After saying goodbye to his parents, little brother, and acquaintances, Raine rode one of the wagon belonging to a merchant named Fred. The wagon is part of a medium sized merchant caravan heading towards the kingdom's capital.
On the road, Raine acquainted himself to the newer members of the caravan and their guards which consisted of hunters from the city. Fred's caravan is a regular visitor of the frontier village which Raine lives so he is already familiar with some of them. But this time's caravan, have new members he never met before.
Fortunately, Raine's polite and cheerful personality made befriending these people easy. His age also played a big role in his effort. Since he is just a kid, these people where not on guard against him. He is also very conscientious about his behavior and would avoid annoying them by asking unnecessary questions.
Despite being a child (in body), Raine is very good at conversations. He is also very witty which made him a very good conversation partner. Thanks to him, the entire journey did not became boring.
In his previous life, Raine had very few friends and his ordinary appearance made him not too popular with the ladies which made it surprising that he even found a lover. But after reincarnating, Raine had a change of heart. This time he wanted to make as many friends and acquaintance as he could. He believed that his weak lonesome and weak personality from his previous life was one of the reason he took his own life. He thought that if he was not so weak-willed, he would not have killed himself.
Until now, Raine still didn't know the reason why he reincarnated with all the memories from his previous life fully intact. Despite not knowing the reason though, Raine strongly believed that a mysterious force was at play. Maybe this mysterious force wanted to give him another chance since he cut his own life short. Or maybe it was just a coincidence. Whatever the case might be, Raine is determined to live a full life in this new world....
"Halt! Let's rest here."
The caravan travelled for almost a day before stopping for the night. Fred reasoned that it's too dangerous to travel in the dark. He ordered some of his people to prepare food for everyone. Raine also wanted to help but was told by Fred that there's no need and asked him to just rest.
Since he Raine didn't want to trouble anyone Raine simply nodded and went to converse with the hunters.
While conversing with the hunters, Raine asked about the powerful monsters they faced as hunters. A hunter named Crell, as if wanting to show-off his experience and knowledge started boasting that he'd faced countless powerful monsters---including the titan leviathan in his tenure as a hunter.
"Is that true? There's a serpent as big as a mountain?"
"Of course it's true! People called it the "godly serpent Leviathan", and it's one of the strongest "titans" in the world. It ruled a large territory in the "Forbidden Lands" and lived at a swamp that is said to be the size of an ocean!"
"There’s no way! I don't believe you!"
"That’s right! It sounded too unrealistic, how could a swamp be as large as an ocean?"
The other hunters jeered and booed Crell, believing that he's just boasting. After all if really saw a titan with his own eyes, how could he still be alive. Not to mention that the Forbidden Lands are known for its dangers and mysteries.
Crell's face reddened but not because of embarrassment but anger, "bastards, are all implying that I'm lying?" He yelled.
"Of course you are," howled the other hunters in retaliation.
The hunters seemed like that they're about to fight but everyone watching, including Raine knows that nothing like that would happen. From what Raine had gathered, Crell simply loved to boast and his companions loved to shot him down whenever he do so.
"Look here! I know that I boast a lot but what I've just said are all true!"
Crell was adamant that everything he'd said earlier are all true and urges everyone to listen to his story.
The story goes like this: When he was just a young and inexperienced hunter he worked as one the assistant (luggage carrier) of the S-class hunter Melgard. The hunter Melgard is a famous explorer and hunter known throughout the land. He liked to travel to dangerous, and often unmapped places (also known as "blank regions"). He would then try tp explore and map these so called "blank regions".
On once occassion, Melgard brought his assistants including Crell to a swampy region known today as "The Serpent Marshland". According to Crell, the group stopped at a swamp that seemed to have no end. While the group was marveling at this unbelievable sight, they noticed something slowly emerging from the swamp. And right there and then, the group met the ruler of the swamp "godly serpent Leviathan!"
"My companions and I could only stare and shiver at the size of the serpent! It was so big that it almost reached the clouds! None of us even tried to run away, knowing full well that escape is impossible. We really thought that we were going to die that day but then our boss Melgard did something unbelievable!"
Crell's eyes widened while telling the story. And from the reaction of the other hunters, Crell had never told this story to anyone before. Raine ignored everyone's reaction and waited for Crell to continue his story. He got the feeling that the information about the serpent titan would prove useful someday.
Seeing that everyone's attention was on him, Crell gave a proud smile.
"Boss Melgard walked towards the gigantic serpent without fear and to everyone's surprise spoke to it!" He blurted.
According to Crell's recollection, Melgard asked the giant serpent for permission to explore and map its territory. He also told the serpent that their group have no ill intent and would avoid doing unnecessary damage to the area. Crell also mentioned that the two, Melgard and Leviathan talked about other things too. But for some reason, Crell and his other companions could not remember anything about the conversation.
"After giving its permission, Leviathan returned to the bottom of the swamp. With the ruler of the swamp's permission, our group managed to explore the area without much trouble. We stayed at the marshland for many years but before we could even explore a quarter of the region the war started---leaving us with no choice but to return.
With a sigh and melancholic look on his face, Crell ended his story.
"I can't believe you have such an experience! Why didn't you told about it sooner?" A hunter asked.
"In all honesty, I really didn't want to tell this story since it sounded so unbelievable. But since this kid here asked, I felt like it telling that story won't be so bad. Also, his childish curiosity reminds me greatly of my former boss, Melgard."
Crell coolly shrugged his shoulders as he answered. Everyone there understands that since Raine seemed to be really interested about hunters, there's a chance that he might become one in the future.
"Well, I do admit that have an interest in becoming an adventurer or a hunter in the future," Raine confirmed.
"That's such a waste of talent! You should just become a merchant like us and make tons of money!" Someone from the merchant group blurted out.
"Hey, don't just go stealing a potential recruit right in front of our eyes! There's absolutely nothing wrong by being a hunter!" Crell and the other hunters argued.
Seeing the merchants and the hunters argue for him, Raine could only smile awkwardly. Thankfully, Fred intervened before things got out of hand thus the peace returned.
After a while, the group ate a dinner of hard bread, jerky and soup which is still marginally better compared to lunch which is composed only of hard bread and water. Raine found the food rather unpalatable but still ate everything as he never liked wasting food. For the first time in his life, Raine finally experienced how travelling in this world works. There's absolutely no comfort and foods are difficult to swallow. He swears to himself that before he went on a journey in the future, he'll do something about this issue. At the very least, he wanted to eat something good while travelling....
Fred ordered his people to sleep early as they'll continue on their journey first thing in the morning. The hunters on the other hand have to make sure that no monsters or bandits will attack them while they sleep so they'll need to rotate between sleeping and guarding among themselves. For hunters hired as guards, this was a common thing and found no issue with it.
Raine felt like it's still too early to sleep and decided to accompany the hunters on guard duty to kill some time. There are still so many questions in his mind; he is especially curious about the Forbidden Lands and the Titans. As such he wanted to know more. Thankfully, the hunters did not find his presence annoying and happily answered his questions.
Here are some of the things he learned:
The forbidden land is a mysterious and dangerous region. It was rumored that the forbidden land is several times larger than the continent of Ruik the continent that they're currently on but no one was able to verify this rumor due to the sheer size and danger the forbidden land possessed.
The titans on the other hand are powerful and gigantic monsters who supposedly possessed unmatched strength and power. True to their title, all titans are massive in scale and in size. And the biggest recorded titan, a turtle-like monster, was said to be as big as a whole country!
It was said that a single titan could easily destroy a kingdom or a country in a single day! And there had been cases of the titans destroying kingdoms and settlements in the past. The titans are so powerful that the intelligent races of this world dare not cross them. Fortunately, these titans seldom leave their territories and would usually ignore anyone that enters them. The titans would only act if they feel threatened or if another titan trespasses on their territory.
After satisfying his curiosity, Raine finally settled for the night. The next morning, after a breakfast of hard bread and bean soup, the caravan continued to their next destination.
The whole journey stayed relatively uneventful with the exception of a monster attack on the sixth day. But with hunters as guards, the monsters stood no chance and were quickly eliminated. After that nothing more happened. As for bandits, the caravan didn't even see their shadows---a telling sign that security on these roads weren't that bad.
Half a month later, the caravan finally arrived at the kingdom's capital.
Imperial city, Impa.
People, carriages, and wagons full of merchandize can be seen lining up near the western city gate. All of which are waiting for their turn to enter the city. And among them is a caravan belonging to the Austere Merchant Group which is run by Frederick or Fred's Family the Austere.
"What do you think of the capital, Raine?" Ask Fred after seeing Raine looking at his surrounding with interest.
Raine turn his head towards Fred at the sudden question and answered. "The gate and the walls are impressive but I really want to see the inside of the city!"
"Haha! Be patient, you'll see it soon enough." Fred responded with a laugh.
"Is it always this crowded at the gate?"
Looking at the long line of people, wagons and carriages, Raine could not help himself but ask.
"Yeah, it's always like this though things are worser during celebrations and festivals."
Fred simply shrugged at the long line in front of him as if it was no big deal. Every city in the land operates like this. Outsiders and non-citizens needed to pass through and inspection before being allowed entry. As a merchant that travels to settlement to settlement, Fred was already used to this.
Not to mention there is a good reason why cities operate as such. One and the foremost reason for such tight security is to prevent criminal elements from entering the city.
You want to know how they could prevent criminals from entering the city. There is actually a method to this madness.
You see there is a magic tool that could be used to determine if the person trying to enter the city is a criminal or not---the "Eye of Truth".
The Eyes of Truth is a magic tool that could determine a person's mana and its characteristics. In this world, mana has unique characteristics belonging only to a specific person. As such they're used as a method to determine a person's identity. What's more, the process is also fast, almost instantaneous---making the use of the aforementioned method more convenient---many times more convenience than the ones use on Earth.
But how could the Eye of Truth determine if the said mana actually belong to that specific person?
The answer to that question: with the help of another magic tool.
In this world, the moment one was born, his or her mana is recorded with the help of a magical tool known as the "Akashic Stone". The Akashic stone is a mysterious mineral that was formed naturally. These stones are rare but can be mined in places with thick concentration of mana.
The Akashic stones possessed unique ability or property which enables it to record every living beings' mana. What's more by using some secret method, biometrics and other important information could also be recorded!
What's more these information are shared by all the Akashic stones in existence so even if you used a stone from the other side of the continent, your record can still be accessed from the opposite sides as long as you use an Eye of Truth to scan your mana. Truly, it is a mysterious mineral which secrets haven't been crack till this day....
Of course since the Akashic stone could only record and not much else, another magic tool is needed to access these information---the Eye of Truth.
Unlike the Akashic stone however, the Eye of Truth is not made by nature but is man-made.
Raine recalled reading about it in a book at the village chief's house. If he remembered correctly, the first Eye of Truth was invented by an elf that goes by the name of Gillian. The magic tool proved to be so accurate and useful that it grew in popularity in just a few days since its introduction.
"As one would expect from a fantasy world, the way they do things are also magical." Uttered Raine with admiration, "if such method existed back on Earth, how convenient would it be?"
Earth's methods of identifying a person are incredibly slow in comparison to the ones use in this world. Despite his former world's advance technologies, it still falls short at some things.
Anyway, the law of the land required a person to update his or her information using the Akashic stone at least once a month. And if a person commits crimes and got caught, the Akashic stone would be also used to record that person's crime, and would be available in every settlement. Therefore, if a person with criminal records tries to enter a settlement he would be caught on the spot.
Not all settlements are that strict with the inspections though. Villages and towns tend to be much more lax compared to cities. So criminals would often try to avoid cities and would just settle to towns and villages. Of course, people who have criminal records that were given parole or had served their time in jail are also allowed entry even at cities.
After waiting for hours, Fred's caravan was finally allowed entry to the city much to everyone's relief. Now that they're inside the city, they can finally relax. The hunters only needed to escort the caravan to store, get a certification that they completed their duty, return to the guild and collect the reward. After that they could do whatever they wanted.
Raine on the other hand would be staying at Fred's place for several days. There's still some documentation that he needed to pass to complete his enrollment to the Royal Academy. Also, it'll be a few more days before the start of school. Fortunately, his older sister Cloudia should be informed of their arrival and will likely visit either today or tomorrow.
A female servant led Raine to a room that was prepared for him before his arrival. After thanking the servant, Raine put his luggage down near the bed, sat down and looked around.
"This room is rather big for one person, isn't it?" Raine asked to particularly no one.
Looking around, Raine noticed that the room is quite large and well furnished. In his opinion, it's such a waste to let a single person use such a large room. No one can really blame him after all he is just a commoner both in this and previous world.
"I’m okay with a small room though...."
Letting out a sigh of exasperation, Raine stood up and started arranging his things. He put his change of clothes inside the closet but returned the rest of his stuff to his bag. Since he'll just be staying for a few days, there's no need to put everything out. After several minutes, Raine was done arranging his stuff.
Since there's nothing else to do, Raine decided to take a little nap. Before long he heard a knock on the door. Opening the door he is greeted the same female servant from earlier.
"Is something the matter?" Raine asked.
The female servant apologized for disturbing Raine’s rest and then proceeds to tell him that a guest had arrived, and was looking for him.
A flash of realization hit Raine. There's only one person in the entire capital that would look for him---his older sister.
Raine asked the servant to led him to the guest which the servant oblige. Downstairs, Raine saw a beautiful young woman with long red hair sitting on the sofa conversing with another woman who if Raine isn't mistaken, is Fred's wife, Elsa.
As expected, it really is his older sister.
Raine called out to his sister excitedly after seeing her. Cloudia, too, looked up after when she heard her brother's voice.
"Raine!" She exclaimed joyfully.
Raine quickly went down the stairs and was greeted by a strong hug from his sister.
"Big sis, I can't breathe." He complained.
"Opsies! Sorry about that, I just got a little too excited after seeing you."
Cloudia quickly let go of her little brother after hearing his complain and explained that she just got a little excited. Only for Raine to point out that they've been together just two months ago so there's no reason to be that excited.
"Two months is too long!" Cloudia complained with a pout.
The siblings argued back and forth while Elsa and some servants watched warmly from the side.
"You too sure is close!" Elsa started after the siblings are done with their argument.
"Sorry about that, Miss Elsa."
The two could only laugh awkwardly and apologized after their little fiasco. Of course there's really no need for an apology since no one really mind the incident.
"Is Fred not home, Miss Elsa?" Raine asked after noticing that Fred's not around.
"Oh, he is at his father's office discussing business. But he should be joining us for dinner, so don't worry." She explained.
Raine wasn't surprise at Elsa's answer. Fred is a merchant after all and would have other duties.
"Oh, and by the way, Raine. Is the room given to you to your liking?" Elsa asked.
"It's really comfortable but I think it's too big for a single person." Raine answered.
Elsa find Raine's amusing and explained that every guest room in the house is of the same size. She also advised that she could share the room with his sister, of which Cloudia eyes sparkled.
"That's a great idea! I could spend more time Raine like that!"
Cloudia loved the idea and decided to stay at Raine's room for the night. Raine on the other hand have no complain since it's already late and it would be dangerous for a young woman to go outside at night. Besides, the room is really too big for him anyway.
"I'm okay with that but won't your roommate at the academy dormitory be worried?" Raine asked.
"It's fine! I already told her that if I didn't return that night it means that I'm staying with you!"
It seemed that Cloudia was already planning to stay at her little brother's place and made some arrangements. Raine simply shrugged his shoulder at this and went on to converse with Cloudia and Elsa.
Not long after, a servant announced that dinner is ready. At the dining table, they're joined by the rest of Fred's family---his father, mother, and even his grandfather. It seems that Fred's the only child and is therefore jealous of the siblings’ closeness. Raine also found out that Fred have a daughter but as she is only one year old and is therefore unable to join them at the table.
Raine noticed that Fred's whole family seem to be very outgoing and doesn't seem to care much about ettiquite and the likes. Well, it's not like the siblings have bad table manners or anything like that.
Anyway, the dinner was very pleasurable and the sibling enjoyed it immensely.
That night, Cloudia stayed at Raine's room like expected. But since Cloudia didn't bring any sleeping wear with her Elsa lend Cloudia her extra. Fortunately, their body built is very similar so there's no problem with the size.
The siblings also shared the bed since it is big enough for two people. If Raine has any complaint in the arrangement it would be that Cloudia insisted on making Raine into her body pillow.
Letting out a sigh of exasperation, Raine could only succumb to his fate (as a body pillow) and sleep....