Chapter 107 - Towards the Storm (1)
The meeting started with a shocking declaration, and the story that followed was profound in many ways. As questions were asked, the outline of the plan was gradually formed. There were many problems which Theodore wouldn't have been able to solve if he had been thinking by himself.
After the discussion which seemed both long and short, only two high elves were left in the meeting room.
Lumia picked up the teapot and asked, "Ellenoa, do you want a drink?"
"Ah, of course."
Steaming hot tea was poured out into Ellenoa's cup. The tea stopped two-thirds of the way, and Ellenoa held the handle of the cup carefully.
Lumia and Ellenoa were both high elves. However, Ellenoa was a young one who had only just experienced her coming of age ceremony, while Lumia was old. So, it was natural for Ellenoa to be a bit uncomfortable. As Lumia and the other high elves knew this, they expressed consideration for her.
Lumia drank from her teacup before joking in a playful voice, "By the way, isn't he a great gentleman? That Theodore."
As soon as Lumia mentioned his name, Ellenoa put down her cup while coughing loudly. To think that it wasn't Alisa but Lumia pulling up this topic. It was so surprising that Ellenoa forgot to manage her expression, and she turned her head with a sense of betrayal, revealing her flushed face.
However, the high elf didn't stop there. "Ahh, I think it is a little sad. You've been here for half a year already, but you still think of him more than us. Wouldn't Naia be crying right now?"
"What, am I misunderstanding? There was also a time when I burned with passion, so I will cheer for you!"
"Thank you-no, this isn't it!" In the end, Ellenoa shook her head with a grouchy expression.
As a high elf experiencing such intense and strange emotions for the first time, Ellenoa found it difficult to maintain her composure when faced with this type of hardship, especially in comparison to the old Lumia who had experienced it before. Lumia, who knew this fact, smiled inwardly as she recalled the young man who had been at the center of the table a while ago. The young man, who displayed his youth and skills, was undoubtedly attractive.
'It is rare for a human to ignite such passion in us, but... he is definitely different.'
At 20 years old, Theo had barely stepped into adulthood, but he was already expressing his opinions to wise people many times older than him. He even had the ability to cause the wise Naia to admire him. It was clear that Theo had a heroic nature which would get his name inscribed into the history books.
If Lumia were a hundred years younger, the fire might be burning inside her as well.
"...Oh my, I really had that thought."
"It is nothing. I forgot my age for a moment."
Before the confused Ellenoa, Lumia lifted up the teapot again. If Ellenoa could see Lumia's inner thoughts, Lumia would have to be vigilant. However, the girl beside her was very distracted. Lumia had already finished becoming a beautiful woman, so she would be considered a tough rival for Ellenoa.
That said, fortunately, there was no cold wind coming from Ellenoa in this meeting room. After taking a few sips of tea, Lumia spoke words which pierced through Ellenoa's heart, "Do you want to go fight with him?"
"I knew it. But in this situation, the right person is Alucard, not us."
The abilities of the high elves within the Great Forest were overwhelming. In addition to using mana at will, they could temporarily summon an elemental ruler who had already disappeared from the material world. There were six such people who could this.
Even if Andras and Meltor worked together, this was a power which was difficult to guarantee victory against. It could be called a power that was meant to protect themselves. However, the high elves weren't the Arv and were limited in how they could exercise the abilities.
"You aren't familiar with Ratatoskr and can't summon an elemental ruler. Additionally, Alisa and Alucard have already moved. Our role is to aid them from here."
"...Yes, I understand."
"You should bless them instead of worrying, Ellenoa." Lumia grabbed Ellenoa's trembling hand and whispered in an affectionate voice, "Our forest, parent, and him whom you are thinking about, wish them luck."
* * *
On the other hand, Theodore divided the personnel as planned and moved alongside Alucard, who showed the guidance ability Ellenoa had used. Alucard knew how to use it actively. The trees and earth retreated, creating a straight path through the dense forest.
Once a magician's Grease magic was added to the path...
Six bodies slid at a rapid pace. They didn't have to take any steps and were moving at a speed which surpassed that of a carriage. The White Tower magician who devised this method had a deathly pale face. Maybe a means of surpassing wind power would soon be born again.
"Look," Alucard said as he slipped next to Theo.
"Why are you calling me?"
"...You don't have to be respectful. It can't be helped in public, but you are Ellenoa's saviour. No, your help in this situation is enough to be called our friend."
Theodore felt nervous. He was participating in the campaign to suppress Laevateinn to prevent a global disaster, but he was also getting some benefits. Unlike Death's Worship which had used black magic power, this was a legend-ranked grimoire which Theo might be able to absorb. If he did, he would smash down the wall of the 6th Circle instantly. Unfortunately, it wasn't philanthropy as Alucard implied.
As if he knew Theo's heart, Alucard stopped talking for a moment before starting again. "First of all, this is a report on the current situation. Alisa, who moved according to the instructions, confronted Laevateinn and called the wind elemental ruler, creating a vacuum around it."
"The result... No, what is the result?"
"Not bad. The forest fire calmed, and the giant's footsteps slowed considerably. It is regrettable that we couldn't stop it completely, but the spread of the flames is obviously reduced."
Gluttony's advice had been correct. Theo nodded inwardly as he listened to Alucard's report.
The flames which burned from Laevateinn's body was a power that transcended the rules of this material system, but the flames were subjected to the ordinary combustion phenomenon. If they maintained a vacuum around it, the damage wouldn't be so large. Of course, this method alone wasn't a good enough solution.
The vacuum only slowed down the rate at which the giant ate up the surroundings. Sooner or later, the fire would burn down the vegetation, and it would transform into the third form in five days. Then it would be reborn as the fire of destruction which burned all life.
Theodore's primary goal for the vacuum was to stop it and interfere with the full evolution.
However, that wasn't the only news from Alucard.
"What? Are you serious?"
"I'm sorry, but that is how it is."
Theodore's face stiffened. When he started the meeting, he had told them that the ents and dryads should retreat. However, he just received news that they had refused. It was so unexpected that an absurd expression appeared on his face, but there was someone else who answered his question.
It was Edwin who slid closer to him. "Benefactor, the mindset of the ents and dryads are different to the elves."
"Yes, to them, the forest isn't a place where they live."
For elves, the forest was their home and the foundation of their lives. The origin of the elves was to live in harmony with the animals and plants.
However, the elves couldn't compare to the ents and dryads when it come to closeness to the forest. Dryads were fairies who were born from trees, while ents were trees which had accumulated mana over a long period of time.
To them, the forest was their neighbour and family. So, despite knowing that their actions were foolish, they couldn't step back. While dying in Laevateinn's flames, they continued to fight by throwing rocks and spitting poison. Despite knowing that resistance was pointless, the dryads and ents threw themselves to their deaths.
Crunch. Theodore unconsciously gritted his teeth.
'Damn, if he continues eating dryads and ents... The mutation may occur faster than expected. Once that happens, it is the end.'
The fairies and trees filled with spirituality were like nutrient-rich prey to the Laevateinn. An ent was worth more than a normal tree, and dryads were useful offerings. Moreover, despite the fact that they respected the authority of the high elves, it wasn't a subordinate relationship where they had to listen to commands.
As Theo's mind stirred quickly, he asked Alucard, "Alucard, how much further to our destination? We have already been moving for two hours like this!"
"Pretty soon! Be prepared!" The moment Alucard answered... Theodore felt a feeling of weightlessness and regained his balance. The six magicians, one high elf, and one elf reached their destination after two hours. No one stumbled at this unexpected situation. It was proof that their nerves were tight.
Then they frowned and muttered.
"How many trees..."
The sun was still high in the sky as a red horizon appeared beyond the trees. It had only been a few days since Laevateinn started its activities. With Alucard and Edwin at the forefront, the eight people stepped carefully toward the burning horizon.
They hadn't even walked 100 steps, and they were already soaked with sweat. By the time they reached 200 steps, they could see the devastation dealt to the surrounding trees. Once they passed 300 steps, ash fell as the charred wood broke under their shoes. At 500 steps, the eight people reached the forefront.
At the border of the eastern forest, they could see that a fierce battle was taking place.
Huge trees dozens of meters tall were moving. Like a person, their arms moved back, and they threw stones from the ground.
The strength was equivalent to a catapult. Any large monster would shatter to pieces if they were hit by the stones. A thunderous sound rumbled continuously in succession as the rocks fell. This was power of the guardian of the forest species, the ents.
Some people admired the sight.
However, Theo approached and shouted harshly, "Stop this and back off right now! You fighting this way won't be of any help!"
The leader of the ents growled ferociously.
[...Hu...man! Your command... don't... follow!]
The same was true for the dryads, who were floating over the ents' heads and informing them of the enemy's position. The small forms made of blue mana glared at Theo. They might show grace to the high elves, but they couldn't appreciate humans who mainly invaded and damaged forests.
Thanks to this relationship, it was lucky they didn't attack him, let alone cooperate.
"Stop it, Old Tree Elder!"
"We didn't come to fight you!"
Alucard and Edwin tried to intervene, but the dryads and ents continued to fight. They didn't care about the heat getting closer to them, as if they were going to jump into Laevateinn's mouth itself. Some may regard that virtue as stupidity but not Theodore.
'...Should I just move them through force?'
It wasn't an impossible task. He wanted to avoid any unnecessary power consumption, but it was better than giving offerings to Laevateinn. It might cause problems later, but his first priority was to overcome this crisis.
As Theodore reached this conclusion in a calm manner, magic power flashed around his hands, while the other magicians who noticed this quickly became tense. It was unspoken proof of their willingness to join him.
However, Theo didn't have to do anything.
[Hoing!] It was because the sound of the ancient elemental, Mitra, popping out of the dry land caught the attention of all their eyes.
Alucard exclaimed at the sight of the world tree's bud, while Edwin worried about whether he should bow or not. The magicians'curiosity was aroused despite this situation, and Sylvia wriggled her fingers in greeting.
Then at that moment...
Kuuong! With a heavy sound, the ent leader fell to his knees.