Just Business- A Gale Party

“This is boring as all hell,” grumbled Count Strongbull. “Not a single auroch in sight.”
“That’s because this is civilization, Richard.” Count Archibald shook his head.
“It’s late spring now, the aurochs are at their most aggressive. This is the *perfect* time for some wrestling.”
Dame Josefine brushed past William. “Raimunde is looking for you.”
Sighing, William pushed off from the wall and started toward his most recent employer. The party, or ball or whatever, was in full swing now and he found Raimunde Gale talking to Kirk Renett. Perhaps an alliance, though frankly William disliked the boy. He stood to the side and waited for their conversation to end.
“I can’t *believe* Rosomon and Alexandra are going to be finished schooling soon. It’s such a waste,” the Renett boy was saying.
“What do you mean?”
“Well. Why *should* they study. It’s not like they’re going to be doing anything *important*. Just wives and mothers. Why don’t they learn things that would be more fitting to them?”
Raimunde shifted uncomfortably. “Well, it’s better for everyone when knowledge is more widespread. Otherwise why would the University be there.”
“*I* don’t think women *belong* in the university. Like I said, they should be learning things more fitting to their future tasks.”
Raimunde smiled to William, then looked back to Kirk. “I’m sorry, I’ve been waiting for news. Perhaps we’ll find more time to talk later.”
Kirk looked at William. “He looks like a clown to me. I thought you’d grown out of that sort of thing, what’s with the mask?”
Raimunde shook his head, but maintained his smile. “Excuse me.”
Leading William away from the boy, he apologized. “My father told me I should make friends. No one my age seems to be worth knowing, frankly.”
“I’m sure that I couldn’t say, my Lord,” William replied.
Shaking his head again, Raimunde sighed. “Anyway. Did you hear anything interesting?”
William glanced toward the table where the representatives from the Houses were sitting, specifically toward Count Dracian, who he assumed was the one who was really employing him, rather than Viscount Harlan, Raimunde’s father, who sat beside him. “Oh yes,” he began.
“I heard a rumor that Baron Valerian there came in the same carriage as Count Bradford. The Valerians *could* use the support and the Bradfords haven’t the military to defend themselves if anything were to happen. Though at the same time, Baron Telford sent a few gifts towards the Valerians as well, so perhaps it has something to do with trade, rather than warfare.” He paused as one of the Ascalon servants passed by.
“Master Corvo di Talmerin, there, with the Baines family. He swore he’d seen a servant of House Drake slipping a sealed note to Viscount Avery when she was pouring his wine. Meanwhile I also heard that Count Gareth Addison has sent his second son in secret on a vampire hunt towards the City of Lanterns as well. I *believe* that his eldest hasn’t yet had that opportunity, so perhaps there’s something there.”
Raimunde smiled and pressed a coin into his hand. “Thank you. You’ve done wonderfully so far.”
William nodded, bowing slightly. “There’s nothing else for the moment, but I think I’m going to go wait by the drinks and see who comes around.”
Nodding, Raimunde put on a more serious face.
William laughed. “Keep smiling Raimunde, you’ll find better company that way.”
Raimunde’s façade broke somewhat and he smiled again. William patted him on the back and headed toward the drinks. He stopped at one of the tables on the way and wrote a quick note, then handed it to a passing servant. “Can you take that to Dame Josephine please?” He gestured in her direction. The servant acceded and headed that direction. William watched until Josephine had received the note and had started heading toward its true intended recipient before he continued toward his destination.
Sir Harry Callahan met him there and William smiled again. “Did you talk to Baroness Ismania Faulkner?”
Harry nodded. “She says there’s nothing you can do about the trade guilds on Ard Kreight.”
Sighing heavily, William shook his head. “I wish more of these noble houses acted like the Telfords. They’re not *all* bad.” He wrote another note and did the same as the last, sending this one toward Corvo.
Turning back to his companion, William shook his head. “I’m sorry, Harry. You probably don’t care.”
He laughed. “You asked, I answered. I owe you after how you helped me with the Faulkner’s problem.”
William shrugged and smiled. “I’ll find you later if I need anything else. Thank you. I mean it.”
Harry shrugged and took a drink, then walked away.
William listened for a while longer, then moved to a corner to write his reports. As he worked, he hummed along with the Wind Singers guildmembers staffing the party. A hand came down on his shoulder and he looked up, glad he’d been writing in his own personal code.
“You are William, yes?”
Nodding, William covered his notes and turned. “How can I help you?” He noted the House Valerian sigil on the man’s armor.
“You will come with me now.”
William stood. “I’m sure there’s no need for that. Perhaps we could talk here? Or someplace quieter?”
“Come with me.”
The man walked away and William sighed, waving to Harry as he followed.
They walked out onto the balcony and the man punched William in the gut. He fell to his knees, winded, and let out a groan of consternation. “What was *that* for?”
“Stop looking into House Valerian’s business. It’s none of yours.”
William shook his head and stood, using the balcony railing for support. “Alright, alright. I have nothing against you or your house.” He backed away a little, putting a hand between them in case the man tried to hit him again.
The man went inside and William sighed and straightened. A moment later, Harry came out. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m alright.” He shook his head again. “Just business.”

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