Chapter 95 Negotiations
Ilea continued to talk about enchantments with Iana for a while and found the possibilities to be much less amazing than what she thought possible. The difference of an enchanted armor would be able to save one’s life in certain situations but it wouldn’t make the difference between being completely overwhelmed by an enemy and winning against the same foe.
Balduur was still working on her new arrows and a glance towards the man revealed that he was already done with a sizable amount of them. Ilea looked to Iana and switched her leather armor with her elven juggernaut armor, getting a quick gasp out of the girl.
“W...what is That??” the girl said and immediately closed in on Ilea before touching the armor. “This is amazing… brilliant workmanship… the layers are beautifully done… Ilea this is elven! High quality elven, not what the elves who attack our cities wear. Where did you find this?” the reaction was a little more extreme than Ilea had expected but the armor certainly was impressive.
“Found it in a dungeon. It’s Dark Elf Juggernaut Armor.” Ilea explained.
“Now that is a beautiful set of armor.” Balduur saw the change and had approached in the meantime. “Elven and it’s actually made to last. I was sure they were holding back on the equipment they give to the ones attacking at the front lines. Probably so that we can’t equip our own people with their gear. Can I see?” the man asked and Ilea just nodded, switching back to her leather armor and placing the Juggernaut armor on a nearby workbench.
“Knock yourselves out. I’m going to take it with me as soon as you’re done with the arrows though.” Ilea said, quite sure she could handle the two should they get any ideas with her equipment. Not that she really expected anything considering they ignored her storage necklace completely.
“It’s good.” Balduur said after five minutes. “As good if not better than the best armors I’ve worked on. I’m unfamiliar with the metal but it seems to be an alloy of black mithril, drakken ore and something else. Impressive to say the least and expensive. You’re wearing a suit of gold Ilea.” the smith commented and held up a bracer.
“The enchantments are pure durability. Several layers and beautifully intertwined. I’ve rarely seen anything this indestructible that can actually be worn. With the metal combination I think it’s mostly good against physical damage, right Balduur?” Iana commented on the enchantments.
“You’re right. So the wearer better have elemental resistances. Something tells me this lassie here does.” Balduur said and put the armor down, walking back to his workbench. His suspicion was mostly based on the grin Ilea sported through the whole conversation, especially intensifying at the part about resistances.
“So no way for you two to make it any better?” Balduur simply ignored the question and Iana shook her head. The armor was stored again inside her necklace and Ilea was left with a good feeling about her equipment. At least at the moment it seemed to be the best thing available to her.
“Sure you don’t want to have another look at the armor. It didn’t seem like there are a lot of comparable sets out there.” Ilea asked the smith.
“It’s just rare but to be honest elves were never very famous for smithing. I applaud their skill but it’s nothing world changing. Confirms that they’re not sending their elite to attack us. The question remains as to why. It’s good to know that they’re not out to destroy humanity, not yet at least.” the smith explained his theories before Ilea handed over the rest of her debt. Another eight gold for the arrows, of which she now had a hundred and thirty.
‘Can’t wait to try these bad boys out...’ Ilea thought. She still had to wait another four days for Iana to be done with the enchantments but she was ready to plunge herself back into training.
“I’ll see you in a couple days then. Make sure the bracelets aren’t destructible either.” Ilea said to the two people and waved.
“Don’t die out there.” Balduur said and walked back down to his smithy.
“Sure you don’t want another bracelet or ear rings?” Iana asked but Ilea wanted nothing else but tight fitting bracelets to store her weapons in. She did decide to pay the girl at least a part of the work, even though she had found an easy way to exploit her with her dagger.
“Bracelets are fine.” Ilea said and summoned ten gold coins before handing them to the girl.
“I’ll make them extra nice.” she said smiling and waved towards Ilea who smiled back and blinked out into the winter morning air. She was late already for her last class and activated all her buffs before her wings spread behind her. A second later she was on her way back to Ravenhall and to an angry archery teacher waiting for her only pupil.
The next four days were spent again with training but on the third, Ilea finally found what she had been looking for. The two people in front of her looked at each other with skepticism, unsure of the proposal they had received.
“And you will fly us there?” the woman, a level 85 mage asked to confirm. Ilea nodded, activating her wings that spread behind her.
“I’m really not sure about this Lars.” the woman said, looking at her colleague.
“I can wait outside if you want to discuss.” Ilea said but she seemed to have somewhat convinced the man already.
“Our rate is ten silvers per hour. I’ll consider the job for twice that.” Lars said, obviously annoying the woman by not communicating with her beforehand. Ilea didn’t miss the chance though and interjected.
“I’ll make it twenty per hour. We can only work on it for two hours every day but we can do the planning here of course.” Ilea said and now even the woman seemed to be considering the proposal.
“We’ll have to see the place first. And you’ll only take me while leaving a deposit of two gold coins here.” the man said.
“Lars are you really sure about this?” the woman asked.
“Alina it’s alright.” he closed in on her and continued in a whisper “If this works out for us this is gonna secure our shop for the next two years. I’m sure she’ll want some extravagant things as well...” he finished and Alina seemed to be intrigued.
“I’ll leave five gold coins as a deposit and we leave right now. You can take a look and then we’ll be back in two hours. If I break my word the gold is yours.” Ilea said and placed five gold coins on a nearby table.
“If I’m happy with the finished job I’ll pay you including the deposit.” she finished, quite tired of the debating. They were the only capable architects willing to even see her though. The way from Morhill to the cliff she would build on was reasonable enough. Sadly all of the people capable of building houses in Ravenhall were employed by the city and quite unwilling to help her build.
She could of course force somebody or pay outrageous prices but Ilea believed the end result would suffer from such actions.
“Alright, let me get ready and I’ll be with you in five minutes.” Lars said, obviously trying not to stare at the gold placed on the table. Even Alina’s doubts were washed away by the shine of the small coins.
‘The power of gold...’ Ilea thought and repressed the smile she wanted to show, knowing that it could be interpreted as something quite different. The man was ready in two minutes, dressed in leather armor and a heavy coat that would protect him from the cold weather outside, something Ilea had stopped to consider because of her resistances and high stats.
“Ready then?” she asked and watched the man bind a thick piece of cloth around his head, covering his eyes. It had been one of the requirements for the job. Ilea knew that they could probably guess the location of her cliff side but having them cover their eyes on the way would at least help somewhat with keeping it secret.
Ilea let the two builders say their goodbyes and then grabbed the man below his shoulders as her wings spread out behind her. “Just tell me when I have to stop. I’ll heal you on the way so you should be fine.” Ilea said and started rising up. The man tensed up and didn’t calm down through the whole trip. He never asked for her to stop and neither did her healing skill tell her about any damage he was taking.
The two landed safely on the cliff side just under an hour later. Ilea would be late for her archery lesson again but that had already happened a couple times by now and Martha didn’t seem to be bothered, quite the contrary really her mood seemed to worsen whenever Ilea actually arrived to the scheduled lesson. The woman would get paid either way.
“We’re here.” Ilea said and let the man down. He stumbled a couple times on the stone and used both hands to get the coat closer to his body. His teeth were clattering together as Ilea removed the blind fold from his face. “You alright?” she asked and the man nodded slowly before a low growl made him tense up again.
“S...ss….swordmouth...” he stuttered and fell backwards while Ilea walked up to the tiger, shushing it away while gesturing.
“Go back to your cave.” she said and the tiger listened. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll be here to protect you while you work.” the man slowly got up again while shaking his head.
“T...this is ridiculous...” he said as Ilea walked up to him.
“As I said I’ll be here. Trust me I can handle that little cat. What do you think of the place? We don’t have long before we have to leave again.” Ilea asked. She would probably take a day off from the training with the others to let them work on her project for longer.
Lars seemed to calm down a little and breathed in and out slowly with closed eyes. “Alright alright. So I’ll take measurements and check the stone. Then we’ll figure something out when we’re back in Morhill.
“Sure, knock yourself out.” Ilea said, taking some food from her pack and sitting down in front of the cave to not let the tiger out of her eyes and Sphere.
“That should be doable. We’ll figure out some concepts and I’ll draw up some plans for you. How long should we invest in the planning phase?” Lars asked and his partner nodded at the sketches he already produced.
“Until we find something I like. I’ll be back tomorrow to take Alina to the location as well like you suggested. After that you have a week to plan some things out, go a little crazy with the designs. I’ll pay 20 Silver per hour you two invest in this as discussed.” Ilea explained and placed the silver for the time already invested for travel and evaluation on the table. The gold deposit was still there but she made no move to take it back.
“If you need help from somebody else or materials just inform me and I’ll try to get that for you.” Ilea said while getting up. She decided to skip the archery lesson today to finish up with the two builders.
“That’s very generous of you. We won’t disappoint, don’t you worry.” Lars said and Alina nodded from the side.
“Great, see you tomorrow then.” Ilea said before blinking out of their beautiful house in Morhill, one of the reasons she trusted the two with her own future home.
“We better not disappoint that one...” Lars said to his wife and colleague. The woman nodded and went to take the money left behind by their customer.
“Let’s get to drawing then. At least we know this one won’t bail on paying like the ones before.” Lars had a sad look on his face, remembering the debacle. It was one of the problems of working for people independent of any guilds or cities. This one too, the flying black haired warrior could simply leave as soon as her requests were fulfilled. Or kill them as soon as it’s done.
Lars and Alina didn’t come as far as having their own house and business in Morhill without having to deal with those kind of people. Background checks were already being paid for with the advance the woman had left behind.
“Are you sure that’s necessary? I don’t think she’ll try to screw us over or attack us.” the water in front of him started boiling as he activated the rune below the kettle. Alina really liked her tea when she was working. It got the mind running is what she usually said. Lars found himself agreeing as he added the dried leafs into the boiling water, filling the room in a beautiful and fresh aroma, quite contrary to the bleak weather outside.
“She seemed nice. And honest. But you know just as well as I do that there are good actors out there.” Alina said, preparing their worktables and rolling out the paper. They would analyze their customers requirements and then discuss some basic ideas.
“She’s not a mage at least.” he commented as he got two cups from the nearby cupboard. Warriors tended to be easier to deal with, at least in Lars’ experience. Alina grunted to his comment and went to get their pencils.
“We have the requirements. Did she mention a budget?” Alina asked, hovering above the paper with her drawing utensil.
Lars would’ve liked to hug her but the rune below the boiling tea needed to be powered by his mana. “I mentioned some estimates and she just nodded. I don’t think there is an upper limit dear.”
“Then it shouldn’t be as hard to make something outstanding. How was the flight by the way?” the woman asked and started to draw.
“I think she flew slower than she normally does. She can heal as well and other than the cold it was quite comfortable. An efficient way to travel… to think we’d have to join a caravan for dozens of silvers to just get to the next city and this woman can just fly wherever she wants to.” he shook his head and let go of the rune. The tea would be left boiling for a little while until the aroma mixed perfectly with the water. Something he learned to do in the past five years while working with Alina.
“I’m sure she’s suffered enough to get those wings. You can go out there too and prove yourself.” Lars just grunted at her response and finally hugged her.
“What do you think her level is?” Alina asked with a smile as he hugged her.
“I don’t care.” Lars said and kissed the woman on her neck.
“That is quite troubling news Dagon...” Adam scratched the stubble on his chin as he thought about the new information Dagon had provided.
“It is. And we have to act if we intend to stop his greed filled intentions. Elder Urn is betraying the very bases this guild has been built on and if we let him gain more favor and influence it may soon be too late to stop the man.” Dagon was standing in his office, quite unhindered by his unnatural proportions.
“Dagon. If there is a single man I trust with the Hand’s legacy then it’s you. Do you believe a forceful removal is the only way we have left? I’m sure he has gotten quite a number of members to his side by now. It won’t be a quiet removal, even if the other elders agree.” Adam was aware of the severity of the situation but he couldn’t quite help his mind wander to his more personal projects. He was so close already. Perhaps…
“Verena will be persuaded easily enough. She cares about the guild as much as I do. The other two won’t even know what has happened until a couple months or years have passed. When was the last time they were even here?” Dagon’s concerns weren’t quite unfounded. Adam didn’t even know if the two missing Elders Pierce and Lucas were still alive.
Something told him they were and while someone like Wallace Urn was playing political games they were out there fighting monsters well beyond what the man had ever seen. ‘Not for long...’ Adam thought and stopped himself from forming a smile. His quite selfish goal would have a rather nice double edged result. If he dared combine it with this problem threatening the Hand. The conditions would be much better and the cost of human life would be washed away by the removal of Elder Urn and his greed.
“We need a team of members we can trust. Strong enough to deal deathblows to other members. Contact all your sources and get in all your favors. We will need to strike fast and remove this corruption from the Shadow’s Hand in a single and brutal strike. There is no room here for politics and negotiation. Wallace has to be removed and so do his supporters.” Adam said, his eyes gazing into Dagon’s.
“How long. Will you be the distraction?” Dagon asked.
“I need around three months to prepare. Runes and ingredients to summon enough monsters for a massive distraction. The whole Hand will be busy while we take out his faction. In the meantime we send away the members who were simply paid on missions as far away as we can get them. They’ll return and find Urn removed.” Adam explained.
“Have you really advanced enough to prepare something on that scale? Your monsters will run rampart and without control.” Dagon’s concern wasn’t unfounded but even he will be quite surprised at what Adam is capable of.
“They will, and it will be a good opportunity for some newer members to taste blood, together.” he was glad that Dagon seemed to agree with his proposition.
“What about the returning traitors?” he asked.
“Don’t call them that. We are still mercenaries and we cannot weaken ourselves too much. They may do as they like but as long as we remove Urn as the root, they will fall in line. I am sure of it.” Dagon nodded at his explanation and prepared to leave.
“I will find them all. Prepare everything and do tell me when you’re ready. Send the names of any trustworthy soul capable of matching a full member to me and I will manage the rest.” Dagon whispered and bowed to Adam with a fierce fire in his eyes.
“Elder.” he said and left Adam’s office.
A deep sigh left Adam as soon as the door closed and the protective runes around his office activated again. He had fooled one of his oldest friends, had used his desire to save the Hand to hide his own intentions. Yet still it was more important to him. And perhaps the Hand will prevail. Should they manage it, they would come out stronger than they had ever been before. There was doubt inside his heart but the same hope that had kept him going for the past twenty years burned not just for his love but for the Hand as well.