Chapter 47 - Tower Lord

The sixth floor of the Heaven’s Eye Tower was entirely taken up by the offices of the account managers.  Their job, for the most part, was to supervise the smaller Heaven’s Eye banks throughout the city and the rest of the Great Plateau, but when a noble came here wanting to access their account, it was always one of these managers who facilitated it.

Elise strode off the magic lift as soon as it arrived, took a cursory glance at the desks, and immediately walked up to the first account manager who didn’t seem busy.

“You, get the vault associated with this account taken to room three on the seventh floor.”  She barely looked at the manager and spoke with a commanding tone that was almost unbelievably different from how she spoke to Leon.  Rather than a playful and seductive but leading tone, now she made it clear that there would be no questioning her.

The poor manager almost aged a decade at that moment under her withering glare, while the other managers looked to him with pity, before turning away and leaving him with Elise.  He was a newly promoted manager, not entrusted with many responsibilities, thus why he wasn’t that busy when Elise arrived.  He was completely unprepared to deal with the attendants, who were often seen as far more important than the account managers, as new managers could be trained, but if a noble favored an attendant, then that attendant was all but irreplaceable.

He reluctantly looked toward Elise’s outstretched hand and seeing the gold card in it, his heart plummeted even further.

“Perha-… Perhaps one of the more senior manag…”  He tried to object, but when she narrowed her eyes in obvious anger and irritation, he immediately shut his mouth and obediently accepted the card.

Every account was given a sixteen-digit alphanumeric ID, but the card the ID was printed on was so heavily enchanted that it couldn’t be read by anyone without a lens that only one of the account managers would possess.  The manager Elise gave the card pulled out his lens and examined the account ID.

All the blood in his face immediately drained away.  He read the ID again just to be certain, then shuffled around in his desk and took out a piece of paper.  He compared the ID on the card to what was on the paper, then looked back at Elise.

“Who gave you this card?” he asked somewhat timidly.

“Why?” Elise asked back, in a bone-chillingly sharp tone.

The account manager opened his mouth to speak again but seemed to think better of it.  He read the ID one more time to be certain, then looked back to Elise.

“My lady, this account was recently locked, as we detected the death of the last member of the family that held it.”

“Oh?”  Elise frowned.

“Whoever brought this card likely obtained it through dishonest means and is now attempting to steal those assets.”

Elise continued frowning.  She didn’t get that kind of vibe from Leon.  She was certain that he was no murderer, thief, or graverobber, but it also occurred to her that she never did let him speak long enough to actually tell her what he was there for.

“What then do we do?” she asked curtly.

“There is a protocol for this, and it isn’t like it’s guaranteed the card bearer did something shady or illegal.  The last account holder may have simply given the card to a friend or passed it on to a child that isn’t in our records.  Regardless, we’re going to need a drop of blood from the card bearer.”  The manager took out a tiny steel needle and a glass orb, then stood up, making for the magic lift.  Elise’s frown deepened, but she followed closely behind him.

They were completely silent until they reached Leon’s waiting room.  Elise intimidated the living hell out of him, and he didn’t dare to speak any more than was necessary.

When they arrived at the door, Elise’s frown disappeared, replaced with a seductive smile and an elegant atmosphere.  The account manager marveled at how quickly she changed gears, switching her expressions and mannerisms from the dominant force in the room into those of a sensual attendant.  If the manager didn’t know her background, he might even suspect she had some succubus parentage.

Leon had been pacing in the waiting room for the few minutes Elise had been gone.  He wasn’t very comfortable in social situations in the first place, but she had thrown his thoughts into complete disarray.  It got to the point that his instincts were screaming at him to just leave before that devil-woman returned.  But that would mean leaving the card behind, and he wasn’t about to do that.  He just took a deep breath and did his best to calm himself, to get as ready as he could for when she returned.

But, he still almost jumped out of his skin when the door opened.  Elise walked in with the account manager, beaming at him and pretending that she didn’t notice a thing.

“Young Lord, I’m terribly sorry, but to access this account, we’re going to need a tiny drop of blood.”  She walked over to him, taking his hand and getting very close to him.  The account manager was present, so Leon looked at him for a little help, but he just shrugged his shoulders, wordlessly telling Leon that he was on his own with her.

He simply decided to keep quiet for now, while using every ounce of willpower he possessed to keep a straight face, though he quickly turned red as a tomato again.  Elise flashed him a radiant smile, then turned towards the manager and nodded.  She had Leon hold out his hand while the manager drew the steel needle and pricked Leon’s finger.  Leon hardly felt it, and it didn’t seem to leave a wound, but the needle still came away with a single drop of blood.  The manager brushed the needle against the glass orb in his other hand, which Leon noted must be heavily enchanted, as the drop of blood passed through the glass like it wasn’t even there and hovered in the exact center of the orb.

The manager nodded respectfully to Leon, then made for the door.  Elise, despite the lack of bleeding or any sign of the needle’s prick, still raised Leon’s finger to her rosy lips.  She sent a sultry look Leon’s way just as her lips brushed against his finger, before finally allowing him to pull away.

“We’ll be right back.  Young Lord should feel free to rest and relax here in the meantime…”  With that said, she once again walked to the door as sexily as she could, subtly activating an enchantment in her dress to make it slightly tighter, then left.

Leon took a deep breath.  He was starting to get used to her, though he still had no idea how to handle her being all over him like that.  He generally disliked physical contact with other people, but he couldn’t figure out if he liked her intruding in his space or not.  Whatever the case, he went back to pacing, trying to keep a cool head.

After Elise closed the door behind her, she regained her tyrannical attitude so fast that the account manager thought he felt the air drop in temperature.  They wordlessly walked back to the lift, then descended to the fourth floor.

The fourth floor of the tower was taken up by the Heaven’s Eye blood mages.  Blood magic had a terrible stigma associated with it, with most people thinking that it was only about sacrificing to demons or killing people to use their mana to power magic rituals.  In fact, vampirism is contracted through overindulgence in the more repulsive sides of blood magic.

But, blood magic also has far more benign uses that can’t be ignored, such as identification and oath swearing.  Roland swearing not to speak about the king’s current situation by writing his name in blood was an example of more mainstream blood magic.  Should he ever break that oath without Prince August releasing him from it, Roland would suffer a severe magical backlash that would probably kill him or leave him terribly crippled if he survived.

When Elise and the account manager arrived at the fourth floor, there was only a single blood mage behind the desk.  Not many accounts are so tightly secured as to require this level of identification, so the few blood mages who work in the tower generally divide themselves into shifts, so there is rarely more than one blood mage behind the desk at a time.

 The blood mage’s face fell as soon as he saw Elise, something which was not lost on her.  She glared at him but didn’t say a word, letting the account manager handle things.  He put the gold card and the glass orb on the desk, spoke a few words, then waited as the blood mage left the room.

Fortunately, this process wasn’t very complicated.  The blood mage returned after a few minutes holding a bird claw carved from solid gold.  Gripped within the talons was another glass orb, about the size of an orange.  The blood mage very carefully placed the claw in the center of a magical formation carved into the desk, then placed Leon’s orb right next to it.

When he activated the formation, the two orbs slammed together before any of them could blink.  It was a good thing these orbs were so heavily enchanted because they would have shattered otherwise.  Elise and the account manager had seen this ritual done before, but they had never seen such a strong reaction.  The blood mage himself panicked a little, before activating a few runes carved into the edges of the formation.  The two orbs unstuck themselves, but the two drops of blood could be plainly seen pressed up against the glass, clearly attracted to each other.

“What was that?” the account manager asked quietly.

“Hmmm…”  The blood mage thought for a moment before answering.  “There are three possibilities for such an intense reaction.  The first is that the blood you brought me is from the same person as our sample.  The second is that these samples are from identical twins.  We can rule those out, as the orbs were no longer stuck after I activated these runes.  The last possibility, and thus the only possibility, is that they share an Inherited Bloodline of an Ascended Beast.  Regardless, these two samples are from close relatives, separated by no more than two generations.”

The blood mage quickly filled out a short document, and gave it to the very relieved account manager, while Elise was lost in thought.

A gold card, stronger than second-tier at a young age, and an Inherited Bloodline?’  Her face broke out into a wide smile.

When they returned to the magic lift, the account manager set it for the top floor.  Elise was so lost in thought that she didn’t even notice until the lift doors opened.

She turned to glare at the account manager, assuming this to be just a stupid mistake, but he just walked past her, towards the huge doors at the end of the hall.

“What are you doing?” she asked, clearly extremely annoyed.

“This account was locked by a personal order from the Tower Lord.  He needs to be informed that someone is here to reopen it.”

Elise frowned.  This was taking quite a bit longer than expected, she wanted to return to Leon’s waiting room.  She sighed, then followed behind the account manager.  He knocked, and the sound reverberated throughout the cavernous hall.

The doors opened on their own, and with odd silence given their size.  The room beyond was an enormous dimly lit hall, largely empty save for a few pieces of furniture, a gargantuan firepit in the center of the floor, and a desk at the other end, shaped into a half circle around a plain-looking chair.  The man sitting in the chair seemed middle-aged, though he had run this branch of Heaven’s Eye for centuries now.  He was so strong that even the account manager, who wasn’t even of the first-tier, could feel the hair on his body stand up from this man’s magical aura.

He looked up from the papers on his desk, with a face as expressive as stone.  “What do you want?” he asked in a gravelly voice that seemed to echo in the account manager’s mind and made him a little weak in the knees.

It took a moment for the manager to compose himself in the Tower Lord’s presence.  “My lord, that account you ordered locked last week, a young man has arrived with the card associated with it.”

The only sign that the Tower Lord was surprised was a slight momentary narrowing of his eyes before he extended his hand.  The manager understood exactly what he wanted, and with as much respect and deference as he could, handed over the gold card.  The Tower Lord glanced at it, his eyes easily seeing through the myriad enchantments placed upon it.

“Anything else?” he growled.  The manager wasted no time relaying the results of the blood test, handing the Tower Lord the document from the blood mage.  The Tower Lord examined the document with far more care than he did the card, then casually leaned back in his chair.

“Have this account’s vault brought to the waiting room.  I’ll go meet this young man myself.”

The manager’s eyes widened in shock, as did Elise’s.

“This is the account of a very special family of clients, it would only be proper for me to greet the new account holder in person.”  He rose with almost unnatural grace and seemed to glide across the shiny marble floor towards the doors.  Elise hurried after him, with the manager not far behind.  The Tower Lord didn’t seem to be moving very fast, but he reached the lift before the other two had even left his office.  He was a little annoyed at having to wait for them, but he didn’t let it show.

Elise and the Tower Lord got off the lift on the floor below, while the manager took the lift further down, to make the arrangements for Leon’s vault to be sent to his waiting room.

Before entering, the Tower Lord glanced at Elise, letting his face break out into a fatherly smile.

“What is your impression of this young man?”

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Chapter 48 - The Vault

Chapter 46 - The Bank