Chapter 341 Maximum Overbusiness
“Should I do it in Ravenhall?” Iana asked after noting down some measurements.
“No, I think Claire can get you when she comes to talk to Balduur. I’ll inform her. When do you think you’re done? I think it would also be good to bring all this stuff.” Ilea said, gesturing widely around her.
The enchantress looked around, “That… will be a little longer then. Just getting it up. Most of it was built to stay.”
Ilea thought on it and summoned the Band of Infinity. “I think this should solve the problem. Consider it a gift, to make sure your work is the best it can be.”
The girl stared at the storage ring, back at Ilea and then once again at the ring. “I can’t…,”
Ilea stopped her immediately, grabbing her hand with a quick but gentle motion before she put the ring on, its size automatically changing to fit Iana’s finger. “Oh wow, you just could. Great.”
Balduur laughed and shook his head, heading for his own space in the smithy, “I’ll see you around then, Ilea. Do send your friend over.” He said, leaving them.
She gave him a nod and patted the speechless girl on her back, “Come on, you’ve got work to do. Maybe you’ll figure out how to mass produce these as well.”
Iana looked at her, “Three days… I need three days for the armor and to pack everything up. With this. If it’s really alright. They’re exceptionally rare, random magical proportions evolved over centuries, I don’t think I could replicate it…,”
“We’ll see, Iana.” Ilea commented with a smirk, “I’ll be back in a couple days then. Have fun you two.”
“Don’t forget to check for a taleen machine!” Aki said from the table.
Ilea waved him off, “Yea, yea. If we don’t have anything, I’ll get you one in a couple weeks.”
“I’ve waited a thousand years, Ilea!” Aki commented.
“Then be happy if it’s not going to be another thousand.” She replied with a smile.
“So this is the place?” Ilea asked, back in Ravenhall.
Keyla gave off more heat than normal, her eyes burning bright, “It is.”
Ilea looked at the line of people waiting outside, the establishment more just a store, people going in and out quickly. Some with a slice of cake, others with crepes or a croissant filled with chocolate. The business took up a whole house, not nearly as big as Keyla’s restaurant though. Big pink lettering above the entrance informed her about the name. Big ass Pastries… whoever this is, I can’t exactly fault them, I’m sorry Keyla.
“They’re the most successful food business next to the Golden Drake.” The woman informed her.
“Did you ask Claire about it? And why are you so pissed off?” Ilea asked, “Your restaurant is still booked out for months to come.”
Keyla looked at her, Ilea feeling the hairs on her back stand up, her instincts moving the ashen armor on her back forward before she could consciously interfere. Bright yellow reptile eyes looked into her very soul, flames of hatred and power burning within.
“This is about honor. About my name as a cook. About my restaurant. I won’t have some… baker, steal my glory of having the best food related business in the city. I will not.” The cook said and turned away, her scorching sight aimed at the show window, a dozen beautifully made and decorated cakes presenting the capabilities of the baker.
Ilea was surprised the cakes didn’t melt, “And what do you want me to do about it?”
The yellow eyes focused on her again, “Burn it down, kill them all.” Keyla said, “Or hire the baker for the golden drake, I don’t want to seem extreme.”
Had me going there in the first half. “I’ll check it out. Maybe I own it already.”
“Claire wouldn’t tell me.” Keyla hissed.
The two waited in line for a couple minutes, Ilea watching the two women rushing back and forth between the back room and the counter, taking orders and bringing whatever the people demanded. She could see where the name of the store had come from, Good for them. Not so much for their backs. Ilea noted, thinking on the invention of sports bras. Didn’t I think about that before? Now I could actually fund it. She smiled, looking at the third woman working the cash register and handling the money. Her eyebrows rose at the lack of big ass, pastries.
The worker squinted her eyes at her, “Can I help you miss?” The voice professional and nice, with an icy undertone.
“Yea, is this store owned by Lilith?” Ilea asked, stepping closer.
“May I know who is asking?” The woman said, eyes going wide at the mention.
Ilea spread her ashen wings behind her and smirked, “Potentially, the owner.” She replied.
“Yes, ma’am.” The woman said, saluting her vigorously, indicating her possible past in a military unit. The icy eyes had turned into admiration. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, what can I do for you?”
“Hey, I do own the place. Keyla?” Ilea looked back at the pacing woman.
“That complicates things.” She said, “I wouldn’t want to mistreat someone under your protection.”
“You shouldn’t mistreat anybody, Keyla.”
The woman waved her off, “Ah, come on. A little is fine sometimes.”
Ilea squinted at her, “I’d like to meet the head baker.” She said to the woman who quickly nodded and led them towards the back.
There was a room with a variety of pastries, baked goods, cakes as well as literal tons of ingredients. “He is through that door, it is very, very hot in there. I cannot enter without damage to my body myself.”
“I think I’ll be fine. How’s your heat resistance, Keyla?” Ilea asked.
The woman rolled her eyes and opened the door, “They tried to make me a dragon Ilea, how do you think it is?”
Ilea chuckled and stepped through the opened door, a wave of intense heat immediately washing over her. Nothing dangerous for her but she could tell this wasn’t your average baker. Dozens of ovens were lining the walls, timers and magical lights added to them. In the middle of the room, sitting on a tiny chair was a man in red heavy full plate armor.
He turned his head when he heard the noise, the helmet looked wicked and dangerous. “Oh. Hello Ilea!”
She smiled brightly, “Hey Popi, fancy meeting you here. I already suspected it.”
“Do you know this hideous creature?” Keyla asked, the heat making her scales glisten.
“Don’t talk about him that way, he’s a kind and nice guy.” Ilea said, pointing at Keyla and looking at her with icy eyes, the woman shutting up immediately, “How are you Popi? Where’s Maurice?”
The man walked over and hugged her, “Thank you! Thank you! I have my own shop! Look!” He let go, the force he had used enough to crush a lesser woman. The baker gestured around himself with such joy and pride, Ilea couldn’t help but feel happy for him. “You gave me all this! The boom woman said it was you. Hahahaha.”
Boom woman? Claire? “Well it makes me happy that you have all this. Do you have a place to live as well? And you didn’t tell me where Maurice is, is he ok?”
He pointed up, “I live up. But I like it more here. Maurice said the war is too dangerous for me, traveled here with me and talked to the boom woman.” He nodded, “Maurice said to do a good job and become the best baker. The best baker of all.”
“That’s great.” Ilea said and laughed, “Do you know where he is now?”
He touched his chin, “Hmm, I think. He said he wanted to work with the angry girls. Yellow eyes, like hers.” He said and pointed at Keyla, “And purple eyes.”
Ilea thought for a second, “Felicia and Maria? The ones who came to kill your boss?”
“Arthur? Yes, he’s dead.” The man said and sat down on his little chair made of steel.
Ilea thought he had sounded sad, “Sorry for reminding you. He was a bad man at least.”
“I don’t like killing.” He said seriously before looking up, “But now I have a shop. And you gave me all this.”
Ilea smiled, “Gladly Popi. You’re an amazing baker and deserve your own shop. Tell the boom woman if anybody or anything bothers you. I’ll help where I can.”
“Ilea… your ash…,” Keyla said timidly.
She noticed that her ashen limbs were moving behind her, her armor formed around her, “Oh… sorry. I just thought about what I’d do to anybody that messed with Popi.”
Keyla gulped, “He’s… I mean…,”
Ilea looked her way, “Popi, do you want to work together with this woman? You can supply her restaurant with pastries.” Ilea suggested, “Would increase your diversity of supplies.” She turned to Keyla, “Plus, the name issue would be solved, him being your supplied. At least I think it would.”
“It would be agreeable for me.” Keyla said.
Popi scratched his armored head, “Maybe…how many cakes do you need? I want to bake in the night but Melly says we don’t need that many cakes. StupidMelly, I hate her!”
“If you really want to.” Ilea said, “Who is Melly?”
He pointed outside, probably one of the workers then. Ilea assumed the one working the cash register.
“I’ll talk to her Popi. Thanks. Oh, before I forget. Did you choose the name for your shop?”
He nodded happily, “I want to be the biggest pastry seller! And I am big too.”
Ilea laughed, “I think it’s a great name. Well, we’ll leave you to work then. Glad to see you’re happy. Again, just tell me if you need anything.”
He nodded, “Ok.”
Ilea followed Keyla out again, the two finding the attendant who had brought them to Popi, “You’re Melly?”
She nodded and smiled, “Yes, I am. I hope he wasn’t too rude, though the Head Administrator informed me that you know him.”
“He wasn’t.” Ilea said with a smile, “And yes, glad he’s out of the mercenary work. Make sure he’s happy back there.”
“I try.” She sighed, “Popi barely wants to do anything else but bake. You’re the head cook of the Golden Drake, aren’t you?”
Keyla glanced around before she nodded, “I am.”
“Good, stop stalking around outside the store, it’s creepy.” Melly said, squinting at the woman.
Ilea laughed, “Well. I own both of the stores. Popi agreed to supply the Golden Drake. Do you think that would be possible? Keyla here is a little over competitive.”
Melly shrugged, “If he can bake more then I don’t see the problem. I personally wouldn’t agree but considering it’s the best for my boss, we can work out a contract.”
“Good. When are you done working? I can make time.” Keyla said, sounding very eager.
The two strolled back to the fine dining establishment, Ilea glancing over at the cook who was crunching numbers in a small notebook. “Hey Keyla, I’ve been thinking. All that storage you have in the Golden Drake. I think with this you’ll be able to stash away meals for me more efficiently.” She summoned the Ring of Holding she had left, adding thirty storage units to Keyla’s stock.
“Are you fucking kidding me, woman.” The cook stared at her, shaking her head at the ring Ilea held in her hand.
“Just take it, you have five seconds, otherwise I’ll find someone else who wants one.” Ilea said, “One, two…,”
The cook snatched it up and put it on her left ring finger, looking around at the people walking by.
Some had glanced at the two but most were too occupied with their own lives to care much about a ring exchange. To assume an insanely rare and expensive item like a storage ring would be exchanged in the open like this was unthinkable anyway.
“I’m tired of people reacting this way. I have a ton of gold and rare items, fucking get used to it.” Ilea murmured.
Keyla huffed out some air, “You’re crazy. Thanks. I’ll make good use of it. Storage won’t be an issue anymore and I can save money on all the enchantments keeping things fresh. At least if this is like the storage items I’ve heard about. Also, Ilea. I don’t think people will get used to it very quickly. If you hand out gifts like this to cooks, I don’t even want to know how rich you are.”
Ilea walked onward, patting Keyla on her shoulder, “I don’t know what you mean. Cooks are the most essential to society. Long hours, shit pay, hard and difficult work. Everybody needs them. I hope, as an employer that I can provide them with all they would ever need.” She gave her a thumbs up and a big smile.
“You really mean that. I think some gods must have heard our prayers, sending you in return.” Keyla said and laughed.
“Well yes, I’m the Guardian of all cooks, nurses, plumbers and garbage men and women. The pillars of the world.”
The cook chuckled, “You should be careful with your sarcasm skill. With your power, there could be a cult developing right now.”
The suns were low on the horizon, one of them already hidden behind the mountain over Ravenhall. Ilea and Keyla reached the restaurant, the angry noble from earlier standing outside with a couple of disinterested guards.
Patrick was patiently listening to the noble complaining in quite a volume. He looked relieved when he noticed the two women strolling lazily towards the group.
Onlookers had gathered, talking amongst themselves or just watching on with interest. The streets were getting more busy, a lot of businesses closing up for the day.
Oh by the empress. Just shut up already. Jacquen had the same thought for the past seven and a half minutes, the noble twat in front of him going on and on and on and on and on about the owner of the Golden Drake. Perhaps the best and most renown restaurant in all of the city, a city owned by mostly the Hand and rich imperial investors. And this idiot of a noble needs to ask the guard for help. Can he not count two and two together? Whoever owns this place will kill you at best.
[Mage – lvl 118]
Below my level even. And I don’t dare offend a shop keeper here because they might have a friend in the Hand. Ravenhall was a peculiar city, the presence of the Shadow’s Hand making common overconfident adventurers a rarity. Jacquen had seen a lot in his time with the imperial scouts, some of the smaller towns being the worst of it. Men and women alike, drunk on their insignificant power they garnered in a lucky quest or two. Level eighty warriors treating weaker farmers, inn keepers and merchants as if they themselves were kings or emperors.
To him, the Shadows might as well be kings or queens, each usually powerful and experienced enough they could take over a small town somewhere in the west or lead a successful rogue adventurer or bandit group. Yet they were here, either that or on missions to kill beasts nobody else would challenge. He felt no shame in admitting that they did more to regulate the monsters in the empire than the scouts he had been a part of just a year ago.
He saw the Golden Drake’s receptionist glance away, the man’s posture relaxing. Following the man’s gaze, Jacquen’s eyes fell onto two approaching women. One a breed and likely the cook and owner of the famous restaurant. Her race wasn’t a secret but it turned out that in Ravenhall, few really cared about it. In Virilya people would have set her establishment aflame. He smiled at the thought, glad to be rid of that city.
[Cook – lvl 162]
No wonder she’s so good. Even higher than me.
[Healer – lvl ??]
The other woman he couldn’t identify. She had raven black hair, braided and reaching below her shoulders. Brown simple pants and a white shirt with nice embroideries at the top. Nothing too fancy but a style he certainly liked. How long is this going to take. Looking into her blue piercing eyes, he knew there was more about her. The casual way she approached the situation, a light smirk on her face with her arms crossed before her. He wondered if she was with the Hand but him being unable to identify her was reason enough to be careful.
Healers are usually supportive and don’t pack much of a punch but himself being a bard, he knew that even the cook wouldn’t be a pushover. He turned to the noble who was still talking to the attendant, completely unaware of his surroundings, again proving that he had no combat experience whatsoever. Jacquen just wanted to go home, his wife had the early shift today and would be there. Let’s move this along, shall we. He tapped the noble lightly on the shoulder. “Mr. Grom. I believe the persons in question have arrived.” He said and pointed at the two women.
The noble huffed and turned, his eyes going wide as he pointed at the healer, “That is her! The one named Lilith. I order you to arrest her! She attacked me in this very establishment!”
He looked at the woman and felt the hairs on his back stand up when she glanced his way. If he had learned one thing with the scouts, it was to trust his instincts. Attacked…, The owner of the best restaurant in the town housing the Shadow’s Hand. This was going to be high on his list on most annoying last calls of the day. Jacquen wasn’t sure if that included his time in the military too. His body at least informed him that yes, staring at the woman was just as terrifying as staring into a monster’s maw.