Lord Palen’s Tragedy, Chapter 19-20

The final end of Ishendell  The Shanelis find some things.

Chapter 19.

Ishendell.

Major Hornslasher looked out with his binoculars from the hatch of the Command TAV at the approaching enemy. Unfortunately he was down to five type two TAVs as the three remaining Type Threes had all lost their final drives after the raid on the cans and were immobile. Since he had no means to repair or even move them, they were sitting targets for enemy artillery and were wrecked burned out shells at this point. The attack did not have any TAVs and was mostly infantry. So perhaps he could give them a bloody nose. He waved his hand to advance.

General Ironcutter looked at the advancing TAVs and grinned. Denny’s sons had sent an interesting report as to why the new thicker skinned Type Three’s were all immobile. The charging TAV’s were rapidly approaching his assault columns and then the first was hit by an antiTAV grenade launcher and the crew spilled out as flames came out of the hatches. The second TAV opened fire at the launcher’s crew as a battery of field guns opened up on the TAVs, striking one of them in the rear. Two truck mounted antiaircraft guns fired and finished another TAV and then another. The last TAV and the command TAV retreated until the Command TAV and the last TAVs were struck and the TAV assault was over. The 23rd, like the veterans they now were, had taken the assault in stride and continued to lead the other two regiments of 2nd Division in the assault, supported by artillery towed by trucks and machine guns mounted on the improvised armored trucks that Denny and the milport ship repair people had thrown together. The Fellowship defense crumbled as the general watched.

Dumag watched as his probing attacks looked for weak points in the Fellies defenses and then, like a hammer, Major Steelaxe’s assault battalion of former Ravathrya enhanced and other assault troops punched a hole in the line and they were followed by the TAVs and mobile regiment who widened the hole and suppressed any flanking fire. By the end of a twentieth, Dumag’s two divisions had joined up with General Ironcutter’s two and the Fellie defense was fully enveloped, what there was of it. Once that was done, the Army of the Peninsula followed the trail of dropped equipment and exhausted Fellowship soldiers into the city, heading to the giant portal.

Jorge deployed his people. He had three objectives. The first was to secure General Headbasher and the rest of 2nd Army’s leadership before they could retreat through the portal. The second was to make sure that any remaining of the snake lady’s monsters either surrendered or died. Unfortunately Jorge was sure that death was the option for the remaining monsters as they no longer were anything than intelligent and very dangerous animals. He had seen two of them try to pull retreating Fellowship soldiers into the city so that they could kill them and get shot for their trouble. He had wanted to keep the boys out of this, but they had charged in, Teonag and Brilbrun transformed and flying overhead, clinging to walls as overlook for the boys, most whom were invisible in their suits and carrying hand Projectors as well as pistols and submachine guns. Jorge didn’t really want the boys to be killers, but he doubted that the creatures of the pen would give him much choice.

Jorge’s third objective was the most important. The Darkmage was not to escape. Jorge was sure that the Suppressor was up at Peninsula Army headquarters, but he was to find and confine the Darkmage as soon as possible. There were soldiers guarding the 2nd army’s evacuation and the captain in charge had already turned away the Darkmage and several other darkmages. Jorge wasn’t sure where the darkmages had gone, but the escape routes through the portals that the Darkmage had available were secured. So Jorge and his company just had to find the Darkmage. Fortunately he was going to have help with that. It had taken some doing, but he had Jimmy and the other landdragons on their way when the army was dealt with. First he had to secure 2nd Army headquarters and General Headbasher.

General Headbasher could see the disaster on his perimeter. The rear guard had fallen like a house of cards under the two assaults on the flanks. The assaults had been followed up and even now were heading right to the retreating 2nd
Army as what was left in the trenches surrendered. He turned to the staff and suddenly huge men rolled through the windows and pointed submachine guns as there were bursts of gunfire and grenades all through the ruined building that had been 2nd Army’s headquarters. The various personnel were crowded into the room, a huge man with a captain’s star on his helmet said to what looked like one of the Darkmage’s monsters, but was in Pug marine uniform and carrying a submachine gun as if he knew what he was doing with it, “Corp, keep an eye on these people until somebody shows up to collect them.”

“Yes sir, Captain.”

The captain left the crowded room to the monsters and left without a word to the general. The general looked at the corporal and asked, “Didn’t he want to take the army’s surrender?”
“The captain has some clean up to do. We’ll watch you and make sure that things are secure until some MPs turn up.”

“What if we try to escape?”

“You don’t want to try that, sir. I would have shoot you and the captain would get upset. Just sit tight and the MPs should be here soon.”

Jimmy was playing bait. He had regular clothes on over his suit, which was turned off and the helmet was in his satchel with some grenades, his pistol, submachine gun and a hand Projector he ran from cover to cover as he had the last time that Stormwolf had chased him. Of course, he was covered by his brother and the other boys, as well as having the two little dragons up above. There was a rattle of falling rock and Jimmy turned, pulled out his sub machinegun and slipped the strap over his shoulder. A girl about his age in a ragged dress appeared and said, “Save me!”

“Are things after you?”

“Yes. What is your name?”

“Jimmy.”
“The Landdragon? Can you transform?”

“Not that Jimmy. Stick with me. Are your parents here?”
“In the warehouse. At least they were. I’ve been hiding and looking for food, but the monsters may have been watching me and some others. Sometimes those horrible cans would show up.”

“They wanted to eat you and were keeping you fed so that they could.”

Jimmy thought about the closest entrance to the tunnels. He didn’t want Stormwolf and his buddies chasing him down there, the tram car wouldn’t be there and a battle in the tunnels would not be a good thing. He whistled and pointed. Then he headed down the middle of the street, the girl clinging to him. Suddenly Stormwolf and four others appeared in front of him. “You did well, girl. Now go.”

The girl disappeared. Jimmy looked at the five and said, “You couldn’t bring more, Stormwolf? All you great big monsters for me?”

Stormwolf grinned. “We’re leaving and hungry. We thought that we would use the girl to bring you out before having a snack on her and you.”

Jimmy pulled his submachine gun up and pointed it at Stormwolf. “That won’t be easy if you are full of holes.”

A rock flew past Jimmy’s head and Jimmy flinched a bit. Keeping the gun pointed at Stormwolf he started to back to the wall. “You made some mistakes, Stormy. First you used the girl as bait, and second, you brought your whole gang. The biggest mistake was thinking that I was alone. Didn’t those big noses tell you different? You weren’t the only one who can use bait.” A Projector bolt hit the street. “The boys and I have been watching you look for us for some time, Stormwolf and you never noticed. We even set scent trails for you to follow.”

Two whistles sounded and Jimmy stopped backing toward the wall. Stormwolf grinned a rather horrible grin and said, “We can drag you off.”
“You are an idiot. My brother is covering me with a service rifle, you are all out of cover and he wins competitions with rifles.”

“Then why haven’t you killed us?”

“Because Jimmy asked us not to.”

“Jimmy is not here.”

A voice called out, “Actually I am, Stormwolf! The captain asked me to come if things collapsed and I have. So have the other culls and the landdragons. You can either come with us to the Sanctum, revert and get a new start or die here.”

Stormwolf was shaking as he looked around. “Where are you, runt?!”

“Somewhere. Since you are so afraid of the sight of me, I thought it best to remain concealed. What is your choice, Stormwolf?”

Stormwolf looked at Jimmy and yelled, “At least I can deal with YOU!”

Stormwolf bunched to leap and his head exploded. The other monsters took shots, tried to run, only to be stopped by the little dragons flaming the street or cringed in a surrender posture. Jimmy became visible and said, “He made his choice. We have another task.”

“What?”

“Find the Darkmage. That is why all the landdragons are here.”

The Darkmage had watched the scene and was rather frightened. Jimmy and Talissa were bad enough, but there were also the three other landdragons from the Pen and several more from someplace else. They had set up a cordon and were closing in on him and the other darkmages, who were hunted out by the enhanced soldiers and what were probably refugees from the pen as they systematically went through the city. They were aided by the boys using ancient Imperial equipment that they had found someplace and the two small dragons.

He hated to lose everything, but at this juncture, he had no choice. He disrobed and transformed to his more reptilian trueform. Keeping to the walls and holes, he slithered toward the armies. Perhaps he could find a meal to sustain him on the long journey to get out from the Suppressor’s influence. Getting to where he could would probably take some time.

Jorge looked at the pile of clothes and cursed. The Darkmage was something else now, in a ruined city full of soldiers and some refugees. There were signs in the dust and dirt on the street of what appeared to be a large snake slithering away and Jorge suspected that the Darkmage looked a lot like his daughter did when she was in trueform. He and his squad followed the trail, but the trail entered a building and he lost it. Vinny came up and said, “He was here, wasn’t he?”
“He left his clothes and went snaky.”
“Like the Lady. He’ll want a meal, but in this mess that probably won’t be hard to find. We’ll look for him, but he may be able to slither out of this.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. I was so hoping that we could end this.”

“The Master, Stormfire and the Lady are still out there and there may be somebody else pulling strings. This wasn’t going to end here. At least you got this stopped.”
“It wasn’t cheap.” Jorge looked at the little girl. “Not cheap at all.”

Jerthath found the remains of General Headbasher’s headquarters, being swarmed over by Republican MPs and JAG types from the Fellowship. He took some pictures and moved on into the shattered city. His son, Rilug, spotted him and said, “You owe me a ton of steak dinners, dad.”
“Why?”

“I was stuck in here with the army and you were out there, with those steak dinners. Do you know what the Pugs did to the army? Those crap cans almost created a rampage when the army realized that they had been had.”
“That was General Harper’s idea.”
“Where did he get his hands on those cans?”
“They were part of the relief effort for Astaire and he knew about them. He had them shipped down and placed in that dump.”

“Why would General Harper be involved in relief in Astaire?”

“This was Dennis Harper, who runs the Qinvaris transport. He came down with his trucks and had his reserve commission activated.”
“I heard stories about a daughter.”
“Yes, she was here. A real go getter. Did you get good copy?”
“My war journal with the pictures should do very well when I file it. We couldn’t exactly get messages out, though the other side’s infiltrators didn’t seem to have a problem. I’m not sure how they did it.”

“They had ways. I apologize for getting you stuck like that.”

“It wasn’t your fault. General Headbasher was the one who made the decision to get himself trapped in Ishendell after what happened there. He didn’t get to the bottom of the Peninsula fast enough and didn’t secure Milport. So the Pugs could land reinforcements and they did. Also, Headbasher’s backers in the Senate backed out after Ishendell and apparently there was no support at all from home.”

“There wasn’t. There was some in the beginning, but Headbasher’s idiot intelligence officer made Great Captain Zylvyre a patsy and he wasn’t happy about it. So he wasn’t above lending some people a hand.”

“That explains those ships that came and went. So what were you doing while I was trapped in an old fashioned siege?”

“Byddri arranged an interview with the Great Captain, so I have added him to the collection, I collected Richard as well, and I gave a report on Opaugh’s actions here to Shura.”

“I bet that some of our relatives are in a tizzy right now. I’m fairly sure that the General was told by some friends of an impending death when he set up this fiasco. Shura has never commanded, and Great Uncle was dying, so the Orcenlands were going to need a champion and the potential candidates were low on the ground. Ironcutter going into full retreat and being mobile messed all that up. This was supposed to be brilliant storm tactics against General Ironcutter’s trenches and he didn’t play the game that way at all.”

“Richard sent some of his sneaky people and those trucks down. Opaugh even paid for the loads that Richard’s trucks hauled. Why don’t we catch up over lunch? I have a GP and we can go back to headquarters.”

Jorge walked into General Ironaxe’s headquarters and saluted. Dumag asked, “How did it go, captain?”

“We secured 2nd Army’s headquarters, tracked down what was left of Stormwolf’s things and most of the darkmages. The Darkmage is missing. We found his clothes and there were tracks like a snake. We lost the tracks and he was shielding himself carefully, so the fae and landdragons couldn’t track him. I had two killed in taking the headquarters and one wounded. Other than that, my people are good to go.”

“So the Darkmage slithered away. Any ideas where he might be going?”
“Sir, if I did, I wouldn’t be here. He may prowl around the trenches for a bit looking for a meal and then head out beyond the Suppressor’s boundaries so he can Jump. The problem is that there are so many opportunities and so many ways that he could do that, that there really isn’t a way to track him down quickly and if he gets outside the range of the Suppressor or the Suppressor is shut down, he will be gone. We do have everything he had that wasn’t inside his head.”

“The MPs will have to take charge of that. You have that bigger job, so write up a quick report and collect your people. By the way, good work all around and even if the Darkmage got away, you have saved a lot of lives and ended this.”

“I’m worried about those bombs that are loose.”
“That’s your next job. You, and everybody else, is worrying about those. So you get your people on that. At least the Darkmage will not be launching them from here like he planned.”

Chatsrey.

Thaetmaeg came into George’s office and said, “Ishendell was retaken.”

“That could mean trouble for us. We’re still evacuating the city. Did they get the Darkmage?”
“No. They lost him”
“Then the evacuation stands until the devises are either found or the strike hits. Everything we have says that the Darkmage is vindictive and if he can launch the things, he certainly will.”

“A lot of people are going to be rather mad at you. They’ll think that things are over.”

“They need to read their history. The people here thought the same thing at the beginning of the Mage Wars and had a big party. That was when the first Scourge here hit. At least with Ishendell retaken we have bought some time. The Darkmage’s sons are still out there and they will need to regroup. On the other hand, there are probably more things out there.”

“We have the emergence scanner. That was a big help, because the incursions were all out of whack from their expected emergence points. On the other hand, I suspect that some Inanimates ended up places that were not good for the other side. I’m getting reports of the things on piers and heading to the drink.”

The mayor came into the office, looked at George and said, “We are still evacuating, aren’t we?”

“Mayor Heavytoe, we were just discussing the news from Ishendell. The Darkmage and his sons were not there when the city was retaken and the devises were not either. We also know that there are more than three of the devises out there because the navy found two of them on the Peninsula a long time ago. The Darkmage is known for his vindictiveness and taking revenge. So he will probably strike.”

“This is a nightmare!”
“We know, mayor,” Thaetmaeg said. “George and I both hoped that we could retire and go fishing without ever having do much else other than provide props for movies. On the other hand, we both knew that we might be faced with something like this. When the Scourge was brought out, we were left with very few good options. George, mayor, I need to get the reports on the incursions.”
The mayor grinned as Thatmaeg left. “That turned out to be a big nothing, except for that landdragon smashing the things on camera.”
“We think that things went really wrong in Ishendell about the same time that the Darkmage was launching his big strike,” George said with a matching grin. “So, instead of the six or seven thousand Inanimates all emerging all over the place, we had about a thousand all told, with many of them going to the wrong places.”

“But you haven’t halted the evacuations.”
“The devises were never in Ishendell and at best, the collapse of the Darkmage’s operations there buys us time. We need to take advantage of that.”

Tanyl looked at the ongoing clean up and then at his wife. “I think that I need to stop running away from my problems. Why don’t we go to lunch with the Lady and our friends here and then we Jump to the grove and I lose my scaly self.”

Tinesi kissed him. “That sounds like a wonderful idea, but what changed your mind?”

‘I’m going to need to talk to some people and the scales may be rather indiscreet.”
“Your father?”
“Not at first. I think that I will remain discreet for the time being. Nueleth for one and Daylor at first. Aunt Amarille and my cousin Onvyr. Delseran is back and has all those logs that I found. Since the Darkmage has decided to restart the Mage Wars, I don’t think that we will be able to escape. The family wants Rolin and we have to set boundaries. I don’t want Rolin to feel that he will end up in the same place that Paeris and I did.”
“Paeris?”

“If Paeris didn’t play his games so well, people would start thinking of him as the family’s heir. But since he has no obvious descendants, he is ineligible and I am stuck with it.”

“Does Paeris have a son someplace? His grandchildren are here, with their kids.”

“I’m not going to say, as that is not my secret to keep and Paeris may not even know. In any case, it is just my father, Erlan and Melaris now, with my aunts. So we go to the grove and play the game very carefully.”

“We go to the grove. We will keep Fishchaser around. The movie people would hate it if we didn’t.”

Tanyl startled the street with his loud laughter.

Alinis turned Lyrei on and said, “The army took Ishendell back.”

“From the look on your face, there is more to the story.”
“The Darkmage slithered out of the city.”

“I am not surprised. His grandfather had the same sort of bad habits.”

“They are evacuating the city here.”
“Somebody is taking the Scourge seriously then. I do hope that they understand that there are more devises to be found.”

“How many?”
“That is an interesting question. There were no real restrictions on fabricating them other than House Qinvaris wanting to keep them discreet. Does the House library have any records?”
“I never saw anything related to the Mage Wars in the House library. Of course the Inquisition was probably in there at least once.”

“They may have been, but I would check the estate for vaults and shielded spaces.”
“The estate isn’t that old. Not as old as the Mage Wars anyway. It was built a couple of hundred years ago.”

“Now that is interesting. Is it close to the store I mentioned?”
“I will be right back.”

Alinis went and retrieved the House map that her father had brought from her grandfather’s office. She walked back to her room and said, “Here’s the main estate now. This is the estate house, the market, the inn, Chomper’s hog farm and the Radiation Laboratory.

“What is this place here?”
“That is my house.”

“Your house?”
“Daddy gave us all houses the Winterfaire before last. My brothers and sister all had girls or a boyfriend that they were serious about, so, dad gave us the houses as presents. When the gang and I were preparing to get into the lab, we used my house to stay overnight because the Inquisition was on its way to the Nerihorn estate.”

“Did you look around?”
“Not very much. The house was dusty and full of old things. We just cleaned a room and camped overnight.”

Fire knocked on the door and said, “Alinis, your grandmother wants you for lunch.”

“May I meet your Faery prince?” Lyrei asked. “I think that this would be a good time.”
“All right.”
Alinis went to the door and said, “Fire, there is somebody who you should know about.”
He looked inside the room and said, “There’s nobody here but you, Alinis?”
Lyrei became visible above her crystal and grinned. “That is certainly a bit true, young fae. I am Lyrei, or I was.”

Fire looked at Lyrei and said, “A lost art. You must have come from the vault.”

“How did you know, young fae?”

“Our lorekeeper has a crystal like you, but she uses it very sparingly, because its time is about out.”

“The crystal’s time is about out?” Alinis asked.

“Yes. The crystal has a time limit that it can be active and then the imprint fades and dissolves.”

“You never said anything about that, Lyrei.”

“All things have a beginning and an end, Alinis,” Lyrei said. “If I were permanent, I would become a crutch rather than an aide. Do not fret. I have a lot of time left.”
“Is that why you shut down so abruptly all the time?”

“Somewhat, which is a conceit of this seeming. Young prince, perhaps we can arrange to meet this other seeming at some point.”

“The meeting won’t last very long,” Fire said. “I’ve seen Kellam say one word and shut himself off.”

“What was the word?”

“No.”

Lyrei laughed. “That was rather rude.”

“It was the answer to the question, but he was rude about it.”

“What was the question?”
“I wanted to know about how something I had found worked and I asked if he knew anything about it. He didn’t, so “No.” As I said, our lorekeeper uses him very sparingly and he knows that his time is short, so he never wastes it with a long conversation.”
“I think that you are both hungry, so I will let you go. It was very nice to meet you, young prince.”
Lyrei turned herself off and Alinis put her on her shelf. As they walked downstairs to lunch, Fire asked, “How long have you had her?”

“About a moon or so now. I found her in with some other crystals from the vault that I was looking at. I was using her for my history report on the Mage Wars and that was when the Scourge came up.”

“Somebody, our grandchildren probably, is going to be annoyed at you for hogging all her time. On the other hand, that report turned out to be important and we have the Mage Wars right here.”

“It wasn’t just me and Mrs. Steelmaker used her a lot.”

“I hope that that Darkmage doesn’t know about her.”

“Very few people do. Grandmother, grandfather, Mrs. Steelmaker, my sister and brother, along with Sylvar and now you.”
“Do your parents know?”

“I haven’t told them because I would have to bring the crystal. We may have to go up to the Empire again anyway.”

“Why?”
“Lyrei was asking about the old estate house. The house that is now my house. We didn’t explore very much, and we probably should have. I didn’t think about the old family records. My great grandparents built the current estate house with a grove.”
“You have a family grove?”

“Yes. At least it looks like a grove. We liked to play in it, at least my sister and I did. My brothers and their friends were always bugging Chompers and digging stuff up, as well as shooting and other things when we weren’t all working. The estate was where I put your model car and the books since I didn’t have an anchor at my house. Putting the things in daddy’s office was a bit of a mistake. I don’t think that you are going to get your car back.”

“Your dad can have it. The car did its job and if your dad has it, my brothers can’t steal it, or at least they will have bigger trouble than me if they mess with your dad.”

“I don’t know if they know how much. Daddy has been busy these last few years, but he and Folmon Beinan were down here last year and bought two of those cars, the real ones, that is. They drove the police crazy because they didn’t bother with things like licenses and registrations and drove the cars around rather recklessly in the vegetable and produce market after it was closed.”

“Didn’t the cops lock them up?”
“After the first time, they just called mom. Let’s go to lunch.”

Chapter 20.

The Shanelis Estate.

Aerendyl looked at the ruins, turned to the two of his grandsons who were standing next to him and said, “Good work, boys. How did you find this place?”

Dain Shanelis was smiling as he said, “We went and looked for places that the House had planted right after the Mage Wars and never cut again. There were three of them and this was the third. Then we found the old portal, the shop and the vaults with the tracks leading to the portal. The only thing we didn’t find was the combination to the vaults because great grandfather won’t give us access to certain parts of the House library unless you came out here first.”

“I think that he wants me to handle actually discovering if we have the devises. Before we even think of opening anything, we need have a path cleared for a truck and we have the mages, the Beinans and somebody from the research department of the Inquisition here. Kellam, go to House Qinvaris and the Beinans with pictures and show them what you found. Dain, bring a crew up here and start cutting. We want to keep this discreet if it is what we think it is.”
“Why did the family have this?”
“Because somebody else did, more than likely. The Ravathrya and our family have been going back and forth for a very long time and if the Ravathra had those devises or had an ally that did, then having them and being willing to retaliate kept the Ravathrya in check.”
“Do you think that the devises are still here, grandfather? They may have been given to the Inquisition.”

“Some probably were. I suspect that not all of them were, or this place wouldn’t have been hidden. I will return to Eribelle and talk with my father about getting the combination for the vaults. In any case, good work.”

Ishendell.

Jorge looked at the machines filling the Republican trench lines that had cut across the taxiway and along one of the runways, turned to Lou and said, “You all didn’t waste much time.”

“I wasn’t me, it was my bosses and having this field open closes a big hole. As soon as we can get the hole filled, flights to the Republic can start again, once we have radio.”

“Why did they haul you and the others from the Aerie and Elysahone?”
“Because the regular staff is either dead or lost in the chaos. When they do show up, they get time in Elysahone to recover while we cover for them here. Most of the Elysahone staff is younger or dragons, so we can rough it until things get restored a bit. The regular staff gets skiing and Elyasahone shopping on the airlines. Of course they are expected to write home, frequently, with pictures.”

Jorge laughed. “We’re leaving the four illegal portals here in the city, two here at the airport and customs station, one at the beach and one at the state capital building.”

“That actually makes sense, since they were here already.”

“The Darkmage’s people pulled them out of the Empty Lands after Wyrran fixed them. I went over them, they are all good and there was no point in hauling them all the way back through the Fellowship, just to put them in storage and this way, people from the Empire can come down and enjoy the beach. Of course the first people are going to be House Qinvaris people looking for survivors and remains.”

“The clean up isn’t going to be much fun.”

“No, it is not. Fortunately for me, it’s not my job and I need to get back to the Empire. So I will see you.”

Jorge left and Lou laughed as he got back to work. There was going to be bonuses for getting the airport back up and running. Getting the literal hole filled would go a long way toward getting the operational hole filled and the airlines didn’t have a lot of money to burn because they were not flying.

Governor Durack Jeffries looked out the shattered windows of his office. The office windows, as well as all the other windows had been shattered by a shell falling nearby. He turned around and said to General Ironcutter, “I hate to say this, but you did the right thing, Edehard.”
“A lot of people were killed.”

“It would have been worse if Headbasher had run over you at the line and then rolled down here, or worse, let the Darkmage set his things loose without your people here and fighting. The fact that your army was here and able to resist saved a lot of lives. You fought the Darkmage’s compelled to a standstill, got as many as you could out and kept Headbasher here, where he could be destroyed.”

“I should have taken out the giant portal.”

“There was no way for you to know that. Before this, it was just another part of the ruin. I doubt that anybody realized that the Darkmage could make the thing work. In any case you kept most of the city alive and got them out. Quite a few generals would have been confident that they could stop Headbasher at the line and been plowed under, leaving me with the Darkmage and no options. In any case, congratulations on your promotion.”

“I didn’t deserve it. The man who does is Mr. Harper.”

“The man in the hat? There is no doubt about that. Where did he go?”

“He’s taking his service trucks and his people home. I think that his wife wants him home.”

“Will he have trouble in the Fellowship?”
“I doubt it. After all, the Consul owes both Lord Qinvaris and us for that matter, for not turning this into a bigger mess than it already was.”

“That is certainly true. I just wish that we had caught the Darkmage.”

“So do I.”

House Ravathrya.

Narbeth handed a Nueleth a message. “A message from your son, Milady.”
“Thank you, Narbeth.”

Narbeth left and Nueleth opened the message. There were pictures of Tanyl stomping Inanimates and Delseran talking to the press. A copy of her son’s little impromptu chat with the press was included as well as a both an uncoded message and a coded message. The coded message had things concerning the Embassy and the various things going on, including the fact that Siraye was expecting. No great surprise there. There were things in the coded message concerning the embassy and the Republic that, if some ladies saw it, they would assume that Delseran was spying for his mother, but were actually fairly innocuous.

The real message was in the uncoded message and was about Anemone’s aunt visiting, Fishchaser the Landdragon and both of them returning to the faery kingdom in four days. Delseran said that the lady had a package for Nueleth and would meet her at the usual place. Nueleth grinned at the message.

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