The Blight Returns, Chapter 19-20.

Gander gets an assignment. Ruki meets his grandmother

Chapter 19.
Palace d’Royal, Dolmas, Kingdom of Dolmon.
Gander walked into the surprisingly modest office where King Aestaeros, the Grand Master and Baron d’Ambray were waiting for him. The king grinned as Gander closed the door and said, “Fulques says that you and your people are very skilled at poking your nose in things.”
“We are. I think that it is a habit and the boys did some favors for some friends.”
“That favor is the matter at hand.” The king held up the parchment that had the scan from the Archbishop. “Lyari handed me this rather remarkable document. The problem is what I do with it.”
“It was assumed that you would send some troops to the village and discourage these people from doing what they plan to do.”
“That would be the ideal and practical solution and most of the year I would do that and take the consequences. The problem is that it is impossible to move troops of cavalry around discretely this time of year and if I do so openly, I will be taking action against the Church when I had no evidence that the Church was about to commit a crime.”
“I would have thought that the letter was enough.”
“The original latter would be. This scanned copy is not. At least not to the Church, who will complain about fae trickery. You on the other hand, can show up discreetly with your people.”
“I don’t have jurisdiction.”
“That’s the interesting part. It dates back to the time before the mage wars, but by law, full Justiciars like yourself do have jurisdiction to investigate crimes in the mortal, dwarven and faery kingdoms if they are invited, just as you would with any estate. I certainly invited you and we have a crime involving an extra jurisdictional entity, the Church, and thus you do have jurisidiction.”
“So I can do the same sorts of things that I could do in the Empire? Even if they are in violation of local laws such as violating the Church’s immunity and the protections that Church activities have.”
“I see that you have an understanding of your position.”
“I can also recruit local forces, say cavalry, without necessarily having to go through the crown if I have need.”
“That is in your job description and under the scope of your authority.”
Gander grinned. “The Grand Master here did request that the Justiciars investigate the theft of crystals that involved my current investigation and interference of that investigation. It would be natural for me to request permission to investigate that theft while I was here as part of my mandate from the Regency Council and the Council of Kings. The fact that the stolen crystals were used to incite violence is a serious matter. May I recruit the baron here for my local liason?”
“I was hoping that you would ask for such a competent aide and I loan him to you willingly.”

Chapter 20.
Dilkihm, Silver Mountain.
Neddun had just sat down for lunch when Ruki and Nimeroni walked in. He said as they sat down, “No faery tricks?”
“We just wanted to show you that we could.”
“You have turned over some rather interesting rocks. The good news for me is that House Qinvaris is moving a lot of money, but not paying any attention to the bank. The bad news is that both drafts seem to have come directly from the bank’s reserves and we did not have any other business with Flaskbreaker at all for the last ten years of so. The money in the reserve is supposed to be just that, untouchable without a vote from the board, which the drafts did not receive, because if they had, your father, who has a board seat would have been sent a correspondence about the matter. I have tried to talk to father about it and he just yells at me.”
“Lord Orivalur is managing something else for Lord Qinvaris. Dad is helping on some of the sneaky parts. Nothing is illegal, but certain things need to be kept discrete.”
“The money seems to be going to the Harper bank in the Republic.”
“I wouldn’t know what is happening. I’ve been kept at the desk at the bank since dad is busy.”
“There have been some stories going around about my brother and young Tarranth Qinvaris on Bank Street in Zigoccol.”
“Now that I can talk about since I was there. You probably know about the girls being kidnapped and escaping.”
“The girls had all been tested by the fae, thanks to a convenient grove right next to a portal, and passed. Durlan Richflight kidnapped the girls and sent them right to the father of two of the girls. The girls were sent to a place that the kidnappers called the Camp and on their way up, looked for Jump points. They found one that was next a lady named Amarille Zylvyre’s house. She sent a message to the Qinvaris and Rosa sent Tarranth and the other boyfriends out so that the lot of them could go on a trip through the Fellowship and the Republic. They were shopping in Zirgoccol when Renna Shahana discovered her House’s Beinan for sale in an antique store.”
“A Bienan in an antique store? That would be rather unusual.”
“The store thought that it was just an elven statue, so they priced it at 750 gold, which was more than Tarranth had with him.”
“So he sent somebody to cash a check for him and buy the statue.”
“He didn’t have anybody to send and wrote the check himself. Then he went down Bank Street and all the idiots at the desks wouldn’t touch the check or let Tarranth see the people that managed the House’s business.”
“How old is Tarranth?”
“Seventeen. But you would think that one of them would have the common sense to send him upstairs so that whoever could make a call.”
“Was this Tarranth’s first time in a bank?”
“Not hardly. He’s been in and out of banks since he was ten and got his ring when he was fifteen. He said that he had written checks on family accounts for millions and cashed them.”
“What for?”
“That would make sense. So in the Empire, he was used to marching up, writing the check and getting the money. The banks all know who he is and it isn’t a big deal. But the banks in the Fellowship probably don’t do business that way.”
“The first one wanted a guardian present. The rest just said, “Go away, kid, you bother me. So there is a sore Tarranth walking past our little bank with an upset Renna and he walks in the door. Dad treats him like he would any other new customer, arranges to cash the check and has me take Tarranth and the rest for shopping, dinner and the symphony. We picked up the Woodsprite the next day and since Dessielle Beinan was with us, demonstrated what it was before crating it up. The screams in the auction houses and galleries were almost as loud as the ones on Bank St.”
Neddun laughed. “That must have been some trip.”
“It was. Dad and Lady Amarille had me join in, so that I could get some experience in the Republic and keep an eye out for things. Of course in the Republic, I was the odd duck as everyone else had family. I’m taking Nimeroni back home in a five day and meeting her family, the family that I haven’t met yet, that is.”
“Could you return to the bank and check father for compulsions. I have been always rather mystified by mother’s take on Kethrykllia. Everybody but mother and dad could see that Kammik and Sardida were going no place. They had been pushed together since they were kids and there were no sparks at all. When Kethrykllia showed up, the sparks were obvious and then Rufead met Sardida and they hit it right off too. There was some friction because the king thought that Rufead was beneath Sardida, but they were stubborn and made it work.”
“They sure did,” Nimeroni said. “They are so obviously good for each other. But what is up with Ruki’s grandmother? Thirty years is a long time to hold a stupid bit of spite.”
‘Mother has always wanted things to work out the way she wanted. I think that she also saw Kethrykllia as a threat. Other than that, I don’t know. None of us do, and this is a mystery. If father is under threat by the people that compelled him and mother knows that, she could be protecting father.”
“Maybe we should talk with grandmother first,” Ruki said. “We can scan for her compulsions, if any and if she is as you say, explain things. I will speak with Lord Orivalur about this and with Dan tomorrow when he gets into town.”
“Let’s get a cab and talk with mother. I’ve been concentrating on father and hadn’t thought to have a serious chat with mother.”
They finished lunch, Neddun paid the bill, and they took a hansom cab to a large stone house that was rather gloomy and dark. Neddun took them to the door and the butler said, Master Neddun, you have returned for a visit. Who are these young folk.”
“I think that I will tell mother first.”
“Go to the parlor. I will tell Lady Numirra that you are here.”
Neddun led Ruki and Nimeroni to the parlor and shortly afterwards a distinguished dwarf lady appeared. Neddun, you have not visited me for some time. Who are these two? I thought I knew the family.”
Ruki looked at his grandmother and swept for a compulsion, which there was none. He turned to Neddun and shook his head. Neddun said, “This is Rukrin and Nimeroni. Rukrin is Kammik’s oldest son and we need to discuss some serious issues with you.”
“I WILL NOT! You take that hussy’s child and leave, right now!”
“Grandmother, are you willing to risk the collapse of the bank and the family?”Ruki asked.
“What?! Why would the bank and the family be at risk?! How would you know?! You are little more than a boy!!”
“Mother, he knows because he became involved. Mother this is very serious and Ruki is right about the danger.”
“Danger from whom?”
“Recently the daughters of the Qinvaris were kidnapped.” Ruki said. “As part of the persuasive arguments made by the family, Lord Qinvaris’s brother ordered three barges of grain to be destroyed. The grain needed to be replaced, the only reasonable source for that grain was House Qinvaris and the draft for the grain came from the family bank. Lord Qinvaris wanted to know where the money came from and it apparently came from the reserve funds of the bank, which is strange as father should have been notified about the draft.
So far, so good. Unfortunately another draft was drawn from the reserve account, a draft that father detected through the clearing house. The draft was to a company, Flaskbreaker and Sons, that the family bank does not do business with. That draft was used to pay for two thousand crossbow bolts. The bolts are the same type that had been used to launch the Blight in the Empire and the Fellowship in the past. Lord Qinvaris is out of the Empire at present, father has been investigating the drafts and grandfather has stonewalled both him and uncle. The problem facing the family is that Lord Qinvaris knows that the drafts are involved with funding the Blight. He has told me, personally, that any individual, family or entity that is in any way connected to the Blight will be destroyed. So unless the family can make a convincing argument that we were not responsible for funding the Blight, I think that you can imagine what will happen.”
Ruki’s grandmother put her head in her hands. “They will kill us.”
“The Darkmage’s people.”
“So you would risk the certainty of destruction on the chance that this Darkmage may destroy you. Ok, Nimeroni and I are going to return home now. We were never here. We will return in three five days and see what we can do.”
Ruki and Nimeroni disappeared. Numirra turned on her son and said, “Explain what is going on here.”
“Mother, Ruki just did. Father is under compulsion and has been for some time, hasn’t he?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“Mother, you chased Kammik and the others away. Most of the family is rather annoyed at you right now and then Ruki came to my office and told me what he just told you.”
“How did they do what they just did?”
“I don’t know the whole story yet, but they were tested by the fae in a grove. Nimeroni met Ruki at the grove in the Timberlands.”
“Was that Nimeroni Claringbold?”
“Yes, it was.”
“That is a good match for the family.”
“I’m glad that you can see the obvious. Ruki has interesting friends as well.”
“Tell me about them.”
“I think that I will let Ruki do that. That way you will want him back.”
“I think that I do already. I have been living with this fear for a very long time.”
“At this point, we can either have a very good friend or a very powerful enemy. I also think that I will correspond with my brother and start the proxy proceedings. Since I am ignorant of father’s compulsions and just see things as breaking the rules, I can take the Darkmage’s piggy bank away from him without him knowing that that was what I was doing.”
“You would overthrow your father?”
“At this point, there is no other logical choice. He has damaged the bank and put us at risk. The only question I had coming here was whether I would cooperate with Kammik or not.”
“Why did you come to me?”
“Ruki suggested it. He thought that talking to you, if you were not compelled would be safer than just removing the compulsion from father. I imagine that he will be talking with people and they will be doing things.”
“He seems like a character. I wonder if the rest are the same way.”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“I think that later this year, we must go and discover. I owe my daughter law an apology.”

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