Chapter 193 Prison Break
“Be very careful where you mention that name Ilea.” Elise said. “Why do you think it was them?”
“Got a letter from Eve. Wrote it before she died. She mentioned she was looking for them.” Ilea said.
“That’s definitely an ambitious target. Not impossible for someone like her to be sure but still. If anything Ilea, I highly respect your deceased friend.” She said, shaking her head.
“What do you know of them?” Ilea asked.
“You know. Even with you saving me from here, I don’t think it’s a good idea to share this knowledge.” She said and looked towards the corpse in the room. “Ah fuck it. I don’t know much anyway.”
“It’s an order comprised of powerful individuals. Now take all of this with a grain of salt, even I don’t know any of this for sure. They likely have their eyes on the Library of Souls too, making it somewhat hard to find any records. I read the name in a couple letters we recovered over the years but since then the evidence has vanished. Not that difficult a task to be sure but to find their name nowhere in the whole library?” Elise shook her head. “While we didn’t have records about the order itself, the people mentioned in the letter we did know. One of them one of the wealthiest nobles in the Kingdom of Kroll, the other a commoner owning nearly a tenth of the capital’s businesses in one way or the other. Both known to be at least above level two hundred.” Elise explained.
“Now the letter implied cooperation between them, on a personal level. Going through records in regards to them and their businesses, I’ve found them cooperating with many others and in a grand scale. That’s why I believe they don’t care much about borders and countries, instead looking only to strengthen their individual stand. I have no idea if it’s just a trade organization or puppeteers involved in even the empress’ business,”
“We know about dozens, even hundreds of underground organizations, some even cooperating with the empire, some dangerous enough for us to ignore them. I think the Golden Lily is one of them, if not even more powerful than that. I stopped looking into the people when the High Librarian asked me personally to drop it, no reason stated.” Elise said. “Some knowledge is not meant for us.” He said. “So if you’re looking for more concrete information you can ask the man. I doubt you could force him to share anything though.”
“Stronger than you?” Ilea asked.
“Oh yes, more than just a little. Older too and he looks younger than me. Hasn’t shared that secret with me either.” Elise said. “Well since I’ve reached the two hundreds I’ve barely aged either. Should’ve worked harder when I was younger.”
“I think you look great Elise. Be more confident.” Ilea said with a smile, blinking into the other room and getting her glasses. “And these, they’re fantastic on you. Trust me.”
“Oh I know, still I appreciate it Ilea. Thank you for getting me out of this. I’d give you the records but I’m not exactly allowed back into the library.” She said as she cleaned her glasses and put them back on.
“Your clothes are back there too. I’ll wait for you to change.” Ilea said.
“You have what you wanted, don’t you?” Elise asked.
“Well now you can tell me why you’re a traitor.” Ilea said, Elise walking to the other room in her bloodied undershirt and thin pants.
“And so I wrote a letter, finally. Would’ve asked you to deliver it were it not for that bastard Rickson.” Elise said.
“The guy I met?” Ilea asked.
“That guy. You see, communication with any outside forces or governments is prohibited if you work in the library. Punishable by death actually. We know that when we go in and I was ready forty years ago. Year after year it got harder. I felt more and more isolated and seeing you come in at the brink of war, well I couldn’t quite help that tiny romantic voice inside of me anymore.” Elise said with a thin smile on her lips.
“I met him when I was still adventuring. A brilliant man. We wrote with each other for years after that until I joined the library upon my parents’ request. Honor and pride meant a lot more to me then than they do now.” She said. “I should’ve just joined the Hand.” She shook her head before looking into Ilea’s eyes.
“Well it’s worth to be on his good side, perhaps he knows about the Lily as well. Still, I like him anyways and if you want I can get you out of here. Planned to go to Ravenhall anyway as soon as I had the information I needed.” Ilea said.
“Y… you.” Elise said, brushing away tears from below her glasses. “Ilea. I knew trusting you was a good idea.” She said and smiled.
“You got tortured and nearly killed.” Ilea retorted.
“Life goes on. Getting tortured builds character.” Elise said, waving her off as she put on her second boot.
“And trauma.” Ilea said.
“That too.” Elise answered. “Now if I know you at all, you’re not going to leave those records lying on my desk behind.” She said, brushing off her clothes. Elise didn’t look like a woman who had just escaped torture.
“I mean it’s war now. The library might not stand anymore tomorrow.” Ilea said.
“You’re right. Now you have a storage device?” Elise asked, waiting for Ilea to nod. “Good. I worked for them for decades. Time to finally take something back.” She said.
“Anybody else you want to get out?” Ilea asked.
“No contact, remember? Anybody I liked at the library will be fine. Oh by the way, if we get in a fight we better run. The Library of Souls has never been taken. Not ever.” Elise warned.
“Well I’m sure you know a couple secrets that would allow us to get in without a fight.” Ilea said with a smirk.
“I do. Don’t steal too much though. If their library is empty they’ll have no other choice but to come look for you personally. As much as I think you’re strong, that would be akin to hunting down something like the Golden Lily.” Elise said.
“We get everything you have on Eve and the people she might’ve been. Anything you need or suggest we get?” Ilea asked, taking the warning seriously. If the woman alone was a mage at level two hundred, she didn’t want to face the whole staff. Not the way she was right now. Something told her that this wouldn’t be the last time she entered that particular library.
“Oh yes. Any records about me.” Elise said smiling. “I know where they are. Spent quite enough time to plan such an opportunity.”
“And you get caught immediately when you finally have it.” Ilea said.
“Ah shut it. The reason I didn’t leave before speaks for its difficulty.” Elise said. “Plus I didn’t expect Rickson of all people to have those kind of guts.”
“How will we get out again if it’s so hard to do?” Ilea asked.
“Getting out of the library was never the issue. Getting out of the city though…,” Elise said. “They insert an enchanted piece of metal into each and every member. Now you don’t want to be hunt down by the members of the library, the royal guard or an assassin squad specifically put together to rip you to shreds.” Elise said, sitting on the table.
“It’s a difficult operation and normally I’d have asked or paid you to get a healer. Now we don’t need that, do we?” She asked.
“You have one here.” Ilea said. “Where’s the piece?”
Elise tapped her chest. “It’s fixed to the back of the sternum.”
“So you have been tortured before.” Ilea murmured as she tapped on the woman’s chest.
“I guess I have.” Elise said, unbuttoning her shirt again.
“Should I try to knock you out first?” Ilea asked.
“Don’t waste your mana and the time. One quick cut here and you rip it out, bone and all. I assume you can heal missing bone?” Elise asked.
“I can. I’ll try to be as quick as possible. Want something to bite on?” Ilea asked, summoning a dagger from her necklace, heating her body up and coting the blade in heated ash to kill of any bacteria that might’ve still remained on it.
“The muffled screams might give us away.” Elise said and closed her eyes. Ilea didn’t wait any longer. Making sure there wasn’t anybody close to the cell, she put Elise to the wall behind her and stabbed her with the dagger, punching through the protective bone before she stored the blade and moved her hand inside the wound. Ilea’s hand closed around the woman’s sternum before she crushed it, a scream resounding through the room.
Pulling out the broken bone, Ilea found the metal connected to it while she healed Elise with her other hand, focusing on recreating the bone and then the flesh. The woman’s screams calmed down soon after until her chest looked the same as it had been a minute ago. Healthy and closed.
“You alright?” Ilea asked, looking at the woman. She just shook her head.
“Need a moment.” She said and sacked down.
“Here.” Ilea said, holding out a cup of ale that she gladly took and drank in one go.
“So things like this exist.” Ilea said and held up the piece of enchanted metal. “Is it kept running through your own mana?”
“It is.” Elise said after a while, buttoning her shirt again.
“What else can you do with these enchantments? Cause pain or obedience?” Ilea asked.
“You mean for slaves? No.” Elise answered.
“Why not?” Ilea asked again, seeing that the woman looked alright enough to talk again.
“They’re always active and a high level mind magic or illusion spell, would need more mana to activate than anybody too weak to go against it could produce. Pain disrupts your mana flow and concentration, the first one is needed to activate the enchantment.” Elise explained as she got up.
“Good to know.” Ilea said as she opened the door to the cell. “Can you teleport?” She asked.
“Yes. One of the reasons I wanted to get the Arcanist class. It has a high chance to grant such a skill.” Elise said, appearing behind Ilea and outside the cell. Ilea place the enchanted metal piece on the table nearby.
“They’ll be looking for the dead Elise.” She said.
“Depends on what their orders were.” Elise said.
“You lead.” Ilea said, gesturing for the woman to go on. She vanished before Ilea’s eyes right after, appearing two floors above them.
“Do you have a perception skill that lets you see though walls?” Ilea asked right after appearing next to her.
“No, I can sense mana to an extent and there was nobody nearby. The perception type skill you talk about is mostly found in warrior type classes like your own I assume.” Elise said.
“Good speculation.” Ilea basically confirmed, making the woman laugh.
The two made their way through the dungeons without alerting anybody to their presence, appearing in an alley near the entrance just a minute after escaping the cell. Someone from the library would likely check on the corpse but they had a bit of time. Hopefully enough to get what they needed.
Ilea provided Elise with a hooded cloak and put one on herself as well, her armor below obscured at least a little. They made their way to the Library, unhindered by anybody walking by, even getting some relieved looks at two rather powerful individuals on their side of the barrier. The day had progressed, the suns at their highest point, hidden behind the rising smoke and ash from the continuing battle for the capital. The sound of magic hitting the barrier and areas around the center, intertwined with shouting from the people within helped with the concealment of the two women.
Elise didn’t lead Ilea to the library but to a building quite a bit of a distance away from it, blinking inside and below after checking around them to make sure nobody saw them vanishing. They made their way to the lowest point of the cellars, about four floors down before Elise stopped and turned to Ilea.
“Now this is the closest to the inside of the actual library that we can get without making a mess. Too far for my teleportation ability to get me there and likely most others too. Not that you could teleport inside even if you wanted to.” Elise explained and tapped the stone wall with her fist.
“Dig?” Ilea asked, cracking her knuckles before she made her cloak vanish.
“My arcane magic lacks the punch against earth. Try not to create too much vibration.” Elise said and stepped back.
Ash formed around Ilea, specifically her hands as she created small and sharp tips on her armored hands, pushing her control to the limit to increase their density and strength. She could scratch stone back when she had just acquired her Azarinth Healer class. Digging through the ground with her current power would prove to be quite simple. Doing so quietly was just an additional difficulty.
Her skills activated and her hand lashed out, digging into the cracking stone wall as if it was mere earth. Again and again her arms rushed out, cutting rock and stone with minimal noise. The ash around her moved to push back the fragments and pieces of stone behind her and into the cellar as she moved downwards and towards the library.
Half an hour later Ilea stopped, blinking back to the starting cellar and Elise. “I can’t see further. I think we might’ve reached the library.” She said.
“Yes. Let’s see what I can do then.” Elise said as she entered the small tunnel Ilea had created, the two of them teleporting to the other end of it.
“I haven’t studied these enchantments for nothing.” Elise said, her mana flowing into the stone before her, red lines of light forming on both her hands and the wall itself before smoke rose from both. Elise winced and retracted her hand but the smile on her face let Ilea know that the operation was a success.
“Wait a second. Can we get some info on Arthur Redleaf? An associate likes to know where he is.” Ilea said. Perhaps the Library had something on the man that Edwin didn’t know about.
“Simple enough, he’s a rather prominent noble. Now we probably only have a couple minutes. Follow me closely.” Elise said before she vanished, Ilea following behind, her Perception no longer ending on the wall of her tunnel but opening up into the inner architecture of the Library of Souls.
Elise moved quickly, avoiding any living soul residing in the library as she first teleported three times, coming to a stop in what Ilea presumed was her office.
“Lazy fucks.” She said and pointed to a pile of papers on a table nearby. “That’s what you need.” She said and Ilea stored all of it in her necklace. “Now come, we should be out of here in a minute’s time.” Elise added and vanished again, Ilea appearing next to her as she already opened up a book before ripping out four pages. Ilea stored them while Elise closed the book again and put it back.
Again she vanished, Ilea following behind and storing the documents, files and books Elise gave her. She checked on them quickly when they had been summoned, finding them to be records of library members, arcanists and lastly a list of traitors to the empire. Elise smiled when she put back the last book and teleported, handing Ilea a bunch of pages regarding a certain noble.
Back in the self made tunnel, the woman waved her arms, red lines appearing again on her hands and the wall before smoke rose again and then settled. Ilea’s view of the library vanished immediately, the enchantments back in place.
“Can you fill up the tunnel again?” Elise asked when they were back in the cellar, leaving Ilea to move the rocks and crumbled stone back into the opening. The entrance was still clearly visible upon completion, Ilea storing all the rubble that didn’t fit anymore in her necklace.
“Do you have gold?” Elise asked suddenly.
“A couple, yes.” Ilea answered.
“Great, I’ll pay you back tenfold. Will just need a couple months or years to earn it first. Let’s find a stone mage.” She said and vanished.
The two of them walked through the streets of the central district as they looked for their target. It was certainly easy to find mages, even stone mages but all of them so far were imperial soldiers. Not likely that they’d betray an imperial institution for money.
“That was nearly too easy.” Ilea said after a while of walking, enjoying the impressive architecture with the golden shine from above, spells still continuously raining upon the defensive globe.
“What do you mean? Another minute and we would’ve been confronted.” Elise said.
“You mean they spotted us?” Ilea asked and Elise turned towards her and smiled.
“Did you honestly think we’re the only two people in that building having a perception skill to see living beings? Most of them are mages.” Elise said. “The good thing was that they knew me and I doubt my betrayal made the rounds yet. I’m not terribly liked but still, with the flimsy reason of sending a letter at least some people would’ve made a bit of a ruckus. Especially regarding the contents of the letter. Easier to just kill me and then present the charges. Not much anybody would do then.” Elise explained.
“Still, with you there as well some of them must’ve asked themselves who exactly I was with.” She added. “And now the next generation won’t even know who I was. Hopefully.”
“You mean the pages you ripped out. Can’t they just add them again? I mean the people there knew you.” Ilea suggested.
“Few would care to do so. Knowing that I escaped will seal their lips and I doubt Rickson would go look for my records. Even if, he’d be glad any mention of me was stripped.” Elise said.
They walked into a square, finding a loud group of adventurers drinking on the terrace of a pub. “You’re terribly optimistic.” Ilea said, a little more quietly which made Elise stop and look at her.
“Ilea I know them, all of them. They’re too smart for their own good and pride can be as blinding as a high level light spell. As long as I’m not discovered by an imperial on my way out I think I’m fine” Elise said.
“Don’t jinx it.” Ilea added as they approached the adventurers.
“What’s a jinx?” Elise asked, intrigue in her question.
“Any of you lads a stone mage?” Ilea asked, her armor switched for the usual leather one.
“Who’s askin?” One of them answered.
“This fella.” Ilea said, twirling a golden coin through her fingers. The man answered with a smile.
“How long will this take? I’ve got places to be.” He said.
“Fifteen minutes at most.” Ilea said and smiled her best smile.