What happens when Dragons try to attack an airship? They switch to airplanes. More fussing about Mauve cloth.
Paeris Zylvyre watched the activity as the wagon that he was driving was being unloaded of its cargo of bound sheaves of wheat. After he had joined the teamsters as a driver, the owner of the train of wagons had run half loaded to what had been the estates for several high elf families, but was now House Qinvaris. There, the activity was chaotic and spread across the land with the press of the harvest. Strange machines were used to reap the grain and tie it with twine into sheaves that workers were transferring to wagon’s like Paeris’s after they had dried overnight. The crews were a mix of elves, mortals, and half elves and their race didn’t seem to determine what job they had. There were young full elves working the binders and loading the wagons and the presumed owner of what had been one of the estates of a prominent family was a rather weather beaten mortal who had probably grown up as a slave. It was also obvious that he was in good graces with the family that owned the estate as an elven girl came out with a basket and made sure that he ate. Paeris suspected that there were some arrangements that happened out here that would not be approved of in the capital. ‘Mr. Stokton’ had apparently done well for himself. He was standing off with Richard Harper and his two boys doing something with a map.
The wagon empty, Paeris went to collect another load and earn his silver a day. Peirben Zinbalar, the owner of the wagon train had said as they started off, “Now boys, here is where we earn our pay for the year. Work hard and the money will be good. The next three moons will carry you through the winter if you can’t find work and if the bonuses are good, and they better be, take home a pretty penny to your wives.”
Avoiding the harvest and the Qinvaris Estate had proved to be impossible. At this point the farms were too big and too many questions would be asked about a drover who didn’t have regular job not working the harvest. So Paeris was stuck here until the harvest was over. In any case, he needed funds and this would provide him with some without attracting the kind of attention that he could no longer afford. Paeris was using a slight glamor to change his appearance somewhat, but he knew that the Marshalls were looking. If a high elf started to commit robberies, it would get noticed and notice was the last thing that he could afford.
The Regency Council.
Princess Lelayme had called the Council this time. So she was at the head of the table as the latecomers trooped in. Princess Glynnii looked at her with a bit of annoyance. “So, sister why did you call the meeting?”
“The Republic is going to be operating a large aircraft offshore and I wanted to make sure that you told Rolin to tell the dragons that they might encounter it on their patrols.”
“If the dragons attack it while doing their duty, that is no concern of ours.”
“The crew has dealt with dragons during a short war with the Fellowship of Peoples a few years ago.” Lelayme put a picture of the side of the airship on the table. There were several rows of dragon shaped silhouettes painted on the side next to the airship’s number. “The gunners like dragons because they make easy targets when they are attacking. The Fellowship switched to airplanes for dealing with airships. I don’t think that we have any of those.”
“Very well, I will tell Rolin to tell the dragons to leave the airship unmolested.”
“Good, I think that Rolin has had enough setbacks this year already.”
“Considering those setbacks, perhaps I should write up a proposal looking into transferring the dragon patrols to the navy,” Aerendyl said. We could have used them in antipiracy patrols and Rolin has always been adamant about giving them up. But he has lost most of the sources of income that his House has historically enjoyed and perhaps a more formal arrangement between the Dragonlands and the Empire could be established. Apparently the Fellowship has just such an arrangement. Votes?”
The vote went around the table and the majority were in favor of the proposal. Princess Lelayme ended the meeting and Princess Glynnii stormed out.
Captain Bushbury watched as the coast of the empire was coming into view from the control car of the cruising airship. So far, the trip had been without incident and the airship was holding steady at its cruising altitude of 1000 feet. This was hardly going to be the secret approach at high altitude that the Hidden City had been. Mr. Harper wanted the airship seen, albeit at far below the highest altitude that it was capable of flying. Bushbury turned to Lieutenant Oakenmaster and said, “I hope that the dragons on patrol got the word.”
“The gunners don’t, sir. They want things easy like we had it before the Fellowship got wise and made their dragons into pilots.”
“That was a bit of a nasty surprise. Somebody with natural flying instincts and fast little birds to play with were a real pain to handle.”
“Look at it this way, sir. All those guys are flying airmail now.”
“That’s supposed to make me happier.”
“We have Byddri to go out and talk with any dragons that get rambunctious.”
“True. At least the word should have gone out.”
The airship turned to go up the coast. Since this was the first mission, the goal was to be as harmless as possible, there were no visible weapons and the upper gun mount was filled with weather instruments. As the airship move up the coast several dragons flew up, primarily to take a look, since they came in twos and fours. The dragon kill silhouettes had been removed by the simple expediency of removing the cloth panel that they had been painted on and replacing it with a panel bearing the airhship’s name: Intrepid. The dragons wagged their wings and flew off.
Mokem grinned and said, “One of them winked at me. She was also taking pictures.”
“Watch out. She may want to fly with you. At least the Dragons in the Fellowship didn’t have any ladies.”
“No, but the ones that got shot down and survived, managed to collect some, including my sister, who was a nurse at the naval hospital at the time. They live at the aerie in the Fellowship now.”
“With your brother in law flying airmail.”
“With my brother in law starting an airmail outfit, yes. Of course that means that mom is always nagging me, but I can live with that.”
The captain laughed as Byddri and Lieutenant Littlechild came into the control car. Nathan said, “I think that dragonlady has her eye on you, Mokem.”
“Are you sure that it wasn’t you?”
“She didn’t make another pass up on top where Bryddri and I were. She also didn’t have a crystal out after the pass until she saw you. Byddri, could she be a relative?”
“I do have two sisters, but it is unusual for two in a family to be exchanged. On the other hand I did send letters home and my sisters tend to be rather forward.”
“Slaves send mail home?”
“The dragons are not exactly slaves, though some of them do have the control collars. We exchange for slaves to tend the fields and cattle. Of course, all too often the slaves bond with a dragonmate and become dragons themselves. Those that are left are far too valuable as we need them. In any case, we send letters home. At least until I was placed at the Hidden City. Lord Petris tried to restrict communication. It didn’t work for the spies, who worked around the restrictions by having their own portals, but we soldiers and whatnot couldn’t send letters home.”
The airship passed over Eribelle where there were waving crowds to receive it and then turned offshore again and headed south on its way to the Hidden City.
Admiralty House, Eribelle.
Iolrath turned to his son as the airship flew over and said, “We live in an age of marvels. Yet another amazing thing. I’m surprised that the Republic let us see this.”
“I was responsible for that,” Dan said. “I wanted to keep the Ravathyra nervous. I also want Rolin thinking about what he might be seeing. Of course there may be accidents over Eryding where the airship flies off course.”
“Fickle thing, the wind,” Aerendyl said with a grin. “Blows all sorts of things all over the place. Have you heard anything about the search for Paeris?”
“The Marshalls confirmed that he is seafolk and traced him to the Leomaris trading post where he signed on as crew and went to Iylesera where they haven’t been able to find him. They do know that he hasn’t tried to use a portal.”
“Do the Marshalls think that he Swam out of Iylesera?”
“They are not sure, but I and Edwin have seafolk here looking into that with crystals and he hasn’t shown up in any bowers. He could be hiding along the coast, but it is more likely that he used the roads and headed inland.”
“Most high elves don’t even know that the roads exist,” Iolrath said. The only people that use them are drovers for farm loads and other heavy things and slaves going from one place to another. On the other hand, about a century ago it was not uncommon for young high elves to use the roads to seek adventure. Paeris may have been one of those young elves.”
“In any case, he has the entire Empire to play with, but he may be a stranger to most of it. Of course the Marshalls are as well, but they will have help from the Yllanans.”
“Has Rosaniya or Lavidia said where Esgalwathanar went? Aerendyl asked. “If he disappeared it might cause some concern.”
“Lavidia hasn’t said, other than to say that it may involve her aunt, who shares some of Esgalwathanar’s habits.”
“If that brings Esgalwathanar out of hiding, that can only be a good thing. Of course watching the sparks fly is going to be fun. Is there any news about the Lady Gwaerengwen?”
“Rolin ordered Mauve fabric.”
“What is that?” Iolrath asked. “I don’t think that I have heard a color named quite that way.”
“It’s named after a chemical process that is Proscribed. But the House apparently calls the color lilac and the Inquisitor doesn’t complain as long as the dye is not manufactured here. So if Rolin is ordering bolts of silk in Mauve, some lady was told about the color and to call it that. Deiran is about to pay a visit to Camus with some irregularities and haul some new family trainees who want to learn the business.”
Eryding, Home Estate Of The Ravathyra.
Davrian Umemyar looked at the man across the counter and said, “Illithor, we are paid up, so what’s the problem?”
“It has to do with that shipment of silk we sent you two five days or so ago. We checked with Balladrial and some of the other family dressmakers and Balladrial had an extra bolt of the Mauve silk. It’s a new color that we get from the dwarves and Millicent wants to make sure that you got what you paid for. I’m not sure if the shipping documents are right.”
“Who are these two young gentlemen?”
“Hands that want to learn the business. I figured that dragging out the shipping documents and tracking down two bolts of cloth would be a bit of a drudge and that your clerks would be busy. So I brought these two to handle that. In the meantime I can tell you stories about Leilatha and her latest foibles.”
Davrian said with a grin, “At least it’s your turn to deal with the impossible. I have been having a rather easy time, Camus annoying Rosaniya notwithstanding.”