Naturally, the group that came forward were led by the mayor of the Babel financial district.
They were facing a monsteror to be precise, a herowho had just vanquished an entire army of stone demons. Since they did not know his race or his attitude toward elves, they decided to employ the most prudent and safest strategy: raising a white flag.
It isn't a sign of surrender, but merely a gesture that we have no intention of resisting, my lord anything you say, goes.
According to the hypothesis made by their Intelligence Agency, the being's ability itself might be a sign that he bore no ill will towards the elves. On the other hand, he was a clear enemy of the golemssomething they had in common.
While the enemy of an enemy wasn't exactly one's friend, both sides were creatures of intelligence. That meant interaction was possible; they should try to draw in the super-warrior-who-suddenly-appeared to their ranks and try to dig out certain information
Naturally, they had to be careful. The sheer gap in abilities meant that they have to show utter reverence no matter what.
A hundred meters away from Joshua and his group, the procession left their armored car.
As a gesture of respect, they had specially worn ceremonial robes. It was not a matter of dressing to impress, but merely acting according to their own highest standards.
Leading them was Professor Nielsen. Being the only elf who often mingled with volcanic dragons and was knowledgeable in regards to the language of the Plain Dwellers, there wasn't a better candidate to assume the immense responsibility of guiding the team.
Everything was perfect, the elves had accounted for every scenario. Whether it was going outside the capital to welcome them under their own initiative or compensating for a potential language barrier, they thought of everything.
Save for one.
"The accent of your Common Tongue is too weird"
Joshua was standing on top of Black's head, surveying his surroundings.
He glanced at the elderly white-haired elf beneath him and frowned, sweeping his eyes around the band of extremely nervous elves, and added puzzledly, "I have no idea what you're saying."
There was no doubt that the man was using the Common Language. It was the most widespread tongue that even elves, dwarves, and the occasional dragon would get out of their way to learn. Still, there are times beings using the same language would prove incomprehensible towards each other.
This was exactly the case with this old elf, who spoke an apparent mixture of the accent from far down south alongside dated elvish vocabulary. He was even using elvish grammar, spicing it up with a tonal arrangement Joshua had never heard before.
In fact, there wasn't a single soul who could understand it.
Bizarrely, the ancient elf could understand Joshua's speech, but because they had no idea how to solve the communication problem at hand, Nielsen's brow was breaking out in cold sweat. He couldn't help but feel a primordial fear towards the black-haired warrior. And there's that unbelievable pressure from his very presence that was forcing him to relive many unwanted memories.
The short exchange with the warrior was draining him of his very spirit.
With the old professor being in such a state, the other elves behind him were helpless.
They had just been given a good beating by the silver human silhouette's psychic attacks; now they were battered by the warrior's aura. They looked crestfallen, and some of the weak-minded were already blanking outperhaps hallucinating.
Behind Joshua, Roland couldn't continue watching. He moved, gathering a bunch of Holy Light that turned into innumerable bolts that streaked towards the elves. Most of them calmed in an instant, although it also made most of them avert their gaze from the warrior, save Nielsen.
As for the old elf, the Holy Knight chanted another prayer that granted him a skill.
The Holy Spell granted the target a temporary but full proficiency of one the caster's known language; almost equivalent to sharing a portion of their own knowledge. With this trick, Nielsen's suddenly realized his errors in the Common Tongue (that was skewed by decades of errors in tones and lingual shifts).
Nonetheless, he understood one thing thanks to Roland's spell: the people before him bore no ill-will towards the elves.
He took a deep bow in gratitude; many doubts and worries were relieved from his heart.
Before this, Nielsen had thought that only the volcanic dragon's masterthe black-haired, scarlet-eyed warrior was there.
Upon their approach, he then noticed the three others in the group, a blond adult male and a pair of youths: a silver-haired girl and a black-haired boy. Those few, including the volcanic dragon appeared to be led by the warrior who vanquished the golemsand could either be a squad or blood-related.
Each individual except the warrior was dressed in casual apparel and seemed unprepared for battle. The two weapons they had seen the warrior wield were also missing; there's no telling where he had put it.
"My lord, if you be willing, please do come in town for some rest. We have prepared everything for you"
After ensuring that they could communicate seamlessly, Nielsen voiced his party's concerns.
They initially conveyed their sincere gratitude towards Joshua and company (including Black) for their immense assistance to the elven race. Then the mayor went up, with Nielsen as a translator, and invited all of them to enter town for rest; Babel would also be offering many tokens of gratitude whatever they desired, the elves would see to them.
"They just want Master to help defend the town." The silver-haired girl whispered into her little brother's ear. "That thinking is so simple, even I can tell."
Ling, however, shrugged, and whispered back, "Going into town would get us news and information about this world. We could also rest and prepare. After all, Master does not mind guarding the city, and it wasn't anything bad."
Black wanted to voice his thoughts too, but he feared the warrior's disciplineso it kept quiet and stood up straight, unmoving, just like a statue.
That being said, Joshua had first noddedand then shook his head. His expression unreadable, the fighter told Nielsen and the elven procession, "Skip the breaks. All of you need to restructure your defenses and allow your wounded troops and citizens to rest and recover. An assault from Chaos wouldn't be so simple."
He then recalled how the Aragami army swarmed and blanketed an entire sky and cautioned somberly, "The smell of Chaos is still thick in the air. Never let your guard down, or another bunch of them would quickly appear."
None of the elves dared to retort against Joshua's warning, merely nodding at his wordseven if Joshua himself was simply voicing his opinion.
After a little thinking, he asked, "What does your kind know about these magic puppets?"
"You're referring to the golems?" Professor Nielsen gulped and rubbed his hands. He then answered, his voice shaking slightly, "Information about them? We have thosealthough we don't know much about them either. Most of the intelligence we have are held in the library within the heart of town, we did not bring them along with us."
Are they so extraordinarily concerned about the golems that they came especially for that? The old elf thought, along with dozen other things that swam around his mind as he spoke to Joshua. Any who had witnessed the warrior's ability would have been able to tell that there wasn't any existence of such stature on the entire Illgner Continent; he must have come from a faraway placeor an entirely different world.
He never realized that the warrior was here solely to look for Black, the silly dragon.
Naturally, Joshua could tell that the locals were trying to guess their origins. It was a long story, and therefore he ignored the expression on the elderly elf and decided to leave it to their imagination. "I need to know every detail about the golemsoh, right, and also about your civilization." He said simply, before adding importantly, "Do not hide anything."
He uttered that as a simple request and did not use an extra forceful tone, which should ensure that there wouldn't be any holes in his knowledge. However, to Nielsen and his brethren, each word seemed emphasized and thunderous to their eardrums, and all of them quickly nodded while the mayor patted his chest, promising that he would have everything and nothing would be left out.
Behind Joshua, Roland raised his hand, intending to protestbut put it down. It's alright I guess. They are unfamiliar elves, using Joshua's aura of despair would probably be fineit'd guarantee slightly higher efficiency at least.
The Holy Knight waswithout questionon the side of justice; but Roland also understood that greater efficiency meant helping more people. Compared to the mood of those few elves, it was more crucial that they come to grips with this world.
In another direction.
An airship, shaped like a water droplet, was moving across the dark night, thrumming against wind shears.
The creation of the craft itself was a pinnacle of magical technology; the ship hull was powered by mobility spells and a levitation core. A standard-issue had a capacity of up to two hundred and fifty tons, and flew at 60km/h. It was not fast but sufficient; although if better materials were used in construction, the capacity and speed could more than double.
And it was obvious that the deep-blue colored water-droplet airship was built with better materials.
It moved urgently at a velocity above 100km/h towards the valley. Winds that could rip ancient trees of their roots smoothly blew by its aerodynamic hull without much resistance.
Soon, it arrived at the edge of the valley.
The gale was extremely forceful; younger elves who weighted lighter would have been blown off its whistling sound was even muffling the engine sounds.
A balcony protruded out of the ship at its side.
A red-haired elf stood there, feeling the ferocious breezes with his face. He squinted to look at the world below.
Suddenly he opened his eyes wider and stretched out his hand, catching something out of the air.
"Wind's howling enough to blow leaves up here." Vulcan, the commander-in-chief reflected silently. "The Valley of Origins had never been windy, but now everything's changed, be it this valley, or this world."
"My Lord, please return! Hurricanes and the like have been seen in the valley a few days before; if a sudden turbulence were to appear" A worried voice called out behind him.
Vulcan kept quiet for a few moments. He then sighed and turned, leaving the balcony. The leaf floated away from his hand, disappearing slowly into the gloomy colors of the night, as if vanishing into a bottomless abyss.
The winds soon gained momentum. Two winds from different directions collided, whirled and fused into a single funneled airflow. Accompanying the endless thundering sky, a thick and wide black hurricane appeared, pillaring the sky and the earth. Purple lightning cracked the horizon, the bizarre flash making the cyclone appear like a colossal titan prepared to bring destruction.
At the same time, the airship landed on a broad plain within the mountains. All that surrounded it was ruins and corpses riddled with cannon fire. Scars to the landscape wrought by magical battles and projectiles were in abundance overhead.
Vulcan left the airship in the company of several bodyguards. The leader of the elves surveyed the vast ruins and sighed deeply.
This was the ruins of the former capital of last elven kingdom.
His goal was the ground buried under ruins torn apart by war and strife.
A true abyss.