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“My Lord!” All of the rune knights rushed to aid Richard, only barely stopping themselves from turning Melia’s remains into a pincushion. However, looking at the body falling away, they restrained themselves and stepped back to their positions.
The two great druids of the Evernight Tribe who were waiting at the door just stared blankly, unable to respond to the tragic scene. One could even see tears forming in their eyes; the pride and joy of their tribe had been desecrated in a disgusting way.
Blood was flowing down Richard’s forehead and into his eyes, but he stood rooted in place. He held Melia’s body in his arms, but his gaze was fixed on a distant spot as countless options ran through his mind. His eyes suddenly glowed as he turned back to the dead Melia, but this momentary hope dimmed as well, “… No soul…“
“My Lord?” It took a few minutes, but eventually one of the rune knights stepped forward, calling out tentatively. This time Richard responded, slowly lowering Melia’s body and standing up.
“It seems like I haven’t killed enough…” he said in a whispering voice, steadying himself before walking out. He turned to the two druids just before he left, “Take her body, bury it according to the highest standards of the tribe.”
Having said that, Richard disappeared amidst blue sparks. Only minutes later he was on the roof of his castle, all the bloodstains washed away and his clothes replaced. The unicorn was galloping over from the distance, jumping from rooftop to rooftop as it quickly made its way next to him. An enormous shadow covered the sky as the astral chrysalis swooped down, shrinking down to twenty metres in length. Phaser had been summoned as well, bringing Noelene with her.
The chrysalis took off immediately, moving 120 kilometres an hour with its shrunken body. The will of the forest had been beaten back repeatedly to the point that it couldn’t mess with him anymore, but even if it could none of the three on the chrysalis was afraid of such attempted suppression.
The moment they left the range of the golden world tree, Richard jumped down to the forest and grabbed an ancient tree. All of its accumulated energy was burnt up in one go, forced out in a torrent that gushed into the sky and fell like rain back to the earth. His own soul cut through the forest’s will, “Duskwords, I’m coming for you.”
This sentence wasn’t uttered with any sense of gravity, without even much rage. It seemed to be stating a trivial fact that was of no consequence, but both Phaser and Noelene felt the voice ringing in their minds. Neither of the two was ordinary, but an incredible realisation filled Noelene’s mind: Richard’s voice could be heard throughout the forest!
Richard immediately jumped back onto the chrysalis, which promptly took off once more. Flying a hundred metres into the sky, it stabilised its flight and zoomed towards the destination. The old tree that had been used to transmit this message withered completely.
The Duskword Tribe immediately grew chaotic, all the elves trembling at Richard’s words. The news of their defeat had already been passed back to them, and as the main force in the war their tribe had suffered the heaviest losses. Eleven elders had died in battle while three others were maimed; it would take at least five decades for the tribe to even recover, forget resisting Richard’s army. The fact that they could hear Richard’s voice showed that he could even find them!
It wasn’t just the Duskword Tribe; most of the surviving elven tribes heard Richard’s voice, each one erupting into panic. This was especially true of those elves who had actually seen Richard’s ambush; they felt like their end had come.
A number of messages were immediately exchanged between the various elven tribes, the druids quickly discussing giving up the trees of life in exchange for their own lives. They couldn’t conceal their panic at all; Richard’s threat was a simple one, but the most frightening fact was that everyone had heard them. This revealed at least a glimpse of his power, and that glimpse alone was terrifying.
The treant camp that was about to return to the Duskword Tribe suddenly stopped, the Grand Elder’s face warping even as his hands shook violently. A loud whistle rang out nearby as all of the soldiers flocked to their post, looking for an enemy that was still thousands of kilometres away.
The others in the hall were rendered mute as well, pale faces revealing their shock. They looked at each other without any idea what to do, desperately trying to avoid a single word that kept flooding into their minds: legendary.
The Grand Elder felt every gaze slowly coming to focus on him, the animosity clear within. He was the one who had insisted on provoking Richard this time, and the result was certainly worse than expected. He knew he had to do something, so he suddenly shouted, “What are you afraid of? The devils’ army cannot come this far through the forest! I will pray to the World Tree and show you this Richard’s lies.”
These words reignited the elders’ spirits. A minute later, a magical image was put up in the centre of the hall, showing the astral chrysalis flying through the sky with four figures standing atop it. The world tree was the god of the forest, and any place with the forest’s will was within its field of sensing.
“Only three people?” an elf couldn’t believe his eyes.
“They’re coming so fast, they’ll be at my tribe in three days!” another squeaked.
“Look at his direction, he’s going towards the Clover Tribe!”
“He’ll get there quickly, the tribe is—”
“SHUT UP!” The Grand Elder interrupted the heated discussion, holding his forehead in pain. The hall went quiet as all eyes focused on him once more, and all he could do under the pressure was stare at Richard in the image and snort with rage, “He’s crazy!”
Richard’s strange creature was emitting a soft light, the trees underneath it being swept to both sides as it passed to leave behind a visible track. It was extremely fast, but the sheer power it was emitting could be noticed from more than ten kilometres away. Not only was Richard coming for them openly, he didn’t even fear any ambushes or armies.
The tribes were hurt, but did he want to rely on his small group to defeat the Duskword Tribe? Was the second most powerful tribe in the forest so weak? The Duskword elders grew angrier and angrier, eyes almost spitting fire. They started clamouring for the army to assemble, cutting Richard off at the Clover Tribe.
However, the Grand Elder simply closed his eyes and sifted through his memories. He was replaying every moment of the fight with Richard, where Iskara’s servant had been killed with those astral powers. It took a long time for him to open them once more, and when he did he looked like he had aged ten years in a single minute, “Tell the tribe to prepare… We’re migrating.”
The Duskword elves were left in a mess. Migrating would deal a huge blow to their tree of life, adding a few more decades to the time they would need to recover. This was a heavy price, second only to complete annihilation. The Grand Elder was basically saying that Richard and his small army alone could destroy the entire tribe!
The one-eyed elder started in fierce opposition, but looking at the Grand Elder’s expression he touched his own burnt eye and went silent. He remembered that Richard had been focused on dealing with the black-robed man at the time, only pushing them away, but even then many of his fellow elders had died.
Looking at the clamour, the Grand Elder bitterly shook his head, “It is easy to want to die, but our tribe needs to survive. It is a painful decision, but one that must be made. If we do not go, the Duskword Tribe will meet its end; we can flee towards the World Tree, asking for its shelter.”
“Richard doesn’t kill the people who can’t fight…” some still held onto their last hope. Richard had destroyed three tribes in the last battle, but anyone who wasn’t resisting had been spared. So long as they planted a new tree of life, these elves could live on.
The Grand Elder stared at the figure of Richard standing motionless atop his flying steed, “He didn’t before. This time, there will be no survivors.”
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