Raider From The Sky, Chapters 29-30

Glynnii has complaints. Saevel find as strange whale.

Chapter 29.
The Hidden City.
After two five days Swallow was being towed to her berth in the inner harbor of the Hidden City. The young Captain Miafiel turned to his two passengers and said, “You are our first passengers that were not family. I’m sorry that the voyage was not completely comfortable.”
“It was fine, captain,” Rirlon said. “We dragons are used to stiff weather and we don’t get motion sickness, so the voyage was not as unpleasant as it would be for others. I suppose that we could have flown ahead, but this way, we can surprise my daughter and her friend. I think that is your lady in the water.”
Brendan looked out and it was Galassiel dancing across the waves. “Yes it is.”
He waved at Galassiel, who waved back and dropped into the water, only to leap onto the deck and into Brendan’s arms. “You’re back. How was the voyage?”
“Smooth. Not a whiff of pirates for some strange reason.”
“Who are these two?”
“Danni and Bryddri’s parents.”
“Good, you can surprise them. Danni and Byddri are on the airship at the moment, but they should be back in a couple of days.”
“They let Danni on the airship?”
“As long as she is not visible, Rolin can’t complain. Captain Bushbury realized that with the weather getting sour, Byddri could be overstressed and he wanted Danni in case they encountered another storm and were drifted off course.”
“Why didn’t whoever it was not want Danni on the airship?” Ghedrun asked with a bit of a grin.
“Galassiel this is Ghedrun Flamefire and his wife, Rirlon,” Brendan said. “They are Byddri’s and Danni’s parents.”
Galassiel smiled as she said, “So they came to the Hidden City to see what kind of trouble those two had gotten themselves into. That isn’t a surprise. Why don’t I meet you at the place, Brendan and after I introduce these two to Captain Pinch, we can go for a Swim.”
Galassiel leapt back in the water and disappeared. Rirlon said, “She seems like a wonderful girl.”
“Yes she is,” Brendan said. “She went for the mermaid life and I didn’t expect that. I was afraid to tell her about it, but she found out somehow and made it clear that she much preffered a life with a tail, and me, than a life in her gilded cage.”
“When are you getting married?”
“In mid Green, if her mother is returned. She was taken the day before my mother was supposed to meet with her at Cleadgate after she was finished with Paeris Zylvyre. The Great Captain had other ideas.”
“How did that happen?”
“Since we will be meeting with Captain Pinch, I will let him tell the story. The short version is that Admiral Zylvyre decided to use his entire fleet as bait to lure the Admiral into getting the fleet out of the harbor, the reserve was here, assisting the invasion and freeing a bunch of slaves, and Paeris was rescued. As part of the rescue, Paeris sent Galassiel’s mother off to someplace in the escape portal that had been set up for him. The tug is here and I must attend to the ship.”
Ghedrun watched with a bit of amazement as the steamy tug came along side, tied up and towed the little ship to the mostly empty inner harbor. Four Ravathrya ships were beached on the quay and were surrounded by barges obviously working to remove them. There was a strange spidery thing on a barge that must have been a dredge, because there was a bucket that dropped into the water and came out full of mud which the bucket dropped into a barge. Still other work was going on all over the harbor. There was breakwater under construction and a huge quay for the huge ships that were anchored offshore. Swallow was set against the quay, moored to bollards and a gangplank was set. A man in uniform swung over the side, onto Swallow and approached the pair. “Dragonmaster Flamefire, I am Lieutenant Commander Nathan Lightmaul. I’m responsible for entries into the Hidden City for the moment as the State Department hasn’t set up an office yet. I’m here to get you squared away on paperwork and take you to Captain Pinch.”
“Lead on, Commander. All in all you all are very casual about this. Suppose I was a spy?”
“We have lots of those already. Since they are all looking for ways to make Admiral Zylvyre’s life miserable, we all cooperate and share what we find.”
“Do the Ravathrya have any spies?”
“They did. They are all off to the Republic for interrogation. Considering that they were facing the potential of having a rather nasty chat with Camus Petris, they were all too willing to move to the Republic and find new lives. As for new spies, the crew of Swallow has already lost her once to pirates and they don’t want to risk that again, so any spies would be handed over as soon as they arrive, if they were lucky.”
The Regency Council.
Princess Glynnii had called the meeting again and the usual early crowd was gathering. Lelayme was grinning at a stack of pictures that she handed to her brother when he came in. “The agreement with the Dragonguard that Rolin is so determined to insist is private is fraying a bit.”
Ralnor looked at the pictures and said, I see Bydrri, but who is the other dragon?”
“Nizig, Byddri’s older cousin. His term is ending at the end of the year.”
“So he was talking to the Harpers and his cousin, who handed him all of Rolin’s failures this year.”
“Yes. Apparently Rolin neglected to tell Camus to make sure that the Dragonguard was briefed.”
Aerendyl came in and Ralnor handed him the pictures. He said, “What are we looking at?”
“The dragonlands are probably going to be looking at a new arrangement with the Empire.”
“I suspect that I will be talking with somebody all too soon.”
Vullas joined them and Aerendyl handed him the pictures. “The dragons are apparently not happy with their arrangement with Rolin.”
“I cannot understand why? Rolin has treated them the way he does everyone else.”
The little group heard the rest out in the hall and the pictures disappeared. Princess Glynnii entered with the rest and called the meeting. “I have to discuss some things that have arisen. The first is that the airship was above Eryding. We must send a note to the Republic that these incursions are not to be tolerated.”
“Has Camus discussed that with his dragon captain?” Aerendyl asked.
“I don’t know, why?”
“Because if he had, he would know that the airship went off course in a storm due to a crosswind and Byddri was asleep after being a full day on duty navigating the ship. Byddri apologized to his cousin, the dragon captain when it happened.”
“How do you know this?”
“Because Dan told me about the incident and apologized. I wasn’t too concerned.”
“We must tell the Republic that the incursions must stop.”
“We have already gone over this, sister,” Ralnor said. “So far the airship has stayed out to sea expect for flying over the Qinvaris Estate, where Richard wants the ship and the accident that just happened. Why do we keep rehashing the same old things?”
“Very well, since I haven’t been able to change anybody’s mind concerning the airship and the potential for dropping things like Republican spies, I have another issue to discuss.”
“As far as spies goes, Rolin just needs to look in a mirror,” Lelayme said. “He has been hauling people in from the Republic and the other Blasted Lands for a long time and you are fooling yourself if you don’t think that the people in the Blasted Lands were not smart enough to take advantage. Rolin has been bringing spies in for generations. It’s a little late now to worry about it now. What is your other issue?”
“You gave an open key to a dragon recently without consulting the Ravathrya.”
“The dragon in question was the brother of the king of the Windergar Aerie, so it was a diplomatic issue. He was also a decorated senior dragonguard officer with reserve status and as far as I could see the only question I had was why he didn’t have an open key already.”
“You should have discussed it with Erlan. He is responsible for things like managing slaves and the keys.”
“So the Ravathrya consider the dragons their personal slave hunting grounds? I’m sure that the dragons will be glad to know that.”
Princess Glynnii blanched and said, “What the Ravathrya consider the dragons is their concern and you should not have interfered. The Dragons took ship to the Hidden City.”
“Yes they did. Ghedrun and his wife are perfectly entitled to go there if they choose. They are also perfectly entitled to talk to the Republic. The dragonlands have not been part of the Empire in five centuries. So the dragons are free to manage their own affairs, just like the fae and the rest.”
“You helped them!”
“Yes I did. I was being polite to a member of the royal family of the Windergar Aerie, member of the dragon council of kings and the Aerie council. If Rolin wants to keep his precious arrangement with the dragons, he should be considerate to the people that are responsible for the agreement. Ghedrun is looking into things for his brother and meeting with his son and daughter and their potential spouses. I shouldn’t have had to expedite that. If Rolin hadn’t been a ham handed fool who treated everybody the same way, he would have been smart enough to facilitate and expedite things. As it is, Ghedrun does not have the power to renegotiate the agreement, but he is going to be advising his brother and the rest of the Council.”
Princess Glynnii looked around at the stony faces and said, “Does anybody have any other business?”
“I do,” Lelayme said. “We will be receiving Prince Brouzen and his wife from the Kingdom of Hammer as they attend a wedding here in the city.”
“A Blasted Lands prince here for a wedding?” Princess Glynnii snarled. “Whose wedding is it?”
“I think that you can guess. The groom’s parents are already here, but the rest of the family is not, the prince is a member of the family and providing the royal yacht.”
“Tell him NO!”
“Too late. I have already accepted with Ralnor’s, Aerendyl’s and Vullas’s acceptance. Since the prince was going to come in any case, I felt it politic to accept for council.”
“We should have voted on it.”
“Call for a vote, then.”
Glynnii did and while Princess Enania voted with her, everyone else voted with Princess Lelayme. Glynnii closed the meeting.
The Imperial Palace, City In The Clouds.
Maethanar looked out the window at a bit of a miracle. The swan dancers were working again and the park was in the process of being restored. There were two empty spots left for something that Rosaniya planned in the future. The door opened and Lelayme walked in. Maethanar turned and said, “So how did the meeting go?”
“The usual. Glynnii was complaining about the airship again and wanted to yell at me for giving a dragon an open key.”
“It must have been an important dragon.”
“Very. Ghedrun Flamefire was trying to port to the Yllanan Estate so that he could arrange transport to the Hidden City rather discreetly and instead ended up at the gates. Traelion sent him to me as a diplomatic issue, Sharian had Wirenth set the key to open and Wirenth added both diplomatic and general’s locks so that nobody can mess with the key and cause a problem like that again.”
“Why do you think the key was messed up?”
“Ghedrun thought that it was just a leftover from his service days and didn’t think about it too deeply. But Glynnii let something slip and the Ravathryra may be acting as if the dragons are their property. Considering his rank, Ghedrun’s key should have been open already. The Ravathrya have abolished the rank of Dragomaster and dragons only have command now to the squadron level.”
“Father promoted Ghedrun to the rank so that he would have equivalent authority as the other generals. He also awarded Ghedrun the Imperial Star for his efforts during the last Blight. Have you asked Traelion to look into the dragons’ portal keys?”
‘Not yet. Dessielle might be the best channel for that. Where are our two intrepid youngsters today?”
“They wouldn’t tell me. Off doing something.”
“They have proved themselves in ways we didn’t imagine.”
“Yes they have. Was there anything else at the meeting?”
“Not about the meeting, though Glynnii threw a fit over it. We are having a state visit by the prince of the Kingdom of Hammer, who is attending a wedding of a relative.”
“Richard, probably.”
“Yes. The prince’s son, Dan sent a formal note as well as a letter to Lythienne who seemed to have things in stride. Rosaniya wanted the most over the top wedding possible and I don’t think that she knew what she was getting into. I imagine that the prince will hardly be the only royalty attending, but the rest will be Lavidia’s relatives.”
“By the way, Peri found your mother.”
“How is she?”
“You will probably see her soon. Peri said that she wanted to talk with you and Lavidia.”
“She’ll be looking to get me to a grove.”
“Yes. I think that she understands somewhat, but this is hard on us all. The problem is that I can be mad, but disappearing is another thing entirely with a sucession fight and all that goes with it.”
“We have to ride the tiger. You have said that since I was a little girl. The consequences if we don’t are just too terrible. Richard and his boys are looking to change that somewhat.”
“I wish that I could provide them the help that they may need openly.”
“If we can arrange it, we should tell some of our mage friends to talk to the boys, if we can arrange a discreet meeting. They have made a lot of progress on the Blight, using that library in the lower city.”
“Have Tony watch that very carefully.”
“I already have. I don’t think that Rolin understood what he did to himself by taking Benedicta as a slave.”
Maethanar laughed. “He will be cursing himself before it’s over for doing that. By the way, speaking about libraries, your mother pointed Peri at the Inquisition’s”
“That won’t be easy. Finding the place will be hard enough.”
“We have had that issue, yes. On the other hand, Peri has a resource that we couldn’t use without giving ourselves away. Between bonding with Dessielle and Rosaniya bringing Folmon and Rebecca up from the Lower City, Peri has access to the Beinans and their secrets and he is family, so the Inquisition will probably not even notice.”
“There’s also the rest of Peri’s family, the members that went overseas. When I talk with mother, I will ask about them, but from the sounds of what I have heard the lot of them treated the faery kingdom as a playground even if they were not fae.”
“Now you are scaring me. Be surprised when your mother shows up. I shouldn’t have spoiled Peri’s surprise.”
“I will be properly surprised. I won’t tell Lavidia either.”

Chapter 30.
SS- 28 (Dolphin)
Commander Gretis stood on the lookout platform looking at the coaster they had been chasing for the last three five days. So far, the coaster had made the two stops it was supposed to. This time the coaster had hove to for the night and then gone into a bay that was rather hidden from offshore unless a ship was right on top of it. Adler had ordered the boat to run just under the surface with the bridge exposed and was taking advantage of the low light to make sure that the sub was not seen. To say that the local charts were sketchy was an understatement. They had captured the charts from the coasters at the Hidden City and all the charts from the Ravathyra’s fleet with the exception of the destroyed ships, none of the ships had come here and the charts of the region had been almost nonexistent. Gretis had been taking photographs of the ports and sightings to take the first steps to correct that, but a survey ship was needed. The coast at the rear of the bay loomed up and the commander called out, “All stop.”
“All stop, Aye.”
The commander swung down onto the bridge and said, “the coast is up ahead. How much water do we have?”
“About a hundred feet.”
“Ok, we’ll stay here. Submerge the boat. We wait until the coaster leaves and then we take a closer peek submerged.”
The crew cleared the bridge and the submarine submerged. The sub waited on the bottom until the coaster passed them on its way out. Then the commander brought the boat up to periscope depth and slowly moved the boat up the bay. The commander used the camera on the periscope with boat just barely submerged and took pictures of the shore. When he was done, the boat stayed submerged as it turned and slowly left the bay. Once the boat was far offshore, the commander had the boat surface, set a course north to catch up with the coaster, radioed Victory to find out where the coaster was and sent in a report.
The Sanctum.
Gwen helped with another trip to the dock to pick up the shipment for the month. As she looked out over the bay, she noticed a stick standing up out of the water off shore. As she worked she thought she saw the stick move, not as if it was being moved by the current, bent over, but as if it was attached to something. She smiled as she helped move the cart up the hill to the castle. Apparently her message had been received after all. It was the end of Harvest and the next voyage of the coaster would not be for another moon. At least the navy was looking. Now to see if she could send a signal. Saevel found her and said, “You didn’t go with me yesterday.”
“I was helping the other ladies with their Yellowleaf dresses. Where did you go?”
“To the point to watch for the coaster. It arrived, but I saw something amazing. A huge whale, see.”
Saevel pulled out his sketch pad and indeed there was a whalelike shape. Gwen looked at it and said, “That is a very strange whale. What is that on its back?”
“Somebody must have speared it with a big spear.”
“Saevel, that picture is just too strange. I wouldn’t show it around.”
“But I saw it!”
“I believe you, but if your mother and some of the others think that you are strange, they may want you to stop sketching. So for the strange things that you see, just show them to me. I have seen a lot of strange things and they don’t shock or surprise me anymore. That’s what happens when you have a fae family.”
“You aren’t fae. At least grandfather says that you are not.”
“No, I am not fae. But the family bonded with some and more showed up, so we had fae at the Estate, along with the seafolk and the rest of us.”
“Where you lived must have been amazing.”
“It was, but it was restrained as well. It was time for us to move out into the bigger world and my son realized that. So he set us all free.”
“Would he come and set us free?”
“I suspect that he might.”
“I want to see the big world. So I hope that he comes soon.”
“He may.”
“I wonder why the whale was following the ship. Do whales eat ships?”
“I have never seen a whale eat a ship. Most whales eat tiny fish. At least my seafolk relatives say so. The whale has teeth that are like strainers and strain the fish out of the water.”
“I think that I will ask Qildor. Maybe the sharks talk to whales.”
“I doubt that the sharks talk to anybody, but we can talk to Qildor. Qildor likes to talk with you. Why don’t we stop by the kitchen and take something for him.”
“That way he doesn’t have to eat fish that the sharks caught.”
Gwen was sure that Mage Qildor ate more than the fish that the sharks caught. Mage Qildor was more than a bit out of it and the sharks did not talk at all as the shark had overcome the human in most of them and they acted like fish, even when outside their change. Qildor did like Saevel, and was willing to talk with him. The unlikely pair trooped down to Qildor’s house at the end of the wall that separated the dock from the rest of the Sanctum. Saevel knocked on the door and Qildor opened it. “Saevel! So what brings you here? The boys are out getting something to eat. I imagine that they will bring something back.”
Gwen held up the basket with dinner. “We brought something for you. Saevil has some questions about whales.”
“Well, I am not busy at the moment and as I said, the boys are at sea at the moment, so the meal is welcome. Why don’t we sit down and discuss whales. Did you see one?”
“Yes. It was near the ship. It was huge and it looked as if it had been speared.”
“It may have been. There are fishermen who hunt whales on the coast here.”
“Do big whales eat ships and things?”
“No, the biggest whales eat the smallest fish and sea creatures, not big fish like the sharks. Even the blunt topped big tooth whales don’t eat anything other than deep krakens or squid. I have encountered dead whales on the beach and studied them somewhat.”
“Did the boys eat them?”
“No, thank goodness. Whale flesh on the land gets very rotten and stinks. You are better off staying away from dead whales and don’t spear them.”
“Did you?”
“Would you think less of me, if I said yes?”
“No.”
“Some friend and I found a whale when we were young and put our spears into it. The consequences were not fun. We stank for a five day.”
Saevel asked questions about whales all through the meal and then said, “Are their boats that go underwater?”
“Perhaps in the far past in the old empire, such things existed,” Qildor said. “I would ask Mage Nuvien, the librarian about such things. I have explored sea creatures and the highest form, the shark for most of my life and that has been my focus. Since we are done with our meal, have I answered your questions?”
Saevel smiled and said, “Yes you have.”
“Then I suspect that your mother has things for you to do and the lady here does as well, so you should get to them.”
Saevel and Gwen left the mage’s house and headed up the hill to the castle. As they were walking up the hill, Saevel said, “Now it’s going to get hard.”
“Why?”
“Because everytime I ask Nuvien a question, he makes me work for it. I’m going to be sorting books for days.”
“Why?”
“Because the mages don’t put the books back in the right place and the shelves in the library are all messed up. Nuvien doesn’t put things in order because he says that if he did, the mages won’t learn to do that. But they don’t anyway.”
“Why don’t we talk to Nuvien and see what we can arrange?”
Gwen had been looking for an excuse to look at the library and Zanis had already mentioned how much trouble using it was. He had actually hinted that Gwen should talk with Nuvien when she mentioned her library at home and how she missed it, along with her battles over it with Strom and his refusal to turn over her books on law and household management. Gwen hadn’t wanted to undertake a big project, but now that she could enlist Saevel and some of his other friends, perhaps the project wouldn’t be as large and she had the filing system from Strom’s and the other Republican libraries to use for putting the books in order.
Saevel’s mother, Elincia, spotted them and waved at them as they walked up. “What was my scamp after this time?”
“Whales. He saw one near the ship.”
“I hope that you can keep him and some of his friends occupied as it gets colder. The Yellowleaf party is in three five days and having boys underfoot, since the canning and storing are done, is a bit of a pain.”
“Zanis has been after me to talk with Nuvien about the library and perhaps I can use the boys for heavy lifting.”
“That would be a good thing. That can keep the boys, and the girls as well, occupied, get them to practice their letters and we can have some peace and quiet. This scamp has his chores, so why don’t you go and talk with Nuvien. Saevel can join you later with his questions.”
Elincia dragged Saevel off as Gwen walked up past the castle to the mage’s complex. The mages had been leery of talking with Gwen at first, but as time went on and Saevel was always asking questions and Gwen shared stories of the Republic and her remarkable family, the mages had started to welcome Gwen. Like the rest of the people in the Sanctum, the mages had been cut off from the rest of the world and Gwen’s stories were water on dry ground. Several makges waved as Gwen walked by and and Chasianna, Nuvien’s wife and the school teacher for the children here at the santum and surrounding villages smiled as Gwen entered the combined home and library. “Gwen, what brings you here this afternoon?”
“I’ve decided that I would undertake the task that Zanis wants.”
“That is?”
“Sorting the library and arranging it so that it stays sorted.”
“Nuvien and I gave up on that a long time ago. The mages just won’t put things back where they belong and Nuvien and I have other tasks and can’t spend all our time sorting books.”
“I used to visit a library in the Republic and they have a system for that. Why don’t I show you and we can get started before Saevel and the others show up.”

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