Chapter 88:

Chapter 5 – Part 3 (Book 1 – Fantasy World)

Creation: The Path of a God

There was an apathetic air around Queen and Helania as they stood nearby the line of wagons waiting to enter the city. Even with their silence, Han didn't even need to assume their thoughts on what was around them. Though the answer was already evident, Han tapped into the consciousness of his creations. As soon as the connection was established, his mind felt like it had expanded as though floating on top of the ocean, aware of all the lifeforms swimming within.

Each of his creations lightly sucked in air and let out a pleasurable sigh upon the establishment, joined with his mind. There was only a fraction of a second where they paused, imperceptible if viewed by an outsider.

"They do seem to have a good handle on things." His thoughts flowed outwards to each of the three.

Breathing in, Queen mentally rolled her eyes, "Even if with all the security I see, there is no doubt about items being successfully smuggled into this city -- let alone any individuals that could pose a danger to the individuals that man thinks are so important. Their security may as well be pure theater and appear to be impressive, but compared to The Stronghold, this is nothing."

Waves of contempt flowed through the connection, floating on top like a slick of crude oil glittering under the sun. Han couldn't help but mentally chuckle at the sensation. "That is true, my beautiful creation, but even compared to modern times, I feel that this city is doing a decent job. Even with all of the modern technology that Earth had at its fingertips, there were plenty of times when those with ill intentions were able to enter and carry something as simple as contraband or destructive items with the intent of taking lives."

Hearing her Creator, the ripples traveling through the bond quieted as though the waves became calm and the air ceased to move. The crude that floated on the surface faded away as though absorbed by the water. There were occasional disturbances on the calm surface, but it was similar to the distant rumbling of a passing storm far off in the distance. Queen may have contempt for what she saw, but her thoughts were comparable to the mild annoyance someone would feel hearing an incompetent individual bragging about a minor accomplishment, similar to a grown adult telling their friends how they regularly brush their teeth before going to sleep.

Helania's words were empathetic compared to Queen's words and warmed the surrounding waters like a noon sun on a cloudless sky. "Our Master is correct. Though these humans and beast people may be like children in their fumbling to complete their tasks, it is due to them not having anyone to show them the proper manner or disciplining them when they fail. Just as an adult would not humiliate a child who attempted to help in a clumsy manner, there is no need to belittle these people who are just trying to keep their city safe -- even if their actions are ineffectual. They are ignorant, so unless you are willing to teach them, I suggest you calm yourself." She chastised Queen, her chilled words creating bits of ice to slowly begin forming on the surface of the ocean that represented the consciousness they shared.

Queen's lips curved downwards, displeased with having been disciplined but understanding when she may have overstepped.

Seeing her frown caused a few merchants to glance at her before they raised their eyebrows in confusion, shaking their heads before returning to work. There was a decent amount of preparation needed before the guards reached them to check if there were any illegal goods. They moved with assured motion, having completed the journey multiple times. Despite the heat of the day as the sun continued to rise, there were no complaints heard from any of them.

Han nodded approvingly at how the merchants behaved, admiring their attitude. Even if they reacted to Queen's disapproval, they continued only mildly distracted by the mystical beauty. But he could understand why people responded to Queen. On top of her deathly presence that would make any man feel weak in their knees, her height was imposing on the average person. Even if he was an inch or two taller than many of the residents in Eletran, Queen was several inches taller than him. Glancing sideways at Brittany on his left shoulder, he knew she would also tower above the others if she wasn't purposefully lowering herself so she could cuddle with him. With her height and how much she needed to adjust herself, knowing Brittany, there wasn't any point in asking if she was uncomfortable. Her smile was broad as she happily embraced him.

"If you follow me, we will be entering through the gate," The worker looked back at them, his smile doing a decent job of hiding the echoes of his apprehension. Even if he appeared relaxed as he guided Han's group, it would be difficult for ordinary people to shrug off what he had experienced.

Despite his creations' thoughts on the matter, Han slowly started to think that the man had some potential with statecraft. He couldn't help but think that if it weren't for the unusual circumstance and his creations' intimidating aura, it was possible that the young man missed the opportunity to display his full capabilities to Han, similar to a man arriving at an interview after having gone through some difficulties before the meeting began. But instead of feeling guilty, Han believed that the experience would serve to temper the man's mental strength due to his exposure to the void of unknown his creations represented for those not of Han's creation. The young worker would be able to leverage the day and someday be able to speak in an eloquent manner, even in the presence of people holding a higher political position. He didn't know what the King of the Helios Kingdom or the Emperor of the Lunar Empire would be like in person. Still, it wouldn't be unreasonable for the two political figures to be nothing to the murderous air that Queen could unleash onto an unsuspecting individual.

The exchange with the man was like throwing stones into a still pond, the ripples of their interaction colliding and spreading out in a chaotic pattern. Han couldn't predict the outcome of their meeting, but he felt a sense of curiosity about what might happen if their paths crossed again. It was like he had planted a seed that could either grow into something beautiful or wilt away and die. In a way, he felt like a traveler in a forest, tossing an apple core with its seeds onto the ground, wondering if it would sprout into a magnificent tree or simply rot away.

As Han approached the gate, his mind conjured up vivid images of a long, winding cave tunnel that seemed to stretch on endlessly like the insatiable jaws of some ancient creature, hungrily devouring each passing wagon in a surreal daily sacrificial ceremony. The tunnel was a masterpiece of architectural engineering, with uneven rocks forming a textured atmospheric impression that was almost nonexistent in modern designs. Despite its age, the structure still maintained its own structural integrity, providing ample clearance for even commercial trucks delivering inventory to mega-corporations. As Han's eyes roamed over the mammoth tunnel, he couldn't help but marvel at the sheer amount of labor and ingenuity that must have gone into its creation. Finally, his gaze landed on the partially exposed, thick metal gate that guarded the tunnel entrance, conjuring up images of medieval times and epic battles. He could almost hear the deafening clash of swords and armor as armies futilely crashed into the metal gate, their limbs sticking through the small openings before being impaled on the defenders' spears like a bloody pincushion.

Through his mental connection, he felt a warm mental tremor. He grinned as he turned towards where Queen walked, "Impressed?" His thoughts flowed towards her.

Slowly taking a breath, Queen simply nodded, not wanting to say even a tiny compliment but unable to hide the pink clouds that floated casually above the ocean.

"With the surrounding wall and how thick it feels on top of this gate, I do not believe Illumin would struggle to defend itself against a single army -- not including the Empire." Helania nodded approvingly.

"The Empire seems to be a unique presence in this part of the world," Han commented.

"I would be able to trample through all of these defenses," Queen mentally complained -- the pink clouds sulked, childishly sprinkling light rain onto the ocean.

Hearing the petulance in her voice, Han nearly snorted loudly, barely containing his amusement at the last moment. It was moments of such cuteness that he appreciated his adorable creations.

"Excluding the mind-shattering power that you would be able to crash into the near fortress defenses of this city, I do believe that we need to factor in the number of people that would be included in the armies that would have the ability to wield some type of magical attack." Helania sighed as she raised her eyes as though finding Queen's immaturity tiresome.

Han nodded in agreement. "Based on what we encountered outside the walls of Leaf Village, even for a small force, there appeared to be quite a few magic-using soldiers, mages if we had to give their roles a name. If it was a properly sized military force, even with the walls that Illumin has for protection, I now wonder how long they would be able to last, even against a single army. Based on what we learned about the Empire, there is no question that their military forces were superior to the surrounding sovereign nations. I imagine the nearby powers would try to mimic the formations used by the Empire, mixing regular soldiers with people that could use magic."

The difference in military forces also made the Lady Knight foolish, even if it was the moral action to perform. One of the variables that would help was the existence of the organization called the Adventurer's Guild on top of the other nations that have citizens attending the Academy within the city walls. But, the question was how much of a defense all the various factors would provide for the small city against a nation like the Empire, which would have no issues marshaling a force large enough to decimate the city -- based on information he knew.

"As you can see, our city is more than capable of handling a large number of businesses coming and leaving the city. Even if we had as many merchants leaving the city so early in the morning, the gate would be able to accommodate them." The young man said to them before indicating to one side. "In addition to the security check we perform before merchants and visitors are able to pass through the opening into the city, there are routine checks made on wagons we deem require additional checks. Such a system allows the city to maintain its high level of security, so there is no reason to feel in danger -- even if you were to live in the Outer Areas of the city." There was a sizeable confident smile on the man's face, ignorant of what Han and his companions thought of Illumin's ability to keep their citizens safe from danger.

Han's impression of the man increased, finding that the worker was performing at an acceptable level by showing them around and making sure that their concerns were adequately addressed. It was similar to attending an open house in a wealthy neighborhood, which had a security gate with several armed security on the premises to ensure no one with ill intent was to enter. If he weren't who he was, there was no doubt that he would be comforted by the amount of attention they placed on the safety of their residents.

Listening to the last part, his ears perked upon the revelation of an outer area of the city, insinuating that there was an inner area. Hearing about different regions in a fantasy city piqued his inquisitiveness. Such a division often indicated a difference in socio-economic opportunities. But that was the extent of his what he felt on the matter. While he did appreciate how the city cared for the people waiting to be admitted into the school, Han also knew that cities often had drastic differences in living conditions and were just a natural part of civilizations with their limited abilities and access to resources. Tilting his head slightly and checking ahead, he imagined that it wouldn't be long until his curiosity would be sated, making him hold his tongue with asking the worker about the outer and inner parts of Illumin.

The surrounding area was bustling with activity, with the sounds of creaking wagons and questions being asked echoing off the stone walls. Sounds of metal clanking as guards patrolled the area added to the ambiance of the enclosed surroundings as if they were traveling through an underground world isolated from everything else due to the enormous length of the tunnel. It was equivalent to working in an office, with the sound of phones ringing and coworkers consulting one another as they handled the needs of their customers within their isolated cubicles. There was also the occasional raised voice as a worker questioned a merchant that didn't provide an answer satisfactorily.

Han cast a casual glance around the vicinity, noting how the medieval-style group operated and contrasting it with his past experiences on Earth. He remarked, "Well, at least they're keeping themselves occupied."

Queen reluctantly took a deep breath and admitted, "Although their performance falls short of The Stronghold's standards, I may have set my expectations too high." As she spoke, the connection emitted a sweet and floral fragrance.

"Your sentiments are understandable, Queen," Helania replied with a gentle smile. "Being here does feel like a step backward, a world far removed from the grace and splendor of our Master's home - a sanctuary that surpasses anything these primitive creatures could envision. Nonetheless, it is commendable that you have chosen to adopt a more rational approach."

"As someone who will be in the presence of our Master while we are here, I must be mindful of how my behavior reflects upon the one who created us," Queen stated with a hint of resignation. "It seems prudent for me to become accustomed to this substandard way of living, considering that our Master will be attending this Academy for a while." Her cheeks took on a subtle reddish hue.

While Han did enjoy how his creations behaved, he also appreciated how they could keep things in perspective. His creations were not like the humans and beast people, so it was essential to keep things relative to one another. If the people were to know what his creations were able to do with the powers that he bestowed upon them... He couldn't help but chuckle at the thought.

"As you can observe," the worker continued explaining as they walked through the tunnel, "This passage also functions as the headquarters for the City Guards. They ensure our safety by keeping watch and reporting any suspicious activities to the Academy Guards, who then relay the information to the Student Council."

The worker gestured towards the bustling activity surrounding them.

As they traversed the seemingly interminable passageway, their footsteps resounded loudly in the cavernous space. Merchants and City Guards alike cast surreptitious glances in their direction, their curiosity piqued by the unexpected visitors. Han couldn't help but notice the subtle whispers that trailed in their wake, carrying a palpable undercurrent of interest and intrigue.

Despite Han's unremarkable appearance, he was acutely aware that the attention was not on him but on the women accompanying him. He grinned to himself as he caught a worker trying to steal a glimpse of Helania while pretending to be nonchalant, only to stumble awkwardly on the uneven stone flooring. Papers fluttered to the ground as the man flailed his arms in a desperate attempt to regain his balance.

The incident was a testament to Helania's innate allure, which seemed to captivate those around her with effortless elegance. Her presence commanded attention and held it, making her the center of attention amidst the bustle and commotion of the tunnel.

They carried on with a serene composure, seemingly impervious to the curious gazes and covert glances that followed them like a persistent shadow. To them, the scrutiny was akin to the dull hum of background noise, easily drowned out by the melody of their tranquil day.

Like a warm, sunny day spent lounging on a picnic blanket, their peaceful demeanor exuded an effortless grace and poise that belied the hectic surroundings. The unwanted attention was akin to the buzz of pesky insects or the whine of bothersome flies, easily brushed aside in the face of their idyllic surroundings.

He was well aware that their distant demeanor only added to the mystique that surrounded them, but he made no comment. As the architect of their enigmatic appearance, he was not one to begrudge others the opportunity to observe and admire his handiwork. With his free hand, he tenderly stroked Brittany's arm, eliciting a joyous giggle from her. She basked in his affection, content to revel in the moment without questioning the reasons behind it.

As he trailed his fingers over Brittany's smooth, velvety skin, Han couldn't help but contemplate what might transpire if any unwary individual attempted to make a pass. At best, his creations would effortlessly rebuff any advances, but at worst, the consequences would be severe for the hapless perpetrator. Either way, Han felt a surge of pride and satisfaction at the thought of his handiwork standing up to any potential threat.