TL: Probably the final 2 chapters tomorrow.
Chapter 119 – Loop of Trade Wind (1)
=========== Aouine Military officer Nordas’s POV =========
Nordas had a dream. He was surrounded by waves of undead in the endless Wilderness. The skeletons were dark yellow in color, with fiery eyes burning in their sockets, charging straight at him from the darkness.
His allies fell one by one, his camp struck full of arrows, and there were corpses everywhere when he looked around. Aouine’s battle flag was split in the middle as though it bowed in defeat, not even moving a little.
Heaven and Earth seemed to swallow him whole till the last moment—
And he woke up from his dream. He yelled loudly and sat upright on a soft reed bed. The early morning within the Dark Forest brought about a hint of coldness, but when he felt his back he realized it was full of perspiration and his pallid forehead was full of thin sweat beads.
He gasped for a while before he finally gained his composure and raised his head to find a ray of morning light streaming through the small room’s window—
No, the room was the hollow interior of a giant tree, and the window was carved out by removing its bark.
The room’s furniture was very simple and mostly made out of wood. In fact, several of them were carved out of the tree with several vines hanging down above.
Nordas clutched his forehead, realizing that he was no longer on that battlefield. He was rescued by strange men and sent to this place. It had been several months, but he still had these nightmares.
He took in a deep breath and stood up shakily, before realizing there were boisterous noises outside the room. He was puzzled as the village had always been quiet.
[Did something happen? Or has the Festival of Revival started?]
Nordas walked towards the window and cast a curious gaze outside—
========== Brendel’s POV ============
The Druids built a settlement outside the Loop of Trade Winds called The Green Tower. It was somewhat of a city as there were thousands of people. There was a large amount of Centaurs and Tree Elves, and a small number of Senia.
The Druids spent a long time living with other races. They had planted a type of ancient tree that grew exceedingly quick, and resided within the branches of magical giant trees.
The settlement was built upon these gigantic trees some thirty meters above the ground, and it was connected by countless vine bridges reinforced by Mana. They were interwoven together to make them sturdier than stone bridges, and wooden planks were placed on top to make them flat.
The druids lived a simple life despite the creation of the unique city, but the centaurs loved a vibrant city, and decorated the bridges with lamps and crystal lights, causing it to seem like it was ablaze even in the night.
The settlement also had different levels, a place to allow the Druids to gather, as well as nests for the Giant Eagles.
The Druids and the Giant Eagles had been allies for centuries and treated each other as partners.
Brendel followed the Grand Druid Grey Raven and slowly went up the Vine bridges. It was at that moment where he saw the large flying beasts dancing in the air. The crowns of the giant trees were like their clouds as the eagles passed through the green canopies.
The centaurs that passed by Brendel wore shiny armor and Sentinel Helmets. They had lived together with the Druids for a considerably long time too. They were a race that lived for combat, and their physical feats were even stronger than the Subterrane Dwellers.
But in the Dark Forest, they had to rely on the Druids to survive.
Drayds, Senians, Furbolg, Pegasi, and Unicorns also lived within the settlement. As long as they worshipped the Goddess Nia, they would be the Druids’ guests. (TL: Senia = lycanthropes, Furborg = bear monster)
But the Druids were not in charge of the city’s daily operations. The leader of the centaurs, Zegnar, was in charge of the Green Tower’s defenses, while the daily operations were managed by a council consisting of a Tree Elf, Senian, and Furbolg.
The Druids lived in the upper level, and they had their own council, Blackthorn, to handle their internal affairs. Their main task was to observe the Loop of Trade Winds, as well as the Dark Forest’s movements.
The Druids’ residence was much simpler compared to the town area. The Grand Druids created a courtyard where it was centered around six different trees, and there were six different branches leading out to six different halls. The center of the courtyard had a statue of the Goddess Nia, while the west hall from the courtyard was the location of Blackthorn.
Two Elder Treants, the size of approximately six meters tall, held up their upper bodies with their hands while sleeping. They seemed to be the hall’s guards, but they did not fulfill their responsibilities. However, when Brendel approached them, the left Treant opened an eye to peek at the Grand Druid Grey Raven, before closing it again.
The other Treant snored, its voice long and rustling as though it was a song from the ancient forest.
Grey Raven nodded at the Treants before he turned back and spoke to Brendel and his followers: “Please follow me into the hall.”
The youths under Brendel had been allocated in the settlement, and there were Tree Elves who were fond of guests to entertain them. Kodan and Ropar were there to keep these energetic men in check.
The people behind Brendel currently were Amandina and Scarlett. They had never seen such a unique place, and even Amandina who controlled her emotions well glanced around curiously.
The Blackthorn’s hall did not have any difference with their normal architecture. It was simple and crafted from nature. Other than a few statues of the Ancestral Druids and Divine Beasts, there was no additional decoration.
The pillars looked exposed in the strong winds as the gigantic tree branches had been hollowed out and its bark removed, but the Ancient Trees’ vitality was very robust and their growth was not affected; the pillars extended upwards to grow into new tree branches and leaves.
Brendel looked at the people standing in a circle in the great hall waiting for him.
Andellu was the first Elder Druid that he saw. There was a total of seventeen Druids, including a few elderly men. However, Brendel sensed two Druids who were like the Grey Raven.
[Three Grand Druids, including Andellu. They certainly think highly of me.]
He could not help but think that when he realized this fact, but his thoughts were quickly interrupted by a small figure rushing out from the side room, her long green hair swaying behind her as she jumped straight into his arms.
“Brother Brendel!” Sifrid buried her head against his chest and called his name in delight.
As the person chosen by the Goddess Nia, she had foreseen that he was going to leave Firburh to reach this place one day. After a month’s worth of waiting, she finally got to meet him.
Brendel had to take a moment before he recognized the little girl. Sifrid had grown a little taller and the color of her face had become rosy.
[The Druids must have treated her well.]
Unfortunately, that was a misunderstanding. The Druids did not know how to take care of people, and they left Sifrid’s livelihood to be taken care by the Tree Elves. Since it was the request of the Grand Druids, the Tree Elves who were friendly by nature made doubly sure that her needs were taken care of.
“I like people who keep their promises. I’m satisfied that you didn’t lie to me.” Brendel patted Sifrid’s head and nodded to the Druids.
Sifrid understood that Brendel was here for official business, so she received her head pats and stood to one side. Amandina took Sifrid’s hand and smiled at her, and she received a sweet smile in return.
“Lord Brendel,” One of the Grand Druids spoke; he was the eldest amongst all the seventeen Druids.
He was leaning on a staff and wore a robe that was woven from long tree leaves. His hair and eyebrows were greyish-white, and the severe wrinkles cut deeply on his face, but there was a pair of sharp eyes that were full of spirit.
“Great Elder,” Brendel interrupted him politely, “although I’m a noble of Aouine, there is no meaning to that title once I leave the humans. There is no need to call me lord. You are the elder here and I’m much younger, so please call me Brendel.”
The Great Elder paused momentarily and his expressions softened as he nodded. But Andellu stood out after observing for a while.
“Lord Brendel, I think it’s best that I relay the questions.”
Brendel nodded as he knew that the Druids wanted to return the respect, and did not object.
“The Great Elder wants to know how much truth there is when you claim that you know the Druids’ ancient Magic, as well as the secrets in the Dark Forest.”
[My, my, these Druids really don’t know how to interact with the guests. Instead of welcoming us and letting us have seats with some refreshments, you’re going straight to business? It feels like you don’t care about the guests at all. Though it’s not to say I dislike this style. Having to stay here for three days and only discussing things after banquets, I probably won’t be able to enter the Loop of Trade Winds if I don’t spend half a month on pleasantries.]
He did not have time to waste.
“…… I know a little about your Ancient Magic, but that doesn’t mean that I understand it, let alone be familiar with it. As for the Dark Forest, I do know a fair number of secrets.”
“Then are the ruins in the Dark Forest truly Valhalla?” A tall Druid asked.
“No,” Brendel glanced at him, recognizing him as a Druid from the Circle of Beasts: “I said that Valhalla is in the Loop of Trade Winds. I am not certain if the ruins that you found are truly one and the same. Perhaps the ruins are merely ruins that are close to Valhalla.”
The Great Elder nodded. Brendel did not exaggerate or make a conclusion easily. This made him feel that the youth could be believed a little. But he did not speak and only exchanged glances with the other Druids.