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Ch077-A Brisk Walk

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“Was that necessary?” Shawn asked, as Sylver walked out of the inspection room, and reabsorbed all of his weapons back into his robe. All of his daggers and darts stood out like a hedgehog for a moment, while Sylver found a good place for everything.

“He didn’t offer me tea, threatened me, threatened someone close to me, and wasted my time. The least I could do is humiliate him a little,” Sylver said. He summoned Spring out of his shadow and handed the shade his bag to carry.

“What did he want? I’ve already been paid, whatever you tell me is strictly confidential, you would get a notification if I were to ever tell anyone else without asking for permission first,” Shawn said.

“Don’t know. I lost my cool when he said someone’s name, and things went slightly downhill from there. I’m normally a lot more lenient when dealing with those above me, but he said the one thing I couldn’t let him get away with,” Sylver explained.

“The guard, what happened there?” Shawn asked.

“Oh, I told them when they would die and how, and that one didn’t want to know,” Sylver explained.

“Really? When am I going to die? I always thought it was just a myth?” Shawn asked.

“It is. But no one’s seen a necromancer for a while, especially one of my level, so who’s to say what I can and can’t do? I can’t see when people will die, just to be clear. I just said that to get one of them to attack me,” Sylver said.

“Why?”

“To turn the tables on Marshal. I’ve heard the guards here are bound by their class to stop all crimes that they see being committed. I also know that it is a crime to attack someone unless they directly threaten you. I didn’t threaten anyone, I just told them when they would die. It’s his fault for overreacting,” Sylver said.

“I see… Shera was right, you are suicidal,” Shawn said.

“I don’t like being put under pressure, and I don’t like hearing the names of people I care about coming out of the mouths of people coming after me. How do you know Shera?” Sylver asked.

The man laughed with a nearly literal bark.

“She’s my wife. I’ve heard about you back when you accepted that giant-killing quest. She said you looked just like Anton did when he was your age, and it broke her heart to let you leave on an impossible quest, all alone,” Shawn explained.

“Anton?”

“Our son. He went off to be an adventurer and hasn’t been back for 4 years now. He’s in the east somewhere, his fiancé sends us a letter about him now and then. He nearly died on his first adventure and Shera has made it a personal goal not to let any new adventurers repeat his mistake,” Shawn explained.

“Ah… And here I thought… Something inappropriate to say to her husband. Did she tell you I came back perfectly fine and killed 5 giants all by myself?” Sylver asked.

“She did. She even went as far as to get the guild to change one of the rules because of you. F rank adventurers can no longer accept whatever quest they want, they need to do several low-risk quests first, to build a track record. It apparently decreased the fatality of new adventurers by nearly 60%. In the past, they would go after wolves, realize that they overestimated their abilities, and would get eaten. Now they go after sewer rats, realize they overestimated their abilities, and come back to the guild banged up, but ready to listen when someone tells them they shouldn’t go after 5 giants when they’re level 3 and alone,” Shawn explained.

“Happy to be of help,” Sylver said. He and Shawn walked quietly for a while, with Sylver waiting for the small man to walk away. Shawn spoke with an oddly uncertain tone.

“You do know Marshal is going to come after you again?” Shawn asked.

“I know.”

“And humiliating him like that very likely means he’s going to go after you even harder than he would have if you left in peace?” Shawn asked.

“Despite my youthful appearance, I know what I’m doing. Marshal will be handled,” Sylver said. He didn’t need to look at Shawn to see that he had turned pale, Sylver could feel his soul from this distance, and could hear it in his tone.

“You’re going to…” Shawn said, unable to finish the sentence.

“Not necessarily. I believe in following the path of least resistance. In this case, I’ll find why exactly Marshal has a hard-on for me, and I’ll see if it’s something that could be resolved peacefully,” Sylver explained.

“And if it can’t be resolved peacefully?” Shawn asked.

“Then it can’t be resolved peacefully,” Sylver answered.

Shawn walked with a lowered head while he thought about it.

“How much would you be willing to pay to have this handled for you?” Shawn asked.

“No offense, but why do you care how I handle it?” Sylver asked in response.

“To put it simply, he’s been on the path to becoming someone with real authority. The kind that could harm this city if wielded incorrectly. And with the way things are going-”

“I sincerely apologize for being curt, but I’m on a relatively tight schedule. Just answer me this, if I were to pay you to handle this for me, how much would it cost? How long would it take? And how permanent would your solution be?” Sylver asked.

“3,700 gold, I would have results within 8 days, and after 2 months Marshal and anyone associated with him would be incapable of doing you, or anyone, harm ever again. He’ll be sent back to his home in the south, along with the rest of his brothers, cousins, and cronies that are taking up precious space within the already difficult to maneuver legal bureaucracy. Arda as a whole will be stronger for it, competent people will take their place, and if you ever run into any legal trouble, you’ll have more allies than you could ever need,” Shawn explained.

He forgot to breathe, and Sylver could hear that he had practiced it, but he appreciated the honesty.

“Sure. I’ll ask Shera to transfer you the funds when I see her,” Sylver answered. He stopped to turn around to look at Shawn, who had stopped walking when Sylver had started speaking.

“Just like that?” Shawn asked. Sylver could almost hear the next part of his explanation struggling to stay back.

“Yes, just like that. You speak very well, but at the heart of it, you want more power and authority so people like Marshal can’t fuck with you or yours. Or at the very least you don’t want the people with the power or authority to be incompetent and unfair, like Marshal. Other than money, do you need anything else from me?” Sylver asked.

Shawn only now seemed to realize he had stopped walking, started to walk again, following Sylver on his right.

“No, just the money will be enough. I already have everything planned out, I just needed the capital to get things started. It all starts with 55 lawsuits for abuse of power, all at once, followed by 18 lawsuits for criminal negligence and-”

“Great, sounds like you know what you’re doing,” Sylver interrupted, as the two of them arrived at one of the entrances into Lola’s workshop.

“I’ll introduce you to the others, they’ll be dying to-”

“Shawn. I’m paying you to handle this, so handle it. I’m not a legal expert, so I won’t be able to understand if what you’re proposing is going to work or not, there’s no point telling me. If what you’re doing somehow ends up harming me or my people, we’ll have a problem, but until then, you’re free to act as you see fit. I’m in a bit of a rush, so are you sure there’s nothing else you need?” Sylver asked. He realized something as Shawn spoke.

“No, just the money will be enough. No one will even know you were involved until it’s all over. We can discuss how you would like to be associated with us afterward,” Shawn explained.

“How do you know I have the money for this?” Sylver asked. Shawn answered with barely a moment of pause.

“Shera hasn’t told me anything. She not only can’t, but she also wouldn’t even if she could. I came to Ron to ask for advice and he suggested asking you. I was going to approach you after the tournament was over, but I was contacted when you were being questioned by Marshal and decided it would make the conversation easier if I rescued you from his clutches. I’m not involved with the rope people, I’m only sometimes employed by them,” Shawn explained. Sylver placed a hand on the small man’s shoulder and was glad to see he was telling the truth.

“Alright. If I’m not around, talk to Lola Aeyri, or Tamay if she isn’t available. Best of luck!” Sylver said. He reached down with his hand and shook Shawn’s.

Shawn shook back and Sylver waited for the beaming man to leave before he turned into smoke and entered the workshop through one of the open windows. He could have sworn he saw Shawn skip as he went around the corner.

*

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*

“Marshal? Oh, that man is disgusting. When we were getting everyone’s employment documents sorted, he refused to move a muscle until I agreed to have dinner with him,” Lola complained, as she continued to draw up gathering quests to find some of the more obscure materials Sylver needed. Lola had everything he needed, but some things needed to be freshly gathered.

“Well now I feel like I shouldn’t have let Shawn handle it,” Sylver said. He had decided to sit and wait for Lola to finish writing out the quests, so he could pass them onto Shera since he was going there next anyway.

“It’ll be cleaner this way. From what I’ve heard Marshal’s brother is pretty high up in the merchant’s guild or at least has enough connections to make things very difficult for everyone. If not for Wuss, I’m fairly certain we wouldn’t have been able to so much as buy the land, without paying as much in bribes to that man. If Shawn can get rid of him and his ilk, I’ll hire him myself to handle the other pieces of shit,” Lola said, as she tallied up the total amount of gold required for the quests.

“When did you go to dinner with him? And where?” Sylver asked.

“I didn’t. Wuss handled it for us. Same for all the class permits, and the material contracts, Marshal has some pull, but Wuss has been doing this for a lot longer. So there’s 4 of us now,” Lola said. It took Sylver a moment to understand what she meant.

“I’m honestly struggling to see any real connection. Flesh and Bones were around before either of us, at least they seem to think so, and I’ve apparently got something similar to them. We’ll find out if you have the same thing when you meet Bones, but neither of us got bodies did we? I’ve got my thing, and I’m using another person’s body, and yours was literally made from scratch. Is it even reincarnation in that case?” Sylver asked.

“It’s something. Which is more than what we had a few days ago,” Lola said. She moved the completed stack of quests off to the side, along with a handwritten note. “I don’t get it? You want a metallic rib cage with some weird tube inside?” Lola said as she looked down at Sylver’s blueprints.

Sylver held up one of the small stones in his hand.

[Rune Of indestructibility - ??? – Ancient Quality]
[Any item tagged by this rune will become indestructible.]
[Any item tagged by this rune will lose all other effects until it is untagged.]
[Only the destruction of this rune can remove the indestructibility effect.]
[Uses: 1 item]

“I’d use it on my skull too if I could, but from what Bones told me it will only work on 1 single piece of material. I wouldn’t be able to move my head if I had a metallic skull connected to my torso. I’ll put my heart in here, and these holes are for the aortas. The needle will go here, so I don’t have to worry about someone somehow stealing it from me. They would have to rip out my torso to get it, which I would hopefully be able to prevent. It won’t affect my [Shadow’s Soma] perk, or it shouldn’t at least, but I’ll stop worrying about someone accidentally hitting the sweet spot and destroying what is in essence my phylactery. Normally I would hide it somewhere but…” Sylver explained.

“But since you have no idea how it works, and whether range is an issue, you’re afraid of doing that. Not to mention, it counteracts one of the negative effects of one of your perks but requires physical contact with it… Since the rune will make it indestructible anyway, does it have to be metal?” Lola asked.

“See the breaks here? I’ll insert it in pieces into myself, and then weld them all together. Salgok will handle applying the rune, and if it’s something brittle I would be afraid of it breaking during the process. I can’t use it to defend my spine, since I need it to bend, so this was the best way I could think of applying it,” Sylver explained, showing Lola the final blueprint with all of the pieces connected.

“Are you going to be able to breathe? Bend forward? What about your center of balance? If it’s indestructible, does that mean your mana channels would have to go around it?” Lola asked.

“My core is right around where my heart is, these holes, here and here, will be big enough for what my body can handle, for the time being. I’ll change the design as I grow since the rune can be removed and reapplied. If I find a second one, or more accurately if you do, I’ll use it on my skull too. Regrowing a head is difficult, but doable. As long as my torso and the needle are fine, I should be alright after a while,” Sylver said.

“Won’t your body reject it?”

“Maybe initially, but I’ll use my soul to adjust my immune system until it stops reacting to it. If it’s indestructible it means it won’t rust or chemically react so it’ll be easy,” Sylver answered.

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”

“Not quite like this. I replaced my entire skeleton, but I’m not all that sure the crystal I need to do it exists on this side of the Asberg, and it took me 30 years back then, I can’t imagine how long it would take now, even if I did find it. This is good enough for now, I’ll need to adjust the rest of my bone marrow to compensate for the loss of ribs, but it shouldn’t be too difficult,” Sylver explained. Lola flipped through the 20 pages and made small notes on some of them.

“How does a tungsten alloy sound? It would appear black after treatment, but I could have it ready in 2 days? How are you going to… insert it in yourself? Do you want me to find a surgeon to do it?” Lola asked. She didn’t look up as she continued to scribble notes onto Sylver’s design.

“I don’t think a surgeon would be able to do this, at least not without me demonstrating how I want it done at least once to them. I’ll have Spring do it, don’t worry about it. And the explosive?” Sylver asked.

Lola continued to make notes onto Sylver’s designs and wordlessly moved them to the side. She walked over towards one of the storage altars and took out a grey ball.

“Since magic isn’t an option, the only solution is purely chemical. What do you think?” Lola asked. She placed the ball onto her table and pressed down onto it with her hand. It squashed and flattened as if it were made out of dough.

Sylver poked it with his finger and sent a pulse of mana through it.

“Octanitrocubane. Nearly 3 times as powerful as the same amount of the explosive they use for mining. It costs 40 times its weight in gold and is such a bitch to produce and transport the alchemist who made it sold the formula for almost nothing. Extremely volatile, I could have one of the girls downstairs design a timed flint and steel. Since you have 1 hour until it disappears, you could summon as many as you need. You’ll need to test what happens when it unsummons, but that’s for you to figure out,” Lola explained.

“Are the fumes created when it explodes noxious?”

“Can be, if you want. But this is a clean version, doesn’t even produce any water. Kind of sticky too, you could very easily shape it for whatever it is you’re doing and hide it. It needs open air to ignite, obviously, but I’ll have the final version have an air pocket next to the ignitor just in case,” Lola said. Sylver left the [Rune Of Infinite Summoning] on her desk so she could incorporate it into the design.

“Great. And the anti-teleportation device you’ve promised me since day 1?” Sylver asked.

Lola smiled ever so slightly at the words.

“Almost ready. I had a change of heart for the design, and everything was scrapped and redone,” Lola said, she spoke up before Sylver could say anything, “But! I’ll have it ready by the end of the weak. You’ll love it, trust me,” Lola promised.

Sylver chose not to comment and instead smiled back.

“How are you holding up?” Sylver asked, now that everything had been covered.

“Honestly? Better. Not great, but not terrible either. I’ve hired a new manager; she’s been helping out a lot. I’ve also got a teleportation expert on retainer, he’s been a huge help with getting to meetings and transport. We had a small issue with one of the girl’s family members trying to steal them away, after initially selling them off to pay off debts, but Thomas’s people handled it. One of the kids was kidnapped, but Thomas handled it before I was even made aware,” Lola said. Sylver nodded.

“One of the dwarves bought her way out, or her fiancé did at least, but she’s still working here, and trying to get us to employ her fiancé. He’s a nice guy, but Wuss’s people are still in the process of vetting him, so we’ll have to wait and see that this isn’t some kind of ploy. I would ask you to check with your soul sense, but we need to get used to working without you being around. What else… Sofia seems to think you and I are in a relationship, and it bothered her,” Lola said.

“Because of the race-mixing?”

“Not that, I don’t think people care about it here, not as much as we’re used to at least. But I can’t tell if it’s because she wants to lure you into her temple to lock away your necromancy, or because she’s interested in you personally. Did you know the temple of Ra doesn’t have any problems regarding premarital sex?” Lola asked, with a small smirk.

“It wouldn’t work. We would both need to wear lead cuffs so as not to hurt each other, or more accurately, so I don’t get burned to a crisp,” Sylver said.

“I think she would be up to that. Although more in the sense of shackles, collars, chains, whips and-”

“Alright, I’m old enough to be your grandfather’s grandfather, I’m not going to have this discussion with you. But how sure are you about this?” Sylver asked, adding the question as if it was an afterthought.

“Technically, with your body being that of a 20 something human’s and mine being a fully grown high elf’s, I’m old enough to be your grandmother’s grandmother, ten times over. And pretty sure. Sofia talks a lot, and if you don’t interrupt her there’s no telling what she’ll say. Despite her age, she hasn’t had a lot of chances to-”

“How often do you talk to her?” Sylver interrupted again.

“She comes over sometimes. We’re employing a healer who she was very close to, and more recently, she’s been coming over to talk to me and complain about the difficulties of managing a giant temple. Then I complain about the headache the merchant’s guild is constantly giving me, and then one of us has to leave to sort out an emergency, that could have easily been solved by someone with a couple of drops of common sense,” Lola explained.

Sylver was on a tight schedule, but if he was reading Lola’s soul right, talking to him seemed to be relieving some sort of tension. He made a mental note to come to see her after he was done with Flesh and Bone and have a proper talk.

Sylver left after nearly 3 hours, and only because Lola’s presence was needed to sort out a dispute.

He left with Lola’s quests, a large bag of gold, and made his way towards the adventurer’s guild.

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