Kesh sat in his study, leaned back in his comfortable padded recliner chair, puffing smoke from his herbal stick he was enjoying over the sweet news that Felix was dead. It was late evening, with the sun having already set, he was expecting a visit.
Eventually, one of his servants knocked on the door. ‘‘Come in.’’ Kesh exclaimed, and younger lad stepped through and stood at the doorway. ‘‘Your guest has arrived, master Kesh.’’ the lad explained obediently as he stepped aside for Arch Magister Qeerel to step through. Qeerel simply stood there as he observed Kesh pull on his herbal stick, raising an eyebrow. When Kesh released his final puff of smoke, he put the stick down on a holder he had on a table next to the chair, and stood up.
‘‘Thank you Leetran. You are dismissed.’’ Kesh said to the boy, then turned to reach for his walking stick.
Qeerel turned to watch the boy bow in respect and then promptly leaving, closing the door behind him.
Looking back at Kesh, Qeerel giggled.
’‘Kesh. I never thought i’d see the day you would grow old!’’
’‘You still haven’t.’’ Kesh grinned in confidence. '‘This wound is just a temporary setback. I’ll manage.’'
He then walked over to his desk and sat himself behind it.
’‘Please, take a seat, old friend.’’ Kesh gestured Qeerel towards one of the two seats on the opposite side of his desk.
Qeerel humoured him, and sat down.
’‘Thank you. May i ask, though, how did you hurt yourself?’'
Kesh thought about an answer for a moment while he stared past Qeerel at some bookshelves with a narrow gaze. He didn’t have an appropriate excuse for the Arch Magister, and telling the truth would be even worse.
’‘I procured these wounds when i indulged too deeply in courtly intrigue. It seems i overstepped a boundary and had it made clear to, that my involvement was not wanted…’'
Qeerel gawked in astonishment.
’‘An assassination attempt?!’’ Qeerel asked, to which Kesh only nodded.
’‘And?’’ Qeerel continued. ‘‘Did you know who it was?’’
’‘Indeed… and they paid the ultimate price.’’ Kesh replied with a discreet smile on his face.
’‘I should have known. You are not one to mess with Kesh. Though you should really put more faith in our own law enforcement, and have had let them handle the situation instead. I don’t like you having so many mercenaries in your employ. Doing your work for you. Or should i say, dirty work.’'
Kesh glared at the Arch Magister for a moment.
’‘You are making the magisterium look bad.’’ Qeerel added.
Kesh’s glare narrowed, then he spoke in a determined tone.
’‘The man who was after me had fled the imperium, he was out of our precious law enforcement’s reach. I assure you, what i did was necessary. He not only tried to end me, but tried to get away with too many of our secrets.’’
’‘OUR secrets?’’ Qeerel interrupted, ‘‘And what secrets would that be?’’
’‘The fact of how vulnerable Kleriel is at this time, after the war. Our fleet was cut down by half, and i have heard rumours of a certain Kavehan organisation asking for our aid. Both require resources we currently don’t have in large enough supplies.’’ Kesh explained.
Qeerel stroked his chin, trying to guess what Kesh has up his sleeve this time.
’‘You are telling me this ‘‘courtly intrigue’’ that nearly killed you had nothing to do with your personal goals?’’ Qeerel smirked.
’‘My dear Arch Magister. Everything i have ever done is for the greater good of the imperium!’’ Kesh exclaimed with a smile as Qeerel rolled his eyes.
Wishing to get to the point of why he was even here, Qeerel moved on.
’‘So, i assume you have some plan to deal with this dilemma of ours, then?’’
’‘I do. And i will need your financial help.’’ Kesh replied. Qeerel made a surprised look while Kesh continued to explain.
'‘Our recent ventures on the Ravios sub-continent have not been ideal so far. We had hoped that the exotic forests of the large island would supply us with exotic fruits to spoil our populace with, without needing to import them. Sadly, the isle is infested by mycelium. That fungus grows everywhere. And unfortunately for us, everything that grows there turned out to be rather… unhealthy. However, i believe we came there for the wrong reasons. For you see, the volcanic activity of the region has, over the ages, brought up many valuable metals from the deep. Metals we have a great need of.’'
Qeerel leaned forward with intrigue as Kesh moved on.
’‘What i propose is to shift the colonial economy there from farming, to mining. I will fund and oversee the process, while i will need you to seek out new lands for growing exotic crops. Such as on Vellanora. I will support you financially as well, if need be.’’
’'Sounds feasible, though Vellanora is far way off with many powers having claims all over its lands which of we don’t even realise.
’‘True enough. But with the mining colony on Ravios being built up, a narrow strait away from our homeland, Vellanora won’t seem so far away anymore.’’ Kesh attempted to convince the Arch Magister further.
Qeerel hesitated, ‘‘But Lyrien. I don’t think she would approve on such an endeavour when resources are scarce as it is.’’
’‘We won’t be using state resources, we will be using our private reserves. If everything goes well, we will only profit from it in the end. The state may only tax our success.’’ Kesh reminded him.
’‘And you would do this out of the kindness of your heart? For the good of the empire?’’ Qeerel asked.
And Kesh nodded, ‘‘For the good of the empire.’’ he smiled as he stood up in preparation to make an invigorating speech.
‘‘But, we might need help with this. I can buy out the colony on Ravios on my own, but establishing fresh colonies on Vellanora will require more. We will found the Keelish Colonial Initiative, and open organisation for any magister or lesser businessman to join in and contribute their finances to. With colonies on Vellanora, we will acquire new goods! We will establish ourselves as a true colonial power! We will fully lock down the final strait of sea leading in to the Calledian! We will rebuild our fleet! And we will be ever greater because of it all!’’
Qeerel sat there in his chair, and began a slow clap. Kesh looked down upon him with disdain, having all the energy leave him because of Qeerel’s underwhelming response.
'‘The K.C.I., hm? I’ve got to hand it to you, its a plan. However, i strongly doubt the well being of the imperium is your only concern here. I don’t know what you’re up to, but for now, you have my support.’'
Kesh bowed his head in respect, '‘Thank you, my friend. I wished for nothing more.’'
Qeerel stood up, and looked Kesh straight in the eyes. ‘‘I will be keeping an eye on you. Count on that.’’ he said and turned towards the door. ‘‘Oh, and you don’t need to pretend that we are friends when we are alone.’’ he added, and left the study while Kesh watched with a devious grin.