Those Who Would Be Gods, Chapter 15-16

Jreghug reports home. The cult leadership realizes that some of their people are missing.

Chapter 15.


Jreghug walked into the Champion’s office, saluted and said, “Jreghug reporting, Champion.”
“Excellent. I understand that things were rather interesting in the Republic.”

“Very. I have a brief for you and the Orcenchief.”

“I imagine that you are wondering why I recalled you and not your brother as well.”

“We didn’t discuss it before I left.”

“The reason that I wanted you back was that things have been rather quiet here in the Orcenlands of late.”
“That is a bad thing?”
“Your uncle and Raguk Headbasher seem to be making a lot of trips to Zirgoccol. Also some of your more conservative cousins and the more conservative members of the Shieldbashers and some other clans have been missing.”
“They are planning something, and not here.”
“I believe so. The question is where and what. The problem the conservatives have is that peace has broken out all over the world.”
“Not entirely.”
“The conservatives are hardly going be the kind of soldiers to fight in the war against the Project, unless they were on the side of the Project.”

“My uncle has certainly done that. Of course his reputation has been burned more than a bit. The war in Vestia and the rest have done a lot of damage to my uncle’s influence in the clan and most of the clan isn’t going to follow him to ruin.”
“I know. On the other hand, rats are most dangerous when they are cornered. I want you to go to Zirgoccol and see what they are up to.”

Jreghug grinned. “I’ll do that. Being the third wheel with my brother and Tigerlilly was getting a bit tiresome.”
“I can understand that. I left them in the Republic because Tigerlilly has made herself  so visible. Was it as fun as it looked?”
“She is amazing. In some ways she made things harder and in others she made things much easier because when she is around, nobody notices some disreputable orcs.”

Dumag laughed. “Ok, get the brief from Jerthath and get going. If what your uncle is doing is going to hurt the country or your clan, don’t hesitate to shut him and his friends down, even if the action is outside the Orcenlands. For one thing, none of what they are doing has the approval of the Champion’s office and for another, the Orcenchief doesn’t like rogue orc mercenaries making Orcenlands foreign policy for him.”
“I understand, Champion.”    


Klara was waiting as Onia came in through the door. “You came!”

“How could I not. Congress has started its session, hasn’t it?”

“The session started yesterday. Things are very tense as you might imagine. Bradal’s string pulling hasn’t made the Democracy Party any friends and a lot of people are looking at what happened to the Old Families and telling themselves if the FSA could go after them, what will they do to me. That book of yours mitigated that more than a bit.”

“The idiot Director brought that on himself. His ego is so large that he doesn’t think that the rules apply to him and his people if there is a case and a crime at hand. I found it ridiculous that he did not commit more resources to Susan and the other girls’ kidnapping simply because it was not politically expedient. But the man would hardly speak with me.”

“The rumor is that he will not even speak with the Attorney General.”
“That is yet another act of stupidity. Hasn’t the Attorney General gone to speak with the man?”
“The rumor is that he doesn’t want to leave the Plateau until things are settled here.”
“That is Senator Steelslash and his friends, a true bunch of fools according to Swifty, Vincent and Sthisse.”

“Why don’t we sit down with some tea, you tell me about the Empire and your friends there and what Swifty and the others are doing to get Susan and the other girls back?”

“I can do that.”

Speaker of the Congress, Roger Fallingwater held up his large gavel, let it fall and said, “Congress is now in session. I have consulted with the committee chairmen and have an agenda. Before breaking into sessions, a motion has been tabled to accept a new budget at the beginning of the fiscal year rather than continuing the budget and appropriations that were voted on at the end of the previous session. Since the motion is for a direct debate on the floor and time is short. I will allow a short debate of two twentieths and then vote on the motion.”

After the end of the first day’s session, Fallingwater had Congressmen Flyer and Wavechaser in his office for a brief meeting on the navy. After drinks were poured, he said, “Tomas, just what was going on in Chatsrey over the break. My district isn’t near enough that I could pop up to the north and I just have what I saw in the newspapers.”
“After the special session, somebody, and you can guess who it was as well as I can, used the Scourge devise program to give the Director something he has wanted for some time, an excuse to go after the Old Families for anything he could think of. What he should have been doing is paying attention to what my daughter was getting up to.”
“I doubt that Mardia would have much to do with the FSA.”
“My estranged daughter, Onia, who married a rather disreputable Dragonkin, had a lot of conflict with the FSA and wrote the book on how to deal with them. The same book that messed the FSA’s campaign up and saved the country, more than likely. In any case, she had been collecting evidence of the FSA’s malfeasance for a long time and when they came knocking on the door of her building with a flaky warrant, she filed a Citizen’s action suit.”

“She could afford to do that?”
“She had some money from the Aerie to the far north, the royalties from her book, the winnings from the fifth district case and then the winnings from the Cotton Exchange. She had the money. Of course that didn’t matter as the FSA and the government have been losing that case as well.”

“Could your staff send me a brief on all of that? The whole thing sounds rather interesting. Was your grandson reinstated to the Academy? I think that we should return to the matter at hand.”

“All of the rescinded appointments were reinstated. Admiral Steelshaper and I were persuasive and the new Navy Secretary is not a total fool”

“So that is settled.”
“For now, but we will want to watch the Secretary very carefully. I have the feeling that the reinstatements were more a matter of political expediency rather than the Secretary suddenly seeing the light. He’s left promotions in a tangle and let the FSA go down to Desert Howl and spread all sorts of classified matter all over the papers and other places.”

“You’re kidding.”
“Not one bit. Caldin can tell you the details, since his son, Terrel was in the middle of it.”

“Roger, my son brought trunk loads of affidavits and other material pointing out the violations. The FSA had no concern for classified matter protocols and with the help of the Stewards, essentially were the rhino in the glass shop. The flap over classified materials was just the beginning, as the actions of the FSA caused the stopping of the production of critical war material in time of war. The FSA also did not cease their actions even when they were warned by the magistrate and others that they were violation of those protocols. Also, there is some evidence that the FSA may have provided unwitting assistance to the raiders that made off with secret material from Beinan’s and four young ladies.”

“I haven’t seen the brief on the raid. Frankly, the navy department and most of the others have been slow in getting the briefs that I am supposed to have to me.”
“We’ve been getting the briefs directly from the navy, delivered by my grandson, in fact,” Tomas said. “If we had to rely on the Department of The Navy, we would be in the dark.”

“Have your grandson start bringing the briefs to me as well.”
“He’s a bit distracted right now. Susan Gilders and some other girls were kidnapped in Chatsrey and he and his friends have been dealing with that, since the FSA will not.”

“They will not? Susan Gilders was the girl that the FSA raised a stink about when they thought that your grandson and young Lord Umevan had kidnapped her. Now they are ignoring the case?”
“The Office of Inanimates has been more involved, since they had discovered the devise used as a distraction. The Director has refused to assign more agents than the three already assigned.”

“How are naval operations proceeding?”
“Consider the chaos at home, well. The marines reached the enemy’s base, but the enemy bunkered up. Most of the safecrackers in the world are there poking at the doors.”
Roger laughed. “How did that happen?”
“I don’t know. Swifty probably does, as he knows all the parties involved. He actually predicted the raid on Desert Howl and was essential to giving Major Tollings the warning he needed.”

“Why was the major down there in the first place?”
“The Director needed muscle in Desert Howl and the fact that the special section has that dispensation to operate inside the Republic if necessary. The Director sent the major down to bolster the efforts of the FSA and that turned out to be a good thing for Desert Howl and most of the secret projects. The raiders did make off with a secret joint project by Beinan’s and the Umevan.”

“That sounds scary. How was the project known to the enemy?”

“The project was those things that Harald had placed in the vault.” Caldin said. “The enemy certainly knew about the devises. Bill, Jorge and Jorge’s people have been working on the devises, using an already operating devise as a guide to make the others operational. The devise stolen was one just completed to replace one of the devises stolen by the enemy up at the Umevan Estate in the Empire.”

“What do the devises do?”

“Make electricity or mana, lots of electricity or mana. Two of the devises, with power from the dam and another plant were providing mana for the Empire after the Project got control of the mana. The unit completed here was to replace the unit at the estate that had been stolen.”

“Thank you gentlemen, for scaring the fire out of me.”
“If you want to be really scared, get the brief from Lieutenant Brownlow,” Tomas said. “He was chasing down what the enemy’s goals were and found some very scary stuff. That is why Drannor has all those safe crackers on that door.”

Bradal looked at the other Senators and said, “What has you all in a bind?”
“The FSA mage hunt needs to be shut down before it splashes back on us,” Harald said. “I know that you think that the investigation is useful, but it is hurting us more than it is the Old Families, the elections are coming up and if we are seen as being connected with the FSA’s actions, we could be in real trouble.”

“I am reluctant to ask Henri to back off then he is so close to achieving what we set out to do in the first place.”

“You apparently haven’t been getting the heat that the rest of us have, Bradal,” George said. “We are looking at bonfires where our polls are concerned and that isn’t a good thing. We all are going to have money issues and we have lost, or will lose the small business donations if we are not seen as stomping on the Director and the investigation is not shut down. Those newspaper reports are getting closer to things we all thought had been destroyed and if the reports keep going, it will be ugly for the Democracy Party come Guesting. That raid on Desert Howl didn’t help.”
Bradal grinned. “Actually it did. After all we arranged for the Special Section to be recalled and work with the FSA, which why they were available to be in desert Howl in the first place. So we can get some of the credit for that.”

We could if we hadn’t been so obviously against the Special Section in the First place,” Frank groused. “The Liberty party can point to their support and say that we can’t take credit for a unit we wanted to disband. Then there is why the Special Section was there in Desert Howl in the first place. Going forward, we are going to have to watch our steps, because we are dancing in a minefield.”

Chapter 16

The Carayarus Estate

Pyria entered the house where the Prophet and other leaders of the new gods were having an argument. As she was walking by, Ruith bellowed, “What do you mean that they disappeared?!”

“The entire communion went into the market with their congregation and did not come out with their congregation,” Pyria’s brother said. “As far as anyone knows, they all disappeared.”

Thaola was coming in the other direction and said, “Why are you here, Pyria?”
“I am here to make a report. After all, I am a spy.”
“Very well, go in and make your report. Be brief, as we are discussing some of our folk who have disappeared.””


Pyria followed Thaola into what had probably been the high family’s dining area, since the room was filled with a rather rough table where Ruith, Pyria’s brother, Zelphar and several leaders of the various communions were meeting with the Prophet. The Prophet smiled and said, “You have returned, Pyria. What news do you have from the house?”
“Nothing of significance. A crew is coming to harvest the fields in the area, but they expect to be done in a five day. Renynn is recovering and is going to be working on the commission for Admiral Harper. Renynn and Harol think that they  have the cutting bar issues dealt with, but that will have to wait until the new cutting bars can be tested.”

“Has anyone said anything about Innshys?”
“No. That is other than to give me the portal code so that I can shop for the house.”

“They gave you a portal key?” Pyria’s brother snipped.

“They did. Is it a big deal?”

“When we apply for them, the Portal Service says that we have to request them through House Silverin.”

“I see the problem. The new gods Community wears the Silverin badge and didn’t consider that there would be a House that you are responsible to.”
“House Silverin is a dead House.”
“I’m sure that Lord Silverin would disagree.”
“Have you met Lord Silverin?”

“Not as of yet. He hasn’t come to the estate as yet. He has been rather busy with family and an Imperial wedding that was delayed after the bombings in the Lower City.”

“How was the House restored?” the Prophet asked.

“I don’t know the details, but it involved a place called the Sanctuary, the Qinvaris and some seed and the Umevan. Renynn wants to surprise me with the Sanctuary and wants the Qinvaris to tell the story.”

“The Sanctuary was lost. The masters told us that.”

“Renynn is going to take me there, so we will see.”

“Do you know of the disappearing Iluminates?”
“They did not come up. I am not in a position to find out very much right now.”

“Return and find out what you can.”

Zelphar followed Pyria and after they were out of easy hearing of the bickering, grabbed Pyria’s arm and asked, “How did you end up with the Carayarus?”

“Renynn saved my life from a tiger. I have been his nurse and tending to his injuries for the healer.”

“Are you sleeping with him?”
“That is none of your business, but he hasn’t tried. He is rather shy and it will take some seduction, I think. I also think that I will enjoy it.”

“Do you think that he is your True? The family will not be pleased if he is an outsider.”
“Mother should know that there were risks when we were sent out of the Community and frankly, she should know that you can’t force a True bond. If Renynn is my True, there isn’t anything that you and mother can say. As for what I think, if he is not my True, I don’t think that I could find a better.”

Pyria walked off, leaving her dumbfounded brother standing in the hall.

Pyria picked up her basket and went to pick the berries she had ostensibly gone after. Filvy must have seen her as he walked over, the wildfowl he had apparently been hunting over his shoulder. “I got that rooster.”

Pyria laughed. “At least that is one nuisance gone.”
“What happened over there?”
“Stubborn and stupid brothers.”
“I don’t think that I will say very much as my sisters will be meeting you all too soon.”

“You didn’t approve of their choices.”
“There were some arguments, yes. I don’t think I will say very much. It looks as if you have done well for cook today. You don’t have to do that, you know.”

“I know. On the other hand, it gets me out and about and I can talk to my friends.”
“Along with the bickering Prophet and lout brother.”

“What do you know about some people that disappeared?”
“I think I know how it was done, but I don’t have any details yet. I will when I get back to the Republic.”

“Does it involve portals?”
“I’m not going to say, if the people over there can’t guess. I will say that they had to know that their efforts to get back into the market and mess things up was going to annoy some people and that steps had been taken.”

“I think that we were out of our depth more than a bit.”

“From what I have heard, that has been a problem with some folk all along.”

“Who said that?”

“Alinis Qinvaris. I am a member of her study group in college. She has been involved with your new gods and their stooges for a long time now. If they didn’t do things like compel large groups of people and send them to the city of Ishendell to murder people, Blight a good portion of the Mortal kingdoms by accident and Scourge places, they would be ridiculous. Since they did do all those things, a bunch of people want to stop them rather badly.”

“That sounds rather like a fantasy.”
“I saw the Scourging of Luggergate myself. We had an Inanimate incursion in our neighborhood as well. Alinis has a crystal of her telling your new gods off personally after they messed up and the power in their secret headquarters was turned off.”


“They messed up, didn’t pay the Mana Service for the connection and then tried to hijack from the Zylvyres and Innshys, which was just dumb, because that messed up the portals to the Sanctuary and that was noticed very fast, so that was cut off too. The new gods had kidnapped Alinis, put her on a ship and sent her to their secret headquarters, where they forgot that she was coming. So she was setting up the camp for the servants and everybody for twentieths before Major Tollings’ sergeant, who had been watching the entire show, went down and told them that Alinis’s dad was on the way. They talked to their oracle girl and then Alinis, who told them all off. Then they ran and started you and your friends, as well as starting the suppressors and some other things.”
“That all sounds incredible.”
“I sort of thought that, until the Inanimates appeared in the street. That sort of changed my mind.”

“I need to get back. Your uncle could get himself in trouble.”

Filvy laughed as Pyria marched ahead.    

Renynn and Horal were preparing the forge when Tom came in and said, “I heard that you had a run in with a tiger.”

Horal said, “I need to get some things, so I will be back later.”

“I was a bit of an idiot and fumbled my gun. I should have carried a pistol and didn’t.”
“Why were you out there in the first place?”
“An obnoxious rooster.”
Tom laughed. “I’m not going to push you about the commission. I wanted to warn you about something.”


“The Project is taking hostages. So far, they have taken hostages in Chatsrey, Desert Howl and the Lower City.”
“They are not bringing them here. At least Pyria hasn’t mentioned an uproar over at the other house as yet.”

“Who is Pyria?”

“She is one reason that I flubbed the thing with the tiger. She was in my sightline, I spotted the tiger stalking her and fired over the tiger’s head to scare it off. It wasn’t scared and I fired birdshot into it, which mostly annoyed it. It charged, I was dropping the buck shells I had put in my other pocket all over the place and I loaded the wrong barrel as the tiger was charging me. I got a shot off and hit it, but the tiger continued to attack, my shells were on the ground and so I drew my short sword before it got to me and we tussled. The tiger backed off, I found another shell and loaded it, the tiger charged and I blew his head off. Then my wounds hit and Pyria brought me back here, where Richard’s healer patched me up and set Pyria on me.”

Tom laughed. “Apparently you haven’t driven her away.”
“Not yet. I’m beginning to think that doing that would be a very bad thing. Here she is now.”

Pyria walked in and said, “I have juice for you and your guest as well as caffee, milord. I will return in a bit.”

“Pyria, this former Admiral Tom Harper. He apparently heard about my encounter with the tiger and wanted to see how I was doing.”

“Welcome admiral. Please do not stress milord. That would annoy the fae healer.”

Pyria left and Renynn said, “See what I mean?”
“I do. Has my brother made plans for the rest of the cult?”
“He has people here that the cult doesn’t know about. I don’t know what he has prepared, but the cult has been having issues since the suppressors shut down.”

“You are more alert to things than you were in the past.”
“I’ve had to be, and the tiger was a bit of a wake up.”
“Then there is the lady.”

“Pyria, yes. She seems to think that she owes me her life and is perfectly willing to put up with me.”
“Why did the Prophet let her go?”

“She is spying on the house here, since we drove the Prophet out. Of course, other than visits from people wanting to see if I am recovering and the odd slave wanting to get themelves sold, not much is happening.”
“Slaves wanting to get themselves sold?”
“Richard’s forgemaster’s wife apparently argues with Mrs. Harper, apparently more over titles than anything else and so Horal came to arrange for the House to purchase him. He left just as you came in.”

“Is he a blademaster?”
 “He is. He’s also sharp and has a family that is on their way. Mrs. Harper would not let me have them moved by truck. I think that she is rather annoyed that her friend is moving away. On the other hand, there are portals.”

“What are you going to do about your neighbors?”
“Me? Nothing at all. On the other hand, I don’t think that the Prophet and the inner circle see what is going on all around them. When they were hiding here all by themselves, it was one thing, but when they are next door to us, it is another and they know that they can’t drive us out very easily.”

“So they are having neighbor issues.”
“The problem is that that inner circle can’t really stop the rest of them from talking to people and since the cult has had so many setbacks, there is quite a bit of doubt and skepticism arising. They also can see that the world is in no way what they were told it was. My nephews aren’t helping that at all. They keep introducing reality into the conversation.”

“Did that man leave because we wanted to talk and he was a slave?”
“Maybe a bit, but he did have to do some things  for me, since he knows where things are and Pyria won’t let me loose until Willow tells her to. I’ve tried to bribe Pyria with shopping and it hasn’t worked as yet.”

Pyria came in and said, “Milord, you need your rest.”

“Pyria, this is my old friend Tom Harper from the Republic. He is just here to chat.”

“How did you meet milord, admiral?”

“Retired admiral, milady,” Tom said. “I resigned this year. I met Renynn in Elf Carron’s shop. He was a cheeky little bugger and nicked a gold bound Carron from the stack I was buying for some nieces and nephews.”

“Gold bound?”
“The first editions of an Elf Carron book have a gold colored binding,” Renynn said. “They are collectible and if you buy them from Elf Carron’s shop, he signs them. Tom had pulled the last copy of one of the series and I wanted it, so I nicked it from the stack he was buying. He caught me and then introduced me to Elf Carron since I was too shy to ask if there were any more copies in the store. I was ten at the time and Tom was a freshly promoted lieutenant. After we left the store, he took me to lunch and we have been friends ever since.”

“I was shopping for knives for my nephews and your dad was a Carayarus. Of course I took you to lunch.”
“You apparently still buy blades from Renynn.”

“For a very long time. I thank you, milady, for saving him from his mistakes. I had to do that once as well.”

“The train.”

“I found him after the train hit him and took him to the hospital. Fortunately, Miriam was on duty that night.”

“Yes I was.”

Renynn started and said, “What are you doing here, doctor?”

“Visiting, since it isn’t that difficult and Tomali is checking in at headquarters about the recent kidnappings.”
“Recent kidnappings?”

“Some idiots took some girls that only a bunch of crazies would take and ported them someplace. Then they sent Bill Wavechaser after them. The Marshalls are hoping that they can get them back before some boys the admiral knows all too well do a number on the place. Even worse, as the list of taken girls grows, so do the numbers of interested boys looking to rescue their girls. At least, so far they haven’t left Chatsrey. On the other hand, what kind of idiot takes Jorge’s sister, Susan Gilders and Moonshine, among others, and expects that things will go well for them.

“The fae are taking this very seriously,” Tom said.

“I can’t say very much beyond the obvious, admiral, but you can get the list of girls and boys taken. Certainly, you are well aware how much the Republic would pay to get Bill alone back. So, young lady, has Renynn been a good patient?”

“Yes, milady. I am Pyria.”
“Doctor, or Miriam is fine. Who is his healer here?”

“Willow Panan of the Qinvaris. She lives on the Harper estate, but she is busy in the camps this time of year.”

“I will speak to Rosa, then. You seem to have things in hand here. Have you been trained?”

“All of the Prophet’s attendants have been trained in nursing skills in case they were needed, doctor.”

“Since you are in good hands here, I will find Willow and find out just what you did to yourself, Renynn. You be a good patient or I will be back and I will be rather annoyed.”

Miriam disappeared into Jump and Tom said, “I think that I will leave you in the lady’s excellent care.”

As Tom passed through to the door, two young men were waiting. “Admiral, I am Jerry Carayarus and this is my brother, Filvy. Could we speak with you?”

“What about?”
“Making a contact for some pictures from that Silverin boy. There isn’t an office in the Lower City that you can just go to and we don’t have letters of introduction from anyone because we didn’t know that we should get them. Since we know that the navy uses the pictures, you know who to talk to.”

“That may be difficult right now, as the enemy took over the Umevan estate and Tad is at large at the moment so that the enemy can’t find him. I would start at Fylson’s shop in the Lower City.”

“The toy shop?”
“That is where you can find Fylson and he can point you in the right direction. I know that this is different than you are used to, but I will talk to my brother, which would be another approach.”
“He’s busy right now and we didn’t want to bother him over something like this.”

“I wouldn’t be too concerned and what you are doing here is important.”

“We’ll do that if we can’t get what we need from Fylson’s.”

“Ok. I will tell Richard about this when I see him, but I’m not sure when that will be and I think that time is getting short.”

“So do we,” Filvy said. “You can see that the cult is feeling pressed.”

“I need to go, so I will be in touch.”

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