The King is senile. Or dying. Or both. So it has fallen to you to lead the kingdom. Or so it said on the little pamphlet shoved under your door last night. Apparently the king's wise old advisor, Bob, has called a meeting between you and your six brothers to discuss recent events.

After the seven of you have settled down in your chairs (with some difficulties finding people willing to sit next to each other), Bob comes out and speaks.

"The king is senile, or dying, or both. And so it has fallen to you to lead the kingdom."

Bob squints at his papers.

"I'm sorry, I managed to get one of the pamphlets stuck over my notes. One moment."

Some papers are shuffled around.

"Right. So, the seven of you are going to jointly rule the kingdom. You have access to portions of the treasure and guard, and any events that you need more money or manpower you'll have to clear through me. As I'm sure you're all going to go out questing for princesses so you don't have to bother will all this red tape in the future, I will be contacting you periodically to make sure you don't let the kingdom go to pieces.

"Some magical items that were meant to be parts of each of your inheritences have been delivered to your rooms. Your manservent has been preparing equipment deemed useful for your quests and great deeds. I'm sure you're aware that no coercion of the princesses shall be allowed, and you must convince the princess of her own free will to return to this spot and marry you for the coronation to be legal.

Now, as I'm sure you're all interested, I have a short list of possible Princess targets. I've done my research and a bit of magic and have located the five princesses that are deemed most likely to find. I have included a map and compass in each of your equipment lists, with the general areas of each princess marked. But to summarize,

Princess Violet has been enslaved by a dragon, and is being forced to work against her will in the dragon's keep on the southern coastline. You may want to pack some fire resistant pajamas.

Princess Rose has been captured by an evil ogre and is being held somewhere in the mountains to the northeast. We're actually due for an orc invasion from that area in the next few weeks, so I'd appreciate if somebody could take care of that while they're up there.

Princess Daisy is being kept in a tower in the middle of the wasteland to the northwest. The trek across the wastes will be grueling and punishing, and only the brave and true of heart can make the devastating trip. Be sure to pack plenty of water.

Princess Lily has been enchanted by a witch, kept in the top floor of a tower in the Enchanted Forest, to the southwest. Legend has it that she can only be awakened by the kiss of her true love. Make sure to use chapstick.

and last but not least, Princess Hyacinth is actually somewhere in the southwest section of town. I'm not quite sure why none of you have noticed her before.

Good luck!"

Checking your equipment, you seem to have a large supply of standard adventurer's equipment, several horses to carry them with, the map and compass promised by the advisor, a cloak of invisibility, and, you are happy to note, somebody has managed to find your missing pet rock and has given him a nice polish. He hums happily as you approach.

You head over to talk to Bob, who has wandered off to one of the hallways off the main hall. As he sees you coming towards him, he starts a little and waves nervously, dropping some of his papers. Looking down sheepishly, he hurriedly picks up his papers and starts resorting them, pushing his glasses back up his nose.

Bob coughs slightly and peers at his notes as you ask for the use of soldiers. After a brief discussion regarding guards and the use thereof, Bob mentions that there are forty guards avaliable for use. He then blinks for a moment, cleans his eyeglasses, and peers at a paper that is slightly wrinkled. "Oh, dear. I must have missed this. Excuse me for a moment." Bob wheezes a bit and clears his throat, and then looks better. "I'm sorry to report that while we did have forty guards previously, one of your brothers took eight of them to do some police work in town for him. There are, however, still over thirty..."

Immediately, you are completely overwhelmed by an extremely strong feeling of envy.

Overcome by emotion, you don't even let him finish. "He did WHAT? Why didn't you stop him? Why didn't you tell me? Why am I always the last one to learn anything? I suppose you weren't even going to tell me, if I hadn't asked. The kingdom could go to pieces around my feet, and you wouldn't even have the common decency to let me know! Thats it! I didn't want to have to say this, but father always meant to have me as his advisor, once you got, how did he put it? Oh yes, too old to be useful. Now, I'm not saying you should retire just now, I mean I need to go polish off those orcs and the ogre and all, but I should be back within a week or two, and you can just retire quietly. I'm sure you've got things you'd rather be doing. You can just garden, or fish or something. You shouldn't need to worry your head about running an entire kingdom at your age..." Bob actually takes all of this surprisingly calmly, although looks rather offended about the age comments. "Now, you said my brother was doing _what_ with all these troops? Oh never mind, causing trouble, I'm sure. Now, I don't have time to deal with this, I need to get going. You just recall those troops tomorrow, and have them practice drill or something. They could use some shaping up. Sloppy, thats their problem. Why, back when our dear departed father was running things, this would never have been tolerated. Look, now don't get all upset on me, just fetch, oh, I don't know, 8 guards and bring them here. I've wasted enough time dealing with this. Now, repeat after me... I'll..." (pause) "recall" ... "the guards" ... "tomorrow. And see that you do. Ah, my troops are here. Well, I'll be off."

You head out to the courtyard to assemble the troops and get everybody's horses ready. Once everything looks to be running smoothly and neatly (you seriously considered sending one of the soldiers back to get a shave and a haircut. I mean, really. Being on reserve is no reason to be sloppy. Ah, well, time is of the essence), you head up to your room to pick up the last of your things.

You open the door to your room, and stand in shock for a few moments. Some... somebody's been in your room! And worse than that, they've _moved_ stuff! EVERYTHING is just a few inches away from where it should be! Argh!

Well, this just won't do. Your troops can wait, this is an emergency. What would people think if you just left a messy room for anybody to walk in and see?

You spend roughly half an hour getting everything neat and tidy again. Whew. Thank goodness that's over. Definitely will need to assign one of the extra guards to make sure this never happens again. Who would _do_ such a horrible thing? Right, Rocky?


Oh, they didn't.

They did.

It is at around this point that the feelings of envy you were overwhelmed with earlier completely disappear. Odd. That's not like you at all... although you are getting a bit angry now. After all, they took your rock.

All set to storm outside, you pull on the door handle and nothing happens. After a bit of confused blinking and some tests, you discover that the door is completely jammed. It moves, so it's not the frame, just not enough...

Well, fine. They want to make a mess? They'll get a mess. Grabbing the nearest useful implement, you unhinge the door completely, laying it aside. Copper pieces that were stuck in the hinges fall out and clink on the floor when you remove them.

Exiting your room, finally, you see one of your brothers (Theo? Hmm. Even you have problems with your identicalness. They really should issue nametags, it would cut down confusion so much.) coming down the stairs from one of the nearby towers. "Thuso! I was just looking for you! I think Thano took your guards and is heading northeast to deal with the orcs. He had your rock with him, too. I'm very sorry I couldn't stop him, but he was already leaving when I saw him. I have some urgent business of myself to deal with or I'd certainly help you chase him down, but he shouldn't be too hard to catch, if you hurry."

Coming up the other side is a woman wearing an odd-looking "Ochre" headband, with a notepad and pencil already out. "Excuse me, my name is Lillian, and I was wondering if you could possibly spare some time for an in-depth interview? The citizens of the Kingdom are very interested in your take on life."

This is definitely not a good day.

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