"Checkmate."

Mueller frowned at the board. Where had that knight come from?

"Your game is off," Zechs commented. "A soldier requires discipline and focus, something you've always exemplified." His tone softened. "What's bothering you?"

"It's nothing," Mueller said. Complaining would do nothing and certainly not in regards to Him. It wasn't his place to do so, and he seemed impervious to such things anyway.

"Your game says otherwise. You should get it off your chest before it weighs you down in a more problematic situation. And I expect more of a challenge on our next round."

Mueller grimaced and sighed. "It's Prince Olivert." Wasn't it always? To protect the Arnor line was an honour, one he swore to uphold. How did he wind up with the flighty, unpredictable, far too often inappropriate walking chaos that was Prince Olivert?

Zechs couldn't quite conceal the flicker of amusement in his eye. "And what is our illustrious prince up to this time?"

"I don't know. I only know that idiot," Mueller coughed at the stern frown from Zechs. "His Highness," he corrected himself. "Is planning something. Something big."

"He's a capable and intelligent man despite his, ah, tendencies," Zechs said delicately. "I'm sure he will be fine whatever his plans may be. He has you to look out for him."

Yes, he did. Bodyguard and aide – theoretically. In practice it felt like he was damage control far more often. "He's being far too secretive," Mueller said worriedly. "One of these days he will get himself killed or cause an international scandal."

"If the first happens, you're not doing your job. As for the second, if anyone can pull oneself out of such things it's that man." Zechs leaned forward, folding his hands in front of him. "Worry does you little good. The only thing you can do is act and seek answers."

Mueller nodded. All easier said than done, but that was a battle he was used to by now.

"Another round?" Zechs asked.

Mueller forced his attention back to the board and tried to push Olivert out of his mind for the time being.

His respite from his concerns wasn't to last long. On his return to the palace he was nearly bowled over by the Prince who bounded out, beaming.

"Mueller, my love! I have the best of news! We're making a long trip to the lovely little Kingdom of Liberl!"