The Reincarnation of Alysara - Chapter 138:
The Grand Hall of the Order of Flame’s Headquarters is lavishly decorated, with lit braziers and tapestries with the Order’s emblem embroidered into them. Tall pillars sculpted into the shapes of wizards and knights hold up the ceiling and red fire crystals decorate the statue-pillars.
A red and gold carpet plays out to the reception, where trophies of slain powerful monsters are displayed above for all to see. The Drake from the Ashland, that Ruluna’s party slew, has its head mounted as the most recent trophy; it was a hard-won battle, and its eggs were retrieved in hopes of gaining battle beasts.
Alysara does not seem impressed, but she may be blind if the eyewraps are any indication; the illusion may look like someone else for all Ruluna knows. Regardless, it looks real enough that Ruluna has to use her [Sense Mana] to remind herself that the person standing next to her is, in fact, not real. She doesn’t know how Alysara is speaking through it, but it’s not the first time she’s witnessed some strange skill; more powerful monsters – like the Drake – often have bizarre and esoteric abilities.
Ruluna walks up to the receptionist, a new girl who recently joined the Order. Upon seeing Ruluna and her entourage, she turns a little pale, which makes her red hair stand out even more. She is clearly nervous and not ready to deal with high-ranking members.
“Inform Headmaster Vulpun that we have a VIP that he’d be very much interested in,” Ruluna says, leaning on the counter.
“Y-Yes, ma’am!” The young girl says stiffly and almost runs into the back. After two minutes, the girl runs back. “H-He’s ready for you!”
“Relax,” Ruluna tells the newbie, trying to calm her down. “No one here is going to bite your tail off. Thank you for your work.”
The young girl bows and almost hits her head on the counter. Ruluna just sighs at the nervous wreck and leads Alysara into the back, Flame Paladin Julaly taking the rear. The Black Flames have gone back to their regular positions since they aren’t needed anymore. Ruluna leads Alysara through more equally lavish parts of the building, to the guest meeting room, then knocks on the door and waits for a reply.
“Enter.” At Vulpun’s command, Ruluna opens the door and, to her surprise, reveals all three Headmasters; Vulpun, Kolona, and Shalar. Ruluna hates not being able to use her [Sense Mana] in the Headquarters, but there are strict retaliations – something that Alysara is still bypassing somehow, considering that Ruluna still feels being watched.
On the left is Kolona, his black hair is pulled back into a tail, wearing the same instantly-identifiable uniform of his position as the other two. Kolona is the Headmaster of the mages and oversees all the mage training, rank tests, and discipline.
In the middle is Vulpun, who keeps his reddish-brown hair short, his yellow eyes keeping a stern stare. He manages the Order overall, managing missions, meeting representatives of the Houses, and much more: he’s the face of the Order.
On the right is Shalar, with her long blond hair kept in a bun; she manages the warriors, as is evident by her well-toned arms. Her expression shows her ‘no-nonsense’ personality, keeping a slight frown with attentive blue eyes.
Ruluna, Alysara and, lastly, Julaly trail in. There are chairs sitting across from the Headmasters, who look surprised by Alysara’s appearance and her perfectly matching clothes. She changed her illusion’s appearance to something high society would wear, somehow making it so immaculate and beautiful as to put any House lady to shame. An impressive showing of both her fashion sense and her espionage abilities.
Her navy blue dress flutters as she takes a step forward and curtsies in the traditional way, not taking a seat.
“Greetings, I am Alysara.” She seems to have adopted a new persona, a more diplomatic one, yet her voice retains its beautiful musicality. “I apologize for causing alarm in your Order; we only recently learned of your existence and needed to study your society before making contact so as to not accidentally offend you. Allow me to show my goodwill by bringing you two gifts.”
Alysara holds out a hand and two items materialize: an orb that hovers in place, and a sword with an icy sheath, which Alysara half pulls out to show it off. It glows with the fury of an inferno, threatening to ignite the air. The orb has unknown runes and shapes in a gold along its surface, matching well with its deep red color. The sword is equally beautiful, with golden runes running down its length and a watery blue handle with a fiery guard stylized in the shape of flames. Ruluna [Analyzes] the items.
Fire Focusing Orb (Enchanted):
This orb, made by a master of mana crafting, enhances all fire spells by 200% and can hover according to the will of its linked master.
Blade of Flame (Enchanted):
This sword, made by a master of mana crafting, retains its edge even against the toughest of materials and enhances all its sharpness by 200%. This sword will burn and inject fire into all wounds it causes. Stores up to 10’000 fire mana and passively draw in mana from its surroundings to power itself.
Ruluna can’t help but gape at the powerfully enchanted items in front of her, and Alysara is just giving them away! They are more powerful than many magic items! They are equal to at least Major-tier items, and they are only enchanted!
Since they are enchanted, they will draw mana from their users to power the enchantments, but even then, it’s worth the increased mana costs. The sword is even drawing in mana from the air, so the user doesn’t have to rely entirely on their own stored mana!
The room is locked in stunned silence as everyone tries to recover from this surprise. Thinking about it, Ruluna never [Analyzed] the dress she was shown earlier, but she wouldn’t put it past Alysara for that to have been enchanted as well.
This is another clever move; it’s saying that items like this are commonplace for them, and that war is not advisable. Ruluna wonders if Alysara is merely the diplomatic mouthpiece; whoever is leading their diplomacy is a political genius.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I stand there, trying not to look awkward. Did I perhaps not make them good enough? Tusile wants to establish trade relations, so I thought showing off my enchanted work will entice them. I did put the effort into making these items, since this is also a way of saying ‘sorry’ for spying on them and smoothing over everything, but maybe I didn’t try hard enough?
“Err, thank you for these gifts; I am Vulpun,” the man in the middle introduces himself. He tries to school his face and quickly gets under control, as do the others.
“I am Kolona,” the man on the left says.
“I am Shalar.” The woman on the right nods.
Shalar picks up the sword and inspects it. “It’s well made, but I don’t know what metal it’s made from.”
“Same with the Orb,” Kolona says, poking at it as it hovers in the air.
“It’s made entirely from mana,” I inform them, the instincts from [Acting] telling me that it’s good to explain these sorts of details.
Ruluna makes a noise of surprise, although I can tell she’s trying to suppress it. I ignore it, as do the Headmasters.
“It’s enchanted in such a way that the enchantments won’t ever degrade, unless someone capable attacks them deliberately,” I add.
“Not ever? I know enchantments typically last a few hundred years, but how can you guarantee that?” Vulpun asks.
[Acting] warns me not to give too much away: the political persona is giving the right instincts to recognize attempts to get me to reveal information that I should keep secret.
“We have a method of enchanting that prevents decay; besides, metallic mana is inherently resistant to decay anyway,” I answer.
The Headmasters look at each other.
“You know a lot about mana,” Kolona compliments me.
[Acting] prevents me from disclosing any information.
“I do,” is all I say. One thing I have quickly learned is that diplomacy and politics aren’t exactly the same. The diplomacy role had me reveal more information, as making friends and establishing relations was best for its role, but right now I need a political role, which works well for only disclosing what is needed.
Considering how these people are always trying to lead me into disclosing information, I figured before we got here that the political role is best for this situation. They don’t pursue any specific attempts, but instead shift focus to other things or broaden their questions. It’s possible that their society is heavily focused on trade secrets that rivals want to get.
I would love to just say, ‘Hey, wanna open up trade between our peoples?’ but my role instincts say it’s best to let them suggest it first. Blech, politics is leaving a sour taste in my mouth; thankfully, another mind is teaching Lotis and her friend to add some balancing sweetness.
“You came at a very opportune time,” Vulpun says, his watchful gaze studying my reaction. “But I suppose you know all about that.”
I actually don’t, but I guess something must have happened.
“Perhaps, to what might you be referring to? There are many things in which I might find an opportunity.” I reply with a poker face. It’s so much easier to keep one through an illusion!
Vulpun glances at the others before answering.
“War is likely on the horizon with the kingdom over the eastern mountains.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
She’s good. Vulpun mentally praises the strange girl.
This young girl, if that’s even her real appearance, has a good political mind but clearly lacks years of experience. The delivery of the gifts was a stroke of genius, but now he can confidently say this girl isn’t the source of that: she was rather coached. Politicians often make good spies, which seems to fit this girl.
She is not proposing any agreements; a good move, as that says her people don’t need or even want it, but she wouldn’t be here if that was the case. Instead, she wants him, or one of the others, to propose trade, which would give her an upper hand.
What Vulpun needs is not just trade, but their craftsmen, who can make such good enchanted items, to work on their Leviathan materials. It’s the key factor; if they can turn their materials into top-grade items, maybe even Heroic and Legendary items, then they might win the war.
There are enough Leviathan materials for an entire legion, and they need them before the enemy can equip their army. It pains Vulpun, but he has to be the one to propose a trade… but not now. He needs to speak with Lady Vanu Runa Lysha and Governor Vanu Runa Orlan. Lysha, being the head of the offensive army, needs this, and the more she pays for the trade, the less the Order of Flames needs to.
By getting the Governor to propose a trade, Vulpun can hitch onto it and maybe secure a better deal for the both of them.
“But that is a discussion for another day. For now, enjoy our hospitality; we’ll try to arrange a meeting with the Governor.” Vulpun says, standing up and gesturing farewell. “Thank you again for your gifts.”
Alysara curtsies with perfect grace and elegance before walking out, Ruluna and Julaly saluting and following her Her long tails catch Vulpun’s eyes with their graceful dancing as she leaves.
“Thoughts?” Vulpun asks.
Shalar stands up and gives the sword a twirl. The edge makes the air around it waver from its heat.
“Pure fire mana. I don’t know how they did it, but with a society that can do this, it’s no wonder she mastered [Sense Mana].”
“Agreed.” Kolona nods. “In Ruluna’s report, she says that Alysara admitted they are craftsmen; I can see why now. Such perfect work likely shows the best they have to offer… and does not disappoint.”
“However, it’s the items she herself is wearing that interest me the most: I could not [Analyze] them, as if they weren’t even there,” Shalar says, testing different poses with the sword. “How the hell did they get opposing mana to merge like this?” she mutters thoughtfully, looking at the handle.
“On to the political side of things,” Kolona says. “She’s careful. Inexperienced, but careful, and very intelligent. You’re more of the expert in the field, Vulpun; what do you think?”
“We are at her mercy. She can pretty much name her price, and we’d have to agree. It’s no coincidence she chose now of all times to come… Well, mostly. If we never contacted her first, she wouldn’t even be here. But showing herself so soon shows that she has been paying attention and chose our side first.”
“Meaning if we don’t agree to her terms and secure an exclusive deal, she can just go to the other side.” Shalar chimes in. “Moving onto the girl herself, she’s obviously well-trained in her Bond. I know House Ora Ara, she unmistakably has a beauty Bond, and the most frightful thing is that she is far more proficient in it than her apparent age would suggest. Considering the meeting, I conclude she met us with an illusion, but I didn’t risk retaliation to confirm.”
“An illusion?” Kolona asks. “But the storage ring is real; these items are real!”
“Yes, she managed to make solid illusions, but does that surprise you when she introduced these items?” Shalar retorts. “I am sure her Bond is in the five hundreds at least; we don’t feel her presence simply because she was not actually here, and that means she has some strange skills to pilot the illusion, particularly if the distance Ruluna reported is accurate.”
Vulpun sighs. Shalar’s intuition is almost never wrong, but that just makes Alysara even more dangerous and mysterious.
“And then there’s her knowledge in [Sense Mana], and likely the nature of mana in general; any chance we can trade for that?” Kolona asks, an eager light in his eyes.
“We have to try,” Vulpun answers.
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