Paeris triumphant, Chapters 47-48

Artamo and Moonflower get some visitors with questions. Paeris and the Justiciars make preparations.

Chapter 47.
Treehollow Faery Kingdom.
Artamo looked at Moonflower in trueform and sighed a bit. She looked at him and said, “Now what was that about?”
“My life has gone so far from what I thought it would be. I had planned a life of service to the gods.”
“You are serving the gods. Just because it is not in a cassock does not mean that it is not service. I don’t think you appreciate just how rare and precious you are. I have waited a long time for my bond.” She kissed him. “Now that I have it, I will not let you go. From now on, we are together.”
“How old are you?”
“I’m somewhere between twenty and a hundred. That is all I am going to tell you. As far as that goes, the time before you came along, no matter how long it was, doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you are here. Age doesn’t really matter to fae. At least not the way you were used to. There are two that are a case in point.”
Two fae had entered the open space in front of Artamo and Moonflower’s cabin. They transformed into trueforms as Moonflower said, “So what brings you two here, Springrose and Larranth?”
“Some people in our old lives,” Larranth said. “I understand that your bonded came from outside the woods.”
“He did, just like you did.”
“Did he come from the Empire?”
“No, Art came from a village on the border of Dolmon and his faery kingdom, why?”
Larranth looked a bit disappointed as he said, “We were wondering if he would know of the fate of our little Rose.”
“What House did your Rose come from?” Art asked. “Perhaps we can find her. She may have been exiled.”
“Our House was Qinvaris. We had rumors that the House was crushed, but there on the border was an estate with the House flag.”
Art looked at Moonflower with a frown. “I’m still new at this. Should we tell them or send them to Marcus? Is this something that the lorekeeper and gatekeeper should deal with? At home, people would come to mother with things involving the outside world.”
“Why don’t we all go see Marcus and Dalia? Larranth, this is a bit complicated to explain easily.”
“It is? All I want to know is if Rose is still in the Empire and why my house flag is flying over an estate far from where the estate was. Did Rose marry far from our home estate?”
Art laughed. “You could say that. Moon is right, I think, and you and us should see the lorekeeper and see if he has newspapers covering recent events.”
“Very well, we will meet you there.”
The pair disappeared and Moon said, “I couldn’t just tell them. The story is rather hard to believe and we had it from people that know Rosa and Richard. Let us Jump.”
“In trueform?”
“Why not? We aren’t leaving the kingdom, so it doesn’t matter. For that matter, I expect you to spend time even outside the kingdom in trueform. That is who you are now. Now Jump!”
Art did, to the actually quite large house and attached village on the border that was the home of Marcus, the lorekeeper and his wife, Dalia, who managed the Kingdom’s contacts with the outside world. Larranth and Springrose were waiting as they emerged from Jump and Marcus opened the door and said, “Come in, come in. So what may I do for you all, this day?”
“I wanted to know about my elf granddaughter and Artamo suggested that you might know why my old House flag is flying over an estate far from where the family estate lay.”
“What was your House?”
“House Qinvaris. Artamo said that it was complicated.”
“Let us go to the library and I will explain. I haven’t kept the newspapers, but the recent events are easily explained.”
Marcus led the four into the library and to a table where they sat down. He looked at Larranth and said, “You want to know about House Qinvaris?”
“I left it to my son, when I felt the pull of woods. I hadn’t thought about it until recently when Springrose and I were flying over the Empire and there, was our House flag over an estate far from where the House was.”
“That is because the House has grown, more than a bit. Your son, I am afraid, is dead, killed by assassins after the last Blight.”
“I knew that. I was concerned about my grandson and especially my granddaughter.”
Marcus went to a shelf and removed a book and showed it to Larranth. “Your Grandson has done well. He was exiled to the Republic after your son and his wife were murdered, started to write stories and has only grown in fame as the years have passed. He produces books for the children about the Empire.”
“He sells that many?”
“Books in the Republic are printed and he sells a great many, for which his publisher pays him a royalty.”
“What about my granddaughter?”
“That is a truly remarkable story. She was left with the House in the Empire, alone. None of the high would arrange a marriage for fear of being held responsible for the Blight.”
“The House was not small. Was it crushed?”
“Not at all. Lady Rosaniya was left to her amusements, but never a marriage. In the meantime, in the early days of the Regency, House Naelana was crushed and an elf lady named Lythienne was exiled. She was dropped in the Republic on the land of a man named Daniel Harper, with whom she shared blood and married. They had eight children, including a son named Richard. Richard was taken with some difficulty by the Ravathyra and sold on the slave market to House Qinvaris. Lady Rosaniya spotted him and arranged to get into his bed as Richard used his skills and the fact that he knew how to deal with farm issues to rise rapidly ever higher in the House farm management. By the end of a year, Richard was running the farm and Rosaniya was pregnant with their first child. Because of poor management and neglect, Richard was able to take over an ever larger share of the farms in the Empire. That is why you saw the House Qinvaris flag far from what you remember. The estate is probably one that the House owns outright. One of many.”
“That is rather an unbelievable story. How did this Richard deal with the Blight?”
“That is an even bigger story that has not seen its end. To start with, his sons discovered the means by which the Blight was launched and demonstrated that the Blight was deliberate. Then Lord Qinvaris purchased large machines and harvested faster than the Blight could spread. When the Blight was launched in the Mortal Kingdoms, he sent his crews to harvest and fight the Blight even before the House itself had not finished the harvest.”
“The whole story sounds rather incredible. That a slave could do so much.”
“It has been amazing to see. Of course the full story as only been told recently and even though the Blight has been defeated fully and for the rest of time, more than likely, the story is not over.”

Chapter 48.
The Empty Lands.
Stormfire looked at the wagons and the rest of the preparations and turned to Paeris to ask, “What are you doing?”
“What I do best. Exchange Street is going to get a visit in the morning.”
“None of us authorized that.”
“I took it upon myself. It shouldn’t interfere with anything you are doing, we need the funds and more importantly, the people here need the practice.”
“What if they know that you are coming?”
“That is why I am doing this before the funeral. I will have Berry and Stargazer go ahead and get a look before I commit and I want to get together with your brother and arrange to shut down certain portals for about a twentieth tomorrow morning.”
“You are going to rob the Qinvaris?”
“Actually no, I am going to rob the others. I imagine that Richard has made preparations and moved his key paper out of harm’s way. The others have probably not.”
“I see. Why don’t we talk to my brother and arrange things.”
Hall Of The Justiciars.
Kelvahn looked at the twelve Justiciars and said, “Are the precautions done?”
“Alissa has taken all the kids that can’t Jump yet on a school trip to Elysahone,” Gander said. “That is the Justiciary’s kids as well as the usual school kids and the fae. They are all on their way to the Aerie to meet up with their friends for the duration of the Conclave. The rest of the families are more or less out on the estates of the Justiciars.”
“Ok, we have the kids out of the way. With the number of high potential kids in our little family, we are a tempting target. Alen, how are you set?”
“I have the guards ready in the Lower City,” Alen said. “The guns are in the guardhouses.”
“Excellent. If we get any pain from the Inquisition over the fact that the Justiciars and the guard are arming ourselves, I’ll take the heat when the Conclave is over. We avoided the Turmoils this time and I will not let the things responsible rampage through the Lower City. Haramara?”
“Itireae and I have been working on posting my people in key places in and around the palace. We also managed to drive Shaerra out of the palace for her things, so she will not be able to infiltrate darkmages or other undesirables into the palace itself as parts of her staff. Fortunately most of the former Ravathyra that she might have used in the past are either in the Republic, have joined the marines or are part of House Shahana now. That includes the Great Captains, who, depending on their pasts, have retired to estates or captain ships for the Shahana.”
“Have you talked with Mr. Harper about borrowing some of those marines?”
Haramara grinned. “His daughter is bringing her first company to perform for Rosaniya’s thing. Just who is included has not been specified and there will be a cruiser visiting at Eribelle during the Conclave.”
“Evin?”
“I met together with General Grevaris and Dragoncaptain Swiftlight and quietly dispersed some troops and dragonguards with some of my people to key road junctions in the Empire.”
“What if the portals shut down?”
“We can use the wire service for communications and Lord Qinvaris has arranged so that his trucks and GPs are available for our use. We can move faster than the other side will think that we will be able to. We’ve also been working with the Portal Sevice on special reset keys and making list of key portal addresses. If they do shut things down, we will still be able to function somewhat.”
“It sounds as if you are more than a bit prepared.”
“I’m prepared for some things. I’ve also talked with the Mage Academy and they have some people ready.”
“Traelion?”
“Adiun Beinan and I are watching the portals like a hawk. I’ve set up a healers and report station at the city gates and the Portal Service office has extra people to handle ports that didn’t connect. The army ready force will take station at the city gates just before the Emperor’s funeral. Adiun has his fae and tested boys ready to Jump to disconnected portals with patch codes and reset keys. We should be able to restore portals even if they get cut out.”
“Until we actually see what the other side does, there isn’t much more that you can do. Lhoris?”
“The dragonguard and I are watching the coast. The navy is watching for those Ravathrya raiding ships, but as far as that goes, they are still down there near the Retreat and being watched. The other pirates are low on the ground or gone. I have seafolk watching offshore of the Yllanan and Qinvaris ports as well as Eryding and Iylesera. I don’t think that Eribelle will get raided.”
“That sounds good. Eithriel?”
“I have people keeping an eye on the old sticks. I think that you can guess what some are up to. Most of them do not have funds to hire mercenaries and frankly, if they go to the usual Lower City places to try, they will be rather disappointed. Between Tony and Richard, all those types are doing other things.”
“So no real surprises there, Bellas?”
Bellas Tridove grinned. “The roads are going to be an issue if you don’t have a car, truck or motorcycle. At least the main post roads will be. Folwin Glynynore has made certain roads motor vehicle only.”
“The Inquisition won’t like that.”
“The Inquisition doesn’t use the roads and the caravan Houses went to trucks as soon as they could get gas and the roads were improved. If you want to use the old way stations rather than a bus, there are alternate roads.”
“That changed in a hurry.”
“Once Lord Qinvaris started to move and improve the Post roads and provide gas, the Houses saw the advantage and took it.”
Kelvahn grinned. “Will I have to be paying for GPs all too soon?”
“You may.”
“We could use them,” Tannatar Beizumin said. “I think that we take advantage of the portals a bit much.”
“At least Eribelle won’t be a first level target. Have you been coordinating with Admiral Shanelis?”
“Yes. Also with Captain Steelgrinder. I have emergency writs prepared if we need the marines.”
“Good. What about the Mage Academy, Lafarallin?”
“They already took steps and we have things set up to coordinate,” Lararallin Kexisys said. “This is not going to be a repeat of the fiasco that created the Empty Lands. Gander, thank you for that identification system.”
“You’re welcome, Lararallin, I stole it from my Repbulican service days. I had the colored badges done in the Lower City.”
“I don’t really care where you got the system, I’m glad that we have it.”
“Bellas, as our roving Justiciar at large, have you picked up anything,” Kelvahn asked.
Bellas Liamenor grinned. “Other than the usual treason plots in the Cloud City, you mean? The outside cities and the rest of the hinterlands are all for seating Richard as Emperor. There is a huge sense of relief that the Blight was squashed and except for some slightly higher flour prices, the effects are going to be minimal. If the high play games with Richard, it will not go over well anyplace other than the Cloud City.”
“Richard does not want to be emperor,” Gander said. “I am sure of that.”
The table laughed as Kelvahn asked, “What about Exchange Street, Folos?”
Folas Valmys frowned. “That could be troublesome. The Imperial Bank and House Qinvaris have taken steps and the Exchequer has already closed down for the Conclave and ported their paper to their vault. House Yllanan, House Shahana and House Travyre have all told the banks that they work with to take steps and they have. The problem is that the smaller banks and Houses haven’t listened to me, Richard, Taenararan or Vesryn when we all tried to tell them that they needed to take steps.”
“We can put extra people on the Street.”
“Have a ready team set. Unfortunately there isn’t a good way to hide extra people and keep them concentrated. The High guard is tied up with the funeral and the coming Conclave and the Lower City guard cannot act without a real emergency. If the other side messes with portals and shows up tomorrow, things could get ugly. Especially if they start randomly killing people on the Street.”

“Do what you can. I think that is all for now. Be sharp. The Darkmage and his family have been planning for whatever it is that they are planning for a very long time. We need to be flexible and prepared. That is what we will be. If we fail, our heads are almost certainly on the block.”

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