“ Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. ” – Abraham Lincoln
The ship sails smoothly. Passing through the wavy blue terrain with the help of the calm but steady wind. Sailors passing by through the deck, performing their own assigned duties. Whether that’s sweeping the wooden floor or configuring the sail. The sailors perform it with the excellence of one’s experience one does throughout their lifetime.
To them it might be a dull monotonous routine and duties, a means to an end to live and get their pay, but it’s definitely something that I would much rather have compared to the one I am about to do as soon as I sense a fuzzy sensation in my stomach.
Here it comes again…
Ughh, I hate the damn sea…
It’s been only two days I’ve been stuck in this ship, and I still can’t shake off this damn sea fever. Throwing up both out to the side and the bucket. A new unwanted routine to my daily life at the sea. I just dearly hope to the goddess of this world to not experience this for the rest of the two month voyage.
It always happens after I eat lunch or dinner with Sir Aston and oddly, the leader of the adventurers on this ship. To be specific, one of the few《Maxim’s Fang》adventurers on a long-term contract to protect the ship from any threats such as pirates.
If there’s one thing in common between the adventures of all sorts of guilds is how they like to boast their adventure tales to the same matter of fairy tales — unbelievable. Reminding me of that instructor of mine. I’m honestly surprised Sir Aston is even willing to sit down, and eat while listening to his stories that might as very well be fantasies of his. Like come on, on his first adventure contract to guard a merchant’s trade route, he encountered a village being attacked by a few giant killer worms.
Killer worms are very deadly with their agile maneuvers and ability to hide underground but it almost never goes up to the surface, they almost always stay underground, where most adventurers usually encounter them in the caves. And this person is telling me he encountered few on the surface, what’s more actively attacking a village?
Not only that, the unrealistic and unlikely scenario scores him to sleep with the village chief’s wife and daughter at the same time?! And worse of all, the village chief willingly allows it…
It’s either Sir Aston is in dire need for any sort of entertainment in this long boring voyage or it’s because he wants to maintain a friendly relationship with that prideful adventurer. He even went as far as enthusiastically asking questions about his legendary adventures. “So how was your experience with them?! Don’t leave me hanging here!” “You sure are unlucky to encounter monsters on your first quest, or should I say lucky?” If it weren’t for Sir Aston’s enthusiasm, I would’ve debated his stories’ authenticity.
That and coupled with the ridiculous amount of feast that would trigger me to vomit, eating has become not a really enjoyable thing. However, dining with them is crucial as it is the only fitting chance I can get to comfortably converse with them. What I lack right now is information on what lies in Kasanra. The land of the Canids. Floating islands filled with its native inhabitants having feline ears and tails.
And thankfully amidst the adventurer boasting stories I was able to inquire about some information about Kasanra and Canids in general.
Kasanra, although littered with floating islands, remain uninhabited as there’s no means to travel in the air. But this allows some of the floating islands to become airborne monsters’ nests. The monster nest resided in the northern part of Kasanra, where no ground island existed, causing most of the active part of Kasanra to be situated on the south and its biggest islands became the home of the Canids and its two kingdoms.
Pasujan Kingdom — Jayavia, the city which 《Veinard Trading Guild》is situated in, is also the capital city of the Pasujan kingdom. Ruled by the Sujan Canids, with their distinct physical appearance of pale skin thanks to its mountainous region with black hair and furs. And due to its being in the center of an international trade route, it is very internationally assimilated and its native Canids inhabitants comprises half of its population.
Mojowoso Kingdom — Unlike the Pasujan kingdom counterpart, they are more isolated from the international world. Ruled by the Woso Canids, which comprises a huge portion of their population with its opposite physical appearance of olive skin with white hair and furs. Famous for their high quality molasses and sugar that is limited in supply and can only be bought through the Sujan Canids traders.
I wish there’s more details and information I can gain from Sir Aston but due to his trade specialization doesn’t focus much on Kasanra, especially about Mojowoso Kingdom, his knowledge is rather minimal.
Knowledge regarding Kasanra is important but I also heard some rather interesting information as he rant over the increased merchant tax this year that set him back a few years to renew his nobility title. Sir Aston Marcht is a nobleman no doubt, but apparently his nobility title is a non-hereditary one from his father that he must buy another one for his son to continue the family noble title of “Marcht”.
No wonder there’s a surprising quite large amount of nobility in the kingdom. The Veinard kingdom’s size is huge undoubtedly but I always thought the size of its nobility was a bit too much.
With a huge sum of money, a commoner can buy a noble title that lasts for two generations. They won’t be given land and expected to manage commoners naturally, but they certainly gain the privileges of a noble. Socially acceptable for nobility to marry more than one woman, connection to influential nobility society, premium access to Associations of Magicians, and being able to enroll their children to the Bosart University.
The only way a commoner can truly gain a real and hereditary title if they made a grand militaristic achievement or somehow advanced the magic system. And even if they could attain those extremely difficult achievements, at best they will be granted the title《Count》There’s very little social movement above and the upper nobility family lineage can be traced back to the founding of the Veinard kingdom itself.
This whole buying non-hereditary noble titles system surprisingly reminds me of the Shogun Tokugawa era where the rich — shoonin — merchant class bought the — bushi — samurai prestige by marrying their son to the samurai daughters. Even at the cost of stripping their merchant sons of their original family name. The shinokosho social system.
The reason why the practice of the rich merchant pays the samurai to marry their son in order to gain prestige to begin with was because the samurai class usually becomes poor trying to keep up with the extravagant lifestyle they had and in need of money to maintain their prestige and wealth.
Which leads me to think… Is the Veinard Royalty family lacking in wealth? Or this whole system is just for them to accumulate extra wealth that is not really in dire need?
Although it is a fruitless curiosity and something that is unrelated to my current situation, I can’t help but to ponder about it. As this imbalanced system shouldn’t be sustainable. It started from the beginning of Veinard kingdom existence and even may very well be at the start of the Minimus Shihi Era.
It also surprised me that Sir Aston is willing to talk about this noble title purchasing system in front of that adventurer.
「 You okay there, sir? 」
Speaking of the devil, look who comes. The leader of the adventurer himself — Caedric. Looking haughty as ever. His features resembles a distinct rogue attractiveness. The tattoos on his cheeks and a pair of knives tucked in his hip adds even more to his delinquent charm.
If what he said is true, he learned a few spells “here and there” that allowed him to be on par with Intermediate proficiency in《School of Assault Magic》. With his history of boasting stories with lies, however, I wouldn’t trust his words to be true.
「 Doesn’t it look quite obvious to you? 」I retort back.
「 Forgive me, Sir Alderhide. I thought you were in the midst of throwing up, but when up close you seem to be staring blankly in deep thought. 」His voice slightly raised with the wind gushing down the sail. 「 Like what a scholar would do. 」
There he goes again. When I told him that I specialize in the《School of Wits Magic》he immediately thought of me as a scholar. A mix of both jest and a sign of respect from the seems of it.
「 A man like you should’ve stuck to the books rather than going to a far away land. 」
Nevermind, it’s definitely the former.
「 So, is there something you need from me? 」I glanced at him,「 it’s very out of touch for you to look for me outside of lunch. 」
「 I’ve just remembered a herb mix that I bought a long time ago that could be useful in lowering your sea sickness pangs. It’s name is《Karimin》It might not be as potent as the fresh ones but should do the job. 」
「 I’m very grateful for you to give me this, but why didn’t you offer me this way sooner like yesterday? 」
「 Two things. I didn’t know your condition was that severe as from my personal experience boarding a ship for the first time, I had the sea fever only on the first day. And because this herb mix has a side effect of causing the taker to be unnaturally calm if overused. 」
「 I will try not to depend on it too much then. Thank you. 」
He hands me a pouch filled with herb mix presumably. I take it and indeed it is light enough for the herb mix to be filled in.
「 Is there anything you want in return for giving me this? 」I ask as I know there’s no such thing as something truly free.
「 Just think of it as a good will of mine, and my thanks for willingly listening to my adventure tales. 」
It sounds like a jest, particularly with that cheeky smile of his. As if he knows something. Unless…
Shit, does he know that I know that his stories are bullshit?
「 Well without further ado, I shall head back to my quarter and get some rest after taking this herb mix. 」
「 Of course, sir. Oh, and make sure to only get a small spoonful of the herb mix every day! 」
With his reminder and my mind still a bit fuzzy I head off to my quarter. I need to check up with Shen either way. She can be rather… Upset if I stay away from her for far too long. It is undeniable that time runs slower in the Sky Palace, but I wish she can be more patient.
I quickly walk down the stairs to the lower level of the ship where a short walk leads me to my quarter, a surprisingly modest place with a bed fit for one person only and a small window that gives a relatively nice view to the calm sea. It is also equally surprisingly much better compared to the common quarters where sailors have very little privacy and have to sleep side by side with their peers in hammock beds.
And the stench of months long sailors unbathed sweats in that place would make me throw up all over again.
With the door shut and a quick gulp of the herb mix that leaves a very earthy and bitter taste on my tongue, I rest in the bed and chant my spell as my eyes closed naturally.
I open my eyes, the view of the palace throne hall springs up, decked in the same personally picked banner design of mine of a skeleton frame forming a heart shape. And most important of all, I’m leisurely sitting at this magnificent throne. Affirming that I really am the master and the owner of both palaces, and of course — Shen.
「 Master~ welcome back. 」
I look slightly to the side, where Shen is standing, looking happy to see me, with that bright serene smile of hers. Something I’ve never experienced.
When I come back home after work, that woman would either be calling with her friends or going outside. And even if she’s at home and not doing anything or simply watching TV, it would almost certainly be a flat greeting without a smile or any sign of effort. As though it was just to acknowledge my existence. I’ve always asked her to be a little bit more welcoming when I get back home, but she always shrugs it off… Is it too much to ask for?
It all still feels surreal. This palace is truly wonderful with its extravagant aesthetics that I wouldn’t dare to dream of but it always feels empty and cold — lifeless. Shen’s presence, however, changes everything. She brings life to this place and adds a spark way more than intricate furniture could do.
She becomes another glimpse of hope. One that I don’t dare to think and be hopeful of.
Every time I come back to the Sky Palace, I always have a doubt that Shen might just be a figment of my imagination. That somehow materialized with how pathetic my current situation is.
「 Master, why are you staring blankly? 」
「 Ahh… It’s nothing. I’m just deep in thought. And yes… I’m back, Shen. 」
I look to her again, where I now realize Shen is holding the very two swords that caused her appearance and summoning.
「 Hmm… Why are you holding those swords, Shen? 」
Does she have some questions regarding these swords that cause her summoning?
「 Master, if it doesn’t bother you too much… Can this humble servant request your teaching in the art of human swordsmanship? 」