Chapter 51: A Letter From a Different Monarch

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Braydon did not want to meet another lord for a long time. He’d had enough of them after having met and entertained about 20 over the past month. As soon as he had finished writing letters in reply they had started turning up. It had been a month and a half that had consisted of writing letters and entertaining nobles during most of his waking hours. It was only the third month of the year and Braydon felt like he did not want to see their faces for at least the next nine.

“Are there any more, Steven?” Braydon had his head on his desk, he had lost count of who he had met and when.

“Baron Rodney was the last lord who stated his intention to visit. For now there are none who have said they will visit you.” Steven replied. He would have had sympathy for Braydon had he not had to stand there and watch every bit of it happen. He was just as bored as Braydon was but had the discipline to show less of it.

“Baron who?” He had stopped trying to remember any of the barons. There were just too many and he could be reminded if he ever needed to speak to one.

“What do you intend to do now, Sire?” Steven decided it was better to pretend he did not hear that. Instead he tried to shift the conversation. Braydon was more than happy to oblige, he would rather talk about anything else.

“Go for a ride around my territory. The merchants in the south will always be there. Free time won’t be.” Braydon thought that pushing off responsibilities was the best thing he could do right now. He would have to travel in a carriage when going to Duke Burn’s faction. There would be several nobles keeping tabs on him at all times. He had to maintain all of the pointless rules of etiquette lest he be called out on it in an important situation. Though every lord knew that nobody actually kept up with all of the rules, it was always an easy way to attack your opponent if you could find proof.

“I would advise talking to Sir Roan if you are going to do that. While we do have men guarding the border, it does not mean that bandits have not gotten past. The last thing we need right now is you being attacked by a few stray bandits.” Over the past several weeks they had heard that there had been several battles in Shuluk from Roan. 

Due to the troops on the border there had not been another huge wave of vagrants fleeing battle. Though that was also due to the two remaining sides having stopped their men from attacking the peasants. But the damage had already been done, many had already fled to the surrounding countries or turned to banditry in desperation. But that did not mean that the bandits did not want to leave, it just meant that they would have a harder time doing so. The patrols had dealt with a number of such men over the past few weeks. And they were increasing in number due to the fighting getting closer to the border.

“Joining a patrol, I like your thinking.” Braydon perked up when he heard bandits and talking to Roan. What was more fun than riding a horse? Riding a horse and killing bandits!

“That is not what I…*sigh*” Steven tried to reason but when he saw the gleam in Braydon’s eye he gave up. He only hoped that Rhydian was around to talk some sense into him. And before Gerald egged him on, otherwise nobody could stop him.

Steven’s lips were curled up. Rhydian had come back to Cliforge after spending the past two months in Mapjess. Even better was that he had heard Braydon talking about his intention to join a patrol. If there were two people in Braydon’s territory that knew the situation in Shuluk they would be Rhydian and Nela. And Rhydian knew exactly how dangerous it was to go joining a patrol of Cliforge right now, he had been in contact with Roan frequently while he was in Mapjess.

“You can patrol around Kirton but Cliforge is not safe for you to be going far from the villages in such a small group. With the quality of your armour, it is like putting a target on your back. Even Roan only joins patrols with twice the amount of men.” High quality armour was hard to make, even when one had a lot of iron. There was enough for lords and their knights to wear, but equipping anything more than that would take the financing of a duchy. Most of his men wore cloth based armours like gambeson. While they were also very good for protection, such armour was not as highly valued. And if anything, the bandits wanted food and valuables.

“Then I’ll do that.” Braydon no longer looked as enthusiastic as he had at the prospect of fighting bandits, but he was not going to turn down going out for a ride. He would only be cooped up in his study or traveling south if he didn’t do that. It was whilst Rhydian was making sure that Braydon did not try to run off and patrol Cliforge that Colin came bearing news.

“I have received word from several people wishing to buy iron. Of course, there are merchants from the south and the blacksmiths and armourer’s guilds in Wathamalin but they are not all.” Colin was not normally one to drag out suspense but now he was. It was enough to get Braydon’s attention away from going out for a ride.

“Oh? Who else wants to buy my stuff?” Braydon thought that it could be other nobles but from the look of mild surprise on Colin’s face he guessed it was someone else.

“The Queen regent of Shuluk.” When Colin said that he took a moment to process what he had heard. Braydon, too, was surprised.

“But there are plenty of mines in Shuluk. What on earth does she want my iron for?” Shuluk was fairly well known for having several iron mines. While Fiveria had plenty of gemstone mines, Shuluk was rich in iron. It was here that Rhydian answered instead.

“While Shuluk has many iron mines, they are all along the Brimstone mountains in the west. There had been much fighting in the west over the past several weeks, it is safe to assume that whoever does not have control of the mines has been fighting to gain them. And from my knowledge, the royals do not have much control in the west, most of their strength is around the capital in the south.

“Where did this letter arrive from?” Braydon asked Colin. He was sure that if it had taken several weeks of fighting for the letter to arrive, then it would not have come from the border.

“The rider brought it from the south on a merchant ship up the river.” Colin confirmed his suspicion. 

“It seems that I have much to do once I return from my ride.” Braydon had intended to spend several days riding around his lands. Now that he had received this new, one day would have to suffice.

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