Adam sat in a lavish room packed with others, all of which were Silver Saviors. Each of them had been part of the mission that involved the Dragon Adam helped Heinrich kill. They were in a waiting room of Heider Kingdom’s Bank, Hessler branch. They were here to the dismay of many of the Silver Saviors for one reason; to collect their reward for killing the Dragon!
The reason for the dismay was simple, Heider was not actually going to give them any gold! Instead, it was issuing credit at the bank! Bank accounts always came with hefty service fees and the Silver Saviors had begun to doubt that would actually get any money from the job at all!
Adam decided not to dwell on it. He hadn’t ever interacted with the bank before, same as the others. Maybe things would work out better than they feared. Or maybe not. He could only wait and see what happened.
Instead, Adam began investigating the bank. He quickly came to the conclusion that the bank was sturdily built. It was all made of some kind of stone and there were plenty of architectural features throughout the bank. From things as simple as carved columns to intricately worked statues… or at least Adam assumed they were. He couldn’t discern any fine features on them. What he first took as rugs hung from the wall he surmised were lavish tapestries.
Among their little crowd, a few were also appreciating the lavish works around them. Isley was sitting next to Adam and was observing the intricate relief of a tree carved onto a slab of marble that was sitting on a low table in front of them.
Silber had come with Adam too, as he had been too restless being cooped up in Julianne’s house. Adam could tell Silber’s displeasure at still having to be stuck indoors despite leaving the house. Even scratching behind Silber’s ears while he laid his head in Adam’s lap only marginally helped his mood.
Isley gestured toward the table on the table while saying: “It’s beautiful, isn’t it? I’ve never seen something so lifelike carved in stone!”
While continuing to scratch Silber, Adam curiously tilted his head and said: “I figured there had to be something more to it. I can only see a slab of rock.”
Isley was briefly taken aback before he started laughing. He then said: “Despite you wearing a blindfold all the time, I forget that you’re actually blind! There’s this tree that’s carved into the slab…”
Isley continued on to describe not only the intricately carved slab but vibrantly colored tapestries and even talked about gold gilding that lined the ceiling. After Isley had gone over nearly everything within the waiting room, Heinrich finally came through the door.
“I’ve finally got everything set up. I’ll be taking you each one at a time to finalize everything. Adam, you’re first up. Come with me.”
Adam got up and followed Heinrich to an office not far from the waiting room. Silber naturally followed Adam. As they walked in, a man stood up from behind the desk he was waiting at. He hesitated slightly when he noticed Adam’s blindfold and then became aghast at the sight of Silber! A dog inside the bank could only spell disaster if it decided to chew on the furniture or mark some territory. However, Silber was clearly well behaved if a little antsy. His shining fur also proved him to be more than a simple dog.
The man tried to recover and moved on to greet him; “H-hello, my name is Gerald. You are?”
Adam sat down in a chair across from Gerald as he answered: “I’m Adam.”
Gerald watched as Silber laid down next to Adam: “L-let’s go over the particulars of what’s going on.”
Gerald became more comfortable as he talked with Adam. As it turned out, Heinrich was helping everyone to bypass the expenses of opening individual accounts by giving them each limited access to a single large fund that held the reward money from killing the Dragon. To set up his access, Adam gave his name as a primary and his mother as a secondary to access his portion of the funds.
After getting all the personal information together Gerald turned to Heinrich and asked: “What is to be the limit of Adam’s fund access?”
Without hesitation, Heinrich responded: “Five Gold Coins.”
Adam became slack-jawed as Gerald nodded and began adding more lines onto the document he had been filling out for Adam.
Five Gold Coins were more than enough to purchase a house in one of the middle-income districts of Hesseler! Madame’s would normally give a stipend of two Gold to the orphans that finally grew to become adults. It was enough for a small house in one of the low-income districts or they could even move to a town further away. Alfred managed to get three Gold due to the contracts he had fulfilled for the Silver Saviors, but he was planning on spending most of it on better weapons and armor. Adam scarcely knew what to do with five whole Gold Coins!
The amount rattled through Adam’s head one more time; ‘Five Gold Coins…’
Silber really didn’t know what these ‘accounts’ or ‘gold’ they were talking about were, but he could feel Adam’s shocked emotions. It wasn’t a bad shocked either, but… a good one? Silber tilted his head at the thought but was pleased that whatever was going on was apparently good.
After finishing his writing, Gerald tapped the papers together and said: “That should be everything. It will take about ten days for this to go under review and then be approved. You will also need to notify the bank ten days in advance before you attempt to make a purchase out of the account…”
Adam barely paid attention to what Gerald was saying. Before he knew it, he was back in the waiting room with the others and Heinrich pulled someone else to set them up. Isley mobbed Adam as he numbly sat on the couch; “You look like you’re in shock, Adam. Was it that bad?”
Adam shook his head: “No it was good.”
“C’mon, give me the details!”
On the journey back to Madame’s, Adam found himself constantly gazing at houses along the way. It had always been a small dream of both himself and his mother to get a house. They had been completely dependant on Madame’s since that terrible night that forced them from their previous home. Finally getting their own place would make them independent and put that event further behind them.
Vivienne had a fair bit of coin saved from working at Madame’s, but it would only be enough for a shoddy house at the edge of the city at best. However, with the coin sitting in the bank for Adam they could buy a truly decent house. A great one even! The possibilities made Adam giddy the whole way back.
Adam also began rambling on to Silber: “Just think… a whole house of our own! We could finally live together!”
Silber happily wagged his tail. Who knew these ‘accounts’ could lead Adam to get a house he could live in! Silber silently wondered for a moment why Adam hadn’t done this sooner before getting absorbed by Adam’s excitement. But if Adam was to get a house, one thing was essential
Silber gave a happy bark as he sent his thought to Adam. Adam quickly caught on and chuckled. He responded: “Yes, we’ll have to get a big yard for you.”
Unable to contain himself, Adam went straight to his mother as soon as he got back to tell her the news. She too was shocked by the amount that had been given to Adam. She then tempered Adam’s excitement by saying: “Don’t be too fast in buying a house. There is much to think about first.”
Adam was taken aback that Vivienne wasn’t as excited as he thought she would be. He responded: “Well, yeah.”
Vivienne chuckled: “You’re quickly becoming a young man, Adam. In a handful of years, you may be thinking of starting your own family. Are you certain you want your mother living with you if you want to get some alone time with Helen?”
Adam’s face went red in embarrassment. He then said: “We’d figure something out. I don’t think I could just leave you behind, mom.”
Vivienne gave Adam a tender smile before encasing him in a hug: “Well, we still need to get a good feel for the house prices anyway. Just because you have five gold to spend, doesn’t mean we should squander it away all at once.”
Adam and Vivienne began looking at houses whenever they had the time. Vivienne had some experience from when she and Alaric bought their house and the Dancery back at Fort Erich. However, she quickly found out she was out of her depth when it came to Hessler.
Houses were sold from the Magistrate Office and most of the listings only stated the location of the house, the lot size, and the price. There was no description of the house, so Adam and Vivienne had to walk over to check them out. Too many of the houses they visited were in bad locations, had shoddy construction, or were actually already sold and had yet to be taken off the Magistrate’s list!
Vivienne tried complaining to one of the clerks in the office: “Why is this all so disorganized!? When I was shopping for a residence in another city, they never had this issue!”
The clerk sighed: “Upkeeping the housing list is a long and involved process that we don’t have time for. Not sure where you lived before, but I can guarantee Hessler is a larger city than wherever you lived before. There are way too many legal proceedings to count that have a higher priority than keeping that list up-to-date.”
Vivienne heaved a sigh of frustration before stalking off with Adam hot on her heels. He asked: “If this is getting too much mom, why don’t we just go with one of the houses we saw near the Silver Saviors? It’s a bit far from Madame’s, but the houses were better than most we’ve seen.”
Vivienne shook her head: “No, this isn’t something that you should compromise on. When you’ve finally found a place that you love, all the frustration will be worth it. Trust me.”
Adam could only nod in response while he silently wondered how long it would take to find such a house.
As it turned out, it would be a year before Adam found the perfect house! During that year, while nothing truly significant happened, Adam felt he had changed. It wasn’t that he felt so close to being able to actually utilize a Spirit Formation he had been working on for the past year. Neither was it something to do with the few fights he had had with Helen and their subsequent make-ups that made them feel closer.
No, instead he felt a sense of confidence within him that had been growing for years. He was fifteen and was slowly approaching his sixteenth birthday! Soon he would be an adult, and he was starting to feel it.
He could also see a change in his mother. She too was getting older, but not too noticeably so. There were a few wrinkles at the edge of her face that were caused by more than just worry.
Part of Adam’s confidence stemmed from his time looking for houses. There were days where he would go out on his own so that Vivienne didn’t have to limp around with him. The two of them had also taken the time to study some of the laws and procedures around buying a house. One of the things they found out from this was that older house listings would have discounted prices! The trick was in figuring out why the house had been on the listing for so long. Most likely, there was a problem with the house or the lot but Adam felt sure there was a hidden gem somewhere there.
Vivienne was in the middle of perusing the listings when her eyes snapped to one line and said: “Huh.”
“What’d you find?” Adam asked.
“There’s this old listing for a lot at the Hill Garden for ten gold.”
Adam perked up at that: “Really!? If it’s real, maybe we can get the price knocked down.”
Vivienne nodded: “It’s really old though. It’s from about fifty years ago when they still had a spot for owner comments on the lots. It says something about construction being too noisy.”
“Hmm, I wonder if the construction ruined the lot?” Adam mused.
It was the only thing he could think of for a lot next to the Hill Garden to stay on the listings… well possibly. The house could have been sold and just not taken off the listings, but Adam had his hopes.
“Let’s check it out!”
Dawson, the clerk that had been helping Adam and Vivienne the past year inquired: “Did you find another promising one?”
Adam nodded: “An old listing by the Hill Garden.”
“Oh, that one.”
Adam’s heart sunk as soon as he heard the words: “You know it?”
Dawson nodded back: “That’s an old phantom. Nobody can actually find the lot, but the city engineers insist it exists. Based on the note from the owner, I assume it got absorbed by the construction.”
“Haven’t they gone out to confirm its location? They have plans for the city, don’t they?”
Dawson shrugged: “Probably not their department.”
“Then whose is it?”
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s part of anyone’s department. But hey, you have that special sight of yours. Maybe you’ll find something the rest of us can’t.”
Adam sighed: “Wanna check it out, mom? It might just be a ghost chase.”
“There are some other listings to check on the way there. Why not?”
The two departed to check out the houses they had found in the listings. None of them really spoke to either Adam or Vivienne. It wasn’t too long before they found themselves by the Hill Garden looking for that elusive lot.
As they finally arrived there was… nothing. There were houses on one side of the street and a five-foot-tall wall along the other side. The wall helped to separate the Hill Garden from the street, though there were a few entrances into the park at various points along the wall.
Adam frowned while he looked at two of the houses. They were sitting right next to each other. One was lot thirty-seven, the other was lot thirty-nine. There was no trace of lot thirty-eight between them.
Adam sighed and looked back toward the Hill Garden. They were on the opposite side of where Helen’s special spot was, but it would have been nice to have had a house here.
That was when Adam saw a corner of something at the edge of his vision! He instantly concentrated and pushed out further. The wall in front of lots thirty-seven and thirty-nine wasn’t separating the Hill Garden from the road, it was separating a house lot from the street! Thick trees and bushes lined the sides of the lot, camouflaging it perfectly with the park!
The house itself was large and the lot was huge! It was run down, though. All kinds of plants were overgrowing everywhere and much of the wood in the house was rotting. Luckily it was mostly made of stone so there wasn’t much damage to the house’s structure. If the house and lot had been pristine, it would probably be worth more than ten gold! As it was…
Adam wondered if he could push the price down far enough and have enough gold left to fix the place. It would be a pain to put in all the work needed to get the place back together, but… there was just something Adam liked about the house. Putting his worries aside, Adam smiled.
“I think we’ve found our home, mom!”
Dawson was astounded by their find as Adam described the house to him. He then began studiously nodding his head while pouring through Adam’s details.
“The house is what is known as a Domus. It’s an old style of home from some kingdom far south and east of us. It grew popular for a time. The entrance is an atrium built around a water feature that is dedicated to receiving and entertaining guests, with a few adjoining rooms to accommodate them. Moving past the atrium the house opens up into the pars-rustica, more or less your daily living area arranged around a courtyard with an open roof.”
Adam slowly nodded as he viewed the image of the house in his mind. Then he spoke: “Still, I wonder why the lot was blocked off?”
Dawson shrugged: “I think that was around the time the Hill Garden was being made. If the trees around the lot are as thick as you say, when the workers were constructing the wall around the Hill Garden, they probably thought the lot was part of it? It’s hard to know for sure, but worse things have happened to adjoining lots next to large construction projects.
That was as good of an answer as Adam was going to get, so he moved to the next topic: “Now, let’s talk pricing!”