The Great Dance, Chapter 47- 48

The deliveries continue. The navy stops looking for some pirates.

Chapter 47.

Chatsrey.

Sarya grinned as Wyrran and Bill ushered Tad into the office. “You didn’t bring your princess today, young Tad?”

“She is taking care of the palace, Chompers, Lord Qinvaris and Major Tollings. I am doing you, Captain Bronzerock and Admiral Harper.”

“What do you have?”

“I was collecting the pictures for Diligent and I found a bunch of duplicated pictures. When I checked the raw pictures, the places had been Scourged.”

“How many places and where was this?”

“Deep in the jungle by the Kingdom and the Orcenlands. There were ten places Scourged. When I looked at them before they were Scourged, there may have been villages there, but there is no real way to tell. We think that the Project Scourged those places to clear the land out so that they could do things there and not have any problems with local people or animals.”

“Did you bring copies of the pictures?”

“Here is your tube.”

“I think that you need to deliver your other tubes. If you would, come back after you do. We missed this completely. Do you have an estimate as to when they did this?”

“Right after they had the devises fabricated.”

“Right in the middle of our last dust up with the Fellowship and dealing with a large assault by the Ravathyra. Get going and make your deliveries.”

The Imperial Palace.

Immianthe came into her grandfather’s office and Galan said, “What can I do for you, princess?”

“I have something for grandfather. Tad and I made a discovery and he should see it immediately.”

“Go ahead, then.”

Immianthe went into her grandfather’s office and said, “Grandfather, this is for you.”

“What is it?”

“Tad and I were starting in on the pictures for Diligent and Tad found ten places that had been Scourged.”

“During the Mage Wars?”

“Recently. Ten years ago, right after they fabricated the devises.”

“Where was this?”

“In some jungle next to the Kingdom and the Orcenlands. We included a map in the tube with a report. I need to go to House Qinvaris, Chompers and Major Tollings with this.”

“Not Captain Bronzerock?”

“Tad is doing the Republic so that I don’t get in trouble.”

“I see.”

“The princess left and Galan came in as Narbeth opened the tube. “What did she bring?”

“She says that ten places were Scourged ten years ago.”

 “No one noticed?”

“No one did, apparently.” Narbeth looked at the first picture and said, “Somebody wanted a large area killed. Call an emergency council meeting.”

The Arsenal, Cleadsgate.

Sergeant Miller looked at the group that got out of the car at the gate rather skeptically as the young man walked up to the gate with an ID that the sergeant did not recognize and said, “Tad Fallingwater. I have urgent deliveries for Captain Bronzerock and Admiral Harper.”

“I can take the deliveries and send them on.”

“I am supposed to delivery these personally.”

“On whose orders?”

“My grandfather’s, Lord Silverin. Sergeant, this is an important and urgent matter that involves highly classified and sensitive material.”

“Let me call the Admiral’s office.”

The Sergeant called the lieutenant and said, “Lieutenant, there is a young man with three elves who says that he has an urgent and personal delivery for the admiral. The young man’s name is Tad Fallingwater and he has an ID from the Radiation Lab on the Qinvaris estate in the Empire.”

The sergeant put the phone down and said “The lieutenant is calling the admiral’s office.”

After about half a twentieth, a chief showed up and handed the sergeant a piece of paper. The sergeant looked at it and said, “Mr. Fallingwater, you are cleared to enter the base. You should not have any problems the next time you visit.”

The chief said, “Tad, sorry about this. The admiral never expect that you would show up here unannounced. Where is Lord Umevan?”

“He’s at college, chief, as far as I know. I used the portal at the Silverin estate to come to the Republic.”

“No princess?”

“She is handling the palace, Major Tollings and some other people.”

“I have a car. Who is this with you?”

“This is Elashor and Listra, who watch me and Wyrran Fox, who works for a lady.”

“The princess is worried about you being kidnapped again.”

“Yes she is, so I have to get this done.”

The chief drove them to a large building that sort of looked like a battleship, complete with mast and led them inside and to an elevator, which took them up to the top of the mast. Captain Duggings was waiting and said, “I’m sorry Tad. We never expected you here. Let’s see the admiral. Chief, if you would wait with these folks.”

The captain took Tad into the admiral’s office and Tom said, “Sorry that you got held up at the gate, Tad. What did you bring us?”

“Admiral, I started work on the pictures for Diligent and started to find duplicated pictures, a lot of them, all together. When I looked at the raw pictures, the places, ten of them, had been Scourged.”

“Where is this?” Peble asked.

“In the jungle next to the kingdom and the Orcenlands.”

“Brouzen has never mentioned any signs of the Scourge,” Tom, said. “Was this in ancient times?”

“This was right after they fabricated the new devises, ten years ago. I included a report of what we found in the tube.”

“Tad, how did you get to the Republic?”

 “I ported down using the Silverin portal.”

“If I arranged a flight from Ishendell, could you take this to the Dragonmaster and my brother in law in the Kingdom? I think that this is important.”

“Ok, I will make my delivery to Captain Bronzerock and then head home. I will make some more sets for some others in the morning and tell my grandmother that I need to deliver them.”

“You don’t want to tell your mother?” Peble asked.

“Mother is working her case through the High Court. She’s here. Hopefully she is at the Umevan town house and I can sneak back out. I need to keep going.”

Tom and Peble laughed as Tad left the office. Tom opened the tube and unrolled the top picture. He looked at it and said, “Whatever this is, they wanted everything around it dead and a huge dead zone to protect it. Take this down to intelligence and get Adiun Beinan in the morning.”

“Do you want to arrange an airship visit?”

“Not right away. This is impossible to hide and I suspect that they have defenses and RDR, so no airships. We’ll want to get Major Tollings started on this, but he was already on Tad’s list.”

“I think that Tad, or his grandfather, made the list on the fly, with obvious choices. I will take this and have our people start to look at it. I imagine that Tad will get to Harald and Greldug before we will, but I will tell them to see Tad.”

Tom pointed at the picture. “I’m disappointed at the other side. A secret hidden base inside a volcano, probably filled with enhanced and Protectors with mad scientists and dark mages creating evil devises. I don’t think that there is a trash novel trope that they have missed.”

Rob grinned as Tad came into his office. “What brings you here, Tad?”

“I found something this morning and I wanted to make sure that you had it. Right after the devises were fabricated, ten of them were used to Scourge an area of the jungle near the Kingdom and the Orcenlands. I have pictures.”

“We never had a hint that that had happened.”

“The Scourgings were surrounding a volcano. People there may have thought it was an eruption. Here is your tube.”

“I could take you to dinner.”

“I need to get to the portal and back to the estate before my mother picks up on me. I also need to get home and make up some more sets of these for Prince Brouzen and the Dragonmaster.”

House Qinvaris.

Richard grinned as Hagre ushered the princess into his office. He bowed and said, “What can I do for you, princess. I see that Tad is not with you. Has he been kidnapped again?”

“No, he hasn’t been kidnapped. We are splitting the deliveries, since it is important.”

“What did you find?”

“Tad started to do the Pictures for Diligent’s next voyage and we discovered a bunch of duplicated pictures. When we looked at the raws, we found ten places that were close together and had been Scourged.  I have a tube for you and a tube for Chompers before I deliver one to Major Tollings. Tad is doing Mrs. Steelmaker, your brother and Captain Bronzerock since grandmother would get upset if I ported down to the Republic without telling her.”

“I see. You are taking the places and people you can get to without making a fuss and Tad is taking the places where you going would be a fuss. I expect that you want a GP and driver for Chompers.”

“Yes. I don’t drive yet, since grandmother would object and Tad can drive me if necessary.”

Richard laughed. He rang a bell and said, “Nightstalker, if you would, take the princess to Chompers and back. I will want you here afterwards and we will want to setup a meeting in the morning after I go over what the princess has brought. I will want Horatio, Chompers, Elred, Taenaran and Iezzen as well as Strongoak if he can make it.”

“I will arrange it milord. Princess if you would come with me.”

As they went down the hall, Immianthe said, “Do you trust him to stay put?”

Nightstalker grinned. “I believe that he will, at least until he goes over the material you gave him, princess.”

“Why isn’t he looking for Alinis?”

“Because there are things going on and he would make things worse by being there himself and attracting attention.”

“He could port down to the Republic like Tad did.”

“Yes he could, if House Silverin would let him. But he will not do that unless things are more pressing than they are at present and if he needs a bargaining chip to get his daughter back, you may have just given him one.”

The Qinvaris Estate.

Chompers bowed as Immianthe came to the front door and said, “Where is your partner, princess?”

“In the Republic making deliveries. I have one for you.”

“What is it?”

“When we started to prepare the pictures for Diligent Tad found a lot of places where the pictures were duplicated.”

“They were trying to hide something.”

“When Tad found the raw pictures, ten places were Scourged. When we checked, the places had been Scourged about the same time as the Scourge devises had been fabricated.”

“Hand me what you have, princess. I expect that I will be talking to Richard.”

Immianthe handed Chompers the tube and said, “I need to make my last stop, the major in Ishendell.”

“Tad probably took Rob and the rest.”

“Yes. Bye now.”

Immianthe returned to the GP and they drove off.

Chatsrey.

George came to the door and there, with Rob was a young half elf and three other elves. Before George could say anything, Rob said, “George, this is Tad and he gave something to me that I think that you should have. Tad, this is George Stonebreaker, head of the Office of Inanimates. He should have been on your list, but you hadn’t met him like the others. George, Tad operates the machine that has the pictures from the Eyes in it, as well as other things. He was preparing some pictures for Diligent when he discovered something rather important.”

“What did you find, young man?”

“I found ten places that had been Scourged, ten years or so ago.”

“Show me. Why don’t you all come in? Who are all you others?”

“This is Wyrran Fox who works for Sarya,” Rob said. “He was at the house where the portal is and has been driving Tad around. The other two are Elashor and Listra, who are watching Tad.”

The group came in and Rob and Tad joined George in his workshop, where Tad put the pictures on the table and showed George where the places were, how they were covered with duplicated pictures and the pattern of Scourged areas surrounding the volcano. George looked at Rob and said, “They didn’t, did they?”

“Apparently, they did.”

Tad looked at them and said, “What is so funny?”

“You didn’t grow up with the boy’s novels like we did, Tad, so you don’t see the joke. The secret boss base in a volcano is a trope that gets used all too often in those novels,” Rob said. “Most of the time they miss things like keeping the mass of minions occupying the base fed and getting in and out while remaining concealed and what do you do with all the construction workers who built the thing in the first place.”

Tad laughed. “That actually makes sense. What are the best books? I’ll have to get some the next time I’m here while I’m still young enough to read them. Rob, I need to get back to the portal and the estate before my mother finds out that I was here.”

Tad left and George said, “He is very good. Where did he come from?”

“The Umevan Estate and yes he is. You weren’t on his list because he didn’t know you and his grandfather didn’t either. He did see Sarya, the admiral and me. I wanted to make sure that you had this as soon as possible and the admiral is making arrangements for more copies and deliveries in the morning. I need to go. The admiral’s people are probably looking for me.”

Móreliante looked at the message and grinned. The toad had actually delivered on his promise. The treasure had been secured. The only question now was how to get it out of the country discreetly without using the portals, since Móreliante was sure that the portals were insecure.  She rang for her major domo and said, “Have Kendall draw a check for one hundred thousand gold and deliver it to this address.”

“Yes milady.”

Her major domo left and Móreliante activated Jestina. “I have good news, Jestina. The treasure has been secured.”

“Is that certain?”

“Reasonably. I am probably being watched and cannot deal with it myself, personally, but the stasis cases were delivered.”

“That is very good news indeed. Has there been any word of the Dancer?”

“None at all. She disappeared after the girl did.”

“Has there been any activity looking of the Dancer or the girl?”
“There hasn’t been any in the newspaper.”

Móreliante deactivated Jestina. Before she shut down, she sent a message.

Mistress, I have good news. The treasure has been secured.”

Izzie looked at Torald and Tod and said, “You want me to gin up a story?”

“That Harper girl was kidnapped,” Tod said. “Unfortunately we are sure that the girl is at sea and out of the country. So we aren’t really looking for her. But we imagine that the other side is looking for us to be flailing around pointlessly. So we want some stories about the stupid police, idiot FSA people and Crooked PI’s poking around.”

“Should I get Vinnie in on this?”

Torald sighed. “If you think he will go for it.”

“I think that I can make it work.”

“Do it, then.”

Ishendell.

Lissia smiled when the young lady came inside and said, “Welcome, princess. What brings you to us this evening?”

Lyari smiled, stood up, waddled over to Immianthe and said. “Im, Im, Ta, Ta?”

Immianthe smiled and said, “Tad isn’t with me today, Lyari. He will be here next time. Lissia, I have a delivery for Jorge.”

“Should an Imperial princess be making deliveries?”

“This was an important and discreet matter, so yes. Tad and I wanted this delivered as fast as possible and just to the right people in the beginning.”

Lissia picked her son up and said, “Let’s see Jorge, then.”

Jorge was in the parlor reading when they came in and Immianthe said, “Major, this for you.”

“What is it?”

“Tad and I started the pictures for Diligent and Tad started to find duplicated pictures, a lot of them in one area.”

“They were hiding something, something big.”

“Yes. When we looked deeper, there were ten Scourged areas surrounding a volcano.”

“Ancient Scourgings?”

“The places were Scourged about ten years ago.”

“Where was this?”

“That jungle between the Kingdom and the Orcenlands.”

“That, and the volcano explains why nobody noticed. This was right after the Scourge devises were fabricated. Thank you for bringing this to me, princess. I assume that you made a delivery to your grandfather.”

“I did. To Lord Qinvaris and Chompers, as well. I need to port home.”

“There may be more deliveries tomorrow.”

“I know, but we can get help for them.”

The princess left and Jorge said, “I better get the officers together and start a planning session. If Tad went to the admiral, he’s going to want something, soonest.”

The Arsenal, Cleadsgate.

Nathan and Yrvien had been finalizing the wedding plans with Nathan’s mother when the messenger found them and they headed to the base. When they arrived at the Admiralty, the building was a hive of activity as apparently the main fleet was being sent to Milport. The pair walked into the map room, the admiral looked up and said, “I need you to fly up to Ishendell and be ready to fly from there tomorrow.”

“Where, admiral?”

“Zirgoccol, Hammerfall and Bighagh. You will be taking Tad and some very sensitive deliveries and some orders for General Ironaxe. Unfortunately, I’m going to need him.”

“What’s going on?”

“Tad can explain better than I can. He discovered the place. The short answer is that Tad found a place that was surrounded by Scourged areas. The other side used ten Scourge devises to create a dead zone around something. They did it ten years ago.”

“Right after they fabricated the devises,” Yrvien said. “I need to send a message to my father to fly into Zirgoccol on the way out, Nathan.”

“Dismissed,” Tom said.
 

Chapter 48.

Osprey.

Aidiun and Eilrona were having a quiet evening together when there was knock on the captain’s door. He grimaced and said, “What is it?”

“Captain, the Lieutenant says that something changed with the airships, sir.”

“I will be right there.” Aidiun turned to his wife and said, “Duty calls, dear.”

Eilrona sighed. “It does. Maybe Alinis and I should have a chat about the latest Imperial fashions.”

“My purse is groaning already.”

The captain dressed a bit and went to the information center behind the bridge. “What is it, lieutenant?”

“Sir, I am sorry to bother you, but we were being shadowed by two Pug airships. I suspected that they were looking for us, since Alinis’s bonded probably has a guess at least what direction Alinis is.  I was using RDF to track the airships, both of which were fitted with RDR, when they suddenly abandoned looking for us and headed back to their base. There has also been quite a bit of coded traffic tonight.”

“Something big changed the game. Whatever it was, it was more important than finding the admiral’s niece. Keep an eye on things. I’m going to send a message to the company.”

The captain sent the message off and returned to his cabin where Eilrona and Alinis were in robes at the table, chatting. The captain looked at Alinis and said, “Would you know why your uncle would suddenly stop looking for you?”

Alinis frowned. “Did he do that?”

“We were being stalked by airships equipped with RDR. Apparently they were locating ships where you might be aboard for the cruisers. Suddenly, just about a twentieth ago, the airships aborted the search and turned to return to base and apparently the cruisers did as well. So whatever it is, it’s more important than finding you right now.”

“Captain, I can’t tell you, because right now, I can’t think of anything that would suddenly cause the navy to stop looking for me, at least most of the ships. Somebody may have found more Scourge devises or something and Uncle Tom wants them dealt with.”

“The Scourge devices at the Citadel had been switched at some point. That led to a rather amusing firework that was rather embarrassing for Dúhael, who had ordered the Citadel Scourged.”

“That sounds like Jorge.”

“Who?”

“Jorge Umevan. He does crazy things and switching Dúhael’s Primaries would be something he would do.”

“What else has he done?”

“He sent Grimfrost’s cook bear into the Darkmage’s quarters in the Imperial Palace. He also interrupted the Darkmage’s meeting with mud, as they call it.”
Aidiun laughed. “That sounds crazy all right.”

“He and Paeris also played with the Darkmage’s Scourge devises so that the live devises would get sent to the Deadlands, right under the Darkmage’s nose.”

“So Jorge is courageous and tricky.”

“Yes. Also, you do not want to use a portal that Jorge has been anywhere near without the Portal Service operating it. He won’t mess with Portal Service portals, since he works for the Portal Service, but any portal that isn’t connected is fair game and if he is even in the same country as the portal, watch out.”

“Is he responsible for those tiny portals?”

“That was Adiun Beinan after my friends and I were kidnapped by Durlan and his gang. We escaped, but Adiun and the growing mob of Lower City boys and fae wanted to have a better way of tracing things like balloons that they were sending at the Retreat and the Camp, so Adiun had the microportals made and the boys have been using them for things ever since.”

“Would the navy use them?”

“I wouldn’t know, but Jorge did use them against navy’s bladderball team, so a bunch of junior officers know about them and where to get them.”

“I have the feeling that a bunch of people know about them. I think that it is time for you to get some sack time, miss, so I bid you good night.”

Alinis returned to her cabin and Eilrona said, “That was an interesting conversation.”

“Yes it was. I expect that everything she told us was already common knowledge even among our people, but as is typical, the company did not warn us about such things before we were sent out.”

“They did strip Alinis to her underwear. So they knew about the microportals. What about that Jorge character? Do you think that he is real?”

“I believe so. I doubt that anyone would make up anything so seemingly preposterous.”

“I think that Alinis isn’t the only one who needs their rest, so kiss me, turn out the light and get to bed.”

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