"I have a suggestion, Your Majesty."
Everyone turned to the voice. An Elf clad in elegant glass armor stepped forward in large strides. He removed his helmet and revealed a clean, pretty face. He bowed to the Elf Queen before turning to everyone with a smile.
"Just as Your Majesty has mentioned, we have to uphold the traditions. But we have to also admit that there isn't a rule in Ivory Valley which prohibits entry to Humans. It is solely because it was the sacred land of the Elves, so the Humans seldom requested for entry. We can't deny this young man's identity and rights because no matter what, he fought the Duke Fiend bravely and our adorable Corina was able to return to us in one piece. We must thank him for that and besides, his moral conduct shouldn't be an issue either."
Corina's expression became a little peculiar. She gaped and looked at the Elf who had stepped forward, but she hesitated after gazing at Rhode's expressionless face. Everyone focused their attention on the Elf and wondered if he had come up with a solution to resolve this problem. Indeed. There wasn't a rule which prohibited human entry into Ivory Valley. However, Humans basically weren't willing to enter Ivory Valley due to various reasons over the changes in thousands of years. Therefore, it had become an unspoken rule that was agreed upon tacitly.
However, an unspoken rule was an unspoken rule, after all.
"But we have to admit that if we allow a human to enter our sacred land, it will cause dissatisfaction among the Elves. Therefore, I have a suggestion." The Elf paused and shot a meaningful gaze at Rhode. Shortly after, he revealed the answer.
"We can determine his qualifications through the Sword Dance Rite."
The Elf Queen's eyes flickered while Rhode twitched his brow. He stared at the Elf who appeared to be about 30 years old silently. Although the Elf appeared to be speaking up for him, Rhode wasn't a newbie who didn't understand a single thing about their customs. In player term, the Sword Dance Rite was considered a dueling rite. However, the Elves' battles were non-lethal, lacked bloodshed, and were more artistic. But if one were to belittle this rite, one would be on the suffering end. The Elves who were capable of participating in the Sword Dance Rite weren't any random newbies. They had been through years of tough training before becoming the most elite Swordsmen.
And most importantly, there was a clearly written rule about the Sword Dance Rite-only Elves could participate.
Even though this Elf sounded generous, Rhode knew that the Elf had actually turned him down. No matter what, the Sword Dance Rite was the pride of the Elves and it wouldn't be comfortable regardless of whether Rhode won or lost. If he lost, the Elves would think that he had sullied their sacred rite. If he won, the Elves wouldn't be delighted and they would feel that he had damaged their pride and tarnished their honor. Therefore, even though the Elf appeared to be providing a reasonable solution, Rhode knew that this was not much different from being rejected.
"Please wait a moment, Sir Dale."
As expected, an Elf Mage stepped forward with a stern expression and furrowed brows.
"The Sword Dance Rite is a grandeur tradition for us, Elves. Don't you think your suggestion is a little rash? Besides... this isn't a suitable suggestion for our guest, is it?"
"I know about that, of course. But apart from the Sword Dance Rite, is there any other way to make our fellow Elves recognize this man and willingly allow him into Ivory Valley?"
This Elf was truly cunning. His remark sealed the mouths of the others completely. Indeed. The Sword Dance Rite was the most supreme in the hearts of the Elves and the winner would gain respect from all the Elves. This was the only rite that would fit Rhode's requirement, but conversely, the other Elves couldn't find a substitute for it due to it supremacy.
Rhode twitched his brows slightly and gazed at the Elf Knight named Dale. Dale detected his gaze and didn't reveal any awkward or hateful expression. Instead, he winked to Rhode slyly as though one was pranking his friend. From Dale's actions, Rhode didn't see it as hatred or dissatisfaction. Instead, it felt more like-being mischievous?
What does this mean? Testing me?
Indeed. This was a tough question.
The Elf Queen pondered in silence and shifted her glances between Dale and Rhode. On the contrary, Corina was a little nervous. She placed her hands on her chest and looked worriedly at Dale. She frowned and wished to speak her mind, but nothing came out of her mouth. As for the other Elves, they were whispering into one another's ears, discussing if Dale's suggestion would work.
But no one expected that Rhode would speak up out of a sudden.
"I'm extremely thankful for your kind intentions, Mr. Dale."
Everyone shifted their attention to him. They were curious to hear what this young man had to say for himself. Rhode continued to display his ice-cold expression.
"I know the Sword Dance Rite is sublime and highly regarded by the Elves. Not only is it a test, but it is also the symbolization of the Elves' courage and glory. As a Human, I don't think I'm suitable to participate in it."
Several of the Elves looked at Rhode with much kinder and warmer gazes. After all, Rhode had shown the respect he had for the Sword Dance Rite. Besides, he had once again proven that he revered the Elves' customs. Indeed, as Rhode had expected, the reason why the Elves discussed the issue was that most of them couldn't accept him taking part in the rite. It was because it would imply that he was the strongest warrior among the Elves if he won... Although the Elves were naturally gentle and kind hearted, none of them would feel comfortable if that happened.
However, Rhode hadn't finish his words.
"I have to say this. It is of utmost importance to me for heading into Ivory Valley this time and I don't wish to give up this chance. So, I do have a small little suggestion."
Rhode gazed at Dale and nodded with a smile.
"The Sword Dance Rite that Mr. Dale suggested was a good idea, but I can't participate as a Human. So I suggest that my companions participate in the Sword Dance Rite on my behalf. If they become the final victors, I hope we will be granted entry to Ivory Valley. How about it?"
The Elf Queen sized Rhode up from head to toe curiously. Dale's charming face revealed some doubts and curiosity.
"No problem with that. If your companions are capable of winning the Sword Dance Rite, they will be the strongest warriors of the Elves. But Mr. Rhode, I'm sure you're aware that only Elves could participate in the Sword Dance Rite. But..." Dale turned to Corina. "... You wouldn't be thinking of letting Corina take your place, right?"
"Of course not, Mr. Dale."
Rhode lifted his head and clapped his hands.
"It's time to show yourselves. Gracier, Madaras."
The girls standing beside him let out a crisp chuckle. Then, they took half a step forward in unison.
The entire atmosphere changed.
The Elves were curious to know who would be substituting Rhode for the Sword Dance Rite. However, as they were deep in thoughts, their vision flashed and two petite figures in snowy robes emerged out of nowhere.
In an instant, the Elves aimed their bows at Rhode with fully drawn strings and the Elf Knights standing guard beside the Elf Queen unsheathed their swords and stood before her.
It was no wonder that they had such drastic reactions because only the strongest could serve the Elf Queen. Although Corina had entered the Legendary Stage, she was still one of the weakest among them. It could be said that almost everyone present was in the Legendary Stage apart from Rhode. Moreover, Elves were born with sharp senses and no one could escape their detection. But they felt as though the truth of the world had crumbled entirely for them - They were certain that there was no one beside Rhode just a moment ago. However, those two girls emerged beside him in the blink of an eye! They knew that it was neither a diversionary tactic nor a teleportation spell. As a race that possessed advanced magic powers, the Elves were sensitive to the undulation of magic. However, they were sure that there wasn't any undulation of magic, not even from the two girls-no!
They didn't detect the presence of the two girls!
Corina's hands trembled. She instinctively aimed her bow at the two girls, but she discovered a problem shortly after. She was sure that she had aimed at the two girls and as long as she released her fingers, the light arrow would pierce their bodies in an instant. However, she couldn't lock on to their auras! Not only that, but she also couldn't sense if they were dead or alive. Although the two girls were standing before her, everything else had proven that they didn't exist in this world!
No. Corina couldn't even rely on her eyes. She had a misconception that if her focus shifted for a bit or she relaxed for one second, the two petite figures would vanish entirely. She squinted and stared, fearing to lose sight of them. She didn't feel so pained and exhausted before. It felt as though she was chasing two imaginary figures.
Even though the Elves reacted drastically, none of them surpassed the Elf Queen's reactions. The Elf Queen who had been sitting calmly jumped to her feet abruptly and her gorgeous face turned pale. She stared at the two girls and muttered under her breath.
The Elf Queen kept her warm smile and revealed a stern expression.
"Mr. Rhode, I respect that you're our guest, but... this joke isn't interesting at all. Do you understand what I mean?"
"Of course, Your Majesty."
Rhode shrugged and spread his arms apart.
"But I can guarantee that this isn't a joke. Besides, this is the main reason why I wish to enter Ivory Valley. I think you should understand what I mean now."
Gracier and Madaras had pulled down their hoods and shown their faces, revealing their heads full of white long hair which complimented their delicate, snowy skin. Their mesmerizing golden eyes, pointy ears, and a complex pattern that extended from their cheeks to neck presented them gracefully.
Ghastly whiteness spread over the faces of several Elves.
"They are... White Elves? Oh, Lord! Are they truly the White Elves?!"
The Elf race had branched out over the millennium. Some existed since a long time ago while some varied due to certain occurrences. An example would be the Behermes Alchemy Elves and the Dark Elves, who were the result of the Creation War. The Elves had gone through two differentiations-one was when the world was shaped. Due to unspecified reasons, the Elves split up, left the main Plane of Existence, and lived in the elemental Planes of Existences. The Ocean Elves summoned by Rhode belonged to one of the branched out Elf races. Apart from the Ocean Elves, there were also the Blaze Elves, Wind Elves, and Ground Elves. However, as the four races were the result of the elemental Plane of Existences, they didn't have much connections with the Elves in the main Plain of Existence. On one hand, the relationship between the Dark Elves and their distant relatives had unresolvable feuds. On the other hand, the Behermes had basically died out. It was due to this that apart from the Dark Elves and Alchemy Elves, most of the Elves on the continent consisted of the Earth Elves, Moon Elves, and High Elves. The Moon Elves and High Elves were the remnant of the ancient age while the Earth Elves were a new branch that emerged afterward.
But, there was another race that was above them all-the White Elves.
Rumor had it that the White Elves had true, royal blood and were the original rulers of the Elves. However, after the Creation War, the White Elves had basically gone extinct and due to that, their relatives, the High Elves, took over the rule. The Moon Elves were responsible in assisting and serving the royals while the Earth Elves became the people of the Elf Kingdom.
In the current Elf Kingdom, the Elf Queen was a High Elf while Corina was a Moon Elf. But, even so, their appearances were similar and only had differences in their eyes, skin, and hair colors. No matter which Elf race they were, they had dark colored eyes except for the White Elves because rumor had it that the White Elves were the first batch of Elves created by the Creator Dragon Soul according to the Creator Dragon Soul's appearance. This was why their eye color was identical to the Creator Dragon Soul-golden.
The emergence of the two girls was like two atomic bombs dropped into the ocean, giving rise to enormous billows. Even Elves who had lived for thousands of years couldn't stay calm. After all, the mysterious and terrifying strength emanating from the two girls was bone-chilling. Not only did the Elves not notice their presence before they emerged, but their royal identities as While Elves was also equally astounding. The White Elves had vanished from this continent for millenniums and even the longest living Elves had become legends. But now, the legends had re-emerged and become reality before their very eyes.
Some of the Elves turned to the Elf Queen worriedly because they knew that the Elf Queen wasn't one who showed emotions on her face and she was an extremely gentle, peaceful person. Who exactly were those two girls who triggered such a huge reaction from her?
The Elf Queen realized that she had lost her self-control and she extended her slender arm to calm the Elves around her. Then, she combed her long hair with her slim fingers and looked at Rhode with complicated glints.
"I understand, Mr. Rhode. I was suspicious of your request before. But now, I understand your request to enter Ivory Valley..."
The Elf Queen paused and gazed at the two girls with complex emotions. Then, she let out a slight sigh.
"I agree with your suggestion, Mr. Rhode. Please have a rest while we select a competitor for the Sword Dance Rite."
The Elf Queen firmly decided.