Raiders From The Sea, Chapter 26.

Here’s Chapter 26. Captain Pinch is having a date. Lavidia finds out more about her father in law.

Chapter 26.
The Hidden City.
Jacob Pinch looked across the table at the remarkable lady across the table and grinned somewhat. Maeralya Brownlow was bright, wonderful to chat with and if a little ignorant about the outside world, was willing to learn and wanted to see as much as she could. All of which made his tasks here much more pleasant. Since the so called secret police were not, he had been giving the crew opportunities to walk around the town and see the sights. It helped that since the Hidden City had been operating as a slave depot and the Ravathyra’s testing ground for experiments, which were sometimes just dumped on the street, the hidden city was almost as cosmopolitan as a city in the Republic. Almost that is. He had had to tell chief Thran Thomas and Lieutenant Torthuk Dantas that since people of orcish background did not exist in the city and that dragonkin were only in the airguard, this was a mission and not a liberty port, they weren’t going to be allowed liberty in the city. So far there hadn’t been any incidents and as he watched the harbor and Maeralya’s very attractive face he said, “You and the rest of your family have made this easy.”
“We have tried. My lout brothers have actually been useful for a change.”
“Very, except for the fact that they keep trying to get into the boat.”
“They do that.”
“I might give in at some point, but not this trip. Things are cramped down there and somebody who hits the wrong thing could sink the boat and that would not be fun.”
“I don’t know, for us it might be.”
“You haven’t met my two cranky crewmembers who can’t come up.”
“Why not?”
“Their rather unique looks.”
“Are they ugly?”
“Not enough that it chases girls away. You would think that being a half orc would do that, but the ladies look at another part and suddenly the tusks are rather kissable.”
And the other one?”
“Scaly and flamy breath. He can’t transform fully, but he would look rather unique here and if some nosy Ravathyra officer thought he was one of theirs, there could be trouble. We are about ready to wrap things up here in any case.”
Maeralya looked very disappointed. “Will you be back?”
“Yes. I can’t say why, but there are a bunch of Republican and other Blasted land folk here and we want them home. That includes your family. I think that mother will like you.”
“Is that a promise?”
“Yes it is.”
“I will hold you to it.”

Yllanan House, The city in the clouds.
Leilatha looked across the garden in fury. First of all Rosaniya had betrayed her and ruined a party that she had spent several five days preparing for and suddenly had to cancel as all the food and drink orders had been canceled. Then Rolin had gone to Rosaniya’s house and Erlan would not tell her why. Now the traitor was here with that mortal that she kept in her bed and those two mutt daughters of hers, talking with the bitch about something. The bitch must have been responsible for the mess with her party, she just knew it. The fae were coming and taking over. There was a solution for that. She just had to have a little chat. There had been that little fae hussy that had been beguiling her brother and she had had some friends fix her wagon but good. All she had had to do was tell Paeris and some of his friends about the little slut hanging around and they went right to work, waiting for her to appear and then taking her to the place that they arranged for fun and games. Paeris was not available thanks to that traitor wife of her brother’s, but his old friends probably were and something could probably be arranged. She also thought that she would talk to her husband and Princess Glynnii and find out just what Rosaniya had done. Maybe she had done something that the Regency Council should look into or maybe something could be done to Richard, since he was still legally a slave.

Lavidia looked up at where her rival all too often stood and she was there, watching. Lavidia had fed noise into the spells Leilatha had tried to use to listen in on conversations, but still she was all too frequently there watching in her growing fury. Rosaniya looked up and said, “I imagine that she is not happy with me. After not having seen me for a long time, she went to a certain degree of trouble to butter me up somewhat so that she could get the fruits for that thing that she had already invested in for some time. Then I smashed it and destroyed her plans to top your thing.”
“Mother, you did what you did to protect me and Alinis,” Nimue said. “You weren’t the cause of what happened, her nasty relatives were. You didn’t ask for them to be idiots and try something really stupid and you gave Admiral Zylvyre a slap that he deserved. He thought that he could behave the same way that he does in the Republic and that Daddy was just another slave that could be bought and sold.”
“That was Camus, dear,” Richard said. “He admitted that he made a mistake and hadn’t really been paying attention. He’s known who I was for a long time and if he had been paying attention, he would have realized just how stupid he was being. But he was just looking at names on the list and for once in his life, actually trying to do a good thing. But he did it the way he always does things and apparently never connected the fact that the Richard Harper on the list was me. Frankly I’m a bit surprised that whoever approached us for the first offer didn’t come to me, but I suspect that whoever it was, went to Tolith, who turned them down flat, but didn’t explain, figuring that they would go to me and make the offer again and we would have a laugh about it later. Instead Camus reached right for Toross. He’s been a bit frustrated lately and was probably upset that a simple task had gotten so messed up.”
“In any case, you are not for sale, dear,” Rosaniya said. “I won’t even loan you out. You are mine and dear, its way past time that we made it official. Dear, we are signing a marriage agreement and Lavidia, could we arrange for your uncle’s circus? I have never had a wedding and I want one. Richard, you and I are having the biggest wedding that this city has ever seen. I am not going to hide you anymore and if there is a scandal, the old sticks can choke on it.”
“Dear what about your reputation?”
“Richard, I just made one of the most powerful factions come to us and beg on hands and knees to continue to do business with them. I’ve lived the way I was supposed to and gotten nothing for it. You worked for us to put us in a position where we don’t have to worry about what anybody thinks. So from now on, we will just be ourselves and if somebody thinks that that is inappropriate, if they make too much noise about it, they do not have to eat at my table.”
“If the sticks get too nasty, I will go to that place in the lower city and talk to that Tony character,” Nimue said. “From what you said, Lavidia, he had a lot of common sense and little patience with idiots. If I need to have somebody pound sense into somebody, I want somebody like that.”
Lavidia laughed. “Flix liked him. So did Teiran. Rosaniya, when do you want the wedding?”
“In the late fall. Otherwise my husband will find an excuse not to show up.”
Richard laughed. “I’m not that bad, am I?”
“Yes you are. Lavidia, you saw that the other day. He was supposed to be there with us and off he went, dealing with yet another crisis. I’ve been trying to get him to delegate and he won’t do it. The boys can do most of it and so can a bunch of people, but when something happens, Richard drops everything until it’s fixed.”
“When are you sending Nimue and I to the groves, Lady Lavidia?” Alinis asked. “Even if we don’t have fae potential, the testing should be interesting.”
“Soon I think. I need to talk to my father and uncle, but my mother in law is a bit busy at the Estate right now as we are dyeing.”
“That sounds interesting too,” Nimue said. ‘I want to see how it’s done and there are those new colors. How do you do them?”
“I have no idea. We buy the dyes from overseas.”
“How does the Inquisition deal with that?”
“Illitia just puts it down as dye. There isn’t anything on a dye brick that says how the color was done. If there is heresy involved and I suspect that there is, it happens someplace else. We just dye the cloth. The same goes with a lot of things that go through the estate. Richard, we can show you how to play the game.”
“I already do. I also have a deal with the Chief Inquisitor and Gorduin Romenor.”
“I don’t think I’ve met the man, who is he?”
“Lord Romenor is responsible for food supplies in the empire and sits on the Regency Council. He also was in charge during the turmoils and unlike a lot of people, remembers that the turmoils started with food riots in the lower city. I told him and Lord Waestoris that Lord Waestoris could have a pushy inquisitor and food riots or send somebody willing to be reasonable and have grain prices at half what they were and no more risk of famine in the city. My Inquisitor likes to take fresh vegetables home and get gardening tips as well as certain things that make growing a garden easier. Lord Romenor sleeps easy at night and lives without worrying about starving people with torches running through the city. I get to run my business pretty much the way I want to.”
“The down side of that was that Richard didn’t want to make our relationship official because the way he does business might have splashed on me and have people sniping because I was concerned about the farm and not being above such things.” Rosaniya said. “Frankly I let that go too long. The sniping happened anyway and since I hadn’t made our relationship official, I think that people like Camus didn’t know how close it was.”
Richard laughed. “Of course, dear, you do know that we are going to be in trouble.”
“Why?”
“Now that my brother knows that I am alive and well, he’s going to tell mother. The wedding announcements will also reach the Republic and mother will be looking for a way to get here.”
“How bad could that be? She’s probably pretty old and a mortal.”
“Actually she’s an exile. Erlan dropped her on the beach, pregnant, though she didn’t know it at the time and dad was riding the outskirts of the ranch and found her. He took care of her and when it became obvious that she was pregnant, said that he would marry her and she and the kid would never have to be alone. She agreed, shared blood and had, Bob, Niphinae, Tom, Bill, Ialantha, Elenaril, Lilly and me.”
“How many did Paeris kill in the raid?”
“None. I wasn’t home during the raid, I was at the Agricultural Ministry’s experimental farm on the coast where we were looking into improved strains for rice. I had just gotten out of college and was working for the Ministry so that we could develop new techniques and plant breeds and teach them to farmers. My family wasn’t involved in the raid at all. Bob is at the justice ministry, Tom is in the navy, Bill runs the ranch for dad and my sisters have families, or should. Dad and mom live at our city place where I suspect that she will be showing my picture with Rosaniya around to all to her exile lady friends.”
After the meeting and wonderful lunch, Lavidia headed back to her office where Aywin Biwynn was waiting. Lavidia hadn’t had much of a chat with Esgalwathanar’s chief guard, but his skill and competence were obvious. He had also been a bit nervous and a bit protective around her and Jessamine, especially Jessamine. “Milady, may we have a bit of a discussion?”
“Yes, I’m not busy right now. What do you want to discuss?”
“I want to keep this discreet, but this involves your aunt and Lady Leilatha.”
“My aunt? I don’t have an aunt.”
“I know that the Lord told you about her and I figure that you would go and talk with your father about his sister, but I guess that you haven’t. The reason I want to talk with you is that I know that the Lord has asked you to use a chair and I want you to know the full story from somebody who was there. I suspect the Lord told you the gist of it, but he was too emotionally involved to go over the details and there aren’t too many people around who know them anymore.”
“Esgalwathanar told me to talk with my father about it.”
“He could tell you more. Almost all of it. But I think I will tell you just about everything and since the important things happened here and I was here, I saw all of it. I was a squire, learning how to be a soldier and a guard in the family at the time and I suspect that the people who covered things up didn’t realize that I knew everything.”
“Why didn’t you tell somebody?”
“I did. Your father, but he had no power here and I didn’t test high enough to live in the faery kingdom, so I couldn’t live there and somebody needed to watch the Lord and the family anyway, so your father gave me that task.”
“A thankless task.”
“I owe Begonia that.”
“Why?”
“I was the facilitator for Begonia and the Lord. I helped pass messages and snuck her into the castle here so that the Lord and Begonia could get together without raising a stink. I was the one that set up the meeting and arranged for them to get to the portal and off to the estate we had. I had horses set up on the other side of the portal and was watching for Begonia. She usually emerged from the same place, to make it easier for me and I guess somebody else noticed. That day, I was called away from my post at just the right time and when I returned there were a bunch of footprints and no Begonia. I tracked the footprints back up into the hills and then I went to the Lord who called out our tracker and a squad. We went back up into the hills and found this clubhouse several twentieths later, with the usual things that go with a high elf young men’s club house, nobody there and in the back, on the trash heap, Begonia, who had been raped to death. We called a Justiciar in, but the members of the club were all high elves, and had alibis, including Erlan Zylvyre. Begonia’s father showed up, looking for her, but there was nothing he could do but take note of the club members. Shortly afterwards, old man Zylvyre arranged for Leilatha and Erlan’s wedding with the old man, Ievis was pissed about tying our family to the Ravathyra and then abruptly exiled, but went to Red Mountain instead of overseas, probably because he didn’t trust the Ravathyra to not just conveniently drop him overboard, and the lord had his marriage arranged with Gwaerengwen, who he arranged to live out at her Estate with their daughter. Meanwhile the Lord has been building influence and looking into the Ravathyra and the rest. He may not be able to get them for Begonia, but he has his list and if he can get them caught in their crimes, he will do that.”
“That explains a lot. Thank you for this chat and being so frank with me. But you haven’t explained why you want me to use a chair?”
“Somebody already set the Assassin’s guild on the Lord, which the boys and their royal fae cousins have made the guild’s lives miserable for.”
“Who do you think did that?”
“Somebody on the list, who became more than a bit nervous when you showed up with Teiran. The family resemblance between you and Begonia is obvious and if the lord starts telling you certain things, some people are going to be looking over their shoulders for your father. I think that they tried to squelch that by arranging for the lord’s death.”
“Do you have the list?”
“Your father does. I think that I want you to go through him for this. If it’s obvious that it’s me, then my job gets harder than it already is.”
“So when do you want me to use the chair?”
“When circumstances are that you cannot jump directly into a place. Here you can do that, I think that you have permission at the princess’s and most of the places you go. When you go to the Beinan’s and some of the other places where you go more than once, use the chair. As far as the lower city goes, I’ve talked with Tony at the casino and you will be watched when you go down there. The Zylvyre clowns won’t be able to function down there and Toross isn’t going to tangle with Tony. If you have any questions about whether you think that you should be using the chair, talk to me first. For that matter, if you are going to a place in the city that you do not know, talk to me first. Now that you all have come, I don’t want another Begonia on my conscience.”
The man left, leaving Lavidia to her thoughts.

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