"Finold, I understand that you have asked for a new assignment."
Finold did not answer, since it was not really a question.
"I am not certain that giving you a new assignment is a sensible course of action. Many of us are concerned that you are simply not well suited to a life in diplomacy."
"You're wrong!" Finold objected, too loudly and with too much force, as if the words themselves weren't damning enough. The chancellor raised an eyebrow.
"I mean, I'm sure that I can do better, sir," Finold said.
"We can certainly agree that there is ample room for improvement."
Finold squirmed in his chair.
"How long were you ambassador to Xalta?" the chancellor asked, as if he didnt' know.
"Three months," replied Finold.
"And your tenure there ended because?"
"The Xaltans burned down the embassy," Finold said.
"Finold, Xalta is so tropical and humid that you can practically drown walking down the street. It rains almost every day of the year. Do you have any idea how much effort it takes to to burn down a building in Xalta?"
Finold squirmed some more.
"Following your time in Xalta, you were ambassador to Blüt for two months. Remind me why you came home from Blüt?"
"They declared war on us. But no battles were actually fought before we straightened things out, so no harm done, right?"
"Finold, no battles were fought because Blüt was still trying to figure out how to manage their army because they had spent the previous two hundred years as a nation of pacifists and had to construct a military from scratch."
"Well then, we'd probably have beaten them if it had come to actual fighting!" said Finold. The chancellor resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to bury his face in his hands and weep. Instead, he decided to just get it over with.
"Against my recommendations, the Emperor has agreed to give you another chance. You will be going to Tygius."
Finold knew enough about the chancellor to know that he was not joking, and yet could not stop himself.
"You're joking!" he said. The chancellor just shook his head slightly in disbelief. "I mean, surely you can't be serious, sir."
"What makes you say that?" the chancellor asked.
"But," Finold said, "Everyone in Tygius was turned to stone by that curse! There haven't been any people there for decades! No one goes there!" The chancellor did not contradict him. "It's cursed!" Finold reiterated.
"And yet," the chancellor said, "we still maintain an embassy there, in case the curse is ever lifted."
"Uncle is sending me to be ambassador to a cursed country populated by statues?!" Finold said.
"Finold, we have talked about this before - during official business please refer to the Emperor as 'Emperor' or 'His Majesty' - not 'Uncle.'"
"Sorry, Dad," said Finold. "I mean, Chancellor."
"And you will actually be the Assistant Ambassador."
"Assistant Ambassador to a cursed country populated by statues?!" cried Finold.
"Yes, you will be assisting the current ambassador, Voldur," said the chancellor.
"I have to work for my brother?!"