Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Starfall Year 837, twenty-seventh of February, the Island of the Redwood Mother Tree, the Lake of Eternity.
Hill Tidesong was seated inside a plain wooden shrine at the center of the island, his eyes closed in meditation.
That island was the island where the Mother Lifetree of the Tidesong tribe grew, with were portraits of former elders of the Tidesong tribe across generations placed inside the simple shrine. Their remains had assimilated with the Mother Tree, leaving only their portraits for the successors. As the black-haired elf sat composedly in the center of the wooden hall and withstood the stares of his ancestors, a white haired, shriveled elf who appeared very old due to depleted lifeforce, as well as another elf who appeared young but having lost his right hand and left leg sat beside him.
There was a remarkable resemblance in the facial features of the three elves—none would doubt that they were related by blood when they saw them. Hill, who sat in the middle was the youngest and had a complete set of limbs. Meanwhile, a pale green light was wafting on top of the trio’s heads, connecting the trio while stretching out to the rear of the shrine and linked it to the immeasurably huge redwood tree at the center of the island.
After a long meditation, Hill slowly opened his eyes, his purple pupils flashing with green bolts. After a long sigh, the young elf made an expression of epiphany.
“So that is the legacy of our tribe…”
Beside the black-haired elf, the old white-haired elf, seemingly wanting to rise, but his rigid limbs almost made him fall. Hill hurried to help him, but was shoved away by the elder. Coughing, the old elf stared that his youngest son with a complicated expression—he opened his mouth and was about to speak imposingly, only to muster a sigh in the end.
“You are now the elder of the Tidesong tribe, Hill Tidesong.”
“Be on your toes, little brother.” On Hill’s other side, the elven amputee also rose slowly—sprouts had grown from out of those missing joints, forming wooden limbs that helped his movement.
Hill’s elder brother took a deep breath and grinned. “You bear a great responsibility from now on.”
“Actually, I don’t understand.”
Hill shook his head beneath the shade of the Mother Lifetree, the most important place of their tribe. “It makes sense with father—his life had been depleted so utterly that sprouts of the Lifetree would only delay death and unable to recover his ability. Brother, you on the other hand, hadn’t your limbs been healed? Why must I be recalled to lead the tribe?”
Though he spoke that way, Hill was not unwilling to carry out his duty. He was merely puzzled, and therefore desired answers.
“Because what’s hurt isn’t my body, but my heart.”
The older elf replied his younger sibling’s question calmly. He looked up and at the portraits of their ancestors around them, even as he continued earnestly, “in the battle of life and death against the Pentashade dragons, I realized how feeble my spirit was. One moment of carelessness, and I’ve lost my arm and leg… And it’s no simple injury. The venom of Green Dragon could corrode my organs at any given moment—I must recuperate over five years if I’m to make a full recovery.
“Five years is precious even for elves. I can’t wait that long, just as the Tidesong tribe could not.”
It was a convincing answer that Hill could not refute but accept. As he watched his father and brother leave the shrine and close the doors, the young elf breathed a long sigh.
Though the legacy ritual has ended, he was not to leave the shrine: his inheritance ceremony as tribal elder and weeding was soon. He would wait in the wooden building with the ancestors of the Tidesong tribe until every ceremony began.”
“So such is the shackle of returning to family… all manner of codes and rules, having to regulate relations within the tribe after inheriting the title of elder, interacting with other tribes… It would be hard to even leave the Far South, looks like the free and easy life before is no more.”
Settling down on the floor again and closing his eyes to meditate once more, Hill heard the doors to the shrine open and the sounds of light footsteps behind him. There was the faint crackle of static electricity, and the black-haired elf knew that it was Fina, who has yet to completely grasp the bloodline power of Ancient Dragon. She would be waiting with him until the ceremonies began as his fiancée.
“Not happy, Hill?” She asked softly.
Walking slowly to Hill’s side, the Sea Dragon lady settled lightly down beside the black-haired elf, leaning her head to him. Fina’s expression was visibly uncomfortable, appearing troubled that she had brought extra problems for Hill due to her own race, filling her face full with worry despite her initial staunch expressions.
“Hill… It’s all my fault.” She said softly.
“This isn’t troubling at all. You did nothing wrong.”
Hill shook his head in response to Fina’s self-blame, reaching out with his left hand to grasp her right tightly.
“Listen, as long as you’re here beside me,” he added mildly, “I’m willing to live like this even if I’m no longer free.”
Starfall Year 837. The first of March, Redwood City, the Lake of Eternity.
It was a day of fine weather, cloudless for ten thousand miles.
The wedding ceremony of the new Tidesong tribe elder—Hill Tidesong would be held today.
The water resources in the Far South was ample. Along with its location near the tropics, the vapors of jungle rivers would rise as clouds no matter what weather it was. But when the elven mages cast their spells, even the lord-less clouds must follow the decrees of magic.
Compared to the bustling atmosphere of the city, the wedding in Redwood Castle over the colossal redwood tree appeared cold and cheerless. Even so, every single person walking in the castle now were all elven nobles and important people. Most of the leaders of the Nine Great Tribes had been invited by the Nature’s Magister and the Elven Empress to Redwood City, with those who did not come for certain reasons sending their deputies or former elders here as representatives.
In truth, Hill know that his own wedding was but an excuse to invite the many elven nobles here together, even if he was the main character of the ceremony. They have to resolve their conflict over the legacy of the World Tree, since they were, all of them, elves. Regardless of how ugly their discord had been, they should find another platform for discourse in search of a compromise, and most of their problems would be resolved. When push comes to shove, the Empress and the Magister would have to act under pressure and ‘appease’ them.
Still, for that reason alone, the Nature’s Magister herself would endorse the union between him and Fina, suppressing voices of dissent against the mixing of elven bloodlines.
“The great wall of bloodlines is a code us elves held staunchly over eight centuries. But to be honest, is there still meaning to maintain pure elven bloodlines now?”
At the time, the Nature’s Magister had stood against a bunch of conservative elven nobles, speaking with an unprecedented tone of solemnness. “Even rats know well enough to adapt to the changing environment. So, are we elves not even above rats that we must follow a dated eight-hundred-year-old code? In ancient times, when the races had a scarce population, we relied upon the elites for rapid development. Now, however, the magical industry has become widespread, and the world has arrived at a critical juncture. Therefore, what we need are not elites trained over decades, but a vast population that could support the mass industry!”
“Everyone knows the birthrate of pure-blooded elves at present. There is no doubt that we would be left behind by the times if we perpetuate stubborn conservativeness… Do you wish for the ancient glory of the elves to slowly vanish from the pages of history? It is time to change!”
The Nature’s Magister had demolished everyone present, forcing most of the stubborn nobles to abandon their protest against intermarriage, bloodline alteration and the magical experimentation of ‘bloodline refinement project’. Nonetheless, she cleverly avoided an obvious issue—the birthrate of dragons was not high either. Hill and Fina’s union had nothing to do with bloodline refinement at all, and it would instead be harmful toward the present situation.
While that was the case, there were always a few people who were simple.
“…Before the God of Love, please take the ancient holy ordinance that you would love and cherish one another, till death do you part.”
In front of the holy statue of ‘Yolanda’, the God of Love and Death, the current Elven Empress—a silver-haired elven lady with a golden gaze and a purple jade crown—enunciated the elegant ancient elven oaths, smiling as she blessed Hill and Fina. Having inherited the name of previous elven monarchs, Herenvarno the IX was presently sincerely blessing the pair before her, though there were ulterior motives for her presiding over Hill’s wedding. While the Legendary champion’s reputation was unassuming, her ability having been obscured by the title of Elven Empress, she discreetly adjusted Hill and Fina’s physicality, even holding down the agitated Ancient Dragon Blood within the Sea Dragon Lady’s body.
A gentle and warm flowery fragrance wafted over the entire ceremonial hall amidst the elven queen’s blessing. That sweet scent appeared to be non-existent in the physical realm but touches the depths of spirit, that even druids who had wooden or draconic bodies could clearly pick up that revitalizing scent. As the fragrance cascaded and extended beyond Redwood Castle and engulfed the entire Redwood City, there was a cheer that trembled even the earth, resounding over the city beyond the citadel.
Throughout the city, those with minor maladies could feel that the pain within their bodies was rapidly subsiding, healing and completely vanishing amidst the mysterious scent of flowers. Being a city of adventurers, who was there that did not have a little rheumatism, internal injury or minor sickness? But now, as that tender supernatural power worked its magic, everyone was utterly healed with no side-effects at all.
It was a profound might comparable to divine providence, and yet like rain from the winds of spring, never once showing itself.
‘Clap, clap, clap, clap.’
Beneath the wedding stands, Joshua, seated at the front row was the first to clap as if there were none around him, jolting the rather dull atmosphere inside the hall. As the Legendary champion who journeyed here from afar applauded resoundingly, the nervous and uncomfortable elven nobles behind him quickly followed suit, cheering for the successful wedding ceremony of the new Elder of the Tidesong Tribe. The hall was filled at once with blessings and applause, with the band in a corner playing a serene and dulcet elven music.
Most of the complicated ceremonies were now over, leaving the busy but fulfilling celebrations. As Hill and Fina bade their leave, most elven nobles, humans, and dwarves incited here such as Joshua were led by the maidservants to the guest hall. Ying and Ling followed the warrior, curious as they were nervous since it was their first wedding.
“There’s really few elves,” the silver-haired girl mulled softly at her brother through their spiritual terminal. “Though we hadn’t really joined a wedding before, we did spectate a few back in Moldavia. There were quite a few times the people there than there are here, and the proceedings are quite flat and a little boring.”
“Boring… Sis, can’t you see who these people are…” The black-haired youth appeared speechless at his sibling’s simple mental circuits. “You could throw a pebble at the crowd here and you would definitely strike a dozen Gold, seven to eight Supreme, and most of the actual leaders of the elven tribes. You have to know, counting the Elven Empress herself, there are three Legends present here in this wedding!”
“Who else could gather three Legends for their wedding? Take a look at that stony-faced elf beside the band—he is ‘The Bard’ who recorded all elven history. Even if the ceremony is a little bland, three Legends being simultaneously present is a story that would be written down in history books!”
Meanwhile, the warrior was frowning slightly, appearing to be pondering about a certain issue.
A luxurious guest room had been prepared especially for Joshua. Though there was a table with nothing on it, a transportation spell had been fixed over it that would freely deliver any food the warrior wanted at the slightest of calls. After all, the Nature’s Magister and the Elven Empress notwithstanding, none would dare to sit alongside him as equal, which was why Joshua was left alone.
“Right now, Hill, Fina, as well as the Nature’s Magister and the Elven Empress should be discussing the World Tree’s Legacy in a secret place with the other eight tribes.”
Having discussed the issue with Galanoud right after arriving at Redwood City, Joshua knew where the two Elven Legendary champions and tribal elders had vanished to. He was aware that everything he came to do here was accomplished, and he should be able to return now.
A few days ago, he had spoken a few times with Hill and Fina as well. He had encouraged the elf, convincing him not to panic, that there was no question he would become an able leader for his tribe with his depth. The warrior even acted and counteracted the symptoms of lifeforce depletion for Hill’s father, granting the old elf life for a dozen more years than the bare few previously expected.
As for the compounding of Fina and Ancient Dragon bloodline, it was nearing perfection thanks to aid from the Nature’s Magister and the Elven Empress that Joshua did not have much to help with. Today, the Empress’s blessing would fill the final gap for Fina, and the Sea Dragon lady was now considered an incarnation of the Kronos Ancient Dragon on Mycroft, a perfect awakened body like Black and very much an Ancient Dragon in future.
“The elves are on the eve of reformation… Not just humans, all races on this ancient world are now beginning to change, to go the distance. I had moved the world from danger to such threshold, so why is there the sense that something wasn’t right?”
Since a few days ago, Joshua had begun to feel easily irritated. He believed it to be divinity at it again at first, but realized that divinity has shown no anomaly since his suppression on it last time around. Apart from that sense of irritation, the warrior always felt that he could hear a faint, unusual, voice—he thought it to be a suppressed flow of information similar to Steel Strength, the side-effect of a having gradually sensitive sensory system, just like how Karlis the Steel Python could hear the cries of Mycroft. In the end, he found that it was not either… the matter itself was so mysterious that Joshua had no better explanation for it, and so simply kept a lid over it for the time being.
Nevertheless, it was no illusion. If a Legendary champion could not control their own senses, they really did not deserve the title.
“Can’t find the source at the moment, so I’ll just put It aside first… We’ll see if it continues when we return to the North.”
Pressing down the discomfort within, Joshua picked a few dishes. Elven delicacies were rather plain, but these dishes clearly showed the involvement of chefs from other races, since the hosts must have taken the tastes of Joshua, the other humans and dwarves into account as well. Indeed, the warrior felt that the anonymous chef had reached the level of grandmaster—every dish, ingredient, and cooking were supremely exquisite, as well as to his flavor.
However, just as Joshua was halfway through tasting the world-class cuisine, he suddenly stopped eating, frowned and turned toward a direction blocked by a wall. Both Ying and Ling looked up, finding their master’s movements bizarre, and became even more weirded out by Joshua’s words.
“Is that so? Today is your wedding as well, huh.”