The Conclave of Consequence, Chapter 7-8

The Republican navy launches rockets.  Erlan wants the old estate logged.

 

Chapter 7.

RNS Cleadsgate.

Tom looked across at the Skychaser and turned to his uncle. “I’m surprised that you are not aboard.”

“I’m not allowed for the first two launches. Neither are you, my son or anybody not a Swimmer. That was the rules your aunt set up for this. I think that it is time.”

There was a bright flash of light and the rocket lifted into the sky as the roar thundered across the water to the lagoon and the various gathered onlookers and seafolk. The contrail showed the path of a perfect launch and there were smiles all around. Romarod said, “That’s one. The next one has a camera.”

RNS Progress

Captain Steelgrinder looked at the scope. Progress was the middle of the three cruisers assigned to the recoveries today and the track showed clearly, the trace coming more or less toward them. As the track disappeared, the chief said, “Captain, the payload is about five miles out, two miles off the port bow, right where it was supposed to be.”

“Let us go and retrieve it, then. Tell Derry to have his people ready.”

 

 

Chapter 8.

Alinis’s house, The Qinvaris estate.

Alinis quickly realized that having Tassarion and Lyrei both active and in the same room was a mistake as they started an argument and then they both shut themselves down. So she kept Lyrei at the House and Tassarion was kept at the estate. At present, Cory’s younger brother, Khiiral was turning pages on the brief so that Tassarion could read them while Alinis and her friends went through the library. She came into the room carrying a stack of ancient House journals and said to the seeming, “These mention a registry for certain devises. I haven’t found it here.”

“That was turned over to the Inquisition.”

“Was there a copy?”

“Admitting that there was a copy would have put the House under Anathema. That is something that I cannot say unless you have more than you do so far.”

Alinis seethed in frustration. Unfortunately there was little she could do about it. On the other hand, Tassarion was admitting that there was a copy of the list, or another list, if she could find it. With that, she headed to the library again. When she walked in, Fire said, “He couldn’t tell you, could he?”
“No, couldn’t. Those old security precautions tend to get in the way.”

“I understand why they were there. Is there a list?”
“He couldn’t tell me where it was, other than the Inquisition had one.”

“There is another list, then. It’s here, more than likely, under an aversion that we haven’t found. If there was no other list, he would have told you straight out that there wasn’t.”

“How do you know?”

“I’ve had to work around the same sort of things with the seeming at home. There are things that they can’t talk about directly, but they can hint.”

“At least we know better than to have two seemings active at the same time.”

“That was painful. At least it didn’t last very long.”

“Let’s look for more aversions.”

“We would have spotted any here. On the other hand, I bet that there are some in your great grandmother’s old office, because we haven’t looked there very much.”

“Good point. She would have been in charge here. Let’s check the office.”

The office was trimmed in wood and didn’t seem to have any secrets until Fire looked at the bookcases. He turned to Alinis and said, “Why are these books still here?”

“What do you mean?”

“The rest of the shelves are empty, except this one.” Fire looked closer and said, “This shelf has an aversion on it. That’s why nobody cleared the books.” He started to pull books off the shelf and both of them could sense the aversion behind the books. Fire looked at the shelf and said, “This shelf is newer than the wall behind it.” He looked underneath middle shelf, reached up with his hands and there was a click. “Thought so.” He pulled at the shelf and groaning, the shelves slid out from the wall and swung away. “See, the shelves covered the vault. We’re going to have to get your father to open this, one, I think.”

Larranth frowned as the very strange group was let in the door. The large man in uniform was accompanied by a very well dressed cat lady, a young dragon and a young half elf girl. Richard emerged from Jump and said to the large man, “How did it go at the lab, Jorge?”

“I finally got a good look at some things. My people are getting training in removing and safing Primaries. Rob is going to have them do that in the dark and without lights. We might have to do that for real.”

“I’m afraid that you will. You and Lissia were right on time.”

Larranth walked over and said to Richard, “You know these rather unusual people? They have trouble written all over them.”

“Larranth, this is Jorge Tollings and yes, he is trouble for the right people. The cat is his lady, Lissia and the other two are Enniog Beinan and Ciliren Phivyre.”

“So what does Jorge do for the House?”

“He works for my brother and runs his unit of people that do little jobs for my brother. Before that, he worked for Paeris Zylvyre doing the same sort of thing, rather involuntarily. Jorge, this is Rosa’s grandfather, Larranth. My rather precocious daughter dragged him out of the woods.”

“That sounds like trouble, all right,” Larranth said with a grin.”Who have you caused trouble for lately?”
Jorge grinned and said, “The Darkmage in Ishendell, most recently. I had to get Lissia out of the city and we did a lot of other things to make the Darkmage’s life rather miserable. Unfortunately he managed to slither out of the mess.”

“I think that you are here to look into what my daughter has found, aren’t you, Jorge?” Richard asked.

“Yes. I’m hoping that there is a list of the devises and who had what. Cilly here has been looking into ancient property registrations in the archives and if I can determine who had the devises and how many there were, I can track them down.”

“The Inquisition was supposed to confiscate all of them,” Larranth said. “The House was very nearly declared Anathema.”

“Milord, from what I have seen so far, the Inquisition did almost nothing to track the things down,” Jorge replied with a frown. “The Shanneli’s had five of their allotment hidden with perhaps more that they haven’t found and there are probably others that retained the things. The Darkmage almost certainly still has all of the devises that we haven’t accounted for in the mage wars. Things are still very sketchy, but we suspect that the Darkmage started to dig more of the things up and stopped when he spotted us watching. I can’t go in and start a major operation like a dig in the Empty Lands with the Ravathyra ready to squawk and the Imperial council isn’t going to give me, a foreigner, permission to conduct acts of war on a House in the Empire without cause. I need to have actual evidence that the Ravathyra have the devises and know about them before I can take action. So far, somebody on the other side, my former boss more than likely, has been cagy enough to not give me the cause I need to pull something big. So I am collecting all the information that I can.”

Larranth grinned. “Can you use help from a pair of ancient fae. My wife and I may want to play.”

Jorge returned the grin. “I have a rather large crowd of rather mischevious miscreants already, but if you want to contribute, I think that a place can be found for you. A rather discreet place, as I don’t want my former boss to pick up on you.”

“Let’s go find my daughter and her bonded,” Richard said.

They went through the house and found the pair looking at a concealed vault in the office. Alinis turned around and said, “Good, daddy. I was just going to send a message. We need you to open this. Jorge, you can’t bother Chompers.”

“Alinis, I was just there. We didn’t bother Chompers, other than to check in. We were there for training. At least I was. Lissia was visiting and making arrangements for a family reunion. At least Chompers’s family isn’t playing games and my soldier knows that he has family. His girl’s family will be glad as well.”

“Is the girl a cat?” Alinis asked.

“No, just a little dwarfish and elvish. She hasn’t come up to be tested yet. Tom made a good catch and she just loves his wolfish looks.”

Alinis laughed and said, “Daddy, I need your ring.”

Richard used his ring and the small vault opened, exposing a bookcase full of obvious house journals and account books. Alinis looked at them and said, “More to go through. Let’s get these to the dining table. Jorge, that registry you were asking about is probably here.”

The Hall of the Justiciars.

Gander grinned as Tom and Naexi came into his office. “You were down there for quite some time. Was the journey profitable?”
“It was, at least for Tom and me,” Naexi said. “We did get the testimony you wanted and a print of the movie. The exile was shooting a movie and we had to take the testimony after shooting was over for the day.”

“So you did other things as well.”
“As our part of the deal, we provided input into the High Elf comedy they were shooting, since I had been in the room for parts of it and Tom had been downstairs. We also made contributions to Gorre’s next project. We can’t tell you what that is yet.”

Gander laughed. “I’m glad that things went well. Now that you are back, you get to take over the Inquistion clean up. So I do hope that you are relaxed and ready.”

“It’s going to be bad,” Tom said. “Gorre didn’t like talking about some of the things he saw. Alwin’s predecessor was not a nice elf and did some rather nasty things, in a secret castle. Have you found it yet?”
“We have, thanks to a surprising source. I imagine that Elf Ravamys was surprised that anybody believed him.”

“We didn’t quite believe him at first, but his testimony was too consistant. Of course Gorre’s exile was political and not heretical. He had embarrassed the Dowager Empress and things were arranged. The Inquisition was looking for evidence for a trumped up charge and to get Gorre to snitch on his friends so that the Dowager Empress knew who to go after.”

“Did they torture Elf Ravamys?”

“They tortured and murdered his valet in front of him. Of course the Ravathrya roughed him up on the trip over. But the Inquisition didn’t actually do much more than keep Gorre locked up and isolated. He was dropped off in the Republic, met his wife, who was an actress, became involved in plays and then movies, including the one you remember, which was one of the first talking pictures, whatever that meant.”

“When the first movies were made, there was no way to add sound. So the pictures had text cards with the lines inserted. The movies had no sound and music was played by organists or pianos in the theatres. The first pictures with sound were called talkies and the old ones, silent. This was when I was a kid in any case. You got a print of the movie. It might be important for the presentation that I will be giving at the conclave.”

“You are going to run it at the Conclave? There is no proof that the torture chamber exists,” Naexi said.

“We found it. We found the castle and it was full of rather disgusting things. I’m not going to release the report, but we had a movie crew go through with us as we conducted the investigation. The torture chamber was actually one of the less disturbing things that we found. You have the notes on your desks.”

“Where will you be?”
“Back on my Seat in the Conclave, I’m afraid. I will be taking what I have concerning the Inquisition investigation, the investigation of the fifty Houses that collaborated with the Darkmage and some loose odds and ends concerning uregistered mages and turning the whole thing into a presentation that shouldn’t be as dramatic as my last one.”

 

“We have quite a bit to add to that” Naexi said. “Grandmother handed us a rather large packet from various slaves that wrote home. Who called the Conclave in the end?”

“Lord Palen did, right after he had a funeral for eight hundred of his people. To say that he wasn’t happy with events was putting it mildly. I’ve had a rather long chat with him and he wants the Darkmage as much as Lady Saracen did. If the Darkmage is smart, he will not show his face here.”

“We also talked with the Office of Inanimates people,” Tom said. “There are a lot of exiles in the movie and radio businesses and I took a stack of writs for lost business and other things. On the other hand, some movie directors really liked it that the Darkmage handed them the Inanimates in such a predictable fashion. I will have the summary on your desk after lunch.”

The Retreat

Herdir emerged from Jump and went to the inn where Erlan was seated with an elven lady. Erlan rose and said, “Master, this is Lady Nueleth, who manages the House.”
“Shouldn’t your wife have that responsibility?”
“My wife and the other ladies of the House have delegated many of the household tasks to Lady Nueleth. That way they can concentrate on the important House matters.”

“Lady, I am glad to meet you. Why have you come here?”
Nueleth grinned. “As you know, the House has suffered reversals and while this area of our estate has been held as a reserve, circumstances have become such that I must cut the timber here and develop the farmland so that the estate can support itself. The House also needs to look into replacing some things that we no longer have and developing resources. My step son is preparing a survey and I have some preliminary estimates and requirements.”

The lady handed Herdir a map and a report. He looked at the map and said, “I don’t see any effort to do anything down here, near the water.”

“I was staying close to the road, now that it is usable. Fortunately the Crown has funded the repairs of the main road to the Camp.”
“This estate actually has a road to the Fellowship and a portal already. There has been some work done and the estate has a stone quay so that barges can be docked. My father sent some people there to prepare to clear some land and you should look into starting there as well.”

Nueleth looked at Erlan and said, “Is that what you want?”
“I haven’t been over the old estate, but the family has deep roots there. See if you can port down there and take a look.”

“Very well. I think, that I must return to the House. The Conclave is coming and I must prepare.”

Nueleth left and Herdir turned to Erlan and said, “How much does she know?”
“That is hard to say. She does have resources and was in the House through the Conclave. On the other hand, her son is in the Republic.”

“Who is her stepson?”

“A by blow that her husband had with a bed warmer in Eyrding. Nueleth uses him and her stepdaughter for things for discretion reasons. By the way, who took over the Camp during the evacuation.”
“That was Jomney, the Camp’s slave boss, why?”

“I think that I want a long talk with him and I can use somebody with his abilities on the estate.”

“He is available as the Camp is more or less shutdown in any case. Do you want to go and talk with him now?”

“Not at present, but soon. I will contact you when I can arrange the time. Right now the Conclave must be the focus of my attention.”
“Why was the Conclave called now?”

“There was going to be some some readjustment after your father’s defeat at Ishendell cost us a lot of support. The fact that the estates were Scourged only accelerated matters somewhat.”

“Do you expect that we will lose our grip on the empire?”
“That is already lost. We may recover somewhat, but Stormfire causing the Scourge was a grievous blow and recovering from that will not be easy. Losing the Dowager Empress and her influence was an even larger blow.”

“You did not raise any objections when the princess demanded that the Emperor be removed from the game.”

“I didn’t realize that Narbeth was as effective as he would be and it looked like an easy way to pave the way toward our goals. As it turned out, our enemies were watching what we were doing and the prince acted when the rumors of an attempt on the Emperor were going around. I just hope that I can keep the Conclave from being a total disaster for us. Do me a favor and keep your father out of the capital until the Conclave is over.”

Herdir frowned. “I will try.”

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