Chapter 4:

Chapter 4. Arrival

Another Story [Hiatus]

I slowly wake up due the rattling of the goods at the back of the carriage. I see that Olen regained his consciousness as well as May talking with him. I try not to disturb their friendly conversation. I have to think about what happened earlier, the sudden shock about realizing that it was May that saved us. May out of all people. The sweet, kind, and delicate May. The person whom I regard as a parent, the one that saved me from the depths of the forest from being eaten by a wolf or some other savage animal. Once again, I feel grateful. My life didn't end there. I feel more secure that she is here with me. Her identity remains a mystery, though. I want to know more about this.Bookmark here

As if reading my mind, May looks at me. "Oh, you are awake now?" She said. I nodded my head, yes. "Good, I am sorry for shocking you a bit there earlier, dear."Bookmark here

"Wh-why are you here?" I ask her in a slow voice, trying to regain my strength back from the sudden unconsciousness of my body. My head still dizzies from what just happened.Bookmark here

"Well, I was following both of you from the start." She did not answer my question.Bookmark here

I press on: "Why?"Bookmark here

As if she gave up from hiding something she finally says: "I am asked to be a maestro at the school," with a straight face. A maestro is a teacher of some sort that guides the students in their studies and teaches them all of the ways of mana. The maestro is responsible for the actions of their students. It is a tough job, but only the people who are very much skilled in mana manipulation, as well as coordination with people, are qualified. To be asked to do so is a feat on its own. Bookmark here

"How?" I ask.Bookmark here

"Well, May is spe-" Olen starts speaking but never finishes his sentence.Bookmark here

"You are always full of questions, aren't you? But to answer your question: I do not want to leave you on your own, you see," she fills in. I do not try to comment on what she just said as I stood there flushing in embarrassment from her statement. Olen is next to us, you know! Bookmark here

Some time goes by in awkward silence, the silhouette of the city is becoming clearer. I have never been to a big city like this. The furthest I have ever been is outside the forest of our town to collect some mushrooms or other herbs. This is the first time I see a giant wall that surrounds a majestic town. As if hogging all its citizens away from any danger of some sort. I have heard several rumors about this city being the biggest in the country. But it is indeed the biggest in the region as it acts as the capital of the region of Vikaria. Dirya is a big city where travelers from all over Vikaria all go to sell their goods as well as to buy goods. Travelers use this city as a transport hub as well. Bookmark here

The gates of the city are drawing nearer. It is bigger than I thought, bigger than any tall tree I have ever seen. A crenelated wall made of white stone, some banners of the city hanging on the gate towers. The banner of the city that shows its coat of arms. A logo I have seen so many times before growing up in Orma. A coat of arms of blue and white, showing the patron animal of the region which is the bear as well as the great walls of Dirya below it. The coat of arms is also visible when you enter Orma, this is because each town or village is ruled by a greater city of the region. In the case of Orma, it is Dirya. Bookmark here

To enter the city, we have to fall in line with other carts and carriages, this is because each cart and carriage is carefully inspected for any smuggling of forbidden goods. As we draw near to the gates, I notice the guards in the full armor of what seems to be chainmail and a metal helmet of material I do not recognize but looks like iron. Bookmark here

"Good day, what do you have in store for Dirya?" One of the two guards asks in on our side as we stop by to be inspected. The other one, inspecting inside of the carriage as well as under it, then soon maneuvers himself to circle around the carriage.Bookmark here

"I have some wild-fruits from Orma as well as some barley from some farmers in Liriag," Olen answers. He then draws up his pouch from before to take out some money to pay for the tax. He seems to know the price of the payment already.Bookmark here

"For your carriage, it would be thirty silver Diyani. Who are these other two? I haven't seen them before," The same guard asks pointing his nose towards us. Olen hands out the money. "Your wife and kid?" He said. The last statement caught me in full embarrassment but May seemed to laugh from this. Bookmark here

"Ah no, I am here because the school asked me to be a maestro. This is my adoptive son, he just turned 16 and so, will soon be joining in the entrance exams." May points out, still with a giggle from before. She then shows a letter of what seems to be the invitation of the schola. The guard takes the letter and skims through it deftly. He then put out a gasp of what seems to be of astonishment, he gathers his cool back down quickly, though. Bookmark here

"Oh, my excuses, ma'am, I am sorry for my rudeness. Please go through," he said politely. I am quite surprised by how he changed his attitude in the presence of the letter. May must be someone incredible. All of this is a lot to swallow at once.Bookmark here

But as soon as we pass the gates of Dirya, I am welcomed with the buzzing and shouting of what seems to be like a main street with houses on each side. Houses that seem to be towering compared to our small log cabin. Houses that are two to three stories tall, made of brick and windows of glass. People are all over, some running, some are standing in groups and laughing. Olen, as if he already knew this sight, looks cool and collected. May looks beautiful with the sun on its prime, just above the city walls hitting on the flowing, smooth hair of hers. As if reflecting the hair's deep black color. A phenomenon that seems to break the laws of physics. I sit on our humble carriage admiring May instead of the beauty of the town. Bookmark here

We then arrive after a while at what appears to be like the square of the city. People are all over, small stalls on the sides selling various items and food. I am in awe of how much stuff there is in such a small place. I have never seen such a sight in 16 years. The last being in my past life. A city of artificial light, a city of metal and glass. Very different from this. But I still love how this is. This is my new life and I have learned to accept its beauty. Bookmark here

"Here we are, I think I can drop ya here. Imma heads off to the merchant guild to do my delivery and receive new orders. Call me anytime ya need help," Olen said. Bookmark here

"Thank you, Olen. I will see you again, stay safe. I told you about that friend of mine who can travel with you now and then to keep you safe,” May says to remind him. She steps off the carriage and soon offers her hand to help me get out. I grab onto this and with a jump, I finally step onto the cobbled streets of the town for the first time. Bookmark here

"I will ma'am. All of the best to the both of ya," he says to us, and he goes off to the direction of another street. Bookmark here

I still feel a little bit dizzy from what had happened earlier. My stomach is starting to growl as well. Bookmark here

May notices this. She always does. "Why don't you go grab some food and I will meet you at the school. It is still some time before your entrance examination," May said. "The school is off to that direction,” she adds, pointing out a street. "You will find it easily as it is very recognizable.” Bookmark here

"Grab food?" I ask reluctantly, but then soon realize that I do indeed have money. "Oh, nevermind. I'll see you there then." Bookmark here

May soon walks off to the direction which she pointed out earlier after giving me a wave.Bookmark here

I do not know what to buy for food. I do not even know how much money I have. I check my pouch again to see how much money I have. I see that it is not taken by the bandits from earlier today. My nose is then enticed by what smells to be like grilled sweetmeats. The smell is very ensorcelling, and my stomach does not help resist its temptation. I follow this tantalizing smell, finding a woman grilling some skewers of meats on a grill.Bookmark here

I do not know how to properly buy stuff, so I simply said: "Three, please." I point out the skewered meats.Bookmark here

"Six silver Diryani," the woman replies. I then pull out a golden coin from the pouch. A similar coin that I was about to hand to the bandit.Bookmark here

"Would this be enough?" I say, not knowing how much exactly this coin is worth. I have never exchanged nor understood how money works in this world. Back in Orma, we barter for goods and rarely use money. If we do use money, May would handle all of it. So, I never really had a chance. I don’t know why May gave me money in the first place. The vendor’s face jerks in shock as she sees the coin.Bookmark here

"My good sir, that is too much. If you do not have smaller coins, I can exchange it for you, although I may not offer you quite the same rate as they do in those stores," she answers in clear awe. I do not quite understand what she meant, but I’ll just go along. She went for a while to exchange the coin. Then when she finally arrives back, she soon hands me the skewers of meat and an extra skewer. "And here is the change, sir," she says politely handing out the money of what seems to be a bigger pouch. Inspecting it, I see around a hundred or so silver coins. This would add to the other five gold coins in my other pouch. I now realize how much money I have been carrying around and why the bandits were so attracted by it, the same way as to how I was enticed by the smell of the sweetmeats. I walk off to what seems to be like a pond in the center of the square. The pond is crystal clear, and I can clearly see my face. Bookmark here

I knew I wasn't that good looking. I have blonde hair, different from May’s, a masculine face with a slightly smoother jawline. My eyes, however, does seem to remind me of the scenery from the travels earlier, a greenish-yellowish tint. Bookmark here

Trying to admire myself and comparing my face to my face of my past life, I stand there for longer than I thought. I then begin making my way to the direction May pointed out earlier. As I begin approaching the street, my eyes are caught by a strange man sitting by a rotary. His face focused and eyes closed. But seemingly, and perfectly making the pot without touching it. I soon notice that he is doing this through mana. Bookmark here

"Excuse me," I say politely, trying not to disturb him. He opens his eyes and gazes at me. Seemingly studying me. "How do you do that?" I ask.Bookmark here

"Do what?" He first is confused as to what I am referring to, but when I point out the pot, he probably realizes that I am not well-versed with mana manipulation. "Ah, this?" He points at the pot, "I do it through an easy incantation, visualizing the shape of the pot or plate I want to make. The mana surrounding the plate will then shape it. It is basic, but not everyone can do it," he informs me.Bookmark here

"Not everyone?" I ask once more. I knew this, but I cannot be rude.Bookmark here

"Yes, don't you know?" he says, no I don't know, "Well, every person has a certain mana flow that they can control. For me, I control mana that flows in everyday objects, Kraeka, and can control the basic shape of it given that it is moldable just like clay. Not everyone can do the same."Bookmark here

"I see, thank you for telling me." I carve a face of awe, sarcastically, to not be rude. Bookmark here

"Well, aren't you gonna buy anything? That's quite a thick pouch you have there," he said while pointing at the bigger sack that I received from earlier.Bookmark here

"Ah no, I will go off now." As I tell my farewell, he sits there with a gaze of disapproval.Bookmark here

After walking a while, I finish my skewers. My eyes are then caught by what seems to me like a palace of some sort. A big building of three stories high. Wider than any other buildings I have seen. Windows as tall as I am, accenting the beautiful architecture. The building seems to be of some age but is still beautiful compared to other buildings surrounding it. This must be it, the school. It’s just as how May described it earlier. This will be my school. A big beautiful building unknown in size, because the building is so huge, the rest of the building remains unseen. I walk a bit to the center of the building to find the entrance to the place. Bookmark here

As I enter the place with a mouth that is wide open, I begin to relish the interior of the main hall. A staircase that seems to be going to the second floor. A staircase that is so wide, twenty or so people can walk side-by-side going up. The floor is tiled with blue and white smooth stones. Besides the staircase, there are two halls in each corner that goes as long as a field. Besides the entrance, there are also hallways that stretch from one end of the building to the other. On the walls, beautiful paintings are being hung, some of which are landscape and the other of what seems to be of important people. A few people are going up and down the grand staircase, a few going through the halls. But as I look closer to the edge of the staircase, I see May standing with another woman. May soon catches sight of me.Bookmark here

"Aura, come here!" May waves at me to come.Bookmark here

I walk towards her direction, still in awe of the main hall. "Hello," I say shyly as I soon catch the sight of the other woman. She has long blonde hair with brown eyes and a very slender body which seemed to be like a body of a woman that is well-off. Her aura also gives off as someone important. "I am Aura," I introduce myself.Bookmark here

"My name is Haila, a maestro as well. Are you ready for the examinations and aptitude test?" She asks politely with a beautiful smile that can compete with May's. Bookmark here

"U-uh actually, I do not quite understand what to expect from the exams and aptitude test," I say nervously. "I know May and I have been talking about it, but it all seems so vague" I add.Bookmark here

May shakes her head and starts to explain the whole system: "Well, alright I will tell you again. Firstly, all students that start to admit in this school, are first examined through an examination that would show them how smart they are. The results of this examination will determine which section you belong, each year we have different sections. The lower the number of your section, the smarter you are. In each section, there are sixteen students, divided into four, this division is because each student has a certain aptitude. We want each class to have the same number of students from the four aptitudes: Crafting, Fighting, Enchanting, and finally, Healing. This division is important as you are to live with the same people for some time. The people in each division will help each other to be able to contribute to the performance of the section. Sections are often sent out to missions, which we expect to be fulfilled, they can be easy or hard, depending on your performance as a team" Bookmark here

Haila seems to be agreeing with what she just said. Processing all of this, makes me wonder about all the adventures I will encounter with my division and section. Bookmark here

May continues: "I think I have said enough, the examination will start soon. After that, you will have to do your aptitude test. I wish you all the best of luck, I know you will do great."Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.