Chapter 219: The Return

“Still smells like s*** and fish.” Gerald commented as they walked down the pier to Lani’s ship. 

“What did you expect of a major port at the heart of a city?” Braydon asked. If there were no port, it would have just smelt like s***. 

“Warships and gold plating?”  An obvious joke if one took a single look at the dock in front of them. Whilst it might be a dock in the capital of a nation that did not mean that it was going to look like the palace. Nor were there going to be any warships docked when they could be out hunting pirates.

“I don’t think even the empire has that. Well warships maybe.” There was no maybe about that part, the empire definitely had more than enough of them. At least if you asked anybody not from Barakhil.

“Welcome back, Milord. Schmoozing the Duchess go well?” The captain of Lani’s ship asked as they boarded. Everything was already prepared to leave, had been for a number of days, all that was left was the passengers. Namely Braydon and Gerald.

“I do not think that I would call it that but you could say so.” If a week of back and forth with a very competent monarch was schmoozing, Braydon did not want to know what courtiers and noble ladies did in their free time was called.

“Then are we ready to go?” The captain asked, he had probably spent the morning trying to round up the crew from whichever brothel they had found themselves in. If they stayed for much longer he might have to do it all over again.

“I should think so. At least there is nothing else that I want to do here.” He had finally gotten some form of comprehensive agreement out of Alima, he did not want to stay long enough for her to try and negotiate about something else.

“You look tired, Braydon. You look energised, Gerald.” The first person that they saw upon making it back to Cliforge castle was Rhydian, who was more than happy to make such comments.

“Well one of us had a nice break in a very nice palace, the other has spent the entire time either on a ship or working his ass off.” Braydon could not wait to just lie down and sleep for the rest of the week. It had been just over two weeks since he had last been in Cliforge but it felt more like two months.

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“You had it hard, Gerald. My condolences.” Rhydian said with a straight face which  was returned by a look of gratitude from Gerald.

“I cannot be bothered to deal with this s***, I need sleep.” Braydon would have stayed for a day or two in Milmond but it appeared that Lani was elsewhere, likely dealing with one of her neighbours. Or as Braydon knew them, Duke Burn’s lap dogs.

“I will speak to you in the morning then. Since you are not crying, I presume that we will need to discuss what you agreed on.” Rhydian returned to seriousness in a heartbeat. And his deduction was basically correct. He had an idea of what Braydon had been hoping to achieve, hence why he had instructed them to hire mercenaries and train more troops.

“Make it afternoon, I can tell you now I will not wake up for an earthquake.” Braydon immediately made his way to his chambers, everything else could be done later.

Only allowed on

“So care to tell me what happened.” Rhydian instead looked to Gerald. Considering how spry he looked there was no way that he was as desperate to sleep as Braydon had been.

“Over a drink?” Gerald asked the most important question first.

“How about we talk over what you know with Nela? I am sure that she has a lot of things she would like to know about Alima Shuluk’s position.” Rhydian asked.

“Ok, I’ll drink after.” There was no way Nela was going to let him drink whilst talking about something so important.

“If you can find where she hid it in the two weeks you were gone.” Rhydian chuckled. This was the real reason why he was against Gerald telling him over a drink. If he looked for something to drink, it would be the day after by the time he did anyway,

“S***.” Gerald was not looking forward to that. After the past two weeks of being able to drink just about any time wanted, he had almost forgotten about Braydon and Nela’s favourite pastime. The sailors exclusively drank alcohol and the machinations in the palace meant that most everyone was trying to loosen his lips. This would be about as close to abstinence as it could come.

“Should have thought about that before you went drinking with sailors.” Rhydian had a pretty good idea how much a man who spent his life at sea could put away. Even if he was an army man himself, he knew a thing or two about it from the amount merchants complained about them.

“Braydon has already made himself scarce.” Nela’s comment came as she stepped out of the keep. A statement more than a question. She had likely seen him or heard a servant talking about his return.

“Straight to sleep.” Rhydian confirmed.

“Then we will just have to ask Gerald about it while he sleeps then.” Nela had exactly the same idea as Rhydian without having heard his prior words.

“Exactly my thoughts.” He nodded. Gerald, not having a say in the matter, regretted having asked Braydon what had happened on the journey back. He could have waited but he was too interested in how the ‘dramatic standoff’ had gone. And now he would have to recount everything that he had learned over the four day journey in a single afternoon.

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