The Landdragon Queen, Chapter 55

Some princes and a princess go on a trip.

Chapter 55.

County Fréveil

Elderic and his company were one day away from Castle Fréveil. Elderic knew that, regardless of what happened to the queen, the game was won by securing the king. The king, in this case, was young Radal. Radal, along with Celeste and Michale were the key, as Elderic was his regent until the will was changed. Actually, Elderic’s father had been the regent for his sister, Queen Rachelle, but the convenient deaths of both Rachelle and Elderic’s father at the same time had changed that. All Elderic needed to do was secure the three royal children and declare the monster an usurper, threatening civil war. The queen would abdicate and Elderic would have the kingdom. Even if Queen Cécile survived what was coming, she would fall.

“Joram! You aren’t in scales! Who are these landdragons and the other two?” Radal ran over to greet Joram and the two landdragons as they passed through the gate.
“This is Rolain and Anais.”

“Cousin, you went scaly, like my sister did. Who are these other folk?”

“This is Eddie, Jon and Greg from the Justiciars. We came to send you on a trip.”
“Where are we going?”
“On a trip. It will be scary, but then it will be fun.”

A man in a gilded breastplate came out and said, “I am Count D’marc, holder of this place. Who are you and what is all this!”

“I am Joram, and I am here because the prince here, along with his brother and sister, are at risk.”
“Risk from who?”

“Duc D’lanate.”

“The duc would hardly harm his charges!”

“The old duc was killed in the Scourging of Altensee. His son is conspiring with the people that Scourge the cities.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“I stood next to Lord Blackfire as my father’s huntsmen tortured Rolain to train for engaging landdragons,” Anais said. “My father’s huntsman tried to murder me, which is how I ended up like this.”

Joram held up a paper with five seals on the bottom. “The queen, with the support of the other four kings of the Mortal Kingdoms, has instructed me to remove the royal children to a neutral location outside the Mortal Kingdoms to prevent them from being used as hostages by the people that Scourged the Five Cities.”

“The duc is the prince’s regent. He has a say in who is responsible for Radal and the others. If you want to argue your case, the duc is coming here soon.”
“My father is a traitor and accessory to the murder of my grandparents and every one else in Altensee,” Anais said. “He was told of the Scourging and moved his family out of the city while not telling my grandfather, uncle, aunts or anyone, else. Count, you are steering close to treason yourself.”

“Why should I listen to animals and a boy?”
“We brought the orders from the queen herself, sealed by all the kings of the Mortal Kindoms.”

The count grabbed the order from Joram. “How do I know that this is not a forgery?!”

“I doubt that someone would forge all the seals of the kings of the Five Kingdoms, Rolain said. “I saw the kings and the queen seal that document themselves.”

Jonny looked at Greg, looked around at the gathering soldiers and rubbed his nose. He said quietly, “Count, I am a Justiciar adjunct assigned to the case of the murder of one hundred thousand people in Altensee. There is evidence that Duc D’lanate was collaborating with Dúhael and the others responsible for the Scourging of the five cities. As Lady D’lanate is saying, your lack of cooperation is heading you right toward a treason and accessory to a mass murder charge as the City of Lain Othrond was not in a state of war when they launched the Scourge on the five cities.”
The count made a small movement and said, “The prince and the others will remain here until their guardian, the duc arrives. I think that you all should remain as well.”
There was a clattering of hooves as a troop of cavalry appeared, lances at the ready. Soldiers drew their swords and started to move in. Jonny looked at the count and said, “Last chance. Tell your people to stand down or you are subject to a writ and suspicion of treason.”

“So you would take me?”
“Count, my assignment is to secure the royal children and take them to a neutral place so that they cannot be held hostage. I would hope that there would be a commonality of interest in desiring that.”

“You wear a collar. Who are you to tell me what I desire?”
“The man that holds your life in my hands. We have presented you with an order from your queen. We have told you that we have evidence of the duc’s actions and that he is an accessory to the murder of thousands of people, more deaths in the Empire, the Fellowship and the Rebublic.”

“You are a Mage! Hiding your foulness under glamor and coming here to steal the royal children for your foul purposes.”
Greg said quietly, “That’s what we get for saying that we would do this rather than Julien and Elin. Rolain, Anais, Joram, cover the kids.” He pulled a RS2 out from under his cloak and Eddie and Jonny did was well. He called out, “Anyone still mounted in a count to three is at risk of getting shot! One!”

The cavalrymen hesitated, Greg raised the RS2 and pointed it at the cavalry. “TWO!”

The count drew his sword and the lances dropped. Greg bellowed, “YOU ASKED FOR IT! THREE!”

Greg pointed the RS2 at the middle of the cavalry squadron and squeezed the trigger, sweeping across them, firing short bursts as the cavalrymen fell off their horses. Jonny and Eddie added their fire until the horses took the cavalrymen off at a run leaving a row of dead and wounded men and horses. Greg changed magazines with a clack and turned to see the count under Joram’s talons. Joram looked at the count and said, “That was just stupid.”

The count’s soldiers still advanced, stepping around the bodies and there was a stream of flame in front of them. They looked up and there were dragons on the roofs of the towers. The soldiers looked at the dragons, the Justiciars and the landdragons and Greg bellowed, “Drop your swords and clear out! Anyone here in a hundredth is going to get shot or torched!”

The soldiers looked at each other, Greg made a waving motion with his RS2 and sword started to drop. The soldiers turned and ran. Jonny turned to the count, lifted him off the ground and said, “I should save the queen some grief and shoot you right now.”

He turned to the kids, who looked scared, with Randar holding a sword and said, “It will be fine. Teonag, get the transport baskets and get down here! We aren’t staying!”

The dragons flew down, carrying the baskets. Jonny said, “Kids, get in the baskets. The next bit will be scary and then you will have the ride of your lives.”

Greg and Eddie opened the baskets and Jonny picked up the kids and put them inside. “You can say that you rode dragons.”
The kids inside the baskets, Jonny checked that the straps and latches were tight and then waved the dragons into the air. With a flapping, the dragons leapt into the air in pairs, carrying the baskets. A woman came running out of castle and screamed, “What have you done with my tuppets?!”

“Keeping them safe, milady. If the count here had been cooperative, I would have arranged for you to go with them.”

“I will ride with you!”

“You can’t. We’re not riding. Come to Astia and talk to the queen.”

Jonny and the others disappeared, leaving chaos behind them.

La 12(Intrepid)

Captain Bushbury spotted the dragons approaching and looked behind the control car to see the trapeze already lowering. He walked aft from the control car to greet the incoming guests. Ratings were already opening the transport baskets and taking the three children out when he arrived in the trapeze bay. He smiled and said, “Princes and Princess, welcome to the Airship Intrepid.”

The three frightened children looked at him and the oldest said, “Are you taking us hostage?”

“Not at all. We can’t land you safely with your sister, but we are taking you to Milport and from there, you can go to Ishendell and then to your consulate in Zirgoccol. We can arrange for you to port to Lain Othrond and you can be driven to rejoin your sister from there.”
“Why did you take us?”
“Duc D’lanate appeared to be planning to commit treason and was planning to take you.”
“Uncle Elderic is our guardian and my regent.”
“The duc was seen with one of the family that Scourged the five cities. There was some concern that he was planning to use you as pawns in a civil war. Since he was on his way to collect you, that concern was legitimate. Why don’t you come forward with me to the control car and see where we are going. We are going to be flying over Altensee soon.”

“Ok.”

The captain pushed the children to the control car, where they looked down in amazement as the airship flew over the Vestian countryside. The dragons went back outside, ostensibly to fly patrols, but actually to keep the kids entertained with their antics. The kids started to laugh and settled down, as Bushbury smiled.
County Fréveil

Elderic and his company rode in through the gates to see a dead horse being dragged out through the gate. He could see another one and lances and swords still strewn about. There were scorch marks on the cobbles. A sergeant had a line of unhappy soldiers stripped to tunic and hose in some sort of punishment detail. A groom ran up for the duc’s horse as he dismounted and climbed the steps. He walked inside and Harad D’marc, tankard in hand looked at him and said, “You’re too late!”
“What happened?”
“That landdragon of the queen’s showed up with two more, one of whom claimed to be your daughter and some Justiciars. The landdragon had an order from the queen telling me to let them take the princes and the princess. I told them that you were the royals’ guardian and that they could speak to you about it. They babbled some nonsense about you collaborating with the monsters that killed your parents and the rest of the folk at Altensee and when I decided to force the issue, they pulled out strange weapons, destroyed the cavalry troop that I had on hand and my cowardly guards dropped their weapons.  The mages had dragons on top of the towers and when the guard moved forward, the dragons flamed the guards. Then the dragons brought some kind of basket, the mages put the children in the baskets and the dragons flew off. Then the rest just disappeared.”

Elderic cursed. “How could you let that happen?!”
“I didn’t let it happen. I would hardly put my head on the block. The landdragons didn’t trust me and the the children were somehow out in the courtyard when they arrived. I didn’t think anything about it until things were over. The children’s nanny has disappeared as well.”

“Was she fae?”
“She didn’t seem to be. She was with the children when they arrived. I thought that Rose Maree was just an old family servant.”

“She probably was, as in fae relative. We should have realized that that side of the family would take steps.”

“The others were mages. I will testify to that.”

“I need to go. Perhaps I can pick up a trail.”

Rose walked into the inn and out into the back where the landdragons were lieing down, entertaining some children. “Milord Joram, I have the children’s things. Will they be all right?”
Joram grinned. “Don’t you fret, milady. They will have the time of their lives. The dragons are good folk and the airship will be fun.”

“I am a bit concerned that you all took them that way.”
“The children could not Jump, since the younger two are still too young and Randar has apparently not been tested,” Jonny said from the shadows. “So we needed a way to keep them out of the dark’s clutches.”
“How do you know that the duc was going to turn them over?”
“I don’t, but at this point, the duc would need to keep the children secure and someplace where the queen could not find them, so turning them over to Mórsairon would make sense. That wouldn’t be something that someone sane would do, but the duc doesn’t have a lot of good options at this point.”

Nebula popped into the yard and said, “I found the portal.”
“Where?”
“In a barn that was built next to an ancient portal house on the duc’s lands. The portal looks as if it was put there a very long time ago, but somebody worked on it recently and made sure it worked. I pulled the log and it was used when Anais said that Blackfire was at the duc’s. That port was initiated from the other end, so no trace. There were some ports from the portal and I will need to track down the portals on the other end with Hal. They probably lead to interesting places. I need to go.”

Nebula disappeared and Rose said, “He was an interesting fae, wearing that uniform.”
“He’s one of the Portal Service’s top people.”

“How did that happen?”
“That is a story that will take too long to tell right now.”


Neuw Athlin

Jomney exited the cabin that had been built for him in the early morning and Ottalarc was looking down across the would be city. “She’s coming today. If they are going to do anything, this will be the day. I just hope that our surprises outnumber their surprises.”
“So do I.” Jomney looked at the tarp covered shapes and said, “At least we have your equipment in place.”

“I was planning to port it in until you hid it in the tool shipments. Why the Projectors anyway?”
“I have reasons. I think that they are going to try something and I will need to have the shield up when they do.”

“What do you think that they are going to try?”
“They will use a Primary to target the queen at some point. That will not work, so they will send something I’m afraid of. What precisely it will turn out to be, is something I don’t know, but the thing coming is a perfect gas target and if we don’t have a shield up, that could be very bad. I have masks for the people here, and the shield will deal with most of it. You don’t have extra equipment to handle that and the people out there in the army don’t. Most of them wouldn’t understand what I was trying to tell them.”

“Good point. What about their own people?”
“The duc and his army are disposable if the queen doesn’t die here. The duc will be a liability at that point and these people have a habit of ridding themselves of liabilities.”

“I hope that we can let those troops out there know that. I don’t like pointless slaughter.”

“There has been a lot of that already.”

Athlin.

Horatio turned to Denny and said, “You know, it’s good to be forgotten.”

Denny looked at the ten shapes under tarps and said, “Yes it is. Somebody forgot that these were still here. We’ve been using the trucks and loaned a lot of equipment to Jomney and the body recovery effort. I think that some people forgot to think about the fact that these were still here, along with the rest of it.”
“I think that Roger and Keryth taking the riders down to the Fellowship helped that.”
“They didn’t take all the riders, and the heavy stuff didn’t go down with them.” Horatio looked at a heavy Projector being bolted onto a truck. “I hope that we don’t need this.”

“So do I, but the world doesn’t listen to our hopes. So it is better to prepare.”

Ishendell.

Jorge looked at Hal, at the large portal and said, “It’s time. Activate the portal.”

Loaded with equipment, the special detachment’s platoons, led by the Transformed, went through the portal. Watching them, Geldrug turned to Harald and said, “I don’t see the pointy end very often. Thank you for telling me about this.”

“Are you sending a team through?”
“I already have people at Lain Othrond.”
“Where are the boys?”

“They are supposed to be at Lain Othrond, but I imagine that they are poking around. I’m not too worried. The folk on the other end hardly come up to the standards of Sal’s boys and the boys have been playing with them since they were all kids.”

Harald laughed. “How are they all going to handle being one family?”

“We’ll work something out. Some heads might get split, but that’s normal.”

“Have you found anything?”
“I’ll have a report soon. I have found a lot of things; the problem is making sense of it all. There is a lot of strange going on.”

“That’s big, coming from you.”

“I know. I need to go, Admiral and port over to Lain Othrond.”

“Good Hunting.”

Dolmas Station, Kingdom of Dolmon.

Ozzie looked up as Jorge walked into the disppather’s office and said, “Jorge, what brings you here?”
“Are there any railroad charters down toward Vestia?”

Ozzie picked up his board and said, “Yes there is.”
“Do not, repeat, do not let it get to the construction site. If you could arrange for it to get put into a siding far away from anything else, that would be a good thing.”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure, but queen is at the construction site today and I want to make sure that there are no nasty surprises.”
“For her, you mean?”
“Yes. Some other people deserve a surprise, so I plan to help give them one.”

“Ok the special gets stuck in nowhere’s ville until get a message that things are over, or until the queen’s train is back in Astia.”

“That will work.”

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