When Alexander passed by the main gate, what greeted his eyes was a scene out of a fairytale.
A wide stone-laced road with sidewalks that broke into what looked like miniature parks.
On these areas, he could see groups of people interacting with one another.
He could see a group of humans that were garbed with long, loose robes, some of them were holding books with weird inscriptions that he recognized were used on magic circles, while others were holding pens, drawing on what looked like scrolls.
One thing these people had in common was the scholarly aura that emitted from them alongside a strong presence that felt akin to his mana.
That power was interacting with the surrounding, making him feel like the environment was ready to follow if need be.
But that's where he noticed a difference.
When he saw them use some of their scrolls and mana in general, it felt just like that, it was following them
While when he used his mana, it felt like the surrounding energy was obedient to his will, more smooth and responsive but not in a subordinate kind of way, it just felt its just the way it should be.
Keeping that weird feeling at the back of his mind, he heard Lillian talk in his mind:
'Yes, that group, it seems that they are a group of people that attend a magic Academy, that kind of people rarely end up as adventurers as they are of noble descent, they think that would sully their name, chasing monsters like "brutes" and all that.'
Hearing her answer he asked:
"Noble descent? are nobles common in magic academies?"
Lillian, upon hearing his ignorant tone, gave him a side glance and said:
'Not only are they common, but you could also almost say that only nobles attend such academies.'
Finding a bit weird, he asked yet again with a naive tone:
"Why is that? shouldn't everyone be attending them?"
Lillian on the other hand, looked at his naive face a bit blankly but she still answered:
'Don't you remember what I said? Not to mention setting their children up for calligraphy lessons, a family of commoners can barely make a living!'
With that she covered her little face with her wing as if facepalming and after removing it she went on:
'Look, even if a family of commoners does manage to get their child set up with calligraphy, learning the actual magic would be like a pig growing wings and soaring, it's impossible!'
Alexander just gave her his own blank look, not understanding what she meant by that.
Lillian, seeing that he still seemed ignorant, groaned when she remembered how he learns magic and explained:
'Not everyone is the same as you, with your freaking comprehension. Normal people, even geniuses need a certain amount of time to memorize a magic circle, that's because of the very nature of how magic works.'
Seeing as he Alexander was more focused with her explanation, she nodded and went on:
'You saw how we materialize magic phenomena, an instruction must be engraved on the circle for the magic to happen, that's where the problem lies; The language used to cast magic isn't your ordinary language, it's a Spiritual one.'
She re-adjusted herself on his shoulder and continued with her explanation:
'What it means is, while memorising the contents of a circle is hard, comprehending the language is an entirely different issue, when someone is trying to understand the spiritual tongue, their mind and by extent, soul is burdened by the attempt, if your will and strength is not sufficient, you will end up hurt, badly.'
Seeing him nod but still a bit confused, she clarified:
'So what that means is, while pre-existing spells are hard to learn, making new ones is even harder.'
Alexander thought what that meant for himself as memorizing a circle is easy for him, not to mention understanding what they meant, at that moment, Lillian went on:
'So, if someone manages to comprehend the meaning of some of the magic runes and creates a new spell, why would he share that edge he has over everyone else? If it's not a very trusted apprentice or family, he would have to be either stupid or in dire straits to sell it out, as such, they only accept apprentices that can give them some kind of advantage, be it power or money, now do you understand why mostly nobles learn magic?'
He slowly nodded and asked another question he kept earlier:
"So? why do they disdain adventuring then?"
Hearing another silly question, almost getting used to it she answered:
'They are nobles, the majority of them thinks they are above commoners in terms of existence, they wouldn't risk themselves fighting monsters all day to make a living, so they usually assumed a position as an officer in the army or advisors to noble households with the occasional bodyguard position to someone with high influence. It's not that aren't any that become adventurers, it's just rare.'
Listening to explanation while assuming a thinking posture, Alexander thought that if the funds were sufficient, he would also like to join one of those academies, even if the risk of exposing his abilities is high, just by imagining all kinds of magic he could copy made him excited.
He broke out of that thought process when he heard a sound akin to wood colliding so he turned his head over.
What met his eyes was another group of humans, this time, the ones in the group looked younger, at most 18 years of age.
Where the mages wore loose robes, this group wore a brown leather attire from top to bottom, giving them a heroic, valiant feeling.
Some of them were waving around a wooden sword, others a spear and there was even one with an ax, what they had in common was that all of them were practicing specific moves.
What caught his eye was a couple that was sparring with wooden swords, a man and a woman, their exchange had an elegance to it that drew the eyes of on-lookers like magnets, making them mesmerized by the display, after a minute, he noticed that the woman was starting to get into a disadvantage, when the wooden sword of the man was about to hit her mid-section, a weird green aura enveloped her, making her leave an after-image and appear behind the man almost instantly,
she kicked him in the back, making him stumble and defeated him.
When he saw that strange sight, Alexander sweated a bit at the thought of having to face that kind of speed, he knew that he would lose almost instantly, but he was more surprised at what that energy was so he looked at Lillian with askance.
Lillian on the other hand, upon seeing where he was looking, rolled her eyes at how ignorant he was but still answered:
'That group over there is most likely from a Warrior academy, unlike magus academies, Warrior academies are sponsored by the country to accept commoners, as there is a smaller cost to training a warrior. As such there are commoners and nobles there alike. A Warrior that gets accepted to an academy that way though, has to serve the army for a few years to pay them back.'
While Alexander was interested in how these academies work, he asked the question that bothered him:
"What was that energy that girl used? It felt different from mana, more internal."
Lillian being used to his ignorance at this point answered:
'That energy you felt was Aura or Qi, Warriors, unlike mages, don't harness and absorb the energy from the environment, Aura comes from within one's soul, they cultivate their energy by training their body and experiencing conflict, that way their state of mind and soul breaks through and they become stronger.'
She looked at the group swinging around their weapons next and explained:
'While Aura doesn't do as much as an area of effect damage as magic, don't underestimate a warrior, when they infuse their energy with their body, they become faster, more agile and much, much stronger, not to mention when a Warrior learns to infuse elements properly to their attacks, like that girl over there did.'
She pointed at the girl that had now defeated the man, the girl gave him her hand so he can lift his body, he accepted and they bowed to each other, they then went to practice moves on their own.
'What she used was the wind element, she infused it on her feet, alongside her aura, making her speed rise explosively, leaving behind an afterimage. A warrior, in general, has more single target damaging potential than a mage, for example, a skilled fire element warrior can make his blade infused with fire elements, cutting the material like butter and scalding it upon contact, you don't want that touching you at all.'
Alexander, understanding how strong a warrior could be, sweated a bit.
Seeing how his expression got a bit weird, she said:
'Off-course that doesn't mean mages are weaker than warriors, they are just strong at close quarters, a skilled magic caster can blow a group of warriors to smithereens if the distance is right.'
He nodded slowly and made a mental to check if he could learn how to harness aura, it seemed too useful to give up on.
With that, Alexander and Lillian carried on walking on the stone road, leaving the park behind, they entered through a tunnel-like gap on the inner part of the protective wall, the sight on the other end stunned him once again.
There was an enormous plaza with a 50-meter tall tree at the center, surrounding the plaza was an enormous crowd of creatures from various races, dancing about at what seemed like stalls.
Among the creatures, the majority were humans, as expected from the country of humans, following humans were the demi-humans, he could see that most of them were people with cat and dog characteristics, there was also the occasional tiger person alongside big bulky bear ones.
He walked towards the plaza to get a closer look and when he saw the potion stalls, he was surprised not by the potions but the people behind them.
At the majority of the stalls, the people behind them were tall with blond hair and blue eyes, they, regardless of gender, looked so beautiful that they could pass as models back on earth.
A special characteristic of these people was their ears, they were a bit longer and pointed at the end, reminding him what he read about elves in novels, what he wondered the most about though is why almost every potion stall had one of them behind it.
He looked at Lillian and asked through their connection:
'Why do the potion stalls only have these people behind them?'
Sighing a bit at how she was still surprised by his ignorant questions, she answered:
'Those are elves, the elves due to their birthright and environment, have a good attunement to nature and can communicate with spirits, that affinity with nature makes it easier for elves to detect herbs. As such, combined with their long lifespans, they've dwelled on the way of medicine and potion making, making elves masters at the art.'
Nodding in understanding, he looked towards the stalls that had weapons behind them, noticing again that behind every stall, there was either a really short, pudgy man or woman.
While feeling a bit excited at the prospect of finally being taller than someone, he also felt a bit weird and suddenly remembered the description of dwarves, making that pride of being taller than someone get extinguished.
Gathering his downed spirit a bit, he asked Lillian while pointing towards the weapon stalls:
'Those are Dwarves, aren't they? They are good smiths, right?'
Lillian upon hearing his description of them sighed and corrected
'Yes, those are Dwarves, they aren't just good smiths, they are the best ones, most Dwarf colonies are near volcanoes for that very reason, since childhood most of them learn the way of forging. That doesn't mean there aren't any warrior Dwarves though, I assure you, their affinity with fire and earth is very strong.'
Alexander looked towards a stall set up by a Dwarf and noticed that some of the weapons had a shining fluctuation and weird engraving so he asked:
'What are the weapons with the weird feeling to them?'
Lillian looked towards the said weapons and answered him:
'Those are called armaments, they are weapons engraved with dwarven runes, it's what Dwarves are mostly known for. A weapon with engravings on it can boost the energy output of the user, depending on the quality. If two individuals have similar power and one wields an armament, that person will be victorious eight out of ten times in a fight, one other thing they are famous for, other than their prowess that is, is their price.'
Alexander looked over at the tag that read 2 gold coins and almost sweated a bit, while he didn't know what the average pay is in this world, 2 gold coins did seem like a lot.
Going through the various stalls, they came upon a specific stall that sold clothing, the stall had a young woman girl that had brown hair, sporting a pixie haircut and sky blue eyes, seeing Alexander approach with his odd attire, she gave him a weird look but talked filled with energy:
"Welcome to May's clothing stall! Can I help you somehow sir?"
Hearing how excited she sounded, Alexander felt a little startled but spoke:
"Er... Yes, Hello. Do you have any clothes and boots around my size? as you can see, I really need a change."
She looked at his weird Pajamas that had a burn mark on the leg then further below on the slippers he was walking on and snorted a bit, breaking into a small giggle while saying:
"Hehehe, sorry for laughing sir. Sure, let me short them out for you."
So, she started shuffling around after sizing him up and down for a bit, gesturing him to a bundle of clothes and boots.
Alexander checked through the clothes and picked a simple V-style white long shirt, accompanied by a black pair of trousers and brown leather boots. He also picked a simple brown belt.
Setting those clothes aside, he said to the salesgirl:
"I'll have these, how much are they?"
The girl seeing what he set aside, picked up an abacus and told him:
"That would be 8 copper coins, sir."
He paid the salesgirl and asked her if she knew any cheap inns around the area. When the girl heard him mention an inn, she prompted him to a friend of hers that runs one, she said that the owner's name is Milly.
Receiving instructions, he thanked her and placed the cloths into a bag, heading towards where she pointed at.
The sky started to darken a bit, making the atmosphere around the town change, lamps started lighting up all around, combined with the dimly shining stars and people of various races running around, it made the town look straight out of a fairy tale.
While taking in the pretty images, Alexander arrived at something that looked between a pub and an inn, he walked inside and what greeted him was the sounds of merriment and excitement. Various adventurers shouting while drinking, waving their hands around and sharing stories or others that were just enjoying their meal.
A 17-year old looking cat-girl that had dirt brown hair on twin ponytails with similarly colored eyes approached Alexander, she had a weird look when she saw his clothes and the little red bird on the shoulder but that didn't stop her from talking to him:
"Welcome to the 'Adventurous Spirit'! Can I help you somehow, sir?"
Alexander looked at the cat-girl and said:
"Ah, yes. I was sent here by May, she told me about your inn. I'd like to rent a room for the night if possible."
Hearing that May sent him, her expression brightened and she said:
"Ah! May sent you?! Let me talk to Milly, she's the owner here, she will set you up for a room!"
With that she turned around and beckoned him to follow, he followed her to the counter where she shouted:
"Milly! I have a customer here that wants to rent a room, he was sent by May!"
Another cat person approached, this one looked like 25 years old, she had a lighter tone of brown, long hair and brown eyes, her features were soft and while not overly beautiful, she looked pretty.
The girl asked with a mellow voice:
"You were sent by May?"
Alexander nodded and answered:
"Yes, I bought some clothes from her stall today and when I asked her about an inn, she referred me to yours. I'd like to rent a room for the night if possible please."
The gentle-looking cat-girl nodded her head and told him:
"We have a single room. With dinner, it costs 5 copper coins and 4 without but, seeing as you are referred by May, I'll charge you with 4 for both, is that okay?"
Alexander nodded his head with a grateful expression, he did feel really hungry as he hasn't had a normal meal in a while. He paid the cat-girl 1 silver and just said:
"Yes please, that would be great."
The girl just smiled, gave him the change and prompted towards a table.
After sitting down and waiting for half a minute, the twin-tail cat-girl came and set a plate on his table with an "Enjoy your meal!~"
The plate had what looked like mashed potato with some small pieces of meat at the edge, it didn't look fancy but he didn't care, he wanted to dig in but not before asking Lillian if she wanted some, all he received was a cold snort in his mind, that made him just shrug his shoulders and start eating.
What he didn't expect was that the food was really tasty.
When he was done eating, he went towards his room, what greeted his eyes was a small wooden bed with clean white bedsheets and pillow, as for other furniture, all there was to the room was a small nightstand with a lamp on it.
He lied down on the bed, accompanied by Lillian sitting on his stomach. He gave the bird a look and thought that throughout the whole day, There was excitement over the town from the small bird too, it wasn't obvious at first because he was too excited himself but now that he calmed down, the connection between them made it really obvious.
Thinking that this may be the first time she visited a town too, he felt weird but didn't question it, all he did was say goodnight, closing his eyes, he fell asleep.
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