The Devil in the Details - Braiden

   
Ser Adah spoke up next with a very routine matter of the renewal of contracts. His guild purchased fertilizer from Katar, along with the lease of some superior farming equipment, and in return, shipped back spices and held sell some more rare merchandise for a generous percentage back. From what Braiden could tell, nothing in the contracts had been changed and, since Tess had already looked them over before, he could be certain that she'd have circled anything that had.

With that matter concluded, Ser Kiril smiled and slid a thin folder over to Braiden. "I apologize for taking up your valuable time with this, Prince Braiden, but there's been some unexplained charges at a number of our Rest Houses by a member of your House. I wanted to come personally to varify that there hasn't been an error and resolve it."

The folder contained several sheets of paper with itemized lists. It appeared that, over the last three months, a "Ketoric P." had visited seven different Rest Houses, totalling up a fairly substantial list of services. According to Katar's standard policy, agents of the crown were allowed to stay at Rest Houses and charge services to their account, but generally they also were given monies to be spent on such things to be carried on their person.

Even more strange was that, to Braiden's knowledge, he didn't employ anyone under that name.

Braiden stared at the pages, unable to stop a frown. He wasn't expecting this and didn't recognize the name at all. As far as he knew, it wasn't that easy to use the account - they had to do a little more than just sign for it. The worst part was how he'd have to cover these expenses, and could only hope to catch the guy and extract at least some of it from his hide after the fact. The amounts weren't hideous in themselves, but it added up, and if he'd known about this, he would have picked a lower number for Conner and Sel.

"If this person tries to charge anything else, he should be refused. Preferably, he'll also be detained and handed over to me so I can deal with him properly." He swept the pages back together, stuck them in the folder and shut that, left his hand on it to show quite clearly he intended to keep it. "Thank you for calling it to my attention." A few theories swirled around his head, each more annoying than the next, but none of that bile was for any of these people, so he made the effort to smooth out his expression and give them business-face. "Is there anything else?" It did occur to him that he could just suspend his entire account for now, but that seemed drastic and would probably send the wrong message. Kiril might even panic in some fashion.

"Certainly," Ser Kiril said, looking pleased with herself. "I have no further business, my Prince, besides to say that my Guild still considers your account to be in impeccable standing. Perhaps you and your wife would honor us with a visit, next time you're in the country."

The other guildmembers started making polite noises as well, stirring to make ready to leave the room when Ter Produ yawned and stood lazily. "Oh, and in the future, Prince Braiden, my Kingdom would appreciate a little bit of warning about the gathering. It's not a problem; we've cleared the space, but it was a near thing."

Braiden was all set to smile and nod and gladhand everybody away, was even getting out of his chair when he realized what Produ actually said. He paused for a moment, just long enough for it to be noticeable, but smoothed away the surprise easily. "I'll make a note," he offered with a chuckle. There was no reason to be overly concerned, he only just got back and Tess obviously didn't have time to fill him in on every single thing he missed. If she didn't know about this 'gathering', then he'd worry and have someone find out what was going on.

Each of them stopped by to shake Braiden's hand, and both Ser Tiril and Ser Marie gave his cheek the customary kiss, neither women lingering longer than was polite. Ser Marie didn't give another message, either, releasing his hand without incident.

After they left, Tess frowned at the closed door. "I'll find out what gathering he's talking about," she said, obviously annoyed she didn't know already. "I should have that information for you before you're done with the wizard."

Braiden rubbed his face a little now that he didn't have to hide how disturbed he was. "Damn. I was hoping you just didn't have a chance to tell me about it yet. I need to know who this 'Ketoric' person is, too." He picked up the folder and handed it to her. "And finding out how he's been able to tap my account would be good, too. Might need to change the procedure for that." She knew how to accomplish things like this better than he did, so he didn't make insulting suggestions. Except for one. "I don't mind the King being aware we're having this kind of problem, so go ahead and tap those resources if you need to. Let's not put this into a report just yet, I want to handle Percival about it with more than I've got right now."

And now he had to go talk to Kalem. He sighed as he went for the door. "I have no idea how long this will take. If I'm not out in an hour, send someone to kill me." Under the circumstances, he wasn't able to muster his usual grin, and he wasn't really joking much, either.

"Right away," Tess said, flipping through the folder with an unimpressed grunt. Apparently, she didn't find the list of services this "Keloric" purchased at the Rest Houses impressive. Though, it was difficult to say what a woman like Tess would consider impressive. ""I'll have a preliminary report ready for you in an hour. If you're not in your study, I'll come rescue you." She bowed, then turned to go knock someone's head against a wall - repeatedly - until she learned who really needed their ass kicked.

Braiden didn't hear anything as he approached the room where Kalem had disappeared into. That alone was unusual and worrying; normally, the mage could be heard giving a running commentary on the ineptitude of those around him. He was in there, though, along with the servant who had taken him there. A few things had changed, the thick white bandage around Kalem's middle the most noticeable. The servant glanced over when Braiden arrived, and bowed. "Prince Braiden," he said in greeting; Kalem stayed sitting, his hat over his face.

Most any other time, with the suspicion Kalem was asleep and probably needed the rest, Braiden would just leave. The man said it was urgent, though, and if he didn't wake him up and find out what was going on, there would be something later, and it would be a whole Thing. Likely, Cady would be involved, and that couldn't end well. He sighed a little bit and nodded to the servant, tried to decide if he should touch the hat or not.

"Kalem?" There was this one time with a mage's glove, and he wasn't keen to have a repeat performance, so he hoped the man would just wake up with a verbal prompt.

'It turns out that the Master Mage here was doing his best to bleed out quietly," the servant said from his spot at the door. "I had to lightly drug him to get him to sit still while the healers tended him. He's just sleeping, now. I can wake him if you'd like."

Braiden made a face because no one could see it. "Good work." Idiot was going to bleed to death in his house, then Cady would probably kill him for letting it happen. He let out a little sigh and rubbed his face a bit. "Better wake him up, yes. Then you should go so he has to yell at me instead of you." A joy to look forward to, that.





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