The Return of Redhand, Chapter 101, End of The Book

“Sergeant, they are all yours. Enjoy yourself.”

Chapter 101

The Netherspace

The room coalesced out of the chaos and the seven took their places. Amus said to the others, “I wish to discuss the Loremaster.”

“A truly bright soul,” Atis said. “The world is blessed to have him as it was to have had the Grand Master.”

“He is apparently in the hands of the cult of the new gods. Do you think that they can turn him to the dark?”

“Not at all. He has already been through a very dark time and has continued to shine, even brighter. I may have him here, but he will not go to the dark. The great loss would be the light he brings to the world.”

“What of the new gods themselves,” Zaxdon asked.

“They are still in the state of immateriality.”

“Would that they would stay that way.” Ayja said.

“Why are you grinning, Rhenthos?” Tosyn asked. I don’t see any wars.”

“No, there are none, at present. This is almost as good. The devil Redhand has made Major Tollings an adversary.”

“That will be rather dull,” Amus said. “I doubt that the major would see Redhand as a real adversary.”

“It would be, except that the major has to act through proxies because his lords are fools.”

“Then it will be more interesting, if slightly.”

The Wildlands, the Empire

Redhand looked at Taeren and said, “I see that your wife has taken charge of the Genzeiros girl.”

“She does things like that. We more or less adopted some children that the Project were trying to force into Lost Children and then holding that over their heads as they were to be placed in various positions of nobility after the Project murdered most of the rest of their families in Scourge attacks.”

“So they would be holding dead places.”

“Yes. I don’t think that the Project expected the kingdoms of Vestia and Apua to remain as kingdoms after the five cities were scourged. They probably thought that they could place their replacements in all the chaos. It didn’t quite work out the way they planned, since Major Tollings acted very quickly when he could and the Downstairs folk had discovered that they were being left behind and took steps to make sure that they, and Lain Othrond survived. Members of the royal families of both Apua and Vestia survived and provided some continuity, so both kingdoms have survived.”

“Tell me more about this Major Tollings. He seems to be involved in a lot of the issues that my relatives have had.”

“He is an unusual man. First of all he is not seafolk, which in his family is a bit strange. He was taken by the Ravathyra, enhanced and selected by Great Captain Paeris Zylvyre, the most able of the Ravathyra Great Captains. He served as Lord Zylvyre’s raidcaptain for five years until the Great Captain was taken after he assaulted one of the trading islands. Jorge joined the marines, as an enlisted man, rose rather quickly to sergeant and then volunteered to be dropped by parachute into the Darkmage’s Blight culturing factories. It was considered more or less a suicide mission, but the sergeant managed to bring all his people out, the mages running three of the Blight factories and their families, as well as a group of Transformed including Lissia, the woman who married him. Somebody realized that the Sergeant was a reserve captain as a result of his previous service and the President arranged for him to be promoted to full captain and placed him in charge of special operations for the navy. He was promoted to major after Ishendell and still holds the position in charge of special operations.”

Redhand held up a book. “He is hardly clandestine if he is the main character in things like this. How does he do his job?”

“First of all, those books may have things that are more than a bit exaggerated. Second, if they do have anything real in them, the operation is already over, and third, the major is very good at moving into places and not making a fuss until he finishes what he was going to do.”

“How large is his force?”

“I would have no idea. I am a simple story teller.”

“Hardly that. I have had my chance at you, so it is your turn. What do you wish to discuss today?”


Redhand sighed. “That was my brother’s idea, and he perished for it. We didn’t really understand radiation at the time, other than you needed the suits, which we obtained from the Qinvaris. The Luyaris had their headquarters underground and shielded from radiation and potential high energy Projector fire. They had also installed a Scourge suppressor, so I had to take a team in through the subway tunnels, place some transponders for the Jumpers and get a team to the shield generator and the Scourge suppressor. We did that and retreated, with the Luyarus pursuing, since the Jumpers that we had expected to use to escape had been damaged in the fighting. You probably found the remains, if they were not cleaned up later.”

“They were not. The Luyarus were forced to abandon the city and your relatives took over in the chaos after the mage wars ended. They were driven out by the Fellowship and the Republic a couple of centuries later after guns had been reinvented. The inner city was unoccupied except for treasure hunters and some university types until the siege. Jorge Umevan found the headquarters while poking around in the tunnels.”

“The Umevan took the Silverin in and messed us up more than a bit. They seem to have thrived.”

“I will save that for another day. What did you do when you realized that you didn’t have control of the portals?”

“Did what we could to make sure that what had happened in Ishendell did not reach the palace or the Justiciars. The portals ran for a while, until they started to fail. By that time things were getting tight and the goal seemed far away. Then the end came and I was boxed. You would know more about the intervening centuries than I would. I think that we are done for the day here.”

The Genzeiros Estate

Theodre Genzeiros watched the GP drive up and frowned as Tarranth Qinvaris got out with some others wearing strange uniforms, including a Transformed. He stepped out of the barn and said, “Who is this with you, Tarranth?”

“This is Major Tollings and Nightblade. They wanted to speak with you about dealing with some of your intrusive pests.”

“What army are you with, major? It must be rather unusual.”

“The Republican marines and I can attest to the unusual part.”

“They recruit former Ravathyra pirates?”

“They couldn’t wait to sign us all up. Of course they promoted me, so they must have had some idea what they were doing.”

“What do you want?”

“First of all, to speak with you and your boys. Then I want your permission to allow some of my people to bunk here when the time comes.”

“That time isn’t now?”

“The people at home haven’t given me the go ahead as yet. Until I have that, I can go around and make arrangements, but can’t move things out of Ishendell. I have portals when I need them, so that isn’t an issue. On the other hand, I will want people to infiltrate when the time comes, so making arrangements ahead of time is a good thing.”

“What has Tarranth told you so far?”

“Redhand’s Protectors killed one of your sons and may have taken your daughter. He also said that your people are travelling across the Empire assisting the various farms with their tool issues and aren’t here. If you are nervous about my people, we can double up at the Nerihorns. I just thought that I would give you the opportunity to have some surprises here if your pests come back.”

Theodre grinned. “Why don’t I take you to the house here and introduce you to my boys. I’m sure that they can tell me what you need.”


Mardi activated Tarranth, who appeared and said, “This is a surprise. I thought that I would have to wait until you and Tim had kids.”

“Taeren was kidnapped by Redhand.”

“Redhand’s dead, at least he should be.”

“He was boxed up in a stasis box, apparently. The Project unboxed him and set him against the Qinvaris.”

“He won’t last long.”

“He has, and now he has taken Elf Carran.”

“Tell me what you know.”

Mardi did and when she finished, Tarranth said, “I think that we should speak with Tim about this. I am surprised that the major hasn’t been set on Redhand.”

“The Administration doesn’t seem to care.”

“They may not, but sometimes you can make noise and bother people enough that they do what they want in order to get you to stop. Of course you have to be careful doing that. Let’s talk to Tim and see what we can arrange.”


Jorge looked at the suppressors arranged on carts, the portal and the rest of things he had arranged and grinned. Now, all he needed was the go ahead. On the other hand, he didn’t absolutely have to have the go ahead at this point. The Guild and the Genzeiros, with some help from Clan Ironhead and the Qinvaris could handle the pointy end. Jreghug and Faghig came into the warehouse, smiling. “Major, this looks more like a Jorge setup than you.”

“If it works, steal it. I learned that from the Great Captain. Also, if we need to do this the hard way, I would rather Jorge be blamed for this than it be traced to me. If I need cover, I don’t want things blowing up in my face.”

“When will you know?”

“The admiral sent a telegram that he is going to press for an answer by tomorrow. If it’s no, I act as an independent and you and the guild can handle the bloody part. If it is yes, I get to do my job.”

“Do you know precisely where Redhand is?”

“I have some people handling that.”

“Good, because Jerthath went in ahead of you.”

Jorge said something he would never say in front of his son. He looked at Jreghug and Faghig and said, “How did you let that happen?”

“It’s not as if we could stop him. He caught a ride with our cousin Adag and went in.”

The Wildlands, the Empire

Redhand looked at the orc in front of him and said, “You have a strange way of risking your neck. You managed to persuade Adag to bring you here, albeit you allowed him to blindfold you and you checked clear when you were scanned for microportals. You are not a recruit to our enterprise, so why are you here?”

“I am the Press Service’s senior war correspondent and I wanted to add you to my collection before things happened.”

“I have survived so far.”

“Yes you have. Of course most of that was you not having any Scourge devises you were tossing around and the fact that there was a lot of other things going on at the same time.”

“How do you know that I do not have a Scourge devise?”

“I know that you do not because, as you probably discovered, they were all removed and dismantled. Some people had a list of all of them and all on the list were accounted for one way or another. Your descendent, the Darkmage, ensured that the devises would be tracked down and dealt with by making it obvious what would happen when people didn’t do that.”

“So you write about war. Suppose I make the same exchange that I made with Elf Carran. You tell me a story and I relate some of mine.”

“That is certainly fair. Where would you like to begin?”

“I don’t know how old you are. Were you involved in the war for the Peninsula? I have heard stories and rumors, but nothing substantive.”

“There were many wars on the Peninsula, but I suspect that you want to know about Richard and Bloody Ridge. I was there, and my father commanded the Fellowship army, the army that Richard, that is to say the Ghost, more or less stopped single handed. Let me tell you about that campaign, my father and the man that I wanted to kill.”

“You didn’t, obviously.”

“No I did not, mostly because my father asked me not to. Here’s how things were, thirty odd years ago.”


Drannor was let into the office, where the President and The Secretary of the Navy were waiting. He saluted and George said, “Sit down admiral. What brings you here?”

“Mr. President, I was hoping to get the go ahead on the retrieval of Elf Carran and his party. Major Tollings is concerned that if we wait too long, one of the hostages could be tortured or murdered.”

“Does he know where they are?”

“He does. He has a plan ready to go and most of the pieces in place.”

“How much confidence do you have that the plan will work?”

“I have a high degree of confidence that the major will perform his task.”

Grace came into the office and said, “Sorry Mr. President. I was unavoidably delayed.”

“Grace, this is Admiral Steelshaper. He would like to give Major Tollings the go ahead.”

“You know my opinion on that. Admiral, is there any possibility of causing an international incident over this?”

“A very slight one. The major has a lot of experience in the Empire and that area of the Fellowship and has an excellent reputation in that neighborhood. So, I doubt that anyone will squawk.”

“The major also has a reputation for spreading what he does all over the books and movies. What confidence do you have that this will be kept discreet?”

“The major is careful to keep what needs to be discreet, discreet. Those books have been an asset to recruiting for the marines as well as making the marines and navy seem attractive to boys. The major did not start publishing the books and only formed his corporation to control the publishing of the material after he discovered that it had been published.”

“Do you think that the matter concerning Elf Carran is immediate and dangerous?”

“Immediate, probably not, but this is Redhand we are discussing and he is very dangerous.”

“Redhand is a tale used to frighten children. He died centuries ago, that is if he ever existed. George, I can’t approve of this. I think that we should wait for some sort of demands from Elf Carran’s kidnappers, whoever they are. Admiral, if you must lie to come up with a reason to play your games, I would have hoped that you would come up with a better one than an ancient children’s tale.”

Drannor looked at the Secretary and said, “Ma’am, haven’t you been reading the briefs I send to your office daily?”

“I have been given summaries, admiral. Much of it is dreary reading.”

“So you haven’t read the report on Clikitat and what we found there.”

 “That is another thing. Admiral, you are no longer to sail off to faraway places and conduct acts of war against people that the Republic has no business bothering. There are issues here at home and those expeditions you sent were costly.”

Drannor looked at the President and said, “Mr. President, is it yes, or no?”
George sighed and looked at Tomas. “Tomas, you haven’t said anything. What do you think?”

“Admiral, what is local law enforcement doing?”

“Local law enforcement is investigating and looking for Redhand. The problem is that Redhand and his allies are international in scope and are operating across several boundaries, so no one authority can deal with the matter. None of the agencies involved will have any issues working with the major’s people.”

“If the local law enforcement is on the case, I see no reason to commit troops,” Grace said. “George, we committed ourselves to a new way of doing things and this is a perfect example of that. We shouldn’t have a knee jerk reaction and use Jorge the Pirate simply because we have him.”


“Grace makes a good point. Why don’t we let the local authorities handle things for the time being?”

“Ok, we’ll do it your way. Admiral, tell the major to wait, pending local actions.”

“Very well.”

Drannor left the office and said to the waiting Peble, “The major was right. When we get to the Arsenal, make some calls. I want Lieutenant Brownlow sent up to the major.”

Peble grinned. “An interesting choice of messenger, sir.”

 “I thought so.”

The Arsenal, Cleadsgate.

Tim walked into the chief of staff’s office and saluted. “You wanted me, sir?”
“Yes lieutenant. I am sending you to Ishendell to send a message to Major Tollings. The message is that the President does not see an urgent need to deal with the Elf Carran matter and would prefer to leave it in the hands of local authorities. I will not give you the message in writing and ostensibly you are going up to Ishendell to be briefed on ordnance matters.”

“May I take my lady with me?”

“Do so. She is in the auxiliaries at present, is she not?”

“She is.”

“I will have orders cut. Dismissed.”


Jorge looked at Tim and said, “I don’t have any bombs to defuse at present, so this must mean that the President has decided not to decide.”

“According to Captain Duggings, the decision was made to let the local authorities handle things. That was what I was supposed to tell you. Officially I am getting a brief on ordnance matters here on the Peninsula.”

“Would you be willing to make a quick trip to my grandfather? Tell him that we are using our option.”

“I can do that.”

Tim left and Jorge picked up the phone. “Sergeant, they are all yours. Enjoy yourself.”

House Aravaris.

Harald grinned as Tim came into his office. “Tim! We haven’t seen you for some time.”

“I am still in Ordnance and my new boss isn’t chasing Scourge devises or opening ancient vaults. So things have been a bit more staid of late and I hadn’t been asked to travel.”

“Sit and tell me just what is going on in the Republic.”

“I didn’t bring a brief. Major Tollings sent me to tell you that the admiral said that the Administration has decided not to decide.”

“So Jorge did not get his go ahead and we have to do things another way. Obviously Peble or Drannor sent you to Jorge. Did they say anything?”

“The captain said that “The Administration the President does not see an urgent need to deal with the Elf Carran matter. The Administration wants to rely on local law enforcement to deal with the matter.”

“Let me get Derry in here and we can set things up. Then you can take the final plan back to Jorge. Could you make a port to Lain Othrond after seeing Jorge?”


“Redhand has been camping on some property and some people will want a writ. Since Jorge can’t go in directly, we have to arrange some things.”

“I can do that.”

The Genzeiros Estate

Ham looked at Sergeant Nightblade and the others and said, “I think that we are all ready. I’m not sure why I am in charge.”

“Because Estelan is too young and I’m just playing foreign law enforcement assisting in the matter,” Nightblade said, holding up a badge.
“What is the major doing?

“Making sure that they can’t lift out and Jump away. Once we’re in place, he’s going all Jorge on them.”

“I think that they would probably surrender if they knew what was going to happen,” Rufus said. “Let’s go. We need to be in position before dark and ready in the morning.”


Jorge looked at his watch and said, “It’s time. Send them through.”

The Wildlands, the Empire

Redhand had just sat down with another chat with Jerthath and Taeren when his communicator pinged and a one the sentries reported, “Colonel, we have inbound. At least ten trucks crossing the dead zone.”

“Who are they?”

There was no response. Jerthath looked at the colonel and said, “I think that you are going to be busy, so Taeren and I will take our leave.”

Redhand looked at them and said, “This was your doing!”

 “Actually, it was not,” Taeren said. “As Jerthath said, you are going to be busy. I would decamp as fast as possible.”

Redhand charged out of his quarters and bellowed, “Prepare the Jumpers! We’re leaving!”

Xolag and the others ran up as Redhand’s troops started to pack rapidly.

“Whats going on?!” Xolag bellowed.

“We have visitors incoming and the sentries went silent. I suspect that someone has discovered our location.”

Xolag and the others started to bellow orders. Redhand’s chief technician ran up and said, “Colonel, no good on the Jumpers. They won’t find Jump points.”
Redhand cursed. “There must be a suppressor. He tripped his communicator and pinged Redstriker. “Sergeant, take what people you can and look for suppressors. Somebody knows a bit too much about how Jumpers work.”

“Yes, sir.”

Suddenly explosions appeared all over the camp and landdragons and transformed ran through the camp as the camp filled with smoke and stench.   Figures appeared in the woods surrounding the camp and the trucks arrived as the crackle of rifle shots peppered the air, adding to the chaos. Redhand spotted Taeny and Kavarala, drew his sword and ran to them. “You will do nicely.”

“So you want to Dance, Redhand?” Kavrala said. “I think that the time has come for that. The guild sends its greetings.”

Jreghug and Faghig looked at their uncle and the rest. Faghig said, “You are in deep trouble this time, uncle. You were warned not to meddle and here you are. The Orcenchief is rather annoyed at you and your friends here. Pity that.”

Unable to move, Redhand looked as the large man in uniform approached. “You are Major Tollings.”

“I am.”

“At least I fell to a worthy opponent at last. How did you find me?”

“I set the Transformed to looking for you as an exercise several moons ago. Up until you took Elf Carran you weren’t my problem and I wasn’t going to go against orders unless you became my problem.”

“Once I took the story teller, I became your problem?”

“Yes you did. Elf Carran is too well liked in the Republic and if I had let something happen to him, I would never hear the end of it.”

The Lower City

Kavrala walked into her uncle’s office and said, “The task is complete.”

“Redhand is dead?”

“I didn’t kill him. The Qinvaris will put him to the axe all too soon. Since he was turned over to them with a legitimate writ of execution, I consider the task complete.”

“What will you do now?”

“My wedding. Otherwise mother will be annoyed at you. On the other hand, the bonus for closing the Redhand contract will be a very nice wedding present and Lord Qinvaris has added to the funds in escrow. So Aien and I are well set.”

“You handled that very well. How did Redhand meet his end?”

“Major Tollings recruited various people for closing Redhand down, since he did not have permission from his bosses, officially. I imagine that the admiral will be pleased how things turned out, but from the outside, the thing will look more like something that the Umevan or the Qinvaris did, rather than the major. I had infiltrated when they took Taeren and Tilly since I figured that planting stories where the Prophet would hear about them might attract his attention.”

“The Loremaster was not one to be risked lightly.”

“If things had been tight, Aien and I would have gotten him and the rest out. The only mistake I made was letting Torald and Waterlilly go on ahead, so that they weren’t backing us up. On the other hand, they spread the word very fast and that meant that Redhand was in deep trouble even faster than he knew. As it was, Taeren got some more material, Jerthath showed up and took an interview and Tilly was painting away, so they were all happy. So everything ended well, except for the Prophet, some orcs, and citizens of the Fellowship, who are all in rather deep trouble right now.” 

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