The Search For Paeris, Chapter 3-4

Tomali visits Gander. Peri finds the lost archives.

Chapter 3.

The Portal Service.

Flix Jumped into Adiun’s office. Flix’s mother had recruited Flix and some of his cousins for portal discovery duty when Rebecca had mentioned how overwhelmed Adiun was with down portals. So, Flix, Midnight, Daybreak and some others were looking into the glitched portals and where they went. So far, the trend was fairly clear as the glitched portals seemed to lead to places like the Sanctum, with high mana potential or resources that the empire had once relied on. Aduin looked up and said, “How did it go?”

“The last one was fairly easy. The House on the other end of the portal was looking for a daughter who had driven off for the day and been hit by bandits. It turned out that she had gone ahead to Easera.”

“Were they happy to get their portal back?”

“I think so. They weren’t that far from Easera and I think they used that portal when their portal glitched. By the way, it was an easy one.”

“So, no damage, just shutdown.”
“Yes. I locked it down so that only people with Portal Service keys can get into the portal. That should have been done in the first place.”
“When the system was set up, father was concerned that communities would be isolated. So he made the system fairly open. There are tutorials for most of the standard repairs in each portal. He never thought that anybody would want to systematically damage portals.”

“Somebody has. I’ll go back and check out the place later to see what else may be there. The people were a bit tied up with the bandits.”
“Keep an eye out for bandits. By the way, I sent to the Republic for some pistols an shotguns and you and the rest of the boys are going to have Tony take you to a range we set up out on the farm and get some practice shooting. I know that the Inquisition will have a fit if you haul guns out and that you all are fae and know how to use your abilities, but if the people doing this are expecting that, having an extra little surprise can keep you alive.”

“Are you worried about somebody coming after us?”
“My family was exiled so that whoever it is could slowly shut parts of the portal network down and not see it returned. At some point, whoever did that is going to realize that the network is being repaired and portals, like the portal at the Sanctum are now working in ways that they do not want. Soon, they will be discovering some of the things that they used to do no longer work and shutting down a portal is going to be impossible short of destroying it. If whoever is doing this decides to get more violent to stop us, I want you boys and the service teams prepared.”

The Justiciars’ Hall, City In The Clouds.

Tomali entered the Justiciar’s hall and walked up to the elf behind the desk in front. “Where can I find Justiciar Dawkin’s office?”
“Marshal, go to the right. Last door in the hall, he’s expecting you.”
“Thank you.”

Tomali walked down the hall and the last door had “Investigations” on the door underneath Dawkin’s name. Somebody had hung a large full Justiciar’s seal on the door surrounded by the words, “Office of Investigation.” When Tomali entered the office, the space was rather large and there was a female Junior Justiciar at the desk who looked up and said, “Marshall Swiftfire, welcome. Justiciar Dawkins should be with you shortly.”

“So what do you think of your boss?”
“Marshalls are not supposed to be spies.”

“This is not spying, it’s finding what the people who work with the people we are dealing with think of him.”

“Now Marshall, I am not going to distort your first impression. They are very important and I don’t want to hurt the Justiciar. In any case, he just finished the meeting.”

A group of junior Justiciars and apparent investigators left what was obviously the Justiciar’s office and a man poked his head out and spotted Tomali. “Marshall Swiftfire, you are right on time. Come on in and sit down. I’m sorry we were caught up in that meeting. Justiciar Sarrieth wants a team to look into a case near Easera and I had to put a team together.”

“What happened?”

“A bandit attack on a young lady and her guards and staff. The strange thing is that the guard and staff, as well as the bandits are all dead, yet the young lady will not say that anyone else was there. So I am sending a team out with the high guard to see if we can track down what really happened.”
“Was young lady an elf?”

“Yes. High elf, but the portal near her estate no longer worked and she was being driven to Easera so that she could port from there. She managed to escape the bandits, she said, and ride to the city. Evindal doesn’t think that her story adds up and wanted me to send a team. So what brings you by my office?”

“I wanted to touch base with you about your case and frankly I wanted to see your office. Most of the Justiciars don’t seem to have one.”
“They do, they just don’t use them. I have to, because I have responsibility for maintaining evidence and large staff.”
“I noticed the rather impressive door.”

“Naexi had that arranged when I was promoted. My people have wanted me to be a full Justiciar for some time now and once it happened and we were official, they wanted to let people know that this wasn’t some unimportant adjunct of the Justiciary.”

“Is Naexi the lady at the desk? She was rather protective.”

“Yes. She also spies for my wife.”

“She didn’t want to ruin my first impression of you.”

“We are a rather tight knit little group and my people have had to deal with a certain degree of prejudice because they work for me.”

“Did your promotion change that?”
“More than a bit, here in the hall. The fact that I am a full Justiciar and can issue writs has helped as well. Now as to the task at hand, the report has been handed to the Regency Council. So far, they haven’t bounced Zanis back to me to handle, so Anathema has not been taken off the table as yet. I think that the Regency Council wants to keep the hammer available. Of course, the Ravathyra finances are an issue there. Our cases would be tied together for no other reason.”

“How so?”

“The Ravathyra have had money issues for the last ten years or so. People in the Republic were not jumping on the Ravathyra pirate ships for those one way trips to the Empire, some of my neighbors in the Lower City notwithstanding and the fact that trade was increasing with the Republic, albeit discreetly, meant that the pillage was just not bringing the revenue in that it had. So the Ravathyra started to ask adjunct families for loans, using family assets as collateral. Because Vesryn Shahana was sufficiently cowed or shrewd enough to let his wife take loans against the timberlands that the Ravathrya had committed atrocities to gain control of, Lord Shahana now controls most of Eryding and probably owns the Hidden City outright.”
“The Hidden City? The Republic took that over.”

“You would know as much about the Republic and property rights as I do, but unless somebody else has a claim to the land, House Shahana holds the title. Since Lord Shahana’s brother is a Republican citizen, I expect that the House can make a good case that they hold title. I doubt that the powers that be in the Republic will complain very much as it is likely that Renna Shahana and Tarranth Qinvaris-Harper will be sharing a grove together all too soon.”

“Sharing a grove?”

“Renna has already been tested and I imagine that Tarranth has as well.”

“You seem to be on top of things.”

“My people are still going in and out of the faery kingdom, the Sanctum and the Timber Town and talking with everybody involved. For that matter, my wife and I are going to the Yellowleaf festival this evening.”

“A Ravathrya party? Can they afford it?”

Gander grinned. “The Shahana and the Qinvaris kids are involved too. Lord Shahana is using the festival to show the timberlands to some prospective clients. So the party is business for the Shahana.”

“Where is Zanis Zylvyre?”

“Still at the Sanctum. His knee hasn’t healed up enough that he can walk, let alone run, the portal will not work for him, the coaster isn’t going to be stopping there as often and Lord Shahana has the woods filled with his people. I suppose that I could lock him up in a cell someplace, but Paeris was in a cell and they got him out. Frankly if Zanis should run, which I expect that he will try, that would reveal things that we want.”

“What if he has a portal key?”
“Now there is where things get interesting. That would work if the portal was the way it was. He could have a key that overwrote the portal codes. Somebody out there probably does and I have somebody looking into that with Adiun Beinan. He’s found too many portals that have been deactivated or messed with one way or another for it to be general failures. So when a portal like that is discovered, Adiun has his people put locks on the portal controls. The locks will let somebody use the key, but a hundredth later, the portal resets. If somebody tries to use an uncertified key that is untraceable, the port gets an automatic trace and only Adiun can make a certified key.”

“So any keys that were supposedly untraceable are no longer that way unless Adiun creates the key. Who has he done that for?”

“Some portal Service permanent employees, some Beinan and Yllanan family members for the most part. There are probably others, but Adiun maintains the registry.”

“Do you have one? Would Adiun be willing to create keys for the Marshalls?”

“I have an open key and override key, so I can use any portal, public or private. I’m not going to say whether or not I also have any special keys as that comes under Justiciar’s discretion. As whether Adiun and the Portal Service would make special keys for the Marshalls, that would have to be up to the Portal Service and the Beinans. I suspect that some sort of arrangement can be made.”

 

 

 

Chapter 4.

The Imperial Palace- The Imperial Archives.

With his brother and cousins doing more of the portal work, Peri could focus more on tracing down Imperial history. He, Dan and Tarranth had found a bunch of references to the Imperial archives, but when he asked around the palace, the usual response was a blank expression. There was a small archive, but it only went back as far as the Turmoils. The archivist said that the older archives had been cut off during the Turmoils, but couldn’t say why as his father had been archivist then and had had an accident.

After his experience with the library, that spelled aversion and portal. So the trick was to find the portal. That turned out to be tricky until Peri found the guy in charge of the palace, looked through some old drawings and there it was, next to the current archives, in a niche that had a statue in it now. With a bit of climbing and some squeezing, Peri managed to get around the statue and activate the portal.

When he went through, the portal exited to a cave lit by some sort of lights that was a long straight hall with rooms on either side. Each of the rooms was marked by the period of time that was stored there and when Peri went inside the nearest room, there were crystal readers hung on the wall and rows of cabinets in the room. Peri started to open one when he heard footsteps behind him. “Young fae, why are you here?”

Peri jumped a bit and turned around. Standing behind him was an elf who was actually wizened and old. Peri blinked. “I didn’t expect anybody to be here.”

“We have not have had anyone through the portal for some time. Almost a century in fact. Since this place is shielded, you wouldn’t have an anchor, so either the portal activated by accident or you were looking for this place. Have the fae taken over the Empire?”

“This is going to be long story.”

“Then why don’t we go to my home and you can tell me. The files here are not going any place. What is your name?”

“Periwinkle Yllanan.”

“House Yllanan has always had good relations with their fae neighbors. So young man, you’re presence is beginning to make more sense. I am senior archivist, Aired Phivyre.”

The archivist led Peri to a small room with a door. The archivist pressed a button, door closed and the room felt like the elevators in the Republic. Peri said, “The elevators in the Republic don’t have buttons. They use operators.”

“So you know what this is. I had thought the knowledge lost. The Republic is a Blasted Lands country. So you have been there. I see that we will have to set aside a lot of time.”

The door opened and the elevator had emerged into a small building in the middle of a village. Peri asked, “Do you have another portal?”

“It has been inoperable for some time. We archivists have had to live disconnected from the rest of the Empire. My daughter should have luncheon ready, so why don’t we join my family.”

The archivist led Peri to a large house with kids out front and a lady at a loom and a wonderful smell coming from the kitchen. The half elf at the loom said, “Grandfather, who is this?”

“Periwinkle of the Yllanan. He came through the portal in the archives. I have invited him for luncheon.”

“Welcome young Periwinkle. You must have hinted at some interesting stories to have attracted grandfather’s interest. So why were you prowling around in our basement after such a long period of neglect.”

“Ciliren, let’s wait until we sit down. That way we can all hear the story together. Peri why don’t I sit you down and talk to my daughter about lunch.”

The archivist took Peri through the house and over to a shed with rows of tables. “We don’t have the severe cold that further north does and we can still have luncheon outside. I imagine that we will have most the family and our other families”

That turned out to be the case as the news of a visitor must have gone out and people came with pots and plates. Archivist Phivyre introduced Peri to the crowd of elves, half elves and fae, with the younger crowd being some combination of all the above. The plates were handed around and when Peri had a full plate, a woman asked, “Young fae, do you have a bond yet?”
Peri grinned and said, “Yes I do. Dessielle Beinan, who is going to be rather annoyed at me when I tell her about you all.”

“You must return and bring her. So why are you here?”

“This is a long story, but during the turmoils, my grandfather bonded with a fae girl who was killed by the Ravathrya.”
Peri went over the tragic story of Esgalwathanar and Begonia, the descent into madness of the emperor, the arranged marriage, Esgalwathanar’s sharing blood and putting the women on the estate, the joining with the faery kingdom and how his mother took over the House.
“That doesn’t explain why you were looking for the archive,” Aired said. “There must be more.”

Peri grinned. “The reason my mother took over the House is that the estate was raided by Gwaerengwen’s illegitimate son and the family was trying to figure out how to put things back together without making it look like the whole thing had been planned in the first place. So we went to the House and Esgalwathanar’s sister, who was tied to the Ravathyra showed up. In the meantime, Princess Lelayme snuck out the back door to avoid a public scandal. Mother and the princess started to talk to each other and they recruited my brother and me to do various things for them, most of which surrounded the activities of the Ravathyra, who had been given a very bloody nose by the Republic.”

Peri told the increasingly eager listeners about the sea battles, the capture of Paeris Zylvyre, Gwaerengwen becoming the ambassador, the barrister requesting the return of the slaves and the slaves that did not want to be sent home. Ciliren asked, “They did not want to be freed?”
“The slaves in question were slaves in law only. They were the wives and husbands of elves, like my girlfriend’s father, who shared blood and family. Specifically one man, who keeps the Empire fed. I sincerely doubt that Richard Harper wanted to leave his business with harvest approaching. Of course Rosaniya made it abundantly clear that Richard was not for sale by cutting Admiral Zylvyre off. He apologized a day later. The other cases where all like that. Of course the incident brought Richard to his mother’s attention, which caused him trouble later.”

Peri told the story of how he had met Dessielle, the antics in the Lower City, the return from exile of Lythienne Harper and the preparations for the wedding and the wedding itself.”

Once the laughter died down, Aired said, “That still doesn’t explain how you ended up in the archives.”

“I know, but I thought that you needed some background. The look into the archives started when mother and Princess Lelayme realized that slaves coming over from the Blasted Lands had very high fae potential. Their kids, like my girlfriend and some others had even more. Dan and Taranth Qinvaris and I also started to look into the Blight for obvious reasons. Because of the activities of the Inquisition, a lot of the history was either burned or confiscated. We found a library in the Lower City, but I kept finding references to the Imperial Archives. Archives that nobody seemed know about and certainly were not in the Imperial Palace. So I looked for them and ended up here.”
“How did you figure out that the archives had a portal?”

“My aunt and some others had tried to get into the Inquisition’s library a long time ago. Since I bonded to Dessielle and Lythienne had arranged to have the Beinan’s exiles rescinded, I had access to Adiun Beinan and information about the library portal that they hadn’t had the first time. So I went looking for it and found it, and the library.”
“So you used the portal to look into the library. That must have required great skill.”
“Actually it didn’t. The Inquisition was just dumping books in the library.”
Peri told the crowd the story of the battle between Mrs. Harper and Inquisitor Delion and how he had taken advantage of that to penetrate the empty library. Peri shouldn’t have been surprised, but the attitude around the room seemed to be shock and anger as he described the state in which the library had been found. Aired said, “If you need assistance in removing the books and a new home for them, we can provide, if you repair our portal, as you said that you would do.”

“Mrs. Harper is ahead of you. It has already been dealt with. The library in the Lower City is going to be greatly enlarged.”

That caused grins all around.

“Peri, since luncheon is over, why don’t you take a look at our portal, Jump home and come back with the tools and repair it. I, at least would like to have a long talk with Milady Harper.”

“Let’s go and see what we can do.”

The portal proved to be an “Easy one” with the codes deleted, which rendered the portal inactive. Peri took the key out of his tunic pocket and reset the codes. “That should let it run for a while. We’ve been finding portals like this connected to important places like this one. Either I, my brother or one of my cousins will be back and lock the portal so that it can’t happen again. In fact, I will do it right now.”

Peri activated the portal and ported to the Portal Service. “Keiran, hand me a tool belt.”

“You’re not working, Peri. For that matter, you have a belt.”

“I encountered an easy one and I thought that I would just fix it. I’ll be right back and log it properly.”

“Ok, here’s the belt.”

Peri went back to the portal, keyed for the archives and ported through. He turned around, locked the codes and ported back. Adiun was waiting and said, “You were going to be looking for the Imperial Archives. You found them, apparently.”

“Yes I did. The archivists had been locked out of the public portal and the private portal from the palace had been under an aversion and hidden behind a statue. Nobody in the palace knew where the portal was and the archivists were cut off.”

“Were the archives amazing?”

“I didn’t get much time to dig before I was intercepted by an archivist. From the looks of things, yes they are. The archivists are good people. They had me to lunch.”

 

The Hidden City.

Danni looked down at her expanding new world. The not so Hidden City was changing by the day as it grew in leaps and bounds as the needs of the various institutions grew as well. The navy had started it, but the traders had followed as the Hidden City was convenient place for the steamers to come and transfer cargo for the sailing vessels that went to the Empire. The coasters from the mortal, dwarven and fae kingdoms had followed, sailing in reverse, the journeys that the Ravathyra’s coasters had once handled and coming to the port with their cargos of elven made goods, foodstuffs, dwarven tools and ironwork, timber and other things and returning with machinery, exotic materials, and other things made in the Republic and other Blasted Lands. Danni basked in the exotic odors coming from the food and spice market as she banked over the city and wagged her wings at the waving children. She hadn’t quite managed to get Mokem to a cave yet, but the relationship was beyond the enchanted with each other stage to the we want to live together stage. Mokem was more than a bit nervous about the Changes that would probably be coming his way. On the other hand, Captain Bushbury was making the point that being a dragon in the navy had some rather large benefits attached. Of course, Admiral Harper, on his return voyage from his brother’s wedding had made the same sort of arguments.

Danni curved to the landing platform where her brother was returning from his morning flight and Kythaela had already landed. Kythaela had managed, with Danni’s help, to get Byddri to a cave and let him know in no uncertain terms that Byddri was her dragon. They had been flying every morning ever since. Of course Kythaela had had the unabashed support of both their parents and her grandparents as well. She was also flying Byddri into the ground as if she had been born a dragon. The fact that the entire city thought that, with the exception of Captain Pinch, Byddri was the luckiest man in the Hidden City didn’t hurt. Byddri Changed and cleared the landing pad and Kythaela waved Danni down. “Danni, did you have a nice flight?”

“Yes I did. I wish it was with Mokem, though.”
“That will come. He hasn’t run away, so you are still safe. It took me a long time to catch Byddri. Byddri, take us to breakfast.”

“How did I get dragged into this?”

“Because we went flying. In any case, we should get breakfast before I have to go to work and you have to do your walk around for the Press Service.”

“Shouldn’t that be a fly around?” Danni asked.

“No, because Byddri walks around town and talks with people. The city has people coming from all over the place and he gets stories and pictures. We did get some great pictures this morning, though.”

“Of what? I flew inland today, looking for cozy nooks for Mokem and I.”

“Two new ships from the navy, the Constitution and the Republic were sailing together.”

Danni looked across the harbor. “I don’t see any unusual ships. They are not stopping here?”

“Not according to the Commodore. They are testing to see if they can reach the Empire without refueling. In any case, we have some great pictures. So let’s go to to the harbor café for breakfast.”

The three went to the café and Kythaela’s sister, Maeralya was there with Captain Pinch’s mother, Meri. Maeralya waved and said, “Hi folks! Did you have a nice flight?”

“Yes we did,” Kythaela said. “At least Byddri and I did. Danni is feeling a bit lonely.”

“Have you cooked for Mokem yet,” Meri asked. “That is usually a good way to lock the man down. It was a bit difficult for me, though. It turns out that Jim likes fresh seafood just fine, so things worked out.”

“I haven’t had a chance to cook for Mokem yet. I think that cookie thinks of the galley as his private preserve on the airship and I don’t have a kitchen here, so it’s been hard.”

“Danni likes to cook,” Byddri said. “Of course my brothers and I were all the victims of her experiments.”

“You all survived.”

“Well, dragons have cast iron stomachs. I will say that after a while we didn’t need them, but still, there were those times.”

“Where is Captain Pinch,” Danni asked.

“Playing games with the battlecruisers offshore,” Maeralya said. “He has the squadron out and is seeing if he can track them and get a target. He should be back tomorrow.”

The Port of Chatsrey, Beltian Republic.

Nylathria called out, “Gwen, you are back at last! Strom you caught her, obviously. The tail looks wonderful on you, sister.”

“She had everything set up,” Strom said with a grin. “She knew I was coming and had everything ready to go.”

“The car is right here, so tell me everything. Did you make the wedding?”

“Yes we did,” Gwen said. “Rosaniya and Lythienne went over the top.”

“That is typical of Lythienne. I don’t know Rosaniya, so I don’t how typical that is for her.”

“I think that making realignments in the Empire is a bit much for even Rosa. On the other hand I was in durance vile for most of it.”

“Here is the car. Let’s get you wet. I’m a bit surprised that you didn’t just jump into the water from the ship.”

“We did,” Strom said, “when the ship entered port and then Swam back aboard for the formalities. This is hardly the first time that the line has had seafolk couples aboard and the ship stops for a bit outside the harbor for exactly that reason.”

“I see then. How did Peri’s little escapade work out?”

“Lythienne was very pleased with herself,” Gwen said, “and the movie people are looking to do more shooting in the Empire if the Inquisition will let them. On the other hand the Marshalls are still frustrated over Paeris. How did Peri handle the Republic?”

“Just fine. Jacob and I ran into Peri and Dessielle at Vikz’s when Tomas brought them and took them right in back. Unfortunately Jacob and I were meeting with some others and couldn’t sneak in back. We did rent the place for dinner after Tomas made the point that the Crystal Palace might be a little overwhelming. By the way, I have a very nice pool suite set up for you two. Tomorrow, that is. Today I have been tasked by some very important people to make sure that “Grandma Gwen is taken to Strom’s home. The kids threatened to set the tiger on me if I didn’t.”

“That’s a valid threat,” Strom said. “So let’s go.”

“Strom!”

Strom turned around and said, “What are you doing here Sudyral?”

“Galaxa and I came down with Uncle Vic. We are living here in the Republic for a while. I wanted to meet the ship when I knew that you and the lady were coming.”

“How did you know that?”

“It was in the newspaper. That dragon in the Hidden City sent a report. Also, your maid told me yesterday when I asked.”

Strom turned to Gwen and her sister and said, “This is Sudyral. I’ve told you about him already. He gave Zanis Zylvyre a very bad day. The girl must be Galaxa. Sudyral, did you Jump here?”

“Yes we did. If you don’t have room in the car, we can Jump back in a twentieth or so.”

“I think that we can make room in front for you two.”

“That’s great. Galaxa and I have only been here for five day and we aren’t used to the low power levels yet. At least Galaxa isn’t. I figured that we could take the El if we had to.”

Nyla’s man came with Strom and Gwen’s rather sparse luggage, there were some press people who took some photographs, Nyla and the rest got in the car and drove toward Strom’s house. Nyla asked, “Sudyral is the young man who shut down Zanis, isn’t he?”

“Yes he is, which was lucky for Esgalwathanar, because Zanis cut loose on him with magefire. Of course Esgalwathanar is very good with an elf slicer and good in a fight in general. Zanis didn’t last more than a few thousandths.”

“Is he dead?”

“I don’t think so. He was screaming too loud, the last time I heard him.”

“Why was Sudyral sent here?”
“Vesryn wanted as Sudyral far away as possible from the Ravathrya and he wanted Sudyral to develop his fae abilities where he couldn’t hurt himself or others. Sudyral was tied to the Well when he was tested because he was both family, and of high potential. So Vesryn and Iris were more than a bit concerned that Sudyral would burn himself out playing around or hurt some people. So they sent Sudyral and Galaxa here.”

“Apparently they found your scamps quickly enough. They probably were sent ahead to spy on you and Gwen.”

“I have no doubt that my crowd did exactly that.”

“I hope that you brought pictures back.”

Gwen smiled. “Yes we did. Rather a lot, by the time it was over. You remember how I loved to draw as a girl. I took it up at the sanctum and collected quite a few sketches before I was done. I also had some crystals. Strom had more that he took from the coaster and put in a buoy to be recovered by a sub. We had everything set up to make a dramatic under sea escape and Peri, of all people, comes and fixes the portal after I have acquired a tail.”

Nyla laughed. “Was it deliberate?”
“No. It was just timing,” Strom said. “Vesryn wanted the portal at the timber town fixed, Adiun sent Peri to do that, and while he was at it, Peri fixed the portal at the Sanctum as well.”

“Why did Vesryn want the portal fixed at the Timber town?”

“He wanted it fixed because Sudyral had gone up with me and realized that the portal had been glitched so that the people in the timber town were trapped by Rolin and Zanis. So when Vesryn knew that Peri was fixing portals, he made sure that his people couldn’t be stuck up there and not tell him about little things like the mass murder of his fae friends and relatives.”

Nyla had a bit of a shocked expression as she said, “Who did something like that?”

“Zanis went on a rampage,” Gwen said. “I discovered that when I used my Change and did some exploring. Of course the aversion kept me from thinking about it very much. When I explored, the survivors, who were all children when Zanis struck, found me and showed me what happened. Sudyral also told Vesryn, who went to Princess Lelayme and Esgalwathanar. Esgalwathanar and his lady, Lazuli, investigated and a Justiciar was sent to investigate further. Bob Harper has been invited to prosecute the trial of Anathema if it should come to that.”

“Lazuli is a faery queen, isn’t she? I imagine that she and Esgalwathanar went to investigate for the Council of Kings.”

“Among others, yes. Lazuli took Esgalwathanar to a grove, which has been good for them both. Esgalwathanar has a true partner at last and frankly, I am glad.”

The car turned into the driveway and the doorway filled with the children from at least four families and rather happy looking cat. Sudryal got out of the front seat and opened the door of the car as Nyla’s driver brought Gwen’s wheelchair around. Gwen was mobbed by the kids, who insisted that she get wet and then sit and tell them all about her adventures.

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