The Great Dance, Chapter 45-46

A pair of troublemakers arrive in Chatsrey. Tad finds some Scourged areas.

Chapter 45.

Chatsrey.

Bill watched as Melodic approached the pier. In a bit of irony, his library had reached Kugrim and was loaded aboard Melodic on the same day as the vault material had been loaded on Renna Shahana. Since Melodic was a liner, she had arrived two days earlier than Renna Shahana would. Thaetmaeg arrived and said, “So here it is. I heard that you had some Inquisition issues.”

Bill grinned. “Somebody did. There may be some customs issues over another shipment that’s coming in a couple of days.”

“Are you playing games with customs again?”

“Not me. Somebody wants something here publically so that the people that tried to steal it will steal it again.”

“They want it stolen?”

“The value of the material goes down if the other side knows that someone has it. So it was arranged to disappear and then reappear, with mistakes being made.”

“How did you get involved?”

“When the arrangements for the library were made, some people were tipped off and they wanted to create a distraction. So I had a chat with an Inquisitor, the Inquisition was tipped off about the library, a switch was made and a crate “fell” off a truck. That attracted attention and some people are hoping that the other side tries for the treasure.”

“And gets it. Copies were made at some point, but the other side won’t know that.”

“Yes. I’m not going to talk about that, though.”

“Why not just keep the material.”

“Because if the other side knows that we have it, they will do things to get it.”

“Kidnapping young lady Qinvaris, for example.”

“Yes. I wish that the people that did that had waited a few days and gotten the word that the thing that they wanted was where they could grab it, but they didn’t. The interesting thing is going to be how they handle this if they steal the material.”

“They could ask for something else from Richard.”

“Yes they could. The problem would be accepting the delivery. That goes double if they don’t let Alinis go.”

“You’ve grown a lot.”

“I sort of had to. Let’s get the library dealt with and on the way so that I can get a date with my lady.”

Thaetmaeg laughed. “We do not want to disappoint her.”

Faghig and Jreghug exited the pier from customs and Faghig said, “Do we stay here in Chatsrey for a couple of days or go straight on to Ironton?”
Jreghug grinned. “That is an interesting question, Faghig. Are we tourists or young clan members sent into exile for our bad behavior?”

“If Uncle were doing it, we wouldn’t be sent here.”

“One advantage is that no one knows that we are here.”

“Or who we are. On the other hand, if we go on, we can connect with the Ironaxes and the Umevan.”

“Why don’t we see what the market for night work is? We are, after all, trained professionals.”

“They will ask why we aren’t in the Fellowship.”

“We can tell them the truth. Work is low on the ground in the Fellowship and we are too well known in the Mortal Kingdoms. The clan’s last contract went boom and we were caught in that.”

“We don’t know the neighborhood.”

“That’s never stopped us before. Let’s get a cab.”

Móreliante looked at the toad across from her and sighed inside. It was a good thing that she wasn’t hungry, because the meal would be awful. Unfortunately circumstances had limited the resources she had to work with. She said, “So you can arrange for the items to be seized and placed in the Impound. At least the crates will be.”

“It shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Then you will arrange for the crates to be delivered to a location I choose.”

“I will arrange that. You’ve already used my boys once, so you know that they are reliable.”

“They did accomplish the task, even if the material was lost, I will give you that.”

“The boys were not responsible for that. It was your people that ran the portal.”

“That is true, and we were interrupted. I hope that you will be alert for interruptions this time.”

“I know who to look out for and if we see even a scale, the scale will not be seen again.”

“You have a constructive attitude. I think that we have an arrangement.”

The toad got up and Móreliante watched the him leave the café that they had met in and grab a cab. Once he was gone, she left for a cab herself.

Chapter 46.

The Umevan Estate- The Silverin Estate.

Tad was preparing the pictures for Diligent when he noticed that there were places that had duplicated pictures. Using a script he had created, he called up the raws and what he found was horrifying. He quickly printed the pictures out. Immianthe came in and said, “What’s wrong?”

“This area of jungle outside the Kingdom and south of the Mortal Kingdoms and the Orcenlands. I was making pictures and I found more duplicated pictures, a lot of them, right together. When I looked at the raws, the pictures covered places that had been Scourged. Somebody set off ten Scourge devises there.”

“Are you sure?”

“All the places looked like the five cities.”

“How come nobody noticed?”

“I think that the places are all far away from anything else. They are all around this extinct volcano.”

“Have you checked when the places were Scourged?”

“Not yet. I just discovered this.”

“Let’s do that. We can also find out what was there. Then we tell someone about this.”

Tad checked back to before the new Scourge devises had been fabricated and shortly afterwards, the frames had been replaced with duplicated frames. After he had found the duplicated frames, he had asked his father if the raws were kept and Stadlee had said, that they were, on crystals. Tad went and for two twentieths, painstakingly found when the places had been Scourged and what had been there before they were Scourged. Then he took the entire thing and he and Immianthe went looking for Tad’s grandfather. They found him at the Silverin estate, planning the new vineyard with Roral. They looked at the pair and Taerel said, “What’s wrong, Tad?”

Tad took the pictures out of the tube. “I was working on the pictures for Diligent and I found a bunch of duplicate pictures and when I looked, all the places had been Scourged. They were Scourge right after the devises were fabricated.”

“Where was this?”

“There is an area of jungle next to the Kingdom and Orcenlands. I think that it was pretty much empty. Right after the devices were fabricated, these places were Scourged.”

Taerel rubbed his chin. “Go to the Sanctuary and use the ancient eyes to find out was in those spots long ago. Then take everything down to the radiation lab and talk to Chompers.”

“Why do you think that the places were Scourged, Taerel?” Roral asked.

“I think that they were Scourged to clear out any problems the same way I would burn diseased vines before starting over. If you were planning something and wanted things cleared away, Scourging would accomplish that. Then they waited for the radiation to decline if what the reports from the radiation lab said are correct.”

“Should I make more copies, grandfather?”

“Do that after you get the material from the Sanctuary. Princess, I think that you are going to have to take a copy to your grandfather while Tad uses the portal and takes a copy to Captain Bronzerock.”

“Are you telling me what to do, Lord Silverin?”

“Yes. The future of the Empire could be at stake. So you two need to get going.”

Chatsrey.

Renna Shahana was nudged into her berth and the unloading started. When the special cargo was transferred to the pier, the customs officer in charge had a crate opened, took one look at the contents and said, “This will have to go to the Impound until the Office of Inanimates can look over it. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to seize this shipment.”

The customs officer arranged for trucks and the crates were taken away. On their way to the Impound, the trucks parked in front of a warehouse under an el track as they went to lunch. As soon as they were out of sight, the doors on the warehouse opened and orcs went to work, opening the crates, removing the stasis cases, putting a small pallet of bricks that weighed approximately what the stasis cases did and closing the crates up. By the time the drivers returned from lunch, the exchange had been made, the doors on the warehouse closed again and seemingly all was as it had been. The trucks went on their way to the Impound. Later, some trucks appeared at the warehouse to collect their loads for delivery. Crates were loaded and the trucks were off to make their delivery. Five trucks had a delivery to the same location. One by one, they arrived and were unloaded. The empty trucks departed, off to their next pick up.

Tad exited the portal and followed by Listra and Elashor, headed to the house. Wyrran saw him arrive, looked at his overcoat and winter boots and said, “You are overdressed, young man. You used the portal didn’t you?”

“I’m Tad Fallingwater and this is Elashor and Listra. Is there a phone? I want to call a cab.”

“What for?”

“I need to drop some things off at the State Department and the Admiralty.”

“What are they?”

“I can’t really talk about them.”

“Is it related to the Silverin?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Wyrran and I will take you three where you need to go, young Tad. Where is your princess?”

“She is doing the palace, Chompers and Major Tollings in Ishendell.”

“Chompers?”

“The landdragon on the Qinvaris estate.”

“Drop off your coats and let’s go. I have the feeling that this is important.”

The Center.

Haciathra went to the slave at the oracle and said, “Is there any news from the Republic?”

“Not of late, mistress. Was there something that you wanted to know about in particular?”

“I wanted to know if there were any large thefts.”

“No news that has reached any of the girls. So far, things are as normal. I can ask.”

“Don’t. I can wait.” Haciathra went to the engineer and said, “Isn’t there anything that you can do about this flickering?”

“Not at present, mistress. The portal is drawing the mana and short of shutting it down, that isn’t going to happen.”

“Where is the portal?”

“I’m not sure how to explain, but it is in or near the abandoned town of Innshys and connects to the Sanctuary.”

“It is in constant use?”

“From 04:00 to 20:00 yes. There is some sporadic traffic afterwards and some flickering even later. I believe that the flickering represents the Portal Service conducting maintenance on the portal.”

“That is unusual. The Sanctuary has that much traffic?”

“That is what I have been able to determine. There may be more than one portal operational, but since they are all drawing from the Zylvyre source, the draw causes the flickering in any case.”

“Do what you can.”

“Unless I can get a connection and mana from the Mana Service, there is very little I can do.”

If things continued the way they were, Haciathra was going to have to arrange an evacuation of at least the leaders’ stasis cases and the team that was awake. That was without any action by the enemy as yet. She made the decision to arrange for the ship to drop off the girl at the Center so that she could see the face of the enemy first hand.

Her turn of duty at the oracle over, the oracle slave went to the slave quarters helped prepare the meal for the slaves, since the mistress took her meal elsewhere and when the meal was done, took the trash outside. The ferret she had discovered one day came over looking for a treat and she put her hand out with the scrap. The ferret grabbed it and chittered at her before running and leaping around as she laughed and disappearing into the woods.

Nightblade watched as the girl disappeared back into the hidden space. He noted that number four had dumped the trash this time. By this point Nightblade was sure that he and the others had seen all of the people in the hidden place with the exception of the mistress. She seemed to use the portal to get in and out. So far, the decision was to leave the portal alone. Sam and Toll were preparing a little surprise to drop into the place and create some havoc. Actually launching the harassment was waiting on the conclusion of the other side taking Alinis.

House Qinvaris.

Tally came into Richard’s office and said, “Milord, you should see this.”

“What is it?”

“A telegram from the Republic demanding the “treasure” in exchange for Alinis.”

“Does it say where to leave it?”

“The center of Luggergate in at least ten days.”

“Interesting. Ok, tell Elred to move the decoy to the Republic.”

“Do you want to use the Silverin portal?”

“I don’t think so. We’ll use the Petrie if she is available.”

“Ok, I will send Captain Crabfisher instructions. I hope that we get Alinis back.”

“How are you doing?”

“The little one is getting heavier and mother wants me to move to the estate for the birth.”

“I will miss you, but take what time you need.”

“It might be inconvenient to have a baby in the office.”

“We’ve had that before. I went through that four times with Rosa and we held things together, so we will survive.”

Osprey.

 Captain Ravathyra looked out over the forward deck as the girl practiced her dance on the forward hatch covers with an appreciative audience of off duty crew. Most of the crew liked the girl and Aidiun hated the fact that if it became necessary, he would have to be the one to kill her. He also knew that if he did, he would never be safe from the Ghost. Unlike the leaders of the Project, the captain had been around long enough to have heard the stories about the man. The captain would do his duty, but he sincerely hoped that he would not be called on to do so.

The captain was sure that the Republican navy was looking for him, even if they were not sure that the girl was on board. Ideally she should not be allowed on deck but the RDR should warn him of any approaching airship and he was far from any of them in any case.

Eilrona came onto the bridge and handed Aidiun a message. “The company would like us to drop the girl off at this bay.”

Aidiun looked at the message and cursed. “That is off the Empty Lands. We will have to steam right by the Hidden City and the Retreat in waters where the Republican navy has a large presence and is probably looking for us.”

“At least if the mistress and the others have her, we will not be responsible for what happens.”

“True.”

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