The Black Keep Windhaven, Gunnland "This war has the potential to radically change the balance of power. It has already ended Engellexian isolation. It could exacerbate the internal tensions in the Kadikistani Union, or it could strengthen the superpower even more. It is a good thing that joint Elbener-Gunnish forces in southern Elben and joint Geotrian-Gunnish forces in southern Gunnland have been training together this summer." In the council chambers there were nine chairs -- three for each ally -- around a great round mahogany table, inlaid with a map of Europe. All around them were flags in groups of three, the Elbener and Geotrian red-and-white with Gunnish blue in the middle. The Black Keep, overlooking the Wash on the eastern edge of Windhaven, was a symbolic diplomatic location. It was the site from which Queen Julian negotiated to keep the Xinhaise east of the 80th Parallel, or the Inner Sea. Locating the Council of the North there was meant to send a message of northern independence and diplomatic strength to Ivar. The Gunnish councilor, Beata mL. MacBenach, in a neat black dress with her dark hair pulled back severely, read off a typewritten sheet of paper. On either side of her sat colonels in olive-green uniforms: Stephen mA. MacGarry, who had negotiated the Windhaven Treaty with Geotrian Assistant Defense Minister Jacob Prochnow and the Elbener General Steiner, and Liam K. MacRigh, soon to take over the Gunnish brigades deployed to southern Elben. "We warned our Southern friends that the double-dealing Trivodnians would drag them into war. Gunnland votes to remain neutral in the conflict, for now. But we should look carefully, I think, for a ripe time to intervene in this conflict, if we can change its outcome in a favorable direction to our interests."