The Landdragon Queen, Chapter 52.

Some booms are found in Chatsrey

Chapter 52.

Chatsrey.

“Lady Biqen! What brings you here?” Lythienne was all smiles as Shael was let into the back parlor where Lythienne as working on a project.
“Hello, Mrs. Harper. I am actually looking for Alinis, but she is apparently in class.”
“What do you need?”
“Jorge wants Alinis’s notes and copy of the Scourge report.”

“For a class, probably.”

“Yes. Jorge, in a fit of being Jorge, managed to get himself assigned three extra assignment papers on the first day of class.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“I wasn’t there, because I am not attending college, since Jorge’s grandmother wants me for other things and I am somewhat older than Jorge is.”
“Does he know?”
“I told him some time ago. He just kissed me and said that it didn’t matter. In any case, I am not going to college. Here’s what I know. The professor started to go on about Ishendell being abandoned over crop shortages, the fact that the Darkmage doesn’t exist and that the Blight was a natural phenomenon”

“The professor is a romantic.”

“Yes. Even worse, in Jorge’s words, the library’s history section is, “pathetic.” Since Jorge only has five days for the Ishendell paper, he needs the material. He can use his brief for the Empire and the Amra diary for most of it, but Imperial Studies is an “unreliable source” and Jorge wants to use the sources that Alinis used.”

Lythienne smiled. “Jorge is playing games.”

“Yes. He figures that he’s going to fail the class anyway, so he’s going to make the professor as big a fool as he can.”

“May I help?”
“Would you, milady. I don’t want Jorge to forget why he is here.”
“First of all, we must get together and fix the library. I imagine that the professor is partly responsible for the state of the library. The librarians can be lazy and if a professor says that something is unreliable, they don’t spend money to acquire it and if the library does not receive a donation, they won’t have the books. Fortunately this is a very good time for the library as we are, as you know, reproducing Imperial libraries and distributing them. Has Jorge found the library on the estate?”
“Not as yet. He hasn’t had the time for treasure hunting and we don’t have kids to do that for us. Naertho wants to do some of that with the school kids, but we have all been very busy of late.”

“The library project is for the future. The good news for Jorge is that I have the manuscript for Alinis’s paper, all the material I collected, all of Alinis’s work and the manuscript for Richard’s finished Harald paper, as well as the Harald journal manuscript and the Tarranth journal manuscript. You can take all that with you. Jorge certainly does not need me for the Darkmage material as he has been in the middle of that. Does Jorge have a copy of the Blight report?”
“It’s on the way, along with some other things. Jorge sent up to the estate for them and started Tad on more.”

“The professor doesn’t know what he is playing with. Most first years would crumble under the pressure that the professor would bring. They also do not have research staff with access to things like the Sanctuary library and the Imperial Archives. What is the professor’s name? I may know him.”
“Professor Thomas Xilynore.”

“Xily! I do know him! At least I did. He was always toadying up to Anvilforged and bought into everything that Anvilforged came up with. He ended up in Ironton?”
“Apparently. I know that Jorge baited him somewhat by wearing his house tunic, but he seemed to be very closed minded.”

“That’s him. He produced a challenge paper that opposed one of mine. Now there’s something Jorge will want. You remember those two graduate students that went up to the Empire?”
“Alinis’s friends? They were there at the book faire with a tour group. Alinis invited them and their tour group to come with her to the Beinan reunion.”

“I missed them. The book faire was rather larger this year. I hope that you had as much fun as I did.”

“I had a lot of fun and Jorge had more, when he and Nat found some printed books and Inquisitor Keaynore tried to confiscate them. A junior Justiciar girl tossed the Inquisitor out of the faire.”

“Alinis can put you in touch with the two scholar sutdents, though they have returned to Beltain.”

Alinis walked in and said, “Shelly said that Shael was here. I see that you are here, Shael. What did Jorge do this time?”
“What makes you think that Jorge did anything, Alinis?” Shael asked with a grin.

“First of all, you are here with grandmother in the back room. That is where grandmother does her plotting. Second, you were looking for me, and I don’t think that it was just to visit. Third, Jorge is always up to something.”
“I may have wanted to go to the dollhouse with you and Fire.”

“Ok, I can accept that. What did Jorge do?”

Lythienne laughed as Shael said, “He managed to get three papers assigned to him on the first day of class by a professor. The first paper is the Scourging of Ishendell.”
“He wants my paper. He doesn’t need it, but his professor is one of those that restricts sources and other things.”
“Yes. Let me bring out the list that the professor had of sources that are “unreliable.” I think that you have some friends that will be annoyed.”

Shael brought out the list and Alinis said, “The professor has things backwards. When I started the Scourge report, the sources he considered “reliable” were the things that I had to drop because the assertions were not substantiated. When I started to dig into the family things here, the “reliable” sources were all too often wrong.”

“The things he wants the students to use are reliable if you want to only have one point of view that the students are exposed to,” Lythienne said. “Sal and I did a lot to change that, but it looks as if we have more work to do.”

Mike’s foreman, Jon Tanner came into his office and said, “I need to order more cleaner.”
“What do you mean? There’s eight drums in the storage. I checked before deciding not to place the order.”

“That’s just it. Your brother got these and the three that I checked were dry.”

Mike looked at the notice that Office of Inanimates had sent around and said, “Don’t send anybody near those drums. I need to make a call.”

Two twentieths later a man in a suit and a navy chief arrived. “Mr, Smith, I’m Thaetmaeg Steelmaker from the office of Inanimates and this is Chief Ironcutter from navy Ordnance. Tell us why you think that you have Primaries here?”
“My brother is the Steward, Jim Smith. For a long time we pretty much ignored the things he got up to, mostly because of my mother. He worked part time in the business in between his things and the last time he did was about ten years ago when he ordered some cleaner that we use in the business. For the most part, I just reordered the cleaner on a regular basis and didn’t count the barrels in the storage. Two moons ago, I counted the barrels and since there was an ample supply, didn’t order. My foreman here, Jon Tanner, started to pump some cleaner from the barrel and it was dry. He checked two more and they were dry as well. That was when I thought about my brother, the devises in Ironton and Desert Howl and called you.”

“Did you attempt to open a barrel?” Joe asked.

“No. I’ve seen that picture in History of The Empire  and there was no way that I was going to do anything stupid with something like that.”

“Let me check with a scanner. If you are right, you have probably saved a lot of lives.”

Joe took a radiation scanner into the shed and the scanner started to beep at a higher rate as he got closer to the barrels. He backed out of the shed and said, “There is something radioactive in there and it’s inside the barrels. Unless you deal in Uranium, we have a problem. How vindictive is your brother?”

“What do you mean?”
“I’m concerned with the possibility that your brother rigged a booby trap, with a Scourge Primary.”
“I don’t think that he would do something like that, but he hasn’t been right, if you know what I mean, for a very long time.”

“I will go on the assumption that the devises are rigged, then. Where is your local police station? I’m going to have to call my boss and the first thing he will want is an evacuation.”

“I will take you there.”          

“Let me make a call.”

As they were leaving, Joe said, “Pull over for a bit.”
“Why?’

“I just spotted somebody.”

Joe got out of the car and called out, “Swifty, I need you!”
Swifty walked over and said, “What do you need, chief?”
“I want you and the boys to look for anybody that doesn’t belong. I have some live ones and somebody is going to want them back.”

“Will do, Chief!”
Beltain Naval Academy, Cleadsgate.

Tim looked at the lieutenant who knocked on his door, saluted and said, “What can I do for you, sir?”
“Orders from the High Admiral’s office. Sign here.”

“Do you know what this is about, sir?”

“I wasn’t told other than the orders are classified. You are to get instructions when you go to where the orders send you. Sign so that I can get your buddy.”

Tim signed and the lieutenant went to Gotrid Billing’s billet as Tim opened the orders. He looked at them, folded them and waited for Gotrid to join him. Gotrid joined him and said, “Let’s go.”
“You get the tools, I’ll requisition a GP.” 
Midshipman Captain Seachaser was walking by the motor pool when he spotted Cadet Wavechaser signing out a GP. He walked in and said, “Where are you going, Cadet!”
“Orders, sir!”
“Orders from whom?”

“That is classified, Sir. My instructions are to tell no one. I have authorization for the vehicle and my instructions are to get moving as fast as possible.”
“Cadet you are looking for trouble!”
“Sir, I need to go.”

“Cadet, we are going to make a little march to the captain’s office right now!”

“I can’t do that, sir!”

Tom reached for the cadet and he wasn’t sure how it happened, but he was on the ground and the cadet said, “You stay there, sir. Stay out of trouble. This doesn’t concern you and if you pursue this, your career will be over. I need to go.”

The GP started and left the motor pool. Tom stood up and asked the rating, “What authorization did he have?”

“The High Admiral’s, sir.”

“Did he show you the authorization?”
“Yes he did. He could requisition anything he wanted, if he needed it.”

“Why did he have that kind of pull?”
“I have no idea, sir. I wasn’t going to ask any questions. I don’t think that you should either.”

University of Ironton, Ironton.

The door knocked on Jorge’s quad door as he was working on the first paper for Professor Xilynore. Firsties had to live on campus, even if they could afford off campus housing. Since it would be inappropriate for Jorge and Shael to share a house in any case, Shael had rented a house and Jorge had a dorm room with three other firsties. Bill Fishchaser went to the door and came back with a navy Lieutenant. “Jorge, the lieutenant says that it is urgent.”
Jorge looked at the lieutenant and said “Where is the devise?”
“I was just told to hand you this, Mr. Umevan.”

Jorge looked at it, turned to Bill and said, “If anybody asks, I’m in Chatsrey. If you hear about a large boom there, I probably won’t be back. Lieutenant, let me pack some things and then let’s go.”

Bill looked at Jorge. “What is going on?”

“I will tell you, if I can, when I get back.”

Thomas looked up as the history department chairman, Conrad Ironaxe sat across from him and a server set his lunch down. Conrad looked at Thomas and said, “I hear you assigned three papers to a firstie, on the first day.”

“The student was rather insubordinate and spilling twaddle. So I assigned some extra work.”

“What was the twaddle?”

“He was spouting off about Ishendell being, scourged, the Darkmage’s mythical castle and the Blight being launched by the Darkmage. I do not tolerate fantasy in my course regardless of what others think.”
“Perhaps he has resources that we here in the Republic have not seen, an old House library for instance. I think that it was premature to shoot him down and suppress his point of view, just because you don’t agree with it.”
“I will give the papers a review and grade as to what I see.”
“The student is an Umevan. I would be careful of making an enemy of the family.”
“Are you saying that I should pass a student simply because he is a member of a family that makes large contributions to the University.”

“I’m saying that you shouldn’t set up a student to fail, on his first day of class, regardless of who he is, especially when he could drop out and take the family’s money with him.”
“Do you think that he will?”
“My guess is that he read you right off the bat and is conducting a rather large prank on you. You do know what he sent to Dean Islan? I did some research and the young man has pranked the Darkmage and various other people. The fae have given him a title, the Prankster. I would prepare to be surprised. In any case, I want to see the papers before you hand them back.”
“Very well.”

Chatsrey.

Rob showed up at the Smith plant and after Chief Ironcutter saluted, said, “What do we have?”
“Eight probable Primaries. I have a borescope on the way and have called in the boys as well as the people from the shop.”
“Jorge’s boys?”
“Yes. Unless you brought our people back with you, they were the closest people trained in handling Scourge devises, since they were at the academy, they have been trained in things by Elmar and I want that training.”
“I didn’t bring everybody back, so good call. What are the boys doing?”
“Poking at the first barrel very carefully. So far, everything has been clean, with no obvious detonators, but we’ve all been treating these as if they could go boom if not handled the right way. We finished the evacuation, so we have a free hand.”

“Jorge is in Ironton and we can have a portal ported down.”   
“I would do that. At least alert Jorge and have a plane ready. Of course if Jorge sends these through a portal, the Steward had better look out.”

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