The Five Doomed Cities, Chapter 5-6

Bill takes more people through the vault. Terrel, Aduin and Elion discuss some business

Chapter 5.

Tanyl’s Island.

Bill looked at the various people at the door and said, “I really shouldn’t be taking people through the vault, but this has become too big for me by myself. I’ll take you through what I have explored and then we can all see the one area that I haven’t explored. This is something that we need to keep a secret until we understand why some people wanted this vault and its contents.”
“Is there a treasure like there was in the accelerator tunnels?” Fire asked.

“I don’t think that Harald had a big treasury and a lot of art and things like the Qinvaris did, so I haven’t encountered one.” Bill turned and opened the door. “Let’s go.”
As they passed the skeletons, Jimmy asked, “Do you know who these guys were?”
“I have a badge, some rings and a pendant. I haven’t had a chance to check the library yet and see if there was anybody else.”

“I want to see those. I have relatives from out here.”
Bill took them past the shop, the library, the room full of stasis cases and the rest, turning lights on as he went until he reached the final closed door. “This is the last area of the vault.” He opened the door and turned on the lights. The room was filled with strange devises and screens. In the middle was a sealed metal cylinder with cables and tubes coming out. In the next room were several more of the cylinders in various states of disassembly, some with the obvious signs of failures in their molten looking parts. Jorald said pointed at some things and said, “These look like liquid gas vessels, don’t they, Derry.”

“Yes they do. They are empty now, though.”

Jimmy looked at the group and said, “Bill, this is our project. We don’t know how to make this work, but we all have college coming up, so we can find out things and use them for our classwork. We use what we have here and find out more. Most importantly, we don’t let the pirates and their friends steal this from us. Close this up, Bill and we’ll leave this for now.”

Tarranth raised a camera and said, “I shouldn’t take pictures, but we may need to show people what’s here.”
“Go ahead,” Bill said. “That Eiljeon character already stole some pictures that I had taken in here and I think that they may have gone to the people that want this place, so they may know that the vault has been opened. At least they know that a vault has been opened.”
“We can play games with that,” Fire said. “After all, my cousins opened that shop in Racketgarde and the Eiljeon know that you had been there. Since that was public, we’ll see if we can mess them up. I think that is the way we should do things in the future. We go to the Lower City, the Sanctuary and other places and buy things that might be related to this, and do other things.”
“I’ve already started,” Bill said. “I started the solid state stuff before I went inside the vault. We can work with that and the rest of things. Let’s close this up.”

Bill escorted the rest out of the vault, turning out lights as they went and closing and locking the doors behind him. He turned to Alinis with a grin and said, “Was that the prize you thought it was?”

“It’s hard to tell. It wasn’t a treasure vault like the mage queen’s and it’s smaller than the accelerator tunnels. I will take you through there if we are both up in the Empire.”
“I think that dad will want me up, now that the term is over. Actually, I think that most of us will be going up if we aren’t needed here. Let’s enjoy the beach.”

The Order, Vilhaus.

Tomas looked at the sad row of double bunks in the room that he had grown up in. Before his initiation and joining the brotherhood he had lived here, with his bunkmates, going day to day, in the rhythms of the Order. There was nothing left but the bunks themselves and Tomas suspected that they would go as well, when the Church got around them. Lythie came in and said, “This is where you grew up, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is. There were twenty of us in this room before we started our initiates. There is something to be said for simplicity and certainty.”
“Even when it was a lie?”
“The problem was that everybody here believed the lie. We believed that what we were was punishment from the gods. We believed that we were here to protect the world from us.”
Lythie started to laugh. Tomas looked at her and said, “What’s so funny?”
“The gods freed you from all that and handed you right over to my family. That wasn’t protecting the world.”

Tomas started to laugh. “You’re right.”
“Anyway, I think I found something.”
“What?”
“I was looking at the nun’s quarters and there is a wall behind the M0other Superior’s quarters that seems to be the same size as a room.”

“That’s very interesting. Let’s get the others.”
“They collected the others and looked at the Mother Superior’s quarters and the fact that the quarters were smaller than the hall outside would suggest. Since they couldn’t see the door, Domb said, “There must be an aversion on the door. We can try to figure out how to overcome the aversion, ask a mage to risk the clowns to come here and clear it or we can take advantage of the fact that we don’t care about the wall and make our own door.”
The grinning former brothers went looking for tools, came back with a pair of sledges and some pry bars and started to work on the plaster that covered the wall. The wall turned out to be plaster covering wood lathes over boards, which they pried out, uncovering the posts inside and still more boards. They used the sledges to pound them, and with a crash of shelves falling over, they were inside the room. When they brought in a lamp, the room was surrounded by shelves with ledgers on them. Tomas and the others started to go through the various account books until they found a set with numbers, with dates and locations attached as well as pairs of names and M, or F. Domb said, “I think we found what we were looking for.”

“Let’s get everything out and get a wagon,” Alise said. “We can turn these over to the ladies.”

Returning to the inn in Vilhaus, the former brothers celebrated a victory. Lythie took everybody’s numbers and started to look through the books for them, writing things down on sheets of paper. She handed sheets of paper around and said, “You all can find out what happened to your parents now.”

Zirgoccol

George was passing Ayre’s office when Juliet called out, “Mr. Lightarmor, this RFQ has been sitting here and I hope that you can take it to the plant.”
“Where did it come from?”

“Ayre had it. He just put it on my desk and said to hand it to Elion.”
“Who is the customer?”
“I don’t know. There is no card attached and there only seems to be a portal code written by Ayre.”
“I will take this and have our people go over it. I will hand a quote back when I can. We are still tied up at the plant. Is Ayre here?”
“He left a couple of days ago and didn’t say where he was going.”

“That’s fine. Let Elion know when he gets back.” George started to go through the material and said, “I’m going to have to talk to Elion about this anyway. This looks like ancient Imperial things. We should probably be able to do it, though.”

George grinned when he saw Elion. He walked up and said, “Did you get your library back, Mr. Elijeon?”
“Yes I did. In fact the Beinans and I are establishing a new library that people can visit, using copies from the House library and my library. Have you made any great discoveries lately?”
“We found some good stuff at the Aesatra’s estate sale. A lot of it was mage books, but there were some other things. Zubrol has some new stock from there.”

“If you run into any books about solid state electronics, I would be very interested.”
“What’s that?”
“Electronics without tubes. I happened to see some books that a boy just a bit older than you are found in the Lower City and I was looking for copies for the library.”

“I’ll keep an eye out.”

George continued his browsing and had an idea. Crazy Brota had all sorts of mysterious books that nobody understood. He sold them as ancient mysteries that were occult books. Most of the stuff was crazy stuff, but sometimes you just had to look at things differently. He browsed his way toward Brota’s stall and Brota said, “Classwork time again, youngling.”

“What makes you think that it is classwork time again?”
“George, the only time you or your brother come by my stall is when you need something for a classwork.”
“Not always. Sometimes I’m just looking for something fun.”

“That’s true. What are you looking for? Your friends from the Mage Academy made sure that they found any mage related books.”

“Saevel brought them down. I just pointed them at this place. I think that everybody had a good time.”
“The money was good too.”

George started to go through the stall and there in amongst some things on healing crystals that were hokum was a group of four books all about solid state electronics. He said to Brota, “I will be right back.”
He walked around the warrens until he found Elion and said, “Mr, Eiljeon, Do you know Brota’s stall?”
Elion blinked and said, “I usually pass him by.”
“I know, but sometimes he has good stuff that other people overlook. You asked about solid state electronics and he had four books on that. They looked like the same copiest in the Empire did them.”
“Did you buy them?”
“I don’t really have a lot of room right now, so I didn’t buy them.”

“Go and do so for me. I don’t want to be seen buying certain books with the project that the plant is doing right now. Does your school have a radio club?”
George grinned. “Yes. They don’t make radios here in Zirgoccol, so getting parts is tricky. Most of the radios are made in Fayspire.”

“We will have to do something about getting some things for you and your friends to play with. Go and buy the books. Here are fifty silvers. You can keep the change.”

George returned to the stall and purchased the books. When he found Elion again, he said, “Here they are.”
“I will have a set of the duplicates made for you and your club.”

“Why are you doing this?”
“I had my nose rubbed in how the Beinans do things recently and there was a young man not so much older than you are who was doing amazing things with those books he found. I’m going to have to work harder encouraging my boys, but if I can slip little things like this past my brother, I can keep the company from falling behind. Anyway, I will enjoy learning what you and your friends do.”

George laughed. “We will try.”

When Elion returned to the office, Juliet said, “Mr. Eiljeon, Mr. Lightarmor wants to meet with you before he heads back to Fayspire. He’s in your office.”

Elion went to his office where George had some drawings on the table. He turned around, looked at the package under Elion’s arm and said, “Filling the library again? I was hoping to use the space for something useful like the dead project files.”

Elion opened the package and showed the books to George. “A young friend was lucky in the bookstalls and went to somebody that I wouldn’t think of, the crazy hokum bookseller. We have some books on solid state electronics.”
“Without anybody knowing that you have the books, slick.”
“I will have copies made, for the library, the plant and the young man. I think that I will also sponsor a radio club. After all, if my brother could have his motorcycle team, I can sponsor a radio club or two in some schools.”

“That would actually make more sense for the business. Your brother will squeal anyway.”

“Frankly, I don’t care about my brother’s squeals anymore. What is this you have?”
“I’m not sure. If I had to guess, this is the guy on the other end of your brother’s portal doing what he should have done in the first place and sending us what he really wanted with a request for a quote.”
“Can we do it?”
“It will be stretch, but we can do it.”
“Make up the quote, then. I will discuss this with some others.”
“Should you?”
“Making and shipping this to Ayre’s friends could annoy some people unless they are in on the gag. So, yes we should.”

“I’m going to buy earplugs.”
“Why?”
“Because when your brother finds out what you did to him, we will be hearing the squeals in Fayspire.”

Lain Othrond 

Dúhael was asking his sister, “Dúnathron, has there been any change on the status of the island in the south?”
“Nothing that has appeared in the loom.”
“Good.We will be having guests soon to discuss the actions we should take in the near future. So, if you could compile a report on the current conditions, it would help us a lot.”
“I will make a summary. Having the boy would be a big help. Where is he? I haven’t seen him for some time.”
“Tad? Tad is gone, taken home, I suspect.”
 Nat came in and said to Symania, “Has Strange Science arrived?”
“Yes it has, Nat. Here it is.”
Ignoring Dúhael and Dúnathron as they squabbled, Nat flipped through the magazine. Looking at one page, he said, “It looks as if somebody crashed into one of our drones.”

“What do you mean,” Dúhael asked.

“The editor managed to obtain pictures of the wreck in a hanger, probably in Desert Howl. There must be a lot going on there.”
“What do you mean?”
“One moon, there were Scourge shots, the next a rocket putting a satellite into orbit, then the science fair and now the drone crash. The editor hasn’t seen the vault. Or at least he hasn’t used it as a story as yet.”

“What?!”

“That boy that had the furnace must have found a shop and some other things in a vault near Desert Howl. Didn’t you look at the pictures you handed me with the rest of the material?”
“I didn’t pay any attention to it.”
“The pictures were fairly clear. The boy had opened a vault and taken some pictures.”

“Do you know where?”
“The pictures were all taken inside of the vault. Someplace near Desert Howl, I presume.”

“Let’s go to your office and you can show me the pictures.”
They went to Nat’s office, Nat pulled the pictures off a shelf and handed them to Dúhael. “See, all these pictures were taken inside an underground space. There is a library, the shop, and some stasis cases, as well as some protective devises and what was probably a trap using a Projector.”

Dúhael cursed, grabbed the pictures and returned to Dúnathron. Handing her the pictures, he said, “That answers that question.”

“What do you mean, brother?”
“These were probably taken in the vault.”

“I think that unlikely. If the vault on the island were opened, there would have been news.”

“Not necessarily. Suppose the boy wanted to keep it quiet.”

“Could we acquire the boy?”
“What resources do we have in the Republic?”
“That’s tricky. There is a mage, but I have never initiated contact as he was one of Dúrgúl’s resources. Most of my resources in the Republic are informational and attempting operations is very risky as it would reveal things to Lady Steelmaker, something that I have been striving to avoid for a long time. I can find out more about the boy.”

“Do so.”

“What about the report?”
“Do that first. The rest of the Project must know where we stand and what happened here.”

“I think that we have a way forward. Symania, we must get started.”

 Betrek ducked behind his current customer as Ayre Eiljeon passed. This hardly seemed to be the kind of place that the Eiljeon scion would come, and yet, there he was. Betrek just hoped that Ayre had not spotted him and that he wasn’t talking to the “Lord.” The Lord almost certainly knew that he was in trouble. The fact that the repairs on the wall were with local resources and desultory at best sort of said that, as did the fact that the charges had dropped significantly and were for essentials for the most part  Betrek hoped that Ayre didn’t tell the Lord that Betrek could buy the city with his play money. While the Lord probably would not risk the wrath of the clan by killing Betrek, since he already had powerful enemies, he would almost certainly make things unpleasant. 

Pearl shouldn’t have been surprised when she and Feredir had some visitors as they foraged. The strange seafolk joined them and one said, “I’m Chief Marlin Rava and the captain would like to invite you for a dinner.”
“To chat about the town and my relatives, I suspect. I am Pearl and this is Feredir. I assume that you tried to infiltrate and were frustrated somewhat.”

“We couldn’t just walk in as wandering seafolk and the sharks are complicating things.”

“You could get rid of them.”
“That would be too obvious as their boss would get case of the dead.”
Pearl smiled. “I think that we will join you for dinner then. I think we have a lot of things to share.”

The Justiciar’s Cell Block.

Ulairekamba woke and she was there again. “Sarya, what is it now?”

“I finally got the fae doctor and the compulsion expert. So they can look you over.”

A seemingly mortal woman and an elf joined Sarya and the jailer, who unlocked the cell. Ulairekamba got off the bed and became a bit self conscious about the fact that he wasn’t wearing anything, something that he hadn’t been as long as he could remember. The mortal woman grinned and said, “I am Miriam. I am a doctor and fae healer. So there isn’t anything that you have that would shock me. This is Syllia, a mage and expert on compulsions.”
“You want to place compulsions on me?”
“We want to untangle the ones you have,” Syllia said. “They were loosening in any case, thanks to Sarya’s influence.”

They went to the interview room and Miriam said, “If we have to, we can move to the infirmary or the grove. I want to look at your elbow.”
“Why?”
“I want to look so that we can find your parents. When you were taken from them as a baby, you were tattooed with a number. The registration books with those numbers have been found and some folk have been using them to find the parents of the failed.”

Syllia looked at Ulairekamba and said, “You are free of the compulsions. Of course that means that Sarya can take you places.”
“I can leave here?”
“You and your friends are here mostly for your own protection as the people that sent you have some bad habits. Now that somebody will not be able to order you all to kill yourselves, you can enter into the world and make more of your own choices.”

“That is if Sarya will let me.”

Syllia grinned. “I think that she will.”

Chapter 6.

Fayspire.

Terrel was dealing with some issues when Adiun and Elion caught up with him. Adiun said, “How about we go to lunch, Terrel.”
“What’s going on?”
“We had an unusual request for a quote come through Ayre,” Elion said.

“I also want to discuss having Bill come up, now that the term is over,” Adiun said.

“It would be logical for him and some others to come up with this going on.”

“I also found something that I think that he will like,” Elion said. “I’m having duplicates made, and I want Bill to have a set of them.”

“More electronics books?”
“Yes. A young friend found them in the bookwarrens in Zirgoccol.”
“Then we should go to lunch, so that you can tell me about them and I can spend more money. I haven’t gone to Zirgoccol to shop as yet.”

“The air show is coming up and we should go,” Adiun said.

Terrel grinned. “Yes we should. Your cousin is going to get a surprise.”
“From Republic Air?”
“Yes. I’m not going to say any more, but it will be dramatic.”

“That sounds like fun. My dragon relatives need to be pushed back on their tails from time to time.”

As they sat down to lunch, Terrell said, “I do have a bit of good news. Two Scourge suppressors were found and one was operational. The other is being repaired using parts from us that Feno asked me for and should be operational in a couple of days.”

“So Desert Howl is safe?” Adiun asked. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I haven’t seen you for the last few days and the fact that the things were discovered wasn’t something Feno wanted spread around.”
“Your son opened a vault, didn’t he?”
“Yes. Just what was in there, other than some spare devises is something I don’t know as yet.”

“Maybe he should stay,” Elion said.

“Frankly I would prefer to have Bill and the vault separated until I and the rest of the Beinan people are back in any case. Bill was just a bit too public recently.”

“I think that I will have my grandsons come up as well,” Adiun said. “We can send them to the House and some other things while they are here.”

“Are you sure?” Terrel asked. “They may pick up a loose faery princess.”

“That would be fine. A loose Eiljeon might cause problems.”
 “We could probably hear my brother screaming from Zirgoccol, here.” Elion said. “Speaking of which, my shop received from my brother’s customer a request for a quote.”
“They don’t want to steal my son’s toys?” Terrel asked with a grin.
“The RFQ was done by somebody who had a clue and was straight forward. The question I have is whether I should quote the job or not.”
“I don’t have a problem with that, as long as it’s legitimate business,” Adiun said.

Terrel grinned. “I probably shouldn’t say this, but my brother works in Mrs. Steelmaker’s office and he would be annoyed if we let an opportunity like this slip by.”

Elion grinned. “Ok, I will quote the job.”

Seagate.

Bill was enjoying the beach and the clam shack with Moonshine when his brother found him. “Bill, dad sent a wire. He wants you in Ishendell.”

“What for?”
“Work. Old man Beinan is calling in you, Jimmy and some family in Chatsrey. You all have a flight the day after tomorrow.”

“So we take the train tonight or tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow.  Mom will want you and your friends tonight on the beach for a big bake. They were planning to leave tomorrow too, weren’t they?”
“Yes they were.”

“Then you can all go together.”

“That way you can meet my family, Bill,” Moonshine said. “This will work out for us.”

“I’m a little nervous about that.”

“I wouldn’t worry. You will like my family. Let’s go find the others and tell them.”

“After we finish lunch.”

They found the others at the seafolk suit rental stand and Bill said, “I’m going up with you tomorrow.”
“Why?” Alinis asked.

“They want me at the plant in Ishendell. So Jimmy and I are being flown up to Ishendell.”

Alinis grinned. “We can take advantage of that. Spoiled me, giving my friends presents and not understanding the issues involved. Let’s go for a Swim.”

As they Swam out more or less toward the bower, Bill’s mother found them and said, “I just heard, Bill. I was going to have a bake for your friends anyway, so we can do that this evening. Since you all are in the water, I want to introduce you to the sage of the bower. Follow me and we will see Aqualitia.”

Millia led them through Swimming seafolk in a circuitous route to a space where a distinguished seafolk lady was holding court amongst a gaggle of eagerly listening children and young mermaids. She ended the story she was telling and said, “Millia, you have brought visitors. Are they from a bower?”
“No, they are just here temporarily.”

“Landers then,” the lady said scoffingly.

“This is my son Bill, his bonded, Moonshine and their friends. They wish to know about the island offshore.”

“What will they exchange for my tales?”

Alinis grinned. “We have tales of our own. Tales from the land. Tales even from the island there.”
“Give me one to start.”

“Very well, have you been told of the landdragon on the island?”
“He was there for a time. He is gone now.”
“That was Great Captain Tanyl Zylvyre and he was sent by his father in a great betrayal.”

Alinis spun the tale of Rolin’s sending the fleet out to its doom, the destruction of Tanyl’s ship, his stay on the island, the return to the Republic, his wife coming and retrieving him after hearing of him starring in a movie and  Tinesi putting her landdragon husband on a leash. Aqualitia laughed and pointed at Dessielle, “You are off to a good start. So what tale do you have to tell?”

“I have a tale of Great Captain Zyvlyre.”
“The same Great Captain that I just heard the tale about?”

“Oh, no, Great Captain Paeris Zylvyre.”

“He has cast a long shadow here, so tell me his tale.”

Dessielle told the story of how the Fellowship army tried to frame the Great Captain and how the Great captain and his former raidcaptain conspired to make off with the army’s files.

“That was a story that I hadn’t heard.” She pointed at Sylvar and said, “What tale do you have?”
“My sister, the Great Captain, a faery prince and her magic chicken.”

Sylvar told the tale of how his sister had been rescued by the Great Captain, was chased by the faery fox Flix and how she caught the fox using her magic chicken recipe.

Aqualitia pointed at the various younglings one by one and they all had interesting stories. Finally after Alinis and the story of Byddri and the Great Captain, she pointed at Bill and said, “Your turn. Do you have another story about the Great Captain?”
“No, I don’t, since I haven’t been near him. On the other hand, I do have a Harald story.” Bill proceeded to tell the story of Harald’s last hundredths.

Aqualitia looked at him and said, “That sounds more like a fable than a story, youngling.”

“I can prove that it is true, but you would have to come to the surface and see something.”

Aqualitia looked a Millia and said, “Have you been working on the boy, Millia?”
“A bit. I have seen his proof and you would have to go to the surface to see it.”

“It is almost Yellowleaf and my contest with that upstart. So I will see the proof then. Younglings, you have paid your fees, so ask for your return. I have some stories for my contest with Elf Carran.”

 Alinis started to giggle and was followed by the others. Aqualitia looked at them and said, “What is so funny, younglings?”
“Elf Carran already knows all those stories,” Alinis said. “That is Uncle Taeren knows all those stories.”

“Elf Carran is an exile with only a sister in the Empire. How could he be your uncle?”
“His sister is my mother. As for exile, Uncle Taeren came up to the Empire for both of the Conclaves recently and was there during them. He also bought a caravan and traveled the Mortal Kingdoms.”

“I see that will have to provide very good stories and exchange for the tales about Elf Carran. What do you wish to know about, younglings?”
“The vault on the island,” Bill said.

“Very well, I will tell you some of what I know about the island and the vault on it.”

Aqualitia told the story of the vault, Harald and the long assault by the Ravathyra until the suits the younglings were wearing forced their return after two twentieths underwater. They Swam to the surface and Aqualitia said to Millia, “Has your son opened the vault?”
“Yes.”

“Then he met Harald’s ghost.”
“The seeming is at the house at present if you want to visit.”

“If this is a campaign to draw me to the surface, it is working very well.”

“Actually it wasn’t. I hadn’t heard those stories either.”

“Are the young lady and her siblings really Elf Carran’s nieces and nephews?”
“His sister is up top right now if you want to meet her. She will be at the bake this evening.”

“The lonely princess is here? She is obviously not lonely anymore.”

“Come to the bake and see.”

“I think I must, if only to get her brother’s stories.”

When Bill and the others returned to the Skychaser beach house, Rosa said, “Is she coming up?”
Alinis grinned. “Probably. We used a lot of the Paeris stories and Bill used the Harald story. We kept the fact that Uncle Taeren was our uncle out of the stories until the end.”

Lizzie giggled and said, “Taeren came down here when he started to tell his stories and drew Litia’s first land apprentice away with him. That annoyed Litia quite a bit and they have a storytelling contest during Yellowleaf every year. Taeren missed last year’s because he was up at the Conclave with you, Rosa. Litia was rather put out. She will want to meet you, I am certain of that.”

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