A Slice of Life
As Lily and her entourage began staying in the house, leading peaceful lives, time marched on. The days became weeks, weeks became months, months became years. The four girls settled into a daily routine, passing their days quietly.
With the house being as large as it is, cleaning and maintaining it had been one major problem that plagued Lily – until Iris demonstrated an ability to completely clear all dirt and dust in a 10 meter radius around her with a snap of her fingers and a surge of magical energy. Iris had explained that it was one of her sterilisation functions, intended to counteract enemy poison-based attacks. Lily could only marvel at the ingenuity of the ancient civilisation as Iris volunteered to do all the cleaning, handily solving that problem.
The other major issue had been furnishing the washrooms. Using the plumbing systems of Riasode as a reference, Lily had constructed a rudimentary plumbing system that directed their waste through a network of pipes into a central waste collection container, where the waste was vaporised and the surroundings sterilized by Iris at the end of each day.
Cooking was handled by Tate, occasionally assisted by Prei. Even though Prei had an unusual penchant for raw meat, she nonetheless took a heavy interest in the art of cooking, getting Tate to teach her. With the combined efforts of the two girls, the group had delicious food at every meal, adding to the happiness that permeated their little secluded world.
Their days usually passed in this manner:
They would wake in the morning and wash up with water collected from the lake. Tate and Lily would usually be the first to rise, with Iris not sleeping and Prei waking the last. While the sun had yet to rise, Lily would head out into the woods to do a spot of hunting, if necessary, while Tate began to prepare breakfast. Meanwhile, Iris would be in the room she shared with Lily, transcribing to paper the knowledge stored in her databanks, at Lily’s request. After Lily had taught her how to write over the course of a week, this was a task that she set herself to throughout each night, taking advantage of the fact that she did not require sleep.
Usually around the time when breakfast was ready, Prei would wake up and head down to the first floor, which held the dining area, with sleepy eyes. Around this time, Lily would return from the hunt and greet Prei with a loving smile. They would sit at the table and eat, with Iris accompanying them despite never eating anything. It had become an unspoken rule that all four would take their meal together, without exception. Occasionally, they would make small talk, but for the most part their meals were passed in a comfortable silence.
After breakfast, Tate would make her way over to the brick forge constructed next to the main building, where she would work on smithing armor or shields for sale on their next visit to Riasode. With the assistance of Prei’s crystallised fire magic, Tate no longer required Prei’s continuous assistance, freeing up the young girl to pursue other endeavors. Lily would similarly head over to the large workshop adjacent to the forge and spend the morning either transcribing from memory the various books she had owned while in Azoria, or work on tinkering with some creation or other.
Prei would follow Iris onto a large, barren area near the house – an undeveloped part of the land that Iris had initially cleared – which had been repurposed as a training field. There, Iris would run Prei through various training programmes intended to improve her magic ability or combat prowess with a number of weapons. It seemed that these training sessions were Prei’s main source of amusement while Lily and Tate left to Riasode. Lily had tried taking Prei along with them once, but the girl had staunchly refused, finding the prospect of sitting in the wagon for three days to be highly unappealing. Iris had in her databanks a number of programmes to teach the basics of almost any form of weapon – Prei, with her natural predisposition towards learning, had quickly reached an average level of proficiency with most weapons, though she seemed to particularly favor the spear.
Since Iris’ weapon-focused programmes were designed mainly as a basic course, she quickly became unable to teach Prei anything more in that regard. That said, her combat magic programmes were far more advanced: despite numerous attempts, Prei had never been able to beat Iris in a mock battle with magic. As such, Prei would spend most of the morning practicing magic with Iris, stopping when it came time for lunch.
About half an hour past noon, Iris would go to inform Tate, who would then leave the forge and prepare lunch. While Tate did her preparations, Prei would usually go to the workshop to observe Lily at work, or she would help Tate with her preparations, or she would go into the forest and play around for a bit. After lunch, she would adjourn to the study with Lily, where Lily taught her how to read and write, as well as instruct her on a myriad of things Lily had learned in Azoria. Iris would either sit nearby and watch them, or she would clean up the house. Tate would return to the forge.
Approaching evening, Lily would end her lessons with Prei, whereupon Prei usually lingered in the study, reading one of the many books with which Lily had filled it. Meanwhile, Iris would take Prei’s place next to Lily and begin teaching Lily the basics of ManaScript and how to work with it, continuing until dinner, after which the four girls would soak in the lake and enjoy each other’s company.
With this routine, Lily and her companions peacefully passed their days, rarely having occasion to leave the building they now called home, except to make an occasional trip to Riasode for shopping.
With the building completed, there was no reason to make as many trips to Riasode, since they did not need to replenish their store of materials as often. The frequency of trips decreased to a single trip per month, and the items they brought back were no longer building materials, but other luxury items, such as quills, parchment, furniture, clothing, fabrics, blankets. Objects to make their lives more comfortable. Tate’s work remained immensely popular, with many noble families commissioning expensive products from her at Victoria’s recommendation. Her workload increased each time she and Lily returned from Riasode, yet she did it without complaint, glad that her work was so well-loved.
Soon after they had stopped purchasing building materials, Lily found that the money from the sale of the equipment was far more than she needed to get the furniture she wanted, and so she started to spend money on another luxury product: books. On each trip to Riasode, she would look for books, both fiction and non-fiction. Academic dissertations on geopolitical structures sat on the shelves of her library alongside thick leather-bound volumes of heroic tales about gallant knights and their unrealistically docile maidens in distress. Generally speaking, books were expensive, far more expensive than most common folk could afford. Still, Lily’s lust for knowledge and intellectual stimulation outweighed her financial prudence. Thankfully, even though Lily was often too busy to indulge in these tomes, her lust for learning was shared by Prei, who would spend hours devouring the books on Lily’s shelves.
Each time she visited, Lily also made sure to purchase numerous types of pickled vegetables and fruits, to add some nutritional variety into their diet of mostly meat. Even though Prei had a natural knack for identifying edible plants in their vicinity, the only such plant in the forest around them was a tough, bitter type of grass which none of them enjoyed eating. Lily often considered the prospect of buying and bringing back fresh produce, but she gave up on the idea in each instance, worried about the possibility of the produce going bad en route to their secluded home.
Over the months, Lily and Tate became familiar faces, with many residents of Riasode, both demon and non-demon, coming to recognise them on sight by name. Tate, especially, had become a bit of a celebrity, constantly swarmed by hordes of blacksmiths easily twice her age asking her to divulge her secrets, the blatant discomfort on her face often causing Lily, Victoria or Roan to intervene.
During their visits, Roan and Victoria were their closest friends in the city. Roan would often offer them drinks before they began their shopping, whereupon he and Lily would reminisce about Azoria, recalling fondly the vibrance and intellectual buzz of the city, while sharing in scorn and contempt over its incompetent governance. As their visits became less frequent, Lily began to visit Riasode at roughly the same time each month, which Victoria planned her days off to coincide with. Victoria would often join them in their pleasant conversations, playing the part of the careful listener, occasionally offering her own input where applicable. Victoria’s curt kindness, along with the knowledge of what her parents had done, allowed for Lily to slowly, calmly, let go of the anger she had held towards the demons.
The life they led was not a very exciting one, but it was a calm, happy one. Yet, while the mysterious forces that directed the world were generous enough to allow her a brief respite, fate was not yet finished with its designs for her.
It is often said that those with great power are subject to equally great misfortune. An adage which implies that every privilege has a price. A cynical phrase, no doubt, but one which carries the flavour of truth.
The peace enjoyed by Lily and her companions was interrupted on a number of occasions by some circumstance or other. The first of these happened roughly two years after they had begun to live in the house.