Chapter 113 - World Tree's Reward (2)
Apart from that invitation, Theodore was forced to take a few days of rest.
Nobody had been killed or seriously injured in the fight against Laevateinn, but it had been a battle in which senior magicians over the 5th Circle had consumed most of their magic power in a short period of time. It was normal to feel physical fatigue, not to mention the burden on the circles. Only the Red Tower magicians, who were active elsewhere, weren't affected.
Vince sat beside Theodore's body and said with a smile, "It was unavoidable, but I can't help feeling ashamed that I had it easier than my disciple."
"Wasn't it also difficult for Master?"
"It was nothing compared to what you went through."
In the last battle, the Red Tower magicians had reluctantly been excluded. It was because the existence of fire magic would have been meaningless against the legend ranked grimoire, Laevateinn. Even the master level Veronica wouldn't have been able to help, let alone 6th Circle magicians.
Therefore, Orta had instructed them to capture the group which brought Laevateinn into the Great Forest. The result was that the arsonists were properly captured.
The Red Tower magicians hadn't even been able to fight properly! Their frustration at not participating in the historic fight exploded above the heads of the unlucky idiots. The arsonists had been blinded by money and ended up dealing with the war mages of the Red Tower, the famous elite troops of Meltor.
Of course, there were a few who had tried courageously to resist, but they were then turned into gruesome lumps of charcoal. 'It was a worthless battle,' Vince recalled.
"I've been thinking about it since then, and I think it is a good idea to combine magic of other attributes. At this age, I realized that I am still immature and there are many profound paths."
Theo had no choice but to nod at this scene.
Vince had entered the 6th Circle in his 50s while studying ancient languages, and now he wanted to learn magic of other attributes? Theo wondered if Vince would only sleep three or four hours a day. Having a curious heart which didn't know how to stop was also a trait of a magician.
At this moment, the two of them took the chance to have a private conversation. The serious conversations had taken place over a few nights, and now they were just waiting for people to come and get them.
Since the fight against Laevateinn, the elves had been preparing a 'festival,' along with the evacuated ents and dryads. It was something which those who were stuck in their rooms didn't realize.
Not long afterwards, someone knocked on their door.
Edwin appeared at the door and spoke while bowing, "As my parents have ordered, I have come to collect the both of you."
* * *
Like the last meeting, the elves guided the whole group at once. However, the difference from that time was Edwin's attitude toward the delegation, apart from Theodore. Originally, the elves hadn't been rude, but they had been very polite. That coldness was now released into a gentle friendliness.
Theodore guessed the reason and nodded inwardly. 'It seems like the fact that we destroyed Laevateinn was announced. If this were human history and not the history of Elvenheim, things wouldn't flow so smoothly.'
It was a cynical thought, but it wasn't that wrong. Unlike the elves who prioritized returning the favour over themselves, humans generally took care of themselves first. If this had happened in a place like the Austen Kingdom, they might have sent Theo as bait instead of providing support troops. Then once it was over, they would probably try to claim Theo's work in defeating Laevateinn as their own.
As such, it was hard to find a country which would publicly declare and treat them as saviours.
However, the pleasant mood didn't end there.
[Wait... a... minute... ] A hollow voice rang out.
There were loud footsteps, then the large source appeared.
Part of a species which treated branches as their arms and legs, it was an ent who lived in the eastern forest. Little boys and girls, who were like fairies, sat on the branches and laughed while chatting.
'The ent I saw last time... and the dryads as well?' Theo remembered their unfriendly attitude and wanted to step back.
However, the ent leader spoke up, [Great... person... you...]
[...Inde...ed.] The answer was confusing, but the ent suddenly bowed toward Theodore.
The tree branches descended a few meters, so he couldn't call it anything else.
[Sorr...y. And... forest... protecting... thank you.]
Then the dryads on the branches started speaking in a talkative manner.
[Thank you! Thank you!]
[Thank you and my apologies! I'm sorry and thank you!]
[Apples are delicious!] (TL: Apple and sorry sound the same in Korean)
[Sweet potatoes are delicious!]
There were many words Theo couldn't understand, but he could recognize their sincerity. It wasn't the same as the human society which used lies as a weapon. Theodore smiled and reached out to a branch before his eyes. "I was also rude at the beginning, so I'm sorry."
[...Me... as... well.]
"Yes, then let us reconcile."
The ent paused for a moment before extending its finger like branches. It was a moment when two different species shook hands. After a series of exchanges, the two species returned to the eastern forest, while Edwin took the lead again.
Once again, a large knot hole greeted them. His interest in the space doors was still great, so the White Tower Master stepped forward first and asked, "Can we pass through like last time?"
However, Edwin just stepped aside with an unknown smile. The knot hole before them was humming and crying out.
"Yes. But the road isn't to the same place as last time. It is a good experience, so I think it is better for you to just enter than to hear it from me."
"Hmm, I see." Orta touched his chin briefly before stepping in without any hesitation.
The sight of the white robe being swallowed by darkness was the same as before. Theo didn't know what was beyond it, but he walked forward with a strange sense of anticipation. He wondered what Edwin would called a 'good experience.'
The moment his entire body passed through the knot hole...
A heavy wind caused his red robe to flap. It was a strong wind which was difficult to find on the plains. Nevertheless, it was cool and unobtrusive, and it felt fresh. Theo took a deep breath while his heart beat faster. Then he felt a strange familiarity and recalled the Miller Barony.
'This place... Is it a mountain?'
This was similar to the wind he'd experienced when he climbed to the top of a hill in his childhood. Theodore moved his hands reflexively and looked around. He was expecting a good view reminiscent of his distant memory.
Then his eyes and mouth opened wide at the same time.
The scenery that appeared was ridiculous. He could only admire the world before him.
White clouds floated at eye level and made his fingers damp when he touched them. The scenery below his feet truly made it seem like he was looking down at the ground from heaven. Was this the point of view which made the word, 'god,' emerge from the mouths of priests?
Theodore Miller was literally walking above the sky. After a desperate attempt at using magic to calculate the height, an amazing answer emerged.
'...11km above the surface?!'
He calculated it again and again, but the result didn't change. Orta, who had arrived first, gave him a similar answer.
"11km, or to be more exact, 10km and 824m. If it wasn't for the power of the world tree, it would be natural to freeze to death at this height. It would be difficult just breathing, but we are having no problems at all.
"I see... um?"
As people climbed a mountain, the air became thinner, making it hard to breathe. However, they had no problems breathing despite being at such a high altitude above the surface. It was possible due to the power of the world tree, an existence with the power of life.
Theodore was shocked as he belatedly realized the meaning of the words. "W-World tree?! Tower Master, then this place...!"
"Yes, that is correct."
As the rest of the group arrived, a gentle voice greeted them. The lump of clouds blocking the view moved aside, and her appearance was revealed. Lumia was a high elf with dark brown hair, like tree bark, and gently shining green eyes. She smiled brightly as she answered their questions.
"This is one of the branches of the world tree as well as a place you can't enter unless we open the way for you."
"The world tree, here...?"
"...It is a ridiculous size."
The ground, which was dozens of meters wide, was just a branch? As the magicians admired this fact, Lumia waved her arms toward the clouds. The clouds which blocked the rest of the path were removed, revealing the banquet hall.
The rest of the four high elves sat there.
"What the, you came too late!" Alisa grumbled as she had already eaten something.
Meanwhile, Ellenoa waved when she found Theo. Naia was sleeping with her face on the table as always, while Alucard's expression was brighter than usual. Instead of being a national event, this was like a normal banquet, and Lumia recommended that they sit anywhere.
"Today's banquet isn't just between Meltor and Elvenheim, but an event to celebrate the saviours of the forest. S,o don't distinguish between statuses and sit anywhere."
"Come on, it isn't so hard. Please think of us as friends from now on."
It wasn't possible to refuse after hearing that. The delegation were forced to sit around the table, and Sylvia quickly took the seat to the right of Theo. Once everyone settled in their seats, Alucard decided to assume the role of host and opened his mouth.
Perhaps it was due to the mood, but his voice was a little more excited than usual.
"Then, I will now start the festival. The parent tree has blessed this meeting, and I hope we can change from distant neighbours to friends by the end of it. Just as you saved us from a crisis, we won't sit back if you are ever in danger!"
"The grace and blessing of the world tree and its offspring. Meltor will treasure this covenant."
As they lifted their cups, the voices of the high elves and humans joined as one.