I was riding a carriage. The person who sat next to me also had on a uniform, so I assumed he was going to the same place I was.
The boy wore a childlike face, and was petite in stature. Betraying those features was the very sharp gleam in his bespectacled eyes. On his head was a brown turban, his spiky hair sticking out slightly from the sides. He was also slightly dark-skinned; Characteristics of someone from far west of the Sinistral Continent
”Good morning. ” I decided to start off with a little greeting. Since Im new around here, I needed to make a good first impression.
”Yeah. ” He curtly responded, then went silent again.
Taking in the delicious air as I traversed across the tree-lined road, I swung my two feet back and forth in boredom. Our carriage rocked gently with every slight bump in the road, which kind of tickled somehow.
There were many other fancy carriages before us lined up when we arrived at the kingdom walls, some carried by horses, some by camel, and some even by giant lizards. So this is the kingdom of Eterna I thought. There were so many different people coming to and from the grandiose wall, so much more than Id even seen gathered in one place.
The kingdom was even livelier going inside, much more so than the old village back home, which was like a desert in comparison. I was so occupied with staring that Id even forgotten to depart ”Hey you, get off already! ” The driver of the carriage nagged. I paid my fees to him and quickly bowed in apology.
Grand Eterna was widely known as the wealthiest and largest kingdom in the world, situated smack-dab in the center of Middle Continent. It was home to the largest Adventurers Guild as well as the 4 Great Academies of Magic. And as such, people all over the three continents gather here with great aspirations, either to become a scholar or make a name for themselves as an adventurer.
The streets of Eterna were always brimming with life, there was never a shortage of noise and chatter anywhere. A tempting scent from a street vendor grilling up some meat wafted past as it seduced my nostrils. The market stalls filled up with housewives buying groceries, chatting and laughing away at each other. And over there on the other side of the pavement, a street boy band was performing their music, crowded by love-struck shrieking schoolgirls who clearly weren paying any attention to the music itself.
”Incredible. ” I muttered in awe. Eterna was picture-perfect, exactly like Ive envisioned in all the books Ive read and the tales Ive picked up along the road. But that was enough dilly-dallying, Ive got somewhere to go to.
I pulled out from my pocket the rather extravagant admission letter for directions, the words East Academy were imprinted in bold and embroiled with some kind of gold glitter that had slightly withered off. Far east of the Scholars District It instructed, as if expecting me to know where that even was. So I wandered around, asking passersby for directions all the while, and eventually ending up at the Scholars District 30 minutes later.
The Scholars District, true to the name, was a district made for students. Students of the 4 Academies of Eterna live and spend a majority of their student life here. Most of the buildings in the district are dormitories, but there were no shortage of markets stalls and shops set up here as well. They also have plenty of miscellaneous things like libraries, armories, forges, and even a Shrine of Enchantment (whatever that meant), catering to every single aspect of student needs. No wonder the place was world-renowned.
I, along with many other students, stood at the epicenter of the district, where a huge fountain made out of marble with intricate architecture was placed. From there, four divergent paths laid out before my eyes, each corresponding to the four sides of a compass.
North, East, South, West. From what I know, those were also names of the 4 Great Academies. I was admitted to East Academy, so I took the eastern path, simple enough.
Other students walked by me, some of them were quite ragtag in appearance, which was strange considering the lofty atmosphere. And before I knew it, three such students appeared in my immediate proximity, with two at each side and one directly behind, with malice oozing out from their every orifice. I was surrounded.
”Ain ever seen your face around before, you a newcomer? ” The one behind me asked. His speech a displeasing colloquial, his voice dry and crude to the ear; It wasn the most pleasant thing in the world to listen to.
I felt something sharp poking at my back, the tip of a knife.
”Theres nothing to be afraid of. ” The student said as he rested his hand on my shoulder. ”Why don you follow us over there? ” and slowly led me into a back-of-the-isle alley. I shat bricks as I walked.
A not-so-pleasant potential outcome played out inside my head, an outcome involving the forceful insertion of a certain type of package into somewhere it doesn belong. I quickly relinquished that thought however, thinking there might be something terribly wrong with my head.
”Ack! ” I let out a rather undignified groan as he shoved me into the wall of the dark alley. There, I saw another student crouching down with his hands and feet tied together. This probably wasn important in the moment, but I remembered him. He was the person who sat next to me in the earlier carriage.
”Whats happening? ” I asked the boy, but the delinquents answered instead.
”You know full well whats happening. ” he outstretched his grimy hand. ”Money, we want money. ”
”I-I don have any money to give! ” I said as I trembled, it was the saddening truth.
”Really now? ” He walked up close to my face and said that, REALLY close, to the point were his face was mere inches away from mine, analyzing me from head to toe.
”Inspect. ” He said.
[Do you allow the profile inspection? (requested by Gakuro Manzaki)] A GUI popped up, displaying the messages.
I gulped and selected the YES option. A big window was displayed to him, featuring everything there was to know about me.
Name: Jin Ryuunosuke
Current occupation: Farmer
”Lucky Fisherman ” E-rank: Rare fish catch rate increased by 8%.
”Cull and Harvest ” A-rank: Scythe and Sickle type equipment have their output increased by 100%
Farmer LV56 (+112 STAMINA)
Fishing LV42 (+84 LUCK)
Hunter LV7 (+14 SPD)
”Hey, what do you know. He actually was dirt poor.
” The delinquent Manzaki said before putting some distance between us.
”You can go now. Don rat us out or you
e dead meat. ” He warned, shooing me away.
The other two delinquents, whom I assumed were his lackeys, stepped aside and made way for my exit. I looked back worryingly at the ensnared boy, who was the new target for Manzakis attention.
”And you, what was your deal?
” Manzaki said, showing the boy the back of his hand, where a fresh burn mark was imprinted.
”Look at what you did… How do you propose you
e making up for it, huh? ” Manzaki picked the boy up by his collar and pressed his neck, along with his body, straight into the wall.
Even though the boy was anguished, he didn seem to be scared. Instead, he spat on Manzakis face, mocking him.
”Fire Pillar. ” The boy chanted a spell. Sparks of flame protruded from the ground where Manzaki stood and scorched his legs. The dark alleyway flashed bright orange in that instant. He groaned in pain and collapsed on the ground, letting go of the boys collar.
”Manzaki! ” The lackeys called out. One of them supported their leader and dragged him away from the boy, who wasn done retaliating.
”Thunder Embargo. ” The boy chanted another spell. Electricity ran through the ground, shocking both lackeys and stunning them in place.
[You are being affected by: Paralysis lv 6 (Effectiveness-32% due to LUCK)]
The area of effect was so big I also got caught up in it, which stung like hell.
e not getting away, bastards. ” The boy burnt the ropes tying his arms and legs together with fire magic.
”Shit, its a noble. Kenji, we gotta run! ”
”Thats easier said than done, jackass… ” A fair rebuttal, considering weve all been locked in place by that electric spell.
”O god of flames, heed my call- ” The boy then began chanting again, but this time, it was a long chant. That meant he was going all-out with this next attack.
That was when I realized my own predicament. If he unleashes that spell, Id undoubtedly be caught in the crossfire again, even though I was innocent. I tried my best to move, but my muscles were taking a leisurely nap, not listening to a damn thing Im telling them. I clicked my tongue in irritation as I braced myself for the inevitable.
”-return to ashes, Burning Nova! ” He finished chanting.
”Kenji, its coming!!! ” Lackey A screamed.
”I know, you idiot!!! ” Lackey B screamed too.
I started screaming as well.
And then, impact.
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