Chapter 53: New companions (1)

The city of Kordusk was much more lively than usual with throngs of people walking its streets. Entering the city plaza was almost like walking into a convention from Aleks’s old world. Although Aleks had never participated in such conventions which he found trivial and meaningless, there were many people who enjoyed dressing up as their favorite fantasy characters and celebrating.

These costumes tended to be either extremely realistic or clearly cheap knock offs, but in his current situation the scene was very much real and not for entertainment. Some of his co-workers from back then were even involved in such festivities and they had once tried asking him to participate but he adamantly refused. He had never felt he had time for such pointless pursuits and had fully devoted himself to his research. Who would have thought that one day such a thing would become reality and not just fantasy.

There were a variety of races present, from humans to elves and other more exotic and obscure races. There were Weretigers, Orcs, Dwarves, Gnomes, even the rarely seen creatures of the Fey. They wore every type of armor imaginable and wielded a wide range of weapons. Throngs of mercenaries, adventurers, and thrill seekers were entering the city in droves all seeking fame, wealth and honor. It was truly a rare sight to see so many exotically dressed and armed individuals packed in one area like this. Lenia especially was visibly gawking, having never seen such diversity before.

As Aleks and Lenia left the Hotel and walked into the city proper they noticed the many newcomers to the city. Aleks shuddered lightly which would not normally be noticeable, but Lenia always had her eyes on Aleks as well as the surroundings so she immediately noticed. She almost reached for his hand but stopped herself.

“Are you okay young master?” Lenia asked concerned.

Aleks waved it off, “I’m fine, there are just too many filthy souls. It caught me by surprise but I have it under control.”

Lenia hesitated for a moment before asking, “Master, aren’t you too uncomfortable around so many of these… people? Why do you need to go out personally to buy slaves? Couldn’t you have just asked Brock?”

“My ability which allows me to create subordinates is a power that no mortal could possibly possess. It’s not something I can reveal to Brock even though I know he would never betray me intentionally. We can only head there first. It’s time I made some companions for you and this way there won’t be too many questions asked.”

Lenia nodded, “I understand.”

She could only look at him worriedly and didn’t mention it anymore. Instead she looked to the crowds with more than a bit of curiosity and asked about them to distract her master from the uncomfortable feeling.

“Look at all of the different races! I never knew there were so many. What are those people there?”

Lenia pointed towards a small group of beings which were clearly not human but had human features. One was much like a woman but with greenish brown skin and what appeared to be branches or vines crawling up her body and covering certain sensitive areas. The female wore very little clothing and her hair was a reddish brown like leaves in fall. Another, which appeared to be male, had hooves for feet and legs which curved at the center in an exaggerated manner. They looked much like the legs of a goat and his body was covered in fur with horns protruding from his head. There were also others with similar or equally strange appearances.

“Those are creatures of the Fey. The Fey plane is a mysterious place with many strange and wondrous things. I have only been able to read some of the myths and fables surrounding it as it is next to impossible to go there except under certain circumstances. The Fey plane may have been the first plane assimilated into the God Nexus although it is difficult to find any evidence proving this. It is something which happened many millions of years ago and the only records available are hardly reliable. Some believe that the Fey were originally formless beings and that the gods of the God Nexus negotiated with the High Fey to assimilate the mortal world of this God Nexus and the incorporeal plane of the Fey. Those Fey which chose to enter the mortal world of the God Nexus obtained tangible physical bodies but they still retain the essence of their original transient nature. Some say that the Elves, Dark Elves, Gnomes, Orcs, Goblins and other similar races may have once been Fey. Even the Dwarves get lumped in with them on occasion, but they aggressively deny this saying they are part of the original inhabitants of the mortal world. They may have come from another assimilated world or perhaps they were originally natives of the God Nexus like Humans.”

Lenia listened attentively, occasionally nodding in interest as she listened to Aleks’s explanation. She was greatly awed by the mysteries of the world and the diversity of its people.

“I had no idea.”

“That is to be expected. In my original world, there were only Humans. Seeing so many different and alien races once shocked me too, but that was a long time ago.”

“Have they all come to participate in the expedition into the Orgren Steppes?” Lenia asked while inching closer to Aleks.

Although she didn’t have the courage to reach for his hand like she used to, she hoped he would take the initiative. However, Aleks seemed not to notice as his gaze was secretly observing the surroundings as he spoke.

“This is a major event, the last crusade was over a thousand years ago and many became famous, rich and powerful through it. Of course, many more died. Either way, this is the opportunity of a lifetime for many and there is no way they would miss it. Even if they can’t obtain a piece of the pie, they can at least obtain some crumbs. Those crumbs are enough to let any live a life of luxury.”

As they walked through the busy city streets, Lenia fell into thought at her master’s words. She looked around at all the strange faces and felt the excitement of the crowd. After looking around a bit she suddenly felt a hostile gaze aimed at her which immediately caused her to raise her guard.

“Master, there is someone watching us.”

“I know.” Alek’s replied.

He had already been carefully observing the surroundings in hopes of locating the one gazing at them with hostile intent. At this time, he was hesitant to use his abilities because there were just too many observers in the crowd. It wasn’t as if he were scared for his life, he could escape harm with his abilities if it was necessary, but if he wanted to take advantage of the expedition and those involved he would need to be careful of being exposed.

The feeling was gone almost as quickly as it had come. Neither Aleks or Lenia could identify where the hostile gaze had come from.

“Do you think it has something to do with that bishop?” Lenia asked warily.

“I’m not certain, it’s possible. It’s also possible that it has nothing to do with him. There are many reasons why someone might pay attention to us. Regardless of who it is, I am sure we will know soon enough.”

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Even though Aleks said that, Lenia couldn’t help but be concerned. If anything happened to her master, she wouldn’t be able to continue on herself.

“Nevermind that, let’s not draw too much attention to ourselves.””

The two continued to walk through the city streets which were well organized and easily navigated. The city was built with efficiency in mind and it would be next to impossible for anyone to get lost within it. Although the city was large, it was built much like a grid and there were signs pointing to all of the major area and landmarks of the city. There were also patrolmen on every major street which were friendly enough to give directions to any who couldn’t read the signs or somehow found themselves in an area they didn’t intend to go to.

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As for those that resided in the city, they appeared well dressed and well fed. They wore condescending smiles for the most part on their faces as they observed the hubbub of the newly arrived foreigners. The people seemed almost detached from the excitement and although there was the occasional scuffle between the natives and the foreign mercenaries and adventurers, these were cleared up quickly by the increase in patrolmen. The patrolmen seemed to always side with the residents of the city and a number of foreigners were arrested which sent a message to the others to steer clear of the residents.

Every inch of the city exuded a certain amount of wealth and prestige with wide roads, beautifully built brick and stone buildings, and many adornments which were strategically placed throughout. Fountains were built in plazas where major roads intersected and there were even small parks for the residents to rest in and leisurely sit while sipping tea and discussing whatever frivolous hobbies they enjoyed.

To an outsider it might seem like the most ideal of cities, but of course it was built on the back of slaves. Many of whom died in its construction and were still dying in order for its continued prosperity. What people saw on the surface was only the golden lining and not the gritty dark underbelly. Only through walking among the slave pits and death arenas could one truly see the real face of this seemingly vibrant and affluent city.

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