The Search For Paeris, Chapter 1-2

So now we embark on book three in this adventure. The Marshalls are in Pursuit of Paeris Zylvyre and finding that there maybe bigger concerns afoot.

The Search For Paeris

Chapter 1.

Marshall Headquarters, Oakleaf Faery Kingdom

Tomali was not surprised that he was called into headquarters to make a report. Paeris Zylvyre had proven to be the longest case that the Marshall Service had ever had. The Marshalls had worked for a long time to build their reputation for capturing fugitives quickly, bringing them back alive as much as possible. In this case, the fugitive had proven to be as elusive any that Tomali had ever heard about. So far, the last three moons had proven to be more than a little frustrating. So Tomali was not surprised that he was probably going to be called onto the carpet by Chief Marshall Storm Diamondmoon.

When Tomali was escorted into Diamondmoon’s office, Training Marshall Ted Popkis and Second Chief Daybreak Winterbreeze were with Diamondmoon. Diamondmoon said after returning Swiftfire’s salute. “Welcome Tomali. I wanted to call you in to get an update on your case. How is is going?”

“The case has been rather frustrating, unfortunately. We know that Great Captain Zylvyre worked as a drover at the Qinvaris harvest and I have talked with his employer. He actually was pleased with how Paeris did his job. Apparently, he may have been one of the drovers that the boys used to move the library before the raid on Lord Waestoris’s town, so he knew that the raid was a fake.”
“Have you gotten a feel for the man?”
“He’s an enigma, even to his family. He is absolutely amoral and plays things close to the vest. He has secrets that he has not revealed even to his family. He also has none of the arrogance of the typical high elf. He worked as a drover with slaves and others that were by no means of high status and they all liked the man. I do know that he must plan to end up someplace, but where that is, I have not been able to discover.”

“Your case has grown. I have a crystal here that you should see and some more information.”

Winterbreeze pulled the curtain on the windows as Diamondmoon activated the crystal. What followed was the ugliest thing that Swiftfire had ever seen as a group of mages murdered a fae community. When the show was over, Diamondmoon said, “The mages were led by Zanis Zylvyre. This happened in the northeastern part of the Empire on the Virstina estate near an old Imperial facility. The facility was to tap a large mana well and had been abandoned at some point. The Ravathrya discovered it, arranged a marriage to Vesryn Shahana, managed to get the rest of the family exiled, those that didn’t have convenient accidents and put pressure on Lord Shahana to make sure that he didn’t poke his nose into family business. Lord Shahana’s illegitimate son went up there and discovered everything. He also was tested by the remnants of the fae kingdom and had potential that put him right at the top of the range as well as a family connection to the Well.”

“So the Ravathyra assaulted a faery kingdom to gain the keys to the Well. Apparently they failed. You obviously think that there is more going on than just mass murder.”

“Crystals from the conversations with Zanis Zylvyre from both a member of the Council of Kings and a Justiciar are in your packet. Everything about this case is under seal and you are not to speak about this to anyone other than the people in this room, Justiciar Dawkins, Esgalwathanar Yllanan, Queen Lazuli and Mage Galather Yesqirelle from the Academy.”

“Dawkins does not sound elf.”
“He is the Justiciars’ chief investigator and Traelion Wysalynn’s son in law. Robin knows him well.”
“Is Robin involved in this?”
“The Council of Kings may bring him in. He’s looking into things that are probably related.”

“With this expansion of the case, what should I do about Great Captain Zylvyre?”

“I expect you to use your judgment. If the Great Captain seems to be not doing very much, haul him in. But you may find that it will be easier to tail him. At this point, as much as the Republic wants him, there are bigger things at stake. I will talk with Mr. Harper and President Gatharzol about the Great Captain. As evil and nasty as the Great Captain is, there is a bigger picture here, and if we can discover just what has been going on we may be able to avoid a storm. Above all, be careful with this.”

“Now that we have told you about the stakes,” Ted said, “Tell us about the Great Captain’s tactics so far. I was good, but the Great Captain seems to be taking being a fugitive to an entirely new level.”
“He has. I haven’t had a chance to have an interview with Lady Gwaerengwen as yet, as she is underwater with Strom Ironshield, but I have spoken at length with just about everyone involved. It is obvious that the Great Captain had a plan from the start and used the fact that no one had guessed that he was seafolk and other things he had done earlier in life to create his plan. The fact is that if he had used the portal, he would have been tracked and I suspect that he guessed that we would have access to portal experts, if not Mr. Beinan himself. So using a portal was extremely dangerous for him, because even if he ported right out again, the pursuit would have been right behind him. By going to sea and then going overboard, he was able to lengthen the distance between him and any possible pursuit from hours to five days and then to moons. I think that he planned to fake his death when the ship was destroyed and Swim to the islands, infiltrate the seafolk community and sign on to a trading ship, which he did. He was taking advantage of the fact that we would not know that he was seafolk. Then, when he arrived, he took the job as a wagon driver and rather than leaving at the first opportune moment, took advantage of the harvest to secure funds that he may need. I don’t know how much was planned, but by being a typical likeable drover, in amongst hundreds of similar people doing the same work at the same time, he could hide in the crowd.”

“What about that thing with the raiding ship that was supposed to draw him out?”

“It didn’t, because Paeris was involved in removing the library, so he knew that the raid had nothing to do with him. The Inquisition and the Justiciars are still acting as if Paeris was responsible for the library.”
“They know that he was not, probably.”
“That is one thing I do know. There was a movie shoot for three days at the library and by the time that the “raid” actually happened, the books from the library had been removed to a safe location for two five days.”
“So somebody in the Inquisition wanted the library removed and set up elsewhere and raid was a cover for that.”

“Not from the Inquisition, exactly, but essentially, that is what happened. A young fae prince was responsible for moving the library, but the library was on the estate of the head of the Inquisition, I suspect that he knew that the library had been removed from the building and I suspect that removal of the library helped the head with Inquisition’s infighting more than a bit.”

“Who has the library now?”

“I believe that Mrs. Harper is planning an expansion of the library in the Lower City.”

 

“She does things like that. I hope that the Empire understands that the Empire will just be a new region to conquer with philanthropy.”

“Her son is Richard Harper. She can afford just about anything she wants in the Empire.”

The faces around the table all had huge grins.

House Shahana, City In The Clouds.

Saeliihn had arranged to have this tea with her sister in law, Leilatha a five day ago. As Lielatha was escorted into the parlor she said, “Leilatha dear, it is so good to see you. How is your daughter?”

“She is behaving a little independently lately. Since I have been out of the house lately, I have not had her under my supervision and there are many things going on, so I have been rather busy.”
“Your battle to take over the House Yllannan seems to have gone awry.”
“I did not anticipate how some of Esgalwathanar’s rather inappropriate children were prepared to move into fill in the vacuum created when Gwaerengwen was taken. I would have expected that Esgalwathanar’s by blows would have been hesitant to move into the dance of the upper city, but the witch moved right in.”
“Fae can be more than a bit unrestrained if they do not know their place.”
“That mutt of Esgalwathanar’s granddaughter was. She had poor Aneirin beguiled and off to a grove before I could set up a meeting with Aneirin’s parents.”

“Didn’t Aneirin’s parents put a stop to it?”

“No. That witch Lavidia must have done something to them. Of course Lavidia has been a thorn in my side since she arrived. But she has taken over the house and unless she proves to be incompetent, she will be impossible to drive out.”

“I understand that there were some troubles when she had the automaton repaired.”

“There werw some issues, but the automaton was mother’s favorite thing in the house and Esgalwathanar was so pleased to have it repaired that he forgave the minor setbacks in house finances. If Rolin hadn’t returned that ship that he had taken, that might have come out differently. But he did. Why we are letting traders and the mutts from the Blasted Lands push us around is beyond me.”
“Esgalwathanar apparently has a new distraction.”
“Lady Virstina. I have had to make accommodation for the lady. At least you put Vesryn out for his peccadilloes.”

“I felt that Vesryn had gone over the line by pushing Rolin over the boy. Having that hussy out at the estate was one thing, but treating Rolin over the boy the way he did was inexcusable.”
“What has Vesryn done about that?”

“He cut the House off, though I have some side businesses that I don’t think that he has discovered yet and my dower income, of course. Dear Reptar has not been in a position to take any of those Republican pirates as prizes and Admiral Shanelis is far too friendly with the Republic to allow that in any case.”

“I am surprised that Rolin has allowed the insult to stand.”

“I think that he knows that the Assassin’s guild is being watched and that doing something like that would be counterproductive. I have also heard some rumors that Vesryn, that hussy of his and my stepdaughter are making arrangements with House Qinvaris.”

“So the daughter is chasing one of Rosaniya’s sons? They deserve each other. If it happens, that will hurt Rosaniya tremendously.”

“After living like that with Richard, I don’t think that she cares. That terrible farce that she and that exile conducted and called a wedding was rather ridiculous.”

“That was a farce all right. She started that with that rather silly carnival right there in the park. I had a picnic the same day and it was just ruined. She didn’t help matters by demolishing the park so that she could repair those heretical swan dancers.”

“Melaris couldn’t put a stop to that?”
“Richard’s mother rolled right over everyone, Alwin reevaluated the Bienan’s and let the Beinans return.”

“Alwin is a bit soft about things. The Regency Council lets him get away with it.”

“Poor Glynnii has had such a bad time on the Council these last few moons. They have been rather hard on poor Rolin and the way they let Gwaerengwen hand Paeris over to the Republic is just terrible.”
“She shouldn’t have done that and Glynnii should have arranged a writ of exile so that she couldn’t do that.”

“The Council wouldn’t vote for that. They still haven’t, even after Gwaerengwen went seafolk.”
“She what!?”

“She has gone seafolk. There she was at that farce, tail and all. I have some spies at the farm and they told me about it.”

The ladies went on, taking various people to shreds and Flix, standing there discreetly, took note of all that the ladies were saying. Vesryn had given Flix’s mother permission to send Flix to the townhouse at the wedding and it was already paying off.

The Lower City- The Imperial Palace.

Peri Jumped to Justiciar Dawkin’s house and was mobbed by Gander’s two younger children and their friends. Allisa spotted Peri and said, “Peri, are you looking for Gander?”

“Yes ma’am!”

“He’s at the palace, talking to the mage registry. They are still trying to lock down the last mage that Gander is looking for.”

“Ok, I will look for him there. I need to set him up for an appointment there in any case.”

“With the princess?”

“With her and somebody else. Ok, I will look for him there.”

Peri Jumped back to the palace and went to the mage registry. He went in through the door and said to the mage behind the desk, “Hi Alen. Is Justiciar Dawkins still here?”

“He’s with Pyrravyn in the back.”

“Ok, I will wait.”

“Then you can tell me your adventures with the Portal Service. Found any interesting places?”

“Not since Elysahone.”

“That was interesting. Selussa and I did some shopping there when you told us about it. They do interesting things with magical gadgets.”

“I found it an amazing place. Desielle and I liked it. There’s Gander.”

Peri walked over to where Gander was talking to Mage Pyrravyn and said, “Justiciar Dawkins, there is somebody who has asked to meet you.”

“Why so formal, Peri?”

“This is business.”
“Who wants to meet with me?”
“I can’t say. All I can say is that it is important.”

“Ok, then. Pyrravyn, I am being dragged off by this young fae, so we can get together later.”
“I think that I understand why and it is important.”

“Very well. Peri, lead on.”

Peri lead the Justiciar up the back stairs and down the hall. He opened a door a door and said, “I brought him, your majesty.”

“Bring him in, Peri.”

Peri pushed a suddenly reluctant Gander through the doorway and closed the door. Maethanar was seated at his desk and smiling as a befuddled Gander was trying to decide just what he was dealing with and if he should bow or not. He took pity on the surprised Justiciar and said, “Welcome to our rather small little club, Justiciar Dawkins. Bowing is not necessary.”

“The stories of your madness are more than a bit exaggerated, your majesty it seems.”

“The madness was necessary. The case you are currently investigating is a big reason why.”
“The Well.”

“Yes. The Ravathrya wanted the Well badly enough that they were willing to commit mass murder to get it. Fortunately, they never had access to Vesryn’s family library or the fae kingdom’s library and they didn’t have a family member who was in touch with the land. So when one was Tested, they were cut off from the Well.”

“There’s more going on. Zanis admits to what he has done, but clams up when you ask him about his associates. I don’t think that it is to protect his son, since his son was not involved in the attack on the fae. The crystal doesn’t show Onvyr involved and I have no witnesses that have placed him at the Sanctum. Wherever he is, it is not the Sanctum. Yet Zanis was willing to die rather than give him up. He didn’t attack Esgalwathanar until Esgalwathanar started to ask questions about missing mages and he would not answer any questions about the missing mages that I asked either. Presumably you have seen my preliminary report since I turned it over to Ralnor.”

“I may be hiding my sanity from my son.”

“I doubt it. I think that he has to know. So what is going on other than letting your enemies get enough rope to hang themselves with?”

“Like Peri here, I will tell you to discover that for yourself. Frankly, being what you are, I imagine that there are some that don’t take you seriously.”

“It worked better when I had Traelion or some of the other Justiciars as a front. They could carry the mantle of officialdom and I could play the bumbling, just above a slave idiot that would ask impertinent questions that I didn’t know enough not to ask. Now that I have been promoted, that is a bit more difficult.”

“As a Justiciar, you have access to the high guard. Don’t hesitate to use them, as well as additional resources that are available to you. Of course, living in the Lower City has some advantages when dealing with the high.”
“Toross won’t go down there and the assassin’s guild doesn’t want to play down there either. As long as I and Traelion don’t bother the people about nonsense, they watch out for us and don’t hesitate to come to us and discuss the out of the ordinary. For instance, when Peri first showed up, Folmon came to Traelion’s to speak with Traelion and I about strange fae showing up. Now the fae are no longer strange.”

“I think that we must end this. At this point, do you think that the sanction of Anathema is necessary?”
“I think that is not for me to judge. I will leave that to the Regency Council to determine. I do know that most of the people at the Sanctum were innocent of any wrongdoing. There may be others in Eryding as well. On the other hand, the family has been taking advantage of Zanis’s actions for a long time and I don’t know what judgments may be possible. I do know that if Zanis is not willing to give up the mages and the rest for himself, that the total destruction of his family should be held over his head.”

“As a Justiciar you hold justice in your hands.”

“As far as I am concerned there is no doubt as to Zanis’s guilt. I was certain even before I was handed the crystal that the evidence pointed in a clear direction. But as far as Anathema goes, as far as I am concerned, the entire family would have had to have been consciously involved and many of them were not. The Great Captains and the mages certainly were, but most of the rest were not, unless they served on the fleet and in some cases not even then.”
“You don’t hold any animosity for the Ravathyra taking you and bringing you here?”

“At this point, not really. I have a wonderful wife, kids, good friends and a very good team that I work with. On the other hand, I was taken from my family and left some others behind. That is something that I can now correct.” Gander bowed and said, “I will take my leave. I will, of course, not say anything about your condition, or lack thereof to anyone.”

Gander left, the Emperor turned to Peri and said, “You were right when you suggested that he be brought in.”

“I figured that having him in would work out better than him discovering something by accident like I did. He’s also going to need backup and access other than through the Chief Justiciar.”
Maethanar grinned. “I actually started to think about this when Pyrravyn mentioned him. Having a Justiciar, especially a rather unconventional one can be a big help. He will be able to move unseen in the Lower City and out in the hinterlands where the other Justiciars would stick out like white spots on a black wall.”

“He’s also very sharp, as you saw.”

“He is that, and Kelvahn choosing him for this case was rather shrewd.”

“I don’t want to be late for Adiun, so I need to go.”

“How is the portal project going?”
“We keep finding portals that have been cut off. Some of the places are like the Sanctum and Elysahone with abundant mana stores. Some of the others, I’m not sure about, but at least one was a place where they made things that are heretical. The place was sealed up pretty well, deliberately, I think, but there it was. Adiun and Folmon want to take a crew to look at it, but not while the Inquisition is looking.”

Peri disappeared, leaving the Emperor to his thoughts.

The Hidden City.

“Mother!”

A happy Galassiel danced on the waves next to Swallow and then leapt aboard into Brendan’s arms. “You caught Strom! Welcome to the Hidden City.”

Gwaerengwen laughed. “Yes I did. He came right up to where Rolin was holding me and pulled me out.”

“Tell me everything. You had a lot of people worried.”
Gwaerengwen told her daughter about Paeris sending her to the Sanctum, the people there, the means to keep her confined and discovering the fae.”

“Why didn’t you walk into the woods and escape? Other than you wanted Strom to come and rescue you, of course.”

Strom laughed and turned to Gwaerengwen. “Is that why you stayed?”

“Not entirely. To be honest, I had forgotten that I had been tested by the fae and I knew that knowing what was going on at the Sanctum might be important. There were too many mages all working together. Then I sent my message and the sub showed up, so I knew that you, at least, were on the way. I also didn’t know where the nearest active portal was. Peri didn’t come and fix the portal until after I had you in that cave.”

“Why is Peri fixing portals?” Galassiel asked. “That seems like real work to me.”
“Peri is fixing portals as part of a deal he made with Adiun Beinan, his girlfriend’s uncle in exchange for information leading to Peri being able make off with the Inquisition’s library.”
“Now THAT sounds like Peri. Why did he do that?”
“Somebody pointed him at it because he was looking into Imperial history for Princess Lelayme and since people were telling him that finding the library and getting in there was a difficult challenge, he accepted the challenge. That was when he made his exchange with Adiun for the codes to the portals and an open and untraceable key. Actually finding the library portal in the Hall of Inquisition was the biggest challenge and when he ported through to the library, the only thing on the other side was another empty room. So Peri set out to find the actual location of the library and with the help of Lythienne Harper, Inquisitor Delion and a book faire in the Lower city, he did.”
‘Let me guess. Mrs. Harper brought a load of books to the faire, Delion confiscated them and Peri tagged them, assuming that Delion would have them sent to the library.”

“Lythienne brought a stack of books. Delion had to buy them, because he wasn’t allowed to confiscate books or arrest anybody at the faire and Peri assisted the Junior Inquisitors with their now heavy load.”

Galassiel suddenly had a huge smile on her face. “I imagine that Peri used the books to find the library.”

“According to Lythienne, yes. Then he stole it.”

“Why did he that? That seems extreme even for Peri.”

“He stole the library because the books were just being tossed into the library and neglected. So he wanted to give them a new home.”

“Won’t the Inquisition be after the books to get them back?”

“Peri Jumped to the Republic to talk with his cousins after arranging for the library to disappear with the Qinvaris boys and needing an alibi.”

“He also knew that pulling off a caper like that and not getting the cousins involved would get him in real trouble. They came through with a movie crew and a Ravathrya ship, shot some scenes here, hired Byddri and his sister for dragon duty and were off to the empire. The director and the rest were ecstatic with what they were able to do and the film they got. Since aunt and Mrs. Harper are involved, money was never an issue. Brendan, you get the ship in and then you and I are getting a Swim. Coming mother?”

Gwen turned to Strom and said, “My daughter wants us to get wet.”

“I think that she does. Galessial, we will be right there!”

Gwen stripped off the long coat she had been wearing and leapt into the water. Strom followed shortly afterwards. Once they were in the water, Galassial said, “I have a nice bower set up for you and Strom, mother.”

“How did you manage that?”

“Captain Pinch’s father came with a shipload of concrete bowers to set up bowers for the navy, the former Ravathryra slaves that live in town and people like Brendan and I who work for the trading families. We have extras right now and I rented one for you and Strom when they were set up.”

“They rent bowers?”
“Yes. Mrs. Pinch handles that. Since a lot of the seafolk are navy and other transients, paying for a bower outright doesn’t make sense, like it would on the South Coast.”

“It sounds like an interesting arrangement.”

“You can find out when you meet with Brendan’s mom. There is that hotel at the Cleadsgate docks that has arrangements for seafolk.”

“That must be the place where we were supposed meet before Paeris sent me north.”

“Yes it was. I was going to take the ship to the Republic a bit later. Then you were taken.”

“At least the troopers were polite about doing that. They were slaves with collars, so they didn’t really have a choice.”

“The Ravathyra like things that way. Just talk to Byddri and some of the others here.”

House Yllanan, City In The Clouds.

Lazuli was looking out at the garden and laughed. Esgalwathanar looked down and said, “That young Zlyvyre boy is back again.”

Saevel was sitting at a bench with Bellflower posing on a tree in true form as Saevel sketched her. Saevel had made a trip to the castle at least once a five day and Bellflower was always there waiting for him.

“Bellflower’s parents are more than a bit leery about letting Bellflower back to the Sanctum very much, so Saevel has to come here. Of course Lielatha is a bit upset about that, since she knows that Saevel is family and that is a deeper hit than Jessamine and Aneirin were.”

“Zanis is in hardly a position to restrain the boy and Elincia likes Bellflower and her parents. She wants them to be neighbors again when this is over.”

“Has Vesryn said anything about the Zylvyres and the rest staying at the Sanctum?”

“Not to me, but since he hasn’t made any moves to evict, I imagine that he is biding his time. He’s also rather involved with getting the business going up there and I suspect that he thinks that he is going to want more people up there anyway.”

“Most of the people at the Sanctum are free of the taint of the Ravathyra. The mages there seem to have been more in a supporting role since they never had the key to the Well and could not draw on it to its full potential.”
“Zanis has a plan to leave.”

“Of course he does. When you sliced him up, it was obvious that he wasn’t the elf in charge. Had he actually been in charge, he would not have left when Sudyral took the Well away from them. But he did, leaving the chaos surrounding that to confer with his brothers. Then he went back, but the others took no additional actions even when they knew that Vesryn had them over barrel, thanks to their sister loaning them Vesryn’s money.”

“Actually Vesryn’s wife was using his credit, which for most elves would have destroyed him, like the Radhron’s little raid was supposed to look as if it was going to destroy me. It didn’t and I think that Vesryn was prepared as well. So what do we do about my sister?”

“Enjoy ourselves. Neither of us can play the fool at this point. Whoever or whatever is behind the Ravathrya’s little family project and whatever Sollor Richflight is up to and more than likely, other things, is going to have to handle the setbacks that he has suffered.”

“The lack of response bothers me. It has been three five days since the exposure of the Sanctum and all the implications that went with that. Yet Zanis is still in the hospital and Rolin is still in the castle that he doesn’t own.”

“He has some sort of exit scheme planned, like Paeris did.”
“I imagine that he has some sort of exit planned. Has Lelayme said very much about the progress the Regency Council is making with the Anathema charges?”

“No, even though Justciar Dawkins has handed in his report. I imagine that what Zanis did has reverberated through the various factions. Glynnii will lose her support if the Revathyra go down, the Inquisition is going to get rather large cow pat in the face because they supported the Ravathyra and some of the other factions will not want to be seen destroying a family. Lelayme told me that the Regency Council wants to be absolutely certain that the entire family, or at least most of it, were willing participants.”

Esgalwathanar frowned. “We know that some of them were involved somewhat. My sister stayed here to spy on me, Vesryn’s wife took all those loans to keep the family solvent and Erlan and Merlaris were the political and enforcement arms that kept others in line. Finding proof of that and the larger thing that we keep seeing the edges of may be more difficult.
“Do you think that assigning Justiciar Dawkins was the right move?”

“I think that it was shrewd move on Kelvahn’s part. If Dawkins makes a misstep, he can assign a senior Justiciar to the case. Also, because he doesn’t seem to be elf like, the Ravathyra will take him for granted. That is a mistake. I imagine that Traelion’s daughter would not have shared blood with somebody who was not extraordinary any more than I did. I doubt that Kelvahn raised him up to full Justiciar as some sort of reward. Also, with the Republic being more accessible, the Ravathrya will have to wonder what kind of resources that the Justiciar can bring from home.”

“If nothing else, he will have the full support of the fae and the Marshalls for his case. I just hate waiting for things like evidence when the guilt is so obvious.”

“So do I. On the other hand, I have been watching these political games for a long time now and time is not on Zanis’s and the other brothers’ side. Their fleet is gone, the Republic is now the master of the seas and they have been visibly exposed.”

Lavidia came into the room. “The door was open. What are you two looking at?”
Lazuli grinned. “I think that Bellflower has well and truly caught Saevel.”

“That fox he found in the Lower City did the trick.”

“She does like that doll, doesn’t she?”

“That was a wonderful trick that he pulled,” Esgalwathanar said. “The surprise was perfect and she was a fox when they met. He has adjusted very well.”

“Of course the both of them are making new friends here.”

“Yes they are. Rather inappropriate friends, as far as my sister is concerned. She would probably be more proactive if she could.”

Iris came in and said, “My niece has made a catch. Of course Lielatha should have been paying attention a bit closer to home. Llorva wants to be Tested at the Sanctum’s grove.”

“Why there?” Lazuli asked.

“The grove at the Sanctum is close to the portal. It is also the Yellowleaf Festival next five day and she wants to meet the family there. What Lielatha doesn’t know is that Llorva is going with my cousin.”

“Then everything makes sense,” Lazuli said. “Your cousin has been attending Llorva rather closely and they have been seen together rather frequently of late. I think that Lielatha sees Timber as a servant and hasn’t noticed that Llorva doesn’t.”

“For all that my sister commits acts of intrigue against others, she is amazingly blind to the fact that others may do the same things to her,” Esgalwathanar said. “It’s as if she can’t escape seeing people as dolls. She has always lived in that world of hers and has never considered others very much, including her own daughter. I’ve never understood her at all. Mother certainly was never like that and none of my other family thinks that way.”

Lazuli grabbed Esgalwathanar, kissed him and said, “Why don’t you and I leave the kids to themselves and go for a romp out at the estate and maybe startle my cousins a bit. Lavidia, don’t tell them.”

Lavidia laughed as they disappeared.

Bellflower glanced up and said quietly, “Saevel, the adults are watching us again.”

Saevel looked up from the sketch pad. “Stand still. I imagine that they are. At least mom won’t take any trash from aunt.”

“What happened?”

“Aunt sent a message telling mom to “attend” aunt here at the House. Mom sent back that aunt was free to come up with Sanctum any time she wanted, but mom was busy with finishing the preparations for the Yellowleaf festival, dealing with business issues and couldn’t take the time to come here.”
“I bet that your aunt didn’t like that.”

“There isn’t much she can do. Grandfather’s wife was killed in an accident a long time ago and mom has had to run things ever since.”

“Where is your father?”
“We don’t know. He has never been to the Sanctum and mom hasn’t seen him since about the time that I was born. Grandfather brought mom to the Sanctum about then after grandmother was killed.”

“He is a mage, isn’t he?”
“Grandfather said so.”

“Then he is like your grandfather.”
“I hope not. What grandfather did was wrong. Of course mother and our family didn’t really know that grandfather had attacked your folk.”

“Did your dad?”

“I don’t know. He wasn’t there, and mom never mentioned it.”

“Do you want to look for your dad?”

“I’m not sure. Let me finish this and then you can get dressed and I can take you shopping.”

“Your mother won’t let you draw on the family accounts.”
“I’ve been helping the woodcutters. They are marking trees. Your uncle has me with them so that they don’t cut the wrong trees. My sisters are lucky. They can draw on the accounts, at least somewhat.” Saevel put the finishing touches on the sketch and said, “Done. I will meet you at the gate.”

The Sanctum.

Vesryn walked into the office where Elincia Zylvyre kept the household running. She looked up and said, “Hello Lord Shahana. What brings you here today?”

“I just wanted to let you know that there will be crews coming through to start marking trees and doing some preparation for the cutting next month. Maria should be here with the numbers shortly.”

“I’m a bit surprised that you and Maria have been the way you are after what the family did to your family and the fae. You could have thrown us all out.”

“I had no reason to and I’m better off if you all are here. You all here were not responsible for what happened. In fact you were as much a victim as the fae and the timber town. My father said that it is better to build on a sound foundation rather than wiping everything away. Are there any financial issues that I should know about?”

“Other than my aunt demanding that I “attend” her at House Yllanan for a discussion about how the household is run here, not yet. I suspect that there will be soon.”

“There will be, but they should not affect you. In fact Maria will have to increase your budget and my brother in law wants to have some of his people making improvements both here and the timber town next year. Now that he knows that he can bring clients up here, he wants to build a camp for getting back in the woods.”

“Is he coming tomorrow?”

“Yes, along with some of those clients. He has been looking forward to the festival since he heard about it.”

“It won’t be a big thing. I miss Gwen. She was a big help in getting things together”

“You will have help. My daughter is coming with Nimue Qinvaris and they want to set up their own party that Rosaniya and Lythienne were not involved in, so they got together with your daughters.”

“I hope that my aunt finds out about that.”

“You want her to know?”

“I knew what she was like before we came here and the family placed compulsions on me and the kids so that we wouldn’t ask too many questions and would be the good little servants for the family’s plotting. Meanwhile my aunts have been living in high style while the House was being slowly being run into the ground. The budget here was cut year after year and since I couldn’t complain very hard, the family didn’t care. Of course the family neglected to tell us that we never should have been here in the first place, but that little detail was probably unimportant.”

“Where is your husband?”

“I have no idea. He has certainly never visited here since we moved. Of course, he believed in family’s grand scheme, whatever that was.”
“Like my son, then. I have not seen him for a very long time either.”

“Why did your parents arrange the marriage in the first place?”

“I think that they were trying to protect the family somewhat. Of course they did not know about your father in law’s little indulgence in mass murder of our neighbors and family.”

“The people here didn’t know about it either. The family kept a lid on things and “discouraged” us from going back into the woods very far.”

“I hope that we can convince the fae to return.”
“So do I. I want them back for a lot of reasons not least because Saevel and Bellflower have become so attached to each other. But the family has a deep and dark stain on it because of the rash and stupid actions of my father in law and I, at least, want to make amends.”

“Maria and I share that. We let things go on for a long time, too long, because I was waiting for the right time and I was afraid of the Ravathryra’s power and influence.”

“My family certainly took advantage of that. Of course they overreached and never considered that you and others were all making plans against my uncles.”

“We had to make those plans. We never had any guarantees that the family would not turn on us at any moment and Rolin kept draining us to feed whatever he was doing.”

“The plans seem to have worked.”

“Yes they have. But your father in law doesn’t seem to have been as troubled as I would have expected after losing this and most of the family’s assets.”

“That is no longer my problem, something for which I thank you.”

“By the way, Maria and my accountant will be going over your accounts for your dower estate. They will be discussing that with you as well.”

“I had almost forgotten about that. The compulsions and the fact that I couldn’t leave probably helped. Thank you for thinking about that. How bad is it?”

“Since the estate neighbors ours, not as bad as you might think. The Ravathrya didn’t see it as a major source of income and just let your manager run it. I nudged Flardryn toward Richard about ten years ago and he leased the land to the Qinvaris rather than trying to farm it himself and since you were not present, he could do that without raising the ire of the family. I suspect that they wanted to attract as little attention to the fact that you were not visible as possible.”

“Didn’t they need the grain?”

“Yes, but their factor just let the Qinvaris handle it, up until Rosaniya cut them off.”

“Now why did Rosa do that?”

“Because Camus sent Toross to attempt to force Rosa to sell Richard. Rosa was a bit peeved at that and let Rolin know rather dramatically that Richard was not for sale.”

Elincia laughed. “I imagine not.”

 

 

 

Chapter 2.

The Road to Easera.

Paeris Zylvyre looked at the scattered bodies and sighed. Then he looked at the carriage and the crying young elf girl inside. Why a high elf girl had been driving on the road rather than using a portal was a bit of a mystery. He looked at the bodies again and shrugged. The obvious thing would be to kill the girl and be on his way. Since he had come onto the scene just as the bandits had finished her mortal and half elven guards and servants, with said well armed guards and servants managing to take their toll on the bandits before Paeris had come upon the scene and the bandits hadn’t given him a choice other than to finish things, killing the girl at this point would only mess things up further. He turned to the girl and growled, “Girl why were you here?”

She stopped crying and looked at him more closely, “I was going to the city to visit a friend. Who are you?”

“That does not matter. Why didn’t you use a portal?”
“Our portal hasn’t worked for a long time. When we need a portal we go to Easera.”

“Can you ride?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Catch a horse and ride to Easera.”
“Could you come with me?”

“I have my own journey.”

“I can pay.”

“Are you sure that you can trust me with that.”

“You just saved my life.”
“These idiots didn’t give me a choice.”

“Well, I am certainly not an idiot. On the other hand, an escort along the road would be a help to me and I imagine that some extra funds would be useful to a traveler. We are just a couple of twentieths from the city gates. I think that ten gold would be ample consideration for you assistance in that brief time. That is all that I have with me.”

The tears had disappeared remarkably quickly. Paeris grinned a bit and said, “You haven’t offered your body.”

“That would be a last resort for a girl and the distance is not that far. I was just a bit concerned that your idiots may have fellows that may be looking for them and two are far more capable than one.”

“What happened to the tears?”

“They served their purpose. As you said, they were idiots and if they saw me as crying and helpless, attracting their attention, they were not looking at you or what was in my hands.”

She lifted her hand above the window of the carriage and was holding a hand projector. “A rather crude device for our crude times. Why don’t you chase the idiots’ horses while I change into something more appropriate for a ride rather than a drive.”

“Ok, ten gold and only to the city gate. Also, tell no one that I aided you for at least two days.”
“Ah, you are avoiding somebody. I can make that arrangement. I will give you five.”
“Five gold?”
“Five days. Of course if you attract somebody else’s attention, that is not my problem. Here is your money.”

She put the projector down and handed him the coins in her purse. He looked and said, “There is more than ten gold here.”

“Mother always said that paying a bit extra for help created better service. Why don’t we get things started?”

Paeris went to find the bandit’s horses and when he returned, the girl had changed to a peasant tunic and trousers. She had also unhitched a horse from the carriage and pulled a saddle from one of the dead guard’s dead horse. She unhitched the rest of the horses and they joined the bandit’s horses. Then she saddled the horse that she had unhitched and said, “Shall we go?”

“Don’t you want to take anything?”

“You mean loot my things or the bandits? That would not be the brightest thing to do right now. I will, of course, be returning with some guards and a Justiciar if one can be found. I will also be talking to father about a road patrol. There are no slaves or peasants nearby and if there are more bandits, weighting ourselves down will only make their task easier.”
“I like you. What is your name, girl?”

“I suppose that is proper. My name is Gwynnestri Aezeiros. I do not think that I will ask for yours.”

“Why not?”

“Because you seem to have reasons for not telling me. You were deciding whether or not to kill me. I don’t want to push you further in that direction.”

They started back down the road and Gwynnestri managed to make the time go quickly while providing insights into the local populace, the local guards and the people in the way houses for some distance around. The town hove into view and Gwynn said, “I can take it from here. I think that you should get a move on, Great Captain. Five days from now.”

“You knew who I was?”

“I had attended a family thing in the city a long time ago as a child. You were the handsome elf that most of the girls were crushing on because you were so mysterious. Of course, you being a fugitive is hardly a secret. Good bye. Thank you for not killing me.”

She rode off toward the town, leaving a rather bemused Paeris to continue his journey, albeit on a different road.

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