Chapter 12: Meeting
That was the word that popped up in my head, upon gazing at the elven city. It appears we directly teleported right past the gates. What I see before me are buildings that seem to be made of a jade like material. These jade buildings each seemed to be carved from a single, huge stone. The structures were void of cracks or any other blemishes that would normally come through time.
Making this place look even more awe-inspiring were the huge trees that intertwined with the buildings, giving this whole city a more magnificent, natural look. Looking up at the immensely thick branches, that extended out of the thick trunks even thicker than the buildings, seemed to be many houses with smoke coming out of their chimneys.
The floor of this city was covered in lush grass, with only the narrow sidewalks and the main road made out of a smooth stone. Most of the city was covered in shade because of the thick branches that fanned out from the trees but the city itself gave off a warm luminescent glow from what looked to be floating orbs of light dotted across the city. Whether it was my previous world or this world, I could only describe it as perfect.
While I stood still, slack-faced, a blur in front of me suddenly jolted me awake.
Tess was still holding unto my hand when a group of what seemed like guards arrived almost out of nowhere. These elven warriors emanated a majestic air around them, all dressed in coordinated black suits with green trimmings and a golden shoulder guard on their left shoulder. These 5 guards all had with them a rapier strapped to their waist and what surprised me the most was that there was no aura coming out of them.
Augmenters and Conjurers both emit a faint aura unconsciously but this is only because of their lack of control over mana, which causes it to leak out of their body. One of the main reasons I was able to beat the slave traders was because I’m able to control my mana to not leak out, which I was able to use to catch them by surprise.
By the speed that the guards arrived in front of, they were clearly Augmenters but if they’re not leaking out even a hint of mana, that means these guys are no joke.
These 5 guards suddenly kneeled down on one knee, their face bowed down and right arm across their chests.
In unison, the guards saluted, “We welcome back the royal princess.”
Tessia is the princess of this whole fucking Kingdom?
While I tried to let go of Tessia’s hand, she suddenly grasps it harder and says in a voice that was so cold and apathetic, it brought shivers down my spine.
“You may rise.” She says with her peering down on the kneeled knights.
They stand up, their clenched right fist still crossing their chest, and the knight in front speaks, “Princess, we arrived as soon as we saw that the royal teleportation gate was used. Please, tell us what happened…”
Before he could finish speaking, I hear a cry not too far away.
“My baby! Tessia, you’re okay! Oh my baby!”
Running towards us was a middle aged man and woman. From the crown on the man’s head and the tiara encircling the woman’s forehead, I assumed that they were the King and Queen.
The King’s tall, built body was uniformed in a loose, decorated robe. His emerald eyes were pointed upwards and his thin lips were tensed, matching his short, military style hair.
While the King had a dignified but somewhat reserved appearance, the Queen was breathtaking. Although she was a bit past her youthful stage, her age couldn’t mask the beauty she was. Her round eyes were a light blue color and her lips full and a deep pink color. Her silver hair was curled down past her back as she was running towards us with a figure that could make anyone doubt that this woman was a mother.
They’re both running over here, the mother’s cheeks lined with tears and the father’s eyes straining to keep his tears in.
I turn to see Tessia’s face visibly soften as she herself starts tearing up. I let go of her hand and gently push her towards her parents, feeling a little emotional myself.
Tessia lands in the arms of both her parents who start sobbing at this point on their knees, burying their face in their daughter.
The last to arrive is an old man, well past his prime. His facial features are all sharp, with a gaze that can kill someone. His hair was pure white and was tied in the back, face cleanly shaven. This grandpa didn’t say anything, but his eyes did warm up a little when he saw Tessia.
It took a couple of minutes for Tessia and her parents to settle down, while the guards were looking at me with daggers in their eyes the whole time.
The King gets up, eyes a little red but not being able to mask the air of nobility that surrounded him.
“As the King of Elenoir and the father of Tessia, I apologize for this unsightly appearance of mine and more importantly, I thank you for escorting my daughter back home.” He says.
Continuing on, he adds, “Please accompany us to our home so we can hear what happened.”
I just nod in consent and was about to follow them when Tessia comes to me and holds my hand again, making the surrounding people give us weird and surprised gazes. I just uncomfortably chuckle and scratch the side of my head, not knowing what to really say in this situation.
Arriving at the castle, I observe that, rather than a castle; it was actually a huge tree. This tree, that probably needed at least a couple hundred people, locking arms, to encircle it, was made of a white stone that I guessed was petrified somehow.
Stepping inside the tree, I was pleasantly surprised to see how magnificent the interior of this castle was. There were two curved staircases that created a circle, with a gigantic chandelier floating in the middle of it. This chandelier seemed to be made of the same orbs of light that were dotted throughout the city.
Not even washing up, the welcoming crew was all situated around the rectangular dining table downstairs. Tessia’s father was on the far end of the table with me directly opposite of him. Tessia’s mother sat perpendicular to her husband, with Tessia seated right next to her. The grandpa was sitting across from the mother and daughter, leaving a pretty big gap between them and me, while the five guards standing off to the side behind the King.
With both his elbows on the table, fingers intertwined, the King was the first to speak.
“Child. What did you say your name was?”
“Forgive me for the late introduction. My name is Arthur Leywin from a remote town in the Kingdom of Sapin. A pleasure to make your acquaintance King, Queen, Elder, and gentlemen.” I stand up and bow slightly at each of them individually before sitting back down.
Discussion wasn’t going to get anywhere if they were going to treat me like a kid.
Both the King and Queen and the guards in the back showed evident looks of shock from my mature behavior, while even the grandpa had an amused grin on his face; Tessia giving me a shy smile.
Regaining composure, the King continues on.
“It seems you are much more intelligent than your appearance. Forgive me for my preconception. My name is Alduin Eralith and this is my wife, Merial Eralith and my father Virion Eralith. As for what happened, please tell us. We would like to hear your side of this.”
Waving off the apology, I begin telling my story. I made sure to be very vague in telling them how I got inside the Forest of Elshire in the first place; just mentioning that I got separated from my family after running into bandits, only managing to survive from a stroke of luck.
From there on, I had to tell them I was a mage. This was followed by another wave of utterly surprised looks from everyone, even Tessia. Because of the lack of obstacles we ran into on our journey back, I never really had the need to use mana so I didn’t bother explaining.
What surprised me was that grandpa suddenly clasped his hands together on the table and looked at me with a renewed, eerie interest.
I quickly moved on, telling them how I spotted a carriage from a branch I was sitting on and I observed them carrying a tied up child into the back before going off.
At this, the King slammed both of his hands unto the table, his eyes a menacing glare.
“I should’ve known it was humans…”
Woah woah! Do I sense a hint of racism?
I correct him, saying, “They were slave traders. Them and bandits alike prey on, not just elves, but humans as well, speaking as a victim myself.”
This caused the King to shut his mouth before sitting back down, letting out a soft cough.
“I didn’t ask Tess… *ahem* the Princess this, but I am curious as to how a couple of slave traders even got their hands on the princess of this kingdom.” I ask, almost calling Tessia by her nickname. I don’t think calling her something so informal as Tess would sit right with everyone here.
At this, the King almost looks embarrassed before saying, “My wife and I had a bit of a disagreement with Tessia and she decided to rebel by running away. We decided to let her cool off a bit before fetching her back because we know where she usually stays when she pouts, but unfortunately, she ran into some hu… slave traders.”
Ah… runaway princess. I sneak in a small grin at Tess and she responds with her tongue sticking out, face flushed.
I glaze over the fight with the slave traders.
“Luckily, I caught the slave traders by surprise and managed to dispose of them before untying the princess and escorting her here.”
“So a 4-year-old managed to ‘luckily’ kill off four adults, one being an Augmenter at that, and you simply wave it off like it’s no big deal.” Chimes in the elder seated across from Tessia, leaning back on the chair so only two of the legs are touching the ground.
“Yes. Half of them were asleep and the two were simply not on guard so disposing of them was not too challenging.” I refute.
The elder just responds with a lazy shrug of his shoulder.
After finishing the events, I clear my throat before asking what I came here for.
*Ahem* “As I have mentioned, it has been almost two months since I have seen my parents. I do not plan to intrude on your kingdom for long as I wish to meet them quickly, so I was wondering if you guys have a teleportation gate that could take me to the City of Xyrus or any teleportation gate inside Sapin. “
“You’re going to leave already Art?!” Tessia bolts up from her seat, face stricken with panic.
Both her mother and father give a baffled look as they mouth “Art”.
The elder just gives shoots snide grin at this and chuckles.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a human such as me to be inside this Kingdom for too long princess. Besides, I wish to make sure that my family is safe and tell them I’m okay as well.” I respond, giving a sheepish smile.
The King responds back for Tessia, “It has been a couple hundred years since the last human has stepped foot into the Kingdom of Elenoir and you, Arthur, are the first human to be in the capital of this Kingdom, the City of Zestier. However, saving our daughter and taking the trouble to accompany her all the way back to us entitles you with a proper reward…”
I take a quick peek at Tessia and see her head down, her gunmetal silver hair covering her face.
“…Unfortunately, the teleportation gate linked with the Kingdom of Sapin opens only once every 7 years, for the Summit Conference between the three races. Since the last Summit was 2 years ago, it’ll be another 5 years until the gate will function.” The King continues on.
So much for an easy way back…
“However, we are more than willing to send a group of guards to escort you back home. You are correct that it may not be wise to stay in this kingdom for too long. While some are tolerant, many hold enmities towards humans because of the war long ago.” He flashes a brief, sorrowful smile at this.
I nod in agreement. At least I’ll be able to safely go back home.
“For now, please make yourself at home here. We will have your escorts prepared by tomorrow morning. I do advise you not to wander around outside in the city though, for the reasons mentioned earlier.”
The King snaps his finger and a pretty elf lady in a maid uniform rushes out and leads me to my room.
There’s a lot I don’t get about this city. For one thing, the shower continues to baffle me. It was a simple waterfall that seemed to naturally flow from the roof and drain back out in the floor. However, the constant flow of water that didn’t seem to ever turn off was a surprisingly pleasant temperature, just warm enough to relax my body and pores.
As I finished dressing into a very silky robe just for your top and short pants, I placed the stone Sylvia left me inside the chest pocket inside my robe and once again, tried to study my mana core.
About thirty minutes in and not really getting anywhere, I was about to just call it a night when I hear a knock on my door.
Opening the door, I’m greeted by a pouting Tessia who throws a light punch at my chest.
“You dummy! Why did you act all unfriendly when you were with my family back there.” Going past me and sitting on my bed.
“Well first of all, you didn’t mention to me that you happened to be the princess of this entire Kingdom!” Shaking my head, I grip Tessia’s hand and drag her out of my room. Kids or not, I don’t think her parents are going to like her being in a boy’s room.
“Come on, show me around the castle! I won’t get the chance to visit this place ever again.”
Ah crap. I shouldn’t have said that.
Tessia breaks down into tears, trying to talk while sobbing.
“Art! I don’t want you to *Sniff* leave…”
“…You’re the first *Sniff* person I’ve gotten ever close to…”
I just gently pat her head while she’s rubbing her eyes with the arm not holding unto my hand.
We’re outside now, in the courtyard at the back of the castle. The floating orbs are giving off a dim, luminescent glow, lighting up the well-kept garden in a gentle atmosphere.
Man… If we were at least 10 years older…
Before I even got to finish my thought, I sense a blatantly clear killing intent. Milliseconds later a faint shine gives off the position of a projectile aimed at Tessia. I push the still crying princess out of the way and I prepare to parry the projectile with a mana infused hand.
At that instant, a figure in black is facing my back, in a stance to attack. Grabbing the projectile, I immediately spin myself to block the assassin with whatever was thrown at me when…
I’m face to face with the grandpa from earlier!
I jump back out of range from before angrily shouting, “What the hell! Why are you trying to kill us?”
“Kid. It may hurt a little but I doubt that toy you’re holding can kill anyone.”
I look down at my hand and see a pencil sized projectile with both ends blunted and coated in a layer of something close to rubber.
I was tricked!
“Haha! Nice reaction, nice reaction! I didn’t think you’d catch my little present and use it to block my next attack! Truly marvelous! However, your usage of mana is mediocre at best!”
He then proceeds to throw me a wooden sword fit for my size and takes out a wooden sword of his own, just a bit bigger.
“Here I come!” Not even giving me the time to get in a stance, he dashes towards me.
This crazy old bat!
“HAA!” I thrust myself low and accelerate my speed, throwing off the timing of his swing. Aiming for the fingers gripping his sword, I swing up, reinforcing my whole body.
Right before my sword comes into contact with his hands, I’m met with only air as he disappears from my sight.
Looking back, I see him a couple meters apart from where I’m standing.
What the fuck?
“You’re a scary little brat aren’t you? Looks like I’ll have to go a bit more serious!” The grandpa smirks.
His speed increased even more. With my previous life being a life of only training and battles, I’m able to keep him in my sight, but being able to see him and being able to respond to his attacks are two different things.
This damn body! I feel like a sandbag!
I’m able to block one move of his out of every three he lands on my body.
Screw technique, this old bat is messing with me using just pure speed. The only reason I’m able to somewhat keep up is by using sword techniques and footwork to minimize my movement.
After about 10 minutes of being treated like a wooden training post, I started noticing some patterns in the grandpa’s attacks.
As he flashed behind me about to do a horizontal sweep to my legs, I put all of my strength into my legs and jump back with my sword tucked into my armpit pointing at his head.
With a solid sound coming from the connection, the old bat stumbles a little before gaining balance.
“HAHAHAHA! I guess I deserved that one!” rubbing his swollen forehead.
Tessia was surprised at first but after realizing it was just a spar, she settled down. At this point though, she jumps up and walks towards the elder.
“Grandpa! You hurt Art too much! You should’ve gone easier on him!” Pinching the elder’s side.
“AHH! That hurts little one. Haha I’m afraid if I went easier on Arthur, he’d be the one bullying me!” He says while picking up his granddaughter.
He flashes in front of me and suddenly places his right palm into my sternum.
“Just as I thought. The usage of mana is terrible. Your body is a mess!”
I just stare blankly at him. Whether it was ki or mana, I was utilizing it to the fullest extent. Although the limits of this premature body makes it impossible utilize my full strength, I shouldn’t be hearing that my mana usage is terrible.
The grandpa, noticing my doubtful gaze, takes my hand and places it onto his own sternum. Closing my eyes, I focus on the mana in his body.
T-this… how come I’ve never thought of using mana like this?
“Haha! You humans have such a narrow perspective on mana manipulation. Your sword techniques and fighting experience is frightening though. What kind of life did you have to learn all of this?”
“I just read a lot of books and learned a bit from my father.” I say while scratching my cheek.
“Books eh? Mmm… I’ve decided. Brat! Become my disciple!”