The War For The Mortal Kingdoms, Chapter 7-8

Jorge does some recruiting. Keryth and Roger discuss money.

Chapter 7.

House Qinvaris

Richard looked at Roger and Keryth over his breakfast and said, “Shouldn’t you both be getting some sack time?”
“We wanted to discuss what was happening,” Roger said.

“You have been handling the Blight very well.”

“That’s because they aren’t very serious about it,” Keryth said. He held up a box and pulled a vial of the Blight out. “Most of the vials didn’t even break and those that did, didn’t really spread the Blight at all. We are going to have to let it spore at least once to even discover where an incursion even is. They also only put out a thousand vials or so and they were too concentrated. All in all, the effort was pathetic.”

“If they weren’t spreading the Blight, what is their plan?”
‘Roger, you came up with this, so you tell him.”
“I think that they are committing the biggest murder robbery ever and expecting you to plow the evidence under with fire to stop the incursions.”

“That is an interesting theory. What led you to that?”
“A bunch of things, especially the raid on the Beinan plant in Fayspire. It is not as if I hadn’t had experience in capers, one way or another and when we saw the way the Blight was handled, it was fairly obvious that it hadn’t been planned very well at all. Of course they made a mistake.”
“That being?”
“The money has all been Scourged. Radiation wise, it is hot and likely to stay that way for some time. That means that they tagged all the money.”

Richard grinned “I take it that you want to talk to me and Taenaran and set something up.”
“Actually we want you to talk to Lords Palen and Zlymenor and ask them to bring something to the Emperor and the Council,” Keyrth said.

“What?”

“Lords  Palen and Zlymenor pulled money from their estates and it made some people sick” Roger said. “They want all money scanned and the radiated money that they accidently spread around pulled and stored in a vault until it is safe.”

Richard’s grin got bigger. “I think that I see what you are doing. Once the word gets out, all the banks are going to start scanning the money and probably not accepting the radiated coin. Is Folmon giving you a commission?”

“We haven’t told the Beinans about this yet,” Keryth said. “Should we be asking for a commission?”

“You both have ladies and households that will need to be supported. I would. Let’s go see Taenaran and then Lords Palen and Zlymenor.”

Lain Othrond

Nat looked at the empty shop rather morosely and sighed. He had told his people to just go outside and enjoy themselves and the town. There were no tasks in any case and Nat wasn’t sure how to look for work. He turned to return to his empty office when Tad came into the shop with a distinguished elf and young half elf. “I found you, Nat!”

“You have returned, young Tad. Where did you go?”
“The lord here put me to sleep, arranged to put me in a crazy balloon thing and sent me up to an airplane. I was taken to a ship and then home because I had princess problems.”

“So, why are you here then.”
“I was looking for you for the Lord here.”
“What for?”
“I want to offer you a job,” Jorge said.

“Doing what?”
“The things you have been doing and some bigger things.”

“Why me?”
“Because you have experience with things on the estate and I am going to need that.”
“What if I want to do other things? Go to Desert Howl, for instance.”

The distinguished elf said, “I am Naertho Umevan of Umevan Electric and you would actually be working for me. Jorge needs you immediately to deal with some things on the estate, but the company has plants and work all over the world including Desert Howl, if that is what you want.”

“What about my people?”
“The ones that stayed with you? Jorge probably needs them and will for some time. He needs to dismantle something you built, expand his power dam and install more generators. He has operators, but not people experienced in fabrication.”

“What if Beinan’s also offers me a job?”
“Has Adiun or Folmon been here yet?” Jorge asked. “If they do offer you a job, grandfather will top the offer. Beinan’s probably wants you. I need you. So does the House and the company. We were stuck with things that were fabricated on the estate that we do not understand and that puts the estate at risk. The estate has already been taken from the family once, before the things there now were fabricated.”

“You do not want to make Scourge devises?”
“I have sent more of the things to go boom than anybody else, ever. Fortunately none of them went boom in a city like the five here. That doesn’t mean that I want any of them to exist.”

“I could be a liability.”
“We want you to be an asset,” Naertho said. “I’m going to keep you and your crew so busy that you won’t be able to get near the Scourge again. There is so much that we need and you can help with that.”

“What about a shop?”
“Tad says that this one is rather tired,” Jorge said. “We can do better. The estate is next door to the Sanctuary and they can probably make what you need. The company can probably get anything else, even if we have to go to Beinan’s to get it.”

Nat held up the copy of Strange Science with the contest. “What if I want to work on this. The Beinans have it in Desert Howl.”

Naertho looked at it and said, “What is this?”
“I think it is some sort of mana generator.”
“Then that is right up our alley and we will want to be involved in any case. This is why you want to go to Desert Howl, isn’t it?”
“Yes.”

“I will talk to Aydiun about this.”
“Then I provisionally accept your offer. One more thing. I sent my library and notes to the Eiljeon when I was concerned about the way things were going here. Could you see about getting it back?”

“I will see what I can do,” Naertho said. “Was it sent to Ayre or Elion?”
“I’m not sure. Things were rather confused.”

Adiun came into the office, looked at Jorge and Naertho and said, “Mr. Axegrinder, I am Adiun Beinan and I am here to offer you a job.”

Nat grinned. “You are just a bit late, but I am willing to hear your proposal.”

“Jorge and the old elf probably made a pretty good offer, didn’t they?”

“I’m not going to say.”

Jorge put a box on Nat’s desk and said, “You can drink this while you consider my offer, Nat.”
“That’s not fair, Jorge!” Adiun snarled. “You shouldn’t be pulling that out right in front of me. Mr. Axegrinder, that is very good wine. Do not be seduced by it.”

“It is wine from the estate, then,” Nat said. “I haven’t had any for a very long time. Is Stadlee still alive?”
“He is my father, Nat,” Tad said. “I never mentioned that when I was here?”
“I do not believe that you did.”

Naertho had a huge grin as he said, “Jorge, why don’t we poke around some and have Tad show us the downstairs while Mr. Axegrinder has a chat with Adiun.”

As they left the shop, Naertho asked, ‘How did you know that Nat liked the wine on the estate, Jorge?”
“Tad told me that he had been there before and I asked the people if they had met him. Stadlee and some others had and I chatted more than a bit about him. I figured that it was better to know some things about the man I was trying to recruit. By the way, the wine is the white, not the red. Nat likes white more than he does the red.”

Naertho started to laugh. “Poor Adiun, having to deal with you being sneaky.”
“Grandfather, I meant what I said about needing him. Those things on the estate are dangerous and I need to have them dealt with. Nat is the only one that I know of who can do that. Of course that will be your responsibility.”

“Why?”
“Next moon, I am off to the Republic and college and you watch the estate while I am going to college. So for that time, you are there and I am partying in Ironton.”

“Who set that up?”
“Grandmother. So you are stuck with it.”

Jorge was standing at the gate when Ferret appeared and said, “Major, the duc needs you.”

“Where?”
“Here.” Ferret tapped Jorge’s head. “We have Inanimate issues.”

“Ok, let me get things rolling and I will coordinate.”

Aeson looked up as a marshal and a Justiciar entered the room. “I’m not surprised that you came for me.”

“I’m Bellas Liamenor, Justiciar at large, Aeson Keanorin. At this point, we don’t want you. So we want to make a deal. We get what you know in exchange for house arrest on your estate. We are fairly sure that you were under subtle compulsions that were placed in the Academy when you were young. In any case, we want the people responsible for what happened out there.”

“That is an obvious and large mess, isn’t it? I will take the deal.”

“There is probably more to the Scourging than making a mess. The people here were prepared to evacuate before they set the devises off and of all the people here, the one who committed suicide was the person who launched the devises. He was also the key portal operator. They dragged you out of the Justiciar’s cell block. What did they want?”

“What the outside world really looked like. They had been rather surprised by what their ship found and wanted some context. Also, their brother had botched things badly. They wanted to know why that was.”

“Do you think that they had planned the Scourging of the five cities at that point?”

“I don’t think so. It was only when the money issues became evident after the boy was retrieved that they started to work up the plan.”
“So money was an issue. Did they seem concerned about Lord Qinvaris?”
“Those of us who had experience with the man were. The folk here were not, really. They made a deal about using the Blight to strike at him, but they never seemed to prepare very hard to actually use the Blight effectively. They were rather annoyed when the Umevan deployed those orcs and ran over the place. There was also that young banker who set up the money changing booth.”
“Do you know who he was?”
“Other than he was a dwarf and that Ayre Eiljeon knew who he was, no.”

“Why was he here?”
“I’m not sure. He started that booth where he changed the charges that Dúhael used for coin so that he could consolidate the charges. Then he billed Dúhael for them. I think that the operation was part of the Umevan’s assault on the town.”

“Do you know why they did that?”
“There was a slave boy here from the estate. I’m not sure exactly how Tad got here, but he managed to get himself downstairs and then made himself useful to just about everybody. Apparently the boy had lived on the estate the Dowager Empress had stolen from the Umevan and the Umevan had become wealthy and powerful in the Republic. They wanted the boy and his relationship with the Imperial princess returned. Varitan had him retrieved and Lady Omayarus desired him for her couch. Dúhael and Varitan squelched that because the boy was good at ferreting out information and apparently had met just about everyone on the other side of things. When he returned from his spying voyage, Captain Ravathyra pushed to have him sent back home.”

Bellas continued to ask his questions as Aeson created a picture of the Project principles.

Chapter 8.

The Petris Estate.

Isarrel watched as her nephews and a crew charged into the downed trees and other storm damage with a will. She waved and Eamon, who was apparently in charge, walked over and said, “What can I do for you, aunt?”
“I was wondering why you are doing this now?”
“We can. The harvest is essentially complete and the thing that we were expecting sort of fizzled, so the House has some free hands and you have been complaining about this for some time. Camus decided to go ahead and do this here and some other places.”

“Where is the wood going? I was expecting to have it for firewood.”

“There is enough of that for the winter already. As to where the wood is going, there will be a need for it soon.”

Isarrel watched the boys working and went to find Haladavar. “What changed? I thought that the boys were all tied up in the harvest.”
“Somebody messed up. They launched Inanimates and the Blight incursion was pathetic, according to the boys. So they are free to do other things. The wood will be used to burn the Inanimates that got stuck on the barbed wire.”
  
The Qinvaris Estate, Region 4.

Julien turned to Tom and said, “What’s funny about these?”

“The Inanimates? What are you seeing that I’m not?”

“These people were all dressed for market day, and yet, do you see any money?”
“Now that you mention it, no.”

“This man here, the successful merchant, wearing fancy clothes, but no money, rings or jewelry? Not even a purse?”

“I see your point. All of these Inanimates were pillaged before sending them to spread the Blight. That shouldn’t be a surprise.”
“These were sent from a Scourged zone, where slipping up can get you killed. They needed to send as many as possible, as fast as possible, from said Scourged zone, yet they stopped to pillage the Inanimates before sending them through.”

“They wanted the money and the rest.”
“Yes they did. They were probably sweeping the money from the market where these folks were into boxes to haul back. Then they sent the Inanimates here.”

“With Blight vials that didn’t break.”

“The Blight vials were probably not supposed to break. At least they didn’t make any effort to ensure that they did break.”

“I think that we should go to Exchange Street and talk to some bankers.”
Julien grinned. “Tom, marrying Naexi was good for you.”
“I knew that. Let’s get the pictures of these folks and see what we can discover about Lain Othrond’s finances.”

“They aren’t in Lain Othrond anymore.”
“I know. That means that they have to shift things. We can take advantage.”
“You have been spending too much time with Folas.”

“They like me on Exchange St. for some reason.”

“The fact that you chased Paeris away?”
“That may have something to do with it.”

“We can talk to Roger on the way. He probably has ideas.”
“He’s probably seen this too.”

House Zlymenor

Onas had just returned from his morning ride when Ranearil Yllahice, his major domo found him in the hall and said, “Milord, Lords Qinvaris, Lord Orivalur and Lord Palen are here with three of Lord Qinvaris’s people.”

“Did they say why they are here?”

“Something to do with poisoned money. I am not sure that I understand it.”

“Very well, I will see them in my office.”

Onas had just sat down when Ranearil let Lords Qinvaris, Orivalur and Palen into the office. Onas looked at Lord Palen and said, “What is this about poisoned money, Mythanar?”

Mythanar smiled. “I think that you will like it. Richard’s boys came up with the idea.”

What is this about?”
“We both had coin on the estate when it was Scourged. We pulled it, for obvious reasons. Your accountant died mysteriously.”
“He died of a heart condition that it was known he had had for a very long time.”

“His heart didn’t kill him. He was exposed to the coin and the coin made him sick. Some of my people have strange lesions as well.”

“They were idiots and went drinking in a bed of poison ivy. At least that was what you told me. This has to do with the Scourge, doesn’t it?”

“Richard, have your people come in and explain this, since they came up with it,” Mythanar said.

Richard went and got the three and said, “Milord, this is my cousin Denny’s son Keryth, his soon to be brother in law, Roger Bloodfoot and my aide, Nightstalker who has managed to attach himself to the caper.”

Onas looked at them and said, “So, explain it?”
The other two looked at Roger and Roger said, “Milord the Scourge leaves residual effects that they call radiation. As a result, coin that has been Scourged is radioactive. We believe that the Scourging of the five cities was not to spread the Blight all over the Empire, but to facilitate the robbery of a vast sum of money. All of that money is now radioactive and can be detected. We want a discreet way of arranging for the banks to scan for the money. If the money on your estate was proven to be hazardous, the council could mandate that the money should be scanned. We figure that once the word gets out, the banks will want to scan for the tainted money.”

Onas started to smile. “Since Mythanar’s and my estates were Scourged some time ago the effects have had time to manifest themselves. We thought that old Aquilan had gone to the fire as a result of heart disease, but my healer has changed his mind. There have also been mysterious illnesses. This is a dangerous concern and Mythanar and I should take this to the council. Presumably your people will back up the danger claims, Richard.”

“Chompers is all over me about it, Onas. He’s been concerned about this and there was that money we discovered next door to you. It tested clean, but the danger is real.”

Onas looked at Roger and the others and said, “I suspect that you have a report already, with some details omitted.”
“We didn’t know about the accountant who died,” Roger said. “So we missed that.”

“I like it and my wife will too. A little hysteria and scandal to wind down the season and make things interesting.”

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