I don’t like to travel, and neither I did in the life before. I liked the place where I lived, never wanted to see other countries or such and believed that people would be happier, if they simply choose one place they preferred and settled there forever. It was a shallow outlook of a typical section chief who lived only for himself. I had no hobbies or interests, too. In other words, I wasn’t a real human, but more of a human cocoon which one day was crushed by the truck to create space for the one with passion for magic.

“Are we there yet?”

I may be a little bit too enthusiastic about my favorite topic, but any earth-dweller would understand the excitement of finding something completely new and alien in its nature. It is magic that allows me and numerous other mages of this world to bend the structure of the reality itself, to play and shape it as we see fit.

“Are we there yet?”

Oh… I am done. It was a straw that broke the camel’s back.

“No, we are not, Alan. We wouldn’t there in the next few minutes either. You see, only a week passed, but you keep asking every hour of every day the same question. Do you what this means?”

“We will be there soon?”

“No, we won’t reach the capital soon: we still have almost a week of travel ahead of us, not counting various stops for re-supply and rest. Thus, if you don’t want me to find a way to seal you mouth for the duration of our travel, you will stop asking stupid question, okay?”

Alan looked at me, looked at the road ahead and again on me, as if trying to solve a puzzle, before slightly nodding his head in agreement. I hear the coachman’s voice outside of the cabin.

“We will arrive to the city of Hardin soon. I think you should prepare your documents”

Oh, we have reached the so-called “pearl of west” already? It was originally a fortress, meant to protect the borders against occasional attacks from rogue demons and wild orc tribes, but with time, it steadily developed into a normal city, where both humans, orcs and dwarf can gather to trade, and, since there are lots of golden and silver mines nearby, this place became the financial and cultural center of this region.

Ah, but it’s not like I wanted to see such brilliant city with my own eyes. It’s just that there are no alternative routes to bypass this town, if we don’t want to be attacked by bandits or dangerous animals on our way…

That said, we safely entered the city through the main gates after the guards checked the documents given by Percival-san. I even tried my best to ignore strange looks they had given me. It’s not like there are a lot of elves here. In fact, there are almost no elves at all in other provinces other than their native lands due to the heavily isolationist policy they declared after the previous war against the demon lord.

Thus, I also tried to be as nonchalant as possible when nearly every citizen stopped to have a good look at my ears. It is as if I encountered a town full of weir ear-fetishists. I mean, there were beastmen twice my height and covered in fur, but apparently an elf is even stranger than this. Fortunately, Percival-san already booked a room for us in advance. However, there was a glaring mistake in our sleeping arrangements. Namely, only one king-sized bed and nothing more, not even a futon. And when I tried to complain about this to the owner, Alan somehow made things even more uncomfortable.

“It not a big deal, Marie. We already shared a bed before, remember?”

At this, both me and the owner, a wolf-beastwoman woman in her thirties, blushed violently. I – because of embarrassment, she – because of the obvious implications. She put a hand on my shoulder, gave me the biggest smile she could muster and said that she wouldn’t mind some noise after the curfew.

U-u-u~ What should I do? I somehow missed yet another flag and faced yet another moral dilemma: money over dignity. The inn was one of the best in the Hardin, so renting another room was impossible with our funds, and they didn’t have a spare futon, or maybe they did, judging by the sparkles in the owner’s eyes, but refused to give or sell me any.

“It is sure nice to be so young” was all she told me at this, waggling her fluffy tail back and forth. Is this the way you treat customers? This place wasn’t worthy of even one star – on, I am pretty sure it would have a negative number of starts for this stunt. I cannot believe that they had audacity to pull such tricks on me.

With such thought I went to sleep, pre-emptively warning Alan that I would kill him, if he even tried to snore or turn. However, he diligently slept through the night without even turning to face me. In fact, he was strangely silent through the whole dinner, looking dazed and turning bright red every time I tried to talk to him.

On the other day, I awakened in an unfamiliar room, looking at an unfamiliar ceiling without any signs of Alan in sight. I only heard tow masculine voices.

“We got dem elf, boss”

Bravo, my friend. I knew I could trust you to bring this beautiful mademoiselle to me. I am sure we could get a large sum from her caretakers, yes?”

“Ya got dis, boss. I ain’t a genius like you, but even an old tool like me knows elves would better die than leave on of their own” 

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