Chapter 87:

Chapter 5 – Part 2 (Book 1 – Fantasy World)

Creation: The Path of a God

Han held back a smile, finding the situation to be amusing, not because he enjoyed seeing the panic on the young man's face but due to how those in the upper levels of Illumin likely didn't seem to take him entirely seriously -- seeing him the same as any other noble that attended the school. Watching people suffer wasn't necessarily enjoyable for him, but what was pleasing was making sure that others understood what they were dealing with. Knowing how such academic organizations behaved from his own interactions with such institutions on Earth, having them overly underestimate him would only cause issues further along in the future if those in power saw him as just a walking purse that handed out money. The Lady Knight may partially understand that he shouldn't be someone trifled with, but it wouldn't be the same with the others.

"He should be glad that I did not have Anacolis and Aracia escorting me," Han thought, knowing the Jungle Sister would behave in a manner that wouldn't be enjoyable despite their beauty. It would be a memorable encounter that the worker would not appreciate in the long term.

Raising a hand, Han indicated for Queen to stand down. "Considering how we did not send someone ahead and let the Academy know to expect us, I think it is reasonable for them not to be waiting when there was an undetermined time for our arrival. The fact that somebody was assigned to welcome us shows how much they respect us."

The murderous air gradually faded as if it were morning fog slowly evaporating from the first morning rays as the sun slowly rose. Though the aura wasn't as oppressive as before, there was still a glint in the eyes of his creation.

The color returned to the man's face as though a boulder had been lifted from his chest. There was still sweat as his eyes shifted from Han to his creations. The impression that Queen had left on him not yet fading away. It was as though he were an animal that had its neck in the jaws of a large predator but was allowed to escape. He was clearly unsure whether it was safe or if he would soon become a meal after being toyed with. Trying to lighten the mood, the man presented an awkward smile that failed to reach his eyes. "There is no reason to apologize, My Lord." He chuckled in a way that it sounded as though something was lodged in his throat. "We should have been more attentive. You have presented us with quite a sum, and it truly is a blemish on our honor for you to have waited in such a heat and for so long." He pulled out a handkerchief from inside his jacket. "My word, it truly is quite a warm day." His hand quickly moved to wipe his forehead, seeming to instantly drench the cloth.

"It is a wonderful day," Han nodded. Motioning a hand to the tent where one of the Academy workers handed the paperwork to a student, "I am impressed with how you deal with so many students. This is my first time seeing so many people in one place. I can only surmise how populated it is inside of the walls." His lie effortlessly rolled off his tongue.

The awkward smile the worker had been wearing soon reached his eyes as his back straightened. He looked to the administration tent and then back to Han, beaming with pride from Han recognizing their efforts.

"Yes. We are proud of what we have organized, allowing students from all over to come and have the opportunity to participate in enrolling in our illustrious school." The man puffed out his chest as though he were personally responsible.

"I even saw that your school is caring for those waiting for a family member to be accepted." Han casually mentioned. Though his words were just to compliment the school, he did think of what they did as something to be admired. Even if the opportunity to feed those less fortunate than them was used as a way to present a better public image, Han didn't think it was a bad thing since the people who didn't have much in resources would be able to walk away with at least something, if not in addition to having a family member be accepted into a school similar to what he imagined would be an Ivy League level school for the fantasy world.

Nodding at Han's words, "We understand that not all are fortunate and have the resources to take so much time to travel, especially without the guarantee that they attain what they aim for. This is why the Academy Guards and other departments are taking care of families and prospective students while they hear the results." The man's face beamed at having someone recognize the Academy's good works.

"Since you are here," Han started out as though it just came to his mind, "I must confess that I do not know what I need to do in order to get considered to be a student at the Academy. Would you be able to walk me through the process of what type of information I need to provide?" He laughed as though he were embarrassed by his ignorance while anticipating the response.

Hearing Han's question, the blood on the man's face looked to be sucked out as his eyes darted to where Queen stood next to him. There was a slight tremble, clearly remembering the experience from earlier but being able to retain some semblance of bodily control after having experienced it once.

"My Lord," The worker laughed nervously, "You surely jest. You have already paid such a significant amount upfront. How can we have you continue to wait in line under this heat? The Lady Knight has already asked us to bring you to the Academy so that you may take a small exam."

"An exam?" Helania raised an eyebrow.

"Y-Yes," The man said, taking a step back. "It is just a minor exam, n-nothing that needs to be concerned about. W-we just plan on using it to determine what class to place the Lord in, but I am sure that e-exceptions could be made. Honestly, the exam is just a f-formality considering the circumstances." He placed a hand on the back of his neck to try and lighten the mood.

Han raised his eyes, thinking about what type of exam would be done in a fantasy world school. The only exams he had in mind were the ones provided during his schooling, but that didn't seem to be the same type of exam he'd be taking. As he thought about the exam, he glanced at the kids waiting in line and saw the varying ages. His eyes widened slightly as he checked them out and realized it was unlikely that any of them were formally educated or could have received one outside what Illumin had made available. The fact that older kids were applying to the Academy suggested that the Kingdom that Illumin existed inside didn't have a standardized system for kids like in post-industrial societies on Earth. The was a slight curve to the corner of his lips, imagining what the exam would be composed of and what it would test.

The man let out a sigh of relief.

"Where will this exam take place?" Han asked the man as he looked around, not noticing any other prospective students that appeared to be participating in an exam. The fact that he was in a fantasy world meant that it could be anything from a written to a physical exam.

Adjusting his jacket, the worker turned slightly and motioned towards what appeared to be the main entrance into Illumin. "The Lady Knight is waiting to facilitate the practical examination. I will be guiding you into the Academy. I hope that this is acceptable?"

"Interesting," Han smiled, not bothering to address the man's anxiety.

Brushing his hair back and not trying to make his nervousness too obvious. "Yes. You will be able to view the outer part of Illumin that surrounds the Academy as we make our way to the testing area. I do think that the sight will be quite enjoyable."

The worker bowed slightly before guiding them toward the gate. Compared to when he first approached them, his gait wasn't hurried, though it seemed as though he felt more relaxed facing away from Han and his creations.

Han couldn't help but find the worker to be amusing. Just by observing the man's appearance, he suspected the worker was around the age of a typical first-year college student. With how the man interacted with him, he didn't think it was the first time the worker met with an influential figure -- though not anyone at his perceived level. It was transparent that though the amount he paid to the Academy might not have been known, someone had informed the worker that it had been sufficient beyond what anyone could produce in one sitting. Even without using his powers and just going off of how the Lady Knight responded, it wasn't difficult to deduce that it was absurd. Then there was how his creations, with their ethereal beauty, would enchant even the most experienced man. Even on Earth, a man's worth would often be correlated with the class of women he kept close to him -- causing others to make an instant judgment that the man shouldn't be treated as an average random individual that could be met off the street.

As they moved away, he observed his surroundings. While the commoners didn't make much of a fuss, seeing him escorted away from the lines to the main entrance into the city, the nobles in the other line whispered amongst themselves -- a few of the brave ones even throwing daggers with their eyes. Seeing someone other than them being treated with preferential treatment wasn't an affair they had to deal with often, even more so from someone they weren't knowledgeable about. Their eyes were clearly cycling through the long mental list of nobles in the nearby Kingdom and Empire. Though the interaction wasn't long, the way the worker behaved fearfully helped add credibility to Han's pedigree, even if it was unknown. This was why a few of the nobles simply glanced in his direction, their eyes only lingering slightly longer on Queen, Helania, and Brittany for apparent reasons.

Han casually returned a few looks, seeing that, just like with the commoners, there was a range of age, with some appearing to be barely old enough to apply to school while others hit puberty. The ones that had struck puberty were the ones that threw the most glares in his direction. It didn't help that Han smirked at the nobles due to how they looked like immature children in his eyes, only able to borrow the power deriving from their families. He presumed the older ones were troublemakers since he would speculate that nobles would send their children as early as possible. And even the younger ones likely came from lower-ranked nobility since higher-ranked ones would've had someone from the Academy greet them like with Han.

"I am curious about the type of exam they will have me do," He tilted his head with his hands held behind his back.

"I am sure that whatever they expect will be far below what you are capable of, Master," Brittany had maneuvered her way so that she walked on the right side of Han, slightly pressed against him with one hand gently resting on his shoulder while the other was on his bicep. "Though, I feel it is insulting for them to send only one individual, considering what you have done for them." She pouted cutely, annoyed on his behalf.

Queen rolled her eyes at Brittany's behavior. But instead of commenting on how close Brittany was to Han, she said, "After what our Master has demonstrated to that foolish hot-headed woman, I do find the demonstration of their appreciation lacking. I do not believe that even they would be able to gather so much wealth as quickly as we have. There must be other variables causing this insult, whether intentional or not." She turned to look at Helania. "What do you think?"

"While I agree, I believe that the Academy is trying to save some face to not place themselves below our Master. The fact that the woman arrived with only her unit that night, there are clearly some political factors at play that we are unaware of. It is possible that we should have presented another chest just to demonstrate what we are capable of." Helania frowned, agreeing with the two.

Casually listening while enjoying the day with the soft sense of Brittany pressed against him, he chuckled.

"Master, I will assign my minions to look into what they are potentially conspiring so that we are not caught unaware. Their treatment makes me suspect that they are taking Master lightly. They will have one last regret if they are foolish enough to try anything beyond this level of disrespect." Queen lowered her voice to avoid being overheard by the worker and anyone nearby.

Even after passing by all the lines of students waiting to apply, there were still rows of tents with families. He could understand Queen's caution to not alert anyone who may be intentionally overhearing their discussion. It was possible for them to wrap a barrier to block any attempts to spy on them; he didn't think it was prudent to alert hostile elements of such ability.

Illumin would be their first exposure to what the world had to offer regarding a sizeable developed population. Even seeing the extent of the protective wall alerted him that the number of people living inside was magnitudes greater than in Leaf Village. The city would give him insight into what he could expect on top of seeing how other nobles from the nearby countries behaved and what they could produce against a hostile force.

He wasn't worried that any of the surrounding nations were a threat, but it would potentially spoil his experience if he were to ramp things up too quickly by revealing his cards. He couldn't help but smile, thinking of being able to savor the world he found himself in. Though there were other places he could travel to, it would be better to squeeze out as much as possible before moving on.

"As you can see, our city is quite popular with the amount of traffic seen each day," The man ahead of them innocently looked back while motioning to the line of wagons waiting to enter the city.

Han turned to look at the wagons. From what he could tell, the people waiting to enter were merchants bringing in items; he had no idea whether to sell or to deliver. He glanced to see people in uniforms and armor similar to those moving throughout the camps of families, but these workers were likely taking on a more security-focused role, fulfilling their duty to check out the wagons to see if any contraband was being smuggled into Illumin.

"It looks like you have a lot of security," Han casually mentioned.

Nodding, "Yes, My Lord. Since our Academy is an important hub for not only trade but the types of people that live inside Illumin, many of them nobles from the surrounding nations, it is important for us to maintain a certain level of protection so that nothing happens. It would be quite a diplomatic scandal if a foreign noble were kidnapped or injured by those who wish to see us fail in educating the people." There was a glint of pride as he talked about the Academy, as though he genuinely believed that the school was some type of a beacon against the darkness that impeded the spread of knowledge and discovery.

He did admit to not taking the Lady Knight's words overly seriously, biased from living on Earth and what modern society had provided for nearly everyone around the world, but that was until he saw the significant number of people patiently waiting to attend. It was easy to imagine that Illumin supplied a valuable service. If the Academy didn't exist, there was nothing like universities that delivered the research and studies that Illumin currently offered to the Helios Kingdom and the Lunar Empire but also the other regional powers. He didn't have a difficult time imagining that the research performed inside the city was significant -- enough that competing nations would willingly coexist with potentially hostile neighbors.

"I remember the Lady Knight telling us about how different nations are attending this Academy," Han said.

The worker looked back and smiled as they approached the entrance. "This is true. We are quite fortunate that the surrounding nations depend on our ability to remain impartial despite current political strains that naturally develop as people compete over resources. It just affirms how important of a service we provide."