Emilia was angry, not just angry, furious. She had already ruined her least favorite sofa. It was charred to cinders. Her well-manicured nails clicked on the floor as she paced in her penthouse room. Luckily it was fireproofed. She would hate to burn down the entire Atlantis Rookery because she couldn’t control her temper today. She furled and unfurled her wings, taking three deep breaths to calm herself. When she felt calm she called out.
“Bernard, you may return now,” Emilia called in her usual melodious rumble.
“Yes, ma’am,” Bernard said, promptly opening the door and standing attentively. Bernard was 6’3″ of solid stone. He was in excellent form, even for a goyle, and he was impeccably dressed in a suit that perfectly suited his marble skin. He looked at Emilia and noted the condition of the sofa. While not pacing, she was lifting and resettling her wings still so caution was in order.
She was a beautiful dragon of what most would consider the western order. Her long slender neck topped by a graceful head with two horns contained her piercingly dark blue eyes. Her scales were burnished to a high sheen and not a scale was unburnished, or out of order in any way. She. had even had the nails all done in a glorious shade of dark green which completely complemented her bronze coloration. Her long sinuous tail was currently wrapped around the pillar in the center of the room to keep from thrashing in agitation. She was normally impressive, and her current ire did nothing to dull that impression.
“I will be going to New Houston in an hour. I need to evaluate the situation there. I do not know if I will be staying. Please ensure that Sals is aware of my arrival window and had taken all the usual precautions. Also, ensure that no one knows I have left here. Reschedule all meetings until my return.” she directed.
“Of course, ma’am.” He replied. He retreated from the room to make arrangements. He had thick skin but not thick enough to protect him from her flames if she lashed out again. And even if his skin would make it, he had no desire to purchase new clothing.
Emilia took fifteen minutes to meditate and regain her composure. For the next fifteen minutes, she was on a call with the Magic Counsel. She took fifteen minutes for a scrying spell to locate her destination in New Houston. She then packed a small travel bag which she strapped to her torso. Fifteen minutes later precisely, she leaped from the landing ledge outside of her rooms and began her trip to New Houston.
Sals went on the PA system. “We will be going on lockdown in sixty minutes, people. If you need out, go now. If you know someone who needs in, they’d better get their butts in here in fifty-nine minutes.”
Sals shooed everyone from the main office and sent them home. I’ll make an announcement when lockdown ends, until then go home. No one disagreed with her when she had ‘that look’ on her face.
Precisely ten minutes later, Emilia touched down on the landing area and immediately took human form. She walked up to Sals and gave her a big hug, which Sals enthusiastically returned. “Oh Sals, it has been far too long since I have seen you!” Emilia said, holding her at arm’s length and examining her. “You look lovely, as always. I see you are still enjoying the work.”
“It’s good to see you too, Lia,” Sals replied lower her head a little and smiling shyly. “You know how much I appreciate this job. I love my people, even those who are a handful.” Sals glowered a little then laughed and shook her head. “Courier is a handful, but this wasn’t his doing. Not a bit. Someone set us up.”
“Tell me what happened,” Emilia said.
“Early this morning we had a package delivery request called into the downstairs office. I have talked to Sam who took the call. He said it was called in by a small Asian-looking man with white hair and a long mustache. All he could see on the call clothing-wise was a red tunic that looked silk with gold embroidery on it. The walls were covered with some glyphs. We have a picture and video if you’d like to see it.” Sals reported.
“When you are done,” Emilia responded.
“He e-signed in a Class IV delivery. He had all the proper paperwork and ownership papers. He sent copies of that paperwork so I can show you the signature if you’d like. The name was @[Anho Timakaru – The Dragon](person:2b646341-ce1b-4c7d-aaec-0a32bb7bb767).”
At that name, Emilia started as if a bit shocked. Sals stopped talking. “You know that name?” Sals asked.
“I do not. Please continue.” Emilia replied.
“Anyway, it was all by the book. We accepted the delivery request and I called up Courier. He was next in the queue who met the Class IV requirement. I handed off the package request to him personally and saw him out the door with the proper transport container. He says he flew straight to the designated pick-up address, accepted the package, and went straight to the burning tower. He delivered the package to @[Thomas Sendon](person:fadc382e-2387-4b6e-9782-9d5d032ee83b) personally and has the paperwork signed as proof of acceptance. It was all by the book. Courier does good work.”
Emilia smirked, “Don’t worry. I’ll never tell him you said that.”
“I trusted you wouldn’t.” Sals chuckled.
“Next thing we know we hear the news that The Burning Tower is burning. Courier hasn’t returned, and no one knows exactly where he is. Not that it’s unusual for him to freeload after a delivery. When we started getting official calls from the Magic Counsel wanting to talk to him, I called you immediately and sent some of the others out to look for him. He turned up about twenty minutes later, and ever since I have kept him in The Rookery. He’s safe in his room now, and he will damn well stay there until this is resolved.” Sals said.
“Good. Our children should be kept safe. I have contacted the Magic Counsel and assured them that we had nothing to do with the event they are investigating; however, they still want answers. I intend to get those answers. Thank you, Sals. As always you have the situation buttoned up.”
“Thank you, but I won’t feel easy about this until I know that the Counsel isn’t coming to ‘interview’ Courier.”
“You have my assurance that they won’t. I am going to address the situation immediately. Keep The Rookery on lockdown until I return. I know where I am going and I shouldn’t be long.” Emilia said.
“Of course,” Sals replied.
Emilia regained her natural form and jumped from the ledge flapping her wings a bit. The updraft in the New Houston Rookery was delicious. She may, or may not, have performed some aerobatics before heading toward her destination.
Though not the same address as the pickup location Courier had been given, Emilia landed in the same rooftop garden and made her way to the same door, 12C. She knocks a rapid staccato. The old man opens the door to her knock. He gives a small nod of acknowledgment, showing no sign of surprise, but then why would he? He probably knew she was here when she entered New Houston.
“Won’t you please enter?” He said, gesturing past himself.
“Thank you. I am Emilia Koehler,” she stated.
“And I am Anho Timakaru.” he replied. “Would you like some tea?”
“I would love some, yes.”
He led her past the calligraphy that Courier had seen, and that Emilia recognized as draconic wards of protection, and into a cozy living room with two large comfortable chairs near a fireplace with a crackling fire laid. “Please.” he gestured to the chair on the left, the one that offered the safest space in the room. She carefully took the seat and he bustled off through a door that presumably led to the kitchen.
A few minutes later he returned with a teapot which he placed on the table between the chairs. He also placed mugs near each chair. “It will need to steep a bit,” he said. “Shall we share pleasantries first, or do you want to get right to business?” he asked.
Emilia had to fight to keep from grinding her teeth. Damn Asian Lungs with their impeccable manners!
“I would prefer to get right to business,” she said.
“Of course, of course. How can I, and my city be of assistance?” he inquired.
“I believe you have involved MY Rookery in your business.”
“The Rookery is a part of New Houston.”
“No, The Rookery is located in New Houston. It is a part of Rook, Inc.”
“A fine distinction, don’t you think?”
“No. A completely separate and inviolate entity.”
“it is true that I am newly invested in New Houston. It took me some time to find a comfortable space in this time. I did not notice any markers on The Rookery. Is that no longer a courtesy that our kind partake in?” he asked.
“Ah. Have you newly awoken then?” Emilia asked, softening her stance a bit.
“Fairly so, yes. I have been trying to adapt to the new ways, but I fear that things have changed rather dramatically since I was last awake.”
“If I may then, I will explain.”
“Please,” he said.
“In these times, it is no longer true that we must have one set location and a large territory. Where we used to claim land, now we are free to claim business enterprises, ethnicities, or any number of other such for our protectorate. Some do prefer the old ways; however, you must also be aware of the new. What you choose for your own should be registered with the Library. Here, let me give you their website.” Emilia took out a notebook wrote the URL on it along with her personal email and cell number. “Are you familiar with the internet yet?”
“I am learning, yes. The child downstairs seems well versed in its intricacies and he has informed me that Lord Google knows anything that I do not.”
Emilia stifled a chuckle. “The child is not too far wrong, though Google won’t know about the Library. When you access that URL, you will need to have your webcam on and be able to answer some questions in draconic. Once you are on the site, you will be able to research who has what protectorate. As I have already laid claim to Rook, Inc and its holdings, the Rookery and those in it and associated with it are mine. You are, at least as far as I know, welcome to the rest of New Houston. The Library also has a wealth of other useful information to help you learn the intricacies of this new world. Would you like me to help you research your claim and register it if available?”
“That would be lovely,” he replied.
They spent the next hour sipping wonderful Oolong tea and researching New Houston and its surrounding areas and registering it under Anho’s protection. They both certified that while in New Houston, The Rookery and its inhabitants and associates to the first degree, family and friends, was Emilia’s.
“Thank you for your assistance, Emilia. I deeply regret my intrusion into your protectorate without requesting permission first. I assure you I had no intention of inflicting harm on your young ones. There was an evil attempting to take root in New Houston and I needed to prune it before it grew. They were in no danger from what I did. That said, I will ensure that they are cleared with the mundane authorities and give them some reassurance. Will that be enough to make amends?” Anho asked.
“Yes, of course. I can see that no harm was intended or done. If you need assistance from me in the future please do reach out. I gave you my email and phone number.”
He made a low bow. “May you live long and in peace,” he said in the eastern tradition.
“May you prosper and win all your battles,” she replied in the western tradition.
Emilia took her leave and headed back to The Rookery where Sals waited. Once she landed, she filled Sals in on the details and outlined the protectorate that Anho had claimed.
“Understood. New Houston is Anho’s protectorate, with the exception of The Rookery to the first level. If we wish to expand here or participate in any local activities we should seek his permission first. We will be sure to abide by your word.” Sals said.
“Of course, you will, my daughter,” Emilia said, ruffling Sals’ hair. Emilia bent in for a firm hug before pulling away and holding her at arm’s length. “You be sure to take care of yourself and get enough rest, little one. I count on you to protect your brothers and sisters, and you can’t do that if you work yourself to death.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sals replied. “Have a safe trip home.”
“Thank you for all you do, Sals. I love you.” Emilia said, and took off for The Atlantis Rookery.
Sals sighed. She loved Emilia, but she was glad this was settled and things could get back to normal now. She used the PA to announce the end of the lockdown and the night shift started shuffling in. The phones started ringing about an hour later. The magical counsel had called off the investigation. Courier would not be questioned and those being held at The Burning Tower had been released.
Sals grinned to herself as she leaned back in her chair and watched her office return to business.