Paeris Triumphant, Chapter 35-36

The Committee has a meeting. The Darkmage is upset.

Chapter 35.
House Qinvaris Estate.
The Committee rarely met. For the most part they all had tasks that had nothing to do with the special requirements that the House may require. With the oncoming Conclave, Hubys and Darfin wanted to have the various members brought up to date. As was typical, Richard was not present. As much as that mattered, Adreth Vavaris was the current chairman in the rotation that rotated the seat between the twenty members. He opened the meeting and said, “Ayre, why don’t you update us about the events in Astaire.”
“Ok, as you know I was there in my usual role for Taenaran and the Blight had cut loose. I had the boys start to track down the Brothers and sent a message to the Lord through my small portal. He Jumped to my location to see for himself and started things in motion.”
“Were the darkmages visible in the beginning?”
“No. They were caught as flatfooted as everybody else. From what we now know, there was no direction to the Brothers to launch the Blight in the Mortal Kingdoms.”
“That makes sense,” Elidyr Theren said. “I think that they were expecting to buy the grain we wouldn’t sell them in the Mortal Kingdoms. The crisis in Astaire crushed that. They still went after the Lord, the Emperor and the prince.”
“That was something that princess Glynnii arranged,” Elred said.
“Elred, tell us about the spider lady. Is she going to be poking around again?”
“Probably. We could start sending Cory back to Zirgoccol and see if she contacts him. So far it doesn’t look as if she realizes how compromised her web is.”
“Richard coming up with that was a very good thing.”
Elred went over the events with the spider lady and Ayre, the events in Dolmon. When they finished, Adreth said, “Developing relationships with the Justiciars here and the Military Intelligence in the Fellowship has worked out well. Elred, have you kept in contact with the police in Silver Mountain. That is another group of people that we should maintain contact with.”
“I haven’t had reason to communicate with the Lieutenant recently, but I should send somebody up there with a brief of current events. Of course the most interesting relationship is Aien and Kavrala.”
Adreth and the rest laughed. “Some might say that the relationship is consorting with the enemy.”
“Kavrala has never really been a part of the guild and Vesstan is a good relationship to have for training purposes, if nothing else. It’s not as if anyone here in this room has exactly the kind of relationships that our parents would have arranged.”
“That brings me to the reason for this meeting.” Adreth said. “There is pressure starting to deny us our seats in the Conclave.”
“On what grounds,” Elred asked. “Who is doing that? We all pay tax.”
“The move is being forwarded on the grounds that none of us maintain an estate for income.”
“That has never been a requirement and Houses have lost estates and entered into trade before. The fact is that we do not want the burden of managing an estate in addition to our other roles. All of us could have an estate for the asking as Richard would like the houses occupied in any case. It is obvious that somebody wants to shift the votes in the Conclave. Adreth, have some of your people look into how things shift and who might fill those seats if we are denied.”
“I’ve already started. So far, they haven’t gone after Taenaran or Tolith. Probably because they still have estates.”
“They may decide to use other means to empty those seats. We should all be on our guard. The Guild would not go after Richard, but they may take a contract on us, not knowing that we will retaliate.”
“Tell Aien to let Vesstan know that if the guild plays that game with us, it’s tit for tat and we will go after theirs, starting with the guildmaster.”
House Qinvaris Offices.
Jonny looked at the stack of messages and said, “It looks as if they are getting ready. They want maps of things like the palace and the guards’ changing times.”
Cory frowned “Anyplace else?”
“Not really. They also want maps of the Lower City, current road maps of the Empire and the strengths of the various guard stations in the towns and cities.”
“So how much should we alter things?”
“The things they can check, the palace stuff, for instance, give them. Of course we also tell Lady Zylmyar that the other side is looking for certain things. We can hand the woodblock maps from the Palace and the guard stuff, with the numbers about half of what they really are.”
“The palace maps are out of date. House Glynynore hasn’t turned in the updated maps yet. I do want to add one thing.”
“What is that?”
“I expect that when they strike, they will be looking for grain. Back before Lord Qinvaris came, there was a huge complex of granaries that the House had for the Cloud and Lower Cities.”
“Do you really want to point them at the granaries of the Lower City?”
“They were the granaries. But when the canal was built about twenty miles away, it didn’t make any sense to haul grain to the granaries and Lord Qinvaris built new ones next to the canal. But when my friends and I were young, we used to use the old place for training. The House still does. The place is loaded with booby traps and other things to make just poking around painful. The only grain that is still there is old and rotten.”
Jonny smiled. “That sounds like the sort of important place that they should know about. Are there other places like that?”
“Quite a few. We will want to be careful, because with all the changes this year, a lot of those places are doing other things.”
“We will be careful about those. Let’s get this put together.”
Chapter 36.
The Fortress.
The Darkmage stormed into Stormfire’s office, “Where have you been?”
“Consulting with Rolin and making plans, father. We have to keep things moving forward.”
“Why didn’t you stop those gangsters?”
“If it had been just the gangsters, I would have. Unfortunately Mage Wyrran is looking into his old repaired portals and brought all those other people, including Jimmy and his bonded. Since I thought that you wanted certain things kept discreet, I had Erlan request a writ of trespass. The Justiciars should have handled the matter.”
“They were helping the rest!”
“The fact is that it would have taken me at least a five day to get a force there. From what the Justiciars said, the gangsters were working for the boss who was looking for Durlan who had taken his daughter. If my sister had processed the Prospects, more than likely Lady Beinan would have recovered them and you would not have encountered the gangsters. My sister held off on that and the gangster tracked Durlan down. I suspect that the Justiciars were trying to avoid an international incident.”
“If he was chasing after Durlan, why did he hit my excavation?”
‘I don’t know. In any case, he will not be back.”
“What about those others?”
“That is a bit problematical. Lady Beinan does have that writ and the family does not like us at all. I would refrain from excavations close to the Fellowship border and make sure that you move the portals before commencing.”
“The places near the Fellowship are where the things that we must have are! Get together with your sister and put patrols out!”
“That will be problematical, father. We will need the enhanced, the strong and the rest for the operations to commence the project. I can do one or the other. We do not have the resources to do both. I would suggest that you cease your excavations until we have accomplished the first stages of the project and our enemies are in disarray.”
“We will need the things that I am recovering!”
“Then you can pursue them with the resources available and accept the risk or we can delay initiating the project. If we do that, we risk missing the opportunity that the Conclave of Houses presents and allow Lord Qinvaris free reign to do what he wills. Rolin suggests that we take the opportunity to act while the Empire is distracted.”
“You are defying me?!”
“I am not. I am just telling you the realities of the situation. My sisters and I were not consulted before my brother committed us to launching the Blight. As such, we were not prepared and our enemies were. The Blight did not have the impact on the Empire that we expected, and we now have an enemy that will be determined to destroy us. If do not commit all our resources and strike only where it is needed, we will be crushed. I have discussed this with Rolin and Paeris. Right now time is critical and we must move before our enemies do.”
“We will need the devises!”
“We may, but resources are short as a result of our past failures. Let us talk with my sisters and see what we can arrange. The patrols will be good practice for my sister’s things in any case and I doubt that the gangsters will be as tough as the marines were.”

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