Chapter 15:

The Hierophant

The Children of Eris

The city of Stonefall was a gigantic, bustling city which, according to Lady Rebecca, had roughly half a million people living in it.Bookmark here

Located in the northern part of the Holy Empire of Themis, it served as a deterrent to the nations to the empire’s north and it had a large army stationed there at all times. The city was surrounded by tall, strong, white stone walls that were made from rocks mined from the cliffs at the city’s rear which served as a natural, and impenetrable, barrier.Bookmark here

The city itself had seven main gates but only a handful of people could move freely through all of them.Bookmark here

Four of them bordered the poorest part of the city where most of the workers lived; two led into the colourful and vibrant merchant’s district in the east of the city. The last gate in the south-west led into the White Manor district where the nobles lived. The district earned its name because the stones used to make its houses were the same that were used for the walls, except they were more cleanly cut and beautiful to look upon.Bookmark here

In the very heart of the city, with entrances to every district, was the great Saint Theia Cathedral, built four hundred and ten years ago at the end of the Empire’s Civil War.Bookmark here

Just a few hundred metres from that sacred site was The Hierophant’s Delight, a good, large tavern located in the merchant’s district and, thanks to Mania’s magic, it had recently come under new management.Bookmark here

When she and Mimir had arrived in Stonefall a week ago, they had spent the first two days investigating what shops and stores were up for sale and found only a few properties on the market that would suit their interest. Ultimately, Mímir had made the final choice to buy the Hierophant because of two main reasons.Bookmark here

Firstly, it’s location. It was the closest shop they could buy to the centre of Stonefall, giving them easy access to every city district. Secondly, it was the best place in Mímir’s mind to gather information. Whispers, rumours and drunken outbursts could provide them with new intelligence that could prove useful to the Dark Lord’s plans.Bookmark here

For just ten thousand gold or Rhams, the currency of the empire and a twelfth of the market price, Mímir had become the new owner with Mania posing as his wife. However, despite David initially sending only the two of them, they had ended up bringing more people from the castle once they’d bought the tavern. Five of the maids and butlers from Castle Kelsey had joined them to help run the kitchen and front of the house and, as extra protection, six Machai and three of Mímir’s Ravens had accompanied them. Bookmark here

The Machai remained completely hidden in the basement of the building in the storeroom, waiting for the order to attack or retreat, whereas one of the Ravens stayed hidden in the shadows of the front of house, observing and listening to everything that occurred within the tavern’s walls. The other two were out on other assignments for Mímir. Bookmark here

Further, whenever one of the servants had a break, Mímir asked them to venture into local bookstores for him and purchase a wide variety of books for him to study. From world history and maps, to travel guides and newspapers, Mímir wanted to read up on everything he possibly could to better understand the nature of the Holy Empire and, more crucially, what it was like geographically and militarily. Bookmark here

However, because they were quite busy during the day, Mímir rarely had the chance to properly study up on the Holy Empire, so he made sure to do a few hours a night before falling asleep. Also, for a few hours in the after the lunchtime rush, Mania would teleport back to the castle to train Hilda, though Mania refused to ever talk about how she was training her.Bookmark here

Mímir called Mania into his office upstairs just before the start of their third day in business.Bookmark here

“What did you want to speak to me about?” Mania huffed, her hands on her hips.Bookmark here

In order to better blend in with the city folk, Mania was currently dressed in a barmaid’s outfit and had used her magic to alter her appearance so she appeared to be a brunette girl with blue eyes. Beneath her regular clothes were her actual clothes and weapons, just in case a situation arose that required her to fight.Bookmark here

Mímir was dressed smartly, reflecting the visage of a wealthy merchant, with a smart white shirt, black trousers and he had given himself blonde hair and green eyes. Unlike Mania however, Mímir’s clothing and appearance was entirely an illusion.Bookmark here

“It’s to do with the charm magic you used to acquire the Hierophant for us,” Mímir said. “There could be complications further down-”Bookmark here

“Are you doubting my abilities, Mímir?” Mania glowered at him. “My magic isn’t so weak that mere humans could-”Bookmark here

“I never said that. However, once word begins to spread that they were only paid ten thousand Rhams for this place, people will start to get suspicious.”Bookmark here

Mania snorted. “What? A man’s never given a woman something for cheap just because she’s pretty?” Mania grinned at Mimir's lack of amusement. “Don’t worry about it. I made sure that they wouldn’t be able to tell anyone the actual amount of money they got. In their minds, they were paid the right price and that’s all they’ll ever say. See? Nothing to worry about.”Bookmark here

“Unless someone from the merchant’s guild decides to spy on them and find out just how much money they got for it.”Bookmark here

Mania clicked her tongue. “Alright, I get what you’re saying. You could just come out and say it straight to me, you know?” She sighed and asked, “Do you want me to kill them?”Bookmark here

Mímir shook his head. “Far from it. I will simply have a Raven observe them for the time being and have any agents that are sent to dig up information turn up dead in a ditch on the other side of the city.”Bookmark here

Mania’s smile returned. “Try not to screw up and leave a trail of bodies to us.”Bookmark here

Mímir narrowed his eyes. “Oh, I won’t. Mania, you do remember what us three all discussed previously in private, correct?”Bookmark here

“I know, I know. It won’t do the Dark Lord any favours if we three are always arguing with one another. It’s just.” She smiled a little shyly. “I kind of like being special to the Dark Lord right now.”Bookmark here

“Because you haven’t let him down yet?”Bookmark here

She nodded. “I want to be useful to him, but I also don’t want to let him down, and, if I’m being honest, seeing you and Abaddon screw up made me feel great.”Bookmark here

“I’m so happy to have been of help.”Bookmark here

She thinly smiled at him. “However, I know that it won’t do us any good if I’m acting on my own for my best interests and not with you guys. So, I thought about what you guys said and wanted to say this.” Mania walked to the desk and stuck out her hand towards Mímir. “Let’s wipe the slate clean and work together properly this time.”Bookmark here

Mímir nodded and clasped her hand. “That’s fine with me. Abaddon will take some convincing, but I assure you he will come around in the end.”Bookmark here

“That muscle head won’t ever let it go.”Bookmark here

“Mania.”Bookmark here

“What?” She asked back. “Are we saying that we can’t make fun of one another if we’re working together?”Bookmark here

“Not at all. However.” Someone knocked at the door. “It would seem that we have guests.”Bookmark here

Mania smiled sadistically, resisting the urge to bare her fangs. “Then, let’s not keep them waiting.”Bookmark here

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