The Republic Torn, Chapter 79-80

Tobias discusses old pirates in the Hidden City with his brother. Sapphire gives her story to the press.

Chapter 79.


Tobias looked at his brother and the other High Priest and said, “What makes you think that I know what is really going on, Ilrune?”

“Tobias, you live in the Hidden City, Byddri is your son in law, your other sons in law are in the navy and live in the Sanctuary. Your sons work in the airlines as troubleshooters. You took your service in army intelligence and took a deep cover assignment for Mrs. Steelmaker. You know what is really going on.”

“Ok, you got me. Where do you want me to start?”

“When you arrived at the Hidden City.”

“Ok, I was taken in a raid by Paeris Zylvyre with some others that Mrs. Steelmaker planned to infiltrate into the Empire. This was about twenty six or so years ago now. I was purchased by a family in the Hidden City that was not tied to the Ravathyra, met my wife, we shared blood and I used my skill with a boat and fishing to keep the family alive. The problem was that there was no way to communicate from the Hidden City and the Republican Navy wasn’t sure where the city was at the time. Then Paeris was taken by the traders after he raided a trading post, his charts were captured and the navy sent a long range submarine that encountered Admiral Ehlark’s prize squadron as he charged out to punish the Republic for capturing Paeris.”

“Did the Admiral suspect that Paeris was working for the enemy?” Niossae asked.

“That is an interesting question. The relations between Paeris and his father were rather strained for a very long time, but with the loot that he brought back, Paeris was able to push back against his father. I think that the admiral suspected, especially after Jorge Tollings showed up. On the other hand, Jorge made Paeris even better at bringing back loot and slaves and Ehlark needed results.”

“Do you think that Tom Harper sent the major to Paeris deliberately?” Ilrune asked.

“That’s hard to say. Of course none of them will admit it now. I would say not, as there were no guarantees that the major would end up with Paeris. Of course, the most likely probability was that the major would have ended up on the Qinvaris estate and you can imagine how that would have ended up. In any case, the Republic moved in on the Hidden City and I had a bigger job, since my family owned a large portion of the city. My daughters found husbands and spread around more than somewhat. Paeris played games with the Marshalls and the two barristers and the Ravathyra were driven off the seas. Then some idiot took Richard’s girls and some others, the Retreat and the Camp were exposed to the Empire, the Darkmage launched some things off and other things started, most of which you probably know as much as I do.”

“Admiral Harper spent a long time at the Hidden City. Do you know why?”

Tobias laughed. “First of all, there was his brother and his family a portal away. Then there was Paeris making things interesting for the enemy, so being in the Hidden City, the admiral could cover his back if necessary. Of course, the Dragonmaster and some other disreputable types showed up and the admiral could coordinate with them without the mound poking in and making a mess. So the Hidden City was convenient.”

“Did you know about the Scourge devises?”

“The Ravathyra never had a clue that they existed from what I saw. Admiral Ehlark wasn’t the type to look into things like that and they discouraged anybody from looking into things too deeply. If my boys and their friends ever poked into the headquarters and they probably did, they didn’t find, or at least they did not mess with the Scourge devises there. The Darkmage may have known that the devises were there, but he never came to the island while I was there.”

“How many were spying on the Ravathyra in the Hidden City,” Niossae asked. “I have heard rumors that many were from the various factions.”

Tobias laughed. “We have a pact to not reveal that. Ehlark never seemed to pay attention, Rolin wasn’t exactly the most observant and Camus is a better sea captain than a spy hunter. I do have a lot of friends from the Empire.”

“Your boys delved into things at the Hidden City. How deeply did they delve?”

“They didn’t tell me, for obvious reasons. After all, if they said too much, they would annoy their mother. I would ask them to take you both around, but they are here and busy, so that is out. If you want to see the various things there are various boys who can do that.”

“From your family?”

“By no means. Most of them are the sons of various employees or people that live in the city.”

“I think I must plan a visit.”

“The old pirates will be glad to assist.”

“The old pirates?”

“Retired Ravathyra, retired seamen and retired navy types that like the climate and do things like guide tourists and run hotels and things for coin.”

Niossae laughed. “That sounds like piracy all right.”

Naertho looked at his grandson and said, “I haven’t seen you with that expression since you were twelve, Py. What did you do?”

“It wasn’t me, entirely. It was Victor Shahana. He brought the birthday present that Jorge gave Irial down from the Community. I put it with the rest of the things going down for Winterfaire.”


“The shipment was hijacked, by the Shieldbashers.”

“Was the shipment tagged?”

“The presents and things from the estate were. Irial’s birthday presents and the rest of the things from the Community were not. The problem is that because Jorge was concerned about Protectors and Redhand at the Community, his birthday present had ten RS2s and some other things as part of it. We put those in the shipment as well as sort of a prank on Jorge. They were missing when Jorge traced the shipment. I sent a message telling Jorge that the guns were indeed in the shipment.”

“First of all, you and Nym find the leak. Fylson and I are leaving on the morning flight tomorrow so we will be in Chatsrey. I’ll find out what was going on with the shipment.”

“These are hardly the first guns that we have transferred and it was a diplomatic shipment.”

“I will make that point to the FSA when they try to stick this on Jorge.”

“Why would they do that? I doubt that he knew that the guns were in the shipment until after they were ashore.”

“The FSA has wanted to stick Jorge with something and they are going to try to do that again.”

Chapter 80.

The Netherspace

The room coalesced out of the chaos and the seven took their places. Amus said to the others, “I have some interesting things from High Priest Brownlow and High Priest Yinhana.”

He flicked a thread to the others. “Interesting,” Zaxdon said. “Brownlow’s brother let himself be taken as a slave to gain an advantage.”

“That was a brave and clever thing to do,” Rhenthos said. “His family is very interesting indeed. They have done well.”

“We have also learned more of the character of the minions of the new gods,” Ayja said. “They are very bad souls indeed.”

“I agree,” Atis said. “They snipped so many threads.”

The Divinity Devise

The bot awakened for a routine check. Performing a scan, it found no further issues. The bot made some adjustments. There were still issues with fluxuations. At least integration was at 78%.

Red River

Sapphire looked at Jreghug and said, “So the paper is saying that Mrs. Steelmaker disposed of me. Do folk believe that?”

“She does have a reputation.”

“Would us revealing that we were still alive help or hurt her adversaries?”

“What do you mean?”

“We are still alive and in the Republic. We can prove that and that would make the story a lie. Would that help or hurt the lady’s adversaries?”

Jreghug grinned. “It would probably hurt them. On the other hand, if we do reveal ourselves, people may come after us.”

“We were planning to go to the Orcenlands anyway. So we can handle that. Faghig, Tigerlilly, why don’t we find a reporter.”

“We’ll do that, Sapphire.”

Dan Bacon had been at the Red River Dispatch for five years, working his way up from cub reporter, so when the editor called and said to head over to a hotel with a camera to get pictures and an interview with Tigerlilly, the latest hot model, he just said, “Yes, sir,” collected camera and car and headed off to get another boring interview with a young lady that had very little to say about anything very much. Since she had a man attached, he wouldn’t even get a date out of the deal. A bit disappointed he walked into the lobby and the man at the desk sent him to the restaurant where she waited with another lady and two orcs. Tigerlilly smiled and said, “You must be from the Dispatch. I am Tigerlilly, this is Sapphire, with Faghig and Jreghug. There was a story in the paper that said that Mrs. Steelmaker arranged to make Sapphire disappear. I am afraid that I was responsible for that.”

Dan grinned. “Obviously Sapphire is very much alive. So what is the story?”

“I managed to catch Faghig last year and get him to a grove to be tested. We have been together ever since. We came back to the Republic to do some things for the Champion and some other people and while in the Fellowship, Jreghug met Sapphire. She chased him to the Republic but he wasn’t here and she took that job with Mrs. Steelmaker that was in the papers. We ran into each other and I dragged Jreghug and Sapphire to Redtree for a bit of a vacation. We have been driving around the Republic touring after we left Chatsrey.”

Dan grinned. “Let me get some pictures and then I want your story.”

After taking the pictures, Dan sat down and said, “Sapphire, did you really betray Mrs. Steelmaker?”

“There were some files removed and we did hand them to Izzie Dantas. I don’t know that you could call that betrayal and I don’t think that Mrs. Steelmaker was that disappointed when the material appeared in the papers.”

“Where did you come from?”

“I was born in the Mortal kingdoms and taken from my parents by the Order of the Beaming Light. I was bought up with the other failed, raped at thirteen and escaped when I realized that they were going to send me away. I traveled across the Mortal Kingdoms to the Fellowship where I worked for some time, met Jreghug and came here, where I was hired by Mrs. Steelmaker to collect material on the Democracy Party. I did so until I ran into Jreghug again and we decided to say good bye to the thing.”

“Did you run deliberately?”

“Not really. Our original plan was to return to the Orcenlands, but we ran into Faghig and Tigerlilly, who suggested that we take the trip to Redtree instead, so we did.”

Dan took notes as Tigerlilly told all sorts of stories about the things that had happened and with quite a bit of dirt coming from Sapphire concerning the people she had been with. Lunch over, Dan returned to the paper and Bill Hotfire, the editor said, “You were gone some time. Did you get something good?”

Dan grinned. “Very good. See for yourself.”

Bill looked at Dan’s notes and said, “Get this cleaned up and we’ll put this on the wires. This is hot stuff. What happened to the girls and their friends?”

“They were on their way out of town. I think that they arranged things that way.”


Jorge was waiting as Naertho and his parents got off the plane. “What did Py say?”

“He put the guns and the rest into the shipment to rattle you a bit, since you would have to handle the paperwork. We have a leak someplace.”

“The Inquisition is paying somebody on the estate to keep an eye on shipments.”

“Why do you say that?”

“We have the ability to make Scourge devise cores on the estate. If I were Ailwen, I would want somebody keeping an eye on things separate from the team already there. The leak probably went through Melaris to the Shieldbashers, who arranged to hijack the shipment and got burned because the things were tagged. The problem was that the girls’ things were not tagged and neither were the guns. The two Shieldbashers are not talking. Let me take you to the townhouse and find Gordon.”


“Gordon Steelslash. He’s Irial’s True.”

“I’m not sure that I approve of that.”

“You won’t have a choice, father,” Fylson said. “That is unless you want to hurt Irial very much. We can discuss that later. I understand that Irial is giving a concert, Jorge.”

“She is, and the record contract was my fault. Jhaan dealt with the contract and Irial has Tolbart and Vikelia Tollings to represent her, so she is set up. Why don’t I get you to the townhouse and find Irial and Gordon. They are shopping with Shael.”

Jorge dropped his grandfather and parents at the townhouse and as he was leaving, Special Agent Stonecracker was waiting. “What went down on 24th St.”

“The Shieldbasher boys were tipped off about my father’s and family’s Winterfaire shipment and hijacked the truck it was on.”

“There was some talk that there were weapons in the shipment.”

Jorge sighed. “There were. I ported some RS2s and other things to my sister and her friends that were being held hostage at the Community for Redhand reasons so that they had some monster persuasion if they needed it. They didn’t use the monster persuasion and when the girls were extracted, they left the things there. Some people doing clean up at the Community ported the stuff back to the estate and rather than just putting the guns and the rest of it in the arms locker, they put them in the shipment, mostly to rattle me a bit when we opened the box and I had to deal with the stuff. The problem is that the guns and some other things were separated by somebody and were not with the rest of the shipment. My sister’s small portal and the other things were all there, so somebody wanted the guns.”

“The Director thinks that you are up to something.”

“Tod, I didn’t even know about the shipment until my uncle asked me to look for microportals and as far as the guns go, there were legitmate reasons to send them to my sister and her friends. If the girls had been pushed by that monster, Redhand, the guns would have been a rather nasty surprise for Redhand. Have the Shieldbasher boys said anything?”

“They clammed up.”

“Let’s go to Market Square and find my sister.”


“Because her boyfriend is probably with them and he probably has some good guesses.”

“Who is her boyfriend?”

“Gordon Steelslash, who somehow managed to escape the taint of his father. I am going to have to annoy my sister by spilling some things, but this is too important.”

“You seem to be rather worried about the guns.”

“Tod, those two thugs have been around the edges of things involving the Project and dark politics for all the time that I have been in the Republic. Now they had enough weaponry to start a small war to and handed it to somebody. I don’t think it was their relatives, since they don’t need that sort of stuff, except the RS2s and I think that the Shieldbashers have those already. The likes of the Stewards probably do not.”

“You seem to know a lot about them.”

“Swifty Cutflame is a friend. Bill Wavechaser is a friend. I have Lions as friends. I have others as friends. They share stories and so does my family. The Shieldbashers come up in conversation more than they should. That should have attracted some interest and it hasn’t. Let’s go.”

They reached Market Square, Jorge found Shael’s car and driver, Jorge talked to him, returned to Tod and said, “They dropped off things and went to the Carayarus store.”

“Ugh, that’s going to take forever.”

“I think that I know where they were going.”


“The Yelsatra shop.”


“Yelsatra’s is a craftsman in the Lower City. He makes automata and dollhouses. He is also beholden to House Ralotris. Naevys Ralotris is dating Jerry Carayarus and the Carayarus set up a shop to sell the things that the old elf makes.”

Tod laughed. “It is a good thing I don’t have my nieces with me then.”

“Very good. Yelsaltra’s pieces are not cheap. He’s as good as my father. We were very lucky. There’s Gordon.”

Jorge waved and Gordon walked over. “Shael and your sister are very generous. Why are you here?”

“I was looking for you.”

“Who is this?”

“Special Agent Tod Stonecracker of the FSA. We met during the spider chase. We had an event happen yesterday and wanted to talk to you about connections.”

“What kind of connections.”

“Before Irial met you, she was kidnapped and sent to the Community. We’ve told you about the birthday party, at least I have. I gave Irial a small portal for her birthday. To ensure that she have a lot of birthdays, I gave her and her friends RS2s and other means of monster persuasion. A friend brought all that stuff back to the estate and in order to prank me somewhat, he and my cousin put all that stuff in my father’s Winterfaire shipment. Somebody leaked what the shipment had in it and the Shieldbashers grabbed it. Most of the things in the shipment were tagged using microportals, since the Shieldbashers had played games before. So I traced the shipment and we recovered most of it. The guns and the rest were not in the shipment, so somebody else has them. You don’t want guns like that unless you are looking for trouble and you don’t steal guns like that unless you don’t want people to know you have them. I was hoping you would have some ideas.”

“Let’s find a place and talk. By the way, I want to go back to Ironton with you and talk to Bill about Crowburg for his plant.”

“Why there?” Tod said. “The city is more or less abandoned.”

“Actually, Admiral Harper and some others brought the people back from where they were taken. The city is rebuilding and it fits Bill’s requirements. I was also hoping to invest in Bill’s company early.”

Jorge laughed. “That would be a smart move. “Ok, you and I talk about who the hidden group might be and avoid you and me running into Shael and my sister and giving some things away.”

“Since your parents and grandfather were here, we are going to spill the beans at the concert.”

“What concert?” Tod asked.

“My sister has a budding singing career and it was my fault,” Jorge said. “I had her sing the “Price of Liberty” for a prank before the President’s speech, since the Dean had told the Prank Committee, “No pranks.” We ran the record and everyone loved it.”

“Even the President?”

“Yes. My sister is performing at the Presidential dance for the outgoing President and the inauguration for the incoming President.”

They found a café and Jorge pulled out a pocket tablet. “Ok, we know about the Stewards. What other groups are likely to want firepower that people don’t know they have.”

Gordon and Tod went over the various cults and activist groups they knew about for about half a twentieth. Jorge grinned and said, “This is a start. What about this “Society for a Pure Democracy?”

“They were rather pathetic over the election,” Tod said. “According to the police reports, some of their Black Blades showed up at polling places and backed off.”

“Were they crapped on?”

“Crapped on?” Gordon asked.

“Somebody, and I am not going to say who, so that Tod can honestly say to his boss that I didn’t tell him, ported crap onto most of the potential troublemakers,  gluing up the phones as the prime targets. That was one reason that things were so peaceful during the election. If these SocDems weren’t dumped on, they may not have been considered trouble.”

“That would annoy Ben.”


“Ben Silverforge, head of the Soc Dems. He was convicted of fraud over a little scheme he pulled in college, was kicked out and couldn’t apply for Service. He wrote a book on causing trouble and making people miserable to further your cause. If he didn’t receive the crap, he is probably annoyed.”

“Would he get together with the Shieldbashers?”

“That’s the tricky part. He is from the Plateau. A lot of his friends and recruits come from that sort of background. On the other hand, the lot of them indulge in intoxicating substances, many of which are illegal, so they would want a connection like the Shieldbashers. I think that I better get back.”

Gordon left and Tod said, “You were right about what he knew.”

“His father is the dirtiest guy on the mound, but Gordon is ok, and a lot of the nasty stuff flows off the mound. I’ll take this to Silva and have them investigate.”

“What is that thing?”

“A pocket tablet. I bought it up at the Sanctuary. I have a bigger one for class and carry this one.”

Tod sighed. “So you have to go up to the Empire to get one.”

“For now. Somebody will start to bring them down all too soon.”

Mark grinned inside as Jorge came in with Special Agent Stonecracker. They sat down and Jorge said, “Mr.Silva, this is Special Agent Stonecracker. He’s been handed the case.”

“This is a surprise, considering your reputation with the FSA. Special Agent it is good to see you again.”

“You know each other,” Jorge said. “I met Tod during the Spider chase, where he had that case. We get along and frankly he’s good at his job. We were discussing some organizations with my future brother in law and we think we have one that fits the bill. What do you know about the Society for Pure Democracy?”

“What have you been told?”

“The leader is from the Plateau, was convicted of fraud and is not a citizen. He apparently likes to stir up trouble and wrote a book.”

“That’s a good summary. I will send you our file. Why do you think that they were working with the Shieldbashers?”

“Because they were apparently trying, and failing to disrupt the election and were not crapped on.”

Mark laughed. “Why do you think that matters?”

“It matters because whoever did the ports didn’t think that they were worth bothering about. For one of those types, there isn’t much worse that you could do to them.”

“That is an interesting insight. Thank you for coming in. Special Agent, we will keep in touch with you.”

“That will work. I’m glad to have you and Ironaxe again.”

Mark laughed. “No kidnapped girls, I hope.”

“We don’t want to annoy my sister,” Jorge said.

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