Samuel looked at the pile of coins in Barrett’s hand and swallowed. “Ah… well… I don’t know anything about magic except… well… this magic is evil.” Samuel grimaced, “This warlock… I haven’t heard his name. Most of what I know is since he’s shown up, there have been disappearances. I saw him sneaking around the graveyard at night once. That… young master,” Samuel spit onto the empty floor next to him, “That Denton brat must have learned something from him. One evening, I saw someone walk to close to him on the street- or something else trivial that made him mad. Then there was a strange dark magic latching onto him… and after that nothing but a shriveled corpse.”
“I never heard that…” the first man said.
“Aye. Guards cleaned it up real quick. I was, fortunately, overlooked.” Samuel sighed, “That warlock is probably even worse. I do my best to avoid going near him, or any of the lord’s family. This city used to be quite something, and now it’s a pile of garbage. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to move away… though they can’t afford to stay either.”
Barrett handed over the heaping handful of coins to Samuel, then nodded towards the thin man. “You should share some with him. Then both of you should get out of the city. Even in the best case scenario prospects here won’t improve for some time. Maybe bring some others with you.” Barrett turned to Reina, “Let’s go.”
“So…” Reina tilted her head, “That brat’s a necromancer now, huh?”
“Or something like it,” Barrett nodded. “He can’t be very experienced. He’s only had a couple of years. Even in the most extreme circumstances he’s mid second tier- but in that case we need to worry more about the master. Of course, aptitude is required for that but his aptitude for evil is fairly high. It could certainly apply to the worst sorts of necromancy. Still, I should have killed him.”
Reina shrugged, “How could you have known? Usually people don’t offer power to pathetic snotlings. Besides, he had his chance to reform into a reasonable person, even if he didn’t take it.”
“Yeah… but I forgot to think about what else he might do to others, even just by whining to his mother. Now at least one more person is dead at my fault.” Barrett took a deep breath, “I don’t feel nearly as bad about people dying as I should.”
“Well, that would be his fault too. So where next?”
Barrett thought for a few moments, “Well, we need to make some preparations. We want to catch Denton, Melody, her new husband- Landon or whatever- plus this warlock. There’s also someone else. In the documents they had in Triridge, there was a banker from here in Durham who helped them with… well, with trying to steal my family’s money. There were also a couple others who were involved, but they’re less important. If I get the chance, I’ll kill them, if not… they can have fun fleeing from city to city.”
Reina nodded, “How covert do you want to be?”
Barrett raised an eyebrow, “How covert do you think I’m capable of being?”
“Right. Well then… might as well go all the way the other way, if you’re up for it. Shouldn’t there be banquets and such? Melody does love spending money.”
“Hey, banquets are political investments!”
“Do you know how much her dresses cost?”
“Yeah, almost as much as…” Barrett thought for a few moments, “Each bottle of pills Master Hykel gave me. Well, their open market price instead of the manufacturing cost.”
Reina rolled her eyes, “I was going to say they cost several years wages for craftsmen. Though it’s true that each of my boots probably cost more.”
“At least you don’t wear them just once.”
“Alas, it’s impossible to perfectly mesh style with practicality.”
“Are you calling my bandages not stylish?”
Reina patted Barrett on the head, “The Immortal Berserker Sect errs entirely on the side of practical. We at the Order of Four Winds don’t sacrifice practicality but we do have some style.”
Barrett had to agree about that. Reina’s clothes were fine enough to get her admitted to any ball, though some might frown on her wearing pants instead of a skirt- but practicality stated that moving around in combat and perhaps even flying made skirts impractical. If he was to compare to Nilima… Barrett was pretty sure she only wore silk clothes because Mistress Joshi told her they were armor- and she didn’t seem to care if they fit right. In fact, she seemed to prefer them baggy. Of course, unlike Reina, Nilima didn’t have any curves for her clothes to hug.
Barrett blinked, “Oh, right. Yes. I suppose you do beat us in style. Now, about the banquets?”
“Well, obviously many people will be there… including, of course, all of their best political supporters. They can say you were dead all they want, but having you show up in person in front of so many makes it harder. Plus… they’re all there at once.”
“It is hard to say there would be a better opportunity. The question is when the next one will be. If it’s more than a month or two… I’m not sure we should stay here that long.”
“Then we’d better ask around. It shouldn’t be too hard to find out.”
The dates for banquets or other events weren’t advertised to the public, but they weren’t exactly hidden either. Many people worked on them, preparing food and clothes and people just generally talked about it. It was just that the common people weren’t invited. There was another coming up in a few weeks, and that meant Barrett and Reina had to wait.
They could only do so much investigation into the necromancer- if they asked too many questions, people might get suspicious. However, they did need to find out his general strength. If he was from Ashia, he wouldn’t be much of a threat- probably first or second tier- but there was some chance he was higher. That said, if he was higher than second tier, there wouldn’t be much for him to benefit from being in Ashia.
The two of them also had training to do. They didn’t have the best training facilities- they weren’t exactly going to spar in the streets and risk people finding out about them- but they could still train energy and work on fundamentals even without honing particular combat skills. Having a specific date in mind was good for Barrett as well, as he could do just the right number of destructions to fully recover. He didn’t think he’d need to be healing from wounds at his full over a hundred times normal, but it wouldn’t hurt to be careful with an unknown necromancer.