Raider From The Sky, Chapter 37-38

Peri makes off with a library. Gwen has a meeting

Chapter 37.
The Waestoris Estate.
Peri stood on his horse and looked at The Waestoris Estate from a distance. He, Dan and Taranth had been inside the library several times. The village knew who Dan and Taranth were and treated them like royalty. It was evident at this point that actually robbing the library would be the easy part. Lord Waestoris’s estate manager had no problem with the boys parking wagons in the library’s courtyard and using the stables and having the crew camp out there as well. In fact they had been doing that already for years. That left where the library was going to go and Lythienne had the answer to that. For the time being, the library would go into storage at one of the estates that was empty. Lythienne went to Tarron and with one look at his little library said, “We can do better for the lower city.”
A five day later, there were plans for a rather large building and it was fully funded by exiles in the Republic. The Royal yacht was also going to be rather full of books when it arrived. That left one thing. The diversion. When Peri had talked with his parents and the rest, everybody had agreed after looking at the situation that the problem would be hiding where the library was going to end up and when it was robbed. Peri caused the portal to have a malfunction that meant that anyone who used the library portal from the Inquisition side would end up at the city gates. So anybody wanting to go to the library would have to actually come to the estate and enter through the door. Right past the working crews with a chuck wagon, forge and repair wagon, as well as other wagons coming and going and the whole thing apparently total chaos as bags of wheat and oats were being stacked in the village graneries and all the rest of it. The fact that some wagons were leaving as full as they entered and had canvas covers would not be something that would be paid attention to. Peri said goodbye to the boys, dropped the horse off at the stables and ported home. He and Dessielle were making a long Jump tomorrow.
Paeris Zylvyre had a grin as he drove his wagon out of the courtyard with its load. He had never thought that he would ever help rob the Inquisition, but there it was. The irony was that he couldn’t tell the family about the caper in time for Melaris to do anything about it and just what Melaris was going to do in any case was bit of mystery. When Peirben had asked for volunteers for a “special job” that would pay very well, the implication was that it involved a caper. Paeris had been one of the first to sign up and even if he wasn’t paid extra, being on the inside of something like this was worth it. How House Qinvaris and House Yllanan expected to get away with it was a bit of a mystery, but the sheer scale was inspiring.
Empire House, The Port of Chatsrey, Beltian Republic.
Peri and Dessielle Jumped to the anchor that Robin had given him. There in front of them was a house with wooden trim that looked like it was made from candy. There was an Imperial seal and a sign that said “Empire House” over the fancy porch and Tigger was sleeping on the porch. She woke up, saw Peri and went back to sleep. Peri and Dessielle looked around and Dessielle said, “I never imagined a place like this!”
“Neither did I. Let’s go talk to Tomas.”
They walked up the steps to the door and Peri knocked. Calladia answered with a huge smile. “Peri! So what brings you here?”
“I wanted to introduce Dessielle to my cousins and talk to them about something.”
“So what mischief are you up to?”
“Stealing the Inquisition’s library.”
“What! Why would you do that?”
“Because they didn’t care about it. So I arranged to give it to somebody who will. They stole most of it anyway.”
“Do your parents know?”
“Yes, along with some others.”
“Well, come in. Tomas and the kids are here.”
“I brought mail. I have things for Tomas and from Lelayme.”
“How did that happen?”
“I told them I was coming here and they handed the things to me. Dessielle’s mother sent mail for her brother, but I’m going to need an address as she didn’t have it. He works for the justice ministry. Dessielle’s father also has mail for some relatives.”
Tomas came into the hall and said, “I thought that I heard you out here, Peri. Why did you come?”
“I wanted to talk with my cousins and set something up.”
“What?”
“I need to make a splash to cover something up. I’m hoping that my cousins can make it happen from here and give a good show.”
“What are you covering up?”
“We stole the Inquisition’s library.”
“What! How?”
“It was easy. The building didn’t have any staff and nobody was using the library. So a bunch of guys came, loaded some wagons and drove them away.”
“Won’t they find out?”
“That won’t be easy. First of all, they have to find the place, since the portal doesn’t work anymore and I don’t know if anybody really remembers where the library actually is. Then the wagons were also part of the harvest and had been using the library’s courtyard for years anyway. The harvest is moving on tomorrow and everything will be as I found it.”
“Why do you want a splash anyway? It sounds as if the tracks are pretty well covered.”
“I want a splash because the trick will be keeping that clown Delion from looking for it and causing trouble for some friends of mine.”
“Why don’t you arrange for a fire?”
“That would be an easy way out, but if somebody looks and doesn’t see any trace of the books, they will start looking. But if a ship comes from the Republic and takes the library, then it is gone.”
Tomas grinned. “I think that your cousins will enjoy it.”
“That’s the big thing with this. If I pulled this off all by myself, which I could have, my cousins would be pissed at me for a long time when they heard about it.”
“I have a nice place for lunch, so why don’t I bring the car around and we go and tell Vikz about your adventures.”
Tomas went back to kiss his wife and tell her where they were going, led the pair to a strange sort of wagon, they got inside and with a growl up front, they were off. Tomas seemed to have no problems with the thing as he dodged in and out of traffic. Once they were on the road, he asked, “How are things at the house?”
“Well. At least grandmother isn’t complaining and the orders keep getting bigger. They have managed to get the new looms working that dad ordered from here before the raid and they are working fine. We still don’t know where the Lady is exactly, but Admiral Zylvyre ordered Mauve fabric.”
Tomas grinned. “That was a giveaway. Is somebody following up?”
“I wouldn’t know. I suspect that somebody is, but I have been involved in things for Princess Lelayme, mother and some other people and not paying attention to that. Mother probably knows most of it, Princess Lelayme certainly does and I can ask. But right now, I’m doing this.”
“Why?”
“It started because mother and the Princess wanted me to look into the history of the Empire. The Inquisition has been burning or confiscating libraries and so with an exception, finding things out has been a struggle. I did find a library that Dessielle works at where he had a lot of journals and whatnot that he bought ahead of the Inquisition.”
“Is that where you met this young lady?”
“I met her before that when Camus Petris was trying to buy her mother.”
“We heard that story. Was it as funny as it sounded?”
“Yes, it was. It was scary for a bit, but Toross went after a lady that he really shouldn’t have, along with messing with Rosaniya. You know how that worked. But mother set me to watch the Beinans, Dessielle decided that she liked me and we’ve been together ever since.”
“When do you plan to visit a grove?”
“Soon. After Rosaniya and Richard’s wedding, probably. We didn’t want to push because Jessamine and Aneirin were ahead of us. They are out of the way and it can be our turn.”
“So you met Dessielle in the Lower City. How did you meet Princess Lelayme?”
“That was mother and grandfather. They wanted me and Flix looking out for her and I was delivering messages and other things between mother and the Princess. Then she sort of had me look into this for her.”
“Who told you about the Inquistion’s library?”
“Aunt Hyacinth. I wanted to know more about the Turmoils after the things that me, Dan and Taranth found things in the journal related to the Blight.”
“You found Hyacinth! That is a challenge.”
“It was. Anyway she mentioned that the Inquisition had this hidden secret Library full of heresy and history that nobody had been able to crack. So I went to House Beinan, looked up the portal codes, talked to Aduin Beinan about portals and went discreetly about the Hall of Inquisition looking for the portal. I thought that the portal would be in the portal hall, with security and shields with alarms. Nope, the portal had been moved because somebody wanted a portal to something and put in a back room that wasn’t even locked. It took me a five day of looking while doing other things to find it. When I did, nobody had used it for moons. I did and the portal led to an empty room with a locked door. I didn’t want to pick the lock, which was old and I probably would have made noise, so I went to meet Dessielle, who had me help her and Tarron take some books to the book faire so Tarron could trade them. Delion shows up and starts a battle with Mrs. Harper and some poor junior Inquisitors are left with hauling the loads, so I helped out and tagged the books, figuring that they will be carted off to the library.”
“Hold that story. You just bought us lunch. Here we are.”
Tomas drove up to a fancy building with a uniformed goblin out front. The goblin smiled as he saw Tomas and said, “Mr. Gunter you bring new people to join us. They are faer folk like Mr. Goodfellow.”
“The young man is. The lady will be.”
“Ah, so they have a bond, but have not joined in a grove as yet. Welcome to our establishment. Tomas, have they brought good stories?”
“Very good stories. They have been around Mrs. Harper as she plays in the Empire.”
“Very good stories indeed then. Go right in, you know the way.”
As they walked in, another goblin was attending to a couple in front of them and said, “Mr. Gunter, welcome. You know the way.”
The lady turned around and said, “Tomas, why didn’t you tell me that you were coming here.”
“Milady, I hadn’t planned to, but this character showed up with his girl and I thought that I would take them to lunch.”
“You are going to the kitchen with Vikz while I must suffer with Jacob.”
“Milady Nylathria, this is Periwinkle and Dessielle. They just Jumped from the Empire.”
“Why did you two do something like that?”
“I came down to talk to my cousins and plan something.” Periwinkle said.
“Your cousins being from the Yllanan estate. Have you any news of my sister?”
“The Lady is your sister? I don’t have very much except that Admiral Zylvyre ordered two bolts of Mauve silk.”
“Why is that significant?”
“The House doesn’t use Mauve outside the House. If a typical person wants silk in that color, it is lilac.”
“Ah, so only somebody like my sister would ask for cloth in Mauve. I see. I think that I must sit down and have a chat with you two. How about dinner either here, or at my hotel. We do not have a grove, unfortunately, but we have excellent food and entertainment.”
“I think that the Crystal Palace will be a bit overwhelming,” Tomas said.
“True. So we will meet you here for dinner. Tomas, take these two and keep Vikz entertained. I have feeling that they have some good stories to tell.”
Tomas laughed. “So far, very good ones.”
Tomas led them through a discreet door and back to a busy kitchen. A goblin, who seemed to be in charge said, “Tomas, what have you brought us today?”
“Two young people from the Empire.”
“Are they exiled or is there another story?”
“Another story. The young man is the grandson of the Faery king and Jumped here with his girlfriend here.”
“Do they know that getting back may not be so easy?”
“I think that they will find that out. In the meantime they can share their stories with us.”
Young sir and lady, up front the payment is in coin. Back here the payment is in stories and good company. So what can you tell us?”
“Peri, you never finished your story about Mrs. Harper, so you can tell us all,” Tomas said.
Vikz smiled. “So what did the lady do? From all reports, she is with her daughter in law, preparing for a wedding.”
“She is,” Peri said. “She is also doing other things. The other day, Dessiele had me help the librarian that she works for part time setup for a book faire they hold every year in the Lower City of the capital. We setup and Mrs. Harper shows up with an army and a huge stack of books. The Inquisition shows up in the form of an Inquisitor named Delion. Because Delion has made a nuisance of himself at these things, he can’t arrest anybody or confiscate books, only buy them. So he sees Mrs. Harper’s table and buys this big set of books on the history of the Empire.”
“An impressive set indeed. Ten volumes.”
“Yes. So he arranges with some junior Inquisitors to haul the massive heresy away and moves on through the faire and when he comes back there is another set. So he buys it.”
“Why did he do that?”
“I don’t know how they make books in the Republic, but in the Empire you have to hire copyists to hand copy everything and that is not cheap. So having more than one set of books is extremely rare. I will also add that Inquistitor Delion is better known for his zeal than for his intelligence. So he buys the other set and the whole thing repeats. He actually buys a fourth set of the things before he realizes that Mrs. Harper is trading the things around for books she liked as a girl and room was full of copies by the time the faire was over.”
Vikz started to laugh. “That is Mrs. Harper. It sounds as if the Inquisitor is hardly a worthy adversary.”
“That clown. I don’t think that even his bosses like him very much. Right after the raid on the estate where we live, with a big steamship and all the rest of it, he comes around, looking for heresy and tries to say that the tool order was heretical. Maybe making the tools is, but ordering them?”
“He is one of those kinds then. Amusing when they have no power and terrible when they do.”
“That’s Delion, in a nutshell.”
“So, do you have any more Mrs. Harper stories?”
“Some. I haven’t been very close, because I have been chasing the history of the Empire.”
“Have you been succeeding?”
“Somewhat. There is a small library in the Lower City where the librarian has been purchasing House libraries and what not, as well as going to the book Faire. So I and Richard’s sons have been going through them and looking into things.”
“I think that some exiles that I know of would be interested in your work. You have seen theirs.”
“Not yet, as my dad bought a set from Mrs. Harper, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down and look at it. I would really like to sit down with them and find out what is here. The Inquisition has taken a lot of house libraries and I have been using the library in the Lower City and the House Beinan library.”
“What about your own House library?”
“It’s here, at least the Yllanan Estate library is. The library of the fae kingdom is a help, but a bit sketchy about things in the Empire and grandfather moved most of the House journals to the Estate library, so they are here.”
“How is your library here?”
“I’m not sure about the details, but from what I’m told, a man named Strom Ironshield takes the libraries from the places that Radhron raids and keeps them. The Lady is apparently chasing him.”
“Actually, Mr. Ironshield is looking for the Lady right now.”
“That will be interesting. I hope he finds her before Paeris decides to have fun with her.”
“Paeris is still loose?”
“He came ashore in the Empire and disappeared. Nobody has seen him.”
“What else has Mrs. Harper been up to?”
“This is going to be a bit hard to understand, unless you have the context, so let me start with my mother and a high elven lady who just happens to be Erlan Zylvyre’s wife and my grandfather’s sister.”
Peri told Vikz about Leilatha and her battles with his mother, with the romance of Jessamine and the rest of it. He finished with, “So Mrs. Harper and her daughter in law decide to fix the dancing swans in the park and come to Dessielle’s dad, who lives in the Lower city and a friend of ours, Benedicta Nightmantle is complaining that she can’t have her wedding in the park because her daughter isn’t a full elf and Dessielle’s mom is saying that the park is for high elves only. So Mrs. Harper and Lady Qinvaris, along with my mom put together a carnival in the park, ostensibly to get the people together to fix the swans, but really to bring as many inappropriate people to the park as they can, have some fun and make some noise. Of course the park people are happy to help with that because the Lady is spending a chunk of her husband’s money to rebuild, not only the dancers, but the entire park. Anyway, Lielatha wants to have a picnic luncheon as they call it, all right and proper, on the same day, in the park. I didn’t find out about it until a few days before it was going to happen so that I could tell mother, Lielatha didn’t think to check with the park people beforehand and Lady Qinvaris had a permit for the area around the dancers. So Lielatha sets up her picnic, and then we show up, and start setting up the carnival with booths, food, acrobats and all the rest of it. Lielatha sends somebody to the park people to shut us down, but we had the permit and she didn’t. Mrs. Harper wanted to give the dancer project a good start and she did. Lielatha had to watch as her very proper luncheon was absorbed and taken over.”
“Mrs. Harper does things like that. Were the dancers repaired?”
“Yes,” Desseille said. “Considering that it took getting the family’s house out of the clutches of the Inquisition and a stack of exile writs reevaluated, the whole thing was rather amazing. Of course the downside is that mother has to be a rich lady now and she’s learning how from Mrs. Harper.”
When lunch was over, Vikz said, “Periwinkle, Dessielle, you are welcome at my table any time. I suspect that you have things that you have come a long way for and I think that Mr. Gunter can assist you.”
The three left in the car and Tomas said, “I think that I will take you, Peri, to Edwin’s and he can put you in touch with your cousins. Dessielle, how about I take you to the Justice Ministry to find your uncle and then we can find your father’s relatives.”
They drove to a tall building where there was a desk with people behind it. Tomas said, “I’m Tomas Gunter and this is Periwinkle Ylannan and Dessielle Beinan. I am taking them up to meet Peri’s uncle Edwin.”
“I will let upstairs know that you are on the way.”
They went to as small box with a man inside who said, what floor?”
Tomas said. “Kellet Industries top office.”
“Fortieth floor then.”
The operator closed door and a gate on the box and moved a lever. Tomas took the thing in stride as the box was moving upwards. The operator moved the lever again and the box stopped. He opened the door and the gate and he said “fortieth floor.”
The three exited the box and as they were walking down the hall a man rushed past, yelling, “Hold the elevator!”
He ran into the elevator as the door was closing and Tomas laughed and said, “I don’t blame him. Sometimes the wait can be pretty long and walking down the stairs takes long time.”
They reached the end of the stairs and a man was waiting. “Tomas, what are you here for?”
“Edwin, this is Periwinkle Yllanan and Dessielle Beinan. They Jumped down here this morning.”
“From the Estate?”
“From the capital,” Peri said. “Mother met me at the House before I left.”
“Your mother being Lavidia, if the stories are correct. I am Edwin, your great uncle, as far as relationships go, if we tried to figure out our rather twisted family. In any case, I am Radhron’s father. What are you here for, Periwinkle?”
“Just Peri and I want to chase down my cousins before I get in trouble with them for leaving them out of something.”
“What are you leaving that bunch out of? Wait, let’s go to my office where we can speak privately.”
They went to a rather small office and Edwin sat behind the desk. “Ok, I imagine that you did something on very large scale and were worried that your cousins would hear about it. What was it?”
“With some friends’ help, I’ve stolen the Inquisition’s library.”
“How did you find it and get in, let alone steal it. I thought that the only way into the library was through a guarded portal. A bunch of fae tried to crack it and I was involved in one effort before I met Gwen. I was a slave taken from the Republic and somebody, who I will not name, purchased me for my expertise with machinery and things like locks, but we could never get past the portal.”
“The portal was easy. Dessielle’s family had all the codes. Actually the whole thing turned out to be rather pathetic because the portal wasn’t in the portal hall like it was supposed to be, but in a back room. When I found the portal, it hadn’t been used in months. I went through and the portal led to a locked door. Since I didn’t want to make any noise using heavy tools on the crummy lock, I found a different approached, helped by Mrs. Harper, a rather zealous Inquisitor by the name of Delion and a large stack of books that I tagged so that I knew where they would end up. That was how I found out where the library was.”
“What did Lythienne have to do with it?”
“The Lower city has an anual book faire where people exchange books and sometimes buy them. Dessielle works for the library that is in the Lower City. So when I went to find her after my rather large disappointment, she drafted me to help the librarian, Tarran, handle the cartload of books that he wants to exchange. Mrs. Harper is there with a load of books from the Republic including some rather large sets.”
“Let me guess, The History of The Empire In Ten Volumes.”
“Yes. So Delion marches in with a crowd of junior Inquisitors, gets read the riot act by the Justiciar who lives in the Lower City and starts to prowl around. He spots Mrs. Harper’s ten volume heretical book and since he can’t do anything else, buys it.”
“I think I see where this is going. How many sets did the Inquisitor buy before it was over?”
“Four. Since I had a cart, I helped the junior Inquisitor’s out and since we had all those valuable books and I didn’t have Tony Lion to protect me, I tagged all the books to make sure that they didn’t go someplace they weren’t supposed to. None of them did.”
“That was how you found where the library was. Where is it?”
“On one of the Waestoris’s estates, near the ocean.”
“Was it guarded well?”
“The gate was open, the caretaker had died and the place was empty. That was when I decided to steal the books.”
“It sounds as if it was easy. Why do you want your cousins in on it if it’s already done.”
“It was easy. It didn’t hurt that House Qinvaris used the library’s courtyard for a headquarters for one of the harvesting gangs. The problem is that we need to hide the fact that the books are still going to be in the Empire. So I want a big splashy raid that the Inquisition can see and think that the books were taken by the Republic.”
“Would random pirates suffice? With Gwen in the hands of the Ravathyra, I don’t want to have something connected to the Republic so obviously.”
“Would random pirates steal books?”
“Books are valuable in the Empire. Even pirates know that. I was a pirate and I knew that. Strom was a pirate and took every book he could get his hands on. So yes, pirates take books. The thing is that we want these pirates to get caught, or at least, sunk. Tomas, you have been quiet through all of this.”
Tomas grinned. “I was watching you get involved, Ed. Since I am a diplomat now and am not supposed to know these things, why don’t I take the young lady and deliver the mail they brought with them while you plot with the young man and his cousins. Come on Dessielle. I think that we should leave these two to their plotting.”
Tomas escorted Dessielle to the door and into the hall and Edwin said, “She’s quite a catch. How did you find her?”
Peri explained about Camus and the slaves, intercepting the list and looking in on Dessielle’s mother as the thing with the slaves went on. Edwin laughed as Peri finished with, “Admiral Zylvyre had to beg lady Qinvaris’ forgivness and promise to never be an idiot again by buying slaves that don’t want to be sold and sending idiots to put pressure on people. Otherwise he would have been shutdown by people in both the Cloud and Lower City. Dessielle and I started to go out together right after.”
“So which cousins did you want to discuss this with?”
“Peiron’s son Leolando, Dearan, Yeldan and Qinren for the fae side and handy types. Marsious, Finn and Aquilus for the seafolk. I think that I will need more, but my cousins know who they can use from here and the bower. The pirate ship will be the hard part.”
“That will be the easy part.” Edwin grinned. “The navy has recently acquired genuine Ravathyra pirate ships that they haven’t decided what to do with. If we play this right, we can even get Paeris Zylvyre blamed for it. Is Dessielle a member of the Beinan family?”
“Yes, why? She’s delivering some letters for her father. Folmon is the head of the House because a big chunk of the family members do not want to risk living in the Empire.”
“You are not the only one with cousins and you probably know what the Beinans are like. Why don’t I have my secretary make some calls while you show me what you have?”
Edwin buzzed for his secretary, handed her the list, Peri pulled out the map and pictures that he had brought with him. He pointed out the library, the house and the village, as well as the location of the nearest portal. Peri then went over how they had stolen the library, the family resources that he had available and some of his thinking. “Mrs. Harper said that her son in law was coming in the royal yacht, which is apparently quite large and armed, but I don’t think that the prince would want to use his yacht to raid a place.”
“Prince Brouzen? He’s going to be disappointed that he wasn’t told about this so that he could participate. We may be able to use him.”
“How?”
“He can come upon the dastardly Paeris and sink his ship as he tries to escape.”
“Of course Paeris escapes.”
“He is seafolk.”
“I know. I wasn’t paying attention, but that got around the family pretty quick, especially with my seafolk relatives.”
After about a twentieth, the cousins started to arrive. They all greeted Peri and wanted to know where his girl was. By the time the last arrived there were twenty of them and Edwin had them all transfer to a room for meetings. Peri spread his maps and pictures and Dearan said, “So Peri, what mischief are we up to?”
“We are covering for my theft of the Inquisitor’s library.”
“If it’s already done, why are we involved and why didn’t you tell us that something like that was up?”
“I didn’t send a message because at first, I was just expecting to copy some things down and split. But when I saw what the Inquisitors were doing, or rather, not doing, I decided that I should just take it.”
“So if you took it, what are you up to?”
“Mr. Kellet suggested it, but we are going to arrange it so that the library is taken by Paeris Zylvyre. That is, if the Marshalls don’t catch him first.”
“You have been in the Empire. According to the papers, the Marshalls said that he made it that far. Has there been any news about him?”
“Not as of yesterday.”
“You know, if we do this right, maybe we can do the Marshall’s a favor,” Leolando said. “If we can get the Great Captain accused of hitting the Empire and the Inquisition he might have to come out of whatever hole he crawled into to prove it wasn’t him or risk his family being in trouble with the Inquisition. I think that Lord Waestoris would just love a good reason to get rid of Melaris. Illitia used to talk about their fights all the time.”
That brought smiles all around the table. Edwin said, “Peri, I think that you should talk with Admiral Harper as soon as you can.”
“I have a letter from his dad.”
“Dan is already involved?”
“His grandsons and Richard were all in this, along with his wife and Lady Qinvaris. So yes, he is involved.”
“What is Lythienne’s part in this?”
“She is arranging for the new library in the Lower City and some books to arrive for it in the Lower City.”
“I think I see what’s going on here. I imagine that Lythienne doesn’t like the Inquisition very much and she’s taking advantage of this and her usual proclivities to poke the Inquisition in the eye. I think that we will have Tom for this. Actually, I think that he would have gone for it in any case, but if his mother wants it, we have him. Let me make a call.”
He didn’t have to as Tomas came in with Dessielle and a man in uniform. The man saw Ed and said, “Mother sent me a message that I should look up a young man who just arrived from the Empire and help to make sure that mother is not in trouble. Dessielle here said that you were cooking something up with him. This looks like quite a crowd, so whatever it is, it must be pretty big.”
“Tom, this is Periwinkle and he brought his cousins in on this. We want to get Paeris blamed for it.”
“That shouldn’t be hard. We have Ravathrya ships, Ravathrya raiding troops, Paeris’s banner and uniforms. So what are we doing to keep mother out of trouble?”
“Stealing the Inquisition’s Library,” Peri said. “Actually we have already stolen it.”
“The Inquisition hasn’t discovered it?”
“I doubt it. They have been just dumping books for years. When I found the supposedly well guarded secret portal, it was in a back room and the room was empty. When I used the portal, it led to an empty room.”
Peri told the Admiral the story of the Admiral’s mother and Delion and how he had found the library empty and neglected. “Since the Inquisition didn’t care, I decided that I would just arrange for the books to disappear and hand them over to the library that Dessielle works for. But I needed a way to break the trail.”
“Where are the books now?”
“In one of the estates that Richard has. He has a bunch that he owns outright for their fields. The estate that the library was on leases the fields to House Qinvaris. The House had a harvest crew on the estate and Richard’s boys had a crew working in the library’s courtyard. They had never paid any attention to it. So some wagons brought grain for the village’s granary and left with books.”
“Very clever. Did you come up with it?”
“Mother told me to talk to your mother and said that if I was going to pull this off, I should start with where the books were going to end up and work my way back from there. The tricky part was going be getting the Inquisistion looking in the wrong direction.”
“What if they use the portal and go to the library?”
“They can’t. That portal is malfunctioning and if you try, you end up at the city gates.”
“How did you manage that?”
“It helps that Dessielle’s uncle is a portal expert and his father made them in the first place. I had access to all the codes, made a simple change and the portal is now one directional. It works fine from the library, but going to the library and it doesn’t connect.”
“I’m not familiar with portals, but what happens then?”
“The portal at the Inquisition ports whoever uses it to the default, the capital city gates. I figured that it will be some time before somebody tries to use the portal, it will take some time to figure out what is wrong, and then they have to actually find the library. That is one disadvantage of relying on portals.”
Dearan said, “One thing we never had at the estate were portal keys. I think that open portal keys would be a nice exchange for helping you with this.”
“I will bring them back with me when I return. I can arrange that. Would the standard pendant work or do you want something fancy.”
“The standard pendant would work for us, but I think that the girls would like something nice.”
“I assume that you want all your keys untraceable.”
“Since certain people will have a hissy fit if low lives like us use the portals, yes.”
“That isn’t a problem for me, but that is understandable.”
“How did you get an open key?”
“Princess Lelayme had it made for me when I started to do odd jobs for her and mother.”
“How did Aunt Lavidia tie in with the princess? Aunt Lavidia never went to the capital.”
Peri told them about their grandfather, Princess Lelayme, Lielatha and the rest of it. Once the laughter stopped, Leolando said, “We all leave and things get fun. We figured that things would just be the boring, same old, same old.”
“We should have poked grandfather more. We all thought he was a lightweight who just played around. It turned out that he was more fae than we knew, bonded with a Faery princess who was murdered by the Ravathyra and he never joined in a grove. So he had a broken bond. He’s been fun though, and since his sister was partially responsible for his bonded’s death and was trying to bankrupt him, she is fair game, not that driving her crazy is hard.”
“Has Aunt Lazuli found him? I expect that she would be all over somebody like that.”
“Yes, with grandmother hinting that Lazuli would find somebody she might like in certain woods and grandfather wanting to get out of the house. They are enjoying themselves and poking Leilatha more than a bit.”
Ed said, “I know a great place for dinner. Let me see if I can get a table.”
“If it is the place I am thinking about, I took Peri and Dessielle there for lunch,” Tomas said.
“The back or the front?”
“The back.”
“So Vikz knows them.”
“Yes, and Lady Orizana wants them for dinner. We ran into her and Jacob as we were heading to the back.”
“If Nyla wants them, we can make that work. Let me make some calls.”
He left and shortly came back. “Nyla beat us to it and since this is a slow night, reserved the place. I expect that she is bringing some people. Dinner starts in two twentieths. Peri, I am to take you to my tailor for a suit and Nyla is picking up Dessielle for some shopping.”
Peri looked at how his cousins were all dressed and said, “Then I will not look so out of place.”
“The Empire is not looked on here with a great deal of favor,” Tomas said. “I wear an elven tunic because I am the temporary ambassador. Fortunately I have been visible and in the press, so I am known and most people who see you dressed as you are will assume that you are a recent exile. But I think that you like to fit in, if you can.”
“I started to wear elven tunics after working for mother and the Princess. You are right that I like to be in the background if I can. Dan and Tarnath dress like peasants, but they are so loaded that it doesn’t matter how they dress unless Roasniya wants them at a party or something.”
Lady Orizana came and grabbed a rather scared looking Dessielle and Tomas and Ed took Peri to Ed’s tailor, who performed some miracles and managed to get Peri in an attractive suit in record time. The restaurant was rather full as Lady Orizana had brought in most of Lythienne’s children and their kids, Tomas’s wife and kids, Calladia, Dessielle’s uncles and their families as well as her own family. Peri was forced to tell the stories about his mother, Lythienne and the rest and the building shook with laughter.

Chapter 38.
The Sanctum.
Gwen transformed and went to the burned out Fae kingdom center. When she arrived, there were two foxes and a bear waiting. The bear said, welcome strange lady. What kingdom do you come from?”
“I live next to the Rosehollow kingdom. I am elf, but some of the family bonded with fae and we were friends. I was tested because everyone was and we were not truly separate. It was all too likely that faery food would appear by accident, so testing all made sense.”
“You elves did not attempt to destroy the fae?”
“I don’t think that was ever a consideration. Why would we go to war on family? We were neighbors and family and while there were some conflicts, we all remembered that we were family.”
“That was not the case here. At least not when the Ravathrya came.”
“How did that happen?”
“You can see the pool. A mage discovered it and after we drove him out, the Ravathrya came and drove us away from our home. We had had an agreement with House Shahana where we shared. Then the Shahana withdrew and the Ravathryra came and burned us out.”
“Did you contact any of the other fae kingdoms?”
“The attack was too brutal and the mages blocked us from Jumping out. The best we could do was hide.”
“How many are left.”
“Few. Less than forty and no royals. The ones that are left, stay transformed and most of us were children when the catastrophe happened.”
“Is the grove that I passed the only one left?”
“Yes. That is why we challenged you.”
Gwen had a thought. “Are there any caves on the shore?”
“Yes, why?”
“Somebody is proably coming and I may need a cave for a time.”
“Is he seafolk? If you Change, you will lose your wonderful cat.”
“I am willing to risk that. My son is seafolk. My daughter is seafolk. My grandchildren are seafolk. The man that I have come to love is seafolk.Why would I not want to join them?”
“You have a very good point. Why don’t we show you the caves as we talk?”
The three led her away from the Sanctum and toward the shore. As they crept through the forest she said, “When I escape, I will tell the other fae about you.”
“Do that, please. If we can, we wish to leave this place. It is no longer our home, instead it is a place where we have to hide and live as animals. Tell the world about this place and all its prisoners.”
“I will.”
“If your man is seafolk, what will you do about the sharks?”
“There were some strange boxes that showed up. I imagine that he has plans for things like the sharks. He is a very careful type.”
“We want to meet with him. He seems like a very interesting man.”
“I have found him so. Frustrating, but never uninteresting.”
“That means that you will never be bored with him. I don’t have a bond as yet. Only a few here do as we are all close family. That is a big reason that we wish to leave.”
“When I go, please watch over the young man that has been my companion.”
“Saevil. We certainly will. He is friendly toward animals. Look down here, there are caves. You can reach the shore, there.”
Gwen looked down at the shore and the mouths of the caves were visible and she could see an animal trail that led down the cliffs. She turned to the animals and said, “Thank you. I must go now.”
She Jumped back to her window, went inside and transformed. One more task accomplished.
House Shahana Estate, The Timberlands.
Sudyral and Strom disembarked at House Shahana’s Estate and the little timber town that was its reason for existence. Surprisingly there were a lot of boats and even some water driven sawmills, but nothing looked as if much had been going on at all for some time. Sudyral went up to the estate house and said, “I am Sudyral Shahana. May I speak to the Chamberlin?”
“ I am the Chamberlin. Young lord, why did you come on the ship? In any case, we are glad that you are here at last. Maybe you can get that lady off our back.”
“What lady?”
“Your mother.”
“Ah, if she was my mother, why would you speak of her in that fashion?”
“I speak of her in that fashion because you did not come in the usual way and did not seem to come from her with more demands.”
“Why are they not cutting?” Strom asked.
“The lady will not let the ships come and there is no point in cutting if there are no ships. We cut some for Lyrei when it comes, but that is hardly what it should be.”
“Was this recently?”
“The demands started at first, but as long as the lord’s mother was alive, the lady did not have full control. Thirty five years ago, the Lord’s mother was assaulted by Lower City thugs and murdered. Then things got worse. We couldn’t complain because we had our portal keys, those of us that had them, disconnected.”
“Actually my mother is not the lady,” Sudyral said. “We live on the estate and there were some issues that caused mother to send me with Strom here. Since Strom is a slave and did not have a portal key, we came by the ship. It looks like things are worse than we thought. Mother wanted timber and boards for a new barn and nobody here seemed to answer. So she sent me to have them shipped.”
“We can do that. Why don’t you give me the order and we can load the materials onto the Lyrei. Young lord, it is luncheon and I think that my wife and our children would like to meet you.”
The luncheon was a nice stew and it was obvious from the house that the town had been more prosperous at one time. Apparently the fact that Strom was from the farm was more important than the fact that he was a slave because the Chamberlin’s wife insisted that he stay and eat with them. After lunch the Chamberlin and Strom went over the order for timber that Sudyral had made up on the voyage north and pulled boards and beams for the new barn. After that, Strom said to Sudyral, “There must have been a real barn that was needed. You knew what you were doing when you made the list.”
“Yes, there was a new barn. Mother had me work out the list as classwork and Peder and I sketched out what the new barn would look like and determined how much wood we would need. So I knew what to write. This way mother won’t be upset with me when I go back.”
The Chamberlin pulled Strom aside before dinner and said, “Strom, could you encourage the young lord to portal back?”
“Why?”
“Because he may end up in the water if he doesn’t. I don’t trust the captain and it has happened before.”
“I can do that. The young lord has been enjoying the adventure when his mother sent him out with me, but the mate did say the same sort of thing to me. I notice that there doesn’t seem to be any seafolk here.”
‘There are, but they have houses on the shore, the ladies have pools underneath the houses and don’t venture out at night. No seafolk stays below or alone for fishing or anything else. We’ve lost too many.”
“What about a fae kingdom?”
“There was one. I had family that joined long ago, but they are gone now. The kingdom shared the southern part of the property with us. You probably stopped there on the way up. Don’t tell me, one way or another. Get the young lord home.”
“I will have to return on the ship.”
“If the young lord is home, I think that they will leave you alone. After all, slaves are beneath notice. They may arrange for you to be stolen.”
“Some have tried that before. I like where I am and the lady trusts me. Otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this. I will tell the lady everything I have seen here. She may not be the wife, but she does run the farm.”
“I see that we are thinking the same way.”
After a nice dinner with Strom and Sudyral telling stories they went to the quarters set up for them. Strom took a pendant from his neck and handed to Sudyral. “Sudyral, this is an open portal key. With this you can go anywhere on the portals. In the morning we are going to have a fight and you are going to insist that I watch the timber while you are going home to your hunting.”
“Why? I want to stay with you.”
“You can’t go where I am going. I will be leaving the ship in a way that you can’t. So, it is better that you go home and tell your mother what we have seen here. Then you can go to the Qinvaris and tell them. In fact you should take your mother to the Qinvaris. This is very important. You must survive and tell the Qinvaris and everybody they ask you to tell what we have seen. Do this as discreetly as you can. The important thing is to get what we have seen to the people who need to know about it. Right now, if the Ravathrya suspected that we had actually been looking for their secret, they would kill us.”
“They would?”
“Rolin Zylvyre was willing to get thousands of his crews killed to forward his ambitions and risk being accused of treason to protect what we saw. It is time that we separate and I do what I planned and you get what we saw to the people that need to know about it. I trust you to do that.”
“Ok, I will see you off and then use the portal.”
La-12 (Intrepid)
Byddri shivered. He was with the captain in the control car with Captain Shanelis and his father as they were high above the coast and even through his leathers, the air was cold. Captain Shanelis had the log from the ship that he had lost and they were looking for the wreck. They had found a lot of wrecks. Captain Bushbury said, “There are a lot of wrecks on this coast. Too many.”
Illianaro was looking with binoculars and said, “You are right, especially compared to south of here. This is hardly the coastal Republic and the only thing shipped to the Empire from here was timber.”
“Considering the trees here, that would be a good business. But the House here doesn’t seem to be working it.”
“When we stop at Eribelle, I will ask father and grandfather which House sells or sold timber from here. I see a lot of pine for masts here. For houses as well. It used to be the Shahana when I was patrolling the region, looking for pirates. But I think that the Ravathyra have control now.”
“We’re getting close to the bay that Mr. Ironshield found. I think that we can do our magic and not get noticed.”
“The dragonguard doesn’t have any dragons stationed this far norh,” Ghedrun said. From the looks of things, we should have.”
Byddri went back to cover Nathan and Mokem as they were dropped. Fortunatley the cloud cover was thick and with the dragons patrolling ahead, they had a good idea what the weather was like as the airship passed north as quietly as possible. The pod was lowered and the airship slowly made the pass over the place that the Ravathyra had wanted to hide. Once they were well past the bay the pod was retracted and the airship continued north to the Shahana timber land to the north. When they arrived, it was obvious that the timber cutting was not what it had been and for a place that should have had a good market in wood, the town was depressed. When Byddri, Mokem and Nathan returned to the control car, Captain Illianaro was saying, “I haven’t been there for a very long time, but I remember a lot of timber being cut here. This isn’t hardwood for the most part, but Rolin was desperate for timber earlier in the year when you all sunk his ships and he has a family connection to this House. I don’t understand why he didn’t send crews here to cut. For that matter, I am surprised that he didn’t send crews now.
House Shahana Estate, The Timberlands.
Sudyral watched as Lyrei and Strom left him alone. He wasn’t happy with leaving Strom, but he had inserted himself in what Strom had been doing and Strom had made good arguments. They had seen things and it was important that what they had seen was told to the right people. Sudyral turned and walked toward the portal. As he approached it, a man pulled him aside and said, “Young lord, you don’t want to try to use the portal right now.”
The man pulled him into the dark recesses of a shed filled with boards and said, “Some Ravathrya bastards showed up this morning. They wouldn’t say what they wanted to the Chamberlin, but I expect that the Captain of the Lyrei sent a message to Eryding about you and the slave. These are lord Petris’s bully boys.”
“Why would they be after me?”
“Because you were not supposed to be here. You probably bullied your way onto the ship, but the captain was going to report you and probably planned to drop you into the water and lose you in a convenient storm. This is Lord Petris covering his bases.”
“What should I do?”
“Now that is a problem. We could wait, but you are an elf, we do not have a lot of elves here and they, like the chamberlain, are all known. How are you in the woods? Have you been hunting with your father?”
“Many times.”
“Good. We can set you up and you can stay in the woods until these thugs leave and things calm down.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“I am seafolk and lost my wife to the monsters. Too many of us have lost family to them. If we can let the outer world know about our plight, that is all to the good.What is that?”
They had emerged from the back of the building and the man had looked up. Sudyral did as well and there was the skyship. He quietly said, “Some people who really don’t like the Ravathrya. That is the skyship from the Republic.”
“What is the Republic and why are they so angry with the Ravathyra that they bring something like that, here.”
“Why don’t I share what I have heard while I get set up?”
Thanks to the town not being able to cut timber, there were a lot of leather boots, heavy clothes and a pack that Sudyral could use, there was also a steel axe, knife and even a bow. There were even some fletched arrows. Topping that with a poncho that could also be turned into a small tent and Sudyral was ready to go. When everything was ready, he slipped into the woods.
Toross Advyre was beginning to get really annoyed. The job should have been easy. Come up here and grab a kid if the kid tried to take the portal and not the coaster. Camus wanted to talk to the kid and then turn him over to his father, the head of house Shahana. The kid’s mother was a mortal that the man stashed out the farm, but the man liked his young son and had been rather a pain since the boy had run off with that slave. So Toross was sent here to collect the young man and the slave. The slave was on the coaster and the captain had instructions. The slave would not be seen in Eyrding. The boy though, was supposed to be turned over. Toross had asked around and one of his people had said that the boy and the slave had had an argument and the boy said that the slave could watch the barn timber on their way home while the boy ported home so that he could go hunting with his father. So Toross had staked out the portal. For four twentieths, when it became obvious that the kid was gone. Toross had people search the village and there was not a trace of the half elf. Toross looked up and the skyship was flying around, almost as if it was mocking him.
Coaster Lyrei
The mate watched as Strom lurched across the deck. The slave was making it too easy. He hadn’t been a drinker when the young lord was watching him, but when the young elf had left him and gone to use the portal, the flask had come out and been opened. Now he was fully soaked and as he got just a bit too close to the railing on the stern, the mate put out a foot and over he went, falling overboard while drunk. After a bit, the mate called “Man overboard!”
Of course in the darkening twilight and cold water there was no point in looking for the man and he was just a slave anyway. The captain made a note in the log, commenting on the man’s drunkenness and the crew divided the pitiful contents of his duffle. The captain kept the notes from the business. There was an address and he could turn them over when he reached Eryding. At least the thing had been clean and Lord Petris would not feel the need to have a serious chat with the captain. If there were any crystals, the boy had taken them with him. He could have the load shipped to the estate and everything would be over, nice and neat.
Strom watched as the little ship sailed off. Fortunately, the mate had not noticed that he hadn’t been wearing shoes or trousers. Nor had he noticed the line in Strom’s hand, or the harness that he was wearing under his tunic. Strom had wondered if the mate would take advantage of the opportunity that had presented it self or if Strom was going to have to fall overboard by himself. The mate had indeed availed himself of the opportunity. That meant that nobody would even think that Strom might be seafolk and as far as the other side was concerned, he was gone. With that, Strom started his Swim to shore.

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