The closest city to Gryffin Forest was called Mana. While driving down the flat road, it didn't take long for the mana-powered sedan to transport Alice and Zauna to the city gate.
The city gate and the surrounding walls truly gave off the flair of a different world. There were gorgeous reliefs and magic patterns engraved on the white city wall, and two massive dragon sculptures stood on both sides of the city gate. The entrance of Mana City looked majestic from both near and afar. Honestly, Alice would've found the entire thing awe-inspiring if it weren't for the surveillance cameras located on the edges of the city gate...
Now, rather than a city found in an alien world, Alice felt like she was visiting a film set instead…
"This is Mana City. Although it is located on the Gryffin Kingdom's fringe, the Laja Mountain Range separates us from the Ymir Kingdom, so hardly any people from the Ymir Kingdom visit this place. That's why this place is no different than any other city in the Gryffin Kingdom."
After getting off the car, Zauna paid for the fare by scanning the driver's QR code using her phone. While doing so, she also provided a brief explanation of Mana City to Alice.
Meanwhile, if Alice were to be honest, apart from the architectural style and clothing retaining the style of medieval Europe, she didn't get the feeling of being in a different world. From the conversation she had with Zauna in the car, she found that most of the things available on Earth could also be found in this world. To Alice's surprise, this world even had its own version of a nuclear bomb. Upon this discovery, Alice truly couldn't fathom how powerful the Demon King could be if it could still threaten this world's civilization despite the existence of such strategic weapons.
"Let's go. I'll take you to Mana City's church," Zauna said after paying the driver. Then, she started making her way toward the city gate.
Hearing this, Alice immediately followed after the apprentice magician. However, she still felt a little uneasy from the stares she received from the people around her. Apart from some guards wearing armor engraved with magic patterns, people who looked like mercenaries could also be seen leaving the city gate and making their way to Gryffin Forest. Meanwhile, almost every one of these mercenaries would turn to look at her when they walked past her.
However, there was no helping this situation as Alice's current appearance was a little strange. Alice looked very much like a young lady from a wealthy family if one judged solely by appearances. Her limbs looked like they had never undergone any physical training, and her skin looked as white as snow. At a glance, she looked like she had lived in a family with good conditions. Yet, the blue-and-white dress Alice wore was currently in tatters, which greatly contrasted her physical appearance.
Fortunately, the mercenaries didn't behave too rudely as they went along their respective businesses after taking a curious glance.
"Everything will be fine once you go to the church and change your clothes. The church has an obligation to help the masses, so you won't have to worry that the people in the church will trouble you."
Zauna also noticed the stares Alice was receiving, so she provided the blonde girl with some comforting words. Then, she led Alice into Mana City.
Fortunately, when the two passed through the gate, the guards there only glanced at Alice before letting them through. Looking at their reactions, Alice guessed that no major wars had taken place in this world in recent times. Otherwise, there was no way the guards would let someone dressed so strangely as she was to enter the city.
After crossing the city gate, what entered Alice's eyes was a broad street with tall buildings lining both its sides. Alice had been correct in her prediction. Although most of the buildings here still retained the architecture style found in medieval Europe, the buildings here were significantly taller than those found in the Middle Ages.
Cars could also be seen driving on the spacious road, and there were sidewalks and street lights on both sides of the road. However, Alice noticed that mana powered these street lights rather than electricity.
It seems this world uses mana in place of some of the energy sources typically used on Earth. I guess this can also be regarded as this world's unique feature.
Zauna appeared familiar with Mana City as they arrived in front of a magnificent church after making a few twists and turns. From what Alice had heard from Zauna, the church of this world seemed to have a good reputation. Apart from functioning as a place of belief, the church seemed to also serve as an orphanage. It was also probably because of this fact that Zauna showed a lot of respect when mentioning the church.
"Wait by the entrance for a second. I'll go in and notify the people inside," Zauna said before leaving Alice in the church's courtyard and entering the building by herself.
Alice complied with Zauna's words and obediently waited in the courtyard. There were no other people in the courtyard presently, probably because today was not a day of prayer. As a result, the church looked a bit empty and deserted. However, the church courtyard wasn't entirely without its own allure as there was a highly conspicuous golden sword inserted into a metal platform. Having nothing better to do, Alice decided to approach the sword and inspect it.
The sword gave off an inexplicable sense of coercion, and it looked extraordinary at first glance. After approaching the sword, Alice took a look at the metal platform housing the sword. From what little knowledge she had, she judged that the platform should be made out of iron. Meanwhile, in front of this iron platform sat a sign with the following sentence written on it—Only the Hero can pull out this sword. All visitors are welcome to try.
Footprints covered the lawn in front of the iron platform. From this sight, Alice could tell that many hopeful people must've come and tried to draw the sword every day. However, seeing that the sword remained inserted in the iron platform, it was evident that the chosen Hero had yet to appear.
Suddenly, Alice recalled Zauna's confident assumption that she was the Hero. If the apprentice magician was right, Alice decided that she might as well try and see if she could draw the sword. If she were honest, though, she still hoped that she wouldn't become the Hero. After all, if she became the Hero with her enthusiasm or lack thereof, then the humans of this world would have a bleak future if the Demon King appeared.
Alice did not reach for the sword with her right hand. Instead, she grasped the golden sword's hilt with her left hand and tried drawing the sword with all of her strength. However, as expected, the sword remained deeply embedded in the metal platform. It didn't budge by even a millimeter after all the force Alice had exerted.
Alice couldn't tell whether she was happy or disappointed by this outcome. However, if what was written on the sign was true, it was already certain that she was not the Hero. Also, the mana flowing within the golden sword was so abundant that it managed to surprise even a magic dolt like herself. So, Alice estimated that the sword probably had some special sealing ability that prevented anyone but the chosen Hero from drawing it out of the iron platform.
Thinking up to this point, Alice grew a little curious. What kind of rating would appear if she were to use her ability on this Hero's Sword?
After looking around and making sure that she was alone, Alice pondered for a moment. Eventually, though, she succumbed to her curiosity and grasped the golden sword's hilt with her right hand. Immediately afterward, Alice's ability activated, and the system conveyed the weapon's information to her mind.
[Weapon: Hero's Sword - Enheria]
[Effect: Strength +1]
[Additional Effect: None]
Alice was stunned by the statistics revealed. Subsequently, she felt the boundless mana within "Enheria" vanishing completely. Then, just like the system stated, the Hero's Sword had become bona fide garbage. Now, the sword was nothing but a piece of scrap metal stuck inside a metal platform.
Alice's hand shook, and she effortlessly drew Enheria out of the metal platform. Evidently, since Alice's right hand had turned this sword into garbage, it had now lost its special ability to determine which individuals were qualified to draw it.
This scene frightened Alice, and she hurriedly tried to insert the sword back into the metal platform in a panic. However, before she could return the sword to its home, Zauna walked out of the church's entrance.
"Alice! Let me introduce you. This person here is…"
Before Zauna could finish her words, her face stiffened as her eyes landed on the Hero's Sword in Alice's hands.
After Being Bent By Reader (ABBR)(GL)
Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God (Side Stories)