The End of Corruption
The End of Corruption
As he plotted the overthrow of Prince Arroganté, the Duke of Balogna studied the Royal Court carefully.
He recognized that upon seizing control of the castle, he would need to, without delay, appoint a Council of trustworthy advisors who understood the inner workings of the Principality’s administrative systems and would be able to manage daily operations. The Duke’s followers were devoted and skilled fighters, but they knew little of the processes and procedures that underpinned government.
Balogna had no choice. He would have to retain and engage at least a few of the evil Prince’s cronies in the new regime.
The thought was repulsive as the mutinous project had been devised with the precise object of cleaning out the corrupt and dishonest clan that Arroganté had assembled around him. Of the administrators, the one most vile was the First Secretary of the Chancellery, Fedélé, an odious and methodical character who was always at the Prince’s side and was the face on the implementation of every onerous decree.
Fedélé’s own lackeys and administrative henchmen were echoes of the same methods. They had betrayed their country for their own self interests and were beyond redemption.
One possibility for retention within the new era was the Bishop. He stood out as a clearly honorable and ethical man, who was not afraid to criticize the indulgences of the Royal Household and to condemn its conceits publicly. Indeed, it was during one of the Bishop’s blistering sermons on corruption and favoritism that the Duke had resolved to oust the Prince and to restore honor, decency, and justice to the Castorian Principality.
"They favor their friends and family while the righteous and worthy suffer,” the great clergyman shouted from the pulpit that day.
Despite his public critiques and open defiance, the Bishop continued to enjoy access and a privileged place in the realm because of his base of support, his profile, and his connections abroad. He was still seen in the Prince’s entourage during public events, and he was known to be one of his minor confidants.
“I am not sure how the Bishop will react to our plans,” the Duke told his brother. “But if we are to succeed for the long term, I must secure his commitment to our cause before we act.”
The Bishop’s reaction to the Duke’s plot was more than Balogna could have ever hoped.
Within days of being advised of the scheme to restore honor to Castoria, the Bishop was actively involved. At great personal risk, he copied and shared correspondence from the Prince that attested to the corrupt ways and debauched state of the Royal House. As these letters were recopied and shared within the Principality and beyond, they fuelled the fires within Balogna’s own followers and expanded the militancy with new adherents.
“Enough is enough – Down with Arroganté !” read hand-drawn posters throughout the State.
Fedélé tried to defend the indefensible Prince by tightening control on correspondence within the castle and by sending his troops to tear down posters. When the scandal spread and threatened alliances abroad, the Chancellery bureaucrat undertook an embassy with his senior staff to neighboring duchies and towns to explain and soothe.
“The time is right,” the Duke’s followers shouted with word that the Prince was now vulnerable and unprotected.
Some described the ensuing revolution and assaults as excessive.
“But is it excessive to be excessive in response to excess,” the Bishop said in accepting his appointment as Chief Administrator in the new Balogna administration. “I have never believed so and never will.”
Listening to the speech, the Duke was comforted to know that his senior bureaucrat was a deep thinker and political philosopher as well as an ethical administrator, and he resolved to give the Bishop free reign to clean house, to manage Royal affairs, and to advocate for change.
In the weeks that followed, Balogna accepted the Bishop’s advice even when pointed and personal, but had to admit being unsettled when the Bishop took his criticisms public and to the pulpit.
"They favor their friends and family while the righteous and worthy suffer” was one particularly disturbing Bishophoric pronouncement against the former Duke, now new Prince, Balogna and his new Royal House. So preoccupied was Balogna over these agitations and news that the Bishop had been making copies of the new Prince’s personal letters that he missed what was to be an agreeable event, Fedélé’s public execution on the centre town gibbet.
The former First Secretary of the Chancellery had been arrested on the road to Castoria, returning from his embassy. He told Balogna’s men that he had learned of the revolution and was coming to offer his services to the new Prince. Such presumption and conceit was not unexpected, and it seemed fitting that it would be the cause of Fedélé’s capture and demise.
Missing the sweet execution was a disappointment, but at least Balogna could savor this moment by now opening and reading Fedélé’s pitiful letter and plea for mercy.
“Your New Highness and Former Dukeship,
Please allow me to offer my personal prayers and to wish you the Lord’s great blessings as you assume the leadership of our beloved Castoria.
I have spent my entire career in her service and have sought to be loyal and steadfast in support of whomever the graces deemed our Prince.
While I do not desire the gallows, I know that its acceptance is perhaps a final act and another way that I can serve our land as it will ease the transition to your noble era and regime.
Your faithful subject,
S.M. Pré Fedélé
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