Inspecting dozens of travelers daily was a normal part of the duties of a gate guard at any city, not just Lightwood Fortress. Merchants, Adventurers, hermits, and all manner of people passed through the gates regularly, making most of their jobs not very exciting. Every so often, a smuggler or bandit would get caught and either end up arrested or killed. Such was the norm, to which nobody would bat an eye at. Today, however, an unusual traveler intended to enter.
The western gate of Lightwood Fortress was likely the one used the least, with no more than a dozen a day. Still, compared to the southern and eastern gates, they had the longest track record with strange characters. 40% of the criminal activity caught at the gates was from the western gate, and the criminals at the gate tended to be the more severe. As such, some of the best soldiers were stationed here on a rotation, to ensure that there was always someone capable enough to handle any situation.
The not often heard sound of boots crunching dirt roused the attention of one such soldier, who swiveled his head slowly to focus on the source of the sound. Wearing a long grey hooded cloak that hid their face in shadow, a small figure tread towards the gate. Most of the soldiers at the western gate were mid-to-high-level second-grade Fighters, and their senses were much more attuned than those of civilians due to their regimen. Still, no energy fluctuations came from this figure, and all attempts to inspect his energy made it seem like they were a complete black hole, impossible to fathom. This prompted the five men on duty to heighten their senses, just in case the figure meant ill.
When the figure was five paces from the gate, the guardsman who had reacted first said, "Hold, sir. I'd have to ask you to present some identification before we can let you pass, as per standard procedure."
The figure silently walked over and stood before him, an interesting thing considering the figure was only as tall as his chest. Though the hood did not move, the soldier felt a gaze from the figure that was rather unnerving. This only served to disturb him more as the figure's sleeve rose to hand an Adventurers Card to him, but it was quickly changed to confusion upon seeing the youthful hand that held it.
The soldier took the card and checked it over before coughing, "The card is real, that much I am sure of. However, I'd have to ask you to provide more sufficient proof. Killers and bandits have tried to use the cards of their kills to enter before, so we must be cautious."
As he finished his words, the guardsman watched the hooded figure use only the power of magic to create two nearly solid elemental daggers, formed completely from magic energy. While the level of control was far beyond a third-grade Magic, the spell that the figure had used was still considered one of the most important ones of a Spellblade, [Summon Dagger]. While it was nowhere near as effective as an actual magic dagger, it was good enough for quick skirmishes, the Spellblade's specialty. It was automatically learned upon choosing the job, so it was easy to get, but the spell itself couldn't be taught to non-Spellblades due to some heavenly restriction. This alone proved that the figure was, at the very least, a Spellblade of high grade.
"Your card says your job is a Spellblade, and you have used its base spell, so that much is proven. However, it is not enough to allow you in." The guard looked over the card again and zoomed in on the name, which he made sure to read repeatedly before asking, "Unless you have real proof that you are this particular adventurer, I cannot let you pass."
A vague sense of amusement came from the figure, which was rather odd to the five men. However, they noticed something wasn't right... what happened to all of the noise?" They looked back at the city and saw everything seeming to be frozen, like time had fully stopped. To silently use such a powerful time spell, the figure was extremely powerful, which further raised their wariness. The first guardsman was prepared to speak again when the figure simply held up a hand to stop him.
A very youthful voice came from the figure, one of a very calm young man that held a hint of mirth in it, "It's good to see that the guards of the Lightwood Fortress are more thorough than the last time I came here. Things have changed quite a bit. Ah, you don't have to worry about anything, I've just temporarily slowed time as much as I can without stopping it, since it's much easier. Considering my identity, if one of you happened to shout it, I wouldn't even get past the gate, let alone to the Adventurers Guild." The figure's hands moved to lower his hood, revealing a young man with snow white hair and playful purple eyes, a smile on his youthful face. "Sorry about being tricky. I wasn't hoping to get in this way in the first place, I was just testing you guys. You seem very talented, but I wanted to see if your minds were as tempered as your bodies."
Relaxing their heightened wariness, the guards let out small sighs of relief; they were thankful that they didn't have to fight him, as he was far more powerful than they could handle. The first guardsman handed back the card to the smiling boy, saying, "People who do that tend to cause trouble, but... I'll take the benefit of the doubt this time. I'm pretty sure that someone of your status wouldn't do such things. If I may, are you traveling for business or leisure?"
"Well, both, technically. I need to change jobs now, and I really need to start taking quests to rank up. I've been busy and only recently am I able to start my adventures." He shrugged casually, "A slow start is better than nothing, right?"
The guardsman chuckled, "Agreed. Okay, you're cleared to pass, sir. I hope you enjoy your visit, and good luck to you." He bowed respectfully, as did the other four.
Seran, quite liking these five, flicked a strand of thought at the five of them and put his hood back on before passing by, the time-slowing spell's effects quickly returning to normal. Before he got lost in the throng of civilians, the last thing he heard from the five was them thanking him for his grace. This made his smile widen as he made his way to the Adventurers Guild.
Purely because he liked their talents and personalities, he had imparted them with an energy cultivation method that was especially suited for soldiers, [Stances of Command], which had several combat and non-combat stances at each stage. Mediocre talents would only reach the second stage, which would be considered a second-grade Fighter job. Geniuses could reach the final tenth stage, which was said to be capable of surpassing the sixth-grade fighter jobs, such as Sword Sage. If the five of them cultivated it diligently, and wisely, it was possible for them to find great success in their future. Casually giving away such cultivation methods was something that only Seran would do.
The grey-robed king entered the Adventurers Guild, immediately drawing attention from others for his deeply mysterious vibe. Of course, only adventurers of at least B-rank would detect such a thing from him. Most of the adventurers only saw a figure that looked weak trying to be mysterious.
Seran calmly walked his way to the receptionist desk, barely paying any attention to anything going on around him, and, as one would expect, a pair of adventurers attempted to stop him. While Seran recognized the two of them as the ones from the bar fight months ago, they certainly couldn't tell that the grey figure was the white-haired boy from back then.
The bald man, who seemed to have lost an eye since that day, said gruffly, "Whoa there, kid, this place isn't safe for someone like you." While his words were nice, his expression and behavior weren't.
Rolling his eyes under his cloak, Seran just kept walking forward.
"Oi, did you hear me?" The bald man tried to stop him with his hand now, thinking that the figure would stop upon running into his hand. Instead, the two adventurers lost sight of him completely in the next second. After looking around, they soon realized that he had already reached the counter. "What the fuck was that?"
What happened was pretty simple: Seran had once again slowed time to a crawl, but only for the two of them. He then casually phased his way through them with his space magic, all within the span of a second. Both acts were high-level magic spells, and they had been used so casually. The rest of the adventurers in the building immediately realized one big thing.
This figure was not to be trifled with.