Gracing the Guttuli

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Part 1: An Imperial Farewell

The day after Johan Anderion Avon-El Ayreon-Kalirion received his commission and order to go to the Guttuli Protectorate as Francia's ambassador there, Johan woke up early in the morning, shaved, and put on his best suit. Once dressed, he looked at his brand-new Frankish diplomatic passport on the desk. It felt so odd to have it. The only passport he had ever had was an Elwynnese passport, and although he had with him, it was no longer valid, as the Elwynnese prince – that evil man who wasn’t even Elwynnese, the bloody Norseman Frederik Truls – had by the stroke of a pen, removed Johan's citizenship.

This angered Johan immensely. He was an Elwynnese, first and foremost, but here he was, representing the Frankish monarchy and its government. That said, Francia was basically an extension of Elwynn too. Perhaps it would be reasonable to say, he thought, that Francia and Elwynn are two successor states to the old imperial state of Elwynn. Francia had Empress Esther, the only daughter of Kaiseress Noor (an Elwynnese kaiseress) and King Noah (the Storish-born Elwynnese king). And Empress Esther, in her regality and elegance, was now the Regent of Francia. What powers this bestowed on her, Johan was unsure, but he had been told to report to the Emperor nonetheless. This was of course the same Emperor who kindly housed Johan in Schloss Norfae when the Second Amokolian War broke out – Johan had had some terribly bad luck going on a hiking trip in western Amokolia just a few days before the war broke out. Ah yes, the Emperor could have easily jailed him as an enemy prisoner of war, Johan still had his UDF commission back then. But the Emperor didn’t – Johan was truly in his debt.

And as it would happen, the Emperor and the Empress invited Johan for breakfast that morning. Once arrived at the Jess Palace where their Majesties received him, Johan felt unable to look the Imperial Couple in their eyes – despite Johan's imperial blood in his veins, despite being related to the Kaisers and Shahs of old, he felt he was far below their station. Especially when he glanced upon the beauty of the Empress. How could the Shirerithians have forced her and her family out? Someone as beautiful as her can surely bring no evil around her. It was clear why the Emperor had become enamoured with her, and truly and selflessly championed the Froyalanish cause as the only country on Benacia – against all diplomatic pragmatism, the Emperor's choices made him ooze of honour, duty, and ethics.

Johan was in awe.

The Emperor and Empress served Johan some tea, toast and Alalehzamini desert-berry marmalade – it was quite an Elwynnese breakfast. Perhaps the Empress had, after all, despite her exile in Stormark, managed to preserve some Elwynnese traditions.

"But, your Majesty," he could not help but ask, "how did you manage to procure the desert-berry marmalade?"

"A lady never tells!" the Empress chirped back. And Johan dared not the press the issue further.

"But", she interjected, "I can say that the marmalade was made only a few days ago by some of my ladies in waiting. This is the first time we try it. Isn't it just lovely?"

"Oh yes, milady. The only sad thing is that it makes me miss the land of my birth."

“Oh I know, your Imperial Highness, I miss it too, terribly so” – it was odd that the Empress would style him as imperial highness, but after all, he was no longer in republican Elwynn, he was in a monarchy where titles and royal blood mattered, where he should be proud of his excellent stock and blue pure blood. He hadn’t been titled imperial highness since his teenage years when he was a nobleman in Shireroth. Then suddenly, upon Elwynnese independence, he had become Mr Avon-El as he decided to shorten his surname for most purposes from the awfully long Avon-El Ayreon-Kalirion.

"It is time," the Emperor said.

"I understand, your Majesty," replied Johan, and stood up. He made the sign of the oath with his fingers, and spoke in a loud voice directed at his emperor and empress:

"Ich schwöre diesen Eid, daß ich meinem Kaiser und Kaiserin allzeit treu und redlich dienen und als tapferer und gehorsamer Soldat bereit sein will, jederzeit für diesen Eid mein Leben einzusetzen."

"Thank you for your devotion and service," was the Emperor's reply.

Johan then kissed his hosts' hands and was escorted out to a waiting limousine outside. It drove him quickly to Brandenburg's smaller airport, where a small jet took him on, and flew him to Corrigible, where the next part of his journey would begin.

Part 2: In Corrigible

Johan hadn't received as much information as he had wanted on how he would actually get to Guttuli. At the meeting with Their Imperial Majesties, he hadn't dared press the issue. And even if he had dared to ask them, it was really not a question on his mind, as he was so blinded by their beauty, power and authority.

As his flight to Corrigible was underway, Johan thought about the Emperor and Empress. The breakfast earlier today was the first time he had engaged with them privately as a couple, and the first time he had actually spoken with the Empress. Johan did know the Emperor, however. Had they been equal in rank, he might have regarded the Emperor as a friend. Johan smiled at the memories he had of the emperor in Schloss Norfae during the Second Amokolian War. Oh, how lucky Johan was to have such an Emperor's support! And now, too, he had the Empress's and Regent's, too. The oath he swore earlier this morning was an oath he meant every word of. He promised the Emperor and Empress his obedience, bravery, and his willingness to die for them.

It was a soldier's oath – and while it was an oath that was not required in itself, Johan needed to swear it for his own sake. He was a soldier after all. He had joined the Imperial Armed Forces of Shireroth in 1663, immediately upon reaching his majority. Disillusioned with the politics and civil wars of Elwynn, he, a young naïve Elw, believed then that only the Imperial Forces could bring peace and stability.

Johan didn't have many happy memories from his time in the Shirerithian forces, but that time made him the man he was today. He was a man who followed orders. His time in the Shirerithian forces mainly saw him posted across Brookshire dealing with the aftermath of the White Plague, with population control, upholding laws and regulations. Never once was he posted in Elwynn, despite repeated requests to leadership that they send him there. It was his motherland he wanted to fight for, to bring peace to, not to some backwards Praeta-spitting Brookshirerithians. They were the kind of people that ran in complete opposition to everything Elwynnese. They were crude, vulgar, loved showing off their slaves, and had weird religious rituals, sometimes even cannibalistic – Johan remembered once having to break-up such an illegal rite with shooting the entire party down. Although traumatizing memories from this event continued to haunt him, even to this day, the feckers really did deserve it. He was not in command, so really, he had no choice than to do as his superior commanded.

That was the same kind of crudeness and vulgarity that killed off the Froyalaners. Ah, to think he was complicit in that by helping to round up Froyalaners for transportation during the Genocide. If only he had known what would befall those poor people. Now, he would devote the rest of his life to restore justice to them. He had already sat through numerous interviews and interrogations in the Froyalan Tribunal, provided all information he has on Elwynnese military defences, practices and installations. He had assumed he would be brought to trial and found guilty of aiding a genocide, but instead the Frankish government rewarded him with his candour and made him ambassador to Guttuli. Ah yes, honesty is truly a virtue that will never go unrewarded.

Looking out of the airplane window, he thanked the Lady Elwynn for the mercy he had shown, and he was reminded of the Froyalanish marriage ritual he saw on some contraband tapes as a young easily excitable thirteen-year old at a classmate's of his. The video tape showed the holy marriage between King Noah and Lady Elwynn. Although at that time, it terrified him, he now understood the sanctity and revered nature of that holy event. He remembered seeing how beautiful the young naked king was, with his muscles bulging through his smooth cream-white skin, with the Lady Elwynn, as gracious and beautiful as ever, standing as tall as the king himself with skin even whiter, even creamier, and her beautiful white-blond hair gently touching her rounded plump breasts, filled to the very extreme with that holy nectar of milk which the young King later during that very same ritual would consume.

Oh so jealous the young Johan was! Why did such greatness befall the great Noah, why did such beauty come on him, and why was he allowed to take part of the Lady Elwynn's body? Why wasn't he?

As the thoughts lingered in his head for several weeks, he managed to find an answer. He, too, could serve the Lady Elwynn by joining the army to save her, to protect her. And he would be as beautiful and handsome as that young king once was when he devoted his body to that holy service – by working in the army.

As soon as he was legally allowed, he signed up for service in the Imperial Forces. His mother and father cautioned him against it, but what could they do? At sixteen, he was legally an adult, and he did as he pleased. And he pleased to use his body for the service of the State, and to become handsome and beautiful himself.

That was why he became a soldier, and now he was a soldier for his Emperor and Empress. And his empress, indeed, was the daughter of that young king he remembered from the tapes at his friend’s when they were but thirteen years of age.

It was Noah who brought him to the army, and now it was Noah, through his daughter, that sent him off on yet a mission. He felt closer than ever to that holy communion. Serving his Emperor and Empress was a communion in itself. Sure, he was not high-standing enough to reach for the gods, like Noah did, but his service was as holy as Noah's and Elwynn's communion.

The plane landed in Corrigible, and Johan's thoughts of an holiness were brought to an end. Instead, he chuckled for himself. He was in Corrigible. He was incorrigible.

His path had always been straight, it would always had led to this. It was treason what he had done, but the treason would have been greater by not going to Francia.

Huh, the thought for himself, even the pun had depth.

A soldier came up him on the tarmac.

"Sir! Are you Ambassador Lord Avon-El, sir?"

"I am he," replied Johan. The soldier saluted. Johan wondered if the soldier knew that he too was a soldier. He saluted back.

"Sir, I have orders to take you to a briefing regarding your trip to Guttuli, Sir."

"Very good, soldier. I'll walk with you."

And so the two went to the barracks. In Corrigible.

Part 3: An dem schönen blauen Meer

It's been a few weeks since the fishing boat left Corrigible. Although military transport was available, it was deemed better for Johan to travel to Guttuli as clandestinely as possible. The sea was rough, the Batavian-flagged boat small. Right now they were some 5000 km south of Zeeburg. It was quite the detour, Johan thought, while helping the fishermen do some fishing. Obviously, the fishing now was not "real fishing", it was to impose some kind of explanation story in case of boarding from a foreign party, as well as for their own protein sustenance.

It was a lovely day, today. The sea was absolutely calm, like a mirror. You could see the fish swimming below the surface. The sea looked clear, too, as blue as the sky. Even the sandy bottom of the sea floor could be seen. It must be somewhat shallow right here.

"Ah yes, you see here," said one of the sailors, a bearded gentleman who spoke Germanian in a heavy North Amokolian accent (all the sailors spoke North Amokolian among each other, but Johan did not speak that, he only spoke Elw, Istvanistani, Præta, Army Crandish and now a little rudimentary conversational Germanian), "We're above the Franklin Plateau. Not far from here you'll find the Franklin Islands. I've been there a few times, lovely and quaint. These days though, not a very good place for us to go. The world's turned against us West Amok----.... us Franks."

Johan understood perfectly. This was the very reason the trip had to go as it did. The trip included some scheduled detours. A stop in Ura'Bos for him to give his respects to the death place of his relative and kaiseress Noor, and then another stop for refuelling in Haltna, and thereafter in Port Chloe, where his mother, whom he had not seen for over a year, would fly in to see him. Although declared missing in Elwynn, Her Imperial Highness the Lady Ristina Marmai, the mother of Johan Anderion, had achieved the fete of getting Storish asylum due to her persecution from procuring and then exporting Froyalanish goods abroad, mainly to Froyalanish exilees. He was so proud of his mother. He really did look forward to seeing her. They would stay a few days in Port Chloe – hosted by the Storish royal Her Imperial and Royal Highness Ærinndís des Vinandy of Ettlingar Freyu, Imperial Chieftainess of Port Chloe and the Providence Plantations, Storjarla of Stormark, Lady Imperial on All Continents, Queen Dowager of Batavia, Archduchess of 's Koningenwaarde, Countess of Dasburgh, Countess of Vinandy, Baroness of Ammerswoude and by de Loet, Baroness of Bergkirche.

But for now, Johan was on a tiny skimpy Batavian-flagged Frankish boat, enjoying the sunshine on this totally still day. Not a cloud was in site.

"Ahoy, Mr Johan, sir! It looks like you got yourself a little sunburn!" said the old sailor from before and laughed.

"Ja, ja – you look like us working folk now!" replied another.

Part 4: "Uranium, Boss!"

Ura'Bos is a huge island, Johan thought. Although hardly having any kind of permanent human population, it was a lot bigger than he expected. Perhaps it was because of the very little he knew of the island. He knew it has been used for nuclear testing, that it once housed dragons (they all died from radiation apparently or direct blasts...), the most famous dragon was of course Melisande who was raised to the Shirerithian peerage as Countess of this island, and that this island marked the place where Kaiseress Noor, "Our Lady the Radiant Sun", was killed, along with her murderer, her very own son, Adam, the father of Kaiser Ayreon IV, and grandfather of the current Kaiseress.

Kaiseress Noor was of course the mother of Johan's empress, Esther, whom he swore to serve until his dying breath. In a way, Johan realised, he was jealous of Arkadius IV. First of all, because Arkadius has Esther as his wife. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, exceeding even the beauty of his childhood's video tapes of the Lady Goddess Elwynn mating with his beautiful magnificent king Noah. And Noah was of course the father of Empress Esther.... And he thought more and more of Esther, and he felt horrible for lusting after her.

As Johan walked toward Noor's memorial site, an obelisk marking her place of death, he could not help feel the excitement in his veins growing, growing ever more. He was deeply ashamed of these emotions. This was a place of death, a place of sorrow, of grief, of pain, of panic! But did he think those thoughts? Well, yes, he thought them, but did he feel them? No, he did not. He supposed it was because he felt close to his empress here by the obelisk where her brother killed her – their – mother. Yes, the Ayreon-Kalirion family history, a history to which Johan, an Ayreon-Kalirion, belonged too, was marked by ungodly lusts and oh-so-much sorrow, pain and grief.

Johan shed a tear. He left a wreath of orchids on the spot where Noor died, and the spot where Adam died he spat, as was the tradition developed here.

Johan needed to calm himself down. He told a bodyguard he was going to do some hiking on the hills. The bodyguard insisted he'd come along with a Geiger counter in hand. And so the two walked up the hills. The views were magnificent.

Suddenly the Geiger counter started beeping loudly and angrily.

"What's up?" asked Johan.

"Uranium, boss!" replied the bodyguard.

And Johan chuckled. In his head, he shortened the bodyguard's words to "ura-bos", or Ura'Bos. He enjoyed his own jokes. He laughed. He didn't share the joke with the bodyguard though, thinking the bodyguard was probably too dim to understand it. The man was just muscle, after all. And a commoner.

Part 5: Sky-clad

After a few weeks in Port Chloe, Johan was finally back at sea. It was not that he disliked having stayed there – in fact he really enjoyed it – but he had his duty to his Emperor and Empress, and Johan was determined to see it through.

But his thoughts lingered back to the stay in Port Chloe as the skimpy trawler kept surfing the waves. He chuckled when he thought about his mother, Ristina Marmai, in Port Chloe, how she and her handmaidens welcomed him.

It had been a sunny day, with not a cloud on the sky, and it was terribly hot. At one of the piers along the guest harbour, the very one the trawler had received permission to land at, Johan couldn't quite believe his eyes. There, standing was his mother, stark naked except for a pair of high-heels, a diadem in her neat hair, and some gold and diamond earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Her handmaidens wore clothes though.

As he landed, his mother put her arms out, ready to embrace her only son. Johan felt awkward.

"Mother? Why are you naked?" was all he could say.

"Oh darling, I am not naked! I am sky-clad – this is the natural way for a lady to be." She laughed heartily, and added "And a gentleman, too, should you feel inclined!"

Johan winced at the thought at first, but realized that he did enjoy being naked – well, in the privacy of his own home. Just walking around in his apartment without any clothes, it felt really good, it was free.

"Besides," the mother said, "it's not like we need clothes on a day like this."

Mother was right. There was such an element of naturalness to being naked, and seeing his mother naked for the first time in his life – after a few moments or so – it didn't feel weird. No, it felt natural. And logical. Clothes are to protect us from the elements, and on a day like this, you wouldn’t need protection, except for sunblock cream. Those beautiful handmaidens would probably have rubbed his mother all over with that white, thick cream, gently and sensually rubbing it into her skin, so that she would feel nothing but pleasure walking out sky-clad. And of course, they would adorn her delicately with the finest jewellery. She was a lady, after all.

For the rest of his stay at his mother's in Port Chloe (though it wasn’t her permanent home, she usually stayed in Haraldsborg, but relocated to Port Chloe to spend quality time with her son), Johan pondered about the joys of living in this country – Stormark.

Stormark really did have a bad reputation back in his childhood Elwynn – it was a country of decadence, evil, pederasty, misogyny and tackiness. But Johan, experiencing the real Stormark, understood differently. He finally knew the reality of the Storish existence.

All women were called lady out of courtesy, even those unlucky ones to be born outside the nobility. Women were also at the apex of society. They were always given honour, deferred to. And all the women Johan could see, they were all so beautiful.

The same night, Johan invited one of the few men in his mother's employment, Eldgrím, for a drink in the living room. What a handsome friend this Eldgrím was! Towering over two metres, his blond hair shining golden in the sun, glistening, his skin white as that thick white cream the handmaidens rub into his mother’s skin every time she desires to go skyclad.

"Lord Johan" – Eldgrím would always address Johan by the prefix lord, for Johan was of noble birth, and Eldgrím was not. "Thank you for inviting me here for a drink."

The conversation was a bit stilted in the beginning, but after a glass of Treesian Red, and some Cimmerian brandy-wine that Johan had brought with him on the trawler, Johan felt much more at ease. Eldgrím did not drink very much though, "I should like to be at my best should my services be needed," he had said.

"This whole sky-cladness," Johan mused, "how do you feel about it?"

"It's just something very natural in our society. So in Elwynn, people are never naked?"

"Maybe at Roqpin, but we never talk about it.

"Oh yes, Roqpin, I've heard stories about that from Lady Ristina!"

"So you have no reservations about being naked among other people?”

"Not at all, my Lord," answered the handsome Viking, and began disrobing.

Not long later, he was completely naked, sporting a giant member between his legs. If he was true of the Storish, or the Froyalaners, Johan thought, he could understand why they all were castrated back in Shireroth and Elwynn. It was all jealousy. And Johan couldn't help feel a little bit jealous. He remembered the film of the marriage between King Noah and the Goddess of Elwynn, of how manly and majestic Noah looked sky-clad.

"How may I be of service?" the Viking asked and smiled.

Johan felt immediately uncomfortable. 
 "Oh you don't need to do anything, I didn't mean...."

"It is the custom of our people to provide pleasure to our guests. I assumed that was what you desired in me, especially when you asked me to undress. And don't worry, this is something I want, it's nothing I do because it is expected of me, I want to please you."

"Thank you, Eldgrím, but you really needn't. You see, I'm straight..."

"Yes, me too! It doesn't matter, you know. It's just body touching. But if you're really that uncomfortable, I can get one of your mother's handmaidens instead then?" he asked without even seeming disappointed. It was as if this all was the most natural thing to do.

"No, let's just talk."

"Of course, my Lord."

"Let's go for a walk in the moonlight."

And so the two walked in the moonlight in the park outside Ristina's compound, Johan with his noble robes, and Eldgrím’s muscular body all sky-clad.

"You sure I can’t help you out?" asked Eldgrím. "You've been on a tiny stinking fish trawler for weeks, and I am quite skilled at relieving all the anxieties and stresses that would be. I would be so honoured if you'd let me serve."

"No, Eldgrím, thank you. It's not that, I just simply cannot think of doing it with someone in my family's employment. It's like..."

"Prostitution? Oh don't worry! High King Harald has banned prostitution! So that's out of the question! Just consider me a willing bedwarmer for you. I'd do anything you'd want me to. This is the custom of my people. My Lord Johan, I am but a simple man, you are a lord. This is your privilege of the first night. And this is my duty, my honour."

Eldgrím looked deeply into Johan's eyes. 
 "Well if it is your duty...", Johan chuckled, and let him be led back inside into his room.

Ah! The memories of that night with Eldgrím. The thoughts of what he did to that Viking made Johan blush. And for every night for the rest of that stay. Oh how lovely it was. It later transpired that Eldgrím was also his mother's bedwarmer.

"I am not good at much, my Lord," Eldgrím said one day when they discussed his actual job at Ristina's court. "But I am good at giving pleasure, so I want to do what I'm best at. Though my official role is master of the robes, I am in charge of making sure all private areas of my Lady Ristina and her guests have everything they need."

Ah what a man! How lucky his mother was to have him all the time. Next time Johan would go to Stormark, he'd be sure to spend some quality time with this Viking.

"Lord Johan, sir!" a seaman shouted out and brought Johan out of his daydream, "are you sunburnt again? Your face is all red!"

"Ah yes, I probably should put on that sun cream we bought in Port Chloe."

Johan went below deck to fetch the bottle. It had a weird smell. On one hand there was something acidic and salty about the contents, but they were heavily perfumed with the finest fragrances. The texture seemed familiar, somehow, but he couldn't place where he'd experienced that texture last.

"Never mind, it protects me," he said to himself.

Part 7: Going under

A few days at sea – Johan had forgotten how many but was definitely more than three – and the crew of the trawler acted curiously. They kept asking each other about their exact coordinates, mean solar time, and Brandenburg time all the time. As usual, Johan was the last one to find anything out.

To be fair, Johan kept mostly to himself. He kept day dreaming about his encounter with Eldgrím. Eldgrím called it Johan's privilege of the first night. Ah yes, this was a Froyalanish and Storish custom. That you offer yourself the first night to someone higher in status than you on special occasions. The idea intrigued him. When it was Johan's turn to get married, perhaps he should offer himself to the Empress, so that she may have the privilege of the first night with him. But what could he really offer her?

Johan's sexual experiences were not that great. There were some girls he met while he was touring in Brookshire during the White Plague nonsense, but sadly, despite being straight, most of his experiences were with men, especially now after his stay with his mother and Eldgrím. But it was fine, Eldgrím was straight too. In order to offer his first night to Esther, he would need to make sure he was a better pleasurer. He needed experience on the matter. Secondly, he needed to figure out whether this ancient tradition would be honoured in Francia. Sure, it was done in Stormark all the time, and during the Vanic monarchy in Elwynn, too, but these days? With a Catologian emperor? Would the emperor really condone this?

Johan also needed to buff up a bit more. He thought of how lovely and muscular Eldgrím was, as well as Noah's beautiful body during the wedding between him and the Goddess Elwynn. Johan used to have a much better body, when he was in the army, but he had lost quite a lot of his muscular physique since retiring. He had become smaller, he thought, when he looked in the mirror. Luckily, he hadn't gone fat like most of this retired colleagues had. That would have been a disgrace. But yeah, he needed to buff up.

"Crew! Get me some more food. High-protein, high-energy!" he ordered. Now was the time to start getting buff. He started doing all these kind of exercises on the deck. Although the crew, bewildered with Johan's sudden burst of activity, offered Johan to help out with the daily tasks on the boat, Johan politely declined. Such work was beneath his station. He preferred to his army exercises on his own.

"Lord Johan!" one of the youngest sailors (Johan couldn't remember the name of the guy, they all looked, talked, acted the same, mostly...) called out.


"My lord, it is time for you to pack up your things. We're at the rendez-vous point. We want you ready for when the u-boat is here."


"The submarine, sir, which will take you underneath the Livvist blockade outside the Guttuli Protectorate. That's the plan."

"Oh, I see. Can you pack up my things for me? I'm on my rest now after that heavy workout earlier. Can't do any strenuous activity for the next two hours. You understand, right?"

"Yes, my lord."

At least this sailor was polite at the end, Johan thought, with all the "my lord" and "sir". But that the kid had the audacity to try boss Johan around with telling him to do things, no, that simply wasn't acceptable. Johan was angry. No one should talk to him like that. He was a nobleman, after all. Johan realised he needed to calm himself down, otherwise his rest period would be ineffective. He decided to sit on deck and meditate while the kid sailor was below deck and packed his things.

It was a good meditation. He thought about how he could become more handsome, more experienced sexually, and how he could better serve his Emperor, his Empress particularly, and his new country. If this mission to Guttuli was a success, perhaps the Imperial Pair would send Johan to Haraldsborg as ambassador, or some other topnotch place. But Haraldsborg would be nice, the ladies' there could teach him a thing or two that he could use in order to get the Empress to accept his offer of the first night. He needed a wife, for that, too, and Storish women were exceptionally well-endowed in the mammary department. And then there would be Eldgrím there. That would definitely be a bonus.

"My Lord, all your things are in these four bags." The kid sailor had returned.

How had he so much stuff, Johan thought, when he looked at the four full bags.

"Are they heavy?"

"Not too bad for me, my Lord, and I've seen your exercises today, sir, you should be fine with them."

"Yes, but you can take them to the sub when it's here, right?"

"If you wish, my Lord."

"Good boy."

The captain also visited Johan on deck, told him more of the actual logistics and whatever orders had been relayed to Johan via the captain from Brandenburg.

"It is a small u-boat, sir, it won't be as comfortable as here."

"I've been in the army, captain, it will be fine. Will any of your crewmembers join me?" asked Johan

"No, sir."

"But I need a manservant. Or will there be one provided for me on the u-boat?"

"I'm afraid not, my Lord. It will only be a skeleton crew on it."

"Alright. Let me take that young sailor with me, the one with the bags."


"Yeah, if that's his name."

"You still haven't learnt his name, sir?"

"Of course I have. Can I have him?"

"Well I need him on my way back."

"I'll compensate you, captain. He's been very helpful to me on this trip. And like I said, I need a manservant. I can't appear as an ambassador without a manservant by my side. Appearances, you know."

The captain agreed, after followed some negotiations on the compensation.

Just after they had shook hands on the deal, the u-boat arrived. Poor Joroen had no time to even pack his things, but Johan comforted him saying that Johan had everything the sailor needed.

There was some trouble with docking, but in the end both Johan and Jeroen (carrying the four bags) managed to get inside the very small submarine. It was much smaller than he had imagined, only three small rooms, one room for Johan, one room for the four-member crew (including beds and the simple galley, and one room for the machinery, engineering and steering. Johan's room was the smallest, but at least he had enough space to do some pushups and he wouldn't have to be with the smelly sailors all the time. Jeroen would have to act as liaison.

In any case, Johan didn't, to his own disappointment, get much exercise done. The submarine was dark. Johan just felt very sleepy most of the time, the submarine simply kept lulling him to sleep all the time.

It was quite comfortable, for him, except the lack of shower facilities. Luckily Jeroen would help him clean up a bit with wet towels and perfumes. He was a good boy, Johan thought, he has much potential for this line of work.

One day (or night, evening, morning, whatever), the captain knocked carefully on Johan's door. He whispered, "we need to be very quiet now, as silent as the dead, if we can, because we are nearing the Livvist blockade. We don't want their ships to notice us. Please don't move, don't talk, don't do anything...."

It was scary. For the first time during his trip, Johan felt a bit anxious. Things could actually go wrong here. One tiny little detection, and they would be blown to smithereens, and dead, and the world would be none the wiser as to what had happened.

Johan prayed to whatever gods may be, that he would be spared whatever happened.

The minutes kept going by for ages, the hours felt like days. Johan had no idea how much time passed in this extreme silence.

Suddenly there was a cheer from the other rooms.

"We did it!"

The submarine had passed the blockade and entered the River Elwynn delta. Johan was on the Elwynn now, he felt elated, it was almost like being home. Elwynn!

The boat surfaced, and did its last trek floating up the river. The delta was beautiful, tiny islands absolutely everywhere, it was a world of idyllic tiny islands and inlets. This is a paradise, Johan thought.

At 18:27 on 20.VI.1682, Lord Johan Anderion Avon-El Ayreon-Kalirion, Ambassador of His Majesty the Frankish Emperor to the Guttuli Protectorate, set afoot on Guttuli land, at the port of Gaton, the capital of the Guttuli Protectorate.