Chapter 15:

Ch 15 - The Train Stop

St Chaos Healer

Once our horse carriage left the town we left on a route on a particular road heading towards the wild forest of Meol. The forest was like a shawl covering the town almost in a 360 degree. Thankfully the town was located at the edge of the forest, protected by a protective mana array.

But the destination we are heading to, we need to cut through the forest to reach our destination.

The wild forest is riddled with powerful mana beasts and strange mana anomaly zones that no human dares to tread. Only some group of brave adventurers can tread inside this forest and survive. They usually go looking to hunt for various mana beasts or to procure rare herbs or spirit fruits.

So common folks like us have a hard time passing through the forest without the danger of getting attacked by stray mana beasts.

Thankfully the kingdom had created a safe route and installed some professional forest rangers to guard and ensure safe travels. Although this route leads to a bit of a detour it’s better than travelers losing their lives.

The road was broad cutting through the forest like a giant serpent in a zig-zag manner. The horse driver was also vigilant in the lookout while maintaining a good speed. Although it's a safe route, there were stories of people losing their lives while traveling this route.

We came across a few guard posts at some intervals near the roadside. There were few archers glancing at our carriage and looking around the forest. They were dressed in a particular uniform, should be the forest ranger uniform.

We only saw one or two carriages while traveling for an hour.
Most of the time we were alone on the road.

Meanwhile, my parents didn’t seem to be worried at all. They seem to be trusting our driver full-heartedly while gossiping about their experience in the Steam mana train ride. Although their memories are a bit jumbled up but still told me anything they remembered.

My mom had a lot to tell.

She even gave me tips and tricks on how to participate in the ceremony.
She also gave advanced tips if I become a mage on what academies I should enroll in and what academies I shouldn’t. She also gave deep bifurcation on what magic academy is good according to what element attribute I might awaken.

It was a very long lecture and her advice seemed to have no end.
She was like an encyclopedia of a beginner mage advisor.

My dad has been silent all the time looking outside the window, glancing at me from time to time.

I was so exasperated with so much advice that I just interrupted her and asked how she knows so much stuff about magic and academies?

To my surprise, she just dodged the topic and changed the subject while totally shunning my question. She still didn’t wanna reveal to me about her past as a mage.

I didn’t force it and let her continue to do so.

She was later retelling me the experience of a close friend who is a mage. She told me how her friend was a fire mage and told me all about her adventures and her idea about how mana works.

Somehow the experience of HER friend totally aligned with the story that my dad told me about mother’s experience as a mage.

But I was pretty keen on getting to know her experience… I mean her close FRIEND’s experience.

Our journey was quite smooth without any hurdles.

We had to camp at night, thankfully there was a resting camp area inside the forest for passing travelers. This area was specially protected by rangers to let travelers sleep and rest with a piece of mind.

We also met a few travelers camping at night followed by singing and dancing around the bonfire. My mom and dad also joined in the fun and quickly befriended other travelers like they were some lost siblings.

Once dancing all was done my dad creeped out most of the people after he started advertising his creepy antique collection catalogue he brought along. Telling people to come and stop by his shop to buy his antique wares and even promising them a discount. Soon the other travelers started avoiding him.

Meanwhile, my mom mixed well with others thanks to her beauty and charming personality. She quickly got along with other traveling ladies. Even some young men were flocking around her just to be disappointed when they came to know she was actually married.

Later they came to know she was actually married to my dad, the guy who was advertising creepy antiques. Suddenly there was an animosity gaze glaring at my father full of jealousy and hatred. My dad saw these few young men glaring at him instead, he innocently smiled back and thought these people were actually interested in his creepy antique. He started rushing towards the very same crowd of jealous young men to show his antique ware catalogues instead.

Why the hell did he bring along his antique catalog with him?
Sometimes even I wonder why mom fell for this man.

The camp night was quite lovely, everyone singing and drinking.
The traveler all I met were good people.

I just stayed in my cabin looking around the lively atmosphere. There were no kids of my age, and I think that’s a good thing. Most of the travelers here are merchants traveling from town to town. They all had their own personal carriage with lots of different goods to sell.

The journey was pretty smooth, it took us two days to cross the forest.

After crossing the forest we again went through a wide land of plain grasslands. Wherever I could look there was only flat fertile land, no human or animal in view. The horse carriage runs through the rough road cutting through the flat plains.

We have been running through these plains for few hours.
I was getting bored and just sat near the window letting the breeze hit my face while I lazily put my head on the carriage’s windowsill.

It wasn’t soon a line of long pillars standing in the ground in the flat plains came into view.

Soon the horse carriage came closer and I got a good view.
The pillars were made of steel about 300 meters tall and almost a kilometer apart from each other. There was an iron track coming from one distant end of the horizon going on top of each of the pillars and going all the way till the other end of the horizon.

This must be the so-called railway track used by the famous steam mana train that I heard so much about. My parents later confirmed that this was indeed the legendary railway track.

Our horse carriage ran alongside the railway path. It took about a few more hours until we reached a town.

Calling it a town would be an understatement.
There were few buildings but most of them were temporary built tents and stalls. People had made makeshift stalls on their cart itself selling foods and goods. There were also few people playing music and performing in the street in the open area attracting hordes of people. A lot of people were flooding into the town like moths attracted to the flames.

I guess everyone was pumped up to see the famous Steam mana train.
It was quite lively.

We got off our horse carriage and went to roam around the town.
It was quite lively and busy as if there was a festival or something.

Many people had crowded in the street and I also saw a lot of children the same age as me, dressed up neatly roaming with their parents. This time there seem to be a lot of young participants for the ceremony.

We booked an inn to keep our luggage. There was still some time for the steam mana train to arrive. The inns around the area were quite costly because a lot of people had flooded the town to see the steam mana train. Thankfully there were special rooms for people who were boarding the special train.

The rooms were nothing special, just a normal apartment. We just wanted to keep our luggage for the time being and roam around the town until the train arrives.

Usually, peasants like us can only see the colossal iron beast from afar as it pulls the carriages while running at a high speed like the wind. The common folks don’t usually see the train halt in place except when only the special train runs. Usually, people who visited the major cities have gotten a glimpse of the Steam mana locomotive halting at the train station. Only a glimpse because only high-ranking mages and noblemen are allowed to enter the train station.

The normal steam mana trains don’t stop here, this train stop is specially made for the special train so that common folks can board it to participate in the ceremony. Of course, they won’t let commoners enter their posh train station.

A lot of people come only to take a look at the steam mana locomotive and some to bid farewell to people boarding the train. It’s a once-in-a-year event and people come from afar to see it while cherishing their own memories when they had boarded the train. It seems to be a wonderful experience for them as they reminisce about the past.

I roamed with my parents, we went to a lot of food stalls to taste a variety of foods and drinks. Also saw a lot of street performers who were performing mana skills like igniting flames from their mouth and creating flowers made of ice. Most of them actually were low-class mages who were not cut out for adventuring like other mages. They usually do small chores or end up like them as traveling street performers.

Time soon went by quickly and before I knew it was already evening.
I was enjoying eating this thing called crepe, a local delicacy. My mom was also sitting beside me on the bench enjoying the crepe but strawberry flavor. Meanwhile, dad was dealing with the stall owner paying the crepe owner. I must say he spent a lot of money during this journey.

Just when a loud bell echoed throughout the town.

Everyone in the town stopped what they were doing looking toward where the noise was coming from.

Even my mom’s crepe chewing stopped midway as she glanced towards the same direction.

The bell sounded thrice before stopping.

There was pin-drop silence but soon the people riled up and broke into an uproar.

Even mom dropped the crepe and held my hands tightly.
I saw mom looking at dad while nodding her head.

She pulled my hands and we rushed towards where our inn was to get our luggage.

I guess that must be the signal the special Steam mana train will be arriving shortly.