Capital

Book 2- Chapter 1- Capital

Nu-Ru POV

The Central continent was, and is still, inhabited by mostly humans. Not only was it the largest, but the most abundant in resources as well. A beautiful land that cultivated many serene landscapes.

Filling the lands were the different nations which culminated the human race. There are a total of five ruling nations that inhabit the Central Continent. One being the Regios kingdom which dominates the central left section of the continent while the Holy Empire dominates the central right section.

Near the Holy empire laid a vast land with hills and forest scattered about. Plots of lands were cultivated with farmers at the helm. All the roads from around the Empire lead directly to the Capital of the empire, aptly named the Holy Capital.

On one of these many roads, a certain carriage filled with several individuals was making its way to the Capital.

*******

“Wow, what a wonderful view.”

“First time in the countryside young man?”

The one who responded was the driver of the carriage. The man looked to be in his early sixties with short grey hair and wrinkled skin. He had a small hunch, making him seem quite small.

“In a long time, yes. Where we’re from, we don’t see many serene areas like this.”

“Take in as much as you can, it ends essentially when we reach the Capital by the hour.”

The old man let out a warm chuckle before turning his attention back to the road. I jumped off the passenger seat and climbed back in the carriage where Shae and Sirva sat. We were the only ones on board so we sat wherever.

“We’ll be reaching the capital by the hour, wonder what we’ll see there?”

“Humans of course.” The reply came from Shae who probably meant to sound sarcastic. But instead it came out as a monotone remark.

Ever since Shae became an android her emotions were altered when speaking. She still felt them, but her body and face fail to express them, often coming out as monotone. One couldn’t help but see the irony of it. I suppressed a chuckle at her mute response.

“What about you Sirva?”

“I do not know now Master.”

Out of all the NPC’s Sirva were among the few that still treated us as such. Due in part to the personality matrix I encoded into her. Back in Eternia I never saw a point in adding personality to bits of code. So I simply skipped out on it and focused more effort on everything else.

That would also explain her lack of emotion as well. With no personality matrixes, she’s essentially a blank state. If I had somehow known then, I would at least have given her a personality.

‘Well, nothing I can do about that now.’ I thought to myself. But thinking about, I started to wonder what kind of personalty she would have expressed if I had went through with it.

“Hey, what are you staring at?”

Hearing Shae’s voice I looked to see her eyeing me rather suspiciously.

“Huh?”

“You’ve been staring at her intensely for the last minute or so. Just what are you planning, hmm?”

“Planning? Nothing! I was just pondering that’s all.”

“Pondering huh? Could it be that you want a piece of her~?”

Placing her hand over my shoulder, she pulled me in close.

“A piece? T-that’s that not what I was thinking!” Realizing what she meant I pushed her away.

“Denial, a common practice amongst man. Wait! Could it be…that you’re a virgin!”

“That’s a question I’m not inclined to answer.”

“If master wishes I will gladly offer up my body.”

“Please don’t add more fuel to the fire Sirva.”

Shae was clearly enjoying herself. Not one to continue with her games I chose a corner of the carriage and sat down there. Seeing me move Sirva too relocated herself closer to me, sitting down on her knees. A small chime could be heard as she transitioned from her previous location. The reason for this came from a bell attached to a collar around her neck.

As our mission location was the Empire, Sirva needed to look the part of a slave. The collar around her neck wasn’t simply a choker, but an item, [Alert Choker] It was a choker item with a special ability imbued into it.

Should the user be in danger, it will send an alert to all party members. The design itself resembles that of a collar, the only thing left was painting symbols on it to make it look authentic. Regarding her attire, she was dressed in a rather plain tunic and pants, albeit enchanted by me.

The reason for making her look like a slave was for her to gain access into the Empire alongside us. The human continent despises demi-human and demons. The Empire was among the biggest advocate for slaves.

Mine and Shae’s were radically different from Sirva’s plain clothing. We decided to not wear our best gear as they would draw an enormous amount of attention. I settled on an outfit similar to my old one. A tunic underneath some scholarly clothes and a vest. I still had my inventory bag, so we had our best gear, should we need it. I’ve also used my illusion magic to conceal my ears and eyes to pass as a human.

I was even able to disguise Shae’s mechanical parts to make her look fully human. Her outfit was similar to mine but with more leg room to move.

Our new clothes were modified low level clothing that we kept around, albeit enchanted and reinforced to make them more durable.

*******

For the past hour, we simply did nothing. Shae brought along a book for her to read while I stared out into the distance. Time seemed to slow down as I admired the wonderful scenery. As we got closer to the capital, more and more villages came into view. I couldn’t help but watch them with curious eyes.

Rural villages populated the area outside the capital. I watched as children ran around; playing with each other. Adults going about their work. Women nursing their children, while attending to their different jobs.

As I watched them from afar, I grew more curious. Going on a whim I activated a skill, |Identify|.

Upon activation a small transparent screen appeared showing the person I was looking at. Everything in my sight was divided into the same categories from Eternia. Their name was unknown, as I didn’t know them. However their levels were visible along with health and mana level.

Encompassing as much as I could I now had a better understanding as to what I saw. What took me by surprise was the fact that they had levels. All the villagers were within the low, single digit level range.

I continued my investigation as we passed into the next village. And much like before, the same pattern and result popped up. And the one after that and so forth. Out of all the data I collected from them, at most the highest level of the villagers was level 4.

“Are we really in another world?”

“Huh? What are you going about now?”

Engrossed with my thoughts I accidently spoke aloud. Enough for Shae to put down her book and bring her attention to me. I was about to dismiss it, but if anyone would understand what I’m thinking, it would be her,

“For a while now, I’ve been using my identification skill. And it’s just like Eternia, the stats, level, name, everything. We can interact with the world like it was a game but the world is real at the same time. So what is it? A game? A new world? Or maybe a mixture of the two?”

Nothing made sense. The more we discover the more the questions piled up. The biggest of them was, are we really in another world? Much of the evidence supports it, but at the same time, there is also evidence of the game as well. For everything we find in support of one answer, there’s a lingering doubt for the other.

“Quite frankly I don’t care if this world is real or a game world. All I care about it is getting back in my old body again. If we can achieve that then it doesn’t matter if this world is real or not.”

Taking a moment to contemplate her words, she was right. What did it really matter if the world was real or not? As the saying goes, it doesn’t matter the means simply that the end is met. I couldn’t help but laugh at the rather simple answer.

“You’re right. Guess I’m just overthinking it, again.” I couldn’t help but let out an awkward laugh that was received by no one.

“We’re at the outskirts of the Capital, we’ll reach the checkpoint within minutes.”

The old man’s voice snapped me back to reality. Immediately hearing his words, I jumped to the front for a better view. The moment I laid eyes on it, I couldn’t help but have my breath taken away.

The first thing that everyone should have noticed was a wall. Even from afar it was massive. A gigantic wall was erected around the Capital, spanning as far as the eye could see. Even from a distance I could see the details and work that was put into it.

The wall was imposing but also offered safety in its majesty. Spanning far and wide it gave the feeling of protection for all the laid their eyes on the sturdy exterior.

Even with that, there were a couple of buildings that stood tall. What seems like the top of a church was seen, along with tall buildings and spires. The most impressive was a tall spire building at the center. The tall buildings that peaked over above the wall aligned themselves upward, growing taller and taller.

I was so caught up in the sights that I hadn’t realized that we had stopped. Bringing myself back down I exited the carriage with Shae and Sirva.

“This is as far as I can take you. Just head to the checkpoint over there and you’ll be good to enter.”

“Thank you for driving us this far. Here.”

I kindly thanked the man and presented him with two gold pieces. Gold in this world was a bit more valuable than in Eternia. The currency went along the lines of copper, bronze, silver and gold coins. Also the conversion rate was that 100 copper=1 bronze, 100 bronze= 1 silver and 100 silver = 1 Gold.

Thanks to the gold from the princess and my alchemy skill, I was successfully able to mass produce their standard gold coins. All members have at least around a million gold coin should any situation come up.

The moment I brought out the coin the old man looked like his eyes were going to fly out.

“This…This is too much.”

“I insist, you drove us all the way here. It’s the least we can do.”

The man cupped the gold coins as if not to lose them. He became teary eyed as he constantly thanked me. After saying our goodbyes we followed the path to the checkpoint. The old man’s word spoke true as the closer we got the more urban it looked.

Trees grew sparse, replaced with buildings that ranged from animal stations and stalls, manned by what I assumed were merchants. As we drew closer a line could be seen. On further inspection it was a line of people waiting for their turn at the front, where the gate lied.

Fortunately for us there were multiple lines so we were near the entrance in no time. A pair of guards waited for us. They wore silver full plated body armor; their heads were uncovered.

“Hello. We’re new to the empire. We would like passage for three please.” Addressing them with a cheery smile. The guards looked at us with mild suspicion, namely they looked at me and Sirva.

“Where do you hail from? And for what reason have you for entry and citizenship?” one of the guards asked.

“Why to be a part of the empire of course. We have traveled many lands to come here. We decided that our old home pales in comparison to the pinnacle of human civilization, The Empire.”

The guards cracked a small smile before one of them walked inward into the city. The Holy Empire were a rather conceited bunch. They believed that humans were the apex of life forms and everything else was beneath them.

‘Like the princess said, all I needed to do was butter them up.’ I thought to myself, keeping my cheery façade up.

Within a minute the guard came back, carrying some paper cards.

“Hold out your hand. We’ll mark you as a civilian of the empire.”

We did as we were told. It looked to be similar to a washable tattoo stamp. They placed it on our arm and sprayed some light substance over it. Soon there was an imprint of the empire symbol on our hand.

I looked over to Sirva to see her with the slave symbol on her hand instead. The biggest difference between ours was the method. They had use a small hot iron rod to place the stamp. I doubted that she truly felt any pain but the mere hissing noise that came from the hot metal against skin was enough to make me frown inward.

“You’re now official residents of the empire. The total cost of admission is one gold for all of you.”

After paying the fine, all that was left was to check our luggage and equipment. Because I had my [Infinity Bag] equipped, it took the place of my inventory. Luckily for me, only I could activate it. To them it was a regular bag. Finally we were admitted entry.

At first I was rather surprised at the advanced civilization of the empire. The streets were wide enough for people to go to and fro. There was even a paved road for horses and carts to move around.

My original expectations were somewhere along the lines of medieval style living, so it was surprising. Their civilization was similar to the Roman Civilization. However, it wasn’t just occupied by humans, but also demi-humans.

There looked to be a single demi-human for every five humans I saw. Something I immediately noticed was that every demi-human that I saw was walking alongside a human, never by itself.

“Hey! Stop daydreaming.”

Shouting I looked around to see Shae ahead of me. Finally getting my attention she began walking, making me sprint to catch up to her.

Phase one was completed, now time for phase two. Joining the Holy Academy.

“So, where is exactly is this Holy academy again?” Shae asked, trying to pass the time.

“If I had to guess it would be the one with the large spire that we saw when we were outside the wall.”

“You think they’ll just let random people join their Holy Academy’?”

The Holy Empire values power above all else. According to the princess, the Holy Academy was built to train and hone the power of those who have it. A tribute to the original seven founders whom they idolize as gods. Not only that, it was also a sign of status for the people within the Empire. Those who attend the academy are considered people of great importance to the future of the Empire.

“If the princess’s information is correct, there should be an evaluation test for applicants of the academy. So long as we show our strength, it shouldn’t be a problem. But we do have to be careful in how we go about it.

Nodding in understanding we continued to discuss future matters. While doing so, I started to notice something. We were being watched by everyone around us. At first there were slight glances but soon these turned into lingering stares.

Are we standing out? Is it our clothes or is it because we’re new here? I couldn’t help but get cautious, as we should have easily blended in with the crowd.

I ignored them and we made our way forward. Eventually we decided to stop at some tavern. The tables were set outside with a couple inside the stores. It was one of those open air restaurants. We took our seat as a female elf came to us and took our order.

“Ummm…What would you like today?”

We asked for what they offered. Eventually we decided on a meal that was big enough to feed all of us. The elf quickly sprinted away with our order, as if she was afraid of being there for another second.

At that moment I realized something. As soon as we sat down, all chatter stopped and the customers all around were talking in whispers. They were staring at us…no they were staring at Sirva. At first I was confused by that fact, trying to figure out why until a voice called out.

“Excuse my boy. Excuse me!”

A sudden voice called out that grabbed everyone’s attention. Turning in my seat, a small pudgy fat man making his way over to our table. The first noticeable feature I took note of was his attire. Where everyone else wore a decent clean tunic he wore an outfit similar to ours. Spotless, clean and looked awfully expensive. He was smoking on a pipe with a monocle on his left eye.

He wasn’t alone however, what seemed like a sheep-man one male and one female. They wore a butler and maid uniform respectively. He made his way over, seemingly hopping along, before stopping at Sirva and excitedly inspecting her.

“Wonderful! Simply wonderful! A genuine dark elf!”

A dark elf? What does that have to do with anything? Unless…

Back in Eternia there were different categories of elves. As typically of any fantasy style video game, there were elves. Wood elves, normal elves, fairy elves, high elf, and finally dark elves.

The lore told that they were a extremely ruthless and tough enemy. Favoring armed combat compared to their archery and magic wielding sister races.  In fact among the top ten most popular NPC monsters, dark elves was ranked around second place. There was something exotically alluring about the elves, such that people couldn’t help but have at least one. including myself.

Shae looked over with confusion before I signaled that everything was fine. I turned my attention back to the man who was eyeing Sirva as if she were some grand item.

“Exquisite! Absolutely exquisite! My boy is this dark elf yours?”

“…Yes she is.”

I replied with a forced cheerful smile. He simply nodded before returning his attention back to Sirva. He was obviously getting antsy.

“Tell me my boy where did you obtain such a wonderful item?”

I quietly clicked my tongue in annoyance at him – referring to her as an item – but I kept a straight face.

“You know it’s quite rude to not introduce yourself before engaging in a discussion.”

“Of course! Where are my manners? I am Baron Matwain. A pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

A baron? That meant that he was a noble within the Empire. That would certainly explain his extravagant looks. Even with those clothes he looked like an oversize balloon dressed to look like a man.

I kept the thought to myself while trying to maintain my smile.

“Nice to meet you Mr. Matwain, my name is Nu-Ru.”

“Nu-Ru? An odd name don’t you think my boy?”

“I’m not from around here. I come from a faraway place.”

“I see, I see. Forgive me my boy. If you don’t mind me asking again, where did you obtain her?”

My brain went into overdrive as I tried to come up with a plausible explanation as to why a dark elf was under the command of a child in his eyes.

“It was a gift. A gift from my father.”

When all else fail go with the pompous dad approach. I thought to myself while trying to put on a proud expression. It seemed to have worked as we continued our discussion.

“My boy are you perhaps willing to sell her?”

Finally he got straight to the point. I had an inkling that that was what he was after, only a blind man wouldn’t see his ulterior motive.

“I’ve been trying to get my hands on one for years now but to no avail. No mercenary group would go and find a tribe to capture one from, no matter how much I was willingly to pay them. I’ll make sure you earn a profit of course, 600 gold.”

“Sorry but I can’t simply sell just for any old price.” I said, instantly rejecting his offer. But that didn’t stop him.

“I see, then 750 gold then.”

“She doesn’t have a price and that is not negotiable.” I answered back, with a bit more force.

“You drive a hard bargain my boy. 1,000 gold coins. That’s my final offer.”

“And here’s my final answer, no!”

We stood staring at each other for a solid minute. Those in the store and around were watching our debate. It was when I finally gave my answer that something changed. There was a short change in his demeanor, but I caught it. He was annoyed, angry, frustrated that I was challenging him. Within that very second his expression turned back to the cheery, bubbling attitude.

“I see. Well then how about we do a slave exchange then?”

“Slave exchange?”

That was the first time I heard such a term. But the name was pretty self-explanatory.

“You don’t know what a slave exchange is my boy? Well it’s as the name suggests, we essentially trade slaves. However since you don’t want to trade then we can fight for it.”

“Fight?”

“Basically we would fight against one another with our slaves as bets. The fights can range from simple games or a full on fight.”

I was about to immediately say no but I quickly retracted my answer. It wasn’t going to be that easy, it’s clear how much he wants Sirva. I have no idea what he might do so it was safer to settle the dispute as quickly as possible.

“Very well, I accept.”

A smile formed on his face, but it was a cruel and sly smile.

“Hehe, that’s wonderful. So name your price.”

“In truth, I don’t want anything. So let’s get this over with.” Pushing my chair away, the man stopped me.

“I’m afraid, that isn’t how this work. In order for this to be fair, there must be a mutual agreement on the exchange. If you can decide, then perhaps I will.” Taking a moment, the man soon eyed the sheep-man in his possession. Pointing to the slaves behind him I caught another sly smile, this time much more revealing. Most likely he thought that even if he lost he could easily replace them. The smile shows just how much confidence he had in winning.

“You have yourself a deal.” Ultimately, I decided to agree. At the very least, I could free them after our fight.

“A fair deal my boy. We’ll fight it out, how does that sound boy?”

“That’s perfectly fine. Thought where are we going to fight?.”

“Follow me my boy.”

Beckoning me I followed him outside the restaurant and towards an open area. We attracted quite a bit of attention as by the time we got there. They were even nice enough to clear the area, giving us plenty of elbow room.

Despite his clear happiness towards my decision, I too was also happy. This gave me a means of collecting more data on the world.

Ever since coming to this new world, we know next to nothing. But the one constant we do know is this, we’re extremely powerful. But then the question become this, just how strong were we? This was necessary to limit our strength to keep a low profile as intended. Flaunting our strength around was careless.

Our encounter and fight with the town’s guards and assassins gave us more insight, but not enough. We used our best skills and spells out of fear that they might be strong as well. As such our data regarding our true strength is skewed.

Now I had a chance to get a better understanding along with an accurate conclusion regarding where we stood. While he was getting ready I used |Identify| once more to check his stats.

Level 11, such a low level. The guards backed at the gates were around level 12. The term ‘level’ wasn’t as clear cut as it was back in Eternia. Instead of a definite clue to gauge one’s power. The level of the inhabitants of the new world had a different meaning.

“Are you ready?”

Preoccupied with my thoughts I only heard him after several yells. Focusing myself on the matter at hand I too ready myself. The condition for the fight was spells only and fighting until the other party could not continue.

“|Air burst|”

The air in front of Matwain compressed together and shot towards me. I easily saw through it and slid to my right to dodge it. It didn’t end there as a barrage of air bullets flew towards me. For the next minute or so I effortless dodged them. Before heading to the capital I took the time to test the limits of my body.

Although it wasn’t to the extreme of Drakus or Arsenal, who could knock down an entire tree with a single punch. I’m still able to go beyond a normal human being. For most of the fight I simply dodged around, not once attempting to retaliate.

“What’s wrong my boy? Am I going too hard on you?”

To an outsider it would seem that Matwain was in the lead while I was simply trying my hardest to dodge. That couldn’t have been any further from the truth. He used the same spell over and over again, allowing me to use a high level identification skill, |Greater Skill Identify|”

The skill was a higher level version of the normal |Identify| skill. Unlike the basic kill, |Greater Skill Identify| allows the user to see everything, name, rank, range of damage, mana cost, and so forth.

Hearing the ding noise I quietly scrolled through the text while jumping around. I skimmed through most of the useless information until I reached what I was looking for.

‘Rank 2? If everything was converted into Eternia gaming terms then that means their spells could possibly go up rank 12, or even higher. If the spell he used was a rank 2, then how would my spells compare to this world?’

It still didn’t answer all of my questions, but it did give some useful insight. Content, I finally decided to end our little fight.

“What’s wrong? Do you want to surrender? Well I don’t blame you.”

“No, no. I just extended the fight for a little experiment. Now then let’s finish things up.”

I brought up my hand and pointed my index finger straight at him.

“|Pulsating mana burst|”

Mana concentrated around my fingertip until a small orb appeared. It radiated power that even caught Marktwain off guard. Firing it at him, he barely made it in time to deflect the attack.

He apparently activated another skill which wind formed a barrier around him. The shot hit the barrier with full force but was deflected due to wind current. Diverted from its path it flew towards the fountain, pulverizing it to pieces and sending chunks of debris flying.

Water spurted everywhere, catching everyone off guard. The only sound that could be heard was the water raining down as everyone eyed me with awe and terror. Even I was caught off guard by how much destruction I caused from a simple spell.

Bringing my attention back to Matwain, I kept my surprise to a minimal in order for a greater reaction. He jumped back a bit when our eyes made contact.

“Care to continue?”

Through it may be cruel, I spoke in a sarcastic manner. He looked at me as if I suggested if he wanted to jump off a cliff without a parachute.

“No…No! It’s your win, take them please!”

He backed off and bowed down. I notched my head over to tell Shae and Sirva to come over. Following them were the sheep men. Several guards walked over to see what the disturbance was. I quickly explained the situation along with paying for the damage and we were on our way.

With that problem behind us, we finally continued on our way. The sun was slowly setting, blanketing the sky in a hazy orange. I asked the two if they knew any good inns or resting spots.

Taking the lead, they led us to another district before coming across an inn similar to a four star hotel. We rented two rooms, one for Shae, Sirva and I. The other was for the sheep-men.

After settling in, I called the two over.

“I would like to know your names.”

“Baa, I’m Bamen. This is my daughter, Bamun.”

The sheep man, Bamen, replied with a loud baa at the beginning of every sentence. Looking between the two I could tell that they were frightened. Not wasting any time, I got to the point.

“Tell me. Do you wish to be free?” I asked.

“Baa, no.” Bamen replied immediately. It took a solid second before my mind fully register his answer. Even Shae was caught off guard by his response.

“What? Why?” I asked back, losing my composure for just a second.

“Baa, are you new to the Empire?” Returning with a question of his own, I nodded to Bamen question. “Baa, I see. Baa, isn’t that easy, those with master are often time the luckiest. Baa, if you free us then we’ll just end up in the Slums and be enslave again.”

Answering back, it sounded as if this wasn’t the first time that this had happened. Looking to Shae and Sirva, they too were unsure of what to do. Sitting in silence for a good minute, I came to a decision.

“If we’ll be working together, please know this. I will not treat you as objects or tools, but rather as living beings. I only ask for you to work hard and diligently, and you’ll be rewarded.”

“Baa, as you command.”

The daughter gave a quizative glance towards her father Bamen, who remained steadfast. Thinking about it further it would be suspicious to hear your new master say such a thing. Actions speak louder than words.

Pulling out a pouch I filled with it with around twelve pieces of gold. Tying it, I tossed it to Bamun who gave a shocked expression at what he was given.

“Use the money to buy some new clothes. I don’t care what, so long as you’re comfortable wearing it. The rest that is left, you may keep.”

The girl’s eyes widen at what I said. The father grasped the pouch and bowed, thanking my generosity. As they were on their way, the girl stopped and said ‘thank you’ to me before closing the door.

“I must say, I did not expect their response. So are we seriously going to keep them?” Shae asked.

“Of course I want to set them free, however if what they said is true. Then we’ll do more harm than good. If anything, with them, our integration with the Empire might not seem so odd. The plan is to learn as much as we can. In order to do that, we need to reach the top. Every noble has tons of slaves, we can at least use them to bolster our image.”

As much as I tried to hide it, I couldn’t stop my face making frown. The springing noise of the mattress could be heard as she jumped onto her bed.

“You know ever since we got here, you’ve been in a sour mood. Normally you’re quite stoic and calm. When you were facing that guy, you seemed unhappy.”

“Let’s just say I hate that kind of attitude. Those type of people get on my nerve.”

The room stayed silent after that and remained so for several minutes as we kept to ourselves. The one who broke the silence was Shae, from the sound of the mattress as she got up.

“I’ll be heading out. Kind of want to explore more, I’ll be back before night time.” I simply nodded as she left the room. Sitting in silence, Sirva must have sensed my unease as she tried to help.

“Is there anything I can do my master?” She asked eagerly.

Scratching my head in contemplation, I eventually came to an objective to give her. “Could you scout as much of the Capital as you can?”

She nodded her head and within a couple of seconds disappeared within a puff of shadow. Finally I was all alone. Looking around at the barren room I heaved a heavy sigh before jumping backwards onto the bed.

I faced the ceiling with the orange and yellow color of the falling sun permeating the room. The tranquil nature juxtaposed what I felt inside.

‘So many things happened that I wasn’t ready for, or never considered. What should I expect from here on out?’ Alone with my thoughts, I closed my eyes pondering the answers to such questions. Slowly but surely, fatigue finally caught up to me and I was sound asleep.

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