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The Devil in the Details - Braiden

   
The Devil in the Details - Braiden

Tess heard the slap of footsteps a full minute before the young page rounded the corner, almost slamming into a rather expensive - and rare - draconic vase that balanced on the small end table. Frowning, she looked up over her piece of paperwork, but the boy didn't wait for a greeting.

"He's here," he said, breathless from his run.

"Slow down," Tess said, unaccustomed to being addressed like a commoner. "Who is here?"

"The Prince - Prince Braiden. He and Lady Cadence are back."


Several replies went through Tess's mind and, as none of them were polite, she discarded all of them. "I see. How long has he been here?"

"I don't know, a little while, I think."

"And I wasn't informed of this sooner?"
She didn't wait for an answer before she grabbed her satchel, shoveling the relevant paperwork into it. Three days, the Prince had been gone. Things stacked up in that time, things that needed his attention three days ago. If the mages were getting so slack and lazy in their duties that they felt they could impair hers, she'd march right down there and-

"I heard the Godslayer brought them," the page said, sounding awestruck. "Didn't use mages, neither. They were just there, a bit of sand come along. There were others - lots others - but they're gone now."

Rumors flew, it seemed. Tess stood up, smoothed down the lines of her tailored pants. "You'll repeat this gossip to no one else," she said, knowing that the order was pointless even as she gave it. "Now, be off."

She waited until the page had bowed, and scampered off before getting up and going off in search of her errant prince. Cady would have to be seen to by someone else, thank the Flame.


Given Cady's mood, Braiden had a few ideas for spending the rest of his day. Unfortunately, he knew very well none of it was going to happen. There would be stuff, and other stuff, and probably a few things, and some more stuff, and he'd be lucky to see her again today. Impromptu vacations never went well around here. In a few days, things would be straightened out and back to normal, but today and tomorrow, and probably the next day, would be busy and annoying.

He needed to change to face the rest of his day. Somehow, he didn't think anyone else would appreciate dealing with him when he obviously looked like he'd been on some tropical island (not to mention it was significantly cooler here). He took longer to change than Cady did, largely because he kept finding sand in unexpected places. As such, by the time he looked presentable according to the expectations he'd set up for himself here, she was gone, off to (hopefully) improve her mood by tackling her own stuff.

It was just when he started down the hall outside their rooms that he spotted Tess. The look on her face made him want to turn right back around and claim he was just a figment of her imagination, but he resisted that and only sighed lightly. "Morning," he said brightly, like he hadn't just spontaneously hied off to who-knows-where for...however long they were gone.

Tess bowed, like she always did - a stiff incline of the upper body that robbed neither time, nor any amount of dignity to perform. "Prince Braiden, I trust your trip went well and smoothly." She produced a notebook from out of her satchel, and squared her shoulders. "Did any matters that warrent follow-up attention occur on your travels?"

"Dragon's breath, I hope not." Braiden raked a hand across his scalp and tried not to think about Sam. He mostly succeeded. "If any of those people want something else from us-" His mouth snapped shut as he thought of something. "I mentioned the gift for Chosen Selarenia already, didn't I? About the boat?"

Tess didn't even need to consult her notes. "A trip, yes sir. Nothing about a boat. Have you decided the destination? And, perhaps, told them about the gift?" If there was hope in her voice, it was the bleak kind.

"I told them about it, yes," Braiden smirked. "As it turns out, they have a boat. I expect they'll just be looking to purchase supplies for sailing to wherever they wind up going. Didn't sound like there was any particular destination in mind. In light of that, I just gave them a specific amount." He told her how much, as she'd need to set up the permissions or whatever was needed. It was was probably enough to make Percival's head explode, but wouldn't cause any problems for or with anyone else. Sadly, he knew far more than he ever wanted to about the budgets of both Katar on the whole and his little corner of it, so coming up with such a figure on the fly out there wasn't a problem.

"What self-destructed while we were gone?"

"Traditionally, sir, one of the things that makes it a gift is that the recipients don't have to do the planning involved. However, I will aspire to set up a line of communication over the known world within reach of the Trade Islands by boat, ensuring that we, the secret government of Katar, will reimburse the purchases and debts." Her expression didn't flicker, but she did jot down several quick notes on her paper.

"A delegation from Arrion wishing to discuss a new trade agreement with you. A fire broke out through the west part of the city. No major damage was done, but one of Lady Cadence's orphanages has been destroyed. I believe she's already being escorted there. Oh, and a man called Kalem has been asking after you. He's been... quite insistent."

As he often did, Braiden ignored the part where she told him he'd made a poor choice about something. Tess would expect him to ignore it, too. Really, no one in their right mind wanted him trying to figure out what to bring on an ocean voyage. It would be a total disaster, probably involving salt somehow. "The delegation from Arrion is more important than Kalem, no matter what he says. But, if he ever wants to use a room here for some reason, let him. He's Cadence's adoptive father, sort of, so we can expect him to show up from time to time. I'm actually surprised it took this long." He left a short pause. "Which is to say, I'll meet with that delegation now if they'd like, and Kalem afterwards."

He trusted Cady to look into the orphanage thing and tell him if he needed to do anything, so there was nothing to ask about that. "I'll want a report about the fire as soon as possible: anyone else affected by it, how well it was handled, that sort of thing. I don't think a little paranoia about the possibility of arson is out of place, either, so someone needs to figure out how it started."

"I'll arrange it, sir," Tess said, making a few notes on her ledger, glancing up at him over her specticles. "Would you like a copy of the report on the fire's finding sent to Lady Cadence as well?"

Braiden shook his head without pausing for even a moment. "Nah, don't bother. She's not interested in that kind of thing." A meeting with representatives of Arrion started marching into his head, demanding he consider what he was looking to get out of it, what he had to offer, and the likelihood he'd slept with one of them or one of their daughters. "Do you happen to have the names of the members of that trade delegation?"




 

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