Lord Palen’s Tragedy, Chapters 3-4

The boom goes around the world as various characters react to it.

Chapter 3.

Ishendell.

Jorge watched as the Fellowship patrol went down the street. The underground headquarters had proved to be a treasure trove when he and the boys had investigated again. They had found all sorts of interesting things, including things that would get them in a lot of trouble with the Inquisition. But the real find had been the ten helmets that could see in the dark and talk to each other as well as what were essentially invisibility suits. The talking feature was suppressed by the Suppressor, but the rest worked just fine. The long dead elves that had originally worn them were smaller than the more or less mortal and much bulkier militia and regulars, let alone Captain Tollings’s enhanced marines and Protectors. So, Jorge and the boys got to play with them. The problem was that their playmates, the Darkmage’s things were low on the ground. Still, Jorge and the boys moved invisibly and observed the routines of the enemy and messed with the darkmage’s things. Now Jorge had to return to the tunnels and see if he could get a connection with the portal. The exercise had been frustrating as the portal could find five portals to connect with, but three of them were locked and the other two were connected to each other and always busy. Now, late at night, Jorge was going to try again. He jogged to the hidden tunnel entrance with Timmy following him and went down the stairs, turning the suit off when he reached the tram platform. Lieutenant Packer grinned as he went inside the waiting car and said, “Find very much?”
“Just the usual patrols. Most of the Darkmage’s things are gone and messing up patrols seems to be too easy.”

“Did you get in?”

“Yes, but at this point, I’ve done everything I can to the Darkmage’s portal and the Suppressor. I’ve even gone through the manuals looking for ideas and run out. That mage they have fixing the Projector doesn’t have a clue. Now that it’s late, I want to see if the portal is clear.”

“I’ll drop you off.”

Jorge went up the tunnel, where things had been cleared up a bit and into the headquarters complex. Teonag, Brilbrun, Jimmy and the other boys had already arrived, looking dangerous in their suits. Jorge activated the portal and got a connection. He ported through into the darkened Innshys market and laughed. The boys followed him and he said, “At least now we know why the portal is busy all the time. The other connection is the Sanctuary and the other portals are locked because the people in the Sanctuary don’t want nasty visitors. You boys head back. I’m going to go to Adiun’s and see if I can make arrangements for portal times so that we can have access.”

Chapter 4.

The Istrosia Region

By the time that Iezzen had gotten the plane out of the hanger at Elysahone, fueled and prepped it and flown down to Istrosia, the darkness was growing. The next morning, Alinar Harper arrived at the way station that he was sleeping in, dragged him out of bed and said, “I’ll be taking the pictures.”
“Why you?”

“Because mother could grab me and I was available this morning.”

“What exactly happened?”
“I’m not sure yet, because mother just said that the Scourge had killed two estates near Nerihorn yesterday and that Uncle Richard had sent you down with a plane. Instructions are not to fly below 1,000 feet.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know and mother didn’t either. Dad used to tell stories about the Mage Wars and the Scourge and if the Scourge was set off, that is a very bad thing.”

They took off and with Alinar navigating, reached the Zlymenor estate. At first glance, everything seemed to be fine, until they realized that everything was dead. After one pass at 1,000 feet, by unspoken agreement, the plane flew higher. Another plane from the Fellowship was doing the same thing that they were and they were not going any lower either. Alinar filled his crystals up and they turned to Nerihorn to land and report. The Fellowship plane followed them down and two men emerged. “Hi. We’re Provincial Trooper Lieutenant Thomas Stonehand and my pilot, trooper sergeant Oldag Swiftfoot. Is this where the Empire is coordinating this?”
Alinar frowned and said, “Troopers, you know what we do. I’m Alinar Harper and this is Iezzen Flamefire. We were dragged out of bed this morning and told to get pictures of over there and bring them here. I’m going to assume that you know what that was?”
“The Scourge. I think that every kid in the Fellowship has seen the picture. I never thought that I would get my own picture of it. I was in my car, not too far away when it happened. Needless to say, I am under a lot of pressure to find out what happened. I imagine that your government is going to be receiving nasty notes from my government all too soon.”

Byddri had received the news of something very bad happening at Nerihorn, collected his GP and ported with it to Trahorn so that he could drive to Nerihorn. He arrived just as the Qinvaris plane landed, followed by a plane from the Fellowship. He drove up to the house where a truck was having a window repaired while being surrounded by High Guard, heavily armed House Glynynore troopers with motorcycles and GPs as well as two Qinvaris GPs with machine guns. The truck had something covered in canvas already loaded aboard. Byddri went inside the estate and Gander, Evin, a High Guard officer and some Nerihorn people were giving reports to the Emperor with Tathaln Nerihorn listening in. The Emperor looked at Byddri and growled, “I’m not surprised that you showed up. Are you looking for a statement?”

“I’m not sure yet, just what happened here?”

“Yesterday, the Inquisition, acting on a tip, showed up to look for heretical documents that young Ayen Nerihorn had been collecting regarding a discreet matter that We and several others were trying to keep discreet. At the same time, Stormfire and troops from the Darkmage raided the vault where the items we all were trying to keep discreet were being stored. The items were five devises that were used to Scourge an area. Stormfire recovered four of the devises and Lord Nerihorn managed to stop the last truck. One of the devises that Stormfire recovered was armed, which was why the devises had not been moved. That devise went off and House Zlymenor’s estate is dead, House Palen’s estate is partially dead, including the estate house and some farms in the Fellowship are dead. We don’t want to be looking into the Scourged area until we can determine that it is safe. Aerial pictures should be arriving shortly. I will authorize you to receive copies. If you choose to fly over yourself, do not fly lower than about 1,000 feet.”

“Was the Inquisition working with Stormfire?”
“As far as the Justiciars can determine, no. Melaris and Lord Keaynore received a tip from an informant about the material that Ayen Nerihorn was collecting about the devises. The problem is that not turning the Devises over to the Inquisition is a capital offense and I was told about the Devises being here, but Lord Zylvyre was not, for obvious reasons. Young Lord Nerihorn discovered the devises and his father told Folmon Bienan, the Grand Master and Lord Waestoris about the devises and they decided that the devises should not be moved unless it was determined that it was safe. The Inquisition was going to be told when the devises were determined be safe to move and the dismantling of the devises could be done safely. It was later determined that one of the devises was armed. That devise was the last one to be placed in the vault and as such, prevented the safe removal of the other four.”

“Where is the devise outside going?”
“I’m not going to say. It will be taken to a facility that has been under Anathema and the devise dismantled.”

“Are there more of the devises?”
“Young Lord Nerihorn arranged a search of the Sanctuary and none of the Devises have turned up there as yet. If the Darkmage had more stored in different locations, we have not found them as yet. If others had these things, they have been buried for a very long time.”

“Thank you, your majesty.”

Byddri left to get photographs and talk to people. Tathaln turned to Narbeth and said, “He’s sharp. He didn’t ask why you were here and Alinar wasn’t. He’s also been poking into ancient Imperial places. He may have guessed where that thing is going already.”

“At this point, it doesn’t matter. It’s all going to come out anyway. Either Melaris will call the Conclave or Lord Zlymenor will. At least the Conclave will clear the air.”

Evin came over with a man from the Fellowship. “Your Majesty, this is Provincial Trooper Lieutenant Thomas Stonehand. He flew in to find out just what happened.”

“Lieutenant, has Evin told you the gist of it?”
“Yes, your majesty. There were some of the Darkmage’s booms here, House Nerihorn realized what they were and wanted to keep the lid on things for obvious reasons, the clowns from the Inquisition showed up and the Darkmage’s people used trucks to come in the back while the Justiciar’s people were distracted by the clowns and one of the booms went off. I have a picture of the boom going off. My instructions were to fly over, get pictures and if possible find out where you all were coordinating things and make contact. Two farms were caught in the boom and we haven’t gone in yet because all the old stories say that if don’t wait a five day or so, the people you send in are going to get very sick. Presumably you are taking the boom you still have someplace safe.”

“Yes we are. Did the Justiciar explain why they were not moved previously?”
“My brother was in unexploded ordnance. Once the Justiciar mentioned that the devise was armed, not touching it until it was safed was the right thing to do unless you had experts and complete details of the insides.”

“I imagine that the Consul will want more from me when I have it.”
“I think that his people will want to be talking to your people about this. On the other hand, they will understand why you kept a lid on this until you could have the things dismantled.”

The Qinvaris Estate.

The log was gone this time when Richard reached the place that it had been. He drove past, leading a rather long caravan of people into the woods and making the turn that Alinis told him to make. There with Chompers, were all six of the kids, looking rather pleased with themselves. Chompers looked at the crowd as they got out of the vehicles and said, “Did you have to bring that many, Richard?”

“I didn’t but you are going to need to talk to all of them at some point in any case. This is Alinar Nerihorn, and you are going to be receiving a large package from his estate tomorrow or the next day.”

“What is it and what happened yesterday?”

Richard introduced the Beinans, Vearil Grewenys, Justiciar Dawkins and the others and said, “Let’s go inside and I will explain.
Chompers transformed to trueform and led them to a room with a table. He turned to Richard and said, “Since you all are alive, you weren’t where the Devise was when it went off. So, what happened?”
“Stormfire, the Darkmage’s son staged a raid on the vault just as, coincidently, the Inquisition decided to raid the Nerihorn Estate. My people slipped up and we didn’t spot Stormfire assembling his people in one of my abandoned estate houses, so they could get on trucks and use back roads to get to the vault. At about the same time, the Inquisition showed up with their clown show. As a result, thanks to the efforts of one of the Justiciars’ young slaves, the Justiciars knew that the Inquisition’s clown show was going to show up and the clown show attracted more attention than it should have. The problem was that because of the fact that most of the portals near the Nerihorn estate were restricted and Tathaln Nerihorn, the New Director of the Portal Service was rather put out that the Portal Service had never been paid by the Inquisition, the Inquisition only has basic portal service, so they had to use the portal near the Trahorns and march down to the Nerihorn estate, arriving just before 9:80. Stormfire probably had a diversion setup, but they spotted the Inquistion’s clown show and told Stormfire to move in. The Justiciar’s slave boy, Eddie, was rather bored and wanted to check out the vault, so he went looking for it, spotted Stormfire and his people, Jumped back to where the clown show was going on and told Justiciar Sarrieth that Stormwolf was raiding the vault. The Justiciar sent Eddie back to tell Stormwolf that one of the devises was armed, but he wasn’t able to stop the truck with the armed devise and near the House Zlymenor estate, the devise went boom. The estate is dead. One devise was stopped from leaving and is arriving here by truck.”

“I see. That is a bit presumptious of you.”
“Not really. If it can’t be dealt with immediately, we can at least arrange to place it at my old shop for the time being. If you have the facilities to dismantle it, we can do that.”

“We can do that. Lord Nerihon, why are you here and not at your estate?”
“The Emperor is holding the fort and I want to make sure that the devise is handled. Foluin Beinan and I were probably the best at playing around with ancient Imperial things, I have all the documents about the devises that we retrieved from the Sanctuary and Alinis said that the facilities are here, so I can tell you what we will need and know what I am looking at. Alwin, Folmon, Onvyr and I want to set up a procedure for safing these things when they come up, because recently, we’ve had a lot of them show up and while the Scourge was the first one to go boom, the Suppressors got a lot closer than we like to think about. The Inquisition, back when things started seemed to take the stance that if they suppressed all the knowledge about certain things that they could, the problems would all go away. The problem was that while the knowledge was destroyed, much of the hardware was still out there, the Darkmage had his things stashed and some of the rest was dug up. For instance, an estate that Richard is familiar with dug up a Suppressor and put it in their hall because it was a pretty statue.”
“Where is it now?” Chompers asked.

“The pretty statue is back in the House Petrie Estate, I believe. Mage Wyrran there can tell you where the rest of it is.”
Wyrran grinned. “In pieces in storage bins in a facility someplace. The Beinans don’t like to throw things away and the components will get used in something.”

“Why don’t I show you all around? The place is under Anathema, but I get the impression that the Inquisition doesn’t even know about this place anymore.”

“They do not,” Alwin said. “At least I did not when I was head of research in the Inquisition and the Head of the Inquisition myself. My predecessor certainly did not inform me about this location. Since I am no longer at the Inquisition, I cannot have some of my people sent down here to learn just what was here. I suspect that it was out of sight, out of mind, but that was putting a blindfold on and assuming that everyone else was. The Inquisition should have either taken some degree of responsibility for the facility and maintained a presence or let you go on your way, destroyed as much as possible and turned the land back to House Qinvaris for farming.”

“We do that already. Richard, my grandsons want to talk tractors with your people.”

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