45 Chapter 45 Peter the Ra
As soon as everyone was gone, Joseph picked up his copy and headed out the door with Stella in tow. His guards already knew what was going on, as he had briefed them earlier that morning. He made his way quickly to the king's personal chambers, where he knew he would be at this particular time, as he had made an appointment to see him.
"His majesty is waiting for you," sniffed the man at the door. Joseph wasn't sure what position this guy held, but he had been there when his father made the contract with him, and his opinion of Joseph was not very high.
"Ah, Joseph, I hope this won't take long, I have a lot going on today."
"Yes, your majesty, I just wanted to give you my report of today's meeting with those you appointed to me."
He handed the king the notes he had made of what he had told them earlier, and stepped back.
"This is all? You could have given this to my head servant to give to me!" The king was not very impressed, barely glancing over the document before setting it down.
"Your majesty, I don't mean to be rude, but we both know you have people in your court who are not necessarily thrilled with my presence here. I was afraid if I handed those documents to anyone other than yourself, they may not have made it to you intact."
The king looked at him for a moment, then sighed and picked up the papers again. Reading through them, his brow furrowed in thought. It was plain that he had not anticipated them to be so in depth.
"Alright, I will read through them completely. If that is all, you may go."
Joseph bowed and left. Stella followed and the guards joined up with them outside the kings chambers. Without a word to anyone, they went straight to the dining hall, where he wasn't surprised to see all five of those from the meeting, missing. With a small smile, he sat down to enjoy his meal, before returning to his room.
While he waited for their return, he had Stella bring him an apple that she had brought up from the dining hall. He had finished DECAY the night before and wanted to cast the rune quickly. As the apple rotted in front of them, he tossed it in the chamber pot. 1 point was better than nothing, though he knew that he could have done a better job for more points had he wanted to. The risk of getting caught was too high, so he kept it quick and discreet.
As they started to return, after a couple of hours, their moods were vastly different.
"Sir Joseph, I hope we can come to a better understanding of all you hope to accomplish," said Peter, tightly. It was obvious he was trying to hold back his obvious dislike for the boy, but Joseph was alright with him not liking him. He needed to get stuff done, not make friends.
As everyone else filed in and went to take seats, Joseph clapped his hands.
"I thought we might sit in court this afternoon. I feel we were able to accomplish quite a bit during our meeting this morning, and I thought it might be a good idea if I were to propose it before the king."
Peter immediately looked green around the edges, but the rest of them didn't seem to have a problem with that.
"Are you sure you're ready to propose it so soon?" asked Daniel, glancing at Peter rather amused. "I would hate for you to be disappointed if someone else was already going to mention the conditions of the roads. They've been a sore point in the kingdom for a while."
Peter shot him a glare, but said nothing.
"I don't mind if someone else proposes it, as long as it gets done!" said Joseph, picking up his 'documents' and heading for the door. The others followed shortly.
As they settled in, court had barely started, and Joseph was amused to see the nobleman, Duke Harold Winston speaking to the king. He was still in his, I'm kissing butt, stage, so they hadn't missed anything.
He thought about how a crafty old bastard the duke was. He thought over the story behind him, that he had heard from Charles the day before. His father had only daughters through his legitimate wife, and he was the oldest from the mistress, so he was formally adopted to ensure the family line went on. He was raised to be mean and greedy to ensure that the family would continue to grow.
Joseph had seen the tax reports on his household, and knew they he was having to bribe someone for it to be so low. His territory was the largest along the mountains and had the largest iron mines in the kingdom. He must have the entire treasury department under his foot to keep them silenced.
As Duke Winston continued on to his actual report, Joseph was amused to see that he was presenting the roads proposal that Peter had been given. With a chuckle, he also noticed that no one seemed to have verified that they all had the same documents. The plan he was presenting was wrong on some of the numbers, and as the duke read through them, he saw them immediately. Apologizing to the king for the errors, then continuing on without a missed beat.
The king was very surprised when he realized that Duke Winston was presenting the work as his own, but didn't look towards Joseph at all. The duke went on for almost two hours, presenting the information, and Joseph was impressed with his memory and speaking ability by the end. He was sure he would never have made it last that long without repeating himself at least once. There was enough flattery and self-back patting to make up for it though.
Joseph wasn't sure if he needed to work on that particular part of political speaking or not. As the duke turned away, finally done, he glanced at him with a smug look, but the look soured when it was obvious, he wasn't going to make the child cry. Glancing in Peter's direction, he saw that he was pale white, and refused to make eye contact. He would definitely have to keep an eye on him in the future.
That evening, after he had returned to his rooms with Stella and the guards, he was surprised to see Charles waiting for him.
"Sir Joseph, I'm sorry to bother you, I wasn't away that you would be in court today."
"That's alright, it was a last-minute decision."
"I doubt anything is last minute with you, but I have been charged with the task of seeing to your readiness for the ball at the end of the month. I belief the dances we conduct here in the Oxalium Empire, are vastly different from what you are familiar with."
Joseph nodded, handing the documents he was holding to Stella for her to put away.
"Fashion here by the ocean is much more revealing that that of the central kingdom. Our wardrobe has shorts that are down to the mid-calf, instead of the ankles." He pulled out an example, and Joseph studied it. His mother would have found it scandalous. As long as no one wore a thong, he would be fine, he was sure.
The court dances that Charles proceeded to show him would be a problem. The nobles here danced much closer together than in the central kingdom. They didn't swing dance, like the commoners and sometimes lower nobles did, but the distance they were to keep from their partners was next to nothing. In his home kingdom anything under two inches was indecent.
They were going to have to practice more, after Charles left, to ensure that they made a good impression at the ball, but Stella was less than impressed. Joseph considered just jumping around like hooligans, and finally gave in, throwing in some monkey hoots while he was at it. Stella finally gave in and started laughing. The rest of the evening went far smoother.
When he stopped to allow her to head to bed, she surprised him. She had managed to buy her sleep down as well. He could tell she greatly enjoyed not being as vulnerable during the night.