Synopsis: A fast-paced story about a youngster who loses everything and everyone he holds dear. Through the only family that still remains with him, his uncle, he gets to choose to dedicate his focus and attention to blacksmithing rather than to fall into depression and street life...
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“You look as if you haven’t just spent half of the time here relaxing.” Gerald pointed out, he and Braydon looking out of a balcony over the city of Narabun. They had been there for the better part of 4 days and he was not wrong. For the most part, Braydon had not actually been talking with the Duchess Regent but wandering around the various parts of the palace that he was allowed in or tucked away in some corner thinking.
“That is because trying to get something out of her is like getting blood out of a stone. We have pretty much figured out what each other wants by now, it is just arguing over how much we are willing to give in exchange.” For all of his complaining, he would like to think that he was giving as good as he got from Alima.
“And what does that have to do with the amount of time you have spent not bickering?” Gerald asked. It was not like the palace was an unpleasant day to spend a week. The gardens were far better than anything in the palace in Boshil. It helped that it was originally built as a palace rather than a fort as the palace in Boshil was. A consequence of having been built by an empire that did not know the meaning of a defensive war.
“Using your brain can be just as exhausting as training with Rhydian, you would know if you tried.” Braydon would have loved to be as relaxed as Gerald had been for the past few days but that was not a possibility until everything was agreed upon. Most parts of the palace were great places to relax but for him they were just quiet places to think of what he would say when he was negotiating.
“I think I will give that a miss. There is no need for me to take Collin’s job.” Gerald joked, they both knew that nobody but a chamberlain had the patience to do a chamberlain’s job. Especially when that chamberlain was in charge of the main residence of a noble rather than one of his other residences.
“Don’t worry, you would not be able to even if you tried. I swear that man does not eat or sleep.” Braydon found that Collin was always available for him to discuss his finances or next building project. No matter when he asked for him.
“So how are things going?” Gerald asked, he had held off from asking Braydon for the past few days since he was not interested in the intricacies, merely the results. Though Braydon would likely not have answered that since there were ears everywhere even in an apparently empty garden or deserted hallway. Gerald had proved as much by uttering something false about the negotiations to test whether Braydon’s suspicions were true. It had been the most talked about thing in the rumour mill the following day.
“Well, we have come to an understanding on most things.” Braydon was still being vague, not just because he wanted to be but because things could still all go pear shaped. He was not the superstitious kind but he did not want to say it would go one way for it all to go another.
“Which means that you are going to actually be agreeing on things tomorrow.” Gerald had gotten used to hearing the vagueness whenever Braydon spoke to some of the staff in the palace.
“That is the hope.” As much as Braydon enjoyed the nice views and hospitality, he was getting annoyed with the place. Even if that was just because he could only associate it with the work that he had to do. And being one of the very few foreigners in the palace, he was almost always paid attention to. They had only seen one other person that was obviously not from Shuluk since arriving in the palace.
“Already missing her?” There was no need to say who Gerald was talking about.
“Alima? She may be a pleasant conversationalist but I have spoken to her for several hours every day for 4 days. What about you, missing the bottle?” Braydon sidestepped the question. He had also given Gerald strict orders not to find the nearest cellar and binge. The last thing he needed was that being used against him when he spoke with Alima Shuluk. Because she definitely would.
“Not at all, you would be surprised about the amount of people that willingly offer when they want to know the ins and outs of your agreement. They just think I am very good at keeping my mouth shut, doesn’t stop them from trying.” Gerald was more than happy to take advantage of his lack of knowledge to have some quality wine. It went perfectly with the beauty of the palace. When he paid attention to it.
“You are incorrigible.” Braydon shook his head. He should have known that someone like Gerald had already found a work around. If there was one thing that he was talented in then it was finding a way to drink more than he probably should.
“Is that the new word you learnt from Her Grace?” Gerald asked impishly.
“No, but I hope that she was thinking it. I would not be doing my part if she was thinking anything better.” Braydon took the compliment whilst ignoring how backhanded it was. He would find his way to poke fun at Gerald when he had less pressing things to think about.
“You seem to be doing a good job. No way they would still be offering me wine after all this time.” It had been 4 days yet there were still people willing to try and bribe or get Gerald drunk enough to spill anything he knew. In spite of the low probability that he actually knew anything of interest. Even if they did not know what had been discussed, they had at least been able to figure out when the Regent was frustrated.
“Sure…” Braydon did not know how to feel about using the amount of wine Gerald was offered as a measure of how well things were going.