The Blight Returns, Chapter 35-36

The Major sees some rather amazing things. Tony has to go and see his mother.

Chapter 35.
Dilkihm, Silver Mountain.
Neddun was eating lunch when Ruki and Nimeroni walked in. “Hello uncle.”
“You are a day or so late.”
“Things are happening. They involve you and the people that grandmother is afraid of, so we wanted to warn you that you might have people coming after you.”
“Why?”
“You are conspiring with dad and Taenaran in a scheme that leaves you in control of the bank, dad with access to the bank’s funds and the Qinvaris with a friendly bank in the Fellowship to handle their accounts while also pushing large sums of money around for something bigger.”
“I’ve seen that. I imagine that some people in the Empire are getting nervous. If the Qinvaris draw down too much of their reserves, the draw down could put the Empire in financial trouble.”
“Taenaran hasn’t talked about that. There is a lot going on that I have been too busy to see, but the Massey Deare booth at the Farm conference had a large picture of Lord Qinvaris with a large in every way check placing a huge order for machinery. It wasn’t the only one.”
“Does this have anything to do with Blight?”
“Yes. I think that Lord Qinvaris is planning to run the harvest so fast that the people starting to launch the Blight will be caught off guard. Dan also has been researching fungicides and bought a lot of hybrid seeds and special varieties of wheat.”
“What about the Inquisition?”
“I had the feeling that the Qinvaris just don’t think that the Inquisition will be able to do very much. Certainly not stop them.”
“Now, what about those people coming after me? What can you tell me about them?”
“That is what we would like to know. Grandmother was scared silly, but a bunch of these people have been watching the other side and unless they have some sort of secret assassination squad that is totally hidden, we haven’t seen anything to worry about.”
The Empty Lands- The Salt Flats.
The major walked into the border post and the Sergeant said, “Good sir, you came up.”
“What’s going on?”
“The Qinvaris haven’t wasted any time. They’re clearing the land that is now Zylvyre land.”
“I didn’t see any smoke. There should be fires from burning the woods.”
“They’re not burning. This is something like the Fellowship. Crews come in with power saws and trucks to take the wood for the Hienorin and the Shahana to cut and then they come in with big crawler tractors and push everything to a steam shovel and then plow and cultivate with tractors.”
“In the Empire?”
“There they were. We couldn’t get too close and they are leaving a border space, but they are not wasting any time. I can take you up there.”

The sergeant rode with the major to the border and as they approached the noise was obvious. A large part of the woods that they had ridden through on their way to their encounter with a ghost were gone and the road had been widened and covered with a black substance. An abandoned town that had been lost to the woods was in the process of being restored, it was obvious that people were starting to move in already and a general store was already open.
“Why the town?”
“I don’t know, but it makes sense.”
Myghal must have been looking around at things because he rode over and said, “I see that you came up, major. Come to see the show?”
“Doesn’t the Inquisition know about this?”
“I haven’t seen any Inqusitors and if they do show up, they won’t have a good time. The boss here has an early completion bonus and really wants the money. His boys do too. So they are not going to take any crap from some Inquisitor running about yelling heresy. Do you want a better seat at the show?”
“I’d like a closer look.”
“Let’s do that. It’s worth a closer look.”
As they rode toward the work site, the major asked, “How did this happen?”
“I don’t know. The boss came to the house and asked if he could rent some space near the road. I said, “No problem. The lady is not home at present.”
“Where is she?”
“In the Fellowship, at Oceanside with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She goes every year for a moon or so. In any case they brought this portable house sort of thing, some people were going around with little telescopes and maps, and the crews from the Hienorin and the Shahana showed up. The boss character has some people helping with those power saws and they cleared the woods off the old fields. Then the big caterpillar machines show up and start moving the dirt. They also made this nice road and they are putting it in all the way to Nytfnas.”
“Why are they rebuilding the town?”
“There is a portal there and it makes a good stopping place on the road. The Lady arranged for the store with Onvyr and some family and others moved in from the Sanctum and Eryding. They like the idea of being at the start of something.”
As they reached the edge of the work area, a man in a funny tin hat in a small vehicle drove up and said, “It’s you, Myghal. Bringing more people to see the show?”
“Yup. It keeps getting bigger.”
“It does, and stay on the road and edge. If the crews don’t know that you are here, they might not see you.”
“Will do, George. When do you all think that you will be done?”
“The first of Green is the deadline, but we get a bonus for every day we finish early except for the town and concrete work. The boss is shooting for mid Bled at the latest, and wants early Bled. It looks as if we will have Mr. Harper’s new fields ready by planting without any trouble.”
“Ok, we will watch and then move on.”
They watched the machines tear at the field and then the Major said, “I think that I have seen something amazing. But I have to get back.”
“It is amazing.”
Delion turned the corner on the road from the portal on the Qinvaris estate and when he reached the salt flats road, the heresy charged right past him at an incredible speed as a huge vehicle passed. The high Inquisitor had been right when he had told Delion to return to the salt flats. As he watched, another one passed in the other direction heading toward Nytfnas. Knowing his duty, Delion dismounted from his horse and stepped out into the road. The next monster barreled down on him as he held his hand up, there was a loud honking noise and when it was obvious that the monster was not slowing down, Delion leapt out of the road as he heard a voice yell, “Are you an idiot! Stay off the road!”
Several more monsters passed and Delion stood there, opened mouthed. The next monster was separate from the others and slowing for the turn, so Delion stepped out onto the branch road to stop the thing. There was another honk, the thing stopped and the window went down. “Are you lost or something!”
“Inquisition! You must halt and be detained for heresy!”
“You’re one of those characters. You can talk to the boss, for all the good it will do you. The office is next to Lady Amarille’s place.”
The monster roared and was gone. Delion looked at the horse and the junior Inquisitors. “What are you looking at?”
“Inquisitor Delion, they’re not stopping.”
“Obviously not. We should set up a road block.”
“With just us?” Do you really want to make these characters sore at us?” Jassin said. “This isn’t the city where we can call the guard. The Justiciars wouldn’t send somebody this time and it’s just us here. These characters could dump us in the woods and nobody would ever know.”
“There’s another thing coming,” Pharom said. They looked down the road and two smaller vehicles were coming from the salt flats. The one in the lead stopped and a lady stuck her head out. “Delion Fenwynn, what are you doing out here in the middle of nowhere.”
“Thaciona, what are you doing here?”
“Amarille and I are taking the grandchildren to see the show here in the fields. Amarille’s man mentioned it to Amarille’s great grandchildren and the kids all wanted to come. I am bringing them up here and then going and collecting my son and his children so that they can have a five day at the beach and I can meet them. What are you doing?”
“Chasing heresy, like you are committing right now.”
“Are you still chasing that? I’m only going to the portal. The cars will stay with the children. Do you need a ride?”
“No.”
“Very well then. Andy we should be going.”
As they drove off, Andy said, “You never told us he was so pathetic, mom.”
“I hadn’t realized. When he sent me over, he was full of himself and his zeal. Amarille, thank you for telling us about this.”
Thaciona, I am just glad that you are doing well. You were a bit of a surprise at Oceanside.”
“Sal and the boys like to have a quiet meeting before things get too warm every year and Oceanside is a good place for that.”
“Nyla is one of the “boys?””
“She is in the business and since she doesn’t want Jacob involved, comes herself. Now let’s get the kids to the show so that I can chase down my wayward son and get him to the beach.”

Chapter 36.
House Beinan.
Folmon grinned as his older son came into the office. “You’ve been out a lot. What have you been up to after school is out? Your mother says that there is a young lady involved. How did you meet her?”
“At the Winterfaire party. She is a dragon and came from the Aerie with the rest of her school. We meet in Elysahone.”
“Your mother will want to meet her. When are you seeing her again?”
“In three days, the next decaday.”
“If you haven’t been seeing your new girl, what have you been doing?”
“I wanted to make a glass dragon for Sirry and I’ve been practicing.”
“Since you weren’t doing that at the House, you must have been doing that at Xilkian’s.”
“Yes.”
“How are you paying him?”
“He has this big order from his House for these narrow glass vials. I’ve been making them.”
“Narrow glass vials?”
“Yes. They have to have small diameters and thin walls, so they break easy if you don’t have the knack.
“This sounds interesting. Why don’t I come down and see Jonik tomorrow.”
“The vials are finished, though we are making some extras.”
“I still want to see what you have been up to.”
The Lower City.
Richard walked into the tavern. He was dressed the way he frequently did and attracted no notice when he joined a man in servant’s clothes and Tony. “Tony, what are you doing here?”
“Avoiding my mother at the moment.”
“When did she get here?”
“A five day ago. She took her grandkids and Amarille’s great grandkids to see the show you have going next to Amarille’s and then came up here.”
“Where’s your dad?”
“At the meeting in Oceanside. In the Fellowship.”
“So your mother can come up here. Why are you avoiding her?”
“She wants Eirina and the kids down on the beach in Oceanside.”
“That shouldn’t be that big a deal.”
“With me.”
“So?”
“I go down there and suddenly I’m a big boss. I try very hard to keep a low profile, but if I go down there with dad and the other bosses, suddenly the cops will notice.”
“The cops here already know you. For that matter, they like you.”
‘That’s here, and if the word gets out that we have cops for dinner all time, I will never live it down.”
Maethanar had been laughing through the whole thing and said, “Tony, you’re stuck. Of course hearing the story about Delion and your mother was worth it.”
“Your mother had a run in with Delion?” Richard said with a grin. “She’s just an old lady from the Republic. Just like my mom.”
“I would have borrowed one of your carriages if I had known she was coming. But no, she has Andy drive up in the cars and since the portal is not that far away and you have that nice new road, she keeps driving right on up. Delion must have heard about what you were doing and was trying to stop the trucks on the road. Mother knows Delion, stops, asked what he was doing and offered him a ride to Amarille’s.”
“Tony, just go” Maethanar said. “It will be easier in the long run. Your mother is a formidable lady and always has been. If you don’t watch out and do what she wants, she will be fixing up the House she still has up in the Cloud City and forcing you and Eirina to live there. Richard, I am Maethanar.”
“Your son wanted me to meet with you. He’s rather annoyed at me right now. That will probably change tomorrow.”
“What’s happening tomorrow?”
“Dan is going to lose another greenhouse. That will be five. Ralnor, Gordiun, Lelayme, my managers and some others are invited.”
“You knew.”
“Phyrra had a diary. Day after day of disaster. She even found one of those crossbow bolts in the field and assumed it was missed shot from somebody poaching that had had a spell gone wrong. Then Sylvar and the others found those bolts in the ruins. I knew. I knew what they were for and what they could do.”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“For the same reason that you let people think that you are mad. The difference is that I couldn’t afford to let people doubt me, or discredit me. That was one reason that I wouldn’t sign a marriage agreement with Rosa, as much as she wanted it. The thing was, Richard Harper was a nonentity, as far as the characters down there at the Retreat were concerned. As just a slave, I was beneath notice and they didn’t see what I was doing. I could work around the Inquistion and build things up without risking the Blight. Sollor taking the girls ruined that. Suddenly they woke up, really talked to Rolin and Paeris and realized just how dangerous to their plans I could be. I would say that the aborted raid on my property started that off, but I think that things started before that. Probably about the time that somebody realized that all the area up there was my property rather than a bunch of struggling Houses. They were counting on an Empire weak and divided, crumbling and ruining itself, and instead there was me, building and creating prosperity.”
“My madness created a vacuum and you filled it by accident.”
“That faked madness gave the Empire fifty years and me twenty five, for which I thank you. If the Blight had been launched fifteen years ago, the Empire would have had another round of the Turmoils regardless of what I did. Now, I have the reserves and the people to fight this thing and them.”
“Why didn’t you squash them when you had the chance?”
“It’s not a good idea to start a war in the winter, Tom would have been canned if he sent in the marines without justification and Stormfire was smarter than I thought he was. He learned from his mistakes, didn’t rush in and get bogged down in pointless adventures. He also backed off when he realized that I was baiting him. There’s also another problem. I’m not sure where the Blight itself is made and I have no clue at present about how it is done.”
“My son is worried about the financial ramifications of your plans.”
“I understand that, especially if word leaks out before things get much further. Long term and even in the short term, things will work out, if nobody panics and there is no famine in the middle of things. As long as people can eat, we can avoid the worst. I learned that from Phyrra.”
“You are going to lose fields.”
“I know. I’m doing something about that right now. The Zylvyre lands that were fallow and empty are going to help somewhat. The Ravathrya ladies were idiots, because by not conceding to Elincia’s reasonable demands, they allowed her, and me to take that space over. I don’t think that the other side realized what power machinery can do and expected five years or so of slow expansion rather than a month or so of clearing and it’s done. I was also looking for crops that have export potential, cotton for instance, that are labor intensive and I can use to keep people employed, especially the slaves since I can’t emancipate them as I would like to. Knowing my people, somebody will come up with a cotton picking machine all too soon.”
“The Inquisition is going to pressure the Regency Council. They will have support in the old ladies’ club and the other conservatives in the Cloud City.”
“The same conservatives that have been watching things crumbling around them and fighting those endless status battles? They don’t know it yet, but if things get short, the Cloud City is getting severe rationing. That’s from Rosa, not me. In any case, I’m having a bunch of the conservatives at the greenhouse to see for themselves. They enabled the Ravathrya for centuries when they could ignore the other side of the issue. Did you know that there is a town in the Republic where I could do no wrong?”
“Really?”
“It was the town where Paeris took me. I don’t know if you have heard the “Ghost” stories, but I shot Paeris’ raid to pieces which allowed a bunch of people to escape and they really appreciated that. I have a museum, a street and a statue in the town.”
“A museum?” Tony asked.
“Yes. The place is run by some ex rower slaves from Paeris’s ship. They want Rosa to send all sorts of old stuff of mine and from the farm. The museum is housed in Paeris’s ship and has quite a few interesting things.”
“I imagine that it does,” Maethanar said with a grin. “Considering your mother, probably very interesting. Were your baby pictures there?”
“Yes. Along with some things I would rather forget. They also had my old uniform.”
“I think that I must leave you and Tony. Richard, you have alleviated any fears I may have had and you have my support, for what it is worth.”
Maethanar left and Richard said, “That was interesting. Does he go around in that servant’s outfit a lot?”
“Too much, according to his daughter and Ralnor. We’ve been talking fairly frequently. He’s right about my mother, though.”
“The idiots exiled all those ladies and put them right in front of our dads. What did they expect to happen?”
“Good luck tomorrow. Do you want me to make some hints in Oceanside?”
“More eyeballs in the Retreat won’t hurt.”
“There are some rumors that you are playing games in the Fellowship.”
“I’m not going to say exactly what I am or not doing. If I don’t say anything to you, it won’t get spread around any more than it is. I am making a lot of very large purchases, yes. Some of which your mother has seen already.”
“At least if my mother is here and your mother is home, they aren’t talking with each other.”
“That is not a bad thing.”
“I think I better get back before my mother and my wife spend more of my money on Chrissie’s wedding.”
Richard laughed as Tony left.
Jonik laughed as Folmon and Charlie appeared at the shop. “So you return to us at last.”
“I wanted to see what my son had been up to. Apparently he has been doing some actual work.”
“That was the arrangement I made. He didn’t have to make those vials, but he volunteered so that he could use the furnace and make his dragons.”
“So are there any of the vials left?”
“We made some yesterday. We are preparing for shipment and they break easily. Here’s one.”
“How many of these were you making?”
“Over 2000. They wanted enough for whatever it is and some to account for breakage.”
“Who ordered these?”
“They didn’t tell me. The house passed the order and is handling that end.”
“Have you shipped yet?”
“Not yet.”
“Charlie, go and get some fae from the Portal service. Jonek, these vials are part of the way that the Blight is spread.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. That is why they are so long and narrow and made to break so easily. They are put inside a special crossbow bolt.”
“We could have an accident and break the lot. I lost family in the turmoils.”
“Charlie, go and get some of the boys. Do it discreetly.”
“Will do, dad.”
He disappeared and shortly afterwards, reappeared with several boys from the Portal Service and Gracie. “Hi, uncle! You’re back. Did you have a nice trip?”
“Yes we did. Rebecca and I enjoyed ourselves very much. I want to tag these crates. The vials are used for spreading the Blight. A young man and I found the shop where the bolts were made, unfortunately while they were working the order and under a nondisclosure aggreement. Here are the vials that go with the bolts. I want to tag as many as I can.”
“We can do better than that.” Gracie held up a handful of what looked like boards used as part of the packing. “We made these for the balloons that we are going to shoot through the spider’s portal at some point. They have a microportal and a cystal in them. So they will report where they are.”
“Let’s do both.”
“How did you get along with grandfather?”
“Why don’t I tell you all about my adventures while we deal with this?”
Qinvaris Experimental Farm, Qinvaris Estate.
Richard watched as the arrivals walked, rode or were carried in chairs from the portal. There was quite a crowd, including Maethanar, who was acting as Lelayme’s servant. Alwin Waestoris came over and said, “I hope that this explains why you tore up our little agreement without warning.”
“I’m sorry, Alwin. Somebody started a clock and I needed to move fast or things could get really ugly.”
“I understand that Delion had some trouble down there near the empty lands?”
“I wasn’t there. Apparently he was parading around the road trying to stop people until Amarille’s people sent somebody out and had him sent back to the portal.”
“Delion said that they were driving heretical vehicles.”
“Large trucks, probably. First of all the contractor was not Imperial and thus not subject to the Proscriptions and second, he was on land I was leasing from House Zylvyre and I needed the land cleared and ready, which is why I had Taenaran sign the contract and start the work.”
“Some people will want you arrested and exiled.”
“I hope that they have big gardens and can support themselves then. Rosa will be rather annoyed if I am exiled and have to move to Dolmon or the Hidden City for the time being. I figure that we can have the new house finished before the end of the year. Look, if the sticks want to really stop me, they can send the Justiciars, the Inquisition and the army down to the empty lands and see what’s there. The problem at this point is that I will need the deterant of demonstrating that the Blight won’t work, which means I have to have the freedom to function as I need to or have a way to stop the Blight. I think that Dan is ready to start.”
Dan stood up at the small stage. “Welcome to my little garden. Over the last two moons I have been conducting a series of tests on wheat and the Blight.” Dan started a crystal with a map. He took up a pointer and said, “The Portal Service has found disconnected portals at these locations.” The map changed and showed the locations of the disconnected portals. “Most of the disconnections were for other reasons that have nothing to do with the Blight or are known at this point.” He changed the map and said, “These five locations had attempted or planned disconnections after the Portal Service had reconnected the portals. When these locations were checked, all five had stashes of these crossbow bolts.” Dan held up a bolt. “There were one thousand in total. I and some others tracked the Blight from Imperial records, House journals and other resources here and in the Republic. This is the first Blight after the mage wars.” He put the map up. “These are the next seven Blights. All eight were fifty years apart, plus or minus five years. All of them followed the same pattern using the post roads. The last three all seemed to use the stashes and the portals that were disconnected. The evidence was clear that some entity had been spreading the Blight deliberately. Now, if you will join me, we will conduct the next test.”
Dan led the crowd out to a greenhouse next to a row of apparently burned greenhouses. Once they were all there, he took them inside and showed them the patches of wheat alive and flourishing. When they had all gone through the greenhouse he closed the door and had a crew stuff the cracks in the door and all the opening windows. Once that was done, he called out, “Vic, drop the bolt!”
Vic pulled a string and a bang was heard inside the greenhouse. Dad led the crew back inside the estate house and when they were all in the hall he started the crystal. “This was the first test that I conducted. The other tests all had the same result. Tests conducted by the Zirgoccol Institute for Agriculture and at the Agriculture Station in the Republic had the same result, albeit rather slower acting at the Agricultural Station. So far we have exposed the most resistant strains of wheat and used every fungicide known and none of that has changed the results materially. If the Blight hits, the only way to save the grain is to have harvested before the Blight is launched. I have not found an alternative as yet. The materials have been made into a book and will be made available. Questions?”
“How do we know that this isn’t some kind of trick,” a High Inquisitor asked.
“Inquisitor, you just saw one of the crossbow bolts released. I will conduct another test if you will buy the greenhouse. So far, between all the tests run, ten have been destroyed in three countries. I personally have lost years of breeding work on strains of wheat that are resistant to bung and other diseases. If you have something that I haven’t tried, please suggest it. After lunch, we can go through the greenhouse again. As I have said, I have conducted this test five times now personally and assisted in two more in the Republic. A pretty elaborate trick, isn’t it?”
“Not if you are covering for your father.”
“The first test was conducted by me before my father made the purchases or let the contract that you are probably whining about, Inquisitor. Maybe you think that this some kind of game, but I can’t afford to. Do you have a big garden, Inqiusitor? Because the allotments are managed by my mother and she doesn’t like Inquisitors and certain families. Something to do with sending assassins to kill my grandparents. I won’t go over things that happened long before I was born that I don’t really care about. Inquisitor, if you don’t like what we are doing, you could go down with your people and look into those Ravathrya lands and what they are doing.”
“The Proscriptions must be maintained.”
Dan held up the crossbow bolt. “Then you really should go down there, because what they are doing is so far out of bounds that nothing we have done comes close. If you were really serious about the Proscriptions, the Inquisition would have investigated the Blight and stopped this after the first instance, saving millions of lives, turmoil and injuring the Empire. Because you all spent your time harassing small craftsmen and burning books, as well as exiling people on trumped up charges like my grandmother and uncle, this was allowed to happen, over and over. So now, when we share the hard work that we did to discover the problem, you accuse us of somehow using it as an excuse. Frankly, we don’t need one. The family will make its commitments and if the Inquisition doesn’t like how we are dealing with the problem that somebody else has thrown at us, the portal is right over there and you can stay off Qinvaris land and in that pretty House and not have to see how your dinner arrives on the table.”
“How the Inquisition does its work is not your concern.”
“No it is not, but the consequences of that work certainly are. As a result of the Inquisition’s burning every book they could find, my efforts, the efforts of my brother and others has been complicated by having to find the information and nearly impossible as a result. We were lucky and had the information in the House libraries that your torches missed. So we could see the pattern and work to prevent it. It is lunchtime and I imagine that mother will be annoyed if I hold it up. After lunch we can all go out and see the results of the experiment.”
Lunch was excellent and Dan led the crowd back to the greenhouse. Alwin walked next to Richard and said, “Dan shouldn’t have blasted back like that at Inquisitor Keaynore.”
“Yes he should. I suppose that the Inquisitor has all sorts of connections and followers. That doesn’t change the facts about what Dan is taking about. I imagine that the High Inquisitor has rarely had somebody explain reality to him.”
“He could exile Dan.”
“He could try. You might suggest that I would take that rather personally and mention House Sarafen. I don’t make a habit of crushing Houses, but at this point I don’t have time for games and if I have to make some examples, I will.”
“I could take that as a threat.”
“Take it however you like. I am making myself clear. For one thing, I am virtually certain that the Inquistion has people working for the other side on things. That is, other than Melaris. I would have Adiun set up alerts on your small portals so that they sound an alarm when things are sent to a certain address and your spy in the Fellowship is rather compromised at this point.”
“What do you know about that?”
“Your spy that was paid in books is working for the same people looking to launch the Blight. My people confirmed that when they were looking into something else. So Mr.Bidove is not only a rather poor spy, but a double agent. At least he has two employers. I would also get your people checked for compulsions. We have found quite a few in other places. We can’t get people in your shop, but the people doing this have had people there for a very long time. I need to talk to some people.”
Richard went to talk to his farm managers as the group returned to the greenhouse. Dan said, “The purpose of this test is to determine the effects of the Blight on different types of grain. I have wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize and rice here. There are also several different types of beans and rapeseed. I think that the door has been opened, so we can see the results.”
The group trooped in and the results were obvious already. The maize and the rice were resistant. The rest were suffering already. The beans and rapeseed were not touched. As the group exited the greenhouse and it was sealed up again, Dan said, “The Blight will spore in two days if this test follows the others. We are not taking chances and except for the greenhouses where the sporing was tracked, the greenhouses were destroyed with rock oil fires before the Blight could spore. In the books I have made available, the course of the blight across several fields and how long it takes has been inserted as an illustration. The Blight can spread faster than the methods that have been historically used to harvest. That is even faster than the methods our House is using now. At this point, we either stop the Blight before it is launched, we use methods that are Proscribed or the Empire will have a famine. I hope that the Blight is not launched.That is all that I have today.”
High Inquisitor Keaynore joined Alwin in the sedan chair. “I will start the proceeding agains the young man immediately. It is obvious that he is deeply steeped in heresy and foreign influences.”
“Emmyth, I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Your father’s finances are shaky and Richard told me flat out that if you or any of the Inquisitors goes after Dan or any of his children, their Houses will be crushed. For that matter, Rosa will just cut your House off the same way that she did Rolin.”
“We must stamp out heresy!”
Alwin sighed. “Then you might track down where the Blight has come from and squash it before the harvest. I imagine that most of what you need is in the book that Dan gave you.”
“These were created by heretical means.”
“They were printed, yes. But if he had them done in the Hidden City, as the page here says that they were, then none of the Heresy occurred inside the Empire. I’m not sure that chasing after Richard at this point is going to much more than make him very angry at us. If you go after Dan on trumped up charges, the Inquisition will be severely damaged at this point. Between Melaris and some others, the Regency Council and most of the powerful Great Houses are not looking at the Inquisition in a favorable light right now. Even if you were to succeed, if there was a famine, you, your House and the Iquisition would be in the position of being responsible for the famine, bread riots and turmoils. Is that what you want?”
“These tests must be some sort of trick. The young man has done this to spread heresy.”
“In front of all the people here, including a good portion of the Regency Council? It didn’t look to me as if he was trying to hide anything.”
“He was growing grain using heretical means.”
“Greenhouses? Have you checked your estate? That lemon that was served with your morning cafee came from a greenhouse. Dan was using greenhouses in a bit of an unorthodox fashion, but I didn’t see any evidence of heresy. We are here at the Hall and I have work, so return to your duties.”
As they were departing the demonstration, Aerendyl said to his father, “That was enlightening.”
“Yes it was,” Iolrath said. “Your mother will be glad to have the book. The young man was very throrough.”
“That jackass Keaynore is going to make trouble.”
“Yes he is. He will do everything in his power to harass Richard because of the slight delivered by Dan. Unfortunately for Emmyth, I don’t think that Richard thinks that he has the time to play nice and he probably hinted to Alwin already that if Emmyth pushes, Richard will destroy him to make an example of him. If Richard does not have somebody looking into the House Keaynore finances by the end of the day, I will be remarkably surprised. For that matter, since Renestrae Glynynore has been seeing Dan for some time, Emmyth will have issues with House Glynynore as well as House Shahana, House Zylvyre, House Beinan and House Yllanan. I think that I will write a letter to Laeroth and warn him just how much trouble his son is about to drop on him. Especially since this will be a personal attack and not something initiated by the Inquisition as a result of anything that Dan actually did.”

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