~ Chapter 114: Meeting an old friend ~
[Illsyore's point of view]
As I stopped the car, I leaned back in my chair and looked at the gates in front of us. It was the entrance to Ilia Port City. The traders, adventurers, and normal travelers were all sitting in line, waiting for their turn to get inside.
I got out of the car and stretched my arms a bit while breathing in the air. It had the smell of the sea, and I could hear the seagulls screaming in the sky as they flew around. Back on Earth, they were among the top predators on the beach, but in this world, they were the favorite prey of other flying monsters.
In this world, even goblins didn't have the same appearance as they did in the games I often played, while the horned wolves called Dayuks and the savage Urkins made the law within the jungles here. To be honest, I've encountered the first a few times here, but not the latter. It made me wonder if they were monsters indigenous only to the Allasn Continent. Even the Dayuks here were a bit smaller and maybe weaker than those I remembered prowling around Fellyore.
Either way, I felt relieved when I heard those seagulls. Their cries marked the end of my journey on this continent. From here on out, I would sail the seas until I found the island that sat in the middle of these three continents and raised my Academy there. It wouldn't be long from now, I was sure of it.
I heard the door car opening, so I looked back. Zoreya got out and was walking towards me.
“It only took you getting us lost three times, but we finally got here.” she said with a wry smile.
“The path is very tricky once we went past Voyga Village. The map I have only shows the main roads which go through Argos and Nasat.” I told her.
“You mean to say there's only a rarely traveled forest path with very complicated twists and turns?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes, that too.” I nodded.
“Well, you made a new path now, but I wasn't expecting you to literally run in front of the car, ripping the trees from their roots and tossing them to the side.” she shook her head.
“Mother Nature wanted a fight, so I gave her one!” I said proudly.
“I wouldn't recommend picking that fight.” she told.
“Yeah, back on Earth not many could claim they could win a battle against her... and in the end she would always be the one to win the war.” I let out a sigh.
“Well, leaving aside the moments when we nearly got lost in the forest because of the bad road, we did manage to reach Ilia Port City, and I think we might be the first ones to get here. It's still morning.” I said as I looked up at the sky.
The sun was barely making its ascent towards noon.
“Should we wait outside for the others? It would be easier to find us like this than if we went inside.” Zoreya suggested.
“That was my intention, but while we wait, I'm going to go check out the city for a bit.” I told her.
“Me and Savannah will keep guard on the car while you are gone.” she said as she cast a quick peak at the woman waiting for us patiently inside.
“Alright. Take care then.” I pulled Zoreya in my arms and gave her a kiss on the lips.
“You too.” she replied with a smile after we pulled apart.
Getting inside the city wouldn't have been too hard for me. I could have just jumped over the wall or make a hole in it, but I decided to simply wait in line and get in like that. The fee wasn't that high either, one silver coin because I was neither a merchant nor an adventurer, just a simple traveler.
When I first stepped past the city's gate, I was met with a sight a bit different from what I came to witness in Port Rico and on the Pirate Island. First of all, there were a lot more people moving around here, and I took notice that some of them were from Sorone as well. All variants of the human species were here as well as those from the draconian, el'doraw, elf and even dwarf species. The nekatars and other beast people were a bit more rare, but nonetheless, I could see a few walking around on the streets without a slave collar around their neck.
As I made my way to the docks, I noticed that the scent of fish wasn't as strong here as it was in Port Rico, and there were a lot more stores with exotic wares spread around. I personally liked what I was seeing. All these species and their various variants were selling unique items brought on months-long voyages from their home countries. This by itself made the city a unique market and business opportunity for various merchants.
Surprisingly enough, the signs of the human supremacy doctrine weren't as evident here as they were inland. Maybe it was because the human lord who governed over this place feared that by establishing a strong ideological doctrine aimed at human supremacy would unwillingly cause the merchants from all those other species to avoid selling their wares here. After all, a side effect of this ideological doctrine was the fact that all human-made wares sold at a higher price than non-human-made ones even if the latter was of a higher quality.
Another thing I noticed was that there were no signs of old elfin architecture as it was the case in Polis. All of the buildings here carried the craftsmanship of the human stonemasons. They looked sturdy and well-built, but as a Dungeon, I didn't get the feeling of 'strength' coming from them. I feared that if a strong earthquake hit this place, half of the building would crumble to pieces.
Of course, I could have been wrong, and it could have been the other way around. Unless I thoroughly inspected the inner structure of these building, the outside could only leave me guessing.
In regard to the roads and other elements of infrastructure, I noticed that this place had ditches running alongside the road all the way to the dock area, but I didn't notice any underground sewage drains on the ground. At the very least, the road was paved with stone, and I didn't need to worry about getting my shoes dirty with mud.
As I was walking around, looking at the place, someone caught my attention. It was a man who at first glance appeared to be around 40 years of age. He had a few strands of gray hair mixed with his chestnut hair, which was tied at his back in a small ponytail. Because he was with his back at me, I couldn't see his face, but he was wearing a long overcoat worn out by age and carried with him a large bag. The woman next to him had beautiful long lush chestnut hair and wore a thin robe tied around her waist with a rope.
At first glance, they had a modest appearance common among travelers of a commoner origin, but there was something off about the lady next to him. I got the same feeling from her as I did whenever Nanya used her illusion ring, but it was stronger this time. Maybe the spell she was using was as powerful as my wife's.
Could it be another demoness? I wondered.
Leaving aside the woman, when I looked at the back of the man next to him, I had the feeling that I knew him from somewhere, but I had no idea from where...
Since my curiosity was piqued, I got close to them and greeted them.
“Hello there!” I said with a smile.
The moment when they turned around, I stopped in my track and looked with big eyes at the man.
“No way...” I said surprised.
“Yes? Do you need anything?” he asked, and I recognized that voice.
“Zertan? Is that you?” I asked.
Despite his long beard, there was no way I couldn't recognize him. Besides Tuberculus, he left the biggest impression on me back at Fellyore.
“Erm... My name is indeed Zertan, but I apologize... I don't know you. Who are you again?” he asked with a puzzled look on his face while holding the woman's hand.
“Huh? Ah! Of course you can't recognize me like this!” I said as I looked down at my feet and then laughed.
The man only appeared to be more confused by my words.
“We met at Fellyore Academy! Or rather I was the academy... sort of... kind of?” I smiled and scratched the back of my head.
“Pardon?” he asked knitting his brow.
“It's me, Zertan, Illsyore.” I patted my chest. “Remember me?”
The man blinked surprised and looked at me in disbelief.
“What? How?” he asked and then swallowing his words, he said “Prove it.”
“Hm.” I scratched my head and then looked around “Well, rather than blowing something up, why don't you take out a Dungeon Detection Stone?” I suggested with a smile as I expanded my Dungeon Territory just enough to encompass the two of them.
Zertan looked at the woman he was with and then reached out into his bag. After rummaging for a bit, he pulled out a black stone with smooth edges. Pouring a bit of Magic Energy inside it was enough to make it show a number in shining colors on top of it.
“3... 3348?” he said blinking surprised, but then the number vanished when I pulled back my Dungeon Territory.
He put the stone back in his bag once he saw that he didn't need it anymore.
“Lots of stuff happened. Hey! I know! Do you have some time to chat? I'm here with my wives and some of my future students. They are waiting for me outside of the city. I can take you to them and don't worry about the gate fee, I'll pay for you. With a bit of luck, Nanya should be there too.” I said with a bright smile.
“What? Wait, if you are indeed Illsyore, this is a lot to take in. I mean, you are a Dungeon Lord... and you said you were married?” he asked knitting his brow.
“Yeah, I have five wives, including Nanya and Ayuseya.” I nodded in reply.
“So you survived?” he asked.
“Of course!” I replied with a smile, although, if taken out of context, what we said could have a entirely different and rather worrisome meaning.
“I apologize for my weird question, but after we saw those explosions and the remains of Fellyore, I thought you had... you know...” he showed me a wry smile.
“Died? Kicked the bucket? Swum with the fishes?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Yes.” he nodded.
I shrugged “It was a close one, I have to admit, but not close enough. Were you on your way home now?” I asked him seeing as he was hesitating to answer my first question.
“Yes, sort of. This here is my wife, El'zavara.” he introduced the lovely woman with whom he was holding hands.
“It's a pleasure to meet you, Illsyore.” she showed me a kind smile.
Now that I was looking at her from the front, I could tell that she was an astounding beauty who looked no older than thirty.
“It's my pleasure to meet you as well, and I have to ask... you are using an illusion spell, right?” I asked.
With a worried look on her face she quickly turned to Zertan. With a gentle squeeze of her hand and showing her a small smile, he nodded once.
“Yes...” she told me in a whisper and then looked around timidly. “My real appearance would be a bit... out of place here. I am the dryad my husband helped back when I was still suffering from the curse.” she told me.
“Huh?” I blinked surprised and then looked at Zertan for answers.
“One of the main reasons I accepted Tuberculus' offer, may the gods rest his soul, was because I needed to find some precious alchemical ingredients, which could only be found in high amounts around the academy, things like Urkin eyes.” he explained.
“Is that so? Well, I'm glad you were able to remove her curse, although, I'm surprise the reward you asked for was her hand in marriage.” I told him as I took a glance at the dryad.
“No, I managed to cure her more than five years ago... The curse took her voice, and in time, it would have ended her life.” he told me.
“What's with these curses that mute their victims? Is there a sale bargain for them somewhere?” I complained.
Zertan laughed and then said “Well, most magic users require to chant their spells, so it's naturally one of the most common effects for curses. They persist and are often hard to get rid of.” he showed me a wry smile “In regard to the previous question...” he took El'zavara's hand and looked into her eyes “We fell in love as we traveled together and married last year at the edge of a small village near the Northern border of the Shoraya Kingdom.” he let out a sigh and a lovey-dovey atmosphere bloomed around the two.
He married a plant... Well, she's sapient and humanoid, and I'm not allowed to complain given my wives, who are all of different species. I thought.
“Well, I'm happy for you two! By the way, does your offer of becoming one of my teachers still stands?” I asked him as I remembered what he told me back then when he was fleeing together with everyone else from Dankyun's rampage.
If you by any chance think of rebuilding this place, I would love to return and teach here. were his words.
After he searched through his memories for a moment, Zertan looked at me and then nodded.
“If you have rebuilt the academy, or you plan to build it somewhere else, I don't mind joining as one of your teachers... It's just that...” he then looked at El'zavara.
“I will provide you with a home and salary, don't worry about that part. As for rebuilding Fellyore, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to build my very own academy.” I showed him a bright smile.
“If that's the case, then we were very fortunate to have met you today. Truth be told, it was kind of hard for us to find a place to stay, and if not for me wanting to visit my family, we might have never stepped on Paramanium soil.”
“Is that so? Well, look no further! As long as you want to teach my students at my academy, you are welcomed to stay!” I nodded.
“Then please, lead the way. You said that Nanya and lady Ayuseya were both with you?” he asked.
“Yes. I don't know if they arrived yet, but they should be on their way. Nanya and Tamara, another one of my wives, decided to go to Nasat to buy some spices. Ayuseya and Shanteya, if you remember her, she was my maid slave back then, they went together with Keltaru Dowesyl and some other draconian maids to Argos to free them of slavery.” I told him as we began to walk towards the North gate.
“Slavery?” Zertan asked raising an eyebrow.
“Ah, it's a long story... Where should I start?” I said as I scratched my head.
By the time we reached the camping site near the MCV, I told him in short what happened after I defeated Dankyun. Of course, everything sounded like a complete fairy tale when told in this manner, but there was a lot of time to catch up on old memories and tell him the story in more detail. I was certain my wives would tell him all about our journeys together.
Still, it wasn't like I lowered all of my defenses around Zertan. Even if at that time he promised to return and teach at my academy if I planned to rebuild it, it wasn't as though this promise was made yesterday. More than six years went by, and in this time a lot of things could happen to change a man's mind.
If Zertan and El'zavara could be counted as allies remained to be seen, but until then, I wished to treat him as an old friend.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
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