Chapter 263: Seven Day Banquet
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“I thank all of you for coming with haste to my wedding. I know it might have been later than originally planned but the important part is that it has happened, and in light of that this banquet will last for a week. Enjoy yourselves!” King Aled’s speech was short, but held some important information. That the ‘party’ after the ceremony was going to go on for a week meant that he was happy with his Queen, or at least not unhappy. With that he sat down, commencing a flurry of activity from the servants going about offering drinks to the guests that had almost completely filled the great hall of the palace.

“My Lords.” One such servant approached Braydon and the other lords that were sitting near him. As it was the first day of the banquet everyone had set seating arrangements based on their status, or lack of it. Though, he did not expect that to even last to the end of the evening much less the entire week. Not with the liberal application of alcohol to make everyone more agreeable.

“Have someone find Sir Batterson and tell him to bring both.” Braydon said to the servant as he filled his cup. 

“Right away, My Lord.”

“Oh, you have brought two gifts, Braydon?” Marquess Downs had evidently been paying more attention to Braydon than the rest of the earls near them, Since Braydon was one of the most preeminent earls, he was placed much closer to the King than he otherwise could have been. And that meant he was placed near the new Marquess.

“More that the gifts are a pair.” He nodded.

“Then I only hope that you do not outshine all of us  with your gifts.” Marquess Downs commented.

“I would have to try awfully hard to outshine someone with as much power as yourself.” Braydon said that but it was more than likely that he had at least equalled Downs’ own gift in monetary value. His iron mine had been very profitable and even with the higher rank, the Marquess did not possess something as lucrative.

“As I believe that you will have.” He gave Braydon a look that meant more than he said. It was clear that he was alluding to something but Braydon didn’t know exactly what.

“Of course, why would I not try to give a good gift on such an occasion?” He asked.

“Well I hear that there has been a royal courier visiting your fief more frequently than most recently. I doubt that meant nothing.” Downs added.

“I have been away from my holdings for some time now, so any correspondence has been handled by my confidants. If it were something urgent, I am sure I would have been informed.” He shrugged it off, but Downs had hit the nail on the head. Braydon was definitely trying to appease the King in some measure with his gift.

“Is that so?” Downs looked surprised. 

He had been keeping a closer eye on his rather influential peers now that he had risen in status enough to pay attention to goings on outside of the north east. And he was quite sure that Braydon had never left Cliforge castle until he travelled to Boshil. He would have heard about it. 

“Yes. Enough about me, I hear that you are finally bringing some semblance of order to my northern neighbours.” Braydon cut it off before the Marquess could ask anything else.

“As is my duty as a Marquess, it would be unbecoming if I could not guide my neighbours to more peaceful means.” Downs let it go though did not forget to look into the matter more.

As the two of them were talking, their immediate neighbours at the banquet table left them alone. None had the standing to but into the conversation between the two nor the desire. Most of them were new earls in the south or the north west. They did not have much in common to their eastern counterparts and were more than happy to talk amongst themselves.

But that did not mean that there was nobody at the banquet who would not join their conversation. Or send someone to do it on their behalf. 

“Forgive me, My Lords.” Another servant approached, this one without alcohol. 

“Speak.” Marquess Downs responded.

“His Majesty has requested Earl Braydon Fiton’s presence.” The man informed them, before bowing and returning to the side of the hall..

“Then I cannot hold you on my account. It seems like you will find out what His Majesty wanted to contact you about.” Marquess Downs smiled. He could guess that the King wanted to talk about whatever topics the royal couriers had brought to Cliforge.

“You might be right.” Braydon said. He had not expected the King to ask to speak to him until one of the later days of the Banquet but it seemed that Aled had other plans.

As Braydon made his way toward the table where the King and his new Queen sat, he noticed more than a few eyes watching him. Clearly wondering why Braydon was going to talk to the King before anyone else. Cinar, a Duke, had not even made a move yet so it was unusual for Braydon to be the first.

“Let me express my congratulations.” Braydon said as he bowed before the royal couple.

“You are a hard man to speak to, here I almost thought you might not even attend.” Aled poked at him. Braydon was still unsure what the King thought of his exploits and this did not help clear things up.

“There is no way that I could miss such an important event for the life of me.” If it were not so important Braydon would likely still be in Shuluk.

“Then why have I found it so hard to even receive a reply to my letters?” Aled was not mincing words. Braydon was just glad that the King’s table was too far away from anyone else for them to hear their conversation. The Queen not included. She was clearly bewildered about why the King was seemingly berating one of his closest allies.

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