Chapter 947 Dreams and Nightmares Part 1
It had taken the mages of the Empire a year to cleanse the fields and make the Dragon Plains suitable for cultivation again.
Since most of the territories past Palaron had been occupied by the undead forces and were under reconstruction as well, they couldn\'t spare a dime to help with the Dragon Valley.
They were too busy fixing the damages they had sustained during the war to worry about others.
It made the Valley dependant on Palaron, which had allowed the city to increase its profits by several folds.
The local underworld was also experiencing a golden age.
Large flows of money meant more opportunities for corruption and increase protection money.
Being awarded of a public contract could easily make a merchant into a small noble, so many people were willing to pay to oil the wheels of bureaucracy.
Palaron was a model city of the Empire.
Its cultivated fields were surrounded by great walls made in dark grey stone over 12 meters (40 feet) high.
The cultivated fields were miles away from the city walls, yet they were array protected and heavily guarded no less than Palaron itself.
The farmers lived in the external rim, to take care of the cattle and the fields at any moment.
All of them had been trained in the use of light and earth magic to be able of taking care by themselves of all minor emergencies.
Past the city walls, in the outer rim, there was the residential area for the mages and the army, so that they could promptly intervene no matter if the enemy attack came from the inside or the outside.
Every building was built in solid, enchanted stones, and connected to the other districts with their own Warp Gate.
It was the most luxurious and expensive area of the city.
Aside from public officials, only the truly rich could afford a house there.
The middle rim was the business district, where all the trades took place.
Merchant guilds had their offices built in hardwood, while small-time merchants operated in small buildings no bigger than a grocery store.
Each block had its Warp Gate, making the middle rim the place where normal people lived.
The inner rim was occupied by the red-light district of the city.
It was supposed to be the slums, but unemployment wasn\'t a thing in the Empire.
Public healthcare made everyone as fit as a fiddle and as long as one was willing to work hard there was plenty to do, even before the war with the undead.
The only people who didn\'t have an honest job were those who didn\'t look for one.
Gambling, prostitution, drug dealers, they all had their base of activities in the slums.
As long as people were alive, they would have vices.
Instead of wasting time outlawing them, the Empire had simply made them part of the system and took taxes even from them.
There was a saying in Palaron, stating that the tax office was way scarier than the army itself and better funded, too.
Despite the inner rim\'s sordid appearance, the real corruption took place in the middle rim and it was there that the two Abomination hybrids were headed.
As all long-lived members of any race, they had an alias in the Empire with a clean record and authentic IDs.
Getting inside Palaron was always the easy part.
Getting out after committing any kind of crime, however, was another story entirely.
Bytra and Zoreth had chosen the Prancing Dragon as their base of operations.
It was one of the finest establishments in the middle rim, ranked higher than the Dragon\'s Cove and the Dragon Chow.
Is it me, or is everyone obsessed with dragons around these parts Bytra asked.
She didn\'t come there for less than a decade, yet everything was changed.
Even her favorite dish, the Rewille stew, had been renamed Leegaain\'s stew.
My old man doesn\'t make a secret of his existence. Zoreth replied.
Ever since Milea became the Empress and convinced him to return, the Gorgon Empire basically became the Dragon Empire.
Everyone is trying to suck up on him and the upper Echelons didn\'t rename the country only because rewriting all the maps would cost a fortune.
I get that, but why Not even two hours ago, you told me the Guardian doesn\'t meddle with human activities.
Why are they so obsessed with him Bytra said.
Because on the rare occasion he does, Dad performs miracles and asks nothing in return.
When the living from the Jiera continent and their plague tried to invade the Empire, he took care of both single-handedly.
When a wheat blight almost caused a famine throughout the Empire, he cured it and even restored the affected crops.
Sometimes, people get an audience with him and lore says they all find the answers they had been looking for. Zoreth said.
Wow, your old man sounds really impressive. Bytra whistled in admiration.
Long story short, they suck on him because they are afraid that Leegaain will leave once the Empress dies or retires. Zoreth ignored the compliment.
Everyone knows that he only came for Milea and is trying to change his mind about the Empire.
The Prancing Dragon was a cozy tavern made of redwood, lighted and heated by magical stones.
The huge fireplace served merely to create a relaxed atmosphere, especially during winter.
It was furnished with square tables that could host four people tops, and with comfortable padded chairs.
Waiters moved between the tables, bringing plates and beverages from the kitchen.
There was a counter on the east wall with several barstools and was reserved for the heavy drinkers.
Animal furs and depictions of Dragons decorated the walls.
An unwritten law of the Empire stated that all Dragon\'s reproductions had to depict either a single scale or the full body.
Mounting a Dragon\'s head to a wall, no matter if fake, was enough to get the person responsible lynched by an angry mob.
So, what are doing here, exactly Bytra asked after a cute waiter delivered her stew and a pint of red ale along with a wink.
I mean, we can kill a few mob bosses, but that would only create a power vacuum and turf wars.
Sure, it would create an opportunity to empty their vaults ad get away with it, but a big treasure is good only for someone who wants to settle down, whereas we need a constant flow of money.
Sometimes I wonder how you survived this long. Zoreth sighed.
Of course we\'re not here to play executioner.
People don\'t submit to you just because you glare at them and we can\'t remain in Palaron to handle the business.
The Master already made contact with the locals and set up a parlay for us.
As I said earlier, we\'re here to facilitate a hostile takeover.
Meaning Bytra was confused.
She prompted a waitress so that her partner would be served as well.
Black markets and illegal routes require powerful mages to be established, otherwise it\'s impossible to avoid the Empire\'s safety measures.
This isn\'t the Griffon Kingdom, nobles do not exist and no title is hereditary. Zoreth said.
In the Empire, mages are so highly regarded that crime pays way less than being a civil servant, so bribing one is nigh-impossible.
Not to mention that the punishment for treason is beyond unspeakable.
Hence since there are no rogue mages, Palaron\'s underworld relied on the Undead Courts.
After the invasion from Jiera and Veeza\'s uprising, however, the Empire is tooth combing its territories for undead and even criminals don\'t trust them.
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