The World of Gods was vast and boundless, with the prime material plane being the core foundation. It had many other planes above and below it, and between them were an unimaginable number of scattered semi-planes. The combination of all this formed the mysterious ecology of the World of Gods.
All sorts of elementals, fleshly beings, angels, devils, and demons led to joys and sorrows, intense emotions and all forms of beautiful and bloody battles over race.
With its location and other advantages, the prime material plane had become the area with the most intense competition. Be it the gods up above or the devils and demons down below, everyone cast their greedy eyes on this place. Even the most barren western desert was contested.
Because some secret information had leaked, a few special existences had already placed their focus on this place.
The western desert was at the edge of the continent. It was huge and barren, containing parts of numerous empires. The occasional black sandstorm made it a forbidden region for all life, and only a few desert races managed to survive near oases.
Living in such harsh conditions, the natives of the western desert were fierce fighters, and everyone the place produced was extremely ambitious and terrifying. They were widely known for their bloodthirst.
While the western desert was extremely barren and there were few signs of human inhabitation, there were still a few merchants who would come to purchase its specialities, and there were some who especially came here to experience this environment. They would use the harsh environment of the desert to discipline themselves in their faith, breaking through the limits of life. Some even attempted walking through the desert, reaching an unimaginable realm upon success. Of course, most people died.
Most bodies were buried by the sands, while some became food for the desert’s creatures.
It was now the prime season again, and merchants and adventurers headed towards the place. The traders went annually, while the adventurers dreamt of gold. There were also mercenaries, and those seeking to temper themselves once again in the severe environment of the desert.
Everyone headed west, towards wealth, power, passion, and sexy dancers…
The town called Narwick was in the outer regions of the desert, formed around a little oasis. Its name translated to corner or edge, and it prospered as the entrance to the western desert as well as a point of service.
Various merchant groups and tourists from all over the world entered this place in the trading season, practically filling the entire city. Beings of all races and alignments walked the streets, and there were goods from everywhere in this place.
Some individual merchants chose to sell their goods here, getting more time to head deeper into the desert. It also attracted more business.
Scimitars made of refined ore from the depths of the desert, female slaves who were so flexible they were said to be boneless, those slaves from the native tribes… There were many items from ruins here as well, both originals and fakes filling the market.
A white-robed wizard entered Narwick in this prosperous time.
“It’s the annual opening day? How lively!” Leylin nonchalantly watched the passersby and the many stalls, his footsteps never halting as he glanced past what were said to be treasures from the ruins found deep in the desert.
With his foresight, he could definitely tell that most were fake, and the rest weren’t valuable enough for him. He would definitely have to pay a terrible price for those.
The entire city was filled with people of various races and all walks of life, which helped him widen his perspective. Warriors, thieves, assassins, bards… There were even rare wizards and swordsmen who were unique to the desert. These people were guarding merchant groups or forming parties for adventure. There were even some lone wolves who gave off a very dangerous aura.
‘These people should be hoping to make some wealth while the black sandstorm’s dissipated…’ Leylin shook his head inside. This desert was rumoured to be formed during a great battle amongst the gods. It had once been beautiful and fertile land, with numerous powerful civilisations.
Astounding ruins now hid beneath the yellow sands, and some people were lucky enough to uncover some and strike it rich overnight. This motivated generation after generation of adventurers and explorers to enter the ends of the desert, fearless of death as they looked for traces of the past.
Leylin too needed a guide to bring him into the desert, until he reached the Frostfall Valleys.
‘Even if I’ve bought a map, it’s too vague. A mere piece of paper can’t explain the dangers along the way either…’ While thinking this, Leylin entered a bar.
His senses were flooded by the clamour the moment he pushed the door open, the smells of alcohol, meat, and perfume entering his nose.
This place was evidently a combined bar, inn, and stage. It was loud, and a musician in strange clothing was beating the drum at his waist. A dozen passionate women danced to this vulgar beat, wearing clothing that revealed their belly buttons. Their eyes were tender, and red veils covered the lower halves of their faces, only making them seem more mysterious and tempting.
Gold hoops moved across fair legs that stamped to vigorous moves as bodies swayed. The bells and tassels intertwined smoothly.
The guests cheered endlessly as they watched this graceful dance. The occasional merchant was so intoxicated they threw silver and gold coins on the stage, causing the atmosphere to grow more heated.
“Not bad…” Leylin nodded slightly. He could sense the aura of a few powerful beings in the inn. A few merchants were evidently being guarded by high-ranked Professionals.
He then glanced past them and focused on a large round table on the right. A swordsman decked in white took up the entire thing, yet nobody protested it.
He wore a veil and white turban unique to the natives, and his long narrow eyes gave off a sense of coldness. A black scabbard for a scimitar lay at his waist, the shaft having no ornaments but still giving Leylin a slight sense of danger.
‘A near legendary swordsman? He’s probably the strongest in the inn…’ With Leylin’s current rank, he’d not caught the attention of this man after spying on him. Casually throwing a gold krona at the attendant in front of him, he was respectfully invited to a seat at a table.
“Give me lamb chop, vegetable soup and fruit juice…”
Compared to steak that was tender and full of fat, lamb chop had a unique fragrance. With the seasoning that was similar to pepper as well as the unique meaty texture, it was drool-worthy.
Once his stomach was filled, the attendant came over to tidy up. A golden lustre flickered between Leylin’s fingers, “Tell me where I can find the best guide, and this gold krona is yours…”
“You wish to enter the desert alone?” There was a trace of greed in the attendant’s eyes, but he seemed to be put on the spot as he spoke, “The best guides have been hired by the large merchant groups. The rest are probably not better than me in terms of knowledge of the desert… It’s very dangerous to enter the deserts alone. It’s best that you join a group or form a group with other mercenaries…”
While he really wanted to earn this gold krona, the attendant still advised him tactfully.
“Is that so… Whatever it is, I like people who aren’t led by their greed. This is yours.” Leylin had never hoped for much anyway, so he nodded and put the coin on the table.
“May the gods protect you, esteemed customer!” Not expecting anything, the attendant was pleasantly surprised, “If you don’t mind, I could help you contact a few adventuring groups…”
“There’s no need for that!” Leylin waved his arms. Low-ranked Professionals would just burden him now. Besides, he had a clear goal, and entering a group would only cause strife.
After sending him away, Leylin picked up a glass of dark red wine, as if slowly appreciating it. In actuality, the A.I. Chip’s detection was operating at its limit as it gathered information from around him and tidied it up.
This sort of place was where information circulated best. With the A.I. Chip’s unusual abilities of gathering and sorting information, Leylin soon had a general idea of the identities of the people in the hall and the organisations they belonged to.
“... A month later… Frostfall Valleys…” At this moment, a conversation conducted in hushed whispers could be heard, causing him to freeze.
Making use of the movements of drinking his wine, he nonchalantly glanced to the side at the swordsman he’d taken note of. There were now a few others seated around him, whispering to each other as they discussed matters.
One of them was evidently a wizard, and she drank some clear water as her right arm secretly created a noise barrier. Unfortunately, this much was the same to Leylin as not doing anything at all.
‘A month later… Isn’t that the time that the floating city will appear? The location’s right as well!’ Leylin then turned grim, “It looks like I’m not the only one with information about the floating city. This is going to be troublesome…’
Fortunately, Leylin had somewhat expected this. There were many arcanists interested in the floating city after all, and it was hard to guarantee that others hadn’t found this secret in historical records and deduced the time and location of its appearance.
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