The Kraken and the Dark Sea, Chapter 5-6

The major has a visitor. Taerel gives a presentation to the Conclave

Chapter 5.


Jorge looked at the badge and the rather ragged character in front on him and said, “You don’t look very fae, Mr. Greenleaf.”

“My dad was drawn into the woods by my mother.”

“That does happen. You don’t spend a lot of time in the woods, apparently.”
“I started to do clean up and chase bounties. I was good at it. I still am.”

“What is your bounty this time?”

“You have my full attention. Of course there are some things that Dúhael has that most people want more than we want him.”
“I found those too.”
“Is that confirmed?”
“Yes. I have a picture.”
“I take it that you want me to go in with you and grab the Primaries while you collect Dúhael’s head, one way or another.”
“I was thinking something along those lines, yes.”

“The bad news is that the troops who would be the best at doing that are not under my command at present. I was planning to go into that place and I needed better inside information and time. I lost my best infiltrators and suddenly had other obligations.”
“What happened?”
“The boys grew up. There’s a long story behind that, but some of the boys outgrew some things and I can’t really recruit replacements. So I don’t have the kind of people that I really need at present.”
“Why can’t you recruit replacements?”
“I’m not looking for replacements because the Congress would really look askance if I recruited underage boys again. That was made fairly clear in a hearing recently. When words like ruthless killer are tossed around, that is a good indication that I should stop doing certain things. Of course I only ended up with the boys under a unique set of circumstances.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“I’m hoping that you know of some small slight very aggressive elves someplace.”

“How small.”

“Adults the size of fifteen and sixteen year olds.”

“No, the elves I see are pretty much average size.”

“I know. If I did find some like the elves of old, they wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me anyway.”

“Perhaps not.”
“So, tell me about this place. How did you get in?”
“Through a back door in through the stables. I realized that it existed when the lord outside was meeting with a girl from the inside.”

“That isn’t a surprise. What is the lord like?”
“He is a Harper.”
“Is that a definite?”
“Yes. At least he has the attitudes and looks of a Harper as well as the name.”

“How long has his family been there?”
“At least a century, probably longer.”

“Why are they there?”
“Some sort of deal with Dúhael’s family.”

“How willing would he be willing to assist an assault?”

“Very willing if he can get his family out from under the “demons.” He’s sort of stuck with the situation. The Dancer killed his parents when they tried to get into the Underground.”

“Do you have pictures of the main door?”
“Yes, why?”
“I want to look into options.”

“I placed coders on their portals. Jorge Umevan gave them to me.”

“So we could port in from here and back. That has its good points. I don’t like going in blind. On the other hand, Jorge is home for the term and I can take advantage of that. Why don’t we discuss that?”

“We don’t have a lot of time to put things together.”

“They are planning to leave.”
“Yes. The Primaries may not end up where they want them to. On the other hand they were almost bait, I think.”

“I think that they know that lugging them around at this point is almost pointless. I need to speak with some people, so why don’t we meet tomorrow and come up with a plan?”

“That works for me.”

Chapter 6.

The Imperial Palace

Taerel walked nervously up to the podium to give his presentation. He looked around at the curious high elves and said, “I am Taerel Silverin and I want to give a report on what things were like at the estate that was stolen from the Umevan. Pardon me if I am not clear about things. This is my first Conclave and before I was handed the ring of a Great House I had my little winery. So bear with me if I do not use flowery language and am rather blunt.

“We Silverin made an agreement long ago with House Umevan. The agreement was that we would serve the Umevan as long as they provided for us. For a long time at the estate, we kept that bargain. Then the Umevan were driven away, the House broken. The estate was taken by Houseless usurpers who behaved rather badly. Not least of which is that they took the Umevan’s great project and twisted it to dark ends. They used the electricity that the Umevan had built the great dam on the estate to generate to create the cores for Scourge devises. Then they took those devises for their own terrible purposes as we have discovered.

 “That was not the end of their corruption. In addition to that, they sold our children for “stock” to other Great Houses steeped in corruption and the pursuit of souless pleasure. For many reasons, the Silverin were preferred for the taking of the children, though that was not always the case. Already indentured, we Silverin were sold to pay for the facilities that created the Scourge, to fund the corrupted lifestyle and the use of that corruption to blackmail the folk that came to the estate to taste illicit pleasures. For nearly a century, the usurpers and their mistress spread their web of corruption, while generations of the estate’s children were fed into the corruption, including my own daughter. For a century, no Justiciar investigated the theft of the estate, no one signed a writ and no one was brave enough to stand up to the Dowager Empress. Fortunately we live in a different time and I want to thank the brave Justiciar Dawkins, Justiciar Liamenor, Lord Qinvaris and finally young Lord Umevan for standing up to the darkness and bringing my family back to the light. Thank you for your time, milords.”

A grinning Narbeth joined Taerel and said, “That was more effective than you know. You did not wave your victimhood around, yet you made it clear what had happened. Those were not small crimes.”
“I know that, your majesty. In a way, I feel so out of place here.”
“You have done well for a start. In any case, I welcome you to the Conclave.”

“Now comes the hard part?”
“That being?”
“Keeping my son and son in law from giving too many bottles away.”
Narbeth laughed. “That will not be easy.”

“I know that it will not be, but we can expand only so quickly. Next year I will bottle small bottles for the Conclave. This year there were other matters at hand.”

“The small matter of restoring your House?”
“That, and other small matters, like my son finding a lady, my granddaughter getting married and the occasional pesky princesses.”
“My granddaughter?”
“Not really, yet. She and Tad will not be wed for some time. On the other hand, the princesses next door have weddings coming up and there are other ladies of note. With the Lord in the Republic and Lady Shael as well, I am stuck with budgeting for the family’s use.”

“What the family uses, you can’t sell.”

“That is the size of things. When I was a simple slave, that was not a concern. Now it is.”

“I think that you will manage.”

Taerel winked. “So do I.”

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