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Chapter 386 - Forest that Leads to the Future (1)

    Chapter 386 - Forest that Leads to the Future (1)

    The ecology of the Great Forest, the forest where Elvenheim was located, was unique and mysterious. It was life between the Red Plateau and the ice-colored Arctic, where even weeds couldn't be found. From an ecological point of view, there shouldn't be an environment, yet the rate of growth for the flora and fauna was unimaginable.

    However, everyone knew the cause of it-the world tree, Yggdrasil. In the old myths, its branches extended to distant stars. It was the source of life that fertilized the soil and allowed plants and animals to live here.

    'But aren't the trees too big? It will block all sunlight and raindrops.'

    Trees that couldn't grow to 10 meters outside the Great Forest were ~25 to 50 meters tall inside it. Theodore had been concerned back when he flew above them, but according to Mitra, there was no problem.

    Due to the influence of the world tree, the deficiency wouldn't occur because the plants received nutrients and moisture as one body. The reason why the forest remained abnormally sized was that the world tree created an ecosystem that transcended the environment.

    At this moment, Mitra puffed up her cheeks from a distance.

    [Theo, are you listening to my story?]

    She noticed due to being connected to him by the soul. Theodore was surprised by her words and replied without hesitation, "Ah, I heard it all. The power of Dmitra is a heavy burden on the world tree. Therefore, you concentrated your efforts on boosting the natural abilities of the forest by dividing your body into smaller ones?"

    [Yes! I worked hard as Theo asked!]

    After she demanded praise a few times, Theodore stroked Mitra's head and admired her idea. He knew that a god could fall to an ancient elemental after losing their divinity. However, after regaining her divinity, Mitra had turned part of her strength into ancient elementals. Moreover, the bodies also had the ability to act on their own. Theodore had thought that the speed of the forest's growth was oddly strange after being disrupted by so many battles. That was actually all due to Mitra.

    "You did a lot better than I thought. Great job, our Mitra."

    [Hoing! Hooing!] Mitra pushed her head against his hand as she was once again praised. She also let out her distinctive cheers. Anyway, she seemed to be ticklish at the top of the head, so Mitra was laughing too hard. Theodore barely managed to place a finger against her mouth. "Mitra, I want to ask you one more thing."

    [Yes?]

    "You were riding on Tres. I remember that he was small a few months ago..." Theodore looked down at his cloud-covered feet. There was a fox running while shaking his three tails. Tres couldn't fly in Theodore's arms because he was too big, but he managed to keep up with Theodore by running. Of course, Theodore controlled the speed.

    [Tres? Ah, Yellowy.]

    "...Yellowy?"

    [The fur color is like this, so he is Yellowy!]

    The name was so tacky that Theodore got chills.

    "Y-Yes. Yellowy. Why did Yellowy grow so suddenly?"

    [Umm... Tiger Auntie taught him. Ah.] Mitra was reminded of something and started to chatter again. [That's right. Yellowy said that this was his original size. Due to one aspect of his being a creature and the other aspect being a spirit, his mind needed to develop to in order for his body to grow bigger.]

    "...I see. The mental age was lower than his spiritual power. Thus, his body is slow to grow."

    [From now on~ the longer he lives, the bigger he will become!]

    In fact, it was strange that a three-tailed fox would be the size of a dog. As Mitra explained, this was the right size. He wouldn't get bigger or smaller for a while. Theodore thought about it while moving unconsciously.

    'By the way, is 'Tiger Auntie' a nickname for the Tiger King?'

    The Tiger King couldn't complain since Mitra was the mountain god.

    'She didn't like leaving the Baekun Mountains, but it seems like she is doing well.'

    At that time, the Tiger King had lost a lot because of Lust and was humiliated. It wasn't just the living creatures. The millions of variants had also destroyed the natural environment.

    Meltor had quickly regained control of the Baekun Mountains, but it had become a land where no spirits could live. The damage to the animals and plants was a secondary problem. The main problem was that the dragon vein itself was greatly damaged. In the end, the spirits were forced to choose the option of migrating.

    "Mitra, what about the other spirits here? Are they doing well?"

    [Yes! They were a bit awkward at first, but now they are fine. They often talk to the elves and have helped restore the forest.]

    "Yes, help them to make it a second home."

    [Of course! If you live in this forest, everyone is a friend of Mitra's!] Mitra's bright smile was particularly dazzling today.

    'Let's walk a bit before going to Elvenheim.'

    After hearing Mitra's story, Theodore didn't perform space movement. Instead, he looked at all the changes that had occurred to the Great Forest. He looked at the forest which had burned in the fight against Laevateinn and the ground which had blackened in the battle against Jerem and Nídhöggur. The battles that had once threatened the world tree and Elvenheim were over, and the organisms in this forest were living for tomorrow.

    "Eh? M-Mitra!"

    "Mitra! Go eat potatoes!"

    "These days, the raspberries are ripe!"

    Sometimes the elves looked up at the sky and greeted Mitra.

    "I-Is that?"

    "He has come! Everybody say hello!"

    "The sixth dancer, Ziavisida, greets you!"

    They immediately recognized Theodore and showed a polite attitude.

    '...It is going well without me having to intervene. With Mitra, the elves, and the spirits working together, they will revive this forest in 15 years.'

    No one else knew it but the role of the Northern Great Forest and the world tree was to control the resentment of several species.

    Sloth was dispelled, and the mana concentration of the material world was destined to decline over the centuries. The elves were more sensitive to the concentration of mana than humans and would find it difficult to live outside the Great Forest after around 500 years.

    There would be no problems with their daily activities, but they wouldn't be able to use spiritual medicine and it would be easy for them to get sick. Thus, Elvenheim and the Great Forest had to remain.

    Tak.

    Theodore drew out a distant future and realized that his feet had landed on the ground. He arrived at the point he had set as his destination.

    "Um? Who?" Coincidentally, there was someone in this place. The person's dark skin and silver hair belonged to the dark elves who were known to be extinct in the outside world. Additionally, he was one of only six high elves.

    "It has been a while, Alucard. Has it been almost half a year?"

    "...Theodore!" Alucard rose from his seat, approached Theodore, and aimed his fist without hesitation. Theodore's abdomen was so strong that a loud noise was heard.

    "Keok."

    "You foolish child! Why did you go so far as to leave behind the child you promised to marry?"

    "I-I'm sorry. I was a bit busy. That's why I've come now."

    Sigh... Alucard kept grumbling, "You are the one driving the incidents every time, so you must've been caught up in something nasty. Of course, half a year isn't that long for us elves, but you are human."

    "...Sorry."

    "Don't apologize to me. Be good to that child."

    Alucard's words were right. Theodore could've stopped by once before his honeymoon. Theodore scratched his head, a sign that he was reflecting.

    "Ellenoa has many things to do today and will return in the evening. I also have a shift. It doesn't matter wherever you go, but there is someone you should talk to."

    "Um? Who is it?"

    The place where the two people were speaking was a viewing area where only the high elves could go. It was a branch of the world tree that overlooked Elvenheim. For the high elves who could grasp precise situations with Ratatoskr, this view was a useful facility. It was at this moment that...

    "...Me," a dreary voice spoke out from behind Theodore.

    "Naia?"

    "Yes."

    As always, her dull hair and half-hooded eyes reminded him of a student who stayed up all night studying. It was the high elf Naia, who was well-known for her wisdom and poor self-management. Alucard put down his book when he saw her. "You came at the right time. I am going."

    "Ah, work hard."

    "Yes. Naia, don't fall asleep again."

    "...Nagging."

    "What?"

    Naia's head drooped, making Alucard sigh before he disappeared. Thus, only two people remained on the branch of the world tree.

    "It has been a while, Naia."

    "...Yes, a while..."

    Theodore greeted Naia first to try and resolve this awkward atmosphere, but it didn't work. Naia sat in the chair where Alucard had just been sitting and stared blankly into empty air. If her eyelids weren't moving occasionally, he might've thought that she had fallen asleep with her eyes open.

    'Why did you ask me to talk to this person, Alucard?'

    Theodore would rather talk to Alisa or Lumia. Just talking to Naia felt disturbing. Look at those blurry eyes. Was she going to fall asleep?

    "Excuse me..."

    However, breaking Theodore's prediction, Naia turned her head and talked to him, "You... have become the 'great one'... right?"

    "Great one?"

    "Border... surpassing... existence."

    Theodore's eyes widened at the unexpected words. The other high elves didn't show any signs of awareness, so how did Naia correctly point out that he was a transcendent? He was unable to hide the question in his blue eyes.

    "...Don't be, surprised. My clan can see another person's 'star'..."

    "Star? What is that?"

    "There is no clear notion. Vessel? Destiny, soul... I have never seen one before, so I am just guessing."

    As the conversation continued, Naia's sleepy voice became sharper. She didn't speak well normally. The unused vocal cords loosened, and a clear voice was heard. It was a voice that even the high elves would only hear once every few years. Naia gazed at Theodore with clearer eyes. "A being born as a mortal and overcoming his birth. A transcendent who can break the thread of fate. If you are such an existence, why?"

    Naia's eyes filled with mysterious colors as she seemed to penetrate Theodore's heart. "Why are you ready to die?"

    "...You can guess once but not twice."

    "Of course. The eyes of this old clan are just a mere trick in front of a 'great person.' There is no way to read you once you close your mind like you have now," Naia said. However, she continued muttering like she was confident, "You were shaken when you first heard me? I saw it in the gap. I don't know the meaning because it is uncertain, but 'red star'―"

    "Naia, stop." The words that were as sharp as a blade stopped Naia. It was because she realized Theodore's words contained a 'warning', not malice.

    Naia understood through her intuition. "I see. Am I not supposed to know?"

    "Well, something like that."

    "Okay, I understand. I will forget everything I said just now."

    "Thank you."

    If Naia had ignored the warning, Theodore was willing to erase her memories using forceful means. A high elf's resistance to magic was ineffective against a 9th circle magician. However, he didn't want to use such means against an acquaintance who wasn't an enemy. Theodore was also very grateful that he knew to take precautions against something he hadn't known about previously.

    Naia's eyes blurred again as she lost interest, but she said a few more words, "...Still, I am curious. Tell me when things are over. At this old age, I am always curious."

    Theodore accepted it.

    *     *     *

    The sun sank below the western horizon, and the cool night covered the land. Theodore watched the light change to darkness from a place that was closer to the sky than the land. It was one of the many branches of the world tree. Among them, there were long branches which stretched out to make an observatory.

    "Theodore!" Finally, Ellenoa finished her work for the day and called out to him.

    "Ella."

    "Why didn't you tell me that you were coming? You have been here for a few hours." Ellenoa felt sorry to keep Theodore waiting. She grabbed his sleeves with a pout.

    Theodore saw her expression and smiled. "It's okay. For the time being, I will stay in Elvenheim."

    "Ah! I see. If you want to have a cup of warm tea..."

    "―Before that, Ella." Theodore grabbed Ellenoa's hand that was holding his sleeve. "There is something I want to talk about."

    "..."

    The two of them looked into each other's eyes for a moment. What did she read in his eyes?  Ellenoa smiled and answered, "Shall we take a walk?"
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