Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
The light arrow pierced the falling leaf and left a perfect circle in its middle. The Elves standing around the Archery Practice Ground observed in awe and clapped in admirable respect.
Corina lowered her chin and gazed at her palm. Then, she stepped out of the practice grounds after greeting her compatriots with a wide smile. After she left, the surrounding Elves lined up and began their practice session.
What a peaceful life.
Corina shut her eyes and listened to the sound of arrows ripping through the atmosphere and the chirping of birds in the forest. The young Moon Elf returned to her mount, a Pegasus with spotlessly white wings, walking at a relaxed pace, and gently caressed it. The Pegasus stopped chewing on the gra.s.s around its hoofs and let out a comfortable snort, making Corina break into laughter. Then, she adjusted her gla.s.s armor and longbow before flipping herself up to the saddle.
A clear, crisp voice sounded and Corina turned around curiously. Shortly after, an Elf lady leaped out from between the shade of the trees and landed on her feet like a nimble cat. She saluted to Corina and said, "Sorry to disturb you, but I have something to report to you."
"Is anything the matter?"
"We received news that the spread of Chaos troubling Emerald Valley has been eliminated."
Corina twitched her nicely shaped eyebrow curiously. She was also aware of the happenings in Emerald Valley. Although the Elf Dominion hadn't had wars for years on end, the Elves didn't exactly lead boring and tranquil lives. The Judgment & Ruling Twin Dragons lived in the Elf Dominion and the Elves naturally had to do their part in maintaining the stability of Order. It was especially so for the border regions of the Elf Dominion because their borders were connected to the Country of Light and the Country of Darkness. This was why the Country of Law had to face troubles arising from both sides simultaneously and the Elves were responsible for handling them. Although the Elves handled the tasks easily in the forest, they weren't more capable of managing the Chaos and distorted evil than humans.
Recently, the power of Chaos had increased and Corina rode on her Pegasus to patrol the borders everyday in order to a.s.sist the regions in eradicating the Chaos. Emerald Valley was desolate and the Chaos wouldn't cause too much harm, which was why Corina had arranged her patrols at the end of her daily schedule. Now that the problem had been resolved, it piqued her curiosity.
"Eliminated? Which team of Elf Guards did it?"
"No, it wasn't, Madam."
The Elf Lady shook her head.
"It was eliminated by outsiders. They are looking to enter our territory and have applied for entry. After the outsiders knew about the troubles in Emerald Valley, they headed there to resolve the problem. We also dispatched a team to investigate the area and it was verified to be true."
Corina nodded slightly and she was rather interested in meeting the outsiders. But shortly after, she shook her head. After traveling in the human world, she had understood the personalities and habits of humans. Humans were unlike Elves. Regardless of whether they were kind hearted or evil, they had endless desires in the eyes of the Elves, and there were motives for everything they did. They treated one well in exchange for something that they wished for and the Elves couldn't accept what the Humans viewed as inevitable and right. It was the same for Corina. It wasn't due to the difference between their moralities or the Elves had some psychological bias. Instead, it was solely due to the differences between their cultures and lifestyles. If the Humans didn't need money and relied only on the sun, forest, and fruits for survivability like the Elves, they would become saints.
But no matter what, since these outsiders were willing to risk their lives to eliminate the Chaos, they were their friends.
"Alright, I understand. Since they were willing to a.s.sist us in eradicating the Chaos, they're undoubtedly our friends. Send some men to receive them in. By the way, do you know their purpose for visiting the Elf Forest?"
"I'm not too sure…"
The Elf lady shook her head helplessly. But she revealed a curious expression shortly after.
"But I heard that those people are rather interesting. Besides, there is still a little mermaid swimming in a floating water ball among them, it seems. Also, Madam, according to the residents of Blackberry Town, the group leader appeared to be a really, really beautiful man and he appeared rather similar to us, Elves. Although many humans have visited the Elf Forest, we have never met such interesting and peculiar people."
Corina's heart skipped a beat. She rested her arm that was pressing on the saddle and turned to her subordinate with a grave expression.
"A beautiful-looking man? Where did they come from? Do you know his name?"
The Elf lady tilted her head. Madam Corina doesn't seem to be the kind who loves to gossip. Then, she puckered her brows and nodded.
"They came from the Munn Kingdom, and that man is… Rhode Alander."
Corina's finger twitched.
The frightening, enormous shadow emerged in her mind instantly and she felt dizzy.
Corina was 300 years old and she wasn't considered too old for an Elf. As one of the most talented figures among the Elves, she had entered the Legendary Stage for quite some time. Even though she was the Elf Dominion Queen, she had had a lot of battle experience with other Elves who were also in the Legendary Stage. Although she had lost to them in battles sometimes, her persistence never wavered because she took battles as opportunities to improve herself and she believed that she could catch up with them after clearly identifying their differences in strength.
But the battle in Soraka Mountain was the first time Corina's unswerving determination had been swayed.
It was the first time that she felt so close to the threatening grip of death. Her strength was suppressed by the horrifying giant who possessed powerful strength and limitless Chaos and it almost squashed her like a bug. The unprecedented feeling of powerlessness made her deeply sense what fear and despair were. Back then, she didn't realize it, but she had lingering fears every time she thought about it afterward.
Within half a year of returning to the Elf Dominion, Corina didn't sleep well for a single night. She would dream of that battle and the terrifying giant every night and the feeling of powerlessness which she had never experienced felt, like binding chains on her back.
However, even though it was just a dream, Corina felt at ease as soon as she saw that man.
If he wasn't there to lead them, she couldn't have imagined how they would flee out of Soraka Mountain peacefully. She had personally felt the dangers of the Duke Fiend and after returning to the Elf Dominion, she often hugged herself tightly and sobbed secretly. She deeply felt that it was a miracle that she was able to make it back safely.
The Duke Fiend was formidable and almost unbeatable. Back then, Corina had no other solutions. Her strength had been suppressed and the Chaos Flames had almost destroyed her Order Forcefield. The land that had lost the Dragon Soul's protection made her feel strange and frightful.
However, just looking at that man's back made her feel relieved. Even in such a dangerous situation, he was so reliable and it was as though they wouldn't fail as long as they listened to his orders.
Corina reminded herself of the end of the battle. Although they escaped the Chaos Realm under Rhode's lead successfully, the terrifying monster caught up to them and it almost eliminated their presences in a single swat. But it failed.
Corina had never seen a human with such powerful strength. The two human young ladies appeared younger than 16 years old. However, the strength that they possessed made her s.h.i.+ver in fear. Corina had never felt such formidable strength and pure elemental powers. The terrifying giant who couldn't be defeated by the alliance of presences in the Legendary Stage was annihilated by the two human young ladies in less than three moves. There was an instant when Corina felt that she was in an utterly absurd dreamland.
Why are there such powerful Humans and I've never heard of their names before?
And what is their relations.h.i.+p with that man?
After returning to the Elf Dominion, Corina had investigated on Rhode out of curiosity. However, the results that she gathered made her furrowed her brows. According to the intelligence, Rhode was a sinister, cunning, despicable, shameless, and cruel thug. Such a person wasn't welcomed in the human society, not to mention with Elves.
Got to say, Corina didn't understand why she felt rather disappointed. Perhaps she thought that this man was a great person after they had fought shoulder to shoulder. He should have been an educated, kind hearted, pa.s.sionate, and straightforward man and not as terrible as she had heard. It might be due to disappointment or other reasons that Corina had gradually sealed the memories of that man and Soraka Mountain deep in her memories and never thought about it again. No matter who exactly that man was and what he did, it served no further purpose for her, since Humans had a short lifespan.
But now… That man had come knocking on her doors.
What is he doing here?
Corina felt her heart pounding for unknown reasons. Due to the relations.h.i.+p between the Elf Dominion and the Country of Law, Corina knew that the Church was in a working relations.h.i.+p with Rhode's Fortress. She also knew that there was a young lady with a strange name who taught the Church's Clerics how to battle. Frankly speaking, Corina was also curious about it too. After all, her understanding of Clerics were similar to ordinary humans who viewed them as capable of healing and supporting in terms of defense.
But they didn't need to pa.s.s through the Elf Dominion if they just needed to visit the Church. There were thousands of Church believers on this continent and there were several of them coming to the Country of Law to visit the Church to make a pilgrimage every year. If those people had to apply for entry through the Elf Dominion every time, the Elves would be annoyed to death.
But if they aren't here to visit the Church, are they here to look for the Elves? Or could it be… He's here to look for me?
When this thought cropped up in Corina's mind, her heart skipped a beat and almost jumped out of her chest! What is this situation? Am I unwell? Or have I been struck by a curse?
The Elf lady gazed curiously. Corina felt a s.h.i.+ver down her spine and returned to her senses. Then, she lowered her head hurriedly, held the saddle and jumped to her mount.
"I shall visit Blackberry Town to check on them. I'll leave here to you."
"Eh? Wait a moment, Madam. Didn't you ask me to send our men…"
The Elf lady widened her eyes in astonishment. But before she finished her sentence, Corina whistled and the Pegasus expanded its spotlessly white wings and soared into the sky. In the blink of an eye, they became a black dot in the sky and vanished to nowhere.
The Elf lady blinked curiously.
"How strange, what's wrong with Madam Corina?"
She muttered under her breath.
Rhode walked up the uneven hill slope with a painful expression while he rested his hand on his waist. The little mermaid beside him pushed her hand forward and released cooling air to remove the pain and soreness in his waist. Anne hopped behind them and occasionally chased the colorful b.u.t.terflies dancing in the forest while Lize followed the group at the back and she avoided looking at Rhode.
It seems to be true that when you're constantly in contact with someone, you will have to get along with her no matter what…
Rhode turned to Lize and shook his head helplessly. They had an intense night and most of the credits had to be given to Lize. Rhode thought that once was enough for her, but the truth had exceeded his expectation and imagination. Her innocent enticement had hooked him dearly as though an obedient young lady who tried wearing bold, transparent lingerie before one seduced another clumsily. The stimulation from this contrast was indeed addictive. Therefore, Rhode tortured Lize for the entire night and only ended at dawn.
According to his script, both of them should be hugging one another and talking about their worries before whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears and falling asleep together. However, Rhode's joy turned to sorrow. In their final battle before dawn, he experienced what it meant to meet with unexpected failure. In order to pleasure Lize and enjoy her body simultaneously, Rhode exerted too much strength and suffered the consequences—he strained his waist.
Fortunately, Lize was a Cleric and she healed most of his injuries. However, a strain couldn't be easily cured and Rhode could only rub his waist and head into the Elf Forest. According to the inn owner, the Elves' dispatches should be here to welcome them anytime now.
As Rhode forced out a bitter smile, suddenly, a shadow flitted across at lightning speed above them. Then, the group witnessed a white Pegasus flapping its wings and landing before them.