The Trials of Slaves, Chapter 77-78

A high elf and slave have more in common than they think. Shael visits the Crystal Palace

Chapter 77.

The Residence.

Master Orilen Jofiel looked at the slave who had been sent to him by the Empress and said, “I am not sure why the Empress wanted me to talk with you, but here you are.”

Aelua reflected that the collar she wore was getting in the way more frequently of late as she said, “Master, the Empress would like to me to discuss the royal children’s educations with you. I am the school mistress at the Umevan Estate.”

“Where Princess Immianthe has been rather inappropriately gadding about with that slave boy.”

“That was not my grandson’s fault. That was entirely her doing. The fact is that Immianthe wants to come to the school at the estate and Prince Ilvisar does as well. Airdan is going to college and does not want to leave the Residence and Yralissa hasn’t said anything. The Empress has approved Immianthe and Ilvisar attending the school, so that places a burden on my lady, who is out of the country at present, and on me, to discover what Immianthe and Ilvisar already know.”
“I see. Will your lady extend an invitation to me to visit the estate?”
Aelua handed Master Orilen an elegantly folded and sealed letter. “She has, but as I have said, she is away and will be for some time. I do want to extend an invitation to visit my school and meet all of us. While we have no status, we do try to provide for our charges.”

“That is remarkable, even for a high elf in these sorry days, let alone for slaves.”
“The estate has had a tradition of preparing all the folk on the estate for a very long time.  Fortunately, with some exceptions, we on the estate were more or less left to our own devises and we were able to maintain the traditions.”

“Lady, I haven’t asked your name.”
“Aelua.”

“Why don’t we get the copybooks out and I can show you my charges’ work. I have made an effort to prepare them for the challenges they will face.”

Immianthe came in, looked at Aelua and said, “Why are you here, Aelua?”

Aelua smiled. “I am speaking with your tutor in preparation for you coming to the school at the estate.”

“Oh, good. I was wondering if grandmother was going to do that.”

“I think that she wants you out of center of things here in the capital. I was going to go over your studies with your tutor here.”

“That sounds like a good thing.” Immianthe place an envelope down on Master Orilen’s desk. “Here is the report about the things that I have been doing that you asked for, Master. I am off to the palace and grandmother.”

She left again and Master Orilen said, “One problem I have had of late is keeping the four menaces slowed down enough to sit for a class. On the other hand, they have been out and about doing amazing things.”

“They have also been taking classes from others.”
“Not you?”

“Not at all.  They have been looking to some unusual places on their own or at the insistence of their grandmother. I suppose that being trained by the fae or the guild would be out of bounds or improper, so they did not tell you. As for taking the Flight Instructor’s course, that would probably have frightened you as much as it did me.”
“They told you about such things?”
“Tad was with them through all the things and he certainly did not hide that he had received the training from his mother and me. We approved in any case.”

“Why don’t I send for the copybooks while you tell me what my charges have been up to when they were not with me.”

 “You know them well, then.”
“Yes I do.”

The Sanctuary

Keerla led Tad into the dome and said, “For some time, this was my favorite place in the city.”

“What is here?”

“This is where you can see the outside the best. The rest of the city has windows, but often, people cover them up. This was the control center for some things at the city.”

“What things?”

“The city’s defenses. I almost shot down Byddri and Iezzen by accident once.”

Tad laughed. “By accident?”

“Yes. The system activated, I asked a question and the system started to launch. Everything has been disconnected, so nothing happened.”

”How do you know that it was Byddri and Iezzen?”
“They told me about flying around the Sanctuary later. I realized what had happened when they told me about flying by the city.”

“Did anyone else come here?”

“Not really. Kast did, but that was as my servant. This place was more or less forgotten and very few people could open the door in any case. This became my hideaway in a place where there are very few places to really hide.”

“I know how that works.”

“You were the center of attention at the estate, weren’t you?”

“First of all, my dad had an important job. The Lady had wanted him, and couldn’t have him, so that made him stand out. You know what my mother is like and I had my work in the eye room. So there were very few places to get away.”

“Then you had your princess.”

Tad smiled. “Yes I did. She is a bit annoyed at me right now, because we have both been busy, but that isn’t my fault. Why did you bring me here?”

“I have been locked out of things here and I wanted to see what happened when you used the panels.”

Tad sat down. “These are like the devise where the Eye’s pictures were stored.” He touched a screen and it lit up. He looked at it, touched some things and pictures appeared. “This machine was getting input from the eyes.” He looked more closely at the screen and said, “Keerla, look.”

She looked over his shoulder and said “What are you looking at?”
“I don’t think that your family knew about this. There are two sets of the pictures. One is the same one that I use in the eye room. The other is strange, but I think it is from before the city was abandoned.”

“From the time of the Mage wars?”

“I think so. I wonder what this does.” Tad tapped the panel and a sphere with the Sanctuary inside appeared.

Keerla looked at it and said, “This is the entire city. Tap this flashing place.”

Tad did and a pane opened on the panel showing the upper mall. He tapped other places and panes showed places in the city. Keerla looked at some things and said, “There are places that are closed off. Tad, try to open one.”

Tad did, and a spot that was red, showed green. Keerla looked at him and said, “I was right about what I said. I think that we should look into these places closed off very carefully, but this is amazing. Grandmother will be upset if we are late to dinner, so we need to close things down for the day.”

Tad said, “I think that we made a good start.”

“So do I.”

Chapter 78.

Chatsrey.

The driver opened the door, Shael exited the car and walked over to the Crystal Palace. She had dressed for attention in a Baladrial and there was flash as a photographer took her picture. A grinning doorman opened the door and she walked inside.

Nyla grinned as the elf lady in full high elf regalia entered the lobby, attracting every eye in the room. The lady walked gracefully up to the concierge table and said, “I am Lady Biqen. Would Lady Orizana be willing to see me?”

Jon, the concierge grinned, picked up the phone and said, “I will see, milady. Actually, here she comes.”

Nyla walked forward and said, “Lady Biqen, I am glad to meet you. Why don’t we get together for a chat?”

Shael smiled and said, “That sounds wonderful.”

“Then why don’t we go to the rooftop café for lunch.”

Nyla guided Shael to the elevator and when they were inside, said, “I am glad to meet you at last. “You seem to attract attention.”

“I thought so. I am collecting Nat and Rilldia, so I wanted to make sure that the eyes are on me, and not them.”

“Was that why you left them here?”

“Yes. You may know that Jorge is having a row with some folk. He wants to keep Nat and Rilldia out of the mess if he can. Did they enjoy themselves?”

“You can ask them when we arrive upstairs. I think that they did. I was surprised when you up and left them here, but when I heard about some things, I understood why.”

“Jorge doesn’t want undo attention attracted to Nat and the things he is doing here in the Republic. First of all, he didn’t want their honeymoon wrecked because somebody was after Jorge, and second, a lot of the work needs to be discreet for other reasons.”

“Coming in like that is hardly discreet.”

“Of course it wasn’t. On the other hand, I know about the discreet entrance since various people have told me about it and if the snoops see me enter and leave, alone, in a car with servants, they won’t look for somebody else. Then a quick trip to the townhouse, a change of clothing and instead of Lady Biqen, we have Shael taking Nat and Rilldia to dinner and the mermaid dancing before taking the train to Ironton.”

Nyla started to laugh. “Where is Lord Umevan?”
“Visibly at the college, taking his classes. He’s even dressed like the other students so he doesn’t stand out like he did last term.”

“What if Rilldia wants to dress up.”

Shael smiled. “Has she been doing that?”

“She has. She came out of her shell remarkably quickly and dragged poor Nat all over the city.”

“I can leave that up to her. The snoops won’t be that big of a problem, since I have reinforcements available.”

“What reinforcements?”
“Alinis and Moonshine.”
Nyla laughed. “That sounds like something that would attract snoops, not drive them away.”

“Yes it would, but with us all together, the snoops won’t be able to concoct a scandal.”

The elevator operator called out, “The bubble, ma’am,” and opened the elevator doors. Nyla and Shael stepped and there was a well dressed Nat with an elegantly styled and dressed Rilldia. Rilldia smiled and said, “I see that you had no trouble capturing Shael, milady.”

“Indeed, I did not. Shall we sit down?”

The four were seated and Shael said, “You two seem to have had a good time.”

“We didn’t leave the suite for the first day very much,” Rilldia said. “We went to dinner and a show, since Nat said that the biggest gamble he had ever made was me, and he was the big winner. The next day, we got an itinerary and a map from the little desk and were all over town. We hit some high spots and had dinner at Vikz’s before going to see the mermaid dancing and then back here. The last day, we went to see the dollhouse and the other exhibits from the Mage Queen’s castle, since I had been hearing about the thing for far too long.”

“I was planning to take you to the dancing this evening.”
“We won’t object to seeing the show again.”

“I have recruited Alinis and Moonshine as guards this afternoon, so we don’t have to dress down if you don’t want to.”

“I want to shine for Nat. He’s my husband. I have waited enough time for him and I want the world to know what he got for his trials.”

Shael laughed. “We will do it your way, then.”

Inky had managed to get to the Crystal Palace based on a tip that Umevan’s lady had gone there, only to see her emerge into an Umevan car with a couple that seemed to be newlyweds. He followed in a cab as they went to the mermaid theatre, picked up another elf and the fae dancer and then the lot of them went traipsing around the city, with the man taking pictures of the ladies and the things they did. They went to a fancy goblin place and then back to the mermaid theatre. Umevan’s lady and the couple left town on the train, with Inky resigned to another bad night in a coach seat.

Torald Ironaxe looked at the business card and then at the man seated across from him. “You are a bit of a surprise, Mr. Ironbrewer. I would not have expected a barrister of your stature to come to me directly.”

“You came recommended and I wanted to see what your office looked like and arrange to meet some of your associates.”

“I’m afraid that Waterlilly is shopping with my mother at present and my other two associates are out looking into something for me.”

“For you or for someone else?”
“You know that I won’t give details, barrister. That is unless it involves a case you hired me for. So what assets do the Umevan need protected?”

“Young Jorge.”

“Most people would say that everybody else needs to be protected from him.”

“There is a great deal of truth to that.  Unfortunately, Jorge is not as familiar with the dangers as he would be at home and the disruptions that they could cause him and the family.”

“He also has made a lot of friends, especially here in Industry City and Freiberg.”

“Not on the Plateau.”

“Probably not. They don’t like it when somebody doesn’t bend over and take it when they poke them.”

“That has been my experience.”

“Can you tell me who recommended me to you?”
“Jorge.”

“Did he say why?”
“He said that you were looking into the Gilders and the Stewards for another client. You apparently shared some things with him.”

“There was an exchange, yes. The Stewards made pests of themselves in a matter with another client and Jorge knew about things somewhat. After he discovered those Primaries in Freiberg and encountered the Federal Service types, he talked to my associates, who he knew.”

A fae lady came in and said, “Torald, we are going to the Mermaid dancing tonight. Who is this?”

“Horalt Ironbrewer, meet Waterlilly, my partner and fiancé.”

Horalt grinned. “I am pleased to meet you, milady.”

“So why are you here, Mr. Ironbrewer?”
“I was looking to hire your fiancé and his company to keep an eye on someone for my client.”
“We can do that. Why don’t we sit down and discuss the details. My fiancé sometimes forgets some things.”

“Such as?”
“Making sure that you can pay the bill.”

“That isn’t a problem in this case, Waterlilly,” Torald said. “The barrister works for the Umevan.”

“Then he can afford our best work.” Waterlilly sat down at her desk and said, “Why don’t we set up an account, Mr. Ironbrewer. If you need them, we can provide references and testimonials. Is this a protection contract or are you going to require some investigative services as well?”
“I think that I will take advantage of your investigative resources a well.”

“Then I will make up the standard contract and retainer payments.”

Horalt started to laugh and said, “You are very practical for a fae.”
“Somebody has to be. If I weren’t careful, Torald would go haring off on a case and end up who knows where, without making sure that the client was willing to pay for such things.”

“It wasn’t that bad, Waterlilly,” Torald said. “George did pay for our trip in Astaire and Dolmon in the end.”

“Why did you go to Astaire and Dolmon?” Horalt asked.
“Torald was contracted to keep an eye on Elf Carran, which he was doing when he met me” Waterlilly said. “We did that until Elf Carran was arrested and charged with being a mage because he visited a faery kingdom and took a commission. We helped save Elf Carran from the stake and his publisher did not want to pay for the extra on the grounds that Torald didn’t contract for me being with him and Elf Carran’s sister had also sent people to look out for him. I resolved that by saying that George would have been in rather deep trouble if Elf Carran had been put to the fire and we prevented that.”

“That sounds more than fair.”

“It was. Of course, the cheapskate is getting off easy because Elf Carran’s sister is handling his security from now on.”

“Through you?”
“I can’t say anything about the details, since it involves a client.”

“Why don’t you tell me about the trip with Elf Carran while we finalize the details? I think I made the right choice in coming here and retaining your services, Mr. Ironaxe.”

Sarya looked at Sunbeam and said, “That file is classified. The FSA does not have a need to know in matters concering Jorge Umevan’s file.”

“Umevan is a suspect in a crime on the Plateau and of committing espionage.”

“Jorge is accused of making Klara Gilders’ party more interesting and using his resources to write a term paper that young Mr. Gilders plagiarized rather publically. That is hardly enough to get me to release highly sensitive classified files on foreigners who may or may not have been working with my people.”

“Umevan could be dangerous.”
Sarya laughed. “He is going to college. Believe it or not, that is about the safest thing he could be doing where the Republic was concerned. If you had anything substantial you would have said so. You haven’t been able to find out how he pulled off what he did at Klara’s party, that is if he did it. So, you are digging. Dig someplace else.”

“Sarya, the Senator wants the thing resolved.”
“The Senator has dug his own hole and now he is stuck in it. You and I have more important matters at hand. Have you made any progress discovering the Steward’s whereabouts or is Jorge going to have to find all the Primaries for you?”
“I’m short of resources.”
“Then you should not be wasting them on elaborate college pranks, should you?”

“You will not cooperate?”
“No, I will not. You can run to the Senator and tell him that.”

“He’s not going to be happy.”

“I am aware of that. Unlike his son, I have to work within the rules and the rules where files on foreign diplomats are concerned are fairly clear. Good day Roland.”

Sunbeam left and Bill came in. “What did he want?”
“Jorge Umevan’s file.”
“He’s not going to get that. He’s fishing for something he can use to nail Jorge for that prank on the Plateau isn’t he?”
“Yes he is.”
“That’s stupid. Even if he had something, he couldn’t charge Jorge with it. That prank isn’t even enough to get Jorge expelled as a diplomat and the old elf will be rather annoyed if Jorge goes home.”

“I know. Have the car brought around. I need to see George Woodcutter about this.” 

Durlan was waiting in a car as Jorge exited the airport terminal. Jorge got in and said, “This is a surprise.”

“I’m picking you up so that the FSA clowns don’t know that you are back in the country.”
“I take it that the search for the Primaries is not going well.”
“I have my boys looking and the Lady’s people are looking when they can. We get more help from the Lions and the Dragonkin than from the clowns who are supposed to be doing the job.”

“What are they doing?”
“Trying to find evidence that Jorge pulled off that prank on the Senator.”

“That’s stupid on a bunch of levels.

“I know. I only got lucky with Jorge once. He and Tony drove me out of the Lower City and it wasn’t luck.”

“I didn’t know that Jorge was involved.”
“As far as Prospects went, Jorge was probably the best one that we ever saw. On the other hand, he was the one we never had a chance at. I didn’t tell Paeris that getting Jorge was a long shot and we pulled it off. Of course that put Paeris and Jorge together.”

“We are going to have some help shortly.”
“Who?”
“Some of Gander’s people.”
“How did you get them?”
“It was part of the exchange for the queen’s Winterfaire present. Gander had us, and we get Tom, Naexi, Bill, Syllia, Julien and Elen for a bit.”

“Good. We can use some competent help.”

Ironton.

Inky got off the train and looked up the platform as Jorge’s lady and the couple were met by Umevan staff. They went inside the station and Inky started to follow when there was a man in front of him slamming an envelope on his chest. “Mr. Barrin, this is a restraining order against you. You and any associates are restrained from coming within five hundred feet of Jorge Umevan or Shael Biqen. You are also restrained from coming within one thousand feet of any Umevan business or residence. If you wish to contest this restraining order, you may do so at the magistrate’s office here in Ironton.”

Inky looked at the envelope in his hands and cursed. Opening the envelope, he looked at the restraining order and it was as well constructed as he expected. He was going to have to come up with a new game plan. In any case, staying here in Ironton wasn’t going to work anymore. Shoulders slumped, he went toward the ticket office.

 Conrad stood at the lecture podium and said, “Welcome to The History of Technology. This is a bit different than the other required history course in that we concentrate on how various technologies influenced how people lived and how those technologies shaped the decisions they made and the paths they took.”

Conrad started in on his introductory lecture and then asked for questions. Jorge’s hands went up and he said, “Professor Ironaxe, you didn’t say anything about how a technology requires other things to support it.”
“What do you mean, Mr. Umevan?”
“If you find something that you don’t know about, if you don’t have the context, then whatever it is can’t do anything. That is unless it is a bomb and goes off. When the first Scourge devises were discovered, that was what happened.”
“The five cities were killed.”
“Yes they were. In order to do that, the Ravahana had to recreate an entire infrastructure and find things that they needed to build the devices.”

“You make a good point. I suspect that if I asked you for a paper on how the Scourge devises were created, you would be able to do that, but we would never see it as it would be classified.”

“It would be. On the other hand, when I was a kid, we found this thing like a car in a building in the Lower City and we couldn’t do anything with it, because the rest of the supporting technology wasn’t there.”

“I think that you have given yourself your term paper topic for the term. For the rest of you, as you leave, you will find packets with your assigned topics. I believe in giving those assignments at the first class, so as to give you a lot of time to investigate and discover.”

When Conrad entered the History Department offices Thomas was grinning at him. “How many papers did you assign to Jorge?”

“Just one, the term paper.  I suspect he was doing something with the family during the break as he was talking about the infrastructure to support a technology. So I assigned it as a paper. I had originally assigned him the steam engine, but he was raising some good issues and I imagine that the paper will be as remarkable as the rest.”

“Why don’t we sit down and chat over some of the fine wine that Lady Biqen gave me for a Winterfaire gift.”

“Not Jorge?”
“Actually no. The lady wanted to make it clear that it did not come from Jorge.”

Ozzie Flamespitter looked at his collected staff of ten special agents in the Ironton Field Office and grimaced. He had four senior agents and two junior agents that had been assigned after the Stewards had planted the Primary in the Center of town. Up until recently, his office had been working with Beinan’s and the Umevan cooperatively on the case. Then, as a Winterfaire present he didn’t want, he had received four more special agents who had one focus, Jorge Umevan. He was also forced to pull two of his agents off the Stewards for the Umevan investigation and collect and send all the files on the Umevan to the main office in Chatsrey.  Of course all cooperation with both the Umevan and not surprisingly, the Beinans had evaporated.

The staff meeting over, Clowder followed Flamespitter into his office. “I’m going to need Vinnie and Joe for a tail.”

“I didn’t authorize a tail and I haven’t received a warrant.”

“This comes from the head office. A couple arrived with Umevan and the head office wants to know why they are here.”

“Does the head office have probable cause? The Umevan take a dim view of people messing with the business.”

“I know that the head office sent a memo down saying that I was to have the resources I needed for my case.”

“Special Agent Clowder, that doesn’t mean that you can act outside the rules. All right, you can have Vinnie and Joe. But tell the head office to have something from a magistrate in a five day or they get pulled. Also, they come out of your budget and when the heat hits, and in this town messing with the Umevan gets hot very fast, you are on the fire. I also want the request for a tail in writing before I release Vinnie and Joe to you.”
“The head office wants things discreet.”

“The head office wants me to take the heat if this blows up. I’m not an idiot and this will blow up. In writing, special agent, or no tails.”

“The Director won’t be happy.”
“The Attorney General won’t be happy if a mess shows up on his desk without little things like probable cause and warrants. Maybe you can get away with that rousting dragonkin in Chatsrey, but doing that with the Umevan here in Ironton is going to get you burned. I’m letting you have Vinnie and Joe because this doesn’t look as if it will ever go to trial and they may pick up on something that we haven’t seen. If you do get something, your case had better be tight. Think Ironaxe tight, because that is the level that you are dealing with. If Ironbrewer isn’t already handing stuff to the Attorney General’s office, I will be remarkably surprised. That’s the way Horalt works. The heat comes from the top, and you are being burned before you know you made a mistake. You have your tail for a five day, it comes out of your budget and if I don’t see paperwork, the tail gets pulled and you get reassigned to another case.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Watch me. Unless the Director fires me, I’m still special agent in charge at this field office and can reprioritize resources as required. I think that the Stewards using Primaries has a much higher priority than a college prank, don’t you?”

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