Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Mage shook his head and said nothing else, appearing intent on maintaining his silence. However, as Priest cajoled him along with his status captain, the spellcaster feebly state his own inference. “To be frank, team leader, you must have not noticed the genealogy those elves carved on the Mother Lifetree… those elves have spanned more than thirty generations.”
“Even if we count one generation of humans as twenty years, that’s at most six hundred years… in comparison normal elves only procreate at one or two hundred years old. Things are different here, however, so let’s use the standard of eighty years for single generation… thirty generation would therefore mean twenty-four hundred years.”
Mage left things at that. He obviously is not sure what was going on either… although he did leave something out as well.
The genealogy recorded of those thirtyish generations of elves is only those from the ‘Overwatch’ Tower.
The timing simply did not match, since the number of years from the birth of the Sage to the end of the Glorious Era could never be two thousand… but what if there were an age not recorded into their inherited genealogy? Would that not make it three to four thousand years? Furthermore, regardless of how active seismic activities there were in thirteen hundred years, there was no way Hub Accrafa was turned into a weirdly shaped mountain, something which at least requires millennia of masterful arts from nature itself.
Wrong timing. Sealed world. Elves with lost legacies. Bizarre Chaos corruption. Corpses of nine behemoths in the sky.
There were more and more puzzles that pained the expedition party to think of. Then, as Alchemist, Clergy, and Rider woke up, the not-too-large cave became raucous and crowded.
“We should return to Hub Accrafa as soon as we can!” Clergy suggested.
He believed that the station was the culprit that caused them to teleport here, and certainly was the key for their return to Mycroft as well. The fact that they could not interact notwithstanding, they should at least return to observe the present situation.
“We should at least get a good idea of the local environment—we’ve actually seen a dozen Lifetrees when we looked down from the skies last time around: The Overwatch tribe is only one of them.”
Alchemist was leaning towards studying the local environment and collecting as much information as they could before their next move. After all, the start of the Overwatch tribe is not the start of other elven tribes, and what if there were elves who preserved part of their civilization? If they could obtain more detailed historical records so that everyone actually knows where they were, everything would be easier.
Meanwhile, Rider did not dare to say a thing. He simply sat at his own corner, drinking water furiously as if he was autistic. Nonetheless, that meant everyone had differing opinions—even if Priest was team leader, he did not have any ideas himself, making it difficult for them to decided his party’s strategy.
“Still not strong enough…” He sighed inwardly. “if I have Supreme-tier ability, Hub Accrafa might not be able to stop me and I would obtain Level 5 Clearance, naturally reaching its archives… If I’m as strong as my mentor, I might even easily shatter the barrier isolating this world and return to the normal Multiverse.”
If he had the power of Legend, he need not fear the eight-legged fungi swarm either—even if he could not defeat them all, strategic retreats pose no problems.
Is there even a need to think that much with sufficient ability? All problems could have been solved with the simplest and most direct method.
“I’ll take a look outside.”
Priest found his mind a jumbled mess at once, his thoughts that had been always so clear was left confused by the sudden thirst for ability. “I’m taking a look at the elven settlement outside,” he said, rising and exhaling, “and try to ask those longevity types when the counsel would end.”
“Do you want me to come with?” Rider asked, standing up as well. “So that you won’t get ambushed by those elves.”
“It’s fine,” Priest declined, shaking his head. “They won’t kill me instantly even if they mob me, and they would’ve attacked us two days ago anyway. Still, the rest of you should take a look at other places, collecting intelligence… We’ve spent two days repairing the enchanted armors; it’s time we really learn about this world.”
With that, he left the cave and arrived on the surface without adding anything else.
The cave they were staying at was at the edge of the Overwatch tribe’s settlement amidst a green-black hill. There was a towering tree the size of a small mountain nearby, with magical rainbow radiance dancing upon its tree crown, fantastical and dazzling.
There were four larger clans and seven to eight smaller clans within the Overwatch tribe itself, amounting up to almost twenty-three hundred in population. Their highest leader was the antler-crowned elf, and the ones whom he held counsel with were the Gold-tier leaders of the three other tribes.
According to information provided from Overwatch, Priest and the others were positioned northeast to the continent at the moment, making them close to the shores. That was why fishing and fisheries were the main livelihood here, a fact verified when the expedition team conducted their aerial reconnaissance, which in turn made evident that the elves were honest and definitely not lying.
Standing at the top of the hill, Priest could see little dots that were stone buildings beneath the Mother Lifetree. They were sparse on the outskirts, but packed at the center.
Those were cavern doors that had gone through detailed renovations, facilities to prevent overflowing rainwater and in other words, the town of that elven tribe. Additionally, the magical energy emanating from the top of the Mother Lifetree was simply too thick that most without the ability could not endure. Therefore, contrary to what most would imagine, a lot of the elves were actually living around the tree roots, where magical energies were milder.
Priest never thought about entering the elven settlement since the bulk of their population basically lived beneath the ground, unlike Mycroft elves. These elves also made a living by hunting, fishing and nurturing mushrooms, and Priest knew that all he would see were large mushroom nurseries if he ventured into the nursery.
“A weird elven tribe… but who knows? This might be how ancient elves lived.” Priest muttered softly and made his way down the hill, strolling along the woods by using the path elves often used.
From the junction turning into the path, he would occasionally see a few elves who were leaving their homes to work passing by—they appeared not to notice Priest, the stranger with round ears, and instead carried various tools and weapons as they departed in a jovial mood. After making sure that they were not feigning disinterest but instead really did not notice him, Priest could not help breathing a deep sigh.
In reality, there were so much more unusual things about this world, such as the elves chronically lacking vigilance. Indeed, each of them lived such easy lives that they did not appear as primitive as they looked.
Still, it was not as if Priest could not understand that. The Overwatch tribe is positioned at what would have been the tropics in Mycroft: fruits easily grow to ripeness here, and with a little nurturing it meant a stable and substantial source of food. Additionally, the elves themselves showed deft hunting skills, and there were no beasts that could threaten their lives, not to mention their ability to fish and cultivate mushrooms and other fungi. Apart from the occasionally appearing Otherworld aberrations—in other words, beasts corrupted by Chaos, the elves lived comfortably in abundance without spending too much effort.
It was very much the same as the ‘Society of Great Unity’ that his mentor and Nostradamus often mention—or, at least, in terms of sufficiency in needs. There was hence no wonder why the elves were so lacking in alertness: they have no need to compete and no external adversary, all they need to do was occasionally hunt aberrations to guarantee extended peace, and the lack of pressure also led to their reduced motivation in terms of rituals.
What was more, there was no telling that such unusual abundance and peace would last for how long, or if it was a fine or bad thing.
“Hey, you there—round ears!”
Suddenly, Priest heard a vibrant voice calling from behind him. He turned to find an elven girl who appeared very young and was carrying a bulky fishing net on her shoulders.
She was wearing a gown knitted out of leaves and grasses, and long, green hair tied into a ponytail. Her facial features were classically elegant like all elves and could be considered a beauty—however, when it came to demeanor, Priest found her to have excess vigor and a rather loud voice.
In other words, not elegant at all.
Besides, no matter how graceful elves could be, no one would feel ‘nobility’ when they carry fishing nets. Additionally, she would probably be his grandmother in terms of age, even if she was a young girl in appearance.
Just as those very discourteous thoughts crossed Priest’s mind, the elven girl quickly approached him, the fishing net still on her back. In response, the young warrior subconsciously took one step back and discreetly assumed an alert pose, but the elven girl seemed unable to tell that the human male was making a distinct act of resistance. Instead, she simply stood right in front of Priest, energetically lifting her hand and exclaimed loudly, “Greetings!”
Simply unable to understand what the elf wanted, Priest inwardly suspected that she might be a spy sent by the elven hierarchy to collect information—that mirthless idea, however, soon vanished in a puff of smoke in seconds.
“Um, Round Ears, my name is Sol!”
The elven girl with a fishing net beamed energetically, pompously pointing her left thumb at her own chest as she swiftly introduced herself. “I want to know your name!” She then declared.
…No spy would have such personality. But if… no, that’s impossible.
The pupil of a certain Liege, Priest did not have to sense the heartbeat of the elven girl named Sol, but solely relied on her facial muscles and was thus able to judge that she was not lying, and undoubtedly had no ulterior motives. She was simply there to introduce herself, and forthrightly ask his name.
At first, he intended to fake a name since it was an Otherworld and there were safety concerns—and who would know if it was fake if he told his teammates later? Even so, Priest somehow hesitated for a moment before saying seriously, “I’m Priest… May I know what’s the problem?”
The elven girl nodded thoughtfully before continuing confidently, “such a weird name—but I get it now, Priest!”
With that, she unhesitatingly reached out with her hand to catch Priest’s right. “Are you going to the beach too?” She grinned. “Then we’re heading to the same direction! Let’s go, we can talk about anything else along the way!”
Priest had in fact wanted to decline instinctively. The Overwatch elves were still being lukewarm towards his party—while there was no hostility now, who would know what happens in the future? What if the elves assumed that he held untoward intentions with the elven girl? Many thoughts brewed in his mind, but before he could refuse, Priest’s body had moved to follow Sol as she strode ahead, humming a tune.
Well, he could hear her out first.
Now, Priest was rather troubled why he did not decline her in the first place—his enmity would be obvious if he did so now. Nonetheless, before he was about to ask Sol’s intentions, the elven girl spoke first with a very mysterious tone.
“Uh, Priest. I hear that you’re from a faraway place?”
“Of course.” Priest nodded—it was an explanation his party had offered the elven hierarchy. “From… a place your kind has never been to.”
Sol appeared even more excited in return. She narrowed her jade eyes, her tips curling up even as she held back her delight. “That means you’ve definitely seen many different sights,” she asked softly, “right?”
“Quite.” Priest smiled a little, now understanding her thoughts a little. “Many different sights that can’t be found here.”
“Is that so… That’s really great!” Sol’s eyes could have shone at Priest’s words. She appeared inclined to ask more but did not know where to start, and the young warrior could sense the hand grasping his own clenching and unclenching from time to time, even as every thought of the elven girl appeared to be showing on her face.
It was after quite some time that Sol resolved herself. Clenching Priest’s hand, she chewed her lip, before asking carefully, expectantly and passionately, “then… Priest, could you tell me what the world beyond the forest looks like?”
World beyond the forest?’
Priest paused for a moment. He never imagined that the elven girl would approach her so boldly… just to ask such a question. And by the looks of it, she seems really eager for an answer.
Sol appeared really curious what the ‘outside’ looked like.
“World beyond the forest… hmmm.”
Priest thought about it and found no issue with talking, since he was not lying either.
“There are hills and plains beyond the forests. There is no dense forest there, but…”
Priest gave Sol a general picture of the world’s topography. This was what he had seen of the world from above, while he also went into details about lakes, rivers, valleys, as well as explaining to her about deserts, glaciers and wastelands. Through it all, Sol listened attentively without interrupting, her eyes shining while she memorized his every word carefully and interestedly.
The elven girl did not ask about any sensitive issues such as what Priest’s home was light, or how far away it was from there. She was simply interested in the how the sights of faraway lands differed from the forests, and she hungrily consumed every word Priest offered in explanation, seemingly able to imagine the scenery that contrasted despite having dwelling deep in the forests.
Soon, time passed, and the two had covered the not-too-long distance to the elven fishermen’s shores.
“Really, thanks for your kindness, and going through the trouble of satisfying my curiosity.”
Holding her fishing net, Sol beamed widely at Priest—the rather excessively energetic elven girl was forthright even in parting. “Next time, I’ll treat you to some ‘luminous clams’ as thanks, but now, I’ve got to work!”
Priest was in a curiously good mood as well; he stood by the shores as he bade Sol farewell. He then looked around at elven fishermen who were sailing towards and away from the long, crude dock. It was a typical coastal fishing dock, and while it appeared that the elves had lost virtually all advanced technology, there were no worries for them in terms of survival.
Having determined that this was the Overwatch elves’ base for fishery, Priest could not help turning his eyes towards Sol as she ran towards the dock while carrying the fishing net. “Never thought that there are curious Otherworlders as well…” He murmured in wonder. “And I thought that elves stay in forests for their entire lives, never leaving it come life or death.”
He suddenly paused halfway through his muttering. He solemnly narrowed his eyes, staring at the white skin revealed on the elven girl’s back.
It was not out of some lecherous thought or the drive of a healthy young man… as one who had gone through countless hellish training, Priest had already learned to control the desires of his body. Moreover, there was a simple reason that he was staring behind Sol’s back.
There was a long, diagonal gash that parted her back, or quite simply, a terrible scar.
It squirmed as if a shadow, emanating the presence of destruction and the scent of death… it was Chaos corruption, and what the locals called ‘Otherworld Blight’. Since the natives would be infected with Chaos presence to varying degrees, Priest had been insensitive towards it—he just never imagined that the Chaos corruption on Sol’s body would be so serious!
“Even elves… probably wouldn’t live for long.”
Priest silently concluded, the smile on his face gradually disappearing.
There was no wonder that Sol was so yearning for information about the outside world… Her body now probably would not be able to leave the forest.
Furthermore, under most circumstances, Chaos corruption was irreversible.
Or, at least, he was helpless now.
As Priest gazed upon the sea quietly, the presence of a Gold-tier druid slowly appeared behind him.
Priest turned, and as expected, the frame of the antler-crowned elf slowly materialized from the forests. “Human,” he said quietly at the man before him, “after our counsel, the Overwatch tribe has decided to cooperate with you.”
The elf’s words were simple and straightforward, without anything elaborate or excess. “We’ve notified your companions as well,” he said hoarsely, “we have also agreed to aid you in meeting other tribes, while making our tribal records available to you… in return, you would teach us how to craft metals.”
Priest nodded in agreement without hesitation. He was aware that although it was no written accord but a simple verbal agreement, both sides had no reason or confidence to deceive the other. With the offering being infinitely small for both and yet the rewards extraordinarily great, their promises were much more trustworthy than all pact.
‘Time to go back, ‘ Priest thought. ‘ Only the Seven Gods Church, absolute powers and mentor has genuine ability in cleansing Chaos forces… only they could dispel the Chaos corruption plaguing the tribe.’
Both sides proved to be satisfied with the cooperation. Soon, Priest had decided to smooth out the details with the antler-crowned elf, and the elf himself appeared pleased.
However, as they discussed the actual process of their partnership on one of the flatter shore boulders, the thunderous rumbling suddenly echoed from the highest point in the sky.
Both Priest and the antler-crowned elf looked up in shock and bewilderment at the heavens, where the skies trembled as if it had been struck by something. Behind the distant, azure yonder, a shadow that was unbelievably colossal had been aiming at the outer layer of the world, knocking it at full strength.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
As if a sea otter was striking a clam or a human trying to crush a lobster’s shell, the presence from beyond was mustering all its power and striking the World Barrier heavily.
Naturally, the World Barrier remained undamaged and unscratched—the rumbling skies appeared to be a mere illusion. That shade was even more vague, its silhouette almost could not be seen. Indeed, the working elves would ever have noticed it if not for the obvious rumbling from the skies.
However, both Priest and the antler-crowned elf understood at once what that colossal shade striking the world’s layer had been, and what kind of presence it actually was.
It was the figure of a crab’s pincer.