Does this world hate me? Must I forever live as a hermit?
Hiding within the fields, I’m now observing a town gate. The guards appear to let anyone who can pay an entrance fee or provide a permit through, however…
<Suspicious Being: One who naturally incites the caution of others. Your presence is viewed with increased scrutiny by unacquainted individuals.>
… I had to receive this blasted title last night! I’ve always seemed shifty, but this is the icing on the cake.
I could sneak in, but I’ll instantly get reported by the townsfolk. Should I try another town? No, that won’t solve anything.
Then how about a disguise? Somebody who naturally stands out yet wouldn’t get ostracised.
As I rack the vacant space I call a brain, I recall a certain conversation…
“Enbos, did you know not just anybody can use magic?”
“Really? I managed to change class just fine though?”
“I’ve given up applying common sense to you.”
It’s winter and I’m sitting inside a dimly lit cabin. A woman with long auburn hair and hazel eyes looks at me with a smile.
“Most mages come from magical bloodlines and can easily acquire basic tier magic. An average man would need to spend half a lifetime of training to do the same, much less change into a magic-orientated class.”
“But isn’t your grandfather a trader? Have you been practising since birth, or are you actually…?”
“How rude! Like I said, most mages come from magical bloodlines, but some are born with an innate talent for magic. As such, official mages have a higher status than commoners…”
“… while unofficial mages are treated as second rate magicians or suspicious entities, like you?”
“It certainly didn’t help in my case, but it’s not always true. Some have risen to prominence as successful adventurers, while those in the Graland Empire receive wealth to nurture more magical families.”
It’s a shame she is citizen of the Reinsol Kingdom. The continent of Aren is occupied by three human countries which seem to greatly vary in laws, customs and beliefs. Speaking of which…
“What about the Lysium Theocracy?”
“Under the nation’s laws, talented children are collected and raised to serve the church for the rest of their lives.”
… I understand now. So this is why you gave me such an elaborate mask. Thank you Helena.
I better backtrack a bit before I begin this facade.
After half an hour of planning, I commence the operation.
Upon spotting my dark cloaked form, I draw the full attention of the two guards at the gate. I approach them with all the confidence of a king. My movements are smooth and my presence is oppressing. The other visitors give me a wide berth. Of course, I ditched my crude spear and kept the broken blade I had used for its tip.
One of the guards appears to be a rookie, and I pity the fact his partner has pushed all responsibility of inspecting me onto him.
“P-please pay the toll or present a permit.”
I reach into my travelling pouch, causing the guard to flinch, and take out my coin purse.
“Th-that will be 10 penz, and then you may-.”
“What are you doing? Don’t forget to ask for his identity and check him,” says the other guard, as if I’m no longer his concern.
“R-right! State your name and business for visiting.”
Tch, I almost got away without talking. My high rank <Project Voice> skill allows me to imitate any voice, so I choose a powerful and dignified tone straight out of my movie collection.
“I am Enbos the Black. I am here to visit the guild.”
Oh god, it’s weird to hear his voice come out of my own jaw. I feel more pressure trying not to disrespect his legacy than dealing with this guard!
“So you’re here to visit the adventurers guild?”
“Must I make it any clearer?”
So there is one in this town. Good thing I was being ambiguous. I’m so sorry for cornering you.
“Please pardon my disrespect!”
“No matter. Continue.”
“Erm, if I may ask, are you a native of the Reinsol Kingdom?”
“I am. Why would you suspect otherwise?”
“W-well, Enbos is quite a, um, unique name.”
What the heck Helena? I’m using the name Enbos because I thought it was normal, but not even they know the meaning of my name!
“Is that so? You will do well to remember it.”
What kind of dark lord am I?
“Ah, um, m-may I trouble you as to see your face?”
“I have spent many hours imbuing this mask with power. I will not dispel my magic just to sate your curiosity.”
“T-then I’m sorry to inform, b-but I must escort you to the garrison for confirmation!”
What a man! The way he’s standing up to my demeanour despite quaking in his boots is admirable. Unfortunately, you have just stepped on a landmine.
“What are you implying? Are you mistaking me for an amatuer filled with parlour tricks?”
“N-n-no! It’s just that…”
“I am more powerful than any upstart. To doubt me is insolence enough, but to delay me anymore is inexcusable.”
“Still, we have to be sure…”
“To not know of me is your own folly. It is obvious that this contest cannot be decided by words… but by my skills with magic.”
Combining <Fireball> with <Control Oxygen>, I feed the spell with a high oxygen mix and conjure a blazing inferno. It’s much brighter and bigger than the average <Fireball>, but the amount of control required makes it too impractical to use. Not that the sweltering guards are aware. I extinguish it before anyone can scream for reinforcements.
“As you can see, my powers are far beyond theirs. Now, back down.”
I cannot begin to apologise to the poor lad before me. He has fallen on his butt while everyone else watches with pale expressions. His partner looks away, trying to avoid my gaze.
“Do not fear my magic, for I will not wield it against you. My authority, however, is a different power entirely.”
I proceed to drop 10 penz onto his soiled lap and walk into town.
… I’ve just made things worse, haven’t I?