Chapter 51: Nothing Registers As Familiar
“If you here to participate in the talent tournaments please enter from western gate 2A!”
“Let me repeat. If you here to participate in the talent tournaments please enter from western gate 2A!”
“Holy just how large of an event is this?”
“If it’s similar to the Empire’s Empiric Exams then everyone here is looking to change their lives.”
I had severely underestimated the scale of the tournament since only a small only relevant to me bracket was shown to me in the email.
Outside of the city’s cobbled stone walls was a sprawling tent city all crowded around the main road that entered the gate labeled in a foreign symbol which I assumed by the words of the voice signified 2A.
As part of its functions in the use of blending in this ring had been enchanted with a skill to translate languages much like the cadet uniform had when I first arrived. It was only until we reached the tail end of the encampment could the contacts and my phone begin slowly scrambling the signs into symbols for me to understand in the language of the hyrideans under Lepulia.
Without a MAGI directly feeling my word’s intentions I doubt English could be so easily translated.
I just hope no one notices that I speak in a mother tongue.
Which I doubt would happen considering how deeply rooted and cheaply translators are implemented into everyday life.
As we strode forward it seemed our arrival caught the attention of a few peddlers.
“Hi! Are you looking to boost your strength! Come look at my shop I have gently used weapons that might give you the edge to make it!”
Following after a woman suddenly appeared and shoved the young man away.
“Weapons? I have a discerning eye what you need is some high-quality lustrating materials!” The busty woman looked at me propping her chest up with her arms in an attempt to sway me to listen to her some more.
I don’t need either.
The two of us didn’t slow our steps signaling that we weren’t interested in the two and many others who were headed here. They all turned away seeing as it would be a waste of time.
Besides I had no time to buy things registration would begin in in forty minutes.
We strode forward reaching the large opening which I could now see a gate that slid into the cobblestone wall. Now that I was close I could feel a tinge of mana radiating from the stones in the wall and even more from the metallic gate inside.
“Talent tournament participants please have your registration out to have the entrance fee waived.” At the head of the gate was the voice that had been magically projected far back to the treeline where we had emerged from.
A fit middle-aged man with brown hair and tanned skin stood in front of the gate to the side was a squadron of four standing to the side watching over the people here. All of them wore the same Obsense city armor, a plain metallic set, and no cape. Most obvious was the missing shine and gallentness of Laurent’s guard’s equipment.
Frium and I made our way to the line to enter quickly more joined behind us.
“Heh, haven’t seen you around did ya just get here? Had some trouble with a hyre?” If not for the haughty tone I would have taken the words as concern.
In front of me in the queue was a tall young man and an energetic face matching his bright short red hair and angled red eyebrows. He was wearing simple leather hard armor with a buckler on his arm and a long sword at his waist. The buckler was full of scrapes and cuts having seen plenty of use and so had his sword but both looked well taken care of.
He wasn’t weak for his age was my first judgment.
“I appreciate your concern fellow adventurer did you experience something harsh yourself?” I sent a friendly smile feigning ignorance to his boast.
“Of course not! Are you trying to say I’m weak!? Huh!” His tempered flared.
“Shut the hell up Aegris what are you trying to do get us kicked out?”
“Please ignore my dumb little brother, he got his recent class two hyre kill into his head and has been overestimating his abilities.” A young woman had turned around her gentle appearance vaguely reminding me of Frium’s current looks. The exception stemming from her face and manner of speaking told me she was the real deal.
Like her brother she red hair but in a long thick french braid that fell just above her waist. She too had a buckler and a sword and similarly weathered.
Her brother said nothing as his face began to match his hair and turn into a ripe tomato.
I had noticed her earlier but the young man was standing in a way that made it feel like they didn’t know each other. I couldn’t help but chuckle internally realizing it.
Seeing Frium made no attempt to speak or introduce herself the red haired girl took it as we didn’t want to be bothered.
“Come take out your phone we’re almost next.” The sister grabbed her brother and twisted him around as the line was moving quite smoothly even if it was long.
Is Frium bad at this kind of thing? To match her appearance she should have exchanged simple pleasantries with the young woman. Maybe even tenderly admonish me as being much the same to make me and the young man both be embarrassed. Then, maybe, the four of us would join together towards the registration area and become more familiar with each other.
Sighing as I watched the two red-haired siblings both show their registration and walk into the city after showing the guard their registration I shook my head and took out my phone.
I wanted to shake Frium for ruining this golden opportunity I was finally free of the stigma I had as last.
“Next!” The guardsman shouted as I wasn’t moving.
“Lucid it is your turn,” Frium said to me not understanding my bewilderment at what I just missed.
I walked forward holding out my phone with just a look the guard nodded me forward.
“Is she with you? The subsidized cost to enter is 100 scales for a participant’s guest.”
“No, she won’t be entering.”
“If she won’t be entering then she can stay outside until you can pay.”
I walked forward past the guard as Frium moved over to the side like the many others watching their friends and family enter while they could not.
“Hey.” the guard’s voice called towards my direction.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Frium tense up reading to summon her weapon. Slowly I turned around beginning to ready myself to hold my spear too.
“Take advantage of your free entrance to snag some guild quests from the AG inside. They pay well.” He said as he sent me a wink then flicked out his tongue.
“I’ll check it out. Thank you.” I replied kindly and continued my way.
His tongue was slightly purple and at the tip it split in two. He was hyridean and trying to help me out. He probably couldn’t understand my language but sensed it was from a bloodline.
He must have misunderstood thinking that we were too poor to afford the subsidized entrance fee.
You’re not wrong Mr. City Guard! But I’m sure Frium could spare me the hundred. Besides, I have some items to sell now.
Still, it was awfully nice of him to give me the heads up. I glanced over to Frium after I crossed the entrance to see her having relaxed.
As I finished crossing the wall I took in a breath then yelled out towards Frium.
“Bye big sis!” I waved to her.
She seemed to be caught by surprise and was even slightly startled on how to respond as she returned a mechanical wave.
I couldn’t help myself from laughing as I confirmed my suspicions. Although she was pushing seventy her social interactions seemed limited. I wonder if all powerful people are eccentric in some way? Chuckling to myself I turned back around I walked deeper into the city.
The sun had come out now soon to reach its peak at noon but right now the city was breezy and cool. Now that I know more about estates I wouldn’t doubt that the wind was artificial. But for such a large scale of an actual city, I do doubt it was possible to control the weather and temperature itself as I could with mine.
I stuck my chest out a little as proudness within me began to fill it. From the cracks in the sidewalks to the dullness of the wares being shown through shop windows. This what I imagined if someone told me it looked like a dated Laurent City.
My estate treasure is nicer than this place…
The biggest difference, however, was not the weathered buildings but the busy streets filled with familiars pulling massive steel trailers, which looked similar to Earth’s semi-trucks.
The new wealth of Laurent City and retired money of Civieto spoiled my perception. Using spatial mages for everything would be too costly.
That isn’t to say Obsense City was a place for the poor, going off what I researched before coming was that its people ranged from the working class to the middle class. Working-class meaning performing a steady amount of local quests a month, making enough to rent in the safety of the city and feed a family.
It wasn’t much but for those who couldn’t live inside this kind of safety this talent tournament was a chance to change their lives even if they ultimately weren’t accepted.
The reason why so many came knowing the risks was because another academy or circle could take them in or two do what the guard suggested. If I accept some quests available only to locals inside the walls and showed I was talented enough the local guild would offer to sponsor me to live here and in time I could become a permanent resident.
These opportunities were why there wasn’t much complaint about the tournament not offering to cover travel and board. I’m sure the participants would even prefer it if more prospects stayed home.
I made my way through the familiar yet unfamiliar streets still in awe at the number of familiars I was witnessing as they moved in an orderly fashion to get to their destinations.
[Your registration location is:
811 Obsense Grand Colosseum Registration Counter #Q3]
I glanced at my email again to double-check and the map projected through my contacts. I just had to follow this one major road but I still wanted to make sure.
Luckily the absence of cars meant the air still felt nice to breathe so while it wasn’t as stately and beautiful as Laurent City the liveliness of the hustle and bustle of the people walking alongside me sparked a charm the other two places didn’t have.
I felt no judging or prying eyes on me as I cruised through stepping aside when I needed to or squeezing through the gap someone else made for me to pass.
“Do you know anything about your opponent yet?” I overheard a group of youths walking in the same direction I was.
“No, I’m just hoping it isn’t an assassin type. But man, I’ll pray to the goddess every day for the rest of my life if it’s a defensive type so I can showcase all my skills.” The one to answer in the group was the tall young man with short purple hair waving his hands as if he was holding a saber.
“Same here, assassin types are the worst for the tournaments even if you win it destroys the chances of another academy or circle to scout you.”
“No offense Millika.”
“None taken. I wouldn’t want to go against another assassin either!” The brown-haired girl at the far end of the group responded.
Listening in I ended up following behind them like many others who were moving alone. Some had faces of worry and others hardened faces ready to battle at a moment’s notice. Everyone was headed to the train stop. There was a special train that would shuttle participants only from here to the colosseum and back. Probably to stop any congestion to the resident’s daily commutes.
It was only a few blocks before we arrived at the train stop with a few benches. No one sat down but instead lined up by the train signs each marking where an entrance would be. Behind the group of four, I waited for the next train to come.
Oh? It’s the other siblings.
Way at the front there was a pair of familiar heads the two red-haired siblings were also waiting.
We didn’t wait long as soon moving alongside between the sidewalk and the road a quiet train came to a stop aligning itself perfectly to the signs. The white paint surprisingly pristine and the shape sleek much like the one Laurent City had. I had expected the train to be a bit dated too.
Hmm? The trains must be managed by the Scale Allegiance.
It’s doors slid apart and opened for us to enter and one by one we began to fill its seats.
I looked around and chose to sit down in a seat in front of a small table facing forward. The inside was identical except there seemed to be no attendant for us on this specially scheduled train.
With the train have boarded everyone it quickly, but smoothly accelerated off. The street signs flew past us yet generated little wind as to not annoy the pedestrians or familiars on both sides. In a flash, the train decelerated just as smoothly and came to a stop.
[Welcome to Obsense City Grand Colosseum. Passengers, please check for your luggage before your departure. Have a great day!]
The same voice too! I smiled
I leaned in my chair appreciating the familiarity before getting up and stepping out. There was no forgetting any luggage this time as I had my storage ring with me and food hadn’t been offered either.
Outside the open area in front of the Colosseum in front of the ticketing booths was a wide-open space with benches, trees, and fountains. It was the nicest location I had seen in the city so far and from where I stood I could see the six main roadways along with each gate that all lead to here, the center of the city.
“We’re here live at the LARGEST Obsense City Talent Tournament to date! Just look at the crowd. Thousands of newcomers with prospects to prove that they deserve to get into Laurent Academy. And not just newcomers we had an interviewer with an Obsense City local earlier take a look here at what she had to say.”
A reporter with a floating camera put the microphone down as the news were probably playing some clip he had shot earlier.
The girl probably declined a live interview as it was time to line up for our designated registrations booths which were just repurposed ticketing counters. Before I lined up I looked for a bathroom. After closing the stall door behind me I removed the appearance changing ring then left and made way towards the line with the large monitor showing “Q3” for me.
The line quickly moved much like the one to enter the city it was a simple glance at the face and a scan of the registration documentation. I could be faster but I don’t think anyone here had the money for a MAGI so all used a phone to show it.
Soon it was my turn and I stepped to the counter where an older gentleman was handling registrations.
“I’m here to register for the talent tournaments.” I brought out my phone and showed the employee the special symbol representing my documentation.
“Alright got it.”
“Glad you could make Mr. Nous. Let me see… your match is scheduled later in the week in 8 days as the fourth match of the day. Please make sure to arrive before the 3rd match begins you can find what match is currently in progress through the live stream or the website. Feel free to enjoy the city you are also allowed free use of the training grounds behind the colosseum just show them your registration and you will be allowed entry.”
“If there is nothing else then see you in a week!” The old man waved me off with a smile as I walked away from the desk.
Almost a whole week…
It was still early in the morning and now I had 8 days until the tournament, it was slow now once the first matches begin there was one every other day for each participant until the tournament was over.
I mulled over what to do. It wasn’t like I had money to be a tourist and enjoy my time here. I’ll see if I can sell the two items I got with Frium
I should at least go see. I relented and took out my phone with access to my own documents it was easy to find the address of the orphanage I was “raised” in.
[8887 Rest Parkway Cathedral, Obesene City]
After inputting the destination the directions appeared but unlike before I had to pay attention to where I was going since it would only tell me to turn around after I made a mistake.
With the morning commute gone the activity in the streets had died down the rush gone all that was left where the delivery trucks working and the street food carts cleaning up for the lunch rush.
I walked briskly outwards from the center of the city the cathedral wasn’t far from the colosseum so walking wasn’t an issue. After a final turn, the mid-rise buildings cleared and was left with a large open park that covered an entire block. Towards the back of the park were two separate buildings that shared an atrium with a large fountain. A few kids playing around and in the fountain with a large statue depicting a beautiful woman pouring water from a bucket.
They had no patches or rips on their clothes but the lack of any need to match their garments to a style made it obvious they wore what they were given.
“Is this really an orphanage for disabled children?”
The building to the right was obviously a large church cathedral and the one to left looked more like a dormitory, in other words, it was the orphanage.
From the exterior, their styles were similar to all Scale churches. Plenty of masonry, large glass windows, and corner embellishments of Scale religious symbols.
I entered through the opened door on the left under the eyes of the kids who were playing outside who had stopped to stare at the stranger who came.
Leaned back in the receptionist chair with black boots on the desk was a young nun in the typical Scale clerical clothing consisting of a dark navy cape over a black sweater and tight black jeans with black boots. Liion wore the exact same outfit.
The difference being that this girl was missing the various embroidered insignias made of silver thread that Liion had on her cape.
“No you cannot recruit the children into your party as volunteer apprenticeship, by law it is illegal for us to disclose their combat data before they are twelve, and we are NOT currently transferring any children to private institutions.”
The young nun sent me a plain response not bothering to look up from her phone.
“I think you have me mistaken for someone else.”
The girl finally looked up.
“W-who might you be!?” The young girl almost tipping over as she tried to quickly put her feet down.
“I’m Lumi Nous I was a friend of Lucid Gracile we met in the Tole Forest dungeon. We didn’t stay together for long but recently I heard he passed away.”
“M-Mr. Loo-Mi Nu-us? Lucid you say… that name sounds familiar.” The young girl while flustered was quick to fix her two loose braids and straighten out her clothes.
“Lucid told me he was an orphan here. I stopped by in hopes of learning more about him.”
I walked closer to the receptionist’s desk.
“Do you know where I could learn more about him, sorry I didn’t get your name.”
“H-how rude of me, I’m Cecilia, Cecilia Grotun a resplendent here assisting the lady Bishop Rose.”
“You still have your family name?” Liion had given hers up but I don’t think she had told me the reasoning.
“O-only once members reach the level of cardinal do they give up their surnames when they go through the process of gaining the grace of the Goddess.”
Cardinal! That Liion was a cardinal! No wonder she was always so busy running around…
“Giving up her chances at marriage at so young…” Then again I never got her age. She could be much older than I think.
“U-umm what are you referring to? Becoming a cardinal of the Scale church doesn’t forbid anyone from marrying they just can’t have a surname.”
“Oh, so it’s like that. Lucid and I became friends with a woman named Liion I never imagined her to be a cardinal.”
“L-LIION! The Lighting Savage Liion! You know her, you became friends with her!?” The young girl looked wide-eyed shocked mouth open in disbelief.
What’s with this reaction? I too was shocked by her level of surprise.
I didn’t expect the gentle but likes to tease Liion to be some bigshot.
“The Tole Forest Dungeon brought a lot of people together. It was only by chance really.”
“T-that’s true. To think it’s almost going to be a year now since the Scale Allegiance declared a national emergency but just like that it was suddenly over and the aftermath ensued.”
Almost a year… with Cecelia’s words I began to realize how time slipped by me these past months. So focused on training and performing my routine I never gave me time to think about much else.
“S-sorry that was inconsiderate of me. I apologize if I reminded you of something bad.” Cecelia bowed her head.
“Liion is something like a role model for me I got worked up.”
“No don’t worry about it I found out something interesting about a friend. So, could you introduce me to anyone who knew Lucid he never talked much about the experiences here he only spoke to me a few facts and general things.”
“R-right! I’ll go ask Miss Rose she’s been here longer than me.” The girl got to her feet and walked through a door behind the desk.
After a small wait a woman with short silver hair at her shoulders stepped out with Cecilia.
“He knows Liion you say? Hmmm…” The older woman seemed much more suspicious of me as she scanned me with her light purple eyes.
She wasn’t wrong to suspect me of making things up I had no proof that I did know her.
“Hi, I already introduced myself to Cecilia my name is Lumi Nous. I’m here to learn more about a friend who recently passed his name was Lucid Gracile he once told me he was an orphan here.”
I was quick to make my introduction with a warm smile holding out my hand.
“I’m Rose Hjica the Bishop in charge of this Cathedral and Orphanage,” Rose responded in kind as she shook my hand. Her soft hand gripping mine tightly.
What a firm handshake! Still not letting go she spoke again.
“Cecilia said you know Liion and Lucid are friends with her is that true?”
“Yes, I met her along with Lucid in the survivor’s town where the Scale Cathedral estate treasure was.”
With my response, Bishop Rose’s hand tightened.
“Did Lucid really pass away.”
“Yes, he did die.”
After my answer, she let go and softened her expression.
“Liion has always been a whimsical girl. Did you know just like your friend she used to be an orphan here too?”
It seemed that she believed me.
“Come ask me what you want to know, Lucid was partly under my care after all, Cecilia prepare tea for us and our guest. Hmm, and the day is nice let us have it outside. I’ll go get the juice and snacks for the kids. Lumi please relax and wait for us outside.”
How hospitable, I was pleasantly surprised by their kindness and did as Bishop Rose asked.
“Told you he would get kicked out! Hahaha” The kids outside saw me leave through the door.
Going from Cecelia’s first words to me it seemed it was a usual sight.
“Children! Go clean your hands and face it is snack time.” Bishop Rose yelled out as she stepped outside behind her floated tables with cups and utensils neatly placed.
“Snacks!” Before they could begin to chastise me they all ran off into the orphanage to wash up.
It wasn’t long before all the kids sat down on the small tables that Bishop Rose had brought out, the kids having completely forgotten about me. However, the older children looked at me cautiously sitting at the bigger tables like the one Rose, Cecilia, and I sat on.
“Don’t mind the kids Mr. Nous, often various circles and scouts come to try to trick us spouting nonsense about not letting talent go to waste.”
“Please, just call me Lumi. Do they come often? Lucid had said when he showed a large mana pool he had been transferred from the orphanage.”
“Cream?” Cecilia offered me after I poured myself a cup of black tea.
I nodded and poured in a little.
“They are as persistent as ever. While we don’t succumb to their words other orphanages often either fall prey to their empty promises or fall prey to the greed of money or power.”
“If a child here does show talents we only send them to vetted associations that I or the late Bishop Carmichael personally know.”
“Lucid was such a talent so its regrettable to hear Lucid had passed on. My late friend was quite attached to Lucid like a proud father.” Bishop Rose let out a sigh before taking a sip she looked off into the distance. It was quick but I could saw stop her eyes from welling before continuing.
“I only began to take over the parish when Carmichael’s health really began to falter and only caught the tail end of their relationship. So I might not be able to answer everything.”
Bishop Carmichael… is probably the priest the inn girl remembered seeing.
“Do you happen to know anything about where Lucid came from? Family?” Of course, I knew I didn’t have a family here but still asked away.
“From what I learned was that your friend first arrived out of the blue with Carmichael after his annual vacation to a small city in the Blood Axis he said he found him abandoned during a hike at a forest nearby. I didn’t believe him at first thinking it was one of his jokes but the oddity that was your friend made me wonder if he was some kind of special existence. We thought maybe he was an abandoned child between a dryad hyre and a human, but all signs pointed to him being purely human. We settled on being abandoned for his severe disabilities.”
“Something like that… how cruel.” Cecilia said in a low voice.
“Couldn’t they have cured him with magic?” Cecilia looked towards Bishop Rose.
“We wondered that too, but even our attempts proved futile nothing we did seemed to make a difference.”
“Nothing? But I thought Rook Pharmaceutical had cured almost all disabilities.”
They what! While it is true I’ve yet to see any accessibility signs for disabled people I never thought it was because disabilities had been eradicated.
“Not this case. Carmichael that bold fool made a specific program under the Scale Church in the guise to study the disabled to get him full citizenship. Once Lucid left and could do most things on his own the program was disbanded.”
It sounds like Lucid, me, was well-taken care off. Good to know I wasn’t abused, I should go give my respects to the bishop if not for him I wouldn’t have had the chance to wake up the way I did.
“So Lucid was able to speak properly and make friends. I’m glad, but also a bit sad. If only Carmichael could know he would have been ecstatic his usually nonchalant and sarcastic face show some surprise for once.”
“Yes, he said on the train towards orientation to Laurent Academy he suddenly could talk and ‘think’ if that makes sense.”
“Hmm, you sound like you have quite an intimate bond with Lucid were you his first love perhaps?”
Cecilia’s face flushed the hot tea seemingly having gone down the wrong hatch.
“We did share an intimate bond, but we weren’t lovers. More like extremely extremely close friends.”
So close you could say were one.
“Close friends you say. Such a shame the cute in a ghostly way Lucid and a conventionally attractive young man falling in love bonding during such a turbid event sounds romantic doesn’t it?”
Cecilia, you should really be more careful with these hot drinks.
I didn’t know how to respond to Bishop Rose’s thoughts so I decided to move the subject.
“Can you tell me about his likes dislikes or any friends he made here?”
“Lucid had no likes or dislikes in his time here. While a bit mean the word robot was befitting him. We made sure to include him in all activities with the other orphans but he was never able to respond in any meaningful way. This is why I find it unfortunate Carmichael was never able to meet the Lucid you met. In the end, we had settled for the goal of Lucid being able to function in society because he could not live it if you understand what I mean.”
They must have spent a lot of time getting the Lucid programming to a ‘work’. Well, I guess I’m glad Lucid had a stable early life and I would have loved to meet Bishop Carmichael to offer him my thanks. I didn’t feel Bishop Rose was lying to me and everything she said felt truthful. She didn’t need to pretend or even go all this way to lie if she wanted to
Our chat continued for over an hour as she told me everything she remembered and I had told her what Lucid and I, which was basically and replaced with the name Lumi, experienced together.
Cecilia seemed enamored by my stories inside the dungeon had been listening intently some of the older kids too.
After asking for the location of Bishop Carmichael’s grave I felt it was time to part. I had to sell some materials and look for an inn for the next weeks.
“Thank you for letting me take up so much of your time today. I do appreciate the effort you’ve gone for me.” I really was thankful I couldn’t now but maybe somehow in the future, I would show my gratitude for not only today but for the years Lucid spent here.
“No, no its nothing. It’s nice to have a guest to share stories with. I can see why Liion befriended you. If we had space I would have gladly asked you to you stay here during the Talent Tournaments, but due to the nature of it we’re always at or above capacity here.”
“Oh, you figured something like that out?” I hadn’t told her.
“It was easy to figure out. You must have hit the ground running in the dungeon amassing quite some skills, enough that even Laurent Academy saw promise. Correct?”
Shrewd! She was very close.
“Right on the mark. Lucid taught me plenty of things. I wouldn’t have imagined being able to pay for the formal lessons which are why I’m thankful to have met and become friends with him.”
“I bid you goodbye Lumi and good luck during the tournaments we will be cheering for you in Lucid’s place. Please, if you feel like coming to visit again don’t hesitate to call this place home. Carmichael would have said the same so I’ll extend his hand.”
“I will. Thank you for the wonderful time Bishop Rose, resplendent Cecilia. Have a good evening.” I smiled at the two.
Interacting with people that aren’t oath sworn to me is much more pleasant. The looming power imbalance really does make it hard for me to become comfortable.
Talking is much more enjoyable this way.
I left the church and made my way back to the city. After finding a café I sat down inside and pulled out my phone. I had no money, so I couldn’t order anything and hoped I wouldn’t be bothered as I went into mtrade to see if I could sell the two things I had obtained with Frium.