'Ah yes, the gates of Aiveast, as tall and grand as always. Truly the pinnacle of stone cutting. In the lore for Chroniks, they say there used to be a mountain range here; the game's lore was one of my favourite things to delve myself in. It's like diving through an endless rabbit hole, it keeps going deeper and getting more detailed. However, it requires you to make links and read carefully. It's still amazing, no matter how contrived things become the deeper you dive into the story.'
Zeruna looks to the long line of carriages leading to the entrance of the city. Her eyes then move to the other entrance ways only to see they are equally crowded. A long sigh leaves her. It wouldn't hurt to fly directly into the city and not go through the tiring identification process. After all, they are here on orders of the King. Aema's rank should be enough to get them excused of it.
"We're landing directly in the city," Zeruna states. "Slow down carefully."
"Can't we land?" complains Tina. "I've been carrying this hump of fat for ages."
"I'm awake you know!" shouts Vidir.
"I care not if you hear me," sneers Tina.
"Now is not the time to argue. Now, this goes for all three of you! I want you on your best behaviour. I've been lenient for all of you so far, that ends now. Any screw-ups and I'll give you an earful. Am I clear?!" Zeruna barks
Aema realises Zeruna isn't taking anymore of her wild stunts like the one in Sevis. The difference is now she can control her powers properly. There will be no tree snapping or crystal shattering or near verbal slip-ups. She isn't as fresh as she was three months ago and the excitement of transmigration has calmed down.
""Understood,"" the three say in tandem.
"Suppose Renold should be woken up now. I hope he enjoyed his nap," Zeruna mutters as she places her finger on Renold's forehead, shooting the man awake. "Lord man, get a hold of yourself before you loosen from my hold."
"Where are we?" he peeps.
"Look down," Aema says, flying next to Renold who still clinging onto Zeruna similarly to how a baby chimp clings to its parent.
Renold looks down and, surprisingly, doesn't continue to scream or close his eyes. No, instead, he smiles and takes in the gorgeous view from above. He points to the palace, "They'll be expecting us on the ground, please do not fly into the palace directly. The King is practically going grey due to the amount of stress heaped upon him."
"How old is he exactly?" asks Zeruna curiously.
"He's about 21 years of age. He's been king for three after his father and mother died in a horse-riding accident. Shame."
Zeruna and her party fly right over the gates; moving fast enough to not be seen, but slow enough to not be heard. They make a beeline for the palace gates and land directly in front of the astonished guards and few adventurers present. Aema, Tina and Vidir land behind her.
The royal guards look to each other and sigh, ""A-Ranks always gotta be flashy,"" they say together.
Despite being line cut, the other adventurers don't make too much of a fuss and allow Zeruna and her party to enter before them. Aema's jaw drops as she observes the pinnacle that is the palace. Zeruna too is impressed by the architecture. Before, she wasn't paying much attention to the scenery, but now, she is beginning to take in and appreciate the amount of effort put into the palace building.
A path lined by stone statues stretches to the main entrance where four additional guards are waiting for them. Their golden armour brilliantly reflecting the sunlight.
Two of the guards guide Zeruna around the palace. Maids and butlers and other servants constantly pass them though the grand halls. You can't go three seconds without encountering a beautiful painting or another stone statue. The only thing that was out of place was the number of priests and priestesses moving around the place.
Straevia wasn't the most religious country, though they did have a religion. They aren't zealous enough to go into a full-blown crusade against another nation. However, that was 200 years ago, and the religion has gotten slightly more radical. Although it is unlikely, a holy war is still a possibility.
They are then led to the throne room where approximately 90 or so adventurers and wizards are already present. Zeruna bites her lips and scowls as she sees the King sitting on his throne. His right hand is bandaged and he appears drained of energy.
Zeruna looks around and spots a friendly face, in the corner of the throne room is Koeman with three other people around him that fit into the stereotype of their roles. A female archer, a female wizard and a super shady rogue. Koeman waves at Zeruna who waves back slightly in return.
Zeruna's eyes wander and she meets a familiar party. Those adventurers who're names were concealed in the dungeons of Sevis. Are they A-Rank? To be in such a town like Sevis that is governed under a 70-year-old Marquis who doesn't leave his castle. At least, Zeruna was told that by others in Rigis, a town that falls under said Marquis' jurisdiction.
'Appraisal.' [??? Level 70, ??? Level 72, ??? Level 74, ??? Level 70]
'Again? With this nonsense?'
"It's rude to appraise people without their permission," says the brown-eyed girl who smiled at her before.
Zeruna averts her eyes, and although the girl couldn't see the reaction, she can imagine the facial expression behind the mask.
'I can't use greater appraisal like I was planning to now since she is using a spell that allows her to detect magic. Outing myself or our party as people who can use magic reserved for saints and heroes isn't wise. You can keep your secrets.'
"I'm a curious person," replies Zeruna.
"I'm curious as to why you're late," returns someone else in their party.
"Technical difficulties," says the party that they cut in front of earlier. "We had them too. Not only do we not want to be here, but fate itself is fucking us."
The King looks at the people around him and sighs, his ringed eyes unearths a frustrated feeling in Zeruna, "Alright, the latecomers are here. Apologies, some of the teleportation crystals are old and thus delicate. The Vertell Gentontcracy are becoming less sparing with them too. Now, as you've been informed, there has been the need to summon a hero. It may be the only way for this great nation to survive the current predicament. With any luck, more than one hero will be summoned at once, but that is unrealistic and unlikely.
Now, onto more important things: can the leaders of each party step forward. I wish to identify you."
Zeruna steps forward from the crowd along with numerous other individuals including Koeman and the black-haired girl who has been preventing Zeruna from viewing their levels.
They all stand in a line a few steps in front of the crowd and a few metres from the King who has Gallagher and an advisor of some sort standing beside him.
"I ask you now, anyone with any active spell effects, remove them now."
'Silent Casting, Hide Magic, Cloak of Ineptitude, False Appraisal. Hah! With this, my disguise will remain intact and no one will be able to appraise me whatsoever, they also won't be able to detect my magic. That is assuming no-one here knows sixth-tier or seventh-tier magic. I had to do that quickly, but now...'
[Remee Eldridge Level 70, Robb Morning Level 72, Mei Level 74, Thel Astonry Level 70]
'MWHAHAHAA! YOU'RE NAMES ARE FINALLY MINE! I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT FOR DECADES! Ah, I have something wrong with me. This obsession with information is driving me seriously insane. But now I rest in ease knowing my mission is complete.'
"And you are?" the King says pointing directly at Zeruna.
Zeruna doesn't miss a beat. Although she had been internally celebrating, Parallel Thinking made sure she was paying attention. During her mental celebration, the King had ordered everyone onto a knee. He then began asking for the names of each person in front of her.
"I am Shi Amare, Leader of the Mystic Moon," Zeruna says. She and her party had fabricated that name during the three months.
"I thought the female known as Amy Lee Orion was the leader of your party," the King says. "No matter. Who are you?"
The King's finger falls on the person beside Zeruna, she looks left and is immediately disgusted but also amused. There kneeling is the girl called Charlotte Maul, daughter of Xander Maul. However, she is a very different person.
She is under the impression that when they went to investigate mana waves, they were ambushed and raped by a group of Goblins. Even the males in the party weren't spared from their share of the action. Of course, none of these people were stripped and anally pillaged by a pack of horny Goblins. It was a fabricated memory Zeruna implanted in their mind whilst evilly cackling. Nevertheless, they all believed it so. Half of them were still virgins and thus, their virginities had seemingly been taken by a group of Goblins. They also thought they had been saved from the Goblins by Zeruna's party which only adds to the sweetness of the revenge.
"Charlotte Maul, daughter of..." the girl begins to break down into tears. Zeruna can barely hold back her laughter at such a satisfying sight.
"Please excuse our leader!" yells the blonde boy from their party. "We have been going through trauma in the past few months due to an incident we shan't mention."
"I'm just happy you're here," King Adrin replies with a smile. "Now then, we must get to the ritual."
"Those capable of any form of magic raise their hands," commands Gallagher.
Around ten or so people raise their hands, three of which are from the Mystic Moon. Gallagher mutters to himself quietly, his voice so quiet that even the multiple Elves in the room were unable to make out what he is saying under his raspy breath. He then begins instructing those people around.
He gets those incapable of magic to stand aside to the magnificent stained glass windows that put the windows in Notre Dame to shame. The sage then pulls out a paintbrush and a book as an entourage of priests and priestesses make a sudden appearance. Between them, they are carrying a massive square of paper.
They place it on the ground in the space created when everyone stood aside. Like a mad painter, Gallagher begins walking across it creating an exceeding intricate spell circle on the paper. It takes under a minute before he finishes.
"Mages and Priests please surround the circle and on my command, donate as much mana as you can to the spell," instructs the sage as he steps dead centre in the middle.
(Zeruna) [Tina I trust you enough to donate only a minimal of mana. Now, Aema, I'm not risking anything, you will do nothing, only hold your hand out and create a glow imitating that you are taking part. If you give to much mana, the whiplash will kill Gallagher and possibly the hero.]
(Aema) [That's not fair, I've gotten better at controlling my powers.]
(Tina) [True, but you still lack complete control. It took me a full year to fully control mana.]
(Aema) [F-fine then! What will you do?]
(Zeruna) [The same as you, I will not contribute any mana whatsoever.]
"Please, contribute your mana!" Gallagher yells as he holds his arms upwards like a crazed priest praying to God.
I don't know what it is about this chapter, but it felt off while I was editing it. Something just doesn't feel right with the sentences. Maybe it's just me.