Chapter 344 Influence of the Rich
“This is another one from you!” Cless exclaimed, pointing at one of the paintings. One of many.
Claire was working on her desk, a small enchantment active to blend out the talk between Cless and Ilea.
“It’s beautiful. Do I really look that cool?” Ilea asked, crouching down to see the painting better. It was her, fighting a Blue Reaper, blood and ash divided by a streak of blue lightning. Drawn with what looked like oil. She had seen Cless draw before and knew that there was no oil involved.
Magical oil creator? She mused, “And this one is from Ravenhall?”
She pointed at a bigger painting, the destroyed middle section of the back then only wall. The massive demonic monster flying above.
I wonder what they did with the corpse and all the bones. “And these are Kyrian.” Ilea said, the man’s armor apparently changing to a more sleek design, less protrusions and spikes but thicker. More sturdy. The beasts he was fighting in the pictures ranged from Taleen Guardians to Spirits of Winter to unknown canine monsters. The painting Cless had finished just the week prior showed him in some sort of castle ruin, the man flying and surrounded by cold winds and snow as he looked down onto the structure.
Ilea tried to memorize as much of the surroundings as possible. “And how’s school going?”
The girl rolled her eyes, “They don’t call it school here, Ilea. This isn’t England.”
“Well, how are your studies going then.” Ilea humored her.
“It’s going well. I’m learning about a variety of monsters living in the wild, magic and magic theory. I don’t understand some of the words but William says I’m smarter than half the class.” She said and smiled to herself, looking to the floor.
“That’s great. You should be proud of that and not embarrassed. Just don’t flaunt it.” Ilea replied and chuckled, “You’re going to be a great mage some day, I’m sure of it.”
The scrying ability itself already brought more information on Kyrian and herself than anybody else could have provided. “I’ll talk to Claire for a while, thanks again.” Ilea said and patted the girl’s head.
She beamed with pride and nodded, “I will paint more then!”
Ilea smiled in return and stood up, walking over to the busy woman. The enchantment shimmered when she passed it. “Quite the wonder child, isn’t she?”
Claire stopped her work and looked up, “She is indeed.”
“How is she doing in regards to her past?” Ilea asked.
The woman shook her head lightly, “As well as you could expect. She understands that this is a different world, accepts the existence of magic and monsters but I suppose you have the fictional creations in her realm to thank for that. Television and the like. Fascinating really.” She paused, “She misses her parents, her class mates from school. Her home. The painting helps, as well as learning about the world and different things. I do think however that she will try to get back at one point or another. She’s from England. The same realm as you?”
A chair of ash formed, Ilea sitting down with a light grating sound. “Probably. At least I know the name. With different realms there could just as well be different dimensions, unlimited possibilities and all so I can’t say for sure.”
The woman rolled her eyes, “Well, you’re not wrong there. Too much we don’t know.” She scratched her head, “With all the things you’ve told us. The world keeps getting bigger. I remember when Vihal was my main concern.”
“Well, we do what we can.” Ilea said, “I’m optimistic though, for Ravenhall and the Hand at least.”
“There are too many things happening at the same time, too many factors. Yet I doubt you came to your conclusion with data analysis.” Claire said and smirked.
“If you call my gut feeling data analysis. Then yes.” She paused, “Thanks for keeping all the paintings. It’s good to know Kyrian should be alive. Out there, somewhere.”
Claire grunted, “We just don’t know where at all. I do hope the key will help Christopher along. So far it’s been rather fruitless.”
“Hopefully. Iana Birch will join him soon. She will work for me here in Ravenhall. For the healing org as well as on the key and other things. A capable enchantress.” Ilea explained, “Her father, Balduur Birch might be interested in the Morhill deal.”
“You talked to him? I’ve heard of the man before but the general consensus is to leave him alone.”
Ilea nodded, “He’s stubborn and has his views. I believe he’s a good man, just burnt and used too many times. He wanted to discuss some things so I suggested you visiting him. He agreed. I don’t know much about the political situation as well as the long term plans and dangers involved. I think he trusts me to an extent. Enough at least to talk to you.”
“Another thing added to the list of tasks. Well I can’t complain, the money and gear you provided will go a long way already. Having another capable smith and enchantress to cooperate with is always welcome. I’ll visit this week. Village of Indur if I remember correctly?” Claire said.
“Supercomputer brain?” Ilea asked, chuckling.
“Cless mentioned computers too from time to time. Magical really, to project moving people onto a box.”
“Well, the robotics of the Taleen is quite a bit more advanced I think. A different thing of course and likely made with magic and enchantments but incredible nonetheless.” Ilea said, “I don’t know much about how computers actually work. Not sure if it would work in Elos at all. With all the magic around.”
“Your enchanters could figure it out perhaps. For now, let’s focus on the teleportation gate.” Claire said. “I have your contracts ready by the way, for all the new things you requested.” She added, summoning a stack of papers. “Do read through and sign with your mana. If you have questions or changes, do let me know. Oh and Ilea, I’ve invested where I could but Ravenhall is mostly bought up by now. From now on you would be buying from the Hand or the city itself and I doubt that makes much sense in general. I suggest investing a part of the money into other cities or in the empire.”
“Of course, you did that already anyway with a part of it, didn’t you?” Ilea asked.
She nodded, “Yes, but only a small part. The opportunities early on were… enormous Ilea. Even ten gold coins would have brought anybody a lot of wealth, if they knew where Ravenhall was headed. You were at the right place, at the right time. With a ton of gold.” The woman smirked. “You made us rich.”
Twoglasses and a bottle of wine weresummoned, “I’m not sure if I ever properly thanked you. We’re friends, more that that perhaps. Of all the things you’ve done for me, protecting me and my mother will never be forgotten. Yet helping out so much with my job, the early recommendation to Sulivhaan and Dagon as well as all the gold you brought in. It all led me here, led us here. So thank you, for all of it, Ilea.” She opened the bottle and poured.
“You said it, Claire.” Ilea said, smirking herself and taking the glass. “We’re friends. Plus, if I didn’t have you, my gold would probably still be sitting inside my necklace.” She laughed.
The glasses met in a light clink, the dark red liquid inside moving. “I don’t want to think about all the people who do that. So much gold… just sitting around.” Claire said and shuddered. She downed the glass with a single gulp.
“I decided to invest most into Riverwatch.” Claire spoke again, “With the war, I supposed the empire wasn’t the best option. And I know you have history there. If they could shake off the elven attacks and handled the influx of refugees, I thought to take the risk. Should I focus on that city again with the gold planned for foreign investments?”
Ilea nodded, “You would know best anyway. How did the city develop anyway? Last time I was there I went and took care of a bandit gang led by some bitch from the west.”
Claire grinned, “I did think the descriptions matched. So it was you. Well, more jobs for the Hand came in in the coming months, some quite similar to what you had done. They still have some open but the city is still there, still more than capable to pay for mercenaries and likely one of the more stable settlements in the area. The reports I received two weeks ago from my contacts there also inform me that your share of the city has grown.”
Ilea raised her eyebrows, “I have a share of the city? I thought you only used a small part on it.”
“A small one. Less than one percent initially, around three by now but it’s hard to say. I lack a lot of information. You see, after the elven attacks, investors that had money in the independent cities lost everything. Or damn near everything. Riverwatch was deemed a danger and many got out. I was a little late there but we still managed to get quite a lot for our gold. Nothing compared to Ravenhall of course.” She chuckled.
“Well, it’s way more than I expected. Same name, Lilith? Description and everything?” She asked.
Gold mine for a shapeshifter. Ilea thought. She wasn’t sure if such a concern was even valid. In the end, Claire managed most of it all, decided on contracts and had the people hired. “Did you ever visit?”
“Not myself but a team I trust went three times in the last six months. They check the conditions of both the stores and houses you own as well as the people working there. It’s not a perfect system of course and I can’t have as tight a grip as here but it’s alright. The current government is rather competent and easy to deal with as well. That helps. I can tell you that people are at least paid well and that few complaints come in. I know those are the main concerns for you.” Claire informed her.
“A big reason why the growth was so good was because of the high wages and good working conditions. The highest level workers, best cooks and waiters flocked to fill the positions and those are the establishments that survived and thrived to this very day. Compared to some nobles that moved here early, trying to take advantage of the refugee situation. I expected them to earn a lot of gold early on and then crash but not even that happened. Most of the new citizens just sold their services and wares directly. The regulations here are rather lax compared to the empire, especially after the new contracts were forged.” The woman explained.
Ilea yawned, “Sorry. Seems like we were both there in the right moment then. Glad it worked out.”
Claire laughed and shook her head, “You really don’t care much about gold and wealth. Well, just know that you paved the way for a lot of people now living good lives, doing what they love and living in nice houses you paid to renovate and clean up. The Hand had a lot of gold too but Sulivhaan and Dagon weren’t quite as open to investing early as you were. You jump started Ravenhall when it was down.”
“How do you know that expression?” Ilea asked. She was indeed happy to hear all those people could find work but in the end it wasn’t quite as graspable as seeing Keyla and Popi. Those two being able to have their own places was worth it already.
“Jump start? Cless mentioned it once. Sometimes the metal wagons you used would stop working. So some sort of lightning snakes were used to make their hearts beat again. Or that’s how I understood it.” Claire said.
Ilea grinned, “Fair enough. Still Claire, ninety nine percent of the work was you. I was just lucky to stumble upon a shit ton of gold.”
“And you chose to trust me, chose to give it all away. I see that this conversation leads nowhere with you.” She smiled, “Look through the contracts now, before you vanish again for a year.”
“Yea, yea.” Ilea grumbled and started reading. She put the paper down again, “Before I forget.” She summoned a couple books that had been preserved in the Tremor treasury. “Books on wine and how to make it. From an ancient kingdom that prided itself in the craft. Maybe you can find someone willing to try it out. We can finance it too of course.”
Claire leaned forward and got the books, flipping through them as she refilled her glass, “The never ending golden Ilea, laying eggs containing ancient secrets. I’ll personally make sure these get made.”
It took Ilea a couple hours to read through everything, signing all of it and handing it back. Claire had read through the books on wine and was excited to have the project started, perhaps even more so than the teleportation gate.
Ilea assumed she either really really liked wine or it was just the most recent new thing to work on. Christopher and Claire had tried cracking the Taleen technology for nearly a year already after all. She had added some suggested contracts for the Healing Organization too for her to look over. As well as deals between the organization and the Hand as well as the Adventurer Guild.
Seeing her few explanations and goals detailed and laid out in contracts and deals made Ilea pretty excited too. To have someone managing all this was incredible. Trian would work on the details but she was happy that both of them understood what she was going for.
“I’ll take these to Trian. Any idea where I can find him?” Ilea asked. “Oh… also, the jobs from Riverwatch. I think I might visit this or next week. Maybe I can have a look.”
Claire looked up and summoned a binder, opening the massive thing and removing three pages. “Increased monster activity in the western forests. It’s a monster hunt request with more details given in Riverwatch. The range listed is two fifty to four hundred. Seems like the city and guild can’t deal with it themselves.”
She put the page on the desk, “The next one is a bandit camp… organized crime really, suspected surviving officials from other western cities to be involved as well as cooperation with Baralia to destabilize the region. The request is actually to simply be stationed in the city or operate from there to deter the criminals from attacking. A team of Shadows is requested but I suppose you alone are enough. You’ll have to talk to the city if you want to actually go in and attack. I doubt you want to stay there for that long.”
“The last one is a little different. A dozen people went missing in the last three months and they want somebody at a high level to investigate.” Claire explained, writing down the details and contacts as well as the reward money onto a separate piece of paper.
“Why would they want somebody to investigate that? Aren’t there at least a hundred thousand people in the city? With the criminals in the region, you would assume it’s them.” Ilea said.
“Ten out of those twelve are investigators hired by the city. There is definitely more to it but those are the three postings we have. I’ll keep them away from other teams that might be interested for a month if you promise to look into them.” She explained.
Ilea shrugged, taking the piece of paper Claire handed to her, “Sure, I’ll check it out. Maro might be interested too.”
“The necromancer who lost dozens of gold in the gambling houses?” Claire raised an eyebrow.
“That very one.” Ilea supplied.
“The one that hired a hundred escorts and arranged a festival of life?”
Ilea scratched her head, “I don’t know about that.”
Claire sighed, “All the alcohol in one of the northern districts was bought up and hundreds didn’t show up to work today or came intoxicated. The guards who tried to intervene joined as well. We had to supply people from the Shadow Guard to help out with the normal guard today. That hasn’t happened in months. We got several complaints in regards to some of the festivities and rituals performed.”
She nodded in return, “I’ll talk to him.”
“It’s alright. Sulivhaan already did and he informed me that Maro is just an enthusiast. The problem is that with his wealth and power, he already unwillingly formed a cult. At least Sulivhaan suspects it. Necromancy and death magic aren’t inherently a crime in Ravenhall but we’d at least like to keep it somewhat of a niche. Otherwise people start to look for corpses and skeletons to raise.” Claire explained.
“I see.” Ilea said and left it at that. Maro’s sheer presence would have an impact. She knew as much. To think he already organized a festival and birthed a cult after a single day and night was however, impressive.
“You also asked where Trian was. I assume in the city hall. The nobility goes there to resolve their issues, talk about current events and to try and impress each other with their fabulous clothes.” Claire supplied.
Ilea nodded and stood up, the chair vanishing into thin air, “What do they even do here? Do they have power in the city? Nobles would usually be serving under a king, assisting in the government. Or am I mistaken?”
“Gold, levels, connections and knowledge are all forms of power. They have little in the form of government influence here but we are still part of the empire. There are certain obligations we have to uphold until that is remedied. It is mostly their demands for more influence that Trian manages. He has been a dear in helping us buy back most of what they had initially purchased. The most important and powerful people being stuck inside Virilya certainly helped of course.”
“Well, thanks for all the info, the contracts and everything. I’m happy to have you as a manager Claire.” Ilea said and smiled.
“Whatever you need.” The rune mage said and meant it.
“I’ll see you around then. Don’t overwork yourself!” Ilea said and vanished.