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Chapter 387 - Forest that Leads to the Future (2)

    Chapter 387 - Forest that Leads to the Future (2)

    Theodore didn't say anything more. Naia was still looking up at the sky with a blank expression.  The two people, Theodore and Ellenoa, left Naia and started climbing the world tree for a walk. The wide and round branches at the top of the world tree made it seem different from the world on the ground. They passed through the knothole that connected to another space, and the two people reached the height of white clouds.

    "This place...?"

    It was a place that Theodore was seeing for the first time, despite having come to the world tree several times. Ellenoa walked a few steps ahead of him before slowing down. Then she shyly held Theodore's hand and said, "The top of the world tree. Aside from Theodore, there is only one other person allowed to access this height."

    "If the admission is controlled... there must be something special about this place."

    "Yes, the symbolic meaning is big," Ellenoa said, pointing above her head as she spoke. "Do you see over there?"

    "This..." Theodore's eyes shook when he saw where she was pointing. It was because there was something hanging from the world tree that he had never seen before despite the world tree having green leaves in all four seasons. Instead of a bud, something with a roundish shape was hanging there.

    "Fruit?"

    There was a fruit on the world tree, Yggdrasil. In the past, Theodore had received a seed of the world tree and given it to Mitra, but he didn't recall there being any fruit. It wasn't comparable to those of the Age of Mythology, but the fruit of the world tree was like an elixir. Of course, most of them didn't have seeds and the efficacy wasn't as good. However, the fruit was even better than advanced potions.

    "Yes, there are 80 years left until it is fully ripe. This isn't a place that can be exposed to outsiders."

    "I see. Now I know why the path was so twisted."

    There was no great efficacy in fruit that wasn't ripe, but that didn't matter to those who were blinded by greed. It was right to hide it beyond the reach of other eyes.

    'There are at least four or more branches leading to the wrong place. Isn't it much more difficult than a labyrinth in terms of trying to advance?'

    It was insignificant for a transcendent who could freely read and write space and time, but this had an absolute effect on other people. A magician in this age who could access this road... Besides Theodore, it had to be a person who could read the space at one level higher than Orta.

    In other words, this was the perfect place to enjoy themselves. It meant she was ready to talk. Ellenoa sat on a stump that looked like a chair and called out to Theodore, "Theodore."

    Theodore sat down and faced her.

    "Ella," he used his nickname for Ellenoa. "Do you remember my promise?"

    "Yes, of course. I remember every word."

    "...Dmitra's Saintess, the one who revives the world tree. It is a burden I put on you, Ella. Heavy shackles bind you to the world tree until you fulfill that role."

    "Theodore-" Ellenoa tried to say something, but Theodore held up a hand to stop her. He knew it was inevitable, and she did as well. Unlike Ellenoa who casually accepted the role, Theodore felt really guilty. He wanted to free her sooner, even if he couldn't reverse what had happened. Thus, Theodore had made a promise to himself and Ellenoa... for them to get married on the day these shackles were released.

    "I'm sorry, Ella. I have something to say to you."

    Ellenoa's face became as pale as wax once she heard his words. She couldn't stop the words that followed as Theodore declared, "I have to break this promise."

    "...Ah, ahhh...!" Water filled Ellenoa's eyes. Her lips, which were always curved in a gentle smile, opened with shock, and mournful sounds emerged. Her neutral beauty fell in despair, causing a stone to fill the chest of anyone who saw it. Theodore, who made her like this, wasn't an exception.

    "Ella."

    He carefully grabbed Ellenoa's hand, and she held onto him like it was her last strand of hope. Then she started crying, "I-I don't want to... Theodore, promise, you promised..."

    "Ella."

    "Rejection, sob, Theo...dore, I...!"

    "Ella, just wait and relax. Yes?" Theodore was surprised by the reaction that was bigger than he had expected and pulled Ellenoa into his arms. The green hair buried in his chest moved several times, and his chest became moist. Ellenoa was crying as if the sky had collapsed. Theodore took a deep breath before whispering in a sweetly affectionate voice, "I'm not going to leave you."

    "...L-Lie, sob..."

    Theodore felt a bit of regret because of his mistake. In retrospect, his words had caused a misunderstanding. He wanted to fix it, but Ellenoa shook her head, not wanting to listen to him. She could only choose partners once, and she didn't want to be rejected twice. Theodore inevitably chose shock therapy.

    "Ella." He pulled off the two hands that were covering her ears. "Let's get married."

    "S-Sob...Yes, eh?"

    "I can't wait until then, so let's get married right away."

    Ellenoa removed her face from his chest, revealing wet eyes and a wide open mouth. The shock therapy turned out better than expected.

    "Are you saying this sincerely?"

    "Ella." Theodore smiled and corrected his mistake. "I broke my promise because I proposed before your duties finished."

    "Ah..."

    "Ella, I need a connection with you so that I can think of this bond anytime and anywhere."

    Ellenoa stared blankly for five minutes once she heard these words. Then her white complexion became rosy again. Maybe it was due to the shock she received before, but she just realized that Theodore had proposed. To think he wanted to get married right away? Ellenoa wasn't immune to this approach and blushed.

    She reached out her hand in a different way. "P-Please wait a moment..."

    The world tree responded to the high elf's will and moved its branches. It was a branch where the fruit that needed 80 years to ripen hung. Ellenoa didn't hesitate to pluck the fruit. Maybe the fruit was already loose or Ellenoa's power was greater than he thought, but the fruit burst and the fragrance covered her palm.

    Ellenoa handed a piece to Theodore and explained why she took the fruit, "We elves don't place a great deal of emphasis on 'marriage' like humans, and a big ceremony isn't required. For us, it isn't unusual for two different genders to come together to continue the bloodlines."

    "It is a wedding but not a wedding."

    "Yes, if two hearts are brought together, there is no need for formal rituals. Thus, we will have a very simple 'wedding' ceremony."

    That's why Ellenoa grabbed this fruit.

    "Two people will share one fruit, writing each other's names with the seed before splitting it in half. An elf's wedding requires planting the two seeds in a precious place."

    Theodore was convinced but asked Ellenoa about something he still didn't understand, "Must it be the fruit of the world tree?"

    "..."

    "Ella?"

    "...I-It was nearby. Yes, I am selfish." Ellenoa, who always seemed selfless, was currently overflowing with greed. She had learned she wasn't special, but everyone wanted their wedding ceremony to be a bit more special. That's why the atmosphere was playful. The two people faced each other and slowly put the fruit in their mouths. Theodore's blue eyes and Ellenoa's green eyes filled with unknown colors.

    '...It feels good.'

    Maybe it was due to the neural network 'Ratatoskr' that they shared, but both Theodore and Ellenoa felt that their emotions crossed the boundaries of their bodies and mixed in each other's minds. It seemed like Theodore Miller changed into Ellenoa, and Ellenoa changed into Theodore Miller. Maybe it was a prank by the world tree on the lovers who dared to use its body part in an act of affection.

    "I love you, Ella." Theodore was surprised by the words that slipped out.

    "Yes, I love you too. Theodore."

    Honest words flowed out of Theodore's mouth, and there were more than ever before. The fruit wasn't large and the seed was on Ellenoa's side. She carved her name on the surface of the seed and placed it in Theodore's hand. Theodore wrote his name next to 'Ellenoa.' Then the seed was broken into two pieces. Each of them got a piece, and the cozy wedding ceremony came to an end in just a few minutes.

    Theodore placed the seed in his pocket and wondered where to plant it. Soon after, he got an answer.

    'The backyard of the Miller manor.'

    The world tree could no longer be born. Even if a bud emerged from the seed that was split into two, it would be nothing more than a small tree. Nevertheless, it would be born with the power of the world tree to protect lives and enrich the soil. He hoped that his family would be a bit more secure.

    "The night has deepened."

    Hearing Theodore's words, Ellenoa nodded shyly at. "Yes, shall we go down?"

    "Let's go down my way. I know where Ellenoa's room is, but where am I sleeping?"

    "..."

    "Ella?"

    She held the treasured piece of seed and spoke in a soft voice. Theodore could barely hear it.

    "N-Now Theodore is my husband."

    Less than one minute after the relationship changed, Ellenoa's face reddened as she tugged at Theodore's collar. "I-I mean... You have to stay in my... room?"

    In response to the courageous request of the new bride, Theodore embraced her. Just like Ellenoa's, Theodore's face was hot. The days when he rescued her from the Austen warriors who pretended to be slave merchants and from Superbia emerged again.

    "...Let's go." He firmly held Ellenoa and entered the coordinates for the familiar space movement. Only the lonely sound of wind flowing through the branches of the world tree remained.
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