Chapter 29: The feeling of contempt
The band of twelve, including Han Shuo, were stunned by the magnificence of the city gates when they arrived at the city of Zajoski. The gates were all extraordinarily palatial and made from the strongest of rock. They were the color of dried blood, and no one knew whether or not it was because too much of it had drenched the stones.
Numerous guards, dressed in full body armor, patrolled the city walls, several meters above the ground. All sorts of defensive measures could be seen on the city walls.
From afar, the city gates looked like the open, fanged mouth of a bloodthirsty magic creature that devoured everything underneath the sun. Several sharp, cold, hangnails, that looked like the sharp teeth within the creature’s month, peppered the city walls. Their cold light sparkled underneath the sunlight, giving people an incredibly deterring, spectacular feeling.
The two ink-black, grand gates, refined from who-knew-what, were open. The city entrance was immensely expansive, enough for ten horses to walk in abreast. It was quite crowded in front of the door and various mammoth and strange magic creatures slowly threaded their way through the entrance into the city, with all sorts of people and items on their backs.
These magical creatures were larger than any beasts Han Shuo had seen before. They were about five meters tall and ten or so meters long. Their skin was dark brown, with heads shaped like an elephant’s. Their faces were covered in wrinkles, with two curved, white tusks jutting out from their cheeks. The tusks themselves were a meter long.
“This is an earth dragon, a gentler type of magical creature. They are easily tamed and move slowly, but can carry heavy loads. They’re a popular form of transportation within the Empire. Merchants use earth dragons to transport heavy loads and trade with different areas.” Fanny explained with a smile when she saw many students gazing at the earth dragons in astonishment.
“Master Fanny, look after them while I go register at the officers’ quarters. I’ll also borrow a few battlesteeds, otherwise we’ll never make it to Drol by nightfall on foot..” Gene looked at Fanny with sparkling eyes and spoke with a smile. His gaze fell on Fanny’s beautiful face and didn’t stray for a moment.
The entire necromancy major knew of Gene’s feelings for Fanny. Fanny herself was also well aware, but she never expressed anything. Gene wasn’t in a rush and seemed to want to move Fanny with his sincerity. He often made use of various opportunities to express his feelings, and staring at her soulfully for long periods of time was one of them.
Han Shuo cursed privately upon seeing Gene’s unfettered gaze. In Han Shuo’s mind, Fanny had long since become his personal property. He would naturally be irritated that other people were peeping at her in front of him, but right now, he was just a mere errand slave and wasn’t strong enough to show his strength. So although it rankled at him, he had to keep himself in check.
“Mm. Go ahead, I’ll watch them carefully.” Fanny gave a tepid response and agreed with a smile, avoiding Gene’s fiery gaze. She turned her head to look at the magnificent city walls and said with emotion, “Although I’ve seen this multiple times, I always feel proud of the Zajoski city gates whenever I come back to visit. It’s because of these durable city gates that the savage orcs have always retreated with nothing to show for their efforts.”
Han Shuo was weighed down with all sorts of items, and just about drowning in all of it. Everyone had stopped at this moment except for Han Shuo. He bent and then straightened his legs, twisting his wrists, and repeated the same boring movements.
“Bryan, what are you doing?” Amy was standing next to Han Shuo and saw the piles of items move along with Han Shuo’s body. It caught her eye and she asked in astonishment.
The others noticed his movements after Amy had spoken up and also concentrated their attention on Han Shuo, a perplexed look on each of their faces.
“Nothing much, I’m feeling a bit sore, and moving around will alleviate it!” Han Shuo replied calmly with a dumb expression, truly looking more than a bit dumb.
“Stupid, be careful. You’re carrying valuable items. If you accidentally break one, we wouldn’t be able to cover the losses, even if we sold you.” Bella frowned and said coldly.
“Bella, you’re such an idiot. Those things are quite sturdy. How could they break so easily? No one has allowed him to carry anything truly precious or fragile.” Lisa casted a look of disdain at Bella and replied sarcastically.
“You ladies are always arguing… stop it. We always run into some danger, whether big or small, when we travel for training in the outside world. You should unite as a team, or we’re bound to run into problems further down the road.” Fanny frowned and tried to separate the two when she saw Lisa and Bella were about to bicker again.
Han Shuo completely ignored Bella’s cold jeers and continued to repeat those boring actions. Those motions hadn’t been left behind in Chu Cang Lan’s memories, but were muscle building actions that Han Shuo had seen before. In order to keep improving his body and break out of the “solid realm”, Han Shuo was taking advantage of every second to train his body.
After a while, Gene returned with an ugly expression and empty hands. When he walked up to Fanny, he said furiously, “Damnit! They asked me for money!”
Fanny’s elegant brows knotted together and she spoke in surprise upon hearing those words. “Our Babylon Academy of Magic and Force is the cradle for the Empire’s knights, warriors, and mages. We nurture so many talents every year for the Empire. Even many of the guard officers and mages stationed in the city of Zajoski graduated from our Academy. There’s a protocol between the Academy and Zajoski. How dare they not lend us battlesteeds?”
“The guard officer was going to lend me the steeds when I said I was from the Academy. When I offered my identification and he saw that we’re from the necromancy major, he actually mocked me. He demanded fifty gold from me, saying that we would receive no steeds if we didn’t pay up. He further added that our necromancy major has never nurtured any talents for the Empire before, and thus shouldn’t enjoy free benefits.” Gene was maddened and bit off his words.
When the students heard his words, they too found a common enemy and shouted angrily, calling for revenge against the guard officer. It would seem that the the feeling of contempt was a hard one to swallow. These students were already a bit aggrieved at joining an unpopular major, and were hard pressed to contain their anger now that they were so ignored.
“Forget it, take out fifty gold for him from the funds. These guard officers have lived here for a long time. Add to that the fact that our major truly has declined, and occupies a lower standing in the Academy. It’s no wonder than they think less of us. I will report this matter to the dean upon my return. Let’s not get into a fight with them right now.” Fanny shook her head, spoke a few conciliatory words with a dejected expression and finally made this reply to Gene.
Gene at first disagreed with Fanny’s words, saying that they could not allow such arrogant soldiers to strut around, but he sighed slowly and shook his head after a few placating words from Fanny, gloomily accepting fifty gold coins from Fanny’s hands and walking to the side of the city gates.
Han Shuo observed a few people, then looked at the despondent Fanny. He threw a glance at the far off guard officer and internally vowed that one day, the necromancy major would regain its past glories through his hands, and that people would tremble in fear at the sound of a necromancer.
“Don’t be depressed. No one dared to look down on us when the necromancy major was at its peak. It’s just that the necromancy major suffered from the ostracization of all the majors for a while. Legends speak of a great magic war that caused high casualties amongst the necromancers and the loss of many incredible, powerful spells. This is what’s caused the decline of necromancy.
Our trip to the Dark Forest this time is in search of a Cemetery of Death that I’ve heard rumors about. It’s said that a wise mage, who studied necromancy for many years, once stayed within the Cemetery of Death. If we can find the cemetery and obtain the magical tomes of necromancy inside of it, then perhaps we can alter the current situation that the necromancy major is in.” Fanny spoke bracing words of comfort upon seeing students become melancholy.
Many cheered up after hearing Fanny’s words, and expressions of joy and astonishment crossed their faces. It would seem that they were all prepared to give their all in this time’s external outing.
Seeing the ardor on everyone’s faces, Fanny gave a silent, involuntary sigh. Although news had broken of the discovery of the cemetery, the person who discovered it died not long after walking out of it.
The Dark Forest was vast, and to search for something within it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even she didn’t hold much hope. Besides, if such a location was truly discovered, it was bound to draw in a horde of adventurers. It would be a bit unrealistic to think that the power of their band of twelve would be able to retrieve what they needed at that time.
Fanny merely wished to comfort everyone with her words. The main purpose of this time’s outing was to test the student’s grasp of necromancy and help them realize magical knowledge in the real world.
“Eh? Aren’t these people from the necromancy major? Are you adventuring as well? Hehe, why are you all standing here?” A sweet voice sounded from afar as the necromancy students were sunk in their own thoughts.
It was the light major student from last time, Irene, and a few other students and teachers from the light major. Her ardent pursuer, Claude, was also mounted on a tall battlesteed and came clopping in from the distance.
“None of your business. Don’t fall from your horse now.” Lisa looked at Irene with contempt and sneered back.
“Hehe I know, you must not have been able to borrow any battlesteeds. Ai, that’s a foregone conclusion. Your necromancy major hasn’t contributed anything to the Empire, so of course it’s a bit inappropriate that you use the Empire’s resources without any payment!” Irene chuckled charmingly as sarcasm and mockery filled her holy features.
Although Lisa and company were enraged, they couldn’t find the words to retort back as Irene spoke the truth. They could only grit their teeth and fume inwardly.
“Hello Master Fanny.” Light adept mage Beacher was mounted on a battlesteed and greeted Fanny with a smile.
“Hello Beacher, are you heading towards the Dark Forest for adventure as well?” Fanny smiled in return and commented lightly.
“Yes, we plan on traveling to the Dark Forest and hunting down the magic creatures that are often a nuisance to the villages around the Forest. We’ll be testing the students’ command of magic while giving back to the Empire. Heh, we’ll be off, see you later!” Beacher replied gentlemanly, but Han Shuo could still discern a trace of disdain in his eyes, as if Beacher looked down on the necromancy crew.
Gene finally brought six battlesteeds over after Beacher and the light major folk had zipped by on their large horses. Gene’s horses were obviously subpar to the ones the light major students’ had, whether in terms of physique or in number. It would seem that the necromancy major still couldn’t obtain equal treatment even after paying fifty gold extra.
But the necromancy group numbered twelve people, whilst there was only six battlesteeds. Therefore, each horse had to carry double. The students looked at each other and quickly paired up, leaving Han Shuo, Fanny, Gene, and Bach as the odd ones out.
“Bach, you and Bryan share a horse while I ride one with Master Fanny.” Gene’s eyes darted quickly and he became overjoyed when he connected the dots. He smiled happily at Bach.
“No! I’m definitely not riding a horse with that dirty errand slave!” Bach held a grudge against Han Shuo and immediately cried out in dissatisfaction.
Everyone knew Gene’s thoughts. This was a golden opportunity to get close to Fanny. He was about to respond huffily to Bach’s yell when Fanny suddenly smiled. “Since Bach is unwilling, then I’ll ride with Bryan.”
“Heh heh, thank you Master Fanny. I’m coming!” Han Shuo was elated and joyously brushed past Gene, striding quickly towards Fanny.