The Blight Returns, Chapter 33-34

The Darkmage is hearing rumors. Ralnor has a sharp discussion with Richard

Chapter 33.
The Fortress.
Flingladui was savoring her latest meal when her father and her daughters entered the pavilion. The Darkmage said, “Daughter, something rather disturbing has come up.”
“What?”
Phaerille and Alyndra looked at her and Phaerille said, “I was talking to Ilbryen and he showed me a paper with Bank Street rumors. There is a rumor that Axebrew Savings and Trust is facing a takeover by the Qinvaris.”
“Why would you think that was significant?”
The Darkmage replied, “A long time ago, I compelled the head of the Axebrew bank because his father and he kept a reserve as a result of the last turmoils. Herdir and I have used this reserve for funds to fund the project. If the bank is taken over or even if Krovonlir has to account for the funds to the rest of the family, the project could be in jeopardy as we are exposed. Could you ask your new source about these transactions?”
“That will be tricky. I will make the effort, but I wanted to keep him separate from the rest of my web, so I did not tell him to use the small portal. Has Almer reported in?”
“He mailed a report to Ilbryen,” Phaerille said. “Your new link sold two books.”
“Only two?”
“Apparently he had to attend his master rather quickly and only brought the two. He said that the books were leftovers and there were more. He should be back in Zirgoccoll in a five day or so to conduct some business.”
“Send a request to our links asking if the Qinvaris are buying stock in the bank. I can intercept the young elf in Zirgoccol. Maybe I should conduct a hunt there. There is a portal.”
Axebrew Savings and Trust, Dilkihm, Silver Mountain.
Krovonlir Axebrew charged past Lusgrobella and into Neddun’s office. “Have you been talking to your brother?”
“Kethrykllia sent me a birthday present a five day ago. There was the flap late last year and Kammik has sent requests for more information, that I have rebuffed, why?”
“Somebody is buying a lot of our stock.”
“I have been tied up in business. Victor Claringbold wants to set up some accounts for building Houses and wants us to help with money transfers with his brother in law. I have been setting that up. You may have noticed Nimeroni here from time to time. Let me ask ‘bella.”
Neddun rang his bell. Lusgrobella came in and Neddun said, “Father says that there is traffic in the bank’s stock.”
“Somebody floated a rumor that the Qinvaris wants the bank. There has been some buying of our stock by the Qinvaris, but they sell it again a five day or so later. They haven’t kept much, if any of it. I checked up and down the street and a lot of banks are seeing the same thing. The people buying and holding the stock are basing that on the rumor, more or less and waiting for the Qinvaris to go for the kill.”
“I heard that Lord Orivalur is sitting with Kammik in that little bank of his, plotting something.”
“Father, that would be in the Fellowship, a long way from here if they were planning a takeover of us. Qinvaris does a rather large amount of business in the Fellowship. Also Kammik has developed a relationship with the Qinvaris. If you are really concerned about this, I could contact Kammik and see what he says, but he would probably do the same thing you did and claim client confidentiality unless I had a quid pro quo. The customer and source of replacement funds for those drafts, for instance. Those drafts are starting to get attention from the rest of the family and if you won’t tell me what is going on, things are going to get hot.”
“I am running this bank and I don’t have to tell how I conduct business for confidential clients.”
“No you do not, but the money in the reserve must be accounted for and if the reserve is drawn down, the board, including Kammik is to be notified and a vote taken if the funds are not replaced from a customer account. It has been some time and the funds have not been replaced. I have told Kifug to notify me before allowing any more drafts from the reserve.”
“You would defy me!”
“No, but the bank is at risk and the reserve represents an entailed asset, not your personal piggybank. If you reimburse the account from your personal funds or take a loan and reimburse the account, then I will reconsider.”
“Are you accusing me of embezzlement?”
“Father I haven’t accused you of anything. I am just pointing out that there are irregularities”
“You are stooging for Kammik and the Qinvaris. I should fire you.”
“Like you did my nephews? My sister is rather annoyed at you about that, because they joined Kammik in the Fellowship. Frankly, if you did fire me, I would talk to Kammik to get his proxy and initiate a takeover. Father, if you want a fight, you will have it. Unless you have resources that I don’t know about or family likely to support you, you are in a bad position if you force the issue.”
“You watch your step, son. I cut Kammik off and I can do the same to you.”
Krovonlir stormed out again and ‘bella turned to Nedden, “Did that seem to be as crazy to you as it did to me?”
“’bella, yes it did. I think I know why, and there are things I can’t talk about yet. Still, pushing like that now is just stupid. First of all if I were in a conspiracy with my brother and the Qinvaris, my father shouldn’t be shouting it around and I am not the one the family is unhappy with. I suspect that somebody is worried.”
“What do you think about the rumors? Ruki has been here with Nimeroni and her dad is talking to his brother in law, who knows the Qinvaris.”
“All of which are true, but that doesn’t change anything.”
Maldin Qinralei pushed his cart to Neddun’s office, went inside, collected the wastebasket and changed the crystal that he had been leaving in the office for over a moon. Maldin hadn’t been able to get into Krovonlir’s office, because he had had the same office cleaner for decades, but getting the job as a cleaner had been easy and the dwarves were as likely to ignore nondwarves as high elves ignored non elves, with some exceptions. Maldin’s father had found his mother broken in a gutter in the Lower City, taken her home, called a healer and taken her in. It was supposed to be temporary thing. That had been over forty years ago. Apparently Ayre Qinralei liked his wife’s cooking. He was one of the few elves that could be called portly. Strangely enough, Maldin’s mother had kept her figure and looks even after four children. Maldin grinned as he pushed the car down the hall, finishing all his tasks before the lunch hour was over and then going to his own lunch. Elred was waiting at the modest place and Maldin handed the crystal over. “I get the feeling that things are heating up.”
“Do you think that somebody is going to come after Neddun?”
“I would watch him. I think that the other side is going have to, or lose their piggy bank.”
“Have you seen a trace of anybody in the bank who doesn’t belong?”
“Other than me, no. I was just a temporary hire and I’m the only one. All the other staff has been there for years and I checked all of them for compulsions. The only small portal is the one in Krovonlir’s office. At least that is the only one that the scanner found when I took the night shift and went through the place. If they have infiltrated the place, whoever it is, is very good or somebody cared enough to assign them to the place full time for a very long time.”
“That’s not out of the question. Are any of them elves?”

“Only me. The others are all by blows of some dwarf playing around or just mortal. The bank staff is dwarf and family for the most part. Typical dwarves all the way around.”
“Ok, you go back to work and keep an eye on things. I will poke around some more and meet with you for lunch tomorrow.”
Zirgoccol.
“Welcome, Dragonleader. The Dragonmaster is waiting. I am Lieutenant Dennis Oceaiana.”
“Hello, Lieutenant. I take it that I am taking your job, somewhat. You are a long way from the ocean for a navy officer.”
“Yes I am. I requested that because otherwise my sister will throw her friends at me, trying to drag me under. As for taking my job, I am up for promotion and a ship. My time as the dragonmaster’s keeper is at end.”
“You were not at the Hidden City. At least I didn’t run into you.”
“We passed back and forth. You were up in the Empire much of the time and I was flying in and out, handling the Dragonmaster’s business. He charged off like that, and I had to follow. The Hidden City was fun, though.”
“You also had a good chance to see that the ‘pugs are not ten feet tall and chew on rifles.”
“I wouldn’t know about that. Some of those marines the Admiral had were not small.”
“Even worse, they were not stupid, either. The good thing is that the Admiral was looking to send them against their former boss and they were all disappointed when they couldn’t go.”
“That brings me to my brief for the Dragonmaster. We’ve been waiting for you today and you will be doing these after I leave.”
“So my duties are the daily brief, manage the command, whatever it is, and gofer. After training slugs to be pilots, that should be easy.”
“The hard part is trying to keep the Dragonmaster from doing things he shouldn’t. You will probably have an easier time of it as he can’t just fly away from you.”
Yrvien laughed. “Is that what he did to you?”
“Yes, and my girl hasn’t managed to drag me to a cave, so he can get away with it.”
“Why not?”
“We just met recently and I want to make sure that she knows that most of the family gets wet. She’s also the Dragonmaster’s granddaughter and she doesn’t want us under the Dragonmaster’s eye all the time. Why don’t we take this to the Dragonmaster.”
The lieutenant led them into the Dragonmaster’s “cave” as he had called it, which turned out to be a rather large office. The Dragonmaster was one of the few that had their offices in the Senate office building, even though they were not sitting Senators. They walked past the row of desks and staffers, to a rather stern dwarf woman who said, I see that the Dragonleader has arrived, Dennis.”
“Dragonleader Beinan, this is Vafealine Brewhide. She is the Dragonmaster’s office manager and other side of the operation.”
“Do you have the daily brief ready or were you chatting about Andissi?”
“I was just waiting for the Dragonleader to arrive. The brief is ready. We didn’t discuss Andissi very much other than me commenting that she hadn’t managed to drag me to a cave yet.”
“She’s trying. Since it would make your job easier, I would have thought that she wouldn’t have had any trouble.”
“I haven’t had leave because of the little thing during the past few moons and can’t take her to Oceanside to meet mother and the rest of my family.”
“The mother that wants you to call her.”
“You told her, didn’t you?”
Vafealine grinned. “I wanted to know what hotels were going to be available for your leave. Since I could send a message and arrange a call, I did. You neglected to mention that your family owns one of those hotels in Oceanside.”
“Of course I did. If I had, the office would be asking for discounts and reservation arrangements and mom won’t even do those for me.”
“Since Qambois is waiting, why don’t we get the brief over with so that you can introduce me to the Dragonleader here. Dragonleader, you have been very quiet. Ozga said that you were the pushy type.”
“That was orders and I didn’t have practice in being forceful without being pushy. I went over the top a bit. There were reasons.”
“Ozga told me. Apparently your family is getting back together.”
“Yes and they have been a surprise. The House in the Empire is a truly wonderful place and Folmon and Rebecca are not like what you think of when you think of High Elves at all. For that matter, the High Elves that I have met are not at all like you think High Elves are.”
“Let’s see the dragonmaster, get the briefing done and then the Lieutenant can introduce you to your people and you can get us in for lunch.”
“Goblin Restaurant?”
“Yes and I suspect that your stories about your family will stand us in good stead for quite a while.”
They entered the Dragonmaster’s office and he grinned. “I see that you have arrived, Dragonleader. In uniform, this time.”
“I was prepared, Dragonmaster.”
“Nathan is not here yet, so you are free of distractions. I look forward to working with you.”
Terry looked at the devise on his desk when it beeped. After returning from Kugrim after dropping off Folmon, he found that as well as the music box that Rebecca had given him and another to take to Kethrykllia, Terry had found that he had a new job and his own office as well as responsibility for certain things, finding the lost portals, being one of them. This was the first time that any of them had activated. He wrote the number down, the portal that it had connected to and activated the small portal on his desk. Shortly thereafter a vision appeared. “Hi. I’m Starflower. I have a portal tracer. You must be Terry.”
Terry gulped. “You don’t seem be somebody who would work for the Portal Service?”
“My brother said that it would be a good way to meet men that I might like. This port was from the road portal, so it may be the spider lady. Terry, why don’t we find our portal 0083?”
“I have a car.”
“I’ve never ridden in one of those. Do you have a map?”
“Here.”
“Ok, it looks like the portal is someplace around here, so why don’t we look around. Then we can go to lunch.”
“You want to go to lunch with me?”
‘I’m sort of stuck here for the time being and you seem to be nice to talk to.”
“Why are you stuck here?”
“Mana and recharging. Right now it will take me two twentieths to recharge so that I can reach the closest portal in the Empire. Of course if this portal works, which it won’t, for the same reasons, I could use that. In any case, let’s find this portal and we should tell somebody that the spider lady is probably in town.”
“The spider lady?”
“Why don’t we go downstairs and get the car.”
“Let me make a quick call.”
Terry picked up the phone and called Licient. “Licient, a portal activated and I have somebody here from the Portal Service.”
“From the Portal Service. Nobody checked in at the desk.”
“She came straight to the office. I am taking the car and looking for the portal that activated and then to lunch.”
“Bring the lady here after lunch.”
“I will.”
“Starflower, when you come again, check in at the front desk.”
“I didn’t have an anchor to the front desk. There was one to the small portal that was put on it before Adiun sent it. So I had to Jump right where you were.”
“Ok, but strange fae walking around the building may startle people.”
“I’m wearing clothes.”
“I know. But people are used to knowing when somebody shows up.”
“Were you surprised?”
“I sent the message. I figured that somebody would show up. At least if I am with you, I will get the elevator. We’ll walk down, but I think that I will be able to use the elevator when you are around.”
They walked down the stairs from Terry’s office and as they walked through the lobby, Marneg said, “Terry, are you taking a new employee around?”
“She’s here from Adiun at the Portal Service, Marneg.”
“I didn’t see her come in.” Marneg looked at the sheet. “She didn’t sign in either.”
“She Jumped straight into my office.”
“Miss, if you would do me a favor from now on, please check in here before seeing Terry. If there was a fire or something like that, I am responsible for everybody in the building and if I don’t know that you are here, I wouldn’t know to tell the fire department to look for you.”
“Marneg, I am Starflower Rosehollow and normally for me that is not a concern but I could see that it could be. I have set an anchor and will use it from now on.”
“Thank you miss. Of course you know that I will try to keep you here in the lobby as long as possible and make Terry come and get you.”
“I imagine that we can have fun with that.”
Terry took Starflower out to his car and held the door as she got in. Then he went to the driver’s seat and they started off. “This a company car. Mr. Beinan said that I was going to need one while I am here.”
“Where are you going?”
“The House. The Lord wants me there to help with the business. The lady wants me tested.”
“I think that is a very good idea. Tell me when you arrive and we can go straight up to the grove.”
Terry drove through the city until they reached a residential district and he said, “The portal should be around here.”
Starflower pulled a devise out of her tool belt and looked at it. “It’s on this street. We just passed it.”
Terry went to the end to the block, turned right and then made two more so that they were coming back down the street. He looked around and parked the car. “That little garden looks like a possibility.”
Starflower pointed the scanner at the garden. “Good guess. There it is.” She pulled another tool out of her tool belt. “This portal was activated about a twentieth ago. It deactivated itself and the next charge is not for another two twentieths.” She attached another devise and punched some buttons. “There. This portal has an autotrace and Adiun can lock it down from his desk. Do you have somebody that you should report this to?”
“Yes I do, and since we will be working on this for a while, I should introduce you to him. Let’s go to Military Intelligence and see if we can talk with him. Then we can go to lunch.”
Terry drove the car over to Military Intelligence and Starflower laughed when she saw the building. “Somebody has a sense of humor.”
“Somebody did. The architect is a bit crazy, but he’s famous. He’s an exile and has quite a few famous buildings, or infamous buildings. You didn’t get a close look at ours, but our building was done by the same guy. Let’s go inside. This time, we definitely have to stop at the desk. That is, unless we want to get shot at.”
“We wouldn’t want that.”
Terry opened the door for Starflower and they walked inside the rather plain lobby. The man behind the desk stood up as Terry pulled out his wallet, showed his driver’s license and said, “I’m Terridial Stonefellow. Is Lieutenant Lazg available? He and I shared some things recently and something has come up that is part of that.”
“Let me check.”
The lieutenant picked up the phone, talked into it and said, “Fourteenth floor. The lady can take you to his desk.”
An elevator was waiting and the operator said, “What floor?”
“Fourteen please.”
The elevator took them up and the orcish lady as the desk said, “What may we do for you Mr. Stonefellow?”
“Ma’am, the lieutenant and I shared some things recently and a related thing has come up. The lieutenant told me to come here with anything related.”
“What do you have?”
“I work at Beinan’s and for the last moon or so, I have had the job of liaison to the House in the Empire. One of my tasks was the tracking of portals here in the Fellowship. Until one was activated there was no way to know that the portals were actually in the Fellowship. One was activated this morning and I contacted Adiun Bienan at the Portal Service. He sent Starflower here and we just tracked down the portal. Starflower thinks that the spider lady may have used it because the port was from the same portal that she had used earlier.”
“So you think that Lady Flingladui is in town. Let me call the Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Lazg came out of his office. “Terry, I hope this isn’t to show off your new girlfriend.”
“Lieutenant, this is Starflower and we just met. Starflower works for the Portal Service and Adiun Beinan. A portal was activated here in the city.”
“A portal, here? I think that is fairly serious. Lord Beinan was talking about that as a possibility.”
“Yes he was, and this portal would be a good place for the sort of thing that he was talking about. It is in a nice residential neighborhood. I didn’t see any elves or their kids, but the parents are probably at work and the kids at school. We didn’t talk to people either because I wanted to tell you about it first. Starflower thinks that the spider lady is paying us a visit.”
“She never has before, but the portal is interesting.”
“The portal is a portal that had been in the Lower City and was removed,” Starflower said. “Mr.Beinan is concerned about the lost portals and there was some speculating that the portals were here in the Fellowship.”
“Lord Beinan said the same thing. It’s lunch time and I expect that you were planning to take Starflower to lunch at Wriang’s. I imagine that she can get us in the back without any problems.”
“The back?” Starflower asked.
“Wriang’s is a goblin restaurant and a good one, which is rather expensive for us lowly underpaid types like Terry and myself. But if we can bring interesting guests with interesting stories we can eat the back table for free. Terry probably thinks that you are very interesting indeed.”
“I see. Terry has been making hints and I am getting hungry after Jumping all this way. Terry has the car, so why don’t you two introduce me to goblin restaurants. This has become a rather interesting day.”
Terry drove them to Wriang’s and parked the car. They walked in and a goblin said, to Terry, “Welcome. I expect that you have new stories, Terry. Who is this young lady?”
“This is Starflower, Stalb. This other gentleman is Lieutenant Lazg.”
“The lieutenant probably has stories, but he probably can’t really talk about them.”
“Stalb, there are some that I can tell. I ran into some amusing things recently that I will share.”
“You two know the way.”
Terry led them through the narrow door and to the back. Wriang grinned as they arrived in the kitchen. “Young Terry, you brought a ladyfriend.”
“The lady Jumped down from the Empire. She works for the Portal Service”
“Then there is a story there.”
“Yes. Let me tell you what is going on.”
Terry did and when he was done, Wriang said, “You are welcome with this fae lady, Terry. As for the spider, if she is here, we will know, all too soon. There have been stories about her going around for a very long time.”
Cory was exiting another profitable stop at Mr. Bidove’s when the mistress appeared. “Hello Cory! I have not seen you in some time.”
“Hello, mistress. I am surprised to see you here.”
“I decided to see the city and meet with you here. There are too many eyes to pry in the Empire. Have your transactions with Mr. Bidove been profitable?”
“Very much so. Of course these trips make things easier.”
“I am a bit surprised that you make so many.”
“Master Dan needs to be in communication with Lord Orivalur. They are coordinating certain financial transactions.”
“With Mr. Axebrew?”
“He has been assisting Lord Orivalur with the transactions yes.”
“Do the transactions involve the Axebrew bank in Silver Moutain?”
“The transactions involve quite a few banks.”
“Are the Qinvaris planning a takeover of the Axebrew bank?”
“Not as such. The plan is that Mr. Axebrew will accrue enough shares as his fee for working with the Qinvaris to allow his brother to take over the bank. Mr. Axebrew and his brother have an agreement that once Mr. Axebrew’s brother takes over, the bank in Silver Mountain will release funds to the bank here, which will allow Mr. Axebrew to make larger loans. Then Mr. Axebrew will be able to handle House Qinvaris business. There are some more arrangements connected but that is what the deal is with House Qinvaris. Lord Qinvaris was not happy with the way his son was treated last year on Bank St. and would like a more friendly bank here in the Fellowship. Mr. Axebrew would like access to his father’s bank’s resources to grow his business and his brother wants control of the bank. House Qinvaris also needs cover for the other transactions and the bank deal provides that somewhat.”
“Have you made any progress in the search for the diary?”
“At this point, I can probably retrieve it in a five day or so.”
“You found it?!”
“Not exactly. Some fae children found it when it had been left in the box. They took it to the librarian and he and the Imperial archivist became rather excited as it was the diary of the son of the Darkmage. They are transcribing parts of it and then the book is to be placed in storage with the rest. I can retrieve it from storage. Since I have to be here in a five day or so, I will bring the book then.”
“You will be rewarded handsomely if you do.”
“I will deliver it to Mr. Bidove like the rest.”
“I must go. Forget that you had this conversation.”
The mistress walked away. Nightrose became visible and said, “She’s careless.”
“How so?”
“She wasn’t scanning around and didn’t bother to check that you are still compelled.”
“Did you get everything on crystal?”
“Yes. Why don’t you take me to dinner and then you see your dealer.”
Flingladui was taking her experience in the last hunt she had engaged in to heart. She had been too confident and not considered the fact that measures would be taken to stop her and place potential meals that were hunting her. This time she was careful, since she had had several twentieths of waiting for her link. She carefully chose her target, a manager of concubines that mistreated his girls, drank heavily and purchased intoxicating substances. She had already passed him, tantalized him and tonight she would spring her trap while he thought that he was about to spring his, addicting her to his “clear.” She smiled as she dressed for her meal.
Greaser looked as Slim came up. “You don’t buy from me Slim.”
“I want something special. Gold for silver, if you know what I mean.”
“You have the gold, I have the silver.”
“Here’s five.”
“What do you want this for?”
“Got new girl poking around the street. Real class and I thought that I would introduce her to the proper order.”
“Here’s the stuff.”
Greasy handed the vial to Slim. Slim had no way of knowing that the clear was cut so much that even an elf couldn’t get addicted to it. Greasy hoped that he could make a discreet call after the customer that was waiting in the shadows finished his transaction. “Cory, you down here again?”
“The slave drivers keep me working. Tell your other customers that there is bad news on the streets tonight.”
“What?”
“Let’s just say that there is maneater out there, a lady like a spider. I need my five for the trip home. Here’s the money.”
Cory handed Greasy five gold and a crystal. Greasy handed Cory the vial. “See you in a five day or so.”
The lieutenant came out of the shadows. “Good, I got you both. A bit of a warning, Greasy. I would go home tonight. In your own bed, alone.”
“The spider is here.” Cory said. “I just handed Greasy a crystal.”
“I know. She used a portal and tripped an alarm at Beinans.”
“She had a little meeting with compelled me. She’s looking for information about a possible takeover of Axebrew in Silver Mountain. It’s there on the crystal. I need to get back or my girl will get anxious.”
Greasy said loudly, “Copper, you messing with my honest business?!”
“Greasy you’ve never been honest in your life.”
“So you say. Here’s some honest business copper! Now get lost.”
Greasy handed the lieutenant the crystal and one of the coins. He quietly added. “Look into Slim. He said he was seeing a new girl, a high class girl.”
“I’ll have the boys look in his usual spots.”
The lieutenant didn’t find Slim and called out the regular police. At dawn, an officer found some goo and when he looked up, there was a cocoon. When they cut it open, Slim’s fancy suit was around Slim’s rather gooey and sucked out remains. Sergeant Gruner from Zirgoccol police turned to the Lieutenant. “This is one for investigation. I’ll call the coroner and the van. Do your people know more about this?”
“No, but we know somebody who does. We’ll have a brief made up. She will probably be back.”
After leaving Greasy, Cory went into the house with Nightrose and went to Taenaran’s office. Taenaran looked up as he walked in and said, “You were gone a long time. What happened?”
“The lady was in town. I got a crystal and handed it to Military intelligence.”
“What did she want, other than the book? You did hint that you had it, didn’t you?”
“Yes I did. I explained that some scholar types were going over it. What she wanted was to find out if we were going after Axebrew Bank.”
“What did you tell her?”
“I had to make things up on the fly, but I concocted a scheme where Kammik is helping you with the money shifting using stock in the bank, We are going to leave enough stock in Kammik’s hands that Kammik and Neddun can take over, Neddun is going to get control and fund Kammik so that he can take over our loans here.”
“I like it, actually. It would actually work, if that is what we were doing. It will also force their hands. They will probably go after Neddun because if they go after Kammik, Neddum can still pull it off, but if we were really pulling this, Neddum is necessary.”
“I figured that we were looking for them to pull something up there and this way we see what they have. We’ve been looking for the things everybody is scared of and if they rush, they may not notice that we’ve already infiltrated. I imagine that the Lady is going to report this after she has her meal this evening.”
“Cory, your dad will be proud of you.”
The Portal Service.
Adiun looked up as Starflower appreared. “You were in Zirgoccol longer than I anticipated. Did things go well?”
“Yes they did. Terry is easy to work with and I and nice chat with your cousin’s office manager. Terry seems to be a good choice for the job.”
“So you want to do this again.”
“That spider lady is evil. I also want to find the portals. The one she used was right where kids play and we know that these characters take kids. I also had a very fun day. I need to get home. So I will see you in the morning, sir and do a report.”
Adiun grinned. Midnight’s mother would be pleased. Darkflower had quietly let Adiun know that that Solara thought that having Starflower find somebody and get out of the kingdom would be good thing. Folmon was having Terry transferred to the House in any case. So Starflower could get Terry tested, something that Rebecca wanted. Looking at his desk he prepared to go to the house as well.

Chapter 34.
Eryding.
Richard wasn’t surprised that Ralnor was waiting for him at the portal. He had sent word to Lelayme that he was on his way home and Ralnor was more than likely rather annoyed at him for hiding the contingency plans. The fact was that Richard had seized the opportunity, since he had been in the Republic anyway. He looked at Ralnor and said, “You’re mad at me.”
“Shouldn’t I be?”
“Yes. Let’s go over there where we can talk discreetly while the ladies have their chat. I’m sorry that things went ahead without me consulting you, but there simply wasn’t time, I can’t Jump all the way from the Republic yet and there was the dealer and that big shiny machine, just sitting there.”
“Did you have to pull so much money, so fast?”
“Yes. There is a lot on its way. I didn’t want to do things this way, but I couldn’t take the chance that if I didn’t get ahead of things, we would be stuck with dying fields of rotten grain. We’ll probably have some of that anyway, but I’m hoping to mitigate that. Unfortunately that means that some things are going to have to change rather drastically.”
“I could try to stop you.”
“The money needed is already ready. The orders for the first shipments are already signed and I won’t tell you how I plan to have them arrive. Some contracts have been signed already and work started. Folmon Beinan is with me on this, as are Vesryn and Esgalwathanar. My entire family is backing me.”
“I could sign a writ of exile.”
“Lavidia’s dad and Tarranth have already signed a deal for a nice piece of property next to Esgalwathanar’s place. Meet me in a five day at Dan’s greenhouses and you can see why I am doing all this. Dan has done incredible work on this in three countries and nobody has found a solution. If somehow, I could drain the mana from the fields where they are most likely to hit, the Blight will be slowed down, but not stopped. Ralnor, I have known since the day that Rosa and I shared blood that this time could come. Don’t you think that all of Rosa’s people didn’t tell me? At first I didn’t believe them, until I found a diary in an abandoned estate. I read the diary of a young elf girl whose parents died fighting the Blight. Rosa has found her brother, who writes children’s stories and poems. I am sending him that diary. I made a vow to that dead girl that if it was in my power, the Blight would not happen again. If that means that the Empire is shattered, the Empire has been breaking apart since the mage wars and if shattered, it will be fed. With full stomachs, we can rebuild.”
“Richard, there is another that you should meet with. Frankly he agrees with you.”
“I will talk with your father.”
“How did you know?”
“He’s been hanging around me for moons now. He was noticed and with Lelayme frequently. I figured it out. I also know what happened to your grandfather. With his seeming madness your father bought the Empire fifty years and kept the other side befuddled. What they are doing now is a measure of their panic and desperation. You make the arrangements, someplace discreet. I don’t think that me going into the palace would be a good idea, especially if Glynnii gets wind of it.”
“I don’t think so either. Father has some places that an old servant is a regular at, or we can set up at one of Tony’s places.”
“That sounds good.”
“Other than the crisis, did you enjoy the trip?”
“Yes we did. Do you know that there is a town that has a museum in my honor? Rosa’s brother is a well known children’s author in just about every country but the Empire. My nephews and nieces are a lot of fun and cars have gotten so much better since I left. We were pampered for a five day at Nyla’s place. The only thing they wouldn’t let Folmon and I do is play in the casino.”
“Why not?”
“Because I have been tested and can manipulate certain things and Folmon is a Beinan. There is a blanket ban on the whole family for some strange reason. So we drove cars around until a police officer had us taken before a magistrate.”
“What did you do?”
“I called the hotel, who called Nyla, who called dad, who called the attorney general to arrange to get us released and Rosa, who sent a car and took us to task for being idiots. I reserve the right to be an idiot when it doesn’t matter. I think that Rosa and I need to head to the portal and home.”
Ralnor laughed as Richard headed to the portal.
House Beinan.
When Folmon and Rebecca approached the door an irate elf said, “Milord, milady, why didn’t you send a message that you had returned?”
“Kivessin, we were just walking from the castle in Eryding to the portal and the portal to here” Folmon replied. “We didn’t think that is was worth the trouble to have you send a carriage.”
“You are carrying your own bags. Here let me handle that.”
“What have our children been up to?” Rebecca asked.
“Charles has been working on a mysterious project for a lady friend and the others have been taking Lord Halamar and Lady Andaphin various places. Dessielle and Peri have been working at the library and the Portal Service. So how was the trip?”
“We have visited all of the family in the Blasted lands at this point. We may have a young dragongirl as a visitor all too soon.”
“How old is the young lady?”
“Eleven. She will be coming with her parents.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“Not if she is trying to scorch you. That trip the grove Folmon and I did paid off.”

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