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Chapter 332 The Uses of Gold

 

 

Ilea walked around the armor set made of the undying’s bones. It felt rough to the touch as she slid her hand over it. There were many more weak spots compared to her full plate gear but if it really was categorized as light, she had the full benefits of her ashen armor on top of whatever this could provide. Also some bad ass gear. She noted that the pieces on her thighs had rather big unarmored parts. Her knees were open as well as her armpits and the top of her elbows. There were shoulder parts but rather small.

Her neck was likely guarded better than before, the bone growing up from the closed chest and back piece to cover parts of her neck without impeding her head’s movement. It really looked like they tried as hard as they could to make the armor category light while still pretty much covering her whole body. “How do you know this is light?” She asked, identifying the set.

[Eternal Guardian Armor Helmet – Ancient Timeless Quality]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Torso – Ancient Timeless Quality]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Arms – Ancient Timeless Quality]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Legs – Ancient Timeless Quality]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Boots – Ancient Timeless Quality]

Wow… ancient as well?

“The parameters… should be met. Healer of Ash, I do suggest you test to confirm.” Goliath said.

He didn’t have to say that twice. Ilea stored the set and put it on over her brown pants and white shirt. It sat like a glove, the space they left enough to fit even a little more than her current outfit. Not quite fit for a pullover or thick pants but there was some wiggling room. The armor sat secured already, Ilea’s ashen limbs forming behind her new armor before each grabbed one of the brown leather straps, her whole concentration and skill needed to thread them through the buckles.

Her fist closed, hands not covered by the armor. The bracers stopped shy of her knuckles. “The quality of bone can interfere with mana intrusion.” Goliath supplied, “I thought it best to leave it open.”

“It should be best, yes.” Ilea said, “What does it even mean that it’s ancient? And how does the timeless part work?” She asked, striking her palm with a sharp ashen limb. Storing the armor, she repeated the attack and found the resistance of her skin the exact same, summoning the armor again immediately. It is considered light. She grinned at the result, her expression covered by the new helmet. It felt light too, though that was likely due to it simply being considerably thinner than her previous Rose Hunter or Ashen Hunter sets.

“The ancient attribute simply describes the quality. It is a combination of the material as well as the craftsmanship used in its creation. The timeless quality uses ambient mana to repair structural damages.”

Ilea held up her arm and slammed her ashen limbs into the bone. It took a couple hits before she managed to damage it, making it already stronger than her Stonehammer steel armor. She watched closely as the chip recovered, growing anew with surprising speed. Not even comparable to her ashen armor of course but it did recover. “Fascinating…,” She said and repeated her strikes, this time trying to add healing mana into the mix. Sadly, the armor didn’t regenerate any more quickly.

“The quality is outstanding it seems.” Goliath commented as he moved closer to see the speed of the armor rebuilding itself.

Ilea nodded, “Seems as much. What happens when it’s damaged more heavily?” She looked at the smith, his eyes sparkling.

“If any of it remains… it should regenerate. You will have to find new materials if it breaks.”

“I’ll try to avoid that.” She said, Terok snorting from the side. “Speaking of materials.” She added and gave him a look, dumping her broken and dented Rose Hunter armor to the floor. “Can you at some point just melt that down and make ingots?”

Goliath looked bored but he agreed nonetheless, “Of course, whatever you request.”

“I tried out your Armaments of Trials by the way. Currently working on the perception part but it’s certainly a good teacher.” She said, smiling at the smith.

“Oh? I suspected you would find such endeavors lacking in excitement. I do hope it will serve you well, my dear ashen huntress.” He bowed lightly.

“Thank you for the bone armor as well of course, we’ll see if it survives until I find a better material.” Ilea smiled, “I hope some of the metals Terok brought will be interesting to work with.”

“They are.” He said, turning to the dwarf, “I will use them liberally if that is agreeable for the two of you.”

She nodded and smiled, “Of course Goliath. I hope you have fun with them, as well as this facility. You’re at least busy it seems.” She looked around at the reforged machines, the ingots as well as a sighing Terok.

The smith grabbed a hammer and turned to one of the forges, “There is much yet to discover. Truly, you have brought joy to my work once more. To forge… here, in a new place after centuries. It makes me feel, younger.” He made an ethereal giggling noise, the sound coming from around them. Ilea noticed the magic in the air, a smile tugging on the corners of her mouth.

“I would like to ask, for you to bring peculiar materials to me. My services are yours in exchange. Anything that you may find out of the ordinary.” An offer, not like the deal he had suggested on their first meeting. This, Ilea felt, was much broader.

“Of course Goliath.” She agreed.

“Healer of Ash, I wish you good fortune on your journey. May you return uninjured.” He said and bowed to her, eyes sparkling in golden light.

“I’ll be injured many times, master of flame.” She replied, “Have fun you two. Greet the others for me Terok, a big thanks to Niivalyr for the translation.” She added, looking at them in turn. Maro crossed his arms and nodded to each as well, the two of them on their way again.

Ilea looked at her arms, the new armor visible before her ash spread on top of it. An additional layer that even regenerated. Maro sighed, shaking his head as they flew out of the facility. She gave him a questioning glance, “Now I have an even harder time injuring you.”

“Would you have liked something too?” She asked after chuckling.

“From the smith? No. My gear is pretty good and contrary to you, I don’t plan to get smacked around by ancient destructive monsters. If they reach me, I’m already doing something wrong.” He paused, the two landing and stepping into the elevator leading up. “I’d also like to not rely on your boundless generosity. If he works for me, it’s because I paid or convinced him to do so.”

“No shame in accepting help, or using a referral.” Ilea said.

“I was the king of Rhyvor, Ilea. I got what I wanted on the name alone. With time, it became hard to tell real friends from those seeking the king’s help, money, word or power. After all this time I’m nobody, free to do what I want.” He explained.

She disagreed somewhat, “You’re not nobody, Maro. You’re a level three hundred necromancer. Do you really think that’s not gonna change how people think about you?”

He laughed, “All they know is that I’m a necromancer with a level higher than theirs. Have you been a healer before? Because if not, you’re going to be surprised at how rudely you’ll be treated.”

“I’ve been a healer before, started out as one actually. Well, I guess we’ll see how we each do with the tags that we have. Even if this world seems to be in a perpetual state of stagnation, I’m sure some things have changed since you were around.” She replied and smirked. The Vultures were in hiding for a reason and she assumed it wasn’t just their wish for quiet. In part perhaps but at least Walter was at two hundred and definitely more experienced than the average.

“That is exactly what I’m interested in, Ilea. So we’re going south directly?” He asked.

“Hallowfort first, they mentioned a job as well. We’re going south, don’t worry. I also thought to invest some of the coin you so graciously provided.” She said, the man snorting in response.

“Stop it finally, it’s your gold. I’ll wait outside the town.” Maro replied.

“Sure, I’ll try to make it quick.”

 

 

The Hunter’s Den looked different this time. Weapons, armors, crates of supplies and working Dark Ones had replaced the previous assortment of junk. It was of course still there, Ilea saw as much with her sphere. The difference was efficient stacking and the simple addition of employees sorting through everything. Catelyn was nowhere to be found but Elana nodded to Ilea as soon as she saw her. She finished instructing one of the Dark Ones before joining her, nearly stumbling over a bloodied fish like corpse, “Fuck.” she murmured, “Ilea…,” She said and looked around, “He’s waiting outside. I see.” Her voice sounded sad but the smile on her face was understanding.

“The smart choice I suppose. You got your armor I see. It… fits, I think.” She smiled.

Ilea chuckled, “Elana, you don’t have to pretend to like my armor. Any more Feynor attacks?” She asked, looking around. Ilea noted that some of the Dark Ones wore weapons or even armor from the Tremor armory.

“None so far. We made an effort to trade information with the Dark Protector and his network. The attack really was just an elite group working on their own. They reported several incidents with them and thanked us for dealing with the group. I suppose that thanks is mostly for you and Maro.” Elana explained, “I appreciate the gear you supplied through Terok. Have you come to discuss your expectations for that gift?”

Ilea waved her off, crossing her arms, “It’s a gift. There are no expectations, other than you lot defending the town competently.” She said when a sudden fire formed on the big work table in the middle of the room.

“I knew I felt something.” Catelyn said as she turned to look at Ilea, her sharp teeth showing as she smiled. She lied down on her front paws with an annoyed look.

“Hi Catelyn.” Ilea said, “What’s with her?” She asked, the fox rolling her eyes.

“She’s not particularly enticed about some of the changes, especially in her den.” Elana said, “And you don’t have to worry about our defenses. The attack was a wake up call for everyone who didn’t realize yet that there is a war going on. Why have you come? If not to claim compensation. Did something happen to Maro?”

Ilea looked for a chair but found nothing, forming her own out of ash before she sat down and spoke, “He’s bored I think. That’s the only problem. No, I came because I thought to invest some gold into the town.”

“Rhyvor’s gold?” Elana asked but stopped her immediately, “I don’t mind. I was actually wondering what you would do with it. Where would you like to invest?”

“Whatever you think is best for the town’s development. Considering the war, I suppose training, gear and defensive facilities, enchantments and runes should be a priority.” Ilea said, “I’ll give you three percent of all profits for managing the investments.”

“That is rather generous. I shall see to it. The lack of new people in Hallowfort make it difficult for it to grow but there is still a lot some gold in the right place could change.” Elana said, “How much would you like to invest?”

Catelyn yawned, “You really want to give her your gold? I wouldn’t be so trusting.” The fox said.

Ilea looked at her, the fox already widening her eyes, “I’m investing it into the town and you two are responsible for it.”

“Of course I get involved as well.” Catelyn said and closed her eyes, “I will keep her in check.”

Elana rolled her eyes, “You know you can trust me. I wouldn’t be so stupid as to insult or antagonize such a valuable ally.”

“Valuable asset you mean?” Ilea asked, To think I’m considered a valuable ally, my person alone. Well I suppose that’s what being level three hundred does.

“I’m not that pragmatic, Ilea. Manipulative, yes but my usual methods don’t work with you, or anybody here for the matter. Dark Ones care little about fame and political power. Why waste my time when we can just be upfront about our desires?” A rhetorical question but Ilea was interested in her stance.

She glanced at the mist mage, “And what exactly are your desires? World conquest? The rebirth of Rhyvor? Revenge on those that toppled it? Should any of those still be alive.”

Elana smirked, “Would you believe me any of my answers?” She continued nonetheless, “Rhyvor is gone, the environment and its people, gone. Whatever I could rebuild would in no way replace what was lost. I thought I would die in those chambers, Ilea. Just as much as Maro did. We were prepared to die, for the kingdom and its people.” She paused and locked eyes with her, “Yet here we are. Working with Dark Ones in such a hostile land is certainly intriguing and a challenge I’d like to face. While you like to find stronger beings to smash your fists into, this is what I thrive in.”

“The fall of Rhyvor wasn’t orchestrated by a single group or mind, as much as such an answer would be satisfying in regards to potential revenge. Factors came together out of my control and our kingdom fell. If you find information on the people and what happened after we sealed ourselves into those chambers, I would be glad to hear it. I’m of course willing to offer you something in return.” Elana said.

So she would seek revenge but deems it unreasonable? “We found captain Reyker.” Ilea said, Elana’s brows lifting up, “He had become one of the undead. They went into the dungeon infested with Soul Rippers and found runes that suggest someone summoned them or ripped a hole through realms.”

“We burned the body.” She added.

Elana was silent for a moment, “Thank you.” She said ultimately, not going into anything else.

Ilea changed the subject back to the gold topic, feeling that Elana wasn’t exactly ready to talk about the man or the reveal about the Soul Rippers, “One thousand gold pieces.” Ilea replied to the earlier question. This seemed to get Elana out of her thoughtful state, the woman looking up and nodding.

“I’ll draft the contract immediately. Give me ten minutes.” She said and walked to the table, opening one of the drawers before she started writing quickly. “Three percent to the town, the council as replacing owners of the investments in case of death… is that alright?”

“I doubt anybody else would know what to do with them, here in Hallowfort. So sure.” Ilea said. She had considered Claire but being so far away and neither knowing the people nor the city would make it both impractical and unwise.

“We can rule as to how the money gets invested. I have to warn you though, Ilea. The returns won’t be good. Maybe money is lost even. I will add a line stating that you get political influence and a say in critical as well as mundane decisions due to the obvious lack of compelling returns. I know you’re not political but it should at least count for something. I’m not sure what else we could offer you.” Elana explained.

“That’s alright.” Ilea replied. Political influence wasn’t something she was currently interested in but it was worth something nonetheless. Elana finished drafting the contract and then went through every last line with Ilea and Catelyn, the fox approving it from the side of the council. It seemed simple, the intent clear with each line compared to the convoluted messes Ilea had to sign back on Earth, a team of lawyers necessary to understand what was going on.

She signed and put the gold into a chest Catelyn provided. One thousand coins exactly. “Great, giving us even more work…,” Catelyn complained.

“I didn’t take you to be that lazy.” Ilea commented but the fox just lied down again.

“I do what must be done but what I want to do doesn’t usually overlap with that.” She replied.

Ilea smiled, “Well at least you have some help now. I’ll be going south for a little while and was wondering… just preemptively, if you could consider an alliance, trade agreement or something of the like with a human organization. The Shadow’s Hand. They’re mercenaries and I believe both sides could profit heavily from cooperation.”

“You’re aware of the land between. Nothing stands against such an agreement except for the arcane storms and a plethora of monsters capable of challenging even me.” Catelyn said.

Ilea smiled and got up, “Good to know.”

Elana looked at her with piercing eyes before she spoke, “We have something of a situation in the Descent. I told you about work to be done last week.” Catelyn glanced at her but didn’t interfere, “The expedition is lost and something is changing in the dungeon. Currently it’s somewhat under control but I don’t think it will stay that way.”

The fox spoke up now, “Don’t over-dramatize it Elana, dungeons change sometimes. Just because some of the monsters crawl up to the first layer doesn’t mean it’s an emergency. The expedition however, I would at least like to investigate. Terok might be a better choice for such a job though.”

“Perhaps but I don’t want to ignore it either. I would just appreciate if you could check in again in a couple week’s time, Ilea. We will know more about it but the fact that the dungeon is right below the town I suppose you should at least know, now that your gold is here.” Elana added.

Ilea smiled, “I’ll check in when I’m done in the south. I have a stake here even without the gold, Elana.”

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Rhaegar

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