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Rated: E · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #1574193
Varnack and Orphious discuss how they will work together
Chapter 22 Joint Security Office

The next mornng Uta ,Cateyln and Liope were fixing breakfast for Orin, Young Jerinagan, and the Honor Guard...

"Now please explain this security detail to me, Liope," demanded her Father.

"From what I understand, Trueaxe and his elves were sent here to protect me."

"Since when do we need the protection of outsiders?" countered Orin.

"They think, and don’t ask me to explain how Elves think..., but they think, that my babies are going to play an important part in their future and want to make sure nothing bad happens to them."

"What kind of "bad" are they worried about?"

There’s a prophesy that when the Husbands return they'll reclaim the Eastern Kingdom and send the Imporium packing."

"Bunch of superstitious nonsense if you ask me…still. There’s a lot of craze things happening and maybe having someone here to watch out for you isn't such a bad idea. How about it Jernigan?"

"Whatever you think Dad is fine with me," said Young, shoveling in a spoonful of gruel.

"Ready for another day at the forge?"

"You bet…I really like doing a man’s work… baking bread was getting stale."

Cateyln groaned. Orin laughted. " That Jernigan has quite a sense of humor."

"I've noticed," commented Liope, rolling her eyes.

"See you tonight said Orin."

Young Jernigan stood up, walked over and kissed Liope on the cheek. "See you tonight, sweetheart," he said with a sly wink.

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"Well," said Uta, fanning her neck. "How did everything go last night?"

Cateyln laughted. "Young got a leg cramp and was jumping around upstairs, hollering and tramping about. Orin came out to see what the matter was and stumbled over an elf by the stairwell."

"He stepped on me," said Goober... "like to broke my leg."

"Why didn't anyone mentioned anything about a security detail,?" asked Cateyln,

"You'll have to ask Trueaxe," said Boomer, looking up from his bowl.

"When did they arrive?" asked Uta

"After Orin and I had gone to bed."

"You mentioned that Young had a cramp" Uta continued.

"Yeah," answered Liope. "We were in bed together and just dozing off when he cried out and jumped to the floor... but it wasn’t any cramp."

"What was it?"

"He was holding his head and hollering….like this (demonstrates)…screaming that he had bees inside. After a minute or two he got over it."

"We need to talk, Liope," said the midwife in a serious voice.

"About what?"

"Are you having sexual relations with Jernigan?"

Liope was taken aback.

"Why is that something you’de be interested in?"

"If he puts his tongue in your mouth. Or a finger, or even worse up you, it’s a bridge that your daughter can use to get into his mind.

Why would she do that?

"To kill him."

"Not my baby?"

"Liope, yours is not a normal pregnancy and this is your first experience. hisDon't kid yourself...your daughter is capable of anything.. Won't be long before you'll be able to talk to her. Then you'll know how much she hates him. I heard her talking to her sibling yesterday. The way she's seeing it, Young's not their father and he got you to live with him by telling a pack of lies. She knows what’s going on out here Liope, and so does her brother. Could be they saw an opportunity last night, but couldn't make the proper connection."

"How could they...?"

"Once they get in his head they can start tearing out blood vessels. If that happens he’ll drop like a stone."

"Oh my goodness."

"That’s why you have to keep trying to talk to them…and when you do, get right to explaining the ground rules… right now they have no reason to exercise any self restraint at all. They're liable to do the first thing that pops into their seedy little minds."

"I’ll try…"

"I wish I could help you Honey, but I can’t get inside your imagination. If I could, I'd try talking some sense into them."

"It never dawned on me that Young might be in danger."

"We need to keep that female, especially, calmed down…. She's exercising a strong influene on her brother. wearing down his spirit…we have to do something about that."

"How are you discovering all this?"

"Every morning when I feel your stomach, I can hear them chattering…They're complaining back and forth. The happiness of one is driving the other crazy. She's screaming at him to back off…he's fighting back and there's a growing tension between the two. I thought it would be just the Dark One we had to worry about, but her brother, "Sweetness and Sugar," is starting to shove back... it'll bear some some watching."

"What can we do?"

"I had an idea a while back. We have a girl named Mookey in the forest. She lives off by herself because she has this problem."

"Problem?"

"Most Elves are very upbeat and sing all the time…happy songs. Mookey got her wires crossed somehow and sings dark odes and forboding music. Albiana told the Council last week to send her up here so we could try having her sing to your babies, particularly you know who? Some of her material is even humorous, in a dark sort of way, and it might appeal ,for different reasons ,to both of them. You know, make them less irritable. That’s the idea anyway. At least they might get a good nights sleep. In the meantime you keep trying to contact your babies."

"Uta? I think there might be a way to get into my mind."

"How’s that?"

"Lilith can…she did it yesterday."

"How on earth?"

"She’s a witch, just like me."

"If she can do it, that would be a good thing. Let her have a little heart to heart with those two."

"There's another thing you need to know about Lilith."

"Yeah?"

"Speaking of the sunshine..."

At that moment Lilith descended the stairs. She had been bothered by the breakfast odors and taken to coming down after the cooking smells had cleared from the kitchen.

"Like I was saying," Liope continued, raising her voice. "You need to check out Lilith...she pointed to her stomach and then at Lilith."

Cateyln stood up with her hands on her mouth.

"Oh my!" replied Uta, "seems to be some of that going around. Let me take a listen."

Uta put her ear to Lilith’s stomach and after a minute or two announced.

"You’re pregnant…. Who's the proud father?"

Lilith hesitated not certain of what to say.

"Might as well show her the Scarab," Liope suggested.

Cateyln gasped and Uta's jaw dropped open as they saw the relic hanging from its chain. Inside the setting all that remained of the insect was a dried up husk. Catelyn and Uta walked around the table and looked closely. This was the first time Uta had ever seen one of the old type.

"Was it alive when you put it on?"

"Sure was," answered Lilith. She raised her chin and gave that impish smile. Then in a wry tone that suggested an not of humor, continued, "but not for long, once I got a hold of it."

"How long's it been dead?"

" 'bout two months."

"You have a boyfriend?"

"That too."

"How long have you been intimate?"

"My, aren't you the nosey one."

"Please child, this is important."

"Well, now that's the confusing part...how could I be pregnant when I haven't screwed Dumar yet?"

"Did anyone explain to you the prupose of these Scarabs?"

"Of course. Do I look stupid? but after six hundred years who'd a thought the damn things still worked?"

"Well, I do for one," said Uta, "and so does Liope. You're carrying a son. There's just one embryo, so you can put your mind at rest. Sounds to me like you're coming up on three months. Beyond that everything sounds fine."

"Well that's reassuring." said Lilith. "Whew! Glad that's off my mind."

"Have you told your mother?" asked Cateyln.

"Not yet."

"Well don't put it off any longer."

"Can you believe?" she said shaking her head, "the father of my baby is over six hundred years old?"

"The way we figure it, that's only six generations since Gilbert fell. Either way it’s quite an honor to be one of the mothers named in the prophesy. You and Liope are going to have alot to talk about over the next six months."

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When the word got out about Lilith, it sent a shock through the Coven, Dwarf and Elven communities. What had been hard to accept with Liope was much easier when a second virgin turned up pregnant. The fact that two scarbs, alive for six hundred years, suddenly died on the breast of a virgin, added further evidence. Suddenly the unbelievable was not nearly so hard to accept.

When Kulrick found out from Uta he sent word to Olivia. She had just received the same news from Nirvana. Now, she was aware, that three of the scarabs had activated and she was certain they were responsible for the pregnancies. What caused her heart to skip, was wondering about the one Pluto was wearing. Her Godson had left the country with Climatus and suddenly she had to know the state of it’s health.

"Rogoletti, we must move up our plans and depart at once for Nirvana.”

"Why the sudden hurry? Don’t tell me Cateyln has accellerated the wedding."

She filled him in on the details.

"You know when I told Pluto I'd be picking up the Scarab soon…. I don’t know how to explain it but…"

"But what?"

"Well, the news seemed to come as more of I surprise, than I was expecting."

"What do you mean?"

"You know how it is sometimes, when you catch someone off their guard… when they're trying to hide something and they get this funny look on their face?"

"I know it well. Are you telling me this is the look Pluto gave you?"

"Yeah,... now that I think about it. At the time though, I shrugged it off, not paying a whole lot of attention… but now..

"Will you get to the point!"

"In retrospect, I think I should have followed it up…you know, ask him to show it to me."

"Too late for that now… We'll just have to wait until we get to Nirvana."

"You have a suspision?"

"I think we'll find it alive and well...but if I decide to put it on when we get there…make sure you smack me in the head and bring me back to my senses."

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After breakfast Liope and her mother took a walk out to the Citidel. When they arrived they met Albiano, Varnack and Orphious in the newly established Security Office.

"Varnack told me," said Orphious, "we needed to talk about setting up some sort of a joint security arrangement. I’m not sure I understand why all this is necessary."

Orphious was a bit unsettled by what was going on. Normally he worked directly for Cateyln but their relationship was not a public one. He was surprised that Cate had not told him earlier what was in the works and was a bit miffed at being informed first of it by Varnack. Further Cateyln seemed to be deferring to her daughter, almost as if there was some kind of transitiin of power taking place. He looked hard at Cate and she returned his stare, but gave no indication of what was going on. Finally she spoke.

"Why don’t you listen to what Liope has to say."

"To what Liope has to say?" he repeated, beginning to accept his suspicions. He shrugged.

"Well Liope, good to see you up and around. Hope everything is well with you and Jernigan."

"It is Sheriff…I want to thank you for all you did."

"Just doing my job…but tell me, what it is with you and the Elves?"

"What do you mean?".

"You know all that bowing and scraping, how they defer to you, like some sort of princess. How do you rate all that?"

"I’m not sure, but I think it has something do with my pregnancy."

"I thought we established all that with Jernigan."

"I'm afraid its a bit more complicated."

"And not something we really need to go into right now," said Cateyln.

"I see," said the Sheriff, stroking his jaw, "but all that aside, what seems to be the problem with security? I was under the impression that the Militia and I are doing a pretty good job."

He looked over at Cateyln for support but she remained impassive.

"You're doing fine Sheriff, but the Elves feel that my children could have a profound impact on their futures, that should the Imporium get wind of what is happening inside here, (Points to stomach) they're going to want to learn more."

"Your baby is a threat to them?"

Liope nodded. "...And its beginning to look like there's more than one."

"If the Republic sends forcers to the Valley there isn’t much we can do to stop them."

"Nor would I expect you to try That’s why we need to work more closely together. First to keep the word from getting out and then deciding what we’ll do when they eventually decide to come poking around."

"Well, next month they'll be here to update their registry and collect taxes. If they have a hidden agenda, they'll probobly tip their hands."

"That's where I think the Elves can help," Liope continued. "They've ways of finding out things that we're not privy to. On the other hand nobody knows this valley like you do. If anything happens out of the ordinary, regardless how insignificant, I'm sure you'll be on top of it. Still, it's a big help if you know where to start looking and that's why we need all parties work closely together."

"So that’s the purpose of this office…a clearing house for information?"

"Thats the way I see it. What about you, Varnack?"

"Yes, exactly. Every day Liope, when you drop by, we'll bring everyone up to date on what's happening. Orphious will recap what is going on in the area and we'll provide a forcast on what is coming our way from outside."

"Makes sense," said Orphious. "You can certainly count on me and the Militia. Security is our job. The more we know the better."

"If we detect a threat," replied Varnack, "we'll let you know."

At this point the meeting broke up. Albiano came up to Liope.

"I'll transmit the results of this meeting to the Council in the next hour. If you want to listen in you may join me atop the parapets once you finish your walk-thru."

Silas met them outside. He was eager to show them all the progress.

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The security office was along the inside of the outer wall. Silas led Liope into the round house. She was amazed by the progress that was taking place.

Liope looked all about her in amazement. "I know, it’s hard to believe isn’t it?" said Silas. "The floor joists are set and the ceiling trusses have been hoisted into place. The cellar beneath the throne room is covered. If you like I’ll show you the basement."

They walked down a broad stone stair case that followed the wall. At the bottom torches illuminated the corridors and rooms.

"Here are the store rooms and where the stores are kept. In its glory the Citadel could withstand a siege of up to six months. Over here are the cisterns and the grainery. Yonder is the dungeon."

It was nice and cool and Liope was amazed at how quickly the rehab was coming along. What was once a ruin was turning into a framework and it was now possible to visualize how well designed the fortress was in its heyday. When they finished they returned upstairs.

"I hear the infirmary is being completed," Cateyln said, "and I'd like to talk to Walinda and Karla about their plans for a clinic. It'll serve the Citadel in time of crisis, but also the town in peacetime."

Silas excused himself. Liope, and Albiano went upstairs to the parapets.

"Tell me about how you communicate with the Council."

"Once I have my report, I go to a high place and focus my thoughts in their direction. As I think my way through, it flows into Tristan and settles into their collective conscious. When I finish, if they have questions, I answer what I can, and then find out what they want me to investigtate further."

"Do you mind if I watch…"

"That's why I wanted you here."

Albiano began sending her transmission. After a minute, she stoped setting her head onto her hands.

"Are you OK?" asked Liope.

"My powers are fading. As a woman matures, her gift for telepathy dissipates. I'm nearing the end of my beconing days."

"How are you coping?"

"If I break the message up and send in short spurts, I can still function. In the next couple of days they'll be sending a friend of mine to help out."

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The conversations in the carriage as it rolled towards Nirvana were upbeat and entertaining. Upon taking to the road Pluto noticed they had an escort of four knights. They each had a red T emblazoned on their tunics and shields.

"Who are the escort?" he inquired, "and what's the significance of the "T.”"

"Templers," answered Trilla.

"Do they normally provide security when your mother goes abroad?"

"Only when she's carrying a lot of money, which is most of the time."

"I've heard of the templers," said Pluto. "There's a school in Tristan called Finsterwald, which is where they train."

"That's where they study Banking and Finiance, however they also have a school at Bierne, where they study the profession of arms."

"What do those two have in common?"

"One hand to count the coins…. The other, in case someone gets too grabby."

"Makes sense to me." he replied.

Trilla was the ideal traveling companion. She had an impish smile and an inclination towards mischief. Once when she sneezed, green crystals of vapor flew everywhere.

"If you must sneeze," her mother chided her, "cover your mouth. I know you think its amusing but I can see Pluto is shocked…if you start coughing moths, I'll send you up to sit with the driver."

"Can you really cough moths?" Pluto asked in amazement?

"Don’t encourage her young man. She has a whole repertoire of disgusting behavior that can make her seem most unladylike. If you wish to pass the time with Pluto, my dear, you had better mind your manners."

"Yes Mother," answered Trilla.

Miranda was the Patron Witch of the Cisterian and Latonian elves and she traveled regularly between the two kingdoms on Coven matters. Climatus and her mother had much in common. They were both warm and outgoing and seemed to have a knowledge about and an interest in almost everything. When they found a subject, that caught their interest, they could rattle on about it for hours. They would completely dissect it, taking a delightful pleasure in examining every part. In the process they thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. The hours seemed to fly by and by early evening they were nearing Nirvana, when they encountered a mounted elf.

"Good to see you once more, my lady," shouted Trueaxe.

"And you too Squire, how far to Nirvana?".

"Just up the road," the Knight replied. "I came to guide you to the citadel. The Valley Queen awaits you and and arrangements are being made for your quartering at the Citadel. Oh... and Climatus, the Young Queen is very anxious to meet another who shares her ahhhh…special condition."

As the carriage rolled into the Citaldel there was quite an entourage wating to receive it. There was Cateyln, Liope, Lilith, as well as Uta and the Midwives. Trueaxe had his honor guard drawn up and there was a host of attendants for the baggage, and grooms for the horses. As they disembarked, Cateyln was busy making all the introductions. Miranda introduced her daughter Trilla and Climatus, her son, Pluto. Climatus however was the center of attention and Liope went to her immediately and began making her feel welcome. Only hours before had they received word that Climatus was safely across the border and the news had created a sensation of excitement and fresh hope.

As everyone was being ushered inside, Pluto noticed an Elf he thought he recognized. The Elf smiled back and walked up extending his hand. "I’m Varnack, part of an advanced party sent in a couple months ago. My fiance is a good friend of Bedelia."

"Where is she?" asked Pluto, jumping at the news.

"At the temple. It's half a day’s climb from here. When things settle down I’ll be taking you up there to see her."

"How about tomorrow morning?"

"If I can’t, I’ll have someone drop by… its quite a climb…make sure you wear some comfortable boots."

After Varnack departed, Pluto walked into the Citadel where the entourage had proceeded. Trillla and a girl named Lilith were engaged a conversation as he walked up.

"This is the fortress where the Witches lived with their Husbands," said Lilith. "Until two months ago what was once a ruin, is becoming habitable. You can even get a hot bath."

"Pluto, this is Lilith," introduced Trilla, "Daughter of Matilda, Patron of the Morovian Dwarves. She's engaged to Dumar, the Deputy Magistrate in the Valley…Lilith, this is Pluto, son of Climatus, a well known champion of arms."

"Delighted to make your acquaintence," he said, tipping his forehead. "It looks like every Witch in the Coven has gathered here… except Olivia…"

"Oh she's on her way and expected to arrive tomorrow," said Lilith, "The big four will be discussing the prophesy and some of the proof of the revelation everyone believes is going to happen."

"Oh really?" said Trilla…"like what?"

The part where it says, “Two sisters, dark with dread.” If that isn’t referring to the infants carried by Liope and Climatus them I don’t know what is."

"I thought you were referring to the virgins. You and Liope certainly qualify… I wonder who the third is?"

"This prophesy," interjected Pluto, with a sucking intake of breath. "Would there happen to be a copy laying about?"

"There's one on the bulletin board of the antechamber where you walked in. Everyone is abuzz about what it means."

"Where did it come from…?" asked Pluto.

"Turned up in the Scry bowls of the four lines, about two weeks ago. Isn’t it amazing? Of the four scarabs two have have led to pregnancies. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Olivia showed up wearing hers and announced she was the third?"

"That would be truly amazing," said Pluto, under his breath.


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Message from Albiana to Ubocastor the scribe.

Work continues on the citadel. Today we held our first joint security meeting. It focused on explaining to the Magistrate, Orphius, why there is a need for working together. The relationship between Catelyn and her daughter Liope appears to be one of transition. Orphious kept looking glancing over at Cateyln as Liope was doing all the talking. It appears there is a long standing relationship between the Witches and the town. While we have never taken great interest in the power center the Coven seems to rest at the center of their political structure. It appears to derive from the Witch of the Nirvana line who is the ultimate governing authority. Cateyln seems to be in the process of sharing, if not passing authority, to her daughter.

Uta reports that Liope’s pregnancy is into its third month and so far all is well. The unborn appear to resent Young Jernigan and gave him a headache last night. Liope has been warned about invasive physical contact. Mookey’s due to arrive this afternoon and we hope she will be useful in controlling the behavior of the Accursed One. Of note is the report by Uta that while she cannot enter into Liope’s mind, Lilith can. She hopes to use the ability to gain access and have a calming influence of the fetuses.

True Axe and his Elves have settled in. They turned up at Liope's house last night. Three are guarding the upstairs and one is stationed below at night. It is hoped that this arrangement will not be too intrusive. The alternative will be to move them to the Citadel, once the second story apartments are finished.

However, we have some rather astonishing news. Uta has confirmed that Lilith is pregnant. She is daughter of the Witch, Matilda, Patron of the Morovian Dwarves. Both young women are physically virgins, as confirmed by examination, but nobody is elaborating beyond that.

With that Albiano looked up and said.

“That finishes my report, would you like me to repeat what I said?"

"That won’t be necessary," answered Liope. "What happens if they have questions?"

"Ah yes…. As a matter of fact Ubocastor, usually has a few, wait, there's one coming in now. "

Ubocastor: I would like to know more about the telepathic poweres shared by Liope and Lilith; As well as any explanation that might be forthcoming on the causitive nature of their conditions."

"Is that all?"

"If we have more questions I will pass them on tomorrow."

"Who is Ubocastor?"

"He's the the Council Wizard."

"Is someone inquiring about me?"

"It was Liope asking….but she didn’t speak…. Oh my goodness."

"Hello Upbcastor…its good to make your acquaintence," nelled Liope.

"The honor is mine…a bit unexpected, but warmly received."

"I look forward to meeting you in person."

"As do I, Great Lady."

With that the conversation ended

"As a matter of routine I'd like to be present when you send your reports. In the morning, before the meeting, we can sit for tea and and review the responses."

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