Chapter 112 - World Tree's Reward (1)
There was no need to rush while returning. Theo had recovered some stamina, but he was still weak. Therefore, he didn't have the strength to run or climb over trees.
However, unlike his tired body, everyone else was shining brightly. It was a life or death battle where a legend of the elves had been revived, but they had survived. Everybody understood that wanting more than this was greedy.
They tried to ignore the fatigue accumulated in their bodies and talked more than they usually did. In the end, it was natural that Theodore would become the center of topic, as the one who had ended Laevateinn.
"By the way, I was really surprised! Superior Theodore!" Someone said while patting him on the shoulder.
"I didn't know there was a way to survive that terrible heat! I don't know about Veronica, but we couldn't even take a few steps."
The middle aged magician had a white beard and wore robes symbolizing the Blue Tower, but he didn't hesitate to treat Theodore in this friendly manner. Perhaps he felt a bond after fighting together.
The magician called Philip, who had aimed the iceberg at Laevateinn, praised Theo's courage and whispered while squinting at his right arm, "The thing on your arm, that is the ability of the national treasure, right?"
Phillip's voice indicated he was already half convinced, so Theo sighed with relief. Apart from the elemental ruler, no one had perceived Gluttony.
He naturally restored his facial expression and gave Philip the answer he wanted, "Yes, that's right. I'm glad it helped."
"Indeed! The moment that the emerald light was seen, I recalled His Majesty. Thanks to this, it saved all of our lives. Isn't this Meltor's blessing?"
"It is as Philip says. I wouldn't even be able to approach it without Umbra."
It was half right, half wrong. Theo didn't lie, but he didn't disclose everything either. This was the excuse that Theodore, who was only a 5th Circle magician, used. After all, it was the national treasure Umbra, of which even the White Tower Master didn't understand the reality of its powers. Theo had insisted that he could defeat Laevateinn with the power of the national treasure and asserted that only he could destroy its body.
The power of the high elves saw that Theo was telling the truth.
Truly, Theo hadn't said that he could destroy it with Umbra. He just said, 'Umbra can be used to destroy Laevateinn's body.'
If they sat down and examined the context calmly, some people might be able to detect something suspicious. However, they were facing a crisis, and it was a confusing situation for everyone.
'Well, it isn't a lie either.'
If Theo didn't have Umbra's Fluidization ability, he would've died before he could even approach it. In his words, Umbra had been essential in destroying Laevateinn's body. As a result, he didn't tell a single lie despite not mentioning Gluttony.
While laughing inwardly, Theo gave the same answer to Heinz, the fourth magician who whispered to him. In this way, everybody was caught in the perfect misunderstanding.
"Oh! Who came to meet us?" Alisa asked as she pointed into the distance.
The humans weren't the only ones who couldn't see anything. The guardian, Edwin, was the same. As the weary Alucard noticed the situation belatedly, a white robe flashed before the party. It was the surprise appearance of the masked White Tower Master, Orta.
However, Orta's sudden appearance wasn't the reason why Theo's group was shocked.
Duk. Dududuk. Duduk.
There was blood was dripping down. A few drops of blood occasionally fell on Orta's white robes, but he didn't let go of the thing in his hands.
It was someone's left arm. Clearly, the arm had been attached to someone's shoulder just a while ago. Blood flowed without interruption from the area where the cut had occurred. It was so out of the blue that the party couldn't help feeling shocked.
However, Orta opened his mouth and spoke as calmly as always, "Philip."
"Eh? Ah, yes!"
Philip came forward, and Orta threw him the arm. The arm was still bleeding heavily, and Philip looked frustrated by the blood on his robes. However, his expression changed after hearing Orta's next words.
"It is the arm of an assassin, presumably from the Seven Swords. I remember that the Blue Tower developed a tracking magic that uses the blood of the target, is that right?"
"...Yes, it is."
"Make a device that can track the owner of that arm. Make a lot and have it be as accurate as possible. He is someone who has a 'stealth' type aura ability. Be thorough when working on it."
"I will follow your words!"
The gazes of the party changed after hearing the mention of the Seven Swords. Although they looked like they were going to collapse right then, they were all suddenly ablaze with a fierce fighting spirit.
It wasn't just the magicians who reacted to Orta's mention of the assassin.
Alisa's playful look was gone as she asked, "Assassin? Is that true?"
"In my opinion, yes."
"It seems like you have already guessed."
Crunch. A loud sound emerged from between her lips.
Unless they were idiots of the century, nobody would send assassins into the Great Forest just to pursue the Meltor delegation. However, killing ordinary elves would just buy them Elvenheim's enmity. As to the valuable targets that only a sword master level assassin could aim at... they were the high elves in the Great Forest.
"I was thinking of killing him, but it is difficult to pursue him. Above all, it is difficult to pursue an opponent in this forest which has many barriers."
In the end, Alisa sighed and bowed her head. "No, I am grateful. An assassin who can deceive the parent's eyes... The children may have been in danger if it wasn't for you."
"I am just acting as a friendly neighbour."
"Kuk, is that so? Then we should also act as neighbours." Alisa seemed to like Orta's ridiculous words as she shrugged and laughed again.
She normally thought of humans as boring, but she didn't hate humans who talked like this man. The debt wasn't that burdensome either. In any case, Elvenheim was now forced onto the same boat as Meltor.
It wasn't confirmed that the people of the Andras Empire were the ones behind this, but it was obvious. For them attempt burning the Great Forest with Laevateinn and assassinating the high elves... the sin was heavy.
It was at this moment that...
A group of people moved through the thick bushes and arrived at the party's location.
Theodore's eyes widened when he saw the person in the lead. The magicians of the Red Tower and elves who used fire elementals had been missing from the subjugation mission since fire magic didn't work on Laevateinn.
Currently, his mentor Vince was dragging some people who were tied up.
Without missing a beat, Orta asked, "The result?"
"It is like Tower Master said... Come out!" Vince stepped away, and one of the bound people walked out slowly.
"We have already secured their testimony. They are mercenaries hired by the black masked man and didn't know what they were carrying. There is nothing else, even if they are tortured."
"Hrmm, it is futile."
"Do you want me to handle this?" Vince asked cruelly as a red flame appeared above his palms.
The bound captives started struggling.
"P-Please spare us Mister!"
"We didn't know anything!"
"H-He, no, that son of the bitch was the one!"
"Please, I will do anything as long as I can live!"
They were evil and confident people in their own backyards, but they looked terrified at the thought of being killed. Orta nodded before squinting at the high elves. They might be lowlifes from Meltor, but this was Elvenheim, so the elves had the right to decide the punishment.
Therefore, he naturally turned to Alisa. "Alisa, how does Elvenheim punish sinners?"
"Huh? Well, there is a lifetime of servitude in the mines... or turning them into a worker responsible for harvesting or hunting?"
"Then do so."
"Eh." Her eyes widened for a moment then she giggled as she understood. "Are you sure you aren't a hundred year old snake? Well, okay. I won't refuse. Guys, take them!"
The group didn't struggle as elves appeared and took them away. It was better than being burned to death by a man with an expressionless face.
Soon after Vince joined, the group arrived at the place they'd left a few hours ago. It was a seemingly ordinary cabin, but inside was a space door Orta admired.
"I can finally relax..." As someone muttered that to themselves, the door opened, and someone ran out.
"Theodore!" It was Ellenoa, with hair which resembled grass as well as a clear, refreshing fragrance. She and the high elves had watched the fight through Ratatoskr.
"Ah, Ellenoa..." Theo wasn't given a chance to respond.
Ellenoa leapt forward and stretched out with both hands.
Snap. Theodore's face was suddenly grabbed.
Theo didn't know this, but Ellenoa had watched him jump into the fire. So, she was now looking at his face and body, searching for wounds which weren't yet healed.
"You aren't hurt anywhere? Hot air blew from the front, so can you see properly? You can move well?"
"I-I'm fine. Alisa treated me once and-"
"Alisa can't finish such a big task!"
Alisa was upset by Ellenoa's sudden outburst, but Alucard just sneered at her. The rest of the party didn't intervene at the high elf's sudden appearance and just watched. Fortunately, Ellenoa ended it quickly.
"Phew, you don't seem to be greatly injured." After examining Theo a few times, Ellenoa finally stepped back, and her head cooled down. She suddenly realized how daring she had been and stated, "That, I didn't mean to do this... that is..."
Ellenoa then inadvertently took a few steps back as all eyes were on her. As her white skin flushed red to an extent in which she couldn't hide it, Ellenoa covered her face and ran out of the cabin.
Then Lumia appeared with a confused expression. "...What happened?"
She didn't know what was going on with Ellenoa, but she sighed at the awkward atmosphere before continuing, "First of all, on behalf of Elvenheim, I would like to thank you for your victory in this tough fight. I'm glad that all of you returned in one piece. We of Elvenheim will never forget your grace. And..."
After the usual greeting, Lumia slowly smiled.
"There are new sprouts in the burned fields. Please join us in our festival."
She invited them to an event at which no human had ever been present since the founding of Elvenheim.