Frederick looked out over the sleepy town of Morn, it controlled one of the three largest fords across the Morn River. Although it was not the busiest of towns it still had a sizeable population as it was on the fastest route between Erlangen and Stolitz, the centre of Albert's domain and then Pruse further north.
It appeared Frederick was the first to arrive as he could not see any signs of Albert's retinue nor Franz or Sophia's men. He sighed knowing the monumental task he had before him. Although he felt it would be relatively simple to deal with Albert, humans were naturally complicated and whether they stuck to the script or not was always up in the air.
Frederick met with the Mayor of Morn at the town gates, who looked incredibly nervous. It was not the first time he had met this Mayor David, in fact Frederick and David had a slightly complicated relationship.
Just under a year ago, David had been a wanted criminal, he was at the centre of an embezzlement case that had recently come to light. For over five years the taxes sent from Morn had been shrinking despite the growth in revenue, year on year. The Prime Minister at the time had ordered an investigation and the prime suspect was David, he was dragged off to Erlangen in the middle of the night and subjected to various impolite treatments.
Frederick had taken an interest in the case as he had been looking at ways to strengthen the flagging economy. David had somehow turned Morn from a sleepy little town into the largest producer of beer in a little over five years. Frederick believed David was a talent that he should keep an eye on and potentially have promoted. As a result, Frederick had been surprised to hear that David had been trussed up and brought to Erlangen.
Frederick had Phillip investigate the case while he met with the Prime Minister and had him delay judgement until he had completed his own investigation. Although a little confused as to why Frederick would intercede in this particular case, he agreed without too much hassle.
Frederick decided to meet the man and ask him how this case arose in the first place and to make his own judgement of the man's character. After all he still believed that David from what he had heard of him was an honest and upright man and would have had no part in the embezzlement.
When Frederick met David, he saw the man was rightly angry given the circumstances. When asked about the case, he would merely shrug and said that he had no part in any embezzlement and if he was guilty of something, then it would be negligence in not finding out the truth earlier. The punishment for embezzlement in Erlitz was quite harsh, in some cases the state would take possession of all assets of the criminal and they would be banished from the country. As for negligence, well depending on the circumstances it could range from death to a small fine. In this instance, it would only qualify for a small fine and at worst could lead to removing him from his position as Mayor.
Phillip's report was a much more thorough investigation than the one ordered by the Prime Minister. It turned out that David's wife and the head tax collector in Morn had been having an affair. They were planning on collecting as much money as they could and then flee to a neighbouring country to live out their days together, while David would take the fall.
Frederick felt bad for David, not only was he being cuckolded he was also made the fall guy. Frederick had quickly handed the report over to the Prime Minister who hurriedly sent men over to arrest the two adulterers. Frederick personally went to free David and broke the news to him, this made the relationship between the two a little complicated as he was forever seen as a harbinger of chaos to David.
Fortunately, the couple were seized at the border between Weser and Erlitz by the border guards, as they had a suspiciously large amount of cash. When asked about the source of the funds, they merely stated they were merchants seeking to make a large transaction in Weser. The guards had them detained while they verified their identities and the very next day a messenger came to inform them that they were wanted criminals. They were quickly escorted back to Erlangen and were sentenced to ten years imprisonment, which Frederick assumed the Prime Minister had something to do with.
Afterwards, David and the Prime Minister formed an unlikely friendship as both victims of their wives' adulterous ways. So, David was able to return to his post as Mayor without punishment with the help of the Prime Minister.
Frederick felt it was a little strange that David was acting so nervous around him and so he asked him.
"David, why are you so nervous? I'm not here to take your life."
"You…Your Highness, well, have you thought about holding the summit a little further north?"
"Now why would I do that? Is there something wrong with Morn?" he replied with curiosity.
"No, no, nothing is wrong with Morn, it's just that we only just planted the hops and you see, if you were to fight Count Albert, then all our efforts will be in vain. Then we would also have to pay compensation on top of losing out on taxes. Uhm, it's a lose-lose situation for us here in Morn, so, do you think you could spare us the trouble? Your Highness?" he ended with a soft squeak as he noticed Frederick's frown.
"Don't worry, there shouldn't be any fighting. We're only here to talk. Albert might be a little crazy, but he should not be this crazy. After all, he can't win."
Frederick saw David's look of relief.
"Ahh, Your Highness, where are my manners, welcome to Morn, we have already prepared a place for you to stay at during your time here. We have also prepared rooms for your men."
"No need, my men will set up camp in the outskirts, after all the town will not be able to accommodate the forces of Sophia and Franz on top of my own. However, I will take up your kind offer and stay within the town."
"Right, right this way please Your Highness." David stuttered as he led the way.
Frederick had always had a high opinion of David and felt his adaptability was a strength and opportunity. He had plans for him in the future, but right now he still had to overcome the hurdle that was Albert.
Two days, in two more days all the powers in Erlitz would be gathered in this town of Morn. How this will ultimately end and where Erlitz will be afterwards, was anyone's guess. However, Frederick was confident that he could accomplish all he set out to do and stabilise his country.