Forbidden From Leaving
“The Grand Elder can destroy all the elders of any other tribe,” Melia responded firmly to the old man’s question.
Hearing this from his treehouse far away, Richard smiled and shook his head. The elders might have believed her even if she stumbled a little, but for her to respond so quickly and directly showed that she was worried. Now, it actually sounded like this grand elder was on the verge of death.
The ability to kill all of the elders of a tribe also meant the ability to kill off that tribe entirely. If such power were still in their hands, the Evernight Tribe would have demonstrated it to shoo the Duskword Tribe away. Hushed whispers started sounding at the canopy of the tree of life, accompanied by Melia’s uneasy breaths.
‘Is it time to put my cards on the table?’ Richard thought to himself, pausing his analysis of the laws of life.
The old man’s voice rang out once more, “This is terrific news; if the grand elder is still healthy, we can rest assured. This is the Greenleaf Tribe’s position: honourable daughter of the forest, we hope for you to join our tribe in exchange for our support. Even if the Duskword Tribe’s alliance does come into conflict with your side, we will admit any members of the Evernight Tribe that are seeking asylum into our grove. They will be treated the same as our own warriors.”
Melia started thinking about this offer, but Richard already understood the underlying meaning behind it. The Greenleaf Tribe was the same as the Duskwords: eyeing the Evernight bloodline. The difference was that the more powerful Duskword Tribe decided to take it by force, while these ones here were trying a more diplomatic route.
He frowned at their absolute foolishness; however cunning these old foxes were, in his eyes they were just barbarians who had never stepped outside the bounds of their own world. No matter how strong they were, they were just slaves to a higher existence that were reared only for their protection. Marrying the strongest of two tribes rarely resulted in a significant growth in the strength of the offspring’s bloodline; if it were such a simple thing, all of Norland’s nobles would be unlocking frighteningly powerful abilities as a standard.
In fact, the strength of one’s bloodline only mattered as a threshold. Richard himself was only half-Archeron, but his blood was far more powerful than any of his siblings. Nobody in Norland knew exactly why things were so, but the amount of chance involved made bloodlines a poor reason to force such unions. There was no lack of branch families that had unlocked powerful bloodline abilities and overthrown the main line in history: Gaton himself was one such example.
Some families certainly had a degree of understanding as to how bloodlines worked; this was why Agamemnon could only participate in the fight for the Ironblood Dukedom after spending time in the Land of Dusk honing himself. However, even legendary mages that grasped the power of laws could not fully decipher the mysteries of the blood; the idea of these boors just mating their strongest bloodlines in the hopes of unlocking a more powerful one was just laughable.
‘So much for elven pride,’ he thought to himself as Melia finally realised just what was being asked of her, her face turning red with anger, “How would you be different from the Duskword Tribe? So this is how your tribe repays us for saving your grand elder in the past!”
The aged voice spoke once more, calm and without any hint of shame, “Melia, I am very grateful for the help rendered in the past, and I am trying my best to repay it. We are the only tribe that is even willing to stand on your side. Fenur might just have become a son of the forest, but his status is the same as yours. Are the Duskword Tribe’s conditions as generous as ours?”
“GENEROUS?” Melia shrieked, “YOU CALL THIS GENEROUS?!”
“You disagree? What will the Evernight Tribe do, then? If you do not agree to the Duskword Tribe’s conditions, you will be met with war. If you lose that war, the outcome for your tribe…”
“WE’LL FACE WHATEVER COMES OUR WAY!” Melia jumped out and down the tree.
Interested in the response, Richard had the wisp of nature energy detach from her and bury itself into the treehouse, continuing to listen in. It didn’t take long for one of the elders to break the silence, “Will we not just be giving her to the Duskword Tribe if she returns?”
“We should have her stay.”
“Yes, have her stay!”
“I’ll go, I guarantee she will return with me!” This voice was a familiar one, that of the young druid who he now learned was called Fenur. It sounded genuinely concerned, but more with the self than for Melia.
In the end, it was decided that Fenru and two elders would ambush Melia on the outskirts of the territory. This would keep things out of the sight of the hunters, saving the council from embarrassment.
Once Fenur’s group left, another elder suddenly spoke up, “What if Fenur’s child with her has no talent?”
“Just have her birth more! In any case, she will have to bear children for the rest of her life.”
“And what if Fenur… Ahem, isn’t up for it?”
“Then a rare opportunity would be wasted.”
“Such a precious bloodline has to flow within our tribe in the future. We might have two more children of the forest in the next fifty years, putting us on the same level as the Duskword Tribe.”
“The Tree of Life might break through as well.”
The original aged voice suddenly broke through the ruckus, “If Fenur fails after the first two attempts, every powerful male in the tribe will get a turn. We need two more children of the forest if we want the Tree to grow.”
“Doesn’t that make us the same as them?” a weak voice suddenly asked.
“That is why they are stronger than us,” the old man responded.
At this point, Richard dissipated the wisp of power and shook his head. These savages were nothing like the proud elves of Norland, even if they looked alike. His mother’s people held their heads high and walked through the world as its lords, not like beasts wishing to ravage until the end of time.
It was at this point that Melia appeared amongst the treetops, quickly making her way over. A few Greenleaf elves followed close behind, advising her not to go, but she ignored them completely. Having regained some calm in the time she had taken to come over, she gritted her teeth, “Richard, we’re leaving.”
Richard didn’t ask for a reason, just nodding his head, but a cold voice suddenly called out from behind him, “He cannot leave!”
A few hunters walked out from near the treehouse.
“He is my friend, why can he not leave?!” Melia said angrily, glaring at the captain with no patience remaining.
The captain bowed in what Richard now knew was fake courtesy, “Honourable daughter of the forest, this outsider can control the energy of the forest; this is something quite unusual. We need him to explain how he stole… how he gained this ability. So long as he can explain himself, nothing will happen.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo