Chapter 192

D’niel was a highly skilled swordsman. Elves didn’t usually use swords since they commonly relied on guerilla tactics with arrows and bows in the forest. They had no purpose for the sword except in situations such as war, and expectedly, elves were lacking in swordsmanship compared to other areas. 

However, the Royal Guards, which D’niel was part of, were different. Like normal elves, they had incredible skills in archery as well as splendid swordsmanship. Furthermore, D’niel had been in charge of guarding the elf princess, Leona. Even among the royal guards, he was at the top.

‘D’niel…’ Dronian was shocked by the sight before him.

Clang! Clang! A sword, strengthened by mana, collided loudly. Zich swung his sword again, and Windur struck D’niel’s sword.

Clang! An explosive sound rang out again, and D’niel took a couple steps back while scowling. He wondered, ‘How does he have so much power…!’ D’niel gripped his sword tightly while glaring at Zich. He thought he would lose the grip on his sword otherwise.

“Hmph!”

After jumping off the ground with a strong kick, he ran towards Zich. D’niel was already aware that he lacked power in comparison to Zich, but he was still confident. It hurt his pride that an elf like him with superior mana capacity and physical abilities stronger than humans lost to Zich in strength; but he didn’t intend to continue pushing on with sheer strength to simply protect his pride.  

“Haa!”

His sword moved fast to pierce. A human without much training wouldn’t have even been able to respond to it, but Zich easily swatted the sword away. Yet, D’niel wasn’t disappointed since his piercing attack had been a bait. 

Thud!

With fancy and quick footsteps, he turned to Zich’s side. D’niel thought, ‘He won’t be able to resp—!’


Clang! Windur flew in his direction and blocked his attack, shocking D’niel. After drawing his line of attack, Zich’s eyes were staring at D’niel.

Whoosh! Whoosh! Windur continued to swing around. D’niel struck Windur away with his sword.

‘It’s too much!’ D’niel thought. He wasn’t lacking in just strength. ‘He’s also faster than me.’

D’niel didn’t necessarily think humans were an inferior race, but since elves naturally had a better physique, higher mana capacity, and longer life spans, he thought humans couldn’t help but be weaker than them. Thus, when he first heard Zich’s offer to help the war efforts, D’niel thought that although Zich and his companions could be tactically beneficial, they couldn’t expect much from humans. However, after colliding swords with Zich’s a couple of times, he realized how completely wrong he had been. 

D’niel took a deep breath. Sweat beaded on his forehead and dripped down the sides of his eyes. His eyes were itchy, but he couldn’t close them. He thought he would lose his opponent if he blinked.

‘What should I do?’ D’niel racked through his brain. He thought of all kinds of possibilities for the purpose of winning. ‘…Maybe I do really have to give up an arm or leg…’

At that moment, he heard a loud voice. “Stop!”

D’niel gained awareness of his surroundings again. His thoughts, which were only focused on defeating Zich, also began to be filled with other thoughts. ‘Oh right, I’m in a duel.’

He wasn’t in a battle where he had to place half of his life on the line; the purpose of this duel was to evaluate Zich’s skills. D’niel shook his head a couple of times to relieve the fervor of battle and stretched out his hand to Zich and said, “I’m impressed. You are very strong.”

“It’s the same for you. Most elves use bows and arrows, so it’s not common to see an elf who can use a sword so well.” Zich took D’niel’s hand and also shook it lightly. 

Then, Zich asked Dornian, “How was the result of this test?” The purpose of the battle wasn’t to win.

“We will have to see your companions’ skills too, but it seems like we don’t have to worry about you on the battlefield at all.” Dronian’s face looked bright after he checked Zich’s skills. Then, he stared at the rest of Zich’s companions. Since Zich was this strong, he also began to look forward to seeing their skills. 

And he wasn’t disappointed. 

“Hah!” Hans swung his sword widely. His skills were lacking in comparison to Zich’s, but they were still impressive.

“Urahh!” 

Koo! Snoc’s ability to control the earth impressed even the elves with considerable knowledge about the world. And…

Craaaaash!

When Dronian witnessed the force of Lyla’s incantation and magic, he came to a great realization that he had gained an incredible ally. 

“How was it?” Zich asked.

“It was amazing! It was beyond my expectations!” Dronian was overjoyed that he let the etiquette and solemnity he had kept up so far slide for a moment.

“Then, are you going to hire us?”

“Of course.” 

They absolutely had to use an incredible force like this. Dronian thought, ‘The only concern is their reliability, but since they saved Leona and helped her get the Lake’s Tear back, I suppose I can believe them to a certain extent.’

Then, that meant there was only one problem left to solve before hiring them. 

Dronian said, “All that’s left for us to do is to decide your payment now.” He knew that the most important thing for mercenaries was money. They were people who traded their skills and lives for it.

“How much do you want? Since I don’t have much human money, I would like to pay you all with gems.”

However, Zich wasn’t interested in money; with the amount of wealth they currently had, they could travel while enjoying all kinds of luxuries. Of course, Zich didn’t plan to refuse what he was offered, but there was something else he wanted.

Zich asked Dronian, “Do you perhaps know anything about the ancient empire?”

“Ancient empire?”

“Yes, I heard from Leona that a long time ago, there was an empire of strong humans.”

Dronian stroked his chin. “There’re a lot of human empires that have risen and fallen over the years, but judging by your words, it doesn’t seem like you want information on any normal empire. In that case, something comes to mind. There is a legend about a human empire that is passed down between us.”

“Then do you have any information about that empire?”

“Even though you say information, they’re just stories passed down to our generation.”

“Even that is fine. Perhaps, would you be able to organize all the stories and give them to us?”

“That won’t be difficult. Our older folks like to tell us stories about the past. They would be happy to write down some of the legends they know and have a small task to do. Is that everything you want from us?”

“Yes. If you think it’s not enough, you can repay us with something you think is suitable.”

However, Prince Dronian couldn’t just give them anything that was “suitable.” Their payment was related to the Lake Tribe’s honor.

‘I can just give them jewels but…’

“Then how about this? There’s a library of ours in Mentis. It’s called Kalpunar.”

“A library?”

“Yes. It’s a place that holds books that our ancestors first collected. Even though it’s considered a library, it’s more like a burial place for books. In the first place, Kalpunar wasn’t originally built as a library, but as a place to hold books that our ancestors brought. However, the amount of books that are in there is enormous. Moreover, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the history of the Kalpunar Library is almost as old as Adrowon.”

‘There’s something like that?’

If there was a place like that, Zich was eager to go and explore it.

“However, there’re a few problems. Even though we are taking care of it to a certain extent, since there are a lot of books in general and a lot of old books, the books aren’t in very good condition.”

“That’s not a problem for us.”

At first, Zich merely thought about collecting a few legends that were passed down among the elves; since he was able to get an opportunity to obtain definite information, it was not a problem if some books were in poor condition.

“The second problem is that Kalpunar is not just the Lake Tribe’s treasure, but all the tribes in Adrowon. Therefore, you need permission from the other tribes that live in Adrowon.”

Gaining permission from all the tribes that lived in the Adrowon Forest was a much more tricky ordeal. No matter how strongly the Lake Tribe asserts their agenda, there would definitely be a tribe or two that would feel uncomfortable revealing their historical landmark. However, Zich smiled instead.

“Well, it might be rude of me to say this, but I came at a good time.”

“Yes, it is a good time.” Even though Dronian felt bitter, he agreed with Zich’s words.

“There’s no better time than right now for all the tribes to become indebted to you.”

Currently, all the Tribe Kings were being held as hostages. If Zich managed to help the Kings escape, none of the tribes would be against Zich and his companions from entering the library.

“There’s another reason for me to participate in this war, but Prince Dornian, I don’t need permission from the Iron Tribe, right?”

“Of course.” At Zich’s joke, Dronian made a sharp and bitter smile.

“For hundreds of years, they won’t be able to voice their opinion in this forest region. But of course, that’s only if they manage to survive.”

*   *   *

After that, they talked to Dronian a bit more, and Zich and his companions went to the room that was assigned for them. Leona, who had tried to sneakily follow behind them, was caught by Freid and dragged out. Even though she asked for help with teary eyes, her companions ignored her and moved along. When they reached their rooms, Zich told his companions with a cheerful tone, “And like that, we are now participating in an elf war.”

“What do you mean, and like that?

Lyla protested against his decision, which did not consider any of his party’s opinions or thoughts. However, her voice had barely had any strength to it; she had already half given up. For that reason, she showed her skills in the duel as well.

“What, you don’t want to help Leona? You kept taking care of Leona so well. I didn’t know this, but you’re secretly such a cruel person.”

When Lyla raised her arms, Zich took a few steps back. But Zich’s playfulness only lasted for a moment.

“As the Prince said, I’m going to participate in this war. What are you going to do? Are you stepping out?”

Even though war was a place where magicians could fully utilize their wide-reaching skills, Zich had no intentions to force Lyla into a battle she didn’t want to partake in.

“If I step out, are you going to keep talking about how I don’t want to help Leona?”

“Saying the truth and respecting your decision are different matters.”

At Zich’s shameless reply, Lyla laughed out loud.

“Whatever. I was going to help out Leona anyways. And I’m interested in the compensation you’re gonna get.”

Lyla stared at Hans and Snoc. “What are you guys going to do?”

“Ah, Miss, we are…”

“Why are you asking them?”

Zich cut off Hans who was about to reply. “They obviously have to follow me. The only person I was asking was you, Lyla.”

Hans made a bitter smile and Snoc nodded his head as if he expected this.

Zich told them, “You guys go ahead. Since the two of you are going to suffer in the future, you should get a lot of rest.”

Hans and Snoc went to find their rooms. Lyla was about to follow after them but was stopped by Zich.

“Why?”

“Do you have any memories about this elf conflict?”

Zich didn’t have much information about this elf conflict either.

“I don’t remember well.”

“Okay.”

“But I think it had something to do with Glen Zenard. My senses tell me so.”

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