Chapter 213: And So It Begins
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“As I have previously stated in my letter, I wished to speak to you about letting Fiverian merchants start trading with Shuluk once more.” Braydon started out with the first thing that he had wanted to speak to the Regent about.

“We are in a private carriage guarded only by people that I trust, can we not speak about the other matters?” Rather than carrying on with what Braydon wanted, she hinted at the possibility that he had alluded to in his letter. 

“In good time, Your Grace. However, I think that it is more pertinent to yourself and to many of my friends in Fiveria that we see to the matter of trade first.” It was the part that Braydon was more interested in but that did not mean that he wanted to bring it up first. If he stated what he wanted from the get go, she would without a doubt try to negotiate him down to less over the course of their conversations.

“But from your own letter, it is painfully obvious that you want to discuss something else. There is no way that one so busy as yourself would make the long trip to my city so soon after your own war ended if it was not important to you.” Alima Shuluk shifted her position slightly as if to show that she was more curious than she actually was.

“Forgive the impertinence, but is the security of your palace so dire that we may not speak of such things there? I merely stated the possibility that I may offer my personal assistance with your problems.” Braydon was not going to let slip about what he wanted on the first day of discussing with her. And the way he had written his letter left if vague enough that she had no way of definitively guessing without him telling her.

“Ha. You really have grown more impertinent since last we met.” Alima looked a little taken aback for a moment but made a half hearted laugh without saying much more. Though that said a lot more than if she had actually answered his question.

“I am here with the full support of the King, I think that I can stand a little taller than when we were going behind his back.” Full support was a stretch and he knew it. It was more tacit consent but exaggerating a little was not going to hurt him when he was trying to get the most benefits out of this as he could.

“Not that that stopped you. So you wanted to talk about trade?” Apparently having given up for now on getting Braydon to talk about his secondary purpose, Alima moved back to talking about trade.

“As you are no doubt aware, Your Grace, one of the rewards that I received for being a loyal member of the Fiverian court was an exemption on the embargo placed against Shuluk after the war that unfortunately ended my father’s life. Of course given my family history, I can only assume that he thought I would be the last person to give up on the Kingdom’s interests.” He was honestly amazed that he could say that with a straight face. Almost every word of what he just said could be, at best, considered a half truth.

“Last I heard, from yourself I might add, you did not get along with your family.” She deadpanned him. Not that he could remember if he had actually told her that but it did not matter much, she had at least done her homework on him before he came.

“That is neither here nor there. What is important is that I have been entrusted with the sole power of deciding which merchants in Fiveria are legally allowed to trade with your country. As much as I would like for them to start immediately, I came because I would like some guarantees from yourself.” Or as he was actually thinking, ‘I want you to pay me for the privilege of letting merchants trade in Shuluk.’ 

“You should know that regardless of pronouncement, merchants will continue to come. As they have been for years at this point.” It was not hard for her to counter his words. If Fiverian traders had really stopped coming, Shuluk would have tried to reach an agreement much sooner.

“But only a fraction of those who originally did, I can assure you. Ryder may have had a strong navy but that is now in the possession of the crown. I do not doubt the King will enforce his laws better than a traitor ever did. Not to mention that all of Ryder and his allies were deposed and their cities given to those more loyal to the King’s cause. If I were to guess, the difference is already starting to sting.” It was not a guess, he had asked around before he even started his journey to Narabun. 

While trade from Burn and his allies' merchants was not as affected, it had all but stopped from Ryder’s former faction. The southern cities were still very prosperous, they just had to trade with other war torn parts of the continent, like the petty kingdoms in the west. And the increase in piracy in the southern sea was all of the justification that was needed. The only reason why trade with old Ciai was so pitiful was down to piracy, but if there was piracy in both directions? Then it did not matter with whom the merchants traded. They were still earning a premium.

“As loyal as Duke Burn?” Came the response. 

“It would not do me any good to comment on something that touches on the interests of the King.” Duke Burn was as loyal as Duke Ryder and they both knew it. It was merely politics and expedience that kept him in roughly the same position as before the war. Braydon took a moment to peer outside of the carriage to see that they had almost arrived already.

“And it would appear that our more private conversation is over already.” Alima commented without having looked outside herself. She likely already knew roughly how long it took for her to get from the docks to her palace. If Braydon had to guess, her knowledge of this timing was likely why she had not pushed him harder on his other objective in coming to Narabun.

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