Paeris Triumphant, Chapter 41-42

Gander visit’s the apothecary. The Dowager Empress realizes that she has competition for the park.

Chapter 41.
The Lower City.
It had taken some doing, but Gander had found Healer Eilric running a chemist’s and apothecary’s shop rather than acting as a healer. He decided to maintain the low profile and was wearing one of his old coats when he entered the shop. The effect was diminished when Mollya Yllaphyra happened to be the customer in front of him and said, “Hello, Gander. You must be slumming in the city today since you are not wearing your Justiciar’s tunic.”
“Hello, Molly. I thought that since I was just running some errands, that dressing for work would be a bit pretentious.”
“This is a bit far from where you live, so why are you here?”
“The chemist that I usually go to was out of Salicy tablets and since I had other errands here in the area, I decided to walk in here.”
“Let me get taken care of and then you can get that dealt with.”
Gander poked around and picked up some hard candies for his children as Molly dealt with Healer Eilric, asking advice about some small ailment. She left and Gander went to the counter. Healer Eilric looked at him and said, “I doubt that you are here for Salicy tablets, Justiciar.”
“Actually, I do need them, but you are correct about that. I was trying to be discreet about introducing myself. Molly sort of ruined that a bit.”
“So why are you here?”
“I was talking to Lady Aezeiros and she mentioned that you may have certain autopsy files that are more accurate than the files in the palace.”
“I’m not sure that I should talk with you about those. Why don’t I call my son out here to take care of customers while we discuss certain things? How is Mariona, by the way?”
“Well. Her daughter has latched onto a royal fae and her son has managed to catch Nimue Qinvaris. Of course, she may have caught him.”
Venali laughed and called out, “Robert, come and take the counter!”
“Yes father!”
A rather husky half elf wearing a chemist’s apron came out and asked, “Who is this, father?”
“Justiciar Dawkins.”
The young man smiled. “He isn’t wearing a Justiciar’s tunic and he doesn’t look like one of those snooty elves.”
Gander laughed and said, “You have sharp eyes, young man. The Office of Investigation is always looking for new talent.”
“I don’t think mom would like it if I just left dad in the lurch.”
The young man went toward the counter as Venali led Gander to the apartment behind the store and laboratory. A woman was doing some knitting and said, “Venali, who is this?”
“This is Justiciar Dawkins looking into things that I thought were buried.”
“Not that. That has been hanging over your life for almost a century. You were separated from the rest of the family and hid down here, alone until you bought me. Justiciar, I would stay clear of this.”
“Justiciar, this is my wife, Rose. I think you and she came from the same place.”
“Yes, and Rose, when we are finished here, you will want to discuss with my wife about getting your children tested by the fae. While Durlan Richflight is not coming back, there may be others looking to take your children.”
“The Richflights were responsible for that?”
“Yes. They made the mistake of taking the Qinvaris girls, among others, getting caught red handed and are not likely to return to the Lower City.”
“So why are you digging up the long dead emperor?”
“Because of what happened to the recently dead emperor, who was killed by rogue mages. I was there, and unfortunately could not prevent the mages from killing the emperor. I did capture them afterwards.”
“So you think that the long dead emperor was killed by the same people or by people related to them?”
“This is a very long story that I have been working with for some time now, but yes.”
”Did this have to do with Rebecca Beinan moving into the Cloud City?” Rose asked. “There have been some strange things going on since then.”
“You know Rebecca?”
“We send our younger two to that school, so yes, I know Rebecca. For that matter, I know Alissa as well.”
“To make a very long story short, the Ravathrya, the Richflights and some Houses have been working with some others to take over the Empire for purposes unknown. I was brought in as result of the discovery of Zanis Zylvyre murdering a fae community. If you go to the school, your kids know their kids.”
“Yes they do, the troublemakers. I imagine that they have made your life fun as well.”
“Somewhat. In any case, if Rebecca hasn’t already arranged to have your kids tested, I will ask Alissa to arrange it.”
“I hadn’t thought that it was that serious, but both Rebecca and Alissa have been pushing.”
“The only thing that I can say is that the test is important, but you will have more problems with your kids and they will probably end up in a grove.”
Venali said, “Justiciar, why don’t I tell you about the Emperor and his death. How familiar you with Clear?”
“Fairly familiar. A case involving it was my first case, since Justiciar Trislana was having some real problems with it about the time that Lady Bryneiros bought me off the block. Justiciar Trislana had found a manufactury but the parts made no sense. I recognized that they were made from aluminum and a glass that was made in the republic. You probably use the glass somewhat, but at the time, those things could only have come through the Ravathyra.”
“What happened?”
“I’m not sure, being a lowly slave at the time, but I suspect that Eithriel had a chat with Paeris about side businesses and he stopped or at least became more discreet. His father would have killed him, if he had known.”
“Ok, so you know how the stuff is made and that before those things that you talk about showed up, making Clear that affected an elf at all was very difficult. It just wasn’t possible to get the various components pure enough to actually make the final steps. So any Clear was very expensive. Of course, for high elves, it is very toxic. I was not Theodemar’s healer, but I was responsible, as the palace’s healer for the autopsy and I found traces of Clear in the Emperor’s blood and the contents of his stomach.”
“I’m fairly sure that I know the answer, but is there any dosage or medical reason to have given the emperor the drug.”
“The precursor powder can be used to ease a mana burn and as a pain reliever. The final drug only acts on the brain as a hallucigenic and burns an elf’s mana until either the drug is out of the body or the mana is gone. If there is no mana, the drug kills the elf. For somebody like Theodemar, who was suffering severe mana depletion as a result of his efforts against the Blight, even giving him the precursor would not be something that I would do.”
“Theodemar’s healer has had a convenient accident, so I can’t talk with him. The head cook at the palace has been exiled and I may have to send somebody to the Republic to track him down. Would you be willing to discuss this with the Marshall’s doctor and a mage in my office?”
“The Marshall’s have a doctor? That is what they call healers in the Blasted Lands. How did that happen?”
Gander grinned. “I think that I will let her tell the story. I will have to send to the Republic for her, I think. She may have returned with her husband. By the way, this conversation is under Justiciar’s seal, as are any docunments that you hand over. When can you have them ready?”
“In a couple of days. The files are not here.”
“Ok, I think that I will send Myrdin, since he is already here in the city and probably knows your son already.”
“Yes he does. They are on opposing bladder ball teams. At least they were until Myrdin and some others were forced to leave the teams because of new things they could do.”
Gander laughed. “I think that I will move on to my next errand.”
The Hidden City.
Sarya was working with Yrathea, who had demonstrated that she was an able assistant and was helping with the reports leading up to the forthcoming Conclave. The fact that she knew the Hidden City so well was a big help. Kythaela had come down from her desk for lunch and Sarya had recruited her to help, since Kythaela knew most of the people in the reports first hand. As they worked, Sarya asked Kythaela, “How do you manage?”
“The commodore has a lieutenant that more or less replaced me, so my load up at the castle is not that large. Then Byddri doesn’t need me in the Empire all the time and I have a priority use of the portal when Mr. Harper is in the Empire, as he is now. So I can get up to the Empire if I am needed. I’m making sure that my desk is clear for the Conclave as I will be up there for all of it.”
“What will you do for clothes?”
“I have an in with Balladrial, so I will look all elvish for the Conclave. Lady Qinvaris handled that for me.”
“So you have connections with clout.”
“For some things.”
“Access to one of the most sought after dressmakers in the Empire just before the Conclave? That is clout all right.”
Kythaela smiled. “So how did you know about Balladrial? He hadn’t even been born when you were exiled?”
“I have my ways and contacts, as you well know.”
“I think that one just came in through the door. Hello Lady Aezeiros.”
Sayra turned around and said “Mariona, this is a surprise! What brings you here?”
“Having some people shop in the market for exotic spices and new things, and I was told that my old best friend was here, so I availed myself of the opportunity.”
“Welcome. I presume that you know Kythaela and this is her sister, Yrathea.”
“I do know Kythaela, and it is nice to meet you at last, Yrathea. Sarya, you are recruiting at a young age these days.”
“I actually recruited her father long ago and sent him here. While he couldn’t report to me, he did very well for himself. Where is your other sister, Yrathea?”
“Offshore someplace. Captain Pinch has leave this five day and they went for a Swim. Also, Captain Pinch’s sister and mother are coming soon, so Maeralya has been spending more time underwater making sure that the bower is ready.”
“So, you must have something to chat about, Mariona. Spill.”
Mariona grinned. “You don’t want to know all about my children?”
“I’ve already had some chats with Sylvar and Nimue. So you must have something else to discuss.”
“This is something that should remain discreet, but I’m sure that Kythaela already knows about the Emperor. In any case Folmon and Wyrran have found some interesting things down in the Empty Lands and I am sure that certain parties are going to make a move during the Conclave. At this point, if they do not, they will be in deep trouble when Lord Qinvaris and the rest of us go after them.”
“What do you think they are planning?”
“The current darkmage was pursuing a certain book that was in the library of Lythienne’s family. He managed to obtain it and suddenly slaves were all over the Empty Land, digging things up, until they stopped suddenly. There is a control board for the portals that Adiun Beinan has not been able to find. There are some portals still missing, so it may be near one of those. In any case, Adiun is fairly sure at this point that the Darkmage plans to take over the portals, at least temporarily. At this point all the portals near the Darkmage’s base have been activated or replaced. Durlan’s little gang went after some kids in Oceanside and then did not forward them to the snake lady. So the snake lady does not want to start new monsters.”
“She doesn’t? After the captain went through with Lady Bienan and made off with them, she must be very short.”
“Very short as Jimmy made off with most of the “culls” before that happened.”
“Jimmy?”
“You should know about our rather famous landdragon by now.”
“That Jimmy then.”
“Yes. He started in on the culls, retrieving them before he met his princess. At least before they bonded. Between Jimmy and the marines, the lady must be short on monsters. On the other hand, she knows that Rebecca will do her best to send home any kids that Durlan takes.”
“Rebecca being Lady Beinan.”
“That is the lady.”
“The Beinans are an unusual family.”
“I have found them so.”

Chapter 42.
The Fortress.
Rolin looked at the large crate being lifted into the wagons by sweating slaves and said, “I hope that we can make this work.”
“What are you concerned about?” Herdir asked.
“I am concerned that if this is detected prematurely, things could go badly for the House. The coronation gift is traditionally not to be used to promote a House, let alone do something like this.”
“Yet the gift is supposed to be a treasure of the House and demonstrate the House’s wealth and influence.”
“There is a fine line about that. Consider the Beinan’s coronation gift, the swans in the park. It represented the best that the Beinans could do and still was and is a true gift to the Empire. The previous gift from them was the portals.”
“The portals were a coronation gift?”
“Yes.”
“I expect that the Beinans are being paid now to repair the portals.”
“They are. But that is a repair of a thing that the Empire has found to be valuable. Not a part of the original gift.”
“I wonder what they will do this time.”
“Considering the lack of time and how busy the House has been, that is an interesting question. On the other hand, a surprise could be sitting someplace in House Beinan or get shipped in from the Republic or the other Beinan locations. In any case, they will certainly go out of their way to do something amazing.”
“As for this, I think that it will be appropriate.”
The Imperial Palace.
Narbeth looked up as his mother charged into the office. “Narbeth, you must talk to the parks people about an eviction.”
“Evict who, mother?”
“House Qinvaris has a reservation for the palace park all through the Conclave.”
“So? That shouldn’t have been a surprise, considering how much money the House has spent to refurbish the park. Have you not noticed the changes over the last two years?”
“I was planning to have the park.”
“All of it?”
“I have an area set up. But I would prefer not to be disturbed, I was discussing my plans with Lielatha and she said that Rosaniya’s things were very disruptive.”
“Lielatha set something up after Rosaniya had decided to have a carnival to launch the repair of the Swans. Rosaniya actually made her plans and obtained the appropriate permits before Lielatha even thought about her thing. Did you think to reserve the park?”
“I should not have to. I am the dowager empress.”
“Still, I imagine that the park people would like to be able to make arrangements. It sounds as if Rosaniya did and you did not. I was watching your people set up and there was an area near the Swans already marked off. Did you not notice and ask the park people what was going on?”
“I didn’t pay any attention to that.”
“Then at this point, you have two choices, have your thing someplace other than the park or make some sort of deal with Rosaniya. Considering the way you treated her in the past, that may require eating a substantial dish of crow.”
“So you will not have Rosaniya evicted?”
“You can discuss that with Itireae. She is in charge of such things. I wouldn’t expect her to be too sympathetic as she is supposed to remain neutral. If you want a space to yourself, there are others, the Imperial gardens for instance.”
“The park is right next to the palace and the Conclave is meeting here. I was planning to entertain the Seats here.”
“Then you must make some arrangement with Rosaniya. If you do go forward, make sure that you have permits from the parks people and that Rosaniya hasn’t already reserved the space you are planning to use.”
“That is why I am here! She had. In fact she had her man making arrangements almost the day after the Emperor was killed.”
“She knew the probable time that the Conclave was going to occur and took steps, or her man did. Mother, in any case, if I did evict Rosaniya for being prepared, that would set a poor precedent for the start of my reign and right now, after the heroic efforts that House Qinvaris performed to save the Empire, angering lady Qinvaris over something like this is not something I want to do.”
“House Qinvaris should be sanctioned for what Richard did. He tore the Proscriptions to shreds and is going to get away with it.”
“He saved the Empire from another bout of the Turmoils, spending a great deal of his wealth to do so. You may question his methods, but you cannot deny the results. I have to balance the millions of people that are not starving against what Richard did and he did what he had to do.”
“You will change your tune!”
As Narbeth’s mother charged out of the office, Galan came inside. “She couldn’t persuade you to let her have the park, could she?”
“No. Of course her arguments were rather lacking in substance. Did she discuss the issue with you before coming to me?”
“No, but she did try to browbeat Kharis Chaekian into cancelling Rosaniya’s reservation. This is spite of Kharis’s strict policy of first come first served and the fact that Rosaniya has been doing things like providing trees and planting the gardens at her own expense from the estate. You’ve probably noticed the crews working all year.”
“Rosaniya has four kids with three of them having weddings coming up in the next few years. She has a lot of incentive to work with Kharis to make the park a showpiece. She also has friends that are in the same position. Mother should have been paying attention.”
“I think that the big problem was that up until last year, Rosa more or less kept her head down socially, because Richard doesn’t like to flaunt his money due to the fact that he was legally a slave. So Rosa didn’t really entertain. Of course that changed when she had her wedding at last and the girls discovered parties.”
“Now there is something that mother has not considered. The girls are probably on their way back home and making plans.”
“I do hope so. We missed the Winterfaire party, but Lelayme said that it was a lot of fun.”
“Yes it was.”

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