Raider From The Sea, Chapter 14

Gwen makes an offer for her library and gets turned down. She is not happy with that.

Chapter 14.

SS Melodic.

Since the last part of the voyage was finally started and her son was settling down to the routine of the five day long voyage, Gwaerengwen wanted to clear something that had become rather more important now that she was likely going to be the Imperial Representative for these lands. She was going to need her library again. With that in mind, she had Calladia dress her in her best gown and went off to find Radhron. She found him in the small lounge with Pieran and when she walked in, Radhron said, “You must want something, mother.”

“Why?”

“Dressing like that is an elven lady on the warpath. You aren’t looking for a man, here, so you want something from me or Pieran, probably me.”

“I would like to ensure the disposition of some of the things from the house.”

“That shouldn’t be a problem. What?”

“The library.”

“That’s a problem.”

“Why?”

“You’re going to have to talk with Strom about that. It’s in his contract. He gets any books we find.”

“Why?”

“He has a library at his place. Great big thing, with staff and everything. Since his wife was killed by the sharks and his kids are grown up, lending books and helping people learn is his passion. I would talk to him about it. He’s below. I wouldn’t go dressed like that. He won’t like it when that dress shreds after it gets caught in something and spreads silk all over an engine and he has to get the stuff out of places where it shouldn’t be. Wear one of Galassiel’s dresses. Dressing like you are now won’t work with him.”

Gwen thought about it and returned to her cabin. Since Galassiel was militantly not wearing anything but her tail, Calladia had packed her clothes with more than a bit of a clucking. Gwen dug through Galassiel’s things until she found Galassiel’s light skirt and blouse. The apron was rather bloody. Calladia came in and said, “Now why are you dressing like that, Milady?”

“I am going to beard the sea dwarf in his den and intelligence, meaning my son, says that dressing like I usually do could cause problems.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Apparently the price for his involvement in my son’s escapades is libraries and he has custody of mine. He can have the elven poetry, that soggy stuff, but I’m going to need the law and household management books. Since he is coddling the starboard engine, I need to go to him to talk with him.”

“Why don’t we see if we can find Neres or Aenon first. They know their way down below. When we do, I’ll stay up here and wait for the storm.”

“You think that there will be a storm?”

“Strom reminds me of Edwin in some ways. You were always in a storm with him.”

“I miss those. You’re right. Let’s find the boys.”

Neres was busy with a task but Aeron was willing take Gwen into the bowels of the pipes and machinery until they reached a tight space mostly filled with a huge spinning shaft and a cursing Strom looking at a thing with a dial on it. Every so often he made a note on a chart. As Gwen came down the passageway, Strom looked up and said, “Now what would drag you all the way down here, milady? This is hardly the place for tea.”

“Mr. Ironshield, I didn’t realize that you wanted any?”

“I have coffee right here and a boy to bring me lunch when I call. That one there isn’t slacking, I hope.”

Aeron jumped. “No sir, Mr. Ironshield. Grandmother asked me to help her find you and I need to stay so that I can lead her out.”

Strom handed the pad to Aeron. “Good. Now that you are here, you can keep an eye on this indicator while I talk to the lady here. Lady, what did you want to discuss?”

“When my son raided the estate he took my household library.”

“The account books as well. You will get those back.”

“The library has become a bit more important. My son says that you take charge of all the books he finds.”

“That was the price of me going along on his things. I want to make sure that some fool doesn’t burn something important.”

“I want my library.”

“Now that is a bit tricky. I’m still a bit too much dwarf to just give it up. What can you offer for it?”

“I don’t know. Things are so chaotic right now and the only thing that I know for sure is truly mine is my body.”

“That is something I am not in the market for. Why do you need the library so badly?”

“Since I will be the representative for the empire, I may need the legal and household management books to be able to resolve issues between the empire and the blasted lands.”

“I see your point, but I have been more or less at war with the empire since that sick Ravathyra bastard of a mage set his sharks, the poor bastards, on my wife and younger daughter, who were below at the time and forced them to put the bite on them in an attempt to force me to give up treasure that I didn’t have. He was sure that since I was a dwarf, that I had gold squirreled away someplace, as if I could get gold when I was living below or needed it. Ok, at this time, I won’t say yes and I won’t say no. I will do one thing. I will tell my people that you have free lending access to the library until you don’t return a book on time. That way you will have access to your library when you need it. If circumstances change, or you find something to trade, then we can deal.”

“If I were to find that Ravathyra bastard?’

“He’s not dead and I don’t have his name. If you find that, then we can deal. If you manage to arrange his death, legally, then you can have the entire library as a gift. Aeron, hand me the pad and take the lady back where she belongs.”

As they made their way back up the decks, Gwen started to fume. That MAN! How could he treat her this way! When they reached the main deck where Calladia took one look and said, “He turned you down, didn’t he?”

“What are you talking about!?”

“You offered him your body and he turned you down. Edwin did the same thing. That was when you started to take him seriously. You’ve been without somebody since Edwin left and you want somebody.”

“I have a husband!”

“Who fills every bed but yours. You want somebody steady, not a dilettante and philanderer like your husband. Strom is steady as a rock. I could see that from the first. He also needs somebody. He’s too caught up in his anger and revenge. Look, a man like Strom wants something more than a warm bed. He wants a partnership like the one that he had with his wife. If you want something from him, be a partner. Did he deny you access to the books?”

“No, he said that I could use the library for free.”

“See, he wants you around. See how he does things and how you can contribute. Talk to people who knew him and his wife and find out what happened.”

“Calladia, why do you know the right things to say?”

“If I knew that I would find somebody myself. Robin maybe. I can’t seem to get rid of the prankster.”

“That’s scary. Teiran’s kids are bad enough, along with the rest of them.”

 

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