The Dancer gets sent to the Beach. Jorge visits his relatives.
Iolena packed her travel bag, made sure that she had all potential travel documents prepared, put the bag’s strap over her shoulder and marched out to face the world again. As she stepped out of her quarters, a large wooden ball rumbled down the halls, crashing into some strange things that that had been set up at the end of the hall, causing some of them to fall. Some of the Refuge’s children ran past to collect the ball and set the pins up and Iolena asked, “What is this?”
“Nine Pins, Aunt Iolena!”
“Where did you get this?”
“We found a box in the court this morning. It had a nine written on it and the game inside. This is fun.”
Iolena laughed and headed to the portal.
Iolena emerged from the one way port, into the middle of the street, with a wolf in a policeman’s uniform and Fellowship Trooper’s pith helmet, who called out, “Lady, get out of the street!”
Iolena hurredly walked to the side of the street, and looked around, tried to figure out exactly where she was. It was obviously not the Empire, where she had expected the port to exit. She called out to the wolf, “What city is this?!”
“Are you crazy, lady! This is Oceanside!”
“Thank you, sir wolf. I will be on my way.”
Iolena moved off down the street. It had been a long time since she had last come to Oceanside for a dance and the city had grown. The wolves managing traffic was a change.
Nightslayer slipped the small camera he had taken to carrying back in his pocket. After Jorge and Shael, he was determined to get a picture of the next strange character who popped out of no place. The lady certainly counted, though she was not dressed like Shael had been, seemed to understand traffic and looked as if she knew her way around. That was unusual in an obvious high elf. She also carried herself as if she was well trained and maintained the training.
Tom turned to Gander and said, “It was good to have you, Justiciar.”
“My wife insisted that I buy a car in Ishendell and we drive up the coast on the side of the peninsula where there wasn’t a small war, stop and meet you and Ozga, head on up to Zirgoccol and then Fayspire and the Empire.”
“What about your office?”
“There’s a portal here, a portal in Zirgoccol, Fayspire isn’t a problem and I have contacts in Zirgoccol. I also have a small portal with me and check in every night. I’m not in uniform and my office can do without me for a five day. Alen or Kelvahn can sign any writs if necessary.”
“Why not travel through the Mortal Kingdoms?”
“We’ll do that next year. Alissa wanted the car at home and has been pushing for one, so there the dealer was in Milport and they were willing to make a deal when they knew who I was.”
A car to go with a Big House?”
“No, actually. My House is actually going to be part of the university, so that we can train people for the Justiciars. It’s actually my grandmother’s, so we had to discreetly clear it out and make sure that there were no secrets that shouldn’t be uncovered. We still have the estate, but I haven’t had a chance to go through it.”
Nightslayer came into the office with a grin and a picture, “I finally got a picture of one of my wierds.”
“What is a weird?” Gander asked. “Weirder than the Great Captain, Nightslayer?”
“He hasn’t shown up yet. This was a lady who showed up in the middle of the street. After Jorge and Shael, I made sure to get a picture. I just got it back from the darkroom.”
He handed the picture to Tom who looked at it and said, “This lady looks a lot like Alissa, Gander. Take a look.” Tom handed the picture to Gander who took one look at it and said, “Did you see where this lady was going, Nightslayer?”
“Just up the street. I got the feeling that she’s been here before.”
“If she has, you probably have an unsolved case, Tom. This Alissa’s sister, or it looks a lot like her.”
“Your wife has a sister? You didn’t mention her.”
“This goes back a long time ago, before I came to the Empire, and even before I was born. Traelion has two daughters. Both of them were trained by the guild. One left the Empire and started to travel, something that wasn’t easy at the time. Just before I was hauled to the Empire and my wife, I had a case involving the Dancer, or somebody who she failed with, unfortunately. I was fairly sure that Iolena was dead. At least the nasty character she had been trying to deal with, was fairly sure that he had made sure that he had been her last dance partner, rather brutally. There may have been some cases and she is obviously alive, but I’m going to have to talk to Qambois in Zirgoccol and my grandmother. May I have some more prints of this photograph? Nightslayer, if the chief doesn’t want you, the Justiciars do.”
Nightslayer grinned. “Justiciar, I’m not sure that that is something that I want to think about. The lady used the Justiciars to scare us, and there are those movies.”
“That was Bellas and his antics. He’s been involved with Jorge recently and so the rest of us started to realize what he had been up out in the hinterlands and that a certain servant has an author cousin, a small portal and movie contracts. The rest of us were rather annoyed and Bellas’s antics have hurt recruitment somewhat.”
“I think that I want to see that for myself.”
‘I imagine that there is another movie coming. With both Bellas and Jorge involved, I’m afraid that it’s inevitable. Unless Jorge gets himself out of the Republic fast, he’s going to get nailed for a movie deal.”
“Jorge is in the Republic?” Tom asked “What for?”
“I don’t have the details as yet, but there were some issues with the Scourge devises they found on Jorge’s estate and Jorge is running another of his tests.”
“Let me get some more prints of the picture,” Nightslayer said. “I have a date tonight.”
“Do you want me to put out the word quietly for Alissa’s sister?” Tom asked.
“Be very careful about dealing with her. She is almost certainly very dangerous. Your father is in Ishendell and I don’t think that Andy’s family is having a meeting in town, so she may be just be passing through. I’ll talk to Qambois when I arrive in Zirgoccol and let him know that she is in the country. I think that I better get the picture and get us on the road.”
Iolena was heading to the railroad station and the next train to Zirgoccol when she happened to glance at a car and saw her sister inside. She didn’t get a glimpse of the driver and the car moved on down the road. She wondered what her sister was up to. Perhaps after the dance card was cleared, she could look in on the family.
Ara Umevan looked out the window, turned to where her husband was reading the paper and said, “They’re here!”
Naertho looked out and said, “Don’t get too excited, dear.”
That comment went unheard as Ara said, “Oh, the girl looks wonderful!”
Ara watched from the window as the couple approached, but didn’t go charging out to greet them as she obviously thought about doing, so Naertho gave his wife that. Hap opened the door and said, “Mr. Umevan and Lady Biqen to see you sir.”
Ara stepped quickly to the door, grabbed Shael’s hands and said “Welcome, welcome. Please sit! You have come such a long way. You must be Shael.”
“Yes I am Shael Biqen. I am pleased to meet yet more members of Jorge’s family.”
Ara turned to Jorge and said, “You are my grandson, Jorge.” She hugged him and said, “We have heard so much about you already.”
“Nothing good, I hope,” Jorge said with a grin.
“What do you mean?”
“Most of the high ladies in the Empire are a bit afraid of me and the Empress played a rather nasty trick to make sure that I thought twice about doing something again.”
“I’ll tell the story to the family at dinner. It involves the Empress giving me an Imperial command at dinner and me not paying attention.”
“We had some remarkable wine bottles at my birthday,” Naertho said. “How was the estate recovered?”
“The Imperial command was involved. The story is too good to spoil.”
“Is the estate doing well?”
“You are invited to come and see for yourselves,” Shael said. “The estate is doing very well and the people love Jorge already. The thieves had some rather unsavory friends with some bad habits that we stomped on very hard. We also got rid of some customers that were robbing the estate. Other than my family, the estate has the kingdom of Astaire and a faery kingdom as wonderful neighbors. So you must come. We have some pictures to share.”
Shael started to pass the pictures around as more family members arrived. Naertho looked at one and said, “The dam looks to be in good shape. Are you running it?”
“Very much so,” Jorge said. “That was how we ran into Py. I was going to the Fellowship Electric Light office to ask who their suppliers were when Py was going to the office to introduce his brother and the others and we walked past each other. Hal Ironbender got us all straightened out. That was a good thing, as Astaire wants electricity, the Sanctuary wants a hook up and the timberlands want lights and power as well. The dam still has five open penstocks that do not have turbines.”
“You seem to know what you are doing.”
“I’ve been learning fast and the estate has good people.”
“Is there any chance that your father could come down, Jorge?” Ara asked with a smile .
“A very good chance,” Shael said. “We want to push for that.”
Elyon was looking at a picture, looked at Jorge and said, “Where was this? I see what appears to be most of the leaders in the world.”
Jorge looked at it and said, “That was the reception for the Grand Master’s funeral. I couldn’t make it because some idiot decided to send a Scourge devise to annoy the Empress. She turned things over to me to fix their wagon. I think that everyone is here now, so I will tell the story. It starts back when I was just another kid in the Lower City, mouthing off to Adiun Beinan, who was hustling us.”
Jorge told the story of Adiun Beinan and the portals, his starting at the Portal Service, the kidnapping of the girls, the use of one way ports to make the Darkmage miserable, the Blight and running portals in Astaire, the take over, the restoration of Portal Service and the scary flight to Grimfrost. “Grimfrost, meeting Shael notwithstanding was a bit of a mistake. Once Adiun and Wyrran realized what I could do, they had more jobs for me, starting with getting in and restoring the portal at the control board.”
Jorge continued, telling of completing the recovery of portal service, the concerns about what the Darkmage was doing in Ishendell and how he was dropped into the city. “Darkmaker and I played games back and forth until I found the headquarters tunnel, the portal there and ported out, at the same time that Stormfire was attempting to recover the Scourge devises, one of which was armed. The armed devise went off just before I got there.”
Jorge continued, adding his involvement with Scourge recoveries, finding more devises, discovering the devises in the Hidden city, and sending one to the Deadlands.
“You have sent a devise to the Deadlands?” Jhaan asked.
“As a result of different circumstances, I have sent eleven Scourge devises to the Deadlands and watched one go off yesterday. The explosions are becoming a tourist attraction.”
“The first one I just told you about. The next was a devise in the Orcenlands, the devise after that had been discovered, armed, in Tarranth Qinaris’s barn, we discovered ten devises near Fayspire and somebody must have been very angry at somebody as all of them were armed. Five were sticky and were sent to the Deadlands.’
“That was that the evacuation there recently?”
“Yes. The next one was a devise that I had jiggered the Darkmage’s portal to send to the Deadlands. I’ll tell you about the last two as part of the story as the context will be important.”
Jorge continued his story, narrating the story of the devises in the orcenlands, followed by the sending of mud to the Project meeting, the Darkmage sending the Richflight boys after him, “fixing” the portal, then the Grand Master’s funeral and the last two devises. “Now is where the context becomes important. Our little thing with the mud annoyed and frightened a lot of ladies, some of whom you can guess if you have seen those comedies. We had been looking at the estate for about a moon before the idiot there decided to send a Scourge devise at the Lower City.”
“If the devise was sent to the Lower City, how did it end up at the funeral?” Elyon asked.
“The devise ended up at the funeral because two girls wanted one of my coworkers to take them around the Lower city, the idiot tried to piggyback onto the portal at the same time, the portal had a lock on ports until the board operator okayed a port, our board operators are sharp, the operator spotted the piggyback, figure out what it probably was and redirected the port to the funeral, since he knew that a Scourge suppressor was operating there. That quick action saved a lot of lives. That was also why I was not able to go to the reception as I was coding for an automatic Scourge devise dump to the Deadlands and making sure that the network couldn’t be accessed from ancient portals without me coding them in and then the Empress told my boss to tell me to go full Jorge on the clowns.”
“Worse, I used glue, rotten glue, along with making their bunker unlivable and ensuring that their portals didn’t work as intended. It all worked, but the Empress left out a rather important detail. The bunker was on the estate. It was my bunker.”
The room laughed and Ara called dinner.