Raiders From The Sea, Chapter 24.

Fun and games in the lower city. Camus realizes that he made a big mistake.

Chapter 24.

The lower city.

Tieran popped to the location where Robin had told him to meet him. He brought Flix with him to fetch and carry if need be. Peri was already at Folmon’s watching Dessielle and the family. So far the bully boys hadn’t been seen there. Robin led them to a nice but modest house for a high elf and the kids outside saw Robin and said, “Robin! Who are these people?”

“This is Teiran and Flix. Teiran is here to see your grandfather and Flix is here to help his father if he needs it.”

“More work stuff then.”

“I don’t know. Flix do you have any good stories?”

“I don’t know, why don’t we wait until lunch and I will tell the kids here about my grandmother the tiger and how a tiger walked around the Estate for a five day until Grandmother convinced it to be a regular cat most of the time.”

The kids brightened up at the thought of a new story. As they went inside, Robin said, I want to hear that one too.”

“I will tell it.”

“Where is the cat now?”

“With Tomas and his kids, wherever they are. They spoil the thing. No tiger had it so good.”

The three walked into the Justiciar’s office and he smiled. You managed to run the gauntlet unscathed. What did you promise the kids?”

Teiran grinned. “Flix promised a new story, how my mother goes around as a tiger and how she transformed a real tiger into a cat.”
Robin turned on Teiran and said, “Flix had a bit different story. He said that the cat can be a tiger again if it wants to.”

“She can. But she can’t sit on laps like that, and she likes laps and petting, so she remains a cat most of the time.”

Traelion laughed. “So what brings you to me?”

“Robin and I talked last night and I wanted to make sure that you were both up to date on what’s been happening and what we were trying to do. Robin said that Folmon came to you after my brother in law tried to purchase Rebecca and then we put my son to watch Folmon which led to some other complications that we can discuss later. For now, Camus Petris is attempting to buy some slaves and I have succeeded for the most part in buying the slaves ahead of Camus.”

“Why are you doing that?”

“The slaves are on a list that Paeris Zylvyre’s Barrister provided that are related to members of Paeris’s prosecution team. Parris’s Barrister believes that having members of the prosecution team’s family in bondage here could be used as pulls to emotion and wanted to forestall that. I managed to intercept the list and purchase the slaves that were available for sale. They are on their way home. Some of the others were taken to the faery kingdoms and since the usual thing happened there they can go home by themselves if they want. My brother in law did track them down and suggest that if they hadn’t visited recently, they should. The last part of the list was slaves that were purchased and then became defacto husbands or wives, like the Beinans. My solution for those couples was to offer them a ride to the Republic so that they could watch Paeris’s trial with their relatives or an opportunity to write home so that they could tell the folks over there that they are ok and send pictures of the kids. Fine as far as that went. Unfortunately Camus isn’t taking no for an answer and called out his hired muscle.”

“Do you have the list?”

“Here it is. I’ve already lined out the people we’ve sent home, the fae and the couples in the cloud city, who my father and wife are visiting today.”

Traelion looked at the list and grinned. “Folmon you know about and ten of the others are more or less the same way, though Rolin may find that he has annoyed certain people that do things that he needs, clock making for instance. This last lady is one I think that you should see for yourself. Why don’t we head toward the portal. His place is right next to it.”

Traelion led them out of the house, past the children who were working on some sort of class work and up the street to a building that could in no way be called modest. The building was in bright paint and wood trim done to excess surrounding a large wheel, slowly rotating. Traelion said, “At some point, an emperor forbid gambling up in the cloud city and the law still holds, at least for a fixed establishment. Since that time, there has been at least one establishment for amusement near the portal. Some of them were crooked, some were not, but none of them could be considered large as the elves who might have frequented such establishment found them crude and rather boring. About twenty five years ago Paeris Zylvyre raided a town and took Benedicta Lion among others, as a slave. She was sold to Kicavir Nightmantle, the owner of the establishment. She had family connections to the kind of people who ran such establishments in the blasted lands and bribed a member of a raiding ship to send a letter back to the family. The family managed by means that I’m not sure I understand, to arrange for the Ravathyra to take them as slaves and bring them here where Benedicta had them help in the business. Kicavir knows a good thing when he sees it, shared blood and they have kids. So do some of the rest of them. So, we will be stuck with them.”

Teiran grinned. “I take it that Toross is not aware of all of this.”

“I doubt it. He thinks that because these people live in the lower city that they will be easy pickings. He’s about to find out how wrong he is. Why don’t I introduce you to Mr. Nightmantle and his wife. I can guarantee that he will want to establish some sort of working arrangement with you.”

“Why?”
“Because your stepbrother is Radhron, he ports through your place and has all sorts of connections overseas. He’s going to want to be on your good side. But I don’t want to know about it. I am a Justiciar, after all. Let’s go inside.”

They walked toward the building and Teiran said, “Flix, you might make the people here uncomfortable and I want eyeballs outside in case the goons show up, so stay outside and be discreet.”

“Dad, whoever brings goons is going to have to work hard to beat these characters.”

Flix walked away and Teiran saw that his son was right. The only word for the two men at the door was, impressive. They were two mountains of muscle with seemingly no neck They were also scanning the wide street in front of them. One of them saw Traelion and said, “Justiciar, looking into the incident this morning?”

“What happened?”

“Benedicta was taking the kids to that school she takes them to and these two clowns show up and start to grab her right in front of the place. Tony was the only one out there, then, weren’t you.”

“Yes I was. The idiots went after Benedicta, the kids scram into the casino and I charge in before the idiots get real hurt. I rough them up a bit to make Benedicta happy, dump them in the portal and send them as far away as I can. I don’t want Benedicta after my hide and I don’t want some guy getting dead because he took a job and didn’t realize what he was dealing with. Just grabbing Benedicta without preparations is asking for real pain.”

“I’m not here about that. At least not directly. This man here wants to talk about Benedicta about the characters that showed up and let Kicavir and Benedicta know what they are dealing with.”

“Good. Let me know too and I’ll tell the boys. Do you think that the idiots will be back?”

“Yes. I will explain why when we talk to Benedicta and Kicavir.”

They walked inside and Traelion quietly said, “Tony wasn’t exaggerating about Benedicta. She has two steel needles that she always carries and she is very deadly with them. With the kids at stake, those characters were as good as dead if Tony hadn’t intervened. Here she is now.”

Benedicta was still an attractive woman, seemingly cheerful and a bit bubbly as she came over and said, “Traelion, so good to see you. Where are your grandchildren? I didn’t see them when I was dropping my mob off. I know Robin and Robin, you are not allowed to play here, you know that.”

Robin laughed. “Bene, I do have work sometimes and sometimes when it looks like I’m playing, I’m working. I’m looking into something that Teiran’s lady came up with and involves your little encounter this morning.”
“That? That was no big deal, though I wonder who would be so stupid. I may need to train some people just so they can do the dirty jobs that need to get done and can do them properly.”

“Where are the kids?”

“Here, why?”
“The characters are attempting to force Kicavir to sell you to them.”

“That’s stupid. First of all, when Gaylia was born, Kicavir and I signed a marriage agreement. Kicavir had been illegitimate and didn’t want his children to be. So we agreed to that. I’ve been married and not a slave for over twenty years now. Kicavir couldn’t sell me legally even if he wanted to. Second, I wouldn’t make a good slave in any case. That’s just stupid. What idiot is that stupid?”

“Camus Petris.”

“Ok he got rid of me once, which probably actually made him happy. Why in the world would he want me back?”

“Because you have a cousin who works at the justice ministry back in the Republic,” Teiran said.

“So? Every family has their oddballs and black sheep. Chris is ours. He was supposed to be the family legal guy and the ministry grabbed him right out of law school. So why does what that goody two shoes is doing involve me here?”

“He is on the prosecutorial staff for Paeris Zylvyre.”

“Oh, and the old man wants leverage.”

“No, he wants to send you back. Paeris Zylvyre’s Barrister requested it.”

“That makes a weird kind of sense. A different kind of leverage. That is if I wanted to go back. So the old man sends me back so that I can say hi to Chris while he is doing the one thing that I agree with and then what? Is he going to make arrangements to get me back? Gaylia has a boyfriend up in the cloud city and it’s getting serious. I would need to be back for the arrangements and Admiral Zylvyre doesn’t have the means to get me back. I mean it is not as if he can even raid the coast anymore, let alone set up some kind of regular passage.”
“I’m actually working on that with my stepbrother.”

“Then we should talk with Kicavir, but not with Traelion present. He’s a good sort for a cop, but he’s still a cop. Why don’t you come back later without him so that we can have a serious chat about business.”

Robin smiled. “Bene, you need to keep him away from the tables too.”

Benedicta looked more closely at Teiran. “He doesn’t look fae. I can usually tell.”
“His wife is a fae princess. He wasn’t born fae and that makes it easy to maintain a template so that he doesn’t look it, but he can do everything I can, better.”

Teiran said, “Robin, you are a spoilsport. Think about how much fun it would have been to drain the place dry?”
“Not really and it has been useful as a cover in the past. Bene, is Kicavir in his office?”

“Yes. He has the kids there.”

They walked through the floor which was empty this time of day and into an office with the rather incongruous picture of an obviously dark elf playing warmly with his younger three children. He looked up and said, kids, I think I need to talk with these gentlemen, so go out and annoy your Uncle Tony somewhat.”

“Keep them here, Kicavir,” Traelion said. We don’t want the kids out front right now.”

“This is bigger than attempted mugging, isn’t it?”

“Much bigger. Camus Petris was behind it. They were trying to take Benedicta so that they could return her to the Republic so that she couldn’t be used to influence Paeris Zylvyre’s trial.”

“I doubt that Bene being here is going to change anything very much, one way or another. He’s going to be strung up and that’s a good thing. Bene, if the Zylvyres do want to send us, maybe we should go, see the trial, take the kids to meet the family and watch that bastard get strung up.”

“I can probably arrange that better than the Zylvyres can,” Teiran said. “The ships my stepbrother uses are not at war with the Republic and the Zylvyre’s ships have that little problem.”

Flix popped into the office. “Dad, you all should come out front. The idiots are back and it isn’t pretty for them.”

They all walked to the front where Tony and four other men from the casino were tackling with ten rather rough elves and beating them handily. Tony started to haul the various unconscious members of Toross’s outfit to the portal and toss them through. All too soon the goons were all tossed through the portal and gone. When the last of the goons was sent through the portal, everybody laughed and Tony said, “Who’s their boss idiot and where does he live? Me and the boys are going to have a bit of a nice discussion with him before he does something really stupid.”

 

Eryding, Home Estate Of The Ravathyra

Camus’s head quartermaster, Davrian Umemyar, came in and said, “We have a big problem. What did you do to piss off Lady Qinvaris.”

“Why?”

“Effective immediately, House Qinvaris will not sell us anything.”

“So?”

“No produce, flour, rice and cornmeal for starters. Hay and animal fodder on top of that. To add to the problem nobody will sell us salt pork, beef, mutton, rum, wine or any of a number other things that add up to things we have to have or we have a lot of people starving.”

“Did the Lady explain why?”

“According to her factor, who I just returned from talking with, the lady wants an apology for threatening her family from you and the Admiral at her place, in person. She also wants the apology and a statement from you and the Admiral in writing that you will take no actions in an attempt to force her husband to go where he does not want to go or anybody else for that matter and the statement is to be submitted to the Justiciary and the Regency Council. As I said, what did you do to piss the lady off?”

“I was attempting to persuade her to sell a slave to us.”

“Not Richard, I hope?”

“It may have been, now that you mention it. Taredd was going on about high elf ladies, kids and farms and I wasn’t paying attention.”

The man sighed. “That would do it. I’m going to tell you right now that that was two kinds of stupid. First you get what you just saw, then, if Toross does something stupid like mess with the lady or her daughters, then you get a pissed off Richard, who won’t be as nice as the lady is and accept an apology. He’ll want your and Toross’s heads and by the time things are over, he will have them. Toross has some tough people. Richard has hundreds of tough people that worship the ground the walks on and if you go after his girls, you are asking for more trouble than the Admiral can handle.”

“How long can we last without shipments?”

“A five day, maybe, at best. That’s when things get critical.”

“Do we have alternate sources of supply?”

“Wouldn’t matter. They won’t ship to us either or they will charge so much that we couldn’t afford it. I would go and talk to the Admiral right now, both of you write that apology and then go over to the lady and beg on your knees for forgiveness before Richard hears about this. Because pissing the lady off is one thing, pissing Richard off and that’s another. In any case I would send somebody to Toross and fast, to tell him to stop before he does something to make this a big mess that you can’t fix.”

Camus sent a messenger to find Toross. While he was waiting, his master ship builder wanted to know what he had done to anger the brass foundry that supplied the fittings and copper plates for the bottom of the ships and his time keeper said that he was unable to purchase chronometers or compasses. Toross came in and said, “Other than some stuff in the lower city, I hadn’t even started anything yet and I was going to back off the character in the lower city.”

“Why?”

“The character runs a casino. The thing is that he dotes on his wife and kids. You must have brought the whole family of nasty characters over when you brought her over, because there they all were and if I were going to try to take them all on, I was going to need more resources than I had. Some of the guys were bigger and meaner than our enhanced guys and the others were even nastier. They all must have found elven wives because they had half elven kids that were chips off the old block. I just had a discussion with the boss of Mr. Nightmantle’s people and he said right out that doing what I was trying was just stupid and that messing with the lady or her kids was going to get me floating face down in the river. You don’t pay me enough to mess with that kind of trouble.”

“That’s ok. If the people don’t want to go home that badly, I’m not going to force them. Frankly, I screwed up. I was paying so much attention to getting a job done that I forgot why I was doing it. Collect your pay. I need to talk to the admiral. We are going to have to eat crow and make a visit to a lady. The sooner we get it done, the better.”

“By the way, the casino guy and the lady? I checked after the fiasco. They had a registered marriage. The lady hasn’t been a slave for over twenty years. He couldn’t have sold her even if he wanted to.”

Toross left and Camus went to the Admiral’s office and went inside. “Admiral, I screwed up.”
“How bad?”

“As bad as it gets. You know Lady Qinvaris?”

“Rosaniya. You were trying to get her to sell you one of the slaves on the list.”

“I should have been paying attention to who the man was. I’m not sure how I didn’t see it. The slave was Richard Harper.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Not one bit. I sent Tollas to try to convince the lady to sell the father of her four children who has been running her business for the last twenty years. It didn’t sink in until Davrian came in, said that we had been cut off of all supplies and read me the riot act. The thing is that if I actually managed to get my hands on Richard, Rosaniya would cut us off and if Tollas had messed with Richard’s daughters, Richard would be after Tollass’s and my heads and I think that you would have handed them to him to avoid all out war with the man who controls our supply lines.”

“We could find other sources of supply.”

“Not here in the empire. The farms that Richard doesn’t control outright, he has good relations with and if he were say that we were cut off, we would have no food in a five day. Davrian and Rosaniya made that pretty clear.”

“What does Rosaniya want?”

“An in person apology, an apology in writing and a statement to the justiciars and the Regency that we will take no actions against people that do not want to leave the empire.”

“If we don’t do that?”

“Then we will be dead in the water, our crews that could leave would and the family here and in the city would not be able to eat. Pretty much total destruction.”

“How did we get in this position?”

“I’m not sure, but the Qinvaris have been giving us, and everybody else the best prices on grain and produce for a long time. When you can get twice the wheat or corn for the same price, you are going to do that. So we did. I’ll look into changing that, but I don’t think it will do any good as the rest of the farm families would follow Richard’s lead anyway. We really don’t have a choice but to see the lady.”

“I think that you are right. What about the rest of them.”

“When we get a raiding fleet together, have the captains be very careful who they take for slaves. The lower city has an organized criminal element and apparently, it’s our fault as we brought them over. Toross was rather frightened of them. Also, our brass foundry and some others things are going to want the same assurances that we will not attempt to kidnap family members and ship them overseas. The funny part is that Toross hadn’t actually done anything except run into those characters in the lower city.”

“So somebody figured out what we were probably planning, or expected that we would be doing certain things and spread the word around. All Toross had to do was start nosing around and the lady and the rest took preventive action. This whole thing was stupid and we need to see the lady.”

 

 

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