Raider From The Sky, Chapter35-36

Strom and Sudyral visit the north. Princess Enania is upset about the book sale.

Chapter 35.
Coaster Lyrei
Strom watched the coast pass by the little ship. It had been a long time since he had ridden a vessel under sail other than the family yacht and the little junk was far different from the brigs and schooners that had had the same job in the Republic up until small steamers had taken the trade. They were a five day into the voyage and were approaching the strange harbor. The ship’s mate came over to where Sudyral and Strom were standing and said, “For the next bit, milord, ignore that we are making a stop. If you take a crystal out to take a picture, Captain Aranan will have to feed you to the sharks and they are hungry. If you can have your slave help with the unloading, that would be a help. Frankly, I don’t know why the captain took you on.”
It turned out that Sudyral did the arrogant elf very well as he said, “The captain took us on as he had no choice unless he wanted me to complain to my father who would complain to Lord Zylvyre. I have been sent to this task for the House. I would much prefer to be hunting grouse with my bow at the Estate rather than dealing with this problem. But mother insisted and sent me to watch our trusted servant. Why Strom could not have gone on his own is beyond me.” Sudyral took a crystal out and took some pictures. “Very well, I will stay in my cabin until the stop is over.”
He stalked off. Strom turned to the mate and said, “Would the captain really throw the young lord to the sharks.”
“It’s happened before. If he didn’t, the captain would be thrown to the sharks by Admiral Zylvyre.”
“What is so special about this place?”
“I have no idea. We just drop off the shipment and leave.”
The ship approached the strange walled dock. Strom looked over the side and saw something he hadn’t seen in a very long time, the fins of Changed sharks. They were acting just as he had seen them on that horrible day. He had palmed a crystal and took some pictures of the Changed sharks, the dock, wall and the barracks with a door over the water where the sharks probably lived. Then the mate handed him a tablet and he started to check off things that were unloaded. This was perfect as there were some extra boxes that Strom was sure that Gwen would recognize, but nobody else would. When Strom came back, he was planning to make some things disappear and if the boxes with the strange markings were noticed, the contents looked rather like candles. Strange candles with paper wrappers. The boxes also contained a submachine gun, grenades, spare magazines for his and Gwen’s pistols and several boxes of ammunition that fit all the guns. Strom was going to prepare for a small war if he needed to.
After the unloading, Strom handed the tablet to the mate and said, “The count checks.”
“That makes things easy. You wouldn’t believe the fit we had earlier over some cloth earlier this year.”
“What happened?”
“House Yllanan had shipped us two rather expensive bolts of silk and then they miscounted at one of their dressmakers and thought that they had shorted us. They had two young men from the family going through all the manifests and then checking with me to make sure that both bolts of silk were the same. Of course the silk was being dropped off here and we couldn’t talk about it. What kind of crazy color is Mauve anyway?”
“I’ve never heard of it, but the family deals in wood, not cloth. It’s what the high elf ladies want, I guess.”
The ship prepared for departure and left the strange dock behind. Strom took several more pictures with a palmed crystal. As the twilight approached and the ship was off the coast Strom brought out another thing that had been in the young lord’s baggage, unscrewed the lid, put the crystals inside, tripped a trigger on the bottom of the lid, screwed the lid back on and dropped the cylinder into the water. The Aluminum buoy floated off.
SS- 28 (Dolphin)
The boat was running on the surface and the commander was in his cubby when there was a knock on the door and Sparky said, “Radio beacon signal, sir.”
Adlar came out and said, “How far?”
“A couple of miles. I told the lieutenant and we’re heading toward it.”
“Is the chief ready?”
“Yes sir. Of course he’s cursing you out.”
Adlar grinned. “That’s what happens when he is a neighbor. What is he complaining about now?”
“About the fact that you haven’t, as he said, “closed the deal” with your lady so that you could back him up when he Swims.”
“He must have been talking to his cousin who has been chasing my sister for some time and wants to get her to a beach without mother making a fuss. If I go first, Noelani has an easier time and so does my sister who really wants that trip to the beach.”
Sparky laughed. “So the chief wants you to make things easier for his cousin. Of course he’s been plotting with Kailiani, you know that.”
“I think that he sent the letter to mother about her. You need to get back to your station before some important message comes in and I need to get wet, in a bad way, up top.”
The commander headed up the passage to the control room and climbed the ladder to the conning tower and up to the bridge. The chief was in Change on the front deck and there was a crew in oilskins with a net. A light appeared on the water and the rating called instctions down the hatch until the light came alongside, the crew with the net scooped up the bouy and hauled it aboard. Once they had it aboard, they dropped it through the hatch and followed it, followed by the chief after he released his Change. When the Commander found them, The chief was dressed and dry again. Adlar grinned and said, “Chief, what are you grousing about? You didn’t even get all that wet.”
“Not this time, sir. Still you shouldn’t put Kailiani off that much longer. You wouldn’t want her to get away.”
“True, though my sister has stuck with Noel.”
“And he’s a lucky guy. Now all we have to do is get the families together and we can end all the squabbling.”
“I think the oil guys did that.”
“True. With all the work they brought and the leases. Why don’t we see what Mr. Ironshield sent us, sir?”
The chief opened the buoy and it was full of crystals. Adlar and the chief shared grins. Adlar said, “I think that we will be making a quick stop in Eribelle.”
The commander went aft to the control room and had the boat heading to Eribelle.
The Sanctum.
Gwen was helping with the supplies when Elincia came up and said, “Do you know what these boxes are?”
“They are strange and nobody else does.”
“Let me look.”
The three boxes were painted grey and marked for Paeris Zylvyre and from Ironshield and sons. Gwen grinned. “They must be something that Rolin was putting here for Paeris. Why don’t we just leave them in the storage room. If Paeris shows up, he’ll know what they are.”
“Do you think that he will?”
“It hasn’t been six moons yet. He is probably still out there. After all Rolin hasn’t said anything about him.”
Saevil showed up a bit later to help and said to Gwen, “The whale wasn’t here this time.”
“You still think that it is a whale?”
“Nuvien says that if I say too much about what I think it really is, that the Inquisitors will come and take me away to exile.”
“I doubt that the Inquisitors even know about this place.”
“Who are the Inquisitors anyway?”
“I will tell you over dinner. It is a long story and it will take time to tell it.”
The boxes were loaded with the rest of it and put away in the storage. Gwen made sure that they were stacked near the door. She did not open them to look inside. Saevil was waiting as Gwen helped to serve dinner and sat down across from her. “So what are the Inquisitors?”
“They enforce the proscriptions. A long time ago there was a terrible war and to fight that war terrible machines were made.”
“Like a ship than can go underwater?”
“I suppose so. You have been looking into that.”
“Do they have such things in the Republic?”
“You will have to go there and discover for yourself.”
“I can’t.”
“You can prepare. Learn what you can, hike in the woods, learn how to hunt and feed yourself in the woods and when the time comes, go out and find the world that is out there.”
“They would bring me back and feed me to the boys.”
“That is a problem that you will have to solve, yes. But the boys where I used to live had to deal with the fae and the seafolk, who, while they wouldn’t eat them, could cause all sorts of mischief. Let me finish the story.”
Gwen told Saevil about the history of the cult of magic and magery, the imposition of the proscriptions and the formation of the inquisition. Then she went over the history since that time, her life at her home and the fae who were their neighbors.
“There are no fae here.”
“At least there are no fae that are not hiding. If you encounter one, they may talk with you.”
“Do they talk with you?”
“They haven’t yet, but they may not know me and my relatives may not have told the other kingdoms up here to look for me. If they knew where I was, that would change very quickly.”
“You are not fae.”
“No, I am not. I have been tested, like everybody else where I live and passed. Since I was married, it was not likely that I would be called to a grove, especially after I shared blood with Edwin. But the family would still want to find me and ensure that I was ok, if not provide for my release. If I should suddenly disappear look to the woods.”
Gwen had never thought about certain skills that she had picked up over the years at the estate. She almost never used them very much. Lavidia’s mother had insisted that she be tested, so she had. Her potential had not been especially high, but that may have been a result of sharing blood with Edwin. She couldn’t Jump very far and was out of range of any of the anchors at the estate or the faery kingdoms since the estate was on the south side of the Empire and she was now in the north. If there was a faery kingdom nearby, the fae had made no attempt to talk with the people here. Or they had a long time ago and been driven away by the mages.
Now that she was thinking about them, she had a thought. She would wait until dark, but it was time to make use of those skills. It was time to bring her cat out. Strom was probably on the way, if the boxes meant anything and at the very least, she could provide as much information about the Sanctum as possible.
Later that evening, when Eloimaya was asleep, Gwen removed her shift and started the transformation. It wasn’t the full and fast transformation of a fae and the cat form was sort of a mix of cat and elf. Once the transformation was completed, she slipped through the window, closing it behind her, set a Jump anchor and padded silently across the roof and jumped down. Once down, she padded into the woods and then scanned around. There was an almost blinding glow where the mages had their village that represented an almost infinite amount of mana that seemed to be coming from deep within the earth. She looked around for traces of the fae and there seemed to be old traces on the far side of the mana pool. She slipped through the trees and and found groves burned out and the remains of the center of a fae kingdom. Somebody, with the Ravathyra being the most likely suspects, had risked putting the Empire at war with the fae by destroying a fae kingdom. They had also managed to keep the attack from being discovered by the other fae. As she was passing a grove at the far edge of the kingdom, a fox appeared and said, “Who are you and why are you here?”
“Gwaerengwen, and I was trapped at the Sanctum by Paeris Zylvyre.”
“The monster. Would you talk with us?”
“Not at present. I think that I must return and get some rest.”
“You are not full fae, yet you must have been tested. You must tell us your story and let us tell you ours.”
“Shall we meet again in three days?”
“Yes. You will be met by a guide at the old center.”
“I must go.”
Gwen Jumped back to the roof. As she closed the window and started to reverse the transformation, she thought about how productive the Run had been.

Chapter 36.
The Regency Council.
Princess Enania had called the meeting this time. The usual crowd arrived early and Ralnor said, “What do you think that my sister wants?”
Lelayme grinned. “I imagine that the Inquisition is rather annoyed at Mrs. Harper.”
“What did she do?”
“Went to the book faire, apparently.”
“So? We’ve all been and I sent Nilbane to look for some things for me. I couldn’t take the kids this time as Edraele had a tea. Nilbane didn’t mention anything unusual.”
“Lythienne apparently brought a large stack of books from the Republic and traded them for the story and poetry books that she had liked as girl.”
“That is what the faire is about, for the most part. To trade and share books. The only people that actually buy a lot of books are the Inquisition led by that Jackass Delion.
Aeryndyl and Vullas came in and Vullas said, “did I hear jackasses being insulted?”
“We were discussing Delion and his usual annual antics at the book faire, yes.”
“Lythienne had his number. He kept buying those history sets she had and she would bring out another one, not including the sets she was using for trade or giving away. She made a lot of people happy.”
“Is that what they were?”
“Yes. Some exiles with time on their hands and access to all sorts of old documents in the Republic, did a history of the early Empire to the present. I want a set for my House Library.”
“So the books were not obviously heretical, but the Inquisition, especially Delion would have a fit?”
“I’m not sure, but from Traelion’s report, Delion went back four times, buying the sets and other things before he realized that Lythienne had a lot of the books.”
The rest of the Council came into the chamber and Princess Enania called the meeting. “I wish to discuss the spread of heresy.”
“How so, sister?” Lelayme asked. “We have already been over the airship and the ships that Mr. Harper has. But that isn’t spreading heresy. It’s just that the Republic just doesn’t care about the Proscriptions.”
“The Republic was spreading heresy at the book faire in the lower city.”
“Lythienne was trading books that she brought,” Ralnor said. “Just like everybody else. If a book seems to be heretical, Delion can buy it. Those are the rules. Otherwise he has to get a writ and trying that in this case would cause a rather nasty diplomatic incident. If the books were so heretical, why didn’t Delion buy them?”
“He tried, according to Melaris. Every time he did, Lythienne brought out more books. After the fourth try, he gave up. But Lythienne had more and Delion isn’t sure where they went.”
“I don’t have a set, yet. Edraele has some things that Lythienne might like. Sister, just because you don’t read very much doesn’t mean that there aren’t others who do. I think that the Inquisition was perhaps too assertive in taking our history away. If Lythienne wants to help the Empire recall its greatness, is that such a bad thing?”
Lelayme said, “Enania, I will discuss this with Lord Waestoris. Perhaps he can talk with Lythienne and Dan and come to an agreement. It would help if Glynnii would allow the Council to talk directly with Mr. Harper, but until that happens, there is very little we can do.”
“Don’t blame me for this spread of heresy!” Glynnii shouted. “I didn’t want the man in the first place.”
“We could have Delion chase down the people that have the books,” Enania said. “We can punish them for heresy.”
“The Justiciars are too busy with other tasks,” Vullas said. “None of them want to deal with one of Delion’s circuses right now. For that matter, I don’t want to have to deal with the backsplash from that. If Delion goes into the Lower City on one of his witch hunts, the results won’t be pretty. Neither Traelion nor Alen are going to sign any writs for Delion without overwhelming supporting evidence of some kind of real crime and none of the other Justiciars have any jurisdiction in the Lower City in any case.”
“So, you all support heresy.”
“No, we do not. But stirring things up pointlessly will only cause unnecessary strife. For that matter anybody who really wants to commit heresy and ignore the Proscriptions can just buy a passage to the Republic and exile themselves. Of course that will have unpleasant consequences for those left behind. A little tolerance can make life go more smoothly.”
“Sister, trading books is not a crime,” Ralnor said. “If we start persecuting people for that, there will be an uproar like you wouldn’t believe in the Lower City and angering Richard’s mother comes under the category of total idiocy. Remember what happened to Rolin and that was Rosaniya. I don’t want to find out what the lot of them would do.”
Enania looked around the table, closed the meeting and stormed out.

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