The Island of Intrigue, Chapter 13-14

A canal boat takes on cargo. The counselor had Dan Harper on the stand.

Chapter 13.

Canal boat 1125

Boat ’25 was one the first boats to be built or converted to self power and engines. She was barely six moons old and captain Tell Oakenshield and his family were glad to have her. Tell had taken to the canal life soon after the first new Qinvaris canal had been built and piloted boats and cargoes all over the Empire. He waved to his son at the bow lines has he brought the boat alongside the pier. He had received a message to tie up here, at the transfer pier, rather than his usual stop at the elevator. As the boat stopped, Goalad, the port manager and an elf jumped aboard. Goalad said, “Tell, this is Elred and the family has a special task for you. I will leave Elred to explain, as he won’t tell me.”

Goalad left and the elf said, “Captain, the family has some things that they want moved rather discreetly.”
“Why not use those new trucks?”
“We are, but not for this. The trucks are being used for the diversion. Could you use an extra hand or two?”

“My son will like having two more lazy lugs to help. We don’t have to handle a mule anymore, but an extra hand at the locks is always a help.”
“Good, because you aren’t the only one with lazy lugs and I have two in mind who need to learn another part of the family business.”

“What am I carrying?”
“Crates. They should arrive today and I can’t say what is in the crates until after they reach Selnalion.”

“Not those infernal Scrouge devises?”
“Those I would tell you about, and if we were transporting them by canal boat, your boat would receive a heavy guard. This is something that the young lady found that we want out of the Inquisition’s eyes as discreetly as possible. I know that your boat has moved things for Tarranth.”
“Aye, the odd thing or two, after that scamp recruited my boys and some others into his mischief and they started to play games with the Inquisition. Was Tarranth responsible for putting the committee on to me?”
Elred smiled. “I’m not going to say, but you were in the right place with a load for the market. This will put you in good water with the Not a Lady.”
“That is always a good thing. Is the load here?”
“The first part should arrive today. We used wagons to transport it, because certain parties are paying attention to the trucks.”

The Qinvaris Port, the Qinvaris estate

 Inquisitor Eldrin looked out across the port and frowned. Up until recently everything he was seeing would have been heresy. Now it was just routine, as the combines had been unloaded onto their transporters and hauled away. Most of them were not even subject to the Inquisition, as they were just returning from work in the Republic and being sent to the shops and storage until they would be needed for the harvest. The combines were not his concern at present and nor were  the contents of the secure warhouse, the very public ancient find that the young Lady had made that would be on its way to the Republic for a museum, whatever that was. Eldrin was watching for the strange loads that the High Inquisitor was concerned with. The loads would probably arrive when the combines were all unloaded. Since the unloading was not complete, Eldrin turned to return to his office and the rather large job that he had acquired.

Marinus watched the Inquisitor leave. Surprisingly, other than being a bit of a zealot and obviously having been planted by Melaris, the Inquisitor had understood that he was not going to be accepted by the staff and had dug into the pile of work. That had relieved a lot of tension that the family did not need at present. With a bit of a sigh, Marinus turned to his manifests. The outgoing shipment was grain for the Republic for three of the holds, with some being dropped off at the Retreat, where he was picking up hardwood. In addition he was shipping canned produce, the special cargoes, a load of elven crafted furniture and other things, all of which were to be delivered to Chatsrey in three five days. Marinus mused how his life had changed.

Chapter 14.

The Retreat.

Captain Duggings was having an enjoyable lunch with Commodore Yeszana and his wife when Captain Bronzerock came into the inn. Peble took one look at the captain and said, “What is wrong, captain?”
“Captain, I am going to need you to start transfer proceedings. Find the worst billet you can think of. Also, a lieutenant commander is going to be be demoted to lieutentant as well.”
“You don’t usually do that to your people, captain.”

“I’ve been lax about certain things and the Republic and the rest of the world, for that matter, may pay for it. I’m going to talk to the admiral about this once I have the paper.”
“Can you tell us?” the commodore asked.

“You are both aware that there were more Scourge devises fabricated. My people and I just took nine of them apart and the Primaries looked too familiar. I have a report for you, captain, but the short answer is that the reason the Primaries looked familiar is that they came from my shop.”

“Have you told the admiral about this?” Peble asked.

“That’s my next stop. I didn’t want to tell him unless I was sure.”

“You seem to be sure now.”
“I pulled nine Primaries from those devises that were up there in the estate and they were all done the same way and were identical. Some of the parts had stampings from places that my shop uses. Other parts were from our vendors. I’ll know more when I return to the Republic, but the Primaries that were up on Jorge’s estate came from my shop, or were fabricated by somebody moonlighting from my shop.”
“Thus the transfer and the rest of it. You obviously have guessed who it was.”

“I don’t want to say until I do some checking and am sure. In case, I need the paperwork and the authorizations.”
“I could have the JAG look into this.”
“I don’t think that the JAG can do very much. On the surface, this wasn’t a crime. The regulations and my office allow for some moonlighting, for good reasons. After all the navy can’t afford to pay for everything that an officer in the technical branches may come up with, but there have been things that came from that. There are rules about moonlighting and considering what my shop does, I have some very strict rules, one of which is that when you make a fuse, you know the thing that it is setting off and where it is going. In this case, either he knew, and didn’t care, or didn’t know and didn’t care. In any case, I doubt that he actually saw a devise going off as the only one that I know of was the devise that Jorge sent to the deadlands.”

“Sit down and join us for lunch, Rob. You can catch us up on what you have been doing and the admiral’s family.”

“You want to know more about Alinis’s exploration into the tunnels, don’t you?”

“That, and some other things. Did Tarranth really find a Scourge devise?”
“Yes he did. Of course he didn’t know what it was when he found it and stashed it with the rest of the things in his barn. Fireoak spotted it and pointed out that it was there.”    


Vargan started on his next witness, one of the conspirators of the Republican attack, Dan Harper. He picked up his sheets of paper and said, “Mr. Harper, you haven’t spent a lot of time attending to your businesses of late, have you?”
Dan looked that the counselor and said, “That is my business, counselor. What do you mean by that.”
“Some of your businesses have not done well recently, the last five years, say.”

“That does happen. What does that have to do with the matters at hand?”
“I think that things will become clear, shortly. Your wife hasn’t hesitated to spend rather large sums regardless.”
“My wife has a budget. Sometimes there are exceptions and sometimes there are large expenses. I trust her to manage her side of things and if she needed money, she would ask.”
“She would continue as she has even if the family were in trouble?”
“Again, she has a budget. She may not draw that entire budget and since the children have grown, she had, for several years, been rather light on her philanthropy, she invests the reserve and some of those investments have done very well.”

“Investments in Harpoil, for instance?”
“I would have to consult her account manager to know just what her holdings were. Harpoil would certainly be a good investment.”

“So, you were not concerned about losing money?”
“Unless you have something that I have not seen, no, I have not been concerned greatly about losing money.”

Vargan held up a sheet of paper, “Then why did you write this?”

Dan looked at the paper and said, “I’m not going to ask how you found this, but that concerns some business that was struggling at the time. That didn’t mean that things in general were in difficulties.”

“Objection! Relevance!”
“I will demonstrate the relevance of this line of questioning shortly, Adjucator.”

The Adjucator sighed, look at the Tribunal members and said, “Very well, counselor. It is your case, after all. You may continue.”

“Mr. Harper, you had had no communication with your son, for some time. Why did you suddenly go up to the Empire and visit?”
“It wasn’t quite true that we had no communication with Rosa. My wife did maintain a discreet line of communication. I did not go to the Empire to just visit with my son. The President wanted to resolve the Ravathyra raider issues after we had demonstrated that the pirates could be driven off the seas and the Republic had official contact with the Empire at last. I was sent as the Republic’s representative.”
“Why you?”
“You would have to ask the President that. It may be my long experience doing similar things. My wife may have manipulated things somewhat. In any case, opening the Empire to further trade and communication was considered a good thing.”

“Your son followed you shortly afterwards, abandoning a rather important job.”
“He didn’t abandon the job. Great Captain Zylvyre escaped and Bob wanted to see what the Marshalls were doing to recover the elf.”
“He stayed in the Empire for some time.”

“That was pursuing his case. A great deal of evidence and witnesses became available and he took advantage of the evidence being available.”

“He was in the Empire for quite a long time.”
“The Great Captain was still loose, and Kulgha came up as well. Richard had the House and they had things to investigate. There were also some interesting things that came up.”

“They were also working for you.”
“Bob may have done some things for me. I’m not sure that it was anything of great importance. There were some issues arising over citizenship that were arising, such as the fact that Richard was never a slave in the first place, but many of those cases have more or less resolved themselves.”

“Were you looking for new business?”
“Counselor, I do that. I have been around a long time and there were opportunities arising. I didn’t pursue things very hard, as I had other concerns.”
“You maintained marines in the Empire.”
“I had them assigned to me. I was the Republic’s representative and there was some concern that diplomatic immunity would not be respected. There were also some other concerns that came up as result of Admiral Zylvyre rescuing the Great Captain and Tom and the President wanted to make sure that I had people on hand if they were needed.”

“Some people would call that an invasion. Were you planning an invasion of the Empire?”

“I was not planning an invasion of the Empire.”

‘Your son was.” Vargan held up yet another sheet of paper. “Adjucator, I enter this memorandum from Admiral Harper to his staff concerning the requirements of an invasion of the Empire.”

Dan looked at the counselor and sighed. “Counselor, at the point that my son requested plans for an invasion of the Empire, the Ravathyra had been conducting raids on the Republic, the Kindom and your country for centuries. The decision was made by my government to end those raids by any means necessary, up to and including invasion.That was why, for instance, the Republic took over the Hidden City and yes preparations and plans were made for further actions. Admiral Zylvyre made those actions unnecessary by sending the entire fleet to the Republic, where it was captured or destroyed.”

“That was convenient for your son, Lord Qinvaris, wasn’t it? The destruction of the fleet and things like the death of Admiral Zylvyre gave your son defacto control of the Empire.” Vargan held up another sheet of paper, “Your son and these other “slaves” who seem to have done very well for themselves.”

Dan looked at the list and actually laughed. “Is that the list that Kulgha has Paeris sign? I haven’t actually seen the entire list. Yes, many of the people on the list did very well, Richard included. Richard does not have defacto control of the Empire, nor does he want to supplant the Emperor, since he has no reason to. Yes he does provide a lot of the taxes that the Empire collects and he is aware of just how much influence he has. On the other hand, everything I have seen and heard, including at this point, talking to most of Admiral Zylvyre’s Great Captains, says that Rolin brought his House’s fall on himself. I was there and neither Richard nor I did anything to precipitate Rolin’s effort to retrieve Paeris.”

“That gave your son the Empire. Was that when you considered a plan to attack the Fellowship?”
“Conselor, neither I, nor as far as I know, anyone in my government had a plan to attack the Fellowship. I suppose that you are about to make yet another big reveal.”

A smiling Vargan pulled another document from the stack and said, “Is this your signature?”
Dan looked at the document and said, “Yes it is, and yes, this document contains a request for a plan to reinforce the Peninsula and the considerations of the consequences of that, including the potential for war with the Fellowship. This was right before Richard’s daughters were kidnapped and we were aiding the marshalls in their pursuit of Paeris and discovering some of the things going on in the Empty Lands. There was some concern at the time that the Fellowship would get involved. They did, a bit later, but by that point the Dragonmaster was at the Hidden City and we were cooperating with people in the Fellowship. So the Peninsula was never reinforced. The fact is that both Tom and I developed a good working relationship with the Dragonmaster and Consul Beira’s people, something that cooled a lot of heat when things started here. Counselor, a lot of things were going on very quickly then.”

Vargan pulled out his trump card and said, “Your plan to take over the government in the Fellowship was going forward smoothly, wasn’t it?”

Dan looked at the document and frowned. There had been a lot of things going off the Steelfire right after the Darkmage’s takeover of the palace and the suppressors being active. The Fellowship army being compelled and the concern over that had led to some messages that were probably strange, considering the panic and potential of the suppressors. The fact that the supressors had not been at full power when things started had let things calm down more than a bit, but there were probably documents like this still floating around. He looked at the Counselor and said, “This was right after the supressors had started up, we had lost radio and there were serious concerns about compelled armies and governments by all of us on the Steelfire. That included me, Halamar Beinan, and Prince Brouzen. So, yes we looked into the potential need to take certain actions, quickly, including taking over the Fellowship government. At the time we did not know where the supressors were, that they were not operating at full potential or how many were operating. Yes, we planned some rather nasty things. We knew that if Darkmage had control of the portals, which he apparently did, and fully operative supressors, we would have to act quickly or risk millions of lives. After a couple of days, when things became apparent, we dropped just about all our plans.”

“I’m sure that will make Consul Beira more comfortable. After all, treason can be rather an unpleasant thing to deal with.”

“Since most of us were not citizens of the Fellowship and we had representatives from the Fellowship government aboard the yacht, treason doesn’t apply, counselor.  Yes, things were uncomfortable for a few twentieths. That happens from time to time.”
“No further questions at this time.”

Reprensentive Harper stomped off the stand and the girl winked at Vargan as he watched the Representive and his son join his other two very high clout sons in the back of the court.

Dan walked up to where Richard and Tom were standing and said to Nightstream, who was discreetly at his place next to Richard, “Talk to your uncle about more fae in the Darkmage’s family. That clown had access to things that I was fairly sure had been destroyed.”

Nightstream nodded. “I’ll see my father as well. You are talking about that last document, aren’t you?”

“Yes. There were a lot of things that we were doing on the yacht that were sketchy and probably careless. We were hit by a surprise attack, evacuated and suddenly lost radio and small portals, along with the fae not being able to Jump. We knew that the portal network had been taken down and the old stories about suppressors. There was some concern about a suppressor in Zirgoccol, and we knew that the Master had put portals there. So there were plans for taking over, if need be. All of that was supposed to be destroyed, mostly to prevent the embarrassment of some old fools.”

“There was also that darkmage that Bill caught,” Bob said. “He went after Uncle Taeren and we didn’t ask why he was there in Astaire, where if I had turned him in, he would have been facing a death sentence. Let’s go someplace more private.”

As they exited the state house, a cab stopped at the Imperial Embassy and Jorge, followed by three more with a family resemblance got out. Dan grinned and said, “There is part of the reason that I’m not concerned about money.”

“Who are they?” Richard asked.

“The Umevan’s. Lythienne helped them when they were dumped ashore and suddenly we all had electricity. You probably don’t remember them. What that clown didn’t understand is that your mother and I helped build the Republic into what it is today, along with the Fellowship and the Kingdom. I could have a thousand losers like the one that the councilor brought up and never feel it. That doesn’t mean that I am going to let the businesses off easy, but I’m not too concerned about them.

Another cab drove up and Dan and Rene got out. Richard called out, “Dan! Come on over.”

Dan walked over and said, “Dad, I didn’t know that you were still here.”
“Your grandfather just had his session with the clown today. What bring you here?”
“Rene and Shael wanted to have a chat with Siraye at the embassy while Jorge takes his cousins and I around the old city and shows where things happened. Jorge is taking his relatives to get them setup with portal keys and to get registered with the Embassy. Py’s wife already took care of herself and the kids and brought forms so that the others could fill them out. Siraye told her all about Jorge and the kids wanted to meet him. Then Py called and said that he had run into Jorge, who was looking for people to sell him the things he needed for his power dam. Jorge was staying with Rene and I, and I wanted to see his new place, so here we are.”

“Your mother is here and we want you for dinner. You can bring Jorge and his relatives. Dad here, needs somebody to perk him up.”

“What happened?”
“He’s been called by the clown to testify and the clown got his hands on some of the planning right after the palace was taken over. When the clown took his shot at me, it was over the fact that I shot two rustlers on the ranch when I was fourteen. The clown has taken shots at all sorts of people and I don’t think he realizes what will probably dump on him when this is over. That’s another reason to talk to Jorge.”

“Jorge has had his session with the clown already. He told us all about it on the way down.”

“Good, He can come up with nasty things to send through portals,” Dan said.

“I don’t think he’s going to do that anymore, grandfather. The Empress sort of cured him of that when he went full Jorge on himself.”
“Then I will have to talk to Aydiun when I get home. That is if this character lasts that long.”
“Let me go and get Jorge and the others. Rene, you keep grandfather out of trouble.”

Dan went to catch up with Jorge and the others and when he caught them, Py said, “Who was that with Mr. Harper, Dan? You know them apparently.”
“That was my dad. Mr. Harper is his dad.”

“Then your father must be Richard, who was taken by the Great Captain.”

“Yes, and he wants to join our little thing this afternoon with Jorge and discuss sending things through portals at somebody.”

“I think I know who your grandfather wants stuff sent to, Dan,” Jorge said. “Lets get these forms in and we can discuss things.”

They turned the forms over, dropped Shael and Rene with Siraye and Anemone and when they went back outside, Py’s wife was there with Mage Wyrran and a mob of kids. Dalia said. “I ran into Mage Wyrran at the hotel, Py. “He’s Jorge’s boss at the portal service and since Jorge is here, wants him to take this bunch with our bunch through the ruins.”

“Dan Harper is joining us as well, Dalia. We are also all invited to dinner by Richard Harper and his wife.”

“So why was Dan here?”
“He was testifying at the Tribunal, apparently,” Jorge said.  “The defense clown called him in, apparently. I understand perfectly why he’s upset. Let’s collect him and the others and I will take you all through the hot spots.”

They collected Dan Harper and the others and then Jorge took them through what had happened in the city and some of the places that he had been. As he was finishing his tour he said, “There are some places that I can’t talk to anybody about.”

“I know where you are thinking, Jorge,” Wyrran said. “You were supposed to have dealt with that already.”
“Wyrran, I have dealt with the two ancient portals here. I did that a long time ago, when you asked me to. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to take kids in the tunnels or even tell them where the entrances are, unless it’s set up, I haven’t set up to do that and it’s not going to happen until the tribunal is over, if then.”

“I was just making sure.”
Jorge continued the tour and Py asked, “Mage Wyrran, how did you become Jorge’s boss?”
“The same way that Jorge was recruited into the Portal Service. We were both brought in by Adiun Beinan, who needed me for my portal knowledge and Jorge because, as you discovered, he is very good at doing things that seem crazy to everybody else. The problem is that Jorge is so busy right now with his big stuff, that small things like making sure that the portals here are actually shut down might slip. It didn’t, but he and I were both here, so I checked.”
“Why are you here, now?”
“I have been tasked to watch the tribunal after the Grand Master’s murderer was given the chance to suicide. The new Grand Master thinks that a certain character knows more than he should and there aren’t a great many master mages that can function very well outside the typical mage matters. So I collected some portal people and others I knew, and the kids and their teacher, along with my fiancé, and here I am.”

“He’s right, Wyrran,” Dan said. “We will dicuss this when it can be more private.”

Rob went into the small office aboard Conqueror, where Admiral Harper was currently flying his banner during the Tribunal. Tom looked at him and said, “What is it, captain?”

“I’ve talked with Peble already about a demotion and a transfer and I need to head to the Republic to do some clean-up in my shop.”
“I left the report on your adjudant’s desk and Peble has it as well. When I dismantled the Primaries from the devises taken from Jorge’s estate, they turned out to have been fabricated in my own shop. I think I know who was responsible, and I wanted to let you know what was going on before I took action.”

“Are you sure that the Primaries came from your shop?”
“When I dismantled the first one, I was fairly sure. By the time I did the ninth, I had enough to be absolutely certain.”
“Do you want the JAG on this?”
“No. Legally the idiot wasn’t breaking any laws or regulations. He can say, with a certain degree of legitimacy that the ordnance was not something that the navy was involved in and I do allow moonlighting. I do have a rule that when one of my people creates a fuse that he sees the boom to see how it is used.”
“Unless there is another Deadlands, there is no way he could have seen an actual test other than the tests that you and Jorge ran.”
“Exactly. Frankly, I would like to believe that anyone who had seen a test would know what the test was and turn in the people conducting the tests. I’ll talk to Thaetmaeg and see if he needs a good test of the new devises. I can put one back together and set up a portal.”

“Go ahead and deal with this. I do want one thing. Make it clear why this clown is being transferred and make it splashy and public. This could hurt the navy badly if we don’t squash it hard and publically. More to the point, I want to know how many fuses were made for how many Primaries. Rosa has invited me and my son Varli to dinner this evening and Jorge is going to be there with relatives.”
“Pirate Jorge or portal Jorge?”
“Pirate Jorge?”
“Your kids will probably have the books, but there are books with Jorge the Pirate, marine hero out. Jorge is rather annoyed about that and the fact that he can’t deal with it.”

Tom laughed. “It’s portal Jorge.”

“I’ll be there. Rosa has a good spread and she and Richard are good company. I also need to get caught up on Alinis and the other kids before I go home to the Republic.”

The door opened, Jorge walked in and saluted. “I’m glad that I caught you, sir.”
“You don’t usually give me a salute Jorge,” Rob said, “Let alone a title.”
“I was going to have to salute the admiral anyway, Rob, so I thought that a little formality wouldn’t hurt.”

“Why were you tracking me down?”
“First of all, to tell you that whatever you need to get this idiot who made fuses for Primaries from me, you get. Second, I want to talk to the other Jorge about bandits.”
“Why bandits?” Tom asked.

“Because the bandits had portals. At first we thought that it was so they could use them for committing crimes and there was some of that, but not as much as would make sense and the bandits held on to the portals long after they should have. I want to go through the bandit sites with Jorge and see if there were any vaults or something similar nearby.”
“You think that the bandits were hired to keep the portals for somebody?” Rob said.

“That’s what I want to talk to Jorge about. I was thinking that whoever was behnd these new devises couldn’t use the Houses again without risking attention, but bandits raiding caravans that disappear would be relatively safe. If they only had the things on one or two caravans a year, even the Justiciars wouldn’t notice and for most of the time we are talking about, the Portal Service couldn’t track lost portals down.”

“Both Jorge and Wyrran are at my brother’s for dinner this evening,” Tom said. “I think that there will be room for Jorge the pirate.”
Jorge groaned.  “Not you too, sir.”

“I think that you will want to be there, dismissed.”

“I think that I want to have a longish chat with Jorge, sir. He and I will find a quiet corner of the wardroom and brief each other. Jorge, who told you about the the Primaries?”
“Chompers did. He said that you were rather upset and why.”
“You two have been dismissed and are just making noise, so clear out and let me get something done.”

The two officers laughed and left the smiling Tom to return to what he was doing.
Vargan looked at the empty space and frowned. For the last five day, the girl had danced in a silk, almost transparent dress at that spot. While he couldn’t taste, he could at least watch and be enchanted. He had especially needed that enchantment this evening and she had not come. He still did not know the girl’s last name, but he had heard, Sarya, her first name called out by one of the other girls.

The Colonel was having a drink with his nephew when Kulgha emerged on to the rather dark hotel patio. “May we join you?”
“Who is we?”
“Me and this character.”
A figure emerged in the darkness and said, “Both Jorges are eating dinner at Rosa’s tonight and I don’t want to give them a chance to create a mischief.”
“Sit down, Great Captain, barrister. Your take is perfectly understandable, Great Captain. Of course you probably have other reasons.”
“I do. The defense counsel bringing out the meal choices at the pen hurt some former subordinates that work for your son. If the word gets around, others will get hurt and some of them I care about.”
“Lissia, for instance.”
“Yes. She is what Jorge needs to be complete and I am fully aware how an injury in a bond affects the other partner. Also, the counselor called me as a witness and I suspect that, since he doesn’t expect me to show up, he has plans to reveal things about me and certain relationships that could cause a lot of trouble if they are revealed. I’m hoping that I can shake him up somewhat.”
“That won’t be easy,” Ottwold said. I’ve had run ins with him before and it can be hard to take him off his game.”
“You do know that he has some very bad habits?”
“That doesn’t matter during the trial,” the Colonel snarled. “Especially this one. Any attempt to bring those habits to light would be considered tampering and I can’t afford that right now. I need convictions or my life’s work goes down the tubes. The convictions need to be clear, with evidence and based on law or what I have built will crumble. The atrocity that happened here is something that will take a long time to wash out of the army.”
“The Darkmage killed himself.”
“Yes he did. Somebody wanted him to. That means that somebody wanted his silence enough to risk porting or Jumping that packet into the Mage Academy. I’m well aware of the stakes for this game. I’m glad that you have kept to the shadows here, Great Captain, because they probably want your silence as well.”
“Definitely. Especially since they don’t truly know what I may have on them and what I have said already. That was one reason I sent the boys to you.”
“The Darkmage never seemed to be too concerned about them.”
“He didn’t know about certain things in the Orcenlands that were sealed during the Mage Wars. I knew that I was to find slaves from certain families and what was happening at the Retreat with them. I don’t think that Lady Nethangwa knew all the nuances surrounding her things. In later years, I was able to make it harder to obtain directs and she worked the Richflights harder. Of course for the Richflights, their involvement was strictly mercenary and they had no real involvement in the real Project. In any case, watch the boys carefully and if you can arrange it, get them all married.”
“Do you know just how much harder it is to deal with a couple, rather than somebody who is single. If you take a wife or husband, the other spouse screams, and then the authorities listen and things get rather unpleasant the next time you show up. If you take both members of a couple that is four times the grief and all their relatives back home. In my case, it was all too frequently relatives at my home. In any case, the boys will be harder to recover if they have families.”
“My wife is already working in that direction and Jorge’s lady has been finding families for the various refugees from the pen. Do you think that the counselor’s assault on Jimmy was an attempt to thwart that?”
“I was sort of out of the game when that happened. I know the gist, but what did the counselor do to Jimmy?”

“He kept asking if Jimmy thought people were tasty,” Ottwold said. “Jimmy tried to evade the issue and Pikepusher came right out and asked the question directly.”

“Jimmy answered the question?”
“I think that he thought that Pikepusher had a way of exposing the stews anyway and there wasn’t any point in lying.”

“Was he aware of the potential consequences?”

“Very much so,” the Colonel said. “He was totally broken up about it and I would not have been surprised if the landdragon came out and wreaked havoc on the courtroom. That may be what Pikepusher was sort of looking for. Or his secretive handlers were. I don’t think that the counselor is suicidal, but he is probably expendable. Instead, Jimmy just broke down. That earned him a lot of sympathy when the story hit the papers.”

“Right now, I do not think that the counselor’s puppeteers think of him as expendable. Colonel, I would have your relatives in the Orcenlands look for certain things.”

“One or more supressors. My clan has been certain that there was more than one in the orcenlands since the end of the Mage Wars. My great great grandfather could not convince the Orcenmoot of that and the clan was exiled as a result of the tensions caused by the arguments. We moved to where Oceanside is now and in between little arguments with our dwarf neighbors, the occasional weddings with our seafolk and dwarf neighbors, the occasional pirate raid by your relatives, we’ve been looking for the thing as discreetly as we can. The problem right now is that a suppressor isn’t that big and is fairly portable. The good news is that Harald the good locked the mana sources in the Orcenlands down at the request of the Orcenemoot and it is unlikely that they can be opened easily. I suspect that that is one reason that you want the boys watched, considering Tarranth and the vault.” The Colonel looked out across the water “Well, well well, the admiral called in reinforcements.”

Paeris turned his head and a yacht, rather similar to Steelfire, was approaching the empty berth between Steelfire and Funlover. It was fairly obvious that all three yachts shared the same designer, were concealing certain things and could give even small naval vessels trouble. Paeris grinned and said, “Whose yacht is that?”
“I believe that is Ratcatcher, ordered by the lower seas bowers about five years ago.”

“How do you know?”
“My son is chief of the local troopers at Oceanside. We have to know what trouble might appear over the horizon and that yacht has trouble written all over it.”

“The rat the ship is supposed to catch was probably me.”
“It was definitely you and any other Ravathyra they ran into.”

“The ship is well equipped, including being equipped with the gadget. Kulgha, I think that we have taken these gentleman’s time long enough, unless you have something to add.”

“Just one thing. Bob and I have been watching the clowns play with Richard and the others for some time now and we have been wondering if the clowns were the big players. The fact that somebody is pulling the defense counsel’s strings says that there are players that we haven’t seen. I would want to know why the Fellowship JAG picked him in the first place. For that matter, why wasn’t he dishonably discharged and removed from service a long time ago? According to Gander, the defense counsel has been playing these games for a long time.”

“I don’t know, barrister. Up until the Peninsula, I was teaching my class at the war college and enjoying my retirement, the beach, my able children and grandchildren and staying out of the army’s day to day business. I will have that checked out.”

“Hi grandfather!”

Harald grinned beside the cab he was standing next to as he watched the yacht being moored, the portside rail lined with family, his sons, daughters and apparently all of his grandchildren and some great grandchildren all aboard, or already dancing in the water. He had arranged for the waiting row of cabs to take the members of the family that were currently land bound to the house on the beach that Naesala had purchased for Jorge and Lissia or the hotel where Harald had reserved rooms. The yacht moored and various family members getting in cabs, his three older sons walked up and the rather elvish and sinister looking Aired said, “We’re here, father. Tell us more about this clown.”

“Let’s get everybody settled and at the house. We can discuss this later and your mother has new family to introduce, so I am not going to delay you with business.”

Spitty watched the rather disappointed counselor from the bar. Right now, Spitty was dressed as a mid level businessman. Most of the time, he hid the fact that his family had seen fit to send him to a rather expensive private school and college. For what he did, a semiliterate tough guy look was part of the image he maintained. After Prince Spitfire of the Rockmountain Aerie had been thrown at him one too many times, he had told his family that he was leaving and never looked back. The thefts had started as a way of embarrasing his family and that had thrown him into his uncle’s path, which hadn’t worked out the way Spitty had expected.

Watching the counselor staring at the spot the girl usually came to practice her dancing Spitty could tell that the Counselor had thoughts about the girl and he was an idiot. At least he didn’t spend time in Spitty’s world. If he had, he would have known that under no circumstances was playing with the girl in any way sane. A long time ago, Spitty had worked a job with an elf lady determined to see the world and paying for her lifestyle by removing problems for people. She was called the Dancer in certain circles, and it wasn’t safe to talk about her. The Dancer had been entertained by the black scale dragonprince and after a month of evenings together, had arranged a wonderful evening that Spitty still remembered. During the evening, the Dancer had practiced her dance for a special audience, him. He had never forgotten it. The Dancer had disappeared shortly afterwards and Spitty had wondered what had happened to her. In any case, Spitty knew the dance that the girl was practicing and it wouldn’t be good to mess with anybody who knew how to perform the dance.

Rosa grinned as Tom brought his son, Jorge and Rob to the party that had become rather large. Varli was a rather welcome addition as he had been on duty when Rosa had been visiting the Republic, so this was a good chance to meet her nephew. The other two were already frequent and well known visitors, who had become good friends as well. As they walked up, Rosa said, “Welcome to the party, Tom. I see that you brought Lieutenant Harper and insisted that he dress up. Varli, this was just family and friends, so your regular uniform would have been fine.”
Varli grinned. “I wasn’t sure if you lived like High elf comedy, Aunt Rosa.”
“There may be elements of that in the House all too frequently, but we are here at the beach and far away from that. Even at the House, most of the time, we don’t bother. Jorge and Rob didn’t dress up, at least Rob didn’t.”

“Rob is a captain. They can get away with things somewhat. Dad dressed and told me to, so I was stuck as a mere lieutenant.”
“Well I hope that I can arrange something for you and your shipmates before we leave. I will contact your captain about that. Come on inside and meet everybody. Dan, Nimue and Alinis are here, with Rene, Sylvar and Fireoak. Tarranth is still playing at Oceanside.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s