Chapter 13

“Will those children be alright, Aunt Paige?” Isabella asked for the third time this morning. She had been unusually quiet yesterday during their travels, not even Now Paige understood why Isabella was upset a few days ago.

“They’ll be fine Isabella.” Tyler responded this time. “While it is sad their parents died, it was an incredible boon for their futures as well. The Royal Orphanage is not a place just anyone can go.”

“An Orphanage? Why is it called a Royal Orphanage?” Zenith asked, confused at the term.

“An orphanage is a place that takes in children who have nowhere else to go. It’s an orphanage and school for children of soldiers who died protecting the Alcudian Royal Family. Every child will have a specialized mentor who will help them develop their talent, no matter what it may be. Most will go straight into service under the royal family, such as the Royal Guards, Head Gardener, etc. Whatever they wish to be, no matter what role, they will be trained to the fullest.” Tyler responded. Some of the best soldiers under his command as the Royal Captain had been from the Royal Orphanage.

“Those kids are lucky then. In Appealte children with no family will usually choose to become a servant to survive. The unlucky ones get sold into slavery or worse.” Zenith said sadly.

Isabella agreed, that was no way to treat children. “Do you think those children will grow up happy though?”

Paige stopped and looked at Isabella seriously. “They’ll never forget what happened to them. It’s even more unlikely they will forgive the demons either. The older ones especially. Maybe the ones younger than three will grow up happy, but even that is unlikely.” She noticed that Nick was watching her. “What’s up Nick?”

“You recognized that symbol on the altar. And even had a countermeasure against it. What does that symbol mean?” He had asked Zenith that after her nap the day prior, and even she wasn’t familiar with the symbol. “Care to tell us what your class is?”

Paige stopped. She looked at her party and decided she might as well share it. “I don’t know what the symbol stands for either, but I know that it is a standard component of the blood sacrifices. To answer your other question though, my class is Dawn Warrior. It’s a class that has certain benefits against demons, but only if you follow certain restrictions. For one, the sun must be up in the sky. Shocking, I know. Two, my equipment has to be able to withstand high heat, otherwise I’d be in trouble every time I launch an attack.” She pointed at her leather breastplate. “It’s been enchanted with [[Greater Heat Resistance]] so that I can actually use my attacks.”

“Did you know what class you were going to obtain?” Tyler asked shocked. They had gotten their supplies ready prior to forming their Party.

“I had an inkling it would be this class or one just like it. My vest has greater resistance to all elements, not just heat resistance. But only heat resistance matters right now.” She shrugged.

“That’s not possible. Most equipment can’t handle the mana overload that conflicting spells create. Even my Ranger cloak can only have one greater resistance to an element. The craftsman was sure of that.” Nick responded.  

“Don’t judge Paige’s equipment by our standards.” Zenith interrupted Nick before he could go further. “Do you even realize how much her equipment cost?” They stopped and evaluated Paige’s equipment. It was just a bodysuit and leather armor, how much could it cost? She rolled her eyes at them. “You need to go shopping more often. I can already tell you her equipment cost more than the national budget of all our countries combined.” They were shocked and looked more critically at Paige.

“Eyes up here Nick, Tyler.” Paige smirked, pointing at her eyes. “What gave it away Zenith? It’d be debatable if even Merchant could recognize the material by sight, or even know why it is different.”

“Your bodysuit shines in the shade. There’s only one material that does that.”

“Mithril? Her whole outfit is made of mithril?” Nick exclaimed, shocked. He knew Zenith wasn’t joking about the cost. The Ranger Command had often talked about getting a mithril cloak made, and the benefits of having even one made; but the cost alone was enough to bankrupt their organization five times over. Moreover, it had been brought up multiple times that it would be hard hiding the glow of the material in the forest.

“What kind of leather is that then? Dragon leather?” Isabella asked. Although she didn’t know how much mithril cost, just looking at Nick and Tyler’s face made her realize it was expensive, even for someone of their station.

“Nope. Unicorn. If I killed a dragon, I’d be wearing dragon scale armor, not a leather vest silly.”

Her answer still shocked Isabella. “You can kill a dragon?”

“It’d be a bit hard, but I would stand a fair chance of at least wounding one fairly badly.” Paige said confidently, shocking them into silence again.

“Your sword, it also shone in the shade.” Nick said, remembering that small detail from the battle.

“It’s also mithril, but the cutting edge is diamond. It’s a little cheaper to create it that way.” Paige confirmed.

“Umm…Paige, why did you need us to come at this point?” Zenith asked dumbfoundedly. She had heard stories of Imperial Scions supposedly killing a dragon, but those were ancient stories. If Paige really knew someone who could kill a dragon…

“I wouldn’t be here either if not for Guild Regulation Six. The guild blacklists members who fail to follow this rule and they distribute detailed records to every guild hall. It took a lot of time and effort for me to stay low key like this.”

“Low key? Why do you need to stay low key Aunt?”

“I have enemies too; they would keep a close watch on the Guild lists. I’m only well known in Alcudia right now, which is why I haven’t been noticed all this time.” Hesistating slightly, she continued on talking, “We all have a past. I haven’t done anything illegal; I’m just…running from my past and I ended up here.”

Isabella ran up to Paige and gave her a hug. “Sorry for asking about it.”

“It’s okay, maybe one day I’ll share it. Knowledge is power, but certain things are too dangerous to ask about.” Paige stopped the conversation at that.

Isabella scuffed the ground with her boots. “Well Aunt, do you perhaps have any extra supplies? Maybe a mithril hair clip or something?” she asked quickly, hoping to receive an expensive gift. Zenith idly wondered what else she could have.

“I uh, do have some extras equipment.” Paige said. “I can lend it out to you all, but it is substandard stuff; but if you’d like it…”

“Yes please!” Isabella shouted. She noticed that Zenith had shouted at the same time as well.

“Nick, Tyler; Do you want some stuff as well?” Paige asked hesitantly. ‘They are my party members, but…”

“What equipment is it? You aren’t carrying a lot of item’s Paige.” Nick noted that her pack was just as large as the rest of theirs.

“Umm, it’s a random assortment of stuff. I might have some warrior equipment…It’s been awhile since I’ve checked what I actually have.” Paige said, patting her pockets, as if looking for something. “Usually I would cover up my bodysuit with another one, but with my current class…”

“Is it trinkets? What can you fit in your pockets aunt?” Isabella was confused, but Zenith and the others already had an inkling of what she was looking for.

“Is it a spatial ring?” Zenith whispered. She idly wondered exactly how rich she was.

“Umm, yeah. I know I have it here somewhere. Ah, here it is.”

She pulled out a nondescript ring from her leather vest, a single ruby encrusted with her name on it. “

“What is it?”

“Expensive. Just like the rest of her outfit.” Tyler said. He was already a little disturbed by the amount of secrets Paige had hidden. “Where did you get that from?”

“I stole it from an Imperial Scion dead body.” Everyone breath stopped at that statement.

“But it has your name on it?” Paige asked shakily.

“It’s a joke. Heh, even I wouldn’t joke about killing an Imperial Scion; it’s too much paperwork and pretty hard to hide after the fact.” Paige said jokingly.

“Aunt Paige…” Even she knew that slandering the Imperial family was a crime punishable by death, if told to the right person.

“Sigh. A friend made it for me. Before the Imperial family started to control the sale of spatial rings.”

“When did they do that?” Zenith asked. “I thought that the materials to make them were just exceedingly rare.”

“It is rare, but not that rare. They killed most of the craftsmen out here in the borderlands who knew how to make it.”

“The borderlands?”

“Any place not near Imperial lands. Anyone they couldn’t persuade to join them were killed.” She said sadly. “My friend was one of them. I couldn’t find her in time to save her.”

“Like the Queen. I’ve always wondered how you rescued the queen so fast. It wasn’t even King Erickson’s main castle.” Nick said out loud. “Ocean fief castle is located on the surrounding islands close to the mainland, which makes it a hassle to travel there. But you found her not even two days after she was captured.

“…I asked a friend for a favor. I have a spell called [[Friend Finder]]. You can only cast it once a year though, and the restrictions are fairly hard to satisfy.” She quickly told them the restrictions.

“Friend Finder? That’s a real spell?” Zenith was shocked. “You have to be in sight, giggling over a story for thirty-nine seconds while slapping each other on the back? And the conversation must start at the beginning or ending of the summer or winter solstice? You actually satisfied all those requirements?”

“Yeah, we got quite drunk after her coronation.”

“Aunt can tell us after. What’s in the ring?” Isabella was impatient with all the waiting and talking. She wanted to see the ring in action.

“Okay little Isabella. Step back a bit.” She pulled a slip of paper out and read it quickly. “Ring ring ring. Show me my stuff.” She said loudly. Isabella gave her a dumbfounded look. Her face practically screamed how dumb Paige looked.

Nothing happened. Paige blushed slightly as everyone stared at her weirdly.

“Ring ring ring. PLEASE show me my stuff.”

Still nothing happened. Paige’s face darkened “Show me my stuff or I swear I’ll break you.”

A transparent red box appeared ahead of her, which was further separated into smaller boxes. The ruby shining with a faint light. “My friend liked to joke a bit.” She said, not glancing at anyone’s eye.

“I might have a few items here that you and Nick can use, Tyler. Unfortunately, most of the items are for women.” Quickly scanning the boxes, she started tapping on a few of the tiny boxes. “I know I have some mage equipment you and Isabella can wear too.”

“Will they fit us?” Isabella asked worriedly. Paige was a full-grown adult, and Zenith and her could pass as young teenagers.

“It will, they are enchanted to fit properly. Now, let’s see what I have in here for all of you. Some of these I expect back afterwards.”

Almost everyone was in a good mood. Although she hated giving away her equipment, a good party leader did what was best for the party. An old friend had taught her that.

At a first glance, Zenith and Isabella equipment hadn’t changed much. As soon as Paige had said the equipment were enchanted, Zenith had elected to wear a more mature magician dress. Her usual clothes were children clothes or custom order ones. As a result, she was embarrassed by the lack of stylish dresses she could wear. Even her usual magician robe was a standard Apprentice Mage robe that she had customized to match someone of her caliber. ‘Although, the enchantment is pretty good.’ She had to admit the magic that went into the clothing was mind blowing. ‘What class would you have to be in order to even add this type of enchantment to the clothing?’ The Magic Tailor I worked with could only add elemental resistance to the clothing; not something as complex as altering the fabric to match the body figure of the one wearing it.’

“Paige, how do I look?” Zenith asked, blushing.

“It looks good on you! Much better than that customized apprentice robe.” Paige smiled. “It’s called a Kimehana dress. You don’t see them much in Appealte or Alcudia, but I believe you do see them in the western part of Leit. Southwest region Nick?”

“Hrmm, there are a few traveling groups of nomads that wear that style. Theirs tend to be a darker color though.” Nick had seen that style of dress before. It was surprising that Paige had the same style dress, but he shouldn’t be too surprised anymore.

“True.” Paige made a slight sound of acknowledgement. She preferred lighter colors, natural colors; but it was supposed to be a stealth mission. Paige smirked as she thought of something to do. She tapped the left strap of the dress and spoke quietly. “Change to ranger forest green.”

Zenith’s dress instantly changed from a yellow white color scheme to a mixture of dark and light green hues; ones that bore a striking resemblance to the color of Nick’s own outfit. She was instantly flustered. “Paige! What did you do! I liked those colors!”

“Well, I hope you like them more now.” Paige smirked.

“They can change color too?” Isabella saw what her aunt had done. She mirrored Paige’s actions and said out loud. “Change to ranger forest green.” Hers stayed the same though.

“Only the magician’s outfit can change color. It’s assumed that if you are wearing archer clothes that you mean to be stealthy.” Paige laughed as she saw Isabella pout.

For her part, Isabella had chosen to wear something like what she had on. Paige had told her she was wearing an Archer’s standard outfit; an outer layer of worn leather hiding an interior layer of smaller plates. Combined with the ranger cloak she received from Nick; at first glance she would pass as an Apprentice Archer. The addition of a steel bracer made her look even more like an archer than before. “The interior plates are made of a mix of mithril and steel, so you should be relatively safe. Thoughts Nick?”

“What about their heads?” He asked, studying the two of them. Zenith and Isabella waited to hear his thoughts.

Paige glanced at the two of them. “What’s wrong with their heads?”

“A helmet would be better than that piece of metal you put on their heads.”

“Says the person who chose to wear a leather hat with a falcon’s feather in it?”

“I noticed that the hat is enchanted with [[Blunt Resistance]], and the feather with [[Pierce resistance]].” Nick gruffly replied. The equipment Paige had stored was very limited in what he could choose from.

“The circlet has both, and [[Greater Mana Gathering]]; it’ll be useful for both of them, since they are heavily leaning toward magic skills.” Paige replied. She thought she had chosen well; both were wearing a simple silver circlet around their head that rested right above their forehead. Zenith had a simple cut emerald embedded in the band while Isabella had a polished marble stone in hers.

“Paige…” Zenith started to struggle with how rich Paige was. Did she really think that the headband was just something you could pick up from any Merchant?

“It’s okay. You can keep the circlets. I do want the clothes back though. Consider it a perk for joining the party.”

“Then what would you consider the subclasses we got?”

“A blessing.” Paige smiled. “Haha, I forget how old you are Zenith. Sorry if it feels like I’m spoiling you.”

“No no, I’m fine with it. Honestly Paige, I wished you were my aunt. You treat me better than all of my family.”

“Are you sure you want us to keep this Aunt? I can tell by Zenith’s face that all of this is expensive.”

“Yes, yes, Isabella. My party can’t be in rags when I’m covered in riches. What kind of Party Leader would I be?” She puffed up her chest at that thought. Her previous thoughts about lending it to them temporarily all but forgotten.

“Then do I get anything?” Tyler said with a forced smile on his face. Paige blushed in response. Her entire ring was filled with clothes for professions other than warriors.

In his mind, if you have a storage ring you would fill it with items your class needed. But Paige had done the exact opposite. Judging by her former class, she had certainly mastered every warrior class and their skills. So why had she elected to carry only mage and archer equipment! Of her warrior gear, she only had one shield; a simple round buckler. True, the value of her bodysuit, leather armor and sword were almost impossible to calculate, but he saw Paige give a magician’s mana shield to Zenith, and what appeared to be a modified mana shield that looked like a steel arm guard to Isabella. Two full-blown mana shields! He had seen the Guild master of the Mage Guild before, and he was sure he only had a simple runic shield. ‘Substandard equipment my ass.’ he grumbled in his mind.

“Tyler, we are almost at Trulton. I think we need to decide on which route to take.” Paige decided to sidestep the issue at hand.

He exhaled loudly and focused his mind on the task at hand. “Nothing has changed on William’s side, so either we can follow the original route and go west from Trulton to Castle Lidale and head north to the mausoleum. Either way, the guild checkpoints will stop soon after, so the last time we can gather supplies will be either be in Trulton or Castle Patel. Officer Steve mentioned that the queen is recuperating at the Healer Hall at Castle Patel though, so we could go north to Castle Patel and head west instead.”

“Let’s hear your thoughts first, then I’ll decide as the Party Leader.” Paige confirmed. ‘Maybe I can hit up one of my remaining equipment stashes. I feel guilty not giving Tyler anything.’ Paige truly didn’t keep warrior equipment on her; she had several weapon stashes hidden across the country. Luckily though, she had decided to relocate several of them that were close to the borders of Evidia prior to the invasion. Unluckily though, she had deposited them in Appealte and Leit instead.

“I would like to visit mother if possible. Maybe Beatrice will be there too?” Isabella said hopefully. She hadn’t seen her mother in almost half a year now, not since the first few defensive lines were initially broken.

“I say Castle Patel. The Rangers should be arriving there around the same time we would be, so I would like to get a few things from them.” Nick said. For his part, he wanted to see if he could get a Ranger’s horse instead of a pack mule.

“I say Castle Lidale. We can coordinate with General Williams when we arrive in the area and have him start pressuring the frontlines.” Tyler argued against changing the plans.

“I say Castle Patel. The Healer Hall would have a way to contact the Mage Guild, so I would like to contact them if possible. I would like to meet the Queen as well, if Isabella and you don’t mind…” Zenith trailed off. She was truly thinking of Isabella and Paige as part of her family.

Paige listened to their reasonings and decided to postpone it until after dinner. “Let’s try and get to Trulton by tomorrow. I’ll think about it until then.”

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