The Blight Returns, Chapter 7-8

Dan conducts an experiment. Peri finds a book.

Chapter 7.
Qinvaris Experimental Farm, Qinvaris Estate.
Dan’s greenhouses and experimental farm had been a project of his since he was fourteen or so. This was also where he had met Renestrae when she had been curious about his greenhouses, one of which he was probably about to destroy. Growing wheat in greenhouses meant that Dan was not constrained by the weather and could grow year around and that he could control the pollinating and breeding of his plants. He had been successful in breeding resistant strains of wheat and now, that was going to be put to the test. He looked up at the man on top of the greenhouse and said, “Drop it, Vic.”
Vic dropped the crossbow bolt, the charge inside shattered the glass vial and spread the Blight throughout the greenhouse as Dan, Renestrae, Tarranth, Renna, Peri, Sylvar and the others that had gathered to see the test watched. The people watching could feel the pull of mana as the Blight started to spread itself across the wheat. At the center of the explosion, the plants very quickly started to wilt. By the time everybody had gone to lunch and returned, the plants in the center were dead and the rot had started to spread through the greenhouse. By the next morning, the ripe grain was all blighted or rotten and half the greenhouse was filled with dead grass. Dan pulled the crystal that had recorded everything, turned to the grim faces and said, “I knew that the Blight was bad. This is sick. Vic, get some distilled rock oil and torch this green house. I don’t want this getting loose.”
Vic looked at the dead wheat and said, “No we don’t.”
As they watched the greenhouse burn, Dan went to Onvyr and said, “Did you see a library at the Camp?”
“I didn’t see a library, but then I never spent any time at the Camp if I could help it. Why are you looking for one?”
“Because somebody has the recipe for this and probably information on how to fight it. Somebody either at the Camp or nearby. Even if all the other books have been burned, they will still have the details in their books.”
Clearcrag Aerie, The Fellowship of Peoples.
Zireth looked up at the approaching Rebecca and said, “You avoided getting scorched again.”
“Zaktea doesn’t like me for some reason.”
“She likes you just fine. She just can’t figure out how you avoid her so well. She’s only eleven.”
“You could just tell her elfin magic.”
“But you don’t look like an elf.”
“I have four children that look very elven indeed. Sometime looks can be deceiving and I may have acquired certain skills along the way. After all, I lived in the mysterious Lower City for years, so who knows what I may be able to do.”
Zireth laughed. “Zaktea also wants to go with you.”
“That might not be out of the question if she asks.”
“Not right now, though we want to visit when it is warmer. We can take the train to the salt flats and port over from there, apparently.”
“We would have to make arrangements in advance, but that would work, or you could fly to the portal. We had to make arrangements.”
“Why are you here today?”
“This is our last day here and we wanted to invite you and the rest of the family to dinner at the hotel. We’ve been enjoying the goblins for the last fiveday and we wanted to say thank you for having us.”
“We are pleased to have you. We are also glad that the House is in good hands. Father was a bit doubtful about Folmon at first. That is one reason he went to visit when my sister sent that message. You relieved his doubts rather quickly after those idiots took the girls.”
“The House may not be what it once was, though the fact that it is scattered may hide just how strong we all are, but we are not weak either. We also have very powerful, very good friends.”
“Father said that, too.”
The Fortress.
The Darkmage turned as his daughter entered the library. “Any news?”
“That is hard to say. Some books came in through Eryding, but they seem to have come from the Republic and several different places in the Fellowship. The girls that were taken by Durlan seemed to have gone on a spending spree in the Republic and they bought a lot of books. Also, several House libraries are going back to the Empire as part of a library project. Of course some books were returned to Lady Harper as a gift.”
“Returned?”
“The lady was exiled and married in the Republic. Apparently the young man found his grandmother’s House library in the Fellowship and purchased it so that he could return the library to his grandmother.”
“What was the grandmother’s House name?”
“I do not know. I will ask.”
“Where are the books now?”
“On their way to the Harper’s home in the Republic, I presume.”
The darkmage seethed in frustration. He had been so close to obtaining the key and then everything had become more difficult. It had taken him a decade of discreet searching to discover that House Naelana’s library had not gone with the House into exile and then to arrange the for the exile of the House that had owned the library and the Inquisition to confiscate the library and supposedly destroy it. Almer had kept custody of the book until the Darkmage was in a position to recover it and then it was gone, with everything else. The problem now was finding the book again without alerting his opponents to its significance. The big problem was that the book could be in the Empire or in the Republic and either presented a different set of problems.

Chapter 8.
Chatsrey.
Taerentym was working on the beginning of his poem about his sister and her prince when Ialantha walked in. “Tilly called and said that you had something to talk to me about.”
“Why don’t I show you what I have so far?”
Taerentym handed the note sheets over, Ialantha looked at them and said, “This is very vivid. It is as if you were there.”
“I was. That was a night of long knives and my sister and I were hidden as the assassins and our guards and finally my parents fought. It was costly, very costly for the guild that night, but in the end they got what they wanted.”
“Why are you adding this to the story, other than as a way of showing how it started.”
“Rosaniya is the sister that was there with me. The Inquisition came the next morning and I was on a Ravathrya ship the next day. I have several five days of fighting off the animals in the crew who were not fussy about what they stuck certain parts in and saw me as a pretty boy. After the first couple injuries, they went on to easier prey, mostly women. But the part you see there is what we both shared.”
Ialantha grinned, came around the desk and hugged Taerentym. Then she called out, “Tilly get out here! We are all going to Vikz’s!”
“I can’t afford that,” Taerentym said with a grin.
“Who says we’re eating out front. This story will keep us in back for a moon easy. Especially when Richard and Rosa show up. They should be here in three days.”
Tilly came out and said, “I thought that you would like the surprise. Taerentym told you, didn’t he?”
“That he is my brother in law? Yes he did. Now we are going to Vikz’s so that we can share the story and then start telling all of Rosa’s growing up stories before she gets here, especially the ones that embarrass her. Taerentym you can start the book with that rather bad night, and Tilly, I want an appropriate illustration of that, but we go back and run through Rosa growing up as well.”
Taerentym grinned, “I was going to do that, but I wanted to spring the surprise on you first and I wasn’t sure if you would come in before my sister arrived.”
“By the way, I haven’t, and you and Tilly will keep mum about this too. I will bring Rosa in and we will surprise her. Have the kids here as well. We all keep quiet about this and I will just walk Richard and Rosa in as part of shopping. Now let’s go to lunch.”
They all got in Ialantha’s car and drove off to Vikz’s. Ugziot grinned as they walked in and said, “Mr. Carron, you have not been here for some time.”
“Ugziot, my publisher doesn’t like goblin food and I was stocking up on stories so that I could do my share in back. I also have been rather busy with the book up until Winterfaire and in the shop since.”
“Has your Publisher asked you for another book? You sold very well over Winterfaire as usual. As for your publisher’s tastes, that is a true shame.”
“Yes they have. I agree with you about my publisher, but he pays the bills, so there it is.”
“You do know that, new stories or not, you are always welcome.”
“I haven’t wanted to abuse that and if I eat at different places, I find new stories.”
There is a truth to that. In any case, I suspect that Vikz and the others will enjoy what you have. Is it a good story?”
“Very good, which is why we are celebrating,” Ialantha said. “There is Mishto, so he has parked the car and we will proceed.”
Ialantha led them through the hidden door to the back where Vikz spotted them and said, “Welcome Ialantha. I see that you have convinced some prodigals to return.”
“Yes and it turns out that our prodigals here are relatives.”
“How so?”
“Taerentym here turns out to be my brother in law. Of course, since Richard didn’t send pictures for years and we didn’t know, we sort of became a bit of family anyway.”
“That is certainly true. So the lonely princess in the Empire is your sister, Taerentym?”
“Yes. There was a very bad night and then the Inquisition came and put me on a boat. I had no way knowing what happened to my sister and the House. So I kept my head down, wrote my books and lived my unremarkable life.”
“Hardly unremarkable. You are known throughout most of the kingdoms and your books sell very well, I am sure.”
“They do at that. Of course the money, like the books is for my children, so I live on the commissions and the shop, which do very well as well.”
Ialantha laughed. “Very well is putting it mildly. If we did not have an agreement for a commission, I would have had to pay a lot of money to get one of your works of art and if what I have seen so far is any indication, that money would be well spent.”
“What is the story this year?” Vikz asked.
“The epic of Rosaniya and Richard, twelve copies for the family, as usual. Of course, Taerentym started off with a very bad night.”
“What happened?”
Taerentym told the story as he wrote it, with the approaching assassins and the long battle in the dark as he and his sister were forced to hide, so that regardless, the House would go on, followed by the Inquisition, led by Melaris Zylvyre, coming to take Taerentym away. “That is what I have so far.”
“You didn’t have Melaris in the version that you showed me.” Ialantha said.
“I wanted to keep individual Inquisitors out of the poem. The way I saw it, it wasn’t an individual coming for me, but the entire Inquisition. Melaris was just the face of the evil.”
“I look forward to the rest of this, Taerentym,” Vikz said. “I have always seen you as a superior spinner of tales and you have proven that with this.”
“I just hope that my sister likes it.”
“Richard will, and I think that Rosa will as well,” Ialantha said. “By the way, this is not to leave this table until I spring a surprise on Rosa and Richard.”
“I think that we can agree with that,” Vikz said amongst as sea of grins.
Qinvaris linen warehouse, The Lower City.
Peri and Dessielle were making their way through the rather large confines of the warehouse to the section that strangely enough, had bookshelves, at least temporarily. Tarron and his sons, with members of the archives and kids drafted from the school had started to uncrate the various books that had been acquired by various means and organizing the books using a system that had been suggested by Nimue after seeing Strom’s rather large library and how it was organized. The new library itself was awaiting the warmer weather and the ground to thaw for construction to proceed. As they were passing crates, Dessielle asked, “Why was that book left in the crate.”
Peri looked at it and said, “Somebody put an aversion on it. Let me take it off.”
Peri removed the aversion and picked up the book. “This came from the Naelana’s library, but none of the other books had an aversion on them. Let’s talk to Tarron and find out what he knows.”
They took the book with them and went to find Tarron. He looked up as they approached and said, “Dessielle, you haven’t taken your coat off and you have already started to work?”
“This book had an aversion on it.”
“It did? Peri, your mother warned us to look out for a book that might have an aversion on it. That was one reason that I was glad that Dessielle could work with us on this.”
“Why did mother want to know about aversions?”
“Because the spider lady wanted to know about the books that Dan purchased. Where did you find this?”
“In one of the crates from the Fellowship, all by itself.”
“That would make sense if the crate was unpacked by the children who haven’t been tested yet. What is the book?”
Peri flipped through it. “A diary or journal. It’s very old. Here.”
He handed the book to Tarron who looked at it and said, “Very old indeed. We should set this aside until I can have Aired and Aymon look at it. This is probably the book that the spider lady is looking for. I don’t think that I need to mention that we should keep this discreet. Peri, take this to your mother and tell her about the aversion.”
Peri Jumped to his mother’s office and said, “Mom, we found this book. The book had an aversion on it.”
Lavidia looked at her son and said, “We should have told you about that already, but you have been working for the Portal Service and other things. What is the book?”
“This is a very old journal or diary. Here, look at it.”
Lavidia looked at it and said, “Very old indeed. What did Tarron want to do with it?”
“He wanted to have Aired and Aymon look at it.”
“That makes a lot of sense. Aired has the background and Aymon is a mage, so they will see things that we don’t. I think that Tarron wants me to keep this in a discreet place, doesn’t he?”
“That’s what he wanted.”
“I will handle this then and you go back to work.”

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