The Intrigues of the Plateau, Chapter 33-34

aerel joined his wife and daughter and said, “This will be an excellent blend.”

“I’m glad that you agree, Taerel,” Aelua said. “You could have been more active in this.”

“Filia handled this very well. I have been discussing how to handle the cult with Lord Qinvaris and trying to keep as many as I can alive.”

Chapter 33.

 The Silverin Estate.

  Filia looked at the gathered young Silverin and grinned. Lilly had been successful in recruiting from the Silvas, the Ironaxes and the Umevan had sent some rather bored college students, there were five from Bubil Kil, more from here on the estate and some from the Justiciars and the Guild. All in all, fifty from the various parts of the family. All had either  been going through Service in the Republic, completed Service, were Dancers or had experience in hiding certain things from others. Most could shoot and had a variety of skills. Most importantly, the group could be groomed to take the family forward again. Filia’s mother joined her as they watched the group train and said, “You attracted quite a few.”

“Yes I did. We have a good start.”

“Our adversaries spread us out and now they will see the folly of that. How many will become couples?”

“That started even before I started to recruit. Let me tell you what is happening at the amusement park in Chatsrey.”

“There are the Flight Instructor and the others. Are you going to inflict the Program on them?”

“Not fully. There isn’t time for that. They need to start to probe the cult very quickly. The enemy isn’t going to rest.”

Taerel joined his wife and daughter and said, “This will be an excellent blend.”

“I’m glad that you agree, Taerel,” Aelua said. “You could have been more active in this.”

“Filia handled this very well. I have been discussing how to handle the cult with Lord Qinvaris and trying to keep as many as I can alive.”

“Are they at risk?”

“The Prophet is heading toward the block. What happened at Iyanalion demands it. The fact that the Prophet did what he did while wearing the family badge only makes it worse. Some others will also be heading to the block if they are identified. The rest of the cult is going to have to be here, supervised and collared until we are sure that they can be trusted.”

 “You hate this, don’t you husband?”

“I knew what the consequences could be when I accepted the ring. I would prefer to be the simple Vintner with his winery. The gods have said otherwise and the old enemies of the family will not let it rest.”

Chapter 34.

Cleadsgate.

Peble frowned at the cars in front of Kellam’s, the High Guards and the general mob. “We may want to go elsewhere for lunch today, admiral.”

“What’s going on there at Kellam’s, Peble?”

“I think that an adjunct is coming over to tell us,” Rob said. “There’s Swifty.”

Peble rolled the car window down and as Swifty saluted, asked, “What is going on, adjunct.”

“Sorry sirs. I had to reserve Kellam’s after the lunch crowd to pay the princess back.”

“The princess?” Drannor asked. “What princess is that?”

“Princess Immianthe from the Empire, sir. I said that I would bring her here if she distracted one of my grandfather’s people when I was making an exchange with the man from the Fellowship embassy in the amusement park. My sister made the reservation for me, and took the place, since we had so many people by the time we had to deal with the bodyguards and the press.”

“Surely there is room for the four of us.”

“I think so, sir. I will ask the princess.”

Swifty returned to the crowd, came back and said, “Not a problem, sir.”

“Why don’t you introduce me to the lady?”

“She asked me to. She knows Admiral Harper already.”

 Swifty escorted the admiral to the doll like princess and said, “Princess Immianthe, this is Admiral Steelshaper and Captains Duggings, Bronzerock and Willings.”

Immianthe smiled. “I’m sorry that we may have messed up your lunch plans, admiral. Sthisse set this up and we couldn’t bring a small crowd.”

“That is perfectly all right, princess. Why are you visiting here in the Republic?”

“I’m just having a rest away from home and a longer visit without a lot of events and such. Tad and I are also watching over some of Tad’s family for Lady Umevan, since they were evacuated from the estate. I think that I will let you go on with what you are doing and not take up a great deal of your time. I am taking a tour of the base this afterten, but public affairs is taking care of that and we have Swifty’s commander as an escort.”

The admiral and the others sat down and the admiral asked, “Peble, does State even know that that young lady is in the country?”

“I wouldn’t know sir. Gail Flyer set up the tour with Elista and the commander. I imagine that some people know. I can check with Swifty.”

“I wonder why he brought her here, of all places. That seems rather unsuitable. On the other hand, Kellam is rather pleased with himself.”

“I will ask Swifty after lunch.”

“I definitely want him in the navy. He’s dealt with a potential fiasco that would have given the shakes to most lieutenants and not even turned a hair.”

“Let me guess, Admiral Harper and Prince Brouzen.”

“He wasn’t an admiral then, and yes. Fortunately he could only pull the suddenly visiting royalty gag on me once.”

“I wouldn’t get too concerned about Immianthe,” Rob said. “She isn’t a big fan of circuses unless she is making sure that Tad is attending to her properly. Since Tad hasn’t been kidnapped lately, that won’t be an issue.”

“Do you know why she is here?”

“Keeping an eye out for other girls and Tad. Tad is probably here to keep him out of the hands of the enemy as long as they hold the estate and with the palace already having been assaulted and taken over once, parking the princess with Tad makes sense.”

“The Emperor wants his grandchildren out of sight for a while.”

“Yes. It doesn’t hurt that Immianthe has been here on the mainland already more than once and is a frequent visitor in Ishendell.”

“Why does she go there?”

“Movie nights. She brings Tad down and they go to dinner and a movie. Sometimes the other Imperial grandchildren come as well.”

Kellam came over with their lunches and said, “Miss Cutflame is buying your lunches, gentlemen.”

“Apparently she made the arrangements. Did she tell you who was coming?”

“She did not, and this is a wonderful surprise. It is wonderful to see the young princess doing so well.”

“She will probably be good for business.”

“Very much so. Of course my meager offerings are hardly worth her custom.”

“She seems to disagree.”

“It is not for me to say.”

Kellam left and Drannor said, “When lunch is over, have Elista call State and tell them that the princess is in the country and has been for some time. Apparently, she slipped in here somehow, is staying someplace and no one on the mound has noticed.”

“The princess probably likes it that way,” Rob said. “She’s a rather practical type, as I said.”

“You have stories, don’t you?”

“Yes I do. I’ll save some of them for the flight down to Desert Howl. Peble knows what she did when Tad was returned, because Tad was retrieved by the navy.”

“Why did that happen?”

“Tad was responsible for an important document,” Peble said. “The admiral, Major Tollings and some others wanted him back where he belonged and definitely wanted what he had to say before going into Lain Othrond. So we assisted the extraction. I will give you the full brief. In any case, the young princess had everything arranged for Tad’s arrival when we arrived in Ishendell.”

“Does the boy let her roll all over him?”

“Not at all,” Rob said. “When he is working, he is very professional. He became that way as a self preservation method due to the bad habits of the mistress of the estate. The mistress is dead, but as far as I know, Tad hasn’t changed. You haven’t had the chance to get one of his deliveries because the estate and his files are currently in the hands of the enemy, who are probably wondering where he is.”

“What did the boy do?”

“The action in the Junglelands was started as a result of Tad finding the Scourged places surrounding the volcano,” Peble said. “He discovered the place, collected the intelligence and distributed it to the various parties in several countries very quickly. After lunch and the tour, I will go over that and the other things he has done.”

“Where does he get the pictures?”

“That will be part of the brief. I don’t know if the enemy has the files from the eyes, but I doubt that they have somebody with Tad’s eye for things.”

“Tom slipped up in not making sure that the material was secured.”

“There were other things going on, the estate was Naertho Umevan’s responsibility and you are right, we should have made sure that the files were secured.”

As the princess’s party prepared to leave, the admiral waved and Swifty walked over. “Tell the princess, thank you for the lunch. How do you know her?”

“She was having dragon boys hand me bruises at the instructions of the Flight Instructor.”

“That sounds like him. Where is he?”

“Not here, sir, and that is all I am going to say. He might send the dragon boys and they are all pilots.”

The admiral started to laugh and said, “Carry on then.”

Swifty turned back to the Princess’s party. Drannor turned to the others and said,  “This keeps getting even more interesting. What is going on with that?”

“I don’t think I will discuss that either,” Rob said. “Resod does have the boys, they are pilots and the radios are working, so they can get here. Resod likes his privacy very much and he has new friends with skills that I don’t want to deal with.”

“What kinds of skills?”

“The kind that Sarya recruits for.”

“Then I won’t poke.”

They joined the tour for a bit as the admiral joined the appropriate welcome for the princess that public affairs had arranged. Swifty was apparently in charge of the agenda as he nudged the lieutenant to keep things moving. The admiral arrived at dinner as the princess and her group arrived and joined the admiral, his wife and other senior officers for dinner in the officer’s mess where Immianthe charmed everyone. As the princess and the others left, Drannor noticed an exhausted Swifty and said to Peble, “Do you remember your first thing like this?”

“I certainly do. At least Swifty seems to have survived. I will get the report from Elista in the morning.”

“Dismissed. Go home. We have a flight tomorrow after we get things done here.”

“I will see you in the morning, sir.”

Swifty dragged himself into the Chief of Staff’s office, took out the agenda and started the report. Elista saw him and said, “How did things go?”

“We kept to the agenda and Immianthe didn’t feel rushed. So things went well.”

“You know the princess well enough to know things like that?”

“If she feels pushed, she starts to push Tad a bit. I’ve been around them long enough to know what that looks like. Tad puts up with it for the most part, but you can watch for that. I only had to nudge things a couple of times. Let me get the report done and head to the barracks.”

“Just so you know, I am rather impressed with you, young dragon. So was the admiral.”

“I wish the Secretary was. Then he wouldn’t hold the appointment over my head.”

Swifty finished the report, handed it to Elista and said, “Good night ma’am.”

Beltain

Grace walked into the office and the entire staff was in a state of panic. “What is going on?”

Bill Corncutter, the director of embassies said, “The Imperial princess has been in the country for some time and the department didn’t even notice.”

“Who is here?”

“Princess Immianthe from the Empire is here in the Republic. She toured the naval base at Cleadsgate and the Chief of Staff’s office notified us that she had visited. That was the first we knew that she was even in the country!”

“So, the elf was here. What difference does it make?”
“The office in the Empire is conducting delicate negotiations over the raids and other matters. We are also trying to organize the post office and the customs office. So far all those things have been going well, but if somebody insults the royal family, that could change.”

“The embassy apparently didn’t tell us that she was coming.”
“Things were chaotic on both ends with the transition to the new Administration and the war, so the notice may have gotten lost in the shuffle.”

“Who was responsible for handling those things?”

“Frank Bacon, but he was Old Family and resigned with the rest of them. So his office hasn’t had anyone in charge as you haven’t appointed anyone. For that matter, half the staff left as well.”

“What difference does it make?”
All the heads in the office turned as Grace continued. “The princess hasn’t needed any attention from us and apparently hasn’t asked us for anything. So we don’t need to pay any attention to the High Elf idiot. Go about your duties and if something comes up, we can deal with it.”

Shaking their heads, the staff returned to work. Gilly Filister turned to Frank Steamer once Forge had entered her office and said, “I hope that she sends somebody to tell the President.”
“Have somebody go down to Chatsrey and let the office there know that the princess is in the country, if they don’t already know.”

“Do you think that they didn’t tell us?”

“They may have assumed that we knew already. Have someone check entries and find out how the people at the airport and piers messed this one up.”

“What about the President?”
“Let the office know. Since we haven’t had a disaster, let’s not panic.”

Bill Yarder came into the office with a stack of papers and said, “What happened to the girl who clipped papers for the office every day.”
“She’s down in Chatsrey,” Frank said. “The Secretary objected because she was Dragonkin. So I sent her and the other inappropriate types to work for their Service in Chatsrey out the Secretary’s eye.”

“We need somebody to take that job. For that matter, what happened to our press office?”
“Let me guess, the princess has been in the papers on a regular basis.”
“Yes she has, with some refugee kids from the Umevan Estate in the Empire. They ported down from the Empire, the Umevan arranged for temporary status as visitors and rented an amusement park for the kids in Chatsrey. That boy that is with the princess came down with the rest of the kids and the princess came along as well.”

“That explains how she got here, though we should have somebody setup to handle that portal if it gets regular use. Since the princess hasn’t been looking for something from us, we won’t look totally foolish.”

Bradal looked at Cain and said, “Well?”

“The old dwarf said that he did not have Dantas on assignment and did not know what he was working on.”
“Do you believe him?”

“Actually, I do. That will not matter, as the dwarf is going to be looking into what Dantas is working on and offering support.”

“Did you press?”

“I told the dwarf that his office here on the Plateau may have issues if he doesn’t squelch the story. He said that he wasn’t too concerned and that wife and the other ladies would complain if their things did not get press coverage.”

“He’s probably right, damn him. We could take steps to break his monopoly, but that would take time and we don’t have that. How are other things going?”

“The FSA investigation is stalling. Congressman Flyer and Congressman Wavechaser are pushing to get the Academy appointments reinstated and there is apparently a princess from the Empire that has taken over the amusement park and annoyed my grandchildren.”

Bradal laughed. “Why?”
“My daughter and daughter in law do not want their children associating with riffraff from the Empire, so they are banned from the park, even though the park is free, since Umevan Electric is paying for the park for the season. They brought some children from the estate in the Empire apparently and are using the park as a place to keep them happy.”
“How is the princess involved?”
“Apparently the princess is rather attached to a young man from the estate and came with him. There are probably other reasons, but I haven’t looked into things very deeply.”

“The Cutflames once owned an amusement park. How is the case concerning the Cotton Exchange going? George has been moping around for some time now.”
“The appeal has not yet been denied, but that is only because the high court is not in session and the district court is tied up with the FSA’s fiasco.”

“That sounds worse than the FSA stalling.”
“It is. The problem is that the FSA started in and were slowed down by being forced to make cases in the various magistrate’s courts. Then the searches were being resisted and the first cases started into the same courts that the FSA had to go to for warrants and so forth. So things clogged up, the FSA was forced to drop a significant number of the cases, the Chief Prosecutor’s office is overwhelmed and a lot of the victims have gone to the press as there is a large citizen’s action suit in court as we speak against the FSA, filed by Mrs. Cutflame.”

“How public is that?”
“Unfortunately radios started to work again, just as the case started to heat up. The case is the top of the news.”

“That doesn’t sound good. How are the Old Families holding up?”
“Just fine. They are looking like the victims now and the FSA is looking like an overreaching government agency. I doubt that the Director will survive, that is if he stays out of prison.” 
 “Have you talked to the reporter?”
“No, I have not. I doubt that he would be persuaded at this point and stronger methods will probably be more harm than good.”

“See what you can do. We are running out of options.”

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