Chapter 213 – A Meeting!?
After taking a bath, we were led to a hall that was in the deepest part of the great tree.
This place was even more vast than the great chamber near the entrance. It was big enough for over a thousand people to gather inside.
And in the center of this hall, was a round table made from a tree trunk. And around it stood people of every race that we had seen outside. Starting with a woman with pointed ears and dark skin, it seemed that one representative from every group was gathered here.
And on their heads were crowns made of plants and flowers. They must be the leaders.
So, these were the Tree Kings then.
Beruna bowed before them.
“I have brought you the visitors from Sheorl.”
“You did well, Beruna.”
Answered a woman who had ears and skin much like Beruna. And while she had a calmer air about her, she did not look much older, and appeared to be in her twenties.
The woman turned to us and bowed.
“Welcome, visitors from Sheorl.”
“We are grateful for your hospitality. The bath, especially.”
The woman shook her head.
“It is we who should be thanking you, Lord Heal. You extinguished the forest fire.”
When the woman bowed, the other crowned people bowed their heads as well.
“We should help each other, when in need. You must have heard it already, since you know my name. But we are like neighbors.”
“I do know. But I didn’t think that the legendary entrance to Sheorl really existed…”
“You are welcome to visit any time. But more importantly…”
The woman bowed her head again.
“Forgive my rudeness. Please call me Theodosia. I am the head of the Tree King Council, which ruled the Sylphion.”
“I see. Then allow me to ask you this, you all live here as a gathering of many different races, yes?”
“Yes. Beruna and I are dark elves. Aside from us, there are Mandragoras, Treants, Leaf Goblins…and those who live deep in the forest.”
“Has it always been this way?”
“The Tree King Council has been held since ancient times. However, it was not a permanent gathering like it is now. As for why we are gathered here like this, you must have already guessed.”
Theodosia nodded at my words.
“Yes. The Vader people have traditionally lived near rocky lands and rivers. While we never got along with them, it was once they took the form of humans and started to cut down our forests that the conflict became more heated.”
“In the end, your forests grew smaller, and so you were forced to move back here.”
Said Baris, and Theodosia nodded.
“Yes. While we never fully believed in the prophecy, we started to gather towards this dead World Tree as if clutching to a desperate hope, since this is where the entrance to the prophesied land is supposed to be. And then…”
“It turned out that you were right…”
So the Sylphion saw the prophecy of Sheorl being the last fortress as some kind of legend.
In the first place, had we not reached Sheorl ourselves, then the Sheorl with the World Tree, from their prophecy, would not have existed. It could have all ended as a legend.
Rienna then muttered.
“We would not have met if we did not find that teleportation gate… It is a very strange feeling.”
“Indeed… In that case, you…”
I asked, and Theodosia nodded once and bowed her head.
“I understand that this is an unreasonable request to ask of you all… But could you not at least welcome our children to Sheorl?”
“I do not mind, but… Don’t you think it’s a little early to give up?”
I said, and then Baris opened his mouth.
“The forest still remains. And perhaps the fighting against the Vader people will cease.”
However, one of the Tree Kings raised their voice.
“Impossible!! The fighting will never end! They have targeted and attacked us so thoroughly!”
“Indeed! They will not stop their expansion until they have burned down our entire forest!!”
But one quieter voice also echoed.
“It was not as if they had no will at all to negotiate…”
“Yes. There were some who went against the truce. Even recently…”
Angry voices sounded, and then the Tree Kings started to argue with each other.
If only we had acted like this. It was the fault of that race. Accusations flew through the air. Eventually, some started to say that they must continue to fight against Vader.
“All of you! We are in front of guests!! …Ahh…”
Theodosia saw that they would not stop arguing, and her shoulders drooped.
I suppose they decided on matters during meetings like this. I had simply thought that they should all decide about Sheorl like this…but it would be difficult if their opinions were going to be split this much.
And their grudge against Vader was strong. If we offered military aid to the Sylphion, they might in turn attack the Vader territories.
Just then, Baris stepped forward. And due to his physical appearance, everyone fell silent.
“Now, now, everyone. One thing we all share is that desire to survive.”
Theodosia was the first to nod her head at Baris’s words.
“Yes. But our destruction is clearer than the light of a flame. If the Vader people attack us all at once, we will…”
So they would fall immediately.
Indeed, the fire earlier had caused such a commotion. And they were willing to take such a risk based on a prophecy they didn’t fully believe in. That showed how serious the matter was.
However, why didn’t the Vader people go all out in an attack? Because they didn’t want to take such heavy losses? Or maybe they wanted to use the forest trees.
Baris nodded in agreement.
“And so you want us to take your children, at the very least. Indeed, as things are now, it would be difficult for Sheorl to accept everyone in this forest. And so if we do accept people, it would have to be the children. However…”
Baris turned to Rienna and me. I nodded back.
“We are capable of making metal tools. By using them, it will not be too difficult to protect this forest.”
The reason that he didn’t say weapons was that Baris also felt that for now, we should limit it to tools.
“However, metal is expensive… We cannot offer anything of equal value…”
The Tree Kings said with worried expressions.
They would have tried to acquire metal before. However, the enemy must have taken advantage of this, and made it difficult for them.
“As for us, we lack the blessings of the forest. And so we merely have to trade.”
“You have the World Tree, and yet you lack the blessings of the forest?”
They looked at us in confusion.
Haines looked a little annoyed as he explained.
“Well, instead of explaining it to you, it would be best if Ms. Beruna or someone came and saw Sheorl for themselves.”
Beruna said with a bow.
“In any case, do you now understand how we wish to form a cooperative relationship with you? And before we decide on anything else, you can come and see Sheorl.”
Rienna then opened her mouth.
“You are very welcome! It will be lunchtime on the island soon, so we will be able to prepare some food for you.”
“In that case, Beruna and I shall go. The others can keep watch while I am away.”
Theodosia said, and the other Tree Kings nodded.
And so it was decided that we would return to Sheorl, along with Beruna and Theodosia.