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The Devil in the Details - Braiden

   
"Yes sir. Right here." Tess produced a piece of paper from her stack and handed it over. Five names were listed, three of them men, two of them women. Arrion prided itself on the equality it offered its women, aping after Katar in most of their culture. They, of course, weren't nearly as enlightenedly equal as they liked to say, but they tried.

Most in Katar found it adorable; some found it insulting.

As usual, those in the deligation were high ranking guild members and, among their number was a member of the Royal family. Likely an extremely distant relation, but he had enough blood to be royal. This particular deligation was led by Ser Dieter of the Smelting guild. He had a daughter and two sons, all of them roughly of Braiden's age and out of the house, though Braiden wasn't sure they'd ever been to Katar. The existance of his nation was, after all, a highly protected secret - until recently. Ser Dieter had been to Katar before, though he hadn't had direct dealings with Braiden since he'd taken his post.

The second deligate, Ser Maire of the Clothers guild, was more familiar to Braiden. She frequently visited his area and had numerous connections to shops and designers. From what he knew of her, she had a sharp business mind, knew what she wanted, and gracefully managed to get it.

The Royal deligate, Ter Produ, wasn't known to him and, according to Katar's information, normally represented interests in the south. There wasn't any explination on what got him reassigned to a Katar deligation.

The other two deligates didn't have any notes attatched to them, but Ser Kiril represented the Rest Houses guild, and Ser Adah represented the Farmers guild.

Well, at least this wouldn't be horribly awkward. Braiden scanned the list and made some mental notes. Maire should be complimented on her clothes, whatever they were, the others he had nothing for, but could guess what sorts of things they'd be after. Without bothering to ask the question, he held out his hand while he was still looking at the names, trying to think if he'd heard of the last two before. If it took her more than five seconds to shove information about whatever they had to offer for trade into that hand, it was probably time to find her replacement. "How long have they been waiting?"

Tess, as usual, was ahead of him. His hand bumped the piece of paper when he put it out, her usual scrawl neat and tidy. "Not long. They arrived late last night and I informed them that you'd likely be availible to see them in the late morning. I had inticipated needing to stall them, but happily, that seems not to be needed."

The list of things each guild had to trade was short and standard. Part of the negotiations lay in discovering what each really wanted, and had to offer. Likely, though, Katar's interests would be in exporting to Arrion, and ensuring they had a more than fair cut of the profits. The Arrioni, in turn, would likely want to buy, and perhaps attempt to trade for production secrets and techniques.

"This all looks pretty routine." Braiden scanned the list, quickly committing some of the more important parts to memory. It would be daft to rely on remembering for all of it, but at least he could sound like he knew what he was talking about. Actually, he did know what he was talking about, which was a little disturbing every once in a while. So much time spent deliberately faking it, and now he was deliberately not faking it. Crazy.

"Do I look presentable enough, or should I blame something for my appearance?"

Tess flicked a look over him, frowning. "You look fine," she said, sounding a mite surprised. "Busy yourself for a few minutes before going to the council room. I'll send the word out that you're ready to see them." She bowed, then turned to go about her business.

Braiden gave Tess a nod to show he'd comply with that suggestion and looked around. He wasn't in a place where anything in particular to distract himself was apparent - it was just a hallway. Standing around out here wasn't a good plan, though, so he backtracked a little and went down a different one, stuck his nose back into the pages he still had in his hands. This was his own damned house, he wasn't going to walk into a wall or get lost just for not looking where he was going.

Not three steps down that hallway, he stopped and looked up at the painting hanging on the wall there, not sure why it attracted his attention now. They'd been living here for a while now, but neither of them spent much time worrying about the decorating. As he recalled, for most of the place, he suggested the servants just change it up a little from what the previous owner had left behind, and add whatever seemed appropriate. Cady handled their private rooms, and he'd adjusted his office. Beyond that, it was all just random stuff that looked the part. It reminded him of the palace, which was fine. Here, though, he didn't know the history of anything.

The particular painting he wound up looking at was horrible. It was like someone barfed up paint on canvas, and it happened to sort of form a...was that supposed to be a person? A dog? A couch? Who would put something this hideous into a frame this nice? He lifted it off the wall and flipped it around, set it on the floor. Apparently, he needed to spend some time actually examining the artwork that graced the walls here.

Distracted as he was by the artwork, Braiden got less of a warning than usual. Still, the footsteps were quiet, though they were determined and aimed right at him.

It was Kalem, his wide brimmed hat thrown askew, his (regretfully) trademark coat flapping behind him. "At last," Kalem declared, glaring at Braiden. Or was he just looking? It was hard to tell - the mage's eyes were wild and intense, and a good few days growth of stubble graced his jaw and neck. No wonder he didn't grow it out; the hairs grew in a patchwork of scraggly thin lines.

"We must talk, Braiden. Things are wildly spiraling out of control."

Inside, Braiden sighed. Outside, he smiled and took Kalem's hand despite it not being offered, jovially shook it and clapped him lightly on the arm. "I'm happy to see you, too, Kalem. I heard you were looking for me. We just got back from Selarenia's wedding, though, and I need to take care of something else first." He pointed in the direction he was supposed to be going, wishing he'd gone that way just half a minute sooner.

"It'll only take an hour, or maybe two, and if you really want to make sure I can't sneak away after, you can wait just outside the door." His feet started taking him in that direction as he made a solid attempt to use the technique of keeping his mouth and body moving to distract his assailant long enough to allow him to get away.

Kalem blinked, the greeting throwing him off his stride, and Braiden managed to get free. "Now wait just a minute," Kalem sputtered, trailing after him. "This is far more important than some nobles squabbling. I'm far too busy to go standing about outside of your door."

"Squabbling? No one is squabbling." Braiden turned and walked sort of sideways-backwards, still plenty cheerful. "I wish this was as stupid as squabbling. Then it would only take five minutes, because I could just smack everyone with the flat of a blade and tell them to stuff it. Alas, it's less fun than that, and much more important." He nodded to a servant walking past, probably on an errand that mattered, but this was vitally important to the continued functioning of his household, especially as it related to his personal health and well-being. "Arden, would you see to it that Kalem gets something to eat and drink? He looks like he hasn't eaten in a while, doesn't he? Have someone show him to a guest room he can use, too."

Where was Cady when he really needed her? No, really, he should be able to handle Kalem on his own, she'd just have a much easier time of it. But, no sense in bothering her right now, when he was so close to being able to shake the man for the moment and she was off doing something important to her.




 

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