The rest of the time on the seas had been relatively uneventful. I spent much of the time playing around with magic control, for a lack of other things to do. After about a full day, it seemed like I was starting to get the hang of it.
A thin veil of wind swirled gently around my body that I could maintain for nearly a minute.
Questioning whether I could do other things, I turned my attention to imagining flames around my hand this time. Pretty soon, a fireball formed in my palm, which I chucked casually off the edge of the ship. The fireball seemed to extinguish itself after falling about ten feet. It didn’t seem likely that it would do any real damage even if I had been serious.
However, I reformed the fireball and focused on shaping it around my hand. After some effort, I managed to make it appear as if my fist had been coated with flames.
“Oh, neat! In that case…” I dropped into a dramatic pose. “THIS HAND OF MINE BURNS WITH AN AWESOME- Ow!”
I clutched my head as I felt someone smack me from behind.
“Stop that! You’re making a scene!” Eryn hissed at me for my outburst.
Disappointed, but understanding her point, I had hoped for just a small moment of celebration at my achievement. If I had this ability in my previous world, then I would’ve cosplayed as a certain fighting game character. On second thought, I wondered if I could make it purple, as the cursed flame always seemed cooler in my eyes.
Sighing at my antics, Eryn seemed to be more expressive now that she had no reason to hide her inner thoughts. If anything, I started to consider her playful reactions of annoyance to be a bit endearing.
“Before you go off into your own fantasy world, I wanted to let you know that our destination was spotted.”
Having heard that, I dashed over to the ship’s bow and peered into the distance. Certainly, there was something jutting out of the surface of the water. Within a few minutes, a cluster of islands joined this initial break in the water. These specks of land stretched farther and farther across the horizon, seemingly centered around a tall central island which shot towards the sky as we approached.
The sailors were moving about the deck, getting prepared to dock the ship. I simply continued to stare at the majestic view in front of me, wondering what new things this place had in store. Absorbed in the scenery, I barely noticed Katalina walking up to join me.
“So, we have arrived…,” she said with a hint of anxiety. She clutched the collar of her dress.
To me, this was the beginning of an adventure, but for Katalina, our arrival was the beginning of an unknown life. While Eryn and I could leave at any time and return to our home, there was a good chance that Katalina’s home would be here for the rest of her days. Of course, she wouldn’t be looking forward to it.
Just then, my ears started picking up the faint sound of music floating in the air. It was a nice melody with a brisk pace, one that made you want to work to the tune. However, the melody seemed almost familiar, but at the same time, I didn’t know of it – like a song on the radio that one would hear in the background but never bothered to look up.
Looking to the source of the sound, I saw a group of people lining up along one pier, marching in tune. A man with a flag signaled towards our ship, beckoning us to dock at that location. The ship slowly made its way there and stopped next to the line of people that had gathered, who were all dressed in fancy, exotic clothing. Quite the welcoming party, it seemed.
As the sailors anchored the ship, we made our way off to the crowd of greeters. The flagman waved it in a particular motion, which appeared to signal for the music to wind down. The group immediately stood still at attention before parting ways to a heavily-armored man.
I was immediately struck dumbfounded by the way that man was dressed. His attire consisted of ultra-fancy but horribly gaudy armor covering nearly every part of his body. With a clear lack of tasteful coordination, it looked as if he mixed and matched armor based on something else besides appearance. Though his helmet obscured his hair and part of his face, I could tell that he looked different than the people around him. The man walked over and gave a cheesy smile at our shocked faces.
“Astounded by my awesomeness, it seems. That is natural! For I am, Lightning Koujiro! Invincible warrior and Electi!” The man loudly proclaimed to us. The men around him clapped.
I couldn’t even react to this flamboyant man. Fortunately, Katalina stepped up and introduced herself to break the awkwardness.
“I am Princess Katalina Bastilla de la Sistina. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Behind me are my guards, Viscountess Faulkner and Knight Evers.” Katalina pointed to us.
Koujiro looked over with a hint of confusion. “Your guards? That’s a weird way to dress as a guard.” He scanned me briefly before looking over at Eryn. “But this one! You suit my tastes!”
Koujiro grinned with obvious intentions before Katalina cleared her throat to interrupt him.
“Sir Koujiro, will you be guiding us into the country of Macali for our arrangements with the King?”
Koujiro’s eyes shot back at Katalina and gave a look of disapproval.
“Hmm. Glasses aren’t my thing. Yes, I suppose that I’m in charge of taking you there. All of you, follow me.” Koujiro faced the crowd and clapped his hands in the air. “Men, disperse!”
The crowd immediately bowed and scattered back into the streets, going who knows where.
As he beckoned for us to follow, I was no longer sure that I wanted to be here anymore.
As Koujiro led us through the streets of the port entry town, I took in the new sights of the area. Like how the sailors described, the tanned people of these islands all exuberated a healthy glow. People went about their day as we passed by dockworkers, merchants, and guards; all were dressed in loose clothing to suit the hot climate. Dancers shook their hips towards those around them, enticing them into the nearby huts.
‘Ahem’, a voice cut into my thoughts. Turning back to Katalina, I had apparently been caught with my eyes lingering for a bit too long.
Fixating my eyes forward to shield them from any more temptations, I saw that Koujiro was hovering around Eryn, repeatedly hounding her with his advances.
“Hey, wanna come under my wing? I’ll make sure it’s worth your while.”
“I’m the strongest one in the country, thanks to my Electi powers. The people here all know of the great Lightning Koujiro!”
“Here, take a look at my stats to see just how awesome I am!”
Koujiro brought out his status window for Eryn to see, as he continued to shower her with his self-proclaimed greatness. Eryn’s hand, which had been holding her bundled sword, started to shake.
We had bundled up Eryn’s sword as a courtesy, to show that we were coming in peace. However, it seemed like that show of respect wasn’t going to hold out for long at this rate.
I peered over her shoulder at the status window, and immediately, my eyes widened.
“What the…?” My voice leaked out. Though his level was in the 70s, his Atk, Def, and MgDef stats were nearly as high as they could be, only a bit under the maximum value of 999. While not as impressive, his other stats were still in the several hundred.
“How is that possible?” Eryn had also frozen in place.
Even with the boosts from our Electi bond, Eryn’s Atk and Mag were only a third of his value. In the kingdom of Sistina, there were few who had a higher stat in either. What was with these cheat-like stats?!
“Oh? So you are that surprised by my stats, huh?” Koujiro rubbed his chin with a grin. “I guess that’s natural since it was my destiny to be summoned to this world to be its hero.”
Somehow, this guy had turned into an OP main character that you would find in certain light novels. And from the looks of it, it seemed like he was already at his endgame. How unfair life seemed to be sometimes.
Giving all of us a smug expression, he led us to the tall red gate that was the entrance to the country of Macali. This gate was the only entry point, as a magic barrier stretched from both sides of it. Interestingly, the barrier was somewhat opaque, obscuring the scenery behind it like a mosaic censor. What kind of unspeakable things did they wish to hide? Given how scantily clad people dressed, this wasn’t going to devolve into something R-18, was it? As he walked up to it, several guards bowed towards him before moving aside to allow him to pass.
Touching a sign on the wall, we saw a symbol brighten before light funneled into the lines connecting it. What appeared to be mana was flowing through those lines and into the red gate. Slowly, the doors of the gate swung open, revealing how thick and sturdy the country’s sole entrance was.
Koujiro casually walked in and waited for the three of us to pass through the entrance, which led to another red gate in front of us. To the left and right, we could see that the magic barrier was as thick as the width of a ship. Nothing would likely be able to penetrate such defenses. After the gate closed behind us, Koujiro activated another panel for the other red gate, giving us our first view of the lands behind it.
Immediately, a rush of cool air gushed at us, caused by the temperature difference. The feeling was like walking into a store that had the air conditioning on high on a hot summer day. Though chill bumps started spreading across my arm, the cool air was not the sole reason for it.
A semi-modern town greeted our view, which looked far more advanced than any other location that I had visited in this world. The sight of buildings in a familiar style as my previous world, juxtaposed with people in fantasy-like attire typical of this world, left me speechless. My two companions were no less stunned.
I felt like I had stepped into the setting of a completely different game world. Seeing our reactions, Koujiro simply smiled and proclaimed to us.
“Welcome to the country of Macali. Welcome to the country of endless wonders, created by magic.”