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“Have you thought about the situation in the south at all?” Nela asked Braydon as they spoke in his study. It was not what he expected her to talk about, she had been spending most of her time working on looking at the state of the Grand Duchy. He didn’t know where this had come from.
“Not much, I haven’t needed too. Duke Burn is not the most aggressive Duke, he can’t be when his faction is next to Duke Ryder’s.” Braydon was unsure why she was asking, nothing major had changed down there. So what was she getting at?
“Nothing might have changed down there but you are now trying to trade a strategic resource in their cities and ports. Did you think they would not notice or leave you alone?” Nela’s words were like a smack on the back of the head. Had not thought of that. Nobles liked to be the ones in control of strategic and luxury goods. It would not be unusual for one of the Dukes to ban the sale of iron in their lands to none nobility. He could sell to the guilds with no problems, they were influential and had royal charter. But if he was going to sell to southern merchants, they were just as likely to sell the iron to foreign kingdoms as they were to sell to the local nobility. It would be a miracle if nobody made a move in such a situation.
“Great, there is no way that they will leave me in peace. I’ll have to go and talk to at least one of them. My iron is useless to me if I can’t sell it, who do you think I should talk to?” Braydon was asking because he did not want to be rash about trying to make deals with everyone. He could end up going for wool but coming back shorn.
“You should talk to the King.”
“The King?” Braydon was confused, he was already selling to Aled. Nela waited for the cogs to turn in Braydon’s head but got impatient.
“You are part of his faction. You cannot just decide to make deals with other factions, even the neutral lords cannot do that casually.” She explained, if he was careless he could lose the trust of the King or the other nobles in his faction at least. If Braydon was unlucky, one of the Dukes could try to put him in even more dire situations as well.
“Then, it seems like I need to go to the capital again. This would require more than letters to discuss.” It had been a few months since he had gone to the capital. While he liked Boshil, Braydon’s most poignant memory was that he would have to spend several days in a carriage.
“While I may not be able to go so long as that man wants to marry me to his son, you can take Mireille with you. She has only left the castle once since you brought her here, it would be good for her to go out a bit more.” Nela’s suggestion blindsided him, and judging by the knowing smile she had it was on purpose. ‘Would you stop doing that!’ Braydon didn’t end up sharing his thoughts but just ended up nodding. He also did not want Mireille to be locked up in his castle, Nela was because of Earl Blake but Mireille did not have that problem.
Braydon once again found himself in his carriage, moving slowly through the crowded streets of Boshil, only instead of Steven being inside the carriage with him, Mireille sat with him in silence. Steven had taken up sitting with the carriage driver instead.
Though Braydon was mostly jealous of Gerald and his squire for being able to ride their horses, he had been occupied with talking to Mireille. And it was talking to. She rarely spoke and when she did it was in short comments, and never a question. Braydon did not really mind, that fact that she spoke to him at all was good to him, at least it was better than when she first woke up. He did find solace in her taking a keen interest in what was going on outside of the carriage, though. She had been relatively curious in Wathamalin too, but not to this extent. ‘Does she like bustling cities?’ Braydon wondered to himself as they made their way to the gates of the palace.
They were let through immediately, the King had been informed of his visit beforehand. It also helped that the guards recognised Gerald to speed up the process. Otherwise, it would have been hard to tell if it was his or George’s carriage. Their father had died on the field in Cliforge so his carriage had been left in the castle. George had had to have a new one made, Braydon was not going to give it to him.
Gerald’s squire went with the carriage driver and Steven to wait with the carriage for their return, they did not have a high enough status to meet the king. Though Braydon had made sure that Mireille would be going with him. It was not that he did not trust his servants, but Nela would have had his hide. Though he did also want to personally look after her.
As they made their way through the hallways of the palace, Braydon noticed that almost every servant was staring at them. He looked at Gerald who had apparently seen it too, though Mireille was more interested in looking at the tapestries and architecture than at those around them. Braydon was wondering why the servants were staring so much, they had not been like this during his last visit. It was when he overheard the whispers of two servants as they walked past that he understood why.
“Hey, her hair…”
The servants were all looking at Mireille, her hair would stand out in most places in Ezaes. The only country on the western continent that had people with her hair was the Leighian League, even then their southern territories didn’t have anyone like that. So nobody in Fiveria had seen a redhead even during the war with Leigh.
This time, they had been brought directly to the royal gardens. It was going to be a private discussion and there was no need to be so formal after he had already gone through the ceremony the first time. Of course, this was only because he was an ally of the crown, other nobles still had to meet the King in the great hall.
“Viscount Braydon, it is good to see you are well.” King Aled welcomed Braydon, looking much more relaxed then he had been during their first meeting.
“The same to you, Your Majesty.” Braydon made a small bow. Even if they were in the same faction, basic courtesy to the king was necessary. Gerald had stayed at the door to wait, he did not have to stay by Braydon’s side now that they were on good terms. It was one of the ways that nobles showed some trust if they were allowed their guard in the palace. Most other nobles were not even allowed that, the King did not trust the other factions and it was one of the ways that he could show it.
“And who might this be?” Aled had noticed Mireille when they had come into the garden, it was hard to miss her. Even if Mireille herself was not tall, quite on the short side actually, her red hair was just too rare. There was no way that she would not be noticed. People in Wathamalin had not really cared, but a tavern was not a great place to judge people’s attitudes. They had all been drunk. But this was the capital, and not the trader’s market but the palace of the King. Everyone was astute and took notice of other people here.
“This is Mireille, I have been looking after her since she was rescued from bandits. Lady Nela has taken her as a protégé of sorts, and recommended I bring her to see the capital.” Braydon explained whilst Mireille curtsied. Her form impressed Braydon, that kind of thing took years to master and he knew that Nela had not been so stringent in teaching her that kind of thing.
“It is a pleasure to meet you too Mireille. Forgive me for asking but are you from Leigh?” Aled had a smile on his face, apparently not immune to liking Mireille either. Braydon had not seen anyone who was.
“Don’t know.” Mireille responded, a good sign. Had she not liked the King, Braydon was unsure if she would make a comment about him or just refuse to talk. Though, it did look like he would have to do most of the explaining. The King looked bewildered at her response. ‘If not from Leigh then where could you be from?”
“Mireille does not have any memories from before she was attacked by the bandits, your Majesty. Though we suspect she is from the northern colonies, there is no way to tell.”
Synopsis: The online game <