“I’ve done a number of designs, Your Majesty.” The formal greetings were over so now the engineer-architect could speak more directly to his client. “Based on my site survey, there are several possible routes and I’ve done proposals for all of them.” He laid the plans on the table.
“But I haven’t told you what I want the passage for,” objected His Imperial and Royal Majesty Johann III.
“Frankly, Your Majesty, I don’t want to know.” Laszlo Tosoky indicated the plans, “So I covered multiple possibilities for each route and I haven’t kept copies. I will certainly discuss the options but I prefer not to know which you choose.”
“Indeed?” The Terrencian Emperor raised an indolent eyebrow. “Why?”
“Your Majesty doesn’t need me after the design phase.” Laszlo paused delicately then went on, “There is a history of architects who’ve done ‘minor’ work on Imperial fortresses and palaces dropping out of sight afterwards, never to be seen again.” He sighed. “I prefer not to be seen as a security threat, Your Majesty, because I prefer to live.”
“An admirable ambition.” The Imperial gaze was suddenly much sharper and then a beringed hand gestured at the plans, “Let us survey the possibilities you envision for the site, Master Tosoky.” The two men spent an hour going over the diagrams, the Emperor asking surprisingly astute questions and making notations in the margins.
Satisfied, Johann III used a bellpull to summon a secretary. To that helpful gentleman the Emperor said genially, “Ah, Spangler, Master Tosoky and I have finished our business. Please make arrangements to receive his account and then show him out – I believe he will appreciate the Cathedral exit.”
The secretary and the engineer-architect bowed themselves out of the Imperial presence, dealt with business, then the meticulously neat Spangler led a nervous Laszlo Tosoky through the architectural glories of the Ecclesiastical Hall to the grand entrance facing the Cathedral across the square.
While the engineer-architect was still being shown out the Emperor summoned another secretary who in turn fetched a delightful specimen of mature womanhood, fashionably dressed, femininely athletic and buxom. “Fraulein Metsch,” the Emperor’s acknowledgement was businesslike as she curtseyed, “I’ve called you here about Tosoky the architect.”
“Sire,” she stood, equally businesslike. “You want me to dispose of him?”
“By no means,” the Emperor waved the suggestion away dismissively. “I think you should marry him.”
“Sire?” Theresia Metsch looked surprised.
“You deserve to be putting down roots,” he smiled at her. “Master Tosoky is respected in his field and seems a decent man. Surprisingly astute too, you would produce interesting children.”
“I believe I should stand godfather to at least your first.”