At the same time that Hestia was giving her speech on the right of all sentient creatures to live under the light of the sun, Vahn was combing through Terra’s wing with the ‘essence’ liquid that he had researched with Riveria in the past. Her feathers were very hydrophobic by nature, so Vahn created a gentle stream by manipulating the essence to flow in the same direction as her feathers. This was much more comfortable than using a brush, and also saved Vahn a lot of time since it took several hours to go through each of her feathers individually. Though Terra was somewhat sad to have less time being tended to by Vahn, she wasn’t the type to argue against logic and oppose efficiency.
Currently, the elegant True Dragon was sitting naked against the edge of the wellspring, which had changed greatly since she first created it. Instead of roots that coiled around each other in a cylindrical fashion, it now took on the form of a small pond since Terra needed to increase the size of the wellspring in order to sustain the expansion of her domain. The roots of the Treasure Tree still existed, but they were now like a roost that she reclined her body against while she had used her ability to manipulate the earth to create a water-tight bed for the pond itself. With her new roost, and the increased size of the pool, Terra could now lay completely relaxed within the wellspring, wings spread, absorbing the rays of the sun.
Though she initially maintained a sense of propriety out of consideration for her Master, Terra had already gotten Riveria, Ryuu, Lefiya, Syr, Chloe, and Naaza, the girls that commonly visited ‘her’ garden, to accept that she was more comfortable nude. She still wore clothes when she was outside of the wellspring, but it was easy to justify removing them when she was nourishing the essence and expanding the size of her domain. Vahn had been surprised when he first saw Riveria sitting at the side of the wellspring with her feet submerged while Terra was leaning against her ‘sun perch’ comfortably. Since Riveria didn’t seem to mind it, Vahn hadn’t even mentioned the matter and simply accepted the change as the new norm. As a result, he now used the essence within the wellspring itself to help Terra groom her wings since it was more efficient and also made her feathers sparkle with vitality.
Once he was finished cleaning each of her wings, Vahn noticed the playful look in Terra’s eyes and released a sigh before pulling out a container that contained an emerald-green liquid. Even Ryuu, who was wearing a bathing suit and relaxing at the side of the pond, didn’t flinch at all when Vahn got Terra to lift her tail and began ‘extracting’ her sap. He typically helped her expel it 2-3 times a week since it caused her discomfort keeping it inside. Though she could release it herself, Terra said she would rather deal with the discomfort and avoid eating rather than do so. As she didn’t actually require food for sustenance, Terra could avoid producing sap by reducing the amount of food she ate, meaning she would cease eating entirely when she was ‘full’.
Terra twisted her body at a somewhat awkward angle, as her segmented bones gave her incredible flexibility, and watched as he extracted her sap. Vahn was already used to her somewhat amorous look and no longer felt any pressure from it as he finished filling up the container and storing it back into his inventory. When he was done, Vahn smiled and said, “Thank you, Terra…” and ran his hands along her tail, something she had admitted to being very fond of. She had commendable tolerance, but Terra wasn’t able to fool Vahn for long after the first time he gave her a massage. He could be dense at times, but once he knew what to look for it was easy to see that she was ‘enjoying’ the process and simply putting on a strong front to get more ‘enjoyment’ out of it.
Releasing a hot sigh, Terra relaxed against her roost and said, “Master is too kind, but you are very welcome…ufufufu~.” as the tips of her wings submerged into the essence below. She didn’t push herself like when she first created the wellspring and instead absorbed energy from the air before diffusing it through her feet, wings, and tail, into the essence below. Her emerald-green feathers would lose a bit of their sheen and become the color of healthy leaves, but this still allowed her to maintain a good balance that slowly expanded her territory. Presently, she was able to increase it a few meters per day and had been able to reach 173m after several weeks of effort.
Finished with grooming Terra, Vahn waded through the waist-high pool and moved over to Ryuu before taking a seat next to her. Other than himself, Terra only allowed those with natural elemental affinity to make use of the wellspring because she didn’t want to ‘contaminate’ it with impurities. This meant that the only people that could sit within it were Riveria, Ryuu, Lefiya, Fenrir, and Lili, the latter of which didn’t really come to the garden that much since she couldn’t deal with Terra that easily. Since it was her territory, Vahn didn’t have much to say about Terra’s decision because he knew it was very important to her in order to ensure her territory expanded properly.
Ryuu linked her hand with his and said in a soft tone, “This place is like a paradise for Elves…I wish everyone could experience this kind of bliss…” Terra didn’t show any signs that she had been listening, but her tail twitched in the water and sent a few ripples out as she said, “I won’t just let anyone come into my territory just because it is beneficial for them, Ryuu…” Ryuu’s gentle smile turned a little awkward after she heard Terra’s remark. As for Vahn, he had a thoughtful expression and said, “It is up to everyone to find their own happiness…but we can do our best to make sure it is easier for them to do so. The policies within the Elven Kingdom will need reforming, but we need to focus on the City and strengthening the Alliance first. If we spread ourselves thin while trying to make everyone else happy, the burdens we experience will increase greatly…potentially even breaking us…”
As someone who endeavored to make everyone around him happy, Vahn’s words were very compelling and Ryuu realized there was a fair amount of truth contained within them. She knew it was important to take things slowly if they wanted to bring about real change while avoiding war and conflict, at least for the time being. Riveria had also stressed the importance of keeping Vahn’s research tightly under wraps until they could start changing the Elven Kingdom from the younger generation upwards. If necessary, they would even build a new sanctuary for the Elven people instead of trying to change the hearts and minds of elderly men lost within their own egos and cultural ideologies.
Even if they only had a few dozen Elves to work with, it would take them less than a hundred years to exceed the population of the Elven Kingdom if they were ‘proactive’ and made use of the items Vahn would be creating. Since he also had a [Seed of the Tree of Life], and several ‘branches’ to make it even more powerful, Ryuu knew the fate of the Elves now lay in Vahn’s hands. Rushing things, especially for a people that aged very slowly, was generally a bad idea so it made sense to think about long-term solutions instead of trying to force change. Without overthinking it too much, Ryuu just rested her head against Vahn’s shoulder and closed her eyes with her palm resting against her abdomen where her own future lay…
After more than three weeks of arduous travel, the convoy escorting Alosrin reached the borders of the Elven Kingdom. Though he had tried to act in moderation at first, Alosrin eventually broke down and sent a few of his men to ‘capture poachers’ that were ‘illegally’ hunting within the Western Forests. Though most Hunters were men, there were a few capable women amongst their numbers while several women simply ventured into the forest to pick fruits, berries, and nuts. It wasn’t long before his guards captured a female ‘poacher’ and brought her back to the carriage to be interrogated and punished. Alosrin had given the woman, a twenty-seven-year-old Human, an ultimatum. She could either ‘apologize’ for her actions by servicing him or face ‘justice’ by offering her life as penance for her crimes.
Though she knew her actions weren’t a crime, the woman knew better than to try and argue with normal Elves, much less a High Elf noble. Accepting her misfortune, she ended up giving into Alosrin’s ultimatum in the hopes of securing her life. She had a fair amount of resentment for his actions, but he was at least handsome enough that it was ‘tolerable’ to service him. Most of the men in the village were rather plain so she could at least experience what it was like to lay with a High Elf before she was likely put to death. If the opportunity presented itself, she might even be able to take the scumbag along with her by taking advantage of him when he was ‘weak’.
Unfortunately for her, Alosrin was accustomed to dealing with difficult women so he had gagged and bound her arms before groping her body and tearing apart her clothing. He had already gone nearly two weeks without ‘sampling’ a woman and he was very eager to satiate his urges, even if the woman wasn’t to his standards. However, even when he had torn the woman’s linen trousers free from her body, Alosrin found that his own wasn’t reacting at all. He noticed the ‘mocking gaze’ in the Huntress’ eyes and struck her across the face before eating a crystal clear pill and forcing one into her mouth. The pill was a very common aphrodisiac that was produced by a goddess with a Divinity related to sex, something he had often used on Pram when she was being difficult.
However, even when his body began burning up, the only thing Alosrin felt was an incredible frustration as his rather diminutive p**** lay dormant and cold to the touch. He hadn’t had any trouble with its other functions so Alosrin didn’t understand what was happening until Vahn’s look of pity appeared within his mind. A shiver ran up his back as the fear he had felt then resurfaced, now greater than it had been at the time. The hungry look in the eyes of the Huntress, even with her bloody nose, now made him feel like a small mouse under the predatory gaze of a cat.
Fearing that something even worse would happen if he tried even stronger medicine, Alosrin ejected the half-naked woman from his carriage and urged the convoy to move forward. Keelan had asked what Alosrin wanted to be done with the ‘poacher’, causing him to lash out, screaming, “Leave her be! We must return to the Elven Kingdom as soon as possible!” He feared that the ‘curse’ he was under could somehow keep track of when he did ‘evil’ deeds. Without consulting their Elder Shamans, or one of the Priestesses of the Sacred Trees, Alosrin didn’t want to take any chances at all. He needed to purge this curse as soon as possible or he feared his mind would be lost…
From that time, all the way up until they reached the borders of the Elven Kingdom itself, Alosrin never came out of his carriage at all, taking all of his meals inside and having his waste disposed of by Keelan himself. There was a chamberpot within the carriage, in the event he was trapped inside for a short period of time, so there was no need for him to exit in order to relieve himself. As for his reasons behind the ‘isolation’, it was because Alosrin had become very paranoid, blaming the curse for everything he was experiencing.
He had tried to ‘comfort’ himself after getting rid of the Huntress, but nothing he did was able to get a rise out of his dormant companion. To deal with the tensions of his body, as a result of ingesting an aphrodisiac, Alosrin had tried to use an elementary healing spell but found himself completely incapable of finishing the chant. Since he didn’t have any normal healing magic, he had to use the version that had been created by the High Elves, which could be used without a Falna. However, the seven verse chant had almost no effect at all, leaving his mana sputtering about before dissipating into the air. No matter how many times he tried, even reading directly from the book itself, Alosrin couldn’t form the magic completely, each failure increasing the terror he felt.
As a High Elf, his ability to use magic was part of his identity so, if it became known he was unable to even use elementary chants, Alosrin would become a laughing stock. In the best case scenario, he would be exiled but, even if that were to happen, he would likely die soon thereafter when the operatives of the Elven King hunted him down. His exile would just be used as an example for others and there was no chance he would be allowed to live since the chance of him procreating couldn’t be allowed. Even Elves could be put to death for having children outside of the forest, as the Elven Kingdom was very strict about ‘protecting’ their blood purity, so a High Elf wouldn’t even be given a chance. Other than Riveria herself, no other High Elf had ever been allowed to wander freely for such a long period of time. The only reason for this was, even when the Elven King had dispatched operatives to ‘recover’ her, Riveria had been able to deal with them all…
Even after entering the territory of the Elven Kingdom, Alosrin stayed inside his carriage all the way until he reached the massive ivory castle at the center of the Kingdom. Though he wanted nothing more than to return to his Father’s territory, Alosrin had a duty to report to the Elven King first, especially since he was carrying the parchment given to him by Loki. His father would likely be in attendance during his audience with the King and, if he was fortunate, they would be able to deal with this situation and spin it to their advantage. He wouldn’t allow the information to spread through the words of himself and his own people, but he was vow-bound to report to the King as there was no way an Envoy would be allowed to depart without taking stringent vows.
Keelan dismissed the majority of their convoy and allowed them to take their leave before allowing the castle guards to inspect the carriage. Alosrin finally came out from his isolation and Neelan had to take a step back in shock after seeing the state of his young master. Alosrin had always been lean, as was common amongst High Elves, but he now looked especially gaunt with a ‘pathetic’ look. His previously fair complexion now looked pale and the sockets around his eyes had sunken in slightly with a greyish-blue hue to them, obviously implying he hadn’t slept much, if at all. Even the guards were shocked and, if not for the special crest that only the Imperial Envoy could carry, they wouldn’t have believed this sickly looking man was the High Elf Alosrin…
After passing the inspection, as they hadn’t even purchased any goods during their short stint within the City, Alosrin made his way into the waiting area as his arrival was passed up the chain of command. It took nearly three hours, as personnel would have to be shuffled around while the King made preparations for the audience, but Alosrin finally entered the ornate throne room that looked to be made of ivory and crystal, before bowing low to the King, almost falling over in the process. Alfred, Alosrin’s father, had been standing with the other Dukes at the side before exclaiming, “Alosrin, my son, what happened to you!?” Though he was in the presence of the King, Alfred couldn’t believe the state his own progeny was in.
Before he could explain the situation to his father, Alosrin was brought to silence by a gesture from the Elven King, Larfal Ljos Alf, Riveria’s Father. He was a tall High Elf, at 190cm, with the characteristic Jade eyes of the Alf clan, long jade hair that was tied together in a complex braid, and an ornate golden circlet around his head that had seven branches. Though he was more than two hundred years old, with very subtle wrinkles on his face, Larfal was still a very handsome man with a fierce look inside his eyes that also shone with an equally fierce intellect. After bringing the room to silence, Larfal asked, “Where is Our daughter?” in a heavy tone.
Alosrin hung his head low, afraid to even make eye contact with the man who was both his King and his ‘Father-In-Law’. Fortunately, he didn’t have to answer as Larfal simply released a long sigh before saying, “That girl is too proud…worry not, Alosrin, We will not lay blame on your for failing to bring her back. She will return when her duty to her people deems it necessary…” Though he once protested Riveria’s decision to leave the forest, Larfal had long since forgiven her and even supported her after a few years had passed. She had simply accomplished too much for their people to label her as an exile and he had often thought of breaking off her engagement with Alosrin just to coax her back to the Kingdom.
After fiddling with his massive ornate staff with a reminiscent look on his face, Larfal turned his attention back to Alosrin and said, “Make your report, Alosrin. We can see that your journey hasn’t been without tribulations. Once you are finished here, We will give you leave for the next six months to recuperate…” Though he would have typically been very grateful for the King’s words, Alosrin’s expression didn’t improve much and it was very obvious his mental stability was in a questionable state. However, he couldn’t refuse the King’s order so Alosrin bowed his head and began his report, embellishing things to make it appear as though the fault didn’t lay entirely on his shoulders.
Though he couldn’t keep information from the King, Alosrin could still spin it slightly so that it wouldn’t be apparent he had erred greatly. Instead of saying that Vahn was keeping the information hostage, Alosrin reported that the ‘Sage’ had indeed found the reason for their low birth rates and had already started developing a solution to their problem. This was good news that excited everyone present but, judging by Alosrin’s appearance, they knew things weren’t so simple. Alosrin continued by explaining how ‘prodigious’ Vahn was, claiming him to be a prospective [Arch Mage] of such capabilities that even Riveria had started to apprentice under him. This news was actually very terrifying to those gathered, including Larfal himself as he was very aware of his own daughter’s capabilities. For her to accept Vahn as her ‘Master’, he must have been a terrifyingly powerful Mage, which made sense considering she bestowed upon him the title of Sage…
Thus far, Alosrin’s report wasn’t anything ‘bad’, so people were confused by his sorry state until he began to explain more about Vahn. According to him, Vahn was a powerful demigod and, even though he was only a young boy of fifteen years old, his power was enough to exceed almost any other Mage’s. His mastery over space magic was truly terrifying, allowing him to ‘teleport’ around freely while his magic itself was so powerful it could shatter powerful barriers as if they were frail glass. As for why he was in such a sorry state, it was because he had mistakenly challenged Vahn to a duel after underestimating his capabilities. He explained that he initially believed Vahn was just a puppet of Riveria’s and thought he could get through to the truth of the matter by exposing him during a duel.
At this point, the pressure within the throne room had increased greatly and Larfal observed Alosrin with cold eyes, thinking to himself how he could have been foolish enough to allow the despotic ‘youth’ to act as his Envoy. Sending a glance to Alfred, his friend showed a very apologetic expression before turning to gaze at his son with a deep melancholy, veiling the unbridled fury deep within his heart. It wasn’t that he was simply angry with his son, but the fact that his son had lost a duel and likely embarrassed himself in front of his fiancee. If he didn’t manage to convince the King later, they marriage might be annulled and he would lose all face as a Duke. Their family was already on the decline, with each potential heir more useless than the last.
Alosrin’s report wasn’t quite finished so he wrapped things up by saying that Vahn and Riveria were temporarily keeping the information a secret as they researched solutions to the problem. They didn’t want to spread ‘false hope’ by making the issue public knowledge and would be visiting the Elven Kingdom in the future to negotiate terms. Since Riveria had taken Vahn as her Master, requiring her to takes vows to protect the secrets he bestowed upon her, only he could disclose the information. This meant that they would likely have to make concessions to the boy in the future if they wanted to obtain the information regarding his research. Hearing this, Larfel’s expression had turned solemn, blaming Alosrin for the outcome even though he had reported that Vahn made the decision to withhold the information long before their duel.
Larfel knew the matter was likely more complex than Alosrin was letting on since it was very apparent the ‘boy’ was embellishing facts a bit. Waving his hand, Larfel dismissed everyone except Alfred, Alosrin, and his personal bodyguard, the ‘Sage’ Windsor Dal Alfan. Once everyone had cleared out, Larfel’s expression turned even more serious as he asked, “Did you offend the Sage Aldrnari to such an extent that he is now hostile to the Elven Kingdom?” Alosrin quickly shook his head and tried to explain before his father, Alfred, backhanded him hard enough to loosen up a few of his teeth. Everyone could tell Alosrin was about to lie directly to the King’s face and Alfred wouldn’t allow such an affront to happen right in front of him. Immediately after he knocked his own son to the ground, Alfred bowed at a very low angle and said, “Please, Your Majesty, forgive this one’s foolish son! I will make sure he faces a harsh punishment for his indiscretions!”
Alosrin held his cheek with resentment clear on his face before pulling out the parchment from his chest, drawing the eyes of the King and his guard. Windsor could tell that the parchment wasn’t an ordinary item and he doubted he would be able to break the seals on it to discover its secrets. Larfel looked to the parchment and asked, “What is this?” as he tried to understand the situation better. Alosrin gnashed his teeth, causing his gums to bleed slightly as he said, “Riveria and the Sage Aldrnari are not hostile against the Kingdom, but the Alliance backing him had taken offense after ‘misunderstanding’ the situation…one of the goddesses had given me this parchment, binding me to hand it over to your esteemed self…” At this point, Alosrin knew he couldn’t easily talk his way out of the situation because his father would try to sweep aside the matter to save face.
Alfred wanted to prevent the parchment from reaching the King but knew it was impossible to stop since he couldn’t think of a justifiable reason other than ‘potential’ dangers. With Windsor present, any such claims would be treated as a fool’s words since both he and the King were both powerful Mages with much higher perception than him. When Larfel grabbed the parchment, some of the seals protecting it shattered in an instant, proving that it had been intended for his eyes only. Releasing a heavy sigh, Larfel opened the parchment and began reading. It wasn’t that bad at first, but each line after a certain point carried words heavier than the weight of thousands of lives. When he had completely read the parchment, Larfel’s expression had become very solemn and he couldn’t help but rub his temples in frustration before saying, “Sending you as Our Envoy was Our greatest failure as both King, and a father…”