Paeris Triumphant, Chapter 49-50

Paeris visits Exchange Street. Wyrran Visits Portal 1000.

Chapter 49.
Exchange Street.
Berry and Stargazer Jumped in and started to walk around the street as things started to get busy this last day before the Conclave. They had come a five day ago with crystals to take pictures and see just how the guards and banks secured themselves. Now, they walked, though the crowds from one end to the other and when the security did not seem to have changed, other than the Exchequer being closed, they Jumped out to where Paeris was waiting. Berry saluted and said, “Things look good, Great Captain. No real changes.”
Paeris blew a whistle, activated the Camp portal and followed Stormwolf’s squad through the portal.
Taenaran looked down as a devise on his desk suddenly rang a bell. He looked back at Richard and said, “Time for you to Jump out of here, Richard.”
“I don’t want to leave you here in the lurch.”
The screams started come through the windows as Taenaran called out, “Jaonos! If Lord Qinvaris does not Jump home, you take him there!”
“Yes Lord Orivalur!”
“I’m going, I’m going!”
Richard disappeared. Jaonos came into the office and said, “He Jumped, didn’t he?”
“Yes. Go the House and make sure that he went home. Then get back here. We may need you.”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure yet, but we have nasty visitors.”
Paeris looked at the panicking and rapidly disappearing crowds and grinned. He turned to Berry and said, “Go and tell the wagons to come through.”
Hall Of The Justiciars.
Folas Valmys charged into the Hall and called out to Mhaenal “Exchange Street has been attacked! Get Kelvahn and the High guard!”
“Why are you here?”
“I ported home last night and when my alert went off, the port to Exchange Street dropped to the city gates. I already told Traelion. We need to get people on the street from the next portal over. I am on my way to the Portal Service.”
“Wait a hundredth, Justiciar. Eddie!”

“Yes Mhaenal!”
Mhaenal wrote down a quick note. “Jump down to the Portal Service and take this to Adiun. Exchange Street has just been attacked and somebody’s messing with portals.”
Eddie disappeared and Mhaenal said, “When you have a resource, you should use it. Let’s get things put together and the guard ready.”
Exchange Street.
Paeris looked at his watch and at the activity going on as the teams assaulted the various counting houses, offices and banks. When setting this up, he had expected that the Qinvaris and their allies would be prepared. With that in mind, he ignored those places that were connected with House Qinvaris, House Shahana and House Yllanan. House Beinan did not have a presence on the street and House Travyre did its banking in Red Mountain. The question now is how long the portals would remain down and how the Portal Service would react. The Master had arranged for the portals to be shut down for two twentieths. Paeris was planning for one, at best before the guard, Justiciars and Portal Service got their acts together. Looking up from his watch, he called out “MOVE YOU SLUGS! WE HAVEN’T GOT ALL DAY!”
The first wagon with its load passed though the activated portal.
The Portal Service.
Wyrran had the desk this morning and when the board started to show error codes he went to the door and said, “Vinny, go and get Adiun. We have some remote shutdowns and overrides. Nebula, start checking portals 0125-0140, starting with 0140, for remote shutdowns. It looks like whatever is happening is concerned with Exchange Street. Take an armed team with you and be careful. There could be mages involved.”
The pair disappeared. After about 20 hundreths, Eddie appeared and said, “Mage Wyrran, Exchange Street is under attack. They are messing with the portals.”
“I know. There’s Adiun, so give us the report.”
Eddie handed him a note. “Here’s what Mhaenal wrote. I need to get back.”
Eddie disappeared. Flix came from the direction of the front Portal Service Portal. Wyrran turned to him and said, “Flix, Jump to the Justiciars and coordinate with them. You know them and can coordinate with us. Take the spare panel, a team and a small portal. You and your team go armed.”
“Yes Wyrran!”
Flix started to put things together as Wyrran turned to Adiun and said, “Apparently somebody decided to attack Exchange Street this morning and took over several portals to do so.”
“How many?”
“The portals on Exchange Street, Market Street and the market section of Imperial Way, Portals 0125-140. Portals 0125, 0135, and 0140 have been patched. Kaylessa and I did 0135 when we went to Exchange Street to open an account for her. The other two portals on Exchange Street have not been patched.”
“You are in charge here. There’s Kaylessa.”
Richard appeared, looked around and said, “You know.”
“Were you on Exchange Street, Milord,” Wyrran asked.”
“Yes, until my manager set a landdragon on me.”
“Who is doing this?” Adiun asked.
“It looks like Paeris. The sudden rush and creating as much initial chaos and terror as possible is his style. I didn’t get much chance to see very much before I was kicked out of my own building by my very loyal employees.”
Peri arrived and Adiun said, “So, where have you been?”
“Dessielle and I were in Elysahone overnight and I patched some portals in the surrounding towns before I came in. What’s happening?”
“Paeris raided Exchange Street this morning.”
“You want me to go and get the Marshalls, I suspect.”
“Do that and come back.”
Peri and his grin disappeared. Richard said, “It looks as if you have things in hand, so I will be on my way.”
He disappeared. Adiun looked at Wyrran and said, “Did you put a trace on the board?”
“I had it set to autotrace. I find that, while it slows the response down, if an issue arises having the trace already available saves time. I gave the second board to Flix to take with him to the Justiciars.”
“Let’s take a look at what you have.”
They did and Adiun said, “Why are all these port address requests coming from Portal 1000? They cover all the portals that shutdown.”
Wyrran went to the portal books and looked up portal 1000. “Peri logged Portal 1000 as dangerous when he first started.”
“I remember that. It was right after I drafted him. That was the temple that worshipped the portal. I never thought to check back.”
Wyrran grinned. “I think that we just found the control board. Those aren’t address requests. At least the address requests are just checks. Those are shutdown commands. For some reason, and if things are as you say, the board may have been set so that Portal 1000 sends the requests to check that the commands are working properly and the people operating the board do not know what that does.”
“So what do we do?”
“Kaylessa and I go over the Portals that have been shutdown and see where the command ties in and what it does. Then we make up a patch that if an address request is received from Portal 1000, to show that the portal has been disconnected. I take a team in the early morning and quietly patch the control board so that it no longer disconnects anything, but gets the response from Portal 1000 that it does.”
“Be very careful with that.”
“Kaylessa and I talked this over. First of all, we want to hide the fact that we are doing it, and second, if the enemy knows that they have lost control of the portals, they will be coming after the Portal Service to get that back. In any case, we have to be as good as Gracie and Yeldan or Gracie will never let us here the end of it.”
“I will never let you and my sister hear the end of what?” Gracie asked as she walked in.
“Wyrran and Kaylessa are stealing the portal control board without letting the other side know that they did it,” Adiun replied.
“Mother will love it if you two can pull it off. I thought that you didn’t know where the board was?”
“Paeris is in the process of raiding Exchange Street as we speak. The portals were messed with from Portal 1000. I think that we just found the board.”
Exchange Street.
Paeris looked at the hostages all penned on the street. He had a sense that the Justiciary and the guard were already poking around. The hostages on either end of the street kept them from trying something like a cavalry charge while setting shields on the hostages prevented the fae or near fae that Paeris was sure that the Justiciars had recruited from just Jumping and removing the hostages. So far the raids on the various banks had been nearly bloodless as the various guards and bank officers capitulated in the face of superior force.
Tom cursed at the setup. When things started, he had been on Market Street looking for an engagement band for Naexi. In spite of wearing a collar and this being the Cloud City, none of the artisan and jewelry places that he had visited had even blinked when he showed up. The amazing thing was the rather exotic and expensive slave collars that all the places had. He suspected that there was more money held by slaves that, since it wasn’t taxed, piled up fairly quickly.
He had just exited a store when the rush started from Exchange Street. Going the other direction, he flashed his badge and started to collect guards. When he reached Exchange Street, the first hostages had already been lined up, guarded by monsters. He could sense the shield and Jumped to the other end of Exchange Street. With the street curving along the edge of the plateau that made up the palace district and the line of banks and counting offices, Exchange Street itself had no cross streets.
After returning to the other end of the street, Tom had the beginnings of a headquarters set up and had managed to keep the guard and high guard arriving from the palace from charging in when the team arrived from the Portal Service, followed by Mhaenal and Folas. Mhaenal saw him and said, “Tom, you are here already?”
“I was shopping on Market Street.”
“What is the Situation?”
“According to witnesses, Paeris Zylvyre exited a portal with monsters and started to raid the counting houses and banks of Exchange Street. He has placed hostages at the ends of the street to block it off.”
“Do you have any idea which banks he is attacking?”Folas asked.
“I haven’t had a chance to have somebody get in there to see and he has shields up so that random fae can’t mess him up. Our people that can Jump haven’t arrived yet.”
“We weren’t prepared for this,” Mhaenal said. “We should have set up an action team to respond to things like this.”
Folas looked at him and said, “You just got yourself a job, Mhaenal. Go back to the hall and set it up. Tom can keep an eye on things here for you.”
Jonny showed up with more Justicial slaves, not even trying to hide the fact that they had rifles. “Tom where do you want the snipers?”
“Have Jumpers look into the Qinvaris building and the Imperial Bank roofs. I don’t think that Paeris has hit them.”
“Will do.”
Jonny started to get the Justiciary people arranged as more arrived.
Stargazer had been on the roof of the Imperial bank discreetly since things had started. The Great Captain had wanted eyes on the roofs of the Bank and Qinvaris offices to tell him when other fae showed up. Right now Stargazer watched two apparent slaves wearing House Bryneiros livery Jump in and scanned for the Great Captain. He Jumped to the Great Captain’s location and said, “We have watchers, milord.”
“Where?”
“The Imperial Bank.”
“Setting up for snipers, no doubt.” He looked at his watch. “Jump to the teams inside the banks and tell them to start closing things down. We go with what we have.”
“Yes milord.”
Jonny cursed as his team reached the edge of the roof, only to see that using the cover of mingled hostages, the raiders were heading toward the four portals and starting to leave, wagons of loot leaving first, followed by squads of Ravathrya enhanced and the monsters. Paeris was lost in the crowds as the now empty street was left, filled with wounded and terrified civilians.
Kelvahn exited the sedan chair with Gander and said, “How bad is it?”
“I don’t know yet,” Folas replied. “The bastard got away with a fair amount of cash and even worse, quite a stack of ledgers and convertable paper. Some banks are going to be hit hard and I suspect that some will go under, since they don’t have the records of their accounts.”
“How many killed?”
“About thirty. Most of them were in the intial rush and the rest were bank guards that tried to resist. There are healer teams here already from the Sisters of Ayja Hopital on the other side of Imperial way.”
“At least that part went well.”
A fae in Marshall’s uniform appeared with several others and looked around. “From the lack of activity, it appears that the Great Captain is gone.”
“Yes. He must have been watching for our snipers and other people to arrive as the hundredth we started to put people on the roofs to see what was going on, he started his pull out. We were slow in response.”
“I am Echo Tigerstripe. I am Marshall Swiftfire’s second and since he has returned to the Republic, have taken over the Great Captain’s case. I suspect that the Great Captain taking action here will change things in the Empty Lands.”
“It may. There will be a lot to sort out and this came at the worst possible time. The emperor’s funeral is tomorrow and we are stretched thin already.”
“You will have my assistance.”
A rather large contingent from the Portal service arrived with Mage Wyrran. Folas looked at them and snarled, “What happened to the portals this morning?”
Wyrran actually grinned. “Somebody did something that they probably shouldn’t have. They used the portal control board to disconnect the portals around Exchange Street.”
“The portal control board? Doesn’t the Portal Service have that?”
“Unfortunately no, the Service does not. The board was placed in a secure location to prevent it being assaulted. During the Turmoils, the portal to the board was cut off and the Portal Service board people there manipulated. So the board was lost and the location unknown. At least it was until the Darkmage’s people used it for this and the people using the board made a mistake. I need to trace the Great Captain’s ports.”
Wyrran got started on that and after looking at all four portals, three of them ported to the Camp, the road portal and the Retreat. The fourth was a mystery, as it was one of the portals that Wyrran had discovered from the Empty Lands that had been moved a long time ago. Once he had all the scans, he joined the Justiciars and said, “Three of the ports were to the Camp, the road portal and the Retreat. The fourth was to an unknown Portal.”
“Which one was the unknown?” Folas asked.
“That one there in the middle of the street, next to that little park overlooking the Lower City.”
“The portal that the wagons with the ledgers and other things that Paeris really wanted went to. The wagons with cash probably went with the troops. Where is the unkown portal?”
“The direction of the trace seems to point to the Fellowship. I will have Starflower Jump down to Zirgoccol and see if the Port shows up. Terry is already there. The portal was one I found in the Empty Lands and was moved. Of course they didn’t tell me where and if the Great Captain talked with Durlan, the portal could have been moved using Durlan’s truck.”
Tiger called one of his people over and after a brief discussion, the other disappeared. He turned to the others and said, “I sent Swiftflight to the Fellowship. This was well crafted. Have you discussed your grandmother with your fellows, Justiciar Dawkins? She may be of assistance in this, since the great captain is active.”
Gander frowned. “You are right that I should consult with her, but that may raise some issues. I think that I will have to have a rather long discussion about the Great Captain with her.”
Lylalune.
Paeris grinned as the crates containing the treasure that he had been after were loaded on the four fast boats that had been delivered here. He boarded the last boat as it pulled away and called out, “Let’s go!”
Lieutenant Lazg looked at the departing boats in frustration. There had been rumors about the eight boats being built for some time, but in all the other things that his unit had been tied up with, chasing down the yard and the boats had been forced to the backburner until the boats had been finished and delivered here to the dock that the Ravathrya owned through proxies. The Portal that had been used to take the school class had been removed by the Portal Service. Apparently there had been either another portal or the Richflights had placed one here using a truck. The problem now was that while elves driving trucks would have been unusual last year, the changes that Lord Qinvaris had caused meant that quite a few elves now drove trucks for one reason or another. In any case the portal had been here and the boats had as well. The lieutenant looked over the abandoned wagons and returned to his car to find a phone and call this in. He wasn’t quite sure what he was seeing, but it involved quite a few people and probably Paeris Zylvyre, who had come out of hiding.
Zirgoccol.
Terry had escorted the last things that Folmon had wanted out of the House before the Conclave and was checking his old office when the portal board lit up. This time it was a port from the Empire to a portal in Lylalune again. Since the portal there had been removed and Durlan, along with his crew had been seemingly inactive, the port was a surprise, especially since the port was not from a portal that he recognized and he was familiar with all the portals near the Camp. He prepared to catch a cab to military intelligence when Starflower came in through the door. “Good you are still here. Did you track any unusual portal activity?”
“There was a long port from someplace in the Empire to Lylalune again. I was just going to head over and report it.”
“Call it in and we can see about getting a plane. Paeris Zylvyre just robbed Exchange Street in the Empire.”
“Ok, I will call this in.”
Terry called Miltitary intelligence and got Ozga. “Ozga, this is Terry. Is the Lieutenant available?”
“I was just going to call your office Terry. There may be another portal in Lylalune.”
“There is. Was he there?”
“What happened?”
“Apparently Paeris Zylvyre has just raided Exchange Street in the Cloud City.”
“That’s not good. I will tell the colonel and his boss. Can you Jump?”
“I can. Starflower is here and can’t for at least another two Twentieths.”
“You meet the Lieutentant at the warehouse. I will call the Dragonmaster and tell him what happened.”
Terry put the phone down and said, “Starflower, I think that I need to Jump to Lylalune. The portal people should be coming.”
She kissed him “Go ahead, but don’t do something stupid. I will be behind you with the portal team as soon as we can arrange it.”
Terry disappeared and Starflower took the elevator upstairs to the head office. Licient looked at her and said, “What happened and where is Terry?”
“Terry is chasing after that portal in Lylalune. Paeris Zylvire just raided Exchange Street in the Empire.”
Licient had a shocked expression as she said, “That’s not good. What did he take?”
“He pillaged a lot of counting houses and banks of their ledgers and convertible paper.”
“So he can hold them hostage. Clever, especially if he can make sure that he is not followed.”
“He sent the troops and the cash to the Empty Lands. The ledgers and things went with him to Lylalune.”
“The navy will be all over him if he tries to use the coaster again. On the other hand, this is Paeris Zylvyre. So he had a plan. Was Terry meeting with somebody?”
“The Lieutentant was already in Lylalune. He may have spotted the Great Captain.”
“So Terry left you behind. Have you gotten him to a grove yet?”
“We were planning it soon and then the Blight and the rest of it came up. My parents want to meet with Terry’s soon and have a real wedding after my brother’s.”
“I want to know all about those.”
Lylalune.
Terry used the Jump point that the Marshalls had set up during the Richflight’s kidnapping of the bus full of schoolchildren. When he arrived, there were already a team of Marshalls and the lieutenant and his people. The Lieutenant looked up and said, “Good you are here. There is another portal in the area. Paeris Zylvyre was here with some wagons and people. They left on boats.”
“Not the coaster again?”
“No, unfortunately. The Great Captain has been shopping for the kind of boats that the modern well equipped pirate would use. Unfortunately he has them. Fast gas powered boats like the Fellowship’s torpedo boats without the torpedoes.”
“He probably didn’t think that he could get torpedoes.”
“Definitely not. Unfortunately there are enough old deck guns from scrapped ships that he could get. Just the thing for threatening steamers and sailing vessels. I was trying to track the boats from the yard that built them to Paeris when he showed up with wagons, boarded the boats and took off.”
“Are the boats that chased the coaster still here?”
“No, unfortunately. We didn’t have enough on what the Great captain was doing to tell the navy yet and since the coaster was submitting itself for inspection before it left port, the navy didn’t want to have resources here to support the boats.”
Exchange Street.
Prince Narbeth, Vullas and Almon joined the people trying to make order out of the chaos of the morning as the midday hour approached. They found Kelvahn, Folas and Gander with a bunch of rather upset high elves explaining to them what had happened that morning. Richard and Taenaran were standing in the background with Vesryn Shanan and Esgalwathanar Yllanan, apparently relatively unconcerned. One of the elves pointed at Richard and said, “Why was he not robbed as well? That slave wasn’t struck.”
“Milord Nerihorn, I tried to send messages warning you of this possibility” Richard replied. “Your people rebuffed my messengers rather harshly. I do not know why Great Captain Zylvyre did not attack my bank or office. On the other I was prepared for such an eventuality, as were the people who listened to me. We had our paper secured and ledgers locked away. We were well aware that the Street would be a target.”
“You knew this was coming?! You probably planned this with your brother!”
“What for? I hardly need the money and this does not help my business.”
“You did this to hide your dealings and break the Proscriptions.”
“If that was the case, that was a failure as Almon can attest. I did attempt to conceal some rather large transactions, yes. At this point, I wouldn’t bother. As for breaking the Proscriptions, once the Blight was launched, I was left with two options, one of which I was not going to contemplate. In any case, the only way I would deal with Paeris Zylvyre is over the barrel of a gun.”
“That is if the Ravathrya did this.”
“We have crystals of the events and many eyewitnesses that identified the Great Captain,” Folas said.
“Lord Yllanan has ties to the fae. He could have had somebody looking like the Great Captain! Lord Yllanan and that slave are allies!”
“Lord Nerihorn, that is comepletely unsubstantiated. Unless you have actual evidence about any of this, cease making these accusations. They do not aid the matters at hand. I understand that you are upset. Your people have been injured and your business damaged. Lord Qinvaris was not responsible for that. Considering your past associations, I would look closer to home for those responsible. The evidence was fairly clear that it was indeed Great Captain Paeris Zylvyre responsible for this act. Lord Qinvaris and his associates have no need to raid Exchange Street like petty thieves. Let us set this aside and move on.”
Narbeth sidled over to Richard and said quietly, “Has it been like this all morning?”
“Since I arrived, yes it has. I suspect that Erlan put the word out.”
“Do you think that he knew in advance?”
“If Paeris was responsible for planning this, and he probably was, more than likely not. Paeris has a long history of keeping his operations tight. This is Paeris stirring the pot before the main event.”
“Why didn’t he go after you?”
“He didn’t go after me, the Imperial bank and some others, including the banks that Vesryn and Esgalwathanar use because he knew that all of us, as well as some other Houses would take precautions and he knew time was going to be short. Also Paeris was looking to gain game pieces for the future.”
After the meeting broke up, Narbeth asked, “So just what went on here?”
“Just after the opening, Paeris Zylvyre hit the Street. The Exchange was closed until after the Conclave, as was the exchequer, but the counting houses and banks were conducting business,” Folas answered. “With some exceptions, the Great Captain assaulted and robbed most of the businesses on the Street.”
“Those exceptions being House Qinvaris and its allies, apparently.”
“Yes. I’m not sure that it was politically motivated, simply expediency or some combination of the two. One thing I do know is that by taking the ledgers and convertible paper, Great Captain Zylvyre has made hostages of some very influential Houses that may vote in unanticipated directions in the Conclave.”
“Send me the report as soon as you put it together. This was a superb strike right where it would hurt some of us at the worst possible time.”
“I know, your Highness.”
Byddri was taking pictures of the mess when Richard spotted him. “Byddri, have you met Prince Narbeth yet?”
“Other than bumping into him at your party last Winterfaire, no I haven’t, Lord Qinvaris.”
“Well this is an opportunity. We also need an expert on Great Captain Zylvyre and you qualify.”
“I’m not sure that I qualify as an expert. I didn’t think that he would do something like this. On the other hand, once he decided to do this, this is the way he would do it.”
Richard led to Byddri to the office where the irate elves had just left. “Prince Narbeth, I caught a Paeris Zylvyre expert.”
“Did you? It looks like you caught a notorious dragon reporter that I should talk to.”
“He is that. He also managed to outfox Paeris. Prince as you have guessed, this is Byddri Flamefire.”
Byddri bowed and said, “I have already asked your people for an interview during the Conclave, your highness.”
“Well then we can just talk a bit informally now. I assume that you know what happened here?”
“The Great Captain did what he does here in the Empire. He caught the Justiciars and the guard by surprise and did things the way he usually does, creating discord and conflict.”
“You’ve seen this before?”
“Not personally, no I have not. But I have seen his ships return and in a place like the Hidden City, there were very few secrets. Of course I have been playing games a bit with the Great Captain for the last few years.”
“How so?”
“We both shared a rather large disdain for his father. Since I was fairly sure that the Great Captain would not have me killed if I did things a certain way, as long as I was clever and he didn’t obviously catch me at it, I poked into what he was doing. There was no real way that I could report what he was doing to the Republic, beyond telling the Brownlows, but I knew some things that the Great Captain would rather not have me know, the fact that he was seafolk being one of them.”
“How did you discover that?” Gander asked.
“I caught him Swimming. Seafolk cannot stay out of the water indefinitely and he would take Swims at the Hidden City. After I caught him, I covered for him so that his father would not discover that his son was seafolk. Being collared, I couldn’t outright lie, but I could leave things out and let people assume things. As I said, he and I shared a rather strong disdain for his father.”
“Does what happened this morning have larger implications?” Narbeth asked.
“Definitely. The Great Captain has some side businesses involving illegal substances and collecting and providing materials that allow people to create those substances more easily. I haven’t delved into the drug business as of yet, but I know where to look. In any case, doing something like this just for the money is not something that the Great Captain needed to do.”
“I think that you are talking about Clear, aren’t you, Byddri?” Kelvahn asked.
“Yes. A dragon’s constitution burns the stuff out and it doesn’t affect a dragon at all. There were times that I wish that it did. But that was another thing that I discovered about the Great Captain. He was not adverse to having me make message drops on my patrols. In any case, you can see that the Great Captain did not come here to rob a pile of cash. The cash will be used to pay off the troops or confuse the Darkmage and his children.”
“Is he working for the Darkmage?”
“I have no idea. I have interviewed most of the people that knew him including his mother and have known the elf for quite some time and when it comes to his motivations, he is hard to decipher. If I were the Darkmage, I would deal with him very carefully. He will work for the Darkmage as long as their goals are in alignment, but I imagine that he is doing that the same way that he felt forced to work for his father, because he feels that he has no choice.”
“Thank you for being so frank. Since you have answered my questions, what questions do you have for me?”

Byddri grinned “The ones that you want to answer or the hard questions?”
“Let us start with the hard ones.”
“Ok, what are your concerns about the Conclave and some of the discussions in certain circles?”
“I expect that you are talking about my sister, correct?”
“Among others, yes.”
“I will keep this simple. Regardless of what my sister desires, I will not be swayed and dance to anybody’s tune other than my own. I did not seek the seat that I will be forced to sit on. On the other hand, since I am forced to sit on that seat, I will not allow the the Conclave to choose those that are anthetical to my interests, regardless of how influential or powerful the Houses backing them. I hope that the Conclave goes smoothly, but on certain thing, I insist that I have my say.”
“There have been rumors of pressure for the pardon of certain individuals, including Mage Zanis Zylvyre.”
“Zanis has been condemned by his peers with a unaminous vote on the Mage Council. If it should come to an attempt to obtain a pardon for Zanis, I will ask the Justiciars for an immediate writ of execution and file a contract with the guild myself. Zanis has had ample time to present himself to the Mage Council to justify his actions and he has not done so.”
“What is your opinion of the irregular marriages in some Houses?”
“That is an interesting question. I will ask you, Are those Houses stronger or weaker for those marriages? I think that I have made a fair exchange.”
“Yes you have, your highness. We can save the easy questions for the the official interview. Thank you for your time.”
Byddri bowed his way out and Kelvahn laughed. “He gets right to the heart of things, doesn’t he?”
“I am surprised that he didn’t ask my opinion about the matter at hand,” Narbeth said. “I wonder why not?”
“He’ll have that from other sources. My people, for instance. He knows most of them by now and can get the details of the raid from them. He’ll probably ask you questions about this at the interview when the dust has settled somewhat.”
“I see. The questions today concerned the forthcoming Conclave and will not appear until he writes about it.”
“Probably. He’s going to be off to the Hidden City with his preliminary report about the raid on Exchange Street today. Speaking of which, Gander, go down there and see if we can have your grandmother get her Paeris Zylvre expert to the Hidden City. I would like to have whoever it is on hand before he does something like this again.”
The Hidden City.
Sarya was compiling reports with Yrathea assisting when Gander appeared at the door of the office that she had set up in the castle. “Grandmother, do you have a Paeris Zylvyre expert that Kelvahn could have here on hand?”
“Several, actually. As you can imagine, figuring the man out is rather difficult. Your cousin Sifrin has made a career out of studying the man starting about the same time that you were taken on your journey to the Empire.”
“Could you have him flown out as soon as possible.”
“What did Paeris do?”
“He attacked Exchange Street this morning.”
“For the Darkmage, presumably. He doesn’t exactly need money for himself. Are all the details available yet?”
“Not yet. Paeris had somebody messing with portals and while the cash and most of the things that he had with him ported to the portals in the Empty Lands, Paeris and the things he was really after ported to the Fellowship. Adiun Beinan sent one of his people down to track that down, but she hadn’t returned when I left. Of course she and her boyfriend could be dealing with Bank Street issues.”
“Tell me what happened.”
Gander went through the events of the morning and the raid. When he finished, Sarya said, “I am surprised that you were so open to me about an open case.”
“Kelvahn told me to keep you apprised. Is the Dragonmaster here?”
“Qambois? Yes he is. Are you to keep him apprised as well?”
“Yes. Since I know you all, that makes thing easier for Kelvahn.”
“Kelvahn certainly knows me. He could come down here.”
“Not until the Conclave is over. He has to be visible and present. Especially after what Paeris just did. Starting tomorrow, I will be seated in the Conclave. I will send Myrdin with updates.”
“Do that. Do you think that this raid was to shift votes?”
“I’m not sure yet. If it was Paeris acting alone, he may be handing Erlan something that looks like things are going Erlan’s way and going another way entirely. Byddri should be here in the City. He knows quite a bit about the Great Captain, since he apparently covered for him here, somewhat.”
“Why did he do that?”
“Other than the fact that he was a young dragon? He and Paeris both hated Paeris’s father and Paeris knew that Byddri couldn’t tell anyone that mattered what he knew. It must have been a very strange relationship. I need to return to the Cloud City. Send a message when Sifrin gets here.”
Gander left again and Bill came in afterwards. “What happened? I doubt that a Justiciar would come down just to chat?”
“Paeris attacked Exchange Street this morning.”
“That is interesting. Does Gander know about Paeris’s not so small side business?”
“He didn’t mention that, but he did mention that Byddri covered and worked with Paeris somewhat.”
“Now that is interesting. That explains why he was able to anticipate the Great Captain’s moves somewhat. Why do you think he attacked Exchange Street?”
“It wasn’t for the money, though the haul was probably substantial. Send a message to Dan and to Tom. We may need the captain and his lady after all.”
“Getting her away from the magazines may be difficult. The young girls will be looking to find a way to trip lost child effects and become a bit catty.”
Sarya laughed. “It’s a good thing that that will not be easy to do at home.”
Gander walked into the café on the quay and spotted Tomali and Miriam, who waved. “Gander you are late.”
“Something came up. Tomali will like it, though. Paeris assaulted Exchange Street this morning.”
Tomaali grinned. “I do like it. Lord Qinvaris had a Marshall at his bank for just such an eventuality.”
“Paeris didn’t touch Richard’s office or bank for some strange reason. So the Marshall didn’t have an opportunity to grab him. Paeris stayed on the street almost entirely. I expect that he was fairly sure that there were surprises that would drop on him.”
“Considering that the Republic would buy any bank that handed them the Great Captain a new building, that is not that much of a surprise. So what did happen?”
Gander told Tomali about the events of the morning. When he finished, Miriam said, “I am surprised that you came down to speak with us.”
“I came down to see if my grandmother would bring her Paeris Zylvyre expert here so that the Justiciars could consult with him.”
“That would be your cousin Sifrin Steelmaker. I have had some rather long conversations with him.”
“When he gets here, point him at Byddri. I will also line up family members like Lady Amarille to talk with him.”
“Byddri?”
“He apparently knew Paeris a bit better than he had revealed previously. He exchanged some of what he knew with Prince Narbeth for the answers to some rather high level questions. I would look into Paeris’s drug connections and Clear if what Byddri was hinting at are correct. Clear is what I wanted to discuss with you, Miriam.”
“Clear? In the Republic, it might as well be suger water. There isn’t enough mana for even a full blooded elf to draw on to make it active.”
“I have a very old case and a healer that has left the palace that I want your opinion about some things.”
“What is the case?”
“The death of Theodemar and his father.”
“That is a very old case indeed,” Tomali said. “You would not be conducting an investigation into something like that unless it came from the highest level. So that would be either Ralnor or Narbeth.”
“I can’t say. In any case, I was hoping that Miriam could visit a healer in the Lower City and go over some autopsy files that he recently handed me.”
“Discreetly, I think,” Miriam said.
“Very discreetly.”
Exchange Street.
Folmon walked into House Zylsatra’s bank and there was Elion Zylsatra looking at the shambles with drooped shoulders. He saw Folmon walking toward him and said, “They picked me clean.”
“The Lower City craftsmen association and House Beinan will help you rebuild, Elion. You have been with us for a very long time and the Lower City can’t afford to lose you. Did you do as I asked?”
“Those strips in the ledgers?”
“Yes.”
“I put the strips in. What do they do? Something heretical?”
“No actually, though the Inquisition will have a fit when they discover what they do. They are micro portals.”
“What good is a micro portal? You can’t send anything to where it is.”
“Actually you can send small things. The important thing is that a micro portal will send an activation code and its location when you activate it.”
“So when the portals inside my ledgers are activated, the ledgers will report where they are. What if they destroy the micro portals?”
“First, they need to have the means of detecting that the portal is there, which the people with Paeris can no longer do since the Portal Service managed to recover the tools that the Inquistion confiscated and handed over. Then they will have to tear all the ledgers apart looking for them. In any case, we aren’t going to activate the portals until we are prepared to recover the ledgers. Benny and Jonik want to get together with you about rebuilding the accounts. You were good to us and now it’s our turn.”
“What about the cash?”
“I will have somebody from the bank in Red Mountain discuss an interest free loan until the Imperial bank makes good.”
“This isn’t an attempt to buy my seat in the Conclave is it?”
“Not at all. You know where I stand and I will not ask for your support. Some others may use your ledgers to pressure you. On the other hand, we want you back in business, regardless.”
“Thank you, Folmon. I may see what the Ravathyra bastards want for my ledgers, but they may not get it.”
“I would play along with them, somewhat until the coronation. They will probably use the ledgers as pressure. On the other hand, because Paeris was so visible, that opens another whole set of problems for them.”
The Retreat-The Camp-The Fortress.
Erlan charged into Rolin’s office. “Why did you order Paeris to attack Exchange Street this morning?”
“What?”
“You didn’t know? Paeris attacked Exchange Street this morning.”
“I haven’t seen Paeris for several days and I certainly did not order him to attack Exchange Street. What happened?”
“He robbed most of the street. The exceptions being the Qinvaris bank and other banks and offices related to the Qinvaris and their allies. I got word and managed try to deflect attention to the fact that Richard wasn’t robbed.”
“That explains the wagons at the portal. Stormfire handled those and I thought he was training for something. There were some of the Lady’s monsters, some enhanced and some other types that I have no idea where Paeris got them. Let’s see what Stormfire says if we can’t find Paeris.”
They ported to the Camp where there were still more wagons and a bemused Master. He turned to the pair and said, “Was this your doing?”
“Not me, it was Paeris. Obviously you did not authorize this.”
“What happened? I did arrange for some portals to be disconnected this morning because Stormfire and Lord Zylvyre asked for them. They did not tell me what they were doing.”
“Paeris struck Exchange Street this morning,” Erlan replied with a grimace. “I just see coin here. He also made off with the ledgers and convertible paper of most of the businesses on the street. That will make headaches for me.I had assumed that Exchange Street would be assaulted with the rest of the plan.”
“Let us go to the Fortress and see Stormfire.”
The Master arranged horses and they went to the fortress and the room where Stormfire was with the major and the rest of his people planning for his assaults. The Master looked at his brother and asked, “Did you authorize an assault on Exchange Street this morning?”
“It was Paeris’s idea. He put it together. I thought it a good one and offered to provide support. It was a good test of our capabilities and we have some needed funds.”
“We also have some unanticipated problems,” Erlan said. “The entire city knows who raided Exchange Street and while I can deflect things for a while, the fact that Paeris made off with the ledgers is going to cause some issues for me in the Conclave.”
“Or help us,” Stormfire said. “Paeris and I went over the risks and we both felt that we could use the ledgers and the paper as hostage to buy votes for you in the Conclave. Exchange Street was going to be essentially closed for the Conclave in any case and holding the various Houses hostage seemed like a good idea.”
“It would if he had also hit Richard. Where is Paeris?”
“I have no idea. He took hold of the ledgers and sent the cash with the troops to the the three portals here. As far as I can tell from the reports, things went very well.”
“Except that we have blood on our hand at the beginning of the Conclave,” Erlan snarled. “You robbed that money, but I can’t be seen as having any extra resources or I will be blamed for the robbery. This is going to have to be handled delicately. Why didn’t you and Paeris come to me before doing something like this?”
“I left that to Paeris, since it was his project. You will have to ask him.”
“I certainly will.”
The Hall Of The Justiciars.
Kelvahn gathered his rather exhausted people and said, “We didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory today. So I want ideas.”
“We should have had a ready team with snipers and Jumpers to be able to respond at moment’s notice.” Mhaenal said. “That way we could back up the guard and get the army called in if we needed to. We should also have some portal people as part of that and an army or high guard officer.”
‘I thought that was a good idea when you mentioned it this morning,” Folas said. “Tom being on the spot was a big help. He had things organized very quickly.”
“Did the guard give you any trouble, Tom?” Kelvahn asked.
“Surprisingly, no they didn’t. I think they saw the badge and not the collar. As far as they were concerned, I was the Justiciar there on the spot.”
“What were your biggest problems?”
“The hostages. Paeris was smart enough to use shields so that fae could not just Jump in and remove compulsions and cover the hostages’ escape. That prevented the high guard or army from getting into what Paeris was doing. Of course he had people watching for us. One thing that was evident was that he was timing how fast we reacted. Several witnesses mentioned that he had a watch out.”
“He was preparing for the next time,” Gander said. “He does that. I saw that in my service days.”
“Did you talk to your grandmother about getting her Paeris expert to the Hidden City?”
“I dropped down and discussed that with her. It turns out that one of her Paeris experts is my cousin Sifrin. She’s having him flown out. He’s fifteen years younger than I am, so he started about the time he was five. He’s made a career out of the man, apparently.”
“You can offer to introduce him to Byddri.” Folos said with a grin. “That dragon keeps adding to his legend. Since he was collared, he can’t even be written up as an accessory for participating in the Great Captain’s activities.”
“Tom, since you were the Justiciar on the spot, you get to write the report first thing in the morning,” Kelvahn said. “Let’s all go home and get some rest.”


Chapter 50.
Portal 1000.
After Magpie signaled the all clear, Wyrran, Kaylessa, Nebula and Flint dragged the cart setup with tools and portal parts through the temple. Wyrran wanted to make sure that he could handle whatever he encountered. He also didn’t think he would get a second chance at this. The group moved quietly to the building that Peri had pointed out that was next to the “temple” and away from the rest of the village. They entered the building and after a quick search, found the board. Wyrran connected the portal coder and encountered his first problem. There was no connection. He pulled his hand coder and while he could get a connection, the returned setup was a patched mess. He even recognized code of his that had been requested by Master Mage Grevaris, probably at the request of the Master and that had been patched in without checking the viability of the patch. Most of the patches seemed to correct for failed functionality of the board. Wyrran was tempted to close things up and just leave, with the anticipation that the board would, with just a bit of encouragement, shut itself down. The problem with that was that he didn’t know if there were some conections that would cause the portals to go down with the board. He looked at the board with no traffic showing, turned to Kaylessa and the others and said, “This is what I was afraid of.”
Kaylessa frowned. “The board could go down?”
“The code is a patched mess and I’m afraid of what will happen if I start opening panels. On the other hand, if we just leave, the board could go down at any time and take all the portals with it. Paeris’s little thing today didn’t help and if the other side continues to do things like that, they may take everything out.”
“What about keeping the other side in the dark about us messing with the board.”
“At this point, if we have to, we just take it and the other side won’t have anything. Let’s start opening panels, Magpie.”
They set up lights and started in, pulling out piles of dust to reveal parts. It was a good thing that Wyrran had built the board in the Republic, because he could indentify failed components and replace them. Two twentieths later, they had the panels replaced and Wyrran activated the board. He grinned as the board went through it’s diagnostic with his tester and coders attached and everything tested green.
“Who are you! How dare you mess with the Holy Traffic!”
Wyrran looked at the rather fanatical figure that had charged into the room and said, “Mage Wyrran from the Portal Service and the Beinans and this has been repaired.”
“The Beinans have conquered the dark at the Portal Service?”
“That is a secret. Tell no one that we were here. Watch the traffic and wait. I will bring Lord Beinan himself to explain.”
“I will, your Holy. This is a blessed day!”
“We must go now.”
Nebula and Flint took the cart back to the temple and they all ported out. As they entered the Portal Service hall, Kaylessa asked, “Will that mess us up?”
“I used a very light compulsion on the poor fellow. The Master had applied compulsions for a long time. He will think that what happened was a dream. I doubt that he would tell the Master anything and as far as he knows, the board works the way it should. Even if he told the Master that we were there, the Master couldn’t do anything about it. If he destroys the board at this point, the system drops to the spare that the Master doesn’t even know about. Let’s get these tools put away and go to breakfast.”

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