---- Introducing ----
Dmitry - A Russian spymaster, fallen on hard times. Originally he worked for Novgorod, then for Byzantium. Finally he has fallen into the hands of Athens.
Antonio I Acciaoli - King of Athens. Weak-willed and very stupid. He has almost no ability to rule.
Michael walked towards the chamber of Antonio's palace. He was one of the few Italian ruling elite left, and had strongly opposed the reforms, even though he eventually conceded to the council. The ruins of glories past surrounded him as he walked through the ages-old streets of Athens. Finally, he reached his destination. Two guards, which the military was barely able to spare (Antonio was too poor to afford private guards) with blue-lion emblazoned breastplates and shields, looked Michael over. With a nod, they let him into the chamber. It had only been a few years since Athens became independent from The Most Serene Republic, and the chamber was still under construction.
"Your majesty," said Michael, kneeling. Manuel and seven other council members were already in the room, seated in poorly constructed wooden chairs. Even the council chamber looked better than this place. The king waved his hand towards one of the seats on the left side of the chamber. Defiantly, and also with good cause, (Michael could not stand to be by Manuel) Michael sat on the right, with three other council members. Two of them were his close friends, and only had their seat because of Michael's fervent support. His thoughts were interrupted by an effeminate, loud voice, the kind that belonged to Antonio I Acciaoli. "Dmitry!" called the King, and a pale, Russian man stepped into the room. He bowed with a smirk on his face, and proceeded to walk over to the council.
"I have news from Achaea. Our good friends have defeated the Achaean army completely, and are now spreading out across the land there to siege cities. In time, I notify you, the province shall belong to us!"
Cheering followed. This fellow, even with his poor Greek and thick accent, had a knack for speaking. Maybe his over-formality and lack of naturalness actually made him seem more real, as little sense as that made. Michael knew he would need to watch out for this man. As a traditional gesture, Michael rose his hand slowly, resting his elbow still on his chair, to signify his wish to speak. Antonio knew better than to keep a man as powerful as Michael waiting, and immediately recognized him. Dmitry, offended by this small youngster stealing his glory, walked off and sat in the chair for the council member that hadn't shown his face that day.
"I bring somber news to the court of the King. The Byzantines, who claim to be the Roman Empire - though one without Rome, as laughable as that is -, are attacking the Ottoman Empire. Should they succeed, they will become even more powerful. So far the Byzantines and their allies have so far occupied several provinces within the Ottoman Empire.
Suddenly, a messenger rushed in, whispered something to Michael, and pressed a small piece of paper into his hand. On the paper there were the names of a few more provinces. "I have just received word that the Byzantines are making further progress. It seems their victory is assured," he continued. "They have one province remaining in which to make their last stand, and their defeat seems inevitable."
The rest of the council members, as well as Dmitry (less concerned for the nation as he was for a possible lack of employment in the near future) sat there with dumbstruck faces. Life just got a whole lot more difficult. "To give our distinguished council members time to propose a response, I now propose to adjourn the Chamber. All in favor say 'Aye'," said the King, followed by a chorus of ayes. "The Chamber is thus adjourned,"
All the council members rose and walked out, and Dmitry went to talk to Antonio. Michael knew, somehow, that this man would be a problem in the future. He may be able to sway the king against the council, reducing the efficiency of the state.