Chapter 46: The Escapades of Viscount Ellis

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“So why did you ask me to do this?” Braydon asked Viscount Ellis as they watched Earl Kline’s carriage turn a corner down the street. He had remained suspicious at why he had been asked to be witness to this. Sure, getting a witness to a deal or treaty was good when you were sure the other side would break it but there were other choices. There were earls who would likely have taken up his offer for less than Braydon had.

“Because you are in a strong position to do this both militarily and economically.” Viscount Ellis responded, though Braydon would be damned if he believed that was the only reason. He was not the only half competent noble in eastern Fiveria. There had to be something else, that only he could fulfil the role. Braydon was stumped, his iron was precious but not that precious. Even if he refused to sell to Kline, the man would be able to find someone to buy it for him. More expensive iron would be better than none at all.

“What else? You and I both know that there is not a shortage of relatively wealthy viscounts around here.” Upon seeing that Braydon was not falling for it, Ellis decided that the gig was up.

“Nobody else nearby is willing to help out.” ‘Nobody?’ That sounded strange to Braydon. Sure there might be small alliances among the neutral nobles, but they were not all that unified. It was only when it came to the large factions that they ended up banding together, lest they all be squashed. On a normal day it would be hard for there to be a neutral noble who was fully isolated and with no allies.

“Did you do something to upset them all? I did not hear of such a large event happening. It would surely have been big news for so many to unify against you.” 

“Nothing quite like that, I managed to offend some bigwig in Wathamalin. You will definitely know of Wathamalin’s status in the region. The others could not risk offending the guilds as well, they have no way of circumventing having to trade with Wathamalin.” Ellis’s words made much more sense now. He had the ability to trade with the cities in the south, thanks to Dulkan being sat on the river. Offending someone in Wathamalin was not such a big deal for him, but for the other nobles it could be a crippling matter to be cut off from Wathamalin. Almost all trade in the eastern half of Fiveria flowed along the river or through Wathamalin. 

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“And they have nothing that the southern merchants would want, I am guessing. So that is why you asked me to do this.” Braydon started to piece it together. Being in the good graces of the guilds was more important for most nobles without something that could attract southern merchants to come to them.

“It is as you say. With your iron mine, the merchants down south will happily trade with you. And I am sure that the Forger’s Guild would kick up a fuss if you were blacklisted from Wathamalin. Even if you came, there would be nothing that that guild master could do.” Viscount Ellis had been studying this problem for longer than Braydon had initially thought. But he had one more question to satisfy his curiosity.

“Why did you not just sign without a witness? It is something of an uncommon practise outside of international treaties these days.” He thought that Earl Kline might want to break the treaty, but how could Ellis be so sure? Braydon had not heard much about Earl Kline but, from his few meetings with the man, he appeared to be a bit of a weather vein. He would try to please the powerful and usually only strike when he thought he could win. His loss this time was a bit of an anomaly.

“Because of that guy down in Wathamalin. He contacted Earl Kline about breaking the treaty soon after it would be signed, offering his backing in doing so. It was why I started looking for someone to bear witness.” The more answers he gave, the more curious Viscount Ellis made Braydon.

“Just which person in Wathamalin did you end up offending? There are not many people with such great influence, the other guilds would not allow it to happen easily.” It would also be useful to know who he was making enemies of. An enemy in the dark was the scariest kind of enemy.

“He is the leader of the Cloth Merchants Guild, they control the sale of any kind of fabric in the east of Fiveria. Whilst they may not be so influential in the west, there are not many who produce fabrics in the east, they are the only source. That is if you cannot buy foreign fabrics from the southern merchants.” It was not the kind of guild Braydon expected to hold much power, but apparently they had quite some influence. Shuluk might be a large producer of fabrics but that was a moot point when the borders had been closed for years.

“And just what did you do to offend someone like that? Sleep with his daughter?” Braydon joked, but when Viscount Ellis nodded he almost choked. He had actually done that?

“To be precise, he had wanted for her to marry the son of another powerful guild leader. They would have basically controlled the city with the union of their families. But she and I had been courting for quite some time, I helped her leave the town without notice and brought her to Dulkan. We ended up being married here in Dulkan a couple of years ago now. Though he has never forgiven us, resulting in the current state of affairs.” When it was explained like that, it sounded more reasonable than what Braydon had been imagining.

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“You did not strike me as a man with such an interesting history.” When he heard Braydon’s comment, Viscount Ellis laughed.

“Indeed, it was not what I expected to find myself doing when I started courting Kayley either. But I say it was worthwhile, no amount of petty revenge from her father will convince me otherwise.” Viscount Ellis was far more open about sharing his opinions than most nobles, a trait that Braydon liked to see. ‘It seems like I sided with the right man in this case.’ He was not against allying with people he did not like personally, but Braydon would prefer to ally with people he got along with. It made things easier for him. That is if he ended up allying with Viscount Ellis after this.

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