Paeris Triumphant, Chapter 39-40

“Grandfather, as long as the Beinans are digging those things up, we should let them,” Phaerille said. “They will be better able to make whatever it is work and when they do, we can buy or steal it back.”

Chapter 39.
The Fortress.
The Darkmage called his children together, along with the Zylvyres. There was a big map of the Empire, the mortal Kingdoms, the Fellowship and the rest of the part of the world that had been the ancient Empire. When Rolin and Paeris entered the room he said, “Now that you are all here, we can proceed.”
“Did you find everything you need, father?” Herdir asked.
“I found enough of what we may need to proceed. Stormfire persuaded me that fighting a battle for the rest in the Empty Lands is a waste of resources at present.”
“Grandfather, as long as the Beinans are digging those things up, we should let them,” Phaerille said. “They will be better able to make whatever it is work and when they do, we can buy or steal it back.”
Paeris laughed. “That is an interesting approach. I like it. At this point that may not be practical. I imagine that the Mage Academy is looking into what the Darkmage was looking for. So what do we all do next?”
“Flingladui, where are our adversaries at present?”
“The reports all say that they are focused on the Conclave of Houses coming in two five days.”
“I would check that,” Rolin said. “I hate to say this, but there is a good chance that your web has been subverted. The reports we received during the Blight were just a bit too pat, too perfect. Richard has done such things before and Rosaniya has very good people who do such things. Since you had that encounter the last time you visited the Lower City, I suspect that they knew about your web and took steps.”
Flingladui looked a bit shocked. “We still receive reports. In the past, when a thread was cut, the messages stopped.”
“Richard, is as I said, very good at those games and he is perfectly willing to subvert rather than destroy.”
“I saw that as well, sister,” Stormfire said. “We sent the boys up and they reported that while the harvest was disrupted by the Blight somewhat, there was none of the mass panic and very few of the Blighted estates that you received messages about from your people. Phaerille, have you and Alyndra been paying much attention to how the messages are written? Are many of them written with the same style, on the same paper and in the same hand?”
“Now that you mention it, Uncle, they were,” Alyndra said. “We had so many and it was not obvious at first, but if they had a room of people writing the messages and wanted to change things in a hurry, then the messages could be written by a small group of people. Most of the time they probably just let things through, but with things like the Blight they were sending messages to confuse us.”
“So, should I rebuild?” Flingladui asked.
“There isn’t time,” Rolin said. “We can take advantage of Erlan and Glynnii’s spies and perfectly valid requests from Glynnii and her mother for things. We can also take advantage of the fact that we know that the web is compromised and use it to mislead and point things in directions that we are not pursuing. For instance you can make a big stink about the poachers in the Empty Lands when we are no longer committing resources to that.”
“We will still need the things,” the Darkmage said
“Either the Mage Academy or the Beinans will take custody of all the Darkmage artifacts they find.That is the law, in fact. Since the Academy and both the House and estate are on the target list already, we should be able to recover what they have. The Academy may have what they find or the Beinans will set something up at the estate.”
“What if they move what they find to the facilities in the Fellowship?”
“We can have people looking into that. In any case, sending a big fuss about the artfiacts will test the web.”
“How do you want the strike to go, father?” Nethangwa asked.
“The palace and the Academy, of course. If we can isolate the Lower City, and control the grain and food supply that will be a large step forward. We will shut off the portals to the Lower City and the other places, isolating the army. I have the supressors which will suppress the small portals that are not connected to the board. Without communication the rest of the Empire will be isolated.”
“We should make House Yllanan a target,” Paeris said. “At the very least the House must be isolated.”
“Because the House is essentially the gateway for the faery kingdoms.”
“How do you know?”
“Because the story has been in the papers. After Uncle Zanis tore apart the community up in the timberlands, they were moved temporarily to House Yllanan and hidden in amongst the servants. Most of them are still there, with various things that they do for the House and the Conference of Kings. So if the House is not isolated very quickly we will be dealing with the fae as well as anything the Empire does, to say nothing of what Richard comes up with.”
“Do you think that the fae will interfere in the Empire?” the Darkmage asked.
“I want to talk to Erlan about that,” Rolin said. “Lielatha is Esgalwathanar sister and was in the house as things developed. While I would take what Lielatha says with a bit of a grain of salt, she was there. Esgalwathanar has certainly been in the center of things.”
“She is in House Yllanan?”
“Esgalwathanar tossed her out after she was involved with that retreval where Sollor took the girls.”
“Let us make up a list of places to strike,” the Darkmage said. “The other thing is when.”
“We can get a schedule of the various fetes being put on for the Conclave,” Rolin said. “I think that we will either want to strike when House Qinvaris does something or at the coronation ball. That will be when most of the Empire’s Great Houses and the leadership will be in one place.”
House Yllanan.
Lavidia grinned as she entered the solar where Lazuli and Esgalwathanar were sharing breakfast and each other. “If you two will take a break from that, I have good news. House Shafina will be filling its seat.”
“Radhron is coming?” Esgalwathanar asked. “There isn’t anybody else to take the seat. I wondered why Teiran made sure that the tax was paid for both Houses when it really wasn’t necessary.”
“This was part of the plan all along,” Lavidia said. “It wasn’t important until the Conclave, but we knew that there was a probability that there be a change in the throne fairly soon.”
“The seat will be useful, but Radhron may arouse some controversy over the estates he pirated.”
“Those places would have collapsed in any case. They were all allies of the Ravathyra and now they will not be sitting in the Conclave. As far as pirating goes, the Ravathrya can hardly raise a stink about that.”
“True. Also Radhron is only standing as proxy for his mother.”
“Who is legitimately busy in the Republic in any case.” Lavidia handed the message to Esgalwathanar. “The good news is that he his bringing his wife and kids.”
“That is good news?”
“Don’t you want to meet them?”
“Yes, but the last thing this House needs right now is more chaos.”
Lazuli laughed as Lavidia added, “they will be staying in the bower at the Estate in any case.”
“That will help. The kids need to go out there more often. I would never have thought that I would see city fae, but that is what we have.”
“Their mothers enjoy the peace and quiet,” Lazuli said. “You did want all this, ‘thanar.”
Esgalwathanar smiled. “I did, didn’t I? That is what I get for being foolish.”
Chapter 40.
The Fortress.
Stormfire looked at the cavalry drilling with the infantry and said to the major, “They seem to be in good order.”
“I hope so. At least all this will be over, one way or another.”
“I hope that my sister’s things can hold up their end.”
“If the other side panics, they will. If they don’t, those things are doomed, especially if the other side provides their people with weapons from the Blasted Lands.”
“Speaking about that, some carbines would be a good thing.”
“I know. The problem is that I’m not sure about getting the money. My brother has been rather tight lipped about money lately.”
“Rolin warned you, and him about Lord Qinvaris and making sure that your finances were secure.”
“I know, but my brother has always been rather nasty when I raise money issues. I will add Exchange Street to the list of targets.”
House Qinvaris Bank.
Taenaran Orivalur walked into the bank and the director, Cailu Adqirelle accosted him as he passed through the door. “Lord Orivalur, could I speak with you?”
“What about, Cailu?”
“Our cash reserves are very low. Richard did not draw from the banks in the Fellowship the way he usually does and the cash has been drawn and transferred to other locations.”
“Richard has his reasons. The crews are paid in any case and we’re drawing things down temporily. I also want the bare minimum for each twentieths transactions in the drawers and be prepared to flush the drawers to the vault and keep the vault locked.”
“Do you think that the bank could be robbed?”
“We cut some people off from their piggybank and if they do what Richard thinks they are planning, they will probably hit the street for ready cash. So we want to keep that to a minimum. So the vault is to be locked and the small portals ready to shut down. As far as the cash that Richard has had transferred, what isn’t here, can’t be stolen. Quietly pass the word down the street.”
“So there were no great financial difficulties as a result of the incidents in the harvest?”
“Not at all. On the other hand, if you also discreetly pass the word around that the House took a huge hit, that would probably be a good thing.”
Cailu grinned. “We haven’t tried to play that game for a long time. I had sort of forgotten what it was like. Do you really think that somebody will try to rob us?”
“If they do, let them get away with it. Don’t lock them in here with the tellers and the customers. These people make monsters and use darkmages. Just make noises about how broke the House is as a result of the Blight, use the dummy vault and let them clear some drawers.”
Richard came through the door and said, “Cailu, you didn’t have to wait for me at the door. Are you that nervous?”
“I was, until Taenaran explained. You expect that Exchange Street will be seeing some unpleasant visitors.”
“These characters have Paeris Zylvyre working for them and Vesryn, Folmon and I took their piggybanks away from them. Paeris certainly knows how to conduct a raid and rob a town, let alone a bank.”
“Do you think that Paeris will come here?”
“I don’t know what they are planning to do. They must know that I will hit them as soon as the Conclave is over.”
The Mage Academy.
Vianola walked into Vestele Ulajyre’s office and said, “Some ruffians are making off with our library, Vestele.”
“They are from the Imperial Archives and they are moving it temporarily for safe keeping.”
“They look more like slaves and peasants than archivists.”
Vestele laughed. “I met with Archivist Phivyre, who seemed very much what you expect from an Achivist. On the other hand, he did warn me that his grandsons, who would be coming and taking the books, would probably look a bit rustic. The Archivists had a disconnected portal and had to support themselves, so they grow their own food and make their own clothes and what not. Since there was nobody actually being able to use the archives, their services as archivists were not required and they regressed a bit.”
“Why is the Grand Master having the library removed? Sending the younglings home for the Conclave celebrations, I can understand, but the library?”
“I can’t say, but it relates to things that may happen and the Blight.”
“Lord Qinvaris defeated the Blight. My brother was saved by the crew that Lord Qinvaris sent and our neighbors were as well.”
“Some people are probably not happy about that and may attempt to do certain things. The Grand Master would prefer not to have a war here, but the Academy is a natural target and since the Conclave means that there is perfect excuse to get the students dispersed and if they do attack, the library is the one thing that must be defended. So grandfather is having it stored away. You should meet the Archive community in any case. Why don’t I take you there tomorrow, now that the younglings will not be here?”

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