The Island of Intrigue, Chapter 21-22

The Counselor takes on Prince Brouzen. The landdragons stage a protest.

Chapter 21.

Ishendell.

Vargan looked at Prince Brouzen and said, “Is it usual that a prince of Hammer would marry outside his country?”

Brouzen looked at the Counselor and said, “Nothing was illegal. The only requirement placed upon me is that I not marry a Kingdom noble. If you are implying that I have had divided loyalties, you can set those aside. I have been loyal under extreme circumstances, my brother has tested me and my loyalty and does not doubt me. If my brother has no concerns about that and the people of the of the kingdom do not, then it is no one else’s concern.”

“Yet you were conspiring with Dan Harper on your yacht after the coronation, weren’t you?”
“We were discussing things, yes. The Darkmage had just staged his takeover, there were some concerns about the new Emperor and a more forward and aggressive Empire and what that might mean. We were planning for contingencies that we hoped we wouldn’t need, working from shreds of information and glimpses as just about everything was becoming a great big mess.”
“A mess that required that you move some military hardware. What were you moving, Prince? What were you smuggling into the Empire.”

“I certainly haven’t moved military hardware into the Empire.”

“Not even on your own train?” Vargan held up a picture. “This is your train leaving Hammerfall with five extra cars, cars that were used to move something.”

“Yes they were. Those five cars were used to move Scourge devises to the empire for dismantlement.”
“The Fellowship government wasn’t told about the move.”
“No, we did not tell Consul Biera about the move, nor King Aesteros. That was my brother’s decision, though I agreed with it at the time. The concern was that letting the fact that the devices even existed increased the risk of transport. I did tell both the Consul and King Aesteros after the transfer was complete and they agreed that it was the right thing to do.”

Vargan held up some cartridges. “Adjucator, I want to enter these into evidence. They are cartridges found on the battlefield in the Empire where the Qinvaris militia engaged the armies from the sanctuary. The cartridges were manufactured in the Kingdom of Hammer. Somebody was smuggling ammunition and probably equipment from the Kingdom of Hammer to the Qinvaris.”

Vargan was grinning as he looked across the room over the head of the dancer, who had returned to her place in the court. Lord Qinvaris was talking to his fae aide, who nodded and disappeared. He turned back to the prince and said, “Explain that to the Tribunal, Prince Brouzen.”

“What is to explain? Richard contracted for rifle ammunition from a company in the Kingdom. I’m glad to see that he is giving us his business. Councilor, I hope that you have some better evidence of this massive conspiracy than some cartridges that somebody found where there was a battle in the Empire.”

“Maybe it does, and maybe it does not. Why were you making sure that your brother in law was well stocked in ammunition? Did you provide rifles as well?”
“The only rifles that I personally was responsible for giving to any of Richard’s people were some crafted Ironaxe rifles that I gave to Dan and Tarranth as birthday presents and two rifles that I gave them for Winterfaire two years ago. As for anything else, you would have to consult the manufacturers, if they would tell you. My guess is that they have confidentiality agreements.”

“I imagine that they do. Did you talk with your brother in law while the Empire was still isolated?”
“How could I?”
“By using a small portal to make the arrangements and both of you traveling to Dolmas, for instance?”

“Before the railroad was complete, travel to Dolmas would have been difficult and time consuming for both of us and there would be an element of risk involved if we were remaining incognito. In any case we did not have a connection and both of us were probably concerned with other things.”

“Yet you sailed right up in the yacht for the wedding that Lord and Lady Qinvaris held.”
“At that time we could speak diplomatically to the Empire and port directly at Richard’s port. My brother and I felt that opening communications and creating a closer relationship with the Empire was important.”

“Yet you allowed the sale of ammunition to your brother in law, in spite of the fact that such things are under Proscription in the Empire.”

“Counselor, just about everything was under Proscription by the Inquisition in the Empire. If Richard was not concerned, I would not be. After all, in the end, he has to live with the Inquisition and I do not.”

“That hardly seems to be good diplomatic behavior unless you had told the Imperial government that what you were selling to the Qinvaris was not going to be used in the Empire. Something like this, for instance?”
Vargan held up a document and showed it to the prince, who looked at it with a mystified expression. That document has nothing to do with Richard.”
“What do you mean?”

“That is a document that I signed with Princess Lelayme saying that the objects in that case were going to be returning with me and not remaining in the Empire.”
“What objects were those?”
“They were a pair of Ironaxe matched shotguns that I had commissioned. During my trip to the Empire for Richard and Rosa’s wedding, I encountered an old elf that did wonderful engraving and enameling work. The elf lives next door to Richard’s estate and Rosa showed me his work. I discussed his finishing the shotguns, a present to my nephews and the elf would not agree unless I had certification that he could show to the Inquisition, something at the time was perfectly understandable. So Lelayme and I had that document created. I have since commissioned several other pieces from the elf under that document, though the need for it has waned somewhat. I also sent the pictures of the shotguns and some samples of the elf’s work to Mr. Ironaxe so that he could commission work from the elf. Richard’s Inquisitor certifies that the things are brought into the Empire, finished and leave the Empire. That document does not cover any purchases of military firearms by Richard or anyone else.”

Vargan continued battering away at the prince’s defenses for the next twentieth and getting nowhere when Lord Qinvaris’s aide returned, followed by two men with boxes and an elf in a House Qinvaris tunic. The aide talked to Bob Harper, who talked to the prince’s counsel, who stood up and said, “Adjucator, I have just received some material that will clarify the issue the defense counsel is addressing.”
The Adjucator looked a Vargan with an annoyed expression and said, “By all means, if you have something, bring it forward.”
“Barrister Harper told me that his brother sent his aide to the estate to retrieve purchase orders for ammunition used by the militia, cartridges recovered from practice ranges, boxes of ammunition purchased by the militia and some more cartridges recovered from the various actions. The House Qinvaris arms master would like to give a presentation.”

“I think that he would be the one that can clear any questions up. Counselor, can we interrupt your questioning of the witness to clear this up?”
Vargan was tempted to say no, but since he had raised the issue, the prosecution would object if he didn’t allow the testimony. He looked at the Adjucator and said, “Very well.”

The rather distinguished looking elf took the stand and after he took the oath, the Adjucator said, “State your name and occupation for the record, please sir elf.”
I am Harrion Vagella. I have been chief guard and arms master for House Qionvaris for almost a century. Before that, I was head guard at House Qinvaris. I am responsible for the purchase and maintenence of all weapons used by the Qinvaris guard and Militia.”

“Since the prosecution was not given an opportunity to vet you, elf Vasgella, I will ask the questions and they will only pertain to the matter at hand. The counselor has shown us several cartridges that were found on the battlefield near Sataesi. The cartridges came from the Kingdom of Hammer. Is the Kingdom of Hammer a supplier of ammunition to House Qinvaris?”

“Yes. But we also buy from the Fellowship and the Republic. We are working on developing the capability to manufacture our own cartridges and we reload, but things have been delayed by events, the fact that my department is short on skilled armorers and ammunition workers and skilled people are reluctant to emigrate to the Empire.”

“Can you prove that you buy from all three Blasted Lands?”
“I brought quotes and purchase orders from all three countries, unfired boxes of cartridges, expended cartridges collected from the reloading barrels at the range and several cartridges recovered from both the battlefields. Hold, put the boxes up if you please.”

A rather large type in Qinvaris tunic and collar started to put boxes up on the evidence table. Harrion continued. “These are random sample new boxes taken from stock by Tolith here when he was putting this together. Tolith, did you make any effort to select boxes of all three Blasted Lands suppliers?”
Tolith looked at Harrion and said, “I didn’t bother, Harrion. I may have moved a box or two, but this was just the stock at the range.”

“As you can see, there are boxes from all three Blasted Lands countries. Put the next box on the table and pull ten cartridges from the top, Tolith.”

Tolith did and the Adjucator looked at them. He said, “These are from all three countries again.”

“Those were just some cartridges expended on the range and placed in the box to send to the house reloader for reuse. Now the last box, Tolith.” Harrion turned to Vargan and said, “Counselor, I was surprised that you found those cartridges on the battlefield because the House offers the local boys reloads or a copper for every ten cartridges they bring in. I doubt that there were very many cartridges on any of the fields. In any case, you can see the black powder cartridges we have made for some time, and representative cartridges from all three Blasted lands countries. I believe that that should clear this up.”

“Thank you for taking the time to clear this up, armsmaster,” Brouzen’s counsel said. Does that settle the matter, Adjucator?”
“I believe that it does, barrister. Thank you, armsmaster, for clearing this up for us.”

A smiling Harrion and his crew picked up the boxes, leaving a dumbfounded Pikepusher trying to recover his narrative and line of questioning.

Tom looked up as Rob came into his office and saluted. “How did it go?”

“Things went about like I expected. Phraan wouldn’t come clean, tried to run and killed himself when he was stuck in the brig. Here is the report. My mother in law blames me for the death, even though I gave Phraan every opportunity to come clean and he went right out to send a packet to his clients and burn the evidence.”
“Did he succeed?”
“We had street kids and Jorge. The street kids delayed him until they could make sure that the Office of Inanimates and the fire department were close and Jorge replaced the packet and the report that Phraan sent. I think he gave them ten days to give up all their Scourge devises.”

Tom laughed. “If they were smart, they would. Or make sure that he owns the place. Where is it?”

Rob pulled a chart out. “Here, off, this island off the shore of Vestia near Silver Mountain. Skychaser is on the way, so we should get some good pictures soon.”

“Who authorized Skychaser?”

“Admiral Steelshaper was in Cleadsgate and authorized the move when Peble told him why.”
“That was being on the ball. It was a good thing that I sent Peble with you.”

“We wanted to act on this fast. I probably shouldn’t have pushed Phraan like that, but I wanted answers fast.”
“Where is Jorge?”
“He’s leaving the Republic tomorrow after looking at colleges and being with family.”
“The colleges will be chasing him. Did he enjoy Desert Howl?”
“He liked the boom.”

“Talk to Captain Tollings. He may have found a batch of new booms.”

“Where?”
“Next door to a portal that was shutdown by the Darkmage. There was an old lab used to cache Blight quarrels and these people took advantage to hide Scourge devises in a shed. What they didn’t count on was a curious fae prince bonding next door and poking in.”

“Ok, I’ll check in with Jorge.”
“Good job in Cleadsgate and making sure that you didn’t let if fester. Especially since it was family.”

“He was an idiot. The Darkmage had sent a devise practically next door to his quarters and he still wouldn’t just tell me how many of things I needed to look for. He was probably sucked in because of his lifestyle habbits, debt and then compelled, but I handed that over to the JAG.”
“Do you have an idea how many Primaries he made?”
“According to Phraan’s files, probably a hundred, so we can figure that there were a hundred devises, minus the ten that were at Jorge’s and the cases we pulled from the Sanctuary. So we can figure about seventy devises out there.”
“Have you figured out how they were moved to their locations?”
“I haven’t had a chance to. I’ll go over that with Jorge.”

“Make up some devises and have Jorge set up a port on that island of theirs. We may have to do something we don’t want to do.”

“Will do, sir.”

“Dismissed.”

Vargan sipped his drink and watched the dancer as she practiced her dance. The prince had proved to be a harder nut to crack than he expected and he still didn’t have definite evidence of a conspiracy to take over the Fellowship. His next adversary was going to be Halamar Beinan and the old dragon wasn’t likely to be any easier. At least using his material about the Great Captain shouldn’t have any issues as the Great Captain was hardly going to come here and testify. He watched the dance and smiled at the promise of brighter things in the future.

Brouzen picked up a drink from the sideboard, turned to Richard and said, “You were right when you said that we should all come and testify. If he had been able to reveal those things without rebuttal, he may have actually been able to make his case.”

“It was fairly obvious what was going on when he went after Denny and Jorge. That conspiracy theory has been rattling around certain circles in Zirgoccol for some time and since Dan is there, going to college, he and the people he has picked up on some things. So I had an idea that the defense might use something like he did. Of course the way Pikepusher has been doing things is not making him any new friends in Zirgoccol.”

Zirgoccol.

 “Allisa!” Vafealine got up from behind her desk and ran over to where Allisa and Gander were standing. “You brought Gander.”
“I convinced him to take a bit of a rest, we bought a car in Ishendell and are taking a drive back to the Lower City. Gander has been driving so far, because he has that handy badge, but I’m going start driving when we reach the Empire so that by the time we reach the Lower City, I can drive the car there.”

“Tell me all about your trip. Where are your children?”

“Myrdin and Sarya are helping at the Tribunal and the other two are with their grandmother, being spoiled, probably. They will join us in Innshys. Gander has a picture that he wants you to pass around to your people.”

“What is the picture of?”
“My sister.”
“The Dancer has returned and you have a picture?”

“She was apparently one way ported to Oceanside, right in front of one of the deputy wolves, who had been rather annoyed that he didn’t catch pictures of Jorge and Shael when they appeared, so he bought one of those small cameras for the next apparition, which happened to be my sister, he showed the picture to Gander and Chief Bloodfoot and Gander recognized my sister. I’m hoping that I can return her to the family and stop her from filling a Dance card.”

“A notable goal. So she is here in the Fellowship?”
“That was strange, as it was in Oceanside, there were no strange deaths and there weren’t any potential targets other than Gander in town.”

Gander left the ladies chattering away and went to Qambois’s office. “I thought that I would stop in and have a chat, Dragonmaster.”

“We haven’t had time to really chat, have we Justiciar. The colonel and I have been enjoying your various people as they come through.”

“I’m going to be losing some of them, at least they won’t be out in the field for some time.”
“The ladies?”
“Yes. They are going to be married, establishing households and being mothers all too soon. Fortunately we have some girls and boys about ready to become Junior Justiciars and some Junior Justiciars ready to become adjuncts. That is Kenia’s problem in any case.”

“So what brings you to Zirgocoll?”
“I am on vacation, actually. My wife wanted a car and we’re taking it home from Ishendell up through the Peninsula, Oceanside, where we visited with Roger’s family, and here, where we are stopping for a bit and then Fayspire and the Empire, stopping all sorts of places before parking the car at the old family estate for the time being until I can get the old carriage house cleaned out.”

Qambois laughed. “Full of things?”

“Bits and pieces of things from previous owners of the house, stuff I put in there and remnants of old cases that will probably end up at the university.”

“No things from your grandmother?”
“Yes there are. I cleared out the old House during the thing with the Dowager Empress and there were some very nice things that I plan to give to the kids when they have houses, along with my grandmother’s files, discreetly hidden away with some other files I don’t want running around loose.”

“Things that would be embarrassing?”
“Yes. First of all there are my relatives and they may encounter things in the course of their work and hand them to me. Then other people give things to me. Quite a bit of that was useful during the thing with the Dowager Empress.”

“So what are Alissa and Vafealine discussing so earnestly.”
“Alissa’s sister has returned. She ported into Oceanside though a one way port, right in front of Nightslayer, who took a picture, because after Jorge and Shael, he bought a camera so that if another weirdo appeared, he would be ready.”

Qambois laughed. “This is one of Paeris’s wolves that the Bloodfoots recruited.”
“Yes. They are on their way to being family. I’m not sure what that says about the Bloodfoots.”

‘You know Roger and the rest of them are not that different. So what are you going to do about your wife’s sister?”

“Port to the Lower City and let Kelvahn and Tony know that she may be planning dances and then tell her mother that Iolena is alive.”

“What if you are on the dance card?”
“I probably am. It wouldn’t be the first time that somebody has come after me. My wife will be annoyed if I don’t kill her if she comes after me. Of course, right now, arranging a dance is going to be rather difficult and I hope that Alissa can convince her to rip up the dance card before my bosses find out.”
“Why?”
“Because if the Emperor finds out, I’m going to be stuck with full time High Guards in the car.”

“With you driving?”
“Unless they learn, yes.”  

Orick came into the office and said, “I heard that Justiciar Dawkins was here with an interesting photo concerning an old case of mine.”

“Justiciar, this is Orick Woodcutter, who is my civilian operative. Orick, this is Gander Dawkins and we were just discussing the Dancer.”

“She is alive?”
“Nightslayer took her picture in Oceanside the day before yesterday. She was ported in and Nightslayer doesn’t think that Oceanside was where she planned to end up.”

“Do you have a print? She wasn’t easy to track back in the day. The word going around was that some rather nasty character killed her.”
“I was involved back in the day and we in the Republic thought so too.”
“How did you end up in the Justiciars?”
“Me, being a young idiot, my grandmother wanting me to go to the Empire, being in the right place when Paeris showed up, a rather rough ride and my great aunt buying me on the block. I think that she knew that I was coming. So there I was, being part of the circus. My boss finally pushed hard enough and my wife pushed as well, so I was made a full Justiciar.”
“You’ve been doing some big game hunts since. My fellows here in the Fellowship have watched what you did and you got Zanis, those churchmen and the Dowager Empress.”
“I actually like the smaller cases, for instance tracking down the exiles and families that the Hunter missed and telling them that they can have their property in the Empire back and recently the kids on Jorge’s estate.”
“What kids on Jorge’s estate? Are we talking about Captain Tollings or the other Jorge?”
“The other Jorge, Jorge Umevan. After some idiots dropped a Scourge devise right in front of the Empress, she handed their headquarters, an estate with some rather interesting things on it, back to the family. There were some Lords who were taking advantage of loans they had made to the thieves to come up and select young girls and boys as “stock.” Now, because they are slaves, there are severe limits to what the Justiciars can do, unless we have a writ from the property owner.”
“Jorge, who if I know him, is handing them right out.”

“Yes he is. Some Houses are in rather deep trouble and a bunch of kids are home again.”
Iolena exited the train and looked around. She hadn’t decided how she was going to travel to the capital in the Empire. She no longer had a Portal key and purchasing one could have ramifications. The Portals had not been reliable in the past in any case. Across the street from the station was something rather amazing, an office run by house Glynynore. She crossed the street and went inside. The perky elf at the desk said, “May we help you, milady?”
“I have not been a lady for some time.”
“I think that we all should think of ourselves as ladies, even if we don’t have a title. Are you an exile?”
“Would that be a problem?”
“Not at all, unless your exile was a result of a major crime. In most cases, you can go home for a visit and even see if your exile would be rescinded. Many have been.”

“I am not an exile, just a traveller for too long who wants to see home again.”

“You must have an interesting tale, then. So where were you planning to go in the Empire?”
“The capital.”
“Ok, you can take the train to Fayspire and the bus from there, take the bus from Fayspire to Innshys and port to the capital from Innshys or take the train to Selnalion and use the Post roads or port from there. If you want to ride the post, Senalion is a better choice. If you are in a hurry, Innshys is the way to go. If you want to see the Empire as it is now, we can arrange a bus trip.”

“What if I wanted to drive myself?”
“You would have to make your own arrangements for your car. The Post service has service stations all over the Empire. I have a map if you want one.”

“The Post Service does not rent cars?”
“Not as yet, as the drivers that go to the Empire usually have their own cars. We can put you in touch with a reputable service, they will want to see a license, bank account and a fixed address.”

Iolena smiled. “Why don’t you go over the alternatives with me?”

After a productive twentieth and a pile of maps and information about traveling an Empire much changed from the Empire of Iolena’s youth, she returned to the street to see the police blocking the street to traffic. She went up to a policeman and asked, “What is going on?”
“The landdragons’ march.”

“The landdragons’ march?”

“Yes. You must not have kids or you would know. About two five days ago a Judge Advocate General attorney went after a Landdragon named Jimmy for being forced to eat human flesh by the snake witch of the Darkmage’s Pen. In the meantime, a local lady also became a landdragon and after an argument, started to march across town and lately to the War Department to demand Colonel Pikepusher’s demotion and removal. The landdragons and some others are marching again today.”

“That sounds like a big thing.”

“It is, as you will see. Here they come.”

There were twenty landdragons and some strange things that must be from the same place as the wolves in Oceanside marching, led by the famous Jimmy and his princess. The marching dragons were surrounded by kids with signs about the horrible Pikepusher and someone had found a pike and pushed it up the nether regions of an effigy. There was a marching band and fae circus performers, giving a carnival atmosphere to the whole thing as it marched up to the War department, escorted by smiling police and Fellowship soldiers.

Iolena laughed and laughed as the circus passed and said, “I think that they made their point. Where did all the Landdragons come from?”
“Some of them came from the Pen, with their ladies, like Jimmy and Harry. The others came from a faery kingdom in the Empire on Qinvaris lands. The folk had been declared anathema and isolated and they are concerned that what the colonel did to Jimmy could splash on them. Of course the lot of them are having fun and the movie people are getting all of it.”

“How do you know so much?”
“My kids are out there too. Jimmy and Talissa are very popular.”

As she had missed the evening train to Fayspire, Iolena lifted her travel bag and went to the cab stand to find a hotel.   

 Ayre looked across the rather empty table at his parents and said, “I see that Vestelle is out again.”

Ayre’s mother sneered, “She is with that thing at the young Qinvaris’s house. The Littlefields should not have rented their place to that farmboy.”

“Helda, the Littlefields didn’t need the place and I imagine that a relationship with the Qinvaris was good for their business,” Erlanth said. “They had been having some setbacks and I imagine that they were concerned that whoever rented the house would not wreck the house.”
“That young Qinvaris is going to Irongrinder. What kind of people send their children there.”

“I expect that Lord Qinvaris is a rather practical sort, having been a slave. The Qinvaris are not part of the community here and Elion went to Irongrinder as well.”
“He insisted, remember? I had to suffer through those four years. Unlike Ayre, who went to a more proper institution. I’m not sure why you did not send Elion to the Academy like you did Ayre.”

“Considering the way that the last few five days turned out, sending Ayre to those expensive schools was a mistake,” Erlanth growled. “At least the police didn’t raid one of Elion’s facilities.”
“The police found nothing at the plant, father. Nor did they find anything in our files.”

“That was lucky or unlucky for you, since somebody made off with them. At least I don’t have Elion’s customers asking questions about police raids and hints that the Beinans are making. I hope you know that the company has lost some work already.”

“I have nothing to do with that.”

Harry and Vestelle came into the dining room, not as landdragons for a change and Vestelle said, ‘Mother, Harry’s mother sent you something and I wanted to make sure that it is delivered.”

“What is it?”
“Balladrial is part of the Yllanan and Harry’s mother wanted you to have a new dress for the season, so she arranged it with Balladrial. It was sent and arrived today at the office, along with some other things. Brother, if you break the flower I commissioned for Juliet I will be rather put out. The rest of the things did not come from Beinans. Now Harry and I are off to a show and the rest of the evening. We will be taking the train to Fayspire in the morning, so we will not be here tonight.”   

Chapter 22.

Exchange Street.

 Thorald looked at his cousin, Krazzoc and said, “Whats going on with the special accounts that you didn’t want to have me talk to father about or send through the portal.”

“Were you aware of some of the Houses’ bad habits?”

“What bad habits?”
“They would take younglings from the estate and provide them as service to vistitors or groom them for places in the Lower City until that market was stomped. Of course they also sold certain substances and the Falling Water Wine as well.”

“All of that should have been good business.”

“It would have been, if Varitan hadn’t panicked and sent a Scourge devise to the Lower City. He was being pressed to present the ownership record of the estate and decided to Scourge some places in order to create some chaos to exit with. The Scourge devise was diverted to the Grand Master’s funeral and sent to the Deadlands to go boom by the Portal Service’s Senior Portal expert, Jorge Umevan. Sending the Scourge devise tripped the Republican Marines and Qinvaris Militia types and they hit the estate while our portal expert tracked the port back and went full Jorge, as they say, on Varitan and the other inhabitants of the bunker.”

“Mud?”
“You have heard the story then. It was glue this time. In any case, the Empress had found the Property registration in her mother in law’s files and it turns out that the youngling, or his father rather, owned the place. Our customers went up there, looking for stock and Jorge sent them all packing, repudiated the loans and had the various houses facing huge fines for any kids they did not send back. All five of them are bankrupt now. The loans and probably some more, are all worthless paper now.”

“The Umevans have probably repudiated everything.”
“No probably. They sent messages to all creditors that were trying to collect on loans to the Omayarus that unless the creditors could show that the loan was funding current House operations or had been signed by the Umevan, the loan was repudiated and the creditors would have to go to the Omayarus for compensation. Of course the Omayarus are either in the Hall of the Justiciars or in the custody of the Marshalls.”

“Sinaht?”
“In the Orcenlands by now, waiting for the Orcenmoot and trial.”

“Trial for what?”

“He apparently murdered the Orcenchief using Clear, Clan Bloodfoot got involved, called in the Justiciars and they determined how Sinaht poisoned the Orcenchief and the rest. The details will come out at his trial, I suspect.”

“So there are no assets to cover the loans and the loans are repudiated.”
“Yes. The Houses that held the loans on the estate are bankrupt, and as a creditor, I could initiate recovery from their properties, but the Houses are all being watched closely by the Justiciars and the Umevan. If there are any extenuating circumstances, the bank may not want to get caught up in the tangle with the potential of returns fairly low.”

“We may have to chase any return that we can. The Bank made some mistakes has had some reversals and this could not have come at a worse time.”

“Tom! You brought Umilythe!” Taenaran had a huge smile as Tom and Umilythe came into his office. “What brings you here?”

“Mother insisted that we spend some time at the House and the estate and I wanted to show Umilythe the street.”

“Show her around the street, you mean. Your old friends are all still here.”

“That too.”

“What has been happening in Silver Mountain?”
“The Broadaxe’s have been squirrely,” Umilythe said. “The gossip going around was that they made loans to cover grain futures that didn’t make the gains they were supposed to last year and have had some rather large defaults, suddenly.”

“Here in the Empire, I suspect.”

“Yes. They seem to be related to Jorge, somehow.”

“Let me tell you the whole story.”

 
The House Aezieros Estate.

Jorge watched through his binoculars as Flix’s cousins wreaked havoc on the chicken coop. He couldn’t see the invisible Jimmy and Tim as they went to the shed, followed by Gizmo, Nardual and a squad that was covering them. Shortly afterwards they exited the shed and Jorge called everything back. When Gizmo and Tim joined Jorge as they headed to the Aezieoros estate house and Gwynn’s magic chicken, Gizmo said, “No Primaries.”
“No Primaries?”

“Not a trace and no radiation traces.”

Jorge cursed. “This is new. On the other hand, the Primaries can be ported in. I’ll have to kick this upstairs.”

Rob and Chief Meadows were at the house and Rob said, “Well?”

“Cases and no Primaries, sir.” Gizmo said.

“That’s a surprise. The Primaries are a give away.”

“How did things go back home?” Jorge asked.

“Like I expected, unfortunately. Phraan designed the Primary and had a bunch made, tried to cover his tracks and killed himself. My mother in law is upset with me and my wife is annoyed at her mother. There are also a hundred Primaries out there, someplace. Jorge did get a bead on where they are and he sent a message. They have a five day. He should be back tomorrow.”

Sylvar, followed by a pack of foxes joined them and said, “What did you find?”

“Empty cans,” Jorge said. There were no Primaries in the shed.”

“That’s good to know. The estate here will keep an eye out for strangers.”

“Do that,” Rob said. “I suspect that the idea was to keep the Primaries at their hidden base and just send teams to launch devises when the time came.”
“That won’t be as easy as it was,” Gizmo said. He held up a hammer. “There might be some issues with getting a Primary into the devises.”

The Hall of the Justiciars.

Gander walked into Kelvahn’s office and Kelvahn said, “You are supposed to be on leave.”

“I am. I wanted to make sure that a picture was passed around. My sister in law turned up in Oceanside and Zirgoccol when I was there.”
“Do you think that she has a Dance in mind?”
“I don’t know. I just want to let my people, Traelion, Alen and Tony know that she may show up.”

“You would probably be on any dance card.”

“I know. I’m hoping that she comes here, where the family can talk with her.”

“Alissa could probably deal with it.”
“I want to talk with Iolena, for various reasons, not least of which was that she showed up in Oceanside through an open port.”
“How do you know.”
“She dropped right in front of Nightslayer, who took her picture for his weirdos in Oceanside collection.”

“Let me guess, Jorge?”

“Yes, along with Shael in full high elf dress. I’ve left the picture in my office, so it’s off to Alen, Traelion and Tony. Then I port back to Innshys and my wife.”

Kelvahn laughed as Gander left again.


Innshys.

Iolena exited the cab, having returned to the Empire that she had left long ago. If the town of Innshys was any indication, the Empire had changed greatly. The driver took her travel bag out of the trunk and took it to the hotel, she paid the fare and went inside. The girl at the desk said, “Welcome, milady. What can we do for you?”
“A room for a night would be fine.”

“Any preference?”
“Something quiet.”

“Ok that will be away from the road and the market.”
“What happened here?”
“Two years ago this was a ruin. The Ravathyra split up into the Ravathrya and the Zylvyres and the Zylvyres leased the land aroung here to the Qinvaris, who planted and the Shahana, who are cutting hardwood. During the thing with the Darkmage, Mage Wyrran and Adiun Bienan set up an ancient portal and linked it to the Sanctuary. The kids started to send things back and forth, that became the market and things have been booming ever since.”
“I imagined that some people in the Empire were bothered by it all.”
“By the time anybody in the capital realized what was happening, things had been set, the trucks and busses were running and Innshys was a major border town and what you see. The room will be five silvers. There is a new goblin place to eat that is just marvelous.”

“Five silvers seems a bit steep.”

“You did ask for a room in back.”
“Very well.”

Iolena paid for the room and asked, “I would like to shop for some clothes, how hard would that be?”
The girl laughed. “There is an exchange place right next door at the market that will get you a card.”
“A card?”
The girl pulled a rectangle out of her purse. “A Sanctuary card. This can be a dangerous thing. All the places here take them now, all three malls in the Sanctuary, of course and a big chunk of the places in Fayspire. A lot of places in Elysahone are taking them now too. You have to be careful when you see that little thing you just have to have.”

“That sounds like the voice of experience.”
“I will admit to having shopped a bit.”

“I think that I will go to my room and then do some shopping.”

“Ok, let me get somebody for your bag. Hop!”

A boy in a House Glynynore uniform appeared, took the bag and disappeared again. Iolena used the stairs to her room.

Gander emerged from the portal, headed to the desk at the market and the girl there said, “Hi Justiciar! What can we do for you today?”

Gander handed her a print of the picture and said, “If this lady shows up, let me know.”
“Who is she?”
“My sister in law. She’s been estranged from the famiy for a long time and we want to see if we can get together with her. Don’t tell her that I’m looking for her, as she might get the wrong idea.”

“Where will you be, Justiciar?”
“At the guard station. My wife is at the malls and I’m not even going to try to find her.”

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