“Mister and Missus Blayd?” A voice called out from outside the house where the two enforcers were staying comfortably on the tenth floor. Although their job required them to make a daily commute to the nineteenth floor, such a commute was easy with the assistance of the local priests, so there was no problem with them living life on a more enjoyable level.
“Yes?” Hana called out from within, sighing as she stood up, making sure to adjust her robes so that they looked decent.
“I have a package for you from the Great Blue.” The voice spoke again, and Hana’s eyes widened. Immediately, she rushed to the door, opening it to look at the human messenger outside, who was startled by her sudden appearance. “U-uhm, it’s from an individual by the name of--”
“Yes, I know who it’s from. Just hand it over.” She could barely restrain the glee in her tone. They had only just received the reward from turning in the stones before, which the Council had named the Void Concealing Stone. It was more than she had ever hoped, enough for her and her husband to live comfortably for years if they wanted.
But would she be happy with just that? No, she wanted to squeeze Styx for everything he could give them. She’d throw him a pittance here and there to keep him happy, but she was in this for herself, just as her husband was.
The messenger handed over the small box, having her sign for it to indicate that it had been properly received. Once done, she walked back inside, the door closing on its own. Ryner looked up from the couch where he and Hana had been sitting, raising an eyebrow at the small wooden box. “He couldn’t have come up with something else already, right?”
“Who cares?” She grinned widely, waving her hand over the box. She had to check it for traps, naturally, and muttered a small spell. “The more the merrier.”
Once she had confirmed that the box was not spelled, she opened it, finding a small silver flask inside. “What’s this?” She asked curiously, moving towards the kitchen. Lifting the flask in her hand, she could tell from the weight that there was something inside. “Did he brew up a potion or something?”
Ryner rose, walking out towards the kitchen as she grabbed a cup, turning the flask over and popping its lid off. “Water…? That’s his big find?” He asked dryly, shaking his head.
Hana was equally confused, able to clearly tell that this was simply clean water. However, as she lifted the flask again, she felt the palm of her hand rub against something on its surface. “Hmm?” She shifted her hand, seeing that there was a second latch. She could feel an enchantment on this one. “Ryner, can you fetch me a piece of paper and my enchanting ink?”
He looked at her curiously, before shrugging his shoulder and walking to her office, returning a moment later with a glass vial filled with glittering black ink and a single sheet of paper, as well as a feather quill. Hana took both with a warm smile. “Thanks, dear.”
She moved to the table, setting the flask on its base. She popped the lid off the vial and dipped the feather in, before drawing a rune on the paper. Next, she let the quil rest in the ink for a long moment before drawing a wet black line beneath the rune. “Myr kryonna.”
As she spoke the words, focusing on the vial, the wet black line of ink shifted, dripping down the paper to slowly form words. ‘Banish impurities. Banish living.’
She saw the words, and simply raised her eyebrow at them. “Banishing enchantments? What an earth for?” As she asked that, she picked up the flask again, before her body froze.
“Hana?” Ryner asked in concern, seeing how her movements had suddenly stopped.
“I… I’m fine.” She responded, shaking her head as she slowly lifted the flask again. “I’m sure… I’m sure I emptied it.” She got up from her chair, quickly walking over to the bowl again. Turning the flask over once more, she poured out roughly a tenth of what the flask could hold.
Only after doing so did she slide open the second latch, revealing a small compartment that pulled out. This was a fairly normal compartment, though unusual in that it was placed in a flask. The only thing inside of it was a single black and blue stone which seemed wet.
Carefully, Hana reached in to retrieve the stone, feeling how slick it was. Given that it was submerged in a flask of water, this came as no surprise. What did surprise her, on the other hand, was when the water started to slowly leak down her fingers, one drop at a time. More than what she could expect to have stuck to the stone after she drained the flask.
“No, no, you went faster than this.” She muttered, thinking back to what she had previously done. When she recalled her spell to identify the enchantment, a thought occurred to her. “That’s… not possible, right?”
“Hello? Mind filling me in?” Ryner asked in confusion from the side, but Hana ignored him. She was careful, not wanting to cause too much of a mess, and placed the stone back in the compartment. But she didn’t close it right away. Rather, she pushed just a tiny bit of mana into the stone.
To her joy, she found her experiment a success. A small few drops of water spilled out from the stone and began to fill up the small compartment that it had been held in. She hastily closed it, locking the latch as she stared at the flask.
“So it’s a stone that makes water?” Ryner asked, obviously still doubtful. However, Hana could already imagine how valuable a stone like this could be. Crop irrigation, a potentially unlimited source of water for a thirsty adventurer. Even daily life could be benefited from if people had access to this.
“That’s exactly what this is.” She said, excitement in her voice. She rushed back to where she had set down the box, searching through it once again. At the bottom, beneath where the flask had been, she found a neatly folded piece of paper that had previously gone overlooked.
‘This may seem an ordinary flask. However, I implore you to check its hidden contents before you jump to conclusions. Inside, you will find a stone with wondrous properties, allowing it to feed on the ambient mana to create water. Be careful, though, because excessive mana consumption will instead shatter the stone.’
Hana’s face went pale as she remembered her previous scan of the enchantment, thankful that it had apparently been within the stone’s limits. ‘Like the previous mineral that I entrusted to you, this can be found exclusively within the Great Blue. Specifically… it is found beneath the surface of the water. I believe that you will be able to understand the implications of that.’
Her mind began racing as she processed the information. There is a special meaning behind it being an underwater stone? Of course it’s underwater, it produces water! Obviously anywhere it rests for too long will… oh.
There were only two real hidden implications that she could come up with. Either the stone gained its properties because it was underwater, or it was underwater because of its properties. Naturally, her train of thought made her lean heavily towards the latter option. And if that were the case, it meant that this stone was either far more common, or far more powerful than she had imagined.
She suddenly became very gentle with the flask, carefully placing it back inside the box that it was delivered in. “Ryner, we’re going to the Council.” She said softly, as if afraid even her voice would be the trigger to a flood.
I sat in my living room, watching the transmission on the wall with the two halfling incarnations. Now that I had sent the package off, it was just a matter of time to wait and see what Hana would do. Of course, there was always the chance that she might use a spell on the flask that would break the stone before reading the note. In which case, I had Thessa prepare a second flask, just to be safe.
Part of me was eager to see what the results would be from the Council this time. There was no longer the option of simply waiting and letting others gather the stones. Since the tidestones were only found underwater, they needed to be able to mount a force strong enough to seek them out and harvest them if they wanted more. Otherwise, I would turn into their sole provider. And, given what I had seen of both Hana and Ryner, as well as my impression of the Council, I couldn’t imagine a situation where they would be happy relying on one person to distribute a resource like this.
Of course, a far larger part of me was more excited to find out what Tubrock and Ryone would uncover in their own research. I could just imagine if Ryone managed to figure out how to replicate the effects of the tidestone with a spell. If the two of them could achieve that, then it might be possible to tap into the other elemental planes even without waiting until I was able to find the rest of the stones.
However, I could imagine a different motivator for Tubrock. These stones allowed natural connection across different planes. Theoretically, he could redesign the Fairy Gates using the information he received from researching the tidestones to make them more efficient.
Father… Leowynn’s voice spoke up into my mind as we were watching the transmission. How long do you suppose it will take them to find a vein of tidestones? She seemed curious, judging by her tone, and just a bit worried.
It shouldn’t take them too long, I imagine. Why?
Well, you said that those other stones you gave them before are common, and block detection magic… so I was just wondering how they would be able to find them quickly. They do not have Father’s detection abilities, after all.
You raise a… very valid point. I knit my brows together in thought. I had relied on them being able to send a mining expedition through and finding a vein without a couple of weeks at most. But, given that they can’t use the most common method of locating minerals on Fyor… It might even take years of study for them to develop a reliable method with technology, collaborating with Desbar.
That still doesn’t make it more trouble than it would be worth to the Council, but it would make it take quite a while for me, given that I’m on a schedule with the Keeper Games. My mind began to run through different methods that they could use to set up an enchantment so that the void concealing stones didn’t get in the way of their search.
If they placed it like a sonar on a boat, but focused the detection to an area directly below the vessel, then the aura of the stones shouldn’t be able to interfere. But that would require them to take the time to build the vessel, the magical device to perform the scan, as well as test it. Then they would need to find a strong enough crew to man the vessel.
I really didn’t want to just use a World Host here and skip ahead after all the work we did setting this up. Thinking about that, I sighed, shaking my head. Looks like I’ll need to give them a little help finding things.
If I could give them the location of a vein, then they would have an easier time setting up and testing their vessel. It would also encourage them to gather the forces they needed more quickly, as the goal seemed closer in their minds.
As for explaining how I was able to detect the veins? I glanced towards my new title with a small smile, thinking that it might come in handy sooner than I had expected.