Skaros spread the election results across the royal table and, when this didn't seem to attract his Monarch's attention, resorted to loudly shuffling them; but still, King Blackthorn's back remained expressly turned away, his gaze locked on some unknowable point beyond the window and out amongst his people. "Weighty matters on your mind, my lord?" asked Skaros after a few more ruffling moments. "No, no, not as such." said the King in a curiously monotone voice. "But still... would you say I'm the marrying kind, Skaros?" Skaros paused, but more from caution rather than shock; There were no secrets between the King and his spymaster, and Skaros had been privy to the correspondence from The Duke Of Moonglow as well. However, whilst he was well versed in the art of bedroom concealment, it had never been in service of leaving a box of dark chocolates, or indeed any other record of the fact that the State was watching what occurred within. Sometimes of course, the State needed to know who was secretly romancing who, but surely the King wasn't asking for advice on the actual...? Sensing the hesitancy on Skaros' face, the King went on "You see, I have here a request to be the personal blessing of two of my people in virtuous matrimony tomorrow. Would it be wise to accept, would you say?" Breathing silently a sigh of relief, the response was quick and suddenly certain; "Oh, no my Liege! In fact, I'd rather say it's best for the Crown to be above such things. In my experience romance is messy and confusing and nothing said overnight from the pillow would stand up in the Court of Law tomorrow. And believe me, we've sometimes tested that." "Hmm." Still the King's back was to the Spymaster; "You know, I've conquered single handedly daemonic forces that would slay an army. And I have but to say a word, and my own armies in turn will ride out upon my command. I've spent a life time studying and learning the arcane arts, and I pride myself on mastering them not at all lightly. I walk amongst my people as the hand of Chaos, with the power of life and death... but not, you'd say Skaros, to bestow the soft touch of Love?" At those final words, Skaros realised he was clenching the electoral results in his hands again; What on Sosaria could the King possibly mean? Suddenly Blackthorn turned around, and walked with exaggerated confidence to his working desk; "Skaros", he said "You know my problem with the previous Virtues that ruled this land was that they artificially separated out the strands of life. That to worship Humility above Honour, for instance, was to willingly chose to know less of the whole; and to claim to achieve all Virtues equally and completely was the realm of Avatars and Gods, not flesh and blood men, and thus equally unreal and a false boast. Chaos if it is anything, is the freedom to at least aspire to follow all virtues and none as, the human will dictates to, and struggles for. But sometimes, Skaros, I think people ask too little, or perhaps too much of their Monarch too." Awash in concepts that he didn't really grasp, Skaros struck out for what he knew; "But Sire, as you say, you have the whole realm in your hands; here, look at these electoral results. The politics of these cities are yours to ultimately decide! And at your order, I will disguise myself as a wax lamp, and nothing that passes in the matrimonial bed tonight will be unknown... yet only you have the power to comment upon both worlds!" There followed the longest of pauses, in which Skaros feared he could detect the possibility of many an uncomfortable and troubling future, but fortunately however the King broke up the strangely sombre atmosphere with a most unexpected chuckle. "Oh don't worry Skaros", Blackthorn said "You won't be required to lie under any squeaking mattress with your notepad tommorow night, amusing and oh so alien as such reports always turn out to be. No, let us attend to higher matters instead. Pass me those electoral reports!" Was there just a moments hesitation in taking them though? Skaros wondered as he leaned across the desk. I slight sense of the word "Still..." on the Kings lips? Something to keep an eye on, he thought. "Let's see then" said the King "ahh, the winds of chaos bring change yet again. We have a number of new Governors I notice." Skaros nodded. "Minoc, Moonglow, Skara Brae and Trinsic my Liege, a full half of the cities. And Jhelom simply didn't have any one turn up and apply." "Well, whilst I was considerably pleased with our previous Governors, and wish them well for the future, they do say a change is as good as a rest Spymaster. But Jhelom? Disappointing. Still, perhaps here is an opportunity for the Raven King. Perhaps we could appoint him as Governor of that city, and allow him to prove his intelligence and trust to the rest of the Kingdom there..." "That would certainly be change" Skaros mused, "But it would bring you absolutely no rest at all were you to do so. The realm is still not comfortable with the creature." "We really must tackle this lack of open mindedness towards their fellow sentient creatures somehow though, Skaros! Are we to hate and fear things that look different to us forever?!" "I've always found knowledge dispells fear, and brings power Sire. Remember the last Governors requested to speak to the Raven King. That should be your next step there maybe?" "As always Skaros, your advice is appreciated. Do we have any sense of what the new Governors are thinking yet?" "Not yet Sire, but I have a spy disguised as a clothes mangle in the home of Tommy Nottingbury, two dressed as a horse outside the home of Dark Lord Keenan, a very short spy in a hollowed out loaf of bread in the home of Palin Whiteblade, and there's our best mimic of bird calls pretending to be a pigeon on the roof of Aryala. If any of the Governors have any secrets we need to know, we'll soon know all about them!" The King smiled again, "Time to schedule a meeting with their public faces though I think. I've been idle too long. Time to exercise my power once more, Skaros!" This was more like the confident, charismatic Blackthorn the Spymaster had embraced as King! he thought. "At once my Liege, I shall inform the Governors officially this very moment!"