Chapter 48 - The Vault

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“What is your impression of this young man?”

Elise took a moment to think before answering.  “He seems to be the sort of man who hasn’t had to deal with many people.  He’s quiet, unexpressive even when embarrassed, uncomfortable around other people, but innocent most of all.”

“Innocent?  Really?  He appears to be a third-tier mage to me, and even second-tier mages are rarely so innocent…”  The Tower Lord could sense the aura Leon gave off plain as day, even through the heavily enchanted walls of the tower.

“Third-tier, hmm?  Well, innocent when it comes to women.  I did sense a slight undercurrent of killing intent, so he’s most definitely killed before.”

“If he is who I think he is, then there’s no way his father would’ve raised him somewhere peaceful.”

“Oh?  And who do you think he is?”  Elise looked at the Tower Lord with bright and expectant eyes.  The Tower Lord was weak to such assaults, especially where Elise was concerned, but he couldn’t just say it without a promise from her, first.

“… You will not repeat a word of this to anyone.  We at Heaven’s Eye take as little part in political struggles as possible, and this is a very weighty situation we now have on our hands…”  Elise nodded eagerly.  She didn’t mind not speaking of this matter, and she couldn’t stand not knowing.  “… Good.  The card he came in with was for House Raime.  That blood test you just ran confirmed him as the grandson of Kyros Raime.”

House Raime?”  Elise asked incredulously.  She now understood the need for secrecy.  “I thought they were all dead!”

“Which is what most people thought.  In fact, I’d say myself and a few of our senior blood mages at this branch were the only ones who knew differently.  Fifteen years ago, when Artorias Raime’s villa was destroyed, he managed to escape.  I heard that he had a son, but he never registered the boy with the Guild.”

“But how did you know he was still alive?  Did he visit this place?”

“He didn’t have to, we have his blood.  We could’ve even found him if we wanted, but that isn’t our way.”

Something occurred to Elise as they were talking, the reason this account had been locked in the first place.  “But if he survived, why was the account locked?”

The Tower Lord was silent for a moment, before answering in a quiet voice.  “He died last week.”

“…  Oh.”

“Well, the Guild’s rules must be followed, so I gave the order to lock the account for one hundred years.  If no one showed up to unlock it, the assets would have been seized by the bank.  I didn’t expect someone to arrive so quickly, though.  Now, then, I would like to meet this young man.”

Elise nodded, her business-like demeanor dropping to be replaced with that of a seductive attendant, and she opened the door.

The Tower Lord followed Elise inside, and when he saw Leon, any doubts as to his identity immediately vanished.  Elise went over to Leon and began flirting again, while the young man desperately struggled to maintain his composure, and the Tower Lord stared in amazement.

He had kept some of his attention on Leon ever since the young man entered the tower, as the aura the Tower Lord sensed from him had seemed very familiar.  When the account manager handed him the results of the blood test, it confirmed his suspicions, but seeing Leon in person was something else entirely.  Despite the prodigious strength of his magic senses, not even he could see through the powerful enchantments in walls.  The only specifics he could sense about the guests within the tower were their auras, so this was the first time he saw Leon’s appearance.

“Incredible…  You really are Kyros’ grandson…” the Tower Lord muttered.

Unfortunately, Leon heard him.  He shoved Elise away, almost throwing the young woman to the ground, then reached for his sword while taking a strong and aggressive stance.  He was about to draw when the Tower Lord waved his hand, and Leon froze in place.

“I’m terribly sorry, I shouldn’t have said something so careless.  Elise, are you all right?”  She nodded back to him while considering herself lucky that she was required to wear sandals here.  Had she been wearing anything with raised heels—and she would’ve had she the choice—she would be picking herself up off the ground now.

“We’re not going to hurt you, young man, or spread word about your identity, so please calm yourself.”  The Tower Lord spoke with a quiet and measured voice, then released his magical hold over Leon.  The younger man felt himself regain control over his body, and with a glance at the Tower Lord, he slowly released his grip on his sword.

The Tower Lord smiled, and gestured toward the chairs, taking one for himself.  Leon was about to join him, but he turned to Elise first.

“I… sorry… about that…”

Elise was certainly a little taken aback when Leon shoved her, but she hardly cared.  She smiled impishly at him and pressed her body up against his.

“Hmmm… I think I can forgive you…” she brought her lips in close to Leon’s ear, before continuing with a seductive whisper, “… but there may be a price…”  She gently bit his earlobe, and he froze faster than when the Tower Lord used his magic on him.  Elise pulled back a little, but only just enough to look Leon in the eye with a passionate gaze.  She would’ve continued her blatant flirting and teasing, but the Tower Lord loudly cleared his throat, and the two quickly took a seat, though when Leon went for a chair that only sat one, Elise grabbed his arm and steered him towards a couch where she sat rather uncomfortably close to him.

Doing his best to ignore her, Leon turned to the Tower Lord, waiting for an introduction.  The Tower Lord was a little surprised at Elise’s behavior, but he smiled and looked back at Leon.

“My name is Ajax, and I’m the Lord of this branch of Heaven’s Eye.  May I ask for your name?”

“Leon.”  His answer was short, far less than what would normally be considered polite.  Not that the Ajax really cared about politeness, but it was something he noted.

“And you are the son of Artorias Raime?”  Leon didn’t answer him this time, but the momentary glare and killing intent he sent Ajax’s way told him he was right.  “I thought so.  Your grandfather, His Honored Grace, Kyros Raime, was a friend of mine.  You actually look so much like him when he was younger that I lost myself when I saw you, I apologize if you found that startling.”

Leon frowned and didn’t say a word, leaving Ajax feeling a little awkward.  He was used to dealing with long-winded nobles and merchants, so he had a habit of leaving the other party plenty of room to speak, but Leon wasn’t giving him much to work with.

“This is your first visit to a Heaven’s Eye Bank, correct?”  Again, Leon didn’t respond verbally, but he at least nodded to Ajax.  Ajax was thankful for that, as it gave him an excuse to talk about many of the procedures the Guild had implemented for its banks.  He told Leon all about their account system, how they verify IDs, the tightness of their security, how to lock an account in the case of a lost ID card, as well as how to get a new card in that event, throughout which Leon remained silent as stone.

It took a while, but Ajax thought he knew why Leon was being so taciturn.  Not only was the young man quiet to begin with, but Elise had been pressing herself up against him this entire time, gently stroking his hand and resting her head on his shoulder.  Consequently, Leon had been sitting straight as a board, barely moving and clearly not very comfortable.  He didn’t speak up to ask Elise to stop, which was why it took Ajax so long to see it.

“Elise, do you think you can wait outside, please?  I would like to speak with Leon alone.”  Elise responded with a cute pouting face, but the Tower Lord insisted, so she reluctantly rose and moved to the door, but she didn’t forget to toss a few suggestive looks Leon’s way while doing so.

After she left, Leon finally started to relax.

The Tower Lord put on a teasing smile, and asked, “Is she not to your liking?  I could arrange for another attendant for you.  Another girl?  A boy?”

Leon hurriedly shook his head.  “No, that’s not the problem.  She’s fine, just a little over-familiar is all…”

“Well, if she makes you uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to say so, and we’ll find you a new attendant as soon as we can.”

Leon nodded in gratitude.  “Are all your attendants so… friendly?  I noticed quite a few downstairs who were… very close… to the other people here…”

“Yes…  At this branch of Heaven’s Eye, our attendants get the opportunity to meet with many wealthy merchants and nobles, and they do tend to take advantage of that.  We don’t require such behavior out of our attendants, but it does keep our clients coming back, so we don’t discourage it.  Oftentimes, our clients will grow quite attached to their attendants, and will even take them as concubines or spouses.”

If they take an attendant into their household, then Heaven’s Eye will always see them.  Ajax left that part unsaid, but Leon was smart enough to infer that much, even if he was terrible at talking to people.

But, the Tower Lord had never seen Elise act that way with a client before.  Usually, she would have them fawning over her, rather than the other way around.  Well, that hardly mattered, and a vibrating sound started coming from the floor, so Ajax put aside his other thoughts.

“Ah, it sounds like they finally got your vault here.”  He rose from his seat and walked to the center of the waiting room, where the floor had begun to rise.  Leon eagerly followed and stood next to the Tower Lord, watching an enormous vault made of dark blue enchanted steel rose from the floor.

“Your grandfather had this vault set up about one hundred and fifty years ago, as backup resources in case your family was ever in trouble.  Unfortunately, it seems it now needs to be used, as all the other accounts we held with House Raime defaulted to the Crown after the death of Kyros.”

Ajax expected Leon to ask about the attack, or to continue the conversation in some way, but he was left disappointed, as the younger man stayed silent.  He supposed he couldn’t blame Leon, as the vault had finally arrived, and the young mage was eager to crack it open.

The vault was remarkable in its simplicity, as it appeared to only be a box.  The edges were slightly rounded, and it had no seams, but other than that, there were no decorations or even visible methods to open it.  But, this was a vault from Heaven’s Eye, there didn’t need to be any visible means of opening it.  A magical formation illuminated itself for less than a second, before disappearing again.  After that, an open doorway appeared in front of Leon.  He was a little surprised, as the doorway had appeared just as he blinked.  Leon didn’t waste any more time, and hurried into the vault, while Ajax waited outside.

Leon couldn’t see into the vault from the outside, as there seemed to be some kind of magical curtain or darkness over the doorway which prevented all light from escaping and scattered magic senses as it hit the vault.  This curtain wasn’t a physical thing, though, and Leon walked straight on through.

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Chapter 49 - His Name

Chapter 47 - Tower Lord