Chapter 73 Decisions and Ale
“And that’s when I left Riverwatch and came here.” Ilea finished to the group of people in front of her. Everyone had joined after Lucia decided to inform them about her return. Drinks and food were sitting on the table and a small fire was burning in the hearth, its light intertwining with the flames of the torches.
“You should really work on your storytelling...” Celene commented, hitting an uncaring Ilea with her unwanted criticism.
“So the shadow’s hand saved you?” one of the initiates asked while Ilea grabbed some of the food and started eating.
“Well that’s convenient isn’t it?” Harthome commented.
“What level do you thing the Praetorians were?” Walter asked while Ilea chewed. She swallowed and took a drink from the ale he had brought halfway through the story. She lifted her hand and showed him three fingers.
“Three hundred? That sounds dangerous...” Lucia commented, showing a worried expression. Though it didn’t seem like she was worrying about Ilea, considering the tight grip she held Walter’s hand with. The man on the other hand seemed to understand the meaning and took a deep gulp of his drink.
“You survived...” he said, looking deep into her eyes.
“So I did.” Ilea said.
“Amazing! Amazing!! This is unprecedented, hahahahaHAHAHAHA!!!” the sudden exclamation of Indra stopped any further questions coming at Ilea. Apparently he had found something deep inside the chest cavity of one of the corpses. Nothing Ilea could see.
“Indra you’re ruining my tables. Can you take them to your rooms?” Walter more stated than asked. Indra quickly nodded and motioned for the initiates to help him move the corpses. Though the blood dripping on the ground wasn’t helping Walter’s mood.
“Elven blood...” the barkeep said and shook his head at the rare resource coloring the stone ground. The light smell of iron a reminder of elven mortality, and their own.
“Those are certainly gifts worth quite a lot Ilea. And you say there’s more?” Walter asked, looking at Ilea.
“There are. I need information though, and from all your brewery creations. I can see eight barrels in the back but I bet you have more. I want six.” Ilea said.
Walter chuckled and then started laughing out loud, his actions met with an awkward silence by everyone else except for Ilea who was more waiting for his response. “You bring elven corpses to a necromancer brotherhood and ask for ale in return.” he calmed down and smiled brightly at the healer turned warrior. “And you shall have it.”
“Great, your stuff is really good Walter. You could sell this at least in Dawntree and Riverwatch...though I have to say I haven’t tried whatever the nobles have yet...” a desire sprouted in her mind as she said it though she decided it would be something for a later time. The other present members of the vultures were rather quiet so far, obviously leaving it to their leader to talk.
“Oh I don’t know about that. Though I’ll try to answer the questions you have.” Walter said as he started to bring away the now empty plates and to get more ale.
“Alright, first thing I want to know is how curses work. I couldn’t heal anymore suddenly and my mana was regenerating much slower...” Walter was already nodding.
“Hasn’t happened to me yet luckily but I know of two people who have been cursed. Went away for both of them after less than a day. One of them had similar symptoms as you described...luckily she managed to kill the beast that did it to her and waited the curse out.” he took a sip from his drink before continuing.
“The other one had their total health reduced for a couple hours...well he told me he felt like absolute crap, worse than the worst sicknesses he ever had. He hid in a hole until the stuff went away. Not much you can do it seems...how did you manage to get it away?”
Ilea finished her mug of ale and explained. “Hid in a hole basically.” the others nodded at that and Harthome chuckled. “Mate I’d like to see you get gutted by that scythe...” she said though her grin removed the malicious edge her words might’ve otherwise had.
“So if you try to fight with it you’re probably dead...” Celene said and Lucia nodded.
“Well just a lot easier to kill…” Walter said.
“Well that’s not really new information for me...though I’m glad it’s nothing more permanent.” Ilea said and looked at the empty plates in front of her. Shrugging, she summoned a bit of food from her storage device and continued eating.
“Where’d you get that by the way?” Harthome asked as he grabbed some of the dried meat she had placed on the table. Walter sighed and walked back to the counter to get more food.
“Dwarven dungeon. Also the armor.” Ilea said after swallowing. “You know anything about why the elves started attacking again?” she asked, welcoming the plate placed on the table by Walter.
“Not really, not like anyone understands why they’re doing anything. It’s been at least a decade since the last bigger attack though...is it more than just Riverwatch?” Walter asked. Ilea nodded.
“Yea, Dawntree is under siege and Salia has been completely destroyed...lots of corpses there for you guys if you manage the trip...” she said and chuckled before continuing. “Lucky me though...”
“Salia where you got the elven corpses as well?” Harthome asked.
“Mhm, yea that was certainly lucky.” Ilea said, not wanting to go into her fights with the elfs again. “I would’ve probably been dead if I had faced all of them.”
“So you guys don’t really know a lot either, hiding away here in this cave...ever heard the name Edwin Redleaf?” she asked and this time Celene reacted.
“I think I heard the name...noble house in..Baralia...no Lys I think. Though I don’t know more about it. I can go check my books though, just come and see me in a while.” Celene finished.
‘Great, two more places I’ve never heard of...’
“Ravenhall anywhere near that?” Ilea asked and Walter nodded.
“It’s in Lys actually. A big contributor to the empire’s taxes...” he said.
“You think I should go?” Ilea asked.
“To Lys you mean? It certainly has some nice places though you don’t seem like the kind that looks for safety and stability. Not that the wilderness there is any better than further west.” Walter explained.
“Less elves...” Harthome commented and the others nodded.
“Yea...that.” Lucia said.
“I meant Ravenhall...” Ilea said. ‘Seems like a good place to get more information on Edwin plus the hand is there and I’ve been unofficially invited.’
“There are nicer cities in Lys...” Celene said.
“You mean joining the shadow’s hand?” Walter asked. “You are level 200 so it’s a possibility. Not something I’d suggest if you’re not ready to stay for a while though.”
“I thought about it, yes. What do you mean with the staying? They’re mercenaries right?” Ilea asked.
“That they are, some of the best out there. Well last time I heard you had to be level 200 and pay a ridiculous amount of gold to join without any strings attached. Most join with a contract where you do jobs for them until your debt is paid.” he explained.
“Define ridiculous.” Ilea said and continued eating.
“Eighty gold was what I heard. Though you get lodging, food, training, information, jobs and most importantly a team to work with.” Walter finished.
‘Doesn’t seem like a lot...though I guess it would be twice what I’ve earned and found in total if it weren’t for that dwarven treasury...’ she thought. Luckily she was chewing so she didn’t react visibly to the amount of gold. She trusted the necromancers to an extent but money had a lot of influence on man.
‘Sometimes even I make good decisions.’ Ilea thought. “So you get the same thing but if you pay you have no debt?” she asked and got a confirming nod from Walter.
‘Why the hell not then...if I don’t get some people to fight with me soon I’ll die just looking at it from a statistical view...can’t be lucky all the time.’ Ilea finished the food and summoned more. The women were looking at her with envy but she didn’t really understand what that was about. ‘Plus I can find out more about Edwin while exploring...’
“Ravenhall for you then?” Harthome asked.
“Maybe, I’ll think about it some more. What’s the hotel necromancer fee for a night?” Ilea asked. Lucia chuckled.
“For those dead elves you can stay for a lifetime...or three. We don’t have the gold to pay for them but if you need anything, just ask.” Walter said and the others didn’t seem to have a problem with that.
“Sure...happy to be your corpse delivery service.” Ilea said with a smile. “Guess I’ll stay for a couple days before I leave for Ravenhall.” she summoned her notebook and grinned at the others “Anyone good with maps?”
It turned out that enchanters have to be rather precise in their drawing abilities so Ilea’s map was updated quite significantly. She got her barrels of ale and mead and left two more of the elven bodies with the necromancers. Four were still in her necklace and she decided to keep them. The lodging left as much to be desired with as last time already.
“If only I could get back that bed...maybe I can put one in my storage...” Ilea talked while throwing her dagger up to the ceiling. She was currently lying in her straw bed, relaxing after too much socializing.
“You certainly could. Though it probably wouldn’t last long from the things I’ve seen of you so far.” the dagger said while spinning through the air. “And on an unrelated note that ale and information you got is not nearly enough compensation for the value these people seem to have for elven corpses.” it said.
“What’s your name?” Ilea asked.
“What?” the dagger asked back. “Did you not hear me remark about your so called trade of goods?” it finished.
“Oh I did hear you. It’s just that I don’t care. Even though for most people the information I got wasn’t worth much, to me it is right now. And I still have some corpses if you want to bite into some flesh.” she answered.
“I suppose that’s alright, you could still ask for some funds if you wish to join that mercenary band you talked about.” it said.
“You’re not answering my question, dagger.” Ilea said and threw it upwards with a little more force. This time the metal bit into the ceiling and a little bit of stone fell down on her. With a seemingly practiced movement the debris was deflected away from the bed.
“I don’t have a name. I’ve been called many things though none were what you would consider a name, I do not have.” it said while dangling from the ceiling. Ilea summoned a dwarven blade and threw it up to hit the dagger. She missed and had to throw another one as the first blade clattered to the ground.
“Dagger of Akelion...that’s what it says. Not your name?” she asked, summoning more food.
“Where do you put all that food? Are you perhaps a void mage disguised as a warrior?” it asked and continued after a while as Ilea’s response limited itself to chewing. “I do not know where the name comes from. It holds no meaning for me.”
“Sure, sure. So do you want to give one to yourself or should I? I really don’t mind but I don’t want to keep addressing you as my magical dagger.” Ilea said and continued eating. She wondered herself where all the food was going. Likely a change connected to her status and growing levels, or perhaps her healing skills. As long as her favorite hobby didn’t impede on her fighting capabilities, it was fine for her.
“If you really need to address me differently then you may choose.” the dagger said as finally a sword hit it and it fell down again, getting caught by its blue eyed wielder.
“Mjolnir? No, too generic...and I’d have to melt you into a tiny hammer. What about Dagon, for dagger? Or Bloodbringer?” Ilea asked while twirling the blade in her hand.
“You’re really bad at this. The first name is interesting though you deem it generic? Must’ve been something in the past thousand years then.” it said and continued “Something simple will do.”
“What about Narsil? Or Damaris?” Ilea continued.
“Aki will do.” it said.
“Aki? From Akelion?” Ilea asked.
“Why not? It’s short.” the dagger said.
“Aki it is then, though I have to say your originality isn’t as superior as you made it out to be.” she commented.
“I am influenced by you.” Aki said simply.
“Are you male or female?” Ilea asked suddenly, furrowing her brow.
“I am mostly metal.” Aki answered.
“Though of phallic form.” Ilea commented.
“Though of phallic form.” the dagger confirmed.
“You’re a boyblade then. Don’t spin away though.” she said while getting up. “I’m getting bored.”
“Your references elude me. Though I have been away for long. How are you bored, you’ve been sitting here for only twenty minutes. Meditate, your skill will grow.” Aki said.
“It’s in the second stage, that would take months.” Ilea said, getting on her armor that had been lying around the bed the past half hour.
“Then you could leave for Ravenhall. The city you were talking about. Or do you desire to do something here before?” Aki asked.
“Maybe...though it’s mostly that I mentioned to Walter that I’d stay a couple days.” Ilea said, sheathing Aki and closing the wooden door behind her.
“I believe he will understand. Seeing the way they treated you I believe there’s little reason to consider them.” Aki said.
“What makes you say that? They didn’t treat me badly.”
“They did not. I was talking about how you compare in strength. I believe they fear your strength and for good reason. Thus you do not have to consider what they think, at least not too much.” the dagger said.
Ilea decided to go to the common room and talk to Walter again. It’s been barely four hours since her arrival and she already planned to leave again. “As much as I’m learning the importance of strength, you don’t have to be an asshole to everyone just because you can kill them on a whim. And I think these guys have more tricks up their sleeves than me.” Ilea said.
“Perhaps you’re right. Many of my previous owners did not think that way I recall.” Aki said, ending their current bout of conversation. It felt different to Ilea to talk to the dagger, less like a person to consider and more a tool, something akin to an AI in movies she had watched or stories she had read.
‘Without any cool gadgets though...it can cut fruit I guess.’ she thought and smiled at an arrogant dagger of myth being reduced to a fruit cutting device. Though she had the feeling that Aki wouldn’t care, if he actually cared about anything at all.
“Harthome the fool, lost another bet.” Walter said as he stood behind the counter, practicing his renowned glass cleaning skill. At least in the 3rd tier, if not higher.
“We’re only ever using mugs, why are you cleaning glasses.” Ilea asked as she leaned on the counter.
“Because, my dear Azarinth Healer. Glasses get dirty, you smell the mold don’t you?” the barkeep remarked. Ilea shrugged and shouldered her pack, before she made it vanish.
“Well Ethinu, I’m gonna visit again in the future if I manage to survive. In the meantime I hope you make more ale.” she said.
“I will I will. And we’ll pay you back for the corpses, sure you don’t need anything else?” the man asked though Ilea shook her head.
“I’m alright, thanks. Having a place to come back to with friendly people is enough.” she smiled at the man with a genuine expression.
‘Though the beds aren’t nice enough to use my blink’s 3rd tier skill here...’
“I’m glad to call you my friend Ilea. I’m sure you’re gonna go far. The hand will have some opinions about necromancers and the dark arts. I hope you won’t come back here with a cleansing squad.”
“Same, well if I do come I expect some elf zombies while you play heavy metal with black eyes to strengthen them from behind. That would be a sight worth seeing.” she said, though she didn’t lean further into the joke as with her strength it might actually be a considerable risk for Walter and the vultures. “I’m joking of course, your location is safe with me. Mental Resistance lvl 8. They need some figurative warhammers to crack my skull.” she tapped her head.
“Don’t worry, there are others I trust much less than you. At least in their ability to keep this location hidden. Though with the elves coming out again in seemingly bigger force it’s gonna be a good time for us.” Walter said, putting his glass down finally.
“Lots of corpses and less available guards or hunters. Yea I can see that. Just make sure you don’t turn into an overlord controlling an army of undead. Careful what you summon too.” Ilea said and winked.
Walter laughed and walked out from behind the bar. “We will be, otherwise I’ll send a letter to the hand. There have to be some people there crazy enough to help us.” he smiled and held out his arm which Ilea grabbed close to the elbow.
“I’ll see you. And hopefully bring interesting corpses.” she said and let go.
“Be as safe as you can be. And find someone to have your back finally.”
“Yea, it’s about time.” Ilea said “Greet the others from me. I’m not one for excessive goodbyes.” she turned and walked to the door while summoning her helmet.
“I know you aren’t.” Walter said into the empty room, grabbing another glass to clean. ‘What a lucky thing that this girl stumbled upon us. Elven corpses...’ he put the glass down a couple minutes later to go and see Indra. The man must’ve already made several breakthroughs.