Friedrich had had one of the longest reigns in the history of Elben. Thanks to the luck of his genes, taking care of himself over the years, and modern medicine, no other monarch had reigned as long as he had over the country. Today, like many days this summer, it showed. Elben had always been peaceful. Thanks to a shared faith and mostly homogeneous culture, the majority Elbener population had gotten along fine with the various minorities, the Krasnislavians, the Slavonians (along with their Crot and Balt cousins), as well as smaller groups who had resettled from Kadikistan many decades ago. Even the Jews for the most part liked living in Elben. "They don't bother us, so we don't bother them," was the motto in the ghettos that had existed for centuries. Peace had been won thanks to his fathers' success at balancing autonomy of the regions and provinces with the need for centralization to keep things from flying apart. Thankfully, the Church had provided strong glue when needed. But all that was changing. Oil prices going up and down, farm reports showing a looming shortage, more and more mouths to feed from CBS and the Free State, all those mouths camped out as summer wore on and winter loomed ahead. And as always, the tides of progressive Europe ate away at the foundations. The young just weren't what they used to be. Friedrich pulled on his mustache as he sat slumped in his leather chair in his study. In front of him was the intelligence estimate prepared by G2 of the general staff along with the latest dossier from the foreign ministry on Gunnish intentions. Under those were the farm reports and BSD updates from the "fugee" camps. "Father?" Karl looked at his father steadily. He was already in middle age himself, but had a full head of hair and could have almost been a double for the king thirty years ago. Friedrich looked at his son pensively and asked, "Are you ready to be king?" Karl didn't know how to take this at first, but after a pause played along jokingly, "What kind of talk is that?" Friedrich's pensive tone had become dead serious. "Are you?" Karl picked up on his father's demeanor and straightened in his chair. "I was born to be king, ready or not." The king gave the crown prince a slight nod and then sat back again. "It'll happen soon enough, boy."