The capital of the North-East Province, Sahid, a city armed with incredibly advanced technology, stood high above all other so-called cities within the province. Spanning thousands of kilometers, a giant grey wall scraped the skies, as if the city was declaring war against the heavens.
For outsiders, this wall was incredibly intimidating, and Darius was no exception. He shivered as he exited the Bus, staring at the incredibly large gate they had passed through.
“Impressive, isn’t it? A tenth of our journey was spent going through the gates of the wall. From your village, our journey was ten hours, lad. So how do you think the wall is?” The conductor wrapped his lanky arm around Darius and teased with a mischievous grin. He had achieved his objective of spooking Darius.
“One hour? It took us an hour to pass through that?” As Darius looked at the enormous steel cage, his eyes widened. The conductor had purposely failed to mention that their entrance into the city had not been a straight line. The entrance for normal civilians paralleled a length of the wall before deviating into the city.
As Darius stared at the wall, a sharp-looking young man wearing expensive clothes was taking images of people with a small smartphone. Every time he recorded someone’s image, the phone would glow red, causing the young man to groan.
The young man nervously performed this on everyone who had left the odd-looking bus. When it was finally Darius’s turn, the screen flashed green instead of red, and the young man jumped in joy. He did a few fist pumps before quickly activating the phone’s mirror application and arranging his clothes to make himself look as welcoming as possible. After stowing his phone, the young man then took long strides toward the dazzled Darius.
Eventually, Darius got tired of marveling the wall and turned around to examine the legendary city Sahid. He was not disappointed.
Skyscrapers of every color and shape dazzled his eyes, each shooting straight into the clouds above. Oddly-shaped vehicles roamed the streets, and some of the more beautiful ones flew across what little of the city he could see. To a country bumpkin like Darius, this was a utopia, one that he had only been able to dream of before.
When the sharp-looking young man saw the awe on Darius’s face, his face beamed because he knew that he had found the perfect target.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” the young man commented as he put one of his arms around Darius’s shoulder. Wary, Darius immediately disengaged and stepped away.
The sharp-looking youth raised his hands in submission. “Brother, relax. I’m not trying to do anything.” Darius did not reply and simply two more steps back.
The sharp-looking youth sighed and said, “Look, I can tell you don’t know much about the city. I just wanted to give you a few tips. That’s it.”
Darius furrowed his brows. “Who said I need tips? Stay away from me.” Before the sharp-looking youth could reply, Darius had already turned and left. The sharp-looking youth wryly smiled but had not actually given up. A glint twinkled in his eyes as he formulated his next plan-of-attack.
The Matron had warned Darius of such people, and he could smell the lies spewing of that young man’s mouth. Ever since he had started using the hammer, many minute changes had occurred inside his body. For example, his perception had increased. Darius’s current instinct could detect most lies unless there was a truly skilled liar. Although he couldn’t put a finger on why, he could tell when a person was lying and what they truly felt for him.
Disdain, scorn, and a tinge of disgust: Darius had felt these from the young man, so he had immediately withdrawn from the young man. Although it was rude, Darius was used to ignoring people, and old habits died hard.
Darius wandered around for a bit. The wide-open road had shining vehicles of every color racing at incredible speeds. Sahid was, without a doubt, much more advanced than Yoko. In Yoko, a vehicle was extremely rare and viewed as a luxury item.
I truly am a country bumpkin.
As Darius realized his status, he strengthened his resolve to succeed in becoming a Spiritsmith. At one point, Darius entered a large shopping mall. The interior was like being inside another city within the city. Hundreds of people walked by every minute while hundreds of shops, restaurants, and businesses filled the incredibly large complex. As Darius walked around in a daze, something odd happened, something he had not done for the past four years of his life.
The hammering had changed Darius’s senses and made him extremely aware of his surroundings to the point that Darius could sense if a living being was close by or if he was being stared at. Due to his natural cowardice, Darius appreciated this ability and constantly employed it.
This constant ability was why no one at the orphanage had been able to sneak up on Darius besides the Matron. From time to time, she would do something shockingly mysterious, which was why he respected her. Darius was a wary individual. Despite his awe, he was constantly alert and would move like a savage beast, hunting his prey and scanning for danger. Which was why he was shocked… when he bumped into someone!
What the heck?
Although Darius was surprised, he quickly re-adjusted and managed to avoid falling. In front of him, a tall blonde young man in a blue and white uniform with fancy decorations stabilized himself. Behind the man was another group of similarly dressed young men and women.
Someone could bump into me? How did he get close to me without me realizing?
Darius marveled as he had not experienced this for over four years. However, he was not the only surprised one.
He is still standing? But I put some force into it. Could he be a warrior?
The blonde young man sized Darius up and mentally shook his head.
If he was, it would not have been so easy to bump into him.
The blonde young man decided to ignore what had happened and focused on the task at hand. “Watch where you are going, you imbecile!” the blonde youth angrily shouted. Darius was no fool. He knew that if someone bumped into him, it meant two things: they were strong and it was intentional.
Darius also figured that this blonde youth was some sort of noble from his dress and bearing. Nobles were not people to be trifled with. Most of the world had a strict pyramidal system where one’s worth as a human was determined by one’s class, which meant that nobles could do as they pleased to normal citizens like Darius. Aware of the tacit rules, Darius quickly knelt on the floor.
“Noble sir, please forgive me. I am merely a country bumpkin and have no knowledge of society. I am but a fool. Please forgive me.”
Darius did not hesitate to kowtow, his forehead hitting the ground. The blonde young man, his colleagues, and all the spectators were shocked. Kneeling was already embarrassing, yet this young man had gone one level further and kowtowed without hesitation. The blonde young man had prepared some angry words, but he, like the others, was completely stumped by Darius’s quick submission.
Darius did not know what this noble wanted from him, but there was nothing he could offer except an apology. Young nobles could kill a peasant like him and easily get away with it. Such was the nature of society.
Pride? What kind of useless thing was that?