The Princess and the Slave, Chapter 11-12

Bill has some Customs issues. Some tampering is discovered.

Chapter 11.

Desert Howl.

As Bill and the family watched from in and beside the water, Moonshine danced her glowing dance in the moonlight. As she finished, she bestowed a kiss on Bill and said, “Now you have the Jump anchors for the faery kingdom, the estate and the House. Do come up when you can.” She looked at the others and smiled. “You were all wonderful, but I must go or I will be in real trouble.”

The trueformed figure disappeared as she laughed.

The awed Rod turned to his brother and said, “I may have to make a trip to the Empire.”

“Moonshine has seafolk cousins.”

“Does she really?”

Millia turned to Bill and said, “Bill, we had a message from the revenue service. You have a package waiting in Chatrsrey that you need to send duty on. What is it?”
“I didn’t think that books and things would have that much duty on them.” Bill thought about it and said, “The wine! Shael sent more.”
“What do you mean, wine?”
“I mentioned that dad likes wine and so does grandfather. Shael gave me a bottle for grandfather, but I didn’t want to haul a bottle on the train, along with all my other stuff. Shael must have put more in with my other things. I had to pay duty on the bottle at the airport, but I had the money, so it wasn’t that big a deal. Most of the cousins had bottles for their parents too. We all had stuff coming on the boat, so Shael probably put some wine in.”

“Wine from the Empire?” Terrel asked. “It will probably be interesting, but customs should just send it on with a bill.”

“This is from the Umevan estate. There’s no waterfall there, but they call the wine Fallingwater.”
“Fallingwater red, or white?”

“I don’t know what Shael put in the package. Why?”

“Fallingwater white, while good, is not a spectacular wine. Fallingwater Red, on the other hand, is considered a top wine, if you can find a bottle. Fallingwater Red has actually been available, if you want to spend a gold or so a bottle and some special bottles went to auction recently in the Fellowship and the bottles sold very well for the five year sets. Let me send a wire to your grandfather. Perhaps he can get this resolved. If not, you may have to take the train to Chatsrey.”
“I could Jump.”
“Your mother and I agreed that you will be in further trouble if you Jump without permission and you may have issues. If you need to go to Chatsrey, you can take the train next shiday.”

“So I am grounded?”
“You did go up to the Empire without telling anybody, so yes, you are. We can’t really restrain you, since you still need to go to school and work. But no more things outside work for a moon or so. Being here in the town will keep you from trying to Jump very much anyway and your sister and her friends will be after you if you try to go to Seagate to recharge.”

“Yes we will,” Searlia said. “My friends are rather annoyed that you didn’t want to get dragged under. On the other hand we have to come up with fun things to do to a certain cat and guess who gets to be our test subject. So I would watch any transformations.”
“I can’t transform.”
“We don’t know for certain, and Moonshine probably used her faery skills to teach you certain things. So we are going to be watching you, fingerling.”

“On land?”

“You might be surprised. We weren’t always under the water and we have friends.”
Billy looked at his mother and said, “Did you put her up to this?”
“I didn’t have to. On the other hand, your father is busy and I can hardly be above all the time, so for the next two moons your sister’s spies will be our eyes.”

Billy groaned.

Chapter 12.

The Wildlands, Northern Empire.

Captain Laeroth Omayarus and his troop exited the portal and headed to the more or less hidden barns, each containing five Scourge devise cans. He hoped that these cans, unlike the previously inspected devises, would not be so much junk. While the cans could be fabricated, the advantage of Scourge devises being able to be launched from anonymous places would be lost and putting all the Scourge devises in one place risked that place being struck. His team and the tech team rode up to the first barn and opened the door. The technicians went inside as the captain’s team provided cover and guarded the horses. Purtham Perbanise, the head of the technician team led his team back out, shook his head and they went to the other barn. Laeroth went in with the technicians and watched them go over all five devices. Purtham looked at him and said, “Somebody was very good with a bloody hammer. He knew just where to hit, so trying to put a primary in any of these would be impossible. We can keep checking, but I suspect that they got to all the devises.”

“Let’s keep moving. There were supposed to be bandits guarding these places, but they seem to be gone as well.”
“Somebody else may be watching.”
“I know.”

The Plant. (Lain Othrond)

Blackfire looked at Laeroth and bellowed, “All of them?!”

Laeroth stepped back a bit and said, “All that we checked, milord. Somebody went through with a hammer and made sure that unless we bring the devises here and repair them, the devises will not be operational. Whoever used the hammer knew exactly what they were doing.”
“Sorry Laeroth, I was just a bit surprised. So whoever did it had experience in Scourge devises and our devises as well.”
“Good enough that he could, probably in the dark, strike just the right places so that the Primary could not be made to operate in the devise and would not mount correctly.”

“Could the devises be repaired?”
“You would have to ask Purtham for the details, but the bastard did just enough damage in the right places that attempting to conduct repairs on site would take such an effort that it would be noticed and stopped. In any case, we can assume that the devises were left as they were so that we would actually try something like that.”

“Tell Purtham, “Good work.” This is not good news. We should have checked the devises earlier. What about the devises secreted in the Empire”

“Halderd could not get a connection to the new Imperial portals. Commands from the ancient portals are shut out. So, unless my people and I traveled to the Empire and then to each of the locations, there was no way for us to look into the devises. I would have to guess that if we did, we would discover the same thing had happened to them.”

“We have had no reports about people looking into the devises.”

“Whoever was responsible took steps to hide the fact that the devises had been tampered with.”

“So they anticipated that we would bring the Primaries to the devises. Were you watched?”
“That is hard to say. Certainly we were not hindered or assaulted. There may have been some sort of guard, but they were careful not to be seen. I used conventional troops and we were not wearing any uniforms or identification in any case.”

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