Raider From The sky, Chapter 15-16

Peri is chasing a mystery. Danni is taken prisoner by her brother.

Chapter 15.
The Rosehollow Faery kingdom.
Peri Jumped to the center of the kingdom and went looking for his grandmother. He had looked into the mother of the royal children and found an enigma. The two oldest, Ralnor and Lelayme didn’t seem to have a mother. Glynnii and Narbeth had a mother who was up to her neck in the affairs of the Ravathyra and thought that her ex husband was mad. The last two princesses, Saphielle and Enania were the children of an official Imperial mistress and she was also present and certain that Maethanar was mad. Maethanar had hinted that Lelayme and Ralnor’s mother was fae and his grandmother was the keeper of the lore for the fae kingdom. If Maethanar had a fae bond she would probably know, or know who he should talk to. With all those thoughts, he went to the house of the kings and as he walked in, the guard said, “When will you bring your young lady, master Periwinkle?”
“Soon, I suspect. Her parents are rather busy at the moment and this place could be a shock to people. You all need to recover from my sister’s party anyway. You still look a bit hungover.”
“It was a fine party indeed and your sister found a fine young man. So what family does your young lady come from?”
“The Beinans.”
“Then the party will be truly amazing. The Beinans made rather magical things.”
“The family was separated by exile and only came together again recently.”
“Then they will probably do something wonderful. I think that I must let you go.”
“Foxglove, you can come to the house and see what they have been doing. My sister’s birthday is coming up.”
“Is that an invitation?”
“Ask mother, but I think that you and some others might be handy to have around.”
“I will, young Periwinke.”
Peri went inside and scanned for his grandmother. As was usual she was in the house library writing something down. When he walked in, she looked up and said, “Peri, why so serious?”
“I’ve been caught up in dangerous and important things in the Empire.”
“The Empire is hardly a fae playground and hasn’t been since the schism. I know that your mother has been looking into dangerous things, but you? How did that happen?”
“Please keep this confidential.”
“I will. I reserve the right to tell your grandfather and the Council if it is a danger to the kingdoms.”
“Lelayme brought her father to a party in the park next door to the palace a few five days ago.”
“So you saw the mad king. Did he make a mess of things? Lavidia hasn’t said anything about that, but I imagine that she wants to avoid embarrassing her friend.”
“Lelayme presented the man as a servant or bodyguard. He was not mad at all.”
“Now that is a truly great mischief. Why would the man do such a thing?”
“I don’t have all the details yet, but it involves the Blight and the Turmoils. Mom knows more than I do about some of it and Mrs. Harper and Lady Qinvaris have more.”
“Then I must discuss this with my daughter. The other ladies as well. Obviously you have been working with the man.”
“Yes. He set me to looking into the history and finding out what is happening. He said that it was better if I found out for myself.”
“That is a very fae way of thinking.”
“That is why I am here. Does Maethanar have a fae bond?”
“Now that is a difficult story to tell. It goes back to the Turmoils, Maethanar’s brother and the succession. You must be talking about Lelayme and Ralnor’s mother. The other royal children have visible mothers.”
“Yes. Nobody talks about the lady and there are hints that Maethanar has a fae wife. For instance, Dessielle found a gap in the palace’s shields next to a room that nobody is using. She led me there. Lelayme also hasn’t had a marriage. The closest she has come to that is grandfather and he is almost fae himself. She has even mentioned going to the faery kingdom to look for somebody.”
“First of all, Maethanar was second son. He was never supposed to sit on the throne. So when he was exploring the roads of the Empire like so many young high elves did and attracted the interest of a faery princess, it was assumed that he would disappear into the faery kingdom and that would have been more or less the end of it. But after Maethanar’s father was drained and died, his brother, who had also been aiding the combat against the Blight also fell gravely ill. He died about ten years after the Turmoils and Maethanar was forced to take his brother’s wife, his two children and the Empire.”
“So Glynnii and Narbeth are not the Emperor’s children.”
“Not biologically. Otherwise they would be showing fae characteristics like Ralnor and Lelayme do.”
“I hadn’t noticed it in Ralnor. He has a wife and kids.”
“He and his wife keep certain things discreet and on the surface, the family is entirely elven. They also spend much of their time at the family estate out of public view.”
“Do I know the lady that Maethanar bonded with?”
“You should be able to figure it out. There aren’t that many candidates and one of them just started a relationship with your grandfather.”
“Aunt Lazuli. Did you point her in grandfather’s direction?”
His grandmother grinned. “We may have hinted some things and Lazuli was looking for another lover in any case. Are they doing well together?”
“Grandfather came back from his camping trip much happier. Aunt hasn’t shown up at the house yet, but I think that she is planning to sneak in with everybody else at Jessamine’s birthday party.”
“It sounds as if Esgalwathanar has come into his own at last. I used to be good friends with his mother until she was killed so tragically. I’m looking forward to the party. I hope that I have given you enough to chew on for a bit.”
“Something to start with. By the way, if you should talk to Maethanar’s lady before I do, if she needs help, she will have it from me and I can be a discreet channel to Maethanar.”
“If I talk with the lady, I will let her know. I need to get this finished, so get along, scamp.”
Peri left the room with some clues and jumped back to the Lower City for lunch with Dessielle, Midnight, Chrissie, Aneirin and Jessamine. They were all going shopping for strange things in the warrens of the craftsmen and artificers that Dessielle and Chrissie knew to spice up the parties coming up.

Chapter 16.
LA-12 (Intrepid).
Byddri was flying with his camera over the massive farms of the Qinvaris taking pictures of the harvest. The admiral’s father was having a painting of the harvest prepared and had recruited the airship to take photos. Since the airship and Byddri needed practice anyway, the harvest was a good excuse to do that where the other side would not be paying much attention. That is until a distraction showed up, yet again. When the airship had made its second traverse along the coast the female dragon had shown up with her crystals and Captain Bushbury had launched Byddri to figure out what she wanted. That had led to rather contentious argument in dragonspeach where Byddri had had to explain things and Danni had insisted that she board the airship. Byddri had had to tell her that she couldn’t because she was in service and the Ravathrya were the enemy. He had finally convinced his sister to return to base, he had a feeling that it wasn’t over.
When he started to take his pictures, there she was. She swooped down in a stoop like they had played when they were children and flamed him lightly. “Tag, you’re it!”
“Danni, I am trying to work.”
“This doesn’t look like work.”
“It is, and go away!”
“Make me!”
Danni climbed for another pass and Byddri managed to get some pictures of the house, the threshing, and the reapers before dodging Danni. As she climbed again, he drifted to the lowered pod from the airship and wagged his wings. Danni passed again as Mokem and Nathan laughed and Nathan managed to get Danni’s picture. Byddri took several more pictures and since the camera was full, put it in his flight satchel. He looked around for Danni before starting to climb to the airship and she came, all too predictably out of the sun for another attack. He dodged to the left and flamed her as she passed on her dive. “I knew that you wanted to play, brother. Let’s give those people a good show.”
That started an elaborate series of dives and loops with periodic flaming until Danni made a mistake and Byddri managed to grab her in his claw. She immediately transformed and said, “You caught me. Now I am a Prisoner Of War. Take me in for interrogation.”
Byddri sighed and climbed to the trapeze. When they were withdrawn into the airship he was surrounded by smiling crew as he helped his sister off the trapeze. She must have been given her mother’s necklace, or had one made for herself because she was wearing a chemise type dress when they emerged into the airship. Petty officer Kitchingham said, “Byddri, who is this?”
Danni didn’t give Byddri a chance to speak as she said, “Flight leader Danni Flamefire. I am your prisoner and you must treat me as such.”
“Danni, I should just drop you right back out the hatch,” Byddri said. “There could be trouble if you desert.”
“I’m not deserting. There was a dreadful combat, you defeated me and took me prisoner. I’m sure your friends took a lot of pictures and there were thousands of witnesses on the ground that I went mad, attacked you and you took me prisoner for my own good. Now why haven’t you told mother about why you deserted and joined these people, whoever they are?”
The entire crew was grinning at the exchange as Byddri became certain that he should have dropped his sister rather than bringing her back. He pouted a bit and said, “There is a letter on the way. We don’t have access to a portal as the only one where I live has been shut down from the other side. I sent the letter on the trading ship with an explanation after I saw you the first time. I didn’t want to get in that much trouble. I didn’t desert, by the way. I was taken prisoner, released and joined these people.”
“Good. I wouldn’t want to think that you were some sort of traitor.”
“The Ravathyra betrayed us. We were sent to their Hidden City and not allowed things like sending letters home and treated like slaves. When the time came, the Ravathrya abandoned all when things got too hot for them. They actually sacrificed their entire fleet when they knew that they could not support it.”
Captain Bushbury came along the spidery frame of the airship and said “I see that you captured a prisoner, Byddri. Lady, you do know that it is unlikely that you will be returned to the Empire any time soon.”
“I wasn’t planning to return any time soon. At least not to the Dragonguards. I will be sending a letter to my father. The Guard was not supposed to be a method of enslavement.”
“Then why do some dragons have collars?”
“Is any society free of criminals? The collared are given the choice of a collar or a sentence that may include death. They have had a judgment against them and are serving a sentence, though I have seen that the collars may be used on dragons that are not criminals. That is another issue that I wish to bring to my father’s attention.”
“We do not have accommodations for prisoners aboard, so you will have to have a hammock like the rest of the crew. Nor do we have facilities for ladies.”
“I am a dragon. We are hardly modest. Now, Byddri, show me around this ship.”
“Should I, captain?” Byddri asked.
The captain had a bit of a grin as he said, “I doubt that the Ravathrya are going to be building airships anytime soon and the Fellowship’s dragons know all about them already. You can start with the podroom as we are heading back to sea, the pod should be retracted and our two intrepid lieutenants back aboard.”
“I need to drop the pictures off at the photographer’s mate anyway.”
Byddri led his sister forward and she said, “Most of this ship is nothing.”
“Yes. Most of the ship is the gas to lift it and the frame to hold the gas cells. The gas is lighter than air, but it takes a lot of gas to lift very much. So airships get big, but can’t lift what you might think.”
The two lieutenants caught up with them and Mokem said, “You caught your sister, Byddri.”
“She made it easy. Apparently mother was concerned that I was in with the wrong crowd and Danni wanted to check us out.”
“Danni, we are definitely the wrong crowd.” Nathan said with a grin.
Danni was looking at Mokem as she said, “I reserve my judgment until I know you all better. Since my brother seems to be doing well, I think that you may have your redeeming features. So I’ve seen you two, but what are your names?”
“I’m aeronautical reconnaissance officer Lieutenant Nathan Littlechild and this is pilot officer, Lieutenant Mokem Oakenshield.”
“So you are the crazy men hanging in that thing below the ship.”
“That is us. You spotted us right away. By the way, Mokem’s mother doesn’t have a problem with dragon relatives.”
“Is that true, Mokem?”
Mokem blushed and quietly said, “Yes it is. My sister married a dragon. My mother wants me to leave the navy and fly for my brother in law.”
“I think that I like your mother already.”
Mokem turned to Byddri and said, “Is your entire family like this?”
Danni laughed and said, “Yes we are. Well, my sister is a bit tame. But she has a husband and kids now, so she has to be a good example. Mokem, why don’t we find a quiet corner and discuss our families.”
Qinvaris Estate.
Richard watched the antics of the two dragons underneath the airship. His father laughed. “That must have been that female dragon that has been chasing the airship.”
“Why? Rolin’s dragonmaster is going to be annoyed that his dragons are deserting.”
“According to your brother, when your mother radioed, the female dragon is the sister of Byddri, the dragon that the captain of the airship recruited from the Hidden City for his photography skills.”
“So he was at the Hidden City when it was taken and the navy recruited him?”
“Yes. As a civilian contractor. Since the Republic is nearest to the center of the blasted lands, dragonkin don’t develop the ability to transform. That got us a bit burned when we used Hydrogen in airships during a recent short conflict with the Fellowship. We learned and switched to Helium to make the airships less flammable and equipped the airships with machine guns. Then it was the dragon’s turn and the Fellowship made them pilots. The armistice was signed and we both started to go back to the drawing board. Tom has wanted some dragons ever since and the Fellowship dragons fly airmail all over the blasted lands now.”
“Was there more than one dragon at the Hidden City?”
“Yes. Of course R-F airlines sent a rather attractive recruiter and snapped them up. Tom was a bit annoyed at that.”
Richard laughed. “Tom has used attractive recruiters before. So he can’t complain when somebody else does. Of course if that lady sends letters home that the airlines are looking for dragons, Rolin may have recruiting issues. I want to show you something amazing, so let’s get going.”
The pair and the entourage that they seem to have collected rode on to where the thresher was working away. Dan said, “I didn’t think that you had any portable threshers.”
“I didn’t either. Dad, meet Osmond Stokton. He and his boys came up with this when he needed another thresher. He has another one under construction and I have expedited the parts delivery for it and three more that I hope that we can get running before the harvest is over. Osmond, this is my father, Dan Harper.”
Osmnd grinned. “Mr Harper, your son has done amazing thing here. When he started, we were in trouble. Now we are prosperous. Even those of us who were doing well about the same time that he showed up were dealing with things that we just didn’t know how to handle. My wife and I signed our agreement about the same time that Richard got together with Rosaniya. We never thought that it would be anything of an affirmation of our partnership in the storm. Richard has turned that around.”
“There seem to be a lot of rather inappropriate relationships out here on the estates.”
“The Turmoils were as bad for the elven families as they were for the mortals. Too many deaths and not enough people. Out here, regardless of what the high elves in the capital thought, we needed to work together. That led to other things. I was surprised when my wife wanted to share blood with me, but she knew what she was doing, apparently.”
Richard looked at the threshing machine and said, “Yes she did.

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