Chapter 4 – Letter (4)
“Please wait. Even though the rumors indicate as such,” Reid interrupted, “we have not seen any signs of Valhalla in the forest.”
Andellu suddenly became alarmed. He realized it was a possibility that Brendel might be misleading them and even coaxing information out from them.
“Ser Brendel, let’s go back to our original topic!” He tried to stop the discussion.
But Brendel shook his head.
“You are mistaken about your position. Sifrid told you to seek permission from me to let her leave, and if you’re unable to convince me to do so, don’t even think for a moment that I will allow her to even take one single step out of this land. And you can stop raising your eyebrows, old man. Spare me your nonsense about using your abilities like Merging With Nature or Hide In Nature’s Shadows. You can go ahead and try either technique, but I have my ways to catch you.”
When Andellu heard the Druids’ techniques being called out, he abandoned the idea of taking away Sifrid by force. The masses had a poor understanding of the Druids, but the overbearing youth in front of him was an exception. He did not believe it was an empty threat, so he spoke again after some hesitation.
“Ser Brendel, what exactly do you want? We are of no threat to Lady Sifrid, and I’m sure that you believe in what we have told you. We can swear upon Goddess Nia that we are only here to bring her to our land and have her become a Druid.”
“Have you been listening to anything I have been saying so far? Are you not interested in lighting up Valhalla’s Fire Seed?” Brendel said in exasperation.
The three Druids froze.
“Of course we do. This is one of our goals in the Dark Forest. The Druids believe in Mother Marsha as well, but I have to be blunt, my lord, Valhalla—” Raim was incredibly polite.
“Valhalla is in the Dark Forest! The rumors are true!” Brendel’s voice was almost in a yell, before he suddenly stopped and glanced at Sifrid, his voice back to normal, “To be more precise, the Lady of the Forest isn’t the key to lighting up the Fire Seed, but the key to using part of Valhalla’s power.”
He walked over to an armchair filled with cushions and sank fully. He showed an amused face and interlocked his fingers: “Let’s make a transaction.”
“What kind of transaction?” Andellu said.
“Help me find Valhalla, and I’ll help you light up the Fire Seed.”
“And you intend to become Valhalla’s lord as a Pioneer Knight?” Andellu finally realized his real intentions. “This suggestion is feasible since we have no desire for power, but I have to repeat myself. Valhalla doesn’t exist in the forest, and it is a mere legend.”
“Fine, believe what you will. If that’s the case, I want you to enter deeper into the forest and help me locate the ruins of a city.”
Reid suddenly whispered to Andellu’s ears: “Elder, didn’t we discover the ruins in the outskirts of the Annulus of Wind?”
The words seemed to jolt Andellu’s memories.
“Are you certain the ruins are the fabled Valhalla? I have witnessed that place for myself in the Annulus of Wind, and it is in complete shambles. Humans have entered the Dark Forest repeatedly in the past, and it’s possible for them to leave something behind like a small city. We have investigated that area carefully, and did not discover anything related to the Fire Seed.”
“That place you mentioned, is it the pathway that faces the seasonal wind and loops around the Karanjar mountains?”
“You got the right place,” Brendel nodded with certainty, trying hard to resist the excitement within him. The Valhalla he knew was constructed there, and received sufficient rainfall from the Diesluna Inland Sea during summer and ensuring that the harvest was bountiful. “How long ago did you discover the ruins?”
Andellu was slightly affected by his eagerness, and answered carefully: “That was about three years ago.”
“Can you still remember the direction that place?”
“It’s difficult to say,” Andellu shook his head, “In truth, we discovered that place by accident. We had gone deep into the Karanjar mountains to investigate the biology of the corrupted beasts. If we want to locate that place again, I’m afraid we need to send out a new investigative team again. But we do have the general direction and shouldn’t take too long. Are you interested in going to ascertain that it is Valhalla, Ser Brendel?”
“No, I don’t have the time right now. That’s it for the transaction. Send your men to find the place, and once do, immediately notify me.” Brendel said.
The transaction was solely advantageous to him as he obtained Valhalla, but he knew the Druids ignored power and fame. The only way to have deals with them was to know what they were interested in. Lighting the Valhalla’s Fire Seed was something that the Druids desired immensely.
The Druids agreed as well. In their eyes, Brendel’s transaction was something that was also advantageous for them. However, Amandina immediately spoke up when she saw the discussion ending between the two parties.
“Sifrid’s relatives are now in Firburh. If you take away Sifrid, what is going to happen to them when Counter Randner’s revenge reach this place? Have you thought about it?”
Andellu frowned and glanced at her: “Ser Brendel, our agreement to search for Valhalla still stands. Once I report to the other Elders, you will receive our aid. However, in the matter of lending our strength…… We have at least one condition that you must agree on.”
Brendel glanced at Sifrid who nodded.
“Speak freely.” He said.
“Our obligations end at defending your forces in Firburh. We will not provide any aid other than this.” Andellu’s eyes saw through the youth’s ambitions, but the Druids were unwilling to be tied down to his wars.
He was almost certain that Brendel was going to try and make use of them, but Brendel nodded unexpectedly: “The Druids have always been neutral. I’m satisfied to hear something like this. But I would like to add one more point; the protection extends to Valhalla.”
Andellu was momentarily surprised, but he nodded quickly: “Of course.”
[Good~ While the Druids are good at perceiving human emotions, their common sense is lacking. The nobles’ greed is something they didn’t account for in their plans. War cannot be avoided with the Randner situation, but having something a mythical land like Valhalla appearing would definitely attract the nobles’ attention. As long as the Druids are tied to Valhalla, they have to enter the war at some point.]
Brendel knew that he had to gain as much power as possible in order to rescue Aouine from a terminal fate. Securing the Druids meant that history had changed in some ways, regardless of how small or big it was going to be.
This was his first major step.
But Brendel suddenly turned to Sifrid.
“….. Sifrid, becoming a Druid isn’t an easy task. Even though you’re chosen by Goddess Nia, your fate is still controlled by your own hands. If you stay here, it’s still possible to learn many things.” His voice became a little softer at this point: “If you say you don’t want to go with them, the deal with them is off.”
The two girls looked at him in surprise. The Druids were shocked. They had thought Brendel to be no different from the other nobles, but now they looked at him with a slightly changed outlook.
Sifrid stared at Brendel who was smiling slightly, almost as if he was persuading her not to accept the Druids, but she nodded in the end. “I’m going with them, Brother Brendel.”
“Why is that?” Falaern did not know the Druids as well as Brendel, was furious over the fact that a little child was being used as a bargaining tool. “Isn’t it fine if you stay here? Why do you need to enter a dangerous place like the Dark Forest?”
“That’s because of sister Amandina.” Sifrid looked at her and replied earnestly.
“Me?” Amandina looked back in confusion.
“Sister Amandina told my father that people had to rely on themselves. Brother Brendel treats me very well, but I can’t accept his help without feeling right. Uncle Andellu said that I would have their powers if I become a Druid.” She took a pause to breathe: “Then I’ll have the ability to protect everyone in the village.”
“Wonderfully said.” Brendel’s smile was like the sun.