Three days later, Theodore stood by the gates of Bergen Academy in the early morning.
Instead of his normal uniform, he wore casual clothing and carried a few large pieces of luggage on his back. If he hadn't exercised for two months, he wouldn't have been able to take even a few steps.
'H-Heavy! I only brought what I needed, but this is still…'
Theo only brought his clothes and daily necessities. Despite that, his backpacks were thick and bulging.
In order to reach Mana-vil from Bergen, it was said to take 14 days, with 10 days being the fastest. In that time, he had to deliver between 15 to 30 books to Gluttony. If he had known this, he would have learned how to enchant objects with a weight reduction spell. However, he had previously decided to postpone it due to a lack of comprehension.
'Do I have to ask the professor again?'
Theo dropped his luggage and massaged his stiff shoulders.
"Sorry to keep you waiting. I had a lot more to do than I thought."
Professor Vince showed up in casual clothes he rarely wore. It seemed like the procedure to participate in the magic contest was quite complicated. In the recent days, even Theodore had found it difficult to meet him.
Vince wiped the sweat off his brow and looked at the luggage Theo had put down.
"I forgot to tell you something since I've been so deluged with things."
"What do you mean?"
"It is better to show you directly, rather than talk with my mouth."
Then Vince took out something.
It looked like a pouch made of shabby leather. Vince aimed the opening at Theo's baggage and muttered a word, "Storage!"
Simultaneously, the entrance of the pouch widened, and there was a strange suction.
Strangely, the suction didn't touch the air or the other objects. It just sucked up the designated target—Theo's luggage. The scene of a backpack 10 times the size of the pouch it was being sucked into… just didn't seem real.
Theo was amazed as he grasped the identity of the pouch, "Space pocket!"
As Vince put the space pocket away, he agreed, "This item is famous in many ways. It is also convenient." Indeed, if there was a space pocket, then he didn't need to carry his baggage around like Theodore. It was a high grade artifact which could carry as much things as possible.
'What is the rating of that space pocket?' Theo wanted to ask but postponed it as Vince walked ahead.
"Time is a little tight. We can talk while moving."
The two walked through the main gates and headed towards the city at a fast pace. At first, they walked silently, but then Vince, who was a few steps ahead, turned back and asked, "Theodore, can you show me the elemental that you made a contract with?"
An ancient elemental… Vince majored in archaeology, so he would naturally find it attractive. He couldn't hide the overwhelming curiosity in his eyes. This was an incurable disease for a magician. The usual coldness was gone from his eyes, leaving him with bright eyes like those of a child's.
Theodore laughed lightly and talked to the girl inside him, 'Mitra.' The sleeping girl opened her eyes at his call.
"Ohh…!" A cry of admiration emerged from Vince's mouth.
It was because the lump of dirt at Theo's feet had changed into the shape of a little girl. Her eyes and nose were vague. However, a general spirit could barely take the image of a beast, let alone a human. This was only possible for upper ranked elementals.
Yet the elemental, Mitra, became a human figure as soon as she'd made a contract with Theo.
"Is it possible to talk with her?" Vince asked in a trembling voice.
If it was possible to communicate, then Mitra's potential was almost the same as an elemental king. However, Theo shook his head with a regretful expression. "I've tried talking to her."
Mitra felt Theo's gaze and said, [Huing?]
It sounded like the cry of a puppy.
"I can only hear this sound."
"Do you know what it means?"
"Well… it is a little subtle."
Theo focused on the feeling which was being passed to him from Mitra. The contract with the elemental was a connection of their souls. It was a simple matter to read each other's surface thoughts, but the situation would be overwhelming if the elemental was more mature.
However, Theodore soon opened his eyes and clicked his tongue.
"It feels like I am dealing with a child who doesn't know how to speak yet. There are only simple words like good, no, I don't understand."
"But communication itself is possible. Very interesting."
Unlike Theo, Vince's eyes shone. It was different from the intermediate and low grade elementals who only passively followed their contractor's will. Vince gave advice to Theo, who was holding Mitra in his arms, "Call her often to talk. An ancient elemental is an individual spirit, so the exchanges it has with its contractor is a great way to grow."
"She just whined about being called continuously."
"Hoh, there is already a self-consciousness!"
Vince was amazed again and eventually wrote down things about Mitra in his notebook.
There were a few more things he would like to ask. Where would he get a more interesting study material? Talking to Theo for a few days was much more beneficial than years of research at Bergen Academy.
A big smile, which didn't seem to suit Vince, was on Vince's face thanks to his disciple.
"Professor, do you mind if I ask you one thing?"
This time, Theo had a question. He waited until Vince finished writing in the notebook and asked, "How are we getting to Mana-vil? I know that the current transportation arrangements won't work."
The west side of Bergen contained the mountain range and toward the north was the Moya River. Thanks to this, invasion from other lands could be avoided easily. However, the journey to Mana-vil, to the northwest of Bergen, would be compromised in several ways.
On the assumption that the horse-drawn carriage didn't rest, it could take anywhere between 10 days to a month. In order to participate in the magic contest, they had to arrive in 10 days.
"Well, don't worry about that. I thought about it in advance."
However, Vince smiled leisurely and kept moving.
"There are many people leaving for Mana-vil Capital during this time. Tourists, magicians, foreigners from another kingdom… Do you know who values this period of time the most?"
Theo was puzzled by the unexpected question, but he soon reached the answer that Vince wanted. "…Merchants?"
"That is correct. The number of people will be 10 times more than usual, and there will be magicians with thick wallets. Merchants who can smell money won't miss such an opportunity. They will try to get as much profit as possible."
It was no exception for the merchants of Bergen. They ended up creating a new path through the mountain range in order to shorten the travel time. Vince was thinking of using that.
"I've used it a few times in the past. It is rare for individuals to use that path, and normally only upper ranked companies can enter. There are several monster dens, and it is also haunted by bandits."
"I guess it is fast enough to accept that risk.
"As I recall, it took me around a week. Compared to conventional travel methods, it is twice as fast."
Merchants, who realized the idea that time was money, couldn't ignore such a path.
A simple calculation was that double the speed equaled double the profit. Threats such as monsters and bandits were easily taken care of by hiring mercenaries to escort them. The money earned was greater than what they paid, so the upper-ranked companies almost always took this path.
Theo saw a procession in the distance. Their destination must be Mana-vil because he counted close to 30 wagons. There were also at least 100 mercenaries resting nearby.
Then the moment when the two people approached the procession…
"Oh! You came!" A middle-aged man in a tunic suddenly popped out of the procession. He was a big figure in the company, but his attitude was like a peasant who hadn't seen a noble before. The man bowed toward Vince, who looked impassive as usual.
"There is no better luck than having Professor join us!"
"I should be thanking you, Boss Gordon."
"Hahaha, you can relax! By the way, is this your disciple?"
As Vince nodded, Gordon grabbed a merchant passing by and gave him instructions.
"Prepare a carriage and bring it here. These two are precious guests and shouldn't be disrespected."
"Yes, I understand!"
Looking at his attitude, Theo realized the reason for the hospitality—5th Circle master, Vince Haidel.
In other words, Vince's presence was equivalent to 100 or more mercenaries. Being a powerful magician in itself was a precious identity…
And Theodore Miller would be one as well.