Chapter 49: Mireille’s Starry Eyes

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“Whilst I do not mind out pleasantries, I am sure that you came to see me for more than just exchanging nice words. The messenger said something about discussing your iron?” Aled decided that they should get on with the discussion. Any additional pleasantries could happen after they had spoken about Braydon’s purpose for coming.

“It is true, I came to ask your opinion on selling iron to other factions. Or at least coming to an agreement about trading through their lands.” Braydon introduced his concern.

“I presume you want to sell to the factions in the south?” Aled had already thought about what Braydon would want to discuss. Considering that he already was trading in the capital and would likely be trading in the east, Aled could only think that Braydon would come to ask about this. What other issues could be raised?

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“Not so much the nobles themselves but the merchants that go through their cities. It is just that it is unlikely that they would allow it without coming to an agreement first.” Braydon thought that this distinction was important. Even if he sold some to the southern lords themselves, that would not be his main focus.

“So long as you do not sell too much to them, or sell weapons and armour directly, I think that it should be alright. They control all the trade in the south, I doubt that they are unable to get their hands on iron if they really wanted to.” Aled was right, if there was a will there was a way. Plenty of foreign merchants would be happy to sell them iron. Not to mention that they could go buy it from elsewhere in Fiveria. Whilst the country had very little iron mines, that did not mean that there was none. It was just that his prospector, Aran had said that Braydon’s mine would likely have at least half of all the known iron in Fiveria.

“And what about the nobles themselves? Which Duke’s faction would it be better to make an agreement with?” Braydon asked. It was all well and good trading with them, but he did not want to be selling to one of them if it meant that they would immediately use it to take action against him.

“Duke Burn is a relatively safe option. He has one of the smallest factions, and is more likely to not choose direct military action. Though that does not mean that getting a treaty with him is easy. That man makes sport out of sowing discord at court, it takes quite the prowess to do that and not get tangled up in it. His skills in negotiating do not fall short either.” Aled advised specific caution against the ability of Duke Burn. It was best not to take anyone lightly, but that he had highlighted this meant that he thought the man formidable in this aspect.

“That clarifies things greatly.” Braydon had had similar thoughts about Duke Burn being the safer option. But he was glad he had asked the King about his opinion directly, being warned about the Duke’s way with words would be helpful when it came to dealing with him. The King’s lack of words for Duke Ryder spoke more to his attitude towards the man than any actual description. He was obviously more of a threat to Aled than the other factions. Braydon would avoid making an agreement with Duke Ryder.

Once they were outside of the city walls, Mireille stopped looking outside of the window of the carriage. Fields were not as interesting as city streets. Since they had gotten back in the carriage, Braydon had been thinking about the things that he had discussed with the King. He stopped sitting in his own world when Mireille started looking at him instead of the outside world. The King’s opinion about factional politics, the state of Shuluk and other matters could be discussed when he got back to Cliforge. Right now, he wanted to talk with Mireille.

“What do you think of the King?” Braydon thought that Mireille had been rather friendly to the King. At the very least she had been more polite than he had expected she would be.

“Odd man.” Mireille responded with a characteristically short assessment. But that left Braydon bewildered, the King could be described as many things but odd was not the first thing that came to mind for him.

“In what way is he odd?” Braydon prodded, hoping for a more detailed explanation. Mireille’s eyebrows furrowed as she thought of what she was going to say. Her change in expression distracted Braydon’s attention before he realised that he was staring at her face rather than waiting for an answer.

“Cannot tell what he is thinking. Expression does not match his eyes. Looks like he is lying when telling the truth” Mireille’s explanation was somewhat disjointed but when Braydon heard what she thought of the King, he could only think of one description. ‘That sounds like a black hearted merchant more than a king.’ Braydon did not see it himself, all he saw was a man who felt helpless but struggled on regardless. But he doubted that Mireille had a much worse grasp on people than he did.

“Perhaps we should talk to Nela about this. I am sure that she can deduce more of what you saw in him than I can.” Braydon did not know what to make of it, but they were a few days’ travel from Cliforge. He would have to wait to discuss this with others.

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“Mnnh” Mireille made a small noise and gave a nod in response.

“Then what did you think of the city?” Braydon asked this in hopes to get a more animated conversation from Mireille. She had obviously found something interesting about it.

“Pretty. Exciting. Busy. And… and… and…” Mireille’s eyes lit up as she tried to convey what she thought of the city. Though her emotions and lack of practise speaking in general forestalled her from saying much more. Not that Braydon minded, he couldn’t mind. He was too  busy gazing into her eyes. He was sure he had seen stars in them. At the very least he found out that she looked as beautiful excited as she did when embarrassed. ‘Nela was right, bringing her here was a good idea.’

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