The group advanced quietly, the journey quite peaceful with nobody daring to provoke Richard. The hunter who lost his longbow had a pale face the entire way; the bow was half of his entire wealth.
Richard had been slighted and the hunter had lost his bow. In the eyes of the elves, both sides had suffered similar losses. However, they didn’t know that the bow would never have touched Richard were it not allowed to; he had let the hunter poke him purely for Melia’s sake.
One could see the enormous canopy of the tree of life from afar, the monstrous life form many hundreds of metres high and its leaves forming a green cloud hanging over the meadow. Richard was instantly enamoured, the only thing in his eyes being an enormous offering of great value. The memory of the first child of the forest that had almost killed him surfaced in his mind, but it was instantly wiped away by pure joy. This was only the first of nine tribes, of nine trees of life and potentially a world tree as well. There was even the Evernight Tribe on top; perhaps because it was the same name as the forest from which his own mother came, he felt an odd fondness for them.
He didn’t plan to kill all of these trees of life when he could; some he would turn into subordinates just like the one near Emerald City. He had no problem supporting the growth of even five of them, and such a number would make for competition that balanced out the egos of these long-lived trees.
The escorts were quite uncomfortable with Richard’s unconstrained movements, especially when the joy was evident on his face, but he just shrugged it off. They likely wanted to use their elders or a child of the forest to deal with him, and that only meant more prey to kill.
He had to suppress a chuckle as he guessed their thoughts. These fellows thought they were hounds that were right upon their prey, but the cat in their hands was a lion that would tear them apart in one strike. All they saw was his docile side, the side where he was waiting for the right moment to pounce.
When they reached the tree of life, the difference in status between Richard and Melia grew even more pronounced. A squad of nimble warriors escorted a young elven druid down to the meadow. Who walked straight to Melia to welcome her, “You’re finally here! I hear you met some trouble along the way; I wanted to come help but was stopped by the old men. It’s great that you are alright, we can go meet the elders and discuss our alliance in detail.”
Melia’s sour expression relaxed at the sight of the druid, “Thank you for the hospitality, let’s go.”
“Follow me then.” The youth escorted Melia up the tree of life.
Richard obviously did not get the same treatment. A number of elves blocked his path to their holy ground, refusing to let the hallowed meadow be sullied by an outsider. Their first and only impression of him was that he was not of the same race as them; their opinions wouldn’t change even if leaves from a tree of life were sprouting all over his body. However, he didn’t really mind. Following a few hunters to a run-down treehouse on the outskirts of the meadow, he leaned against the trunk and analysed the tree of life before him.
The hunters remained behind to guard him, casting suspicious glances whenever his eyes lit aglow. Richard started walking circles around the treehouse while deep in thought, but they didn’t interfere with him. To them, the canopy was the only limit; so long as he didn’t leave the shade of the tree, they would not attack.
Richard was awed by the sheer density of the life energy around this tree of life; it was so powerful that he could see wisps of pure white floating around in the air. This power was almost at the level of laws even on the outskirts, and the body of the tree most certainly had entered that realm.
While he had already established a framework for the laws of life, Richard still needed a lot of time to fully analyse them. Moments like this were a shortcut in that analysis, giving him live examples to study so he would not make as many mistakes. His analysis moved a hundred times as fast as normal, and the 1,023rd fragment was quickly decoded.
He was rather excited for the next fragment he would unravel. This was a rather big milestone in the framework he had deciphered, a point where many branches joined together into one more powerful whole. It would only take a day under this more mature tree of life, but unfortunately he could not spare that time. The wisp of life energy he had left within Melia’s body was still relaying the conversation to him, and he could tell that things were not going well.
It was nearing an hour into the discussion, but from Melia’s perspective things had completely been derailed.
“Honourable daughter of the forest, even if the Greenleaf Tribe were to merge with the Evernight Tribe we would be outnumbered by the opposition. This partnership would put us under immense pressure, possibly even an all-out war. It is hard to find people sympathetic to your view of foreigners. Besides, your tribe is foreign as well.”
Melia frowned at the old man saying this, but she could not refute him completely. It took her a moment to respond, “We may come from other parts of the forest, but we are pure elves. We even have noble blood and a tree of life, alongside the approval of the will of the forest! How can you call us foreigners?”
Another voice spoke up, “The vile invaders have a tree of life as well, and theirs has even advanced under their control. Just having a tree of life is not good enough to prove anything.”
“The invaders are human, we’re elves! Besides, not all invaders are enemies. The sea of trees is enormous, we can all be neighbours.”
“An enormous sea of trees in which the Evernight Tribe hadn’t even been mentioned until a century ago. Nobody knows where you lot actually came from,” a cold voice interjected.
“The sea of trees is for us elves and the World Tree. However expansive it may be, no part of this world should be occupied by invaders!” another chimed in.
Faced with two consecutive rebuttals, Melia fell into an awkward silence. The first old man spoke up once more, “We can offer you a compromise, honourable daughter of the forest. However, before that, may I ask of the current condition of your grand elder?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA