Warlock of the Magus World Chapter 1135-1136
On a platform within the city hall of New Silverymoon, Alustriel was dressed in a beautiful cloak and a small crown as she leaned against the railings of a balcony overseeing the bustling city. There was a bitter smile on her face.
"Do you hear it, Your Highness? Do you hear the city mourning?" A scholarly old man adjusted his spectacles beside her.
"I hear it… But apart from this, what other ways do we have?" Alustriel turned around and the bitter smile on her face vanished, now replaced by a solid determination. "Our people fear the ferocity of the orcs, and my backers have been unable to gain the protection of the northern kingdoms. We even have to take on their troubles instead, those merchants want to sell at ten times the cost in this kind of time! Heavens… I even pawned the jewels of my crown for such a low price, what more do they want?"
Alustriel sounded exasperated the more she went on. Although she had the support of two greater gods in Tyr and Mystra, Tyr's church had never been a wealthy one. Besides, Mystra had to cater to the rest of the world as well, so her support was limited. Even if she managed to latch onto the church, the Silverymoon Alliance was facing the assault of the orcs. Having lost everything, even with the help of the northern lords she wouldn't be able to afford the resources of this war.
From the beginning, the war had been one between Mystra and the orcs. However, the Goddess of the Weave wasn't particularly either, and without enough krona mercenaries and adventurers wouldn't take the risk to participate. They couldn't even equip or feed their own soldiers!
In a sort of silver lining, some 'generous' people had been moved and were willing to donate their money, items, and even food for the war. Still, Alustriel's heart only felt a chill when faced with the sheer enormity of her foes.
The old scholar hesitated before speaking his mind, "But Your Highness… If you behave like this, won't you offend the Goddess of Wealth? The church of Lady Waukeen supports the merchants…"
"I am left with no other choice…" Alustriel waved her hands in exasperation. "Waukeen is a goddess who stands in neutrality. Besides, rumour has it that she conducts some business within the orc empire, so we cannot rely on her help…
"Furthermore…" Alustriel blinked her eyes, "The ones executing the operations are the paladins of Tyr's church. We should be rest assured of how they conduct their business, shouldn’t we? They wouldn’t treat a good person unfairly…"
'But… They will also never let any bad people go, yet the merchants are filled with such people…' The old scholar sighed, yet he did not dare speak his mind this time.
As Alustriel's right hand man and her consultant, after such a long period of time working together he had understood some things perfectly. While Alustriel seemed to have matured after the annihilation of the previous kingdom, her original naivete was still very much there.
"Sage Elminster has already arrived here. I hear he's come with a good plan…" The scholar looked through his records and reported to Alustriel.
"That old pervert?" Alustriel said in disdain.
The scholar's face turned beet red in embarrassment, but he corrected his facial expression and reminded Alustriel, "Please refrain from such words, Your Highness! You must watch your image and conduct yourself appropriately in a public place. Moreover… He is your foster father!"
"Alright alright, help me send him away on my behalf… Tell him I'm not around!" Alustriel waved her hands, and immediately opened a portal and stepped into it, leaving the old scholar smiling wryly…
As this unwelcomed guest of Alustriel's came, the conversation between Alustriel and the old scholar had ended abruptly.
However, they'd missed one point. Despite how they'd planned some actions, the ones executing them would change it completely.
Although Alustriel had told Rafiniya to have a certain tolerance for the merchants backed by the Goddess of Wealth, who were the paladins? If their thick heads made of granite would know how to adapt then there was something seriously wrong here!
One of the paladins searched the warehouse of a priest belonging to the Goddess of Wealth, acting out of order to cast an appraisal spell. He discovered traces of evil, and once the clues led to the capture of a devil everything grew irreversible.
As a torrential wave of 'justice' swept past New Silverymoon, the ones who suffered the most were the merchants under the Goddess of Wealth. In order to obtain higher profits and margins, these unscrupulous merchants had been willing to do anything, including bartering with the devils. There was no better way for the paladins to deal with them, and with Alustriel's authority they began to cleanse the city.
In the process the paladins had captured several merchants that had connections with the devils, sending them to be burnt at the stake. There were even more found guilty of corruption.
Very soon, the citizens of New Silverymoon were greeted by a different sight. Most of the shops had reopened, and the shopkeepers had bright and friendly smiles on their faces as they treated every customer with respect. They were afraid of complaints or criticism, something that would cause the paladins to come looking for them once more.
Deep down, these merchants who had suffered heavy losses cursed the paladins, especially Rafiniya who was at their head. The commoners went to sleep early at dusk, but even more schemes were happening in the dark.
The priests of wealth seemed unaffected by all this, and with the Goddess Waukeen backing them, they did have the right to feel that way. As long as Alustriel had an iota of intelligence she would repay them for their losses. If not, they could immediately seek the orcs and support them with materiel.
The ones who'd suffered the greatest losses were those merchants who peddled on the small and medium scales. The violent purge had put them on the verge of bankruptcy, and the unlucky ones without any backing suffered great losses. Some of them had been gobbled up by larger merchant groups…
A dim oil lantern flickered in the room, reflecting the pale faces of the leaders of the Neon merchant group.
"Someone say something! What's wrong? I specifically rushed here for this meeting today!" A loud voice sounded. It came from a lady sat at the middle, a ravishing woman in her twenties seated on a leopard pelt.
The leaders' bodies shuddered, and they did not dare to lift their eyes to meet her gaze. It was as if a threatening beast or poisonous centipede was in front of them. A leader gritted his teeth before speaking, "Those paladins want us to keep to the same prices as before. We already lost about 1500 gold from the frenzied buying, and the losses will only rise…"
This loss was extremely alarming for a medium-sized merchant group like theirs. "Moreover… Once the paladins discover out dealings in the dark…" Another leader's teeth clattered, before he collapsed to the ground, "Big Miss… We beg of you to let us leave first…"
"Dream on! Do you think you can still run away? Once our deals are discovered we won't be able to escape those paladins at all. It might even bring your families to harm…" The harsh truth was spoken in an icy tone, condemning these people to damnation.
"Relax, it's not like I don't have my own preparations. The family dispatched its elites, and as long as you hide well and take the chance to send the next batch of goods you'll be able to leave. If we succeed, the profits will be large enough for you to buy a huge villa in the south, and even marry the daughter of a noble. Who knows, you might be able to start a noble family of your own after a few generations…"
With such guarantees and temptations, the leaders' faces grew better as the look of suffering went away. However, a shadow appeared on the lady's face when they'd left.
After waiting a while and confirming that nobody had remained, she went to the corner of the warehouse and fumbled around for a hidden mechanism. A wall opened in the corner to reveal an underground passage, and she took up an oil lantern and walked into a narrow basement.
There wasn't much stored in the basement, and in fact there was steam rising from the ground that caused the lady's clothes to grow damp. There was a spell formation at the centre, shining with mysterious light.
Inserting two powerful energy crystals into the spell nodes, the woman took out a silver mirror and placed it in the middle of the spell formation.
*Tss!* Light flashed, and a middle-aged man dressed in silver robes appeared in the mirror.
"Anya!" the white-haired man began, "How's the situation there?"
"Thanks to the Lord, our deals haven't been discovered yet. We only incurred some superficial losses…" Anya frowned, "I've put the leaders at east, so we won't be discovered for the time being. However, there isn't much time left, Father!"
"This situation is far worse than we had imagined…" The middle aged man's face turned dark, "Blake isn't giving us any more updates, he's likely met with mishap. He had a lot of information on hand, and we could be exposed at any time. The God of Justice and the Goddess of the Weave definitely won't let us go if we're found out…"
"The orcs can't be trusted, nor can the Blackblood Tribe… Are we going to become a common enemy?" The resolute front that the lady had put on was broken. She almost crumbled to the floor, her face filled with despair.
“Don’t despair, Anya,” the middle-aged man put on a fierce expression, “The prime material plane is vast, we can definitely find a way out… It’s not just Silverymoon and the orcs here…”
“I’ve already made some contact with some other channels, we can discuss the details later. The shadow mirror seems to be waning… Your only mission is to stabilise the situation, it concerns the life and death of our family…” The image grew blurry as time went on, the voice getting cut up.
Just this short period of communication required a spell formation and several expensive energy crystals. Anya could only smile bitterly and shake her head.
“Other channels… Is Father prepared to seek out other factions? But the ones who would accept us at this time… Are they demons or devils?” Anya smiled sardonically, “Forget it… As long as we can live, I wouldn’t mind help from the Abyss itself…”
The actions of the Neon Merchant Group had reached their crescendo. Anya dreaded the thought of the consequences of them being outed now. She rubbed her temples as determination flooded her face once more, before she lifted her dress and walked away.
As she was moving out, she sent out a silent prayer from her heart, ‘Any god out there, please, protect me and my family. I’m willing to give you my faith, my life, and even my soul after this passes…’
“Neon Merchant Group? A prayer for our help?” Tiff rubbed the glasses that gave him a scholarly appearance. “What do you think, Moena?”
“They’re a medium-sized merchant group in the north, mainly trading in leather and medicine. Their current leader is Fagus Bane. We performed some investigation after receiving their prayer, and they’re not as simple as they seem on the surface. Not only are their relations in the north complicated, they seem to be in contact with the orc empire,” A high-ranked priestess said from the side.
“So that’s how it is…” Tiff suddenly laughed. “That is to say, they’re currently in a dangerous situation and if their secret is revealed they’d be exterminated by Tyr and Mystra? There aren’t many influences willing to protect them and incur the wrath of those two… Just nice, since we’re one of them!”
‘They’ll be helpful when we’re trying to expand in the north…’ Light flashed in Tiff’s eyes, ‘We need more detailed information.’
Tiff still hadn’t been enticed by what he was shown. He needed more information, to be able to weigh the pros and cons to come up with the correct decision. This attitude was also why Leylin chose him to be pope.
“You can leave for now.” Tiff waved his hands, sending the priestess away. He soon followed her out.
The entire church was filled with a festive atmosphere at this moment, numerous priests busy as they rushed about to arrange for a great amount of food and drink.
“Everyone, continue the hard work for the Lord’s birthday.” A few officers were urging everyone on, sweat beading on their foreheads.
Tiff was deeply moved by this scene. ‘Has it already been a year since the Lord ascended, detaching himself from his past to sit on his throne? The Neon Merchant Group will make a good present for it, he’ll definitely be pleased…’
Year 27945, Calendar of the Gods. The Giant Serpent Church celebrated the passage of one year since the birth of their god.
Even adding his mortal life Leylin was currently only 300 years old, quite young. However, such things as age held no significance for the gods. Still, Leylin made time to descend for the sake of his worshippers, performing a miracle that caused many of them to be moved to tears.
The holy mountain within Leylin’s divine kingdom was piled up with jade, bright light pouring out of the huge church to penetrate the first three Hells. The light dispersed suffering and evil, bringing about hope and beauty.
Leylin’s true body was sat down on his throne within the church, heavily protected by guards and enchantments as his body radiated immortal light. The theatrics done, he was turning to a report from Tiff.
An endless stream of prayers came to Leylin every day, originating from his divine kingdom, the prime material plane, and even devils from the depths of Baator. Tens of millions of prayers were received, and Leylin responded in accordance to the importance of each.
Even though gods had powerful minds, they still weren’t capable of dealing with such hard work. Many gods assigned the task of responding to prayers to a few demigods or lesser gods, helping reduce their workload.
Leylin had just established his divine kingdom, and he didn’t have as many capable and trustworthy subordinates. Instead, he’d had the A.I. Chip handle a huge portion of this task. With all the upgrades it had received over time, it was better than him at such mechanical task.
[Beep! Pope Tiff’s prayers have been found, beginning transfer…] Tiff’s report came in the form of a prayer. The man was extremely pious, and given that he was after all the pope of the Giant Serpent Church his thread of faith was thick and dazzling. He was given great importance in the A.I. Chip’s programs, allowed to speak directly to his god.
A great amount of images and information entered Leylin’s eyes in an instant, detailing the Neon Merchant Group, Fagus, and Anya… Almost instantly he completely understood Tiff’s prayers.
‘The Neon Merchant Group, in the north…’ Leylin stroked his chin… He himself had much wider and more detailed channels of information passing Tiff’s own, and it took but a thought for him to gather more intelligence. ‘They’re sending firearms to the orc empire, and their main channel of trade is with the Blackblood Tribe of the Moonwood?
‘On top of that, they have a batch of important goods sealed within New Silverymoon right now. If they’re discovered they’ll be tried for treason, the profanity causing the entire group to be destroyed…’
‘Blackblood Tribe… Malar!’ Leylin laughed.
The Lesser God of the Hunt had joined hands with the orcs once before. However, Mystra and Tyr had supposedly taught him a ruthless lesson, taming him after an attack on his avatar.
Unfortunately this didn’t cause the slightest of changes to his nature. It seemed like Malar was colluding with the orcs once more…
Within the prime material plane, the Giant Serpent Church was a sea of celebration. There was unlimited food and drink, and for many worshippers it served as an opportunity to gain trust and make a favourable impression.
Churches that provided the material comforts and positivity would always be far more popular than the churches of evil. Even if Leylin was a true God of Massacre, he was actually gaining faith unlike Cyric who just liked to scheme, plot, and conduct sacrifices.
At the core of the church, Tiff was currently praying to a statue of Leylin. He’d reported on the Neon Merchant Group, his Lord being aware of everything even more thoroughly than him by the time he was done.
A golden light descended upon the statue, and Leylin’s imposing voice sounded out, “Tiff…”
“My Lord!” Tiff was the pope of the Giant Serpent Church, and his prayers were treated with great priority with them still being developing. It was quite common for the Lord to descend for important affairs, and this was just a conscient. He wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised.
Of course, this was still the conscient of a true god. Even he didn’t dare be negligent as he saluted in accordance with teaching.
“Kukulkan, my Lord… You are like the stars in heaven, wielding the power of massacres, the Ruler of Devils…”
“The prime material plane has been developing well, and the celebrations went well..” The dignity of a deity was transmitted with this thought.
“The glory is mine, and the land belongs to you.” Tiff’s eyes couldn’t help but shine when he heard this, but he still didn’t dare to reveal a trace of carelessness…
The birthday celebrations left a deep impact on Leylin’s worshippers. However, they only knew to enjoy the shelter and glory of their Lord, not realizing that a team of high-ranked devil hunters had secretly left the headquarters to head north. They weren’t just going to assist the Neon Merchant Group…
Numerous horses neighed as a caravan with completely covered carriages slowly left New Silverymoon.
‘We’re finally out…’ It was only after they moved their path until New Silverymoon’s outline disappeared that Anya loosened up and relaxed.
At the same time, she almost felt depressed enough to puke blood. She’d paid a lot for this permit to live, transferring all the profits of her merchant group and even having to pretend to compromise with those paladins that had rocks for brains. It had caused her to be neurotic for a long time.
‘Whatever… As long as we can take care of these things, everything will be worth it.’ Anya looked at the fleet behind her, nodding towards the person in charge.
He immediately shouted with understanding, “Everyone, work harder! As long as we reach Donnie before dark, Big Miss will give us a huge reward. We’ve also prepared fragrant barbecue and bread, along with warm beds and hot water…”