The Princess and The Slave, Chapter 3-4

Jorge makes a discovery. Spitty and Iolena visit Spitty’s mother

Chapter 3.

Ishendell.

 Jorge and his team went in the door of the ancient Portal Service and there were bodies that had not been Scourged at the entrance. The bodies were wearing heavy suits of some sort, and were cut by some sort of edged weapon. Tim looked at them and said, “I think that we found the protective suits we couldn’t find in the headquarters. The wounds don’t look fatal, but if they were opened to the Scourge, they probably died and there wasn’t anybody to get them. There are Luyarus badges on these guys and some Ravahana too.”

“They were trying to get to something here and the Ravhana wanted them shut down,” Jorge said. “This was why they Scourged Ishendell. They wanted to pull control of the portals so that the Darkmage’s people could control the portals.”

They went deeper into the building, passing portals in various states of fabrication or repair and a trail of bodies until they reached what was probably the midday meal room, filled with Scourged bodies still sitting at the tables where the bodies had not fallen apart and been scattered over the floor. Tad and the princess looked rather sick as they looked inside the room and Immianthe asked, “Why did they do this?”
“I can’t be certain, but I think that they wanted to take control of the portals for a time. The Luyarus were here to get the portals operational again and the Ravahana were stopping them. This happened in the first few days of the Scourge. Then the Luyarus ran out of suits and things moved on. This explains why the Luyarus did not launch their Scourge devises.”

Moving further back into the complex, they passed offices, some still with workers inside and then another closed and locked door with more of the dead from combat strewn around wearing the protective suits. Tim tried all of the keys and one worked, opening the door, exposing a room where the staff was still on duty in front of a large panel, Their dead bodies still in the seats or lying where they had been standing. Jorge looked at the panel and said, “The portal control board. This is what they wanted, both sides. Neither side got to it, because they couldn’t open the door. Tim, go and see if we can get somebody to help us with the bodies. We should clear them out and give them to the fire properly.”

“I sure will, Jorge!”

Militia, soldiers from the special section and the High guard all came to help, with boards to move the bodies as intact as possible. Where possible, names were discovered and put on a list. Republican army soldiers from Milport arrived to help in the effort and by the end of the day, a large pyre was set up, the bodies placed on it and the pyre lit. Various notables and tourists watched as the bodies were turned to ash in the darkening sky.

As Ratcatcher and her tow were being taken over by tugs, Eliad could see the glow of what was probably a large funeral pyre and wondered what was going on. With Collector moored to her starboard side, Ratcatcher was moored at the pier and after a last check of his ship, Eliad went to look for his father and nephew. Guessing that they would be at the pyre, he followed the glow and found his father with Jorge watching the pyre burn. Harald turned and said, “How did it go?”
“I have a large wedding present for Jorge. One sneaky ship with drained mana batteries and most of the electronics stripped, but essentially intact. What happened here?”
“The boys found the ancient Imperial Portal Service” Jorge said. “These were the staff and some Luyarus guard in protective suits that died trying to keep things operating after the Scourge and some Ravahana trying to stop them. Jorge wanted the bodies cleared out before looking into the portal board and the rest of it. Is Ratcatcher ready for my honeymoon?”

Eliad grinned. “All shipshape and ready to go. We will have to move Collector to a berth and recharge her batteries.”
“We can do that here. That isn’t something that’s urgent as I imagine that Admiral Harper will want somebody to go over the ship rather thoroughly.”

“I expect that I will have to be annoying to keep some sticky fingers from hauling her to Cleadsgate,” Harald said. “She’s our prize and I think that I want to keep her intact for the time being. Can she support boats and seafolk?”

“That’s the interesting thing about the ship” Eliad said. “Whoever built her had a variety of missions in mind and could switch out modules for missions. Right now she has three mana batteries and three bays for those pilotless airplanes they were using. I think that we could have some transport and boat modules built at our yard.”

“Did you figure out where the ship was trying to end up?”
“The captain was cagy toward the end or knew that he was being watched. Dragonleader Beinan’s games with the pilotless planes didn’t help. Jorge, do you know the Beinans well enough to get the ship’s equipment back?”

Jorge grinned. “Uncle Eliad, what makes you think that they have it?”
“Just a hunch. I think that there were two ladies playing games.”

“I can ask around.”

Chapter 4.

Bighagh

Shura looked at his sons and said, “Since the conservative’s candidate for Champion has the negative of being dead, something that makes him unfit for the role, we must consider the alternatives.”
“You have been taking your time about this, father,” Dakgu said.

“I wanted to have Elf Shinaht’s trial behind us. Now that that has been dealt with, we can proceed. Mahk has been quietly been discussing the obtaining of General Ironaxe as a temporary Champion and the Republic is willing to loan him to us. So we can send the invitation. Frankly, I think he will be an excellent candidate.”

The conservatives will point to his dwarf family,” Dakgu said.

“That is not necessarily a liablility as far as I’m concerned. If you look at his family, they are all very competent in a variety of fields and we could do far worse than to have them as part of the Orcenlands.  In any case, if the conservatives are looking for full blooded orcs with command experience, the choices are rather thin on the ground. Frankly, we need somebody like General Ironaxe to make the clans viable in a modern military environment.”

Mahk looked up from his note taking and said, “You have powerful arguments, father.”

“Why did you let Elf Sinaht’s patrons get off so easily, father?” Dakgu asked. “We have them cold.”
“I want the hammer hanging over them until I can use it most effectively. I also do not want to be seen as increasing clan strife right now.”

“We send the invitation to General Ironaxe, then.”
“Yes.”

Rockmountain Aerie

Flamilla Swiftflyer grinned as her son and his bonded returned. Since their arrival, a five day ago, Iolena had insisted that she and Spitty fly together at least once a day. The rather soft Spitty was hardening up already. Frankly getting him away from her uncle, the old manipulator, was a good thing. Flamilla was fairly certain that Spitty’s reputation as a small time crook was mostly Qambois’s idea, even if Spitty had started his path of crime himself. As for Iolena, whatever she had been, she was obviously what Spitty needed now. Iolena flared to a landing and cleared the landing stage for Spitty. As Spitty landed, Iolena turned and said, “You have been so welcoming, Flamilla.”

“Yes I was. You got Spitty out of the rut that he was stuck in and away from his uncle, somewhat.”

“Everybody says that the Dragomaster is one of the great.”
“He is that. He is also sneaky and willing to use whatever the feels is necessary to achieve his ends. I’m hoping that Spitty can be drawn away from him.”
“I don’t think that can happen. I have seen the Dragonmaster’s opposition and they are totally amoral and ruthless, using people as tools and then discarding them when it is expedient. I was one of those tools, used to destroy people for sometimes just being in the way. People like Justiciar Dawkins and Lord Qinvaris. They sent me against the Justiciar when the Justiciar is my brother in law and if I had managed to succeed in my Dance, my family would have torn itself apart. The Dragonmaster is what he is for a reason. In any case, both of us are doing what we can to prevent a terrible evil.”

“My uncle has said that for a very long time.”

Spitty joined them and said, “Iolena, mother is rather skeptical of my uncle. Some of that is reasonable. Some of it is living here in the Aerie. Mother, I wish that you would come off the mountain and see the things that I have seen. The world is not the place that you think that it is.”

“Iolena, could arrangements be made to meet with your mother?”
“Yes they can. We can all meet in Innshys. It’s a wonderful place just across the border in the Empire.”

“Can I fly there?”
“Fayspire has an airport, so that shouldn’t be an issue.”
“That sounds wonderful. We have the family coming for dinner, so be prepared.”

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