375 Golden Fortress
⟬ Frost Demon cave, several bells later. ⟭
The sleepy Archer knelt down, pricking one of the fallen Brazen Guard members with his hunting knife, "This one's dead too."
"We called for a retreat. Look at us! We're just fine! Har hurr hurr hurrr," Cleric Occam chuckled before he spat on the cold cavernous ground... "Pathetic."
"It looks like only our guys survived..." The Stormbrand Archer yawned, casually kicking the side of a different body, "Oh, this one moved just now. She can still be saved."
Occam swept his hands through his hair, "⌈Healing Touch⌋... What was that?"
"Nevermind," The Archer shrugged. "Should we go back and get more guys? There's no way we're killing that demon on our own."
"No need!" Tancred called out, "I'm pretty sure I found the artifact."
The Stormbrand Reaver returned to the field of slaughtered adventurers. A new two-handed greataxe rested on his right shoulder, its haft a ridged, skeletal spine. The heavy, dark-metal dual-blades of the axe-head sprouted from a metallic snake skull, its eye sockets emitting a rust-colored smoke.
"Ohooohhhhh!!" Occam stared in awe, "The Snake Spine Rod! Haha harr!! So those cultist bastards were right."
"Tsk," The Archer clicked his tongue, "An axe, huh? I expected a staff or maybe a bow."
Tancred draped the weapon over his shoulders, "It's a weapon suitable for Orcus, god of battle."
⟬ Several suns afterward. ⟭
Having recovered proof of the White Lady's defeat, the Brazen Guard was set to turn in their quest to the Tyrion Adventurer's Guild. Each group in the collective received vouchers for their pay.
The creation of the Banking Guild was one of the most wonderful inventions in the past thousand years.
The Brazen Guard would then rotate back to Kasydon, the Stormbrands as part of their collective.
Though Tycon had grown fond of Bannok and the other Gold-Ranks, he was more thankful to be farther away from Tancred and his goons. He was even happier to descend the Icingdeath Mountains, eventually returning to the relative warmth of the coastal city of Silva...
The suns of harsh training resumed without incident, until...
"S-sir Tycon!!!!" Victorius burst into Tycon's kitchen, his breath ragged from the rush. "There's some people here to see you!"
"Oh?" Tycon raised an eyebrow. He had just placed a heap of bread dough into the oven, "Thank you for... letting me know."
"Sir Tycon!!" Victorius shouted.
Tycon shut his eyes and breathed in deeply. Whatever the issue was, he doubted it was worth him abandoning his current mission. Baking was a process not to be taken lightly, "Yes, Mister Victorius?"
"Th-they say they're from Sol Invictus!!"
Oh... Was that what this was about?
Athena climbed into the kitchen through the outside window. Her frost-blue hair was in disarray, matted to her forehead from perspiration, "Wait wait wait-wait-wait!!! Sol Invictus has come to visit? The legendary arena guild?"
"Yes," Tycon forced a polite smile, "My guild... and Miss Athena, please use the door like a proper human."
The young lady's eyes shot open as wide as they could go, "Hold on!! S-s-s-sir Tycon?!? You're a part of Sol Invictus? Th-the only guild that beat my brother's arena team, Sol Invictus?!"
Tycon gingerly removed his oven mitts. He didn't understand what the sudden panic was about, "Yes... I believe I told you I worked with your brother, Maximus. While he was adventuring in the Kingdom, he sought me out and I signed him on."
"Wait!! Hold on!! WAIT!! You're the LEADER of Sol Invictus??????" Athena's excitement somehow immediately transformed into frustration, "Why didn't you TELL me, Sir Tycon?!?"
Tycon frowned... "I... I just did?"
"Why didn't you tell me EARLIER?!?" She yelled, before pouting.
Tycon sighed, shaking his head. He sensed that this was not an argument he would win, "Invite them in. I'll introduce you... and we can have fresh bread and that apple butter you like."
With the promise of bread and sweet butter, the young lady's anger was quickly appeased.
"Oya oya?" A woman reclined on the cheap seating in the Vanzano receiving room, "Is this the Athena Vanzano that I've heard so much about?"
Tycon briefly checked his System's information on the woman.
⟬ Sorina Capulet, Bronze-Rank Human Calculator. ⟭
Sorina's appearance had changed somewhat since he'd last seen her.
Her skin had tanned from training in the sun and her light-brown hair had grown longer, styled into a side-ponytail that was curled to resemble a drill. She wore a sleeveless white tunic, a royal blue skirt the color of the Kingdom's flag, and knee-high traveling boots. She wore an expensive-looking, thin golden chain upon her neck and golden bangles were clasped onto her upper arms, befitting of her status as a wealthy merchant.
Most interestingly, an enchanted cube the size of a fist rotated around her forehead. Tycon's System identified it as a multi-functional spell focus. Judging by that and the fact that she had lost a healthy amount of weight and her revealed arms had some tone and definition, she had been trained well.
"Good afternoon, Miss Capulet," Tycon lightly inclined his head. "It's been a while, has it not?"
"Yo," Sorina grinned. "Nice to see you, Boss."
Athena stood, gawking at the Calculator, "By the Flame... she's-- you're so pretty!!"
"Good afternoon, young mistress. I am Sorina Capulet, fufu fuu~" The woman chuckled, "A pleasure to meet you, girl."
Victorius hid his crooked hand behind his back and bowed deeply, "And it's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, milady. My name is Victorius."
"Sorry, Vic," Sorina winked coquettishly, "I hate men. They should all die."
"You seem to have grown stronger," Tycon nodded.
"Oh, for sure, Boss," Sorina's grin widened. "I'm a peak First-Circle mage, after all."
Tycon smirked in amusement, "Show me."
Sorina stood up from the couch, then thrust both of her hands outward, "Maverick One!! Engage!!"
Tycon crossed his arms, patiently waiting. Who was she talking to? Her magical cube?
After a short start-up time, the small box that floated around Sorina's head emitted a soft yellow glow. In a flash of light, thick brass metal armor covered Sorina from head to toe. It looked incredibly heavy and cumbersome, even thicker than Zenon's Centurion armor, and nigh impossible for someone like the lithe Calculator to be effective in.
It appeared that Sorina's arms, her fists covered with thick gauntlets, were the only body parts she was capable of moving.
"Behold!!" Sorina's voice echoed from somewhere within her clunky cage, "I am the walking GOLDEN (brass) Fortress!!"
Tycon pursed his lips., "Walking, you say?"
The hunk of metal shifted slightly... "Behold!! I am the not-walking GOLDEN (brass) Fortress!!"
"So... cool..." Athena's eyes shone.
Tycon shook his head, lamenting that he had set his expectations too high for a member of his guild. He was hoping for a display of her magic, not a fantastical change of dress, "How... much did that cost?"
"Four lifetime contracts of blacksmiths under indentured servitude," Sorina's voice echoed. "Oh, and death doesn't null the paperwork."
With Sorina Capulet on the task, House Vanzano's had the best financial advisor they could possibly hope for.
She had a Business Degree, after all.