It was far too congested in the plaza, the escorts managed to push through well enough at that point, but it was impossible once we left the plaza. At that time of the day, the majority of people from the craftsman district would be on their way to the plaza and not on their way home.
This led to us reaching a snail's pace since we were going against the flow of traffic, a knight came to the window and said that it was time for them to move on foot, "From here, it would take another half hour just to get off this street without harming anyone. It would be best to move through the alleyways, M'lady."
I nodded and responded, "That's fine, make sure that my maids are not swept into the crowd too." The street was so full of people that I had to raise my voice slightly to be heard, despite my escort's face being right beside the window.
Rearranging my clothes to hide my erection, I stood up and stepped off the carriage. My maids exited ahead of me and the two cousins reached out to help their mistress get down while Gwendolyn help correct my dress from behind after I stepped onto the cobbled road.
A barrier of knights stood between us and the flowing crowd, a drop of calm within the bustling sea. My escorts started moving forward while the carriage slowly turned back, we were moving at a walking pace that made me worry if we would make it in time.
Thankfully, we soon arrived near an extravagant inn which was at the edge of the plaza. 'From here, we would go onto the main eastern road and walk-'
Before I could finish that thought, a strange road appeared in front of my eyes. We were at the edge of the plaza, standing to the side of the Inn's entrance.
This road was far beyond what I had ever imagined, an incredible sight of a road glowing in colours of azure and red like the sun setting upon the seas appeared before me. The most important part is that it was floating in the air!
We moved at a brisk walking pace once we stepped onto the magic road and my sight was on the people below; the lively market in the plaza, the smoke that never stopped in the Smithing District, the palace that stood like a giant in midst of it all. There was even the Academic District that I wasn't able to see until now.
It took us less than ten minutes to arrive which I can only attribute to more magic at work, it should have taken 40 minutes at least, even with the shortcut going over the crowd and buildings. When the road began to slope downwards, I realised we were approaching the end of the road.
We arrived back on the more mundane route and the dream-like path faded away behind us. We were at a crossroad of the first major side roads of the East Road, and beside us was the Master's Inn. Behind it were a few households and stalls that, along with the Inn, acted as a buffer zone between the main road and the Slum's District.
The Inn was around half the size of the one at the plaza and less luxurious, it didn't have marble carvings or pillars outside and it used glass instead of that shiny crystal for the windows. After they passed it by taking the side road, there were some normal houses and some small stalls.
Every few houses would become more and more dilapidated, the road was still in perfect condition but the hygiene was worse and the people in the alleyways increased. We then took one of the alleyways and moved deeper into the truest part of the slums, the ragged clothing and unnerving quiet of the beggars around them convinced me that coming here alone would be a bad idea.
"From this point on, the majority of these civilians don't have stable or profitable jobs, many of them are forced to scrounge around for the lowest paying jobs, beg, scavenge or resort to crime. While not all of them are criminals or people with dark thoughts, there will always be individuals whose hearts have been twisted by their circumstances and won't stop at petty theft or pickpocketing. Unless m'lady is at least level 20 or 30, it's hard to guarantee your safety when venturing alone." The same knight who spoke through the carriage window spoke, giving me an idea of the level of danger and what to expect.
I nodded at him and said, "I'll keep that in mind and avoid these places unless necessary. At least, until I have sufficient strength."
Their unwavering stares filled with malicious greed showed that just being poor didn't always mean you were an unfortunate victim, only their weariness towards my knights and mages stopped them from making a move.
But there were also the better amongst them, the children who played quietly or scavenged for food, the adults who watched over them and those who made a few pennies through odd jobs.
No matter the social standing, the good and bad could always be found. One shouldn't try to remove the rotten apples, but rather focus on making sure the tree itself was sound. Because there would always be one or two people who were of the other side of the coin no matter what you did.
The final leg of the trip from the Master's Inn to the Swallow's Inn took another 15 minutes. The inn was surprisingly clean and maintained despite its obvious age, and the person we were looking for was found instantly!