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Beginning of Tanya's journey, starting as a mortal
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She thanks them very politely and moves on towards the city. They gave her much more than she expected. She was expecting them to not have anything to spare except an old kitchen knife perhaps. This tool is way better than she was hoping for. She could chop down a small shrub with this for firewood if she needs to. Plus with as short as she is its pretty much like a machete in her hands. She feels like Bilbo holding Sting, a knife meant for elves that is sword sized in the hands of a hobbit.


If the city is more than a days walk away, she will find somewhere clear to set up camp for the night.


The path contains a river! It's kind of lame for a river. Not quite small enough to be called a stream or brook, though.

And next to it, another village! This one has houses made of actual stone, a wooden palisade, and paranoid guards who won't let her inside, accusing her of being some sort of spirit. It's getting on to evening at this point.


Well, that sucks. Tanya will have to find somewhere near the river to sleep.

But how could they leave a child to sleep outdoors, she even had money to pay for lodging. Even if she was a spirit as long as she payed it should have been fine!

She will cut down some bushes for wood and spend the next few hours trying to simplify the artillery spell formula enough down to where all it has to do is start a fire. It takes her a while to get anywhere imbuing pebbles with this stripped down artillery spell, and she keeps using up all her mana and having to wait to grab more from the air. But eventually she can make a pebble make a tiny explosion when she very very carefully drops it on some tinder. Fire achieved!

As long as it doesn't rain it should be an okay night. She has a blanket and a fire, she has slept in worse conditions during the war.


It doesn't rain! It's honestly downright pleasant, light autumn weather. A bit cool overnight, but nothing intolerable.

There's a wooden bridge across the river. This is the point at which the dirt road changes to gravel, too.

An hour into her walk the next morning, she sees a woman who looks, somehow, despite all the gulf of cultural signals and fashion, like an annoyed bureaucrat. Something about the expression and bearing. She's on a horse, which has a neat saddle and bridle. She's wearing spectacles and a nice, dark blue robe and carrying several scroll cases, ends sticking out of the saddlebags. She has a bodyguard following on, on another horse. They slow down as they approach Tanya, looking curious.


Noooone of her business. Just keep walking and don’t meet their eyes. She is a peasant girl walking to the city, nothing to see here.

When you haven’t been specifically trying to earn merit, attention from those higher in station is usually troublesome.


The woman stops her horse entirely and offers a smile that's trying to be kind, as the bodyguard grows more tense. In the way of a soldier confronted with the unknown.

"Young miss, are you alright? Do your parents know where you are? It's not safe to go out alone when you're so little!"


If this turns out to be trouble she is blaming Being X.

Nobody ever cares about lone orphans unless society has become truly modern like her first life in Japan, and even then it’s mostly to get them off the street just so richer people wont see them and think the area is poor.

Nobody cared about orphans in the empire either and that society was close to being totally modernised, or it would have been after the war if they'd won. This society was so poor it had villages of mud huts and was infested with monsters. Seeing lone children should not be surprising. Maybe she had become too paranoid but her suspicions were raised. She probably should also keep in mind stranger danger, she was still a child after all.

“Don’t have any parents. It shouldn’t be too far to the city, the road has been very safe so far. I’ll be fine your ladyship.” Tanya is doing her best to be polite and unassuming. 


"No parents, truly? Where are you from? You have very pretty hair, I've never quite seen the like- I can't imagine the shame of a foreigner seeing this as their first exposure to our Gentle Water Kingdom. I'm sure we can get you home if there's anyone who would be looking for you."

"Honored Hao-"

"Shush, you." She says dismissively to her guard.

"-Perhaps we should just leave her to her business. She does not appear to be anyone of consequence."

"I don't know about that. That hair..."


“I’m not a foreigner. I was born nearby. My parents were killed by the monsters. The last two villages that way” Tanya points the direction she was travelling from. “Were attacked recently by them.”

She doesn’t mention her parents were killed in an attack years ago rather than the recent one. Let this person come to their own conclusions.

”Nobody is looking for me, I’m just going to the city to find work. Your guard is correct, I am nobody of consequence your ladyship.”

Tanya is suddenly very nervous, though she doesn’t show it. Why was this lady so interested in her hair? Did it make her valuable? Tanya could guess what happens to little girls that nobles found pretty in a society this backwards. Perhaps her hair made her exotic?

Maybe she shouldn’t have said nobody was looking for her, if someone was looking for her that might discourage someone from taking her, though anyone looking for her would come from the same dirt poor village she did and that wouldn’t discourage a noble from taking her.



"Hmmmmmm. Something is strange here. My intuition is buzzing."

"Surveyor Hao, what are you attempting to accomplish? She is clearly just a village girl, as she says. Old dress, cheap spear, walking along the road. We have duties to attend to."

"They will wait. They've waited a year and more already. This little dear is something interesting. If she is looking for work, we can send her to the estate, at least, no? What is your name, young miss? I'm inclined to give you a job. You could help out around the Hao estate! We Hao travel a lot, so it's bigger than it needs to be in case a lot of us are there at once. All you'd need to do is help the matron keep it clean. It would be pretty comfortable compared to sleeping in the dirt, you know."

The guard sighs.


Tanya backs away a few steps, doing the mental math for the body reinforcement spell in case she needs to bolt into the tree-line.

”Mother said not to go home with strangers. I’ll take my chances in the city.”

This rich woman being ‘interested’ in her is raising all sorts of alarm bells. Tanya does not want to be the pet of some minor noble (or maybe major noble? She isn’t sure how the wealth scales here). And nobody tries this hard to make you come with them unless they want something from you. Tanya can imagine what some people might want from a orphan little girl. Damn lolicons.


"Oh? Don't expect to come crying to our estate in two weeks when you start to truly starve if you leave now."

The guard nudges his horse forward, between his charge and Tanya, frowning down at her. "Let's move forward. The imperial census must be completed. I'm sure her village of origin will be able to tell us all we need to know, but we musn't dally, Surveyor Hao."

"You still amuse me, yellow flower. Last chance! An assured position is not something to throw away like offal."


Tanya backs away quickly from the guards horse that got close. Why did horses have to be so creepy. It definitely wasn’t that she was scared of how big they are compared to her, definitely not.


At least the guard convinced that noble to let her be. Maybe he worried about the reputation loss to his mistress if people found out she had taken a child. In any case, Tanya will not respond to them, keep her head down, and keep walking. Staying ready to sprint into the trees if she heard the horses come back in her direction.


The pair move on, bickering as their voices fade. Amiably for the bureaucrat, resigned for the guard. 

The road is busier up here! She passes: A sheep herder moving his herd along the road, a band of hunters who joke about her spear, a merchant in a wagon who glares at her suspiciously, a small boy on a shining white horse running very fast past her, and more villages, the road getting busier with each one. Nobody says anything to her except in passing. The merchants have food, though, and she has coins.


Tanya brought a little food with her, and she only left the village yesterday. Better to save her money in case of unexpected costs, and once she knows better what the prices for things are in the city. Tanya got rather good at rationing food in her last life anyway.

This long walk to the city is an awful lot like marching, which she hasn’t had to do since her days as a recruit. Once she became a aerial mage she travelled any significant distance either in vehicles of by flight. Marching sucks. 

At least nobody else is paying her suspicious amounts of attention, Tanya had been a little worried other people might get all weird about her hair again after that rich lady. But apparently rich perverts trying to talk little girls into coming home with them was not a common thing.

Tanya is thinking about her employability as she walks. She doesn't know if she wants the city to be less advanced or more advanced. More advanced means there are probably more jobs that would suit her advanced education, but also more competition of literate and numerate people. Less advanced means her skills would be more valuable, but maybe there wouldn't be that many jobs already open for her to put those skills to good use.


She's a bit less attention grabbing in a more cosmopolitan crowd- There's a few other blondes, more variation in skin tone and visible race, and even a redhead she passes once.

The city is overlooked by some sort of monastery complex on a hill. It looks very fancy, and there's a white painted wall. The city walls themselves are stone, with a shantytown crowding around the road as one gets close. There's a long line at the gate, with peddlers walking up and down past it hawking their wares- Food, random tools, good luck charms. She overhears a husband and wife waiting behind her muttering about her. They conclude she's probably an orphan, then proceed to ignore her. Most people are ignoring her, actually, she looks poor.


She IS poor, and an orphan. This is the kind of response she actually expected.

Now she sees how big the city is and the size of the shanty town, maybe she should first try making a little more money in the shanty town? Maybe the guards wouldn’t let her into the main part of city with her looking like this. Tanya doubts there would be many jobs worth more than a days food in the shantytown though.

She will listen for the prices the peddlers are offering to find out more about what things are worth in the city. So she isn’t ripped off by someone looking to take advantage of a child by offering them too little for labour costs. Maybe someone will even be offering a job even out here in the outer city. It’s worth keeping an ear out for opportunities.

She queues for the main gate unless otherwise distracted by opportunity. The worst the gate guards can do is say no, a little time waiting in line is a worthwhile opportunity cost.


There seems to be a street gang- Wolf fang accessories marking them out. They stick to the shanty areas and at one point a pair of guards chase one off seemingly just to make a point. Most of the trvallers are watching for pickpockets. The main road seems safe. 

Someone's selling - magic rocks? Most of them are junk but one of them feels like it has mana wafting off it, somehow.


Rocks with mana? Magic is weird in this world. Well, the mana is in the air instead of starting in her body so it was already weird.

Is this magic rock within her means? And won’t break the bank too much in case getting past the gate has some wealth test or something.


What's left of the bag of coins would probably cover it if she asked, given how haggle-able the peddler has been with other buyers.


Hmmm… nope. She needs that money more than she wants to sate her curiosity.

Back to queuing politely with everyone else. Queuing like this is making her feel a little nostalgic for Japan.


The checkpoint becomes more obvious as she gets closer. Eight guards, two with a clipboard writing things down, and a pair trooping up and down the line to keep order, all at least mostly putting up the pretense of diligence and alertness.

The guards smirk and chuckle to each other when they see the next person is a little girl.

"Your name and business in Pale Mist Valley City?"


Time to leverage that empathy little girls cause. For her name… technically she didn’t have a last name in this world, so she decides to use her old one.

”Tanya Degurechaff. I’m here to look for work. I know my numbers very well and can read a decent amount of characters. I handled the granary at my village because I knew my numbers better than the old man! Know anywhere that would need those kinds of skills?” 

Tanya tries to do a wide eyed cutesy childish look, but she is not sure it looked as natural as it could have. 


"Literate, at your age?"

"Some kids are smart, Xin."

"Can she really read? Hey, Kosa, let her borrow your scroll?"

Kosa shakes his head and walks over.

"Tanya, was it? Orphan? Being literate is rare this young. It's rare period. The Gentle Water Kingdom supports promising talents, so if you impress me, I will let you in and introduce you to the Magistrate office, since they always have need for more scribes and clerks. Wanna try?" He waves the scroll, which is dense with neat lines of writing.


Okay, maybe the limited vocabulary of a village of dirt farmers did not prepare her adequately for this.

“Wen De, farmer. Tepp, merchant. Ive never seen that character before, sort of looks like the one for Ox? Butcher. Don’t know that word, second name Song, don’t know that job. Kang, Labourer.” Tanya continues reading out names and jobs from the list, having trouble with many of the unfamiliar characters.

Tanya feels very frustrated at looking so stupid, maybe they wont want to hire her now. She thought she had learned decently well considering her circumstances but it was increasingly obvious there just weren’t enough written words in her village to learn from.

”I just haven’t had the chance to learn any of those words! But I learn words quickly I promise! I’m much better at numbers, those you can just figure out how it works by just thinking about it.” Or by having gone through relatively advanced education twice over.

Her frustration at looking bad in front of these guards and not knowing all the words gives Tanya a much more believable childish attitude than she had before.

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