Chapter 113 Advances
“So you were a prisoner?” Ilea asked in a bit of a slurred tone. The man opposite her looked worriedly at the woman, the dozens of mugs on their table both a sign of a waiter’s neglect and Ilea’s immunity to the poison.
“I don’t know. You know one would think I should right? I was never chained up or anything and I worked the mine… nobody else did now that I think about it...” Kyrian explained to a half listening Ilea. Eve had already passed out next to them and was put on the bench to sleep. They were far from the only patrons in the small inn they had found in Ravenhall. A little off the main roads as Eve had called it. Both Trian and Claire had left rather early, one because he was apparently disgusted by the establishment and the other to finish the necessary paperwork to join in the tournament that would start in around a week.
What nobody had told Ilea was that the whole thing was more of a celebration. The Hand was just a small part of it and by now nobody except for maybe Dagon remembered who had started the whole thing. Ravenhall would attract many adventurers and travelers willing to come so far for the city festival. Of course any spaces to attend the shadow’s hand tournament were reserved for actual members but the city itself held a tournament themselves, the winner of which would be evaluated by the Hand, no matter what their level was.
Ilea wagered that many scouts from other groups and kingdoms were here as well, just as she was sure they were there in Riverwatch when the tournament was happening. Probably a reason why the city hadn’t been completely demolished.
“It’s hard you know…. Not understanding some things about the world that… that others take for granted...” the man said, looking into his cup while swirling it a little.
“I know how you feel friend.” Ilea said, looking around the room to find a single waitress completely overwhelmed with the rude clientele. One of them even grabbing the woman’s ass. Ilea blinked over and stumbled into the woman, using her to stabilize.
“Better lay off fool, this piece of ass ain’t for you.” she exclaimed and the drunk man punched her immediately, a hot rage fueled by alcohol. Drunkenly Ilea caught the fist and motioned with the index finger of her other hand for the man to stop. “You’ve had… too… too much to drink.” she said and put some force onto the man’s fist she was holding. Not quite enough to break it but his face distorted in a less than pleasant expression. She walked the man to the door, opened it and pushed him out.
The door swung close again when Ilea appeared back in her seat, the wind from outside moving the flames in the oil lamps around the room. Some of the people in the inn were looking at her and the waitress had a thankful smile on her lips but chose to continue her work, likely used to the behavior of the guests.
“Oh yea you do, you only said you’re from far away. Like over the sea? I heard there might be people there...” Kyrian asked, making Ilea focus at least a little.
“I… am. I don’t know. Kyrian can we not talk about this?” she asked. The man shrugged and sat back, getting a sip from the water in his cup. A suddenly appearing mist of ash pushed away the cups on the table, some of them clattering to the ground with a loud noise. Ilea lent in closer to the man as the ash took form on the table. Houses, power lines, a public pool and cars parked on the streets. The whole thing was a little hazy and the ash moved around, influenced by Ilea’s intoxicated state. “Is that where you’re from?” Kyrian asked, looking at the ash model of Ilea’s home town. “It looks different, interesting.” suddenly Ilea focused, on the model before her as healing magic flowed through her and got out the poison of the alcohol.
The ash flattened and drifted away from the table in all directions as she sat back, her eyes in focus. ‘I underestimated this inn’s drinks...’ she thought.
“You’re not drunk anymore?” Kyrian’s question brought her back as the two locked eyes.
“I’m not.” the simple answer came quickly. The man looked at her with his gray eyes but soon looked past her again, finishing his cup.
“Then I apologize for overstepping. It’s a sensitive topic I’m sure. Just know that if you want to talk, I’m here.” he said, shocking her a little with the openness. Of course she had been used in Elos before. It was different here where everyone was apparently out to get you, your stuff or your information. On Earth you could at least be sure that people just wanted to sell something or at worst steal your money. She didn’t want to think of anything worse than that, not having experienced any of it in her life there.
“Don’t worry about it. And thanks.” she said. “I’ll take care of Eve.” appearing next to the sleeping woman, she lifted her up and walked behind the bar, taking one of the keys for the rooms upstairs before leaving a couple silver coins. The waitress didn’t even notice as Ilea carried Eve to her room, tucking her in and locking the door from outside, not wanting to overstep either.
“Wanna leave?” the man asked and she nodded, putting another silver coin on the table before she walked to the door, Kyrian following her quietly. Outside the winter air brushed against her cheeks when she noticed the man she had thrown out sleeping on the opposite side of the road.
[Warrior – lvl 68]
‘He’s gonna be fine...’ she thought, her leather boots crunching the snow below. The street was lit by a lantern standing nearby, giving her a nostalgic feeling after her ash creation from before.
“What are your plans?” Kyrian asked. It was in the middle of the night but Ilea had no intention of sleeping, at least not yet. The team had decided on a couple days off from both training and missions. The past days more of a toll on them than they realized in the moment. Seeing death and causing it wasn’t something one easily got used to though Ilea was sure she was neither the worst at handling it in the team, nor the best. If one could call handling something like that good at all.
‘In this world it is...’ she thought and remembered Eve cutting through the cult leader’s neck, a shiver running through her.
“Are you cold?” Kyrian asked, looking at her from the side. Ilea knew he was aware of her resistances, their whole team could probably walk around the poles for days without any clothes on before any problems would occur.
‘Maybe not the poles of Elos...hey maybe it’s flat!”
“I want to explore the edge of Elos.” she jokingly said. Kyrian chuckled.
“I’d like that too, go where nobody has gone before. See creatures and people from far away.”
“And curse them?” she asked as she started aimlessly walking. Snow was lightly falling now and people could be heard talking in the distance, the festivities were going to start in a couple days already after all.
“Perhaps, yes. I simply enjoy being free...” although the two were coming from completely different situations, Ilea felt like she understood. She nodded silently as the two walked through Ravenhall, the cold stone and snow interspersed by the first decorations put up, giving the city a more colorful feel.
“I’m gonna read probably.” she said after a while, answering one of his previous questions. “What about you? More training?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really feel like it now that everybody else is doing something different.” he answered. “Maybe I’ll try reading too...” he said as the two reached a square. A nearby inn was still lit up and cheers could be heard from within.
“Wanna see something cool?” Ilea asked, peaking his interest immediately. “You have to keep it a secret though.”
“Sure, who would I tell it to anyway?” he said and smiled.
‘Too real mate...’ she thought as her buffs activated “Keep up.” her words left her mouth as she switched into a sprint, the man behind her reacting nearly immediately, his spheres flowing out of his pack and around his hands, back and chest. Not his full armor but just enough to stabilize him in flight. The armor was left in Viscera after they had returned from the mission.
The two rushed through the city with an inhuman speed, past houses and squares until they came up on the eastern gate, Ilea’s wings spreading behind her as the two flew over it and out into the wild. Up and up she went until the city behind them was a mere speck of light in the distance. She switched directions a couple times to make it a little harder for possible followers to keep up. Kyrian did well but she did have to wait on him a couple times.
Half an hour later the two landed on the plateau where her house stood. “Is that...yours?” Kyrian asked as she started walking towards it.
“It is, had it built while we were training.”
“You have to tell me where you get that money from...” the man said and chuckled. He suddenly tensed up as his metal spheres turned into spikes.
“Relax, local resident. It’s a nice cat.” Ilea said, waving towards the tunnel where two slightly glowing eyes looked towards her. They left again as soon as the threat was recognized.
“That’s a dangerous animal Ilea. What if you come here wounded?”
“That would be stupid right?” Ilea asked and laughed. Considering the point of return for her Blink was inside the house it wouldn’t be an issue. As long as the cat didn’t know how to open doors. ‘It’s not a raptor so I should be fine...’
“An ironic death… at least the cat would probably gain some levels…” she said as she opened the door. “Welcome to my completely over the top house that no reasonable person would ever build.” he nodded and walked in, trying not to dirty anything.
“Oh and I stumbled upon a huge amount of gold in a dwarven ruin so don’t worry about it. Never told that to anybody I think. If you need money though just hit me up.” she said as she closed the door behind herself.
“You use the strangest expressions. And it’s your gold, I would feel bad about it.” he said, waiting near the door.
“Come on in, are you hungry?” she asked, summoning a couple meals onto the table. He followed slowly and took a seat.
“Are you sure, this looks expensive...”
“Didn’t you just listen to me. And why would you feel bad, it was the dwarves’ money. I found it and I can do with it whatever the fuck I want to right?”
“I mean sure but throwing it out like this might not be wise. What if you really need it in a year or two?” he asked, hesitantly getting a plate of food.
“Kyrian but then I would’ve not lived as I wanted to for a year or two. I understand basic economics but saving up until you die is not the way to go. And if you can help out your friends in the process as well then I think it’s a good thing. I could pay your debt at the Hand, how about that?” the man put his fork down.
“Ilea, I understand that you want to be generous but there’s a certain pride even I possess. I’ll manage just fine on my own but appreciate the offer. Thank you.” she shook her head at that and sat down opposite him, grabbing a plate as well.
“I don’t get it… people receive money for whatever. I’m sure there is a huge financial inequality present in Elos as well, what with all the nobles. Do you think they deserve more? I have it so why not accept it? Not gonna push you of course, it’s your decision after all.” she said, starting to eat.
“You talk like you’re not from here. I have to say I’m getting more interested in your past. I never got that impression in our trainings. And there is inequality, of course there is. I’m not saying they or I deserve it but I will manage.” he said, getting a shrug from Ilea.
“My past is not particularly interesting. One thing might be but even that I feel is less and less so as time goes on. Maybe I’ll tell you at some point. Do you like the food?” she said, changing the topic.
“This might be the best thing I’ve ever eaten actually… even better than the things we ate in that restaurant Eve wanted to go to.” he commented, already half done with his plate.
“That’s because it’s the same cook.” Ilea said, smirking at the man.
“You hired her? Can’t say the money is wasted there...”
“I did and yes, I’d sell everything but my armor to have her food. Maybe even the armor.” she said, getting a chuckle in response.
“Do you want a tour?” Ilea asked, already done with her second plate.
“A what? Tour?”
“Of the house.” she answered, smirking towards him.
“Oh, sure. What about the dishes?” he asked.
“You’re cute Kyrian.” Ilea said, touching the plates until nothing remained on the table. “I’ll take care of it.” she said, having gotten very close to him with the last touch on the plate he had used. The smile on her face grew a little at his obvious discomfort.
“Follow me then.” she said and brushed past him. The two walked downwards as she showed him first the kitchen space and then the showroom that looked more akin to an armory.
“I know it’s not very filled up yet but hopefully that’s gonna change in the future.” she said.
“I’m sure, with the missions we’ll do you’ll probably find some interesting things to fill it with. The black skull would fit in nicely.” he commented.
“That one might actually be useful to Eve… at least if we believe the enchanters Trian asked. I don’t plan to store things away that could save one of our lives.” Ilea said. A minute of walking around later, Ilea went up again. “Come, you said you wanted to read.” she was happy to find his face light up a little at that.
“This is my favorite room and mostly the reason I had this whole thing built. You’re the first human to see it.”
“It’s… beautiful… you can see the stars from here and…” he walked over to one of the shelfs “There’s so many, did you buy all of them?”
“Found most of them really. Wait let me look for something that might be a bit easier...” she said and blinked over to the man, touching his back while using her other arm to brush against the books. “This one might be possible.” Ilea said, grabbing the novel she thought to be aimed at a younger audience. Making the plates and books on the bed vanish, Ilea put the sheets back in a somewhat acceptable way before she jumped onto it. Patting the space next to her, she looked at the man intently.
“Don’t look at me like a frightened animal, we’re gonna read.” she said as he gulped and sat down next to her. “You try, same way as we did before.” she said, smiling at the man next to her who was definitely uncomfortable. ‘Maybe this wasn’t the best idea...’ she thought but decided to go with the flow. Whatever happened, happened.
“Ok...” he said, opening the book at the first page. “T...There once w...was a… vi...vi...”
“Village.” she helped, getting a little closer to him to see the book better.
The two read for a while, Ilea slipping into the role of a teacher as she corrected and helped where necessary. Kyrian was definitely not stupid and picked up reading rather quickly. He did however stay oblivious to her advances. It was hard to say if he was uncomfortable because of the reading or because of Ilea’s close proximity. He did want to stop after around an hour, getting a little frustrated over a particularly hard sentence.
“You can stay over if you like.” Ilea said, putting the book back.
“Do you think? It’s only half an hour back.” he said.
“What if you encounter something dangerous on the way?” she asked, turning around slowly.
“I should be able to get away, not like anything was reported here in a while.” he said, locking eyes with her.
“Did you ever sleep with someone Kyrian?” Ilea asked, putting her arms behind her back.
“Would you like to try?” she said, biting her lip and focusing her blue eyes on him.
“W...with you? But we’re not together, a couple...” he stuttered, though still looking at her.
“It’s just sex Kyrian. It’s fun, with the right people. And you don’t have to be with someone in a more permanent way to do it. Though I wouldn’t be opposed to date you.”
“I’m… I don’t.” he said and looked away. Ilea looked up at the stars, shining into her room.
“It’s fine if you don’t want to. I know I was freaked out the first time I did it.” she said.
“It’s not that… I’m…”
“It’s a bit much. That’s alright. Do you wanna sleep over anyway? Ever did that? A sleepover?” she asked, not wanting to pressure the man any further. He was obviously in over his head and they had time.