Grey Stone City
Leylin was unaware that there were people planning to deal with him, so he carried on driving the horse carriage and travelling rapidly.
After the fifth day, when the surroundings started to show traces of human activity, he heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Although Magi generally view acolytes in the same way that humans viewed ants, it couldn't be denied that they originated from normal human beings.
Even though human experimentation was continued despite repeated prohibition, especially at the Abyssal Bone Forest Academy, all the Magi still chose to avoid large human communities. This prevented human casualties from piling up and inciting the wrath of other Magi.
"Once I reach the city up ahead, I can take a breather!" After 5 days of continuous travel, Leylin and his horses were all extremely exhausted.
At this moment, he lowered the speed of the horse and had a look at his surroundings.
There were now loosely spread fields on either side of him, and not far away was a giant windmill.
A crystal clear stream flowed beside these fields, and there were even some unknown species of fishes swimming in it.
Leylin suddenly felt relaxed as he viewed this scene.
"Serenity! The peaceful world of humans! I have not felt tranquillity like this in a long time ......"
"According to the map, the nearest city should be Grey Stone City!" Leylin looked at the indicator on the map provided by the A.I. Chip in his mind.
"This place is still too close to the academy. There may be a gathering point for Magi nearby, but it still looks far too dangerous to sell potions or ask about the latest news here."
"Moreover, I keep getting this ominous feeling!" Leylin's brows furrowed as he looked behind him.
"Will the enemy let me go so easily after killing the giant tree demon?"
[Beep! Transfiguration Spell analysis complete!]
The A.I. Chip's voice sounded in his mind at that moment.
"That's great!" There was an elated expression on Leylin's face. He hurriedly read the introduction of the Transfiguration Spell.
[Transfiguration Spell: rank 0 spell. Effect: Ability to slightly reconstruct the muscles of the face for an extended period of time. Consumption: 1 spiritual force, 1 Magical Power a day]
This was a rank 0 spell that Leylin specifically chose for concealing his identity.
"Can it only change the outer appearance?" Leylin muttered to himself. "Many Magi can discern someone's identity through the energy waves emitted by their spiritual force and some can even look right into their soul. Of course, these people are all official Magi at least. Right now, it's most likely that I won't meet with any of them."
"A.I. Chip! Is it possible to optimise the effects of the Transfiguration and enhance the concealment of the energy waves from the spiritual force?"
[Beep! Establishing spiritual force energy wave concealment optimisation task, beginning analysis......]
A dozen odd seconds later, the reply of the A.I. Chip sounded. [Able to optimise. Requires 7 spiritual force points. Time to completion: 14 days 5 hours. Supplemental data required: Spirit Research Studies, Obscure Runes.]
"7 spiritual force points? I can achieve that in a few years. However, the information on Spirit Research Studies and Obscure Runes will not be as easy to obtain!"
Research concerning the likes of spirits has always been the most mysterious aspect of the Magus World. Although Abyssal Bone Forest Academy has a reputation for being at the forefront of this field, the academy actually only had a few superficial theories. As for Leylin, he was just a level 2 acolyte so he did not have access to such information.
"The Transfiguration Spell should be enough for the time being." Leylin gazed at his surroundings while driving the horse carriage hurriedly into the small forest nearby.
When Leylin reappeared a moment later, his appearance had changed completely.
His original youthful appearance had now become rather mature. Coupled with thick eyebrows and big eyes, he possessed a very common looking face.
His clothes had also changed into weather-beaten leather armour. The cross blade hanging on his waist buckle also looked older.
Leylin originally had a tall stature and looked well-fed. His body was already that of the typical adult before the change. Looking at him now, he seemed like a skinny yet experienced soldier.
Leylin walked to the side of the stream to get a glimpse of his reflection. "En! Not bad! Even my voice changed and I can modulate its pitch too."
His voice gradually became coarser, a drastic change from the soft, immature and youthful one from before.
"I will temporarily enter the city in this disguise!" Leylin nodded his head and took out a leather bag. In it was some white powder.
"The Scent-Removing Powder of the Subterranean Blind Worm, just 1 gram can rid any living organism of their scent completely!" Leylin said softly.
"This should be the ultimate disguise method in the mortal world. My appearance and scent have already changed, so it won't be easy to find me through regular means! But as for the spiritual force energy waves, I can't do anything about them."
Leylin looked through the horse carriage again. He then threw away any unnecessary items, only keeping the chest filled with potions and spell books. He also tied the chest filled with ingredients onto one of the two horses.
"Let's go!" Approaching the last horse, which did not carry any burden, Leylin undid its reins and whipped it.
"Woo!" The black horse whinnied then ran in a random direction.
Subsequently, Leylin went back to the horse carriage and sprinkled a kind of red powder all over it. He followed that up by sprinkling the remaining Scent-Removing Powder over the two horses. He then mounted one of the horses and rode off.
Not long afterward, black smoke appeared in the forest, followed by a blazing flame.
As he continued along the main road, more and more signs of humans could be seen. After an hour, Leylin saw the silhouette of Grey Stone City.
The walls of the city were short. Circular rooftops and sharp pointed grey buildings could be seen from the outside.
Beside these walls were armed soldiers who were patrolling the area.
"State your purpose." The patrol leader wearing leather half-armour stopped Leylin.
"I'm a mercenary, and also a merchant!" Leylin smiled. He could see the greed in the patrol leader's eyes.
Looking at the horse Leylin was riding and the chests behind him, the leader gulped down saliva. His eyes swept over the outfit Leylin wore. When he saw the cross blade hanging from Leylin's waist, his expression changed to one of fear.
"The fee to entering is one bronze coin!"
"Here you go!" Leylin tossed over a brand new yellow bronze coin to the leader.
"You may enter! Remember not to wander around at night. If you are caught doing so, you will be imprisoned!" The leader revealed a very unsightly smile.
"Thank you!" Leylin brought his luggage through the city gates.
"Leader?" A soldier was obviously unresigned.
"Shut up!" Didn't you see how he was dressed? Being able to travel solo while carrying goods and arriving in the city unscathed means he is no regular person. Who knows, he might even be a Knight!" The leader growled in a low voice, "Next time, don't find any trouble with these sorts of people!"
"It seems like no matter where it is, strength can let me pass through easily."
Leylin rode into the streets of the city. He saw commoners on either side of the streets avoiding him in fear. When they looked at Leylin, their gazes held both a huge amount of fear and envy as they nodded in approval.
"The development of this Grey Stone City does not seem to compare to even one of the small towns from my previous life!"
Leylin estimated that, at most, there were only around 10,000 inhabitants in the whole of Grey Stone City.
As for its standards of living, they were even worse.
The pavements were made of yellow mud and riddled with coarse sand. A slight gust of wind would cause yellow dust to swirl in the air.
Most of the people on the two sides of the road were malnourished and only wore crude grey or black robes that even had a lot of jagged holes in them.
Along these streets were several fences enclosing cattle or sheep. Some small-sized livestock was even running around freely. Odour from the fresh layer of dung continually pervaded the atmosphere, with no sign of dissipating.
"Dirty, messy, lousy!" This was Leylin's first impression of Grey Stone City.
"Let's find a place to stay first!" The journey had made him somewhat weary.
Leylin did not manage to find any sort of inn even after searching for some time. In the end, he decided to spend some coppers in exchange for information regarding a place to stay from a local.
"Big Sword and Wine Cup. This is it." Leylin looked at the words on the signboard and was a little speechless.
This family shop was situated somewhere to the west, where public order seemed to be more chaotic. Along the way, Leylin saw many drunkards and fights breaking out. A knife and dagger were even used in one instance. Despite this, there were no traces of security officers at all.
Pushing the door open, the smell of an inferior wine infiltrated Leylin's nose.
"Come! Have another cup!" "Nice one, Jack!" A hubbub of noises constantly assaulted Leylin's eardrums.
The interior was a pub of sorts. There were many drunkards guzzling drinks to their hearts content. Some were even half asleep and drunk, pawing the female hostesses and talking dirty.
"Sir! What would you like?" The bartender was a yellow-haired youth who looked like the soberest one in this pub.
"I heard that I could find a place to stay here?"
Leylin sat on the stool beside the counter.
"Yes! We are the only establishment in the whole of Grey Stone City that provides lodging services!" The bartender shrugged his shoulders, "However, it is nothing to be proud of. We do not have many visitors here all year round!"
"Give me a quiet room and take care of my two horses. How much is it?" Leylin looked at the big barrel behind the bartender.
"Give me your best beer here too!" Leylin tossed a silver coin over.
"Pleased to be at your service!" Very soon, the bartender brought a cup with a handle to the table, "Honey butter liquor! Our best liquor here!"
Leylin sipped the liquor while listening to the bartender's introduction.
In reality, many Magi did not like liquor since it could dull the senses. They preferred drinks that could raise their vigour.
Leylin did not drink often either. However, his curiosity was piqued so he wanted a taste. This honey butter liquor was simply average, though. It even had a tart smell, which made Leylin feel cheated.
"Lodging here for a night would be 30 coppers and taking care of two horses, including their fodder, means an additional twenty coppers!"
Before leaving the academy, Leylin had already changed some pocket change to carry with him. So now, he very forthrightly tossed two silver coins over, "I'll stay here for 4 nights first......"
"Look! Such fine horses! This fur colour! This build! They are definitely more valuable than the battle horses in the city lord's manor!"
A very annoying voice was heard.