Translated by: Kuro Neko
Edited by: Stbunbun
Chapter 33: The Elven City
After passing through a dense patch of forest, the path suddenly opened up ahead. A fairy-like scene greeted them, causing everyone to be dazed. The lake was right in front of them, and the water was crystal clear, glistening under the reflection of the sunlight. Fish under the water were visible to them, and there was a faint layer of afternoon mist above the lake, creating a dream-like atmosphere. Countless elves were flying on top of the lake surface, with cheerful smiles of delight on their faces. This was not the most astonishing sight to behold. What was even more astonishing was the ancient, towering tree right in the middle of the lake. The tree was at least a hundred metres tall and wide, while its tree branches stretched outwards for over fifty metres. There were many cracks on the tree bark, with tree vines entangled around its trunk and hanging from its branches, and some elves could be spotted weaving through the vines. The dense canopy of the tree was covered in bright green leaves that glinted under sunlight, and the diameter of the crown was almost the same as the height of the tree itself. Melodious sounds of birds chirping and the fluttering of the elves’ wings seemed to play a harmonious tune together, a delight to the ears. The ancient tree was not the only tree in the middle of lake, it was surrounded by many other smaller trees. The other trees were not as magnificent as the ancient, towering tree, but some faint silhouettes of tree houses situated within their branches were visible. The tree houses seemed to be melded within the trees, appearing totally natural with no traces of man-made work. There was a continuous flow between the trees and from far away, the whole place looked like a large elven city that was on the lake.
Xuan Yue looked dazedly at the sight before her, sighing contently, “It’s simply too beautiful, it’s way more beautiful than my home! Such a beautiful tree and beautiful lake!”
Roma, who was flying beside Xuan Yue, smiled, “This is the centre of our Elven Forest —— the Elven City, and most of our elves reside here. Our elven magicians have set up illusions all around five kilometres from the centre of the Elven City, making it like a maze, preventing outsiders from entering. This place is our elves’ paradise.”
Xuan Yue nodded, “Your elven tribe’s nature magic is really amazing, it’s so different from normal magic!”
Roma nodded her head in agreement, “The nature magic of our elven tribe is very profound. I’m still too young, so I haven’t mastered much of it, if not, I wouldn’t have been bullied by those bad guys. Sister Xuan Yue, who is that fainted youth to you? If not for him, we would have all been captured by those bad guys.”
Xuan Yue glanced down at Yan Shi, who was carrying Ah Dai, hesitated for a moment before replying, “He is my friend, he is very kind-hearted, just that he’s a little slow sometimes.”
Roma lowered her head, seeming to be in thought, and did not reply. After returning to the Elven City, all of the other elves immediately split up and flew towards their respective destinations. Tian Ying landed on the ground, explaining to Yan Shi, “All of the elves here only have their own tree houses, so there are no spare rooms for guests. How about this, you can rest here by the lakeside first, I’ll quickly go and report to Her Majesty.”
“Uncle Tian Ying, don’t worry, go do what you need to, we will just rest here by the lake. The Elven City is indeed an otherworldly paradise. Simply taking a look at such breathtaking scenery is enough to get rid of all our weariness. I’ll have to trouble you further, please let Her Majesty know that we wish to seek an audience with her,” Yan Shi replied.
Tian Ying nodded, then clasped his hands together in front of his chest, chanting in elven language. A green-colored glow enveloped him, and suddenly he raised his arms apart, sending out two green rays onto the big trees nearby. The branches of the trees started to rapidly grow, and in just a while, they formed into a natural house, surrounding Yan Shi and the others. With a gentle smile, Tian Ying said, “All of you can rest here. Ya Yuan, Roma, both of you follow me.” As he finished speaking, he fluttered his wings and flew towards the ancient tree in the middle of the lake.
Yan Shi placed Ah Dai gently on the ground, and turned to Xuan Yue, asking, “Does Ah Dai have some secret? How did he manage to scare away those thieves? And after careful inspection, all of the previous thieves who were not very powerful have all died, and there was not a single trace on their bodies.”
Xuan Yue stuck out her tongue, “Don’t ask me, I don’t know anything. Why not wait till he wakes up and directly ask him? Don’t you remember, prophet Pu Lin said that he is your fated person, what’s wrong with being a little mysterious?”
Yue Ji walked up to Xuan Yue’s side, and tugged at her small hand, whispering, “Yue Yue, you have such a close relationship with Ah Dai, you must know something, right? Just tell us~ I’m really curious. Ah Dai has given us so many surprises; when we first saw him, we thought he was just an ordinary magician, but every time we fought, he always seems to being using martial arts. It seems like magic is not his forte? It’s quite rare to see someone skilled in both magic and martial arts on the continent. Furthermore, the magic that he displayed today doesn’t seem to be of the fire attribute, but rather light attribute, just like yours. And it was so powerful! Just as we thought that he would not be able to deal with those black-clothed men, he actually managed to scare them away, that’s incredible! My brother says, those black-clothed men are at the Acquirer level, and we can’t deal with them at our current level! Please tell us, how many more secrets does Ah Dai have?” Instantly, all of their gazes landed on Xuan Yue, waiting expectantly for her reply.
Xuan Yue shook her head, “I really don’t know. Actually, I only met him two days before you. We were both taking tests at the Magicians’ Guild. After that, I found him to be quite honest and simple-minded, so I tricked him into going to the Mercenary Guild with me. Then, we accepted the Death Mountain mission and met all of you. As for his past, I’m not sure either, I’ve only heard him accidentally mention that he has an alchemist teacher? And an uncle who knows martial arts. I don’t know the exact details, so you will have to ask him later when he wakes up.”
The others looked at one another, and Miao Fei asked in curiosity, “Miss Xuan Yue, are things really that simple as you said? If you have just met each other for such a short time, why do I feel as though both of you are so close, just like old friends. Ah Dai always protects you, like an elder brother; once you are in danger, he will get so worried and he is always the first to rush over.”
Xuan Yue was stunned. Just as she wanted to respond, an elf walked in, holding a large basket of fruits in her hands. Everyone’s attention was immediately diverted towards her. Yue Ji exclaimed in wonder, “Little elf sister is so pretty! No wonder those bastards always want to capture the elves.”
The elf maiden was blushing as she placed the fruits at one side, and said respectfully, “Honored guests, please have a taste of our elven tribe’s fruits.” She turned and walked out after that.
That large basket seemed to contain all sorts of colorful fruits, and was emanating a faint sweet fragrance, causing the tired and hungry group to uncontrollably gulp. Xuan Yue was the first to grab hold of two fruits, and sat on the grass beside Ah Dai to eat. With the appearance of the fruits, the group was distracted from their questions.
At the ancient Elven tree.
Tian Ying brought Ya Yuan and Roma to the tallest part of the tree canopy, and said respectfully, “Elven envoy Tian Ying, grand elf Ya Yuan, and elven magician Roma, seeks an audience with Her Majesty.”
In the Elven tribe, there are different titles as well, indicating which level of power they are at. From low to high: little elf, elf, grand elf, elven envoy, grand elven envoy and lastly elf king. Usually, little elf is used to describe elves below the age of 50, while they will have the elf rank once they’re 50. After that, the grand elf title requires both the elf to be at least 100 years old, and to possess a certain level of power. Most elves are able to reach that level with some effort. However, the elven envoy title is much harder to obtain. They are the core of the elven tribe’s forces, and are split into two groups, mainly archers and magicians. For example, Tian Ying, who is an elven envoy magician, he is already close to the level of a human Mage. Apart from the Elven King, the grand elven envoys hold the most authority within the elven tribe, and only the elders of the tribe are able to hold that title. Currently, there are a total of 4 grand elven envoys and 18 elven envoys. All of the grand elven envoys are magicians, and if they combine their power, it is comparable to two human Magisters. It’s because of their existence, that the elven tribe was able to maintain its position within the Heaven’s Origin Tribe. The Elven King is passed down through bloodlines, and every new Elven King would mate with the most outstanding elf of the tribe, to give birth to the next generation. Only elves with the bloodline of the elven king are eligible to be the next Elven King. The Elven King is able to use many high ranked nature magic with power of his bloodline, and although he does not travel the continent, there are some who call him the Fourth Magister of the continent, a nature attribute Magister.
The tree branches separated, and a clear voice rang out, “Her Majesty summons Elven Envoy Tian Ying.”
Tian Ying fluttered his wings and flew towards the tree canopy, with YaYuan and Roma following close behind. Only the elven king and grand elven envoys had the authority to reside in this ancient tree, but there would occasionally be some normal elves who resided here to wait upon the elven king and grand elven envoys.
Tian Ying flew towards the largest tree house among the treetops, and a young female elf greeted them, “Sir Elven Envoy, Her Majesty requests your presence.”
Tian Ying nodded, and led Ya Yuan and Roma into the tree house.
Inside, a middle-aged female elf sat regally on a throne of vines. Her brows were furrowed, seeming to be very troubled. Beside her sat a middle-aged male elf, and he had a similar worried look on his face, with traces of anxiety evident in his eyes. Tian Ying’s group walked in, and they bowed together in respect, “We pay our respects to Her Majesty, and Grand Elven Envoy Oudi.”
The Elven Queen raised her head to look at them, and asked, “What happened? Were there enemies who tried to infiltrate into our territory again?”
Tian Ying nodded, and shot a look towards Ya Yuan. Ya Yuan quickly stepped forward, and recounted what happened earlier, of how they were ambushed by the black-clothed men, and how Ah Dai and his companions lent a helping hand out of righteousness.
After listening to Ya Yuan’s recount, the Elven Queen’s husband, also the youngest Grand Elven Envoy of the tribe, Oudi, immediately stood up in rage. “Those outsiders are too outrageous! How dare they challenge our elven tribe’s dignity, time and time again! Majesty, I think we ought to quickly do something about it.” Oudi did not obtain his rank of grand elven envoy due to his status as the queen’s husband; but rather, it was the other way around. He had gotten to where he was today all by his own efforts. Out of the 4 grand elven envoys, Oudi had the highest magic standard, and was only weaker than the elven queen. It was also due to his diligence to improve and excel, that he was picked from the queen’s countless suitors to be her consort.
The Elven Queen had a solemn look on her face as she asked, “Tian Ying, where are these valiant friends now? Can they be trusted?”
“Your Majesty, I have arranged a place for them to rest beside our elven lake, and I think they can be trusted. Does Your Majesty still remember Yan Fei, the leader of the Puyan Tribe? His son is among the group of people, while the child who had scared off the enemies is still unconscious now. I believe that they won’t harm our tribe,” Tian Ying responded respectfully
The Elven Queen let out a sigh, “Okay then, go and summon the other grand elven envoys, and tell them that I have something to discuss with them. Perhaps, the help of these new friends is needed.”
Back in the tree house beside the lake.
Just as everyone was enjoying the delicious fruits, Ah Dai gradually regained consciousness. Fatigue was present in every single part of his body, and as he tried to move his limbs, he could not help but groan in pain. The boundless true qi within his body was almost fully depleted, and there was only a weak trickle of energy. His mental force was also exhausted after activating the Dragon’s Blood.
Xuan Yue was the first to discover that Ah Dai had awoken, and she immediately ran over to grab his hand, asking in concern, “Ah Dai, are you okay? Do you feel any discomfort?”
Shaking his head, Ah Dai answered, “I’m fine, I just feel so tired… Yue Yue, where is this place?”
The others gathered around, and Yue Hen explained, “We have already arrived at the depths of the Elven Forest. This is the Elven City.”
Ah Dai nodded, “Then, those elves were all rescued?”
“Don’t worry, all of the bad guys have retreated. Reinforcements from the elven tribe came, and brought us here. Here, eat a fruit first.” As Xuan Yue spoke, she passed a purple colored fruit to Ah Dai.
Ah Dai wanted to reach out to receive the fruit, but he just could not summon up any energy, and his hand fell limply onto the grass. Xuan Yue wrinkled her brows, revealing a pained look in her eyes. She gingerly bit an opening in the fruit, and brought it next to Ah Dai’s mouth, letting the faint purple colored juice flow into his mouth. Ah Dai gulped down the fresh juice hungrily, and in just a while, all of the juice within the fruit was gone.
Xuan Yue threw the fruit skin aside, and asked, “Do you still want more? There’s still a lot.”
Ah Dai looked at Xuan Yue in gratitude, and gently shook his head, “Thank you, Yue Yue.”
Only now did Xuan Yue realise her actions, and her face immediately turned red. “You… You don’t have to thank me, aren’t we friends?”
Miao Fei giggled as he watched the two of them, “Indeed, very close friends! Oh, Ah Dai, shouldn’t you explain to us, how did you scare away those thieves?”
Hearing Miao Fei’s words, Ah Dai suddenly recalled the scene back in the forest. Images of black-clothed men dropping down one by one flashed across his mind, and intense disgust spread through his body. He abruptly bent over and started to vomit. Everyone got a fright, and Yan Shi hurried over, gently patting Ah Dai’s back, asking, “Brother, what’s wrong?”
After some time, when he could not vomit anymore, Ah Dai finally stopped and responded, with tears in his eyes, “I… I did not do it on purpose! I didn’t want to kill them, I didn’t want to kill them!”
Yan Shi heaved a sigh of relief. “Don’t worry, it’s just killing some people. I’ve killed more people than you, and they were all bad guys, killing them is not wrong.”
Yue Ji glanced over, asking, “Ah Dai, is this your first time killing someone?”
Ah Dai nodded anxiously, shrinking back and muttering, “I.. I didn’t want to kill him at first, but they forced me.”
“What’s the big deal about killing some people? Quick, Ah Dai, tell us tell us. How did you kill that powerful black-clothed man? Your skills are pretty unfathomable, haha!” Miao Fei interjected.
Ah Dai raised his head to look at Miao Fei, suddenly remembering that instance when he used the Hell’s Sword. With a horrified expression on his face, he stuttered, “No, I, I don’t know… I don’t know!”
“You don’t know? How can you not know? You were the one who killed him, quickly tell us, I’m really curious to know!”
Xuan Yue suddenly pushed Miao Fei aside and shouted in anger, “Stop forcing him to say it, can’t you see that he’s suffering now? Can’t you just let him rest first?” She gently cradled Ah Dai’s upper body, and let his head lie on her thigh. Looking at his tortured expression, she could not help but feel her heart clench in pain. A glistening tear drop rolled down her flushed cheeks, landing on Ah Dai’s cheek.
Yue Hen shot the others some stern looks, and pulled Miao Fei back into a corner of the tree house. None of them wished to disturb Xuan Yue and Ah Dai anymore, quietly retreating to the side.
Xuan Yue lightly caressed Ah Dai’s long black hair, consoling, “It’s okay, it’s okay, everything is over now.” She knew that Ah Dai’s kind-hearted nature was a stark contrast to the evilness of the Hell’s Sword; after suffering such a huge incident, how could he possibly withstand the trauma.
Under Xuan Yue’s gentle caress, Ah Dai gradually calmed down. Pulling her hand towards his face, he slowly drifted off to sleep while taking in Xuan Yue’s faint sweet scent. Looking at Ah Dai’s peaceful face, Xuan Yue was filled with satisfaction, and allowed Ah Dai to continue holding her hand. She leaned against the tree, and fell asleep as well.
After quite some time, Ah Dai sensed that someone was shaking his body. Slowly opening his eyes, he saw that Yan Shi was crouched next to him, calling his name.
Seeing that Ah Dai had awoken, Yan Shi whispered, “Quickly get up, there’s people from the elven tribe.”
Ah Dai had rested well, and he had recovered enough energy. Nodding his head, he was about to get up when he realised that he was holding something in his hand. Suddenly remembering what happened before he fell asleep, he turned to look at Xuan Yue. She was currently gazing at him with a caring look on her face, while Ah Dai was still lying against her soft thighs. Their gazes met and both of them instantly shied away. Xuan Yue retracted her delicate small hand from Ah Dai’s grip, and with a blush on her face, she softly spoke, “Let’s quickly get up.”
“En,” Ah Dai responded in acknowledgement. There seemed to be something more between the two of them, but he did not know how to explain it.
Once he stood up, he realised that there were six more elves present in the tree house. All of them seem to be in their middle-aged years, and there were two females. The one in the middle, gave him a special feeling. Although there was a smile on her face, there seemed to be a hidden seriousness in her, as she looked at Ah Dai. Her beauty was totally different from the other female elves that he had seen before, it was a special kind of beauty, that emanated royalty and grace, exuding confidence. Ah Dai uncontrollably exclaimed, “Auntie, you are so beautiful!”
Yan Shi quickly pulled Ah Dai aside, saying in a hushed voice, “Don’t be disrespectful, that is Her Majesty.”
There were no females who did not wish to hear others complimenting their beauty, and the elven queen was no exception. She smiled as she said, “It’s okay. Young friend, on behalf of the elven tribe, I thank you for saving our tribesmen.”
Ah Dai scratched his head, replying, “I, I… Auntie, I don’t know how to say it, but I just felt that they were bad guys.”
The Elven Queen sighed, “Yes! They are bad men. Our elven tribe rarely interferes in their worldly affairs, but they keep kidnapping our tribesmen.” As she spoke, her expression gradually became more solemn, with a tinge of melancholy in her eyes, seeming to have remembered something tragic. She turned around and spoke to Oudi, “Di, help me tell everyone what happened, I’m a little tired..”
Oudi replied with a gentle voice, “Majesty, I think you go back and rest first.”
The Elven Queen shook her head and closed her eyes, her long eyelashes fluttering against her worry-filled face.
Oudi walked up and continued, “Friends of our elven tribe, thank you very much for your earlier aid, I am the Grand Elven Envoy Oudi. Let me introduce the others, you should be familiar with Tian Ying, and the other three here are the three other grand elven envoys of our elven tribe.” He pointed to a female elf at the side, “This is Grand Elven Envoy Rowan.”
Rowan nodded towards them, and then turned to Ah Dai, “Little friend, thank you so much for saving my daughter!”
Ah Dai was confused, “Your daughter?”
Rowan smiled, “You’ve met my daughter before, Roma.”
Only now did Ah Dai recall the elven magician who had seen him use the Hell’s Sword. “Don’t worry about it, Aunty.”
Oudi pointed to the other two middle-aged male elves and continued, “These two are Grand Elven Envoys, Sid and Pierre.” The two of them nodded towards Ah Dai’s group, and they quickly bowed back in respect.
Apart from Ah Dai, all of the others were very shocked. Although it was their first time coming to the Elven Forest, Yue Hen and his group knew how prestigious the grand elven envoys were, and not to mention, even the elven queen was here!
Oudi let out a sigh, seeming to be quite conflicted as he asked, “Friends of our elven tribe, currently, our tribe is stuck in a predicament, and I was wondering if you are willing to lend us a hand?”
“What matter troubles your elven tribe so?” Yue Hen asked
“It’s a long story, but our elven tribe has always been living a quiet, peaceful life within the Elven Forest. Living close to nature brings us happiness and contentment, and we will never provoke the other races, including humans. Even the barbaric werebeasts are on good terms with us. However, for some unknown reasons, since a few months ago, there was a sudden increase of outsiders coming into our lands. They specifically targeted those solitary elves, and despite our tight defenses, they still managed to kidnap dozens of our tribesmen. And the most heartbreaking thing is, even our daughter, Starrie, was kidnapped by them…” As he spoke of this, Oudi revealed a sorrowful expression.
Everyone present was shocked, and Yan Shi cried out, “What? Princess Star was taken?! But, doesn’t she have many elves protecting her?”
The Elven Queen sighed deeply, opening her eyes to lament, “It’s all because she was too mischievous, she always felt bored and stifled with a huge group of people following her, so she secretly used elven magic to sneak out of the Elven City. By the time we found out, she was already missing from the Elven Forest. It must be those outsiders who had taken her away. Starrie is only 72 this year, equivalent to 14 or 15 year-old human. I really don’t dare to imagine what kind of fate she will suffer, so this time, I have come with our grand elven envoys, in hopes that you will be willing to lend us your power to help find Starrie.” As she spoke, she started to tear up, and her body convulsed as she tried to hold back the tears. Oudi pulled the elven queen into his embrace, with a similar ashen look on his face.
Ah Dai walked over to the elven queen, consoling, “Auntie, please don’t cry anymore, your daughter will be fine. I, I promise you, I will surely bring her back to see you.”
Yue Hen furrowed his brows, thinking, ‘This Ah Dai is really too brash! There are so many people in the continent, how are we going to find her! Furthermore, someone who kidnapped the elven princess, do you really think that he is simple to deal with?’ Thinking of this, he questioned, “Your Majesty, we are indeed willing to help you find your daughter. But, I have a question, with you and your grand elven envoys’ power, there are few in the continent who are your opponents. Any single one will be much stronger than all of us added together, why do you still need our help? With our current power, I’m afraid we aren’t qualified.”
The Elven Queen glanced at Ah Dai, who was in a moment of realisation, and replied, “Indeed, your current power may be insufficient, but we have our woes as well. You should know, on this continent, other races like us are looked down upon by humans. They capture our tribesmen, only to take them as slaves for pleasure and entertainment. All of the elves, including me, were born here and have lived here for almost all of our lives. Everything in the continent is foreign to us, although we may have the upper hand in terms of power, once we are out of the Elven Forest, we would be like newborns, unaware of our surroundings outside. How are we going to find our missing tribesmen? However, you, my friends, are different. You have a much greater knowledge of the continent, and you are humans, so it will be much easier for you to travel around. The most important thing is, you are friends of our elven tribe. I really hope that you can consider lending us a helping hand, and our elven tribe will never forget your kindness.”
“Your Majesty, I know that your daughter’s absence has made you anxious. We are not afraid of danger, but the ones who kidnapped the elves are not people who we are able to deal with. Even if we find them, we will be unable to rescue your missing tribesmen. Furthermore, we have our own mission this time. Apart from Yan Shi and Yan Li, the rest of us are mercenaries, and we have our mercenary mission to complete,” Yue Hen explained. It was not that he did not wanted to help the elven tribe, but he just did not want to simply give up their lives. Someone who could afford high prices to purchase elves, was not someone that they could afford to provoke.
“But brother Yue Hen, we can always go to the Death Mountains later, it’s more important to save lives!” Ah Dai argued.
Miao Fei hmpf-ed, “If you want to give up your life, don’t drag us along. If we are lucky, perhaps we might come out alive from the Death Mountains. But if you go and provoke those powerful nobles who have so much authority, I doubt you will even make it out alive!”
Ah Dai was stunned, “How do you know that the nobles have captured Auntie’s daughter?”
Miao Fei replied, “Even fools will know. If not for the high price that someone is willing to pay, why would those thieves risk their lives to come here and kidnap elves? The richest people on this continent aren’t merchants, but the nobility. Perhaps, this might involve even some of the royalty of the large empires. Let’s not even mention whether we have the power to save them, even if we are able to rescue them, do you think we will be able to make it back here alive?”
Yan Shi walked up and said in a solemn voice, “Your Majesty, although my friend’s words may be a little unpleasant, but he is indeed saying the truth. Just with the few of us, perhaps….”
Ah Dai was a little anxious, “But the elven tribe is so pitiful, why don’t you want to help them? If you are unwilling, then I’ll go by myself…..”
Oudi put a hand on Ah Dai’s shoulder, signalling for him to stop. He was not angered by Yue Hen’s words, but merely asked, “Don’t worry, since we have asked you for your help, we will surely not ask you to risk your lives. But you are going to the Death Mountains right? May I know what’s your purpose there?”
“We have received a mission to obtain a top-grade magic crystal back from the mercenary guild,“ Yue Hen replied.
“Oh I see.. I’m not trying to frighten you, but with your current power, if you enter the Death Mountains, you won’t be able to come out alive.”
Miao Fei looked unpleased as he retorted, “How are you so certain that we won’t be able to succeed?”
Oudi gave him a look, and explained casually, “Because I’ve been there before. I am one of the rare few who managed to leave the Death Mountains and escape with my life.”
“What? You’ve been to the Death Mountains?” Yue Hen exclaimed in shock.
Oudi nodded, “Indeed, a hundred years ago, when I was still an elven envoy. You should know, only when in extreme danger are we able to ignite our potential. You can laugh at me, but back then, there were many suitors trying to gain Her Majesty’s affection, and their power was around the same as mine. In order to raise my own power, and for the sake of my love, I secretly snuck out of the Elven Forest, and went to the Death Mountains.”
Sorry for being MIA so long >< i'm still here, just with less free time than I used to have :( thank you for sticking around ^^ p.s. I've recently re-ventured into my hobby of drawing (sorry for not translating ;n;) if you're interested, you can take a look at @nyan_doodles on instagram :3