Chapter 334 Priorities
The necromancer standing next to her had a mischievous look in his eyes and a big smile on his face. “Impressive defenses. Flying in without detection won’t be possible. Do you think we’ll have to teleport through the walls?”
Ilea looked at him with a frown, her armor of ash moving to her back. A cloak appeared on her, a dark green color. She handed a second one to Maro, covering her bone helmet partially with the hood. “I have a badge, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.” Maro couldn’t get the cloak over his helmet, deciding to switch it out with another one that didn’t have antlers. The cloaks managed to obscure both their armors and helmets considerably.
The two walked down the mountain side, jumping parts that were too steep. The road seemed well walked, much of the snow trampled by the many merchants, adventurers and travelers making their way to and from Ravenhall. “Any idea how far winter is along?” She asked. He had taught her about astronomy, maybe he somehow knew a way to tell with the seasons as well. Ilea had lost track of the exact time she had spent in the north.
“How would I know. One of the suns is missing, I’d assume winters last much longer these days.” He said, his voice sounding excited as they neared the gate. A team of adventurers, bloodied and with dented armors and hung heads entered before them, the guards moving them through, one a Shadow Guard and the other an imperial one. The city gate was open, showing the square within. Ilea wasn’t quite sure what that meant in regards to the war.
“Fair enough.” She said to Maro, looking up at the new height of the walls. Extended again. Claire probably added a way to instantly close the gates anyway. The guards eyes them, glancing at each other with uncertainty on their faces. Ilea summoned her badge and held it up.
The shadow guard nodded but the imperial one looked at them for a while, “Can I see the badge?” He asked.
“Of course.” Ilea replied and threw the thing his way.
[Warrior – lvl 152]
[Warrior – lvl 81]
The imperial guard was considerably lower leveled. Still, they have a garrison in Ravenhall. Either that or the city guards were initially soldiers and just kept the gear and colors. “You’re fine. Is your necromancer friend also part of the Hand?”
Ilea was about to answer when Maro spoke up, bowing lightly, “I intend to join, Maro is the name.” He lifted his hood and made his helmet vanish. Ilea rolled her eyes at his smile and sparkling eyes. The urge to hit him was overcome with a burst of Meditation.
“S… sure.” The guard said and handed the badge back to Ilea, “You’re new in town then?” He asked Maro.
“Are necromancers even allowed in?” Ilea asked the shadow guard in a low voice, Maro laughing at something the guard had said before he started a story about some adventure that probably happened thousands of years ago.
“The empire mostly lets the cities decide. Half the nobles wouldn’t be allowed in most anywhere if they banned blood arts, death magic and such. Honest though… if he were below level eighty it would have been difficult.” The man chuckled.
“Are you coming?” She asked, interrupting the two. Maro had his arm around the man’s shoulder and was pointing somewhere to the horizon. She was sure the guard was already in love.
He turned his head and smiled her way, “You do your stuff. I’ll explore the city and have some fun, before joining the Hand. Do find me when you’re done.” He winked and continued his story.
Already lost him. She chuckled and shook her head, trusting him not to start a murder spree. Ilea entered the city, feeling the magic in the walls. Her sphere revealed plenty of enchantments, more clearly visible thanks to her Armaments training. The snow here was just sludge, smoke rising from many of the buildings. Children ran around as well as dogs and random animals she had never seen before. She stood there for a moment, a little overwhelmed by all the noises, crying babies or shouting merchants.
It seemed more busy than the Ravenhall she remembered from before the invasion. Maro appeared behind her, his hands coming down on her shoulders, “It’s beautiful.” He said, letting go as he stepped next to her, “Come on, can’t be that bad. You’ll be out and about again in no time.” He grinned and walked backwards into the crowd.
I’m going to reserve some restaurants just for me. Ilea mused, the thought calming her down. Smells of thirty different dishes, hundreds of people’s odors, blood, gear and magic mixed into an overwhelming cocktail that made her miss her previous Sphere and its ability to lessen her senses somewhat. Now it even added another layer. Fuck this. She blinked up before her wings spread, taking her over the city. Her bone armor went into her necklace before her wings vanished, Ilea diving down and landing with a slight bend in her knees in the street where the Golden Drake was located. The first and most important destination.
People steered clear of the maniac that had suddenly landed but there certainly wasn’t any novelty left, some even complaining about crazy mages as they went on with their daily business. She wasn’t identifiable as a member of the Hand in her brown pants and white shirt. A higher leveled healer that most people didn’t take too much notice of. Some higher leveled adventurers did a double take but nobody approached her as she strolled towards her most favorite establishment.
It was busy, people standing in line to get in, somecoming out again with dejected expressions. Business is going well it seems. She hadn’t expected anything different from Keyla. Ilea cut the line and was stopped inside, someone at the bar calling out to her.
“Ma’am, please wait in line to be seated.” The voice was firm but professional. An older gentleman, gray hair and a well kept mustache as well as finely made clothing that looked high class but not quite too much. A gray vest with a black shirt underneath. A golden Drake’s head was sewed onto the vest. He vanished and appeared two meters away from her.
[Mage – lvl 128]
Guess that’s needed to keep the raving masses in check. She smiled at the man, “That’s a nicely done Drake. The artist must have seen one in their lifetime.” She commented.
He raised his eyebrows before motioning to the exit, “Please ma’am, even if you have a reservation we have to insist that the queue be respected.”
She nodded with a smirk, “Didn’t know the English had invaded Elos already.” The man didn’t reply to the comment. Ilea wasn’t in a rush and walked back out, indulging for a little while in the British national sport. Some of the people gave her smug looks but most didn’t really care.
“Know your stand, healer.” A mage in fancy attire commented, his eyes full of disdain. The man next to him looked at her with an apologetic look before focusing forward again.
“Sir, excuse me.” Ilea said, the red haired man turning her way. A level one eighteen mage, quite rich going by the clothes alone as well as the way he held himself. Or he thinks he’s rich? In any case it couldn’t be a Ravenhall native, most of them were dead. “Excuse my ignorance, who exactly would you be?” Her smile was brilliant, eyes nearly closed.
He looked back and replied, “Villibald Grom, esteemed noble of the empire. You should know this is one of the best establishments in the city. With attirelike that, you won’t even be let in.” She could tell the man with him was getting distressed. Many of the other waiting people were at least slightly uncomfortable.
“And who might you be?” She asked, looking at the black haired man in similarly expensive clothes.
“That is Orias Herald, my esteemed friend. Now please leave us in peace, adventurer.” Villibald answered again, saying the last word as if it was something to be spit out.
Ilea ignored him and looked at the second man, his gaze facing downwards, “Orias then, do you also think that being a wealthy noble entitles you to be inconsiderate, disrespectful and an outright blight to human society?” She asked. Feeling the mana surge coming from the red haired man, she turned his way and spoke in a quiet tone, “If you raise your hand against me, I will rip off your arms.”
The smile on her face and casual nature and stance seemed to give him pause. Before he could reply, the other man reached out to him and made him stop, “Villibald. Come on, you don’t have to lower yourself to violence. She is taunting you.” He glanced at Ilea with a pleading look.
The red haired noble scuffed, ripping his arm free and turning around, “You’re lucky today.” He pointed at her.
“Same.” She replied, Orias calming down considerably. The whole ordeal brought them into the building, the two nobles speaking to the man handling the reservations. When they moved to the side, the red haired man stopped and watched Ilea with a smirk on his face. Orias sighed and apologized to the attendant that was about to seat them.
“Greetings, welcome to the Golden Drake. I apologize for my previous treatment ma’am, you must understand that rules apply to all.” He said, neither judging or belittling.
Ilea nodded, “Professional.” She said, “Are my clothes a problem? I was informed I wouldn’t be let in with what I’m wearing.”
The man chuckled, “Of course not, ma’am. As long as other guests aren’t disturbed by smell, monster remains or excessive nudity, there is no problem. Now, do you have a reservation or would you like to make one? I’m afraid we are booked out for the next two months.”
He had his pen hovering over the open book before him, “Can you check if there is anything under Lilith?” She asked, the man nearly ripping out the page he was holding. He looked up with wide eyes, “Keyla hired competent people it seems.”
He calmed down immediately and smiled, “There is indeed a reservation under the name. I was informed about certain characteristics. The only one I’m missing are ashen wings. Please excuse me, the owner is usually more well known.”
Two wings of ash formed behind her, crumbling again immediately after. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Lilith. I apologize for the previous treatment. My name is Patrick Smith.” He said and bowed lightly. “Your reservation is for the whole restaurant, any time you would like. My position requires me to inform you that we do have guests here as well as active reservations. It would be beneficial for our reputation if they were to be seated. There is of course a table free for you.”
She smiled, the man appearing next to her and leading her towards the stairs. The two nobles had heard the conversation, their faces having lost color considerably. Ilea stopped next to the two, looking at Patrick, “May I ban someone from entering the establishment?”
He chuckled, “Of course ma’am. There is a growing blacklist, most issued by the cook.”
“I can see that. Well, add this gentleman, Villibald was it? To the list.”
Patrick nodded, “I’m afraid your reservation is no longer valid Mr. Grom. Please leave the restaurant.”
Orias took a step back when the red haired noble lifted his hand, heat forming at his palm and directed at Ilea. She had felt the attack coming, already in motion. Closing the distance, her wings formed and wrapped around the two, her hand grabbing his as his spell slammed into her face, the fire barely singing her eyebrows before the cracking of bones made him stop. Another, louder crack made him whimper. I was really going to rip off his arms but wow, seems like this guy has never experienced pain. He was crying and on the wooden floor, holding his broken arm when her wings moved back.
His screaming intensified, Ilea rolling her eyes as she grabbed on to him and dragged the man to the exit. “He attacked first, everyone saw that?” She asked, the people around her nodding before she tossed him out onto the street, the man tumbling a couple times. Moving back inside, Orias seemed conflicted as he glanced at her and outside, where the screaming fire mage could still be heard.
“Ehm… am I banned too?” He asked.
“No, though I do suggest finding better friends. Is he going to leave it at that or will I have to deal with his shit again?” Ilea asked. He scratched his neck awkwardly and she rolled her eyes, “Of course.”
Patrick spoke as the noble was led upstairs by another attendant, “Thank you for intervening, I usually take care of such matters myself.”
“No worries, do inform Keyla if these incidents increase. Work otherwise alright?” She asked, crossing her arms.
“Of course, the Golden Drake is perhaps the most renown establishments in Ravenhall, up there with the Shadow’s Hand itself.” He said.
Ilea smiled, “Sounds good. Pay alright, working conditions, overtime?”
“All very well, Keyla takes good care of us all. A happy team is a productive team.” He smiled, glancing back at the waiting customers. Another attendant had taken over but she could tell he wasn’t perfectly fine with that.
“I’ll leave you to work then, mostly here to see Keyla anyway.” She said and he nodded.
“Thank you. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, lady Lilith.” He bowed. She smiled and vanished, appearing in the kitchen.
A knife immediately flew her way, Ilea catching it with a quick motion. “Teleporting thieves!” Keyla shouted, the other cooks in battle stances,pans and cleavers at the ready. She started laughing when she looked at Ilea, “It’s you! Continue cooking. Lilith.”
Ilea smiled, the fake name still stuck but with all the places she owned now, it might be beneficial. “Back from your travels?”
“I am, though probably not for long. Seems like you really made a name for yourself.” She said, Keyla handing her a dish and fork.
“Try this, new recipe.” She said, leading Ilea out and up the stairs, “It’s been wonderful. People stand in line now just to get a seat.”
“Are you sure the cooks are alright without you?” Ilea asked, Keyla leading her into a private room, a large table and an attendant ready. She motioned for Ilea to sit down.
“They should be. I’ve been too controlling to ever actually test it but I promised to myself that once you’re back I would do it.” Keyla replied, moving her tail through the small hole in the chair as she too sat down. “Kevin, right? I know it’s your fist day but this is lady Lilith, I’m sure you’ve heard of her.”
The young man opened his eyes wide and nodded, “She orders the whole menu. Make haste.” He immediately rushed out the room and closed the door behind himself quietly. Ilea felt the enchantments activate when the door closed.
“You know me so well, Keyla.” Ilea said and smiled, leaning back in her chair.
“So, how long have you been here? I assume you want to restock on food for your journey?” Keyla asked, her eyes gleaming with joy.
Ilea relaxed, closing her eyes and sighing. Finally, some space to breathe, “Just arrived actually, you’re the first person I meed. There’s no stress. I’m probably staying a week or so and I still have around seventy meals from you.” Seeing the expression on her face, Ilea quickly added, “They were all amazing, I just focused on training most of the time.”
“Good. We will work overtime to get as much done as we can. Don’t worry, I know what the team can take. They also get benefits and overtime pay as Claire had instructed. Unnecessary if you ask me but it’s your decision.” Keyla wrote down some things on a small notebook before she smiled at Ilea, “Thank you again, I’d be selling street food somewhere if it weren’t for you.”
“I doubt that, your cooking is amazing.” Ilea replied, the drinks arriving, a selection of wine, ale as well as non alcoholic beverages. Apparently staff had previously been informed to let Keyla handle her, the breed getting up and grabbing some of the bottles. “You’re not Feynor, are you?”
Keyla froze for a second before she brought over the bottles as well as two glasses, “You know of them?” She asked, sitting down, “No. Breed are humans, mutated and experimented on. Feynor are a completely different species but I remember hearing the name a couple times… in my… youth. They, tried to capture some for… well the research.”
“It’s alright, you don’t have to talk about it.” Ilea said, the woman relaxing in turn, “I just fought a bunch of Feynor in the north. Apparently worship dragons, they look rather dragon like too.”
The cook poured some beer rather cloudy in color and added some lemon slices, “Thank you. I’d rather just forget it all. It’s in the past. Well if they worship those monsters, I hope they stay far away from Ravenhall.”
“Not like there aren’t enough monsters here either. Is the war still going on?” Ilea asked.
The woman chuckled, “You really did come here first…, well I don’t fault your priorities. I think Claire or anybody in the Hand will be able to inform you better about what’s going on. I just know that the war is still going on. Baralia has stopped their attempts to destabilize Ravenhall at least, or someone is dealing with it so well we don’t hear about it anymore. Virilya is still under siege as far as I heard but again, my information isn’t what you’re looking for.”
“As long as I’m not in a Baralia owned city right now, all is good.” Ilea said and took her glass, “Cheers.”