The Blight Returns, Chapters 13-14

The archbishop plots a little genocide. Nimeroni takes Ruki to chat with his uncle.

Chapter 13.
The Rectory, House Of Beaming Light- Palace d’Ambray, Dolmas, Kingdom of Dolmon.
Archbishop Raimbal Draper looked at the letter that had just been delivered and frowned. If the fae were working with the monster mage, that was worrisome. When the crystals had arrived and the archbishop and his bishops had come up with the plan, they had been confident that the fae would not discover the plan and if they did, would not interfere. Bishop Penhallow’s letter made it clear that the Council of Kings was taking the actions of the bishops personally. Perhaps it was time to take things to the next level. Long ago, the Church had acquired some projectors that mimicked magefire. The archbishop had several at his disposal, but they were not to be used unless the Church was under attack by the mages. The maneuvers of the Grand Monster represented an attack and the archbishop was certain that when things were over, the body of the Church and the country would agree that the action had been necessary. The thing to do was to pick a target and the archbishop had one, a village on the border with the fae kingdom that had produced far too many polluted in the past. Perhaps he could deal with two problems at the same time. He wrote a quick letter, addressed it and rang the bell for a lay brother. A young man showed up and the archbishop said, “Have this sent.”
“Yes milord.”
“You are new here, aren’t you?”
“Just took my vows, milord. They give me small jobs like running about. I will take this to the brother.”
“Very well.”
Eddie grinned as he scanned the message on his way to the Brother. Eddie had been chosen to infiltrate the Rectory as he in no way looked like an elf. In fact, he looked more like a mortal than many of the lay Brothers and Brothers did. After passing the message to the Brother to hand to a messenger, Eddie Jumped out to where Jonny waited with a piece of parchment, transferred the message and returned to wait for the next call.
As The Grand Master’s caravan entered the Ducal Palace d’Ambray and the various people disembarked, the duke came out and said, “Welcome Lyari.”
“Yes, I am here for the conference, Ludovi. Your sons performed their escort duties as they always do.”
“They had better or they will face the wrath of their mother. I see new faces here.”
“This is Justiciar Gander Dawkins and his people. Justiciar Dawkins is the Justiciar investigating an incident that I had planned to discuss a bit discreetly at the conference, but some people have managed to get their hands on a crystal and use it rather inappropriately.”
“The bishops, you mean.”
“Yes. I fully understand their rage over the events in the timberlands. Indeed I share that rage. You were here when I received the report that cut off my last visit and you watched the crystal with me and Aestaeros. But I cannot allow the deaths that occurred at the faery community in the timberlands to be used as an excuse to gin up support for more innocent deaths.”
“What do you plan to do?”
“Ludovi, I don’t have to do anything. The bishops made a rather large mistake. They never considered that fae were working with Brothers when they do the scans to remove the children who fail the scans, the fae that talk with their partners who have seen the bishops in action. The Council of Kings does not like people who mess with the business of the fae, especially when it puts the fae at risk as well. The bishops had made a rather bad enemy even before I heard about their scheme.”
Ludovi laughed. “Then the bishops were truly foolish. Come, Lisabe is waiting. Has Elenaril managed to make off with Julien yet?”
“I’m not sure what is going with my granddaughter and Julien. In any case they get along well and between them, they made the trip must easier. We could use him at the Academy. Our security man is looking to retire.”
“If it were not for the politics of my family fraternizing with mages, I would send him.”
“How did he pass the scans?”
“I am not going to say. He did and that is the end of it.”
“The Church may rescan if they suspect.”
“So far they haven’t tried. The potential for that and the consequences were why Aestaeros sent me to you in the first place. We needed a safety valve, a way to know that the children were alive, even if they were away. Otherwise there would have been civil war. What mage Zanis did was not a help. I will get in trouble if I keep you all here, so we should get inside.”

Cahpter 14.
Axebrew Savings and Trust, Dilkihm, Silver Mountain.
“Hi, Nimeroni, going up? Who is this?”
“This is Ruki and we are meeting with daddy upstairs, so I have to march up. How come the dwarves don’t buy elevators for their buildings, Brorguil? ”
“Because we dwarves are supposed to be stout mining types going up and down the pits.”
“If that is the way you want to be. In any case Ruki and I need to find daddy and get to lunch.”
Nimeroni led Ruki up the stairs and to the third floor where Ruki’s uncle Neddun had his office. They had arrived just before lunch and Nimeroni had used gossip to discover that Neddun departed for lunch just after the midday. So Nimeroni and Ruki entered the office and Nimeroni said, “Hi, ‘bella. Is my dad here?”
“Not with Mr. Axebrew. Who is this?”
“This is my boyfriend, Rukrin.”
“Is he from around here?”
“His dad was.”
The door opened, Neddun walked out and said, “Hi Nimeroni. Who is this?”
“This is my boyfriend, Rukrin Axebrew.”
“Rukrin? I didn’t know that there was a Rukrin in the family. Who is your father, son?”
“My father is Kammik and I came to talk with you.”
“This is a long way from the Fellowship. Why don’t I take you to lunch? Lusgrobella, you didn’t hear this last little bit.”
Lusgrobella grinned, “Nimeroni just came in with her boyfriend, who coincidently never mentioned his last name or that he was your lost nephew. She couldn’t find her father and you went alone to lunch.”
“Yes, if father asks, that is what happened.”
As they left the office, Neddun said, “Let’s use the back stairs.”
They went down the stairs and Neddun called for a cab, which drove them to a modest place where they sat down. After ordering, Neddun said, “So why did my brother send you, Rukrin? This is rather a long distance to come.”
“Not the way we did it, but father is concerned about the response he is getting from grandfather and since I can check on certain things discreetly, I came up.”
“Your father is trying to butter up the Qinvaris by looking into that draft.”
“There’s more to it than that. That draft was a consequence of some people needing grain very quickly. The thing is that there is no way to send a telegram from where they were to the bank here.”
“Are you sure?”
“The people looking into it are.”
“The draft was paid. Why do the Qinvaris care?”
“They care, because, among other things, the people responsible for the draft managed to kidnap both the Qinvaris daughters and the girlfriend of Tarranth Qinvaris at the same time. I think you can understand why the Qinvaris are interested.”
“So there was some sort of payment involved for the girls? That is a bit surprising from the Qinvaris. Their usual pattern is to crush the House that did something like that. If I were dealing with something like that, I would try to protect any transactions I made as well.”
“The girls escaped and came to Zirgoccol. The transaction was just as it seemed to be, payment for grain on an emergency basis. Still, House Qinvaris wants to know where the moneys came from for obvious reasons. They are also looking for other similar drafts. My father found one, another one from the family bank.”
“So the transaction was in the Fellowship this time?”
“Yes. This purchase was rather more significant than a grain purchase, because House Qinvaris believes that the purchase was of some rather special crossbow bolts.”
“Crossbow bolts? So somebody is building an army to raid Qinvaris lands? Is that what the Qinvaris are afraid of?”
“The bolts deliver the Blight. Some were found and Dan tested one in his greenhouse. I can give you a copy of the crystal.”
“The Blight is initiated deliberately? The last time it struck, there was famine in the Empire and massive disruption. Grandfather talked for years about the debts that very nearly took the bank down with them as the debtors suddenly died and so did the holders of the paper. There were also hunger issues throughout the dwarven kingdoms and massive banditry by desperate elves and everybody else for that matter. Have you met Lord Qinvaris?”
“Yes. I met him when I went on a trip with the Qinvaris kids to the Republic and the Hidden City. I’m just going to say one thing about the man. You do not want to mess with him. If he thinks that you are even remotely responsible for the Blight, or in any way connected, he will be merciless if he can take action to stop the Blight. He has been that way before. I studied the war between the Fellowship and the Republic twenty eight years ago, a war that ended on a place called Bloody Ridge and was ended by one man. Uncle, if I were you, I would tell grandfather to get all the information regarding the drafts and hand it over to Lord Orivalur. I don’t know why grandfather is doing things the way he is. I have never met the man, for that matter. Father thinks that he may be compelled and I can check for that and possibly remove them. Regardless, grandfather is playing with matches next to a bomb that can destroy the family.”
“What company was the second draft sent to?”
“Flaskbreaker and Sons.”
“I will ask about the transaction.”
“Thank you for lunch, uncle, we need to go home now. I will see you here in a five day.”
Ruki and Nimeroni disappeared. A bemused Neddun paid the bill for the lunch and returned to his office. Lusgrobella asked, “So what was your nephew like?”
“More than a little scary, actually. He must have had contact with the fae at some point and learned some things. More importantly, he made the point that we could be heading straight into a conflict with the Qinvaris.”
“How so?”
“We stonewalled over that draft and then there was another similar draft to a company in the Fellowship. I want you to find out just what that draft was and how much business we do with Flaskbreaker and Sons.”
“Because Flaskbreaker and Sons may have produced the bolts that can be used to deliver the Blight and if my nephew was scary, what he said about Lord Qinvaris is terrifying.”
“Do you want me to find out more about the Qinvaris?”
“Very much so. We should have done that when they started to ask questions about that draft. Also, I want to know if there have been any changes in the ownership of stock in the bank or our bonds. There have been rumors about the Qinvaris and Ruki mentioned Lord Orivalur. If Lord Orivalur is talking to my brother, and he almost certainly is, we could find that the family could be in a proxy fight and a hostile takeover situation with the other side having essentially unlimited resources. You know as well as I do that several of my family are not happy with father and the way the business is run and with Kammik’s share on the other side, we start off at a disadvantage. Frankly, if this is as bad as it looks, I need to talk to my brother about fighting the fight and deposing father before we get burned.”
Iron City, The Fellowship Of Peoples.
Derhog looked at the report, the stack of old files and drawings, and sighed. His cousin Glanor had been his usual thorough self, delving back into the archives and finding out every instance that the company had made the bolts dating back to his great grandfather’s forge. He had also been just a bit late as the customer had sent their own truck for the pickup and all two thousand bolts had gone. They also paid quickly and there had been no issues that could cause Flaskbreaker to hold up the order. So the deed was done and looking at the report, the deed was a very bad one. He looked at his cousin and said, “How come we never noticed?”
“There was that gap, every fifty years or so. Back in the day, all the armies used crossbows and sending stuff in packets to ruin the other guys day was part of the game. So these were just one more among many. Then the last time around for your dad, he just took the order and then they weren’t used to spread the Blight, thank gods.”
Lieutenant Lazg of Military intelligence had brought a crystal and mana battery that he had obtained from the Empire. The crystal had shown one of the bolts being dropped inside a greenhouse and then what happened to the wheat inside when the Blight had struck. Derhog had watched it with the rest of the management and family and the crystal had made them more than a bit sick. Derhog was chilled to think what two thousand of the bolts would do.

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