Chapter 21:

The Night's Eye

The Children of Eris

“Welcome back, Lady Mania,” a male attendant said, bowing, as Mania returned to the Hierophant’s kitchens. “Lord Mímir wanted me to tell you that nothing has come up.”Bookmark here

“I see. Good work,” Mania answered indifferently, casting her illusion spell over herself, turning back into Olivia. “Are we busy today?”Bookmark here

“No more than usual, my lady.”Bookmark here

“I see.”Bookmark here

Even if this is for the Dark Lord’s sake, this is definitely the most boring task to do, Mania complained in her mind. Then again, there isn’t anyone else that the Demon Emperor could trust with such a mission is there? Mania snickered a little when she imagined how awful Abaddon would be as a bartender or server. We’d be found out in minutes.Bookmark here

She pushed open the kitchen doors with a big smile and immediately went to serve the tables where she was needed.Bookmark here

Despite the incident with the Sons of Tartarus, the inn was as busy as always and even had adventurers and other travellers coming to rest, making it even easier for Mímir and Mania to achieve the Dark Lord’s goals to gather as much intelligence as possible. Bookmark here

As she passed by a table of five adventurers, she caught bits and pieces of their conversation as she went back and forth from the bar.Bookmark here

“-surprised that the guard don’t know who did it.”Bookmark here

“Well, what can you expect? The bodies were-”Bookmark here

“-happened not too far from my parent’s house. It’s scary to think someone would do such a-”Bookmark here

“You think it’s a rival gang?”Bookmark here

Mania stopped in her tracks and pretended to listen to the customers she had just served, whilst actually listening into the adventurers behind her talk.Bookmark here

“Are there any real rivals to the Sons of Tartarus? If there were, surely they would’ve done more than just butcher a couple dozen of them.”Bookmark here

“Maybe they tried to mug someone and got themselves killed.”Bookmark here

“Even Tartarus wouldn’t send twenty men to mug one person.”Bookmark here

“Maybe it was a group of adventurers or mercs.”Bookmark here

“Maybe.”Bookmark here

“You think it’s a smaller rival trying to take over the Tartarus’s territory?”Bookmark here

“Perhaps.”Bookmark here

“What’s wrong, Ronald?”Bookmark here

“It’s just…” Mania heard him lean forward and lower his voice. “I’ve heard that there are some new powerful members of the Night’s Eye that have been spotted in Stonefall.”Bookmark here

Night’s Eye? Bookmark here

“You think they did that to show off then?”Bookmark here

“Could be, or maybe someone in Tartarus wanted to kill off that lot and frame it as someone else’s.”Bookmark here

Who the hell are the Night’s Eye? Mania thought. Bookmark here

Since they had started their reconnaissance mission in Stonefall, the name Night’s Eye had never come up and now they were being mentioned in hushed whispers as a potential threat to the largest underworld organisation in the city.Bookmark here

I need to look into this further.Bookmark here

Mania thanked the customers she had been pretending to listen to, then went back to the bar and tried to find Mímir but, unfortunately, he had been swapped by a group of guards and didn’t seem to notice her. She couldn’t ask the Ravens to just appear and talk with them, nor could the servants; both could reveal more than necessary.Bookmark here

I wanted to ask Mímir to do it because he’s a better people’s person than I am, but he’s busy. I can’t afford to let this information disappear. I just need to subtly ask if there are any other groups we should be concerned about as we didn’t know about them or the Night’s Eye.Bookmark here

Mania smiled to herself. This could work.Bookmark here

She checked what orders they had made that hadn’t been delivered, then filled two pitchers, one with ale and one with water, then confidently walked back to the table of adventurers.Bookmark here

“Here you go,” Mania said, placing both pitchers onto their table as she smiled brightly. “Sorry about the delay. We’re always this busy I’m afraid and we don’t have enough staff, so-”Bookmark here

“It’s okay,” a cloaked woman with a staff replied. “If anything, I feel a little bad about giving you even more to worry about.”Bookmark here

Mania let out a hearty chuckle and quickly examined the five adventurers.Bookmark here

There was the cloaked woman, most likely a mage or priest, two men in full suits of steel armour, one with brown hair and the other with blonde, a man in leather armour with a bow and arrow by his side, and finally a woman with two short swords by her side in chainmail. Bookmark here

They don’t appear to be too strong.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry about ordering more stuff,” Mania said quite boisterously. “More money never hurt anyone.”Bookmark here

The brown-haired steel-clad man laughed. “I suppose not. I had been quite worried when I first heard that the Hiero was under new management, but I’m happy to see that it’s just as lovely as a place as it has always been.”Bookmark here

“Thank you for your kind words. Did you know the previous owners then?”Bookmark here

“I did. We’ve always swung by the Hierophant whenever we’re in Stonefall for some food and drink, and we ended up getting quite close to Louis and Steve. I’m surprised they let the place go.”Bookmark here

“Steve wanted to marry his fiancé and she wanted to move up north, so he needed money fast,” the short sword woman interjected. Bookmark here

“Still, either your husband offered a lot or he’s a bloody good negotiator,” the bowman mused. “How did you snag it in the end?”Bookmark here

“Well, my husband was very persuasive,” Mania said. “He marched in, bags filled with Rhams in his hands, threw them down on the table and said, ‘There’s ten more like that for each of you.’.” Mania laughed. “I’ve never seen someone’s jaws drop so low before.”Bookmark here

The table shared in her merriment and seemed rather happy with her friendly attitude.Bookmark here

Keep it up, Mania!Bookmark here

“What brought your husband and you here?” The cloaked woman asked.Bookmark here

“Well, he was an adventurer like yourselves for most of his life but, after I snagged him, he said he’d give it up and we’d settle down wherever I wanted. I’d always wanted to live in the Empire and he wanted to open up a shop of some sort to support us now that he’s retired. So, we came to Stonefall, checked out the market and saw the Hierophant up for sale and just fell in love with the place.”Bookmark here

“It sounds like you two are really happy here,” the blonde steel-clad man said.Bookmark here

Mania’s smile turned slightly bitter. “Yes, well, we were, until the other day.”Bookmark here

There were a few nods of understanding around the table.Bookmark here

So the rumours really have spread then.. Bookmark here

She reminded herself once more of the advice Mímir had given her not too long ago about how to deal with the fallout of her mistake.Bookmark here

If we were to try and deny or ignore them, then that would be worse for us. It’s best for us to acknowledge them and then use that to steer them in the direction we want them to go,” Mímir had told her the day after the Dark Lord had scolded them. “Acknowledge them, confirm that truth and then give them a lie to absorb rather than the whole truth.”Bookmark here

“I’m surprised that you decided to stay after such an encounter,” the bowman confessed. “I think most people would’ve either paid them the Rhams or run for it.”Bookmark here

“We considered it and,” Mania said before leaning in and speaking softer. “We’re still considering it now, especially after what happened to them.”Bookmark here

The short sword woman frowned and nodded. “Indeed. That was a horrible affair.”Bookmark here

“They got what was coming to them,” the blonde steel-clad man said. “They were scum and even threatened a beautiful woman like you. Serves them right.”Bookmark here

A few of his teammates glared at him as Mania’s smile became much more awkward and forced. Bookmark here

“I can’t think of it that way,” Mania said. “It’s scary to think that someone killed them so soon after they threatened us. Maybe we have the Great Goddess watching over us or something?”Bookmark here

“The Great Goddess does punish the wicked,” the cloaked woman replied with a reassuring smile. “I’m sure that it was only a matter of time until those sinners paid for their crimes.”Bookmark here

“Yeah.” Mania quickly checked over her shoulders, then leant forward and whispered, “I didn’t mean to, but I couldn’t help but overhear what you were talking about earlier. You said something about a group called the ‘Night’s Eye’. Are they someone else we should be on the lookout for?”Bookmark here

The brown-haired steel-clad man’s eyes widened, but he regained his composure and nodded. “I did mention them, yes. However.” He smiled. “You do not need to worry about them. They are a small group of assassins and spies, not thugs and slavers like Tartarus. They shouldn’t harm you or your husband.”Bookmark here

“If they tried, we’d handle them for you, oh fair one,” the blonde man added with a wink. Bookmark here

Mania felt a vein pop in her head.Bookmark here

I might not be married to Mímir for real, but what the hell’s wrong with this guy, hitting on a married woman? My heart belongs to the Dark Lord!Bookmark here

Mania didn’t let any of her irritation show on her face.Bookmark here

“If something like that comes up, I’d be grateful for your help.”Bookmark here

“And we’d be more than happy to provide it,” the brown-haired man said. “The Hierophant is a wonderful place and I would hate to see anything happen to it.”Bookmark here

“Olivia!” Mímir called to her from the counter with a wave. “I could do with some help over here! Stop gossiping and give us a hand.”Bookmark here

Mania sighed, put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “Honestly, it’s hard for me to have a social life when you do things like that, dear. One second!” She turned back to the adventurers and smiled. “I’m sorry, but it seems like my husband can’t get anything done without me. Please come and visit the Hierophant again whenever you are in the city.”Bookmark here

“We will,” the cloaked woman said before Mania took her leave.Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Once Olivia had turned around, Ronald’s eyes followed her all the way back to the counter. Bookmark here

“What’s wrong?” His friend beside him asked.Bookmark here

“…Don’t you think it’s strange that she overheard me mention the Night’s Eye after I whispered it in a busy tavern?”Bookmark here

In the shadows above them, watching and listening to their every word, the Raven narrowed its eyes.Bookmark here

Bookmark here

We might have a problem.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.