Creation: The Path of a God
With how the carriage would occasionally shudder due to the slight unevenness of the road and the pace they were traveling, Han couldn't help but imagine how it would be easy to doze off with how comfortable he was feeling. Brittany's soft body pressed against him, and the warmth of her face on his arm was particularly welcomed. He couldn't help but smell a sweet smell coming off of her, as though entering a candy shop. Her faint fragrance made her presence that much more enjoyable. Instead of them heading to an appointment to take an exam, the experience was more akin to a comfortable date on a beautiful day where the sky was blue, and the breeze was slightly warm from the sun.
If it weren't for how he was curious about the exam he'd be taking, under the supervision of the Lady Knight, Han would've suggested that the wagon stop and they take their time while also checking out the local businesses.
His eyes observed the residents of Illumin going about their day. Seeing a few of the students holdings hands, it was easy to mistake that he was back home on Earth. He couldn't help but smile when he saw one of the couples, where the young woman raised a hand to her mouth and giggled at something funny the young man had said. She brushed back her forest green hair, revealing pointed, slender ears.
Continuing down the road, it was only a short time before they neared the wall surrounding the Academy. Han noticed an increase in students wearing uniforms walking about on the sidewalks on either side of the road. It was different from earlier when many of the residents were wearing professional or casual outfits. On top of the number of students, there was also a change in the height of the buildings and the removal of the multiple levels. Compared to earlier, when they entered the city near the massive walls where it felt like a canyon with the levels and buildings stretching towards the sky, the height of the buildings and only having one level gave a sense as though they were moving toward the center of a vast bowl.
The surroundings no longer felt like a dense and somewhat claustrophobic inducing area, as though it were similar to an old walled city long ago demolished. Now it gave the impression of the downtown area in a somewhat remote European village. The vibrant and refreshing colors made it easy to want to explore and see what was offered.
Sensing what Han was thinking, "With the Academy the focus of Illumin, the city is modeled to cater to what is pleasing to the students. As you have likely noticed, the buildings are becoming shorter and no longer stacked on each other with countless levels. This allows the students to walk around in an environment where the amount of sunlight would not be restricted. The types of businesses that are able to set up locations closer to the Academy are also ones where the quality of products and services offered are higher." The guide explained, indicating stores with outdoor seating areas where students could be seen relaxing and talking amongst themselves.
A few students casually glanced in their direction. But they didn't give them as much attention as he expected. It made him wonder whether it was due to not wanting to come across as rude like some tourists from the countryside. Han did suspect that his creations' ethereal beauty was beyond what they'd have been able to see even in their upper lifestyle.
A few young girls gracefully raised a cup of tea to their lips. Next to one of the girls, a man dressed in servant attire bowed so that he could whisper something in her ear. She nodded, slightly raising a hand as if giving out some kind of order.
Based on how some of the students behaved, Han didn't need the guide to indicate the upbringing of the students sitting outside, drinking tea, and eating snacks. He guessed they were children of people with sufficient means, possibly connected to the nobility. There was the way they moved, lacking any urgency as someone from a simpler upbringing would naturally have.
"Though only some of the lower nobles enjoy dining at the shops outside of the Academy, it does not change the fact that such establishments are able to rival ones found in larger cities. I have had the luxury of dining at many of these locations and assure you that the quality is without question. Even inside the capital of either the Helios Kingdom or Lunar Empire, it would be quite difficult to find locations serving better items." The guide smiled as though proud of the ability to eat such a level of food.
Han nodded, impressed. This caused the guide to straighten his back with pride.
Queen discreetly rolled her eyes at the man's behavior.
Turning her head while still glued to Han's arm, Brittany closed one of her eyes. "I do hope you would give us some recommendations," she cutely asked.
The man's brows raised as he quickly bowed his head, "My Lady, I would be honored to offer some suggestions. Knowing that someone simple as I could help you have an enjoyable day with My Lord would fill me with great satisfaction." There was a reddening of his cheeks.
Hearing Brittany engage with the man, Queen stared at Brittany, her eyes narrowing.
Sensing Queen's eyes on her, Brittany removed the cute smile from her face before she smirked as though she were making a challenge.
Helania took a slow deep breath but remained silent.
Seeing how Brittany acted towards Queen, Han imagined that she was attempting to demonstrate how easy it was for her to be hospitable towards those she felt were beneath her. He had a feeling that Brittany couldn't care less what the man suggested but was using it to poke fun at Queen, who had acted overly critical despite Han wanting them to be friendlier to the people associated with the Academic City.
While it may have been childish on her part, Han couldn't help but internally grin at how she behaved. He also thought it was okay for them to have some level of rivalry.
"I am sure Brittany would enjoy the locations you recommend for us." Han gently patted her head to show how much he appreciated her attempt to be civil towards lifeforms that she might deem inferior.
The guide raised his eyes before lowering them and bowing his head, honored by the recognition.
Queen's mouth opened slightly as though a venomous retort would fly out of her mouth, directed at the childish maid. Still, at the last moment, she frowned and merely turned her head to look at the buildings on her side.
Han was glad that Queen had looked away since he was well aware that Brittany was grinning smugly as though celebrating her victory at receiving a compliment from him. Seeing Brittany celebrate her victory over Queen made him chuckle slightly and tussle her hair. Her actions were cute and something he knew he shouldn't encourage, but it was out of his hands due to how adorable she could be when the situation warranted it.
His gaze drifted toward where Helania sat.
Helania turned her head to face him. She had a slight smile on her face, understanding what her Master was thinking. She then directed her attention to Queen, "It will be good for us, knowing where would be a good place to spend time with our Master." Her eyes indifferently switched to the guide before honey flowed from her mouth, "To be willing to go above and beyond your duty, letting us know where we could go in such a new environment means a lot. We are greatly appreciative our your hard work. I am sure the Lady Knight will hear how thankful we are towards you and your dutiful care."
The guide's face now glowed red. He raised a hand and rubbed his neck while trying to maintain a professional demeanor and fighting from grinning like a fool, clearly not used to having the attention of an individual of a similar caliber as Helania and Brittany. "You are too kind, My Lady. I am a humble worker merely doing what should be done as a representative of this wonderful city that has offered me so much."
As the guide gave more suggestions of where they could go to find entertainment inside and outside the Academy, Han's eyes drifted towards the tall white wall surrounding the Academy. While it was a fraction of the height of the main wall of Illumin, the size was larger than the closest buildings. On top of the wall were alternating statues of men and women in flowing robes and gowns. While some were obviously human, some sculptures were modeled after beast people.
In front of them was a large and a smaller gate. Next to the larger one was a line of carriages, just like the line of carriages waiting to enter the main entrance into the city. But with the smaller gate was a line of what appeared to be students waiting to get in as they talked to guards. At least Han thought they were guards based on how they carried themselves. He also saw that some of them had a sword or weapons. There was clearly a system to check the people entering the Academy area. It may not have been at the same level as going into an airport. Still, Han wouldn't be surprised if the Academy was aware of all the identities attempting to enter the grounds.
Wrapping around the wall was a wide road with numerous carriages either moving towards where they were or going to a different location. Han assumed that just like the gate in front of them, other gates would allow easier access to different parts of the Academy. He wouldn't be surprised if there were gates at each main cardinal direction.
Compared to many of the wagons waiting to be searched outside of Illumin, the ones waiting to enter the Academy were sturdier and built to carry more cargo. This was evident with the numerous boxes of varying sizes expertly stacked on top of one another with several thick ropes to keep them secured. As the carriage got closer, it was easy to hear the creaking of the wagons as they moved forward or stopped.
Han was reminded of waiting to go through tolls on the highways whenever he had to travel across the country. The long lines of cars waiting to deposit their loose change into the enormous funnels before being allowed to get back on the road toward each of their destinations. So seeing the sheer amount of cargo being transported on nearly all the wagons, Han imagined the wagons to be a fantasy world's equivalent to commercial trucking, which allowed for the easy transportation of goods across countries around the world.
Standing next to each of the wagons were dozens of workers, some dressed in outfits similar to what factory workers would wear that were designed to get dirty and protect the body from cuts as they moved items. In contrast, others wore armor that differed from person to person and a wide range of weapons being carried by them.
"Those are adventurers from the Adventurer's Guild; whether they originated from the branch inside of the Academy or outside, I could not say." The guide said, offering important context, making sure not to assume what Han and his companions would know.
Han looked to the guide, "I believe this may be one of the first times we have seen adventurers. Our family has been out of touch with worldly affairs, so seeing an adventurer is a unique experience."
He knew that there was no reason to give an explanation. Still, it would also help people remember why things that would be mundane for the average person were new to him. There was also how people would try to remember if they had ever witnessed anyone of similar beauty as his creations, considering it would be unusual for no one to remember such captivating individuals. For his goal in the fantasy world he would be living in, there was no reason to cause others to be suspicious of him.
"It's good that Queen will be using her forces to keep an eye out for any rumors that could start due to their presence," Han thought.
Even if there was no threat to them from outsiders, it wouldn't be good to be caught off guard and have to clean up a mess that would've been easy to handle if they knew of the machinations and cultural norms ahead of time.
"Maybe, I should have Queen use her forces to spread positive rumors about us? Rumors that would help make how they appeared out of nowhere sound reasonable and not out of place."
"I see. That would be completely understandable, My Lord." The guide nodded, not questioning the reason. "With how many supplies the Academy requires, ranging from foods we may not produce locally to equipment for students, we must order a massive quantity of items. In order to make the journey in a timely manner, keeping their safety in mind, merchants will frequently hire adventurers to provide security against bandits and monsters that may come across their paths." He used a hand to indicate the people next to the carts. "For merchants that work with the Academy directly, the amount they earn is sufficient to hire a sizeable number of adventurers."
"You mentioned that the Guild has a branch inside the Academy?" Queen no longer appeared to be sulking from her interactions with Brittany.
Han could tell that Queen was back in her official role as someone in charge of his military forces on top of ensuring he was safe from harm. Seeing how responsible she appeared made him think how attractive she was. There was something about a professional woman that attracted him to them, likely due to how they focused on their tasks.
"Yes, My Lady," The guide nodded. "The branch inside the Academy is used by students, even those who may not intend to become an adventurer. We try to encourage students to take on jobs to provide them with a range of life experiences they may not have encountered due to their prior life outside our facilities. This includes both those from noble births as well as commoners."
The carriage soon began to slow down.
"Please state your business for entering the Academy," A young man walked to the carriage and stood beside the vehicle, close to the guide.
Just like with the guide and the driver, Han noticed the color of the uniform the young man wore. It was white and rather plain compared to what the guide and driver wore.
"I am currently escorting a new student and his people to the Academy at the wish of the Lady Knight," The guide explained as though he was expecting the question. "He has contributed much to the school, so the Lady Knight will oversee his exam."
The young man's eyes widened before he regained his professional demeanor. He then looked at Han and his creations.
Han was now sure that the young man was part of some security force, just like those at the main gate into the city. Based on how the man didn't seem alert, it was easy to tell that the questions were a matter of formality and not something meant to be invasive. It had a similar vibe as when entering a corporate building and having to check in at the front desk, letting security know the purpose of the visit. There was likely documentation that would be filled out and sent to a department so that a record could be made of him and his creations entering the Academy grounds. Han noticed how the guard reacted to the guide mentioning the Lady Knight, which was a reminder of the amount of influence she likely had inside the city.
The guard nodded, satisfied with the explanation provided by the guide, before motioning a hand to one of the other guards nearby.
There was a slight creak as the large doors slowly swung open to allow their carriage through.
"I hope that the questions did not bother My Lord," The guide nervously laughed as his eyes darted to the women, unsure of how they'd react to the guard stopping them. "Regardless of status, everyone attempting to enter the Academy will be questioned in a similar manner even if they have become a regular, known by the guards."
Han nodded, "It is nothing to be concerned about. I am sure that they are only hoping to maintain the security of the Academy and have everyone's best interest at heart." He turned his head, looking at the guards, and he noticed that some had black with red highlights on their uniforms. Returning to look at the Guide, Han asked, "I am curious about the uniforms. There appear to be people from different departments guarding the gate? Is that typical?"
"Yes, My Lord." The guide smiled, "Those who only wear white are from the Disciplinary Committee, part of the General Purpose division. They are often seen guarding important locations at the Academy, such as the gate we just entered through. The ones in black with red highlights are part of the Academy Guards, specifically the Security division. You will see them the most since they are primarily responsible for keeping the Academy safe." Placing a hand on himself, "I, myself, am a part of the Administrative division of the Academy Guards." He pointed a thumb at the driver, "He is part of the Support Division in General Support, which often needed to fill up duties as they are created. They are somewhat of a jack of all trades when it comes to duties that are taking place in the background. Each of our organizations has a primary color. At the same time, the highlights indicate where we work and the types of duties we are responsible for."
"Master, look at that tower," Brittany pulled on Han's arm, grabbing his attention.
His eyes were soon filled with a tower with such a height that one would think it could reach into the edges of the world's atmosphere.
While they had been distracted on the way towards the Academy, not that they were inside the walls with nothing to obstruct their view, Han admitted that it was something beyond what he was used to seeing. While it may be an exaggeration to describe how tall it was, he had no doubt that it would dwarf anything built on Earth. Considering the level of technology inside the world they currently resided in, he couldn't help but stare at the structure that seemed to defy standard engineering assumptions.
The guide puffed his chest out, exuding pride from the reaction to the Tower. "The Tower is what we are most famous for, a structure that is the tallest structure north of the Great Desert."