Raider From The Sky Chapter 53-54, The End.

Gander conducts an investigation. Rosaniya has a wedding.

Chapter 53.
The Sanctum- Shahana Timber Town.
This was the first time that Gander was out as the lead Inquisitor for a case. He couldn’t even turn it down because this was the biggest thing since he left the academy, been taken by the Ravathrya and brought over as a slave. Kelvahn had joked ever since that buying him had been the best money he had ever spent. Gander was going to use this case to demonstrate that Kelvahn was absolutely right. As things went, the case was already open and shut. They had the criminal on crystal admitting to the crime and witnesses. Gander put all that away and set out to let the crime scene itself tell the story. He had his people track down every dead spot created by magefire, note every dead tree, what transformations the fae had used and everything he could find. He looked for bone fragments and for the shards of bone left behind by a magefire attack. Bit by bit, he put the pattern of the attack together from the first shot of magefire to the last five year old child that could not transform and was hiding behind his burned mother who was hoping to save him. He also noted the trashed, not burned main building of the fae community, torn apart as if somebody was doing a search of the worst sort.
After a five day of hard work Gander had a picture of what had happened. It wasn’t pretty. It was clear that whoever did this had started in looking for something he didn’t find and when he didn’t get it, started killing. It was all senseless, because the dead would never be able to tell the mage what he wanted and once the butcher’s bill started, the living wouldn’t either. Since the dead had told him all that they could it was time to talk to the living. With that in mind, Gander collected his son, Myrdin, who at sixteen, was helping on this case and headed to the portal and the timbertown. Once through the portal he went to look up the Chamberlain, who he found in a barn, supervising the stowage of some fodder for animals. The Chamberlain turned around and Gander took out his badge folder and said, “Mr. Aekian, I am Justiciar Gander Dawkins. Could I speak to you about the events of forty years ago?”
“Justiciar, you are a bit of a surprise. I would have thought that all the justiciars would be high elves.”
“Kelvahn insisted on promoting me so that I don’t have to drag another Justiciar on a case. I handle investigations for unsolved crimes.”
“So you deal with the strange cases that come up.”
“Yes.”
“Who is this with you?”
“This is my son, Myrdin. I brought him along so that he could see the case, help out, and since the survivors were about his age when things happened, provide some insight into how they were thinking.”
“So, why did you come to me?”
“I’m coming to you because you were alive and here when things happened. I’m hoping that you could point me to other people that were alive at the time and tell me what happened when the Ravathrya showed up and perhaps go over events as you remember them.”
“Why are you doing this? The perpetrator has admitted what he had done.”
“I know. But my job is to set all that aside and develop the case as if the man had said nothing. For the typical case in the Empire, I would have low and high justice, but for Anathema, we will have something similar to a trial. Considering the consequences of an Anathema, my chief has told me that I must present an absolutely damning case. That means that if I have an unanswered question, I must find the best answer that I can.”
“I will help as best I can. There is one matter that is family related that I will not discuss other than to say that certain things were given to my custody just before the atrocity.”
“The things that mage Zylvyre was looking for?”
“Yes.”
“That information and anything else related to this case are to go under Justiciars seal. At this point all testimony cannot be shared with anyone else other than myself or another Justiciar. You will speak truth and any criminal actions that you or anyone else that are revealed to me cannot be used against you as a result of my investigation. Is that understood?”
Gander held up is badge and activated the magic that initiated the seal. He turned to Myrdin and said, “Start the crystal.”
“Yes father.”
Gander turned to the Chamberlian and said, “Now you can speak without fear of reprisals. Shall we begin?”
Gander had the Chamberlain go over everything he had seen that day. At the end, Gander asked, “Why were you there, at the community?”
“There was a joining between somebody from the town and a fae girl and another boy from the town who was being tested for the same reason. They are both still alive and here.”
“Then I should speak with them. Myrdin, change the crystal and have two ready. Chamberlain, are the witnesses available?”
“Since it is coming toward the evening and dinner, they should be. Why don’t I take you to Teregan and Matwau.”
The chamberlain led Gander and his son through the light early snow to a modest cottage where a woman spotted them and said, “Chamberlain, who are these folk?”
“This is Justiciar Gander Dawkins and his son, who is carrying the load aroud and assisting him, Emerald. The Justiciar is investigating the events at the faery kingdom.”
The woman blanched and said, “So they are coming after us, at last.”
Gander said, “Ma’am, I am not coming after you or your husband for anything. There was a crime committed a long time ago and my job is to make a determination of the facts.”
“You are not with the Ravathrya?”
“Not in any way. In fact, they brought me to the Empire, something that, considering the cases against them in the past that I have closed, they rather regret.”
“ I thought that the Justiciars had to be high elves. You hardly look like an elf.”
Gander grinned. “So did I, but my boss and father in law convinced my wife finally that I would be safer if I had a full Justiciar’s badge, so here I am, let out all by myself.”
“Then the bastards are going to escape, again.”
“Not at this point. Even if the crystal with Zanis Zylvyre’s confession and the witnesses are discredited, my investigation so far is pretty conclusive as far as the fact that a powerful mage murdered most of the fae goes. There is no direct evidence so far as to who commited the crime, but there is fairly conclusive evidence that the crime was committed.”
“Well, come inside. My husband should be back shortly and if you are what you have said you are, we may have something for you.”
They were taken insid to the room that had a hearth and table. There were pictures above the hearth and Gander asked, “Where are your children?”
“My eldest went south, a tail found him and they live in a bower now. He served in the navy. My daughter went south on a lumber boat and lives in the Rosehollow Faery kingdom. My younger son is here, with his wife. They snuck into the grove and joined under the nose of the monster, but the monster hasn’t been paying attention to the fae, since he thought that they were gone.”
A man, who looked very well for being at least in his early sixties came in and said, “Chamberlain, who is this?”
“This is Justiciar Dawkins and he is investigating the murder of the Faery kingdom.”
“He is not an elf, let alone a high elf. How can he be a Justiciar?”
Gander laughed and told the story of how he had been taken as a young police officer, purchased by Kelvahn Bryneiros for his wife, who casually mentioned that perhaps Gander could help with a difficult case, went out with Justiciars and training people for investigation as well as helping Kelvahn get suitable people out of the hands of the Ravathyra and putting together a team of investigators. “About that time, Allisa Wysalynn started to chase me and after a great deal of effort convincing me that I was worthy of her, we shared blood and here I am. Kelvahn has been trying to make me accept a full Justiciar’s role for some time, so that I can deal with a case like this one without having to have another Justiciar present.”
Emerald laughed and said, “I think that your wife was absolutely right about you. So why don’t we tell you our story.”
Gander held up his badge, activated it and said “I am going to say that everything forward from here is under Justiciar’s shield. At this point, all testimony cannot be shared with anyone else other than myself or another Justiciar. You will speak truth and any criminal actions that you or anyone else that are revealed to me cannot be used against you as a result of my investigation. Is that understood?”
The couple said, “Yes.”
Gander turned to his son and said, “Start the crystal. Teregan, why don’t we start with how you met your wife?”
Teregan told Gander about his job as tree marker, his camping and Emerald showing up rather irate at him because he had placed a fish trap in the stream that she liked to swim in as an otter. Then he told the story of how Emerald kept making a nuisance of herself until Teregan agreed to be tested and how Teregan was put through the hoops until he chased Emerald into a grove, she caught him and gave him his wings. “That was just before Zanis and his clowns showed up. We had just joined and there was a party being set up in the center of the kingdom. Emerald and I were Jumping mother to the kingdom and were at the last way station preparing for our entrance into the party when everything cut loose. The king Jumped out, handed us some things and told us to take mother back home and stay there. Then he Jumped back into the mess.”
Teregan got up, walked over to a drawer and pulled out a box. “I went back later and retrieved this. It was expensive, but I wanted a remberance of our dance together. The crystal captured something else.”
He handed the box to Gander and said, “This has only been played once, by me. I hope that it helps to put that monster where he belongs.”
Gander touched the box with his badge and said, “This goes under seal. Only the Justiciars and the Regency can now open this box. Thank you very much for trusting me with this. Thank you for keeping this in your trust for so long.”
The Chamberlain had left and came back with another man and his wife. “Justiciar, I thought that I would bring Matwau and Twilght here to Matwau’s brother’s so that you could get their testimony as well.”
Gander told them who he was and said, “You can ask your brother and his wife for my story. Myrdin, change the crystal. I am going to say that everything forward from here is under Justiciar’s shield. At this point, all testimony cannot be shared with anyone else other than myself or another Justiciar. You will speak truth and any criminal actions that you or anyone else that are revealed to me cannot be used against you as a result of my investigation. Is that understood?”
The pair both said, “Yes.”
“Excellent. I am going to assume that your story is a lot like your brother’s, Matwau.”
“Not precisely. I was trying to sneak after my brother when he was spending more time in the woods than he should have been. Twilight decided that some reprobate like me should be kept out of the faery woods until we discovered what my brother was up to, decided to have some fun with it, Twilight’s mom insisted that I be tested and we decided to do that right afer my brother and Emerald joined and then spring it on them as surprise, or if I did not have enough potential, just go to the party. It turned out that I passed, which Twilight had been sure that I would and then the noise started. The king came, handed some things to Twilight and told us that we should join immediately in the grove, so that the grove would shield us and itself and left with Twilight’s mom. When we emerged about five twentieths later, it was all over, we took the things the king left and I took Twilight home.”
“So you never saw what happened?”
“We saw some of it, when that monster Zylvyre was chasing people down to cover the thing up. The grove would not release the shield and us until the danger was more or less passed. But we could see some of what was happening.”
“Why didn’t you leave?”
“The Ravathrya wasted no time deleting the public access from the portal here at town and at the Sanctum, They were watching the portal to the south and Paeris had goons here and in the south for a long time. Then the kids came along and we didn’t want to take the risk.”
“Did you know about the fae kids in the woods?”
“No. It was fairly obvious that getting close the Sanctum was dangerous and unless there was somebody to tell, looking around there was pointless.”
Gander turned to Myrdin and said, “Stop the crystal. I think that we have enough. Thank you all for telling me your stories. These are never easy. Myrdin, we need to collect the crew, drop off what we found today and get home.”
When Gander arrived at the Hall of Justiciars, Kelvahn was waiting. “How did the Investigation go?”
“So far, I have more evidence, testimony from witnesses and this.”
Gander held up the box. “The kingdom was preparing for a joining party. That was why most of the kingdom was where Zanis could get at them so fast.”
“What was he looking for?”
“The kingdom’s library. The lore keeper had a friend in the Timber town take it when the Ravathrya showed up. It wasn’t even in the kingdom when Zanis started the killing and nobody in the kingdom knew where it was. Then Zanis kept going, trying to kill everybody.”
“Why don’t we watch the crystal?”
They did and even for both of them, who had seen lot of very ugly things in their lives, the crystal was the worst thing they had seen in their lives. Kelvahn said, “Take this to Mage Balgella and have a copy made. Then this and everything related to this case goes under seal. Have you talked with Zanis yet?”
“Not yet. I wanted to make sure that I had as much as I could.”
“When you do, take an elf slicer. If he comes after you, don’t hesitate. Take that revolver you have as well.”
“The Inquisition might have a fit. I had to play games at the Yllanan estate to mask the fact that both Traelion and I knew what guns were.”
“Take it anyway. I will tell Vullas and Ralnor that the anathema charge will probably have to be made. Zanis, at least, will have to be tried by the Regency Council and his brothers as well, I expect. We have never done something like this. We are lucky though. We have Robert Harper visiting and he certainly has.”
“At least we have a discreet connection for cartridges now.”
“That may turn out to be a surprise for some rather nasty people.”
“Ok, I am going to stop by the Imperial palace and the mage registry with pictures of the mages that were with Zanis in the morning. I need to get home or I will be in trouble.”
Eribelle.
It had taken Saevel a few days to convince his mother that he could go to Eribelle and take the lady’s things. Saevel’s older sisters had wasted no time making a trip to Eryding with a shopping list for the Yellowleaf festival with their friends. Uncle Rolin had wanted to put a guard at the portal, but by the time he had looked for a guard from the Sanctum’s population, the women protested that there was no way they were going to wait for the coaster if the portal was working. So there was a desk with somebody for people coming in, but the people who lived at the Sanctum ignored it. Then the mortal looking Justiciar had shown up with his team of investigators, trying to restrict portal use was pointless and the man at the desk had other things to do, so he left a sign that said to check in with Saevel’s mom. So all Saevel had to do was haul up all the Lady’s things in a cart, punch the code for Eribelle and go through into a whole new world. He looked at the bustling city and there was a booth next to the portal so he went there and the elf at the booth asked, “What can I do for you, young man?”
“I have some things for a lady and I want to take them to the Admiralty.”
“Who are you seeing at the Admiralty?”
“I don’t know. Strom was not sure. He said that somebody would take me there and that they would know who the lady was.”
“What is the lady’s name?”
“Lady Gwaerengwen.”
“You know where she is? Let me get somebody. The Admiral will want to speak with you.”
The elf turned around and called in a man that didn’t seem to be an elf and the man said as they started to walk along the street, “Young man, I am Petty officer Aquellius.What is your name?”

“Saevel Zylvyre.”
“So you are from Eryding.”
“We live at the Sanctum. I have never been to Eryding. My sister and her friends went shopping there yesterday. Are you seafolk?”
“Yes I am, which made my mother in law a bit unhappy until my wife came back up top with our daughter.”
As the petty officer told Saevel about what his daughter got up to, his other children and the rest, Saevel looked across the water and there was the strange whale or ship that he had seen two moons ago. He turned to the Petty officer and said, “What is that?”
“A submarine. It is a ship from the Republic. That boat has been in and out of here frequently lately.”
“Can it go underwater?”
“Yes it can. How did you know?”
“I saw that boat where I live, following the coaster. I don’t think that the boys would be able to bother it.”
“The boys?”
“The sharks we had. They are dead now. I think that Strom killed them so that he and the lady wouldn’t have to worry about them as they Swim here.”
“So the lady is seafolk.”
“She wasn’t, but she wanted Strom and a tail, so she arranged it.”
The petty officer laughed. “So she is having you bring her things after she went through Change and is Swimming down from where you live. She is hardly the first one to get dragged under.”
They arrived at a large building and the Petty officer said, “Why don’t I take your cart to the back and you go in and talk with the lieutenant.”
Saevel went nervously to the desk in the front and the elf behind the desk said, “I am Saevel Zylvyre and I was bringing some things for Lady Gwaerengwen.”
The lieutenant said, “You know where the lady is?”
“Not right now. She is Swimming here.”
“I think that you have a story to tell.”
The lieutenant wrote something down, turned to the young man in uniform and said, “Midshipman, take this to the Admiral’s office.”
The man left and the lieutenant turned to Saevel and said, “Saevel, where do you live?”
“At the Sanctum. Grandfather Zanis has mages there and we are supposed to help them.”
“How did you get here?”
“The Portal Service came and fixed the portal, so everybody could use it. Since Strom didn’t want to have a lot of things with him when he Swam here with the lady, he gave them to me to bring down.”
“So the lady is Swimming down.”
“That was what she wanted.”
A man in a fancy uniform showed up, the lieutenant stood up and saluted. “Sir this young man dropped off some things from Lady Gwaerengwen.”
“So, young man, you know where she was?”
“Yes sir. Uncle Paeris sent her to where I live for some reason through a portal and since the portal was broken and Uncle Rolin wouldn’t key the portal, she couldn’t leave, so she taught me to sketch and helped Nuvien, our librarian setup the library. Then the submarine followed the coaster and Strom came.”
“I, think, young man, that we must have a talk about your adventures. My son and his wife are here with my wife for lunch so why don’t we sit down and have a chat.”
The admiral led Saevel to a big room full of tables where there was a mermaid, another man in uniform and a very elegant elven lady. The admiral said, Saevel this is my wife, Imryll, my son, Illianaro and his wife, Aegaea. Saevel here has been keeping Lady Gwaerengwen from being bored, apparently.”
“Have you really, Saevel?” Imryll asked. “So, presumably Paeris sent her to where you live.”
“Yes he did, which upset Uncle Rolin somewhat. The lady was upset too, until Storm came and took her away.”
“Why couldn’t she leave?”
“The portal was broken, the boys kept us from the water when the coaster was there, a mage would have chased her if she tried to escape in the woods and she didn’t know where the Sanctum was.”
“If the portal was broken, how did you get here?”
“A fae from the Portal Service fixed the portal.”
“A fae from the Portal Service? Did he say what his name was?”
“Periwinkle.”
“So one of the Beinans put him to work,” Illianaro said with a grin. “I think that is safer for everybody.”
The admiral said, “You said the lady was Swimming down here, Saevel. Was that before or after the portal was fixed?”
“Just after, but she managed to get Strom on a beach, arranged to get herself blown up so that Grandfather would think that she was dead and I don’t think that she wanted to waste her escape. Strom wanted me to bring her things here since they are coming here first and there were Republican ships here.”
That sent laughter around the table.
The Imperial Palace.
Gander walked into the mage registry office. The elf behind the desk looked at him as if Gander was some sort of cockroach and said, “Do you have some task here, or or you delivering a message.”
Gander pulled out his badge folder. “Justiciar Dawkins and I have some questions concerning some mages.”
“The mage registry is confidential and I am afraid that I would have to see a full Justiciar with a writ.”
“Did you check my badge? I am a full Justiciar. Now we can do this the easy way, or I can write a writ, right here, right now as well as another one detailing your obstruction. Considering the crime in question here, your bosses will not like it that you and this office were not absolutely cooperative with the Justiciary. Now I have some pictures of some mages and I want names and where they are supposed to be.”
Gander slapped the pictures on the table and the elf looked at them. “What were these mages doing with the magefire?”
“They were murdering a fae community,”
The elf looked at him and said, “You are not kidding, are you?”
“We have a crystal of all of it. The community was setting up for a joining party with a man from the neighboring town. He bought the crystal so that he could get a record of his and his bonded’s joining dance. These pictures were captured from that crystal.”
“The Grand Master Mage will be contacting Chief Justiciar Bryneiros about a copy of that crystal. If it is what you say it is, steps will have to be taken. I apologize, Justiciar, for my attitude when you entered. Let me get to pulling these character’s files. If it as bad as you say it is, we want these mages to be punished. Taking the mantle of mage is a terrible responsibility and those who violate that responsibility damage the trust that the rest of the Empire places in us. I will send the files to your desk.
“Thank you, Mage Pyrravyn.”
Pyrravyn Sylkian watched the Justiciar leave and then took the pictures to his assistant. “Alen, I want these mages’ files pulled.”
Alen looked at the pictures and said, “One of them is Zanis Zylvyre.What is he doing with mage fire like that?”
“Murdering a fae community. A rather strange Justiciar came in with the pictures. I think he wants the indenties of the mages with mage Zylvyre.”
“Which Justiciar was it?”
“A new one. Not even an elf, apparently. I was a bit brusque with the man, and he handed me my head. I deserved it.”
“Do you want to have me look into him?”
“I think you should. The Master Mage will want a report on this and he will want to know about the people conducting the investigation. I need to see somebody.”
Pyrravyn went out the back door and up the back stairs to a room toward the back of the palace. He knocked on the door and said, “Your majesty, Pyrravyn here.”
“Come in.
Pyrravyn entered and Maethanar said, “So what brings you here?”
“I just had a rather interesting visitor. Apparently Kelvahn has raised a mortal to full Justiciar status.”
“Do you think that he is competent?”
“Very. I don’t know the man’s history, but he didn’t take any guff from me when I started to whine about writs and when I backed down, was fully professional, which considering the case, is going to be very important.”
“What is his case?”
“Zanis Zylvyre apparently murdered a fae community, on crystal.”
“What!?”
“The Justiciar showed me pictures of Zanis and some other mages using magefire. When I asked what they were doing with the magefire, that is what the justiciar said that they were doing. I have asked for a copy of the crystal for the Master Mage. Lyari is going to hit the ceiling. The Academy has spent centuries working to lower the distrust that mages carried like a cloak since the mage wars and then Zanis does something like this and covers it up in more blood. I need to go before somebody misses me.”
Yllanan House, The City In The Clouds.
Gander approached the castle with a bit of trepidation. It was hard to know how to how to approach high elves and this was a bit different than his encounter at the registry office. On the other hand, Gander was fairly sure that Esgalwathanar had picked mage Zanis’s office clean, and while Gander wished that Esgalwathanar hadn’t done that, he understood why Esgalwathanar had. The question was how willing Esgalwathanar was to talk with him and what approach he should use. Traelion and he had gotten a lot of mileage out of his bumbling investigator act, but a full Justiciar had to exude authority and Gander didn’t have somebody to carry the authority in this case. So Gander decided that the best approach was to be straitforward and professional. He was also wearing his Justiciar’s tunic since he had just left the palace. As he was walking up to the gate, he heard, “Hi, Justiciar!”
He turned and there was Saevel Zylvyre. “Saevel, what are you doing here?”
“Planning a trick on Bellflower. I owe her a trick. Myrdin is helping me with this.”
“Then I think that I do not want to know.”
Gander had wondered why his son had not been able to help him today. He had met Saevel up at the Sanctum and Saevel had introduced Myrdin to his sister. Apparently Saevel and his son were coming up with some mischief. Gander continued to the door and an elf asked, “May I help you?”
“I am Justiciar Gander Dawkins and I would like to speak with Lord Esgalwathanar about a case that he is involved in.”
“Come in and I will see if he is available.”
Gander followed the elf inside and Flix was coming down the hall and spotted him. “Justiciar Dawkins, why are you here?”
“To speak with Lord Esgalwathanar.”
“Then you want to talk to Lazuli too. Lamruil, I think that you know who is in the green parlor, so why don’t you take him to the back. I’ll go get grandfather.” Flix disappeared. As Lamruil led him into the bowels of the house he said, “You know our young troublemaker?”
“Both of them. My kids like them and take them as examples. Peri spends more time in the neighborhood than Flix does.”
“The pair of them have been a breath of fresh air in this house. Were those troublemakers out front yours?”
“I only saw one of them, who isn’t one of mine. He admitted to having a partner. Apparently they are working on a trick involving a young lady. Peri released the young man from where his grandfather had him sequestered and he hasn’t wasted any time.”
“So he is from the north and the young lady is from the fae community. The fae community has joined us recently. So far they have been rather tame for fae. Here we are. The Lord and Queen Lazuli should join you shortly.”
Actually they entered as Lamruil was speaking and Esgalwathanar said, “Justiciar Dawkins, you are a bit of a surprise. On the other hand, I remembered the report that you did concerning my wife. How did you become a full Justiciar?”
“Kelvahn insisted and my wife supported him. I could turn down my boss, my wife was another story.”
“So why are you here?”
“To collect the things from Mage Zanis’s office if I can, tell you what I have and begin talking with the witnesses.” Gander pulled out a crystal. “I also want to hand this to you to pass on to the Council of Kings.”
“What is it?”
“I presume you know what was going on in the fae community when Zanis and his friends struck.”
“The joining,” Lazuli said. “The couple was not at the community?”
“No they were not. The man was from the timber town and met the lady while working. They had just joined in a grove and went to bring the man’s mother back for the celebration. They were at the third way station, preparing to enter the community when the king Jumped to them, handed them some things and told the man to go back to the timber town so that there would somebody who was a witness. The man had placed a crystal in the community to record the couple’s joining dance and it caught something uglier instead. The witness went back and picked up the crystal afterwards, but the Ravthyra readjusted the portal and he could not leave without revealing himself to the Ravathrya.”
“The Council of Kings will want all you have,” Lazuli said. “While there is no doubt about Zanis’s guilt, taking the extra steps will make the judgement easier.”
“Right now everything is under seal, especially the names of the witnesses until I have my report ready to submit to the Regency Council. The Council of Kings will get the same report as will the Mage Academy and the Marsahlls. As it stands, I do not want any people saying that the evidence was tampered with.”
“Do you have any information about the mages that were with Zanis?” Esgalwathanar asked. “I asked Zanis about the location of his son and while he would admit freely to what he had done, he would not tell me where his son or the other mages were.”
“I have given pictures of the mages involved to the mage registry at the palace. We should know who they are.”
“There are some mages who have disappeared. Of course, when I had my confrontation with Zanis, we did not know which mages had been with Zanis. Now we will. Have you talked with Zanis yet?”
“Not yet. He is my next stop, but I have to pull something out of where it is in the house, clean and load it. The Inquisition doesn’t like admitting that guns exist, and has a hissy fit if I use mine, but I am not taking chances with Zanis. So elf slicer and gun at this interview, along with some chainmail that we arranged some time ago from the Republic.”
“Do you want to interview the members of the fae community?” Lazuli asked.
“I have some interviewers that we use for things like this. If you can provide somebody from the Council that could sit with my people, that would be a big help.”
“We can do that. That way we can just have one interview and not have the fae keep going over that one terrible event over and over.”
“I am surprised that you haven’t mentioned the shark mage and his “Boys?”” Esgalwathanar asked. “So far you haven’t said anything at all about what happened to them.”
“They are not my case. So I didn’t collect any evidence or conduct an investigation. I suppose that somebody could bring in a Justicar to look into that, but for the Ravathyra that did that, it probably woudn’t end well. The sharks were victims and monsters and the mage was apparently changed by his spells. Nobody has complained to the Justiciars about the incident and from all the things that I have been hearing, having the “boys”around and alive would not have been a good thing for the Ravathyra.”
“At this point the Ravathrya have sort of run out of good options. Their lack of concern and panic bothers me. They did those terrible things, kept members of their own family cooped up and probably under mild compulsions so that they didn’t think very hard about certain things and when the whole thing was exposed, Rolin and Zanis haven’t seemed to panic at all.”
“I will try to induce some of that. Why don’t we plan to talk here about every Besday or so to catch up? That way the Council of Kings is kept informed and you can update me on things that are going on that may effect my investigation.”
“We can do that,” Esgalwathanar said.
Saevel stood on the roof outside the room that Bellfower shared with three other girls from the community. Getting the trick together had taken some effort. Saevel was new to the concept of money and only had the five silvers that Justiciar Dawkins has given him for helping out in the investigation. Myrdin and his brothers and sisters had taken him through places in the lower city until they had found the foxes with crystals in their heads that could store a short speech. Then Myrdin introduced Saevel to Flix, so that Saevel could sneak the fox into the room. Now Saevel was waiting with a crystal as Bellflower was about come into the room. He watched as Bellflower came in, the fox said “Down here dummy!” and she jumped. Saevel tripped the crystal and Jumped to where Flix and Myrdin were hiding. Saevel held up the crystal and said, “I got her.”
Bellflower came to the door, holding the fox and called out, “Saevel, I know that you are out there! I love this!”
She went back inside and Flix said, “That may have been a mistake.”
“The trick worked, didn’t it?”
“Yes, but now you are probably stuck with her.”
“I can live with that. I need to talk with her. I never finished the picture I was sketching the other day.”

The Sanctum.
Gander emerged from the portal with two high elf guards and Myrdin. He hadn’t wanted to bring his son, but his son had insisted because as a half elf and young, he was faster than his father and he had trained. Both Gander and his son were wearing special mail shirts from the Republic designed to deflect magefire and Gander had an elf slicer and his pistol. In any case, it was unlikely that mage Zylvyre had much mana after the fight with Esgalwathanar and healing from the consequences of that fight and contact with the Well had apparently been disconnected for all the mages here. Still, it was with a bit of trepidation that Gander walked into the small hospital. Mage Zylvyre was in the bed furthest from the door and he watched as Gander and his little troop came up to his bed. “Who are you and why are you here? I hope that the Justiciars don’t find out that a mortal is wearing their tunic.”
“Since the Chief Justiciar foisted this on me, he won’t complain. I am Justiciar Gander Dawkins and I want to ask you some questions. I want to warn you that this interview is under writ and anything taken during this interview can be used against you. If I were in the Republic, I would also be saying that you had the right to a barrister and if I were you, I would be looking for a very good one.”
“If I choose to say nothing?”
“I don’t need your testimony at this point.”
“You have the crystal that Esgalwathanar’s lady was holding. I will say that since that crystal was not obtained under writ, the family will contest the evidence and the testimony of children about a rather traumatic time long ago is easily discredited.”
“If those were the only things I had, you may actually have had a point. But one problem you had was that you didn’t pay attention to what was going on in the kingdom and that you may have left more evidence of your actions than you thought you had.”
Gander dropped the picture of Zanis and the other mages on Zanis’s lap. Zanis looked at them and said, “These could have been cooked up.”
“The crystal that they were taken from was not. I can show you a copy of the entire crystal if you like. The original crystal has only been viewed twice, once by the witness and once by the Chief Justiciar and myself. The pictures in your hands were made from the copy, but the original is sealed and secure.”
“What do you want from me?”
“A long discussion on your motives when you committed this crime, but I expect that you won’t give me that. More importantly, the names and current location of the mages in the pictures would be a bit of a help.”
“Are you going to do what Esgalwathanar did if I do not give you that information?”
“No, I am not. First of all, I am not as skilled as he is with an elf slicer, which could mean that I would make a mistake that would be fatal for you and second killing you would leave some questions unanswered. The fact is that now that I have their pictures, I will have their names, their families and everything in their backgrounds. If their families are outside the Ravathyra, I think that those families would like to know that your actions and the actions of your friends have placed them in risk of Anathema without warning.”
“I think that I will make you work for my associates. As for my motives, since you are here, you proably already know what this place is.”
‘Not being a mage or an elf, I am relatively blind to certain things, but even a man like me can sense the mana here. Considering the cluster of mages and the things that they were doing, you all were using the power for whatever you were doing. Then you were keeping the whole thing a secret because the Mage Academy would object to the things that you were doing.”
“You are surprisingly astute.”
“I earn my pay. The question is why, but I suspect that you won’t tell me that.”
“This was part of a long term family project. What that project was for and who else was involved is something that I will leave you all to discover. The hope was that this place would not be discovered until the project was much further along, but the boy cutting us off from the Well and I suspect the boy coming up here in the first place made the discovery of this place inevitable. Once the boy was here, his father would soon follow and my folly at the fae kingdom would be discovered. That was the greatest mistake of my life, but the project was having issues and we needed more mana than we had at the time. So when the Well was discovered by examining some old documents that were found in a family library, we sent a mage to look into what was here and the fae drove him off. The family arranged a marriage with the House that owns this land and we repaired the castle. When the fae kingdom was discovered, I decided to discover what they knew. So I looked for the library. In the process I killed the king’s son and his wife. The problem was that the king was there and so was the entire community. If one of them were to Jump to another kingdom, the fae would know, so I had to get rid of the witnesses. In the end I though that the fae were all gone, but apparently not. Of course the family clamped down on things as much as we could up here. We had no way of knowing that Vesryn knew so much. He seemed to waste his time at the House with the rest of them and not paying attention as the family was using his house as a bank. Bit by bit we were buying the rope that he could hang us with. When the raiding fleet failed, that was the beginning of the end, because sooner or later, somebody was going to tell Vesryn that he was our biggest creditor and he would be coming up here looking to sell his timber because he wouldn’t have a choice.”
“You are being rather frank.”
“It is not as if you don’t already know what I have done. Esgalwathanar could accuse and I didn’t tell him, because there was no way that he could be certain. You, on the other hand, had a crew investigate and found that crystal. Why was it there?”
“You never thought to think about why the community was all there in one place? There was a joining party going on and the man was from the timber town. He and his lady were bringing back the man’s mother for the party. The man had purchased the crystal so that he could record his joining dance. As for the library, it was secured when you showed up. You killed all those people for nothing. Not even the lorekeeper knew where the library was. Come along, Myrdin. We can take this and file my report.”
“You aren’t even going to station a guard or put me in a cell?”
“I doubt that you can run with that knee that Esgalwathanar hit, the portal will default to a cell if you try to use your key, the public functions will no longer work for you, you can’t Swim like Paeris can to my knowledge and you need to have somebody to cooperate with you to get to the portal. Then the Marshalls and the fae will be looking for your hide. You could run, but for you, that may be pointless and who knows, where you run may be interesting to the Marshalls. Paeris is still out there someplace and the Marshalls are perfectly willing to use you to track him. Then there is the Mage Academy, who will be rather upset about your actions. In any case, I don’t see that locking you up is worth the risk. Since I’m not going to kill you outright, I will just leave you here.”
Gander left, leaving a confused Zanis to ponder his fate.

Chapter 54.
Eribelle.
Gwen and Strom were met by Illianaro and Aegaea as they were Swimming toward Eribelle. Illianaro grinned and said, “You caught him, Milady!”
“Yes I did, captain. Since you obviously knew that we were coming, that scamp, Saevel made his delivery. That was a bit of a nuisance. Strom plans this big escape for me, I plan to get Strom to drag me under so that we could escape and the Peri of all people, comes along and makes the whole thing unnecessary.”
“Saevel did come and make a delivery, which was rather amazing as he has never been out of the Sanctum before. But he took everything in stride. He was also planning to play a trick on a young fae. Apparently she had misled him somewhat, straight to a grove.”
“He passed and told us about Bellflower. Bellflower provided a distraction so that Saevel was not with me when I arranged my death.”
“How did you do that?”
“I went into a mage cottage and there was a residual explosion from some mage project. Actually, Strom rigged the explosion and I used an ability that I no longer have thanks to getting this tail.”
“You were tested by the fae and had some of the abilities,” Aegea said.
“Yes. I had already decided that I would give them up for Strom and my family. After Gallasiel managed to arrange a tail and Strom showed up, the limitations of the tail just didn’t seem to matter.”
“Well, I think that you made the right choice. Just like I stowed away on Illianaro’s frigate. Why don’t we visit the bower while you tell us about the Republic. Then we all have to get ready for a wedding.”
“Whose wedding?” Strom asked.
“Rosaniya and Richard’s. I am sure that Gwen is invited and you are as well, Strom.”
“With Mrs. Harper involved, I don’t think that she would complain even if we were not,” Gwen said with a grin. “I also want to talk to Millicent and Lavidia about what books we may need to send back now that I can.”
Illianaro laughed. “Strom is giving you your library back.”
“She found the mage I was looking for,” Strom said. “That was the deal. Of course she made me come after her.”
“I did no such thing,” Gwen said.
“Yes you did. You subverted the grandchildren. If you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been in trouble with them if I didn’t come and get you. As soon as the wedding is over, we are going to have to return to the Republic or we will have an annoyed tiger and disappointed kids.”
“Why would Tigger be annoyed?”
“Because if you aren’t there to stop the kids, she will be wearing bows forever.”

Imperial Palace Park, The City In The Clouds.
Maethanar stood with Tony watching Lythienne at work. Since Maethanar was wearing his old servant’s outfit and Lelayme had already drafted some servants from the palace, slipping into the crowd had not been an issue. Watching Lythienne move through things, making all those little decisions and dealing with all the little crisis without turning a hair was rather amazing. Maethanar turned to Tony and said, “Is she always like this?”
“Since I was a kid. Of course she’s been wanting this wedding for a long time. I remember when Richard was taken. The Ravathrya took Bene at the same time, in another raid. She sent her message back and dad had me and Vic come with some others to keep an eye on her. Kicaver had just purchased her and it was obvious that they didn’t want to let each other go. So we were stuck.”
“You seem to have done ok.”
“I can’t complain. My wife wouldn’t let me. I need to get to work. Richard is here.”
The groom had arrived in a carriage, surrounded by friends, his brothers and father. If Glynii’s rather frightened ravings in the Council meeting had any relationship with reality, the presence of a bunch of very high clout people from the Republic in one family would have given the idea credence. The groom’s party went inside the pavilion and the guests started to arrive. The groom’s sisters and their high clout husbands arrived with the wives and children to join the groom’s party. They were followed by Prince Ralnor and his family with his sister, Esgalwathanar and his rather large contingent, the Shanelis, the Shahana, the Beinans, the Hienorin and some others, including some Houses that Maethanar had been sure had disappeared. There was a raft of both Imperial and Republican navy officers and a bunch of fae as well as a dragon contingent. Maethanar followed them in as the bride’s party arrived and the ceremony started. The couple said their vows before the priest of the seven Gods and tied the ribbon that bonded them together. The party started right afterwards. Apparently Lythienne had not managed to have a pool built in the park for mermaid dancing, but she had managed to borrow two portal prototypes from the Beinans and arrange a portal set up to the bay on the Qinvaris estate. That also worked for the fireworks display that apparently the park people had balked at because there was a good chance that the palace could have been hit by a rogue shell and catch fire.
The fireworks lit the bay and the crowd that was watching. The crowd that, for first time in a long time, had Maethanar thinking that perhaps the Empire had a future.

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