The Republic Besieged, Chapter 37-38

The Harpers have crazy relatives. Some people have a party.

Chapter 37.

Chatsrey.

Alinis had been holding the crystals back that she didn’t understand until she could watch them with Lyrei. Out of all the crystals, this one frightened her more than a bit. The crystal was of an elven metal spear that rose up on a blinding light into the sky. What was interesting was that she recognized the place where the crystal had been taken. Looking at the mountains in the background, the site where the launches happened was the current location of the Hidden City. The launch site itself was where the airport was now and many of the facilities had been in caves in the mountains. She took the crystal with her when she left for the day and activated Lyrei. Lyrei smiled and said, “What do you have for me today?”

“How come you never seem to be unhappy?”
“While I have the memories of Lyrei, what you see is a bit of a construct. What is “Me” is billions of signals traversing the crystal. I am a seeming of Lyrei that was made to advise and comfort my children if they felt the need for such things. It was a conceit of Lyrei. In any case, my emotions are not precisely real, in that the current “Me” just is the way she is. So what do you have to show me today?”

“A crystal that is a bit scary. I found a crystal of what is probably a spaceship.”
“Let’s see.”
Alinis ran the crystal and Lyrei said, “Indeed it is. Harald worked with some others on that project. That is a spaceship going to the moon, one of quite a few voyages before the project ended.”

“I was afraid of that. I recognized where the launch was from.”

“You did?!” Is the facility still in use?”

“No, at least not for that purpose. The facility is under, or at least absorbed into what is now known as the Hidden City.”

“The Hidden City? Why is it called that?”

“The reason that the city is called that and why the crystal was scary was that the Hidden City is called that because for a very long time, the Ravathrya used that site as their hidden base for their raids and suppression expeditions. I never thought that it was more than that or that the Ravathyra may have selected that place deliberately. I don’t think that anybody looked too closely at the big flat spot where the airport and airship hanger are.”

“You are worried about a projector mirror?”

“Yes. The Darkmage was digging things up, including a big projector. The Beinans have it, I hope, but the Darkmage may have gotten it back. I think that I need to share this crystal and you with my grandparents.”

“I think that this has grown beyond you at this point, so I accede and agree. Take me to your grandparents.”

Alinis turned Lyrei off, picked her and the other crystal up and went to the parlor where her grandfather was working at a desk and her grandmother was reading. Lythienne looked up and said, “Why so serious a look, dear?”
“Grandmother, grandfather, while I was going through the the crystals in the vault, I found this crystal. It is hard to explain, so let me turn it on.”

Aliniss did and Lyrei activated. “You must be my descendant Daniel Harper and the exiled lady Lythienne. I am Lyrei, or I was.”

“What are you,” Dan asked.

“I am an imprint, a seeming of Lyrei, the Mage Queen. I had this made to comfort and advise my children if they felt the need for it. Since they did not open the vaults, I sat there until Alinis activated me.”

“That explains her improvement in her history studies.”

“Yes, I am guilty of telling her where to look for certain things and why certain things happened. Of course the events after my death are unknown to me, other than what Alinis has told me.”

“Alinis, you didn’t just take this crystal without permission, did you,” Lythienne asked.

“No, I asked Tarranth if I could go over it and arranged with the Beinans for a better mana battery. I have been going over the crystals anyway and Lyrei wanted me to keep her a secret until I understood her better so that I could explain that she is not really the Mage Queen.”

“So why reveal her now?” Dan asked.

“Grandfather, let me run this other crystal before I explain.”

Alinis ran the crystal of the spacecraft launching. “According to Lyrei this spacecraft is going to the moon. There were others, including what she called a projector mirror. The launch site is the Hidden City.”

Alinis’s grandfather got a very concerned expression on his face. “There were the pieces of a very large projector in those things that the Darkmage was digging up, things that he wanted fairly badly if he could keep things discreet. There was a lot in that diary of his and other things that we didn’t understand. The Ravathyra went to some effort to develop the Hidden City and if they were trying to hide their base, why there, a place that had already been populated and was full of people with good reason to hate the Ravathrya even before the various countries and people sent spies to the place.”

“There are spies there?” Lyrei asked. “That seems to be of poor common sense. Didn’t the Ravathrya take any steps?”

“They enabled some of the spies by bringing in slaves to the Hidden City, some others came through the Ravathyra city of Eryding and others on the various coasters that the Ravathrya ran. A good portion of the city was working for somebody or another. I never thought to ask why they no longer cared very much. If the Darkmage or his son used compulsions on the brothers’ father, they may not know why the Hidden City was important and once they were established, they just kept using the place. That also makes the Second Mage War make more sense. They wanted the people out to cover something being fabricated and floated to the Hidden City.”

“The Second Mage War?”
“About two hundred years ago, some mages started a war in what they call the Empty Lands. I talked to the Grand Master about it. At the time, he had just taken over the Acadmeny and suddenly the mages were embroiled in chaos. The result was that the Empty Lands were depopulated except for some small places the Ravathrya had. The Blight was cultured there and the Darkmage had his children there doing various other things. At the time we thought that the Darkmage started that war to prevent his grandfather’s things being found and that may have been a reason. But it may not have been the only reason. Alinis, you keep Lyrei for the time being as a secret. Thanks to Lythienne’s philanthropy, we know the people at the university and the observatory there. Fortunately Byddri was his usual self.”

Alnis’s grandfather held up a newspaper. “He went to the Sanctuary, talked to the librarians and discovered space flight. The adventure magazines are going to be all over him for material for stories. He also lives in the Hidden City. Lyrei, I am glad to meet you.”

“I am a seeming. I imagine that the real me was rather more formidable, I think that I will save my battery and return to my rest.”

Lyrei vanished from the crystal and Alinis’s grandmother said, “That was remarkable. How long have you had her, Alinis?”
“About three five days or so. I started her crystal when I was going through crystals and recording what they were. Lyrei and I agreed to keep her a secret. One thing that becomes a bit obvious is that Lyrei is not really a person. She can be thrown off by certain questions and is perfectly willing to tell you things about what she is that she probably shouldn’t. This crystal is a Lyrei template and not the real Mage Queen. On the other hand, she has been a big help in my history classes as she can point me in directions that most people would not think to look.”

“I wonder if there is a Harald Crystal,” grandfather said musingly.

“Lyrei says not. Harald apparently wanted to be known for what he did. I suspect that Lyrei and Harald had some stiff arguments about that, but the seeming Lyrei won’t say very much about those. The seeming presents a cheery personality that is not troubled by anything very much. That was one of the things I noticed, especially when we were discussing things like this, which are rather troubling indeed.”

“Alinis, I want you to tell Aydiun Beinan about Lyrei as soon as possible and what you found. I am going to hint to some of my grandchildren that they should look into what they can find in the libraries about space flight to impress Byrddri and do some reports about it for school. I am also going to take that crystal you found to a crazy character that Lythienne and some others have been quietly supporting for some time.”
“A crazy character?”
“I will take you to meet Romarod Skychaser, who is an example what happens when a more or less orc and more or less dragonkin get together and have kids. Of course my sister married him, so he is my brother in law.”
“The crazy is a bit of an exaggeration,” Lythienne said. “Most people think he is crazy because his things blow up a lot. On the other hand, when his things don’t blow up, the results are rather spectacular. He has a place in the desert where he builds and tests his things.”31

“Surrounded by failures and debris,” Dan said with a grin. “On the other hand, when one of his things works, the results are amazing and lately, he’s had more successes than failures. Why don’t you come with me? We can bring your class as well and make a school trip of it.”

“I think that Romarod’s place is more for boys than girls, dear.”

“We’ll set it up so that Tarranth and the rest come too. Richard’s kids should all know that the entire family isn’t like us.”

“They will figure that out, very quickly.”

House Bryneiros.

Kelvahn looked at his wife and said, “What are you planning, dear?”
“Just a way to lock down two birds with one stone.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well we have that young Mr. Harper who wants to join the Justiciars, and we have that mage who wants a bodyguard and to find her parents and brother in the Republic. I think that they will make a wonderful couple and a great addition to our little family.”

“Aren’t you afraid that Sarya will catch on?”
“That is the beauty of this. Bill is already looking at us and Sylia is probably rather lonely and frightened. So we have the inside track already. I just wish that the suppressors would get shut down and make things more convient for some of the rest of our young folk.”

“The Justiciars are not supposed to be a matchmaking service.”

“Of course not. But the broader our little family is, the less likely we will end up like the Justiciars did before the Regency, objects of comedy.”

“Those plays and movies missed the point and yes some of the Justiciars were corrupt. Some, though were playing a dangerous game. I am glad that we have Justiciars that know just how dangerous the game can be and can deal with the danger.”
“I was worried about Gander somewhat. He seems so ordinary.”

“I don’t think that anyone sees him for anything other than what we knew he was. The list of the people he has taken down is too impressive at this point.”

“How do you think he will do in your job?”

“Very well. Actually he will take the Justiciars places that I could not imagine when Sarya sent him to us. I would never have been able to put together what he did to deal with Dowager Empress, the most powerful woman in the Empire. The fact that he did what he did will actually help us do our jobs. When we can get a chance to do it discreetly, I want to talk to Sarya and Mrs. Pinch about sneaking a film crew up to capture Gander in action.”

Kenia grinned. “I think that can be arranged. Eithriel might be a better point of constact for that. She already has several screenplays in the works.”

“I’m not sure that I want to know.”

“Haramara wants to transfer to the Embassy in the Republic.”

“I know and I have been a bit reluctant. She wants to chase that marine and feels that she slipped up by letting Paeris get behind her like that. The problem is finding somebody to replace her.”
“We can work something out. I will talk to Itireae and send a message to Sarya about the Major.”

“You are a sneaky lady, dear.”
“Of course I am. Otherwise things would get stale.”

“We can’t have that.”

The Hidden City.

Sarya looked at the message and turned to her husband and Bill. “I assume that you both have seen this.”

“Bill showed it to me when it arrived. Byddri is not back yet and the Brownlow boys are at flight school at present.”

“In the Republic or the Fellowship? I wondered why they were not around.”

“Republic, which means that we can point them at Dan and his crazy brother in law.”

“Romarod is hardly crazy and is doing important work, even if most of it explodes.”

“You want to spy on everybody from the sky.”

“Romarod is a long way from that. His rockets can get up to about three hundred miles in range and are not powerful enough for orbit. The army would like them for artillery, but they are just not accurate enough.”

“In any case, I want to do some poking around. Ben and Lou hinted that there were places that they didn’t understand near the airport. I may pop up to the Sanctuary and see what photos are available. I think that I will wait until Byddri gets back and arrange a plane for both of us to the Republic to see that crystal Dan mentioned.”

“What about the other crystal?”

“Alinis’s friend? Dan wants to keep that discreet and I agree with that. If too many people are looking at the thing, the word will get out to the Darkmage.”

“I could have the army go in and squash him.”

“Let the army deal with that. Things will get serious at some point, but things are messy enough on the Peninsula and pushing while we are in the dark won’t help if the Darkmage uses a portal and slides out of the mess.”

Cleadsgate Naval Flight School – The Admiralty.

Louis turned to Ben and said, “Which of us thought that this was a good idea?”

“Our bosses, remember?”

“Oh, those characters. The ones that sent us down here. I thought that we were getting away from the Flight Instructor.”

“At least we can’t get flamed by our girlfriends’ younger brothers here.”

“Your girlfriend’s younger brothers. I, being the younger and perhaps wiser tied into your girlfriend’s best friend, who just has fae brothers.”

“That’s better?”

“You have made your point. I think that it is your turn to go up. At least we solo today and this is over.”

“Why do you think that Mr. Harper want us?”

“I imagine that we will find out.”

When the the class finished their solos and graduated, the boys joined their classmates for a graduation party, only to get intercepted by a lieutenant and a car. “Gentlemen, I am sorry to interrupt your graduation, but Mr. Harper is waiting at the Admiral’s office.”

Louis turned to Ben and said, “That’s what we get for being famous.”

They got in the car and the Lieuteant said, “I understand that you two did some things with the Flight Instructor. How is he doing in retirement?”
“Enjoying himself teaching airplanes to little flamers,” Ben said. “That is when he isn’t helping crazy Portal Service boys.”

“Helping crazy Portal Service boys?”

“You probably know about the Conclave and the Darkmage spoiling the party. Well, after he took over, he murdered an elf named Kailu Sarceran. What the Dumbmage didn’t understand was that Lord Sarceran’s mother was Delsanra Sarceran and that both Kailu and Adiun Beinan had the habit of hiring Lower City boys to do various things including restoring portals.”
“I see where you are going with the crazy Portal Service boys, but where does the elf’s mother come in?”

Delsanra Sarceran has a sister, Thaciona. She was exiled and married a man named Lion.”

“Oh, that Thaciona.”

“Exactly. Both sisters are in the same family business and Thaciona is in town for her granddaughter’s upcoming wedding and pushing her son into her old House. Kailu was the family member not in the business who took on the Portal Service when it was a thankless job. The Dumbmage lost his daughter to her appetites in a rather spectacular way that has been in the papers and the Crazy Portal boys had the portals in the capital up again after the Dumbmage had his compelled shutdown all the portals. They went on from there and we helped a Qinvaris dragon pilot and one of the Crazy Portal boys set up a flight to Grimfrost to restore the portal there. That was probably when the Flight instructor arranged to have us sent here.”

“I’m Lieutenant Ordhag Colldare and here we are at the Admiralty. Now we, since you are guests and not midshipmen, we get to use the elevator to reach the rarified heights of the Admiral’s office.”

The Lieutenant took them inside and up the elevator to the Admirals office where he took them to the door and said, “I intercepted them, sir.”

“Very good, Lieutenant. Wait for them here. I wouldn’t want them to miss their graduation. Come in boys.”

The boys entered the office and Dan Harper was waiting with his son. Dan said, “Boys, I’m sorry to interrupt your graduation party but things in the Empire and on the Peninsula are developing and we found something rather interesting in the Mage Queen’s vault.”

Dan placed a crystal on Tom’s desk and played it. The boys looked at it and said, “That explains some things.”

“What do you mean?”

“You both have heard, how as kids, we poked into everything the Ravathyra were doing. We showed Captain Pinch pretty much all that stuff. But there are a bunch of things much older than that, that we know about and I’m not sure that the Ravathrya, at least the brothers, ever knew about. There were aversions over the things and if you don’t know your way in, the entrances are not obvious. There is a huge crawler thing to move something really big and that empty space where the airport and airship hanger are. There’s also a huge mana battery that keeps draining the mana, which is one reason that the mana is so low in the city. We had no idea what it was for until you showed us this.”

“That was what I wanted to know. I know that you have your graduation party this evening, but would you be willing to go with me and Tarranth, along with some others on a trip with me tomorrow. I think that you will like it and it is fairly important that you see this and talk with my brother in law. Tom, you come too.”

“I need to be here.”

“Not without radio, which is part of this.”

“Every time I go to Uncle Romarod’s, he tries to sell me his latest thing. That is when it doesn’t go boom. I have to convert old relic battleships because congress won’t fund their replacements.Where am I supposed to get money for big rockets that can’t hit a city, let alone an enemy fleet?”

“If you don’t come, I will tell your mother.”
“That is cheating, dad. I’ll go with you. Now we need to let these boys return to what they should be doing before we scare their classmates.”

“What do you mean?”

“There will be questions and they will know that I was talking with the boys. The other students were all ensigns and midshipmen, for the most part. So they will be rather nervous. I’ll bring you two boys with me in the morning.”

The Admiral handed the boys back to the Lieutenant and said, “Lieutenant take the boys back to the party that they were on their way to,”

“Yes sir!”

The lieutenant took the boys back down to the car and asked, “What did they want?”

“They showed us a crystal and asked some questions about the Hidden City,” Ben said. “We can’t talk about the crystal, but we should have taken Byddri some places, shouldn’t we, Lou?”

“I’m not so sure about that. If he got tied up with that stuff, Kythaela would have been sore at us and snitched to the Great Captain.”

“So? The Great Captain knew what we were doing, us and the other kids. I think that he was planning to recruit us.”

“That might have been fun.”

“Are we talking about Paeris Zylvyre?” The lieutenant asked. “He took my uncle to the Empire as a slave.”

“Then watch out for your uncle’s kids, lieutenant,” Lou said. “Remember how I was telling you about the Lower City Portal kids? Your uncle’s kids may be part of that crowd.”

“Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?”

“I’m sure that it means trouble. The Beinans have places here, don’t they? Guess who the portal kids are all working for?”

“The Beinans?”
“Yes.”

“Big trouble then.”

Ben and Lou laughed. Ben said, “Very big.”

 

 

Chapter 38.

The Imperial Palace.

Meira looked at the pile of paper and said to her daughter, “They capitulated.”

Itireae laughed and said, “Yes they did. Money and a lot of rather nasty businesses going out of business. Ladies, thank you.”

Delsanra grinned and said “You’re welcome, your majesty. It was the smallest thing that we could do.”
“You aren’t planning on taking over the businesses?”
“We don’t need them and we do not have the protection that the Dowager Empress provided. I doubt that you are interested in providing certain things at your parties. Frankly, we were as much a victim of that as everybody else and my stepsons and their families live in the Lower City. Thaciona can have the Clear business, but I doubt that she will sell it here in the Empire.”
“Tony won’t let me,” Thaciona said. “Since the Empire is his, he’s not going to allow the business and everywhere else, even if you have elf blood, the stuff just makes you see shiny lights and some mild hallucinations that go away fairly quickly. The big thing we’re going to be seeing now is girls and boys trying to sneak into faery kingdoms and trip off lost child effects. I want to work with the Creators to get something that does that safely.”

“Lost child effects?” Meira said. “Why would girls want to do that?”

“Lissia and Talissa, the cattiest cat and just wonderful landdragon are responsible. It doesn’t hurt that both young ladies are marvelous even without their transformations, but the girls see that and want to be like them. It is rather amazing. I have another batch of grandchildren who will be on their way to the Sanctum all too soon. Of course my boys are attracting faery attention already. I may have to leave them here with Tony.”

“Between taking Durlan and doing this, your boys have probably done pretty well,” Rosaniya said.

“We thank you for the opportunity, Rosa.”
“If Richard had been responsible, things would have gotten messy. Those characters stepped way over the line and Delsanra, you know how Richard deals with things like that.”

“I think that most people in the Empire know. What is your husband going to do about the people you lost?”

“He hasn’t decided yet. We’ve already provided for the wives that lost husbands and started an orphanage. The orphans are going to be emacipated and get good educations. We’re hoping that we can get some of the lost back, but the news that Jimmy brought back isn’t good. The good thing is that the Peninsula is on the other side of the Fellowship and Richard will not risk travelling through the Fellowship and being recognized for Bloody Ridge reasons. Since it has just been the raids and not an invasion, Richard isn’t going to invade the estates. On the other hand, he is providing full support to the Justiciars and Gander and Evin have been throwing writs around fairly freely, which may have been one reason that the ladies capitulated so quickly. Of course the fae and Lower City boys are helping with that.”

“What about the Houses that were involved?”

“They are going to be in for a rather rough time. Fortunately for them, Taenaran is in the Fellowship with his wife and son, talking with the Axbrew’s about their relationship and Richard is not going to interfere with something that important. Also, Exchange Street is still suffering from the effects of the Conclave and Paeris’s raid. Still, Richard has writs in hand and the families will be compensated for their losses. The various Houses may want Delsanra to keep the boys on ice for a while until things settle out.”
The Empty Lands.

“That one is cute.”

“Stop ogling the girls, Kharis”

Kharis Ilisalor grinned. “Why not, Nardual? It’s not as if they are wearing any clothes?”

“They don’t wear clothes because they are monsters.”

“Cute monsters.”

“Your mother wouldn’t let you bring one home and we can’t afford to keep bedwarmers. What if she is a tiger in bed?”

Kharis grinned. “That might actually be a challenge.”

Sillia looked at where the two were cleaning out one of the ruined houses and turned to Kharel, “They’re looking at us again.”

“So?”

“Maybe you should wait to transform.”

“I like to transform after I take a shower.”

“Then you should put on some clothes.”
“I lost that hangup in the Pen. Didn’t you?”

“I don’t know, it just seems that they are slimy.”

“They are slimy. Look at it this way, this is part of our training. We are hardly modest virgins.”

“True. I had wondered why Lady Nightmantle had us come out here to guard these clowns.”

“Nothing increases desire as something that somebody can’t have.” Silly twirled around in a dance. “We are all fallen in the Pen, but we remain ourselves.”

“I think that Tim is looking at you.”
“Now there is somebody whose attention matters.”
“You picked him right out. He’s the lady’s nephew, by the way.”

“Yes he is, which makes the dance more than worthwhile.”

Doug turned to his cousin and said, “I think that Silly likes you, Tim?”
“Why, because she parades around like that?”

“The show is worth it. I think that she wants to have a night time cat session with you.”

“I don’t think that I could manage it.”
“Yes you could. We’ve all been tested and passed. I imagine that Silly would just love to find a nice spot and teach you how.”

“I wonder why Aunt Bene sent the girls out in the first place.”

“I think that grandmother put her up to it. These girls all came from the Pen, which is where they learned to transform and picked up certain habits.”

“Not wearing clothes. How did you know?”

“I’ve been talking to Kharal a bit”

“What about?”

“Learning to transform. I figure that the skill might be useful.”

“I think I see what’s going on here. You and Kharel want to have some night time fun and if we are on duty with Silly, you two can’t sneak out by your selves.”

“There is that, and some other things, including working with a retired expert from the guild. I figure that there are some things that we don’t know, but would be good to know.”

“You have piqued my interest.”

Kicavir and Alinar drove up with a pair of trucks and Kicavir said “The deal has been struck. We take these clowns to Innshys.”

“Do we give them their portal keys back?”

“They can wire for money and take the bus as far as I’m concerned. We’ll give the portal keys to some deserving kids in the Lower City.”

“You mean that there are kids in the Lower City who don’t have keys already?”

“Probably. We all didn’t work for the Portal Service.”

“Ok, Doug and I will go with you and take these characters to Innshys. We also bring back a pile of eats and beer. I don’t see any reason not to have a party, do you?”

“Not at all.”

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