Chapter 206 Pancakes? Pancakes.
Ilea sat back in her chair, her feet on the table as she dropped the letter back on the pile. Aliana was sleeping wrapped in a blanked in the corner of the room. Why did she get the comfortable arm chair?
Ilea scratched her hair when Edwin knocked on the door. Felicia went to open it, rubbing her eyes in the process.
“We found more supplies if you need any food or drink. Not sure how long that will last with those two mercenaries down there. And well, Maria.” He said, looking at the documents on the table.
“Are you sure you want to go through all that Felicia?” He asked, touching her back.
“We talked about this enough Ed. You already read half of it too, why shouldn’t I?” The woman asked.
“I’m the male heir. I’m supposed to…,” Felicia stopped him right there.
“Heir to a forsaken house. And who gives a damn, you never wanted to lead it. I don’t think you planned beyond killing father. You know my plans, think about it and give me an answer. Don’t act so uncertain, it’s very unlike you brother.” She said in an annoyed tone and went back to her chair, grabbing the next letter.
“I’ll come check on… those supplies.” Ilea said while rubbing her eyes, grabbing the helmet she had put next to her chair. Standing up, she grabbed Edwin’s arm and dragged him out. “You come too.”
“Ilea I really don’t need berating from anyone, let alone you.” The man said as soon as she closed the door.
“Edwin. Frankly, I don’t give a flying fuck about where you’re going from here or what you’ll do. What I know is that Felicia was annoyed and she’s busy. You think about your things while you leave her alone for a bit, ok?” Ilea asked and looked around.
The man didn’t respond but closed his eyes for a moment. “Why are you still dressed in tatters? And where’s the supply room. Come on, maybe we’ll find some armor for you.” She added.
He actually seemed kind of lost now that she thought about it. The always confident and mysterious Edwin Redleaf, reduced to a wandering unsure shell of his former self now that his likely lifelong goal was fulfilled. Did he really not plan for anything that happened after? Ilea asked herself. She was quite sure he did but perhaps actually succeeding was never in the cards, not really.
The man likely just needed some time to process everything. He led her downstairs and through another big hall, noises already coming from the open room at the end of it. The group of mages they had found were sitting in the hall awkwardly, looking around with anxious glances.
“A maaaan for only he could satisfy my neeeeeds!” The singing voice belonged to nobody else but Maria, the woman sitting on a table inside the spacious storage room, bottles of wine and ale opened, some already shattered and on the ground.
“Ohhh Lady Ilea, what a pleassur…,” Maurice said, bowing down lightly before he nearly fell, staggering until he met the wall of the room.
Popi had claimed his own table, carefully mixing ingredients together in a metal bowl.
“Does literally everyone have a storage item at this point?” Edwin asked when they entered the room, Popi summoning flour and eggs out of thin air. Ilea just looked at him with a smirk.
“This looks fun. A break from work.” She said and took off her helmet, throwing it into one of the shelves, grabbing a bottle of ale before she sat on the table with Maria.
“Cheers.” She said and opened the bottle, Maria smiling at her and downing the rest of her wine.
“Aaaah, what a sight.” Maurice said as he stumbled towards them.
To be young and lacking a high level Poison Resistance. Ilea thought and smiled at the man barely able to stand. Still, the amount of bottles already empty were impressive. Enough to kill most normal people to be sure.
“I think you’ve had enough Maria.” Edwin said as he grabbed her shoulders.
“Ed… you’re so mean. Always so mean.” She said and closed her eyes while she fell onto his chest, hugging him close. “So nice.” She murmured as he walked out of the room with her.
“There goesch half the party…,” Maurice said and took Maria’s place next to Ilea. “Hi there ssschugar.” He said and looked at her with a drunken smile.
Ilea sighed and watched Popi work while she enjoyed the good ale, thinking of Eve and Kyrian andremembering the rare times they had in the bars of Viscera and Ravenhall. Most of the people there were dead now. She quickly broke Maurice’s hand that fumbled on her armor. The man whined but then laughed.
“Ah you’re a cold one eh…,” He said, Popi turning around at the noise.
“Please don’t kill him, he means no harm.” The man said and smiled, handing Maurice a cupcake that the mercenary gladly took and ate.
“Don’t worry Popi.” Ilea said and got up, grabbing a crate full of ale and walking out of the room, putting it onto the long table in front of the mages.
“Want a drink? Would be a waste if we left it here.” She said, knowing that they could easily take it all back to wherever they went. Storage items gave them that luxury. Nonetheless, Ilea went back and grabbed each crate before putting them on the table, Christopher the first of the mages to join her, grabbing a bottle of ale and lifting it high and towards her.
“To Ilea, to Felicia, the ones to kill Lord Redleaf.” He said and smiled. Ilea mirrored the gesture and went back to the storage room, getting a chair and sitting near the door.
Maurice soon joined the mages, telling stories of adventures and grandeur. Far away kingdoms, exotic beasts and women. One of the mages looked at him a little too interested, Ilea noticed as she grabbed another bottle of ale from the crate next to her chair. Smashed her head a bit too hard didn’t I? She thought, smiling when the woman looked at her and quickly away again.
To team thirty four. She thought and lifted her bottle up high.
“These all have mentions of the order, none state a specific name but I would assume it’s the one you’re looking for. Sadly none mention any names, cities or anything else really. Just materials transferred, slaves and money exchanged. Information about decisions either accepted or refused, all in a code. I’m afraid you’ll find it difficult getting to them through any of this.” Felicia explained when Ilea joined her again a couple hours later. Most of the mages were passed out or sleeping by now. Maurice had retired with the woman Ilea had nearly killed and Popi had provided a beautiful chocolate cake for everybody.
“I’ll take them if you don’t mind.” Ilea said, putting them all into her necklace.
“They have no use to us.” Felicia said. “I’d like the diary though if you don’t need it.”
“I don’t.” Ilea said, having read through the whole thing. Lord Redleaf had certainly been a capable man, strict and harsh but if his own words were to be believed, he was successful. She was doubtful if Felicia and Edwin could fill the role of their house again, if that was at all what they intended to do.
She handed the diary to Felicia who took it thankfully. “Whatever you do, you and Aliana will always have a place in Ravenhall. Just go to the Hand and ask for Claire. Let her know about us and she’ll do what she can.” Ilea said.
“You are very kind Ilea. After we treated you this way.” Felicia said.
“You didn’t, neither did Aliana.” Ilea said.
“Neither did we stop it.” Felicia said but Ilea waved her off.
“What happened, happened. Anyway, I doubt that offer will ever come to fruition. Lady Redleaf.” She said and smiled.
Felicia giggled and looked away a little embarrassed. “It will be difficult to convince the nobles. This order, the Golden Lily, they’re a wildcard as well. I believe in us though, me and my brother. Aliana and Maria. Come visit us in Virilya when you come by the place again.”
“Virilya… did you forget the city is under siege?” Ilea asked, leaning back in her chair but Felicia just smiled.
“As it has been many times before. This war will not be decided in mere weeks or months Ilea. And war brings a lot of opportunities for the children of a noble house, its lord suddenly gone.” She said.
“Perhaps you’re right.” Ilea said and got up. “I’ll catch some sleep as well, you should do the same.” She added. Felicia didn’t reply, opening her deceased father’s diary when Ilea closed the door and blinked upwards. Looking through her sphere and teleporting through the castle, she soon found a suitable room furnished with a bed and dresser. They were still technically on enemy territory, Edwin and his crew not being the most trustworthy people around to add to that. Both reasons she kept on her armor as she covered herself with a blanket in the dark room, sleep taking her a couple minutes later.
I want some pancakes… The thought was the first thing going through her mind when rays of sunshine slowly invaded her space the next morning. The room looked utterly medieval and barren. “Where’s the shitbucket…,” She murmured and flowed healing magic through her body, activating meditation at the same time. The two had been more than a blessing with both getting up in the morning, alcohol consumption and last but not least her monthly red invasion.
Granted, with her Pain resistance none of it mattered much anymore but as her body got more powerful, so did the cramps. Enough to cripple a lesser woman, kill her even. But what woman didn’t think that of herself? All of them are probably right too.
I need to wash my armor again. She thought, blinking twice to get outside. Her helmet vanished, the rough ocean air brushing against her skin as her wings spread. She flew downwards, looking for a shoreline where she could stand. Just in case a massive sea monster would try to nibble on her. Popi might be able to make pancakes…
Her feet planted firmly on the rock, she summoned her helmet and held it into the ocean water, filling and duping it out a couple times before she shook it off. Ash came into existence around her before it moved into her helmet, clinging to the sides and swiftly cleaning out the salt and other filth out. A move that got easier the more she used it. Putting the helmet on afterwards, Ilea started doing the same with her chest armor, then her gauntlets and bracers and finally the metal covering her thighs, shins and her boots.
The process didn’t take long but she sat down for a moment afterwards, enjoying the view of the morning suns hanging low on the horizon, shining onto the endless ocean that spread before her. The vikings, Columbus and many others must’ve asked themselves what lay beyond the endless depths. Looking out on it, she for the first time thought she could empathize with those people. There was no world map available, no satellites giving a clear picture of the land masses in Elos.
At least none she knew about. With all that had happened, including her realm traveling, even seeing Earth when they had used that teleportation device in the demon realm, Ilea still wasn’t sure what this all was. Perhaps just a different dimension or maybe she was still in the same universe, just on a planet far away. That wouldn’t really explain the magic and the status and skills she had acquired on the way. Not the way it appeared in her mind as if it was part of her very biology.
She had asked those questions when she had first appeared here but with time, only new questions arose. Already she had the opportunity to go back but had chosen to stay. Still, she would look for answers nonetheless. That was human nature after all and Ilea was a curious one at that. Maybe Christopher will be able to shine some light on long range teleportation at least. She thought, hoping that by experimenting with it they wouldn’t accidentally repeat something like what that Elder did to Ravenhall, Adam Strand.
With all the new defenses and preparation going into the city as of late, perhaps it was the best place to experiment. Wouldn’t want to summon an eldritch army into an empty desert. Who knows what they would do.
No major new insights had been found regarding the golden lily, despite actively hunting down one of their members. Kyrian had vanished as a result, as had she. Operation Eve was on ice, for now at least. That much was necessary. Ilea didn’t think too much on Kyrian. She trusted in him and his strength. He would find back sooner or later, getting stronger on the way. As much as she wanted to feel guilty, she didn’t let herself. He had made his choice and knew the risks and it would be an insult to him, for her to place responsibility on herself.
Ilea stood up and looked at the suns, rolling her shoulders and cracking her neck. “Let’s get those pancakes.” She said, her wings spreading before she flew upwards near the rocky cliff side, towards the castle standing atop.
“Milk, egg, flour, molten butter… that should be mostly it. The dough should be thick but liquidy. Don’t heat it up for too long, you want it fluffy.” Ilea explained as well as she could remember. There was neither syrup nor fruits available but the man had sugar at least.
“Ok, I’ll try.” Popi said with a smile and got to mixing the batter.
“Breakfast?” Maurice asked, entering the big hall with one hand on his head. There was no throne but it could just as well have been a throne room. The remnants of one at least. Most of the windows were broken in or had at least lost most of their once magnificent color. Green probably, as it was either built by the Taleen or inspired by them.
“Breakfast, yes.” Popi answered and smiled at the man who sat next to him.
“Her recipe.” He added.
“Her recipe hmm… missy, got a recipe for a headache too?” Maurice asked.
“Of course, I have healing magic. You’ll have to come over to me though.” Ilea answered with a smile. She was wearing her armor, her helmet placed on the big table as she lounged in her fancy chair.
“Fucking bitch ass pissy… I know you can teleport you know…,” The man murmured as he got up and walked all the way around the table.
“And I know you can fly.” Ilea said, rolling her eyes at his complaints.
“Height differences hurt.” He said, flinging a silver coin her way. She touched his armored belly and poured healing magic towards his head. “Oh my god…,” He said and sat down on the chair next to her. “You did that in ten seconds?” He asked, his spirits lifted considerably according to his facial expression.
“I did. You’re welcome.” Ilea said and watched Popi heat up the first pancake on the little heating plate he had, his magic pulsing below the metal.
“Thanks Ilea. You’re really useful, want to join our little crew?” Maurice said, theatrically smelling the browning pancake.
“You’re not the first one to ask me that.” Ilea said, her stomach rumbling as she remembered the advances from other adventurers whenever she showed up at the guilds. A big fat healer tag identifying her as the most useful asset to anybody’s party. Those days were over. Now it was her black armor and the question marks that would create such situations.
“Popi is certainly a damn good reason to consider it.” She said and then looked at Maurice. “You on the other hand, that’s more than a couple minus points.”
“We could travel around the lands, get easy jobs, kill a bunch of people and get rich. Easy with the war going on.” The man said, leaning back in his chair.
“What lands?” Ilea asked.
“The empire, Baralia, Kroll, the Nipha empire, wherever you want to go. Even the northern plains, you’d like them I’m sure.” Maurice said.
“The northern plains? Where are they? And don’t say north.”
“Pretty close from here actually. I think these lands are part of Baralia or Asila, north of that.” He said.
Ilea thought about it for a moment and then looked at him. “I want to go north, the real north. Beyond the mountain chain overlooking the Navali forest. I want to go west, through the forest of the elves and south, into the desert and to the Foundation of Glass. I want to raid dungeons and fight monsters only legends talk about. I want to go east, cross the ocean that no expedition has before. I’m done with killing humans, for a while at least.” Ilea said when Popi slid a plate with the first pancake her way. She smiled and thanked him before she started eating.
“That’s certainly something. You’re not the first to think that way I’m sure. Known some of those idiots myself.” Maurice said and looked at her food with envy. “You will die, as all of them have before. At one point or another.”
“I might.” Ilea said, doubting that the man was omnipresent to support such a statement. Adam Strand traveled to the demon realm and for all she knew he was still alive. The man Albert, who rescued Cless, he had some sort of longer range teleportation and she was sure he had been to places no other humans dared go. And then there was Verena, another elder of the Shadow’s Hand, charging at that massive demon with her fire axes. She’s probably seen more than the human plains. Ilea was certain they all had, and many more.
“We humans should stay where we belong.” Maurice said when he too received a pancake. He thanked Popi and smiled as he started eating. “This is good.”
“Squabbling amongst ourselves.” Ilea said with a sigh.
“Exactly.” Maurice said with a full mouth and pointed his fork at her. She couldn’t help but chuckle. She’d be squabbling with them sooner or later too but those revenge tours definitely taken a toll on her.
“I think I’ll travel alone for a while.” Ilea said.
“Uuuuh, the lone wolf. The silent hunter, alone and dangerous.” Maurice mocked and laughed.
“At least I don’t freeze to death when someone touches me once.” Ilea retorted with a smile.
“Touche. That bitch was a tough one I tell ya.” Maurice said.
“Where are the others by the way?” Ilea asked. Popi was the one to answer.
“Asleep still. Felicia told me they’d hold a small ceremony later. She asked me to burn the bodies.” He said.
“What little is left of them.” Maurice said and laughed. Ilea didn’t.