The desert Howl crowd make plans. The Republican Army prepares to shut Ishendell down.
Alaion Lorakian and Feno Ilican looked at the screen and grinned. Adapting the fortress Projector so that it would track the mirror had not been easy and getting the actual targets had been harder, but the navy had sent some pictures of Ishendell as well as the facilties in the Empty Lands and the Darkmage was going to discover that having a Projector mirror was a knife that could cut you as well. Aydiun Beinan had been annoyed by the sending of Inanimates to his neighborhood and wanted to return the favor. Feno turned to Alaion and said, “I think we have it. I’ll tell army that we can press the button whenever they want it.”
“The Darkmage is going to get some nasty surprises.”
The Imperial Council.
The councilors filed in to the emergency meeting that Narbeth had called. When they were all present, Narbeth said, “I called you all here as consequence of the tragic events of the day before yesterday. The report is there. I spent the day yesterday dealing with the consequences of the tragedy and was unable to call the meeting. Some of you may already know what occurred. The first order of business is that, Lord Orijeon, I want your resignation from this council after this meeting.”
“What?! You cannot remove me.”
“Actually you are in the same circumstances as Lord Nerihorn was. I have here, a writ from the Mage Academy for your arrest concerning your actions at the book warrens in the Lower City, the acquisition of materials belonging to the Mage academy and sending them outside the country to be purchased by agents of the Darkmage and other unregistered mages. The Justiciars have a receipt with your seal on it, books listed on that receipt and some of the books were purchased by the son of the Mage Adjudant of the Mage Academy when he saw them in a store in the Fellowship so that he could turn the books over to his father. That was, after you abused your Council privileges to create a writ allowing you to search the book warrens in the Lower City. The Darkmage’s daughter was later seen going to the store and purchasing the books that the store owner had retained.”
“The Mage Academy has no proof.”
“I have seen the report that the Justiciars sent to the Mage Academy and the case was open and shut, Lord Orijeon. You went charging down to the book warrens, had your flunkies take every book they could to cover up the books that the Darkmage wanted and were thwarted somewhat by Lord Nerihorn’s actions. Elf Bidove’s store has been under observation for some time by the Dragonmaster, the Mage Academy and the Justiciars because of the known connections to the Darkmage and suspected connections to certain forces in the Inquisition. Lord Nerihorn’s receipt and the fact that the books showed up in Bidove’s store were the last connection that the Mage Academy needed. In any case, I expect your resignation from the Council at the end of this meeting.”
“Why have I not received a writ or been arrested?”
“That brings me to my reason for calling this meeting. Two five days ago Alinar Nerihorn came to my office to tell me that five of the devices that are used for the Scourge had been found on his estate.”
“Why did you not notify the Inquisition as the law demands?” Orijeon asked.
“Other than the justified suspicion that the Inquisition had been working hand in glove with the Darkmage for a very long time, you mean?” Zaos sneered.
“The Inquisition would hardly work with Anathema!”
“Iolas, tell that to somebody that might believe that,” Garrik growled. “Not that you have a leg to stand on.”
“In any case, Lord Nerihorn consulted with Lord Waestoris and some others and they made the decision that since of the risk of the devices detonating and the danger of handling the devices was evident, only a small group of people were to be told of the devises,” The Emperor said. “Lord Nerihon put his son to looking for documentation on the devises using a document referenced on the devise itself. He found the document and others related to the devices, all of which supported not attempting to move or dismantle the devises without the proper precautions. Simultaneously Alinis Qinvaris decided to investigate the Scourge on her own and returned to the Empire to investigate some things that she had seen on the family estate. After Alinis left, her grandmother sent some related materials to the palace and I had them sent to the Nerihorn estate. Somebody at the Nerihorn estate passed a picture from a school report in that packet to someone who passed the picture to the Inquisition. Lords Zylvyre and Keaynore decided to use the picture as an excuse to search the Nerihorn Estate. When I was notified of that, I placed the Nerihorn Estate under Imperial shield so that the Inquisition would not be able to march willy nilly though the estate, potentially discover the devises and attempt to move them. At that point the researches had discovered that one of the devises was armed and We did not want the possibility of setting the devise off by idiocy. As it was, the Inquisition’s parade arrived, Stormfire used the Inquisition as a diversion and the fact that the Nerihorn guards were guarding the potential emergence point, the ancient portal and dealing with diversion provided by the Inquisition allowed Stomfire to get to the vault and remove the devises. He was discovered, but not before the armed devise had already left. Subsequently the armed devise went off. The Zlymenor estate and the Palen estate were Scourged as were two farms in the Fellowship.”
“Alwin was notified about the devises?” Inchel asked.
“Yes, as well as Folmon Beinan and the Grand Master. They brought additional people in to evaluate the devises.”
“So, Alwin made the call to not notify the rest of the Inquisition in light of the potential dangers until more information could be obtained. Considering what happened and the fact that Lord Alinar did not attempt to keep the devises hidden, but just secure, that makes sense.”
“The devises were heavily Proscribed and the documents heresy!” Iolas screamed. “Since the Emperor was culpable in the gross infractions of the law, the Conclave should be called.”
“Do that,” Garrick said. “You can explain why you were passing mage studies materials to the Darkmage and why you were in front of the Nerihorn Estate at the same time that the Darkmage’s people showed up to retrieve the devises. This isn’t a clown show or people in a far away land getting killed, this was obtaining Proscribed devises and in the process getting Imperial Citizens and slaves killed. I move that the Justiciars investigate the Inquisition top to bottom looking for past collusion with the Darkmage. We have put up with this nonsense for a long time and it’s time that it stopped.”
Narbeth called for the vote and Erlan and Iolas voted against, everyone else voted for the investigation. Narbeth said, “I will notify Justiciar Bryneiros. I will also place the Hall of Inquisition under seal until such time as the investigation shall begin and Lord Waestoris is to have custody of the hall and all of the materials inside. Galan, dispatch the High Guard immediately and clear the building. All records and documents are to be sequestered pending the investigation. I believe that concludes the business in this meeting.”
Jorge walked into the headquarters and saluted.
General Ironaxe grinned and said, “Thank you for coming, Jorge. I imagine that you were rather busy in the city.”
“Not as busy as we should have been, sir. Stormfire and his people went on that little jaunt.”
“There was no way to know what they were doing. You got the people out and made the Darkmage miserable.”
“I had help. I should thank Adiun for sending Jorge in. He was the one who thought to look up that tunnel.”
“We want to talk about that. That map on that tablet was rather interesting. We’ve been going over some of the places that the Darkmage dug up in the Empty Lands and they match places on that map.”
“So you want my people to look for the places, I take it.”
“We think that there are more of those bombs. Even at their worst, the three bombs that Stormfire made off with won’t destroy the Republic. Hurt it yes, especially if the target is Chatsrey, but destroy it, no. So we are preparing to hit General Headbasher and the Darkmage hard enough that they either run or we destroy them.”
“That’s going to be expensive.”
“The President gave the order when he heard about the Scourge. He’s hoping that we can at least shut Ishendell down and maybe take as many of the Darkmage’s toys away as we can.”
“What about the three devises?”
“If you figure out what the Darkmages sons are planning, or the Dragonmaster does, shut them down. But right now, we have no clue where the things are and I doubt that they are going to show up where they can be seen.”
“Ok, we pull off the big raid and then I pull my people, the militia and some rather crazy boys out. Let me get together with Major Steelaxe and tell him what he can expect.”
Denny grinned and said, “Pulling him out will make Lissia happy.”
“The fact is that that since we are shutting down here anyway, putting an assault force rather than the kind of dark operations force that Jorge represents works better now that we can port them in and stash then in the tunnel. We need Jorge working the Empty Lands and backing up the Beinans and whoever is going to be looking for those bombs. By the way, should you go back as well?”
“I’ll see this through to the end. My wife is surprisingly sympathetic about duties.”
“Will Lord Qinvaris need you?”
“He sent me down here and was aware that I had reserve status. You’ve met one of my daughters. My sons are no slouches either. This their play time in any case.”
“With TAVs, probably.”
“I suspect that they will be doing something with them, yes. If the Darkmage is still here, the TAVs may show up.”