'We still have to check the armory and there's no guarantee that we can make them talk before the guards swarm the place. Zealots are tough nuts to crack.'
Solus memorized their energy signature and checked the direction they moved to after leaving the City Hall, to have an idea of where to find them later. Only then did she return to Lith who was still far from recovering.
'What do you think about this?' She asked after sharing her most recent memories.
'That it explains a lot.' Lith replied. 'Whoever this god is, those nobles are willing to temporarily take down the arrays just to talk with them, something they didn't do even for Quaron.'
'At least that we know of.' Solus pointed out.
'Also, the accountant part means that either they have a quota of goods that their "god" demands from them or that they are competing with the other cities in order to gain the god's favor.' Lith said.
'It makes sense.' Solus nodded. 'The City Lords of the Nestrar region rebelled from the Kingdom not just because Quaron spurred them, but because they really think they can win the war thanks to this god.'
'Letting those guys go was the right move, Solus. This way, they will talk freely during their meeting and when we get them, we'll have access to fresh information.'
Lith had to wait for more than an hour to stop feeling dizzy and be capable of using his peak strength in the case of a fight. The moment his life force stabilized, he went to the City Lord's office.
Just like the treasury, the armory wasn't a big vault in a deep dungeon. No one wanted a place hard to reach that would take a long time to open during an emergency.
The Kingdom always favored practicality so instead of safes it used a special kind of dimensional space that would work even under the effect of the elemental sealing arrays.
The problem, however, was twofold. One had first to find them and then to know how to open them. During his tour as a Ranger, Lith had learned that the armory would always be located in the Lord's office to give them quick access to the artifacts in case of need.
At least, that was how things worked in the north.
Getting past the enchanted door took just another Clean Slate spell, but once inside things got harder. The room was filled with arrays that would trigger on contact, from detection of movement or even of body heat.
'How the heck did those guys deactivate this madness?' Lith asked.
'They didn't. The silver key that opened the door must have been linked to the arrays' formation as well. Which means that the lock controls them. Wish me luck.' While Lith still stood in the doorway, Solus shapeshifted from a ring into a key.
'Clean Slate has removed the imprint, but the enchantment still works.' She thought as she fused with the lock, trying to take control of the defensive system.
Meanwhile, Lith used tendrils of Spirit Magic to search the room for anything that could hide the armory. The trick used by the Royal Wardens was to permanently stretch a portion of space.
Dimensional sealing arrays kept spells from being activated but they had no effect on an already activated enchantment. On top of that, the dimensional space could be easily hidden inside a drawer, a closet, or even right under the Lord's desk.
Lith had lots of places to search and no idea where to start.
The Spirit Magic tendrils were ethereal, but they would still trigger the movement detection array the moment they interacted with anything in the office. Lith could only use them to probe everything for spaces bigger on the inside.
As for Solus, she didn't fare any better....
After fusing with the lock, she had discovered that to turn off the arrays all she had to do was to push the magical equivalent of a switch. The problem was that the enchantment of the door had dozens of them.
One would deactivate the office's defense system while all the others would trigger them and sound the alarm.
'Fuck me sideways.' She thought. 'I should have stolen that damn key!'
Solus had to slowly merge with the pseudo core of the door so that she could check the mana pathways of every switch without the need to activate them. Luckily for them, the Royal Forgemasters favored practicality as well.
All the pathways of the fake switches converged to a single spell. The enchantment was too complicated to understand it quickly, but Solus had no need to. She simply triggered the only switch that had a spell of its own.
Fake mages had never considered the idea of a living artifact, leaving their masterpiece exposed to the attack of Solus's power core.
'I did it! We can get inside safely.' She said while telepathically puffing out her chest with pride.
'At least you have good news. There's nothing unlocked in this place. My tendrils couldn't get anywhere without pushing or pulling a spell so I'm still at square one. This might take a-' Life Vision showed Lith that the dimensional sealing arrays of Zeska had been turned off.
'The meeting with the god must have begun.' Solus had almost forgotten about it.
'Finally some luck!' Lith took out his communication amulet and called his supervisor.
Captain Estar had already informed command about Lith's plan, so it didn't take him long to explain why he needed to know where the armory was and how to open it.
"Shouldn't you exploit this opportunity to inform your men and raid the city?" Brigadier General Berion asked.
He was a man in his mid-thirties, standing 1.8 (5'11") meters tall with pitch-black hair and eyes. His pale blue uniform had a single gold star on the stripes of either shoulder and could barely contain his muscular body, giving to each of his movements an impression of strength.
"Negative, sir. They would be surrounded and outnumbered. On top of that, the moment the alarm sounds, the arrays will be restored and our mages would have no way out.
"One thousand mages cannot claim a city in such a short time and even if they did, the casualties on both sides would be massive." Lith replied while deactivating the armory's protections under Berion's supervision.
"It seems that your assessment was right." The General frowned when they discovered that the dimensional space had been completely emptied. "With that firepower, the city guards can easily dispose of mages who can't rely on movement spells."
"Maybe and maybe not." Lith couldn't stop thinking about the conversation that Solus had overheard. "Where's the treasury, sir?"
It was the only way to "casually discover" the issue of the missing funds without having to explain how he could have possibly read the logs of the past few months in such a short time.
"Bottom left desk drawer. Hidden under a lid in the chamber pot." Berion couldn't care less about the gold in those circumstances but he trusted Lith.
The General knew that there had to be a good reason for such a request. Berion would wait for Lith's report before questioning his actions or asking him how had he managed to get inside the City Lord's office unhindered.