Paeris Triumphant, Chapter 37-38

Wyrran and Kaylessa visit the archives. Lythienne marshalls her daughter.

Chapter 37.
The Imperial Archives.
Wyrran and Kaylessa emerged from the portal and Kaylessa said, “This doesn’t look a bit like an archive, it looks like a farm village. Something smells wonderful, though.”
“The archives are underneath and the archivists were isolated by a disconnected portal. Let me make a quick check and see if this portal has been patched yet, as long as we are here.”
Wyrran checked the portal, which had indeed been patched. Kaylessa said, “We’ve done quite a few patches, just by doing them as we use a portal.”
“I figure that if we do portals as we use them, when the people at the board try to figure out why their disconnects only work on some portals and not others, if they are looking for obvious portals that reconnect, some that are not obvious will throw them off. In case, the more patches we apply, the better. Here’s Ciliren.”
“Hello Mage Wyrran. Is this your lady?”
“Ciliren, this is Kaylessa Beinan, who has latched onto me for some strange reason.”
“I don’t think that it was strange. You are a remarkable man. So what brings you here today?”
“I wanted to talk with your grandfather about some things of the Darkmage that we found.”
“I’ll take you to him, but I might be the person you want to talk to.”
“How so?”
“We all have our pet projects when we are young and the Darkmage’s devises was mine. I suppose it was because I was tired of dolls and dreamed of being a mage. Of course that wasn’t possible, but I did do a report for my classwork project.”
“What is a classwork project?” Kaylessa asked.
“When we are ready to leave schooling we do a classwork project. It can be anything from the archives and we do it in addition to the usual household work.In fact, a classwork is not supposed to involve our household work, so I couldn’t do a project on weaving or cooking. In my case it was the Darkmage and his devises. So I have a report on them.”
“Then we should talk with you, Ciliren, as well as your grandfather and anybody else that can look into this with us. We have brought pictures of the things that we found.”
“Luncheon is about ready and why don’t I go and get my report.”
House Qinvaris.
Rosa turned to Richard and said, “The girls are going to be upset with us.”
“I imagine that they will be upset that they couldn’t manage all the parties coming up, our side’s anyways. How did the parties get started?”
“It started as a way to demonstrate that the various Houses had the kind of wealth to do the most elaborate things. The parties are a power game.”
“Maybe we should bring the girls and my sister then. We can set them up in Prince Brouzen’s yacht and my sister’s mermaid circus ship.”
“The girls are getting an education and I don’t want to interrupt. I also don’t want them at risk. Not just our girls, any of the girls.”
“Most of them are here. Frankly, if they are here, it will show that we are not afraid and not preparing to run. Tarranth and the girls can be here for the Conclave and set up for parties. For that matter, they can fly into Elysahone and port in. That works better than the ship, for the girls anyway. ”
“If we do bring them back, they are not to be exposed and they will be guarded at all times.”
“I can agree to that. The mages were going to come after me and you know how much Glynnii likes me.”
“I know what she thinks of you, which is interesting, because as far as I know, you have never actually been in the same room together.”
“Ok, send a message to Niphinae. We owe our people a whale of a harvest party and we will go over the top, circuses, air show, mermaids and anything the girls can come up with. Considering all the practice they had sending things to the Retreat, the girls should be able to go wild. Other than Glynnii and the usual crowd, is there anybody else you want to truly humiliate?”
“Glynnii’s mother will have to be humiliated. That is sort of the social rules, since she will want to rule social society as she has done for a very long time.”
“Will that reflect on Narbeth?”
“I will have Itireae on my side in this. It’s tradition that the future empress cannot entertain until the Conclave is over and she hosts the coronation ball. On the other hand, I doubt that she wants her mother in law to have greater influence than she already does. So if we do something over the top, that will make her more than a bit happy.”
“We can do over the top. Why don’t I get my mother involved?”
“I think that is a wonderful idea. Hubys and I should talk to the park people and reserve the space for the Conclave. The park is where the battle will be joined. I hope that Lielatha and Glynnii warn Shaerra that the park is home ground for us.”
The Imperial Palace.
Itireae looked out over the park and said, “So it begins.”
Narbeth joined his wife and said, “Mother is wasting no time in laying claim to the park. At least some of it.”
“Why do you suppose that section near the Swans is cordoned off?”
“I’m not sure, but I suspect that Lady Beinan is up to something. Mother hasn’t faced the ladies surrounding Rosaniya directly and has no clue what they will put together. Of course the interesting thing is what Rosaniya is going to do. We missed the things last year, with the exception of Winterfaire.”
Itireae giggled. “I think that I just had an idea that would drive your mother crazy. What if we have those girls do the Coronation ball?”
“That is an interesting proposition. I would want to run that by the palace staff first, but I suspect that they could make the ball something that would be remembered.”
“I wish that we didn’t have to do this at all.”
“So do I. You have supported me when I did not seek the throne.”
“Of course I did. Even without the Blight, the throne would have made our and our kids lives hell. At least now, the kids are grown and you will have strong allies.”
“Glynnii is going to have her friends try something again. There was something she wanted and was willing to rig the seats in the Conclave to get it.”
“What she wants is not really a mystery. She wants the power of the Ravathyra returned, so that she can leverage that into being the power behind the throne. Also, she hates that Rosa has Richard.”
“I’ve never understood that.”
“It’s simple really. She was at the auction where Richard was sold and didn’t buy him. Then Rosa’s man did and Richard went almost right to Rosa’s bed. It wasn’t the first man that Glynnii thought she wanted that ended up in Rosa’s bed.”
“If Glynnii wanted Richard, why didn’t she just buy him? Buying bed warmers is not that unusual, though a lot of them seem to have become more than that.”
‘I think that Richard frightened her. There, naked, on the block, he frightened her. I imagine that even on the block, Richard exuded power. We’ve both been there in the room with him and we’ve seen it. Having met his parents now, I understand it. Lythienne would not have chosen to be with a nonentity and when she returned, she returned with yet another man who carried power naturally. The entire family does that.”
“Dan Harper has not been President.”
“He hasn’t been President because he doesn’t want the job. On the other hand, who does the President, a post that is temporary, call on for the tough things like negotiating with the Empire?”
“Dear, you are a marvel. Have you been asking Kenia about the Harpers?”
“I talk to some ladies, yes. Who Kenia may be sending messages to and what horse trading was going on was just ladies talking to each other.”
“Are you going to talk to Rosa?”
“There are arrangements to be made and I want to borrow her girls, if they come back. I suspect that they will be back.”
“Why?”
Because Rosa will need them and other family for her campaign against your mother and the Ravathrya ladies. I can’t actively participate in that campaign, but I can recruit the girls for parts of the coronation ball and just coincidently coordinate that with what Rosa and her friends are going to do. So mother and I will work with the girls and talk to Rosa and the rest, just to make sure that we are not stepping on each other’s toes.”
“What about mother?”
“Your mother has been barely civil to me since the beginning of the Regency. I will make an effort, of course, but I expect to be rebuffed. She, Glynnii and the Ravathrya ladies will go their own way. Like they are there in the park.”
“What do you mean?”
“I hope that your mother realizes that Rosa essentially owns the park there. She knows the people there and has spent a fair amount on the park over the last year even if you do not include the Swans. Yet there is your mother setting something up and if she does things the way she does, she didn’t check to make sure that nobody else has permits for the day that she wants her thing, let alone through the entire Conclave.”
“Do you think that Rosa will have something going on for the entire Conclave?”
“Not just her. The Beinans, the Shahanas, the Glynynores, the Yllanans, the Aezeiros and for all I know, House Lion will rotate through the park with things.”
“House Lion?”
“Thaciona Olanelis married Salvatore Lion in the Republic and since she was the last remaing member of her House, renamed it. One of her sons essentially runs the underworld in the Lower City.”
Narbeth laughed. “Tony, along with his brother, Carl. I suspect that Thaciona is making a statement. Poor Tony.”
“I suspect that she will be involved. So for the ten days of the Conclave, Rosa will take over the park, right outside the palace.”

Chapter 38.
House Aezieros.
Mariona entered into the parlor where her rather unusual guest was waiting. He bowed and said, “Lady Aezieros, I am glad that you could meet with me.”
“Gander, we are alone and I told you when I met you that you could call me Mariona. I haven’t seen you for some time. I expect that you have been rather busy.”
“Yes I have, chasing monks, mages and other riffraff, along with spiders and other dangerous nuisances. Of course lately, our new emperor has set me on a bit of a wild goose chase and a rather cold case.”
“That is?”
“The death of his father.”
“Not Maethanar, I presume.”
“That case is being handled by Baron D’ Ambray at this point, with my office being represented by his brother. We have the mages and the rest responsible red handed in any case.”
“If you were so close, how did you and Haramara let the mages get close enough to do what they did, that is unless you both did that on purpose.”
“Milady, you are very sharp. If you look at it the right way, you are accusing Haramara and I of regicide.”
“I doubt that it was regicide. On the other hand, if Maethanar was not mad, he was looking for a discreet way out and you gave that to him. I imagine that what the Blight did was a grievous strain on him. It was on his father and brother.”
“I can’t really say very much more than you know already.”
“So, why did you want to speak with me?”
“My grandmother, who has ensconsed herself in the Hidden City, suggested that when it came to certain matters, you knew where the dark corners are that need some light shed on them.”
“Where some bodies are buried as well, including some bodies that are not buried.”
“Venali Eilric, for instance? He was the healer for the palace and he and many of the records of Theodemar’s autopsy have disappeared. There was some evidence that Theodemar had either been taking or been fed Clear but nothing conclusive. If the files turned up, that may lead in interesting directions.”
“You are closer to healer Eilric, since he is in the Lower City. He keeps a rather low profile. Why don’t we discuss that and your grandmother? If she is in the Hidden City, perhaps I should make some arrangements. We were very good friends at one time.”
Chatsrey.
Lythienne walked into her daughter’s up top office. Niphinae grinned and said, “This is a surprise, mother. What brings you here?”
“War. Social war, that is. Rosa wants you and the company for social warfare during the upcoming Conclave of Houses. She also wants me, the girls, Renna, Tarranth and Sylvar.”
“What happened to the Blight?”
“Apparently the Blight was not severe except in Astaire.”
“I thought that the whole point was to keep the kids out the line of fire.”
“They want me and the kids to fly to Elysahone and port in from there and you to bring your ship and use the Qinvaris port.”
“This is rather short notice.”
“The Conclave only meets when a new emperor needs to be chosen or similar significant events. Considering the potential consequences, Rosa knows what she is doing. We do not want to give Shaerra the kind of influence that she will have if she is not more or less discredited socially.”
“Can’t the prince’s wife do that?”
“Traditionally Itireae has to remain neutral and not do any entertaining until the coronation. What Rosa achieves will be mirrored in the votes for things like Council members and the various department heads. We do not want Shaerra and Glynnii making those choices. So you and Dewy can leave the shows here to the second company and Rosa will pay for the first company.”
“Dewy and I can catch a flight to the Hidden City and start planning from there. For that matter, you can arrange to port from there since father is still in the Empire. That might work better than Elysahone.”
“I will send Dan a message. Rosa may have concerns about the portal in the Hidden City. Especially where it ends up. Why don’t we talk with the kids and see what they say. In any case, you haven’t said no.”
“First of all, it’s for family and second we may get some advertising out of doing a show in front of the new Empress. Do you know her and what is she like?”
“I do and I think that I will let you find out.”
Gwen looked up as her son approached. She had sensed him as he Swam to the embassy and Swam out from the pool to greet him. “Radhron, I haven’t seen you for some time. What have you been doing?”
“Work, mother. Opening up the Hidden City opened up some opportunities to sail to new places and I have been doing that, exploring far lands for the company.”
“You always were restless. So why are you here?”
“I was wondering if you needed somebody for your Seat in the Conclave.”
“That is an interesting question. Do you have any suggestions?”
“The old sticks would have a fit if you did. Aunt Nyla could, but she probably doesn’t want to leave the city. That leaves me or Galassiel and Galassiel has the same issue that you do.”
“The tail.”
“Yes. At least a tail that is obvious. On the other hand, Yeldan has been sending messages and the politics of the Empire have shifted. If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t bother asking to sit, but I suspect that Esgalwathanar and the rest may need another vote if it could be arranged.”
“What about the tax?”
“We have been paying right along. It is part of what House Yllanan is paying, but House Shafina is paid up.”
“I’m surprised that you and the rest of them thought of that.”
“When we were making the arrangements to move the business, paying the tax was a concern. So we planned for it. If the Emperor was mad, at some point one of the princes was going to have to take the throne. It turned out that the Emperor was playing another game, but in any case, we were prepared.”
“Does Esgalwathanar know?”
“I don’t know. Teiran may have told him or he hasn’t. Like a lot of elves, he did not bother with the business, at least not the business that we were involved in. In any case, I will attend if you wish.”
“I think that I do. You can back up Esgalwathanar, Richard and the others. Another seat will only help them.”
“It will. Of course you know that the kids want to meet all the interesting people that you have been telling stories about.”
“Do you want to take the kids? It could be dangerous.”
“We will stay in the bower off the Estate. Some family members want to return in any case and we will have a shipment of switching equipment for the new telegraph lines. As far as dangerous, we expect that. You have shown me the reports and the Ravathyra and their mysterious master will want to recover their power and influence. That alone is reason to go.”
“What ship will you use?”
“Our newest ship, the sailing steamer, Gwaerengwen Yllanan”
“You named a ship for me?”
“Since the ship was for the Hidden City-House Yllanan run, what better name could father and I choose.”

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