Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Galanoud sighed softly after a brief silence—something she did frequently in her conversation with Joshua today. “Radcliffe,” she said a little feebly, “nobody could keep up the conversation with the way you speak.”
Still, she appeared not to mind, as if she was used to similar beings who spoke freely without any being aware of their environment. Shaking her head, she simply delved into the heart of the matter as well.
“Then I shall speak frankly—it concerns the World Tree.”
“World Tree? That Seed?” Joshua asked doubtfully in return, and it was clear he did not find anything wrong with the way he spoke and was not conscious at all about his own Emotional Quotient.
“Indeed, the Seed reawakened by Father Nature in the Great Ajax Volcano,” Galanoud said patiently. “You must have heard rumors that there had been dissent amongst the elves. Everything began with the World Tree.”
Joshua nodded. He did his homework before meeting the Nature’s Magister here in the Lake of Eternity, and certainly was aware of the elves’ current internal affairs. In a nutshell, the Nine Elven Tribes are unhappy with the Court’s monopoly over the World Tree, and while they did not protest against the Elven Empress’s authority, they showed a silent resistance, acting in civil disobedience.
And in such a few months, the elves who had been united began to show signs of schism. Just as the Court could not extend its decrees outside the cityscapes around the Lake of Eternity, the Nine Tribes did not have the core resource support of the Court. Both sides held each other in a stalemate that made all elves uncomfortable — in such an atmosphere that resembled a cold war, conflict could explode with a single spark.
“Now that you mention it, I find it unusual: why wouldn’t you release Father Nature’s Legacy?”
Joshua, being a non-elf and hence uninvolved, still found things puzzling. “Father Nature’s awakening of the World Tree Seed definitely isn’t to strengthen the Elven Court exclusively, and my impression of you, my lady, is definitely not of a hoarder.”
And Galanoud assuredly was not. In fact, the reason she was known as Nature’s Magister was that she solemnly instructs all intelligent beings indiscriminately—whether they were elf, human, dwarf or halfling—who set their wills on walking Nature’s Way. She was the one with most nominal apprentices, since all druids and mages affiliated to the Earth-elements would logically have attended her public classes.
“I do not know how to put it.”
But now, such an instructor who insists on educating everyone regardless of background could only smile bitterly, shaking her head at Joshua’s question. Galanoud appeared unsure how to answer at once, and only spoke softly after a brief gran.
“What do you believe the World Tree to be, Radcliffe?”
It was a fine question. Joshua thought about it for a moment before answering. “The perfect version of a Mother Lifetree? Or perhaps, to a certain extent, a progeny or copy of Father Nature.”
“Yes, and no.”
Not quite rejecting Joshua’s question, Galanoud looked up to the nine colossal trees that towered over the surface of the Lake of Eternity, her eyes reflecting the image of their massive trunks that pillared the world. Then, she lowered her gaze and leveled it at Joshua again. “The World Tree is definitely a superior existence than the Mother Lifetree and possesses many more mysterious uses, along with a complete Legacy from His Majesty. However, apart from that, there’s also many…”
At those words, the Magister frowned and searched for the suitable word.
“Her Imperial Majesty and I had studied the essence of the World Tree Seed, and was shocked to find that it was a massive ‘living data vault’ instead of the mere seed from an Extraordinary plant. In its cores are most Legacies and information ‘Ancient’ elves had planted within.”
As the Nature’s Magister elaborated, her tone became calmer and less emotional as she explained hers and the Elven Empress’s discovery in detail. The World Tree Seed, a clone that Father Nature created by parting His own body, was His progeny and also a prototype He would use to advance into the Void and other worlds. Its core was a data vault that could elevate a band of elves into Extraordinary civilization out of nothing, the content of which was all-encompassing: all knowledge could be attained from it, be it how to construct interdimensional portals down to how to nurture plants.
“By the latter period of the Glorious Era, our elven ancestors had conducted many external colonization trials, with Solar Ships carrying sprouts of mature Mother Lifetree and elven elites to other worlds. However, because they were unable to alter local nature, all otherworld colonies needed help with resources from the Mycroft locals, or they would find it difficult to survive for extended periods.”
The Nature’s Magister then lowered her eyes, shifting her gaze from Joshua’s too little budding sprouts on the ground.
“His Majesty had collected data of the colonies and created the World Tree at the time, but before the plan revolving around it could be launched, it ended due to the Final Battle. Even so, inside it was information detailing the colonial elves… Their link to Mycroft was severed before the Final Battle, and now… they should be lost to the depths of the Endless Void by now.”
And basically, unable to survive.
Joshua could not help sighing lightly at those words, the memories he attained from the Black Mist suddenly appearing: The lightless shade had obscured the light of the Multiverse, the evil that devoured all things sweeping through the skies of ten thousand worlds. Beneath the might of those swarming Evil Gods, even the ‘Shelter’ civilization—a society that transcended many worlds, and a grand world that had allied itself with Glorious-Era Mycroft had crumbled and died, leaving the Black Mist as a last-ditch form of survival.
Furthermore, even if the world of Mycroft triumphed against its foes, their civilization had largely regressed to its present-day state. Though the Starfall Era had almost molded itself into a shade of the Glorious Era back then, there was a still a great distance to cover — and if that was already the case for the civilization itself, what more was its scattered branches?
Joshua mostly understood what the Nature’s Magister meant at that.
“So, you’re saying that you intend to join the Empire’s plan to develop outwardly? Do you plan to search for those colonial elves that were spread elsewhere by using information from the World Tree Seed?”
Joshua shook his head. “Welcome to the team then—I believe I speak for Israel, Nostradamus as well as myself that all of us would be very accepting of your involvement. However, forgive my frankness but those colonials… would be dust by now.”
Joshua spoke rather pertinently. After all, if they had been devoured by the Evil Gods and their kin, there would not be even dust left of them.
“Rationally speaking, the relics of those colonials would be a great find even if they had died, providing us great experience regarding mass colonialism in the present. On the other hand, from an emotive aspect, those colonials had left their homeland for their own race, and yet were abandoned by their own race in days long gone. That is why, now, we as successors have a duty to bring those pioneers home.”
The Nature’s Magister inclined her head, and spoke in a tranquil voice. “I would discuss with Israel myself regarding my participation. Us elves are willing to provide support in the form of skill and personnel, but this time, I wish to entrust something upon you: Count Radcliffe—during your next travel, I hope you could pay attention to worlds in these coordinates. The elves would not be stingy in their reward.
“It is fine by me… searching for ancient remains when the opportunity arises and help to bring those pioneers home is nothing difficult.”
Joshua frowned even as he accepted the substantial amount of coordinates the Magister sent to him through a spiritual link. “But why would you entrust that task to me?”
“Are you not, after all, the one on Mycroft who ventured into Void most frequently with great rewards?”
The warrior thought about it, and could not actually come up with any retort. Since arriving on the Mycroft Continent, he had very much run a lap around another world every few months, and had stayed in foreign realms no longer than he had stayed in his own domain… At the moment, he might already have the label ‘Void Exploring Expert’ in the eyes of other Legendary champions. In the end, every other Legendary champion had their own factions or race to oversee, and the greater their ability, the greater their duty and authority. They were leaders of peoples, and naturally could not scamper around like the warrior.
“Still, you had not explained why you would not share the Legacy amongst the Nine Tribes… though it is a matter concerning your own race, as one who met Father Nature, I think he definitely wouldn’t like the elves’ state right now.
Due to the issue being an internal conflict amongst the elves, Joshua did not press her, although the Nature’s Magister did not conceal her opinion.
“Joshua, do you still not understand?” She sighed and spoke softly. “The core of the World Tree Seed is the elves’ data vault of ‘Ancient Times’.”
Galanoud closed her eyes and shook her head, even as she emphasized the ‘Ancient’ prefix. “The legacy of the elves is lacking. A thousand years ago—at the beginning of the Starfall Era, we sought the path to Extraordinary from virtually nothing, which is why every elf strongly yearned for a complete divine legacy — I understand the Nine Tribes’ dissatisfaction well, for that was what I really thought when I labored in that same pursuit.”
“But Nature is ever-changing, never once staying the same.” She continued firmly, opening her eyes. “The Nature’s Way a thousand years ago is simply ill-suited for today’s world. His Majesty’s own path may be greatly inspiring to those learned a Legend like me, but it’s nothing less than a path to doom for those who do not understand what they are learning!”
Galanoud’s words were extremely determined and confident without any self-doubt. She was truly worshipful of Father Nature’s Legacy when she encountered the Creator of the Elves, and yet here she was, daring to criticize Him.
“Most of the time, the Divine Nature Spells that His Majesty passed down relies upon the power of the Profound Being known as the ‘World.’ According to the description of His Legacy, that Profound Being was a Will that treated all things with kindness. Now, however, that Will is gone, and worse still, it glares at us with enmity—that is why His Majesty’s divine spell is unsuitable for present-day use from the start!”
She was referring to Mycroft the Steel Python, the World Will. Joshua was aware of the true face of that Profound Being the instant he caught that very mention. Though he did not know if the Nature’s Magister knew it the World Will was sealed in the depths of the earth’s core, the warrior believed she knew and thought he himself did not, which was why she explained it to him a little more tactfully.
“That is why I can’t share that Legacy. Instead, I shall destroy and bury it.”
Concluding her own words resolutely, the Nature’s Magister’s tone gradually calmed as if noticing that she had been a little emotional. “His Majesty isn’t wrong; this world is what’s wrong, and when heaven and earth changes, we have to as well—and not follow ancient traditions stubbornly.”
“That was convincing. So why not explain that to those tribes? They would not doubt you given your credit, even if they believed you provisionally.”
Joshua had somewhat understood the Magister’s actions. Naturally, if the Legacy of ancient Divine Nature Spells is related to the Steel Python, the best countermeasure was to destroy everything without leaving any trac. No one could tell if Mycroft the Steel Python had kept some hidden channel that could free it from its bonds through Divine Nature Spells—it was ultimately a World Will, and no measure was too prudent. Still, while the Magister’s general strategy was fine, it was crude in the details: The Elven Court, being aware of the truth, could have just made slight arrangements, and things would not deteriorate to a state of near civil-strife amongst the elves.
“Because many elves do not understand what ‘Nature’ actually is.” Galanoud simply smiled in return. “Most elves and outsiders such as yourself believed that Nature is a pronoun for ‘World’, that the ecosphere is the world you and I live in when in fact it wasn’t so. Without the influence of that Profound Being, Nature’s Power had already turned into brand-new energy completely distinct from what it was before, and yet most elves never noticed that—which is why I say that they ‘don’t understand what they are learning.’”
While she spoke, the Nature’s Magister slowly turned her back to Joshua, and spread her arms at the Lake of Eternity. Galanoud’s entire body thus began to cascade with waves of soft green creases of light that spread outwards as a warm breeze. Joshua looked up and watched as the pale-green wind swept across the lakeside and the surrounding forests, sensing all of nature slowly throbbing, as if a giant creature was vibrating its own lungs in a deep breath.
“Nature is not a world. Instead, it is the sign that life is victorious over it,” Galanoud began softly—her voice level in the beginning, but gaining in somberness the more she spoke. Then, as if wanting to prove something to someone, she exclaimed with an extraordinarily determined voice!
“What elves know of Nature today is completely wrong. Ecospheres do not exist to protect worlds, but created by life itself to guard themselves!”
“World is Eternity, and the birth of Natural Life was to conquer that Eternity from the start. We shall flourish over this soil, until the end of this World or the end of our race!”
The Nature’s Magister then promptly turned and stared at Joshua. The warrior could tell that the Legendary champion was extremely emotional—it’s after deep breaths that she calmed.
“Father Nature’s philosophy is out of fashion. I must completely change the awareness of the elves toward Nature without compromise. This time, every leader of every tribe had been invited here precisely so that the true form of Nature’s Way can be demonstrated.”
Then, after a long silence, Galanoud finally spoke again with an almost unintelligible voice, with an indescribable sense of puzzlement.
“Joshua, you are the only human who met Father Nature. Tell me, which path is better for the elves: His Majesty’s or mine?”
To ask that question must have tormented Galanoud herself greatly.
Joshua exhaled, knowing that for that lady who had always revered Father Nature and saw Him as the Creator of elves and their benevolent guardian, to walk a different path that denies His ways was in itself something of genuine anguish. The reason she asked for Joshua was not to give him some Mother Lifetree or to ally herself with a development project. Indeed, Galanoud’s purpose was simple: she simply wanted to hear an answer—one that either acknowledges or refutes—from the one person who had met Father Nature.
While she held herself determinedly outwardly, there was still a sense of doubt in her.
The warrior knew of the Magister’s doubts very well. It was because she was truly powerful that Galanoud had ventured too far and too deep into her own Nature’s Way that even Father Nature could no longer guide her forward. Right now, she arrived at a fork in the road none had taken before her, and she did not know which path better suited the elves of present day.
Even so, all Legends are those who walked paths no one had taken before them. They are pioneers of new roads, and their successors would be at a loss in the face of unknown and choices.
“I do not know, My Lady.” Joshua did not know how to respond at first toward Galanoud’s query, but then smiled.
“However, I do believe that you shouldn’t doubt yourself.”
As he recalled what he saw back in Illgner, Joshua remembered the rage and disdain Illgner the Steel Python had toward Father Nature then. The World Will had hated the deity for altering its body for His own Children, just so that the elves could live safely in another world.
For the elves, He changed His own path.
For the elves, she chose that path.
Indistinctly, that wrinkled tree face of Father Nature started to overlap with Galanoud’s beautiful features. The two were completely different and yet identical; the pair started distinctly only to finally tread on the same path.
Therefore, Joshua bowed slightly toward Galanoud. “For you are a truly worthy Nature’s Magister,” he said sincerely.