Shortly after Thomas began his flight he started to breathe a little heavily. Flying used no mana at all but rapidly drained his physical strength and stamina. Despite only flying for a few minutes he felt like he had run for several kilometers at full speed. Feeling his stamina getting lower he began preparing to land. It was easy enough to slowly glide towards the ground. As he descended a surprise system notice appeared in front of him.
|System Notice: You have entered the country of Eykenland. You have gained 500 experience.|
Shortly after reading the notice he gently landed on the ground and folded his wings behind his back. From the air, he'd seen a medium sized city similar to Ulvstad a few kilometers away. As he caught his breath he gently set Snowlily on the ground to let her walk around on her own for a while. While she sniffed around and explored the new area he focused on pulling his wings back into his body.
Flying had been a thrilling experience that he wouldn't forget anytime soon but as much as he loved it and his wings he couldn't risk people seeing them. The biggest drawback at the moment was his flight time, a short few minutes was nowhere near enough! Hopefully, he could earn some experience in the city he'd spotted and increase his Endurance a bit to give himself some more stamina.
Once his wings had been hidden within his body once again, he started his walk along the road. He pulled out the map he'd purchased to get a good idea of where he was heading. According to the map the city he was walking towards should be Stok, the first destination he'd picked for his journey. Like all medium to large cities, Stok contained a dungeon. He was curious about what monsters would be within it and how much experience he could earn. He didn't want to go for very long without earning experience or his attributes would fall further and further behind even casual players.
Fighting players wasn't something he was overly interested in but he didn't want to become a victim or easy pickings in the future either. He'd already been ambushed once and it would probably happen again in the future. It would be best if he could defend himself and defeat anyone who dared to pick a fight with him. Aside from gaining experience and power, he was also hoping to find some new materials he could use to make better gear. Iron and steel worked well but he was hoping to get his hands on more 'mythical' materials.
The walk toward the city was uneventful and pleasant. The surroundings were open plains with the occasional hill. It was quite scenic and rather enjoyable to walk beneath the bright blue skies. As he got closer to the city he started to notice more people walking in and out of the gates of the city. The road he was walking on was relatively abandoned, which he found odd. All the traffic seemed to be heading out to the east, taking the road into the country of Kjersia. Maybe there were some political issues or something similar between Eykenland and Reykhoten. Not that it mattered to Thomas in the least.
As he got closer to the city he scooped Snowlily up and slipped her into her sling. Near the gate, he was approaching there was a fair number of people and he didn't want to risk anything happening to the wolf pup. The city was surrounded by a stone wall that towered at an impressive forty or so meters while being several meters thick. It would take a lot of force to breach such a thick wall. The gates within the wall were an impressive ten meters tall and made of thick logs of wood reinforced with bands of metal to hold it together. Guarding the gate was a contingent of guards wearing plate mail and wielding various polearms.
As Thomas approached the guards looked slightly more vigilant but didn't really take him to be a threat. Why would they? Dozens of them versus one of him if he decided to start a fight. As he got close one of the guards held up his hand to gesture for Thomas to stop. Not wanting to pointlessly pick a fight, Thomas did as instructed. The guard came forward while pulling a small crystal ball out of a bag at his waist, "Welcome stranger. Before you are allowed inside of the city we will need to check to see if you are a wanted criminal."
Thomas nodded and lifted his hand to touch the crystal, but stopped and frowned. Seeing this the guards became tense so Thomas spoke quickly, "Ah, the thing is, last night I was ambushed by four people and killed them. I'm pretty sure they intended me harm since they disabled my warning system and were sneaking up on me."
The guards all glanced at each other and seemed to have a silent conversation. Once it was over the guard gestured with the crystal, "Shouldn't be a problem. If they really meant you harm then there will be no bounty placed on you."
Thomas was convinced they meant him harm so without further ado he placed his hand on the crystal. It immediately glowed blue at his touch. Seeing this the guard nodded and checked something, "It seems one of your attackers had a bounty placed on his head. If you will follow me to the guard room I can pay you the bounty of fifty gold for his defeat."
Thomas felt like fifty gold was just pocket change. Whatever crime had been committed must have been rather petty for such a small reward. Still, money was money so he quietly followed the guard as he was led through the large gate and to the guard house just inside of the city. Once inside it was an easy affair and only took a few moments before he gained an extra fifty gold. With that out of the way, he was free to explore the city.
As he left the area around the gate and followed the main road the city became more and more bustling. People of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and even races made there way through the streets. Back in Reykhoten and Ulvstad he'd only seen humans and a single dwarf but here in Stok he saw a variety of non-humans. He spotted various humans and familiar dwarves but they were the minority here. The majority seemed to be various types of beast-people. In most games they would be termed as 'demi-humans', he had no idea if that would be the case within AoG or not.
The variety of beings was rather staggering. In a few short moments, he saw a man with cat ears and a long thin tail, a woman with triangular fox ears and three fluffy tails, a woman with wolf ears and a thick tail, a main with delicate scales covering his arms and a lizard-like tail, and many various others. It was a wonderful sight that Thomas had wished he'd seen sooner. If he hadn't already become a Nephilim he would have tried to become one of the beast races. After all, what woman could resist a man with a fluffy tail?
With a smile on his face, Thomas started to walk down the main avenue and looked at the various stores lining the street. They displayed various goods in different styles and materials than he was used to seeing. Sadly the weapons he saw all seemed to be made of iron or steel with fancy ones having gold or silver filigree. It was a little disappointing but considering how close Stok was to the starter city of Ulvstad it made sense. He would need to go to cities further away from the starting areas to find more interesting materials to work with.
As he explored a tantalizing scent wafted from down the street and ticked his nose. Thomas sniffed the air and his mouth was immediately flooded with saliva. On his back, Snowlily gave a soft woof and loudly sniffed at the air. It seemed they were in agreement. Following his nose, Thomas strolled down the street and looked for the source of the smell. It only took a few minutes before the two of them were eagerly standing in line to get some food from a street vendor. Clearly, the scent had drawn quite a few people to it.
After waiting in line for about fifteen minutes, Thomas finally got to the head of the line and could see what the vendor was making. The vendors stand had a flat-top iron grill lined with skewers of meat in various stages of doneness. Every now and then the vendor would season the meat with a small can of something that just smelled divine. On the stand was a small sign that read:
Sable Boar Skewers
Limit 4 per customer
The bulky man working the grill didn't say a word and just gestured to the sign. This had to be the most expensive street food that Thomas had seen anywhere but the smell... Without any hesitation, Thomas pulled out a hundred gold and made four stacks of twenty-five coins each on the vendors counter. When four skewers were about ready the man counted one of the stacks and saw that all four were the same height. After sweeping them into a lockbox he fetched a thick sheet of paper and placed four steaming skewers of meat onto it. Once Thomas accepted them he stepped out of line and looked for a secluded spot to eat.
As he walked, Snowlily popped her head over his shoulder and sniffed heavily at the meat he was carrying. He could feel her tail slapping against his back as it wagged. She was clearly very excited about what he'd bought. Unable to resist teasing her, he picked up one of the skewers and guided it toward his mouth. Snowlily immediately growled directly into his ear. Thomas laughed and moved the skewer over toward her so she could have the first bite, "Fine, but you only get half! I don't care how much you growl to threaten me or whine to beg me, you're only getting two of them."
Snowlilly huffed in disagreement but that didn't stop her from snapping at the skewer and claiming the first chunk of meat off of it. While she chewed on the 'sable boar', whatever that was, Thomas found a small and empty gap between two buildings. It wasn't exactly restaurant seating, but it would do. He stepped into the alley and stored the food inside of his inventory temporarily so that his hands were free to let Snowlily out of the sling. Once she was free he sat on the ground next to her and pulled the food back out of his inventory.
To make things easier for Snowlily, Thomas removed the meat from two of the skewers and piled it up on the thick sheet of paper that acted sort of like a paper plate. The other two skewers were claimed by him and were easy enough to hold in his hands. He lifted a skewer to his nose and took in a deep breath. The scent was a tantalizing mix of freshly cooked meat and the zingy scent of spices. Snowlily was already voraciously digging into her food before Thomas took his first bite.
The meat was soft and juicy with a unique flavor that he couldn't quite place. It was almost like a mixture of beef and pork. The zing of the spices sent a shiver down his spine and caused his hair to stand. Again he had no idea what he was eating at all but the delicious flavors didn't need to be understood to taste amazing. He couldn't resist letting out a soft moan of pleasure at the delightful food. Though after that first moan there was nothing but the sound of chewing coming from the alley as Thomas and Snowlily both sank into the delicious meal.
When the food was gone, both of them sat in silence for a bit and basked in the afterglow of a delicious meal. Thomas relaxed for a bit before deciding he needed to get a move on. It was getting close to late afternoon and he still needed to find a place to stay for the night as well as locating the Adventurers Guild so he could see about getting some experience. He gently lifted up the half dozing ball of floof and started to make his way down the street. He made a note of the buildings and shops in the area, he would have to come back here and see if he could find that amazing street vendor again tomorrow. As long as he was in this city he would hunt that vendor down for a meal every day!