Chapter 5 – Letter (5)
Brendel got up and walked over to Sifrid. He patted her head.
“Sifrid’s is an understanding kid,” he said to the Elder Druid. “I treat her like she’s my younger sister, so I’m going to entrust her to you as per her wishes. I don’t care whether she becomes a citizen of the forest or not, but I want you to ensure her safety. The Druids are capable of doing at least that?”
“That goes without saying, Ser Brendel.” Andellu nodded.
“Thank you, brother Brendel.” Sifrid’s hands grabbed on to his sleeves as she sniffed a little.
Brendel stroked her head. The little girl was earnest and mature for her age. Brendel did not care much for the Druids’ alliance, but since they were coming on board, he was going to make full use of Valhalla’s connection to enforce the relationship.
“Amandina, please bring Sifrid out to pack the necessary things for the journey.”
“What?” Amandina was called back to reality when she was studying the Druids. She looked at Brendel in confusion, “Me?”
“Yes, even though she’s just a child, she’s still a girl. There are probably things that only girls would know, or perhaps I should let Romaine do it,” he suddenly grinned, “but would your mind be in peace if I allow her to take over?”
Amandina had an image of the merchant girl stuffing marbles into Sifrid’s tiny backpack, with the latter boasting how much they cost when she bought them in Bucce. She sighed:
“But…… Isn’t Scarlett a choice as well?”
“She’s not as careful as you?” Brendel tilted his head.
Amandina felt a strange little delight in her heart when she heard that, but his expression seemed to say more. “Is there anything else, my lord?”
“Tell Cornelius and the others to find me.” He said.
Amandina nodded and took Sifrid’s hand. The little girl looked back every few steps until the doors were closed.
“Is there anything else you wish to request, Ser Brendel?” Andellu looked at the youth in front of him. He was certain the latter in front of him was incredibly ambitious, and letting Sifrid leave was a prelude to something more. “We Druids are a straightforward bunch, so there’s no need to beat around the bush.”
“It’s going to take a while, unfortunately. First of all, I’m really busy, so I won’t be able to send you off on your journey….. I do know that you’re not interested in having an alliance with me—” He said.
“Lord Brendel.” Reid interrupted, but Brendel put his hand up.
“Let me finish. I understand what your traditions; the Druids towards the Dark Forest and what kind of promise you have with Nia, I know of it. However, I have to warn you, the power that the Chaos hold is incredibly strong.”
The Druids suddenly flinched and readied themselves into a stance.
“You’re a member of the Unifying Guild?” Andellu’s eyes turned cold: “The Platinum Sky Serpent, the Tree Shepherds, or a Baphomet’s disciple?”
“I thought you would put the Tree Shepherds first.”
The Druid Elder scoffed coldly.
“None of the above, and every name you mentioned happens to be my enemies,” Brendel said.
“An enemy of enemies might not necessarily be a friend,” Andellu said with a snarl.
“True. You and I both know this era is about to reach its ending. The Demonic Moon is about to reach its peak— The previous ‘Waves of Calamity’ ended the Era of Chaos, but who would know what’s going to happen this time? But one thing is definite, it’s impossible for the Druids to suppress the growth of the Dark Forest.”
“What of it?”
“I know much more about the Dark Forest than you do—”
Andellu looked at Brendel with an incredulous expression. The Druids have spent generations living in the Dark Forest, and now there was a young man telling them he knew the Dark Forest better than they did. This feeling went beyond exaggeration; it was arrogance.
Brendel merely smiled in response: “It’s fine if you don’t believe me. Think about it, before the Era of Chaos, the continent was only a fourth of what it is now. Who was it who expanded the borders and turned multiple ‘Dark Forests’ that were practically everywhere?”
“It’s the Druids.” Andellu’s voice had pride creeping in it.
“To be more precise, it’s the Ancient Druids of the World Tree. When the Sky Tower collapsed, the Dragon of Darkness attacked the Druids next and forced them into the Wilderness fraught with monsters. The factions of the World Tree fractured, resulting in the Tree Shepherds and the traditional Druids. Do I need to say more?”
“You are certainly knowledgeable, Ser Brendel.”
“No, this is quite similar to us,” Brendel sighed on purpose, “When the Sky Tower collapsed, the wizards who studied Ancient Magic and Modern Magic fractured into factions as well. I am certain that the current Druids and Wizards are interested in seeking Ancient Relics. Coincidentally, I know of one Dragon personally, as well as having certain knowledge about the Ancient Druids’ teachings.”
“You know of Ancient Magic?” Andellu narrowed his eyes. He knew the Dragons were the remaining Golden Lineage in this world, and capable of the Ancient Chord Magic unique to them. While the Ancient Runic Magic from Druids were more mysterious, the fundamentals between the two were similar.
“Auiseaamrs. The Seed of Life, surely you understand what I mean by this word.”
The three Druids’ expressions immediately changed when they heard the words ‘Seed of Life’. The seeds would grow into the Tree of Life, but the Tree Shepherds typically corrupted and turned them into the Golden Demonic Tree.
The Druids had discovered the Tree of Life was able to purify the Dark Forest, but it was nearly impossible to get the seed without interference from mortals’ hands to create them artificially with great odds, even if they found the tree. The only other option was to find one from Ancient Ruins.
[Auiseaamrs sounds like a conversion spell word. Eaam refers to the Great Earth. This sounds like it’s part of the Ancient Druids’ Magic, ‘Words of Nature’. Our legends said the magic is able to purify Mana Corruption in the Dark Forest.]
The Elder Druid searched through his memories. Such Ancient Magic was more than a thousand years ago, and their oldest books only recorded certain tales about it. Finally, Andellu looked at Brendel with a complicated expression as he writhed a little:
“Words of Nature?” He asked.
“Indeed.” Brendel nodded.
The word itself was written on the Sage Slates, and almost every gamer more or less knew about it. But knowing of the lore had no effect, because the only way to activate the Ancient Magic was through the Sage Slates’ activation. It was also why the ‘War of the Wizards’ happened in the later part of the game. In other words, it was cool to know the Ancient Words as a trivia, but they were completely worthless without the artifacts.
It was just that the Druids fell for the hook, line, and sinker.
“If you know how to use that magic, then, are you a Druid?” Andellu pressed on.
“Of course not,” Brendel answered while he reached for the letters and rolled them up.
“Then what is your purpose for saying that word?” Andellu frowned.
“To put it simply, I’m also interested in the Dark Forest. “In spite of how strong the Laws are, the Chaos’ resistances to them are also just as great. Fighting against them alone isn’t the perfect solution to them. The Druids are used to solving things with the Laws of Nature, but didn’t the Goddess of the Forest give you a new path to quash the monsters?”
“What path is that?”
Brendel took a candle from the table, carefully snipped away the stalk and lit it.
“Borrowing the strength of others. After the Era of Chaos, civilization hardly expanded outwards of the land guarded by Laws, other than the handful of Pioneer Knights. As a result, with the beasts’ corruption from Mana, and the limited land available, the signs of civil wars are increasing every passing day,” he said, pausing for dramatic effect: “But I have a new solution to end this problem, even if it’s just an attempt. Still, I’m quite confident of making it work. Are you interested?”
Andellu took a moment to think before he spoke again: “Please continue, Ser Brendel.”
“In order to stabilize the kingdom and revitalize it, I’ll expand my land—” Brendel said as he dripped the hot wax over a rolled up parchment.
The Druids suddenly took a deep breath as they realized he was hinting at changing the entire politics of the kingdom, and that he was not going to stop there. His ambition was far beyond ruling Trentheim.
He was going to create an empire of his own.
Andellu was immediately uneasy and stared at him with guarded eyes. He spoke in a low voice in order to prevent drawing Brendel’s ire: “Such expansions will bring along blood and wars, and this goes against our beliefs. If you wish to entice into joining you by providing us soldiers from your victory spoils that you gained from other nobles’ lands, I’m afraid you’re gravely mistaken.”
“Wars are unavoidable,” Brendel did the same for the other parchment before he extinguished the candle and took off the Ring of the Wind Empress, “and it’s going to be a last resort to protect myself. You’re mistaken by what I mean by expansion—”
“Y-you mean?” Andellu looked at him in disbelief, realizing the other possibility.
“Yes, expansion towards the Wilderness,” The ring pressed into the hot wax before it was lifted up, “I’ll carve out new territory and gain resources from there.”