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 As the Elf Queen was deciding on their representative for the Sword Dance Rite, Rhode led Lize, Anne, and the little mermaid for a stroll around the gathering place.

The gathering place was entirely different from human parks and markets. Large trees and greenery surrounded the area with two clear, slow-flowing streams forming a circular plaza. The Elves sat on tall tree branches and lawns on both sides, listening to the harmonious tunes of the performing Elves in the middle. The Elves were talented musicians and singers and their suave, melodious voices resounded in the vast forest.

If the performers were the Humans, perhaps the crowd would have applauded for their graceful performance. However, the Elves didn't have the habit of doing so. Before gathering at this place, Rhode had warned Anne and Lize that they shouldn't applaud no matter how well the Elves sang because the Elves deeply valued the beauty of nature. Those who truly respected their performance would be showing their deepest respect by listening quietly.

The arrival of Rhode's group had attracted a lot of curious gazes since Humans rarely visited them. Due to various reasons, seldom would there be Humans who entered the Elf Forest as most of them couldn't withstand the strange, rigorous rules, and they would rather stay in the resting points ran by the Elves than to find trouble for themselves. Moreover, Rhode's beautiful facial features weren't too different from the Elves and the little mermaid floating in water ball was also fascinating to them.

The Elves were more curious that even though Rhode was in their gathering place, he didn't seem anxious at all. Instead, the hidden paths in the underbrushes and bushes didn't pose a problem for him. He seemed really familiar with this place as though he had lived in the Elf Forest for years. However, the Elves were sure that they had never seen him around.

Not only did the Elves feel strange, but Lize and Anne also felt dubious. Logically speaking, Rhode shouldn't have visited this place before. However, he led them around like a tour guide on a 'Free One-day Elf Forest Tour'. Lize and Anne barely recognized the man-made buildings and plants in Blackberry Town, but they failed to find any traces of man-made constructions in this Elf territory. Although the Elves also lived in wooden houses, their wooden houses were different from the Humans'. The Elves joined and stacked branches to create their own space. Looking from a distance, their wooden houses appeared like a dense greenish treetop. However, not only could Rhode recognize which were the Elves' houses in a single glance, but he also educated the three young ladies from time to time about the history, interests, and accomplishments of the residents. He sounded so convincing that Lize suspected if he was a locally born and bred Elf disguised as a Human.

"What a beautiful place..."

Lize turned to the circular plaza where the melodious voices sounded from. It was simply a paradise of her dreams - Tranquil, cozy, and peaceful. She felt as though the mundane matters of the world had gone far away and the troubles bugging the Humans were unseen on the Elves. The Elves got by everyday peacefully and had no conflicts about money, fame, and status. If it were possible, Lize hoped to stay here forever to get away from all worries...

"Yes, such a great place!"

Anne nodded with might and bite on the red apple in her hand. The apple was a gift given to Anne by an Elf child and there was nothing more satisfying than food for Anne.

"Woah... So delicious. Lize, Little Cutie, do you want one too?"

Anne retrieved two more apples from her pocket and waved them around playfully. Lize accepted her offer gladly while the little mermaid pushed against the wall of the water ball and curiously scrutinize the apple in Anne's hand. She hesitated for a moment before extending her hand. However, she quickly retracted her hand as soon as she touched the outer wall of the water ball as though she had scorched herself.

"What a pity."

Anne let out a chuckle before biting on the apple in her hand once more, letting out a crisp, refreshing sound. This was also a method that Anne had come up with to get along with the little mermaid. She knew that the little mermaid was afraid of strangers and wouldn't approach others closely apart from Rhode. Although Anne and Lize had been by the little mermaid's side along the way, she appeared much closer with Rhode instead. Even though Anne had been 'determined' in enticing the little mermaid, the little mermaid had been keeping a distance from her, which troubled Anne a lot. But Anne refused to give up. Anne liked this little fella a lot because such a cute and amusing playmate was hard to come by. There were even a few times when Anne felt like drooling whenever she saw the little mermaid... However, Anne felt hopeless because the little mermaid had been rather wary of her. If Rhode had to leave her side, the little mermaid would rather get close to Lize than to be with her.

If Rhode knew about this, he would surely lament that the existence of the food chain was truly significant..

"Mr. Rhode."

Suddenly, the group heard a voice. Rhode lifted his head and witnessed Corina leaping off a tree and landed gracefully on the ground like an agile cat. She nodded to Rhode.

"You guys are easy to spot."

"Is anything the matter. Miss Corina?"

Rhode twitched his brows while Corina pondered for a moment before responding.

"Mr Rhode, the Elf Queen has decided. If it is convenient for you, we shall hold the Sword Dance Rite tonight. If both of them... pass the test, we will agree to your request for entry into Ivory Valley," Corina said with a complicated expression. She subconsciously swept a glance to Rhode's side, but failed to spot the two girls anywhere near him. Corina was also confused by her emotions. Ever since she heard the past achievements of the Carlesdine, her mind had been clouded with complex thoughts. She realized that she had understood why Rhode wished to enter Ivory Valley now. If the two girls were indeed Carlesdine, there must be something related to them in Ivory Valley. However, it was due to this that Corina felt guilty. Although it wasn't her responsibility, she felt that the two heroes who had sacrificed themselves for the Elves weren't treated well enough.

"Oh?"

Rhode didn't notice Corina's reaction. Instead, he was surprised by her words. He thought that his request wouldn't be that easily approved because, no matter if it was Ivory Valley or Sword Dance Rite, they were the traditions of the Elves. Participating or entering as a Human would definitely cause discomfort to the Elves. According to Rhode's experience in the game, any of the Elves' discussions usually lasted days before decisions were finally made. Such situations were common in the later stages of the game, after his reputation in the Country of Law had reached new heights and he gained the authority to enter the Elf Dominion to seek assistance. This was why Rhode was used to it. Whenever he required assistance from the Elves, he would send out his application a few days earlier and head out for missions meanwhile. After Rhode completed the mission and received the mission reward, the Elves might not have even come up with a solution. But this time, he didn't expect that the Elves actually approved the Sword Dance Rite suggestion so quickly.

Although he didn't know why the Elves were so unusual this time, it was naturally a good thing for him to settle this problem as quickly as possible. He nodded hurriedly.

"No problem, Miss Corina. We're ready for the Sword Dance Rite anytime."

Corina smiled and nodded in agreement.

"We have prepared dinner and rooms for all of you. After your dinner, I will bring you to the rite."

Corina turned around and headed into a path that led into the shade.

Rhode shrugged and followed her lead. On the other hand, Lize puckered her brows slightly and gazed at Corina with suspicion. Although Corina behaved composedly, Lize sensed the complications and hesitations hidden under her facade. Lize looked curiously at Rhode before shifting her gaze to Corina. Although their interactions were normal, she felt that they had an unusual relationship. The Moon Elf young lady seemed to have some special views on Rhode. This wasn't a conclusion derived from observation. This was a woman's instinct.

The dinner prepared by the Elves weren't sumptuous because they didn't like eating meat or cooked food. In fact, most of the Elves only needed fruits to satisfy their cravings. However, this didn't mean that the Elves' food wasn't delicious. The wine and Elf biscuits that they made had always been popular in the Human world.

However, Rhode didn't focus his attention on the tasty food. Instead, he caressed the dagger hilts around his waist and sensed their spiritual undulation. He realized that his relationship with Gracier and Madaras had become closer after meeting the Elf Queen and now, he could detect their emotions through their spiritual undulation. The nonstop flowing spiritual undulation was long and steady, which represented that Gracier and Madaras were feeling calm. They didn't appear in the least bit tense for the upcoming battle.

The final ray of sunset shone at its finest before falling below the horizon. Then, the bright moon emerged from the darkness and illuminated the dusky forest with gentle, soft light. The sound of birds singing also gradually softened.

Rhode lifted his head and turned to Corina.

"We're ready, Miss Corina."

Although the Sword Dance Rite was a solemn rite for the Elves, the location wasn't as holy and inviolable. In fact, it was held in the circular plaza which Rhode had brought Anne and Lize to in the morning. However, it was currently empty and the moon had brightened the entire venue with its gracious, soft radiance.

The Elves stood patiently and silently by the perimeter, observing everything that was taking place. Rhode lifted his head and spotted the Elf Queen standing on the plaza platform. The Elf Queen revealed a smile to Rhode and turned to the surrounding Elves.

"My compatriots. My people. Today, we are holding a sacred rite to recognize two pure, great souls. They shall prove their honor, bravery, and pride with their blades. And now, under the watch of the moon and the Twin Holy Dragons, we promise and pledge the fairness of this Sword Dance Rite."

The Elf Queen's speech caused a slight uproar among the Elves. Many of the Elves who 'didn't know the truth' expressed different extents of astonishment and doubts. Although the Elves had witnessed several Sword Dance Rites, this was the first time that they had heard the Elf Queen evaluating the challengers as 'pure, great souls'.

Rhode twitched his brows as he sharply detected something abnormal. When the Elf Queen mentioned the Creator Dragon Soul, she used 'Holy' to describe them instead of calling them 'Gods'.

Although the pronunciation was similar, they had totally different meaning.

"Alright then, please welcome our representative."

Shortly after, a familiar, yet unfamiliar figure walked out of the crowd. He was clad in fine glass armor, luxurious helmet and a polished sword emanating magical radiance hung by his waist. But even so, Rhode immediately recognized who he was as soon as he sensed his amusing gaze. It was Dale, the Elf Knight who had suggested this Sword Dance Rite to the Elf Queen.

What is this guy up to?

Rhode puckered his brows and scanned the Elf Knight who had stepped into the middle of the plaza from head to toe. He gently caressed and stroked the daggers around his waist and a wave of dizziness hit him out of a sudden. His vision blurred in a flash and two petite Elf girls emerged before him.

"I'll leave it to you. Gracier, Madaras."

Rhode nodded. The two girls let out crisp chuckles and stepped into the middle of the plaza while holding hands. Then, they pulled down their hood in unison to reveal their extraordinary faces.

"...!"

The crowd cried out in alarm and exclamation. It was apparent that they didn't notice Gracier and Madaras' presences until they had decided to show themselves. The two Elf girls presented their gentle smiles and stretched out their right arm forward. Then...

Shing!

Snowy short blades emerged from their sleeves.In Chinese, holy is "shèng" while God is "shén".

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