Those Who Would Be Gods, Chapter 21-22

Jerry and Filvy look for some maps and pictures. Livy asks a question.

Chapter 21.

The Lower City

Lidia grinned as the two young men from the Republic came into the store. Instead of browsing, they walked up to the counter and one of them said, “I am Jerry Carayarus and this is my brother, Filvy. We were hoping to speak with Lord Umevan about services the estate provides.”

“What kind of services?”

Jerry looked at Filvy and said, “We heard that there is somebody on the estate that has pictures from the sky of things.”

Lidia breathed a sigh of relief. The boys weren’t looking for the sort of things that the estate had provided in the past. “Why come here?”

“We don’t know how to do business here in the Empire for certain things, we were told to come here and ask for Lord Umevan.”

“Certain things being things you want to be kept discreet?”

“That is about the size of it. For most of what we have been doing, we have been going to the Fellowship. But we need to be looking for some things and we heard about the pictures that come from your estate.”

“You boys seem awfully young for this sort of responsibility.”

“Our uncle was supposed to handle a lot of this, but he had an encounter with a tiger, was injured, and has a rather large distraction, his nurse. She keeps him from working very hard and so we have to carry the load until some other cousins come up and we go back for college.”

“I see. You were sent because you were available to get things started. Why do this at all?”

“That crazy new gods cult was squatting on the estate and since the estate had been abandoned when the House was driven out, the Qinvaris wanted us back. We managed to convince the cult to move out of the main estate, but they just moved next door and we want better maps so that we can find things.”

“Is your family the Carayarus that make cutlery and kitchen utensils?”

“That’s us. We’re starting out making farm tools at first and then we will import the finer blades and other things that we make in the Republic.”

“Those stamped stainless steel bowls that I saw in the Republic at your shop will do very well when the cooks get their hands on them. My cook won’t let the set I bought go. Why don’t I take you to my husband?”

Lidia went through the busy shop to her husband’s bench where he had several toys that he was making adjustments to. Fylson looked at the two half elves and his wife and said, “What is going on, Lidia?”

“These two gentlemen want some of Tad’s time.”

“I see. You obviously approve or you would not have brought them back here. Why do they want the time?”

“I’m Jerry Carayarus and this is my brother, Filvy. We want some pictures of the estate so that we can make better maps. Some people told us that your House did that, but we weren’t sure how to approach it.”

“I see. You two seem rather young to be handling that sort of business.”

Jerry and Filvy explained about the tiger and distraction. “Lord Umevan, we were just supposed to be gofers and handle things in the Fellowship, where we don’t have any problems. Here we do.”

Fyslon pulled a sheet of paper over, wrote a short note and stamped it with his ring. “Ok, Port up to the estate, ask for Nym and hand him this. That should get you what you need if Tad is available. He should be home, but he could still be in the Republic.”

“Why was he there?”

“We had some incidents on the estate and my father felt it politic to send the estate’s young folk through the portal for a summer in the Republic. He apparently rented a place called an amusement park for them.”

“Waterland. That made things a bit difficult for us, as that was where we took girls. We wondered where all those kids came from.”

“My father feels more than a bit guilty that he was forced to leave the estate and spoils the kids more than a bit. Unfortunately, he has a lot of money to do that with.”

“Our younger cousins are going to be annoyed with us,” Filvy said. “Here we are in the magical Fylson toy shop and we aren’t buying anything.”

“We take reservations for Winterfaire, you can go over this year’s folio, or order something special.”

“We may, for our uncle’s wedding.”

“To the lady from the cult?”

“Yes. It looks as if they are True and inevitable at this point.”

Fylson laughed. “I wish them joy and I will accept a commission. Are you Carayarus Tools and Cutlery?”

“Yes we are. That is another thing we need to work on. Uncle running into the tiger and Pyria slowed things down a bit.”

“My younger son is in the Republic right now with my older son and my daughter has been taken for mysterious and rather foolish reasons, so I cannot loan you a guide. I would take the opportunity to poke around a bit and Lidia has some maps that the Lower City Merchants Association has had printed up for travelers.”

Jerry laughed. “We have those at home too. Ok, we will do that.”

The boys left the shop and Lidia said, “There is more going on than they said.”

“I will talk to Richard and ask. I think that Richard brought them over to evict some squatters and to start some businesses without having to do that himself.”

“Stainless steel bowls and other things.”

“Yes. Richard probably arranged for Imperial protection and the family sent a small group over, all unmarried.”

“Clever. Is that why you were encouraging them to tour the Lower City?”

“I imagine that they are leaking potential and will draw certain girls like flies.”

“I think that you are right about that. So what about their concern?”

“I will go up and speak with Taerel and Py about this after we close. I think that Richard flubbed a bit in making sure that the Carayarus were prepared and the tiger made things worse. He was also rushing things.”

“I can speak with Rosa. The Carayarus seem to be adapting well in any case.”

Jerry turned to his brother and said, “So now what do we do?”

Filvy grinned. “We’ve always heard that books were rare here in the Empire and uncle likes elf stuff. Why don’t we check out the bookwarrens?”

“Ok, but I want to see what we could sell here.”

“Stainless steel pots and pans.”

Jerry laughed. “Keep mum about that until we get home and make some arrangements. We don’t want a cousin making off with our business.”

“Good point. If they want to know what they can sell up in the Empire, they can come up themselves.”

“We also want to see what will go well in the other direction.”

“Stuff from the place we just left, but we knew that. Maybe there is some hole in the wall guy who does wonderful work, but needs some business.”

“I like how you think, brother.”

Jewel watched the pair leave the Fylson shop in frustration. She had arrived on the bus, since she didn’t have any Jump anchors in the Empire, only to discover that Rolim was not there to take her to his parents. She had found the shop and the house, but Rolim seemed to have disappeared and apparently there was something going on. The problem was that this was her last day before she had to return home. She was tempted to just go into the shop, but it seemed to be a place where the high elves went, like the pair that had just left the shop. Frustrated, she went toward the waystation. She could write a letter to Rolim and he knew where to find her.

Naevys watched the pair as they walked down the street, poking into things and looking around. She turned to Castien and said, “Do you know those two?”
Castien looked at them. “No, I don’t know them. They are from the Republic, though. Do want to speak with them?”

“Do you think that you can arrange that?”

“They are wearing Chatsrey Jackets. Chatsrey beat Ironton this year. I was at the game, both times. Just watch. Naevys, I wouldn’t want to go to Chatsrey.”

“They beat you this year, didn’t they? You’re just jealous.”

The two young men turned and looked at them. One of them said, “The reason that Chatsrey won was that our tosser was better than yours and your coach was sloppy.”

“So you admit that Chatsrey cheated and stole our playbook.”

“I’m not admitting anything to an Iron Dog. With Jorge Umevan and his gang of disreputables, you don’t have a foot to stand on.”

“Thank you for taking my point of view” Naevys said. “I am Naevys Ralotris. Who are you?”

“I am Jerry Carayarus and this is my brother, Filvy.”

“Why are you here in the Empire?” Castien asked.

“A Justiciar showed up on our aunt’s doorstep with the House ring and said that Lord Qinvaris wanted us to live on our estate. So my uncle brought some people and us, we kicked some squatters out and moved in. Then uncle had a run in with a tiger and we were stuck with the work. Filvy, we want to go another way.”

Castien looked and a group of new gods’ cultists had occupied a street corner, forcing the crowds and traffic to go around them. He turned to Jerry and said, “Where were you heading?”

“The bookwarrens. We wanted to use that street because it has a lot of craftsmen on it.”

“We can take you another way. Why were you worried about the clowns?”

“Because the boss clown and his friends were the squatters that we moved off. He’s still squatting on one of our estates, but that will have to wait until my uncle gets better. He tangled with a tiger and was hurt.”

“What about the tiger?” Naevys asked.

“Dead, the foolish thing. If it hadn’t gone after people, we wouldn’t have cared. There is a lot of game on the estate and we don’t have any livestock yet. Instead, the idiot goes after a girl from the cult, my uncle intervenes, shoots the tiger, the girl brings him back to the estate and remains to nurse our uncle back to health. We are probably stuck with her.”

Naevys laughed. “Is your uncle married?”

“No he isn’t, which is the problem. The girl is looking to change that.”

“Why don’t you keep us entertained with stories while we show you the city.”

“That seems like a fair deal,” Jerry said.

After a very entertaining afterten and meal in the Ravathyra tavern, the four separated and Naevys said, “That went very well.”

“You are working fast.”

“I just arranged another day like this with Jerry. I will have to work fast or the other girls will pick up on those two. They don’t realize just how sought after they will be all too soon.”

“I think I know why, but tell me what you think?”

“Ok, their House has been restored, has the backing of House Qinvaris and the protection of the Empress. Then they are High Elves with no connections to our crowd, so they aren’t carrying all the baggage. Also, the family has a prosperous business in the Republic and other countries.”

“Selling kitchen utensils and tools.”

“Look around, brother. Our House is slowly collapsing because what we did is not desired and none of the family paid attention to the business. On the other hand, pots are always in fashion.”

“I think that you have your arguments for mother. What if your campaign fails?”

“Then it fails and I will be in the Republic and far away from mother and the old games. At least I will have choices that I do not have at present.”

“Actually, I think that I like the Carayarus already. They are not afraid to face the tiger.”

“I want to meet the uncle and his lady. Both of them sound rather amazing.”

Maethanar looked up from his tankard as Richard sat down and said, “You are in a good mood.”

“I have some new neighbors that have become rather amusing. I arranged to have House Carayarus restored, or rather Filia and Itireae did. They set it up and pushed some squatters out of the house they were squatting in, the squatters being the new gods cult. Then the man that the Carayarus sent to act as the lord killed a tiger and saved a lady’s life. She was a member of the cult and was driven out after taking Renynn Carayarus home after he killed the tiger. So she took over running the house and nursing Renynn Carayarus. My brother is annoyed at the tiger as Renynn was supposed to make some blades for him and isn’t able to. House Carayarus did poach my forgemaster, but I could see that coming and Horal wants two ladies separated a bit. The fact that there are telephones and portals means that moving the lady won’t help make the shop quieter.”

“What is the argument?”

“I have probably told you that Eletha doesn’t like being referred to by a title. Careea, Horal’s wife, works in the office and insists on using a title with the other ladies in the office and Eletha, who gets rather loud when she is annoyed.”

Maethanar started to laugh. “I imagine that Horal has had enough.”

“He had other reasons and being with the Carayarus will make things easier for him since he can work directly inside the family for repairs on the combines and send any changes he wants direct to the factory.”

Tony came in and said, “Richard you brought the Carayarus in, didn’t you?”

“I did, why?”

“Do they have money?”

“Yes.”

“Tell whoever is the lord to have his family members watch their steps. Some Great Houses are looking at money issues and have daughters.”

“Is this an immediate concern?”

“Kicavir says that Naevys Ralotris was on the prowl again and was looking at two young men from the Republic. He talked to some people and found out who they were.”

“I will let Renynn know.”

“The match might not be a bad one,” Maethanar said. “House Ralotris is one of the fifty, which is one reason that it is having money issues. On the other hand, House Carayarus will have to be careful about stepping on too many toes. This could be interesting.”

“Why can’t it just be two people dating,” Richard whined.

“That’s no fun,” Tony and Maethanar said.
  

The Carayarus Estate

Pyria was waiting when the boys returned and asked, “Were you successful?”

Jerry grinned and said, “Yes. We are porting up to the Umevan estate tomorrow and talking to the map boy, Tad.”

“You were gone quite a while.”

“We were poking around the Lower City looking for opportunities. We may have found some.”

“No wonder you are so pleased with yourselves. Cook has dinner, so tell us of your adventures over supper.”

They sat down and Pyria said, “Who did you meet?”

Jerry tried to look puzzled as he said, “Lord Umevan. What do you mean?”

“You were gone far too long for that. So you met somebody else, or went someplace else.”

“We didn’t go where you are thinking, Pyria. Since when did that become your problem anyway?”

“Since I was forced to take care of your lout uncle. I have been forced to be the lady of the house and with three men, that is difficult.”

“We met some people in the Lower City. They were two High Elves, one of which was going to Ironton. Castien’s sister wanted to know who we were, so they started to talk to us.”

“Just talk?”

“That is all it is, so far. Uncle, how come you are letting Pyria get away with this?”

Renynn shrugged. “I’m letting Pyria do it, because otherwise I would have to and that would make me rather a hypocrite. So she gets to put you on the grill. Tell us about this girl. She sounds rather interesting in any case. What is her name and House.”

“Naevys Ralotris. She is from House Ralotris.”

“What did she show you?”

“We mostly poked around the Lower City after Lord Fylson suggested it. We were looking for things we could send home and where we could sell things.”

“That could be important. Are you seeing the lady again?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Most of the company’s customers are ladies and it will probably be harder to get into the elves’ kitchens than it is in the Republic.”

“I thought that you made blades for soldiers,” Pyria said.

Renynn laughed. “I do, but I would starve if that is all the company did. One thing a company like ours learns is to diversify and we started selling kitchen knives as well as sabers and bayonets and went on to other kitchen items and blades for tools and machinery of various kinds. We also sell things like pressed steel enameled pots and now aluminum and stainless steel.”

“You didn’t bring very much for the kitchen here.”

“Pyria, we were starting and weren’t sure that we would not be driven out again. Since my accident, some things were delayed and Jerry and Filvy haven’t been able to do the things that they were supposed to because they have been filling in for me.”

Chapter 22.

The Community

“How long?” Livy said.

“How long what?” Moonshine replied with a frown.

“That it takes our louts to arrange to get here. Bill is already here, so you don’t count.”

“That depends,” Susan said. “I imagine that they are working on something. They do seem to be taking their time, don’t they?”

“We are quite a ways a way,” Bellflower said. “Maybe they can’t get here.”

“This is our louts. They will get here.”

Bill looked at the devise and said, “Let’s get out of here and close the door. I don’t think that there is anything else we can do.”

They closed the door and holding the tablet, Bill said, “Starting startup program.”

He keyed the tablet and said, “Now we wait.”

Blackfire looked at Mórsairon and said, “What has you concerned?”

“I know that the enemy knows where we are.”

“I doubt that they can get to us before things are over, one way or another.”

“You would think so. But we have been underestimating our opposition for a very long time. I think that we will see the boys all too soon and the major soon afterwards.”

“The hostages were a mistake.”

“I know.”

Dúgirhael came in happily and said, “We have mana for phase three. The devise is running.”

“Start to charge the mana batteries.”

“Already am.”

“Has Bill mentioned how many devises are operable?” Mórsairon asked.

“He hasn’t said. Why does it matter?”

“The sequence for ascension requires that there be no interference from other mana sources. That was clear from the Enlightened’s notes. If there are many of the fusors operable, that will prevent ascension and the Divinity Devise will fail.”

“The enemy doesn’t know that.”

“I would not be so sure,” Blackfire said. “We have two of the devises. The enemy has at least one at the estate, another one in Desert Howl that is completing repairs and the one that arrived for repair. If there are more, we could be in difficulties.”

“That is why we have phase three,” Mórsairon said. “Suppression of more devises will be part of that.”

“That is if we can find them.”

“We could ask Bill.”

“Torture? Compulsions are pointless. Then he could tell us and either be wrong or he may not know where the devises are. For that matter, they could be in places very difficult to get into.”

“We will have to deal with the issue as it arises.”

“True. Let us talk to the chief technician.”

They found the man with Bill and some others having a quiet celebration. The various technicians looked at the three rather nervously and Bill said, “You three look as if there is something bothering you.”

“How many fusors are there?”

“Operable? I think you know about the two you stole. There were two more at Desert Howl. One was Harald’s last operating devise and one was nearly ready. That one has probably already gone to the estate to replace the one that you removed, so there are two there and one in Desert howl. There is also one under the Sanctuary, but I think that you know about it already.”

“Are there any others?”

“I don’t think that there are any more operable devises at present.”

“Are there any more devises at all?”

“None operable.”

“So there are more devises? How many?”

“I’m not going to say. Nor am I going to say where they were sent. What I do know is that they were not operable when they were sent.”

“You and others seem to have made all the devises in your possession operate, including the one here.”

“This was almost ready when you removed it in any case. So getting it to run wasn’t that big a deal.”

“Would you share information on the devises with others if they had devises?”

“That depends. If I knew that they were connected with the Project in any way, I would not. If they stole the devise from me, I would not, obviously. If they discovered a devise in a ruin, I would.”

“There are devises in ruins?” Mórsairon asked in a rather panicked voice.

“I wouldn’t know. You would have to ask Tarranth Qinvaris or his sister. They are the largest diggers into ruins in the Empire. As far as I know, Harald did not stash any devises in the desert near Desert Howl, or if he did, he never even mentioned the possibility to me. If he mentioned it to Alinis or somebody else, they never mentioned it to me. So, as far as I know the devises I know about are all there ever were. On the other hand, Harald did grow up in Red Mountain, he did a lot of work there and dwarves stash stuff. Also, there were a lot of strange things going on out there in the desert around Desert Howl and we kids haven’t had the jalopies for very long. I found quite a few things, but no fusors.”

“What did you find?” Blackfire asked.

“A mining company that played out about fifty years ago, some desert folk settlements that lost their water, an old castle abandoned for the same reason and some other things. The desert draws people in and the area was being raided by the Ravathyra, who were looking for devises, though no one in Desert Howl knew it at the time. The vault was sort of a big secret that wasn’t, with most of the locals knowing about it somewhat. I didn’t even think about Harald’s facility out in the desert until I needed a place.”

“So it was happenstance that you had that place?”

“Just about. I knew about it, but no one knew what it was for until I asked Harald about it when we were preparing to repair the devises and get them running.”

The three left and Blackfire said, “That was a mistake.”

“How so?”

“We just told him that we are concerned about more devises.”

“Do you think that there are more in the desert?” Dúgirhael asked.

“The only one that would know is Harald and the bot won’t tell us.”

“Bill also brought up Red Mountain,” Mórsairon said. “That was very interesting.”

“I think that we can take it for granted that any devises in Red Mountain are useless,” Dúgirhael said. “At least the time taken to repair them is longer than we have, that is if we could find them in the first place.”

“I’m more concerned with somebody having found one and not being able to make it run, until Bill provides them with the details,” Mórsairon said.

“Or Nat does,” Blackfire said. “Bill didn’t even mention Nat and what he is doing. In any case, there isn’t anything we can do about that now.”
 

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