“Lawyers. The Qinvaris do a lot of business in the Fellowship and they have attorneys on retainer. Rather nasty ones.”
Iezzen took the golem emperor out in the predawn as he set up the little plane and put it into the seat, activating the glamor that made it disappear. The Emperor was going to come out as he usually did in the early afternoon after attending the festival in the square with the king and queen and Ralnor. Security was already tight in the square with the king’s guard, Lord Qinvaris’s people, and the High Guard keeping watch. The three Landdragons would be in the square before the ceremony. Iezzen made sure that the plane was ready to go when the time came.
Blackfire looked across the square from his room and frowned. There were already King’s Guard soldiers in breastplates, paired with Elven and not so Elven High guard keeping watch on the square. That mortal Justiciar was going over something with the two guard captains and Blackfire was sure that the Justiciar had his people in and around the square as well. It looked as if the mages would have to use magefire on the airplane to cause an accident after all. The risk of exposure was just too high, especially when the Grand Master would be attending as well. Considering that Blackfire had heard that the Fae Council of Kings was sending representatives, going after the Emperor and succeeding would be rather difficult as Blackfire looked at the viewing stand that had been set up for royalty and other high folk coming to the festival.
Gander looked at the window overlooking the square and smiled. The team the Master had sent, three mages and two monsters had been spotted by Eddie and his friends when they arrived and Blackfire didn’t know just how much that Gander’s people had on him. Now all that awaited was to see if the darkmages went after the Emperor here in the square or as he took off in the airplane. Gander figured that the number of visible troops and other apparent obstacles would discourage the assassins from going after emperor in the square. If they tried, Gander had Justiciarial slaves from the Republic who were very good shots stationed with rifles on roofs surrounding the square.
The festival started and Maethanar wished that he could wear his servant’s costume and get in the middle of things. Unfortunately he was the guest of honor this time and expected to behave. So he judged harvest vegetables, hobnobbed with the high and watched the small tourney. Queen Cotina said, “Neither of you gentlemen brought your wives. While that is understandable, I would like to meet them.”
“My wife has been separated from me for some time,” Maethanar said. “The situation was forced on us and it would be impolitic for us to be seen together. As far as Richard’s wife goes, I am a bit surprised that she isn’t here.”
“Rosa may show up. She’s been working at the estate planning relief,” Richard said. “Wait a minute, what’s going on at the portal.”
There had been some traffic heading to the Empire and then the portal had lit for an arrival. A pair of landdragons emerged, followed by a group of elven ladies, fae ladies and a rather distinguished high elf. Richard laughed and said, “Here she is, with Queen Lazuli, Maria Shahana, Elenaril Gylnynore, Princess Lelayme, Esgalwathanar and Jimmy and Talissa.”
The group proceeded to the viewing stand and Richard went to greet his wife. “Why the crowd, dear?”
“These ladies have all been helping me get things done behind the scenes. Lavidia and Lazuli suggested bringing Jimmy and Talissa insisted on coming to get Jimmy to come.”
“Well, let me introduce you to King Adnamatus and Queen Cotina.”
Blackfire cursed under his breath. The ladies’ entry had added still more complications. Two more landdragons had made that even worse. The royal princess ran over and hugged the two landdragons and she was joined by most of the children in the square.
Restia ran over to Talissa, hugged her and said, “Talissa, you look mahvelous. Is this Jimmy?”
“This is Jimmy. Jimmy, this is Princess Restia. What are you looking at?”
“There are several mages in the square.”
“Part of the Grand Master’s entourage?”
“I don’t think so. They feel more like the mages at the Pen.”
“There’s Eddie. Tell Eddie. Eddie are you here to keep an eye on us?”
Eddie grinned “Talissa, there is a bit of that.”
“Restia, Eddie is a scamp and Justiciar slave.”
“So Eddie, why is a Justiciar slave different from all the other slaves in the Empire?”
“I can’t say.”
“Eddie, tell whoever is in charge that there are mages here in the square,” Jimmy said.
“Gander knows. That’s why I am here. We’ve been looking into the dark mages since we got here. I think they saw something they didn’t like.”
“Don’t chase after them, Jimmy. Also don’t try to stop all of them when they do something.”
“What are they going to do?”
“I can’t say, because I don’t want to spoil the surprise. If they go after the king and queen, you can deal with that, but leave the rest to Tom and Naexi. I have to go.”
“What’s going on?”Restia asked. “Mages here? Maybe I should tell daddy.”
“I suspect that your father already knows, Restia,” Jimmy said. “Gander thinks that there was a mage poking around when the archbishop was playing his games. That was why he had me there at the village. More darkmages killed Talissa’s great uncle.”
“When did that happen?”
“A long time ago and we will tell you the story later, Restia.” Talissa said. “It’s a good one and I don’t want to spoil it.”
Blackfire grinned. After the first shock, things had settled down as the harvest festival had gone on, with the princess grabbing the two new landdragons, who were walking the festival and having various large pieces of seasoned meat handed to them for tasting. Apparently the princess had recruited them as judges.
Filverel grinned as the camera rolled. Jimmy showing up had been a coincidence but it was the little bit that made the victory celebration fun to shoot. This documentary was going to make his career. He panned the camera one more time as the party started to wind down for a bit and the crowd went to watch the Emperor depart in his little plane. Somebody had finally painted the Imperial seal on the plane so that it was easy to identify. As the crowd watched, the plane taxied out on to the field and after the dragongirl who acted as the field manager flagged the clearance, sped down the field to the cliff overlooking the falls.
As the plane took off, Gander tripped the micro portal in his hand. The micro portal would ping a series of portals that would alert the Justiciars waiting to move in on the other darkmages. The portal was also setting things in motion here.
Blackfire was watching as the other three darkmages were struggling to get a shot that was discreet as the plane climbed into the air. Suddenly what appeared to be mage fire hit plane and it wobbled in the air.
The pilot leapt out of the plane, dragging the emperor, transforming as another bolt of magefire hit the plane and it exploded. The dragon was separated from the emperor, but the emperor had a silk parasol that was breaking his fall. He drifted over the river toward the opposite shore when suddenly another bolt of magefire hit the parasol and the Emperor fell into the river. There were screams across the square and suddenly a call, “Mage! Mages did this!”
The two Great Cats transformed and headed toward Prince Ralnor to do their part as the three darkmages turned to send magefire at Lord Qinvaris and the rest of the people on the viewing stand. Blackfire prepared to cover them as Prince Ralnor assumed a Trueform and threw glory spears at the two Great cats, pinning them to the ground and forcing them to revert. As Blackfire reached a firing position and a raised his arms, a voice said, “You don’t want to do that? Mage, you are under arrest.” Blackfire turned around and there was young man with a strange weapon pointed at him with others behind him. The young man held up a badge. “Mage Blackfire, you are under writ for the conspiracy to commit regicide and acting as an unregistered mage. You have the right to remain silent. As of now anything you say will be considered as part of your case.”
Blackfire attempted to do one last service to his Master, only to realize that contact with mana and his abilities were suppressed. With nothing else he could do, he stood there as padded iron cuffs were applied and he was taken to join the others and placed in a wagon in amongst an angry crowd.
Gander looked at the pair rather large house cats rubbing against him. The female said, “Thank you Justiciar, for getting my husband out from his trap.”
“Ma’am, that was Narbeth, mostly. It needed to be done and the Empire had a lot of chaos as a result of the Regency.”
“I was left with bad choices,” Maethanar said.
“So my grandmother said.”
“I think that we must go, you have work, Justiciar.”
“Yes, I do,” Gander said as they disappeared.
Gracie and her sister looked at the pictures that Danni had dropped off and grinned. Kaylessa said, “There is a portal house nearby. We won’t have the landdragons, but we will have the little flamers, the kid from the Lower City and the monsters. Here’s Tony and Andy.”
Gracie waved at the approaching truck and as Tony and his brother got out, said, “Danni dropped off some interesting pictures that Mokem took yesterday. Andy, how is the Fellowship about freeing slaves.”
“That’s a bit sticky. Slavery is illegal, but going into the Empire to pick up slaves is discouraged. Frankly most of the Empire that borders the Fellowship is the Empty Lands or House Qinvaris land and Lord Qinvaris’s slaves squawk and want to go back home. That’s more trouble, especially once Lord Qinvaris’s people come after you.”
“Lawyers. The Qinvaris do a lot of business in the Fellowship and they have attorneys on retainer. Rather nasty ones.”
Gracie laughed. “I don’t think that these people will have any attorneys and we can probably borrow Lord Qinvaris’s. I imagine that these slaves are not the kind that like where they are.”
“Probably not. How do we play this?”
“You are poaching like you have been. You come upon this place. At the same time, my sister and mage Wyrran have Midnight and Chrissie repair the portal and port the kids in for their explorations of the second mage war. I imagine that we can come up with all sorts of chaos. Wyrran will call in the Justiciars and Andy will say that he’s looking for his kidnapped daughter. Wolf shows up and says that he knows where they are.”
“Tony, you wanted noise and explosions.”
“Andy, I think that whatever it is that those characters are digging out could use some booms, don’t you?”
“You know, I think that it does. We’ll go down there in the morning and pay that place a visit.”
The Fellowship Of Peoples.
Brother Kelemen looked at the cut field in despair. After a long walk through fields like the one in front of him, and most of the day, he had yet to see ground where the cleansing could take hold. All the while he had been passed by vehicles going past, including trucks going back and forth carrying the grain and returning to the harvest, off in the far distance. Now, in the late afternoon, with the sun going down a car stopped and a man in uniform got out. Brother Kelemen discreetly dropped the rockets out of his pack into the nearby wood and returned to the road. The man approached and said, “Do you need a lift to a gas station buddy?”
“I do not have a car.”
“Where are you going?”
“That’s a long way from here. Why don’t I take you back to town and you can get the bus. Why didn’t you do that in the first place?”
“I misjudged and thought that I could walk the distance.”
“You are new in the Fellowship, aren’t you. I’m deputy Ighad and let’s’ get you back to town and on your bus when it shows up.”
The dejected brother got into the car and went back to where he started.
Osmond watched the probable Brother get in the car and head back to the nearby village. The drivers had noticed the man, reported him and Osmond had called the Sherriff and had him send somebody to pick the man up. After the deputy and the probable Brother left, Osmond drove over to the wood where the man had been picked up in the GP and poked in the woods until he found the package and opened it. Looking at the rockets, he took out his knife and carefully cut the rocket open at the top. There, in cotton padding was a familiar glass vial. Osmond put the rocket with the rest of them and turned to the next town. He was going to have to make another call.
The Imperial Palace.
Justiciar Zylmyar was let into Narbeth’s office. “Your highness, the Emperor is dead.”
“Some mages and monsters were sent from the Empty Lands and when the Emperor was taking off from Freywick to return to the Empire, he was killed. The pilot of the plane, Iezzen Flamefire managed to get the Emperor out of the plane after it was attacked by magefire and get the Emperor’s parachute open. The mages struck the parachute and the Emperor fell into the river and probably over the falls.”
“There is a portal in Freywick now.Why didn’t he use that?”
“The Emperor had been flying around in the plane all through the crisis and he and the plane had become token of hope for the kingdom. So the Emperor thought it right that he should leave by the plane. Justiciar Dawkins will be here tomorrow with a report.”
“He better be. He should have prevented it. So now what?”
“I think that you know, your highness.”
“What happened to my brother? He was there.”
“From the report, he was assaulted by monsters and forced into a trueform.”
“So the family secret was revealed as well. There’s no hope for it. I will have to call a Conclave of the Houses. Since my brother revealed himself, that leaves me in the seat. My sisters will be ecstatic. How long do you think that we can keep a lid on this?”
“Not very long. Two or three days at best, here in the Empire. It will hit the newspapers in the Fellowship about that time as that is how long it will take reporters to get the stories there. Then the people with small portals will be looking for answers.”
“Let’s see if we can get a five day.”
“I’ll tell Kelvahn. The last two days of that five day are going to be hard.”
“I know, but if we can keep the denials going, we can keep the people that wanted this off guard.”
Narbeth rang for Galan as Haramara left. Galan walked in and said, “You needed me, milord?”
“There has been rather startling news. The Emperor is dead.”
“How did that happen?”
“He was flying in an airplane and was attacked by some unregistered mages.”
“In Astaire? That was not a smart thing to do. They would be discovered and the crowd would tear them apart if it was that blatant.”
“I imagine that the details will arriving soon. In any case we must prepare.”
“How long do we wait until I tell your sister?”
“Wait three days. I told Haramara that I wanted five and while I would like to get the fiveday, we can start the rumors before then and deny everything officially. Of course, if my sister asks, confirm the rumor. It will be usefull to see how fast her spies are.”
“Three days it is. I hope that we can get them.”