sat back on his throne more than a little angered. This was interesting news, but hardly worth the trouble Vicente made. Both sides were south of the Mocca desert, and that was outside of their strategic range. This wasn't worth 10.000 schmuckers, not even nearly. Raymond wouldn't travel alone to the western border. But if his son captured one of those unproductive barbarian cities, Vicente could redeem himself by managing it properly. If he lived long enough.
Alfonso prepared for an worthless praise to finally get to the argument with Raymond, when Vicente continued. “But that is not all, Charley had more information. Critical information about one of the sides.”
Alfonso knit his brows. “Then tell me.”
The courtier took a breath. “I can't.”
“You can't? Explain yourself!”
“Charley told me, but only after he put me under a contract of non-disclosure. All I can say that it is very useful and important for our side and our tribe. But I can't tell your majesty, unless we agree to pay either 35.000 schmuckers, or hire 200 turns worth of archon service within 300 turns, or 500 turns of archon service within 800 turns. He lowers those requirements if we buy significant other services. The deal includes exclusivity of all information, including the one already mentioned. We need to purchase until the end of our turn.”
The king set his gaze upon the unit. He didn't like the idea of Charley influencing the mind of one of his closest counsellors. And he detested the idea of one of his closest counsellors agreeing to that. Viscount Vicente wouldn't travel with Raymond. He wouldn't even see the end of the turn. Alfonso concentrated and prepared to give the order of disbanding, when suddenly his good for nothing son opened his mouth and said “35 grands, that's in my budget. So, what's the big deal?”.
The words spluttered out of the courtier. “Charley told me what the other casters of Ossia are, a Mathamancer - and a Florist!”
Suddenly the king sat straight in his throne. A Florist? The dessert had just become a lot smaller.