Aetius Palace - Doux Belisar’s Residence
Leofric couldn’t help but frown as he approached Belisar’s palace, flanked by two of his men. To Leofric, Belisar seemed almost as bad as King Badastan himself. This deal did not sit well with him, yet it was necessary - it gave him a reliable stopping point to sell his goods, catch up with the news, and offered some degree of protection should Eodaeland or another Kingdom make more active attempts to hunt him down.
Before leaving his ship, he had changed into some of his finest clothes. Officially, he was an Eodaen Earl who took to the seas like many others of his kind, which was true, only in the official story he was a merchant rather than a pirate.
Wiping the frown from his face, he approached the gates, and the palace guards looked at him expectantly. “I am Earl Leofric of Eodaeland,” Leofric introduced himself. “I request an audience with Doux Belisar of Syrome.”
The Syrioviigoc guards, while recognising the man were clearly on high alert and suspicious, though Leofric could not possibly know for what reason, as he could not have been aware of the other Doux’s surprise visit and stand-off.
The guards did not respond other than to tell him to halt and wait, as a guard captain whispered with another and then palace servants arrived, each gesturing and whispering to each other in a kind of rushed silence, servants moving back and forth.
It was sometime until another servant returned, and finally the guards turned back to Leofric.
‘’Your audience has been granted Eodaelander. The Doux will see you.’’ One of the guards followed the servant back into the palace, and the servant gestured for Leofric to follow.
While the palace was beautiful, it was clearly in a state of hasteful movement and sudden activity, with many guards, pages and other retinue members moving around - both cleaning up from the mess with the intruding thug of a Doux, as well as responding to the news concerning Tautom. The Servant and guard too, were rushed.
They stopped at the throne room rather than the seaside gazebo, and Belisar was busy discussing something with a guard captain when the servant knocked and announced Leofric’s arrival.
Belisar spun around, robes drifting in haste and immediately turned to Leofric.
‘’What is it that you require, pirate?’’
Bowing his head slightly, Leofric smirked.
“Your Grace, I merely wished to inform you that the better part of my ‘merchant’ fleet has arrived in your city. I thought it would only be polite to make sure you were aware, and to see if you had any special requests in mind before I set off again. And if you don’t mind, I would also ask if you have received any updates on the political situation in my homeland.”
Belisar nodded and quickly drew out a piece of paper from his robes, holding it out to Leofric.
‘’This letter came from a Pigeon, a Eodaland one. Your ‘king’, Badastan... he is coming here. It would be wise for you and your fleet to avoid him during his stay. Otherwise, I will require you to monitor activity along the coast of Tautom, particularly of any Chlotar activity” Belisar said, still holding out the letter.
Leofric accepted the sheet of parchment, and read it as Belisar went on to explain. “I see,” he noted. He wondered just how many ships Badastan would be sending, and whether or not they would all be grouped together, or if they would split up. Then he contemplated the idea of laying some sort of trap or ambush to sink or capture as many of them as possible. But there was no way to come up with such a plan given the limited information, so avoiding them was indeed the wisest course of action… unless they found him anyway.
Instead, he nodded. “Very well, I shall head west.” He was going that way anyway; many of his countrymen had fled to Chlotar, in protest of Badastan’s idiotic squirrel cult. While they were right to abandon the fat usurper, Leofric couldn’t help but think them foolish to so quickly pledge themselves to a foreign banner - the banner of the same man who killed Eodaeland’s previous King. Leofric would need to convince them to fight under his own banner instead, or - more likely - that of Prince Alric, the true heir to the throne, if the boy still lived.
“If there is nothing else, I would ask to take my leave,” Leofric requested.
‘’It is granted. Fair travels pirate’’ Belisar said, immediately turning to his guards and gesturing to escort Leofric out. Already moving to other concerns, Belisar turned back to his Guard Captain who had approached again, sensing the end of the pirate’s audience, and he began again talking, now in whispers.