Translator:EndlessFantasy TranslationEditor:EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 834, the 1st of February, the Land of the Far South.
The gathered snow over the lofty peaks of the West Mountains region had turned into countless flowing rivers, some of them flowing east and vanishing without a trace after entering the Central Black Forest. Those streaming souths would enter the Far South, flowing past the many forest and plains before assembling in the holy land of the elvesthe Eternal Lake of a Thousand Islands.
The Eternal Lake itself was large enough to be declared a mainland sea. Within it were hundreds and thousands of islands, innumerable and sprinkled like stars over that azure lake surface.
The land surrounding the Eternal Lake was the territory of the elves. Innumerable elven tribe cities were spread across the lakeside and the river banks, but only the most influential and prosperous elven factions could receive an island within the lake as their core citadel.
Because there was where the Lifetrees were.
The Lifetree only grows on the islands within the Eternal Lake. Any elven factions without Lifetree would never be able to stand out.
And at the very center of the lake where the largest island was stood an unparalleled tree that grew up to the skies, its leaves and branches reaching the cloud layers. The colossal body of this mother Lifetree was even wider than a city, and in turn was where the Elven Court lived, breathing alongside the giant tree.
Under the shade of the giant tree on the central island was a bald hill. There, a young elf was carrying the severed head of a huge beast, walking through a dirt path towards the isolated wooden hut on the summit.
Once the entrance opened, the simple but unexpectedly refreshing interior designs of the hut could be seen. A closer look would reveal that it was actually naturally grown from several treesby the eaves and windowsills, one could spy green tree sprouts that were slowly growing, with some mushrooms opening their spore canopy in a corner.
The young elf carried the head of his quarry to the center of the hut, where an elderly green-haired elf was sitting and meditating. He neither became surprised by the young elf’s arrival nor did he opened his eyes, and merely spoke nonchalantly.
“Ira, you’re here.”
The elf named Ira had eyes resembling emeralds and light-blue shoulder-length hair, tied into a shape that allows ease of movement. His features, were handsome like most elves, although his expression and speech had none of the tranquility typical of elves, instead carrying a rare passion and pride.
“Grand Elder! Look, my quarry!” As Ira said, he placed the huge head in front of the older person. After magic processing, the head was not pungent with blood even as it maintained its ferocious air before death.
The Grand Elder who sat on the floor opened his eyes slightly and nodded. “Hunting a Gold-pinnacle earth-shaker dragon by yourself? Not bad.”
“Isn’t that right! I think I’m great too!” Ira boasted with no hint of humility, and was even trying to flex his muscles, but since elves were born with lithe physicality he had to give up regretfully.
Nonetheless, the blue-haired elf was most assuredly proud of the quarry he toiled for.
“Master Madalla, what’s my result in this assessment?”
“Argh, I’ve said that it’s fine.”
Sighing lightly over his pupil’s eccentric behavior, the Grand Elder could not maintain his meditation and simply opened his eyes, his metallic silver eyes studying Ira and the behemoth’s head on the floor before him. Elder Madalla then nodded, and spoke in a rather pleased tone.
“You’ve reached Gold-pinnacle too That’s considered outstanding for your ageit probably could get an excellent appraisal.”
The blue-haired elf did not say a thing, but it was clear from his smiling face that he was very gleeful. After basking in his glory for a while, Ira composed himself.
“Then, Master how do I compare back in your age?” He asked, as if testing the waters. His jovial demeanor also became very serious, the vibrancy he showed just moments ago no longer presentit was clear that he really wanted the answer.
“Me back in my age?”
The Grand Elder Madalla sighed again. He certainly could see Ira’s seriousness, and so thought about it for a moment before speaking slowly.
“Gallandro, the strongest candidate for the next Priest of the Holy Tree in the Elven Court. You know him, of course.” The elderly elf said, answering the question with a question instead.
Still, Ira nodded solemnly in return. The young elf naturally knew the strongest individual amongst the younger generation of the Elven Court, Gallandro Galanoud. On a certain perspective and due to certain factors in his own childhood, Ira was even an admirer of the Gallandro’s.
“Gallandro’s ability at present is almost the same as my own back then, but he possesses more talent than I do.”
The Grand Elder sat right in the center of the wooden hall, and spoke to his pupil with a tranquil tone.
“He left the Eternal Lake early, heading out to train at regions infested with berserk dragons. At the peak of the dragons’ rampage, he had charged out alone against a swarm killing hundreds of them with his single bow, stunning even the humans who were giving him support, later gaining an understanding to ascend. Now, though he’s also Gold-pinnacle, he has touched the edge of Supreme. If you spar with him, you would hold out for some time without losing, but when it comes to life and death”
After pausing for a moment, the Grand Elder said softly, “You’ll die in five seconds.”
With those words, Ira, who had a hint of a smile on his face, wrinkled his brow.
“Master, Gallandro has the blood of royals and the guidance of a Legendary champion, so it isn’t unexpected that he would be stronger than me. That being said, I’m your student, and we’re of the same age and levelhow could he kill me in five seconds?”
In that very moment, the blue-haired elf’s body was streaming with a powerful presence, the mana elements cascading around him in the air according to his will. They were soon condensed into natural runes, as if to form a dazzling bow of stars.
“My abilities,” Ira said, a little disgruntled, “made it hard for me to find a worthy opponent amongst the elven tribes around me. That’s why I hunt those behemoths.”
“And that’s just the elven race,” the Grand Elder darted a glance at his student before shaking his head. “Listen, Ira. Staying in the forest would never let you witness the sky above the leaves. Your vision is too narrow, and you should know very well that even an existence like Gallandro who could slay hundreds of berserker dragons in his youth would be no more than second-rate on the Mycroft Continent.”
Ira nullified the runes condensed from his mana, scratching his head in surprise.
“His Highness Gallandro,” he said in disbelief. “Able to kill me in five seconds, capable of killing hundreds of berserk dragons in a single battle, would be second-rate?”
Although he was disgruntled before, Ira knew that his teacher would not lie to him.
As the Grand Elder of the elves, old Madalla was known for his precise insight. If he said that Gallandro could kill him in five seconds, he was most assuredly right.
And so, the youth, who thought himself a genius but was dealt a heavy blow instead, asked begrudgingly, “Then, ultimately what is considered top-rate? Don’t tell me that thou isn’t considered top-rate either?”
The old elf made a small smile; he was waiting for Ira to ask that question.
“Me? Of course notI’m second-rate in this world too But I’ll leave the elves aside and talk about the champions of other races and factions.”
The Grand Elder shifted his sitting posture a little, straightening his back and leveling his gaze with his student.
“Hrmundr Gripsson, a holy swordsman from the West Mountains, owner of the Silver Oak Holy Sword Mystletainn. While he is of the same tier and age as you, he had already wiped out a dozen cults of varying sizes, slaying the incarnations of at least ten descended demons in the process. He is one of the greats.”
“Emperor of the Northern EmpireIsrael Diamond. In his youth, he rode alone and crashed through the orcs’ stone rhino heavy cavalry, cutting through thousands in each campaign and charged into the orc palace from a thousand miles away. Besieged by their grand army, he cut through three great orc generals before returning safely. He is one of the greats.”
“Barbarossa, Fourth Seat of the Skypiercing White Tower in the Eastern Plains, Master of the Elements. In his youth, he pulled up an entire rock formation from beneath the waves, creating a new artificial island in the eastern sea that he refurbished as his own mage tower. The three major merfolk tribes next to the sea wanted to stop him; they ended up dyeing a vast portion of the ocean around the tower blood-red and only one tribe surviving. He is one of the greats.”
“They are all now Legendary champions, leaders in various powerful faction across the world. They are greats of this world and its last generation.”
“Ira Ellis. You are decent amongst the elves, almost considered a geniusbut to this world, you would only reach so far,” the Grand Elder told his student peacefully.
“To become stronger, you shouldn’t stay in the forest to fight berserk dragons and beasts. You must walk out of it, for the wastelands, snow plains, deserts, and abyssevery single part of this world awaits you. To witness the other champions under the sky, and feel it with your bodythat way only would you understand the true meaning of nature.”
“Nature itself is definitely neither just forest or plants.”
With those words, the aged Grand Elder rose, appearing incomparably imposing as he straightened himself.
“I have a spot in the procession who would follow her eminence the Nature’s Magister to the Northern Empire. You could go have a look, to experience the style of the universal greats within your own generation.”
Starfall Year 834, the 1st of March, Moldavia, the North.
At present, violent winds were moving black clouds that threw a gloomy shadow over the mountains and the plains. Blizzard that covers the sky was pouring, the cold winds engulfing heaven and earth along with dry air, turning all water residue into ice and blanketing everyone with biting child.
The March blizzard was the last snowstorm in the North during winter, as well as the coldest. Winds of frost would billow from the Lost Sea across ice plains, mountains and wastelands before being eventually barred by the Ural mountain range, shaping into a huge blizzard that shrouds the entire north.
In its midst, a team that was out of their element with this world journeyed through the snow.
There were less than twenty of them, but all of them appeared to have Gold-tier ability. They were riding dragon-blooded warhorses provided by the Imperial Military, and at its center was a plain wooden carriage pulled by drakes.
The wooden carriage was brimming with lifeeven in this snowy day, jade-color leaves were still crawling out from the roof, with each leaf bearing a complete Nature Rune and each branch forming a complete Nature Spell.
That carriage alone was also an extraordinary object that surpasses Gold tier. Along with the abilities of the escort’s Gold-tier abilities, they were a sufficient force to invade a small nation.
The snowy wind swelled, blowing off the hood of one of the riders and revealing his pointed ears.
It was a band of elves, heading towards the heart of the Great Ajax Mountainsthe Great Ajax Volcano.
Ira hurriedly pulled up his hood again and tightened the collar of his windbreaker.
“My goodness,” he complained quietly. “Hasn’t it been snowing for three days? Why won’t it stop?”
Beside him, Grand Elder Madalla shook his head. “Three days? My good child, the Northern Lands is the at the very northern edge of this world. Blizzards here are counted in units of months.”
The blue-haired elf stopped talking immediately, directing his horse and following the team in dismay instead.
In his journey with the diplomatic team of her eminence the Nature’s Magister, the young elf unequivocally felt his own shallowness before.
The highlands of the West Mountains, along with the deserts and blizzards of the Northern Empire were completely different environments from the damp forests of the Far South. On this land that he experienced incredible discomfort, Ira could not help admitting that his ability had most assuredly plummeted.
Indeed, if he fought against local aces of the same level as himself, the match would be decided in five seconds.
I’ve been arrogant and complacent before, ignorant and narrow-minded.
Ira honestly admitted his own shortcomings. Still, he was a prodigy amongst the elves, and he understood what he lackedhis adaptation towards the world and his understanding of Nature. When this journey ends, his ability would definitely improve after experiencing this vast world, and it would not be difficult for him to pursue Gallandro whom he once admired.
But what counts as a ‘great’ that Master mentioned?He thought curiously.
And in that very moment, Ira promptly lifted his head to looked around him in surprise. He sensed the surge of a hot windthe warm breath was coming from the front, shrouding the entire band.
The skies that had been covered in black clouds became in darker. Lightning and thunder flashed across the cloud layers, the rolling clouds completely covering all source of sunlight and dumping the world into darkness.
The band of elves, who had been shuffling ahead, stopped.
The sound of blizzard and gales gradually turned into the dripping sounds of rainfloating snow that covered the skies had actually turned into a downpour in seconds.
The droplets were not cold; they could even be described as warm. As it showered across the icy plains of southern Moldavia, a bolt lightning blasted across the darkness, illuminating the entire world for all to see. With its light, Ira could hazily see that there was an enormous silver radiance up front.
Orderly footsteps that trembled the land soon followed.
Band after band of elite armored knights were riding robust dragon-blooded warhorses, leading almost two hundred silver steel puppets as they arrived before the elven procession. They stopped on both flanks of the elves, as if to escort them.
There were even knights among them who were riding winged horses. All of them, with no exceptions, had arrived before the threshold of gold. Naturally, they were no match for the Gold-champions amongst the elves, but these were a team of elves handpicked from their entire race, while they were just the forces of a single territory.
Ira watched the sight in astonishment. The excellence of the knights and the might of their presence made him feel that the Elven Court itself was nothing special, but his attention soon was attracted by other things.
For example, those cries that could be heard from the sky above amidst the thunder.
It was the immeasurably long call of a dragon, appearing alongside the lightning, echoing in the thick of the clouds.
Looking towards the gloom, Ira could somewhat see a tremendous figure that poked out of the clouds from time to time, revealing part of its body.
With black scales that seemed to absorb all light and a smooth but ferocious body, the black giant dragon that had unusual wings that resembled skeletons was carrying a huge steel halo as it weaved in an out of the buffeting winds and lightning. The scorching bolts would be completely absorbed whenever it hit its shell, leaving no hint of a scar.
The hot winds were getting stronger. At present, the weather was no longer chilling, instead more akin to torrential rains during a scorching summer. The golden gem on the black giant dragon’s chest was emitting light like the sun, illuminating half the land beneath the sky.
“My goodness Was it the power of that giant dragon that turned the blizzard into a downpour?!” Ira Ellis mumbled in bewilderment. It was the first time the youth had seen a power that could change the weather. Furthermore, the golden crystal on the black dragon chest that shone like a sun terrified him, for the elf knew that the frightening energies within could kill him instantly several times over.
The old elf beside him, however, shook his head solemnly.
“No. It’s not the dragon.”
He stared in awe at the clouds behind the black dragon.
As a Supreme being, Grand Elder Madalla could naturally see things much more clearly.
If the incredible life emission that could change entire weathers was a sun burning intensely, then the dragon was just a beast of burden pulling its carriage.
At the same time, a man’s voice rang across the skies, muffling the gales.
He spoke to the elves, with a deep and distinct voice that suppressed the sounds of rain and thunder.
“Your eminence, Nature’s Magister.”
“Welcome to the North.”