The Intrigues of The Plateau, Chapter 57-58

The mystery of the strange devise deepens. There are more fun and games at the market in Innshys.

Chapter 57.

Chatsrey

Jreghug looked at the car and truck and said to Faghig, “And there they are.” He lifted the camera. Now all we have to do is find out who they are and what is going on.”

“It doesn’t seem to involve any of the rest of it.”

“I know. It’s just that that thing bothers me. I’m going to send a message home with pictures and see if uncle had one of those things. The thing looked familiar.”

“Let’s go. We need to cover the major.”

“If we’re lucky, the Director will fire the major and we can go home before Tigerlilly spends all your money.”

Faghig laughed. “She likes to shop and Mrs. Tollings takes her places. Of course the magazines have also found her. So she isn’t spending my money.”

When Lissia had proposed the rather wild fae for shooting Geral Lightshine’s new line, Tarrel had been skeptical, until Geral had seen the fae and been entranced. So Tarrel was stuck and with Lissia and Stacey both visibly with child, Tarrel was going to need a new look anyway. Tigerlilly had proved to be a trooper and the camera loved her, both in her humanoid form and when she had made a bit of a mistake, Trueform. Of course Geral had wasted no time making new very light dresses for the girl that accented them perfectly. The shoot for Timely had gone off very well and when Lidia Bacon, the fashion editor, saw the sketches and pictures, she smiled and said, “We’re going to have one problem with this?”

“What?”

“The girls will want wings.”

“I can’t help that.”

“I think that we have another winner here. Where did you find her?”

“Lissia did.”

“Is she a relative?”

“No. Apparently Tigerlilly bonded in the jungle to an orc, who fell ill and left the jungle. He returned, Tigerlilly beguiled him to a grove for testing and has been with him ever since.”

“We can use that. Mysterious and romantic at the same time.”

Dan looked at Lythienne and said, “I’m not sure how to handle this.”

“What is it?”

“Dumag assaulted the Project’s base, but the leaders all closed themselves up in a vault with their devise. I’m not sure how to tell the President just what could happen and what is going on.”

“Won’t Admiral Steelshaper tell the President?”

“I’m sure that he will, when he gets the brief. The problem is that Admiral Steelshaper has been on the sidelines with First Battle Squadron and not in the middle of things, since the war has been fought by the old cruisers, the submarines and the special squadron.”

“Airships, the Albatross and Skychaser, with Jorge and Rob.”
“Yes. I think that the admiral is getting up to speed, but there are nuances that will take time to pick up. In any case, Tom dropped this on me. I’m going to talk to Caldin and Tomas about this.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Tom wants me to talk to Tungrunli Ironaxe about cracking doors. Apparently Elmar Qincyne has found one that he doesn’t think that he will be able to open.”

Milport

Peble came into Drannor’s office on Fearless and said, “I have Lieutenant Brownlow here, sir.”

“Who?”

“Admiral Harper detached the lieutenant to look into the thing under the volcano in the jungle. He has been searching for information concerning the devise and was there when the general went in.”

“So, he knows what is going on? Why haven’t I seen reports from him?”

“They have been part of the daily briefs and up until the suppressors were shut down, he has been out of communication in the Fellowship and the Empire.”

“Was there a reason for that?”

“Senator Steelslash wants him on the grill because he was involved in the events leading up to Luggergate.”

“How involved?”

“He discovered that Rivertender had been used to move the Primaries for the Stewards and where the Primaries likely were just before he graduated from the Academy and was assigned to Captain Bronzerock.”

“Very involved, then. Was the detachment to keep him out of the navy committee’s grasp?”

“Not at all. At the time, the number of officers who would understand the nuances required for the assignment were very small and whoever took the task had to be junior enough to be free to move around without disrupting operations leading up to the assault in the jungle. It also helped that the lieutenant was a member of an Old Family and would be able to gain access to family files. There was another reason, but that is a private matter.”

“Have the Lieutenant join us, then. Does he know about the mage hunt?”

“I can’t say, sir. Let me get the lieutenant.”

Peble went outside and returned with a very young looking and nervous Lieutenant who came to attention and saluted. Grinning inside, the admiral said, “At ease, lieutenant. Sit down and tell the captain and me how things ended in the jungle.”

“Yes sir. I was only there at the end with Mr. Harper. The troops from the Orcenlands, a special regiment from the Kingdom, the army Experimental regiment and the marines assaulted the base. The enemy was in the process of evacuating using portals and the Jumpers, so casualties were minimal. I gave the general’s report to the captain for distribution.”

“Now, as to what your assignment was. Why did Admiral Harper hand you the assignment?”

“I asked him the same question, sir. There were a variety of reasons, but the biggest one was that I had been involved in certain things and was available.”

“What were you looking for?”

“The admiral had seen a book from Elf Carran called The Rising of The Gods, the story of some mages who created a devise to raise themselves to divinity. He wanted me to chase down the facts behind the story and see if the actions of the enemy were related.”

“That must have seemed like a very strange assignment.”

“It did, sir. At least until I found things in the Brother’s library and other places. The things I discovered seemed to say that the so called Divinity Devise could exist and that the Project was formed to build it. With the information I discovered, I went to Ishendell on my way to the Empire after making a detour that, while productive, took longer than I expected. I ran into Master Mage Zeastearos at the airport in Ishendell and he provided more information on the devise.”

“Just like that?”

“I had met Master Mage Zeastearos at the Mage Academy when he tested me for contact with mana. Captain Bronzerock had arranged that. So he knew who I was, and that I had been involved in the strange part of the war. In any case, he provided more material to me.”

“Why?”

“If I secured it in Ishendell, in a secure file tied to me, there would be no tie to the Mage Academy. This was at the time that there was some thought that the Project would take the Mage Academy again and the Grand Master felt that getting certain material out of sight, but still accessible would be a good thing. Since I was already involved, I made a good place to park the material.”

“Did you know what was going on in the navy and the Plateau?”

“Not until my assistant and I returned to Ishendell.”

“Your assistant was the reason for the diversion?”

“Yes. She was a refugee from Lain Othrond that I met in Elf Carran’s shop. We wanted to get her immigration status taken care of so that she could get a passport, so we ported to Astaire to check the Registry of the Order, discovered that she was the countess of Semmont and went to Vestia. Mardi cleared some issues up while I dug into the archive from Altensee and then went to Astia to see what I could get from the church archives.”

“They probably weren’t willing to show you very much.”

“After getting busted because nobody told me that I should have registered at the Inquisition as a mage, the Church was very cooperative when I showed them what I had already. That led to finding just about everything about the divinity devise, including the journal of the elf who built the thing. I then returned to Ishendell, dropped off what I had collected, wrote a report and my assistant and I continued to Zirgoccol.”

“Why there?”

“I wanted to check the library there, the new library in Fayspire-Innshys and then into the Empire to check the Lower City Library, the Imperial Archives and the Sanctuary.”

“You weren’t evading the JAG?”

“Sir, if I was, I had no official instructions that my orders had been changed. The Jag didn’t forward anything about me to the embassy in the Fellowship or the Representative’s office in the Empire. I had my orders and I was pursuing information vital to the effort in the Jungle, where I reported and was told to report here for further orders.”  

“Did you run into any loose former admirals in your travels?”

“I may have. That didn’t change my orders.”

“Things were chaotic at the Navy Secretary’s office and the State Department. I can see how the JAG never had the orders sent to all the stations and so you never knew to return. Apparently, when you did know, you came here with dispatch. Do you have the report on what you discovered?”

“Yes sir. The print shop is making copies for you and the Chief of Staff’s office. I will drop another copy with Intelligence.”

“I assume that you are on your way home.”

“Those were my orders from the commodore, sir, unless you change them. I am also escorting some personnel for General Ironaxe.”

“Why would the personnel need to be escorted?”

“They do not, sir, but the general thought it a good idea, since they would stick with me and not do something on their own.”

“Who are we discussing, exactly?”

“Sergeant Wavechaser and squad with two midshipmen.”

“The boys. These are the boys, aren’t they?”

“Yes sir. I am to transport them back to the Academy.”

“What were they doing?”

“Sir, you will have to ask General Ironaxe that. I was not in the jungle and had my own assignment. From what I have heard so far, the enemy was annoyed and they did provide intelligence and material for my report.”

“I think that you better be off, then. Take your report and all the material and take it to naval intelligence. Also, if you can, enter it all into the record when you go up to the grill.”

“Yes, sir!”

“When you get a chance, I think that my wife will want to meet you and your assistant. When is the wedding?”

“We haven’t gotten that far yet, sir. Mardi hasn’t met the family as yet, since they do not live in Chatsrey. I will let Captain Duggings know, sir.”

“Dismissed, then.”

The lieutenant left and Peble said, “That was very sneaky, sir.”

“It was, wasn’t it? The Senator is going to ask what the lieutenant was doing and the lieutenant will dump all of that material into the record and the press.”

“What if they don’t believe it? I’m not sure I believe it and I cut the original orders.”

“Rather incredible, wasn’t it? There was something missing there as well.”

“What is that?”

“The guide, the mentor to point the hero in the right direction. I imagine that Tom told him to go to Elf Carran’s and look for the book, and the Brother’s library was an obvious place to start. But logically it should have taken moons to go through there looking randomly through ancient journals and things and making discoveries of bits and pieces. The lieutenant has been able to go directly to what he wants and get what he needed. I wonder if there is an old family seeming involved.”

“The thing he is being private about.”

“Yes. In any case, the navy owes the lieutenant quite a bit. Unfortunately the Senator and his friends are going to try to ruin him, since he is Old Family.”

“You didn’t tell him that.”

“It will work better if he finds out for himself. He had orders to do what he was doing and while I expect that there was some crossover, he may have left Ishendell rather quickly for the Empire and while he did divert to the Mortal Kingdoms, he did stick to the assignment and complete the mission. Was Tom talking to him?”

“Sir, I have been at the Arsenal and not in a position to know where Tom was at any given time. As a private citizen, he was free to go where he wanted to and talk to whoever he wanted to. I doubt that the Lieutenant was going to discuss a classified matter with Mr. Harper.”

“This wasn’t really classified, was it?”

“We never put it under classification. The thing was to be kept discreet, but since the only people that knew that the lieutenant was on detached duty were Admiral Harper, me, and Captain Bronzerock, who is still his nominal commander, there weren’t a lot of people involved to talk about it.”

“Have Commander Littlechild fly the lieutenant and all his material home. We wouldn’t want to keep the committee waiting. I want to read this report, so dismissed.”

“Yes, sir!”

Chapter 58.

Innshys

“Have you been enjoying yourself?”

Paeris grinned as his mother came into the parlor  where he was reading the paper. “I have, mother, actually. You have returned, without your entourage.”

Amarille grinned. “I had to leave them off at the various places I collected them from.”

“I understand that there are some pests at my home.”

“Not your home, but some places have been bothered, yes. Mrs. Wavechaser is rather annoyed at the FSA and the Stewards have returned, at least to Old Town. Unfortunately for them, some Stewards accosted Bekka Qin and the desert got interesting for them. They are out looking for something that Bill Wavechaser and Jorge Umevan are doing in a building they have out there in the desert. When I had left, the Stewards had not found the place as yet.”

“I haven’t told Lady Qinvaris about her relatives in the desert. I imagine that the Harpers already know. Has Bekka caught Geral Umevan yet?”

“Not completely, though Shael has convinced Bekka’s mother that going to college and seeing the world is a good thing for the girl.”

“You seem to have connected very well.”

“It was fun and Aldra introduced me around. Of course various people wanted to borrow the kids for things.”

“What did they do?”

“Nothing too serious. Mostly watching out for the FSA and assisting some mages. Since we had some Academy students with us, we could do that.”

“Is Saevel back?”

“Yes. The students the Academy sent to the Republic have returned. Master Mage Zeastearos is working with the Office of Inanimates on dealing with surprises and Scourge devises, so he remained behind and I brought his charges back to the Academy.”

“A chunk of them were relatives anyway.”

“Yes they were. Are you going to return?”

“I think that I must. This has been entertaining, but I imagine that Terrel and the mayor want me back to discomfit the pests.”

“That will be a surprise for the clowns.”

“Mother, what did they do to you?”

“Not a thing. On the other hand, there is a limit to how much incompetence I can abide and they exceeded that greatly.”

“Then you should stay here at the house, surround yourself with children and stay away from the market.”

“Why?”

“So that you are not exposed to still more incompetence.”

“What has been going on?”

“We have been challenging a cult that had been making headway until the suppressors shut down.”

“Why was that significant?”

“When the suppressors were shut down, the fae in the Empty lands could Jump again and didn’t have to wait for a portal slot. That meant that they could come back to the market and their friends. The cult had been holding their little meetings in the park across from the market and we had not been able to persuade them to leave as the numbers of members grew. Then the kids wanted their diamond ball field back. They arrived one morning and the cult drove them out with threats. They also called the fae anathema. That did not go over well with the kids and these are the fae from the Empty Lands. The same kids that had been watching the antics of the portal fae and one way ports for over a year. The kids with brothers and sisters that work for the Portal Service.”

“They found a portal and used it.”

“Yes. It wasn’t very hard, since the portal was one that had been found by Mage Wyrran and repaired, but hadn’t been moved as yet. The kids took over the portal and the town it was in and then went looking for supplies. Between the left behinds of Uncle Rolin, me, the marines, Dan Qinvaris and the Darkmage’s children, they found all sorts of ways to make people miserable.”

“Those Grand Master dolls, for instance.”

“Yes. It is hard to be seen as holy when the Grand Master is suddenly there, saying what he says. The kids went off to the Mage Academy and came back with all sorts of things that the Grand Master said, all about tolerance and forgiveness and service, things that this cult isn’t very good at expressing.”

Amarille laughed. “That is a unique approach. Did you have anything to do with that?”

“I may have made some suggestions. The Themaer boys hired me as a consultant.”

Renynn watched the assembly form, turned to Tarranth and said, “I’m glad that we stopped here. I think that going into the estate and seeing this with no warning would have been a big mistake. I think that I thought that these were like my old college days.”

“There’s dad, with Lord Silverin.”

Richard and Taerel walked over and Richard said, “Mr. Carayarus, I am glad that you came.”

“My grandfather insisted. He wants his pyre to be his old forge at the estate.”

“Is he near that age?”

“Not really. It has been a very long time, over a century in fact, but that is my grandfather. He retired to his forge in the Republic and makes his blades.”

“More than a few.”

“That is the business.”

“I hope that when the House is reestablished that we can bring some of the business here.”

“That is part of why I am here. I understand that the Inquisition’s grip has been reduced more than somewhat.”

“Yes. The Inquisition was forced to face the fact that the things that they were supposed to be looking after were not and that in their overreaching, they had forgotten why they were doing what they were doing. That has caused some chaos when the Scourge devises were discovered and the Inquisition’s incompetence as demonstrated in two dead estates. The Inquisition has been trying to deal with that and internal problems, since the Inquisition can’t actually fire the problems.”

“Government?”

“Yes. You have a grasp if some of the difficulties.”

“What is going on over there?”

Tarranth laughed. “It has started.”

The apparent leader had started in with a sermon when a huge figure of the Grand Master appeared on the thrower’s mound and said, “What are the fae? Are they something alien or just people that are different? I have known many fae, most good and some very dark. I do not judge the light by any shadows, but by the light that it brings to others. None of us are free of shadow. What we can do is make our light as great as possible.”

The cultists spread out, and looking over the park angrily, they were obviously looking for something as the Grand Master continued his speech. Finally a cultist picked something up, looked at it and threw it on the ground, stomping it and smashing it. The Grand Master disappeared and the cult returned to their service, only to have firecrackers make loud noises all over the park. Animals appeared and ran through the crowds, heading to the woods bordering the park. The chaos continued as the cultists tried to put things back together and finally called an end to things as the Grand Master appeared again. Tarranth said, “The kids win again. At least the cult can’t use the park. They can keep the kids out, but they can’t handle things like this. There’s the chief with his people.”

The guard had appeared as the meeting had broken up and the dejected cultists left. Shortly afterwards a fae girl appeared and was followed by others.

“The kids wait and watch at the old general store,” Tarranth said. “The place has been their hangout right from the start of the town’s rebuilding.”

“This town looks new,” Renynn said. “What happened here? My sister will love the market here.”

“There’s Toll, and since he was here from the beginning, I will let him tell the story. Renynn Carayarus, meet Toll Themaer.”

Renynn grinned. “I hope that you are not related to certain architect, young fae.”

“He’s my grandfather. Since he is doing a little project for the market, I understand what you are talking about.”

“What are you doing this time, Toll?” Tarranth asked.

“Sam suggested that since our unwelcome visitors keep blocking the front door, that we move the bus stop and the front door and rearrange things a bit. So we are setting things up. My mistake was letting grandfather take the work and Sam’s was introducing Roger Bloodfoot to grandfather.”

“I have an idea what your grandfather will get up to,” Renynn said, “as dad made the same mistake you did, or he was trying to poke my brother. We ended up with a building on Market Street in Chatsrey in the shape of an anvil. What happened to you?”

“You have to understand that the Bloodfoots build funhouses in Oceanside. So we are getting a funhouse for the market. Ok, that will be a good thing to keep kids occupied. What grandfather did was to take the theme over the entrance and the new concert hall. Also, there are sliding walls and hidden doors that will show up and change the flow into the market so that unwanted visitors end up in the funhouse and then outside again.”

“How did this all start?”

“Ok, about four years ago the some ladies arranged to kidnap Tarranth’s sisters, his girlfriend and some other girls and get them sent to the Camp. That bit of idiocy tripped some things off and we started to get things sent by one way ports, the same sorts of things that you just saw. That drove the Master crazy and made us kids very happy, as we had all sorts of toys and things. Then the Portal Service captured Mage Wyrran and immediately hired him to ride herd on the portal fae, House Ravathyra split up and Tarranth’s dad had the town here dug out of the woods as part of clearing the land for farming. The general store started up and then Wyrran gave the Camp a Winterfaire present, a portal in the Camp’s portal house. That meant that we could port up here and go to the store. Then the Darkmage took over the palace and started up the suppressors. One approach to shutting them down was putting a drain on the Zylvyre mana source. So Wyrran dragged an ancient portal out from the Beinan’s storage and set it up here, in Innshys. When they were making connections, they made a connection to a city in a building called the Sanctuary. Adiun Beinan sent a returner through, it didn’t return and when he sent another one, the kids on the other end who had been watching things sent both back. Adiun sent the returner with some candy and then we kids started to send things back and forth. Then a girl came through, made some connections and the market started. We’ve been growing ever since.”

“So has the city, apparently.”

“Yes. Let me show you around before somebody catches up to me and I have to deal with another problem.”

  Rhalyf looked at Elashor and said, “We were driven out by children, again. Worse, they were anathema. We are losing even the Obedient.”

“That is as it is,” Elashor said more than a bit mystically. “We can only make the effort to guide the folk.”

“We have received no word from the Prophet or support.”

“I have not requested any.”

“We still have not had retribution for the insult at the Market and the anathema are making fools of us.”

“That is as it may be. We must pursue the path as we were instructed. The time will come soon when things will change.”

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