The Search For Paeris, Chapter 21-22

The Richflights look into the Shahanas. Justiciar Sarrieth talks with the princess

Chapter 21.

The Richflight Estate- The Lower City.

Durlan Richflight prepared to take a team to the Lower City. His father was not pleased with the lack of prospects to send to the Retreat. The problem was that there were few options at this point. Slaves that the Ravathyra sold to the Shanelis, the Royal house and some others had intermingled with the families better than might be expected, but the potential recoveries were too dangerous to consider. House Qinvaris had, for good reasons been by far the largest purchasers of slaves in the Empire, but looking for prospects on House Qinvaris land was risking being handled like the Qinvaris handled bandits. Unless a team was sure about the target, getting in and out was going to be impossible and House Qinvaris had watch stations with small portals and patrols along House Qinvaris’s roads. For that matter any House that was involved in bandity on House Qinvaris land risked dissolution. Durlan made sure to strip everything that could tie him to his house. He would be carrying no money or badge to identify him, his tunic was the plain tunic of the houseless and everything he was wearing had been purchased from places all over the Empire paid for with coin. Once dressed he joined the rest of the team and said, “Let’s go.”

They marched out to the portal and Durlan used the key. The team ported through into the Lower City. As they started to look for potential targets, people passed them with rather hostile expressions on their faces and Wyrran said, “We should have used the main portal. The people here know that we don’t belong. Look over there, at the corner.”

Two rather rough looking men were standing at the corner watching them. Durlan said, “This neighborhood is just businesses anyway. Let’s move on.”

Adiun Beinan had been using his cousin’s old house to live when things started and he watched the gang pass down the road. Two boys were following them already as they turned the corner. Adiun hadn’t managed to get all the portals repaired yet, but most of the crucial portals were repaired and the others were going to have issues with trash piles, wagons left parking in front of them and other things that would make them rather difficult to use. When Adiun had gone through usage logs, the logs had been wiped for certain portals. The others had not seen use for a very long time, but the logs still existed. Once Adiun had the portal’s that had their log’s wiped locations, he had Midnight check with the Justiciars for lost children and Tony, Alen and Adiun had a pretty good idea how and where the mysterious people did what they did. Tom Dawkins and some other Justiciar people that did not look like elves were stationed with Tony’s people in key locations when Adiun’s board lit up. Bit by bit, the gang was being surrounded as they prowled through the Lower City.

After half of the last twentieth had gone by, Durlan realized two things; any potential targets were warned and were well out of reach and two, they were being bottled in. The team had passed two portals that had convenient blockages in front of them. Durlan quietly said, “At the next portal, we go. This is pointless.”

“I told you that.”

Two more portals were covered, there were more ruffians, mortals, half elves and elves surrounding them and they essentially ran down an alley to a portal and ported out. Adiun smiled as the destination number appeared on his screen.

House Richflight, The City In The Clouds.

Aelua looked up from her desk as Folen walked in. “I’m sorry that I didn’t have the preliminary report for you yesterday, milady, but the more I dug, the bigger and better it got. I will say one thing. I do not want to play cards with Lord Shahana.”

“How so?”

“He has managed, without seeming to do much of anything other than his wife’s scheming, to collect most of House Ravathyra’s property. That was what caused all the trouble at sea this year as the Republic destroyed or captured Rolin’s fleet. Paeris Zylvyre was supposed to make a big score and clear their debts. What the Ravathrya didn’t know was that Lord Shahana’s brother was exiled, big on coastal trade and connected with House Yllanan.”

“Was he in contact with his brother?”

“That is hard to tell, but I bet that he knew about the big raid and then the raid gets destroyed. Of course when Rolin started to look into rebuilding, he was competing for hardwood with Victor Claringbold who is building houses in the dwarven kingdoms. Victor Claringbold has a sister, Maria who was taken as a slave and sold to Vesryn Shahana.”

“The bedwarmer.”

“House manager, executor of the will and mother of two of Versyn’s children as well. One of which goes up to the Timberlands with a retainer from House Yllanan and blows up Rolin’s thing up there that he has been hiding on Shahana land and getting the Ravathrya at risk of Anathema over the Zanis’s casual murder of a fae community. The boy and the Yllanan man hit Rolin’s big secret like a bomb and all the while Vesryn is yelling at Rolin about his “lost boy” and threatening to send Justicars up there and evict the Ravathyra from all of his properties.That would have been rather inconvenient as those properties essentially included the city of Eryding thanks to the lady’s dipping into the piggy bank for her brothers.”

“The other must be the girl that Saeliihn was talking about. Is she really seeing Tarranth Qinvaris?”

“Everybody on the street seems to think so. She’s been seen with Lady Qinvaris’s daughters and some other girls recently. The other girls being some Ravathyra girls that showed up from someplace and a Beinan. The girls had a nice little festival in Rolin’s secret place, now to be one of Lord Vesryn’s logging camps and a hunting and fishing camp for Maria’s brother to take his clients to.”

“You are forgiven. This is excellent work. Thank you very much. I may need more from you after I talk with my son, who is standing at the door.”

“Very well, milady.”

Aelua was a firm believer in keeping thing separate and not writing things down. Folen left as Durlan sat down. “Investigating a family’s finances, mother? For me?”

“I’m afraid not, though the match would be rather incredible if we could pull it off. In this case, I had some ladies for tea and one of them suggested a prospect.”

“Who?”

“A Renna Shahana. The ladies were rather worried that the girl would drain a budget dry for entertainment. Frankly, considering the prospective boy, my approach would be to have the girl spend whatever she wants, but she is an inappropriate child and her stepmother has other ideas.”

“So the girl is a by blow on an estate probably. Who is the boy?”

“Tarranth Qinvaris.”

“That would be a very bad prospect unless we handle it very carefully. If there is even a whiff of anything that could connect the retrieval to the House, father may as well commit suicide because, by the time it was over, there would no longer be a House. On the other hand, we are running out of options.”

“The Lower City is not providing?”
“First of all, the kids are not on the street when we are. Second, people spot us almost immediately and the gangsters, street boys, guards and probably the Justiciars are all over us. This last time, I think that they knew where some of the portals are.”

“Did they attack you?”

“No, but we were watched and any prospects were tight in with the rest. Some of the street boys were probably prospects but Wymlis couldn’t exactly just pull the scanner out and start checking without blowing everything in front of witnesses. Frankly I think that we should give up on the retrievals.”

“The family needs the funds and the Master will probably be annoyed and take some action against us. The assasin’s guild contract was expensive and the guild demanded money up front. There have been some other expenses and we are strapped.”

“I will keep the girl in mind. Maybe we can go in with a quick hit and run. It’s going to be very risky though.”

“The Shahana farm is not too far from Eryding, more than likely. I would poke around and see what prospects may be there.”

“On Ravathrya territory?”

“I think that the Ravathrya will be an empty shell and Eryding is probably Shahana territory now.”

“I’ll look, but very carefully. We went in fast with the girl and that turned into a fiasco. Let me see what is going on. Bye mother.”

Aelua was proud of her son. He had just the right attitude about how to make things a success and good judgement. He was probably right about stopping, but the Master was making more demands on Sollor and the Ravathyra had turned into a weak reed.

 

 

 

Chapter 22.

Princess Lelayme’s Castle, City in The Clouds.

Justiciar Evindal Sarrieth walked into the princess’s outer office. The princess’ major domo saw him come through the door and said, “Justiciar Sarrieth, what brings you to us today?”

“Sharian , I have a rather discreet matter and Justiciar Dawkins said that the princess has been looking into things that it may be a part of, so I was hoping that I could either make an appointment or have a meeting with the princess.”

“Is the matter of any degree of urgency?”

“It may become so. The situation is evolving and it is hard to tell right now. In any case the situation is part of something that the princess has been apparently been looking into with some others and it was suggested that I discuss it with her.”

“I will see when she can speak with you.”

The major domo through the door and returned shortly thereafter. “The princess has some time before some meetings now, so you can have a brief time with her. Come with me.”

Evindal followed Sharian into the princess’s office and bowed as the major domo said, “Princess, Justiciar Sarrieth,” and left the office

The princess smiled and said, “Evindal, you so rarely come to visit. What matter brings you to me?”

“Princess, it involves some half elf and slave children that have been kidnapped over a long period time. Recently an attempt was made on a high elf young lady of a lower House by some rather strange bandits and Alen has been chasing some rather strange characters in the Lower City who use portals that had been disconnected. The potential victims had all had high fae potential. Justiciar Dawkins and Marshall Swiftfire said that you and some others were looking at children with high potential.”

“I see. I have been looking into children with high potential born to elf and slave couples brought from the Republic, yes. We hadn’t considered the last step. Do you have any idea who may be doing it?”

“Nothing definitive. These people have been very cagy and the “bandits” that were killed during the attack on the young lady that I was talking about were our first real lead. The bandits were clean of anything that could be used to indentify them.”

“I see. Do you have a report?”

“Yes I do.”

Evindal handed the princess the report. “What I would like to know is how many of the potential targets these people have and where they are.”

“Would you be willing to make an appointment with me at House Yllannan in five days. I cannot really address this right now and I have been working on this with some people at House Yllannan.”

“Five days, it is, your highness. This has been an ongoing scourge that has been hidden out in the estates for some time. We all owe Paeris Zylvyre a bit of a debt, strangely enough.”

“How so?”
“He was riding a post horse and came upon the “bandits” and when they attacked him, killed them. Then he escorted the young lady to safety so that the bandits could be gone over before whoever is behind this could clean up after themselves.”

“I must go and prepare for a Regency Council meeting. We will discuss this later.”

House Beinan, City In The Clouds.

Balladrial looked at the huge House as he and his aides and seamtresses approached. House Beinan was a new customer and he wondered just what the lady for the House would want. Lavidia had made the arrangements, but hadn’t said very much about the House. As he approached the House, the door opened and a seeming mortal woman rather nicely dressed if not with true elegance said, “You must be Balladrial. Lavidia said that you were coming. We decided to do this here because the girls would just make the circus at her place more intense and the pest has been in high dudgeon since that thing at Rosaniya’s. I’m Rebecca Beinan, by the way. Won’t you and your people come in? We have a room all set up for you and the girls.”

Balladrial followed the lady into the House and past an amazing hall and glimpses of truly amazing things. The group entered a large well lit space with skylights and windows with large tables and amazingly, several sewing machines. Balladrial turned to the lady and said, “How did you find these?”

“They were in storage. You can have them as part of your fee. We have so many things here in storage that we are just beginning to get a handle on. The girls are here.”

They were. There were fae girls, Lavidia’s daughter Jessamine, and girls from House Qinvaris, House Shahana and House Ravathrya as well as the lady’s daughter, Dessielle. Rebecca said, “The girls wanted to make dresses and some cloaks for the Winterfaire and Lavidia suggested you. The mob of girls kept getting bigger and we decided that, instead of having your shop filled with girls, that we would set up here. I hope that you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. I had thought that I was creating for a great lady, but this looks like it will be a challenge.”

“Mrs. Harper is trying, but I don’t have the great lady thing down yet and prefer to dress more practically during the day. I’m still new at this and the House has been busy enough that I haven’t had the time to arrange an entertainment. In any case, these girls will all be great ladies all too soon. I hope that the current batch is ready for them.”

What followed was an enjoyable afternoon as the girls came up with dress ideas and worked to make them amazing. Some of the requests were rather amazing. The seven older girls made up riding cloaks that from a distance looked identical, yet when close up reflected each of the individual girls. The fae girl, Bellflower, was perhaps the most entertaining as she worried about how Saevel would think of her efforts. Balladrial reassured her that, when they were done, Saevel would love the dress. As things were winding down for the day, Lavidia was watching from the doorway and Balladrial slid over and said, “Thank you for this surprise. Rebecca is a marvel. Of course the trick will be convincing her to submit to my ministrations. She hardly seems to be the type to have a House like this. This is one of the most magical and wonderful of the great Houses and I have seen them all.”

“The family was exiled except for a young elf who was apprenticed in the Lower City. He shared blood with Rebecca and they had their family in the Lower City. My son latched onto Dessielle there and that is how we met. The emperor would not let the Inquisition destroy this place and when Lythienne and Rosaniya wanted something repaired, they looked for the Beinans and found Rebecca and Folmon.”

“I thought I recognized Rebecca. She is Folmon’s wife. Her daughter and your son bonded? Was it Peri or Flix?”

“Peri. All it took was a kiss on the cheek from Dessielle and that was it.”

Rebecca came over and said, “So, did you and your people enjoy themselves, sir?”

“I think that we have. Most of the time we have to deal with demanding customers with no real sense of fashion. These girls are willing to learn and be creative at the same time. I apologize, Rebecca, for not realizing who you were at first. We miss you down in the Lower City. Milidia will be pleased when I tell her what happened to you and Folmon.”

“That is quite all right, Balladrial. This place has been more than a little overwhelming for me. I thought that I was content with what we had, but now I don’t think that I would go back. Folmon is so happy to not be so constrained in what he can do anymore.”

“How do you deal with the Inquisition?”

“I don’t think that the Inquisition wants to deal with all the unhappy people that they will have to deal with if they give us trouble. Starting with Rosa and Richard, whose daughters are right over there with mine.”

“I see. They don’t bother you because they don’t want to deal with Lady Qinvaris.”

“Among others,” Lavidia said. “A lot of people realized that the Bienans were needed for things and I don’t think that the Inquisition is going to nose around very much. At least they haven’t bothered Rebecca lately.”

“I think that we must pack up somewhat and get ready to leave for the day. We will return tomorrow to finish. I imagine that the girls will look wonderful.”

“Bring Millidia and the girls,” Rebecca said. “There is plenty of room.”

When Balladrial got his mob home, Millidia was waiting. “So what was your new customer like?”

“You know her already. It is Rebecca. She has invited us both to the House tomorrow with the kids.”

“I wondered what had happened to Rebecca. We must go.”

“She is also making six sewing machines part of my payment.”

“Where did she get them?”

“Storage apparently. You can discuss how you want them moved tomorrow.”

Eryding.

Durlan watched the bustle on the streets as he and his servants walked down the street to House Shahana’s timberyard. He and his House had arranged timber for new barns and housing on the estate from House Shahana for years and since the estate needed a new barn in any case, he was taking advantage to do some quick scouting. The prospects were there, but the boys were all working and the girls seemed to come in gaggles mixed in with mortal and full elven girls as they shopped or did other errands. The streets were crowded and bustling, far more than he remembered and House Ravathyra badges seemed to be disappearing and being replaced by House Shahana badges, especially on the docks and warehouses.

Dodging some stevedores, Durlan went into the timberyard’s office. Jerdal, who the family had been dealing with for a very long time, was still there and came forward. “Hello Lord Richflight. We have not seen you for some time. I trust that your House is well.”

“We have been fine. In fact that is why I am here. We are planning a new barn and need posts and boards if you have them.”

“You have come at a very good time. The lord has decided to expand operations and we are cutting far more framing timber for next year. So we can offer the boards at lower cost.”

“Excellent. Why don’t I talk with Theodred and see what we can arrange.”

“I handle that now. Theodred is no longer with the House.”
“How did that happen?”

“He had a bit of an argument with the Lord about going with him to see a rather large new customer and the Lord was forced to let him go. Why don’t we get your people and my people together and make up the order. Presumably you are putting the barn up in Bled or Green?”

“Yes. We want it for the forage in the fall.”

Jerdal and Durlan went through the details with the people from House Shahana and Jerdal took Durlan back to his office. Durlan said, “This promotion must have been sudden. I hadn’t realized that Lord Vesryn involved himself in the business.”

“The circumstances are something I want to be a bit discreet about, but the Lord has relatives that are building houses in the dwarven kingdoms and came to the Lord looking for framing timber. The lord went up to the Timberlands and Theodred was supposed to be there to assist in what was a large contract. Theodred missed the message and when the Lord showed up here, since Theodred had apparently never consulted with the Lord about the business, Theodred did not know who he was. The whole thing was rather embarrassing, frankly.”

“I see the family badge all over the docks and warehouses now.”

“House Shahana has had significant investments here in the city for some time and with the setbacks in House Ravathrya, the Lord has had to become more involved in the businesses. The whole thing has been like a whirlwind, but we are coping and the increase in the business is going to make the House do very well.”

“I understand that the young lady of the House is seeing Tarranth Qinvaris.”

“I can’t say very much about the lord’s private affairs, but the young lady has been in the city frequently and we have seen young Lord Qinvaris more than we used to.”

Durlan had a very interesting chat with Jerdal as the business details were worked out and started back to the portal. Wyrran caught up with him and said, “There are prospects, but getting in and out would be tricky and setting things up will be hard because most of the prospects are heading up to the timberlands and tree cutting. The boys, that is. The girls are going to be here, some of them, but getting in and out is going to be tricky as I said. Here’s the portal and you can see why.”

As they passed through the portal, there were some tough looking types watching the people going in and out. There was also a junior mage with them. Durlan frowned as they headed to the castle.

Nizig looked at the man, and that was generous, in front of him and the letter from his uncle. “Flight Instructer Khumkith, we are dragons. “While you obviously have dragon ancestors, I’m not sure why the Dragomaster sent you to us.”

Resod Khumkith smiled and said, “Dragons are not a problem sir!”

“Can you transform?”

“No sir! But that will not be necessary.”

Nizig looked at the khaki dressed figure, everything on what must be a uniform in perfect order from the brim of his hat to the mirror shine on his shoes and sighed a bit. “We are not exactly long on appearance in the dragon guard.”

“Sir, neither am I. Trust me, your boys are going to get dirty and black before I am done with them. It’s better to be sore now than burned later.”

Nizig started to grin. “Flight Instructor, maybe you will work out after all.”

“I hope not, sir. If your boys aren’t pissed at me when I leave, I haven’t done my job right. On the other hand, when I am done with them, they will be ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“That’s not my job sir. The big hats tell the boys what to do and who to do it to. I just make sure that when they do, they are ready for it and come back home.”

“That is an interesting way of thinking about your job, Flight Instructor.”

“My wife doesn’t like it when she has to put a black frame on one of her boys. I catch holy hell when it happens.”

“I have changed my mind about you. I think that you will work out just fine.”

Vesryn was looking out the window from what had been Rolin’s office at the rather empty Lower House Ravathyra. Vesryn had had Ilvisar do some quiet checking and when he discovered why that part of the city was so empty, had sent a letter to his brother and asked just how many of the former House Ravathrya sailors now worked for him. He had replied that a fair number did. With that in mind, Vesryn and his brother were going to set up a packet run between Eyrding, the Hidden city and Chatsrey. Maria came up beside him and said, “Those poor families. Rolin just left them out in the lurch when he sent his fleet out like that. I’m taking some steps with the families whose husbands were killed so that the ladies can support themselves.”

“You have always been amazing dear.”

“If I could, I would have words with Thalia about how she took care of the families her husband left out in the lurch and it would not be pretty. Those poor ladies were told nothing when their husbands all went to sea and it was lucky that so many survived because Admiral Harper was determined to not kill as many of them as posssible. But Thalia and the other ladies have been there in the capital worrying about their party budgets while Elincia and I have been dealing with the consequences of Rolin and Zanis’s fiascos. As far as Elincia and I are concerned, the ladies are cut off until the last family is settled. Next year will probably be a disappointment for them and Princess Glynnii.”

 

 

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