Chapter 348 Moving out
Ilea woke up with warm sunlight on her face, sweat on her brow. She yawned and sat up slowly, still on her ashen sofa she had created the night before. Still active. The ashen clone was there too but stood unmoving.
Aki was circling the thing slowly, occasionally slashing at it with somewhat awkward movements.
Maro commented on the strikes, standing a couple meters away. “You’re not using all your legs as efficiently as you could.” He said and turned towards Ilea, “Oh look, you woke up.”
She rubbed her eyes and pushed both healing magic and meditation through herself. Aspect of Ash as well as Azarinth Awakening were still active, the two free skills constantly running. Her Armor of Ash sat on her back, in the form of a rose.
The fire was out, only ash remaining. Still, some heat came from the big circle. A tiny white fox was sleeping nearby.
Ilea deemed it cruel to wake the thing up, instead joining the others. “You can move pretty well already.” She said to Aki.
“Not as well as your ash even.” The dagger turned Guardian said. He made a noise that sounded a little like a sigh. “An improvement of course but this body can do so much more… I feel it.”
Ilea chuckled and smiled at him, dissolving her ashen clone, “I think you’ll soon reach a normal Guardian’s capabilities. It will be interesting to see how far you can push that thing.”
“He’s still just level two hundred.” Maro said, shaking his head, “And I don’t think he can level.”
“I know monsters don’t usually but some Taleen machines were a little higher than others. Demons can level too and they only have one class. What do you think?” Ilea commented.
Maro walked up to Aki and touched one of the sword arms, “I don’t think we should ignore the possibility completely. This, at least to me, is unprecedented. Not a dark one and not a machine. Something in between.”
“I’m just happy that you can move around by yourself now.” Ilea said, smirking.
Aki tried to bow but one of his legs didn’t exactly behave, making him veer sideways a little too far, “I do appreciate it. After sitting in that dungeon for a thousand years, I can certainly see the benefits.”
Maro laughed, “Don’t get yourself destroyed in the first week then.”
Ilea rolled her eyes, “I’ll get you in. Come on. Iana should be done, we’ll move the both of you into Ravenhall.”
“It’s done.” Iana said, standing in front of the workbench covered by bone armor, the obsidian hammer sitting behind it all.
“It looks… fierce.” Aki commented, the guardian standing next to Ilea. He was somewhat in control of his body now, at least now flailing his sword arms around in the basement.
The enchantress smiled at the machine, looking genuinely happy to see the successful implementation.
“Can you enchant him too?” Ilea asked, nodding to Aki before she went and identified her newly enhanced gear.
[Quiet – Rare Quality] Enchantments [Bound Return 5]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Helmet – Ancient Timeless Quality] Enchantments [Durability 5 / Hardening 5 / Mana Flow 3]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Torso – Ancient Timeless Quality] Enchantments [Durability 5 / Hardening 5 / Mana Flow 3]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Arms – Ancient Timeless Quality] Enchantments [Durability 5 / Hardening 5 / Mana Flow 3]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Legs – Ancient Timeless Quality] Enchantments [Durability 5 / Hardening 5 / Mana Flow 3]
[Eternal Guardian Armor Boots – Ancient Timeless Quality] Enchantments [Durability 5 / Hardening 5 / Mana Flow 3]
Self regenerating, mana flow enchanted and hardened bone armor with a badass look. That will take Basilisk or Dragon armor to top. Ilea thought with a big grin on her face.
“I will try, of course. Not now, not here. I will need space and some way to protect myself in case of explosions.” Iana replied to the earlier question. “It should be possible… but there are already a lot of them just to keep Aki running and to keep the Guardian working. I’ll need to study him further.”
Ilea took each piece and moved them into her necklace, the full set appearing right after on top of her pants and shirt, covering most of them. The hammer vanished into her storage item too. “Whatever you need. Trian will provide it.” She said, “Are you ready to go?” Ilea asked, most of the enchantress’ area cleaned of gear and machines.
The girl nodded happily, “Ready to leave!” She gave them an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Maro was wearing his helmet on Ilea’s instructions but turned his head towards the healer, “Are the rules still standing?”
Ilea just rolled her eyes and didn’t answer. She had to admit that Iana was a catch. Even though the girl was only a couple years younger than her, she felt like they were so far apart in maturity that she wouldn’t consider making a move on her.
Might change in the future. She thought but for now, she would protect her from hawks like Maro. Or at least tell Trian to do so in her stead. “Great. Come on then. Balduur! We’re leaving.”
She turned and watched the smith come to her.
A serious expression covered his face, his eyes focused on Iana before they moved to the woman in front of him. A deep sigh. “You. It could have been worse, I think.Make sure she’s safe and taken care of.”
“Of course.” Ilea replied and continued in a whisper, “She’s old enough Balduur. I was probably not much older when I had to survive in the wild, fighting against Drakes with my level twenty class. Iana is a big girl with plenty of levels to boot. She’ll be fine.”
The man once again glanced at his daughter before he shook his head, “You’re right, I know you are. I promised not to hold her back.” He sighed again and clasped Ilea’s shoulder.
The smith let go of her a moment later, moving on to hug his daughter and saying his goodbyes.
Ilea didn’t comment on the fact that they wouldn’t be more than an hour or two away from each other by wagon.
“Cute, aren’t they?” Maro asked with an undertone Ilea couldn’t quite discern.
“Do you think they will let me walk into the city?” Aki asked, his legs clinking on the stone floor as he walked towards them.
Ilea looked at him, at his steel legs, his bladed arms, “You’ll act like you’re a corpse. I will carry you in.”
“They can identify him.” Maro commented.
It was Iana who spoke up, the girl clad in a warm black winter coat in lined with a dark brown fur. “I think deactivating him would be best. As a dagger, I can store you in my ring.” She said.
Aki moved away from her in a frantic move.
“It’s ok.” Iana said, “I promise you’ll be back in your new body as soon as we’re in a safe place.” She smiled, the runes in her deep blue eyes gently swaying.
“I’d give up my body if she asked.” Ilea joked.
“Without question.” Maro confirmed. “But… then we couldn’t eat anymore.”
“True.” She replied, “Further considerations are necessary.”
Aki whipped his head their way, “Don’t joke about me losing my body! I just got it!”
Ilea rolled her eyes, “Come on, don’t be such a dramatic pansy. You heard the girl, you’ll be up and running again in no time.” She walked up and past him, looking at the dagger in his back. “Or do you not trust us? After getting you so far? Iana, I just pull him out?”
“No.” The girl said, “I will have to do it. Aki, can you crouch down?”
“I… alright.” Aki said dejectedly and bowed to the enchantress.
The dagger was removed slowly, magic pulses forming sporadically and flowing through the basement smithy.
Ilea noted the complex form of the magic. So much tech and advanced magic and he’s level two hundred. I do wonder if he could control a Centurion or even something more powerful.
She would try of course, overwhelming a Centurion before it managed to explode should be a cakewalk with all her advancements. The same sadly wasn’t true for Praetorians. Yet.
“Are you ok?” The girl asked the piece of metal in her hand.
It took a moment for Aki to answer, “Yes.” His voice indicating the hurt of leaving behind his newfound freedom and ability to move as well as interact with the world around him.
Iana carefully hugged the dagger to her chest, “It’s not for long. I promise!”
“Put me in the ring.” He replied, his voice uncaring and tired.
Ilea chuckled after he had vanished, “He knows it’s for the best.”
The enchantress touched the Guardian and made it vanish too, “I can’t fly but my stamina should hold up should we run.”
Ilea and Maro looked at each other instantly. “I’ll carry her.” They both said simultaneously.
“I’m a woman.” Ilea said, crossing her arms.
Maro laughed at that, “Of course. You really thing you can hide your tastes from me?” He grinned.
She rolled her eyes. “Not her.” Ilea said with finality, ignoring Balduur missing the piece of glowing metal in front of him with his hammer.
“What!?” The smith exclaimed.
It was too late of course. Ilea was out of the door, gently pulling Iana up behind her. The two were out in the village moments later.
“What did the necromancer mean by that?” Iana asked with big eyes.
Ilea’s wings spread, ashen limbs moving out before she formed a seat for the enchantress. “I like both men and women.” She stated simply.
The girl cocked her head to the side in a confused manner, “I like both to… oh. I see.” She turned red, the cold air swirling around them not helping in the slightest. The girl hid deeper into her coat, her eyes firmly planted on the snowy ground.
“See, you scared her with your wild and mannerless ways.” Maro commented, his magical wings extending behind him.
Ilea looked at him. Really? You?
He laughed and winked her way, “Come on. I’d offer to carry you but an ashen seat isn’t really something I can top.” It looked like he was about to add something else but decided against it.
The three reached the city soon after, Ilea noting that both guards were wearing black.
“Where’s the normal guard?” She asked, taking a couple steps towards them as she summoned her shadow badge.
One of the guards stepped over, ignoring the adventurers waiting to get into the city in favor of Ilea. “Something with the capital I heard. We took over their posts for now.” He checked the badge and nodded, glancing at Maro and Iana, “With you?”
“With me.” She said and entered through the gates.
They quickly made their way to the City Hall.
The guard this time didn’t make a fuss, a quick glance into her eyes enough to identify her. “Lady Lilith.” He said respectfully, neither stopping or commenting on the others who followed her inside.
They found Trian in a nearby hall on the ground floor, the interior certainly suggesting nobility. Massive beautiful painted portraits in extravagant frames covering the walls. A mural depicting the Shadows’ storming of Ravenhall, demons in the fields. The polished floor, chandelier and banquet table paled in front of the visceral painting.
Maro staying behind with Iana, either unwilling to join the nobels or to protect the girl.
Some heads turned at her entrance, most quickly lost in their own conversations again.
Trian quickly glanced her way and approached through the crowd, composed and confident.
Ilea waited, her bone armor certainly noticeable amongst the beautifully crafted armor and clothing. She crossed her arms, watching the nobles as they parted for Trian, some watching them with approval, others with disdain. A nest I’ll try to avoid. She thought, a particularly hard stare returned in kind.
“Welcome, Lilith.” Trian spoke, “Did you hear about Virilya?” His voice was controlled, perfectly neutral. The fact that he had joined her immediately sent enough signals already.
“I haven’t. May we speak in private?” She asked.
A couple talks quieted down, the people obviously trying to listen in.
Trian nodded, “A couple minutes.” He said and vanished.
Ilea followed, feeling the enchantments fall in place immediately after. She saw Maro bring up Iana through her sphere. “What happened?” She asked. The atmosphere in the hall was tense but didn’t feel like doom. People were agitated but not distressed.
“It seems the coming months will be very interesting.” He replied, summoning four glasses and placing a couple bottles on the wooden table. He turned her way and smiled, “The siege is broken. They launched an attack on the Baralia camps. Information is scarce yet but it sounds like an absolute slaughter.”
He glanced towards the door right before a knock resounded, “Come in.” Trian said, “Friends of yours I assume?”
Ilea nodded and quickly introduced them.
“Iana will be working with the Medic Sentinels. As will Aki. You’ll see.” She explained.
Maro poured himself a glass of wine, sniffing on it before he tasted. “Adequate.”
Trian stayed neutral, “What about the necromancer? He’s the one growing a cult following, right?”
“That.” Maro spoke up, taking the bottle with his free hand, “Was not my intention.” He smirked and sat onto the table, “I will leave with Ilea. Your noble games won’t be interrupted by my presence.”
“Good.” Trian smiled, “I wouldn’t want to see them as part of an orgy.”
“They’re nobles… they likely do it all the time.” Maro commented.
Trian rolled his eyes, “As am I. They’re free to do what they want outside these halls. Now, Iana. I will take you to the headquarters soon. Much of the essentials are still missing. I hope that’s ok for you.”
“I lived in a smithy. If it’s not a dungeon, I’m alright.” She replied with a smile.
“Ah, before I forget. Trian, can you take Iana to my house at some point in the next month? I’d like to have it obscured and strengthened against anybody that would try to break in. No traps, just make it harder to enter.” Ilea said. “Also, introduce her to Claire. She should work together with Christopher too. I’m sure they could learn a lot from each other.”
“Of course.” Trian said, “Will you go to the capital?”
Ilea shook her head lightly, “No. I’ll visit Riverwatch as planned. Let the empire deal with it.”
Trian took a sip from his own glass, “My thoughts exactly.” He smiled, “I won’t hold you any longer then. Do stop by.”
“You don’t have to tell me that every time we meet.” Ilea said and turned to Iana, “Is this alright for you? He’s a mostly good guy. And if he makes trouble or you’re unhappy, go seek out the Head Administrator. She’s a friend of mine. Claire.”
Trian didn’t comment on it, “I have to join the nobles again for a while. Iana, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He said and walked up to them, “I’ll be with you in around twenty minutes. Can I leave you alone here?”
The woman nodded with a smile.
He punched Ilea on the shoulder and vanished once more.
“I could also talk to my father for better materials in your house.” Iana suggested, “My enchantments would be quite a bit more efficient with that.” She added.
“Sure. Just don’t change it too much.” Ilea said. “Can we leave you alone here?”
The girl rolled her eyes and sat down on a chair, summoning Aki and the Guardian body, “I’m not a three year old. Enjoy your adventures and don’t get yourselves killed.”
“I’ll try not to offend her.” Maro said, glancing at Ilea.
“Says the literal king of death.” Ilea commented, “Have fun Iana and be careful. It’s a big city and most people will just try to take advantage. Stay close to Trian and listen to his advice. Also, greet Aki from me.”
“Mhm.” The enchantress commented with a smile before she once again focused on her work.
Maro stepped up next to Ilea, bottle in hand before he took a sip, “To Riverwatch?”
“Soon. First, I need to stock up on food.”
“Even better.” The necromancer grinned.
“I know I said a week.” Ilea said. “Did you have time to prepare meals for me at all?”
The cook had a smug grin on her face and crossed her arms, “I know you better than you know yourself. Of course I have prepared as much as I could. The third order of cakes already came in too, it’s reserved for you.”
“Remarkable. May I propose to you?” Maro spoke, going to one knee next to Ilea, his gaze focused on Keyla.
“You’re married.” Ilea commented, “Also, Keyla. Don’t.”
“I must decline. I’m seeing someone after all.” The cook commented and winked at Ilea.
“Heart broken…,” Maro whimpered, “Only food may fill it.”
The cook obliged, summoning a meal from her new storage ring and handing it to the man. “I’ve got a couple hundred meals ready but I guess we’ll have to transfer them individually.” She said, ignoring Maro’s slaughter of her meal.
The next couple minutes were spent with exchanging meals between their two storage items. Plates appearing and disappearing on the table in the private dining room on the top floor.
Three hundred sixty meals from Keyla and thirty cakes from Popi. “Marvelous. That should last me a while.” Ilea said and grinned. She was very aware of the murderous stare from Maro. “You can get some too, if you can pay.”
The man didn’t react, his stare changing into a thousand yard like expression, his eyes looking past the cook, past the kitchen and perhaps past Elos itself.
“Don’t worry about him, I’ll share.” She said to the cook. “Thanks for the hard work, Keyla. Give my thanks to Popi too. I’m sure he’ll have some fans up north soon enough.”