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When Leon walked through the door of the vault and laid his eyes on its contents, he was left stunned. Stacks of shiny gold bars and crates of silver coins were in the majority, but there were also smaller boxes on a table in the center filled with precious stones. Sapphires, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, and several diamonds the size of his fist were all glittering in the light of the magic lanterns illuminating the vault.
Leon was frozen in place; he couldn’t decide what to go and examine first. After a few moments of staring, he settled on the silver coins. The gold bars couldn’t be spent directly, and the gems—while extremely valuable—had practical uses that he wouldn’t give up just for a little coin.
He counted sixty large wooden crates, each stamped with the image of a bird of prey with its wings spread and talons outstretched, the sigil of House Raime. The crates were stacked three high, almost touching the ceiling, except for the four closest to the doorway, which were open to reveal hundreds of metal tubes, identical to what Leon had found beneath the obelisk. He estimated after some digging around that these crates, which were so numerous as to fill an entire third of the vault, had about half a million silver coins each, totaling about thirty million.
Next were the gold bars. The economy of the Bull Kingdom had been overhauled several hundred years ago, phasing out both gold coins for being prohibitively valuable, and copper coins for being too worthless. Consequently, there wasn’t much Leon could do with these bars. Only royalty or the obscenely wealthy still stockpile gold, only using the bars to pay for their largest of expenses.
Leon counted himself lucky for being in a Heaven’s Eye Bank, as this was one of the few places he could actually exchange one of these gold bars for silver coins. There were one hundred gold bars here, though Leon had little idea how much that was actually worth in silver, so he moved on to the gems in the center of the vault.
A quick count came to fifty sapphires, seventy rubies, one hundred emeralds, two hundred amethysts, and five diamonds. All the stones, with the exception of the enormous diamonds, were roughly half the size of his thumb. These he did not intend to sell. While gemstones are often used for decoration, especially in jewelry, Leon knew that they are far more valuable to enchanters than jewelers, as a gemstone can store magical energy within it. A mage simply has to channel their magic within the stone, and the stone can hold onto it. How much it can hold is dependent on both the kind of gemstone and its size.
Sapphires were the most valuable in that regard, being far and away the gem that could hold the most magic. After that came rubies, emeralds, amethysts, topazes, pearls, and opals, all of which could store less magic than the one before. Just about any other gemstone was simply decorative and had little uses apart from ornamentation, with the sole exception of diamonds. While diamonds couldn’t store magical energies, they still had the miraculous quality of amplifying magic that passes through them, greatly strengthening enchantments they are incorporated into.
Leon didn’t quite know how valuable these gemstones were, given that he only knew what little Artorias had been able to teach him about enchanting, but he knew that these stones would make for great enchantment material if he ever got the opportunity to study enchantments. It was just a shame that they were not currently storing magic power, so Leon would have to charge them himself if the time ever came.
As he thought about all this, he was reminded of the enormous crystal powering the enchantments in the prison where he found Xaphan. He had no idea what that crystal was, but it certainly was no gem he had ever heard of.
‘Oh well, no use guessing now. Something to look into, should I get the chance…’
Leon stepped away from the gems and took another look around the vault, taking it all in, trying to wrap his head around just how much wealth this was. Artorias had once told him that the Great Plateau was one of the richest regions in the entire kingdom, thanks to its abundant mineral resources. Seeing all this gold and silver and knowing that it was just a small amount of emergency funds that Archduke Kyros had set aside really drove home for Leon just how enormously rich House Raime was before it collapsed.
After some thought, he grabbed a single gold bar and about five thousand silver pieces. The silver would be enough to live off for a couple months, while he intended to use the bar to open an account with Heaven’s Eye that was more immediately available, so he wouldn’t have to come back to open this vault every time he needed some coin.
Leon took one last look back at the vault as he left, letting a small smile appear on his face.
The Tower Lord was still waiting when Leon emerged from the vault, about half an hour after he had entered.
“Everything was to your satisfaction, I trust?” he asked, and Leon nodded in response. “Wonderful!”
“… There is something else I would like to speak with you about, Tower Lord.”
The Tower Lord smiled jovially, and said, “Please, call me Ajax. Your grandfather and I were friends, after all, and I hope we can be friends as well.”
“Right…” Leon felt more than a little awkward at that statement, but he continued regardless. “I would like to open a more traditional banking account with Heaven’s Eye. This will be my deposit.” With that, he placed his gold bar on a nearby table. “And, I would prefer that everything we do be done with the highest level of discretion. I hope you can understand.”
“Of course. The loss of your family was a tragedy, and I understand the need for… subtlety. No need to fear, Leon, I will personally ensure that as few people know about you as possible!”
The two men sat back down, while the Tower Lord waved his hand, causing a small stack of papers to appear on the table in front of them.
“First things first, we’ll need your ID papers.” Leon frowned at this, which Ajax noticed and smiled at. “I take it, then, that you don’t have your papers?”
“I d-“ Leon was about to answer that he did have his papers, but he had an instinctive aversion towards using them, but the Tower Lord interrupted him before he finished.
“-Because if you don’t, we at Heaven’s Eye have the power to issue you some new papers. They won’t be the same as what the nobles here use, but they are perfectly acceptable in this kingdom.” Ajax then waved his hand again, causing a few more papers to appear on the table. “Just write down the name you wish to go by, and I’ll have a new ID made for you.”
Leon cracked a small smile, understanding what Ajax was saying. He pulled the papers closer and took a look at them. From what he could tell, he only needed to write down his name, and the rest would be done by Heaven’s Eye. He quickly wrote down his first name, but his last name gave him pause. He hadn’t really given it much thought as to what he should call himself in front of other people, so he sat and thought for several moments before Ajax spoke up.
“It seems fairly obvious that you have come here from one of the Northern Vales…” he looked meaningfully at Leon’s silkgrass shirt, relatively long hair, and Snow Lion coat. “… and whenever one of the Valemen comes down south, they are always given a name that indicates where they have come from. For instance, the Brown Bear Tribesmen, who control the only vale connected to the Great Plateau, would be named ‘Urs’, ‘Ursus’, or ‘Ursine’, when issued their IDs.”
Leon nodded. He had told Charles that he was from the vales, so it would be far easier to continue with that story given that it was true, even if he did omit a few key details. He wrote Ursus down for his last name and handed that form back to the Tower Lord, who accepted it with a smile. He glanced at the form, then rose and made for the door. He sent Elise to get the ID made, and she was back within ten minutes, by which time Leon was already done filling out the rest of the forms, so Ajax sent her off again, much to her indignation.
“So, with all that done, you’ll be using this as your deposit?” The Tower Lord gestured at the gold bar, and Leon nodded in response. “Ok, this will put your account at about six million silver coins.”
Leon’s eyes widened when Ajax said that. Six million silver coins, just for a single gold bar! He still had ninety-nine in that vault!
After giving Leon a few minutes to process this, the Tower Lord spoke up. “Do you plan on staying here in Teira, Leon?”
Leon didn’t answer, as he was still very much on edge and distrustful of the Tower Lord. Ajax didn’t mind, though, he was just making small talk, and was starting to get used to Leon’s strange silence.
“Well, if you do find yourself in any other Heaven’s Eye Tower, always remember that the second floor is where our merchants set up, and the third floor is reserved for our blacksmiths and enchanters. Should you ever require exotic materials, weapons, armor, and enchantments, then look no further.”
As Ajax said this, Elise returned with Leon’s new ID in hand. It wasn’t anything special at first glance, but it had many of the same enchantments placed upon it as the account cards, verifying the holder’s identity. All Leon would have to do to show that he was who the ID said he was, was to activate a simple light enchantment, and the borders of the ID would flash green. As the enchantment was tied to the blood sample he gave Heaven’s Eye earlier, no one else would be able to activate this enchantment.
More than a few kingdoms were extraordinarily jealous of how skilled the Heaven’s Eye Guild was at enchanting, as creating these kinds of IDs were beyond them. There was even some speculation that such techniques were unknown even to the four central empires, though it was hard to say for sure, as the empires were in no hurry to clarify something like this.
After handing Leon his new ID, Elise was tempted to sit down next to him again, but the Tower Lord gave her a look that expressly forbade it. She was fairly irritated at it, but she left the room again anyway.
She needn’t have bothered, though, as Leon was finished with his business at the Tower, and he rose to leave several seconds after the door closed.
“Well, Leon, should you ever need our services again, don’t hesitate to come back,” Ajax said as he escorted Leon to across the room. As they passed the vault, he made a subtle hand gesture, and it began sinking back into the floor. It would only take five minutes or so for the vault to sink through the entire tower and back underground, where all the other vaults were kept.
Before reaching the door, something seemed to occur to Leon, because he stopped and looked at the Tower Lord.
“There is… something you could help me with…”
“Please, say it, and I’ll do my best to make it so!”
“Not long ago, a paladin came through here… He lost a man-at-arms…”
“Ah, yes. Sir Roland is a good man, and I hope his missing man is found. Even now, the city guard is still tearing the city apart looking for him.”
“What was the name of this missing man-at-arms?”
Ajax was extremely curious about why Leon would want to know this, though he knew that asking would probably be pointless. Besides, there were a few things he could infer just with what he already knew. He knew that Roland and his party had just come back from the Northern Vales, and he knew that Leon had come from the same place. Leon certainly didn’t like the man-at-arms, given that his killing intent spiked slightly when he asked for his name. It wasn’t enough for most people to notice, but the Tower Lord’s senses were sharp, and he absolutely noticed. But, he didn’t pry.
“His name was Adrianos Isynos.”
“Adrianos Isynos…” Leon muttered. He didn’t say anything else and walked the last few steps to the door.
Elise happily took Leon’s arm flirtatiously as soon as he stepped out of the door, but in stark contrast to how he acted thus far, he barely seemed to notice, not sparing Elise a single glance. He walked back to the lift, with Elise and the Tower Lord, and rode it back to the ground floor.
This name echoed in his mind, and he began to unconsciously emit some killing intent. Elise and the Tower Lord noticed but kept quiet.
The lift doors opened, and Leon immediately stepped out into the entrance lounge. He made a cursory inspection of all his things, making sure that he hadn’t left anything behind. He had his gold card and his new ID, so he made to leave. He didn’t notice any of the stares from the other patrons, the glares of disgust at his clothing style, or the envious gazes from having such a beautiful attendant on his arm.
Elise finally released him at the door, and he had barely regained his senses enough to mutter a ‘thank you’ for her help before he walked out of the Tower. Elise smiled at him coquettishly, watching him until the doors closed behind him.
After he was out of sight, her smile dropped, and she turned around to return to the lift, where Ajax stood waiting for her.
The name resounded in Leon’s mind again. No matter what comes next, he knew that he would never forget it.
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