Paeris Triumphant, Chapter 43-44

“Should you be here? After all, you are dead.”

Chapter 43.
The Empty Lands.
Andy turned to Wyrran and said, “This was quite a place at one time.”
“Yes it was. Unlike a lot of places, it was cleaned out by somebody, so it’s hard to tell who owned it.”
“This is a good place to hide our activities. I thought that the Darkmage’s stuff had to go to the Academy?”
“I have junior mages here poking around and House Beinan is a long time associate with the Academy for things like this, so the House can maintain custody as long as a senior mage, myself that is, tracks custody with the Beinans.”
“I expected a harder fight with the Darkmage over these things, but he and any other mages have been no shows. He’s even stopped sending digging crews out.”
“I don’t think that he knows that we are working from the diary and some of the other things we took from the Fortress library. The diary only contained hints of where the various things were, but working from old maps in the archives, and the places the Darkmage had already dug, we were able to find several of the places and more notes. Of course Ciliren has taken over.”
Andy laughed. “She has, hasn’t she? She has all the known archive documents, the things that we found and that draftsman from Beinans putting together all the pieces.”
“I hope that Halamar doesn’t mind getting a rather precocious half elf for a daughter in law.”
“I don’t know him, but the stories about him and his wife have been going around for years and a half elf from the archives will be rather normal for the Beinans. After all they latched onto you fast enough. Here’s the Dragonmaster. We can ask him.”
Wyrran laughed as Qambois asked, “What is so funny?”
“Ciliren and Enny.”
“Yes that is a funny match, considering their rather diverse backgrounds. I think that my old friend Halamar will like it if Ennioyog manages to drag our young archivist off to a cave. They do work well together. Is there anything you want to send to the Hidden City discreetly? I think that I must make a flight there and keep an eye on the Conclave.”
“You have not been invited to attend, Dragonmaster?” Andy asked.
“There have been no invitations from the Regency council. On the other hand, without Prince Ralnor available, the Council cannot meet and do things like pass out invitations for foreigners to attend. I suspect that Dragonmaster Ghedrun will be attending and Dan Harper is already at his son’s home with his wife flying in to the Hidden City today. My attendance is not actually required and Halamar has been invited by his family, so he is attending and my attendance would make the Consul nervous.”
“He’s more than a bit nervous anyway. The Blight justified that more than a bit.”
“We all owe Lord Qinvaris a debt for handling that so well.”
Eribelle.
Iefyr Steelgrinder looked up as his first Lieutenant knocked on his door. “Sir I have Great Captain Daylor Zylvyre and his son, who claims to be your nephew.”
“Show them in.”
The lieutenant showed the elf and his nephew in. Daylor turned to the Lieutenant and said, “It’s just captain these days, Lieutenant. I am no longer in the service of the Ravathyra.”
“Come in, and welcome to Progress, captain. So what brings you both here?”
“Iefyr wanted to see the ship and I have a family problem.”
“What is that?”
“As you know there are a lot of half elf and similar children in Eryding. Surprisingly my wife went to Kharzug and discussed what may be coming. I would never have thought that Nueleth and Kharzug would get together about anything, but they did. Nueleth is fairly sure that what is left of House Ravathrya will attempt to reassert itself and that certain activities will go on. I am sure that you have seen the file on the rescued taken and what happened to them.”
“I am a bit surprised that you have.”
“Lord Shahana, unlike my uncle, prefers that his senior people know things that may affect them and as a senior captain I am kept informed. The issue of the Richflight’s activity is something that concerns everyone in the city.”
“That is understandable. But why come to me?”
“I need a quick way of evacuating a lot of children to the Hidden City.”
“You have the portal.”
“That would work for some of them, but it would be too slow for the numbers that I need to disappear discreetly.”
“So what is your proposal?”
“At some point before the Conclave, Mr. Harper will want to dispatch certain records to the Hidden City for the same reason that I want to remove the children. So just before you leave, the children port down here for a tour and leave on your ship.”
“Just the younger children, I presume?”
“The children from eight to fifteen or so that have not been tested. Almost all the children older than that have been tested and either passed and can Jump or failed and would not interest the Richflights. The mages, on the other hand, are interested, but that testing program has been delayed by events. In any case, this is the children of the age that Durlan and the snake lady want to make monsters from.”
“How many are we discussing here?”
“About a hundred all told. I realize that it is a lot for a ship this size, but I figure that you can cram them in for the three or five days that it will take you to get to the Hidden City.”
“It might not be as bad as that as I am leaving some marines ashore for Mr. Harper’s protection duty.”
“Thank you, captain. This will be a load off my mind and Lord Shahana’s”
Iefyr smiled. “Why don’t I take you and my namesake here on the tour he obviously wants?”
“The all seeing eye included?”
“There isn’t much to see with it powered down and I think that we will skip that anyway.”
“It is probably some weird Beinan thing that is best left to them.”
“I had it explained and yes, that sums it up.”
Elysahone.
Rosaniya waved as the three girls, Tarranth and Sylvar stepped out of the airport terminal. As the porters dealt with the rather large luggage, Rosaniya asked, “Where’s your grandmother?”
“Going to the Hidden City with Aunt Niphinae,” Nimue replied. “The tailed girls are going that way with Aunt’s ship for the trip to our port. We wanted to do some shopping and meet with Dilya about making some things that we saw in the Republic.”
“Why didn’t you just bring them?”
“We did, but if they can make them here, we won’t have to wait for aunt’s ship. We also had some ideas that we want to run by Dilya.”
“I hadn’t planned to stop, but I will let you girls handle this, since you have already started.”
“We have, and this stop is part of that. We also sent messages to the others. We don’t have a lot of time to waste.”
“You all are being rather serious about this.”
“This is our future. We could get stuck with Princess Glynnii and her mother pulling the strings if we don’t move faster than they do.”
“Who have you been talking to?”
“Mrs. Steelmaker, grandmother, uncle, Lady Gwen and Nyla. When we heard about the emperor, we figured that we would need to come home and we wondered how we could help the most.”
“So you all made plans.”
“Yes we did, mother,” Tarranth said. “You sent us away and we want to demonstrate that doing that was not necessary. On the other hand, we took advantage of being out of sight of the clowns and the rest. Where’s Dan?”
“He’s staying in the Fellowship until Winterfaire. I know that all of you don’t want to be left out of this, but I lived through the last turmoils and until this battle is over I want at least one of you out of the country. I would have preferred that you stay in the Republic, but I need you to help set things up for our Conclave parties.”
“We can all Jump, mother and there are portals.”
“Adiun and Wyrran think that the portals may get taken over or shut down. Adiun has patched some portals, but he hasn’t wanted to use too many of the boys before the other side starts to actually shut portals down and it has been Peri, Flix, Midnight and Daylight doing that. The wagon is loaded, so why don’t we get your shopping and other things done.”
House Bienan.
Rebecca looked at the hulking thing that her husband, older son and what seemed to be most of the craftsmen from the Lower City were working on and laughed, “So this what you are doing for the coronation gift. Lielatha is going to hate you.”
Folmon turned to his wife with a grin. “Rebecca, you know what that lady put us through after you came and for what seems like an eternity before you came. Since I and the rest of us had all that experience and the parts handy, making this was easy.”
“How did you get the building itself modeled so well?”
“My father must have planned something along similar lines before he died since they were out at the estate as were the little gargoyles and the rest. There were wax molds for things like the furniture and I had some things made in the Fellowship. In any case, we all have a lot of practice thanks to Lielatha and the Ravathyra’s money. So making an automaton palace was remarkably easy. Father left the plans, I needed a masterwork in any case and this way, my masterwork will not be sitting here at the House.”
‘I thought that we were giving one of the calculating machines to the Imperial Bank?”
“We still are, but too many people know about that and it won’t have the shock value that this will.”
“Where is it going to go?”
“When the new building is ready, in the park. That has already been arranged.”
Halamar and Andaphin came in and said, “We have arrived.”
Rebecca smiled and said, “I hope that you didn’t bring the kids back.”
“No, I did not. I explained to Zaktea that it was not a good time to visit and she insisted that your two stay at the Aerie for the time being. She likes having your two there since they are relatives, but not close relatives, so she can conspire with them.”
“She isn’t flaming Theo, is she?”
“Zireth explained that it was not proper to flame kids who couldn’t flame back. Also, Theo has promised to take her to all the interesting places in the Lower City.”
“That he can do.”
“So what is going on here?”
“I’m making a large automaton of the palace,” Folmon said. “Father started it for the last coronation and the family was dispersed and he and mother killed themselves before he could finish it.”
“So this is a subtle notice that even if a House member dies, the House goes on. I was going to suggest that the House provide a proper Imperial airplane and indeed, I have one prepared as a royal transport. The plane can be shipped to Prince Brouzen.”
“Since the emperor was killed in one, that would not have gone over well.”
“Will you get this done in time?”
“I believe so, if other things do not interfere. We are keeping a lid on this in any case, so that certain parties do not hear of it.”
“Halamar, why don’t you and Andaphin join me in the parlor for tea and let my husband get back to spiting a certain lady.”
As they exited the workshop, Andaphin asked, “Is he spiting a lady?”
“Lielatha Zylvyre will go green with envy when she sees this. She has had an enormous doll house that she has been adding to for a very long time. So she will not be happy to see this.”
“You do know that Folmon may have to make some similar houses once this is seen. There are some rather weathly little girls who may come here from the Fellowship with money begging for something similar.”
“You saw the number of people Folmon has working on this. We are all familiar with the value of making such things. After all I have sold all those music boxes and the various automatons that were here at the House.”
“For very good prices.”
“Yes, we did do very well. There are some more things at the estate that I will need to arrange for. The amazing thing was that the sewing machines sold as well. The machines that we didn’t sell in the Lower City rather discreetly that is.”
“That was not amazing,” Andaphin said. “I know that they were just sewing machines and the House makes them both in the Republic and the Fellowship, but those machines came directly from the House and were crafted by Folmon’s father. I don’t think that Folmon really understands what sort of reputation his father still holds.”
“He feels abandoned, more than a bit. He was left alone, here in the Empire and his parents committed suicide to protect the famly and others who were trying to get under cover, especially the slaves, who the family was concerned about being killed.”
“The fact that it is known that the family will go to such lengths to protect the family’s people is one of the family’s greatest assets,” Halamar said. “It means that we attract the bright lights, which lets the family do great things.”

Chapter 44.
The Assassin’s Guildhall.
The guildmaster looked at the request for quotes in his hands and cursed. He hated political contracts, especially from people who wanted to solve their problems with knives. He had learned that from his father during the events of the last Turmoils and following Conclave. Yet here he was, with a pile of requests from the Imperial House itself. His door opened and a young elf lady that he never expected to see again came in. “Hello Kavrala. Are you returning to the guild?”
“No, I am not considering it. For one thing, I have other tasks and for another, my boyfriend wouldn’t like it. Father sent me to give you a bit of a warning. If you should consider contracts against the vassals of House Qinvaris, the House wants to warn you that it will be tit for tat, and every one you go after will have them going after yours. Starting with you.”
“That would be declaring war against the guild.”
“The war has already started and by accepting contracts against House Qinvaris, doing that puts the guild in alliance with the people who launched the Blight. Lord Qinvaris has already vowed that the people that launched the Blight and anyone who aids them will be destroyed. The Blight has failed and Lord Qinvaris is looking for those responsible. I wouldn’t want to put myself on that list. I would tell whoever is requesting actions against House Qinvaris that they don’t want to be on that list either.”
She turned and left, leaving the guildmaster to his thoughts. He looked at the proposals and started to write no quote on all of them. Even without Kavrala’s warning, the fact that House Qinvaris would know about the guild’s actions and had no love for the guild meant that the ensuing conflict would be costly. The guildmaster thought about what had happened to House Sarafen and if Lord Qinvaris wanted the guild destroyed, the guild would be destroyed.
The Imperial Palace.
Narbeth was surprised at the servant in the rather torn uniform in his room. “Should you be here? After all, you are dead.”
“I just wanted to apologize for that,” Maethanar said. “I know that you were prepared, but I did not consult with you before we did it.”
“There really wasn’t an opportunity and I would have ended up in the seat in the end in any case. The conservatives would not have accepted a fae on the throne and you would have been forced by the Conclave to abdicate because you neglected your duties. The fact is that the Regency went on far too long.”
“I know and until the Ravathrya were pushed off the sea, I was stuck. The Empire needed time to recover. More time than the Master would have given it. We also needed somebody like Richard, a builder rather than somebody who lived off the efforts of others. The High Elves had become too much like parasites, living off the host that was dying and not seeing that if the Host died, so did they. I saw that in my early travels on the roads, but getting that through to the High Elves living in the Cloud City was rather impossible. Richard and the others have changed that.”
“Glynnii and mother want to turn back the clock.”
“They are blindly just trying to increase their own power and working with the Darkmage, of all people. The original Darkmage, his children and now grandchild, hate the Empire and want to destroy it and everything else, or at least put it under their sway.”
“Glynnii and mother were trying to play games about the eligibility of some of the Conclave members.”
“The twenty or so fallen Houses that are part of Richard’s House.”
“Yes.”
“She must be worried about votes, probably because she wants to arrange for some significant pardons.”
“She was discussing Zanis and the other mages under Anathema.”
“That is understandable. If they are under Anathema, the Darkmage cannot place them openly as the Mage Academy will insist that they be turned over or executed, depending on their crimes. In any case, the Darkmage would not have the mages that he will need to maintain his efforts.”
“Suffice to say that the Conclave is going to be interesting.”
“Is there any evidence that your sister will resort to stronger methods?”
“That will not be easy as the guild has formally announced that it will not be taking any contracts until the Conclave is over.”
“Somebody sent a message. Vasati has never liked political contracts in any case.”
“How do you know these things?”
“I spend a fair amount of time in the Lower City and other disreputable places. That brings me to why I am here. For the next little time, I will keep an eye on certain things for you. You have my and Ralnor’s support.”
“Where is he? Lelayme has returned, but he hasn’t.”
“That was a bit deliberate and partly a result of the strain that bearing the Blight had on him and me. Neither Ralnor nor I were well enough to drop right into the fray right after the Blight was contained. As you know, it could have been much worse.”
“I think that mother and Glynnii were counting on that and the fact that I would be drawn out as well. It wasn’t necessary and while I felt the tickles, I wasn’t struck severely because you and Ralnor were at the scene and dealing with the Blight.”
“Richard was there first and ready. I wasn’t really affected until the Blight was launched in Astaire.”
“That is another thing that mother hasn’t considered. Maligning Richard here, where he saved the Empire, is not going to go over well in the Mortal Kingdoms after what he did there.”
“Not hardly. The King of Astaire was rather upset that he couldn’t lavish Richard with awards after he saved the kingdom. The people up there, from the king on down to the serfs know who saved them. Richard has a towering reputation in the Mortal Kingdoms. Glynnii should know about that.”
“If if comes up, I will tell her. So what will you do now?”
Maethanar had a glint in his eye as he said, “I will be around.”
House Ravathrya.
Glynnii and Shaerra were escorted into the rather full room of high elven women. Thalia curtseyed and said “Welcome, Empress Shaerra and princess to our little get together.”
“I felt that it would be well to coordinate things a bit.”
“I understand that Itireae would not release the Palace Park to you and Glynnii.”
“She said that being since she had to be neutral, she would bow to park admistrator Chaekian’s ruling and his ruling was that he had a first come first served policy unless something was negotiated between the various parties. Rosaniya had reserved the park and as far as he was concerned I would have to discuss that with Rosaniya.”
“The shame, especially after you had already started to set up.”
“I had two choices, coordinate with Rosaniya and put up with whatever inappropriate things her daughters and their friends come up with or move to another location.”
“I expect that the girls will turn the park into the same sort of carnival that they have been doing, the same sorts of thing that Rosa did to poor Lielatha.”
“When brother is seated there will be changes in certain positions,” Glynnii said. “Mother and I will force them. I will not let that slave’s daughters get away with humiliating us.”
“They do have a talent for not knowing their place,” Thalia said. “That festival up in the woods last year was just terrible. Then they compounded it by ruining everybody’s plans for Winterfaire when they sucked all those people to that thing they had in that park. I’m not sure what Ralnor and the others were thinking going to that thing. The thing was totally inappropriate. What did you do, Shaerra?”
“I reserved the conservancy on the other side of the palace. It is farther away, on the other side of the gardens, but it was the best that I could do since Itireae is not letting any of the spaces in the palace itself go to me.”
“Why not?”
“Itireae is reserving those spaces for the craftsmen of the Lower City. There are also spaces being set aside for the international press and representatives.”
“The press? Why would Itireae care about them? They are foreigners!”
“That is what her staff told me. The press is being read by influential people in the Blasted Lands, the dwarven kingdoms and the mortal kingdoms. Itireae told me that she wanted to make the Conclave as showpiece to rebut all the misinformation that the foreigners have built up about us and increase understanding.”
Lielatha joined them and said, “That is twaddle. We should be telling the other countries what we want, or just taking what we want.”
“I agree, Lielatha,” Glynnii said. “Unfortunately we must endure Itireae’s notions for the time being. At present, we must make our plans to assert ourselves in the Conclave. Otherwise we leave the field to Rosaniya and her rather inappropriate daughters.”
Nueleth took a sip of the wine as she watched the ladies plot. At this point she could see that the ladies had no thought about changing their ways as their world changed. Changes that Nueleth had been helping to make for a long time. Driving Daylor out of the townhouse here in the Cloud City had been more painful than she liked to admit, but if she were discovered, the consequences could be dire. For almost a century she had been her cousin Itireae’s window into the Ravathyra. The good part of driving Daylor into Kharzug’s bed was that she had a discreet ally in Eryding and stepchildren that could easily be inserted into the servants when things like this were going on. Even Daylor didn’t know that she and Kharzug had been conspirators almost from the start. She made a discreet signal to a uniformed Iefyr who waved a plate under and around the Empress, the princess and Thalia. Delsaran came over, looking very good in his dress uniform and said, “You recruited Iefyr and Ynaselle again, mother. At some point, you are going to have to tell father about your little game.”
“I know, but not today. As for those two, what certain ladies do not know about will not hurt them.”
“They may be caught out.”
“They are hardly the only family byblow that I hired for this.”
“It is my turn on duty at the emperor’s casket, so I must leave you.”
“Keep the emperor safe, unlike the people up in Astaire.”
“I will, mother.”
Thalia had left the Empress and the princess and circulated as Nueleth stood on the sidelines and managed, as she usually did, the details that kept things from becoming a social disaster. After some time of drifting through the crowd, she reached Nueleth and said, “Thank you Nueleth, for making this work.”
“You’re welcome, Thalia. It is nice to see my hard work for the House appreciated.”
“We do, at least some of us do. Especially when you have stayed with the House even though your husband has left it, the traitorous beast.”
“I know my place and Daylor and I were hardly speaking to each other in any case. This is a small contribution to the House that I can make.”
“Not as small as all that. I must circulate and get things put together. After the luncheon we must coordinate our efforts.”
After the luncheon, Nueleth kept notes as various plots were put together. She was a bit dubious that some of them would actually work, such as setting Toross and his thugs on Rosaniya’s park carnival. Nueleth had considered actively sabotaging the plots, but she grinned at the thought of what Rosaniya would do if somebody messed with her thing. It was not wise to mess up your grocer. Surprisingly Lielatha squelched assaulting Rosaniya’s things for the same reason.
The meeting over, Nueleth went to her office here in the House and sat down. Iefyr and Ynaselle came into the office and Iefyr said, “Stepmother, we are reporting.”
“Good. What did you hear that didn’t come up at the meeting?”
Iefyr and Ynaselle went over the various things that they had heard as Nueleth took notes. When they were done, they headed to the kitchen for lunch and Nueleth rang for a servant. “Have Narbeth see me.”
Narbeth Torlee headed to Nueleth’s office with a bit of a grin. Unlike some of the other ladies, Nueleth had come from a family that had been brought down and was recovering. So Nueleth was not in the habit of making unreasonable demands and understood when issues arose. Nueleth understood and more importantly, knew how to make things work. He walked into the lady’s small and well kept office and said, “You wanted to see me, milady?”
“Yes. The other ladies are planning for the Conclave and I want to know ahead of time what foods are not going to be available.”
Narbeth sighed. “There may be some issues there. The family has lost most of our hothouses and garden farms to House Zylvyre and House Shahana.”
“Has there been any efforts to reestablish?”
“No one has authorized a budget.”
“In any case that would not help us now. Has any staff been to the Retreat?”
“No, why?”
“I was thinking that there may be some exotic shellfish and the Retreat is not that far from the Fellowship. We can make purchases there of things that we do not have, pineapples, for instance. I imagine that the Qinvaris and the rest already know how to make such purchases, that is if they are not having things sent right up from the Republic. When you do send somebody, see what you can do about flowers. Also see what interesting things you can find in the Lower City.”
“Milady, you are a joy to work with. The other ladies would be screaming over what we do not have and you are looking to work with what we have.”
“The other ladies were not paying attention to what the girls will get up to. I went to the Yellowleaf Festival and the Winterfaire party. The difference we have at this time is that we have to be clever on a tight budget and the Qinvaris do not. That being said, the girls know how to use the assets they have at hand.”
“I have heard the stories. The things at Mariona’s did not have that impact and they have hardly done very much during the season.”
“I suspect that Mariona and their mothers wanted to keep them from being too successful and drawing too much fire. In any case, we must do what we can.”

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