PHA - Chapter 25 - Isn't This Otherworld a Little Too Realistic?
Under normal circumstances, whether it was in Earth's manga and anime or this world's Hero novels, so long as the Hero accompanied a merchant convoy, then the convoy was bound to come under attack by bandits or magic beasts. Then, when the convoy had difficulty repelling the attacks, the protagonist would step forward and show off their power, eventually completing the journey without any casualties.
However, Alice had evidently been overthinking things.
Contrary to Alice's expectations, Mana City's public security was anything but poor. Although Mana City was located near the Gryffin Kingdom's edge, highways linking cities and kingdoms already existed in this era. Hence, the smuggling trip felt no different than a long-distance bus ride for Alice. Apart from other vehicles, the merchant convoy did not encounter any other obstacles on the road.
After all, this was a highway they were talking about. Every vehicle driving on the highway moved at high speeds. How dumb would a bandit have to be to try and stop a fast-moving car? Unless the bandits had trained their physical bodies to a frightening extent, they would end up either dead or seriously injured if a fast-moving car struck them.
No wonder Zauna said not to worry about bandits. All of this era's bandits are probably unemployed already...
Alice had previously asked Zauna whether she would meet bandits or the likes on her journey to the demon realm. In response, Zauna had mercilessly laughed at her question. Now, though, Alice finally understood why Zauna had laughed at her. It seemed that she had subconsciously viewed this world using the standard of the Middle Ages once again.
I'll have to put more effort into integrating into this world.
Of course, if they continued driving normally on this highway, they would only end up arriving at another city. They wouldn't be smuggling anything if that was the case. Hence, shortly after leaving Mana City, Alice, seated in the passenger seat of the leading truck, saw the truck being driven out of the highway and onto a small trail.
A dense forest hid the trail. If one didn't look carefully, one would have difficulty noticing that there was actually a muddy road here for cars to drive on.
However, this hidden road was truly narrow. Even though the convoy's trucks were small in size, they could barely fit on this road. If not for the experienced truck drivers, the convoy would've had its journey halted the moment it tried to drive onto this narrow road. It was also probably because of how narrow and discreet this road was that the authorities had yet to discover it.
"There's a great distance separating the human and demon realms. If we rely only on cars, it'll take us at least half a month to reach our destination. Moreover, there will be soldiers obstructing the way as well." Probably noticing Alice curiously looking out of the window, the driver, who was also the middle-aged shopkeeper, took the initiative to provide Alice with some information. "So, we can't drive our way to the demon realm. Instead, we'll be using a magic array we've secretly constructed on this forest trail. The magic array will teleport us to a forest in the demon realm, and that forest is located within the borders of the Windy Kingdom."
"I see." Alice nodded. She had finally heard a term commonly found in isekai novels. Teleportation arrays, huh? This will be my first time seeing one. Not only does this world have technology resembling Earth's technology, but it even has the support of unscientific magic. This world's growth potential is much more exaggerated than that of Earth's.
It was a pity that the many conflicts between humans and demons had delayed the development of this world. Currently, Alice felt that this world was only on par with Earth when it came to technological standards.
After making several twists and turns in the forest, the convoy arrived at a clearing and stopped. Then, Alice followed the middle-aged shopkeeper out of the truck. Apart from them, several more people had alighted from the five other trucks carrying goods. Among these people, one of them held a magic book in his hand. Under everyone's attention, this man walked to the center of the clearing.
Looking at this sight, Alice guessed that the man was the magician responsible for activating the teleportation array. However, unlike Zauna, this man wasn't wearing a magician's robe or the iconic pointed hat. Instead, he wore an ordinary pair of jeans matched with a plain T-shirt. If not for the man's chanting causing the mana in the air to stir, Alice would've thought that he was just a porter holding a book.
"It's best if you try to conceal your identity as much as possible when you're in our line of work. Andrew is just your average wage earner in the eyes of others. Nobody would think that he has actually graduated from the Michelle Royal School of Magic with high honors," the middle-aged shopkeeper explained, knowing that Alice must be growing curious again.
"But even high-achieving students who graduated from Michelle can only start working from the bottom once they enter society. Andrew isn't willing to settle for that pitiful salary, which is why he joined us," a young man standing behind Alice said. The man wore light armor resembling that of a knight, and he smiled as he continued, "Although smuggling is illegal, it is a fast way of making money. It's been over three hundred years since there has been any major conflict between the human and demon realms. Smuggling a few inconsequential items across the border won't be considered treason.
"Though, I don't know for how long this situation will continue. With the recent news of the Hero appearing, and in Mana City nonetheless...things might become restless again. At that time, the government might regulate smuggling more strictly."
"That's right. Every day that passes is one less day we get to smuggle," the middle-aged shopkeeper said, sighing and shaking his head. After lighting himself a cigarette and looking at the gradually forming magic array, he walked back to his truck and took out a bag. Then, he took something out of the bag and handed it to Alice, saying, "Here, put this on once we reach the demon realm."
"Huh? This is..."
When Alice received the item and saw it, she couldn't help but look at the shopkeeper strangely.
[Weapon: Demon Horn Headband for Added Appeal]
[Quality: Not Bad]
[Effect: Mana +5]
[Additional Effect: None]
"Don't give me that look. This thing's original purpose might not be suitable for children, but you will have to put it on if you want to enter the demon realm."
"Don't give me that look. This thing's original purpose might not be suitable for children, but you will have to put it on if you want to enter the demon realm," the shopkeeper quickly explained himself when he noticed Alice's strange look. "Demons have some organs that humans don't have, such as demon horns, bat-like wings, and pointy tails. Although they can hide these things and pretend to be human, they don't normally hide these organs in the demon realm. We will stand out if we enter the demon realm without any disguises."
The shopkeeper's words were reasonable. After mentally struggling for a while, Alice eventually put the inappropriate headband onto her head. Of course, the moment her right hand parted with the headband, she had also lost the effect of Mana +5. Any item that wasn't held in her right hand would not be considered a weapon.
After Being Bent By Reader (ABBR)(GL)
Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God (Side Stories)
Miss Cousin is Always Busy (MCAB)(Yuri, Quick Transmigration)