The Conclave of Consequence, Chapter 52

The Hunter in the land of the dead, fighting a Ghost.

Chapter 52.

The Conclave

Itireae laughed as the menaces and their friends, dressed in sailor and Ravathyra pirate uniforms armed with their poles set things up for another round of the battles that the old Great Captain and Admiral had been fighting, to the amusement of most of the Conclave. The radio controls had turned out to need work and the fickle winds of the park in the Cloud City had proved to be more hindrance than help, so the pair had used the radios for the cannons that fired balls of paint so that the ships, while acquiring rather dramatic paintwork, were not damaged and sunk. The kids were ordered to maneuver the ships by shouted commands from some equally aged petty officers the two old captains had found someplace. Of course the entire battles were lubricated with ample tankards from the Ravathrya brewery making the things even more fun. Laughing as she rounded the pool, she saw Lori and Glynnii and joined them. Lori nodded as she arrived and she said, “Do the girls appreciate the break?”
“Yes actually. They are relaxing and making eyes at various boys who for some reason have drifted to the inn. This is a lot of fun anyway. Chald is going to see about setting something up at the beach.”

“With the two old fools?”
“That might be the easy part. Of course once these two show up, they will collect more of them, including Chald’s grandfather. I’m going to try to keep the strange statuary donations to a minimum.”

Itireae laughed. “I wonder if some of the towns were glad to see the things go.”

“The Statue of Freedom on the island in Cleadsgate gets a lot from its size. The small one just doesn’t have the impact.”

“You’ve seen both of them?”
“A school trip to the Republic a long time ago. I do hope that the Empire realizes that they will be getting them all too soon.”

The other two ladies laughed. “We may want the pirates back,”Glynnii said. “There was something to be said for isolation. On the other hand, this has turned out to be so much fun.”

The Zlymenor Estate.

The Hunter woke as the glare of the morning light shown through the shuttered windows. He took stock of himself and looked around the abandoned looking estate house. At the place where he had apparently exited, there was a basket with still warm bread, some sausages and a bottle of rather tart juice. There was a room with a toilet that he used and not much else. He tried the doors and one of them was nailed shut and the other opened. There were no handy tools in the house, or anything else for that matter. He touched various surfaces with Cutter and the house was not glamor. Trying the nailed shut door did nothing except give him a sore shoulder. Left with few options, he went through the door into the morning mist and a landscape that seemed dead. He looked around and the house was gone. The door had been another portal. Reaching down, he picked up some grass and it crumbled, dead. A voice called out, “Welcome to the Zlymenor Estate, Feredir! I thought that this would be a good place to talk!”

“Who are you?!”
“I think that you know. I figured that you wouldn’t stop unless I had a chat with you. My wife is rather annoyed at me and she will be very annoyed when Vinny and Aien tell her that I told them that they needed to stay with the GP. Now you are in a predicament. I’m sure that you saw the plans last night. If you chase me, your brother gets no warning and come tomorrow morning, things happen. Or you can find the road, follow it down to the portal and warn your brother.”

“I could kill you!”

There was a crack and a divot was dug out of the dirt about an inch from his foot. “That was one. My wife wouldn’t let me at the ammunition lockers, so I only had the one clip. Four rounds now. If you head to the road and the portal, I won’t take shots at you. Go in the other direction and you are fair game.”

The Hunter charged toward the voice, only to have a shot barely miss him crosswise. The voice came from the direction of the shot. “Three now. I’m guessing that your House doesn’t mean very much. I don’t need to be this close, so I am backing off a bit! I would start thinking about the road! I can almost hear the TAVs starting up! The crews are going to love playing with the things for real!”

The Hunter loped toward the voice, only to find a piece of brass and no sign of Lord Qinvaris. He looked around and there were no footprints. “Apparently your father was poor with woodman’s skills!” the voice called out. “There are all sorts of little tricks you can learn!”

The Hunter charged around as the voice taunted him and he ran into increasingly dangerous surprises and poignant reminders of the fact that the place had been alive. There was a doll on the floor of a craftsmen’s cottage and the Hunter picked it up. Lord Qinvaris called out, “This place had a very bad day! The lady that sent you after me wants a lot of kids like that girl to have a bad day. Lord Zlymenor told me that he left the doll so that the girl would not disappear from the world entirely. Put the doll down carefully.”

If I don’t!”

There was a crack and the window broke behind him. “I’m down to two now! The question you have to ask yourself is will I use number four to kill you or number five!”

Feredir put the doll down and left the cottage, looking for Lord Qinvaris. The lord apparently made a mistake as a dry twig cracked. The Hunter charged to where the sound had come from, only to find the remains of what would have been an elegant wooden cabinet. “That was what this estate did. Their work was famous throughout the world. My mother, in the Republic, has some woodenware from this and the Palen estate. She is rather put out at Lord Stormfire right now. This is the sort of thing the Project does, pointless murder and ruin. Why don’t you take the portal and go home?”

“If I don’t?”
There was another crack and his leg burned. “That’s four. The next one finishes it.”

The hunter thought about it and chased the shot again. The voice said, “It looks like you don’t care about your House or your brother, or you really are afraid of portals. Fortunately I brought the bayonet for my rifle. I’m afraid you are going to get burned a bit. That can’t be helped.”

There was a latching noise and suddenly there was Lord Qinvaris carrying one one of the stick weapons with a foot long steel knife on the end. The Hunter swung Cutter and Lord Qinvaris slapped his hand with the flat of the blade, burning his hand, forcing him to drop Cutter and slammed the other end of the gun into his solar plexis. The Hunter gasped for breath and Lord Qinvaris grabbed him with one hand and pushed. “Now march!”

That started a long and bruising march to the estate road and down the road to the portal. Every time that the Hunter tried something, he was treated to the blade, the other end or more kicks. Bruised, battered and totally humiliated, his coat, harness and elvenmetal mail cut and shredded, the Hunter was kicked to the portal, there was a half elf at the portal, grinning at him, the portal activated and the Hunter was pushed through. He turned to find the exit portal, only to find that it had been yet another one way port.

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