Lord Palen’s Tragedy, Chapter 11-12

A landdragon is busy.  Paeris salutes Stormfire.

Chapter 11.

Chatsrey.

Tomas came in with a grin on his face. Bob looked at him and said, “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing right now, but I was looking at the cavalry and Sheriff’s report for South Cactus and the Great Captain’s log at that time.”
“South Cactus?”
“That was where Qildor’s sharks killed Paeris’s Daughter and her daughter.”

“So?”
“The Darkmage was there as well.”
“Are you sure?”
“The drawing made by the sheriff’s people wasn’t exactly clear, but the face looks like the Darkmage. He was wanted in suspicion of poking around in some restricted areas that some of the tribes have there.”

“That’s very interesting, but what makes it funny?”
“Paeris’s notes in his log. First of all, while he was looking for his daughter, for the most part, he was keeping his father and his cousins as far away from that region as as he could. He was hardly going to undertake a mass murder of seafolk, let alone his own relatives, yet there he was, murdering his daughter. I think that the Darkmage discovered some things and sent Paeris there, under compulsion, to murder his daughter so that he would not form an attachment to the Republic.”

“That is an interesting hypothesis. It doesn’t help me in my case against Paeris, but an interesting hypothesis nonetheless. I’m not sure how that is relevant today.”
“You, Kulgha and a lot of others have wondered why Paeris stays with the Darkmage. Certainly it is not family loyalty. He was backstabbing his father for decades, arranged the deaths of a bunch of his family down in the bowers off South coast and I suspect that his friends in Racketgarde were told where certain raids were going to show up. It’s beginning to look as if there may be subtle compulsions involved.”

“How are you all adjusting?”

“Just fine, for the most part. It may have helped that we were taught that we were dead from the beginning of our lives, so we didn’t have huge expectations. On the other hand, after all that, no matter how crazy this is, it seems fine to us.”
“Don’t let the crazy part get around.”
Tom laughed. “Too late. Most people already know about you and Kulgha. I will leave this here and get back to the logs. There are more interesting things in there. I may want to discuss them with a certain landdragon.”

Bob laughed. “He may be busy.”

“He hasn’t gone home yet. I guess that he has attracted too much attention.”

“He sure has.”

George looked at Thaetmaeg and said, “This is bad.”

“The Scourge, the nightmare of the Mage Wars that we couldn’t crack, yes that is very bad.”

“The good news is that there are only three of the things. That is, three that the Darkmage has right now.”

“I hate to be a spoilsport, but there may be more out there. Frankly, I wish that I had one or two to play with out in the desert.”

“What for?”

“So I can see the effects and how the mana flows work. I have this feeling just how that works and I will have to check with Hagred about that. The Darkmage was looking for books on mana flows and I have this feeling that he was thinking along the same lines that I am.”
“What about?”

“That the Scourge won’t work on areas that have already been Scourged because there is no mana to pull.”

“What about the blast?”
“That will happen, I think. Without the Scourge it’s just an explosion, and there have been large explosions for one reason or another. Without the Scourge it’s potentially 1,500 or so people killed at worst, not who knows how many if the Scourge hits.”

“So, likely targets?”

“That depends. The Financial Center in Chatsrey, the capital, Government Center or Industry City, but Industry City is all steel buildings. The Admiralty in Cleadsgate as well as the shipyards there. I’ll make up a list of potential targets. The problem is that we can’t get in the head of the Darkmage. I think that he, or his sons, have their own criteria for targets.”

“We have the areas that were originally Scourged surveyed. Government Center and the Financial Center are sitting the middle of two of them, simply because of their proximity to Castle Hill and one of the Old Family’s homes respectively. Not only is the area centered on that old Claringbold townhouse, but all the buildings have steel frames except the townhouse and considering that it sits on top of a vault, the vault may take steps to defend itself. Cleadsgate was also Scourged by Harald when the Darkmage landed an army of Inanimates there”

“They really used the things, once things got hot.”

“I think that Harald felt that he had no choice and the armies that he was fighting were already dead, one way or another. At least we have a handle on what the Darkmage is throwing at us.”

Lythienne stood up, ran over and hugged Alinis as she entered the parlor. “You’re back. Who is this?”
“Grandmother, this is Fireoak Greenleaf. We met in his forest, thanks to the machinations of Miriam, I suspect.”

“Did you complete your quest?”

“Yes, with some help from some friends. I made some new ones as well.”

“Including this young fae.”

“Yes. “
“I understand that the Scourge was exploded on an estate.”
“We brought reports for Grandfather and the government. Stormfire came to the Nerihorn Estate while the Inquisition was acting as a diversion at the gate and attempted to make off with the five devises that were in a vault on the estate. One of the devises was armed and Stormfire sent it off with three others. Something caused it to go off. The Zlymenor Estate, the Palen Estate and two farms in the Fellowship were killed.”

“Bob said that there were devises. Tom was sending ordnance specialists.”
“I got past Chompers and into the lab on our estate with the help of Jimmy and Tallissa. That was just before the devise went off and we all felt it happen. Fireoak and I Jumped back home to see if daddy was caught in the Scourge. He wasn’t, because he didn’t know about the raid or the Inquisition showing up. Anyway, the devise was far enough away from The Nerihorn estate that nobody there was hurt.”

Lythienne smiled. “I’m glad to hear that everyone in our family is ok. So Chompers talks. Tarranth wasn’t sure.”

“Chompers, or Kindel Zinfiel, was playing a game with the boys since his family and the facility were declared Anathema after Mage Wars and Chompers didn’t want any of us getting in real trouble with the Inquisition. Frankly, we could have used the old lab as a playhouse and made the Scourge and the Inquisition would never have known about it because they forgot that the place even existed.”

“Do I sense a bit of sarcasm, Alinis? Fireoak, are you going to have any issues here in the Republic?”

‘None at all, ma’am. I got a Jump point from a Marshall about five years ago, Jumped down here to look for my mother’s relatives and spent three years at my uncle’s learning the business. I have an apprentice certificate for being a machinist and toolmaker, through a registered class at my uncle’s company, as well as a driver’s license. Alinis and I are planning to introduce her around to my family here.”

“Since you have been a resident here already, I don’t have to deal with papers or passports. Why did you return to your kingdom?”
“That was Kulgha Ironaxe’s, Paeris’s and your fault. I was heading for college when Paeris, rather than doing his shopping and picking up people that somebody needed or needed a quick way out of the country in Racketgarde, raided that trading depot and played around with oceanliners, getting himself caught. The barrister sent that list of his and it was suggested to my mother that she send a letter to the Republic, since you had started that mail service and she could. My aunt wrote back saying that my family should all jump down, enjoy the beach, and that I was with them. My family came down and I had to go back. My father was more than a bit skeptical about college and since I didn’t have a bond, my brothers could have jobs with the Portal Service, but I had to settle for my own little cottage at home. Alinis has changed that somewhat, so the plan is right now to go to college for the first two years here and the last two at the new Imperial University.”

“That sounds like a wonderful plan. Why did your father do what he did?”
“I think that he was acting on old faerie traditions where certain skills were kept hidden inside the kingdoms and traded. Since I passed my test, then went wandering anyway, developed valuable skills and they could be very valuable to the kingdom, he thought of me as a part of the wealth of the kingdom. I don’t think that he realized just how much more I could do and that I had had my own plans. He had a chat with Lord Qinvaris after Lord Qinvaris discovered that Alinis and I were bonded.”

“How did my son discover that? Alinis, I thought that the idea was to keep your quest outside the family.”
“Fireoak had made a model car as his graduation project and his brothers were messing with it. I didn’t think that daddy would be going out to the farm office, so I left the car and some books that the Inquisition would probably get upset about there with a note saying to take care of the things. The model car had Fire’s name on it and dad looked for Fire’s parents. It was your fault that he went into the office, grandmother. You sent that packet up about the Scourge with a note saying that I had Jumped up to the Empire. I made a mistake and didn’t ask if you had anything that I could put in the report. I should have realized that you had a stack of reports already.”

“Alinis, there was a time that about every two years or so, I was pulling the same old family journals, the same old books and pointing my children at the same resources. Between Dan’s brothers and sisters, some of them anyway, my children and their children, we’re still doing it. All that material, or copies is on its way to the Empire to finally get the libraries opened. So you can inflict your kids with reports that they have to find sources for.”

“I’m sorry. Lyrei was saying how information about the Scourge was restricted and then I found the word “radiation” and couldn’t find anything else about it. The only other place I had seen the word is on a building that Chompers ran me away from four years ago. He was rather upset that I had gotten so close. I was smart and had bought a Yllanan cloak from the Yllanan Estate because a friend said that you could get things like that there. Of course this time, I had Jimmy and Talissa. They ran Chompers ragged.”

“Tell me all about your adventures.”

“OK, the first thing that happened was that Fireoak’s brother trapped me by mistake. He was trapping Fireoak, or trying to.”

Alinis and Fireoak went all over their adventures and Lythienne laughed and laughed.

Chapter 12.

The Arsenal.

As Stormfire and Herdir entered The Great Captain’s quarters he raised the tankard in his hand in salute. “At last, somebody has been able to get me off the top of the most wanted list. Lord Stormfire, I am proud of you. That was a magnificent caper. How did you get those Inquisition clowns to show up?”

Stormfire grinned. “They showed up on their own. They were probably looking into why the Nerihorns were suddenly looking into heavily Proscribed materials.”

“So they were diversion, even when they didn’t know it. That means that Nightwolf and his people are on their way back.”
“Thank you for loaning them to us. I was planning to use Stormwolf, but his pack was destroyed and he was injured just before I was setting up for the mission.”
“Did you know that one of the devises was armed?”
“No. I didn’t check, father said that the devises should not be armed and by the time a boy Jumped and told me after spotting us, telling the Justiciar and returning, the truck was already gone. The Qinvaris and Nerihorn guards showed up, I had to Jump out and the devise exploded. That was my big mistake. I should have retrieved the key before going after the devises and made sure that they were all safe to move.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Father was in a hurry. As is typical, of course, he didn’t tell either Herdir or I all the details beforehand. We tried to get ahead of the game, but there were still things that we didn’t know.”

“So what are you going to do now?”
“That is where you come in. First of all, we need to extract the devises from Lylalune.”

“Why are they in Lylalune?”

“When we set up the plan, we expected that the enemy would look for the devises here almost immediately. So we want to remove the devises to a discreet location offshore and set up a location for launching the devises from a hidden location. We are going to retrieve a portal that Wyrran discovered and some other things, set up a camp on an island and operate from there.”

“What are your targets for the things?”
“We have yet to determine that, since we have only three of the devises now.”

“Why don’t we get this on the road? This is going to have to be very sneaky, because just about everybody is going to be looking for you and those things now.”

The Imperial Palace.

Galan looked that the elf in front of him and said, “What brings you here, Inquisitor?”
Delion grinned. “I just wanted to ask you to tell certain people who may be interested, that looking very closely at my office will be useful. Also, the other end of the private portal that goes to the interrogation center will produce something interesting if you punch this code in, twice. Finally, pass these to the Grand Master.”

“What are they?”
“The books on mana flow that the people south were looking for, that is the corrected copies.”
“What do you mean?”

“The books that went south have some copying issues that if you don’t know what to look for, you might miss.”

“How did you know about them?”

“Because I have had several sets pass through my hands over the years and know what to look for. Most copies will have the correction written between the lines or on the margin by rather frustrated mages. The copies that went south did not. I will leave these here.”

“Why are you doing this?”

“An old Imperial servant told me to. You can tell the Emperor that. I will take my leave.”

Delion left a puzzled Galan and the office. Narbeth came out of his office, and said, “Galan there is this matter- what just happened?”
“Delion came into my office, hinted that the Justiciars should look closely at his office, punch this code into the private portal that led to the Interrogation center, twice and left these.”

“What are they?”

“Apparently the books that the Darkmage was looking for, with some corrections added that the books that went to the Darkmage did not have. He wanted to make sure that the right copies went to the Grand Master.”
“Why is he doing this?”

“I don’t know. He mentioned an old Imperial servant.”

Narbeth grinned. “I would send the books on and give Justiciar Dawkins the tip.”

“I will. It just seems out of character for the Inquisitor.”
“Sometimes you may get some surprises.”

The Qinvaris Estate.

Byddri drove the GP on the same road that he had just about a five day ago. The log was gone and Chompers did not pounce on him. He turned where he had been told to turn and parked next to cars, more GPs and some trucks. A seeming elf was waiting at the door and said, “You got me, nosey.”

Byddri grinned “Actually, I had nothing to do with Jimmy and Talissa. That was Alinis’s idea and they were already plotting against you when I showed them the picture I took of your place. I did suggest to Folwin Glynynore that you would be a good obstacle for testing his riders, but Richard probably would have done the same thing, my cousins in the Dragonguard were not that enthusiastic about just hassling you and they have better training facilities and airplanes at the Aerie anyway. My uncle, on the other hand, is in the market for pork.”

“Pork we can supply. Richard showed me your stories about the other places you found and they are rather remarkable. So, since the Anathema has been taken off this place, let me explain it, give you the old guide book and tell you what this place did. Where is your wife? My wife was hoping to meet her.”
“She is with Rosa and they are going there already. So, I am free to explore while my wife collects another community.”

“Your wife collects communities?”

“She likes to find new places and write about them. Her latest was the Sanctuary.”

“How did you meet?”

“She was spying on the Ravathyra and I was collared by them. I will tell you and your family the whole story after the tour at lunch.”

“I will look forward to it.”

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