The Search for Paeris, Chapter 5-6

The girls have a party. Gander and Tomali investigate what happened on the road.

Chapter 5.

The Sanctum.

Elincia was feeling a bit overwhelmed. The Yellowleaf Festival had always been a Sanctum get together before things got to cold and the snows started. There was a clear space for dancing, the ladies made new dresses and couples and want to be couples danced while the kids spun around and lit off the occasional magic or firework. Her daughters and their new friends changed all that. Elincia still wasn’t sure how her daughters and the Qinvaris girls had found each other, but they had. That was when things seemingly had gone out of control. Tents had arrived through the portal and up the road, crews of men appeared and started to build structures as the girls had the boys hang lanterns and glows all over the Sanctum to light the paths. The dance floor was enlarged and a bandstand built. When Elincia asked who was paying for all of this, the girls said, “Mom, don’t worry about it.”

Since she couldn’t stop them, she just hoped that the family would weather the storm. She decided to warn her father in law what could be coming and he said, standing on his crutch and looking around, “Elincia, as far as this goes, your aunt Lielatha or any of the other ladies would consider this a tiny effort, even if gets bigger than it has already and comes from the household. I suspect that the funds are coming from elsewhere in any case. I would enjoy what your girls have done. If nothing else, something like this demonstrates their management skills, which is sort of the point for young elf girls. I think that my sister and sister in laws have forgotten that when they set things up for the girls. If Lielatha or any of the others complain, ask for the budgets for last season. This is a pittance, trust me, and I know what you have been put through.”

He turned and hobbled back to the hospital leaving Elincia rather confused. As ninday and the festival arrived, the girls went into action, dividing things with lists and fluttering around making sure that the details were correct. A large man took over the desk at the portal with a young fae and elf girl who shared the greeting with Elincia’s daughters. Cartloads of hot food arrived through the portal and the large man directed them to where they were supposed to go. Vesryn and Maria were early, Maria found her and said, “You look frazzled.”

“I’m just wondering how we are supposed to pay for all this?”

“I wouldn’t worry. First of all, the girls are tapping the Ravathrya accounts for some of this, something that they deserve. We are also tapping the Shahana household accounts. I don’t think that Saeliihn really thought things through when she tossed Vesryn out or the fact that as the eldest and only daughter, Renna has access to the household accounts, all of them, including the House.”

Elincia started to feel less frazzled. In fact, she started to grin. “The bills have been held back until after this is over, haven’t they?”

“Saeliihn treats the house major domo like a slave and an idiot. This is a an elf who has been in the family for over a century and his family and the Shahana have been tied to each other for almost the history of the Empire. If Saeliihn gets nasty with him, I may have him transferred to you, to help up here. Frankly, I think that I will discuss that with him.”

“He talks to you?”

“If Ilvisar had to rely on Saeliihn for getting things done, the House would collapse in a moon. So yes, he talks with me. I, at least, can provide funds and sign for things. Of course we had to let dear Saeliihn think that she was robbing the House blind and until Sudryal drafted Strom and came up here on his own, Vesryn could not come up and fix things up here, even though we both knew that things were really wrong up here. We just never realized how wrong. As far as the money goes, if the screams get obnoxious, we can point out that the Qinvaris girls were responsible for most of it and our family share was a minor portion.”

“Are they paying for most of it?”

“Not really. These are leftovers that were not used for Rosa’s wedding and things from the market at the end of the day. This festival came along at the right time for the girls and they are taking advantage.”

“And the new dance floor, bandstand and the rest of it?”
“Vesryn told you that his brother was going to be making improvements. While I don’t think that she can go quite as big as Rosa, Ashera is certainly willing to try and she wants to poke your family in the eye a bit, just like the rest of us do.”

Elincia had a grin and a bit of a lift in her step as she went to get dressed and enjoy herself.

Llorva emerged from the portal with Iris. She looked at the developing party and said, “I was right to come. Who set this up?”

“I think that Elincia’s daughters, with the help of the Qinvaris girls and Renna Shahana did this. I expect that the various mothers helped a bit, somewhat.”

“As far as that goes, I would avoid having my mother help with one of my things like the plague, but that is my mother, as you have seen. I was lucky this year and the only thing she actually managed to put together was that stupid picnic.”

“How bad was it? I keep hearing stories.”

“Now you have to understand that my mother fiddles with the details in setting something up, except important ones like making sure that you have a permit for the park and nobody else does.”

“Why didn’t she think about that? It seems like an obvious thing to do, even though I have no practice in those things.”

“We will have to change that, but you are right when it comes to most people. Mother thinks a bit differently. She thinks that things are waiting there to be used until she wants them, like parks, the great hall in Uncle’s house, or the garden behind the House, even when other people share them. So she doesn’t bother to discover that the park has been reserved, the great hall doesn’t have workmen in it or that the garden has been set aside by my uncle for his stepdaughter who asked and arranged everything. So mother arranges things and troops off with the servants to the Palace Park. Meanwhile, Mrs. Harper, Lady Qinvaris and the Princess, as well as some others embark on a little project. Little for them, that is. Most of the elves in the city would never dream of repairing some automatons that hadn’t worked for decades by bringing back a family from exile and in the process rebuilding the park before Lady Qinvaris’s wedding. Because both Lady Qinvaris and Mrs. Harper have practice in getting things done, they set up a get together meeting and to make things fun, a carnival for the families. Lady Qinvaris, being experienced, gets a permit from the park people, for the same day as my mother’s picnic.”

“Oops. Couldn’t they share the park?”

“That’s what Rosaniya did. The problem for mother was that there she was with one of those typical perfectly proper elven things that she likes so much and there were the other ladies with kids, carnival booths, acrobats and other fun things to do and Rosa didn’t care if mother’s guests infiltrated her party. The kids started it, but by the end of a twentieth, the parties were Rosaniya’s and essentially a small group of mother’s stalwarts determined to be miserable in a good cause and my cousin and I, who were trapped, even though we hated it.”

Iris laughed. “Would your mother’s thing been less painful if the other party had not been there?”
“No, but my cousin and I would not have had to watch everybody having fun while we were forced to be perfect little dolls.”

“Why did you let it happen?”

“At first, it was because I respected mother, then it was the proper thing to do. Then it was building resources and not having a partner. Dealing with pressures that the family would bring to bear was a bit overwhelming, especially when mother and I shared the same house, I was dealing with her spies and she kept a tight grip on the purse strings. Since she was distracted this year, I could get rid of the spies and force uncle to give me my own budget. A shrinking budget, but it is mine and I can use it to push things forward. Of course dear mother doesn’t pay attention to her dower estate and I do. I haven’t told uncle yet, but I’ve sold a lot of the estate’s hardwood for a very good price this year.”

“I think that I begin to see. When you pass the test, you will have options even if you and my brother do not bond.”

“I’m a bit nervous about this. Suppose I don’t pass.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. Timber would not be as interested in you if you had a low potential. Saevel had no problems. The grove is here, so we should proceed. After all your mother may show up.”

“It will be Uncle Rolin, more than likely, if he dares. He’s been staying in his office for the most part.”

Erlan Zylvyre emerged from the portal and immediately knew that he was going to be in trouble. Leilatha had sent a note demanding Llorva’s presence and when Llorva’s maid had returned the note, sent another one to Erlan telling him to march up to the Sanctum and retrieve their daughter from the Yellowleaf Festival. Since the Yellowleaf festival had traditionally been a small thing that the Sanctum dwellers had, Erlan hadn’t thought very much about porting through to the Sanctum and hadn’t talked with Davrian about the party because he had assumed that it would be the usual thing. So, seeing his grandniece Maylin with Renna Shahana and Taranth Qinvaris greeting incoming guests was more than a bit of a shock. Maylin called out, “Hi Uncle. Welcome to the Yellowleaf Festival.”

“What is going on here?”

“Since the portal was open, Merethyl and I could go shopping in Eyrding and the Lower City. We met Renna in Eryding, Renna came up for a visit here and then brought Nimue, Alanis and some of their friends.”
“Who is paying for this?”

“Some of the funds came from the family funds that were leftover from the season, Renna got some from her House, Nimue and Alanis had a bunch of things leftover from their mother’s wedding and Renna’s uncle sent some people to start building some things for the camp he wants for next year.”

That could be problematical with the current state of house finances. On the other hand, on a Lielatha level, this thing was probably ridiculously inexpensive and Vesryn and Maria were probably covering a large portion of the costs if Rosa wasn’t. Erlan said, “Have you seen my daughter?”

“Aunt Llorva? She’s here. But I’ve been here and she could be anywhere. Saevel is entertaining his girlfriend and not here at the moment. Why don’t you ask mother?”

“I will do that.”
“Have a good time.”

Erlan was going to. After that fiasco at the park, he deserved it. He left the portal and started to mingle. This was the kind of thing that was his part of the family project in any case and if his wife had failed to gather the great and influential for the things lately, his grandnieces had no such problem, as most of the Royals had turned up, as had the Yllanans, the Qinvaris including Richard’s parents and the Beinans. The Fae Council of kings was well represented and there were senior people from the dwarven kingdoms being shown around by Vesryn Shahana. Erlan talked with people that would talk with him and listened in on the various conversations a bit discreetly. After a twentieth of enjoying himself, he spotted Llorva dancing on the dance floor with a fae that he didn’t know. When they left the dance floor, Llorva spotted him and said, “Hello father. Mother sent you, didn’t she?”

“Yes, when you didn’t dance attendance on her. How she knew to do that now is a bit of a mystery.”

“I told her. I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t planning another one of her fiascos before coming. She said that I could do what I wanted, so I did.”
“Who is this?”
“This is Timber, the nephew of the king here that Uncle Zanis murdered. We met at Uncle Esgalwathanar’s and we have been doing some things together. I had a little test today and we are celebrating.”

“Should I tell your mother?”

“Go right ahead. Maybe she will have a stroke and put herself out of our misery. In any case, I’m not going to just dance to her tune any longer. Are you enjoying this party?”
“Very much so, for something put together by teenagers.”
“Uncle Zanis locked the girls up here and never considered what could happen when they found the key. It turns out that there was life in the family after all. Mother should have had me managing my own things like this rather than taking control. Oh well. You can tell mother that I may see her in a couple of five days, or not. Since Timber is taking over here for the fae and working with cousin Elincia and Uncle Vesryn setting up the logging for the winter, I may be up here helping out. Have fun, father. I sure am.”

When Erlan emerged from the portal, Tony discreetly went to where Vesryn was entertaining some dwarves and when the dwarves were distracted by the mage’s village, said, “Erlan Zylvyre showed up.”

“He’s looking for his daughter, probably. He must have come alone or you would have been dealing with that.”

“Yes. Do you think that he will send Toross and the boys?”

“Probably not. He has enough turmoil at home and the girls are of the age where they should be having parties in any case. He may worry about the money a bit until he looks closely at things. He’s getting off easy in any case. Even at their worst, the girls could not begin to cost Erlan what his wife has already this year with her fiascos with nothing to show for it. This is exactly the sort of thing that Erlan likes anyway. Something that is fun, with people talking, where he can do some back door politicking and just listen to conversations. As long as he doesn’t start anything, let him enjoy himself.”

“You know the man better than I do. But I don’t think he would have come alone if he was expecting trouble or to cause trouble.”

“Llorva has been discreetly seeing Timber, talked with her mother about coming up here and her mother said that Llorva was free to come up here if she liked. Of course the lady meant that Llorva was not to come up here under any circumstances, but Lielatha will probably discover that Llorva will not be the little doll for Lielatha to play with anymore.”

Maethanar stood next to Lelayme and his bonded watching the fireworks that were the end of the festival. Hyacinth was in True form and they had enjoyed themselves immensely. As one boom went off he turned to his daughter and said, “You were right to tell us to come. These girls outdid themselves. Rolin isn’t going to be happy when he sees the bill.”

“Yes he will. I talked with Rosa and Lythienne and the girls were very frugal when they set this up. They also took advantage of some things like Vesryn’s brother in law want to set up a camp for his clients, the wedding leftovers, the food leftovers at the end of the day at the market, buying the paper lanterns in Elysahone where they are not inconvenienced by the Inquisition and things that they had on hand. Then they rather discreetly put the word out to their friends and family. The family that they liked, that is. In any case all this was cheaper than the setup bill for Lielatha’s fiasco of a picnic.”

Hyacinth leaned on her bonded and said, “Dear why don’t you find a place to leave your clothes and we go for a run and a cuddle. You won’t be missed at the palace and we can port back in the morning.”

Lelayme watched her mother drag her father into the woods and then headed to the portal and home.



Chapter 6.

Marshall Headquarters, Oakleaf Faery Kingdom- Hall of Justiciars, Cloud City- Easera.

Tomali was preparing an updated report for the Council of Kings when a message asking him to see Justiciar Dawkins was delivered. He Jumped to Dawkins office and Naexi grinned as he appeared. “Go right into the office, the Justiciar is waiting for you.”

When Tomali walked into the office, Dawkins was donning a coat. “Good, you’re here. Do you need to get a coat?”

“Where are we going?”

“That case I sent people on the last time was a bit more interesting than we expected. Jump and get a coat and come back. I will tell you on the way.”

“I could Jump directly there.”
“I think that we should go together. I can brief you and we can meet up with my people in Easera and see what they found.”

“What did they find?”

“We’re not sure yet, but we think that Paeris Zylvyre killed some bandits and rescued a girl.”

“He didn’t kill the girl?”

“No, apparently he didn’t. Though from all reports, Paeris would not have found that easy.”

“Let me get a coat and call in a team. I will be back in a few hundredths.”

Tomali Jumped to his office, grabbed the coat and went to the door, his lieutenant, Echo Tigerstripe was at his desk and Tomali said, “Tiger, I want the ready team out to Easera in twenty hundredths. Also, get in touch with any chasers near there looking into leads. Dawkin’s people may have found the Great Captain.”

Echo blinked. “I’ll have them right behind you, Tomali. What did they find?”

“Gander hasn’t told me yet. He’s going to brief me on the way. I have to go.”

Tomali Jumped back to Gander’s office and Gander said, “Let’s go. I have a chair waiting at the door.”

They went to the waiting sedan chair with four rather husky types carrying it, were off to the portal and through to Easera. As they headed to the portal, Gander said, “You remember the bandit case that I was sending people to. When my people started to look, they found the dead bandits, the girl’s people, dead and some horses milling around, along with distraught family members who didn’t want to say very much. We tracked two horses to Easera where one horse left for another road. The other had the same shoes as the girl’s coach horses.”

“So somebody was with the girl until she reached the city and maybe killed the bandits before they could molest her. Why do you think that it is the Great Captain?”

“The other horse was a post horse.”

“A post horse?”

“If a slave or anybody else, for that matter, needs to travel quickly outside the portals, they can use post horses and exchange horses at the way stations on the road every day. Some businesses and families also use regular post riders for things they don’t want the Inquisition or other busybodies like me from the capital looking into. House Glynynore, who owns the post service, has strict policy of discretion where using the service is concerned, so they use post riders.”

“I see. So there was a post rider or a post horse at the scene of the bandits. That doesn’t mean that it was the Great Captain.”

“You know that Paeris was a drover earlier in the year. It isn’t that far a stretch that he would hire on as post rider or rent a post horse. In either case, as long as he doesn’t commit any crimes on a post road or a way station the service isn’t going to ask who he is. My people went and looked into the local way stations and Tom, on a whim, showed Paeris’s picture around. He was renting a post horse.”

“Tom is from the Republic.”

“Brought over by the Ravathyra. Of course what the Ravathrya didn’t know was that he arranged that and was looking for me. He’s a cousin. Naexi is chasing him, but hasn’t got him locked down yet.”

“What do Naexi’s parents think of that?”

“They like the idea. Naexi is the girl that was a second child, kept on the estate to hide the fact that she existed and spent her girlhood out in the woods and fields rather than in a castle. She also grew up surrounded by mortal and half elf kids and has them as friends, so Tom is a natural for her and the family has a long history in the Justiciars who don’t exactly treat the slaves as slaves in any case. Naexi would hardly be the first to share blood and have an inconvenient arrangement even in her family. The fact that Naexi’s dad is my boss doesn’t hurt.”

“So Naexi’s last name is Bryneiros.”

“For now. I think that Tom’s mother will be making a trip all too soon. She already sends mail about once a week, now that she can. I think that we are here.”

The chair was set down and Tomali looked a bit closer at the bearers. As they went into the inn that had apparently been requisitioned by Gander’s people, Tomali said, “You are moving up in the world. Very few high elves have high guard as chair bearers.”

“I didn’t set that up and I am under orders to do that when necessary. Until my big case is resolved, I am stuck with them.”

A Justiciar saw them enter and said, “Gander, you brought him, good. Did you explain our little mystery?”

“I explained the post horses. Marshall Swiftfire, this is Justiciar Evindal Sarrieth, who handles the hinterlands and low guard out here.”

Tomali grinned, “A rather large job indeed.”

“Most of the time it is fairly simple. Bandits of various ancestry, the occasional rogue estate, raids across various border by more organized bandits and stamping down Ravathrya slave raids without being too obvious about it.”

“The Ravathrya raid slaves here in the Empire?”

“I don’t want to get into the politics, so I won’t say very much about it, but there are things going on. They seem to be selective and we haven’t been able to get a lock on where they take them.”
“Selective, how?”

“They seem to take the kids from slaves that they sold over here from the Blasted Lands. Especially half elf kids.”
“Have you discussesd this with Princess Lelayme? She and some others have been looking into similar things.”

“I haven’t. You must understand that we Justiciars have had to keep things under a lid until we had proof. If the Princess has information as to why the Ravathrya are doing this, I should discuss this with her when I can do it rather discreetly.”

“The Chief Marshall has said that there are bigger things at stake than the capture of Great Captain Zylvyre and that if we can discreetly put a tail on him rather than what will be a very public and difficult to hide recovery, that I am to do so, so you have my cooperation in this.”

“I suspect that the thing that happened in the timberlands was a bit of a wake up. I presume that you have seen the crystal.”

“Yes. I am surprised that Justiciar Dawkins leaves Mage Zanis where he is.”

Dawkins grinned. “I left him where he was because there is more to this and if Zanis succeeds in running, things will probably break loose and the Ravthyara will lose what influence they have left if Zanis up and runs. I have discreet fae eyes on him in any case. Of course my son has been making fairly regular trips up to the Sanctum now, but I won’t say very much about that.”

“So what is going on here?”

“We have the young lady who denies seeing anybody else, let alone being rescued,” Evindal said. “She doesn’t say how all the bandits died. From the evidence on the scene and the tracks, the bandits took quite a few casualties dealing with the girl’s people and then the man on the post horse showed up and used spikes and some magefire to deal with the last of the bandits when they charged him. Then the man and the girl talked, she unhitched one of her coach horses and both of them rode toward the city. The man on the post horse rode away before anybody in the city noticed him.”

“So you had a way of tracking the post horse.”
“The post horse had a loose shoe. So Gander’s man, Tom tracked back to the post station and then two stations back. Whoever had the horse with the loose shoe had it for three straight days and when Tom tracked it all the way back, it looked as if the shoe was pulled a bit loose deliberately. He also showed the post stations a picture of the Great Captain and they identified the man.”

“So the Great Captain was setting up a false trail. He kept the horse with the loose shoe so that we would track the horse and not the man. The bandits messed him up and he was exposed before he could switch horses again.”

“Is somebody watching the girl?”

Gander grinned. “Yes. Of course he has also been doing other things, but Flix has been watching the girl for me. Surprisingly, he volunteered to. He’s also looking for the reason that the portal there had been shut down.”



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