Raider From The Sky, Chapter 51-52

House Qinvaris has a party. House Yllanan has an arrival.

Chapter 51.
House Qinvaris.
Paeris didn’t know what the forthcoming wedding was going to be like, but the end of the harvest dinner was a whale of a party. Lady Rosaniya had a fae circus, dragon dancing and mermaids off shore competing for the bigger shows, various farming contests and endless amounts of food and drink up through the fireworks that ended it all. The next morning, Peirben came around with their final tallies and their pay. Some of the crew were going with him and others were going to be looking for work in other directions. Paeris was one of those. When Peirben handed him his pay, he said, “Have you heard the latest about Paeris Zylvyre?”
Paeris was a bit shocked at that, as he had been working for the last three moons and too tired to do much else. “No, what did the monster do?”
“He raided one of Lord Waestoris’s estates. Came in one of those big ships the Ravathrya had and a full crew of those big enhanced troops of his.”
“Why did he do that?”
The Inquisition had its secret library hidden there. Apparently the Great Captain was after something the Inquisition had. Considering that they have been taking people’s libraries when they were exiled, they must have had some powerful secrets in there.”
“That sounds more like his uncle Zanis’s style. There are stories all over the north that he burned out a faery kingdom looking for their library.”
“I wouldn’t know about that, but the people saw the Great Captain and the ship had the kraken banner, which no pirate would ever dare use.”
Pierben hadn’t actually been told what the “special job” had been and probably hadn’t thought about it too much. But while Paeris had participated in robbing the library, he hadn’t come in a ship. The whole thing was rather ridiculous. Pierben continued, “He didn’t get away with it, though. A dragonflight came upon the raid and burned the ship. There was also a Republican cruiser.”
The same cruiser whose crew had been at the party. There had also been some dragons and some people that Paeris thought he knew. Paeris had stayed well away from anybody who might know him, because the Marshalls had been at the party in force as well. It was time to move on. With that in mind, when Pierben asked, “are you sure that you don’t want to stay with me?”
“I’ve been with you long enough. Time to see the road and new people before the snows set in.”
“I know the wanderlust. You did good here. Be safe.”
Pierben moved on to the next drover.
Paeris started to look for a wagon train heading west. It was about time that he headed to the Retreat anyways.
Rolin came back from the Sanctum and Camus was waiting with yet another nasty surprise. “Vesryn is looking at the books.”
‘He was smelling things wrong when Sudryl went up there, remember.”
“Yes, but he didn’t seem to do very much when the boy was returned.”
‘Remember how we were joking about how Vesryn had family over in the Republic looking to buy timber?”
“Yes I do. From the the expression on your face, it wasn’t a joke. So Maria has relatives that are woodcutters. I doubt that there are going to go all the way north for timber.”
“It’s better than that. Maria’s brother builds houses, in the dwarven kingdoms. A while back, we didn’t make a deal for the Hienorin’s hardwood. Do you want to know who did?”
“I’m going to take it that it was Maria’s brother.”
“Victor Claringbold bought the hardwood. Of course he was also looking for framing timber and guess who has all that timberland.”
“There must be more.”
“Saeliihn had a fit and threw Vesryn out of the house.”
“He’s going to anull the marriage.”
“He hasn’t yet. He has been looking at his books.”
“Saeliihn has been providing some holdover money the last few years to keep the raiding fleets operating. Quite a bit.”
“She loaned us money, so?”
“Where do you think it came from?”
“She probably placed loans against the timberlands.”
“That means that Vesryn is in trouble.”
“He’s also holding paper on a lot our properties as collateral.The castle we are sitting in right now for instance, as well as most of the rest of the city. We needed a big score this year and that was why Paeris went after the Leomaris’s trading post.”
“How bad is it?”
“When Vesryn threatened to evict us from all his properties, we would have lost the shipyard and the docks, as well as most of the warehouses behind the docks. Vesryn owns those outright due to some sell and lease back deals that Saeliihn made with us paying no interest. We hadn’t done that with the sail lofts, ropewalks or the arsenal yet.”
“What if we discreetly tell his creditors how much trouble Vesryn is in?”
“I talked a bit on the street. They already know. They also know about the big deal coming from Maria’s brother. He’s not in trouble unless the dwarves stop buyng houses. And even then, if he cuts at the family’s historical rates, he can cover his debts including the paper he holds on us. The big news on the markets was the fact that Renna Shahana has been seen a lot lately with Taranth Qinvaris.”
“If there is even a whiff that that matchup is happening, Vesryn will not have any money difficulties at all.”
“None at all.”
Melaris came in and said, “Found you. Did you order Paeris to raid the Inquisition?”
“No! I haven’t seen Paeris since he left on his last raiding voyage.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“Why are you asking that?”
“Because one of our ships hit the Inquisition’s library and looted it. The ship had Paeris’s banner and he was apparently seen on the shore and the ship.”
“How many people did he kill in the process?”
“None, thanks to a fast minded employee of the Portal service who was working on the portal and opened the portal for everybody, so that they could evacuate before the ship opened fire. Could there have been something that Master wanted in the library and he wanted it removed before somebody found out what it was? If that was the case, he should have asked me. I could have just walked in and taken it before the library’s portal glitched.The Portal Service heard about it and went over the Inquisition’s portals. The Portal Service employee had been sent to find the library and check the portal there when that ship showed up.”
“Who saw the ship?”
“Justiciar Traelion, High Inquisitor Orijeon, the people in the town, Marshal Swiftfire and a Republican cruiser, along with some patrol dragons who managed to get pictures before attacking the ship. The ship had a mana explosion and sank, taking the books in the library with it. The dragons didn’t recognize Paeris’s banner and thought it was a pirate ship, apparently.”
“So Paeris is dead?”
“The Marshalls don’t think so,” Melaris said. “What was going on when I arrived?”
“We were discussing Vesryn again,” Rolin said. “Thanks to our sister’s dipping into the cashbox for us, Vesryn is holding a big chunk of our paper and a big chunk of the property here in the city. Sister was keeping it under wraps so that Vesryn wouldn’t find out how deep he was in debt and how much paper he held on us. It would be safe to say that he owns us. In any case, that will academic for Zanis and I.”
“I suspect that anathema proceeding are going to start soon against the house. Apparently, Esgalwathanar went up to the Sanctum looking for evidence about Zanis’s little rampage and found it. He was turning the evidence over to the Council of Kings and had evacuated survivors. Zanis and I, along with the Great Captains and the mages need to disappear spectacuarly in order to save the House. If that means our deaths, that is the price we will have to pay.”
“There must be something we can do,” Melaris cried.
“Stay out of it. Both you and Erlan stay out of it. If you do that, maybe the Anathema will not descend on the house.You were not involved with Zanis’s rampage or the raiding of the Republic. So there will be less need to destroy the house if we are gone.”
“From the sounds of it, there will not be much left anyway.”
“Probably not. Rebuilding will be the children’s task once this is over.”
The Regency Council.
Prince Ralnor had called the meeting this time, something he rarely did. The early crowd was looking at puctures taken by the Dragons of Paeris Zylvyre’s ship blowing up. Still, Ralnor’s somber mood kept the levity down as the rest of the Council came in. When everybody was seated, Ralnor said, “I have asked for this meeting for a matter of great import. Relations with our fae neighbors has always been a great concern of the Empire. Sometimes relations have not been good, but recently, relations have been excellent and we and our fae neighbors have lived together in more or less harmony. That is why I come with grave news. There are some small fae communities that share land with elven estates. For the most part these communities are just that, communities of people living together. Yes there are frictions and sometimes that leads to violence. For the most part even that violence is constrained. That is why what I am about to say injures me greatly. Forty years ago, on the tweflth of green, a fae community that was on an estate was attacked and mostly destroyed by elven mages. The mages were members of house Ravathyra who had used a marriage to usurp lands belonging to the Shahana and then when they encountered the fae living on the land, attacked them when they would not turn over property and murdered most of the kingdom. The mages that did the killing were led by Zanis Zylvyre. Since that date, the Ravathrya have covered up the existence of the fae community and other activities that they were conducting. Because of the nature of the crimes and the recommendation of the Fae Council of Kings, I have been asked to initiate the proceedings of Anathema against House Ravathrya. I have seen the evidence so far and I must concur with the nature of the crime and the recommendations of the Council of Kings.”
“Who gave these lies to you, Brother!” Princess Glynnii cried.
“The evidence was assembled by Esgalwathanar Yllanan and Queen Lazuli at the behest of the Council of Kings.”
“Esgalwathanar Yllanan! He is a fae lover who blames the Ravathrya for the death of his fae girlfriend. He’s brobably sleeping with that fae queen. They are doing this to destroy the Ravathyra!”
“We have witnesses and when Esgalwathanar asked Zanis about the atrocity, he admitted it. They have it on crystal.”
“Esgalwathanar was torturing Zanis. He used an elf slicer, a weapon that should be banned.”
“That is on the same crystal. Zanis attacked Esgalwathanar and tried to kill him with magefire. Esgalwathanar used the axe to defend himself and only did the minimum necessary to accomplish that.”
“Esgalwathanar and Queen Lazuli are fae. They can fake the crystals up, or entrap Zanis. We should send our own investigators from the Inquisition.”
“I think that the Justiciars would be more appropriate, sister,” Lelayme said. Should we out it to a vote?”
The hands went up and Glynnii was the only one against sending the Justiciars up.

Chapter 52.
Yllanan House, The City In The Clouds.
Leilatha’s apartment had a window and a balcony that overlooked the courtyard and gatehouse. As a girl, she had loved to see the arrivals of the fine Ladies and handsome High Elves as they arrived in their sedan chairs to visit her parents. She had loved the endless dance and the proprieties and stability that the dance had been a demonstration of. Her mother had never understood that and had accepted the looseness in her brothers and sister. She was not going to tolerate any looseness in the children of the House even if it took a long time to make appropriate marriages for them. The setbacks the House had endured had not helped and this battle with her brother and that witch had not helped any.
Now she was looking as this mysterious lady that her brother had found for his latest mistress had appeared. She was vaguely aware that her brother had had a string of mistresses and even mortals in his bed. The fact that he had even shared blood with the mortal women and had children with them was more than a bit disturbing. So, it was with more than a bit of anxiety that she watched as the lady arrived in a carriage followed by a raft of servants with carts and a small wagon.
Esgalwathanar was dancing attendance with the lady and took her hand as the elegant lady emerged from the carriage, dressed in expensive fabrics of the latest style with not a hair out of place or blemish to mar the perfection. Leilatha seethed inside as the vision passed under her into the castle. How dare Esgalwathanar find a perfect lady like this! As she was watching the servants, a boy disappeared and then returned shortly thereafter. The servants were fae! At least some of them were. Leilatha called for her maids. It was time to meet the lady and see what she was facing.
Esgalwathanar was grinning as he handed Lazuli into the house. She turned and said, “I think that she noticed, at last. Iris sending Skylark off to the estate like that was a nice touch.”
“I liked it. Can you set up a grove here at the castle?”
“I think so, why?”
“We may need it. The local boys are already eyeing the new arrivals and not all of them are strictly boys.”
“The girls are not exactly girls either. Thirty years being stuck at twenty gets to be a pain. Of course it was longer for me. Who is that?”
Esgalwathanar looked and there was a sedan chair arriving. He looked closely at the livery and said, “A Ravthyra visitor. For Lielatha presumably.”
A young elf lady stepped out of the chair and approached Esgalwathanar and Lazuli. “Hello uncle. I am Llorva. I am here to discuss things with my mother, who has made a bit of a mess of things. Who is this lady?”
“Hello, Llorva. It is nice to meet you. Your mother has never had you visiting here before. This is Lady Lazuli Virstina. So what brings you to my home today?”
“Mother has been so occupied with her fun and games that she has lost focus of what she was supposed to be doing. She was supposed to be finding appropriate suitors for me, since she insists on arranging my marriage. Instead she has been here, fighting stupid battles with your daughter in law, who just laughs at her. I understand that Galassiel went and found somebody on her own.”
“I can’t really say. She left rather suddenly with her mother.”
“In the pirate raid that wasn’t. Mom doesn’t pay too much attention to the things outside what she is focused on, but I do. In any case, why don’t you have your man seat me in the parlor, waiting in perfect elvish propriety while mother prepares to do battle with this lady? Maybe we can talk about pirate raids or something similar afterwards.”
Lamruil showed up to take care of the elf as Esgalwathanar and Lazuli laughed. Lazuli said, “We have fifteen fae men of appropriate age including the former king’s nephew and while she doesn’t know it, she is bursting with potential. We must get a grove set up. This is going to be fun.”
“Do you think that she will be back?”
“She will be back, almost certainly. How old is she?”
“Older than Gallasiel. Fifty two or so. She is facing the clock of missing her breeding time and I think that she is ready to take matters into her own hands like Gallasiel did. That will annoy my sister considerably. She was supposed to arrange some things this season for Llorva and failed because she can’t organize things properly or plan for when things go wrong. Of course, that first fete was the first blow in Lielatha’s attempt to bankrupt me and that never got off the ground.”
Llorva waited in the parlor for her mother. Llorva’s mother had been playing games here all season and because of her mother’s dithering and the fact that the family had had not been doing well the last few years, arranging a marriage had been almost impossible. The thing was that it was mother’s constrictions that were the biggest problem. Back when there were a lot of high elf boys, that would have worked, but now, too many elves had only one son or daughter and so many families had had reverses that the boys just didn’t exist.Mother had bitched endlessly about Jessamine, the mutt as she called her, making off with Aneirin, but she didn’t understand that Aneirin had taken matters in hand when the young girl had shown up and he knew that the girl didn’t have the baggage that all the girls the families pushed at him did. Aneirin had gotten along fine with Llorva, even if she was a bit older than he was, but Aneirin liked her as friend. A marriage and the turmoil that would follow was something that he abslolutely didn’t want to deal with.
Llorva’s mother burst into the parlor and said in that treacly sweet voice that meant real trouble, “What brings you here, daughter?”
“I wanted to know what your plans were for the Yellowleaf festival.”
“I hadn’t prepared any. That is primitive festival that I have never celebrated. Why do you ask?”
“I wanted to make sure that you didn’t have any plans. Very well, I will make plans of my own. There are some rumors going around about a family thing in the timberlands.”
“Whatever you want, dear.”
Lielatha left the parlor. Llorva was certain that her mother expected that she would stay home. After that fiasco her mother had orchestrated at the park, Llorva wasn’t going to play the game that way. She had been forced to stay close to her mother while other family had snuck over and had a great time. The picnic had been for “her” and Siraye. Of course most of the guests had been high elves that mother had wanted to impress and tie the family to. Frankly, considering that the boys at the other party had been Dan and Tarranth Qinvaris, among others, mother should have asked Lavidia for invitations. Dan and Tarranth had been a bit young, but there had been other prospects and she could play twenty for as long as she had to. With that in mind, when Lamruil showed up to ask if she wanted anything else, Llorva said, “Do you think that Lavidia would be willing to talk with me?”
Lamruil smiled. “Why don’t we go to her office and ask. I think that your mother is going to be graciously welcoming her brother’s lady friend while preparing to ruin the lady.”
As they proceeded down the hall, Llorva said, “I see that my mother’s reputation is well known here. That hasn’t helped her battle here at all.”
“We knew when things started. That has made the whole thing so much fun. Even more so, as your mother’s defeats have been the result of her own missteps more than anything else.”
“I know. She has her own little world where everything works perfectly and when reality strikes, she can’t deal with it. You should see her huge dollhouse. It’s pretty immobile or she would have inflicted it on you all.”
“Oh, I was here when she left and the house she had then was large enough. I imagine that you grew up rather restrained.”
“When I didn’t have nannies, which I did until I was thirty, all of whom were spies for mother, I was kept on a short leash as long as mother was home. It didn’t help that mother only had me and no other children. I think it was her who started that one child thing.”
“Well, here we are, let me see if Lavidia is available.”
The Major Domo knocked on the door, spoke for a hundredth and said, “She wants to talk with you.”
Llorva walked in through the door into the small but comfortable office where a fae lady was waiting. The lady came around the desk and hugged her. “So we meet the person and not the doll at last. I was wondering when you were going to visit.”
“Coming here had issues. Frankly, a season without mother was a good thing and I enjoyed the breather even if she was inflicting hereslf on you all. Who is that lady with uncle?”
“I don’t think I can say very much other than the fact that he ran into her at the old family estate.”
‘I thought that House Virstina had been absorbed into house Shahana.”
“There was a dower estate that the lady lived on near the family’s old home estate. Esgalwathanar ran into the lady and they are very comfortable with each other.”
“I saw that. How did she manage to arrange all those fae servants?”
“There was a small fae community on her estate that had a disaster and she helped them. They provide service in exchange.”
“I haven’t seen uncle so happy, ever. He deserves it.”
“You seem to be much different than your mother.”
“Do you have an idea of what it is like to grow having to exist as a perfect doll? I had nannies managing me until I was thirty and was able to put my foot down with father and get rid of them. I had to fight mother for everything and you saw what she thought of as a casual picnic. I want to meet Mrs. Harper and find out how she does it.”
“I can arrange that. Not today, but it will be educational.You do know that your family is in deep trouble right now.”
“I am fully aware of that. The trouble has been starting for some time. Uncle Ehlark kept making great promises of massive treasure from the suppression expeditions, but the Republic was getting better at figuring out when and where he was going to hit and the raids were getting more expensive. We were losing two or three ships every year and the mages were having to spend more time covering the ships in glamor to avoid the cruisers and recovering from that. The House was borrowing money to keep up appearances and my Aunt Saeliihn was borrowing against the House Shahana timberlands and making loans to the family without Uncle Vesryn’s knowledge. Uncle Vesryn owns a big chunk of Eryding if we can’t clear the loans and Paeris was supposed to have a big raid on someplace to get the money. The family didn’t know that he was going to do something stupid like hitting a trading town. You know how that ended up.”
“This is very interesting. That explains why Rolin won’t give up on the raiding when it is obvious that he’s wasting his efforts.”
“The House has some things that could make money, like the shipyard and some properties, but much of that is held by the Shahana now.”
“Vesryn doesn’t seem to be worried.”
“I don’t know what he is doing. We have never been close and he is sneaky. My aunt threw him out of the house after the thing with his illegitimate son, but that was stupid. If Uncle Vesryn figures out just how much the House is in debt to him and aunt makes him really angry, he could just take the city.”
“What do you plan to do?”
“Find somebody. I, at least, am not just a pretty doll. I can manage a business and a house, cook and have all sorts of skills. I may not be a mage, but I have some tricks and if the man I find has money, that is fine, but mother has been playing that game and from what I have seen, I should have a strong partner like Seldanna does and not worry about present status or family wealth. Perhaps mother has been on top for a long time, but I know far too many that were brought low, some by my own relatives. I imagine that my family has created a lot animosity that we will have to live with, even those who were in no way connected.”
“You are being very wise, unlike your mother.”
“Mother has squandered a lot of good will. I don’t think that she knows what people really think of her and she tends to think of people as dolls for her to play with and occasionally break. That wasn’t helped by the actions of my cousin, my father, Uncle Zanis and the rest.”
“Have you had any rumors about your Uncle Zanis?”
“There have been some going around. Also, some relatives that haven’t been around for a very long time started to show up and draw on the family accounts. I think that I must go. Please tell me about any things that you are planning.”
“I will.”

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