Chapter 209 Technological Possibilities
“You’re not the first one they’ve bothered. That officer barely catches any sleep as far as I can tell. Trying to stop the bloodshed.” The captain of the Shadowguard said.
“Bloodshed?” Ilea asked.
“Don’t tell me you weren’t about to kill those fools.” One of the other guards said and smirked but Ilea ignored him.
“A couple guards have been injured, some vanished completely. It’s likely that members are responsible.” The captain said.
“Ah, yea I can see that if they behave like that.” Ilea said. She would’ve scared them a little but the comment by the shadowguard made her a little uneasy. Seemed like the situation in Ravenhall wasn’t exactly the most relaxed either. She sighed and closed her eyes.
“Come on guys, the suns are coming up soon and the woman responsible is likely the least busy this time of day.” Ilea said and grabbed two of the mages before she jumped down, getting the other two right after.
Magical lights had been placed around the streets where no lanterns illuminated the surroundings, giving the city a more advanced technological feel than it had before the demon attack. The suns not being up, the whole town was clad in darkness but it looked like some of the storefronts were decidedly more colorful than previously. Perhaps an influence by refugees from closer to Virilya. A welcome change for Ilea, who despite the rare painted houses in Ravenhall preferred the looks of Virilya’s streets. Maybe it’s the lack of trees…
The thought and other possible changes to the looks of the city occupied her mind before they entered the main building of the Shadow’s Hand outside Viscera, near the center of the rebuilt city of Ravenhall. Most of the buildings residing inside the innermost walls were guild or government related, so far leaving little room for interesting architectural designs. A more practical approach seemed prevalent but with time and money, that too could change.
The guard just waved them in, seeing Ilea in her black armor. Considering all actual members had to be at level two hundred, security on this building by anybody below that wouldn’t be terribly effective. The guard was at one forty, enough to keep out and check on most people that would desire to enter the building.
“Not sure if she’s still here. We’ll go check Viscera if not.” Ilea said as they went up the stairs. She couldn’t check some of the rooms through her Sphere, the vision either murky or completely blocked off. It could be enchantments put in place or someone actively using a skill. Knocking on Claire’s previously used office, she received an answer.
“Come in Ilea.” Claire said. “The door is unlocked.”
“Welcome to Ravenhall my friends.” Ilea said to the others with a smile and entered the room, gesturing for them to follow. Two more shelves had been placed to store books and documents, the corner for refreshments no longer part of the design. Claire’s desk was as full as always but the woman looked more energetic than ever. Her black hair was bound in a ponytail as usual and her expression was as serious as ever. Ilea could see the very slight smirk in her expression when she greeted her.
“Don’t tell me Kyrian is dead, I might just blow you out of the window.” The woman said, putting away her work and looking at Ilea. She believed the threat, not that such an action would do her much harm.
“He’s not. We both got teleported away and I have no fucking idea where he is.” Ilea said, introducing the four people in tow.
“It’s a long story and I’ll have to talk about most of it with you if you’ve got time but this takes precedence. I don’t want to share all the information with them so we can take care of it now.” Ilea said, for the latter part bending closer to Claire and whispering it. The woman nodded and gestured for her to continue.
“They’re vegetation mages, three of them are. Previously worked under Arthur Redleaf but they chose to come with me to Viscera. Any use for their talents?” Ilea asked, watching all three of the mages tense up, some more obviously than others. Their fate was in the air, a stable employment or hard work. With their talents they really didn’t have to worry but considering their past with Arthur and his abuse, Ilea somewhat understood their behavior.
“Of course, that’s great news. The Haven has a lot of space and the current team will surely love the newcomers. It’s going well but if our predictions for refugees is even close to reasonable, we’ll be swamped in less than half a year. We have to work on a sustainable food source and few are as capable at that than vegetation mages.” Claire said and got up. She was wearing an outfit close to her armor but while similar in design, this one was made with cloth instead of metal.
The color was mostly focused on black of course but there was some blue interspersed. Compared to the hidden portions and spacious room for runed stones and metal, with this outfit it was part of the design. Darkened plates of runed metal adorned many a part of her outfit making her prepared for a fight whenever but looking non threatening.
“I’m glad you’ve chosen to work with us. I’ll be joining you in the course of the morning to discuss your employment. In the meantime would you mind waiting in an adjacent room until I’ve finished my business with our friend here?” Claire asked and the three mages just looked at each other, not used to the respectful manner in which they’ve been talked to.
“Let me lead you there then. You may help yourselves to any refreshments or food.” She said and smiled, quickly bringing them to the other room. Ilea took some of the papers off her table and looked through them. Suggestions on new legislation, approval for funds for a public training area for the Hand in the city itself, plans for city expansion into the mountain below and the restoration of the destroyed underground.
“That is not for your eyes young lady.” Claire said after she returned, closing the door behind herself. She glanced at Christopher with interest but didn’t say anything, the man very concerned with a specific spot on the blue carpet.
“I like your outfit. Where did you get it?” Ilea asked, putting the papers down.
“New tailor in the city, he survived in the forests around Morhil if you can believe that. I employed him in one of the shops bought… how far do you trust that man?” Claire stopped herself and pointed towards Christopher.
“Ah, share away. He’s going to be working under you soon enough anyway.” Ilea said. She’d give the man a choice of course but with the chance of seeing Eregar’s Haven she knew his answer already.
“Alright. If you’re sure about it.” Claire said.
“His name is Christopher by the way.” Ilea said, the man looking up at the mention of his name.
“I’m Claire, it’s nice to meet you Christopher.” Claire said, looking at him.
“S… Same ma’am.” He replied.
“We’ll get to him later, now the tailor?” Ilea asked and smirked.
“Employed in a shop bought through your money. So you basically own the establishment. As many others. My pull in the Hand and our incredibly high influence in the first weeks after the fall have gotten me some ridiculous deals. It’s almost like you fabricated the whole thing to get wealth quick and easy.”
“And have hundreds of thousands die.” Ilea said with a serious expression.
“Sometimes I don’t know when to joke with you and when not to.” Claire said, shaking her head. A gesture made more difficult by the hand holding up her head on the table.
“It’s not been an easy time lately. Don’t worry though, I’m not smart enough to pull such a move.” Ilea said and smiled.
“That’s what you have me for.” Claire said.
“Don’t scare me. I hope the war isn’t something you three cooked up.” Ilea replied.
“I try to stay local with political scheming. No reason to make the empire or any other power even more focused on this little town in the mountains. Economic though… well let’s just say you don’t just own property in Ravenhall.” Claire added. “Now tell me what happened to Kyrian.”
Ilea sighed and summoned a bottle of mead. “Edwin Redleaf, well we found his father, the one he wanted to kill. The one who might’ve known something about Eve. Well it doesn’t matter now. He’s dead.” Ilea started. “During the fight, he activated a Taleen teleportation gate in the dungeon below the island he was staying at, sending me to a place called Iz. A massive likely underground city or whatever it was, thousands of Taleen Guardians and more dangerous machines down there, ready to rip me apart. Well a good thing I have the third tier in my teleportation ability.” Ilea said, Claire making big eyes at that.
“All terrifying but you have a long range teleportation ability?” She asked, her head now supported only by her neck, hands on the table.
“I do. It’s very limited in usability though but it got me out of damn nasty situation.” Ilea said. Claire sat back in her chair.
“So Kyrian’s been teleported away too. To another Taleen Dungeon. You didn’t see him I assume?” She asked. Ilea shook her head. Claire sighed at that.
“Well he is capable, just as much as you are. He can’t heal himself though. I just hope he isn’t being worn down and killed by monsters or machines. He doesn’t even have a teleportation skill.” Claire said.
“He can heal himself, learned it a couple weeks ago actually.” Ilea said with a smile. “I’m sure he’ll make it. If he dies I’ll have him reanimated and kill him again.”
“That’s not… well at least I’m less worried knowing he can heal himself. Any idea where he is?” Claire asked.
“None sadly. But, and this is where Christopher over here comes in, we might have a way to create a working gate to these dungeons. Arthur was obsessed with it, with replicating the Taleen teleportation technology, with creating long ranged teleportation between human cities. He’s been working on it for a long time and this man here was in the midst of it.” Ilea said, Christopher instinctively taking a step back.
“That would be… in the hands of Viscera…,” Claire said, already thinking about a dozen possibilities.
“It… it’s far… it’s far from realized… mere theories and for a working gate we first have to create on that links into the Taleen network. To understand how it works, we have to use it and reverse engineer it so that we can reproduce it. The resources, knowledge and time…,” He started but Claire stopped him.
“I will move everything aside for this. We’ll talk in depth about how far you are and about the theories. Is it rune based or something completely different?” Claire asked.
“Runes and enchantments. Both of my classes are related to that.”
Claire smiled wide at that, even a little too wide. “Well I have a high level in rune magic so I’ll be able to support you whenever your theories need a little more practical punch.” She said.
“I know a good enchantress too. Iana Birch in the village of Indur, near Morhil.” Ilea added.
“I’ll get in touch with her too then. Anything else you have Ilea, I kind of want to talk to him now.” Claire said, still smiling.
“You power hungry explosion fanatic.” Ilea said and shook her head. “I have a couple things but first, how would you even use a teleportation gate? Let me tell you that if a Taleen Pratetorian comes out of that gate the city is fucked.”
“If we get it working we connect major cities together or the outskirts at least. Guilds in the empire at first I would assume and then gradually more and more. Adventurers could theoretically appear near a dungeon or the area near their job without having to travel weeks or months beforehand. Especially for the Shadow’s Hand and our members it would be incredible. A guard nearby could get help or healers instead of another expedition completely vanishing.” Claire said, mentioning some of the possibilities.
“The power required is too high. Even for a group of mages it would be difficult to activate. The gates could only be build in places of high mana density. I believe the Taleen dungeons as we know them are mostly dungeons because they build only where the mana density was incredibly high. Otherwise we’d just find the ruins of their city instead of developed dungeons.” Christopher explained, having gained a little more confidence in the talk.
“You’re right. Well that complicates things somewhat. A good thing that Eregar’s Haven is one of the highest mana dense places we know. A start at least. I’m very aware of the dangers as well Ilea. A lot of the rebuilding considerations came up simply to prevent another demon situation. I would think a teleportation gate to an unknown Taleen dungeon would be a similar situation.” Claire said.
“It is unlikely that a machine would be transported to a working gate if activated.” Christopher reassured.
“Unlikely but not impossible?” Ilea asked.
“Highly unlikely but the possibility remains. As does our lack of knowledge about the dwarven race known only as the Taleen.” Christopher said.
“Or other races or things that might come out of that hole in space.” Ilea said, thinking of the demon realm and the possibility of other such places. Can’t get viruses if you’re not connected to the network.
Then again, whatever built the teleportation system in the demon realm could go to whatever random place, even different realms it seemed. Of course most of that was what Ilea had felt when she used the machine but somehow she was sure of it.
“We will build in one of the dungeons then. Build and test deep enough to be able to collapse the whole thing. I’ll rig it with enough explosive runes to take out whatever comes through.” Claire said, a disaster already in Ilea’s mind. She sighed and nodded.
“Just promise to be safe. I don’t want to be responsible for the next calamity befalling this city.” Ilea said.
“Our actions are our own. You simply brought me here. Does my mother share responsibility should such calamity befall us?” Christopher asked.
“Calm down. This is all only relevant anyway if he succeeds. None have before, at least to my knowledge. I’m sure some have tried at least.” Claire said.
“Fewer than would be expected. Funds for these kind of expeditions and research have been scarce. Arthur complained about it often. That he is the only one caring about this incredible technology. Local politics and war proceed research such as this.” The man explained.
“We are human after all.” Ilea said and smirked.
“That we are.” Claire confirmed and looked at her. “I might even be able to convince Sulivhaan and Dagon to evacuate the city before we actually do test runs. Just in case. I agree that while the chance is low, the risk is enormous.”
“Good. Now I have some other things as well. You can start planning as soon as I’m done.” Ilea said. “I need to train my resistances, is there a way for me to hire Hand members for them to use their magic on me?”
“That sounds more like one of your requests.” Claire said and thought about it for a minute. “Why not have them pay? Or wait, another idea. You could be the one testing new joiners’ abilities. Remember when you tested?”
“I do, I think the very same Adam Strand who destroyed the city used his summons to test my destructive power.” Ilea answered.
“Exactly and what better way to test than actually facing the magic and swords yourself? Talk to Sulivhaan about this, he’s in Viscera. I’m sure you could figure out a way to get paid for getting attacked as well. It’s skill growth after all and sparring with dangerous magic gets more and more risky the stronger people get. Tanks and healers at your level are somewhat rare and certainly not willing to work with people outside their team.” Claire explained.
“Why not? It would benefit them as well.” Ilea wondered.
“Different reasons I assume. I regularly check the list of jobs and requests at the Hand and for the Hand. I can only say it’s rare. Getting blasted in the face repeatedly with deadly magic doesn’t sound very fun either.” Claire said.
“What? No that sounds like a perfectly enjoyable experience.” Ilea refuted.
“And that is exactly why people might even pay you to do this.” Claire added, smiling.
“I’ll talk to Sulivhaan then. On another note, is the underwater training session available or are classes not running again?”
“Some are, you’ll have to check in Viscera. I’m not up to date on the schedule. William Hendricks should know about this, he took over some responsibilities in that matter.” Claire said.
“I think I’ve heard that name before.” Ilea said and thought about it but nothing came to mind. Perhaps when she saw the man.
“Anything else?” Claire asked.
“I need some local jobs. Anything for someone like me?” She asked.
“It’s mostly for elemental mages. If you want to carry some stones around then sure but it’s not that well paid. Protecting the refugees on the way here is a way to make some money. Those jobs are offered by the empire though, not by us. Check with the guard or the adventurer guild for those. I think Resistance training might be your best bet anyway.” Claire explained.
“Good. Thanks for all that. Keep me updated on the research.” Ilea said to Claire. “It’s good to have you here. Sorry for losing Kyrian.”
“You didn’t lose him. You both were stupid enough to get teleported away.” Claire said in a matter of fact way. “And you brought a possibility to find him.”
“We’d have to raze down every Taleen dungeon to find the man. If he even is in one.” Ilea said, shaking her head.
“Then you better start training.” Claire said and smiled.
“Will do.” Ilea said and turned to Christopher. “You’re in good hands. Good luck, rune mage.” She said and touched his shoulder.
“Thank you Ilea, for everything.” The man said, making her smile right before she vanished out of the room. Her helmet appeared and she blinked again, out onto the square near the center of the city. The suns were coming up on the horizon and already there were people going about their business.