The Pursuit Of The Scourge, Chapters 49-50 End of the Book

“Lord Nerihorn, I would go to your House and see what is happening, if they know. I would not try to Jump to your estate at present. There is a good chance that everyone there is dead.”

With that, that ends this book. There may be a delay with the next one. It has gone very long(>150k words) and doesn’t want to come to a conclusion. Needless to say, there was a boom someplace and that causes a lot to happen.

Chapter 49.

The Peninsula.

Norman watched the tablet play out the heroic lady’s plea and said, “I don’t think that the Justiciars ever came.”

“I don’t think so, either,” Edehard said. “At least we know why the city over there is a ruin and what the Darkmage plans for us.”

“I just hope that there aren’t any more of those things, but I’m afraid that there are,” Denny said. “We don’t know where Stormfire went and what he is doing.”

“They were actually tight on security for a change,” Norman added.

“This isn’t the first time they were,” Dumag said. “They were tight when they took over the palace and didn’t use the Camp or Retreat portals for the first wave. Herdir made a mistake with the Blight, but I’m not sure it that wasn’t a result of the fact that his sister was lazy. ”

“The President has asked me for an assesment as to what the expected casualty count would be to finish this,” Norman said.

“Between ten and twenty thousand if we assault Headbasher’s trenches up front,” Edehard said. “That is if Headbasher’s people stand and fight. The problem is that if they were going to desert, mutiny or surrender, they would have done so, already. Dumag, what do you think?”
“About the same numbers, unfortunately. It mostly depends on the artillery and how sharp the assault is. But Headbasher still has machine guns and ammo for them. If we could figure out a way to run them dry, we might cut the numbers down more than a bit, but they haven’t wanted to start shooting.”

“What about the Darkmage’s things?”
“The Projector isn’t really a close in toy, has resonance issues already and we have flamethrowers, so the Inanimates are not that big an issue. The compelled are pretty much used up and the monsters and enhanced either went with Stormfire or are already playing tag with Jorge and his people and losing.”

“Denny?”

“It’s not my call. I have trucks for good support and the TAVs and the other armored vehicles are good to go. As for numbers, I don’t have enough experience to make that call.”

“I will go with those numbers. Start making up plans for the assault. I think that the President wants this closed down before the Darkmage gets to the bad stuff or bugs out.”

“Yes sir,” went around the table.

 

 

Chapter 50.

The House Qinvaris Estate.

Walnut turned to Yddren as they rode into the woods and said, “Have you ever thought that we are just a bit too good?”

“We stay alive. This is just a test anyway.”

“So why are we running it?”
“Because Folwin wanted our evaluation on the difficulty before sending the younger boys through and getting a bunch of them killed.”
“I wish that we knew what the thing was?”
“That’s part of the test. We didn’t know that the army was there until we spotted it and the earlier boys went in and died. This test needs to be tough enough that the boys think that they could die, but not so tough that we lose a bunch. We also get to improve the test if we can.”

Chompers watched the pair and frowned. They were noisy and not trying to hide themselves or seemingly concerned about any hazards as they bantered back forth about various things. A closer look told a different story. The gear on their horses was worn, well used and well taken care of. They had good control of their horses and were both riding in a canter that ate up the distance quickly while not exhausting the horse or rider. They handled the reins one handed with the other hand close to the weapon carried on the saddles next to their right knee. As they rode, they switched positions and even as they talked, their eyes were scanning for dangers. He didn’t think that they had spotted him as yet and they had almost reached the log, so it was time for the fun to begin.

“Did you see it,” Walnut said in the silent speech that he and Yddren had developed a long time ago.

“Yes. That landdragon. He’s big, but you will make a nice meal.”

“Your girlfriend is too busy to cook.”

“That’s true. She likes helping people and who could have figured that the Sanctuary was such a big deal.”

“When do you think that he’s going to hit us?”

“That log on the road.”

“Left or right?”

“Left. If we go right, stop to move the log or try to jump it, he’ll nail us. He’s on the right side of the road.”

“We could shoot him.”
“Not unless things get real dicey. If we do shoot, make your shots count. He’s going to be tough and we will want him down fast. Let’s see if we can rejoin the road by using that creek bed down over there.”

Walnut and Yddren stopped their horses well before the log so thatWalnut could make notes on the pioneering map he was making and to rest and calm the horses, who had obviously picked up the scent of the landdragon. Then they pulled off the road toward the creek bed, using a deer or other animal trail through the brambles.

Chompers cursed as just before he was going to pounce, the two riders turned left off the road, thereby denying him cover and riding down toward the creek bed though the brush and brambles that would make it tough to approach then silently. He would have to rush to get ahead of them before they were back on the road right in front of the house and his wife, who had an entirely different outlook on invaders and granddaughters and great granddaughters looking for bonds. He pulled back to his path on beside the road and started to run toward the house, when his tripline rang, which meant that he had still more visitors. Chomper made a decision and Jumped to where one of his grandsons and some great grandsons and other relatives were working on the mill. His grandson looked at him and said, “All scaly, grandfather?”
“We have intruders.”
“You haven’t dealt with them?”

“No. They are post riders and heading toward your grandmother’s. I want you to take care of them because I have to deal with other visitors.”
“If they are post riders, that’s easy. I just point them to the way station and let them go. Getting them away from grandmother is the hard part.”

Chompers laughed. “They are going to be very good. They looked old for post riders and I suspect that they are troubleshooters for the Post Service. Richard says that they may be dragons or fae. They evaded me and I don’t think it was an accident.”

“Ok, grandfather, we’ll deal with them if they look into something that they shouldn’t. The girls are going to be doing their best to distract them anyway.”
Chompers Jumped to look into the other visitors. This time it was apparently two travelers from the Mortal kingdoms who had lost their way. The young man was some sort of servant to the high born girl riding sidesaddle. The young girl was berating her servant rather loudly.

Talissa started in on Jimmy again. “Jimmy are you sure this is the right road!”

“Princess, you insisted on this road. We can turn back. I don’t think that the rest of our party is on this road.”

“They must be!”

“They can’t be.”
“Why not?”

“Because there is a log in the road.”

“You’re right, Jimmy. Let’s rest here a bit, you water the horses and then we head back.”

The princess dismounted and “Jimmy” took the horses toward the creek. Chompers appeared and growled. The princess screamed, the horses broke free and Jimmy turned and pulling out a sword, charged forward at Chompers, who laughed. The princess looked at him, hands on hips and said, “You shouldn’t laugh at Jimmy.”

Chompers stared at the princess who was obviously unafraid of him. “Shouldn’t you be running away, girl!”

“What, from you?”
“Landdragons usually make people run.”

“Do they? Jimmy, have people ever run away from you?”

“Those monks did. At least they wanted to. The guards that the lady had guarding those carts did. Mr. landdragon, do people run away from you?”

“Not enough, apparently. You haven’t tried to poke me with that thing you have, young man. Why not?”

“I don’t really need it.”

“Why haven’t you run?”

“Should I?”

Chompers turned his head to look at the young man and there was another landdragon. The landdragon looked at him and said, “I know that Talissa can be a distraction, but I thought that I was a bit hard to ignore.”

Chompers jumped to turn himself to meet the new threat and charged. Jimmy sidestepped and slapped Chompers with his tail, knocking him over. Chompers rolled with the blow and looked for the girl. Maybe he could take her and threaten her. Instead of a girl, there was a female landdragon. “Hi, I’m Talissa of Dolmon and Deephollow. Now I’m hungry. Jimmy let’s look for those hogs that we were told about.”

“Not my hogs!” Chompers bellowed. These two probably ate like, well, landdragons, worse, teenager landdragons.
“Why? Do you have sheep too? I like sheep better than pork anyway unless the pork is roasted. I think that I smell some hogs over there. Jimmy, get them for us.”

“Talissa, why do I have to?”

“You have to obtain the meal, because that is your role. I AM the princess, after all.”

Jimmy laughed. “What about this guy?”

“What about him?”
“They are his hogs.”
“He was rude and tried to scare us, so we can rampage a bit. So, get going.”

Yddren turned to Walnut, who was marking the map. “Is that real?”

“The house? It’s not glamor.”

The house was a big spreading thing with a porch on front with the posts elegantly cut and shaped. The thing looked rather magical. A woman came out, saw them and said, “Boys, where did you come from?”

“The Post Service, Ma’am” Yddren said. “We’re pioneering this road so that the post riders can use it for a bit.”

“Why?”

“The post road is being realigned and improved for trucks and busses. So we need a road for riders.”

“What are trucks and busses?”
“Powered vehicles that came from the Fellowship and the Kingdom. Lord Qinvaris brought some in, other Houses brought some in and House Glynynore and House Qinvaris realigned some roads and are doing some others. So we need to find roads for the riders and people that want to use horses.”

“Can you stop for lunch?”

“Ma’am, a part of our job is to get an estimate of the time that a run takes for our boss as well as road hazards.”
“Did you run into a landdragon? If you did, I hope that you didn’t hurt him. My husband likes to scare the local boys.”

“Ma’am, he may have been out there, but there was a log in the road and we used a trail to go around, so we never saw him. Walnut, did you note the landdragon on the map?”

“Yes I did. I will add the note that it is sentient so that the boys don’t just shoot it. Ma’am, can we negotiate with the landdragon? If he doesn’t bother the riders, that makes our job easier. On the other hand, our boss was looking for something to surprise the riders.”

“Here is my grandson, Mercury Leafheart. Mercury, why are you here?”

“Grandpa said that some riders came through and wanted some answers from them.”

“Wonderful. You boys can come in for lunch and speak with my grandson about what you are doing.”

A twentieth later, Walnut was writing a note on the map. Yddren grinned as he said, “Landdragon, avoidable. Do not stop at the house.”

“That place smelled fae and there was that gaggle of girls. We’re both bonded, so we were safe. The rest won’t be, and the girls are going to be on the hunt. For the rest, they want some areas restricted and I don’t have a problem with that. They know about fae and dragons, along with fun and games. So this will be a good test and we can help to make it better. I wonder why “Chompers” didn’t chase us more than he did.”

“There must have been a distraction. Mercury said that his grandfather told him to look into us. So he had somebody else show up on that road. We need to keep moving.”

Chompers was in a nightmare. First of all, the tripline rang yet again and second, Jimmy and Talissa worked as natural team and were very very good. They also did not hesitate to use glamors and every fae trick out there, in ways that were unexpected and both of them liked random firecrackers, booby traps and glamor cages. He had just extricated himself from the last one when he sensed Alinis and some others entering a place that he had tried very hard to keep her out of for the last four years. The problem was that he was too exhausted to Jump and he was sure that the other two landdragons would be able to stop him in any case. In the mean time, both Jimmy and Talissa had snacked on at least two of his hogs, each. There was a lull, he put his paws up and called out, “All right! I give up!”

“Do you really?” Talissa’s voice came from behind him. “I thought that you were the big scary landdragon who scared all the big boys around here off. Yet a little princess like me, with one rather weak servant had no trouble with you at all.”

“Richard warned me about you two. Where did you come from?”

“Alinis and the others are at the building that they are looking into by now, so why don’t we go and talk. I think that elven or trueform will work better inside.”

“Did you send the other two?”
“The post riders? No we didn’t. Alinis has placed a Jump anchor, so we can go. We’ll meet you there.”

“I would pull Alinis out of there as fast as you can. You could get in a lot of trouble if the Inquisition even has a whiff that you were in there.”
“We already are,” Jimmy said. “Why don’t we go and we’ll tell you why.”

When they Jumped to the building, they all felt it, the pull of mana as they exited the Jump. Jimmy looked at Talissa and said, “The Darkmage made his move and the thing went off.”

Chompers looked at him and asked, “Who is the Darkmage and just what went off?”

“The Scourge. Five devises that belonged to the Darkmage were found on an estate and one of them was armed. That’s why we were here. We needed to find the place and the tools to disarm and dismantle the things before the Darkmage got his hands on them again. He must have tried today and the armed one went off.”

Chompers changed to trueform and said, “I want to know everything. You take me to Alinis and then we talk to Richard. If we can find him and if he’s still alive. Let’s go.”

They walked inside the rather well kept building for a ruin and found Alinis and the others looking at a directory. Talissa said, “The thing went off.”

“We felt it too,” Ayen said. “This must be Chompers.”

“Chompers, this is Ayen Nerihorn, Tiriana Beinan and Fireoak Greenleaf. You have already met Jimmy and Talissa.”

“Your father warned me about them. Just not enough. Now just what is going on?”

“It started when Nimue, me and some friends were kidnapped by the Richflights.”
“That would be crazy. What did your father do?”

Alinis explained all of the events to the present and continued, “I was doing a classwork assignment on the Mage Wars and looked into the Scourge. The Darkmage was using other things from the Mage Wars and since Tarrnanth had already found things concerning the Projectors and the Inanimtes, I decided to look into the Scourge. I found the word “radiation” and remembered this building, which was the only other place I had seen the word. So I decided to go on a quest for the Scourge. I thought that I would come here and see what you knew and maybe sneak into the building. Ayen, in meantime, was opening vaults after the Darkmage was chased out and found the five devises. His father put him to finding anything he could about the devises, he went to the Sanctuary and found a bunch of materials, including information on how the devise is armed. He looked at the five and one of them was armed. That devise just went off.”

“The Scourge was used against the city of Ishendell, the Mage Queen’s home and several other places, as well as by Harald to destroy the Darkmage’s armies of inanimates and compelled. As the war ended, the Darkmage and his family declared Anathema for their treacherous acts during the Mage wars, the Proscriptions were enacted and the Inquisition formed to enforce them so that things like the Scourge would never be created or used again. This place was, as you realized, Alinis, responsible for the mage work that was used to create the Devises that initiated the Scourge. The facility had been part of your House, Alinis and was declared Anathema. My grandfather and some others were on the team here and we had two choices. Stay here and guard this place or leave, be declared Anathema and executed. We have stayed ever since and as you know, driven others out to maintain the secrets. In the end, it appears that we were too isolated somewhat and I, at least did not pay attention to the news and what was going on. It was never considered that there would be more of the devises hidden away and we should have been alert to that. Alinis, I think that you should go and see your mother. I want to speak with Richard, if he is still alive, as soon as possible. Lord Nerihorn, I would go to your House and see what is happening, if they know. I would not try to Jump to your estate at present. There is a good chance that everyone there is dead.”

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