The Martyrdom of The Grand Master, Chapter 47-48

Alinis finds something rather large. Rob makes another devise go boom.

Chapter 47.

Alinis’s House, Qinvaris Estate

Alinis pulled out the map and started to look for the tunnel. She turned to Fire and said, “Tassarion said that the tunnel was big. But how big is it? There doesn’t seem to be anything that says accelerator tunnel on the map.”

“Tunnel says that it is underground and Tassarion said that there were entrances to the surface. Amra’s father probably didn’t want to take the library very far, since moving it would be obvious, so we should look close by. If the tunnel was related to the lab, the entrance should be between there and here and there should be a road.”

“Like where?”

Fire pulled the aerial pictures that Byddri had taken before the Scourge and started to look through them. “We have the lab here, Chomper’s farm here and what’s this?”

“Daddy’s old rifle factory and gun range. He used it because the road was already there and there was a cliff to provide a backstop.”

“Was there any sign of a tunnel entrance?”

“No.”

“Why does the road head right to this pile of rocks?”
Alinis looked at it and said, “The cliff fell there. The road wasn’t obvious from the ground.”

“Or the cliff was caused to fall. Suppose that Amra’s father wanted the entrance closed there. Let’s look at the old map.”

Fire pulled the map over and the map said “Collider Entrance One, Experimental Hall A.”

Fire looked at Alinis and said, “That answers that question a bit.”

He used the tablet search function and Collider as a search term and points appeared all over the map. “This is big, if all these places are connected with tunnels. So the entrances to the tunnel are at these places, if they aren’t all closed off. Now we need a map of the underground.”

Fire pointed at one of the points and a down arrow appeared. He touched it and the map was replaced by a labyrinth of noodles inside a huge circle. “That’s big all right. Your relatives put a lot of effort into this.”

The Darkmage was certain that the old Qinvaris estate house had secrets, including an arming key. The house had been empty since the current lady’s grandfather had built a new house some distance away. So Dúrgúl would be able to search for a key at his leisure. At least that was what he had thought until he had approached the house and found it occupied and full of life. For some reason the house was occupied again, so looking into the house’s secrets would not be possible. He would have to look elsewhere.”
Cory watched the Darkmage leave. The word had discreetly gone out to keep an eye out for him. Apparently the house here had something he wanted to look for. The fact that the house was occupied thwarted him, since he couldn’t afford the noise that actually attempting to take the house would create. Cory was going to have to hint to Alinis to look for an arming key in her house. Various members of the Committee had already found and removed two from the estates of Houses that had had Scourge devises. So the Darkmage was going to have to look harder. Of course the Committee, the Marshalls and the Justiciars were watching the Darkmage fairly closely looking to see where he went. The possiblility that he would actually find an arming key was rather terrifying.

Route 1. Command Post, Provisional Troopers.

Nightblade stopped the GP, walked over to where the captain was with the unit’s lieutenants and saluted. “We have infiltrators, sir.”
Jorge looked at him and said, “Are you sure, sergeant?”
“When I suspected that they were there, I painted some streets with wet paint yesterday. Today, I found truck tracks heading right to the Beinan’s plant.”

“That’s a pretty good clue. I take it that they were looking out for our patrols.”
“Probably, sir.”

“The question is what do we do with them? On the one hand, the evacuation is to protect the people, not chase people out that won’t leave. These people are risking being Scourged and they certainly must be there deliberately. I do hope that they are being paid well. On the other hand, they are pillaging our friends and we should take some steps. Take the boys in tomorrow. I expect our adversaries know what you look like, but have never seen the boys. I’m going to port up to Beinans and see if they know about this already. We don’t want to mess up their caper if they are pulling something on these characters. Good work, sergeant.”

Nightblade smiled his rather scary smile. “Why thank you, captain.

The Hidden City.

Sarya smiled when Myrdin walked into Sarya’s office. “What brings you here today, Myrdin?”
“I have some things that I needed to deliver for father and some things that we collected from a meeting that some people held that we all snuck into.”

‘You have intrigued me. What meeting was that?”
“The meeting of the Project heads.”
“How did you discover that?”
“Aldy was looking into some things for Julien and discovered when the meeting was going to happen. Since the meeting was going to be in Dolmon, Julien sent Aldy to his brother, who offered to pay Aldy and a bunch of us if we could find out what was said in the meeting. Gracie also found out about the meeting and arranged to have microportals with sound response put all over the house, so she could listen. Copies of the crystals are in the material. Here is one crystal that is funny, though it wasn’t funny when it happened.

Sarya played the crystal and when the plops started with the accompanying screams, she wondered exactly what was happening until she heard “Mud! Mud! Mud Everywhere!”

She looked as Myrdin and said, “What happened, exactly?”
“Somebody and you can figure out who was most likely to be able to do that, started to port “Mud” randomly all over the house, starting with the dining room at dinner.”

“You all were caught in it.”
“We had infiltrated as cats. So yes, we were.”
“Have you had your retribution?”
“Yes, at least on the portal guy and the guy who built the flinger. There are two more plotters that are out of reach as none of us have access to the Orcenlands.”

“Jorge and Roger were both in the Orcenlands recently for different reasons. Were the other two the sons of Clanchief Ironhead?”
“I’m not going to say as it is an open case.”

“You all have been taking a professional view of this.”

“We were the Justiciars that were at risk doing our jobs because somebody didn’t let us know that they were planning something.”

Sarya laughed. “I look forward to going over the report. Do you have the names of the attendees?”

“We have those. Most of them are in trouble, one way or another. The bank lost money, the Ravathyra, House Petris and other Houses are pulling out, a fae kingdom is leaving too, the Academy has five students and I think that they lost one to the railroad. The Darkmage is trying to put up a good front but he lost a lot of credibility, along with the oracle lady as they tried to cover up their mistakes. A Scourge explosion was pretty hard to hide and the fact that the thing went of by accident made the mess rather obvious. That wasn’t helped because the others weren’t told when the Blight was launched off and then they didn’t talk to one another, so that the bank didn’t know that Lord Qinvaris bought all that farm machinery. It was not a happy meeting.”

“Did Richard have people at the meeting?”
“I think that there were more spies than attendees even if all the bosses brought staff for the most part.”

Sarya started to laugh herself silly. When she managed to get herself back in control, she said, “Thank you Myrdin.”

“I need to make my port, so I need to go, grandmother.”

Myrdin left and Sarya started the crystal again as she started to read.

House Beinan.

Rebecca smiled as Jorge was escorted into the parlor. “Jorge, how is Lissia?”

“She is doing just fine. She is taking care of some leftovers from the Pen that we found when we were evacuating the region around Fayspire. I may end up with more recruits, or at least more people that I’m responsible for.”

Rebecca laughed. “So what brings you here today?”

“Your facility in Fayspire was evacuated and I’m afraid that you may have had burglars. I wanted to know if you all were already aware of that and had taken steps.”
“If we hadn’t?”
“Then we were going to play with them and convince them to give your things back.”
“Why thank you for looking out for us. We do appreciate it.”

“I was also going to suggest that if I could get my hands on some microportals, some trucks may get tracked.”

“I think that Terry and Starflower are here at present, so why don’t we discuss this with them. Terry was in charge of securing the documents at the Fayspire plant when the evacuation was ongoing. Why don’t we find them?”

Jorge followed Rebecca to a workroom where Terry and Starflower were making preparations for the return of the materials to the Fayspire plant and said, “You have something going.”
“What do you mean, Jorge?” Terry asked.

“You are talking about returning the same things that some probable infiltrators took from your plant in Fayspire. That means that whatever they have is not what was supposed to be there.”

Terry smiled. “Now why would we do that?”
“I’m not sure, because I don’t know yet who is doing this. Do you want tracers on the trucks? I can arrange that if you can arrange for me to have the microportals.”

“We don’t need them, or shouldn’t, but it can’t hurt. Why don’t we go and collect the microportals so that you can do us this small favor. I assume that the devises are going well?”
“Well enough for four hundred year old things. They are fighting Rob and his people, but they have managed to make three go boom and number four is today.”

“Let’s get you set up before our friends leave.”

Chapter 48.

Route 1, South of Fayspire.

Rob started in on number four. This time the cart was supported by the hoist before any effort was made to attempt to move it. That turned out to be a good thing as the wheels were frozen. Since the cart could not be changed inside the vault, it took the better part of the day before the cart was extracted from the vault, changed, the cart set up on the track and Jorge could set the timer. Rob breathed a sigh of relief when the message came that number four had gone boom.

The Deadlands.

Thaetmaeg looked at the results from the scanner and said, “I think that we are getting mana pull.”

Hagred looked at the results and said, “Interesting. Should we send a message to Fayspire?”

“They have to send the last one anyway and I want to see what it does, so let’s just collect the results. I’m just not sure what we should do with the results when we have them.”
“At some point we will have to release them. I wish that we had the results from the ancient tests. There must have been a reason for doing what they did.”

Fayspire.

It had taken some doing, but Tim and the boys had found the infilrator’s hideout and the trucks and cars they had come in on. The trucks were loaded and ready to go, which meant that whoever was doing this was waiting for something. Tim and the boys slipped invisibly past the discreet guards as Nightblade drove past slowly in a GP, stopping as if he had seen something, on the wrong side of the street. After looking around, Nightblade returned to the GP and drove slowly off. Tim and the boys silently exited the garage and after making a discreet visit to the infiltrator’s quarters, slipped out of the building through a third floor window and climbed down the wall. Three blocks away, Nightblade and two more GPs were waiting and Nighblade said, “Did you get them?”
“All the way around,” Tim said. “They don’t have a clue.”

The Arsenal.

Elion was grinning ear to ear as the boat skipped over the water toward the Arsenal. He turned to Wiz, who was standing next to the Coxswain and said, “Fast, aren’t they?!”

“You get used to it!” Wiz replied with a grin.

“What was my brother thinking when he bought these?!”
“You would have to ask him, but I think he was planning to chase down ships with grain and other things the Retreat needed! The Master messed that up, the Darkmage just left the place to take care of itself and your brother ended up buying the grain!”

“From who?! That must have been when everyone was short!”
“From the Qinvaris! He made a deal to exchange copies of the ledgers that he made off with during the raid on Exchange St. for the Qinvaris selling us the grain!”

“Whose side was he on?!”

“Hell if I know!”

The boat pulled in though the open gates of the arsenal and Elion was rather impressed at the compact shipyard, barges and service facility. The boat was tied up and as they started the tour, Wiz said, “You should have seen this place when we started. The idiots had twenty hulls left to rot and timber for thirty more. We sold all that to the dwarves bit by bit so some clowns wouldn’t notice that we were doing it, salvaged some of the hulls to use as hulks and barges and the captain hired a staff of shipfitters and iron workers to allow us to make steel repairs or build an entire hull if we can get the steel.”

“So you could build a ship if you had to?”
“There would be a lot of trial and error, mostly error, but yes we could, as long as we could get the steel.”

“That is the tricky part. Suppose that we were to buy a ship?”

“For the steel in it? Why would you do that?”
“There are old ships and since we aren’t paying full price, we can squeeze them out of the budget and the council won’t notice.”

“If the navy has steel ships, won’t they have problems if the crews are elves?”
“Most of the crew of a ship in the navy isn’t fully elvish now and with wooden railings and what not as well as Aluminum, we will make do. At this point it’s adapt or have our navy blown out from under us and while a good portion of the navy are Swimmers, having your ship blown out from under you is very painful.”

House Eiljeon.

Agis looked at his nephew and said, “I have arranged to have the fine paid. I’m not sure why you did that to the girl, but that was utterly stupid. What led you to get in that much trouble in one day here?”

“I’m not going to say, uncle.”
“You don’t have to. Why didn’t you bring your wife?”
“I was doing Project related work.”

“Then you couldn’t keep your thing in your pants? What you did attracted eyes in your direction. Did you bring the report from the meeting?”
“Yes. It wasn’t good. Some Houses have been pulled out and the Blackoak has pulled out as well.”

“Considering who his daughter has been seen with, that isn’t a surprise.”

“Who?”
“Blackoak’s daughter and Keryth Harper have been seen in close company all over the Conclave recently.”

“So that was who the other couple was.”

“You saw them?”
“I was trying to seduce the girl of an old adversary away from him and she and Roger were with another couple. The girl was Nalaea Harper.”

“You have a real talent for stepping deeply into the crap don’t you? How offended was the girl?”

“Not at all. It was a pleasant afterten until all of a sudden old adversaries came out of the woodwork and I was forced to make a discreet retreat.”

“Well, at least you are not a total idiot. I do hope that you know that the House has been trying desperately to avoid attracting the attention of certain parties right now. House Qinvaris has that Letter of Intent and several Houses are in trouble or capitulated when Scourge devises were found on their estates. I don’t want to think what Lord Qinvaris will do to us if he knows what our House is trying to do.”

“Lord Qinvaris wears a slave’s collar.”
“You’ve seen him.”

“I sort of ran into him by accident in front of the palace. He was distracted by his daughter, something that was rather understandable.”

‘I do hope that you didn’t do anything to attract any attention to yourself?”

“Not at all, except colliding with him. I thought that he was some sort of workman or office clerk until his assistant appeared. His assistant was from the Blackhollow Faery Kingdom. I recognized him.”

“I hope that he didn’t recognize you. I imagine that Lord Qinvaris’s people are nervous when people related to the Project show up.”

“I don’t think so.”
“Since you are here, why don’t you tell me how my brother and the rest are doing? How is your sister?”
“She is ill, unfortunately.”

“Send her here. We have excellent healers that we use.”

“Her condition is rather unusual. She is a landdragon currently.”

“That is not as unusual a condition as you may imagine. She will be admired and the kids will love her if she comes. In any case, the lady wants us to have lunch and this business is over, so why don’t you tell us all. Are you planning to continue to attend the Conclave?”

“I think that I will continue my journey. I want to look into some things on the way back.”

“That sounds like a very good plan.”

After lunch was over, and Ayre had left, Agis’s son, Arel said, “How could anyone be that stupid?”

“I have no idea. Apparently he went after one Qinvaris girl because she was with an old rival, ogled another one right in front of her father, collided with the man in the process and then hit a girl in one of those places in the Lower City.”

“Let me guess, the girl pressed the button on him?”
“Since I just paid a substantial fine, yes she did.”

“When you send the letter to my uncle asking for the money, double it.”

“Indeed I will.”

“His sister as a landdragon is interesting. I do hope that we can arrange to have her here. She would liven things up and we could use that.”

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