|Full name||Waldemar Zinkgraven|
|Hair color and style||Fair, long and unkempt|
|Other||Pronounced frown lines|
|Father||Norbert, Burggraaf van Zinkgraven|
|Mother||Felicia Corrie, Jonkvrouw van Bosch|
|Date of birth||1590 AN|
|Date of death||7.V.1660 AN (drowned in ale)|
|Occupation||Regent of Batavia, Director of the Puritanian Guidance Authority, count and accountant of the general tribute in Dietsland, Puritania and Voltrue|
Waldemar Zinkgraven is a Batavian-born Shirerithian official and former Steward of the Imperial Republic (1654–1657). Zir Illustris & Restaurator Occidentis, Magister-Generalissimus of Keltia, Regent of Batavia, Administrator of the Froyalan National Reservation, Martial Law Administrator of Oleslaad, Director of the Puritanian Guidance Authority & count and accountant of the general tribute in Dietsland, Puritania and Voltrue, for the Office of Bounties and Factorage.
Born of noble but middling parentage in the old Batavian province of Dietsland, Waldemar received an education that reinforced in him the notion of the dignity of his rank as well as the bonds of obligation that would tie him to his estates for the rest of his life. To this end his tutors, and later the grammarians and academicians who supervised him through his higher education, were careful to teach him the skills of literacy, numeracy and attention to detail that would prove vital to any competent lord who had a care for his estates.
That the fates would decree that he would never come into his title and that he would have to witness the death of his parents, the ruin and confiscation of his estates and finally the destruction of his country through civil war and Jingdaoese occupation, would leave Waldemar with a lasting bitterness and hatred that would express itself subtly in a myriad of ways. He eventually gravitated towards a career in accounting.
From his years spent pouring over estate ledgers and learning by rote the art of mental computation, Waldemar had developed the calibre of mental faculties that would render him indispensable to the courts and civil services of the various monarchies of Benacia. For a time, after 1618, he served King Jean of Amokolia, but never felt any abiding bond of loyalty to the Amokolian people and thus, when that regime subsequently fell, he experienced little difficulty in transferring his allegiance to the Elwynnese Union. To the White Orchid Throne, whose elitist values mirrored his own, Waldemar proved a diligent servant, albeit one occasionally frustrated by the tendency of the Princess of Anun to grant overly generous tax-breaks to Bailiwicks that conducted certain rituals which appealed to her sensibilities.
In 1635, following the Elwynnese conquest of Shirekeep, Waldemar followed the Princess of Anun to the capital, where he served in the Ministry of the Interior looking after what remained of the old Ministry of Trade. While the loss of revenues following the creation of the Imperial States, combined with the general slackening off of international trade, meant that there was precious little in the way of capital flows for Waldemar to monitor, it was generally remarked that he kept a meticulous set of books and after a while settled down into his comfortable appointment wherein he direct bailiffs to pursue revenues owed to the Imperial Court throughout what remained of the Imperial Dominions where the Kaiser's writ still ran unchallenged.
Surviving the Oustfest
In the 1640's Elwynn began its great push westwards into what was once Batavian territory. Although conflicted at the thought of foreigners ruling over his ancestral lands, Waldemar was nonetheless enticed by the prospect of being able to return to his former estates, even if under the Orchid banner. However the UDF and Fleur de Lys-Longships Guard stopped short of the frontiers of Dietsland, leaving him once more frustrated.
However, that changed in 1642 when Puritanians, resisting the encroachments of Siseran cultists, sought and obtained the assistance of the Imperial Republic. Waldemar quickly attached himself to the civilian staff of the notorious revenant Laqi Hyrrion whom the Kaiser had dispatched at the head of the Dietsland Expeditionary Force to pacify the Dietsland-Puritania-Voltrue region, which was the last 'ungoverned' space on the continent of Benacia. His diligence and professionalism was quickly recognised and rewarded in the form of promotion to the post of Director of the PGA Economic Directorate. Amongst Waldemar's many duties were the collection of revenues to sustain the Confederacy of Puritanian States, whilst providing a return to the Imperial coffers, and the supervision of the generous Imperial subsidy provided to the eldritch munition factories of Voltrue.
In the aftermath of the Oustfest Massacre of 1644, Laqi Hyrrion, Gwilherm Albus (Crypteia), Maela Magali Soler (Imperial Forces) & Lucretia Raggi (Imperial Constabulary) were liquidated in a series of ambushes and massacres that left the PGA in Waldemar's care. Zinkgraven followed the interests of the Office of Bounties and Factorage, distancing himself from the regime of (Anti-) Kaiser Aurangzeb II when his patron, Ludovic Verion, did so, and later pledging allegiance to Kaiseress Noor when it became clear that her cause was in the ascendant.
By refusing and prevaricating over repeated summonses to Shirekeep, Waldemar was able to ride out the wave of judicial and administrative purges that accompanied Noor's accession to the throne until they had lost their impetus. After 1651 and the Auspicious Occasion, the Froyalanish in particular and the Elwynnese in general were out of favour and Imperial officials with experience of governing in the boreal forests of the west were suddenly in high demand amongst the Imperial Government.
Regency in Batavia
In the third month of 1652, Waldemar received an order from the Steward, Liv Dravot, to cross into Batavia and take possession of Tuulersbýur as a seat of government for the Imperial Forces in the west. Following the Partition of Elwynn, the formerly vast Kingdom of Amokolia, comprising mostly of forests and tundra, had been left in a chaotic situation, parcelled out between a number of dominions and the Froyalan National Reserve (FNR). The policy contemplated by the Imperial Advisory Council was to establish a chain of fortified garrisons and stations linking west to east, garrisoned by Auxiliaries, and to award infrastructure and mineral exploitation contracts so as to bind the vast region more firmly into the Imperial Republic than had been the case under the lax and self-deceivingly idyllic mixture of manor farms and pastoralism favoured by the House of Ettlingar Freyu. Zinkgraven, seemingly, was the man chosen to drive this newly emerging policy.
On 8.VI.1652 the expulsion of the Froyalanish from Batavia escalated into a ferocious pogrom. Zinkgraven, dissatisfied by the slow progress of the deportations to the FNR and burdened by the high costs of feeding and sheltering the deportees whilst they were in-transit to the borders of the FNR, unleashed the locally raised Batavian auxiliaries on the Froyalanish in order to speed up their departure. The result was a frenzy of violence, rape and systematic looting.
For Zinkgraven, the only good Froyalaner was a burning one, and this was an attitude he carefully instilled into the Corps of veterans of the crusade against Siseraism as they moved into Batavia to take up positions facing the borders of the FNR, Gascony and Kalgachia. Zinkgraven argued for repressive measures to enforce the deportations and to put down the armed bands of Froyalaners who had formed into self-defence groups after the impossible scale of the relocation to the FNR had become apparent. Following his appointment as Regent of Batavia and overlord of a third of the continent on 24.VI.1652, Zinkgraven, with the blessing of the Steward, advanced his plan; beginning with the arrest of remaining Froyalanish notables, including the natural leaders of the national community such as the magistrates, merchants and landowners who had established themselves during the rule of Fjorleif. All their property was confiscated and Zinkgraven's net was widened by information gained under relentless interrogation. One hundred and four recalcitrant nobles were executed in Tuulersbýur on specially erected scaffolding. The following day a dozen Vanic Priestesses were burned in the town's Godsgrove for refusing Protective Custody and continuing to propagate the forbidden heretical doctrines of hierogamy.
The policy of repression was a shock that initially cowed all communities as eight full legions and an equal force of auxiliaries traversed Batavia and Oleslaad. In the early days Zinkgraven hoped to finance the expulsion of the Froyalanish through confiscations and compulsory purchases, below market value, of property.
Elated, and at the height of his powers, he decided that it was time to find himself a wife of suitable birth and bearing. He was somewhat disheartened though to learn that, in polite society at any rate, he was considered a somewhat loutish and uncouth provincial, scarcely a step up from a rustic bailiff. Certainly not a suitable choice for the daughter of any family with pretensions to status. Gossips in Shirekeep wagged about his about his ink-stained hands, dirty fingernails, and appalling table-manners. Following his first rebuff from the marriage brokers of the east Benacian noble houses, the Burgrave was obliged to nurse his resentments in silence, maintain the semblance of an amicable facade and set about, as though he were merely a grubby Denizen on the make, searching for a noble family of sufficient pedigree and absolute penury.
In 1653 he ordered the destruction of the Vineta Temple so that a new over-the-horizon radar for MoMA Station Tuulersbýur could be built, at a time when tensions with Jingdao were once again rising and an attack from the Jingdaoese enclaves in Western Benacia and or the Keltian island of Nandao where much of the Jingdaoese court had relocated following the War of Jingdaoese Immolation.
Since taking over the Imperial Government in 1654 Waldemar has not troubled to hide his contempt and loathing for so-called lesser races of Apollonia and Keltia, placing scant value in their potential as allies, and preferring to despoil all foreigners not bound by bonds of alliance to the Imperial Republic. This aggressive policy, whilst generating plunder and slaves for the Imperial Republic's war-machine, threatened to bestir the USSO into finally rallying to the aid of Jingdao in the ongoing Sxiro-Jingdaoese Confrontation.
Waldemar's attitude towards governing the Imperial Republic was informed by his experiences of the administration of revenues in Elwynnese and Imperial service; this for the most part consisted of shaking down recalcitrant peasants for every last pfennig for which he deemed that they were liable. This made a striking contrast to the collegiate, if vainglorious, administration of Liv Dravot during her stewardship.
War of the Casks
One of the perks of membership of the Imperial Advisory Council included the gift of first fruits liberated from enemy forces. The Emira of Jadid Khaz Modan had for instance acquired a taste for Stalemate Gin following the rescue of copious amounts from Nova-English merchant vessels. For Zinkgraven his moment of revelation had come after a party of sea-reavers put ashore at Tuulersbýur and prudently made a gift of several casks of Holy Communion. The Steward, having retired to the Jómsborg Palace, broached a cask with his henchmen and - after observing no discernible ill-effects upon the captain of the sea-reavers who had been brought along for the occasion, helped himself to several pints in his own personal beer stein - which had been crafted to change its outward colour from blue to crimson if ever poison was detected. On the night of the 6th of Vixaslaa in the year 1656, Zinkgraven became so roaringly drunk that he ordered the obliteration bombing of Blackstone to be undertaken as a joke, before retiring to bed with his honour guard. It was an postprandial jape that would have long-term ramifications.
Perturbed by the order he received overnight, Heinz Vorbis, the Air Marshal of Bomber Command, summoned the courage to call up the Steward's Forward Headquarters, at that time stationed in the ruins of Davignon. His call was put through to Olrich Vitellius, Air Chief Marshal attached to the Steward's Headquarters as the liaison between the General Staff and Benacia Command in a fashion typical of the maddening bureaucracy of the time. The bombing of a non-strategic civilian target, the spiritual home of the Royal Iron Company no-less, was deeply questionable. Noting that it was 8 in the morning, Vitellius was reluctant to intrude upon the Steward - who did not consider his working day to begin until at least the 11th hour of the day - with so trivial a matter as the destruction of a city. Since Air Marshal Vorbis was inconsiderate enough to be persistent in raising objections and asking for clarifications, the Air Chief Marshal was finally obliged, at 12pm to make a call to the Jómsborg Palace. His awkwardness in doing so was heightened when his call was routed by the duty officer through to Palatine Legate Ereleuva Martiana, a commission holder in the Honour Guard who had conducted Vitellius' suitability evaluation on the basis of his reported proclivities.
The Air Chief Marshal had managed to stammer out an explanation of his call, only to be curtly informed that the Steward had a "headache", was indisposed, and would be transacting no business that day. When Vitellius, rather foolhardily, attempted to suggest that the matter of committing the entire bomber fleet to an action that might be wasteful at best and a war crime at worst, Erelueva felt obliged to remind him that questioning a direct order from the Steward might be considered disloyal, to which she added a somewhat malicious query about whether he still liked to pose in the mirror before terminating the call.
With the lives of his aircrew to consider, Air Marshal Vorbis was not to be dissuaded by Vitellius' embarrassed suggestion that he should "perhaps just go ahead" with planning the raid. He gathered his resolve and next contacted the Secretariat of the Joint Military Council in Shirekeep, only to discover that the Shirerithian and Natopian delegates were both attending a private function hosted at the Baths of Fjǫrleif and would be unavailable for the next eight hours. In despair, and without further recourse, the Air Marshal began the work that would set in train events that would bring a city to its death-knell.
As he recovered, sprawled in an expansive four-poster bed, with several fried breakfasts and a select coterie, watching updates on the obliteration of Blackstone from tactical and media feeds to his panopticon viewscreen, the Burgrave cast his mind back to the potent beer he had been ploughing through with such gusto over the preceding day and night. In his capricious mind, lifted from the thrall of a deadening alcoholic stupor, a singular determination manifested itself. He would have more of that beer, even if he had to rend the entire Eastern Keltian Seaboard into bloody shreds to obtain it.
Eastern Keltia played upon his mind, he had already enrolled himself in - of all things - a snooker tournament hosted by Mercury, and so it was that Roy Periwinkle, a diligent if slightly ruffled international correspondent of the Shirekeep Gazette, found himself bundled out of his offices by agents of S.W.O.R.D. for a five hour short-haul flight between Shirekeep International Airport and Sansabury Aerodrome. He was met there by a stern raven-haired Legate of the Scholae Palatinae who introduced herself as Kriemhild Gaiana and informed him that he would be as of this moment consenting to a non-disclosure agreement of a permanent and binding nature, the penalty clauses attached to which - she assured him - were most stringent for his sake best avoided. With this news having been inwardly digested, the journalist was given the opportunity to have a quick wash and utilise the rest room before he was gently but firmly led out onto the runway to board a Gulfstream piloted by an anxious looking, ashen faced, yet incessantly burbling Lywaller whose constant refrain seemed to be various variations on the word "jolly". After takeoff a further four hours of flying time was endured whilst Roy studied a glass of still water intently as it warmed to room temperature, anything to avoid meeting the unyielding gaze of Kriemhild, sat uncomfortably close opposite, who seemed to consider aggressive eyeballing as some kind of professional vocation.
End of the Stewardship
In 1657 Zinkgraven, then installed on the Warring Isles, in the midst of his invasion of Nova England, was informed, in no uncertain terms, that he no longer enjoyed the confidence of the Imperial Forces, the Nationalist & Humanist Party, and the conglomerates, upon whom his rule had hitherto relied. His fixation with Nova England had been to the detriment of the wider war effort, costing victories in Batavia and Dalmacjia, and antagonising the Imperial Republic's Natopian allies by diverting resources from the relief of Normark.
Following Burgrave Zinkgraven's refusal of the summons to return to Shirekeep in 1657 he took shelter amongst the encampments of the Sea-Reavers established in the Warring Isles, particularly around the settlement of Hempton. This act caused a schism in Keltia Command and the forces assembled for the Great Enterprise of Keltia, with the Imperial Navy and bureaucracy being eager to prove their loyalty to the new Steward, the Babkhi mercenaries who were eager for their promised pay, and the Sea-Reavers who feared that the new government might seek to negotiate a truce and end their burgeoning piratical careers. The result of this stand-off was, predictably, that on 05.V.1658 the Imperial Forces now more or less under the influence of the ambitious Kalirion Prefect of New Blackstone, Jeremiah Avon-El, turned upon its former proxies and unleashed a merciless aerial and naval bombardment after which the Babkhi were promised their arrears of pay if they would go ashore butcher every Sea-Reaver they found and bring out Zinkgraven alive so that he could be brought to Shirekeep in a cage for the Steward's delectation.
An ignominious exile
Waldemar Zinkgraven was a man who, for various reasons that are widely known, was a most wanted man, a marked man, a man who was obliged to be somewhat circumspect in his movements. For this reason he never went anywhere ashore without armed bodyguards in sufficient number to deal with practically any threat he was likely to encounter – whether it be vengeful Nova English or Bretts, or a posse of Imperial Marshals come to finally deliver the long evaded summons back to Shirekeep and the doubtful justice that awaited him there.
His dreams of conquering the eastern seaboard of Keltia might have vanished in a moment of betrayal by his erstwhile allies on the Imperial Advisory Council, but the Burgrave had still managed to live a charmed existence since the day his fleet had been caught in an air raid by his own side.
He had narrowly evaded capture at Hempton in the year 1657 and avoided being bundled off to the grim island fortress of New Blackstone by the Prefect Jeremiah Avon-El. These straightened circumstances had however now obliged him to throw his lot in permanently with the Sea-Reavers, his now sadly depleted band of Auxiliaries turned privateers.
With his Steward's pay at an end, his estates and offices in Batavia confiscated, and the earnings from piracy being something he was obliged to share with his somewhat reluctant protectors, Waldemar decided that the most reliable method for acquiring money was to make it himself. A former official of the Office of Bounties and Factorage, it transpired that the forging of counterfeit credit notes and travellers cheques was something well within the competence of an ex-Imperial with access to the right headed notepaper and stamps. Whilst he’d proved himself modestly successful in the realms of financial fraud, sufficient of his counterfeit promissory notes had arrived in the ledgers of the Iron Company as to welcome their decidedly unwelcome interest. Officers from the Iron Company, armed with the tools of their trade reserved for those so foolhardy as to attempt to defraud them, were duly dispatched and made their landing at Dietsberg. By then however, forewarned by his Reaver custodians, Zinkgraven had already flown the coop.
His time ashore at an end, Zinkgraven returned to the maritime depredations of old. A squadron of five ships, armed merchantmen salvaged from the debacle on the Warring Isles, and three hundred reavers. It was at this time that his last remaining hostage, a journalist from the Shirekeep Gazette, jumped overboard and swam ashore, having by then endured the Burgrave’s company for several years longer than he’d anticipated. With this force he’d ranged far and wide across the Western Seas. Attempting to avoid Imperial and Nova English interest, he’d focused his attentions on the Jing and the Pallisicans, less sympathetic targets to be sure. Unloading in one instance a haul worthy of Captain Hatch himself, comprising of Rouge spider-silks, Cinnamon brandies, barrels of mead, and also cages containing two sea-sick Bijeko-Lisea-Nas, into the care of his distinctly alarmed intermediaries.
The thought of what he’d lost however continued to gnaw away at Zinkgraven and, as the controversy of the Great Enterprise of Keltia had died down, he applied to Shirekeep for a pardon via the contacts he’d maintained in the Sxiro-Natopian Keltia Command. Their response had led him to believe that the pardon would be readily granted if he was prepared to resign himself to an appropriate anonymity. With the Batavian situation hotting up, Shireroth was hardly going to want to aggravate matters by executing one of its most famous sons, so his contacts assured him.
After several months in which the wheels of officialdom revolved in their usual sluggishness, the pardon duly materialised – in New Blackstone, the seat of Prefect Avon-El, the Burgrave’s nemesis. Unperturbed, Zinkgraven relished the prospect of making his former insubordinate underling eat humble pie as he was obliged to welcome Zinkgraven back into the fold.
Indeed, Avon-El appeared to have swallowed his pride, informing Zinkgraven that the pardon awaited his personal collection, in exchange for a bond of five-hundred Kalgarrands, the Erb having endured a slight crisis of confidence since certain ill-considered remarks by the King of Goldshire concerning its worth had become widely known, and the nominal surrender of his ships and prizes.
Zinkgraven accepted the terms, and on the 7th of the fifth month in the year 1660 arrived off New Blackstone in his flagship, the armed merchantman “Defiance”, followed by the rest of his fleet and twelve captured vessels in tow, and cast anchor under the shadow of the island’s ramshackle fortress and ziggurat.
Minutes later, the former Steward and the island’s Prefect were face to face. Zinkgraven formally surrendered himself, ships, and goods, to the Prefect and made him a gift of six packs of Steward's Micge, a Nova English beer brewed in his own dubious honour. The Lord Jeremiah Avon-El in turn presented Waldemar with the pardon. Then he arrested him.
‘But the pardon!’ Zinkgraven exclaimed, brandishing it under the younger man’s nose.
‘I suggest that you read it.’ Answered the Prefect, curtly.
Astounded, Zinkgraven glanced down at the paper clutched in his hands. It was a cargo manifest.
“SS Spereholm – Cargo Manifest
Ergonian Labourers – 10,000. Composition; Female – 7,852 Male – 2,148 Age Range – 16-30 (As specified) All supplied disease free and checked by the National Health Institute.
40 No. 9 gallon casks of Fréamiht Traditional Dark Ale”
‘The dark ale is a consideration for your crew.’ added Avon-El with a supercilious smirk.
‘My crew?’ Zinkgraven began to ask dumbly, turning round to glance at his bodyguards just in time to see one of them raise the stock of their rifle and bring it crashing down onto his skull.
An ironic cheer had risen from the troops mustered on the shore and from the reavers in their boats as the Burgrave went limp and slumped to the floor. Those present on the shore gathered round to give the ritual kicking reserved by loyal subjects for any member of the nobility careless enough to lose consciousness in their vicinity. The gag and zip-ties had been applied, none too gently, once his captors had enjoyed their fill of kicking the sprawled man bloody. No-one had forgotten that before Waldemar had become a great lord, he had once been the Imperial Republic’s most ruthless tax-collector. If ever a man was deserving of a kicking on the way down it was he.
Trussed up like a hog ready for roasting, Zinkgraven had been dumped into the hold of a trawler for the journey to West Grinstead, hidden under a great and stinking heap of mackerel for the duration of the journey.
The Mercurian Nova English noted curiously that the Shirerithian fishing community in that city was extra boisterous and exuberant in its drunken revels on the evening that the trawler hove into harbour. The reason as to the why would not become widely known for some time after.
Having been betrayed by his henchmen and sold to Nova England, he was arrested and found guilty in a trial for murdering Nova English people. He was sentenced to death by baptism a vat of Fréamiht Ale. His remains are on display in the Cathedral of Newcastle upon Eastmoor.
In 1721 AN the Benacian Union requested permission to take possession of his mortal remains from the Kingdom of Moorland. The Shirerithian government asked the Moorland government to repatriate the remains to Shireroth, highlighting that Zinkgraven was a Shirerithian citizen, a Shirerithian steward, of Batavian (and thus Shirerithian) nationality and ethnicity.
|Steward of the Imperial Republic
- ^ After which a full visual and audio record of the session had been sent to his private intranet account with a polite message appended that any future deviation from highest standards of the utmost loyalty to the Steward would result in the release of edited highlights to the Air Chief Marshal's wife, mother, and the parent-teacher association of his daughter's private school.