When they were walking around the gardens, Countess Graham and Nela made a lot of small talk. Braydon did occasionally join in but he felt very out of place in the conversation; outside of Nela, he did not have much contact with noble ladies. When growing up, he had very much been the spare of ‘the heir and the spare’, he had not attended many banquets or other noble gatherings that ladies would attend. Now it was coming to bite him in how little presence he had in the conversation.
“Perhaps we should talk about something that Lord Braydon is more used to talking about?” Countess Graham had obviously noticed his awkwardness and decided that she should get onto what she had asked to speak to them about. Braydon’s face became a few shades redder as he nodded, getting giggles from Nela. She had long seen his predicament and had been enjoying it.
“If you do not mind the bluntness, is there a particular reason why you wished to speak with us? Speaking to us immediately after what happened would draw a lot of attention, especially in such a public setting.” Braydon asked, the time he had spent not speaking had let him catch many people looking their way and talking. He could not guess which of the three of them they were talking about. They were all people who had unconventional stories and did not have much contact with the rest of the lords and ladies. Not to mention two of them had just been in the spotlight.
“What they think does not matter, those kinds of people never have anything good to say anyway.” Countess Graham had obviously noticed the looks they were getting too, but her years of living without much contact with the other nobles had let her grow accustomed to the stares.
“Seems that I have a thing or two I could learn.” Braydon nodded, he agreed but still found it hard not to pay attention to the people who were sending ‘surreptitious’ glances at their group.
“I had wanted to talk about a few things with both of you. Since you asked, I should probably bring up the more official things first. What do you think about using Milmond to trade your iron?” The Countess’s offer had taken Braydon by surprise. He had not thought of that, it had not even crossed his mind.
In fact rarely did any of the nobility even think of using her lands to trade. While she was also in the south east and had access to River Harmony through her city of the same name as her fief, she was sat in between two factions vying for power. Whilst she herself was neutral and had somehow managed to stay that way, other factions did not want to test the waters for fear of inciting both Dukes Ryder and Burn at once. And the neutral nobility just traded with merchants in larger and better cities under the control of the dukes. The fee was worth the cost.
“But how would the dukes let that happen? Would it not put you in a tough spot?” Braydon could not help but ask. Her offer was tantamount to pissing off both neighbouring factions, she might not share a border directly with either duke but all of the nearby lords were aligned with one or the other.
“You do not need to worry about that, I have long come to an agreement with both of them about merchants and trading in my city. It is in both of their interest that I remain neutral.” Countess Graham let out a small laugh as she said that.
Braydon could believe that she had made deals with them but it was the second part and her laugh that caught him. He could not figure out why they would find it to their benefit for her to remain neutral. There were many similar counties on both sides, she would not shift the balance of power dramatically by siding one way or the other. Nor did she have some major ace to deter them. ‘Just what makes her so confident?’
“Then we can definitely talk about that, are you staying long in the capital?” He would not pry into her matters but that did not mean that he had forgotten it. And he doubted that Nela would either. She was always much more alert that he was.
“For a few more days, yes. We can talk about this then.” She understood what he meant. They would talk about it later in more private company, there were many people around and deals between nobles were meant to be confidential. Though many did not end up being so.
“Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, I’d like to get to know the both of you on a more personal level. If that is alright?” The Countess had obviously been looking forward to making friends with them. Braydon was wondering if there was something about the oddballs of the nobility that attracted them to each other. First it was Nela, then Viscount Ellis and now it was Lani Graham.
“Yes, definitely!” “Why, of course.”
Braydon and Nela both responded at the same time, though Nela said it with a bit more emphasis. At least Braydon thought so, there was no way that he would act so excited to be friends with a very beautiful lady. Never. Banish the thought. He just got along well with Nela and Mireille, it was not his fault that Gerald was his only male friend.
“Hehehe, I am glad to see you are enthusiastic. Please, call me Lani, not countess, just Lani.” Lani seemed to have an aversion to being called by her title and her surname was a man’s name. Braydon was not going to comment, he did not like being called by his family name. He was already calling Nela by her name, what was one more?
“Then you should call us by name too.” Nela made the decision for both of them. There was no way that he was going to reject being called by his given name than his family name. It was the one thing that his mother had been able to leave behind for him. ‘No sad thoughts, this is not the time. You have not thought about it for so long. Why now?’ When the topic of names came up Braydon thought back to her. When he refocused on the conversation, he was glad that the other two were talking with each other and had not noticed his near slip into depression.
Synopsis: The online game <