Every second that was forced into this perversion of law and justice was like a needle jabbing into Sorie’s spine.
It was possible that Sorie had been in more embarrassing states, but as she was currently flooded with excessive dose of shame and self-hatred the clerk was unable to recall such an event.
“Must you play with that thing?” One of the thirteen members of Vanasher’s council asked the small horned boy who was playing with his glass device.
The magic mirror-like device let out beeps as Jessy tapped at the screen with his finger. “Is it disturbing your concentration?”
“Yes.” The growl from the no-nonsense wizardess caused Sorie’s stomach to tighten.
“Good.” Jessy said. “I want you upset. It makes it easier to screw you over when you’re angry. It’s funnier too. Excuse me, my hearing is not as good as yours, so I’ll just turn this up louder. That’s okay with all of you? Too bad.”
The beeping noise grew louder.
It had been no easy task for Vanasher to gather an appointment with eight of some of her most powerful supporters. Though it would have been far more difficult to gather her supporters to this location, which is why she had instead ordered her collection of magic mirrors to be brought into her tent.
The magic mirror system was one of elves greatest conveniences. Brought over from Seoid, the mirrors allowed two parties to communicate face-to-face over extortionate distances.
This allowed somebody of Vansaher’s rank and status to remain knowledgable about current affairs, and also allowed her to some measure of power outside of her tent.
Besides the mirrors the Dean had brought an assortment of female wizards and had them stand, casually at the barn’s entrances and corners. All around the barn the wizards juggled small drops of fairy fire between their fingers, a harmless piece of light but Jessy didn’t need to know that.
Vanasher had meant it to be a show of power. The mirrors were highly expensive to make and their visages showed some of the most powerful and influence she-elves in the country; and even if the somebody had no idea who these mages were, their show of magical power would cause any superstitious human to piss their pants.
Rather than be intimidated at the sight of all this magical power, Jessy had been interested at the mirrors for about five seconds and then shrugged. He then proceeded to take his seat and play with his little glass device.
His less than amazed or horrified reaction had cause Vanasher to smile coldly.
Sorie was just grateful that none of the mirrors were directed towards her, the clerk doubted that she would be able to tolerate the judgemental looks from some of these powerful she-elves. She wished that they could have done this some place more warm but it was outside her power.
Due to the nature of this meeting Vanasher and Mr Black had procured a neutral area to conduct business. Neither side trusted the other to be given the home field advantage or allow the public to learn of such a meeting.
A barn in the middle of a long stretch of farmland seemed like a good place.
Any person or curious animal would be seen by the scouts outside and the place was easily warded against scrying spells.
A paper bird flew threw the wind and landed on Vansher’s shoulder. The Dean took the bird from off her shoulder and unfolded the paper. With the merest flick of will the paper caught fire, it’s message lost.
“Your lawyer is on his way.” Vanasher said.
“About time.” One of the she-elves in the mirror called.
“Not my fault you’re early.” Jessy said.
Some of the more curious mages manoeuvred themselves behind Jessy. Not to intimidate him into giving the Vanasher into whatever she desired, but to see what he was doing and perhaps learn more about his small mirror.
The she-elves looked at the boy’s magic mirror for a second in puzzlement, and then one of them rubbed her eyes.
Minutes later Mr Black entered the barn.
The Silth was just as beautiful as she remembered. Again he wore that superbly made black suit with that white silk shirt. Though their was an ample amount of mud and dung outside Mr Black’s shoes remained incredibly pristine, and Sorie assumed some form of enchantment was placed on them to keep them so clean.
Sorie also noticed that more than one female Silth in the room and in the mirrors blush as they saw the pretty elf.
“You’ve been holding out on us, Dean.” One older Silth in a mirror laughed.
A second Silth entered the barn following Mr Black’s footsteps and from the amount of scrolls in her arms Sorie guessed that she was Mr Black’s secretary. And by the Gods she looked incredibly out of her league.
Unlike superior, though, the assistant looked remarkable plain and her she had a rushed look about her. Two pieces of black luggage were clenched in her hands, and she cradled dozens of scrolls between her armpits. In her mouth she held a set of keys which jangled as she walked.
Sorie felt in equal parts sympathetic and disgusted by this Silth, mainly because this she-elf looked amazingly like her most of the year. Out of place and doomed to be the bumbling assistant.
As Mr Black took his seat next to his client the Silth who had sneered at Jessy earlier for his playing narrowed her eyes, “An assassin? You bring us an assassin as your lawyer?”
Sorie would have liked to point out that Vanasher bringing over a dozen mages to a simple transaction was considered rather like overkill but politely held her tongue.
“I assure you ma’am that I have never killed anyone, and that I have educated myself on both Un Neill domestic law as well as foreign law.” Mr Black said.
His assistant looked at him sceptically and then turned her head back at Vanasher, “Oh,” she said as if remembering some thing and pulled out a notebook from a one of the black cases. The assistant also pulled out a black stick from her dress pocket that turned out to be a writing tool.
Quickly the assistant began to scribble.
Not wanting to draw attention to herself, Sorie studied the assistant’s notebook and threw a small cantrip at the thing.
It was a gamble everyone knew. It would be seen as insulting or possibly even dangerous if Jessy or his lawyer to catch wind of the spell, but the gamble paid off it seemed as Sorie successfully tied the assistant’s notebook to one she held in her bag.
“Jessy.” Mr Black said to his young client.
Annoyed, Jessy pocketed his device and proceeded to at least attempt to look as if he was listening.
The Silth lawyer took in a breath as if in preparation to a long and tiring battle, and it surly was as he faced against one of the most influential, ambitious, and knowledgable she-elves in the country.
“Are we ready?” Mr Black asked.
Vanasher didn’t bother to look to her supporters for permission, “Yes, Mr Black. Yet us proceed.”
The opening of a dance began with Sorie (Vanasher) accusing Jessy of sexual misconduct. The charge made Mr Black’s assistant smile and roll her eyes, and Sorie had to agree.
Any magistrate would have thrown the case out of the door immediately, and if Jessy had drugged Sorie’s drink would have labelled it the clerk’s fault for not paying attention. A simple childish prank and nothing else.
Then the magistrate would have brought up that if drugging pretty girls’ drinks would be seen as a crime, than girls drugging little elf boys with love potions would be seen as such.
The meeting continued with threats, accusations, Sorie pretending to cry on queue, and various other absurdities until Mr Black went into saying that there was no proof that the mug had been tampered with.
Vanasher’s supporters had thought it amusing that Mr Black had dared to pretend that things such as evidence was important.
The battle shifted to Vanasher’s favour quickly when the Dean snapped her fingers as if revealing some grand universal secret.
Dragged into the barn by one of the mages, Bancroft Enya appeared.
Jessy gasped as he admired his dirty fingernails, in a bored voice he said, “Bancroft, how could you? My perfect plan is ruined. Foiled again.”
No one laughed.
Bancroft stepped inside and stepped back when she noticed Mr Black’s assistant. She kept quiet, however, and made a show of lowering her head. She looked like the very model of a child who had gotten caught knicking something expensive.
Vanasher gave Mr Black’s assistant a second look. “I believe your client knows, Miss Enya. As I understand it, it is common knowledge that a certain party have history with her family. And I understand that, Miss Enya here, has become well acquainted with mister Turbuskey.”
The assistant scribbled something down in her notebook, and it took a bit of control for Sorie not to whip out her own notebook and read the contents.
The assistant all but smacked Mr Black in the face when she forced him to read her note.
“Thank you.” Mr Black said to his assistant. He stared at the Dean of the Royal Academy and seemed to weigh his options. “Just as to amuse my client’s curiosity. What does your client think would be reasonable to forget these charges?”
There was an deep sigh of relief which flowed from every mage, including a grateful Sorie. The Techs were willing to play Vanasher’s game.
Vanasher smiled, but Sorie had seen the Dean hold her breath more than once. They hadn’t a case and the Techs knew it, but this wasn’t about Sorie’s wounded pride, it was about opening a dialogue.
“Miss Kingsbrew believes that complete access to Techscope’s libraries, five hundred gold pieces, and safe entrance into Techscope would be a start to the trauma she has gone through.”
Unable to hold it in any longer Mr Black’s assistant let out a coughing bellow. “Yeh, what? Are you insane, Nickell?” the assistant looked physically ill as if imagining that much gold, “For that much gold, the late queen would have juggled this boy’s balls, and would have allowed him to use her boom chute.”
One of Vanasher’s supporters viewed the assistant from behind her magic mirror. “Who is this she-elf?”
Mr black ignored the question, “If your client is so distraught about about this incident. I have recently come to the knowledge that the local magistrate is found of common practise involving sexual deviancy. I will propose a counter offer. We give Miss Kingsbrew a dull knife and she publicly castrates Jessy.”
“What the fuck?” Jessy called out.
“I’ll agree to it.” said the she-elf who Jessy had been purposely annoying with his glass device.
Sorie was appalled at the current direction this meeting was going. If Jessy had committed said crime against her then she would have probably would have asked for nothing less than Jessy’s life, but it had been Bancroft who had tainted her drink, not Jessy, and not under his orders.
“What the hell, man.” Jessy shouted at his lawyer.
“Don’t worry Jessy. I am confident that Techscope’s medical department can sew them back on.” Mr Black said.
“Really?” The assistant said sounding amazed. “Cause I’ve got this bloke I used to run with, and I swear it was an accident, but…”
Not seeing how mutilating her semi-victim in this plan would help her, Vanasher changed the subject, “I would remind you, Mr Black, that Jessy is not just at fault. Your company vouched for your client as a reasonable diplomat. They and Jessy are responsible for my staff member’s emotional distress.”
“Yeah.” Jessy said.
Mr black seemed to consider this, “Unfortunately, Lady Nickell, Techscope is currently in the process of scanning our achieves.”
The mages and a handful of Vanasher’s supporters did not take this bit of information well. Universities had gone through several civil and bloody wars deciding if generations should be allowed access to so called taboo and unpopular works and to be told that this Techscope would be not allowing them access hit old wounds.
“Knowledge should be allowed to every curious mind.” One of supporters said firmly, many of the females in the room nodded.
Mr Black nodded, “If we were in our own reality, or one close to our own level of technology, I would strongly agree with you. However, this is not the case. We are willing to trade knowledge with the Isles of Gaelic, but we feel that we should be cautious.”
Jessy decided to add his own thoughts, “We’re afraid you’ll shot yourselves in the foot, and then shot us in the back.”
“Not how I would have put it.” Mr Black said.
Vanasher smirked, “You think us the illiterate savages. How fun the fates mock us. Very well.”
The battle continued anew. No longer was this about Jessy and Sorie, it was between two blind organisations, both parties unsure of what the other treasured or what was considered valuable.
An hour passed with the conversation evolving from Jessy’s punishment, to trade agreements, to promises of shared knowledge, to talks of the future.
Vanasher was a rising power within Un Neill, with an eye on the head master’s seat and her legacy. She wanted so much that she was willing to seek out new allies.
Mr Black drew out drew out a two hundred page document from out of the black case, after he and Vanasher reviewed it carefully he handed a quill to the Dean. “And it is agreed upon. Two hundred kilograms of gold to Sorie Kingsbrew.”
“Five hundred kilograms of gold will go to Vanasher Nickell’s private account, five hundred will also go to the Royal Academy’s vault. We will give you ten translated text books including an current Tuatha-to-English dictionary. You in turn will provide us access to your library.”
“Techscope will provide your chosen consultants with an office in Bellymore’s new library, with Sorie Kingsbrew acting as head librarian. Are we in agreement?”
It sounded completely one sided except, but that was only looking at the surface of the contract. Techscope wanted protection against magical spies, they wanted contacts, they wanted access to more knowledge, and they needed allies if they hoped to survive.
When the last drops of precious metal was squeezed from Cichole, Techscope wanted their independence secured.
Sorie was in a daze. She had been promoted to a high rank within a new promised library. Not only was her future looking bright, but she was richer than most nobles.
Two hundred kilograms of gold was more money than she could every hope to obtain if she ever planed to live for centuries. If she were to have children their futures, and the futures of her grandchildren would be secured.
Her first goal was clear. To commission the coping of tombs from the main library, and read the appropriate Tech book and perform translations. She was allowed assistants; assistants, who had talents outside of the common skills an librarian should have.
The papers were brought to Sorie, and seeing Vanasher’s seal placed her mark.
Her signature on contract, Sorie prayed that this supposed good fortune would not come back to haunt her.
Mr Black nudged Jessy. At the annoyance of everyone in the room The Tech child had gone back to playing with his toy almost immediately when negotiations began.
The boy now got onto his feet and stretched. He let out a sigh and went to one of the assistant’s unopened cases.
The black case opened at his touch.
At seeing the contents the assistant performed a double take, “Bugger.” she laughed.
The mages looked on curiously, not understanding what they were seeing. Their eyes went wide as Jessy withdrew an ingot of gleaming silver.
With a sigh Jessy presented the hunk of metal to Sorie. “I want to apologise.”
Sorie looked up at the horned boy, not understanding what he was talking about.
“I took advantage of you when you were not drugged out of your mind. I…” Jessy trailed off. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
Sorie blushed, she didn’t want to think of such things. Jessy had been a victim, almost as much as her. He was just a child, and from what she knew it had been her who dragged him off.
It was not the shame of being used that caused Sorie to shy away, it was the shame that she would forever be labelled as a pervert.
Her eyes turned to Bancroft, whose gaze was locked on hunk of metal in Jessy’s hands. The clerk scrunched her face, the harlot had caused her fall from grace.
Jessy looked as though he had a headache, “I don’t have many girlfriends. I mean. I… I don’t have many friends who happen to many girls. And…”
Sorie looked to her mentor and benefactor, Vanasher, who nodded.
She accepted the silver and in her most diplomatic voice said, “Thank you. I hope that we do become friends.” Sorie had sold her integrity for less than a few kilo of silver. It was not too long ago that a promise of a precious tomb or a suitor with a pretty face would have had her knees.
So be it.
It was then that Sorie noticed that there was something wrong with the block. “Jessy. What exactly is this metal?”