Those Who Would Be Gods, Chapter 33-34

Alinis comes to the Carayarus estate. Jreghug meets with the Lions.

Chapter 33.

The Carayarus Estate

Naevys smiled as Jerry was waiting with a GP at the portal. She got in and Jerry started the GP up. Jerry said, “You came.”

“I did. I want to talk to your uncle’s lady and arrange for you all to visit my House before we go to the Republic. Mother wants to meet you all.”

“She gave you permission to go?”

“With Castien as my minder.”

“I’m not sure that is going to work very well. So you are moving to Ironton.”

“Yes. Can you make that work?”

“We can make that work. It will be inconvenient a bit, but we would hardly be the only ones making that trip back and forth.”

“Good, because I wouldn’t want to mess this up.”

Pyria grinned as Jerry brought the lady he had discovered to the house at last. She had been skeptical of Naevys in the beginning, but the way Jerry had spoken of her and the fact that Naevys had not seduced Jerry had been points in the lady’s favor. As the pair came through the door, Pyria stepped forward and said, “Lady Ralotris, I am Pyria. Welcome to the house. I am afraid that things are a bit rustic here.”

“You have lights, so not completely rustic. We did without until recently.”

Two people appeared in the hall, Jerry looked at them and said, “Pyria, could you show Naevys around? I think that Alinis and Fire want to talk to me.”

“I’ll do that.”

As they walked away, Naevys said, “Ever since she pulled Fire out of the woods, Alinis has had the habit of doing things she shouldn’t.”

“Jumping into the hall like that?”

“Demonstrating that she can Jump at all. Of course the fact that she and Fire were together has been a minor scandal for some time, mostly from mothers who would not let their sons near the Qinvaris girls for years.”

“I haven’t really met them, so I wouldn’t know.”

“Lady Qinvaris tried to be more sociable as the girls were growing up and was faced with an uphill battle because she was in disfavor with the dowager empress. Of course the slave she shared blood with was a major scandal.”

“Richard? I think he is a wonderful man.”

“That was the problem in the ladies’ eyes. The rumor is that Princess Glynnii was looking to buy him off the block and was worried about what her mother would think. The Qinvaris bought him instead and he saved the Empire. But still, the ladies sniped Lady Qinvaris over him as their children grew up and many realized that the four were possibly the best matches in the Empire. Of course, we all lost.”

“Were you on the hunt when you found Jerry?”

“More than a bit. As part of an arrangement, my brother was sent to the Republic to go to college and has some wonderful friends. Unfortunately the friends that come to the Empire so far have had serious attachments.”

“You want out of the Empire.”

“I think that I want to escape the gilded cage I am forced to live in somewhat, especially since the gild is wearing off and showing the brass underneath. Selling bits of ourselves off to maintain appearances is rather dreary.”

“Jerry’s family would be a good match.”

“Yes they would and Jerry has demonstrated that already.”

“Do you think that he is your True?”

“I am not sure as yet. Part of me wants to dive right in and share a bed and a life. The other part wants to be cautious and avoid a life of strife. I think that regardless, we would go well. How did a cult member end up as the lady here?”

“That was an accident. Has Jerry told you about the tiger?”

“Yes he has.”

“Well, there Renynn was, on the ground, bleeding after battling with the tiger for my life. At that moment, I realized that there was nothing that any other man could do or would do that would equal that, that I was in his debt and that I welcomed that even if we were not True. So far, things have been going on and I think that Renynn needs me as much as I need him.”

“What about the cult?”

“The cult is full of folk who seemingly would prefer that the tiger had eaten me rather than me being True to an outsider. They are unable to accept that the world is not how they imagine it and can’t seem to understand why most folk do not believe in the new gods just because the Prophet desires it.”

Jerry watched Naevys disappear up the hall, turned to Fire and Alinis and said, “What do you want?”

“I wanted to schedule our flight to the Republic, that is if you and Filvy are going back with us. I also wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Uncle had a battle with a tiger and was injured. Otherwise we are doing fine. Do you have the timetables. I have another guest.”

“You should watch out for certain people.”

“Naevys?”

“Have you been going out with her?”

“We’ve been doing some things together, yes.”

“Her family is in trouble.”

“I’ve been to the House. That was obvious. She hasn’t tried to hide it from me, anyway.”

“The family sold their library to Bill Wavechaser.”

“She mentioned that. They did that to get it out of the potential hands of the Inquisition. The library isn’t the only thing that they have sold off.”

“So you know. Your family is going to attract those who want to sponge off what you have. I’m glad that you are looking at this with your eyes open.”

“We knew about the issues before we came, Alinis. Lady Zylmyar went over some things that we needed to watch out for. Let’s get this done before Naevys comes back.”

Fire, Alinis and Jerry went over the timetables and set up the flight back to the Republic. As they finished, Alinis asked, “Do you like Naevys?”

“Very much. We seem to do well together.”

“Then I approve.”

“I would hope so.”

“Is she going to Chatsrey?”

“Ironton.”

“She is older than you think.”

“I know. But she isn’t the only one that way. You have met my sisters, who act much younger than they are, including demanding that, since I am in the Empire, that I buy them dollhouses.”

Fire and Alinis laughed. “Did you go to Fylson’s?” Fire asked.

“That would have been too easy. Thanks to some girls we know, Fylson’s has a nice shop on Market Square. Naevys took me to a little place in the craft warrens and we found one that my great grandfather had commissioned before the Hunter had ruined the family. We bought it for his birthday.”

“Ok. Why don’t you show us, and Naevys, who I see coming back to look for you, around as we all make plans for our trips to the Republic.”

Naevys came back and said, “Are you done with Jerry, Alinis?”

“We got the important things done, Naevys.”

“I see that guilty expression on your face, Alinis. You were talking about me, weren’t you?”

“We may have been. I wasn’t able to discourage Jerry. You have him totally beguiled.”

“Not really. Surprisingly, we both have been honest and upfront with each other. Jerry, Pyria says that you should take us around the estate, annoy your uncle in the forge and bring him back for lunch. Willow is coming today with her husband to give us all a little test.”

“Ok, why don’t I take you around the estate and show you what we have done so far.”

Renynn grinned as Jerry led Alinis, Fire and an elf lady into the forge. “Jerry I see that you have some company today.”

Uncle, you know Alinis and Fire already and this is Naevys Ralotris.”

“Welcome Lady Ralotris. I am afraid that I can’t bow at the moment as I have not fully recovered from my encounter with the tiger.”

“That is perfectly all right. You seem to have started well here.”

“I have. There is much to be done though. I suspect that Pyria is looking for us for lunch, so I will join you.”

Zelphar followed the Obedient into the woods. His sister had not come to the Community since he had visited her at the house. There were too many at the house now and going back and forth risked him being taken. He was sure that somebody was somehow taking the three communions that had disappeared and when he had investigated, the communions had gone through doors into spaces and not come out, leaving no trace behind them. So far, four had disappeared, including one in the Lower City.

Left without much to go on, Zelphar had taken to patrolling the boundaries of the estate, looking for spies. So far, he hadn’t found any. He left the Obedient and started down a battered and ruined road he had discovered. As he walked, he heard voices and retreated behind some bushes as the four recent arrivals and three landdragons of all things, along with some Inquisititors passed. One of the landdragons was saying, “It was a good thing that you were in ordnance for your Service, Dan.”

“I didn’t pick it, but I did learn how to defuse bombs, Mercury.”

“I will contact Captain Bronzerock in any case. It is almost more worrisome that these were not Scourge devises.”

“They were to spread something around, a chemical or something else. We did take pictures and you can send them to the captain. I will send prints to my old boss as well. At least these are not going to go off.”

The other folk past, Zelphar backtracked the way they had come, where there was a small complex of buildings. Two of them had had the doors opened and had vaults inside. The other had a portal inside. Zelphar grinned. Perhaps the communion could use this portal.

Willow turned on her husband and said, “Amrynn Palen, would you stop fidgeting?”

“I prefer Oak, dear.”

“You need to be mage Amrynn today. Did you bring the pendants?”

“I did. As well as the registration forms for the palace. I wish that I could have spoken with the new Grand Master about our little arrangement.”

“Why haven’t you?”

“He is a Zylvyre.”

“As far as I have heard, no one has been disapproving of the man and his son is apparently a lot like you, bonded to a fae girl.”

“He is?”

“I had the story from our local louts and I believe it. I think that I will contact the Grand Master’s lady and see if we can visit.”

“The Academy? They drummed me out because of you.”

“I understand that the lady lived at the Sanctum for a very long time, the Yellowleaf festival is coming up and we can meet then.”

“Why can’t we take the folk here to the grove and test them properly?”
Willow sighed. “You know why as much as I do. My brother and idiot sister in law will not allow us access to a grove to test outsiders. So we could not even test our children there.”

“There is a grove here.”

“There is?”

“I can sense it. It is deep and well shielded, but it is here.”

“That is interesting. Here is Miriam.”

Amrynn jumped a bit as Miriam appeared out of Jump and said, “Hello Willow. Is this your unorthodox husband?”

“This is Amrynn or Oak as he prefers to be called. Among other tasks, he is a teacher on the Harper estate. He has to be Mage Amrynn today and is whining a bit. He’s a bit nervous about issuing mage pendants and the new Grand Master finding out that he is doing it.”

Miriam laughed. “I take it that he has never met Grand Master Zylvyre.”

“He has not.”

“Then he should. Mage Amrynn, the Grand Master is hardly the ogre that his name would suggest and his son Saevel has similar circumstances to yourself.”

“Has the family cast them out?”

“Neither one. The mothers are old friends and are planning the pair’s joining when they are a bit older.”

“How many are we testing today?”

“Nine. All of them are leaking potential and the seven from the Republic are Silverin and at potential risk for a spontaneous mage discharge. Willow and I have been watching them and fortunately there were no mages that went to the Republic and no mage books at home. There may be in the library hidden here, but that has not been discovered as yet.”

“There is a grove here.”

“There is?”

“Very deep and very hidden.”

“How do you know?”

“My wife and what happened as our bond began to form. I had already been tested and entered the Academy, so Willow’s family hid the grove and Willow from me. I could sense Willow and with some effort, sense the grove. Ever since our joining I have been sensitive to groves.”

“That would be useful in the Mortal Kingdoms.”

“Where I dare not go.”

“I don’t think that you would have any problems, other than curious children, fae and not, that is. The Mortal Kingdoms’ stance on mages has moderated more than a bit as a result of recent events.”

They reached the house and a grinning Pyria said, “Willow, you brought him. Mage Panan, I am Pyria. Welcome to House Carayarus.”

“I am glad to be here, milady. If your family passes their tests, I will be discreet. I will insist that you all take mage oath if you pass the test and register as well as take a pendant. Formerly I would warn you all about travel in the Mortal Kingdoms, but that has apparently moderated.”

“I have a place set up for you Mage Panan. Lord Renynn wishes to go first before he is checked over by your wife. Will his injury be an issue?”

“It should not. My wife has told me about your remarkable story.”

“It was remarkable.”

The testing complete, everyone sat down to dinner and afterwards, as they were heading to the portal and home, Amrynn said to his wife and Miriam, “I am going to have to speak with the Grand Master as soon as I can. Pyria and Naevys were what I would expect from high family Silverin, though the idea that there could be an entire community out there someplace is more than a bit frightening. The Carayarus are a different matter and I think that they were a powerful mage family far in the past, with a Silverin line entering the family at the same time the Dowager Empress arranged for it to be destroyed. Miriam, I hope that you will be discreet about this.”

“I will be, Oak.”

Willow laughed as Miriam disappeared into Jump. As they reached the portal, Amrynn said, “We were being watched.”

“Do you think that the tiger was an accident?”

“I can’t be sure and I do not have leave to perform an investigation like I would for the Committee. I think that the tiger may have been intended for Pyria, since having her dragged off would hurt the Prophet. Of course what happened probably pleased our mysterious fae just as much, as not only did Pyria separate from the Prophet, she bonded with Lord Carayarus.”  
 

Chapter 34.

RNS Fearless

Peble came into the admiral’s office and said, “Captain Greenwillow discovered the volunteers with Major Tollings’ unit.”

Drannor laughed. “It took him long enough. Did he say how?”

“Apparently a chief spotted Captain Wavechaser.”

“Acknowledge the report.”

“I think that the enemy will not like what that bunch will come up with.”

“Then they shouldn’t have taken the girls in the first place.”

Zirgoccol

Brian grinned as Jreghug came into his office and said, Clanmember Ironhead, your reputation precedes you.”

“Which one, Mr. Lion?”

“That depends. Are you looking for work or working for your relatives.”
“A bit of both, actually. You have a tighter ship here in the Republic, probably because the Orcenlands didn’t send its trash here and so you don’t have the competition. So I’m coming to you for some work. On the other hand, I am looking into some people that are looking to make a big mess.”

“That being?”

“My uncle, the Protector, and some friends of his.”

“Why would that interest us?”

“My uncle had a long term relationship with the Project. I believe he and his friends are either doing something with the Project, or looking to assault House Qinvaris.”

“What would you want from us?”
“Eyes and some connections. I have already spoken with the Colonel, but he doesn’t have the eyes in certain areas and I think that my uncle’s friends are recruiting from people that have had rather large setbacks, mostly because they believe that Lord Qinvaris was responsible.”

“What arrangements can you make?”
“That depends. If the deal is good enough, I can take it to my father.”
“There are rumors that your clan is going to need a lot of people for construction and other related things.”
Jreghug grinned. “I can verify the rumors. The clan has some rather large projects and some interesting things going on next door. There are opportunities there.”
“A connection would be of value. I think that we can do you a favor.”

Jreghug stood and shook Brian’s hand. “I think that we will work well together.”

Jreghug left Brian’s office and his aunt Liddia came in. “Brian. Do you have anything on an orc named Jreghug Ironhead?”
“Why do you want know?”
“One of my top earners is asking.”
“As a client?”
“I have a feeling that she is looking for more than that.”
Brian grinned. “He just left. He wanted assistance.”
“Assistance for what?”
“Looking into what his uncle was up to. I will start a file for the lady and you.”
“Thank you. Sapphire is in a bit of a tizzy right now. Is the Clanmember likely to be concerned with certain things?”

“I doubt it. He has a reputation in certain circles in the Republic.”

“Tell me more.”
“You probably know about the duke’s palace and the mud. He and his brother were responsible for that. Ostensibly he was kicked out of the clan and went down to the Republic. I will send to uncle and get more. I have a feeling that we will be entertained.”

“Let’s keep the arrangement to ourselves for the time being.”
“Yes, aunt.”

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