Raider From The Sky, Chapter 17-18

Sollor is upset that Esgalwathanar has not had an accident. The Justiciars have a meeting.

Chapter 17.
Richflight House, City In The Clouds.
Sollor looked angrily across the table at the guildmaster. “I have paid you well to accomplish a task that needed to be done and the man is still very much alive. How is that happening.”
“Milord, we do not fail a contract once accepted. On the other hand, you did not tell us that the man had royal fae relatives when you sent for the quote. As such we set a far lower price for the contract and commited fewer resources than we normally would.”
“The fae are trash. They should not have hindered you like that.”
“A royal fae has skills and powers that are hard to match. You may withdraw the contract if you wish or accept that it may take longer than you want.”
“The contract must be completed by the end of the season.”
“I am not sure that is even possible.”
“If you do not there will be repercussions for the guild.”
“That is as may be. I only do as I can.”
The guildmaster left. Sollor began to sweat. He had expected that the guild would have easily disposed of Esgalwathanar by now. He didn’t know why the guild was having so much trouble with a man who had never demonstrated any skills in the martial arts or been very deceptive. Once his fae hussy had been dealt with, he had always been the high elven simpleton, living a life of philandery and spending money in a huge stream to fund a lifestyle that should have left his House in ruins. Yet a check with the goldsmiths and the banks that were connected with House Richflight told Sollor that House Yllanan’s credit had no issues whatsoever, even after the raid that should have destroyed the house’s primary source of income. In fact, the raid had apparently had no impact on House Yllanan’s revenues at all and the bankers were looking forward to the house’s coming year with increased sales overseas and domestically with great anticipation. The meeting with the guildmaster over, Sollor dressed as a servant and left his castle for an inn in the Lower City. A hooded figure was waiting in the back and said, “Well?”
“The guild doesn’t think that they can finish the job before the season ends.”
“That is not good. Did they say why?”
“The guild said that the target had royal fae relatives that they had not been warned about.”
“That was a surprise all around. Does the guild suspect that there is anything other than you being nervous about Esgalwathanar involved?”
“That is hard to say. The guild is very mercenary and operates on the basis that if they don’t know something, they can’t be held responsible for it. If they succeed in dealing with Esgalwathanar, then it is I as the person who signed the contract who is at risk of be held culpable for the crime. On the other hand, the guild is hardly going to hand me over to the Justiciars.”
The figure disappeared and Sollor headed to the portal. Neither of them paid any attention to the seeming mortal who had been sitting there drinking slowly the entire time.
Yllanan House, The City In The Clouds.
Leilatha looked in frustration from her usual balcony at Teiran and Lavidia sitting with Esgalwathanar, their mutt daughter and Aneirin. The whole thing was totally beyond the proprieties and they didn’t seem to care. Worse, Aneirin’s parents were seemingly ecstatic. Leilatha had given up trying to listen in on anything that they were saying and finally turned to find something to drink. Perhaps she could find something of advantage to create a scandal at the party the day after tomorrow.
Lavidia looked up as her rival turned away from the balcony and said, “She’s looking to cause trouble.”
“Isn’t she always?”Teiran said chortling. “Of course she has had trouble, don’t forget that. Most of which has been self inflicted.”
“This time she knows the party is coming.”
“I’m sorry mother, but if she messes up my first birthday with Aneirin, she will find out that this mutt can be nasty.”
Esgalwathanar laughed. “You really haven’t done anything about that. When did Peri tell you about my sister saying that?”
“Just before Aneirin and I headed to the faery kingdom.”
“So he gave you a long time to think about what you were going to do about it and a long time for my sister to forget that she said it out loud to me. That is an interesting strategy.”
“I think that the timing was appropriate. He could have told me right afterwards, but that would have spoiled things with Aneirin. If he waited until later to tell me, the impact would have been little. But this way he gave us time to prepare if necessary.”
“Don’t go too hard on her, Jessamine,” Teiran said. “On the other hand, if you should do something like introduce her daughter to some rather inappropriate people, that seem to be fully elven, that might cause something interesting to happen.”
“Now there’s an idea. I want to get together with the rather inappropriate girls that you found, mother, while I was entertaining Aneirin in the faery kingdom.”
You have been quiet about all this, Aneirin,” Lavidia said. “Why?”
“I have had that lady and her other relatives throwing girls at me for all my life simply because of who my parents were. You have had one year of them, I have had twenty, since I was ten. The Ravathrya wanted our timber and sawyers so that they could guarantee their supply and push the Shanelis off the seas at last. I was a token piece. Then Jessamine was across the garden and for the first time there was a girl that I wanted, not some arrangement for somebody else’s advantage. It didn’t hurt that the Yllanans had a sawmill and made furniture, but that never entered my mind when I decided to talk with Jessamine.”
Jessamine grabbed Aneirin’s hand, pulled him over and kissed him. “See, I made a great catch.”
Aneirin had a rather silly grin as he said, “I knew that I had made a good choice. Mother was a bit doubtful after you danced in the garden.”
“You weren’t wearing anything but dew.”
“It got your attention, didn’t it?”
“Yes it did. I understand that the fae are not too concerned with modesty, for obvious reasons, but mother was concerned that her friends would all get upset and the family would be in trouble. It turned out that her friends were ecstatic that I managed to find a girl with no attachments to the Ravathrya and let mother know that almost immediately. She started to talk with you, Lavidia right after that and once she realized fully that she had just made a connection to the faery kingdom that we had been sharing hardwood stands with for centuries, she no longer had any doubts whatsoever.”
“My father was almost as pleased with the arrangement as your parents were, Aneirin,” Lavidia said. “The thought that the Ravathyra would be pillaging the kingdom was not a pleasant one. The Hienorin have always been good neighbors and now you are family.”
The Justiciars’ Hall, City In The Clouds.
Chief Justiciar Kelvahn Bryneiros looked around the table at the assembled Justiciars. “I called you here today, because I wanted be sure that everybody was fully up to date on all our pending cases. Traelion, since you have had the most dramatic case, why don’t you start. You seem to have judged the case closed, more or less.”
“Yes. I have had to consider the case an interfamily argument with a lot of fireworks. That is in spite of the fact that Radhron, the perpetrator of the raid has admitted that he had conducted some raids of a similar nature previously. That should close some of your cases, Lhoris.”
Lhoris Orikian, the Justiciar with the responsibility for the pirate raids grinned. “I had wondered about that. The appearance of that ship explained why we could never find a trace of the pirates and how they were able to move entire estates and businesses away. How did Radhron manage to maintain Esgalwathanar while making it appear as if the raid had been totally destructive?”
“I suspect that a large portion of the family and people on the estate knew that the raid was coming and the whole thing was prepared. For instance, an order for new tools was arranged to arrive immediately after the raid, looms and other necessary things were stashed away in barns and key people managed to escape to the outskirts of the estate and return.”
“Didn’t the slaves run?” Evindal Sarrieth, whose responsibilities included the outer estates asked. “That has happened in my cases.”
“I don’t think that the House Yllanan slaves really considered just running as an option. The ones that desired to leave, certainly could have, but enough stayed to maintain the Estate.”
“Who took over things?” Eithriel asked. “You mentioned that Esgalwathanar had half elven sons.”
“Esgalwathanar’s son Teiran, his mother and wife have taken over the silk and house hold while Esgalwathanar’s other son has taken over the trading and import business.”
“So Leilatha never had a chance at the household.”
“From what I have seen, no, she did not.”
Haramara Zylmyar, who handled the palace cases and protection frowned. “That explains some things going on in the palace. Lelayme broke things off with Esgalwathanar, but the support from him has continued and there have been some rather interesting fae visiting.”
“I think I know exactly who you are talking about,” Traelion said with a grin. “A pair of young royal fae, am I right?”
“The young man is. The girl seems to be elvish or half elvish with fae abilities somewhat.”
“That is Periwinkle Yllanan and Dessielle Beinan. Lelayme has been using them for things.”
“I will discuss them with Lelayme. So far they are not anything to be concerned about, but young Periwinkle could attract the wrong kind of attention. Are the Bienan’s back?”
“I’ve known Folmon Bienan for a long time. He lives in the lower city and his younger children go to school with my grandchildren. At least he and Rebecca lived in the Lower City until recently. Rebecca has been forced to take over the old family House. Rosaniya Qinvaris has hired Folmon and returned other families from exile to repair the dancing swans. I guess that you can say that they are back.”
“That reminds me, Traelion,” Kelvahn said. “I want to promote Gander to full Jusitciar and chief investigator. I know that he isn’t an elf, but I want him fully in and training other investigators. We have him, but we need more with his skills. Do you want to tell him, or should I?”
“I’ll tell him. I can use my daughter to push a bit. Gander doesn’t like being in front of things and throwing his weight around, but I agree with you about him being fully in and he should have authority when he needs it.”
“What was that incident a moon or so ago?” Alen Zylsalor asked. “The city guard and the Lower City are my bailiwick, but whatever it was, was settled without the guard being involved.”
“That was Camus Petris being an idiot. Paeris’s representative wanted the family members of the prosecution that had been taken as slaves returned to the Republic. So Camus sent an agent to buy the slaves. One of them was Benedicta Nightmantle.”
“You’re kidding. First of all, she hasn’t been a slave for over twenty years, second Kicaver dotes on his kids and third, Kicaver sends Tony for persuasion. I can see why my people were not called in. I imagine that Toross backed right off.”
“That was about it. Of course Rebecca Beinan and Richard Harper, among others, were on the same list.”
The laughter went around the table as Kelvahn held up a stack of paper. He grinned as he said, “I have known Rolin Zylvyre for a couple of centuries now and that was the only time he has ever apologized for anything.”
“Of course that caused my biggest headache,” Haramara said as she looked around. “That is, knowing how to put discreet security on Daniel Harper and his wife.”
“Is that a problem?” Kelvahn asked.
“So far it hasn’t been. I talked with Rosaniya and she arranged for some people, but I wish that Lythienne had brought more people to watch over her. If she were taken by somebody, things could get hot and I don’t have a connection to the Harper’s security people in the Republic.”
“Talk to Aerendyl. There are a couple of Republican cruisers sitting in Eribelle and they can connect you with the people you need to talk with concerning how the Harper’s do things. That leads me to my report, the Marshalls and Paeris Zylvyre.”
“He’s sneaky,” Evindal said. “He slipped through Iylesera and disappeared again. Nobody noticed him while he was in the city and he didn’t try to use the portal.”
“The portals won’t work for him,” Kelvahn said. “If he tries to use a public portal, his key jumps him right to a cell and sets off an alarm. I think that he knows that already. Of course there is the issue of Lady Yllanan. The House wants her back and we may see pressure on the Ravathyra until they cough her up.”
The meeting went around the table as the minor issues of the Empire were addressed and Kelvahn thought how competent people made even the chaotic go smoothly.

Chapter 18.
The Hidden City.
As the crew tied the airship down, Byddri headed off the field with his sister and the two lieutenants in a GP. He shouldn’t have been surprised to see Kythaela Brownlow waiting for them as they pulled up to the building that had been converted to a sort of office for the field. Mokem parked the GP, he and Nathan went inside to check in and Kythaela strode over and said, “Byddri, who is this?”
“Kythaela, this is my sister, Danni. She insisted on being a Prisoner of War. I think that Mokem had something to do with that. Danni this is Kythaela Brownlow.”
Danni laughed and said, “You didn’t mention your girlfriend, Byddri. Kythaela, was he an easy catch?”
“I haven’t caught him fully yet. He has a bit of shyness left. Mother likes to feed him though, so he keeps coming back.”
“I like you already. By the way, you will want to look for a nice cave when the time comes. We should look for one together.”
“Why would I want a cave?”
“It helps when certain things happen. It also helps to have some sheep nearby. Don’t worry, I will help when the time comes.”
“This sounds interesting. Byddri didn’t mention caves.”
“Byddri gets forgetful. He should know better. Why don’t you show me the town?”
“Wait a minute, you are a prisoner, Danni,” Byddri said. “We can’t just let you go!”
“Mokem is coming with us. That should be enough guard.”
“Captain Pinch handles such things anyway,” Kythaela said. “As for Prisoners Of War running around loose, there are plenty of those already. We can start the interrogation here. Danni, what do you think of Rolin Zylvyre?”
“I can’t say in public.”
“I think we are off to a good start. Now what would you do if Paeris were to walk up the street?”
“Do I get to kill him or not?”
“I see that you must have had some contact with the man.”
“Not me, but some of the slaves that came to the aerie have, poor girls.”
“What happened to them?”
They found dragonmates very quickly, including our brother.”
“No, if you run into Paeris, you can’t kill him. That is if he doesn’t try to escape and no explosions. If Paeris is killed, the Marshalls want something to identify him with.”
“You had him prisoner? How did he get loose again?”
“That is a long story. I’m surprised that you hadn’t heard it already, but I imagine that Rolin doesn’t tell his people certain rather embarrassing things that have gone wrong for him this year.”
“Such as?”
“His entire fleet being captured by the Republic. That’s one reason for the laxness where prisoners from the Ravathrya are concerned.”
“That hadn’t hit the scuttlebutt yet, for some strange reason. That does explain why the fleet is missing from Eryding.”
Mokem and Nathan rejoined them and Nathan said, “I’m to take Danni to HQ and Captain Pinch.”
“He’s not at HQ,” Kythaela said. “At least he wasn’t ten minutes ago when my sister grabbed him for lunch. Why don’t we go to lunch and meet him there.”
“Your sister is dating the Captain?” Danni asked as they started off to the inn.
“She found him on his submarine and has been chasing his tail ever since. She hasn’t managed to acquire one herself yet, but the captain’s father is due soon with his crew for harbor improvements and the captain’s sister’s baby is due anytime now, so his mother should be here soon as well.”
After some stops for clothes shopping for Danni, since Kythaela insisted, they reached the inn and Captain Pinch and Maeralya were eating lunch with Strom. Byddri said, “Captain, Mr. Ironshield, this is my sister, Danni, who joined the dragonguard, looking for me, apparently and then insisted that I take her prisoner. Considering that I am still a bit strained, have never won a fight with my sister in the air and was busy taking the pictures that the admiral wanted, that was rather remarkable. It should make the interrogation go a bit easier.”
Captain Pinch smiled. “Hello Danni. Since our regular prisoner of war interrogation people are still busy in the Republic, I have been tasked with that duty here. Fortunately that has been rather easy as most of the prisoners here are on their way to the Republic and writing reports on how things worked on the ship. So why did you choose to desert?”
“I was not deserting, I was taken prisoner. I made a mistake and Byddri caught me fair and square. Since I joined the dragonguard in the hope of finding my brother here and telling him that he should write home, my mission required that I be taken prisoner. I will also be telling mother that Byddri has a wonderful girl and that she should fly down here and have a nice swim in the warm waters. My father is going to be getting a rather different letter.”
“How so?” Strom asked.
“First of all the dragonguard is not supposed to be treated like slaves, even if they are wearing collars. Nor are collars to be applied to free dragons and all issues that might require collars are supposed to be referred back to the Aerie. There have also been some dragons gone missing without explanation, my brother here, included. Then we were not told certain things, the fact that the entire Ravathrya fleet has been defeated, for instance. For that matter we haven’t had much of any news whatsoever. If you all are here, in what was probably that city that the Admiral didn’t talk about, pretty big news. According to Byddri, in spite of Rolin banning normal letters and packages, every other faction and you all had people here.”
“We did, but we didn’t know where the place was until Paeris Zylvyre was taken with his ship,” Captain Pinch said.
“You had him and let him go. How did that happen?”
“The navy was holding him at a fort, Admiral Zylvyre expended his entire fleet and managed to get a squadron to the fort with a portal specifically for Paeris. Paeris didn’t use it and his ship was the only one to escape. It turns out that Paeris had had some Changes in his life at some point and could go on Swims.”
“Where is he now?”
“The Empire,” Strom said. “The Marshalls are sure that he crewed aboard a trader and made it to Iylesera where he hit the road.”
“He better watch his step on the roads. If he is recognized, I don’t think he will like what will happen to him. I’m surprised his dad didn’t participate in the rescue.”
“He’s dead,” Captain Pinch said.
“How. Now there is another thing that we were not told.”
“I was sitting offshore over there in my submarine, submerged and he sailed right into a perfect shot with his punishment squadron and I sent it and him to the bottom. The wrecks are offshore. I think that the sharks have taken the body if Rolin has not recovered it and sent it home. Nobody has said and I haven’t asked.”
“Is there a write up about all of this? Byddri you said that you sent a letter home. Was some of this in it?”
“Not really,” Byddri answered. “I didn’t know what father knew and just wanted to let him and mother know that I was ok. I’m not sure what I can say in mail that may not be secure.”
“Byddri, we can clip the newspaper reports and send those,” Strom said. “You never said that your father had any influence in the dragonlands. We may have to drop you on Dan Harper for a chat.”
“I didn’t think that I wanted to get the aerie involved in all of this. By the time this happened I had not been able to send letters home for three years and I didn’t think that it was that important. I was essentially a slave until my service was done in any case.”
“It’s easy to assume that everybody knows what you do,” Jacob said. “It can’t hurt to send the press releases that the navy has already sent out. The Empire doesn’t have a press or newspapers. So you send copies of your pictures of the attack here and the press releases. There won’t be anything that hasn’t been already released into the press. For that matter, you already have an agreement with the Press Agency to send pictures to them, don’t you?”
“I do. They wanted my pictures from the assault and the pictures that I take of the Empire.”
“What is this press thing?” Danni asked.
“In the Republic and the other Blasted Lands countries they have these things called newspapers that report events. They print a lot of copies on a machine that they call a press, so they call the company that collects pictures and reports to distribute to the newspapers called the Press Agency.”
“So they spread the news about things going on?”
“Yes,” Jacob said. “My brother actually is a reporter for the South coast. In any case, the press releases and the pictures should not be an issue.”
“That reminds me.” Danni reached into her satchel. I have pictures too.”
She dumped a large stack of pictures on the table. “I thought that since I was going to be a prisoner, I should make it worth your while. Since I was stationed in Eryding until fairly recently, I brought a bunch of pictures of the city.”
Strom started to look through the stack and said, “Both in the air and on the ground. These will be useful. You seem to share Byddri’s habit with crystals and cameras.”
“I like to take pictures, yes. I am intrigued by these press people. After all, if Mokem is going to be flying, there will probably be things that they will be interested in.”

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