[A/N: Check paragraph comments in this and the next chapter to see reference illustrations.]
The horses trotted on the fine stone-paved road, and the carriage followed. The hooves made rackets, indicating to them the speed at which the carriage now moved. The road appeared much more bustling, and the fields on both sides were full of luscious crops, farmers, and grazing cows.
The procession had left Green City, the capital of Gracia Kingdom. Yet, neither Sylvester nor Xavia looked any better. Their eyes had dark circles, the events that transpired last evening had provided them with enough thoughts for the night's struggle.
Xavia was scared and uncertain about the future after the indirect warning from the Inquisitor High Lord, while Sylvester's evaluation was much more profound, hence more nightmarish to him. He now realised why the man didn't order Xavia to leave when he knew the Queen would speak and make a fool out of herself.
This was probably not the first time the Queen lost her temper. Hence, the Lord must have judged what was about to happen.
Therefore, in Sylvester's eyes, it was a show of strength and pressure tactic to scare Xavia into submission and loyalty. After all, what was she if even the Queen's status was beneath the Lord? Sylvester used to employ these indirect threats in his past life, as they often got the job done without too much sweat or violence.
But here, this was more of an eye-opener to him. He had made himself too comfortable on the lap of that man. He was fooled by the grandfatherly aura and voice, forgetting that war is often the ruling older men's choice.
Sylvester was thankful to himself that he only used the man for information. But he had to stop trusting the Inquisitor High Lord too much.
It was a lesson learned by all CIA "sleeper" agents in his previous world. Expect the worst from those you expect the best. And this was certainly not a peaceful fairytale world. Hence, he needed to tread carefully.
'I need to change my worldview. This realm is ruthless, disgusting and lawless. I can't treat or judge beings by the standards of the 21st century Earth.'
Sylvester glanced at the Lord Inquisitor, who was sitting opposite him and Xavia. He wondered what was behind that mask. After a moment of thought, Sylvester closed his eyes. It didn't matter. For now, the only person he could trust in this world was his mother. Her safety was his priority for now because he'd be stuck in this tiny body without her.
Sleeping was like quick travel in games for Sylvester. Every time he woke up, he smelled unusual fragrances and saw different things. But he noticed that the more they travelled, the greener the pastures became.
And eventually, they had arrived on a neatly stone-paved wide road. Water fountains, cherry blossoms, and other types of trees were on both sides. The wind between those trees created a sweet, fresh and pleasuring aroma. It soothed the mood.
But call it a habit or simply the fear of being too weak, Sylvester always woke up with a jolt and heart anxiously pounding. He quickly looked up and saw Xavia blankly peering out of the window. He calmed himself and took long breaths. Then, feeling discomfort, he tried to move and stirred his arms and legs.
This irritation had been present ever since he was born. He just couldn't get used to this baby body. This made him wonder how much of it was true and how much was bullshit about fictitious characters taking things so lightly and destroying kingdoms at the age of five.
For him, this all felt like a dream, like a story. Yet this was reality itself. He couldn't help but be uncomfortable with his physical limitations in this small body.
He yawned and rubbed his eyes. 'Where are we now? This place looks so nice. But, wait! Where are the soldiers escorting us?'
"Ooooo Oooo…" He started making the 'unga bunga' noises to get everyone's attention, hoping someone would say something.
Xavia quickly tried to pop the nipple into his mouth. But he was not hungry and rejected the offer. "Owaaaa…"
The Inquisitor High Lord glanced at him as if waking up from a meditation. His presence was like air while meditating, but it turned into that of an apex predator as soon as he opened his eyes. However, this predator spoke in great reverence, "Just a little more, dear God's Favoured. We have arrived at our destination, in my beloved Holy Land."
'What does he mean by that? Is the church a kingdom? Is it like ancient Rome?' Sylvester wondered.
The Inquisitor High Lord continued, "Sir Adrik Dolorem, leave this instant and bring golden silk for him. I won't allow him to appear as a lowborn."
Honestly, Sylvester loved that he was earning this special treatment just because of the pretentious title and the magic he showed. He was special in this world and would like to keep this going for as long as possible.
Soon, the carriage entered a tunnel with an uphill road. The smooth walls inside it were covered with a cement-like mixture. The tunnel was dimly illuminated with crystals on the ceiling, which looked like glowing light bulbs.
The carriage cut through the tunnel at great speed, sending a gush of soothing breeze in the cabin.
The sunlight blinded their eyes for a second as soon as the carriage drove out of the tunnel. The difference between the surroundings before they entered the cave and now was like day and night.
The roads became even wider, and there was a beautifully engraved golden lamp post at each interval. There were trees of fruits, flowers, and various odours at equal intervals. Every single thing around there felt planned.
Sylvester looked from a distance. His jaw dropped from the shock was witnessing the sight in front of him. He had not seen such majestic structures even in his past life. There were castles made of white marble, one bigger than the other. All had various pointy peaks made of gold that shone in the sunlight.
As they came closer, he realised that the various castles were not on the same ground. Instead, his location was a constellation of multiple peninsulas beside the sea. Each peninsula had castles and structures ranging from cities to simple greenery.
They crossed into the first border walls in no time and entered the clean, well-planned city on one castle's base.
There were a significant number of people of all genders. But their clothes could be called uniforms as most of them were similar. The guards had shining silver armour with swords, hammers or lances. The rest of the people wore white, light grey or brown gowns. Some of them had some short, shoulder-length capes around their necks and a golden plate on their chest, tying the red cape.
Everything was unique to Sylvester, and he could not understand what these different things meant. Just then, the carriage stopped at last before the stairs leading to a massive castle.
The Inquisitor High Lord stepped out first and immediately fell to his knees while facing the structure. He then crossed his arms over his chest and prayed silently for five minutes.
After that, he looked at the carriage and voiced in an authoritarian tone, "Bring forth the God's Favoured. Let his feet touch this benevolent land and bask in the holy light. Only then will he understand the grace of Solis firsthand."
Xavia knew better not to defy him after having received the warning. So, with Sylvester in her arms, she stepped out and knelt. She then helped Sylvester stand up.
Sylvester understood he needed to keep the game going to keep receiving the benefits. So he closed his eyes and made up a few rhyming sentences. Then, in his squeaky robotic voice, he made them believe these words were coming from God Solis himself.
♫Oh, the land touched by the light of god,
I fulfilled my levy as your bard.
I have returned to your embrace,
And so I await your grace.♫
'W-What is happening? This feeling behind my head, this tingling sensation.'
As soon as he finished, Sylvester could not keep his eyes closed. He looked down at the clean, polished marble floor. He could see his reflection in it; one look was enough to make him realise what was above his head.
'A halo? Ah! No wonder they mistook me as a bard.' he realised after seeing the glowing golden circle behind his skull. It lasted as long as he sang the hymn and then abruptly vanished.
Sylvester thought everything up until now was just coincidences. But it seemed his magic backed these coincidences.
His mind got flooded with questions. 'How do I harness this power? How strong can I get? Are those smells related to magic as well? How high is Adept rank?'
He had a thousand questions, but his thoughts were interrupted by the giant of a man falling to his knees again, this time facing the young child as the latter's hands shivered in excitement.