I had learned to have a new appreciation for the development of mass transit on Earth since arriving in this world. Getting anywhere required you to use a ship, carriage or horse all of which were expensive and not readily available, so naturally to those who needed to get somewhere in a hurry your only real option was to walk there. On Earth planning to walk to a place was a matter of putting on a shirt and some jeans before leaving your home and for what would normally be a short trip. In this world however the act of walking somewhere which was no in the same place was an operation requiring equipment and supply.
Presently I was carrying a rucksack on my back which reminded me of a Tardis, the bag looked small on the outside however on the inside it was carry everything needed for the journey I was on and with that came weight. Much of the pain I was experiencing was down to the design of the bag not featuring straps or a belt to distribute the weight causing the full weight of everything inside to be pulling down on my back. If no one had thought of it already then load distributing designs for bags could be a good idea to introduce to the people of this world if anything to make my life easier in future.
So why was it that I was travelling across grassy hills and through tall fields? Well that was because a certain Admiral had given another Admiral instructions that I was to follow the second Admiral everywhere he went. That Admiral, Godwin, wanted to personally go out and see the location of where these people who were causing the Freicompany trouble were operating from, naturally meaning that in order to uphold his obligation to Admiral Hacka I too had to come along, and only me.
Godwin was stretching my tolerance levels presently. Despite having a fully crewed ship designed for combat he had actually opposed bringing along any of his sailors for this mission, not a single one. Allow me to repeat that, Godwin was going to what was basically an enemy stronghold and taking no troops with him other than me, a person who had no weapon and was for all intents and purposes a glorified clerk. His reasoning for this was the same as previous, he did not wish to draw attention and he refused to hear otherwise. I had sensibly suggested he could avoid drawing attention by having crew members leave Port Arcadia in small parties so as to not draw attention but Godwin shot the idea down.
In my opinion he simply didn't want to get anyone killed other than himself,
And me of course.
The wind was blowing a gently breeze and in a refreshing spout of luck the weather was fair which I was thankful for as it was making this trip more tolerable.
"My turn again," Godwin said in a cheerful tone. "Exactly how old are you?"
This was how our time was being occupied, a back and forth question and answer session. I actually can't remember which one of us started it honestly but it helped take my mind off the fact the journey was going to be taking more than a day to reach its destination and the pain in my feet.
"Why does every person want to know my age?"
"That isn't how the game is played." Godwin laughed
I gave a sigh and made sure he heard it. "Twenty-two, my turn and same question to you then."
"Forty-eight and still young"
I had actually pinned him for being in his fifties so I wasn't far off the mark.
"Ready for another question?" He asked turning his head to look back at me
"Has Admiral Hacka's aid slept with you yet?"
I nearly let out a gasp at the question but quickly found composure and coughed into my hand to form a response.
"Those aren't the rules of the game, I already answered your question."
Godwin lowered his head and I could tell even from behind he was amused. "You catch on to small details quickly, that will serve you well."
Increasing my speed I got alongside Godwin and tapped his shoulder "Can I be bold?" He gave a nod so I continued, "Besides the odd exception, your questions in this game have been attempts to probe me for information, to what end might I ask?"
"Which do you wish for, blunt or soft?" He queried.
"Very well, you have no connection to nobility yet act above your class, you demonstrate an intellect which surpasses those who have been educated, and finally, for all this, it is incredibly apparent that you lack any knowledge of this world. Simply put, the Admiralty has taken an interest in you, and that includes Admiral Hacka and myself."
Perhaps I should have acted more, and played a character who was not so overt as I was being. It would appear my daily lifestyle and work was unnatural to that of other women or at least those inside the Freicompany.
Thankfully Godwin did not press any further accepting that some things weren't meant to be said until the one saying it was ready. I had not told anyone I was from another world initially because even in a world of magic such a thing might draw claims I was a raving lunatic but I had other reasons to keep it a secret. When given free reign of the Freicompany I had looked around to find any books detailing accounts of people who were from other worlds but could not find any. There were books entertaining the possibility of there being alternative planes of existence, but such avenues of research were misleading to me, and were actually in reference to the origins of ghosts and other spectral beings. The decision to not tell anyone where I had really come from had been cemented when I heard about Underworld Demons, beings which inhabited a place known as the Shadowlands. Those creatures were hostile to anything not themselves, and as the name attached to them suggested, the common theory was that they originated from some world beneath this one's reality, beings from actual hell.
Naturally the last thing I wanted to do was invite suspicion I was some kind of Underworld Demon by proclaiming I was from another world. After all it was bad enough getting suspected of being part of a regular Demon species.
The journey continued largely uneventful with the occasional line from Godwin to make conversation which ended as soon as it began. Any hopes of excitement on this trip were diminished by the reality that travelling across open grassland far from the highways meant a distinct lack of fellow travellers or settlements. Where we were walking was so out of the way that unlike in some video game no sensible person had a reason to make a home here. No remote Inns, nor small farming hamlet or guard towers.
Thinking about it there was logic behind the lack of development this far out from Port Arcadia. The reason you build a town is because something draws people to it, you then build more things between settlements to take advantage of the increase in travellers until eventually there is so many people occupying a route that you see heavy urbanisation, and with that, the redrawing of boundaries which could turn once disconnected towns and villages into a single giant city. The point is that this only happens if you have a reason to expand in a given direction, and with nothing in the direction we were heading, other than the fort which was our destination, which had long since been abandoned by this nation's government, then there was no incentive for anyone to go out of their way to live here especially when there was the risk of monsters attacking.
On one positive note not having any other people around meant we were unlikely to run into bandits, as such people stood to gain nothing from camping far from the more prosperous highways connected to Port Arcadia.
"I have a question for you"
"Personal or professional?" Godwin mumbled back
"Personal. Back in Arcadia you mentioned being an Altrean soldier, how does a soldier end up in a privateer navy?"
"Alturis is a great nation, our empire spread from coast to coast, across great plains and over tall mountains. The empire is a commercial hub unrivalled by any other, where the most lowly person can rise to greatness. But how do you think any of this comes about?"
"Power projection" I answered
Godwin nodded. "Alturis grew because it made sure that anything which would stop its growth was stamped out with no remorse. Settlements, tribes, creatures and people, anything which did not embrace change was a threat and was removed. I was a soldier most of my life and that was a life spent spilling too much blood to call myself a good person anymore. Then a person came along and offered me a way out. Lord Clovis, he was a man who knew pain and wanted a world where there was some sense of justice, but he was a realist and knew that simply gathering like minded people as him was not enough to achieve his vision which is why the likes of people such as me were needed. Those who would bloody their hands and do what is needed to be done. I came to believe in Lord Clovis's vision that those who have power must do whatever they can to bring about change."
"Is the Freicompany really able to achieve that though?" I asked sincerely.
"I think with more people like yourself, we just might."
Godwin pulled out a piece of bread from a sack connected to his hip and tossed it to me.
"We will arrive at the fort in a couple hours, be sure to eat."