Chapter 186 Strongest Sage, Receives the Pass
An hour later.
We were going to left Frejia after our Guild Cards got rewritten to Rank A without a hitch.
"Oy, you sure you don't want to be Rank S? Mathias, there's no doubt yer' the strongest in this country. If the guild's higher ups are against it, I'm gonna make 'em--"
"I respectfully decline. Rank A is enough... We only need it to enter the Category 1 Restricted-Entry Zone after all."
I refused Giruas's suggestion.
He insisted that I should become rank S after the test.
But it's not like I've come to this country to raise my adventurer rank.
A is enough for the rank.
"I see. I ain't gonna force you if you don't want to... By the way, which restricted entry zone you're going to?"
"It was, right... Eteris Steppe at Folkia Territory. If I'm not mistaken, you can get into it if your rank is A and higher right? How long does it take for the permission to be issued?"
I don't really understand the system in Raginia, but a rank S adventurer Giruas would know.
I asked him with that in mind... But Giruas had a complicated look on his face after I said Folkia.
"It's gonna take five days at most for the permission... Still, Folkia huh..."
"Something's wrong with Folkia?"
"I've just got a bad feeling about the place, though not like I got a basis for it. But I heard the mood in that city had changed recently. The checkpoints on the roads around the area got stricter all of a sudden."
Afterward, Giruas pondered for a bit.
And then he speaks to me.
"Well, just talk to me if ya don't get yer' permission. I'mma do something 'bout it."
"...You can get the permission if you're Rank S?"
"Yea. Most things would go smoothly if ya just talk to 'em directly. If not, just tell 'em yer' gonna storm their higher ups, y'know, standard negotiation tricks and stuff."
"That kinda sounds like how Mathi-kun does negotiation..."
"Isn't that more like threatening than negotiating..."
I see, that's reassuring.
As Alma mentioned, this negotiation sounds kind of forceful, but well, it seems effective anyway.
"We may need your help if it comes to that."
"Ou, leave it to me."
We left the city while talking.
"Err... Folkia was 50 kilometers away from here, wasn't it?"
"Yeah. It should be around that far."
"I think we'll be entering Folkia 20 kilometers before that... Do you think there's a checkpoint around there?"
"That sounds likely... We should put our luggage inside storage magic just in case."
Checkpoints mean there's a high possibility of belonging check.
We're carrying some of our luggage normally as I'm preserving my mana in case of emergency, but it might be a good idea to store them all into the magic.
"Those checkpoints are probably only along the highways no? Can't we just not use the highways and go around through forests instead?"
Iris pointed at an off the beaten track as she said that.
She has a point indeed.
It's not like there are walls that separates territories after all.
We probably won't encounter any checkpoints if we don't use the highways.
"No, let's pass through a checkpoint normally once, we'll use the chance to also check on the situation."
"Check the situation?"
"What Giruas said may not necessarily be true in reality. They might even let us pass easily without any check if we do it normally."
Besides, going off the highways because we believe in rumors would make us look like we're going against the territory.
Rather than doing that, purposely passing the checkpoint will let us get into the territory without alerting anyone.
And even if we end up fighting, settling it quickly while they're still not alert of us would make things easier.
"I guess we won't know how to deal with someone until we see how they act... Alright, let's go at it the honest way!"
Once we've decided on the plan, we step onward the highway.
Several hours later.
Several knights are standing, blocking the highway.
There's a building that looks to be recently been built nearby.
"Err... Is that the rumored checkpoint?"
"Seems so... It doesn't seem suspicious for now."
I tried to probe the inside of the building for mana reaction and stuff, but I didn't see anything that stood out much.
At most, there were just some magic tools inside.
Judging from the mana reaction, they're probably not intended for assaults.
We kept treading on the road while thinking so.
"Halt. Show me your IDs."
And as expected, the guards stopped us.
Looks like the rumor about stricter checks was true.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
We obediently showed our IDs.
The guard asks me while taking them.
"What's your purpose coming here?"
"We're looking for works as adventurers."
We're still not sure whether this territory can be trusted or not.
Thus, I'm hiding our real objective for now.
After hearing that, the guard operated a device with buttons in his hand.
And then, four boards written with 『Pass』 came out of it.
"Take these with you. One per person... These passes will be annulled if you go out of the highways, so keep that in mind."
The guard gave us the boards and made a "go along now" gesture to us.
It appears they're not going to check our belongings.
"We passed through without a hitch."
Alma said that in relief once the checkpoint was out of sight.
"Even if the checks are stricter than usual, it seems they let you pass without problem if you go about it normally."
"There was nothing to worry about!"
Ruli and Iris were relieved too.
"It's too soon to let your guard down. These passes have magic codes carved within."
I cast a spell to decipher the magic code.
Deciphering it is simple since I've seen this type before in my past life.
"Yeah. I've deciphered it, and it reads... like this."
I put the content of the code on the paper in my hand.
『Take caution. A party of four high level adventurers. Some doubtful part on motives. 174517 First Checkpoint.』
"Caution... It's like they're suspicious of us..."
"Maybe it's unusual for adventurers to work at this city?"
Alma looked confused as she said that.
But her expression quickly turned bright.
"Ah but, just getting suspected should be easy to deal with later right? Just got to work on some quests to make us look like the real deal!"
True, the code itself doesn't sound urgent.
I don't know what the number 174517 means, but judging from the location, it's probably the time of our arrival there or something.
However, unfortunately, we can't relax just yet.
There's a bigger problem about this pass.
"The problem isn't the content of the code."
"Not the content... What do you mean?"
"This code, you see... is done in the same method the demons employed in the past... The technique used to carve the code in the pass is also not something possible with chant magic."
I show the pass to the girls.
Ruli asks me in surprise.
"But that... You mean the one who gave us these passes was a demon?"
"Nah, I've made sure that there were no demons at that checkpoint. I knew about the code the moment I saw the passes, so I went and analyzed their mana."
Demons who excel at camouflage magic can escape 『Passive Detection』's long distance detection.
However, the farthest person at the checkpoint back then was only 50 meter away from us.
That little distance would still have shown me all the unnatural part.
They might be able to slip through the detection if they concentrate, but doing so would be as good as exposing themselves.
"Oh that's good then... Wait, is it really?"
"It's not. The opposite even."
I look at the magic code again.
Yup. The composition of this magic is good enough that I don't think anyone is capable of reproducing it in this era where magic has declined so much.
"Think about it. You need to hold the authority of the entire territory to give orders to checkpoints. And since those checkpoints are equipped with these things..."
"No way, you mean this entire Folkia territory is controlled by demons!?"
Alma raised her voice in surprise.
"...That possibility exists. It's also possible that humans received only the tools from the demons, so we can't say for sure yet."
For the time being, let's see who we're going to meet at the second checkpoint.
Depending on the situation, we might need to do something about Folkia before we could accomplish our objective.
Especially in this case, if this is really the demon's doing, there's a high chance we're up against a very unique type of demon.
Or rather, that's probably it.
Would be nice if it's the pattern that's easy to handle...