After a few moments of silence, allowing Tate’s hand to rest on her shoulder, Lily collected herself and forced herself to her feet. She closed her eyes and bowed her head, lowering her head before the likenesses of her parents. Then she turned to face Roan with renewed resolve.
Her parents had given their lives to save those close to them. The best way to honour them was to devote her own life to protecting those she held dear. She walked up to Roan, meeting his sadly smiling eyes.
“Thank you for bringing me here, Roan. I had thought my parents had fled the continent, living a peaceful life somewhere else. But to know that they did so much, lived so well, here in this city… Even though they no longer live, I can feel proud. Proud and happy, that I am the daughter of such wonderful people.”
Roan said nothing, though a tear came to his eye. Lily smiled warmly and continued.
“Well then, the true purpose of my visit. Just as my parents wanted to protect this place, I have people I hold dear to me, people I want to protect. Deep in the forests, we have a home. Or rather, we’re trying to build a home. The initial purpose of my visit to this city was to get the materials we needed to build a home.”
Roan’s eyes widened.
“In the forests? In that dangerous place overflowing with beasts and unknown magic?”
Lily’s head tilted in confusion. Beasts? The area they stayed in seemed to be relatively clear of life, to the point where they had to travel quite some distance in order to hunt down animals for food. It was hardly a volume of wildlife that one could refer to as “overflowing”. Seeing Lily’s evident confusion, Roan’s own face displayed a confused expression. Still, he shook his head and continued his train of reasoning.
“Anyway, why not take your friends and stay in this city instead? I’m certain we could find a comfortable place, right Victoria?”
As he spoke, Roan turned his head to Victoria for confirmation. The demon woman nodded her head.
“Definitely. If you want to stay here and live among us, we would certainly not turn away the child of the Voirgaires.”
A deep gratitude filled Lily even as she firmly shook her head.
“I appreciate the offer, but I have to refuse. Perhaps it’s a bit irrational, but I feel like there’s something symbolic and significant in creating the place of our own refuge. This is something we all wish to do.”
It was only a half-truth. Lily did feel like the act of building their own home was highly significant, but the main reason for her refusal was due to her unwillingness to be tied to any one town. In the event that the town came under attack, or was struck by a natural disaster, or became subject to some similar tragedy, it would be safer to be away from it, hidden within the forests. Somewhere where she could justify being unable to lend a hand in assistance. She felt a slight pang of guilt over being so willing to forsake the town that her parents had given their lives to protect, but she swallowed it down. This was how she could best protect the people she held dear. She was certain they would understand.
Roan sighed and scratched his head, at a loss. After some time, seemingly giving up on the notion of asking Lily to stay, he turned to talk of business.
“Now then, you came to my place, the workshop of a metalsmith. I presume you want something made?”
Lily nodded, grateful for the change in focus.
“Yes. I have with me a reasonable volume of gold Par coins, but I’m told they are not accepted as currency in this town.”
“Indeed. After the initial unrest, the newly-elected mayor decided to use demon currency, to facilitate goods exchange with the rest of the continent. Since you mentioned the high-purity Par coins, I suppose you want to melt it down into pure gold and use it for capital?”
Lily nodded, surprised that Roan had mentioned it. His lips crinkled into a smile.
“That’s what all us non-demons did, when the new currency was introduced. They gave us very good prices on the gold, too. The gold prices have since fallen, but if you have Par coins, it should be able to net you a decent sum of capital. As it happens, I know most of the artisans in this town. There happens to be a goldsmith with a dwindling supply. I could probably convince him to buy your gold for a decent price. He might even consider it a favor. I’d need to melt it down and purify it first, though.”
Lily nodded in thanks.
“In that case, please be our liaison with this goldsmith. As for the processing costs of melting down the gold, I was thinking-”
“I’m not charging.”
Roan interrupted Lily’s proposed payment with a single line. Lily spent several moments trying to regain her composure, then glanced at Roan uncertainly.
“I’m not charging for the refinement. Seeing that you still live has been payment enough. Besides, your parents did a lot for me as well. I’d be ashamed to face them if I didn’t offer you at least this much help. And I’m not going to let you refuse.”
The last line Roan added was motivated by his memory of Lily from her days in Azoria as a naive, sincere, earnest student. Certainly, if Lily had been faced with this kindness in her earlier days, she would have stubbornly refused to accept Roan’s charity. Thankfully, Lily had changed throughout her experiences into a far more cynical, dishonest woman. Therefore, she simply accepted the generosity with a thankful nod, unwilling to let the opportunity pass her by.
“Well, is there anything else you need? After you get your capital, I assume you’re going to want to purchase something with it?”
Lily proceeded to list off the things they urgently needed, such as mortar, bricks, roof tiles, raw metals, and forging stakes. With a nod, Roan took them back to his workshop, where he set to work melting down the coins into gold. While the process normally took several hours and long periods of waiting, the use of magic heavily expedited the process, allowing the processes to be completed in a mere four hours. While waiting, Roan sent a letter to the goldsmith, offering the sale of the gold, receiving a positive reply within the hour. As Roan worked, he reminisced about old times with Lily, who thoroughly enjoyed talking to her old teacher. Next to her, Tate spent the time observing the work of Roan and the other craftsmen in his workshop, mentally noting down the techniques they used, so she could try them at a later date. Throughout this duration, Victoria continued to stand next to the group, keeping mostly silent except to interject during Roan’s tales about the events that had happened after the humans and demons started coexisting.
When the gold was fully refined, Roan bundled them up in a sack that he slung over his shoulder, leading Lily and Tate to meet the goldsmith who wished to purchase their gold. After brief introductions and negotiations, where the combined efforts of Roan and Tate managed to raise the price forty-seven per cent higher than the original offer, Lily received payment in the form of three thousand six hundred units’ worth of the demon currency, known as Sigils. A quick visit to the marketplace informed Lily as to the market value of Sigils, running at roughly a loaf of bread for half a Sigil. Since Lily did not intend to stay the night in the town, she urged Roan to move with haste, a request with which he promptly complied. Moving quickly, they visited a number of ceramic workers in town and acquired bricks, tiles and mortar cement mix, making arrangements to have the products loaded onto their wagon at the city gates.
Finally, as a parting gift, Roan granted Tate a set of stakes and several ingots of various ores, a donation which elicited a good amount of excitement and gratitude from the younger girl. Lily was grateful for the gift, but decided that it would be the last of Roan’s charity which she would be willing to accept. There was only so much a person could receive before feeling obligated to give something in return.
By the time the sunset was colouring the sky orange, Lily and Tate were at the city gates, the wagon loaded with construction goods. Tate did a quick check of her pack’s contents, then placed the stakes and ore in the pack. Lily patted the coin pouch at her side, which had contained Par coins in the morning, but now contained two thousand Sigils’ worth of coins. Standing before them were Victoria and Roan, seeing them off. Victoria wore a decidedly neutral expression, while Roan’s face clearly displayed his concern.
Lily walked over to her old teacher and gave him a hug.
“I’m glad I got to see you again, Roan. Thank you for everything. For telling me about my parents, and for all your help with our deals.”
Roan closed his eyes and nodded.
“Take care, Lily.”
Lily smiled and turned to Victoria.
“I’m sorry for arriving in this town so unexpectedly. Thank you for diligently watching us the whole day. I wasn’t too sure about dealing with demons at first, but looking at the townspeople, I believe that my parents made the right decision by acting as mediators.”
Lily held out her hand for a handshake. Victoria grinned and took the proffered hand, gripping it strongly.
“Aye, it was troubling when you arrived here in a magic-driven wagon. But I couldn’t very well turn away someone who bore the name Voirgaire. This is the town your parents saved. As such, you, their daughter, are certainly welcome here. Feel free to visit whenever you’d like. I’ll give instructions to let you in unescorted the next time.”
Lily grinned in return, then released the hand and vaulted onto the wagon, with Tate following shortly after. She Extended into the wagon and started accelerating away from the town, along the roads. As the silently waving figures of Roan and Victoria receded into the distance, Lily turned her full attention to the road in front of her. They were heading home.