Chapter 105 - Exotic Guests (3)
For the next few days, the group made their own away around the peaceful elf city. Some went into the forest to collect samples of soil and vegetation, while others got samples from streams or lakes.
Meanwhile, there were quite a few people who stayed to listen to the stories of the elves in the city. Right now, elves were hard to find in the human world. So, the kingdom itself was overflowing with many valuable things to study.
There were only two people who didn't move from their rooms. They were the representatives of Meltor, White Tower Master Orta and Theodore Miller.
'Is today already the fourth day?'
Perhaps it was because they had arrived too soon, but Elvenheim wasn't ready to meet them. The elves would send a guide when they were ready, so the delegation just needed to wait. Furthermore, the elves' sense of time was several times slower than that of humans.
Theo looked at the forest outside his window and muttered the name of the legend ranked grimoire, "...Laevateinn."
It was a grimoire of flames which had ended the Age of Mythology thousands of years ago. According to Gluttony, the fire had burned all the world trees growing above the clouds and destroyed the Arv. If this was true, 'Laevateinn' was almost like a disaster to the elves, and it would definitely hit Elvenheim.
'No matter what happens, it won't end moderately.'
The grimoire was aiming for the world tree. It wasn't a position where they could talk about coexistence. Both sides would fight until one was completely gone. Theodore was intent on conserving his strength until the omens appeared. There was nothing more foolish than consuming power and then not being able to use it at important times.
At this moment, someone banged on his door. "Excuse me. Theodore, are you in the room?"
"Yes, I am."
Theo opened the door, and an elf bowed politely as a greeting. From his accessories and clothing, the elf seemed to be a highly-ranked one. The middle-aged elf proclaimed himself as Theo's guide, and the news the delegation had been waiting a few days for had finally arrived.
"Please tell me when you are ready. The parent's dancers have called you."
* * *
The delegation members who had scattered everywhere gathered instantly. Naturally, they had many questions, but they were reluctant to ask the guide in case they would be seen as rude. During times like these, it was the role of the delegation leader to step forward and resolve any questions.
So, Theodore asked the guide who was leading them, "Do we just have to keep walking like this?"
"Yes, that's right."
"The destination is dozens of kilometers from here?"
"Yes, that is correct."
There were question marks above the heads of the delegation members who heard the answers. Why were the number of questions growing instead of reducing? Moreover, the guests were going to have to walk dozens of kilometers...?
However, when the guide saw their puzzled facial expressions, his only reply was a meaningful smile. Thus, they walked 10 minutes without knowing anything. Theodore and Orta were walking a few steps ahead of the rest when the guide suddenly stopped.
Before them was a fairly large knothole, enough for someone to enter without bending down. Oddly enough, the inside was so dark that even sunlight didn't expose it.
At that time, Orta muttered in an admiring voice, "Space door...! It is a record of a bygone era, so I never thought I would see one."
"White Tower Master?"
He didn't listen to the person's call as he touched the knot carefully. Orta's reaction to the knothole almost seemed to be passionate. Based on its name, the space door appeared to be connected to somewhere. After touching the knot, Orta walked into it hurriedly, and his white robe disappeared into the darkness.
The feelings of the group could be largely divided among three emotions: astonishment; admiration; and fear.
'Aha, so it is like that.' Theodore was in the category of admiration as he followed Orta without hesitation.
The knothole was connected with another space, and as soon as Theo entered it, he felt the distinctive dizziness. It was a feeling of discomfort similar to the motion sickness felt from cheap carriages in Bergen.
Fortunately, the discomfort dimmed as soon as he took the next step.
There was the unique aroma of wood, the refreshing feeling of clear air, and the overwhelming flow of mana. As Edwin had said, a magician, who didn't have at least five circles, would lose control of their magic power here.
However, that didn't have much to do with Theodore who had already reached the limits of the 5th Circle. He calmed down the mana flow with an unconcerned expression.
It was only then that he saw them. There were four high elves were sitting around a table and waiting for him.
While Theo greeted Ellenoa, the rest of the delegation crossed the knothole in turn. It was a situation where they couldn't talk privately until all the formalities were gone. The delegation frowned at the discomfort of the space movement, but they kept their mouths shut. It was because they were meeting the legends of the world, the high elves.
Alucard, a dark elf with impressive dark skin, rose and welcomed the guests. "Guests from the magic kingdom of Meltor! We, Elvenheim, sincerely welcome you who have come a long way. After this meeting today, I hope we will be not just neighbours but friends as well."
"Thank you for the kind words, descendants of the Arv. We will observe the laws of the forest while staying here, hopefully proving to be worthy friends and inseparable neighbours."
These were ritual words. White Tower Master replied skillfully to Alucard's old-fashioned greeting, and Alucard sat down again like the response was satisfactory. Theodore and Orta were seated relatively close to the high elves, with the rest spaced out.
The discussion began in earnest not long after.
"First of all, I would like to talk about trade goods."
The alchemists of the Yellow Tower were excellent, but they couldn't reproduce the special goods created from by-products of Yggdrasil. However, Elvenheim traditionally only traded a small volume to other countries. There had never been an exception to that policy, but today was different.
Alucard nodded since they had already consulted each other in advance.
"We feel the same way. The artifacts made by Meltor are useful to Elvenheim. If you increase that number, we will show the same kindness."
"If possible, I would like to increase the quantity of raw materials for medicines and..."
"What do you think about tripling the existing amount?"
Indeed, the White Tower Master engaged in the negotiations with diplomatic knowledge and eloquence Theo didn't have. It was impossible for Theo, who didn't really like being social, to negotiate the existing contract and its details with the trading partner. For this mission, it was more accurate to say that Kurt III had sent Theo as a diplomat.
In the meantime, Theodore felt a strange incongruity.
'Ah, that's it.'
There was one high elf missing. The voice of the chatterbox in Ratatoskr wasn't present. She was the elf who was curious about the relationship between Theo and Ellenoa.
Despite Theo wondering why she was missing, the meeting between the two countries proceeded smoothly. Meltor didn't want to lose this chance to get close to Elvenheim, and Elvenheim was willing to give quite a bit. For that reason, the conversation went smoothly.
"So, if we don't focus on one area, is it okay to cut from the outskirts?"
"It is fine as long as the balance of the forest isn't disturbed."
"I understand. I will be sure to tell you before proceeding with any logging work. In the case of the fruits and harvest, it will be divided in a 5:5 ratio."
Once the decision on logging, which was an implicit taboo, was finished, the air in the meeting room relaxed. Now, the only things remaining were the matters of mutual non-aggression and emergency military support. These weren't matters which could be determined in one or two days. So, as representatives of the two countries, Orta and Alucard both were satisfied with their current progress on the negotiations.
However, the moment they were going to move on to the banquet...
The high elves had more sensitive hearing than humans, so they were the first to notice the noise. They stiffened and looked up at the air, while the air above the table started to wobble. Then a wave of light appeared from somewhere.
Alucard was confused as he cried out, "This route... It is the dryad queen! What is happening all of a sudden? You're accessing Ratatoskr without our permission!"
The scenery turned red, and screams rang out in the distance. Theodore couldn't help gulping as he heard the noises.
Not long after Alucard finished talking, someone's distressed voice spoke up, [Ahh, please forgive me! But, but!]
"Explain what happened! I will investigate your mistake after that!" At the dark elf's words, an image in the air changed. The view rotated slowly to reveal a terrible red sight. There were mandragora-like screams as dryads and ents were swallowed by flames, and beyond that was the source of the tragedy.
"Fire... giant?" Someone murmured when they saw a giant burning the forest.
Flames covered the area every time he took a step, and his fire sword burned up the ents and dryads like they were rotten leaves. The scene where his feet turned the ground into magma was like a nightmare in itself.
Theodore's eyes sunk in as the White Tower Master remained speechless.
According to Gluttony, Laevateinn was an autonomous maneuver-type grimoire, and the fire giant was its second form. If two more seals were released, it would turn into a master level monster which they couldn't afford to face.