Book 2- Chapter 5- A day in the town
Approximately one week has gone by since we enrolled within the Academy. During the week, we followed a set schedule. Wake up, go to class, meet with the six sword heirs, practice and then finally go home. And then repeat.
Most of the time it was boring. As I was in the warrior division, as such, academics weren’t all that important. It was however replaced by grueling physical exercises. Constant training and practice that would tire even an Olympic athlete.
Luckily for me my new body feels no fatigue and I can keep on going. But that didn’t make it any less tiresome and monotonous. Slowly our mission felt more like a choir. There’s nothing more boring doing the same thing over and over again.
Another boring day came and so too did it pass. Packing up my things, I was the second to leave. Right behind Als, whom always rocketed out of the room.
“Hey, are you alright?” Calling out to me. Nu ran up to catch me as we walked home while casually chatting.
“No you’re not. You have that look to you. The ‘I’m bored out of my mind look.’ You’re definitely not fine.”
“And how exactly do you know what my facial expression are? My face is stuck with one expression.” I countered.
“True but we’ve been together for a long time. You’re definitely bored.” Rebuttal Nu.
Back and forth we jokingly argued. No matter how hard I tried to reassure him, he kept on persisting. Scratching my head in defeat, I let him in onto my thoughts. Basically it all boiled down to one point.
“So you don’t like being undercover?” Nu questioned, summing up all my problems.
“I-It’s not just that. When we first came to this world, I-I thought we would have an adventure. I mean come on, we’re in another world for crying out loud. Daring adventure, perilous challenges, seeing more of the world! And yet we’re stuck playing make believe schoolhouse. I’m just…this isn’t what I envisioned that’s all.”
Childish that was the perfect word to describe my attitude. In the beginning, I shared Nu’s worry and too wanted to keep away from exploring this new world. But secretly, I was of the same mindset with Drakus back when he wanted to explore.
It’s selfish of me to try and have fun when we needed to focus on finding a way home. Yet I felt that if we don’t enjoy what we have now, we’ll regret it. I half expected him to call me out on it but he remained quiet and diligent. After expressing my thoughts we walked in silence before.
“Well I would be lying if I said I didn’t felt the same way as well.” Speaking up, Nu broke the awkward silence. “You make an interesting point, I guess I have been too restrictive. How about I make up for it then?”
“What do you have in mind?” I asked, peaked by with curiosity.
“We never got to fully explore the Capital now did we? From what I hear, you can buy all sorts of goods and services from the Inner District. How about we go check it out.” Lending him my ear, I was immediately excited at the proposal.
“Really?! Sweet!” Finally a chance to get some fresh air! Energetically, I grabbed his arm and rushed home together.
The Holy Capital was dominated by three concrete walls that separated the different districts within the Capital. The three walls were once created to safeguard the people inside during the initial Demon War invasion.
Now it has gone through many changes and is the host of the citizens of the Holy Empire. At the center of the capital lies the nobility, those of royal and noble descent. Originally the walls that separated the inner land from the outer land was protect those in power. And after so many years, it’s task remained the same.
The largest was the middle district. It was where those of common birth live and go about their lives. The district was very well known for the plethora of activity and businesses. From stores and shopping districts to a red light district near the far side of the area. There was nothing that couldn’t be found here.
Then there was the third and smallest district. At the far edge of the Capital, dubbed the Slums. As the name suggest, it was a decrepit place in which only those with nowhere left to go would live. Originally, the third layer housed soldiers to fight against the demons. The walls were significantly taller than the others. Before it was to prevent demons from attacking, but now it’s meant to keep the unwanted trash away from society.
Within the middle district Nu and I were having our own fun.
“Hurry up!” Calling for him I watched Nu passing through the streets before stopping to catch a quick break.
“Geez Shae, slowdown will you?” groaned Nu, trying to catch his breath.
“You’re at fault if you can’t keep up.”
As we were going shopping today we first changed out of our regular clothing. For one thing, they would draw too much attention. Another, it was nice to change our attires up a bit. But it wasn’t just us, Sirva tagged along as well.
We hardly see Sirva anymore, so I thought it was a nice idea to bring everyone along. And with that, our shopping trip was underway!
Dusk hasn’t settled in yet but hung throughout the streets and walls were beautifully lit candles that illuminated the street and the sky. They appeared to be magic based as I viewed a spectrum of colors as we walked.
There were people everywhere we went. Merchants advertising their goods, talk and gossip from the local populace, small fights that would break out in taverns. The area was bustling with activity. It was just like a typical fantasy setting. After walking for some time, I grew a bit impatient to explore.
I wanted to discover what this place had to offer. Suggesting that we split up, Nu happily agreed to my request. Nu and Sirva went their separate ways, I decided to with the flow. Walking aimlessly, amongst the crowds of people.
Going from vendor to vendor, I came upon off large variety objects and knick-knacks. Some I recognized while others I could only ponder at what they were. I even once found a lingerie underwear at one of the vendors! Stopping at every location to take at least one good look at everything, I was able to appraise them.
One of the subclass in [Eternia] was [Appraiser]. Much like the [Identifier] subclass, the Appraiser has the ability to appraise items. In game it was possible to look at special minerals or materials and to determine their quality. A fairly useful skill, only taken for those that fancy those kinds of things.
Back in [Eternia] I chose the [Appraiser] subclass to coincide with [Blacksmith]. I didn’t know why, but I held an acute fasciation for being able to learn more about an item. Using |Appraise Item|, I got a much closer look at the items before me.
Similar to Eternia, it display the name of the item, how rare the item was, possible special effects, and miscellaneous information. Using the skill I was able to separate the junk from those worth buying. But the icing on the cake was the description for items.
Each one had a story of their own to tell. Some are rather dull and pointless while a few had an extensive history. Time flew by in the blink of an eye as I indulged myself in the pleasure of the city. By the time I finished, I bought all kinds of goods. It was an all-out shopping spree. With sometime to spare I decided to explore more of the city.
As I explored I took notice of something, a fact that Nu mentioned when we first arrived here. The demi-human ratio. The thought was sudden, coming out of nowhere. But as soon as I got it in my head, I couldn’t get it out.
My eyes drift from side to side as I mentally counted how many demi-human there were. The ratio was heavily skewed, it was clear that the human population greatly outnumbered them. Passing several of them, I could see that their eyes were devoid of life.
It didn’t take a genius to guess that they were treated as second class citizens. No, they were second class citizen in the eyes of the citizens. Seeing them moving around like lifeless puppet irked me. However, there was nothing I could really do. Pushing the thought away, I continued on my path to where we chose to rendezvous.
Pushing through the crowds of people, Nu and Sirva were relatively easy to spot. For one, with my radar active so locating him was easy. The next factor to consider was the constant attention they received. Sitting on a public fountain, people were constantly glancing at Nu and Sirva, but mostly Sirva.
“Did I keep you waiting?”
Greeting them, there wasn’t any indication of goods bought but I had my suspicion that he stored it in his [Infinity Bag]. Much like how I stored the item in my inventory.
“Not really, we just got here ourselves. So any caught your eye?”
Shaking my head I then went on to show some of the items I bought. Most of what I bought were for my own use and purely ascetics. Nu on the other purchase a wide range of stuff. From potions and textbooks to tomes and herbs. My guess that he was planning on conducting some experiments?
With nothing left to do we decided to head back to the dorm. The sun was already setting as we made our way back. Everything was going smoothly until someone bumped into me. Bump wouldn’t be the correct word as I felt that someone ran right into me.
“Hey! Watch where you’re…going.”
I wanted to chastise the individual who ran right into us but stopped midway when I got a better look of the person. It was a small child, no older than around 10 to 11 years old. Realizing my mistake I was careful with my words.
“Ohh…sorry. Hey, are you alright?”
Getting a closer look, I realized it was an elf. She was, lack for a better word; looked terrible. Her clothes, if you could call it clothing, was nothing more than mismatch stitch together cloth. It looked to be a dirty dish rag than clothing. Grime and dirt covered her pale skin. Upon closer inspection she looked to be hurt with a nasty bruise on her head.
The poor child looked like she’s been living in a trash can for who knows how long. Bending down to help her. The moment I touch her, she immediately started to fight me. Throwing her arms up, and flaying them about.
“Please calm down, we aren’t going to hurt you.”
“Let go of me! I Let me go!!”
The more I tried to help her, the more she fought back. Before I could calm her down, my ears caught onto something. The sound of heavy footsteps, and they were converging on our location. In the next second, a group of five gruff looking man came into view. The little girl started to shake uncontrollably when she saw them.
One of the men, looked around before his eyes settle on the girl. “There you are, now be a good girl and come over here.” Taking a step forward, he was immediately blocked by us.
“Who are you? What do you want with her?” I asked.
“That’s none of your business. Now hand her over!” Rudely answering back, I was about beat him to a pulp until Nu stopped me.
“I don’t see a slave mark on her. Which means she’s free and that means you’re trying to do something to her.”
“I don’t give a shit what you think! Hand her over or else.” On his command, the five of them spread out and surrounded us. With our backs to the wall, I motioned the little girl behind me to protect her.
“Say, can I beat the crap out of them already?” They weren’t going to listen to reason, so the only opinion left was to fight. Already, I was holding back the urge to smash their face against the pavement.
“We’re in narrow alleyway right now, I can’t use my spells without the possibility of hitting everything around me. And knowing you, you’ll go crazy.” Quietly, making his observation, he went for a different approach. “Sirva please take care of the situation.”
Following Nu’s order, Sirva charged directly at the intruders. They didn’t even have time to react as she perform a high kick to knock out one of them against the wall. It was only after seeing his ally knocked back did they snap back to reality. The one closest to Sirva threw a punch only for her to duck and release an uppercut kick, sending him flying as well.
In less than a second, Sirva dispatched two of them. The others backed off in fear but maintained their distance.
“You idiots, grab her!” Whom we assume was their leader, tried to organize his little group. Upon his command, one rushed at her, arms wide open.
Sirva easily jump over him while retaliating. A downward blow, knocking his head against the pavement with a huge thud. She slowly stood up while brushing herself off. Out of the remaining two, one fled the scene.
“Why you!” Roaring in anger, the leader pulled out a rusty knife and charged at Sirva.
He lunged at her but once more she easily evaded him. Quickly sidestepping, she grabbed his arm and disarmed him. Maneuvering herself, she came into possession of his weapon and placed it against his neck. Before Sirva could do anything, Nu stopped him.
“Sirva, that’s enough.” He stopped her just as she pressed the blade against his bare skin. A droplet of blood trickled down his neck.
“I’m only going to say this once, I don’t want to see you near her. Got it?” Not waiting for his response, Nu let him go. Freed, he scrambled out of here without even looking back at his friends.
Checking that the coast was finally clear, we all started to relax. “It’s alright, they’re gone. We won’t hurt you.” The little elf girl hid herself during the fight. After we were done she slowly trudged out from where she hid.
“Tha…thank you.” Stumbling on her words, it looked that she was still scared.
“Why were they chasing you?” Nu asked, checking over the girl’s wound.
“I-I don’t know. The…they attacked me…and…” Stuttering, the poor girl looked to be on the verge of crying. Bending down, I gave her a hug to quickly reassure her.
“It isn’t all that hard to guess why. Free demi-human are a rare sight. We’ll help you home.”
The elf was about to object but both of us insisted. It wasn’t hard to see why, she was recently attacked so she held some fear. Eventually she gave up and we helped her home. During the walk we learned that the girl name was Alia and she was a free elf because her previous owner died. Before she was enslaved again, she found a way out.
Her home was worse off than I had imagined. Walking south, the middle district became more ruined. A slow shift as we passed several unmanned checkpoints. We entered the Slums.
The area lived up to its name. Trash and decay were everywhere. Poor couldn’t describe the state condition of the Slums. The houses, if you could call them houses as they were nothing but buildings crammed together. But that wasn’t the end of it.
Not only was it crowded with filth and trash but also those that lived there fell into the same category. It was something you would see from a country back on earth at war. Children sprawled and elderly were everywhere. The little girl was no different from those around her.
As we made our through, they each looked at us with lifeless eyes. They only watched us pass before going back to their original activity, nothing.
Eventually we reached her home…no the proper term was shack. Her home was placed against the wall. The shack was very run down, with holes and decrepit plywood. Dirt and trash littered the streets with a horrible pungent smell all around.
We walked in to see a small room that looked much nicer on the inside. There were two rooms in the house. One main room and a door that led to another small back room. The main room wasn’t that big, especially with old, destroyed furniture taking up most of the space. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a broken bed in the back room.
“Thank you for helping. I…I don’t have any…”
“It’s alright. But do you really live here? All by yourself?” Politely cutting her off, I was curious by her home.
“No…My sister lives here too.”
On cue of asking my question, the creaking of the door could be heard. Slowly someone walked into the room.
The one who came into view was Als, the elf. Neither of us had ever anticipated such a turn of events. But the surprise didn’t last long as she quickly threw down her stuff and turned towards us with hostility. But before she could act Alia stepped in.
“Please don’t! They’re friendly.”
Alia stepped in-between us, causing Als to back up a bit in surprise. A look of concern cross her face in regards to Alia before pulling her over. Bringing her close, Als kept an eye on us while discussing with Alia.
“Explain now.” Demanded Als.
For the next few minutes we informed her on what happen after going to the shopping district. At first she was still skeptical but she eventually resigned and acknowledged it. As the situation simmered down, the three of us found each other sitting in the same room together.
It was a bit awkward in how the transition proceeded. Sitting across one another, Als didn’t drop her hostile glare.
“A small world isn’t it? Who would have guessed we would have ran into your sister….” Attempting to start small talk, Als responded with silence. Dropping the effort, entirely a short awkward silence came to pass before Nu tried once again.
“Say…your magic, it’s some form of crystallization magic. If you don’t mind, could you tell me more about it?”
Again, Als remained neutral to his question.
“If I had to guess, you’re an elementalists that specialize in earthen magic. The crystal you form are made of condense mana correct?” Going on, Nu waited.
“……Yes.” Finally, Als responded to one of Nu’s question. A small smirk curved up on the end of his smile.
“I’ve read up on crystals. Accordingly, they are form by condense mana deep underground. I was wondering if you can do the same.” Keeping the thought rolling, he asked another question.
“…Yes, and no. The crystal I create aren’t as fully form as a normal crystal. I’m only able to create ‘unstable’ crystal for attacking. Like any other spell, it will eventually wither away into mana.” To my surprise yet again, Als answered another question.
For a second, I believed we had made some headway in having her trust us. However, nothing was as easy as it seems. The next question asked was from Als this time.
“So when are you planning on leaving?” Asking in a blunt tone, a hint of annoyance could be heard in Als’s voice. It was clear that she didn’t like us being here. Originally we planned on leaving but Alia insisted that we stay for a bit.
‘The least you can do is pretend that you want us gone’ Keeping the thought to myself, it did annoy me at how rude Als was to us. The only reason for us staying here was because Alia insisted on such. After saving her, she insisted that we wait until she prepared something for us.
So Nu and I were stuck waiting. There’s wasn’t much to do while waiting, so I my eyes shifted across the room. I was looking for anything to alleviate my boredom. Eventually I spotted something out of place. Tuck away in the corner was the same envelope that we received from the Academy.
‘That should have been her acceptance folder. If so then why is it….’ As I was forming my thoughts, something hit me. Jerking my head away, I looked back to the room around us.
“Say…why aren’t you at the academy?” speaking up, Nu and Als turned their attention towards me. “If you were accepted that would mean you should be living on the campus dorm. Yet, you come here every day…Why is that?”
A second after asking my question, I received an answer. “It’s because of Alia.” The responder of which was Nu. “Even if a demi-human is freed, they still have a likely chance of being enslave again. Als earned the right to be except but not her sister.”
Hearing his answer, Als grew more alert. Her eyes narrowed on Nu, ready to strike if need be. Unfazed by her glare, Nu continued. “Don’t worry. We have no intention on informing anyone about this.” Silent, both parties waited until Als spoke up.
“…Don’t talk to me.”
“Just ignore us. Don’t talk to me in class or get close to me ever again.”
“I said leave us alone! We’ve held out with just us. We don’t need other meddlers!”
The way she made it out, it was as if she was annoyed at us for helping her. Before I could get vocal myself, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Nu stopped me.
“If that’s what you wish.”
Urging me forward, I dropped the matter. But before we left there was something I had to do first. Placing myself in an area out of Als’s sight, I rummaged through my inventory.
Picking out some clothes here and there, I handed her a pile of worn cloths. Als eyed them with heavily skepticism.
“I told you we don’t need your help.”
“That’s perfectly fine. But if you won’t use it then use it for her.”
Bringing up Alia there was a change in her attitude. Looking back and forth from the clothing and me, she reluctantly grabbed them.
Not bothering to even thank us, she turned her back and walked away. With nothing left to do we decided to head home.
“Tchhh.” Clicking my tongue, her attitude annoyed me to no end. “Just how ungrateful could she be?”
“Well it’s not like it’s completely irrational. Thinking about it, it’s most likely that Als and her sister were once slave. Their cynical and paranoid attitude is born from their hardship. So it isn’t surprising that she acted as such.”
Lending Nu my ears, I did agree with his thoughts but that still didn’t make it any less frustrating. Letting out one more exasperated sigh, we dropped the matter. In the end, there’s nothing left to do.