Wizard! Chapter 152
William was somewhat disappointed to learn that the merchant caravan from Eclea wasn’t going to be heading immediately back, but it made sense, and he doubted they would have preferred to travel with a group of strangers. Still, he wondered about the magic they had to protect them from the sun, and also if they might have anything else interesting. He felt somewhat relieved to see that the traders from Eclea didn’t receive a positive reception either. Instead, it was also firmly neutral, but they didn’t seem concerned. At least William’s group didn’t seem to be offending them unknowingly… or at least not more than anyone else.
After taking a day of rest, the group continued on toward Eclea. So far the journey had been safe, and it was likely to stay that way. After all, they weren’t wandering the desert like Dong Xin had been, but just cutting across the northernmost part. This wasn’t deep into the desert, so it was safe, though of course with the right knowledge the deeper desert wouldn’t be dangerous all of the time either. Otherwise, it would be impossible to live there, even with many strong combatants. William considered the ward Dong Xin had told him about, but since there was apparently trade with the capital, there had to be some restraints on the danger. Dong Xin’s conversation with the traders he had helped on his previous trip indicated that such attacks weren’t normal, or at least not usually that dangerous.
After some more unpleasant travel on camelback, they finally reached the border between Ustil and Eclea. They could tell this because the desert sand gradually seemed to be fading, and they could even see indications of a road. Since they were intending to legally enter Eclea, they followed the road intentionally. As they approached closer, Yu Li also spoke, “There’s a barrier.”
“Where?” William turned to look at her and asked.
“It’s just like a big wall.” She squinted. “It starts at about the same place as that city there, but just stretches out as far as I can see.”
As they rode closer, William discussed the barrier with Yu Li and Dong Xin. It appeared they could notice it because of the mana it was using and emitting. It wasn’t clear what the purpose was. If it actually blocked entry, it would almost certainly be visible in other ways, but William and the rest of the group that weren’t wizards couldn’t see it at all. Unlike the ward keeping people away from the capital in Ustil, this one wasn’t disguised or hidden in any particular way. William supposed it might be to catch people sneaking across the border, though William wasn’t sure exactly what it would use to do that. It seemed like a massive project, and likely expensive to maintain a barrier of that size even if it didn’t do very much.
As they approached the border city, they saw that the gates were open. That was a good sign, because if they were actually interested in keeping people out they would likely have shut the gates. At the very least, that would do a good job of relaying their intentions.
Once they entered the gates, they were approached by some guards and went through what William felt was a fairly standard border check. Because their purpose was diplomatic, it wasn’t strange that they mostly carried necessities with them, but that wasn’t all they had. There was a fairly routine check of what they had with them and in their bags.
William became slightly worried when they asked for declarations of any magic items. He wasn’t sure if they were forbidden, or if there was a tax that he didn’t know about… but he declared Chris anyway. If they had any way to detect magical items, it wouldn’t be too hard for them to find Chris, because while Chris had many strong points, subtlety was not among them, and he was highly magical. However, William was glad his worries were unfounded, as they didn’t even require him to take Chris out of the leather case he was in, though they did have William set him on a table for them to look over. William just whispered for Chris to behave himself, and after about a minute of inspection the guard was satisfied and handed Chris back to William. Fortunately, Chris allowed himself to be held for that purpose without protest such as hitting him in the face. William also declared his robes, but they just nodded.
The process seemed about done, but the leading guard seemed to remember something at the last minute. “Ah… any wizards?”
Dong Xin inquired. “What level of magical ability is required to count as a wizard?”
“Any. Just having gone through a magical awakening.”
“Ah. Then we have… three?” He asked that last part to William in the language of Liaoyang.
“I probably count by some standards… I suppose it should be three.”
Dong Xin faced back toward the guard. “We have three.”
The guard looked slightly surprised, then continued, “Very well. If everyone would step onto this circle, one at a time. Wizards and non-wizards alike.”
The group proceeded to do so in approximate order of seniority. Dong Xin was the leader of the group, since he was the oldest wizard, which was a key spot in this delegation. The circle glowed a soft blue as he stepped onto it. Then shortly he was told he could step off and wait beyond it. As the rest of the members of the Order of the Watchful sentry stepped onto the circle, there was no reaction, and after a few moments they were told to move on. Yu Li stepped onto the circle, and once more it lit up. Then, it was William’s turn. As he stepped onto the circle, he was immediately aware there was no reaction. However, it was only for a short moment, before William touched Chris to the circle. Perhaps the delay might have seemed strange, but none of the guards commented on it. William noticed that Chris was glowing red… however he could only barely see that because he was holding him, and the leather case mostly hid that glow. After a few more moments, the guards were satisfied and waved William forward. The group was allowed to enter the city with no more fuss, after being given some papers signifying that they legitimately entered the country. William wondered what danger Chris had been warning him about… but he couldn’t very well ask in front of the guards.