It was Annie after all... Leguna figured it was her Glacial Domain when he felt the sudden drop in temperature. Her appearance confirmed his suspicion.
Annelotte couldn't take Geoffrey's perverse torture any longer and crushed Latie's heart. Naturally, she used her gift rather than a spell because the former didn't need an incantation, which would have tipped everyone off that she was doing something.
Same old Annelotte. Leguna's mood brightened when he realized it was her. That was the Annelotte he remembered. Cold on the outside, warm on the inside. Latie was going to die anyway, so she might as well make it quick and painless.
"Who was it?!" Geoffrey snapped again.
No one answered. Most didn't know what had happened, and Leguna was certainly not going to rat out his woman.
"Enough, Geoffrey. Maybe someone just doesn't like interrogation. You don't have to cause a scene. That little thing isn't worth it," Larwin interrupted, pointing at the corpse.
His eyes swept over the crowd, lingering a moment on Annelotte.
Since the emperor had spoken, Geoffrey stopped making a fuss.
"Only goes to show our empire's talent is enormous," the emperor smiled, "Alright, enough with the delay. Let's finish handing out the badges."
A few guards quickly removed the corpse. Leguna avoided wondering what would happen to the corpse.
Everything returned to normal and the people went about their business as if nothing had happened. The carpet was switched for a clean one, but leguna couldn't help but imagine hearing ice crack and shatter under his feet as he stepped on the carpet. Kurdak, Annelotte, Eibron, and a few others wore similar expressions.
Everyone soon had their badges. Larwin said a few more words before having Geoffrey take them away to claim their prizes.
The empire would definitely not open its private armory completely. It was the imperial family's collection and who knew what kind of shocking enchanted weapons were hidden inside. There might even be a divine item or two which even saints coveted. They couldn't let these strangers take one of those. The contestants were allowed to choose from a portion already vetted to make sure nothing truly special was accidentally given away.
Even then the items were still incredible. When Leguna entered, his jaw hit the floor. Kurdak was drooling.
[If only Teacher was here... She'd make sure I picked the best thing,] thought Leguna regretfully.
No one was allowed to bring weapons, so he had to leave Lighteater and his teacher at the tavern.
"Come, let's take a look," said Kurdak.
Everything was housed in a large, round hall big enough to seat a thousand people easily. Weapons hung from the walls and pillars, or were displayed on tables and stands. Each item had a paper attached to it explaining some of its history, abilities, enchantments and so forth.
The two searched carefully. The first thing that caught Kurdak's eye was a huge enchanted two-handed axe. It didn't just look imposing, it had several tear and bleed enchantments. A marvelous murderous weapon. He only paused for a few moments, however. His specialty was swords, and axe, while good, was not ideal. He still had time, so he'd keep looking. It was not wise to grab the first decent thing one saw.
Eibron later mentioned a large two-handed sword in a corner.
"It should be this one." Leguna approached the sword.
It was in a glass case. The blade was engraved with numerous mystical runes and glowed a dark, fiery crimson. It looked almost like the blade was made of slowly writhing molton rock.
"Lava Greatsword?" Kurdak read the name and description.
It said the blade was made of a rare molten essence processed by a famous alchemist. It used to belong to a great Stokian general named Doten. The man was killed in an ambush by Hocke's second prince, Alissanda a year earlier.
The prince took his sword and handed it to his father as gift to celebrate the victory. The emperor had decided it would be given to whomsoever could plough its full potential.
It had three enchantments. The first was a burning enchantment, it would burn anything it touched.
The second was Flame Blade. It would set the blade on fire, further worsening the damage it could do. It was a particularly powerful enchantment, but could only be used once every day or so, and lasted just half an hour.
The third enchantment's name was not known, but it allowed it to absorb heat, protecting its wielder from fire aspect damage. It used the same magical array engraved on the blade that allowed it to ignite. It would generate a flame shield to mitigate any fire damage, but it consumed the power stored in the magic crystal embedded in the sword's hilt. When it was empty, the second and third enchantments couldn't be used.
"It's a great weapon. Even though it's slightly heavy even for me, it should be alright," Kurdak nodded, "My aspect is fire, so this should be perfect."
"So it's this one, huh?" Leguna asked.
"Yes!" Kurdak resolved and took off the tag attached to the handle of the case.
They couldn't take the weapons themselves. Only the tags. The weapons would be delivered later.
The two now focused on Leguna's weapons. He could pick three, depending on their quality. Kurdak could actually pick two low-level items, but Lava Blade was good enough that it counted for two.
"Are you sure you don't want a weapon? This is a good one," Kurdak asked pointing at another sword. It had hardening, sharpening, magic shattering, and bleeding enchantments. They were really common enchantments, but having so many, and that particular combination was rare. Kurdak believed it was a wonderfully practical weapon, but Leguna wasn't interested.
"I have two enchanted weapons. I don't need another," he said.
"Tch, how can those two pieces of scrap compare to this?"
"I don't need it. And... don't say that again."
Kurdak should thank his lucky stars Leguna hadn't brought Gahrona along. She'd have ripped him to shreds if she heard him call her vessel scrap. Maybe even worse.
While Lighteater and Ebony looked plain, Gahrona said it was just because they weren't properly maintained. If they were properly repaired, they would shock the world. After all, the former owners were Soulscarfer Wellingdon and Gahrona Shadowedge. How could weapons used by two saints be normal?
"Tch, you really don't know what's good."
Leguna isn't a complete idiot, he must know something I don't.
Kurdak gave trying to find another weapon. In the end, he picked a longbow and a pair of shoes. Leguna wanted the shoes. They were called Lightness. They could change their size and could boost the wearer's speed greatly one a day.
The longbow was for Vera. Hers was confiscated when she was captured by Eye of Arcana and she was currently using a normal one. Since he found one suitable for her, he decided to get it as a gift.
It was a wind-aspect longbow, but far better than her old one. It didn't just have three enchantments -- armor-pierce, penetrate, and track -- it was also supposed to be very quick to fire. It was possibly even more precious than Kurdak's choice sword.
As such, Leguna could only choose two items. At one point he wanted to drop the longbow in favor of a bracelet of strength, but, when he thought of what Vera would do to him if she heard he choose a bracelet for himself of a bow for her, he decided it was better to give her the bow and stroke her ego than to be made to watch her rip him a new one.
Having chosen their rewards, the two left the hall, signing their tags in with the guards on the way out. The guards fetched the items and brought them to the exit. Kurdak swung his new sword a few times and smiled.
"Take this bow. She won't accept it from me," Leguna said as he tossed the bow to Kurdak.
"Alright." Kurdak slung it over his other shoulder. He had never been courteous with Leguna. He would just return the favor later.
"Are you Mister Ley? Someone wants to see you," a guard said coming down the corridor.
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