The Northern Academy Town
「Uhm, this is… a lot fancier than I expected.」
「It looks really good on you.」
「B-But I haven’t worn anything like this before.」
「You’ll get used to it. I’m sure your boyfriend will be delighted.」
「H-Hikaru is not m-my boyfriend…」
「All right. Please follow me.」
Man, I can hear them all the way here… Hikaru thought as he waited. They were in one of the most famous boutiques in Forestzard. The door to the fitting room opened, and an employee stepped out of it, followed by Lavia who was beet red.
Hikaru found himself at a loss for words.
Lavia was wearing the dress they had ordered to be custom-made ten days ago. For Hikaru, ten days was a long wait, but in this world, it usually took one to two months for custom-made clothes to be done. It used Obias Silk, a high-quality type of silk taken from a monster. Dirt didn’t stick to it much and with its lovely color when dyed, it was popular with “first-class women adventurers”. Like her eyes, it was as blue as the deepest lake, with beige and blue embroidery.
She no longer wore a cap. Her hair, still short, had some spots of brown left after removing the dye. It should go back to its lady-like length and full silver color in time.
A scarf with a checkered pattern – the current fashion in Forestzard – was wrapped around her neck. Apparently the bobbles on the edges were part of the craze as well.
She’s so cute… Those were Hikaru’s honest thoughts. He was captivated. When he first met her, her beauty seemed out of this world, the kind you’d only see in works of fiction. That was partly because her eyes were devoid of life and her skin was pale after being in house arrest for too long. But now that she walked outside frequently, her skin had retained its healthy complexion. She changed from plain beautiful to more adorable.
「H-How do I look?」she asked.
「Well, uhh… You look very lovely.」he answered.
With a bright smile on Lavia’s face, they left the shop.
The cloak – a pale brown color – that Dodorono made had arrived as well. Made from leather from a Camouflage Dragon, it was incredibly light. It was so light, in fact, that the guild receptionist thought the package contained cotton.
With nothing else left to do in Forestzard, they chartered a carriage to Scholarzard. Hikaru could afford one since he had the money.
First class interior design with first class cushions. Even without these things, Lavia was in high spirits lately. She chose to sit beside Hikaru despite the fact that there was a vacant seat that could fit four people on it.
She doesn’t have to wear a cap and disguise herself as a boy. I guess that’s why she’s happy? Well, she’s free now, after all.
While her fine clothes garnered appreciation from the crowd, her looks had the same effect as well. She attracted attention when they walked the streets of Forestzard. Men called out to her, even though Hikaru was beside her. Fed up from turning them all down, he activated his Group Obfuscation.
I have to think of what to do once we’re in Scholarzard.
They’d be separated a lot once he enrolled in the National Academic Research Institute. He planned to study anything related to Stealth, and he didn’t factor in what Lavia should do in the meantime. He wished for her to learn whatever she wanted.
I guess we’ll just cross that bridge when we get there.
The carriage headed northward.
Scholarzard was located about a two-days trip by carriage from Forestzard. A town sprawled at the foot of a mountain, the National Academic Research Institute was situated at the highest point. The peak of summer was right around the corner, and yet it was chilly when you were not under the sun. Hikaru recalled the one time he went to Hokkaido. Scholarzard’s climate was similar – from the cool, refreshing air to the vast plains just outside of town.
Ponsonia’s capital was way bigger than Forestzard. But it was the opposite for the respective satellite towns. Scholarzard was much larger than Pond, with a population of around forty thousand. It wasn’t just because of it being an academy town. The town was important for the trade between the countries part of the Allied Nations.
Incidentally, Forestzard was located at the southern tip of the alliance, where the land was fertile and people could live comfortably. The northern parts were mostly mountain ranges and coniferous forests.
Before they could enter Scholarzard, a guard had to check their guild cards. He looked at Hikaru’s card, nodded, and asked him to touch the stone tablet that checked for any criminal record. Lavia showed hers – a rank G guild card – with a smug look and the guard let her through without checking for anything else.
「What? Ah, must be because I own a Ponsonian guild card.」
It would appear they were lenient in checking cards of those from the same country.
「Ehehe. I got into town with my own guild card.」Lavia said.
Even that was enough to make Lavia happy. Up until they reached Forestzard, they moved quickly with Hikaru’s Group Obfuscation. They got her card just a few days ago.
「Let’s go.」Hikaru said.
They both set foot into Scholarzard.
The town’s center – or rather, its heart, the National Academic Research Institute, commonly known as just “the academy” – was located at the northernmost part of Scholarzard. The town actually came first before the academy was even founded.
At the town’s geographical center were public institutions – government offices, the Adventurers Guild, the Merchants Guild, among others. Surrounding the area were restaurants, stores, and workshops, with the residential area just outside of it.
Markets were located beside the northern and southern gates. Those in the transport industry didn’t have to go all the way to the center of town to do their business.
「There aren’t any nobles in this country, huh?」Hikaru said.
「Looks like it. That’s very rare.」
「Yeah. Other nations like Ponsonia or Quinbland have nobles. The seven members of Forestia had their own cultures and hated imitating other countries. It’s clearly stated in the founding charter that was written a hundred years ago when the alliance was formed.」
「Own culture, huh…」
「They have “clans” and “Houses” instead.」
Hikaru thought that wasn’t any different to nobles. And as expected, these aforementioned clans and Housest excercised their power in their respective nations.
Now I see why the queen and the minister are having troubles.
Hikaru sympathized with them, if only a little.
「Oh, that must be the academy.」Lavia said.
One of the features of Scholarzard was that every public institution had spires. On the roof of the academy were deep-red tiles that looked like scales. Its walls were built with stones, with white plasters in between the gaps. Dark brown timber were used for the pillars, like walnut or rosewood – a distinctive feature.
The academy itself was surrounded by a moat filled with water. There were five bridges in total – one in each direction and another one to the southeast. While security wasn’t too strict, its outer walls could hold if there ever was a siege. Trees grew in numbers inside the campu,s making the place look like a park from outside.
One had to show their card for identification as well to enter the academy. After being asked for the purpose of his visit, Hikaru once again touched a stone tablet.
There were all sorts of races that went in and out of the campus – Spirit Elves, huge hairy men, and others. Although their ages varied, there was no one elderly around.
The younger ones – those of the same age as Hikaru or around twenty – wore the same jacket, the uniform of the young people. It was a deep-blue color, with an embroidery on the chest of a lion holding a pen in its mouth – the emblem of the academy.
「It doesn’t look like it’ll match my dress…」Lavia said, looking dejected. Hikaru couldn’t help but laugh.
「Why are you laughing?」
「Sorry… I’m just glad you like the dress. We’ll just get you a new one. I’m planning to stay here for a while.」
「Really?!」Lavia asked, her eyes glistening. Seeing her expression made Hikaru want to buy her all the clothes she wanted.