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Ch046-Getting Ready

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Between the mental exhaustion of working through 772 different frameworks, the physical exhaustion of moving around in a body that wasn’t fully trained or ready for this level of prolonged activity, and the backlash of opening up his extremely unstable soul, Sylver wanted nothing more than to curl up into a ball and spend several days in a hibernation-like slumber.

But before that, he needed to make sure neither Lola nor Ciege suffocated from all the excess unused fluid inside their lungs and body.

*

*

*

“Deep breath,” Sylver repeated, holding a hand over Lola’s abdomen and spine and gently squeezing.

Ciege was still in the process of throwing it up himself, and only had Fen and Reg holding him up to make sure nothing went down his windpipe. He’d already started swearing, so at the very least Sylver didn’t need to check if the vocal cords were fine. And even more impressively Ciege was already almost moving around.

Lola on the other hand was almost done. Partially due to her anatomy naturally handling the whole process a lot smoother than Ciege’s, but mostly due to the fact that she had very little excess inside of her. Which was impressive considering this was her first time making a body for herself. But somewhat expected considering she’d had a few extra centuries over Ciege to get to know what she is and get used to it. With things like this, age mattered more than anything else.

“You never said it would hurt like this,” Lola complained quietly as the grey liquid seeping out of her mouth was replaced with colorless bile.

“If you knew, it wouldn’t have changed anything. You’d just waste time worrying about it.” Sylver whispered back, as in the background Ciege continued to vomit out a bright red liquid that was worth twice its weight in gold.

“And you’re getting a second chance at life! Use this as an opportunity to stop worrying about the little things. And the next part is going to hurt a whole lot more, just in a different way,” Sylver added under his breath, getting a giant eyed glare only a species that could actively manipulate their whole eyes could give.

Lola kept that up for all of 5 seconds, before she started to cry and closed her eyes. She lowered herself to the floor and lay face down, sobbing.

“And that’s your endocrine system checking to see if everything works. Get ready for an emotional whirlwind the likes of which you’ve never experienced,” Sylver said, relieved beyond words that it had finally started. If he were doing this back inside his workshop, she would be drugged unconscious right now.

Because Sylver knew first hand just how bad everything hit when your body tested its limits. You went from laughing so hard that you felt like you would die, to crying so hard you wanted to die. And then emotions would mix and match, leaving you in an awful daze for hours.

Plus, Sylver wasn’t all that certain how exactly the high elf body handled a giant explosion of chemicals such as this. Not to mention Ciege was about 50 years younger than the youngest person Sylver had ever done this for.

And since he would have a hard time knowing if something went wrong if they were asleep, he would just have to cross his fingers and hope for the best.

*

*

*

“They’re dead, they’re dead, I know it, they’re all dead! And I’m stuck in the middle of gods know where with the fucking silver lich!” Lola cried, as she rocked back and forth and held her head bent down between her tucked knees, her slowly growing hair in her fists and being pulled on.

Ciege on the other hand was just sobbing silently, the blanket he was laying on top soaked with his tears and sweat.

Sylver had given up consoling either of them at this point, and just made sure both were still breathing and their hearts were beating. He didn’t even bother correcting her that he was Sylver the lich, and not the silver lich, as a lot of people mistakenly called him.

Sylver wasn’t even certain what the time was right now. He had barricaded the only entrance and exit of the cave, and had even used earth magic to conceal it from the outside. Yeva was still inside her home, pacing around at this point. And as far as the shades he sent to watch her could tell, she wasn’t using her soul like a goddamn hammer and chisel for the time being.

“I should have stayed at home! I’m such a fucking idiot-” Lola wailed, and continued to hit the ground with her fists, bruising them. Sylver jumped slightly as Ciege started to laugh and curled up holding his stomach in his hands.

*

*

*

“In hindsight, that wasn’t so bad,” Lola said, as Sylver tightened the laces on her shoe.

“In hindsight, most things aren’t. Not to mention you were delirious for a large part of it.” Sylver said, as he checked to see if all the blood vessels and nerves in her other foot were fine, before covering it with a sock and shoe. She wasn’t the one who had to spend 8 hours listening to how much she was afraid of him, and then every single horrible thing that had happened to her, from the moment of her birth, to the moment she went to sleep and woke up trapped with a bunch of cats. And he definitely didn’t need to hear a retelling of all the awful stories she heard about him.

Ciege handled it like a champion. Kept going from painful laughter, to a desperate wail, back and forth, but otherwise staying in place. He did get up for a moment to try to tell one of the shades something, one of Dai’s swordsmen, but changed his mind halfway and went back to the soft blanket to continue crying. The boy barely said 2 words other than that.

“So is this it?” Ciege asked, as Tom helped him into Sylver’s clothing.

“No. There are several tonics I will need you both to drink. And I will be within shouting distance of both of you for the next few days or so. Not to mention you may both experience seizures, your hearts may stop, bleeding from just about everywhere you can imagine, narcolepsy, it may not be a pleasant week if we are being honest with each other.” Sylver explained, as held his hand on Lola’s abdomen and felt around with his mana.

“How likely is the ‘may experience’ part?” Lola asked, taking several deep breaths as Sylver had shown her before and for the first time not going directly into a painful coughing fit.

“I have no idea. There’s more guesswork than I would normally be comfortable with, but we were on a fairly tight schedule. Not to mention I can’t see myself being able to repeat this for another few years at a minimum so if anything goes wrong, that’s it. But you two are well out of the danger zone right now so don’t worry about it too much. Just let me know if you feel a sharp pain anywhere. Or a dull pain. But especially be on the lookout for everything starting to feel good.” Sylver explained, pushing at her ribs to see that they were flexible enough to handle the two lungs.

“I realize this may be asking too much, but do you know what’s happened to Yeva?” Ciege asked. It only now occurred to Sylver just how well Ciege was handling everything. He didn’t ask about all the dried up bodies lying in a small pile in the corner, didn’t ask about the two giant deflated balloons leaking everywhere, didn’t ask about Lola, or why Sylver was covered in blood when he first saw him.

He didn’t even panic that much. But then again he didn’t panic all that much when Sylver first appeared before him, and this was arguably less weird than that was, given that he’d had plenty of warning to what would be happening.

“She’s fine. She’s in your home right now. And Ciege,” Sylver said, walking over to him, adjusting Ciege’s clothing. Sylver considered how to exactly approach this subject and be as delicate as possible.

After only a few seconds of looking into Ciege’s eye, Sylver decided there wouldn’t be any benefit from being completely honest with him. And no real harm from lying. And there wasn’t a single person alive who would be able to call him out on this lie.

“There is something you should know. When I took over your body, I took several samples of it before fully taking it over. The body you have right now, is the exact same one you had the moment before you watched the sunset. Except I cleaned up your liver and you had a thing in your lower intestine, not important. The important thing is, you are still you. Even if I look like you, and this was your body originally, I’ve used so much magic since then it’s been permanently altered to the point the only thing that is the same is the face.” Sylver said, being careful not to say too much.

“And I know I said you’re no longer Ciege the human blacksmith, but I take that back. I thought I would need to use your name, but it turned out I didn’t need to. So you are you, and no one else. Do you understand me?” Sylver asked, patting him on both shoulders.

He got a confused look from Ciege that he’d almost missed after not seeing it for so long. Sylver’s confused face always had a specific thing it was confused about, Ciege’s always had a much wider area of confusion.

“Why are you telling me this?” Ciege finally asked. Lola watched the exchange from the corner of her eye, deciding to focus instead on the fact that her legs were longer than she remembered, but shorter than what she was going for when she was building her body.

“Because I don’t want you thinking you are responsible for anything I’ve done, or will do,” Sylver said. This was actually genuinely true, but not the key part of what he was trying to convey.

“Your class may have been reset, but you are still you. All your memories, accomplishments, and deeds, are yours and yours alone. I swear on my name and life I will never lay claim to any of them. From this moment on I forever separate myself from you.” Sylver said, maintaining eye contact and worrying this was all going over the boy’s head.

But Sylver was almost certain he saw recognition in the boy’s eyes. Although it would be only later that he would find out that Ciege understood the whole thing as Sylver not wanting him to think that whatever fucked up and perverted things he’s done with Ciege’s body over the year, rubbed off on Ciege’s name or honor in any way.

And not that Sylver wanted to make sure Ciege didn’t think that the fact that Sylver was technically speaking the biological father of Yeva’s child meant the child was Sylver’s son.

*

*

*

“Is what she said true?” Ciege asked, as Sylver helped him walk in a circle inside the cave. Lola had fallen asleep from exhaustion and was curled up in a bunch of blankets in the corner. And if it weren’t for the fact that if Sylver fell asleep he could miss one of their hearts stopping, he would have dropped and fallen asleep where he stood.

“Which part exactly?” Silver asked. Lola had said a lot of things.

“That you decimated a city called Aetheria due to a grudge? That you destroyed an elder god’s temple for the fun of it? That you-”

“No, all of those are just stories that were passed from one over-imaginative bard to the next, with no concern for the truth, and with ever-increasing details and dramatizations,” Sylver answered, hoping the topic would stop there.

“What about you being banished 3 times? And how you committed the ultimate sacrilege?” Ciege asked, trying to let go of Sylver’s arm but stumbling almost immediately and having to grab it immediately.

“The banished part is true. But I would need to tell you the whole story for it to make sense, and I’m not in a very storytelling mood right now. As for the ultimate sacrilege… The one she’s most likely to be referring to, would be when I… look, mind your business. You didn’t care who or what I was when you let me out into the world, so what does it matter now? Yeva is safe and alive, so what do the details matter?” Sylver asked. He understood where Ciege’s concern was coming from, given the things Lola had said while jumping between how ridiculous everything was, to how beyond fucked everything was.

Ciege looked like he was about to say something, but to him, it was only a few hours ago that he had freely accepted whatever consequences his actions would hold. And there wasn’t anything he could do about it anyway. He was struggling to walk, it wasn’t like he could stop Sylver. And even more honestly, he found that he trusted the grey-haired mirror image helping him walk.

“There’s a question I want to ask, but I am not sure how to ask it,” Ciege said after thinking about Yeva for a while longer.

“Once you stop feeling a chill in your muscles, you’re good to go. The hard part’s over, I’m just being careful I didn’t miss anything. There’s going to be a shade watching over you for the foreseeable future, but you’ve recovered better than I was expecting. But you’ll probably be too busy for what you were trying to ask for the next couple of days.” Sylver said, stopping his face from curling into a grimace as he realized what he said at the end.

“Busy how?” Ciege asked, trying to let go of Sylver’s arm again, and taking a full step by himself this time.

“Oh, you know. Organizing your workshop, getting used to your body, coming up with an explanation of where you’ve been, and everything. Also figuring out what you’ll be doing class wise since you’ve been reset to nothing. On that too, I suggest you wait for a while, because I may have a good solution.” Sylver answered. He’d almost accidentally told Ciege he was going to be a father soon.

*

*

*

Yeva had gone to sleep a little before the sun had gone down. At Sylver’s request, she hadn’t taken one step outside her house. And although Sylver realized quite early into the process that his choice of words being ‘soon’ was a mistake he decided it would be better if she stayed inside the house anyway. And he still needed to make sure neither Ciege nor Lola were about to start coughing up blood and bleeding to death from the inside.

So they all spent the night in the cave. Ciege and Lola fell asleep quite quickly, while Sylver spent the night sitting perfectly still and meditating so as not to fall asleep. It surprised him how difficult it was to stay awake.

But what surprised him even more was how smoothly everything was going. He didn’t say this out loud, of course, he knew better, but it was still too good to be true. Sylver was confident in his calculations, magic, and precision, but this was above and beyond any level of success he should be able to achieve. If Adema was the one who was doing it, he wouldn’t question it. She could do the whole thing with a blindfold and using one hand.

But this felt like he was lucky everything was working out. Which was rubbing him the wrong way for obvious reasons.

Touching both Ciege and Lola, Sylver kept checking their bodies and souls with his mana, and if he didn’t know any better, he would have said they were perfectly fine. And weren’t two large balls of red and grey liquid a couple of hours ago.

A part of him tried to reason out that it was just him being that good. But the more honest part of him wouldn’t accept such a simple answer.

As the night progressed he decided to look through his whole status again and was surprised he didn’t think of that sooner. It was the exact same thing as with the [Golden Egg] perk, that added an extra effect without telling him. Except this time it had silently added a whole perk.

[Perk: Kindred Spirit Mitigation]
-Any creature under the protection of the user, may pass on all negative effects to the user.
*Creatures within 10m of the user can pass negative effects instantly.
*May not work if the creature is further than 100m away from the user.
*May not work if the creature doesn’t recognize the user as an ally.
*Will not work if the user isn’t willing to accept the negative effects.

Sylver just continued to sit still as he had before, but now that he knew what to look for, he couldn’t believe he didn’t feel it earlier. He was growing increasingly worried he was losing his edge, as he ran his finger down the intangible strand of energy, connecting him to Lola and Ceige.

He’d been sitting here, doing absolutely nothing, and didn’t feel his body taking on all of their spiritual damage.

Total Level: 40
[Koschei-4]
[Necromancer-36]

CON: 30
DEX: 10
STR: 1
INT: 100
WIS: 100
AP: 0

Health: 267/300
Stamina: 16/150
MP: 1000/1000

Health Regen: 4.50/M
Stamina Regen: 2.25/M
MP Regen: 100.00/M

Because the damage they were receiving was so slow and faint, Sylver was getting healed so quickly he wasn’t even feeling any pain. And even the damage to his soul felt blunted and weak for some reason.

And didn’t take Sylver long to realize why.

[Perk: Golden Egg]
-While in contact with the needle, increase health and stamina regeneration by 50%
-While in contact with the needle, decrease the effect of curses.
*While in contact with the needle, over time all negative status effects will be removed.

And on top of that…

[Perk: Deathless]
-Unless the needle is destroyed, you will not die.

So I can take on the damage from the people I want to protect, I can heal myself from anything, and I can’t die… Not to mention I now have a definitive way of seeing if somebody considers me an ally… Maybe Edna is wrong, and the system is sentient. Because I’m having a hard time believing these three things are a lucky coincidence.

Sylver removed a dagger from his robe, and very gently, ran it down the back of Lola’s hand. Murky blue blood formed into a small bubble over the wound. Sylver counted to 10, and wiped it away with the tip of his robe.

The wound was gone. And Sylver saw an identical one appear on his own hand, before closing up and disappearing within a minute.

Not to mention the magical induced damage being done to their bodies, could quite easily be called a curse… Which I have a natural resistance against, on top of the extra decrease the [Golden Egg] perk is giving me.

Sylver added figuring out how this perk worked into his notes. Into his very long list of things, he should take the time to experiment with.

*

*

*

“What am I supposed to say?” Ciege asked, as Sylver used a little water magic to tidy up his hair.

“Honey, I'm home?” Sylver offered, placing the bouquet into Ciege’s hands.

“I’ve been gone for a year. What do I tell her?” Ciege asked, as Sylver picked off a leaf that was stuck on his shoulder.

“I know you asked me not to but I told her you gave up your life for her, and that I took your body as payment. She caught me off guard and smashed my head in with a frying pan. Then threatened me with a curved knife, and I didn’t have the heart to pretend to be you. There’s… Look, everything will be fine. For now, just go and see her. Other than a general physical weakness, you’re fine. I’ll be back in a few hours, but just say my name out loud if you feel something wrong or just want to talk.” Sylver explained, adjusting Ciege’s coat, and moving the flowers in the bouquet around so they wouldn’t fall off.

Yeva was wide awake, and just sitting in the dining area.

Sylver gave Ciege one last look over. Other than the raw terror in his eyes, he looked fine. To think, he was more afraid of telling his wife he’s back, than rushing headfirst into certain death to try and save her.

“I realize this is a little late… And that a thank you doesn't even come close but… Thank you... For saving Yeva, for giving me my life back. I don’t know how I could ever repay you.” Ciege said, tearing up slightly as they were now standing behind the corner of a house, only a few steps away from Ciege’s old home and Yeva’s current residence.

Sylver was at a loss for words for a moment. He had taken everything the boy had, and he was thanking him. He, who took advantage of a child in trouble and had goaded him into making a deal.

“Don’t worry about it,” Sylver said simply, trying to not tear up himself. “Now stop wasting time and go.”

*

*

*

“Are they still just talking?” Lola asked, as she slowly lowered herself into the bathtub. They were staying inside the house right next to the smithy, and Lola was hidden behind a paper divider, while Sylver was laying on the bed with a warm wet towel over his closed eyes.

“They have a lot to discuss. Ciege may have been gone for only a few hours from his perspective, but Yeva’s had almost a year’s worth of time away from him. Not to mention she’s a soul weaver. And pregnant. And if what the cats told me is true, has been crying literally every single night about him,” Sylver answered.

“A soul weaver? Oh, right. She read your tome. If I read it do you reckon I’ll be able to become one too?” Lola asked.

“I honestly have no idea. She’s also level 64. Which I have a theory about. But first I need to tell you something that you’re going to want to ask me how I know that, and I will not be able to tell you. So can you promise you won’t ask me how I know, what I know?” Sylver asked, and getting a long moment of silence in response.

“Fine. I promise not to ask.” Lola said dismissively.

“You need to wait at least 10 years before attempting the Eldar Rite,” Sylver said.

“HOW THE-” Lola half shouted, half screamed, jumping out of the bath and causing water to splash everywhere. She caught herself from finishing the question and Sylver could hear her opening and closing her mouth quickly, trying to figure out a roundabout way to ask how he could possibly know about it.

“If you try it before then, you’ll completely destroy your mana channels. Permanently. I have a few ideas for how to speed up the process, but even then 6 to 7 years at an absolute minimum. I’m actually in the same boat you are,” Sylver said, glad he had the towel over his eyes, because he could hear water dripping onto the wooden floor, from where Lola was standing next to him, glaring at him and confused at the same time.

“What am I supposed to do until then?” She finally asked, walking away and back towards the bath.

“Same thing I’m doing. Use the system to increase your mana. I’m pretty certain bringing you two to life has set me back several years until I can do anything to myself. I’m going to do a small physical augmentation once you build a bıg enough mana store in the workshop, but mana wise I’m stuck with what I’ve got for the foreseeable future.” Sylver said casually, or doing his best to sound casual about it.

“Can I just ask one thing? I know I promised not to, but if you know about the Rite, you know what I have to ask.” Lola said, as Sylver gestured with his hand towards the splashed around water and caused it to flow back into the bathtub.

“I swear on my name I didn’t kill any high elven royalty. And everything I know was freely given and in no way stolen.” Sylver answered.

Lola sat quietly for a long while, with Sylver having to reheat the water several times during the time he was supposed to be resting. It was also tricky to get all the water off and out of the floor without looking, but it wasn’t a whole lot of water, and close enough that he didn’t struggle with it.

“Look. I understand it’s not ideal, but you’ll be fine. You’ve got the cats, the Cord, and myself on your side. What did you think I made such a big deal of dealing with the Black Mane for?” Sylver asked.

“So Ciege and Yeva were safe? So you could bring the two of us back safely?” Lola asked.

“That too. But the most important part was that now I’ve got somewhere safe to send people when I find them. The cats haven’t found shit, and I’m not going to find anyone just staying in one place. After you’re done settling in, I’m going to find who Carr Da’Nerto is and see if that goes anywhere.” Sylver said, pulling the towel off his face and getting up off the bed.

“So my workshop is no longer just a place for you to get tools, weapons, and money, it’s now also a safe house?” Lola asked, also getting out of the bath and drying herself off with a towel one of the shades handed her.

“Exactly. And I’ll even make sure there’s no clear connection between the two of us, so my enemies never become your enemies. I’ll just be a customer like any other. Except you’ll be giving me extremely generous and specific quests, that will most likely coincide with wherever it is I want to go and give me a cover to go there, should anyone ever try to figure out the motive behind my erratic movements,” Sylver said, stretching his body and cracking his neck and knuckles.

“How long have you been planning this?” Lola asked, getting dressed and walking out from behind the divider.

“Making a base of operations was always the plan. It’s common sense to have a safe spot to retreat to, to lick your wounds, and safely rest. But if you’re asking when did I get the idea to create a giant workshop, with you being at the head of it, I would say it was somewhere between meeting you, and a little after I hit Thomas on the back of the head with a rock, and you metaphorically threw up inside my head. And when I suddenly found myself with people who could quite easily be trained into workers, and could be counted on to be loyal, I altered the original plan a little and sped everything up.” Sylver answered, taking the bag full of tonics that Fen handed him.

“What about when I finish my research and you have to escort me home? That was the deal wasn’t it?” Lola asked, tying her hair behind her head into a ponytail.

“It was. And it is. But considering you’ve had to start from scratch because of Aether, I think I have enough time to find someone to ultimately replace you when the time comes. Ciege is about to have a son, so I’m going to see if that’s an option. Or pick one of the rescued women, or one of their children. I just want to have a place I can go home to, and restock and resupply. And I want to leave everything in capable hands that I don’t need to be around all the time watching over it. Worst case scenario, I’ll make a deal with the cats so they handle it for me, but I would really prefer to have my own person at the head of it all,” Sylver said, holding the door open for her and locking it after leaving.

“So basically you want to remake the Ib-”

“NO!” Sylver interrupted with a slightly louder than intended voice.

“Not without Aether. This is just planning for my future. Just because I don’t like thinking about the possibility I’m all alone, doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend that it’s impossible. There will never be an Ibis without Aether. Even if I had ten thousand years I could never build something like that without him. This is making a safe place for myself, should I ever need it.” Sylver explained, with a slight tremor in his tone.

*

*

*

Three weeks passed in the blink of an eye.

Sylver and Lola mostly kept to themselves, further refining and altering the workshop design and adding to the ever-increasing list of materials they would be needing. With his body being untainted by any magic, Ciege recovered at a record pace, and was completely healed within 3 days of leaving the cave. With Lola things were a little harder, given either her physiology, or the fact that creating mana channels was about 10 times more difficult than creating an entire human body.

But by the end of the first week, she too was well enough to be left alone.

Sylver had originally planned to leave once Ciege was well enough, given how he spent every waking moment with Yeva anyway, but decided to stay for a while longer, just to be safe.

He’d also grossly overreacted, but with good reason, to the damage Yeva had caused to her and her child’s soul. The healing was surprisingly easy and simple, and Sylver was done in just a couple of sessions. He’d also taught Yeva how to work with her soul safely, and found out that she could do it on her first try. But at the very least he had confirmed his theory of Yeva’s level increasing so quickly, because of her raw talent in the subject, and that she was doing it at what could be considered a master’s level.

Which made Sylver extremely envious of her, until she whined that the ‘safe’ way of doing it produced items that were 1000 times weaker than what she’d made before, and the amount of experience she gained was incomparable. Sylver’s theory that the system rewarded recklessness and disregard for personal safety, only further solidified because of this. Or it was that her unique class just required significantly less experience than a normal crafting class would.

It was still a mystery, but the important thing was that Yeva was no longer putting her life at risk, every time she tried to enchant a scarf or a glove.

Sylver had explained his presence here as Lola hiring him to guard her while traveling towards Arda, since they were heading the same direction anyway.

As for the people who would become Lola’s employees and were previously rescued by Sylver…

They were surprisingly observant. And very quickly understood that it was a ‘coincidence’ that Sylver and the masked man wore very similar clothing, used very similar magic, and just so happened to show up around the same time the masked man had disappeared entirely. Everyone was very understanding that if the man who had single-handedly wiped out almost 200 people in the span of a week wanted to remain anonymous, they would be more than happy to oblige.

As a result of that, the image of the person who had rescued each group changed to be that of a blond dwarf assassin, or a dark-skinned elf glaciomancer, or a gnome paladin, or just about anything other than a dark-robed tall and muscular human-shaped necromancer.

Lola took up her leader role very nicely, and had little issue organizing and planning with Wuss over where the housing would be and how the space inside the workshop should be distributed. In just three days the high elf woman had a 10 year-long business plan, taking advantage of the recently started war, as well as the fact that the costs of materials here were vastly different from what she was used to.

*

*

*

“First things first,” Sylver said, as Fen placed and opened the chest full of 1000 gold coins. “When I left, I borrowed 3 gold coins from you. This is me paying that back, so neither of us owe each other anything. With this, we are in every sense of the word, even.” Sylver said, as both Ciege and Yeva just stared at the giant chest full of glittering gold coins.

“So now that we are practically strangers, all that’s happened in the past is in the past, and has no relevance to any of our presents or futures,” Sylver said, not getting a reaction from either of them, but moving on anyway.

“I would like to make you both an offer,” Sylver said, waiting for them to look at him.

It took a while. But they both finally broke eye contact with the chest full of freshly polished gold coins.

“Actually, I have 3 to be exact. The first is that we cut ties here, and never speak or see each other ever again. I will leave you and your family alone, and you can go on with your lives, doing whatever you want, wherever you want, however you want.” Sylver explained, holding up one finger on his right hand.

“This is just so you are aware that this is very much an option. I don’t need people who are forced, or frightened into working for me. I’ll even make it better and say that I will personally escort you to wherever it is you wish to go, before parting ways. You could go as far as the Silian Capital, and spend the rest of your lives there living as minor nobles, if you so wished.” Sylver said, patting the chest full of gold next to him.

“So just pretend none of this ever happened? That I just went away to work somewhere and came back with that?” Ciege asked, gesturing vaguely at enough money for 3 generations of his family to live without any worries and in luxury.

“If that is what you want.” Sylver said, maintaining eye contact.

There was a long-drawn-out moment of silence, as all three of them just sat there, Ciege and Yeva holding hands underneath the table and just staring at the black-eyed man sitting opposite them.

“My second offer is offering you work. Lola is starting a workshop, and she could use a capable soul weaver like you. I’ll even personally teach you the more advanced enchantments. As for you Ciege, there is a dwarf blacksmith, who is a very good friend of mine, and could use an apprentice to pass his knowledge and class onto,” Sylver explained, reaching into his robe and pulling out two identical white envelopes and placing them in front of himself.

Both Ciege and Yeva reached for the one with their name on it. Sylver spoke before they opened them.

“This offer is on the table because I would get the benefit of both of your talents, and get to walk around with the knowledge you two are safe and sound and happy,” Sylver said.

He sat up and moved the chair forward slightly.

“But. We would remain strangers, or at least pretend to be. And I would make sure that no one would ever make the connection between us, so that there is never a target on either of your backs, as a result of my actions. Everything would be done through Lola, and you’ll mix into all the other people under her employ.” Sylver said.

“But you would be free to leave and cut ties with us any time you wanted. And no one would be the wiser. You would get to live out your lives without anyone trying to come after you to get to me. Any time you decide you’ve had enough, you’re free to leave, no strings attached,” Sylver said, holding the two black envelopes in his robe and rubbing them against each other.

He looked long and hard at the two and came to a decision there and then.

“I misspoke,” Sylver said, letting go of the two envelopes and leaving them inside the robe. “I only have two offers. Lola and I will be leaving for a few days, but I will be back soon. I will listen to your decision then.” Sylver said, standing up from the table and leaving.

*

“I do kind of understand it. But you’re putting a lot on me,” Lola said, as she poured Sylver some more tea.

“I know. But you can handle it. I wouldn't be leaving everything to you if I didn’t think you could.” Sylver answered, leaning back in the chair and closing his eyes.

“It’s still a lot of work. And again I do understand why you wanted to spare them the stress of, well, everything, but shouldn’t that be their choice to make? That’s why you had the two different envelopes, right?” Lola repeated, holding up the two envelopes Sylver decided not to give to either of them, but hadn’t thrown them away either.

“It is. And maybe I will offer it to them in the future, but not right now. With you, I won’t need to worry about you getting kidnapped or anything. You know how to enchant and enforce your workshop, and once you get a little mana flowing in your body, you’ll at the very least be able to defend yourself. Not to mention, there’s nothing and no one to attack you, and you're guarded both by the cats and the city itself. All that’s left is the massive headache from dealing with merchants and traversing local politics.” Sylver said, with a faint grin.

“Sounds like you speak from experience,” Lola said, finishing her cup and sighing.

“I consider myself a patient man. But never again, in my life or unlife will I ever attempt to run my own business. Did you know the Ibis had a whole special subsection of mages, specifically for ruling countries and running businesses?” Sylver said, with a faint laugh.

“I’ve heard about that! I always thought it was just a weird rumor though.” Lola said, bringing her hands together in delight.

“Oh no, they were real. There was this one time I…”

Talking well into the night Sylver fell asleep in the chair he was sitting in, and for the first time in a long while felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He had everything he wanted now. Ciege and Lola were alive and moving about. Yeva was safe and sound and still in love with Ciege. Sylver had physical evidence he was actually still on Eira, and even a clue as to what happened after he had died.

Things were looking up.

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KingKennit

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