Chapter 167 Reunited
The fire she had seen from afar illuminated the whole square and she even saw a couple fire mages showing off their powers. One young boy could form little near perfect spheres and shot them up to create a swirling dance of flame. The stalls sold the usual, food mostly, still trying to get whatever was mostly fresh off the table before they would close for the night.
Ilea walked to one of the stalls and got out a copper coin. “Where’s the closest smith?” she asked and put the coin on the stall.
“Ahh, evening there warrior. Smithies are aplenty here. Big ones are west but you’ll find a small one if you follow the street for another fifteen minutes. You’ll see the hammer sign.” the middle aged man replied and smiled at her. “Care for some fish?” he asked, motioning to his wares but Ilea just shook her head and walked off.
The smithy was easy to find, a big hammer hanging over the heavy wooden door as the man had mentioned. There were three people inside, what Ilea assumed to be the smith and two men in armor. Stepping inside, the three of them looked towards her and continued their conversation in a whispered tone. The words came out tense and Ilea’s skills allowed her to listen in as clearly as if she would’ve stood next to them as she started looking at the weapons.
“I’m telling you it’s not safe here anymore. I’ve heard talk of even guards vanishing, soon it’s gonna be on the streets…,” one of them said before the smith looked up and shouted towards Ilea.
“We’re closed, please come again tomorrow!” he looked down again and continued his talk.
“I can’t just leave Matt, selling the shop now will be just as suspicious. I’ll be hanging come morning…,” the smith said as Ilea casually walked up to them, a sword in her hand. Neither of them looked to be part of the army or the guard, adventurers then most likely.
“I’m looking for a smith called Balduur. Have you an idea where he is.” she asked, interrupting them.
[Smith – lvl 32]
[Warrior – lvl 70]
[Warrior – lvl 62]
“I said we’re closed miss.” the smith said. “Or should I get the guard?”
It seemed personal power wasn’t exactly as intimidating if the government provided some sort of protection. While they likely wouldn’t be able to identify her, the gear on Ilea didn’t exactly make her out to be some prime warrior. Still she could tell the warriors next to the smith weren’t happy about the confrontation.
“Ok, then you tell me where Balduur the smith is and I won’t tell the guard that you plan on running.” Ilea said and smiled brightly.
“You damn…,” the smith said but one of the warriors calmed him down.
“Alright, look we don’t want any trouble. You should get out of this city as soon as you can too. War is coming I tell ya. I don’t know no Balduur but if you want information on a smith just go to the guild like everybody else.” the warrior said and Ilea could tell he didn’t try to trick her, he was tense and her presence was unnerving to him, of that much she was sure.
“Sure you don’t know anything?” she asked, looking at the smith.
“The one from the south, I think he works for the city exclusively now. Came here a couple months ago, right with the demons.” the smith said and looked towards the warrior who nodded, an intense look in his eyes.
“Alright, you’ll find him around an hour from the west gate, it’s one street over from the main street. If you have a map I can show you.” the smith said but Ilea shook her head.
“That’s alright, I’ll find it. Thank you.” she said and put the sword back, leaving the store silently.
Matt looked at the door for a whole minute until he was sure the woman was gone. The hairs on his neck were still standing.
“What the hell was that, we should’ve gotten the guard.” John said, the smith as usual the least perceptive of his friends.
“That one was trouble, right?” Steve asked and he nodded.
“She had bloody shit leather armor on, I can make better than that.” John spat and shook his head. “Information ain’t free you know. Could’ve at least gotten a bunch of coin from her. Seemed like she had never heard of the Smithing Guild before… no wonder her gear is that bad.”
“So she’s not from here. Just because the nobles and rich mercenaries like to show off doesn’t mean everybody does. Trust me, I had a bad feeling.” Matt said. “But back to the actual matter and Steve, close the door, I doubt any more customers will be coming tonight.” he said and the smith grumbled his acceptance as the other warrior went to close the door.
“I’ve heard Ravenhall is being built back up, that would be a great place for us to go, an opportunity perhaps.” Matt suggested. He had thought about the possibility for the past days, as soon as the news came.
“It said the whole population is dead.” Steve said as he walked back from the door, grabbing a nearby chair to sit.
“Are you mad, you will die up there. The average level of random beasts is at eighty!” the smith said. “And the Shadow’s Hand is not to be trusted.” he added.
“Not that again. Who cares who they work for. It’s safer than here.” Matt said again. It would be a long discussion but he would stand by his opinion. Either the two would come or he would go alone.
Ilea rushed through the city, choosing to run on the roofs to not attract as much attention. She could see some flying people patrolling but decided the risk was worth it, simply stopping and hiding whenever any of them flew in her direction. To actually have airborne guards made the process of getting around a city a little more annoying, at least if one wanted to avoid human contact.
A good thing that the capital was absolutely massive. Not comparable to a modern metropolis back on earth but certainly bigger than anything she thought possible in medieval times. The main street leading to the western gate was easy enough to find, having the span of a hundred meters. Street performers, bouts of magic and even a small pond were passed as she ran on the rooftops a street away from the main one.
Ilea could hear drunken laughter, the sound of metal clashing against metal and shouts for her to get down from the rooftops. The guards that noticed here were much too slow to catch up to her, most not even reacting much. Her boots landed on the brick with barely any stress before she propelled herself further until finally she came to a stop near where the smith had described. The run had taken her over twenty minutes. About as long as they needed to cover the distance between the remote mansion of Trian’s family and the city itself.
It was likely a lucky shot that the smith knew about Balduur or the man was simply famous enough to warrant being common knowledge. Jumping down onto the street, Ilea landed and continued walking, stopping the next best person. A man trying not to look at her directly, walking the opposite way.
“Hey, know where Balduur’s shop is?” she asked, startling the young man who looked at her and to the ground again. He was a mage at level ninety. Either coming from a drug run or just socially not the most capable.
“I… I… I don’t know Balduur… maybe the big smithy five minutes this way? You can see the smoke…,” he said and Ilea nodded, walking onwards.
“Thanks.” she said, seeing through her Sphere how he grasped towards her leaving form.
“B… beautiful…,” he said, making her smile. “Damn Harris, just take your balls and ask her…,” she heard him say to himself and would’ve been inclined to at least talk to him for a while, maybe wing him a nice wild waitress now that she was somewhat involved with Kyrian. On another day perhaps, a better one.
“Well he didn’t lie about it being big…,” Ilea said to herself as she looked up. “Imperial Smiths” she read the big lettering and noticed a sound in her mind.
‘ding’ ‘Elos Standard Language reaches lvl 6’
‘Now? Are you kidding me?’ she thought but ignored it. It wasn’t like this was the first time she had read any words in this magical ass place. Trying to go inside, a man stopped her. He was wearing imperial armor, a warrior at level one fifty.
“I’m sorry, the smithy isn’t accessible today for non soldiers.” he said. “I suggest you look for an alternative establishment.” he was polite and Ilea wasn’t in the mood for haggling.
“Thanks.” she said again and walked away, turning right two streets further away before she blinked into the closest cellar. Two more blinks and she was standing in one of the smithy’s bathrooms. Her sphere allowed her to check a radius of a little over twenty meters. The building itself was much bigger than that and it took a while for her to find Balduur.
He was hammering away at a sword as was to be expected. What she didn’t expect were the three other smiths in the room with him. They really had a lot of smiths in the building. Piles of weapons lay to the side and a bunch of kids brought metals, water and food to the workers. Ilea simply blinked next to his furnace and looked around. Nobody had notice her so far, other than one of the kids who looked at her with big eyes. She summoned a copper coin and flipped it towards the girl who caught it and winked at her.
‘Hey, I’m the winker here, I’m the one who winks…,’ she thought but let it go. Forming a small ball of ash, she shot it at Balduur’s head with a little force. It impacted with a thud and made the man look up, continuing his hammering nonetheless.
“Wait.” he said, ignoring her for the next three minutes as he shaped the blade. A moment later he looked at it and threw it in a big bucket of water, producing a sizzling noise and steam in the process.
“Been a while? I didn’t realize they let in civilians, or did you sign with the empire now?” the man asked and cleaned his hands with a towel.
“It has. And they don’t, didn’t realize You’d be signing with them.” Ilea said and walked up to him, shaking the man’s hand. This time she didn’t even need all her buffs to protect her hand.
“You’ve gotten stronger as well. Good for you. Well after your order so graciously invited those damn monsters into our mountains we couldn’t stop them and the whole village left. I’m a contractor. For some reason they’re currently paying better than if I sold through the guild or privately.” the man explained. It didn’t seem to bother any of the other smiths that a woman had suddenly appeared to talk to Balduur.
“I’m glad you all survived. One of our elders went nuts, sorry about that.” Ilea said. “Since when do you need money?”
“Since apparently smiths who don’t work are considered outlaws. Trust me the empire can be rather convincing when it wants to be. Plus they leave me enough freedoms, more than the bloody guild at least. I’ll wait for a while for this all to blow over. Maybe I can sneak out in a couple weeks.” the man said.
“The others are looking for a way already then?” Ilea asked and he nodded.
“Yea, we have to secure the village first. Having Ravenhall back is nice and good but all the smaller places around likely didn’t get the Hand’s destructive treatment.” he said, shaking his head.
“Send one of yours to Ravenhall and let the rune mage Claire of the Hand know, I’m sure she can help you secure your village if you mention my name, should that not have been taken care of already.” Ilea said.
“I will let them know. Why are you here then? Just to chat, a new bow perhaps?” he asked, chuckling. “You broke it didn’t you?”
“I didn’t break it. My armor is pretty much at its end though. I need something new or have it repaired.” Ilea said, summoning the pieces onto the table. The other smiths looked over in the next moments, continuing their work right after.
“That does look bad…,” Balduur said but didn’t continue when the guard from the entrance suddenly appeared next to them, a blue flame in his palm and aiming towards Ilea.
“I told you, no civilians.” he said, sighing.
“Cameron, she’s a personal friend. Cut out the magic if you don’t want to die.” Balduur said and continued looking over Ilea’s armor.
“The Hand?” Cameron asked as he looked at the armor. “Wait are you threatening me Balduur?” he asked, a little in disbelief.
“I’m not threatening you but if you don’t take down your hand soon, I’m not sure what she will do. Unpredictable that one… I mean look at this…,” he said and lifted the dented and scratched chest plate of her armor.
“One of the demons was pretty rough.” Ilea commented, completely ignoring the guard.
“Demon?” Cameron asked and his magic vanished. “Still, I have to ask you to leave.” he said.
“Cameron for the last time. We’re meeting twice our quota and you of all people know the quality coming from this part of the smithy. If I don’t do something interesting every once in a while I’ll go mad here.” Balduur said and tapped the man’s bracer. Ilea noticed in that moment that the bracer looked to be of much higher quality than anything else the guard wore.
“Alright, alright do whatever you want but I want you gone should anybody inspect this place.” the guard said and pointed to Ilea who appeared behind him, pushing some air into his ear. It took some of his essential life energy to ignore that as he vanished again to take his spot at the entrance.
“How’d he spot us?” Ilea asked.
“Maybe like you spot people? I think he can sense mana very well too. Ask him if you care.” Balduur talked as he looked over the pieces of armor. One of the other smiths had finished a spear and joined the two of them.
“Interesting looking… dwarven black?” she asked and looked towards Ilea questioningly. Ilea shrugged and the woman took one of the pieces.
“No, this is something else.” she said confused.
“Elven.” Ilea supplied which made the last smith in the room join them as well. He just grumbled and grabbed a piece too, grunting in approval.
“Can you repair it in reasonable time?” Ilea asked. “I won’t be able to pay you yet, maybe twenty gold or so but not more.” she said.
“Expecting me to work for free. Repairing something isn’t exactly expensive but no. I can’t repair this. Maybe I can make something new but I’m not sure we can even melt this stuff.” Balduur shook his head as he put the armor back down.
“We can overheat it, two or three pieces in each furnace. Get your daughter to help me with the runes and we might be able to do it. Haven’t found anything I couldn’t melt so far.” the woman said and Balduur chuckled.
“You’ve not seen a lot lassy. This is elven steel, old elven steel.” Balduur said.
“I’ll start right away.” the other man said in a high pitched voice, completely taking Ilea out of the conversation.
“Don’t worry about paying, we’ll do it for free. Working with this is worth it already.” the woman said and Balduur shook his head.
“No sense for business with the next generation.” he said but didn’t reject the proposal. “You can pay me back later, I did want to work with that metal before. Full plate and mana allowed through at your fists and legs right?” the man asked and Ilea confirmed.
“Yea we’ll see how the enchanting works on those pieces but if the bloody elves can do it, we can as well.” he said, grumbling.
“Good, then I’ll leave it here. How long do you need?” Ilea asked, looking at the man.
“Someone’s in a hurry. Did someone step on your shoes?” he asked and chuckled.
“Sort of, a friend’s entire family got slaughtered.” she said and heard one of the smiths drop a bunch of tools. Balduur turned serious immediately and looked at her.
“Are you alright?” he asked, grabbing her shoulders.
“I’m alright. I do need that armor though.” Ilea said and effortlessly pushed his massive arms away.
“I get it, I get it. Been there.” the man said and started his work. She didn’t ask anything else and watched them work. None of the smiths knew about someone who looked like Eve but she did get some tips in which parts of the city she could start her search. The local smiths were rather knowledgeable, being the makers of weapons it was to be expected. Bringing the elven treated metal to them had been more than just an ice breaker it seemed. They treated her even more friendly than Balduur himself.