The Landdragon Queen, Chapter 3-4.

Sarya visits Lady Trislana. Tad is tasked again.

Chapter 3.

House Trislana.

Eithriel grinned as Sarya and her prince were escorted into the parlor. “So what can I do for you, princess?”

Sarya pouted. “Lady Trislana, you have been calling me by name since I was a baby. Why change now? This is Vindica, by the way.”

“Because you are a princess now. You will have to get used to that. So what brings you to me?”

 “Luvon, or Fet rather, along with any other help that I can grab.”
“What for?”
“We are going through great grandmother’s files and daddy suggested that Fet might know some things, or at least that I should recruit him.”

“Has your father been poking into my family?”
“No. You know how he is. He picks things up and then just springs them on you as a surprise.”
“Why are you digging into old files?”
“Daddy was handed the Scourging of the five cities as a case and sent me off to start looking into the files for connections. I’m not sure why he wanted me to recruit Fet and at first I wasn’t going to, but there are things that we don’t understand and since Fet is from the Republic, he might.”

“Your great grandmother might be unhappy.”
“That’s on daddy. I could have Great grandmother send some people, but that might cause trouble for Lord Bryneiros. Daddy said Fet, so Fet it is.”

“Luvon and his partner are out at the estate. Your father has left us shorthanded, so you will need to chase him down yourself. Tell me all about your antics with your prince here.”

“No movie.”
“What do you mean?”
“You will want to write our story as a script.”

Eithriel laughed. “It must be really good, then. You know that there will be a report in any case and it will be better if I get the story from you and Vindica rather than the report.”

“Ok. You know how I took ‘Kamba and the others to get tested. They were all rejected, but Iris suggested that we go to Freywick and check the boy’s numbers against the registry from the order. We did that and then we were off across the Mortal kingdoms, looking for families with groves attached.”

“Was there a lot of mischief?”
“Yes. We had Jimmy packs, so we were fine and I got the boys connected with their families. We ended up in Astia where the Scourge Suppressor people from Beinan’s recruited us to help with the raid that happened just before we got there. Vindy’s aunt invited us to dinner and Vindy’s mom must have picked up on him, because she Jumped into the house and afterwards, dragged Vindy off to get tested and lose his monster. It turned out that he was cute anyway. Then the five cities were Scourged and we had other problems.”

Eithriel turned to Vindy and said, “I must say that your appearance has changed since I last saw you.”
“Mother insists that I be Vindica most of the time,” Vindy said. “’Kamba is useful when I need to do things where the crown prince really shouldn’t be there, but needs to be.”

“For instance?”
“Escorting King Terrence through the war zone with Inanimates, enemy soldiers and traitors involved. The Church would get upset if Vindy were doing certain things, but ‘Kamba is a cover, since most people don’t know that we are the same person.”

Sarya and Vindy went over their adventures as Eithriel laughed and laughed. When they were done, she said, “I’m sorry that you don’t want me to write this as a script. Of course I could show you how to write the script yourselves.”

Sarya blinked. “Are you sure that you want to?”
“I can’t write all the stories and there is a market. In any case, we can consider it another part of your training. Why don’t we get together with Radelia and set up some sessions?”

“We are going to be working.”

“You can set time aside for training and considering what you will be doing, this is part of that. Neither of you have much experience in society and this will be an important part of that.”

Eithriel called Radelia in, and over lunch they arranged some sessions. When the pair left, Radelia said, “Alissa sent a message that you did not tell those two about.”
“Yes she did. She is a bit concerned that Sarya and Vindy will be tempted by certain things or will not understand certain things with potentially dangerous consequences. There have apparently been some incidents in Astia already.”

“What did Sarya do?”
“Nothing too serious, but humiliating entitled prigs should be done with care and skill.”

“As well as an awareness of what your goals may be and the consequences, milady.”
“Are you saying that I have behaved badly, Radelia?”

“I am saying that there are some ladies in the Cloud City that are rather irked with you.”

“That is certainly true. On the other hand, those ladies’ status in society has diminished more than a bit and the Cloud city is a happier place of late.”

“You are forgiven, milady. So why don’t we get to work.”

Chapter 4.

The Umevan Estate.

Shael grinned as Jorge, Tad and a train of servants and porters trudged up to the castle. She ran down, hugged Jorge and said, “You have returned, milord!”

Jorge looked at her and said, “Have I been gone that long?”

“No, but I thought an appropriate welcome was a good thing. How were things?”

“Bad. They did not send any Inanimates here, did they?”
“No, but there was an attempt to spread the Blight in Astaire. The folk there stomped that very quickly this time.”

“The people launching the Inanimates were sending them different places at the same time, rather than attempting to overwhelm one particular place. I also made their lives difficult somewhat, though I didn’t actually stop any Inanimate launches.”

“Was Tad with you? I’m not sure what you had him doing.”

“Yes. I imagine that I will need to send him to the palace unless Immianthe is here.”
“Not today as yet. Alinis and one of Dan’s professors are here and want Tad to look into the Mage Queen’s lab. They are looking for a Blight resistant strain of wheat that she developed apparently.”

“Ok, I will see them and Tad can get started. Gander may want him back in Lain Othrond, but Immianthe can go with him.”
“Prince Zaos is leaving tomorrow for Astia. Immianthe is supposed to go with him.”

“Then Tad should go there as well. He can give the conference an overview of Lain Othrond and their enemies, since he knows them.”

“I’m surprised that you were not there already.”
“I based things out of Lain Othrond and ported back and forth to Ishendell. Except for some excursions as things were ending, I wasn’t in the Mortal Kingdoms at all and the excursions were very short. Are Tad’s parents back from the Republic?”

“Not as yet. They are in the Hidden city for another two days waiting for the ship with your parents unless there is an emergency.”

“I hope that they enjoyed themselves.”
“Let’s get you home. You look exhausted.”

“I couldn’t stop them, Shael. I tried and some Inanimates still got through.”

“Did you stop most of them?”
“Yes I did. We managed to stop most of the incursions.”
“Did anyone say that you hadn’t done the best that was possible?”
“No, everybody said that I did a lot of damage to the enemy.”
“Since you can’t change things, I wouldn’t worry about the Inanimates that you missed and take comfort in the Inanimates that you didn’t miss.”

“Shael, I love you.”

  “I know. Next time I will be sure to be closer and helping. You came back and that is the important thing. Tad, you have tasks.”

Tad grinned. “Immianthe is looking for me, milady?”
“Yes, and you will probably be returning to where you just were. The task at hand is something that Alinis and her brother’s professor want you to find.”
“What is it?”
“The Mage Queen’s laboratory and experimental fields. They are looking for Blight resistant wheat.”

“Are they here?”
“Yes.”
“Then I will get right to work on this before Immianthe comes looking for me.”

“Let’s go find them, then.”
Shael led Tad and Jorge to the workroom where Alinis and a man were talking with the people there. Alinis turned and said, “Jorge, Tad, you are back!”

“What is going on, Alinis?” Jorge asked.

“Two of my brother’s people from his lab came up from the Fellowship. They are looking for some experimental wheat that might be growing and the mage Queen’s laboratory.  Tad, Jorge, this is Eldret Greatmaul.  He is one of Dan’s professors and produced a Blight study that we used last year. He was looking at the Mage Queen’s journals and thinks that there may be a field of Blight Resistant wheat still growing someplace. He wants to find the Mage Queen’s laboratory.”

“Let me get my notes,” Tad said. “We may also want to talk to Estelan, since he was all over the area near the Ravahana ruins.”

“Is he at the ruins?” Alinis asked.

“He’s moved to Lain Othrond to take over.”

“That’s a good thing.”

“I think so. He’s doing well there already. The rest of it is pretty horrible. Do you have any idea where the lab was?”

“I brought the relevant journals with me, or at least the relevant pages, young Tad,” Eldret said. “You were in the papers not so long ago. The slave boy who was kidnapped by the League and disappeared.”
“That was me. I will be right back.”

Tad went and pulled his files that he had compiled during the search for the archives. Returning to the workroom, he said, “This is my file from a previous search that Alinis knows about. We found Lady Lyrei’s journals at the ruins and I helped in the search for the archives. Here are my notes on Ravahana properties. Do you think that the Lady’s lab was near the ruins, Alinis?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Do you think it was very big?”

“If I had to guess, it was probably the same size as Dan’s green houses and barn.”

“I think that I will leave you in Tad’s good hands, Alinis,” Jorge said. “Shael will want you all for dinner.”

Jorge left and Tad sat in his chair at the eye console. Starting off, he said, “So we start with the estate, Alinis.”  
He pulled the estate up and zoomed in on Dan’s greenhouses and the fields beyond. “I’ll make a picture of this and that gives us a start.”

He did that and pulled up the ruins. “Let’s scroll around and see what we see.”
“Wouldn’t the lab have been obliterated?” Eldret asked.

“I don’t think so. As far as I know, the fields and things probably were not changed after the fire and the lady may have rebuilt in any case. Let’s see what we find. Uh oh.”

“What’s the problem?” Alinis asked.

“There are some greenhouses and things, at least the remains of green houses, but they are in the Scourged area, on the Palen estate.” Tad looked at the pictures and found a rather torn up road. “This was probably something that one of the Palens was doing.”

“We could ask,” Alinis said.

“I will mark it as a possibility. On the other hand, I want to check the property list against what the eyes saw.”

Tad pulled out the list and tapping the screen, used the coordinates on the property list to check various properties. He scrolled past one and then came back. “This looks interesting.” He started to bring up pictures, going back in time until he had gone back as far as he could. “This is another possibility.”

Alinis frowned. “Where is it?”

“On your estate, at least it is your place now, but it was a Ravahana property back when the Ravahana were a House and as far back as I could go, the place was maintained. I will write down where it is and you can check it out.”

“You can’t come?”
 “I don’t think so. The Lady said that Immianthe is going to want to take me to the Conference of Kings with my Lain Othrond report, since I know the enemy so well.”
“That’s more important than this. Ok, I will follow this up with Tarranth.”

Immiathe came in and said, “Hi, Alinis. You put Tad right back to work.”

“We are looking for something and Tad just returned today. Jorge says that you want him to go to the Conference of Kings, so Tad needed to do this for us today.”

“Yes I do want Tad to go with me to the Conference, since my uncle is going as the Empire’s representative.”

“Is this something that you cooked up to get to Astia?”
“No, actually, other than the fact that I am going. I didn’t even know that Tad had returned and was planning to go.”
“That was the Lord’s idea,” Tad said. “He thinks that I should go since I know the people involved and the town. Of course we can go to Lain Othrond at some point.”

“So catch us up on what you did there,” Alinis said. “I’ve been busy and I imagine that Jorge went all out.”

“We did. The Lord was rather upset that we couldn’t stop the Inanimates from being launched but we didn’t have time to make enough things to send through portals. By the time things were over, Republican army soldiers were sending hand grenades in cans through portals. Still, the last Inanimate incursions were hit as hard as we could.”

“I hope that Jorge has a report created for the daddy and the Office of Inanimates.”
“We had Office of Inanimates people working with us as well as Major Tollings’ people and the army. As far as your dad goes, General Clinkscales will have the report as well.”

“So it was a group effort with a lot of different people involved.”

“Yes. The trick was coordinating, but we operated inside the Scourged cities and the others were outside.”

Immianthe gasped. “You went inside the Scourged cities?”
“I didn’t because I was too small for a protective suit and the Lord only went in with the General, the captain and the admiral after things were over. We were porting things into the cities and if we had sent people in, that would have been dangerous for them.”

“I see what you were talking about. So you and Jorge were at Lain Othrond and not going into the cities.”
“I was porting back and forth to Ishendell, the Beinan Estate and the Lower City with Nat arranging for supplies and things to send through the portal as well as using the Eye machine at Lain Othrond to make maps for people.”

“I see. That makes sense.”

“That kept me busy and The Lord did not want me too near the center of things so that I wouldn’t be captured again.”

“I think he was afraid of what I would do if he let you be captured again.”
“Maybe. On the other hand, it could be that he didn’t want to have to chase after me again.”

The others laughed. A maid called dinner and Tad and the others joined Shael and Jorge for dinner where Jorge and Tad shared the events surrounding the five cities.

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