Chapter 340 Craftswoman
One silver. They really don’t want outsiders in here. She thought, walking towards the big house of the smith. Her bone boots left behind deep tracks in the snow, the crunching sound overshadowed by the chickens and pigs in the nearby pen. She wondered if they weren’t too cold but looking through her sphere, she realized there was more than one enchantment placed on the area. Iana doing her due? She wondered, not sure if normal villages could afford or provide something like that. Remembering barns in more than one place she had visited spoke against it.
The sturdy door shook, Ilea’s fist pounding against it thrice. She heard grumbling from within, curses uttered in a deep and heavy voice.
The door swung open and Balduur was greeted with a chuckling Ilea.
“Hi Balduur.” She said, “Still angry at every visitor?”
He grumbled and shook his head, “Girl. I didn’t expect you today. You’re still alive?” The question at least sounded sincere, as if he was glad to see her among the living.
[Smith – lvl 183]
“Hey, you leveled again.” She said, stepping closer and shaking his hand, her strength overwhelming him without effort. “Not as much as I did.”
He chuckled, the sound like a deep rumble, “It seems you are right.” The man eyed her armor, moving a hand through his beard, “You found that? No… it’s too well fitting. A smith then.” He shook his head in disapproval, “I did not expect you to cheat on me, Ilea.”
She smiled, the armor vanishing into her necklace, “I just don’t want to travel every time I need something done. Not that I really need armor anymore.” She said, “May I come in?”
He stepped aside and waved her inside, “Of course, I understand. The craftsmanship is exquisite as well. At least you found someone matching my level.”
“He’s higher actually, above two hundred and a Dark One. Thousands of years of experience too.” She kind of regretted the mention, seeing his eyes widen and a big smile form on his face.
“I will want to meet them.” He said, a statement, no room for argumentation.
Ilea glanced at him, hearing noise from below, “Good for you, Balduur.”
“So.” He said, “What do you need from me?”
“I’m mostly here for Iana to be honest. Though I’m sure you’ll be interested in our talk as well. There is something I will want to discuss with you too.”
The smith wanted to answer something when she heard an excited voice.
“Is that Ilea?!” Iana exclaimed, the girl bursting into the room with a big smile, “By the gods, it is.”
Ilea smiled back, hugging the woman who had grown a bit since last time, not just in height.
[Enchantress – lvl 162]
“Hey Iana. Nice to meet you too.” Ilea said, the girl separating quickly with an embarrassed look on her face.
“I… sorry.” She said, “Happy you’re still alive, that’s all. With the war and all…,”
“It’s alright. Is Aki still alive?” Ilea asked.
Iana nodded, rushing towards the basement.
Balduur looked at her and shrugged, following his daughter to their work area.
They had expanded since last time, more tables and tools. Machines whose purpose Ilea could only guess at. The air was hot, then cool, then hot again. Enchantments glowed in her magic sight, more than she had ever seen in her sphere. The workshop of two prodigies. She joined Iana near the big work bench.
“Ilea? Truly… she has returned. I never would have expected it.” Aki’s voice came from somewhere on the crowded desk.
She couldn’t quite place where he was, looking at Iana for help.
The girl smiled, her deep blue eyes staring back at her with nearly runic designs sparkling within. She grabbed something off the table and held it out to her. A spike with a tiny handle, four guard like protrusions extending from its center.
“You reforged him? Hey, Aki. You remember me?” Ilea asked, looking at the thing that most of all reminded her of a steel face hugger.
“Of course I remember you. How did you survive for a whole year?” He asked.
She glanced at Iana, “Are you kidding me? No trust, Aki.”
“He’s been talking about you much nicer before. I don’t know what he’s going on about now. Did you not sleep well?” Iana asked the face hugging spike, petting its steel form.
“You’re not supposed to say that.” Aki simply said.
Ilea laughed, shaking her head, “Well, I’m glad you’re doing alright. What’s that form? Do you plan to plant dagger eggs into some poor human?”
“I figured out the enchantments, most of them at least.” Iana said, “They are Taleen in nature I believe, very very old. Aki isn’t a soul bound to the dagger as I had suspected initially. He’s a complex array of interchanging and ever evolving magical circuits powered by ambient mana alone. The dwarves figured out how to harvest it, though it’s not enough to power the complexity of Aki.”
“He uses mana from the wielder. Is that also why you change your personality after a while?” Ilea asked.
Iana nodded happily, “Exactly, yet I tinkered with that part, solidifying his current self. His request of course.”
“You’re sharing personal information.” Aki informed her.
She just smiled and patted him again, “I have learned so much from studying him, Ilea. I can’t thank you enough.”
Ilea tapped the table and nodded, “Sure. So he’s an A.I basically? An artificial intelligence?”
“Hmm… maybe. I’m not sure the dwarfs really made him. Perhaps the core was born out of mana, yet I’m not sure. It’s been too long, too much has changed in him and neither does he remember anything from back then.” Iana said, “Yet if anybody could succeed with such a task, then it would be the Taleen.”
“I can be more useful now, by the way.” Aki said, “I just need a machine I can control.”
Iana looked at the dagger, “It might not work, Aki.” She looked at Ilea, “We tried with things Balduur and I created but I don’t have any Taleen machines to study other than him. That’s why I was so excited to see you, maybe you could help me out there.”
Ilea frowned, “I don’t have any of them with me.” She said, “Maybe Maro…, yea. I’ll ask a friend but he’s currently in Ravenhall. Speaking of, I have a couple suggestions for you two.”
Iana raised her eyebrows and Balduur frowned, a caricature of their respective openness for change in their respective age.
She laughed and shook her head, “I would like to hire you two. And Balduur, hear me out first.” She said, pointing at the man who was already shaking his head, “I’m level three hundred now and I own a big chunk of Ravenhall as well as some investments in other cities. I plan to form some sort of healer organization and for that I will need gear and enchantments.”
“I trust the two of you. And I hope you’ll keep all this to yourselves.” She warned, “Iana, I found a Taleen gate key. A knowledgeable rune mage and enchanter is currently working to develop a long range teleportation gate for the Shadow’s Hand and for me.” She was happy to see the girl’s reaction, her eyes going wide and her mouth opening slightly, “I would like you to work on that. As well as something else we found. Ancient runes that I’d like someone capable to study.”
The girl looked towards Balduur with a complicated expression.
“It’s your decision, Iana. As we discussed before, I don’t think working for the Shadow’s Hand is the best idea.” The smith said.
Ilea tilted her head to the side, “You’d be working for me directly, Iana. Both for my healing order as well as on the teleportation gate. I’m a part of the Hand but you would not be associated with them, not that I agree with Balduur. Management has changed since we retook the city and I trust all of them.”
“I’d love to.” Iana immediately said with a big smile, “Would I be moving to Ravenhall?”
“I can introduce you to Claire, she’s the head administrator of the city. You can have a house or apartment, whatever you want. Funding and workspace as much as you need.” She said, happy to hear the girl wanted the job.
Balduur smiled and spoke, “Ilea, I’m happy that you can offer such a position. The girl has been growing bored in the village.” He turned to Iana, “As much as I hate to see you go, I can tell this is not an opportunity you want to miss.”
“What about you, Balduur? I know you normally only work for the village but you’d be supplying my own organization.” She explained.
The smith nodded, “I can work with you, depending on what your organization aims to accomplish. Supplying healers already sounds better than all the rest of the offers I got over the years. What I can’t do however, is move to Ravenhall. Too many people.”
“What about Morhill?” Ilea asked seriously.
“I… why would I move to that ghost town?” He asked.
“Not just you, Balduur. The whole village. Iana, are there enchantments here that prevent people from listening in?” She asked.
The girl nodded, “Except high level rogues or scryers, we’re fine… probably.”
Ilea trusted her work more than the girl herself it seemed, “The war will come to an end at one point or another.” She started, “When that happens, either Baralia or the Empire will prevail. My gold is on the empire with everything I’ve heard. Ravenhall has recovered and grown considerably, not just in population but in influence, gold and power too. What would you think of joining us, taking over Morhill and governing the city?”
Balduur was quiet for a moment, staring at her as if she was crazy, “Leaving the empire? You speak of treason.”
“I swore no allegiance to the empire, nor do I feel particularly connected. The Hand retook the city and cleaned up the demons summoned by one of the previous elders. I know the leaders personally, Balduur and I think this is the best thing for the region. The empire abandoned Morhill as well as all the villages around here. The war has sucked them dry. It would take years or even decades for them to invest in these parts again. With you lot as well as perhaps some other villages you trust, we could rebuild and strengthen the city.”
The smith at least considered, more than she had expected considering his previous words, “The area is good, walls already standing as well as the infrastructure. Yet, we aren’t city people, Ilea. I don’t want to live among thousands of people either.”
“Then don’t. People will flock to Ravenhall anyway. What you could provide is gear and another starting point for adventurers in the region. A supply station, place to rest and refuel for the merchants and Hand members. Training areas too maybe, there’s space enough.” Ilea suggested.
“And a wall between you and the empire.” He said.
“That too. But would you really prefer the empire over the Hand and Ravenhall? Contracts will be forged and the empire won’t care about us as long as trade is flowing and the mercenaries are still available for them. They don’t have the power to oppose us, not after the war.” She said.
“What about in five years though, ten?” He scratched his beard, “What stops you from expanding, conquering?”
Ilea shrugged, “I have a veto and I will only agree to defensive wars. I can see you’re thinking about it at least. I’ll tell Claire to visit you and talk about the details. I can’t tell you anything about the long term plans or expectations. Just thought you would be a good guy to have.”
The burly man laughed, “Well thank you. I don’t get offered a city every day. I have to warn you, I might just stay in Indur. The only reason I’m even considering is because you’re the one asking and because it’s in the region.”
“Fair enough. It’s fine too if you want to stay, I can have Trian send the requests for the organization directly.”
She went on to talk about the healing order and her goals with it, Balduur approving of the rule against fighting sentients. It would have to be seen if Claire could convince him in regards to Morhill. At least he had agreed to work with Ilea directly and that was the major goal she had in her meeting with him.
“I was thinking.” Ilea said, talking to Iana after they had a drink together and talked about her order as well as some of her adventures in the north. Balduur was even more interested in meeting Goliath by now and Iana kept asking questions about the Taleen, especially the Praetorian shields. Recovering the runes would be impossible of course, not until Ilea could securely destroy one of the machines before they exploded, a task likely not possible for many years to come.
She summoned the dark obsidian hammer forged by Goliath, “Can you give it an enchantment that could bring it back to me?”
Iana touched the metal, “There are no enchantments on it yet. High quality but the structure is so dense it doesn’t allow much. Perhaps something that would allow you to make it fly back to you. No spacial magic.”
“That’d be alright.” Ilea replied.
“You would need quite a bit of mana to make it work.”
“I also thought about having my armor enchanted. It’s bone though so I’m not sure if it’s possible.”
“Of course. Show it to me.” Iana replied.
Ilea put on her Eternal Guardian armor onto one of the work benches, each piece separately.
“Timeless… beautiful work… this isn’t carved, it’s molded. A bone mage? And a smith as well?” Iana commented as she ran her hand over the gear.
“Not the same person.” Ilea commented. She noted Iana lingered on the symbol carved into the helmet’s cheek.
“This is elvish, I’m pretty sure.” She was stating it, not overly concerned.
Ilea still decided to explain, “I met some in the north. Cerithil Hunters, exiled from their domains, their only purpose to hunt and destroy Taleen machines. I suspect the elf you were previously owned by was one such hunter.” Ilea said, looking at Aki.
“The name… it’s familiar, yes.” The dagger said, “I believe you might be right. Although… it’s weird. Somehow I feel negative towards it, as if they were… cursed? As if I wanted to, hunt them, kill them.”
She nodded, “I would assume non Cerithil elves would think that way. It’s possible your previous owner wasn’t quite convinced yet or you changed owners among the elves as well.”
Balduur seemed concerned, “Elves too… Ilea. I do trust you, yet I must ask. What do you intend to do if those creatures invade? What will you do if Ravenhall ignores your veto?”
“I will fight them, both the elves and those that would break their promises. I can see why you would be concerned, I really do. I wasn’t convinced by the idea immediately either. Still decided to join, mostly because I know all of them. From the empire, I know nobody. Just talk to some of them and think about it.” She replied. “I’ll try to set up a meeting between you and Goliath too.”
He nodded, the suggestion likely more important to him than any of the politics. At least she thought as much considering his facial expressions.
“What enchantments would you want, Ilea?” Iana asked, turning away from the bone gear.
She shrugged, unsure what would be helpful, “Can it give me stats or make me faster?”
Iana shook her head, “No stats, something like that could only develop over a long period of time and only for high end gear. I think this set of armor is capable of growing such an effect, yet it’s hard to say. Same with the speed effect. I can of course make it lighter.” She glanced at Ilea with a questioning look.
“How common is that? Developing stats or effects? Never heard of it and I’ve talked to plenty of librarians and powerful beings.” Ilea said.
The enchantress chuckled, “Perhaps you haven’t asked the right questions. Though I suppose it is rare to know about this, even more so to see it. Powerful family heirlooms might bear such effects, long forgotten and guarded treasures in ancient dungeons or kept by monster tribes. Some adventurers stumble upon such items from time to time.”
“I do ask to few questions. What enchantments would you suggest?”
“Stat bonuses, at least those I have seen wouldn’t give you much. Perhaps five to ten points for a whole set of armor. The fact that the gear can develop an effect like that speaks for its quality, the item itself being the actual benefit.” She paused, “Resistances to heat or mana intrusion, perhaps another element. Bone is rather versatile so I could accommodate to a lot. Simple hardening or durability is possible as well.” Iana suggested.
Ilea walked to the table and checked the helmet, “I don’t think lighter gear would help, I barely notice it as is. Resistances don’t matter much either. Can you do both hardening and durability?”
“I could make it heavier as well. And yes, if you want that. I would leave it at three enchantments, to make sure we’re not overburdening the material.” She suggested, “Hmm… well, you being a healer, I could add a mana flow enchantment.” Seeing that Ilea didn’t know what that is, she explained, “It negates any mana flow or mana intrusion resistance the material has.”
“That’s be great.” Ilea replied, “How much would it have reduced my healing or attacks anyway?”
Iana checked again, her mana flowing into the chest piece of the set, “Not much. The maker made sure of that. Still, an enchantment would remove whatever is left of the resistance.”
“Do those three then.” Ilea said, quite happy about the upgrade for her new gear.