Chapter 17 - Entering the City
For the next week, Vahn spent the majority of his time enjoying the peace and quiet of his life within the forest. Though he had initially intended to set out the day after completing the quest, he found himself unable to leave behind the place he had called home for the last seven months. This place had been the first real home he had ever known and the thought of leaving it behind saddened him.
By the weeks' end, he had gathered most of the traps he had lain in the forest. As he wouldn't be around to tend to them, he felt pity at the thought of any creature unfortunate to get caught during his absence.
The evening before he set out, Vahn reminisced his days since arriving in this world. Though he had arrived with nothing, through his hard work and the assistance of Sis and 'The Path' he had slowly grown strong enough to survive in this world. He knew he was still weak compared to many of the characters he would meet, but he believed with his continued efforts that it wouldn't be long before he stood at their level.
Early the next morning he gathered up the remaining items within the cave and burned them. As he stared at the pyre that represented the life he was leaving behind he was unable to hold back the tears that had periodically crept up on him during the past week. For the first time in this life, Vahn cried his heart out.
The sun had already risen in the sky by the time the fire burned out. With one last look at the cave, Vahn took his first steps on his journey along 'The Path'. His destination was the 'Labyrinth City Orario', and he was determined to become the strongest adventurer.
Vahn made his way quickly through the forest towards Orario. Though his level hadn't increased automatically upon completing the quest, there was a marked improvement in his overall parameters.
Name: Vahn Mason
Race: Human, *sealed*
-Power: E540 -> D604
-Endurance: F461 -> E529
-Dexterity: F407 -> D620
-Agility: E519 -> E589
-Magic: G299 -> G326
Soul Strength: Tier 1 (Mortal Soul)
The best thing was the new [+] icon that had appeared next to his level. After inquiring about it, Sis informed him it was a feature implemented by 'The Path' to allow him to stockpile his attributes to increase his foundation. As long as he willed it he could increase his level whenever he wanted, but by keeping it the same it allowed him to increase the overall amount of parameters he'd have for future levels.
For example, say there were two people that are both level 5. The first adventurer increased their level the moment one of their attributes hit the D rank. The second adventurer didn't accept the upgrade until they had trained for several years and increased all their parameter to D or higher. After both adventurers reached lv 5, the second adventurer would be much stronger than the one who had cut corners.
This was the main reason Bell Cranel was able to become so strong in the manga. Because he had a unique skill called 'Liaris Freese' he was able to be one of the only doc.u.mented adventurers to have almost all of his stats at S rank or higher while at lv 1.
Though Vahn didn't have the same skill, he believed his own wouldn't fall short in the long run. It might take time, but as long as he put in the effort he would be able to increase his stats to S rank or higher before deciding to level up. He believed in the idiom that to build a tall tower, you had to first build a strong foundation.
By the way, out of curiosity he had looked up 'Liaris Freese' and 'Argonaut' within the shop and found out they cost as much as 1,000,000OP and 400,000OP respectively. Its no wonder Bell was able to become the protagonist with skills like that as early as lv. 2!
After roughly three hours of travel through the forest, Vahn was finally able to see Orario in the distance. Though he had seen how large it was on the map, he was awestruck seeing the city in person. He had spent the entirety of his previous life within various labs and cells, so this was his first time seeing an actual city. All of the structures and buildings were beyond anything he could imagine, and Vahn couldn't understand how the characters in the manga were able to freely navigate it in short periods of time. As far as he could see, it would take several hours at the very least to travel from end-to-end, and that's if he were running!
Approaching the nearest gate, Vahn could see a long line of carriages and people waiting for their opportunity to pass through the gate. There were armored men with polearms stationed around the entrance, and they inspected the identification of everyone entering as well as any goods they were transporting.
As Vahn joined the queue, he noticed a very peculiar phenomenon which he didn't expect. Emanating from every person within the line he could see a vague colorless haze coming from their bodies. He curiously looked at the adventurer-like man ahead of him in the line.
As if sensing the look, the man turned towards Vahn and gave him a cursory glance. Seeing the strangely dressed and unkempt appearance of the child in front of him he couldn't help but grimace and speak out."What are you looking at kid? I ain't got no money to give, go bug someone else before I get pissed off."
Vahn was surprised hearing the exclamation of the adventurer? before him. It wasn't his intention to ask for money, but he didn't know how he should explain that he was only looking at the aura of the man which had now turned slightly grey. As he was thinking of an excuse, the man once again began speaking.
"I said beat it kid! If you want handouts go ask a monk." said the man with a face full of distaste.
Without knowing how to deal with the situation, Vahn ended up moving towards the end of the line to put some distance between him and the disgruntled man. He didn't want to cause trouble or draw the attention of the guards before he even entered the city.
("What was the deal with that guy? And do you know anything about the aura that is coming off from everyone Sis?") (A/N: I usually use () to show when someone is talking within the mind. For Vahn it will almost always have ("") while Sis has (**). Let me know if its confusing and I'll try to find a better way.)
(*The aura is due to the passive effect generated by the system function 'View Affection' that you had received from the 'Beginner's Package' when you entered this world. For anyone that you haven't interacted with, it will always display as a clear/transparent aura. Depending on their impression and how you interact with them the aura will change to reflect how they see you. You can also physically touch the aura to get more comprehensive information about the person. This will allow you to see the actual value gained from particular actions and more.*)
Vahn had completely forgotten about the skill. Though he had tried messing around with it in the beginning, since there were no people nearby he was never able to determine its actual use.
("So when the aura turned from clear to grey it was because he was angry with me? But I didn't even do anything!") Vahn was very upset. The first person he had talked to in this world hated him for no reason.
(*It is likely due to how you are dressed Vahn. If you look closely many people are wearing relatively similar attire and follow certain standards for hygiene and appearance. Since you have been living in the forest your clothes are in a distinctly different state than everyone else around you. There is also the matter of your hair which has grown quite a bit in the last seven months.*)
After Sis's explanation, Vahn began to inspect his own appearance. He noticed that his clothes were torn and had stains in various spots. He had only worn a total of three different outfits since his arrival in this world, and everything except his shadowsilk tunic was in poor state. He also noted that his hair had indeed grown long, but he liked it since it was always shaved to the scalp in his previous life.
After looking around at the clothing of others nearby, Vahn couldn't help but agree he stood out. It could also be seen that people in the crowd would give him sidewards glances every now and then as the aura around their bodies became slightly dimmer. He had no way of knowing how his appearance would affect peoples' first impression, and how the first impression was often the deciding factor when dealing with new people.
After around two hours it was finally Vahn's turn to undergo the inspection. Many of the guards showed an expression of distaste at the boy who had arrived at the gate. After asking for his identification they sent him into the side office for processing without wasting any extra effort.
Seeing how everyone was treating him, Vahn resolved to purchase some nicer clothes after he was able to secure lodging within the City...
After entering the small office near the gate a middle-aged man with an unkempt beard stood up and faced Vahn.
"Greetings young man, my name is Gregory House. I'm the Chief Customs Officer on duty today, and I heard from my men you didn't have any ID."
The man named Gregory evaluated the young man standing before him. By appearance, he had likely migrated to the city from a mountain village or some other rural area. Curiously, the boy didn't seem to have any luggage or weapons which caused the veteran Officer to assume the boy had likely been robbed along the way.
After giving the boy a once over, he gave a gentle smile and asked kindly, "Can I ask for your name and why you are trying to enter the City?"
Vahn was surprised at the tone of the middle-aged man before him. He was even able to see that the aura emanating from the man's body had begun to glow with a gentle light after examing him for a few moments.
"My name is Vahn Mason, Sir. I came to Orario after my grandfather had passed away. He always told me stories about his life as an Adventurer, and I thought it would honor his memory to become one myself."
Vahn had responded with the story he had made up with Sis prior to his arrival. Since he didn't know anything about the world, he would try to respond as vaguely as possible when questioned. He felt guilty for deceiving the man, especially since he seemed to not dislike him based on his appearance like everyone else.
Hearing Vahn's response, Gregory had begun to feel bad for the boy who could barely be called a young man. "You must have had it rough. I'm certain your Grandfather would be proud to see you had made it here. Tell me, Vahn, what are your plans after you enter the City? You must know you can't enter without paying an entrance tax and a temporary pass without identification would cost you 3000 Valis."
Vahn nodded. "Sir, I would like to register at the Guild to receive an identification. For the tax and entrance pass, I have a few items to barter if that is acceptable."
Gregory gave Vahn another look and was unable to see anything which could be used as barter. He also didn't see any items that would be acceptable collateral to allow Vahn to enter the City.
"You don't have to worry about it kid. I just had a grandson myself born this past week, so I'm in a pretty giving mood. I'll go ahead and pay for your entrance pass and tax as long as you can promise me you'll make an honest living and pay me back in the future." Gregory had seen several outsiders led astray after entering the City. He had hoped his extension of kindness would prevent the boy from treading down a shady route in the future.
Vahn was overwhelmed by the man's kindness. He could feel his eyes get a bit wet as he engraved the man's name within his heart. Once he became stronger he would not only return the kindness he had received but return it with interest.
"I swear on my Mother and Grandfather, I will never walk a path that would bring shame to their memory." Since Vahn never knew his real grandfather he felt guilty swearing on just him alone, so he included the most important person within his heart as well.
Satisfied with the boys response, Gregory quickly filled out the required forms before allowing Vahn to enter to City.
"Good luck boy, I have high expectations for you." he waved as the boy exited the office.
Vahn turned and bowed slightly towards the man, "Thank you Mr. House. I will remember the kindness you have shown me. I will do my best to meet your expectations!"
The aura surrounding the man became a bit brighter as he turned away and triggered the bell signaling for the next person in line to enter.
Vahn stared towards the direction of the office for a moment before turning away. He looked at his surroundings and marveled at the architectural design of each building. There were people of various shapes and sizes walking around in high spirits. He even caught sight of a young woman with rabbit ears traveling with a stout hairy man which Vahn assumed was a Dwarf.
"Orario, here I come..." Vahn muttered as he walked towards the center of the City, where the massive 'Babel' tower was located.