The Blight Returns, Chapter 37-38

The Master sends a team out. Jacob gets married

Chapter 37.
The Camp.
Herdir had been leery of using the night vipers during the recent incidents. First of all, they would have been useless against the forces arrayed against them and second, the potential targets were very well protected and mostly unknown. The crisis created by the potential takeover at Axebrew Bank had forced his hand and thus he had sent for Darkbite. Darkbite appeared before Herdir and said, “You have an assignment?”
“Yes. There is a bank in Silver Mountain that we have been using as a resource. The bank is under threat of being taken over by family members that are probably opposed to us. I want you to remove the family member that is part of that in Silver Moutain.”
“That should be an easy task. I will report in five day or so.”
Saevel grinned as he pulled the glass from the floor above him. He had learned the trick with the glass a long time ago and had used it to advantage in his battles with his sisters. Now, he was listening to the Master as he set his assassin on the bank in Silver Mountain while Bellflower became just another girl in the crowd of fae girls in the Camp. Saevel and Bellflower had been doing this since just before the Winterfaire party as well as taking the fae kids here to places like Elysahone. The new store that Great Aunt Amarille had opened had already become a favorite spot for the fae kids, even if the Master and the rest didn’t know about it. They also ignored the portal building and the fact that there was even a portal in the building. The kids certainly didn’t. Saevel put the glass in the satchel that had his things, transformed, slipped into the satchel and slunked away.
Dilkihm, Silver Mountain.
Neddun Axebrew had related the possibility of an attempt on his life to Lieutenant Broadaxe over a shared lunch, something which was easy to arrange since they ate at the same little place frequently for lunch. Since Broadaxe’s beat was the banking district, banking represented a large chunk of Silver Mountain’s economy and Axebrew was one of the larger banks, a threat on Mr. Axbrew’s life was something that the constabulary took seriously. Since Mr. Axebrew’s source, his nephew, was not available, Broadaxe couldn’t interview him personally. Axebrew said that the information was similar to concerns that the family had had for a very long time and that it was reliable. With that in mind, Broadaxe did what he usually did, look for new people in the area. The best way to do that was to talk to Kruleggs Palerest at the store on the corner. So after lunch he walked down the street and into the store. Kruleggs bellowed, “Come to harrass me again Eldhark?”
“Now, is there a reason to, Krully?”
“Do ya need a raison?! Ye’ve never neaded one before!”
“Haven’t I now? I know that you have something workin’ now! Ya always do.”
“He’s gone.”
“One of your regulars?”
“Yes. Since you are presumably not here to harass me about business, what are you here for?”
“I had a tip that somebody might want to make off with one of our fine citizens.”
“Neddun Axebrew.”
“One of the good ones. Why don’t they ever want to make off with the bad ones? You looking for new people?”
“That be what I’m looking for.”
“There have been some elves or half elves hanging around recently. Competent looking for the work they’ve been doing. They take jobs and watch things. They may be covering for something else.”
“Banking related?”
“Maybe. House Shahana and Claringbold builders have been running a lot of money around and maybe these characters are keeping an eye on it.”
‘How long have they been around?”
“A couple of moons.”
The Lieutenant poked around and made some more stops. He actually saw some of the elves doing various menial jobs. Then as he sat down for cafee, an elf sat down across from him. “Lieutant Broadaxe, I am Elred Zumkas. You seem to be looking for me.”
“How did you figure that out?”
“You have been asking about new people in the area. In any case, we are on the same side on this. We are expecting some very new people indeed.”
“You seem to know quite a bit about this.”
“They are going after Mr. Axebrew to protect their investment in his father. They are probably going to be fae and they should be arriving all too soon.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I’m not going to say, but some people have been sending rumors around that Mr. Axebrew is going to overthrow his father with the help of his brother and House Qinvaris. The boss decided that Mr. Axebrew’s removal was expedient.”
“Why did you spread the rumor?”
“Because many people, including Axebrew family members were afraid that somebody would show up and dispose of them. We wanted to see how the other side planned to accomplish that, so we baited them.”
“Doesn’t that put Mr. Axebrew at risk?”
“No more than he was already and this way, things weren’t tripped off by accident. Mr. Axebrew was in a position where the conflict between he and his father was going to erupt and these people were going to take steps in any case. Whatever they have should arrive soon.”
“Tell me more about these characters.”
“Ok, it started with the kidnapping of some girls that were all high status in the Empire.”
“The Qinvaris girls and the others. The story has gotten around.”
“Yes. In any case, my employer was involved and in the conflict, the other side needed grain in a hurry. So, to pay for it, they drew a large sum from the Axebrew bank. My employer wanted to know where the money came from and we started to investigate. We suspect that Mr. Axebrew senior is under compulsion and sent the money after receiveing orders from a small portal in his office.”
“Why didn’t you pull the compulsions, if you could? For that matter, I can arrange that through the Office of the Interior.”
“Pulling the compulsion would probably kicked things off to hide the fact that they had been involved. I think that we can catch these fellows out if we try.”
Broadaxe grinned. “Mr. Zumkas, your employer is lucky to have you.”
“Actually, we consider ourselves lucky to have him.”
Darkbite grinned. So far everything had gone as planned. The only constabulary he and his team had seen was a bumbling fool of a lieutenant and his men. The target ate consistently at the same spot, so all they had to do was wait. The team had spent the last five day discovering all of that and looking for any additional people that might represent a surprise. This was the day that the viper would strike and disappear. The time was approaching and the only people in the small restaurant other than the staff were two elves that apparently were from a fallen House doing menial work of some sort. The time was approaching and the lookout signaled that the target was approaching. Seeing the target through the door, Darkbite signaled Darkstrike to deal with the menials. The waitress went back to talk to the cook and Darkfang was going to deal with them when the bumbling policeman suddenly appeared and left with the target. Darkstrike went for the kill, only to receive two loud bangs and holes in his chest. Darkfang backed back out of the kitchen in front of another elf with a strange weapon in his hand. Darkbite yelled “Jump!” and tried, only to realize that the restaurant had shields that dropped. The bumbling lieutenant came in with his men and said, “I think that we have them. Now sir fae, perhaps you would like to tell us some more about your employer?”
“I will tell you nothing!”
“That’s ok,” the elf said. “We know that you were sent by the Master. We knew when you arrived and who you were. We’ve been watching you the whole time. Lieutenant, what is the penalty for attempted assassination of a bank official here in Silver Mountain?”
“Life in the deepest pit, digging tails without light. Dwarves don’t last very long and fae, they go crazy. They need air and light and the confinement and the walls drive them mad.”
“You know, talking could get you some leniency from the magistrate, wouldn’t it, Lieutenant?”
“Aye. They might get assigned to the road building gang instead.”
“They’ll kill me!”
“That was your job and you blew it, didn’t you?” The elf said. “Actually the job was blown at the same time that you got the job. The security at that
Camp of yours is pathetic. We knew about the job at the same time that you did and now that we know what your team looks like, we can spot any others you have. You were sloppy as well. My people have been up here for moons and the Lieutenant spotted us, let alone you. I would have told him you were in the neighborhood, but he already knew. Setting you up was about the easiest task my team has ever done. Aien, Maldin, let’s go.”
As they went through the door a desperate Darkbite charged the door, only to run into a pair of dwarves that could hardly be called dwarves, “Now where would you be going? Wait for the wagon. We wouldn’t want to get you hurt, now would we?”
“Mr. Axebrew, your son would like to speak with you.”
Krovonlir Axebrew looked at the elf who had walked up as he was walking to his waiting carriage. “Who are you and thank you for what you just did. Even if I am murdered, thank you.”
“We are glad to. As for being murdered, one of the Master’s Viper teams is missing. I think that your son can tell you all about it and your other son would like to know what happened.”
“I owe him and some others a deep apology. Anything else?”
“The portal in your office. We have another one for you and your son, but we want that one for reasons.”
“Take it, by all means. I take it that you mean to lie to the other end.”
“It has worked out that way. The poor spider has no clue that her web is a strand.”

Chapter 38.
The Hidden City.
Resod Khumkith grinned at the acrobatics that were being flown over the field. They were tight and not making mistakes. While the flying circus looked as if they were taking risks, it was obvious that they were taking steps. He turned to Tillia and said, “We’ve done well.”
“Yes we have. Our boys and girls turned out just fine. Bringing us all here was a wonderful idea.”
“I think that Jacob Pinch would disagree. He’s getting married tomorrow and I don’t think that he wanted a Mrs. Harper sized wedding.”
“Then they shouldn’t have invited Niphanae and her troupe.”
“That was Sarah Pinch and Aelrie. They talked to Lythienne about Niphanae and so they had Mrs. Harper right off the bat. Then the city and Lord Shahana became involved and since Jacob is a local hero, they all wanted to show just how much they appreciated him.”
“Resod, you didn’t tell me that it was your children doing the flying circus,” Solara said.
“When I was talking with you, I wasn’t sure when we would get together with Tillia. But yes, my kids started this. Both Tillia and I went over some basic rules a long time ago. So far, they have lost some flyers, but none of my kids have black frames yet.”
“I’m so glad that the young dragon ladies got to Mokem and Nathan,” Tillia said. “I thought for sure that they were going to do something crazy, but they turned out Ok.”
“They are also here with their ladies, since their bosses are here as well.”
“Resod, I want to see them dance. You didn’t invite me to that party and Andaphin didn’t either.”
“Tilly, you were working and there wasn’t time. I wasn’t quite sure just how big things were going to be until I got there.”
“True and it would have taken me too many days to get here and then to the Empire or going up through the Fellowship without somebody on the other end. We will make point to go to the next one. Are the girls going to be here as well?”
“They are not here, so I don’t think so. I imagine that they are busy. On the other hand, they are planning something in Green, we have the kids and planes, so we could drop in on them.”
“I’m glad that the Ravathrya are gone and things have eased in the Empire so that I can visit my brother and his wife. Did you visit?”
“I tried. I don’t think that the butler knew that he was my brother in law and I needed to go to see Halamare and Andaphin, so I just left. Speaking of which, it is almost dinner, the kids can meet us later and Andaphin and Halmar are at the café, so let’s go.”
Jacob awoke early. This was his last day alone. From now on, it was going to be him and Maeralya. Of course he knew that he was very lucky that such a wonderful woman wanted to share his life. That life had aleady had its fun moments and looked to be amazing. At least he could wear his dress uniform and not the formal tunic dating back to the Imperial times. Torthuk met him and took him to the new temple that had been built this year. The first squadron’s chaplain, Elred Stonefinder, was waiting at the chancel with all seven gods seemingly smiling at him. The guests arrived both from the water and the land, with Maeralya’s brothers acting as ushers. Then it was time and Maeralya splashed onto the little beach that represented the joining place for seafolk and Jacob joined her, vows were said and Maeralya dragged him under. They resurfaced next to the car and it was off to the new stadium and the reception with mermaid dancing, dragons dancing and finally the Khumkith’s giving yet another demonstration of artistry in the air. When it was over, Maeralya dragged Jacob under as the crowd laughed. When they were below, she shed her gown, handed it to Jacob’s mother and said, “Sarah, we will be back in a couple of days when the ship gets here and we go on the honeymoon.”
“Enjoy yourselves.”
“Trust me, we will.”

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