The Kraken and The Dark Sea, Chapter 23-24

Susan visits her grandmother. Diligent heads to Eryding

Chapter 23.


The Gilders’ country house was on a hill overlooking the river with gardens rolling down toward the railroad tracks along the shore. The house was south of Billingston and the land that the massive stone pile sat on was framed on the top of the hill by the main road. Susan, feeling rather annoyed that Swifty had not sent something through the small portal for two five days now, mounted Flower, the mare she had had at the summer place since she was a colt and rode out across the road and up into the hills behind the house. After a twentieth of riding up familiar paths, she reached the overlook and could see the river spread out below her. Looking to her left, the scar on the land that was Luggergate could be seen, traces of smoke still rising from the ruins. Susan dismounted and walked back from the overlook to the three large slabs of stone that made a sort of lean-to. The little cave was the same way she had seen it the last time she had come to the overlook, only to be caught in a thunderstorm.  She had plans for that cave and Swifty when she could get him to the mountain. Since the place seemed perfect for dragons, she wondered if there had been dragons here long ago. She was going to have to see if there had been.

After one last look at the river, Susan untied Flower, mounted and turned to another path to her grandmother’s cottage. Enjoying the woods and the breeze off the river, after half a twentieth, she reached the cottage and after tieing Flower up next to the watering trough, pumping water to fill the trough, taking her saddle bags from Flower and walking up the porch stairs, she went to the door. Syvis Gilders watched her granddaughter through the workroom windows as she came into the house, spoke with Faerd and entered the workroom where Syvis was working on her garden. Smiling she said, “Welcome, Susan. I understand that you had some adventures. So, tell me about them.”

“Grandmother, the Empire wasn’t like what you told me in your stories.”

“It wasn’t? Have things gotten worse, or better?”

“Much better. Maybe less magical or high elf comedy, but people are better off.”

“There was some excitement over you going missing at first. What happened there?”
“I was angry at father, and like most spoiled girls, ran off, thinking I could get what I wanted and not thinking of others. I was an easy target for some procurers, a dragon boy rescued me and the Umevan took care of me.”

“I am surprised that your boy isn’t here.”
“His mother sent him on a cruise with the navy. Swifty wants a place at the Naval Academy and this program is a good thing for him.”

Syvis smiled. “So tell how you happened to find your young man and go on you adventure.”
I got off the train at Chatsrey East, Swifty grabbed me, took me up the stairs to an el train, we went one stop and then Swifty had me wear his coat as a disguise and we went back to the station to pick up Jorge.”

“That was fast thinking on the part of the young man.”
“It was, and that kept me out of trouble. Of course his fast thinking got us in trouble a bit later.”
“How so?”
“The FSA was going after Swifty over me, so when there was an agent looking at us in the airport terminal as we were porting to the estate, Swifty wanted to make sure that the FSA man didn’t see me and used the last port button to port us out. We ended up in Innshys and were a bit lost.”

“Innshys is a place long gone. It was lost during a conflict in the south. My House was ruined as part of that.”

“The Qinvaris and the Zylvyres needed a town for their business and the city is at the border with the Fellowship. So there was a road to the Fellowship there and the Post service started to run busses. Then a draw was needed from a mana source to help shut down the suppressors, so the Beinans attached an ancient portal. That tied into the Sanctuary and some kids started to pass candy to the Sanctuary to trade for other things. That snowballed and Innshys has a wonderful market.”

“That sounds like the perfect trap for teenage girls.”

“You would be right and it would trap even you. It didn’t trap me very much that time, since I saw some Post riders and arranged to have them guide us to the Lower City. That was a rather rapid trip on the bus.”

“Have the portals failed that much?”
“No, the portals all work. For many, the portals are too expensive and some people like the bus anyway. Let me show you the pictures.”

Susan pulled the pictures out of her saddle bag and started to go through them, showing the various things she did and the people she met. Syvis noted the dragonkin boy that was all too frequently in the pictures and grinned. She had been concerned that Susan would follow her mother into the all too set Plateau mold. Apparently, that wasn’t going to happen. When Susan wound down, Syvis said, “Swifty gave you a small portal for your birthday, didn’t he?”

Syvis wrote a code on a small slip of paper. “This is my code. You may use it and hand it to Swifty.”

“Thank you grandmother. Why do you think that Swifty will want it?”

“Just in case.”
“Swifty has been off doing something away from the ship. I haven’t had a message for two five days.”

“Is that a cause for concern?”

“I don’t know, but I worry about him.”

“That’s only natural. Tell me more about the other people you met. Apparently you saw Fylson’s shop. Was it the magical place of your imagination?”
“Not really, but there was magic there, even if the people there didn’t see it. I fixed that somewhat.”

Imperial Way.

The last day of the Conclave brought out the last minute tourists and the crowds on the closed Imperial way as they went to and fro to the various attractions along the street. Landdragons moved through the crowds, chased by mobs of happy children. In more than a bit of a procession the Empress walked down the way before the luncheon and the coming banquet. Itireae smiled at the happy crowds and active children as she made her stately way down the street. High up in the air, a plane flew overhead and suddenly shapes fell out, trailing flame as people gasped. Two more planes appeared and more shapes fell, filling the sky with patterns of flame. As the pattern got closer to the ground fourteen winged shapes emerged from the flame as more twisted around them until as they reached the ground as other winged shapes and it was revealed that the dancers were couples, who took their bows and disappeared as Itireae and the crowd clapped. As Itireae approached the palace the dancers appeared and Itireae smilled as she saw that dancers were the seven girls from the dancers at Winterfest two years before and their husbands and beaus.  The group bowed and curtseyed as Itireae approached and said, “That was wonderful.”

“Thank you, your majesty,” Alinis said. “We weren’t sure that we could put something together in time, but I realized that with weddings and other things coming up, this would be the last time that we would have a chance to do something like this. I talked to my sister and the others, we convinced the men and practiced with the Flight Instructor, his wife and my great grandfather, who helped recruit the other dancers. It was a bit pushed, but we managed it.”

“I would have been a bit miffed at you, Nimue, if you did not appear at the ball to play this evening.”

Nimue grinned and replied, “I have a costume made up for the ball. This was fairly low risk and we were careful. Hello uncle.”

Taeren was grinning as he said, “Thank you for telling Tilly about this, Nimue. That was amazing.”
“We knew that you missed the first time we did it,” Alinis said. “Mother would have been annoyed if we didn’t tell you.”

“Why didn’t you do this at night?”
“The Flight instructor and grandfather have their thing at the ball. So we had to either do this last night or this morning. Mrs. Khumkith said that we should do it when we were fresh and with the largest crowds, so we chose the morning. That was also when the planes were free.”

“The planes were the problem, more than likely.”

“Since we were borrowing them, yes. Uncle, we need to go.”

Taeren grinned as the dancers merged into the crowds.

Filveral turned to his crew and said, “Did you get that?”

“We sure did, boss. That was amazing.”


Greldug looked at the boys and the friends they had collected in the Empire and said, “Boys, I have something for you to do. I don’t know how deep you are going to be able to get, but there are these two places north of the Timbertown that need to be checked out, preferably before Dilligent is surveying the coast. So I want you to poke around a bit.”
“What should we say that we are looking for, grandfather?”  Gerdug asked.

“You are looking for the ancient family aerie.”

“Do you think that it is there, grandfather?”
“I wouldn’t know, but the fact that Swifty went dragon at the Sanctum was a clue that it couldn’t be too far away. The area would be good dragon country and there aren’t any there.”

“So this is a hunting expedition with an agenda that we can leak. What if we find the Aerie?”

“Then you tell me and I get the council up here.”

“What if there are monsters in the woods?”

“I wouldn’t be too concerned with that. Any monsters are fair game.”

The Yllanan Estate

Vesstan turned to Esgalwathanar and said, “We have had more than our share of extraordinary students of late. That makes this worthwhile and we must thank the admiral and the Umevan.”

Watching Bill work his way through a problem on the course, Esgalwathanar grinned and said, “Perhaps we should visit Desert Howl and make an offer at the school there. We can take our ladies and go down to the beach over the winter.”

“The school, the police and others. All three Wavechaser boys here are remarkable.”

“Bill has managed attract attention. Hello Moonshine.”

Moonshine became visible and said, “You got me, uncle. So what do you think of my bonded?”

“He is doing very well. I suspect that he has grown a lot since you brought him by the House.”

“Very much so. We may be talking to you about wooden cabinets.”
“What for?”
“We’ll go over things when we have more. Terrel is handling things now and Bill doesn’t want to rush in and mess things up.”

“Why doesn’t he want to use a supplier in the Republic?”
“Bill is concerned that some folk will play games to prevent him from getting started. They are pressuring Bill to make a bad deal. That’s stupid, but there it is.”

“This sound intriguing. Tell me more when you can.”
“We will.”

“This is more than Bill’s usual “I can’t talk about that,” isn’t it?” Vesstan asked, grinning.

“This started when the Senator for Bill’s state went after Bill, trying to make him look as if he was involved in crooked deals with the Beinans. The Senator was attempting force Beinan’s to break Bill’s connection to them so that some people could steal the things he’s been working on. That has gotten bigger as Bill played with another idea and made it work.”

“I think that Bill is trying to make sure that you are kept in the lifestyle he thinks that you should have,” Esgalwathanar said. “I approve wholeheartedly. So tell us about the Plateau.”
“I’m not sure how to explain it. In a lot of ways, it’s worse than the Cloud City. On the other hand some folk are wonderful. The place definitely needs a good shaking.”

 “We could talk to Tad and Immianthe and make another place for you in the Program,” Vesstan said.

“I’ve already gone through the Flight Instructor’s part with Bill, I’ve been through this already, though I will practice with Bill before he goes home and I am taking the shooting and driving portions. So I’m already going through the Program.”

“We can always provide further instruction,” Esgalwathanar said. “Bill mentioned that you had some problems with assailants in Chatsrey. Since the Mana is low, you should practice some other techniques.”

“Uncle, you have made a good point. In any case, I can befuddle Bill a bit.”

Chapter 24.

RNS Diligent

Alb finished his sighting, turned to Gord and said, “Hold on this heading. We should be off Eryding in the morning.”

“Aye, aye, captain. We’re a couple days early.”

“We can give the crew a couple more days to get ready to go north and some shore leave.”
“We can also go and get our prodigals. I’m surprised that you let them get away, sir.”

“That was fairly easy. They were in a position to take advantage of the training and not having them under foot for the better part of a moon where they would not be needed was a good thing anyway.”
“Our gunnery officer?”
“Let’s just say that I had a chat with an admiral before we left Cleadsgate and the admiral hinted that the training would be a good thing for the ensign.”

“That explains it.”

“Considering our last little voyage, I wish that I could have sent all of you to the training.”
“You can’t hold one contractor being eaten against us, captain. We learned our lesson. Ok, I have the ship.”

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