The blinding light slowly faded as a room filled with mist slowly came into view. The walls were made of jagged stone and there was a stout man with a thick beard watching us. I blinked a few times to adjust my eyes before the short man bellowed out.
"Alright, get a move on. We got a few more people coming through so we can't have you waiting in here." They gestured towards a stone door behind them as they said this.
Immediately, I was shoved out of the way by the large man named Jaq as he stepped forward with his party. Ron waved goodbye to me as they stepped outside of the room. I brushed my shoulder before I pulled myself together.
"Okay. Let's move." I said as I began to walk towards the stone door. As I gripped the handle, I turned to the stout person and asked them a question.
"Excuse me, but-"
"Don't talk to me. Save it for outside." They pushed me slightly. I could feel the frustration rising.
"Let's go Onii-san. I don't want to get turned into goo by getting caught in a bad teleport."
"Wait, you can get turned into goo?" I asked, but my question remained unanswered as the rest of my party went on ahead of me.
We stepped out into a larger circular room that appeared to have been carved out of stone. Even the furniture was made out of rock! Everything is lit by some strange rocks in the walls that give off light that is similar to that of the suns. Inside of this room there are several people, but other than Ron's group and my group, everyone else is stout and has a beard.
It's only just occurred to me that we actually just teleported upwards of thousands of kilometers in a second. It barely even cost the same amount as a meal. Truly, magic is incredible.
"Oi you krags, what's gonna chunker up your rippa?" A stout person approached us and asked.
"What?" I could hear Tael blurt out.
"Right. Yer offa the crungsta yeah? Gonna dipper you puds?"
I turned over to the party and huddled together.
"Okay… Does anyone have any idea what the hell this guy is saying?"
Okay. Well that's not good. Is there a language barrier here? I thought everyone spoke the same language!
"Oi!" The man shouted as he yanked at my sleeve. "Accent waggy?"
"O-Oh! Yeah, I can't understand your accent! I'm sorry!"
The man nodded his head and pulled out a piece of paper. On it he wrote out: \u003cDo you need directions?\u003e
"Yeah! Where are the hot springs?" Tael jumped forward and asked with eyes that resembled a dogs.
I shoved Tael aside and bowed in apology.
"I apologize. May you direct us to an inn of some sort? Lower price is preferable, but I can handle a little bit of cost."
The person looked at me in contemplation for a moment before they pulled out another sheet of paper and wrote: \u003cYou can head down the street to the left and you'll come across The Dwarven Spigot. It's around 10 juns a night per room. Do you need any other information?\u003e
"Yes. I'm sorry if this is a bit forward, but what are you?"
\u003cI'm a dwarf.\u003e
"I thought so. Thank you sir!" I began to take my party out of the room as I heard the sound of someone stomp.
"Whaddya mean we can't go to the frontlines right now? That's specifically what we came here to do!"
"Sorreh. We got word of lots of troops mobilizin! We need to work with espionage forces first before we can send ya to the front lines."
"You gotta be kidding me! ...Fine. Let's go. I need a soak."
Jaq and his party shoved me to the side once more as they stepped out into the city. I rubbed my shoulder as I followed behind them.
When I stepped out of the large circular room, I could see the interior of the Frozen Mist Hills.
We're within the mountain, no doubt about it. The ceiling is made up of several stalactites as well as many more of those glowing rocks that lit up the room we were in before. The air is actually rather hot despite the fact that we're inside. It must be at least 28 degrees celsius in here right now. Is this how it always is, or is it because of the time of year?
In front of me there are several buildings that appear to have been carved out of stone. The area is so full of things that it's almost suffocating. If I wasn't taller than the people walking around, I would certainly have no idea where I was going.
Almost every person walking around this area is a dwarf like the ones we saw before. They all have beards, each appearing longer than the last. Actually, do female dwarves have beards? It only makes sense if there's this many dwarves with beards here in the first place!
"Are you okay Kenji-san?"
"Y-Yeah! We just need to get to the inn and get some rooms first! Don't worry, I wasn't thinking anything weird or anything!"
"Okay so… 'The Dwarven Spigot' to the left… Let's go."
We began to walk down the street as Tael made a mind connection with me.
\u003cHey man, what the hell? I thought we were going to a hot spring!\u003e
\u003cYeah yeah. We'll go pretty soon. We just need to find accommodations first and then I need to deliver this package. After all that we can go to the hot springs and soak up as much as we'd like. Just keep it in your pants until then, okay?\u003e
\u003cFine, but I'm holding you to that.\u003e
With that, I could feel our connection sever as if someone cut a string with a pair of scissors.
Despite the fact that the majority of people I was surrounded by were half my size, getting through them was no easy task. Their bodies may be small, but their strength is rather surprising. It took most of my strength just to ensure that I wouldn't be swept up by the tidal wave of dwarves that endlessly poured out of every orifice of this city. It's so bad that Kany has resorted to riding on my shoulders while Tael and Erana have had to stay as close behind me as possible. I seem to be the only member of the party with enough raw physical strength to make it through the flow of dwarves without falling over unassisted.
After an excruciating 20 minutes, we finally arrived at a large stone building that had the words The Dwarven Spigot carved into the front. By this point I was drenched in sweat. I stepped to the door and noticed the doorway was a bit too small for me to fit in without crouching. Kany hopped down and waltzed right in. I followed shortly after her, as did Tael and Erana.
I stumbled towards the counter and rang the receptionist.
"How can I help you?"
"Hi. Can we get 2 rooms please? 2 beds per room. We'd need to reserve them for 7 nights."
"2 rooms with 2 beds for 7 nights… It's 10 juns per night so that would equal…"
"140 juns. Here you go." I quickly pulled out the money and handed it to the dwarven man that was staring at the sky.
"Ah, right. Thank you." He said as he deposited it in a register.
"Okay. Here are your keys. You're in rooms 3 and 4." He said as he handed me two different ball shaped objects.
"How do these work?"
"They unbind the magical lock on the doors. We don't want to waste metal on locks so we use magic instead. Most tourists are impressed by it, but it's pretty bog standard at this point so I wouldn't be too impressed."
"Okay. Kany, Erana, same procedure as Mulbik. Tael, you're with me. Let's move it." I sad as I grabbed my bag and tossed one of the keys to Kany who deftly caught it with grace.
"W-Wait! Wait for me Kenji!"
I approached the stone door labeled "3" and held the ball up to it. The entire door glowed blue for a moment before it burst into dust. The passage into the room was open to us. Tael walked straight in but I looked at the dust on the ground.
"What's up man? Did you drop something?"
"What? No! Our door just turned into dust! How are we supposed to sleep here?"
"It's gonna fix itself. It's temporal magic. They probably just accelerated the rock by around 10,000 years so it would burst into dust. When you get far enough away from the door it's gonna reassemble. Also I call the farthest bed this time."
"Temporal magic… Can you do that?"
"Me? In the future. Temporal magic is pretty advanced stuff to just cast casually. The dwarves get to cheat because they use runes like the one on those balls you were handed."
Surprised by Tael, I inspected the ball and was surprised to see a symbol carved into the surface of the ball.
"Yep. I can't read runes but I bet 10 juns that it says something like 'time' or whatever."
...Dwarves are weird.
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