49 Chapter 49
Over the next fourteen days, Joseph attended court, and meet with his generals.
"It is good to see that you have slowed down with your fantastical ideas," said Peter, one day. He sat back enjoying a cookie that Stella had brought up from the kitchens.
Joseph ignored him and turned to Walter. "I believe that if we can get some of the accounts from the squatters that live in the north, we should be able to figure out what is up there that is edible. That will give us a better idea of what supplies to take."
"I agree, it's about time those tax-evaders were able to provide some benefit to the kingdom," said Walter.
"You'll have a hard time getting much of anything from Horton, I'm afraid." Daniel shook his head as he looked at his untouched cookie. He didn't seem to like sweets much. Joseph looked at Stella and she nodded in understanding.
"I haven't been able to find out much about Horton, besides the fact that he's fat and greedy."
David laughed despite himself, looking up from his papers where he had been taking notes.
"You're not wrong about him, he is fat and greedy," agreed David.
"He's also managed to be in charge of most of the kingdom's granaries," added Timothy, looking thoughtful. "The man loves breads and sweets, and makes sure that he gets his first."
"One of the reason's why I don't care much for treats, myself," said Daniel.
"The thing about Horton, is that he's been placed in charge of making sure all of your supplies are in order," said Peter, sitting forward.
Joseph looked at him for the first time that day. This was the first thing that had come out of his mouth that was interesting.
"And just how did you find that out?" asked Walter.
Peter looked uncomfortable, but enjoyed the attention. "Duke Winston informed me just last night."
"That's going to be a real pain in the neck if you ask me," said Danial looking disgusted.
"The man's so obscene, he has servants carry him around because he can't walk, and they have to wipe is own ass, because he can't reach it anymore!" growled Walter in revulsion.
"I've heard he eats enough for a grown man at each meal, and has six meals a day," added Timothy, looking around for praise for being able to add to the conversation.
Joseph looked thoughtful. "Any chances we can have him go with us?"
"WHAT?" shouted everyone in the room, even Stella looked startled.
"Why in the world would you want that man going with us??" asked Daniel in horror.
"If the man prizes his food so much, then if he was forced to go with us, we would never have to worry about any of our supplies being late."
"Despite the brilliance of your suggestion, I believe the logistics in coming up with a sound enough excuse to force him along on our journey north would be far beyond our capabilities," said David carefully.
"That's a polite way of saying, no," added Timothy after a moment.
Joseph allowed the conversation to drift back towards the logistics of what supplies would be needed and how many. He had been investigating everything he could in his spare time, when he wasn't still practicing his magic, or attending court, but until his father's slaves started showing up, and he knew how many to expect, all of these planning meetings were pretty much wasted time.
They had already established the number of towns they wanted to set up, and Joseph had made it very clear he intended for the towns to be functioning towns with gardens and animals, instead of just military bases. If the people were going to be given the option for freedom after just a year of labor, then he wanted them to have a place to live. If they spent that year of labor building their own homes, then they would be more motivated to work. If the walls they built were meant to keep them safe, they would be more motivated to patrol and keep the rest of the kingdom safe as well.
After they broke up the morning meeting, the decision not to reconvene that afternoon was agreed upon by everyone. Joseph and Daniel lingered for a moment, and decided to enjoy a cup of tea over a small lunch together after everyone left. Joseph had managed to learn about the other two generals, but he couldn't seem to learn anything about Daniel. The fact that Daniel seemed to be the most supportive, enticed him to want to learn more about him.
"What family do you come from?" asked Joseph as Stella served the two of them plates of food. He glanced at Daniel and was pleased to see the gleam in his eye at the sight of the foods on the plate. She had made sure to grab his favorites from the kitchen, after his dislike of the snacks.
"My family was House Orphili." Daniel paused to take a bite of the steak and chewed it slowly, savoring the flavor.
"Was?" asked Joseph, picking up on the past tense.
"It used to be a part of what Duke Cesilea now owns. It was a well to do house when I was a small boy, about forty or so years ago. When I went to serve the military, being the second son, there was a fire. It burned the entire estate, and everyone inside of it, down to the ground. I was given the option to leave the military in order to try and run the ruined estate, because it was the best land for grapes in all the kingdom. My family had provided the best wines in all the kingdoms of man."
"And you didn't go?" asked Joseph, between bites of his own meat. It was very tasty and flavorful. The chef had done a really good job with it.
"The Duke's father offered me a premium price for it, and I chose to liquidate it all. I sold my title away to that family for money, because I loved the military. I could have easily been one of the top nobles in the kingdom if I had been willing to deal with my extended family, but I don't think I turned out too bad." He held up his forkful of tender meat and took another bite.
Joseph had to agree, though he wondered if the Cesilea family hadn't had more to do with the mysterious circumstances than Daniel was letting on. There was probably a lot more to the story, that he wasn't telling, but Joseph wasn't sure he was going to get it out of him this meal.
As they continued their light chatter, Joseph did find out that Daniel considered him like a son, and loved the mess he was creating in some of the nobles fine-tuned plans. He would probably love even more, what Joseph had planned next, but he just smiled and kept eating.