"This is amazing," Lone exclaimed as he looked at the city that was sprawled out before him. Inside of the world tree lay a massive settlement of Wood Elves, as made obvious by the curved and wooden styled homes and buildings. However, Lone was aware that many races called the trunk of this world tree their home due to being hand-picked to be world tree keepers like in Rachel's case. The whole concept of having a town like this inside of a tree genuinely excited Lone.
"Impressed?" Lipsilk asked with a smirk on his face as he shifted his body on Kyuubi's back to look at Lone.
"Yeah. Where I'm from, there's nothing like this. Hell, trees don't even grow to be as large as this one, or even close to being this size," Lone replied while he kept his eyes fixed on the wooden houses and beautiful gardens that littered the world tree's interior. 'It's hard to imagine that this tree is dying...'
"Sounds like you lived in a boring place, huh?" Lipsilk said with an indifferent tone. He quickly removed his gaze from Lone, having apparently lost interest.
Lone smiled as memories of Earth filled his mind. Even if his life wasn't great, or even close to being good by most people's standards, he still loved Earth and its history. "Don't be so quick to judge, my home had its perks."
Lipsilk raised an eyebrow. 'Backtalking me despite being aware of my vast power? How peculiar. If I'm not wrong, he doesn't even fear me in the slightest... Now that's certainly worthy of my attention. Hehehe.'
After that brief conversation, Lone and his group continued following the Fairy and the two High Elves. Everywhere they went, the Wood Elves and various other races that were world tree keepers all greeted and treated Lipsilk, Al'ka and Her Highness with a great amount of respect. This solidified everyones' thoughts that the three of them were very important here.
They eventually stopped travelling through the city and everyone was intrigued by what was in front of them. A huge hexagon-shaped plaza of some sort that was devoid of activity for some reason, lay before them. Steps led down to its centre from all six sides and wooden pillars were holding up a roof which covered the whole thing.
Eolande floated to the core of this place and looked at the spiral-shaped indentations on the floor. "Is there something wrong with that place, Eolande?" Lone asked.
The Tylwyth Teg continued to circle around a bit until she finally came to a conclusion of some sort. "It's not the kind of runes that I focus on, but this is definitely a portal of some kind. It's absolutely littered with enchantments. Teleportation runes to be specific. I thought they were only theorised though and that no one could actually get teleportation runes to work."
Kyuubi gently strolled forward to the pad that Eolande was hovering over with Lipsilk still on her back. The small Fairy looked at Eolande with praise. "You're pretty smart, huh? Right, these runes were carved for us by a very famous mage. Some up-and-coming genius that keeps making new unheard of advances in the field of magic. Hmm, what was his name again?"
"Malcolm Deposit, Sir Lipsilk," Al'ka answered in the Fairy's stead.
Lone and Sophie's faces distorted slightly. 'Malcolm again?'
This was the third time that this mysterious man had been mentioned. The first time was at Milindo's capital when Lone and Sophie participated in an auction hosted by him. The second time was at the Inn, the Glowing Goblet in the Deerkin city, Everlast, where apparently he had personally enchanted the building with space magic.
Lone had a serious look on his face before he finally decided to add another goal to his ever-growing list. 'I now absolutely have to find this 'Malcolm'. No 'ifs' or 'buts'. I'm going to meet him and learn from him.'
"Ah, that's right. I forgot to ask, but have any of you not awakened your mana organs yet? I don't specialise in detecting that kind of stuff," Lipsilk said lazily as his hands moved busily to activate the portal.
Swind stood forward and replied, "Only me, ss-Sir Fairy." Surprisingly, Swind's High Elven was as good as his Common Beastman was. While he wasn't amazing at mastering a new language, Swind had discovered a talent for learning the basics of any language, regardless of their complexity, which Lone naturally found to be very interesting.
"Tsk." Lipsilk looked annoyed.
Sophie frowned slightly. "Did you just click your tongue at Swind? It's not his fault he can't use magic yet!" Clearly, Sophie had assumed that Lipsilk was discriminating Swind for his lack of magical abilities.
"What? No. Don't be an idiot, Human. Actually, are you even a Human? I don't know that many Humans that can live to be nearly one-thousand years old despite only being an entry-level cosmos-ranked being." Again, Lipsilk had an interested look on his face. He was still busy chanting under his breath and waving his arms about, but he was eagerly waiting for Sophie's reply.
'She's how old?!' Al'ka eyeballs nearly popped out of his head. 'First Eolande, and now Sophie? How many secrets exactly does your group hold, Lone?' This was a question that even Lone didn't know the answer to.
'Is his ability to see through a person's nature hereditary, or is it something he learned over time? I don't really know anything about his species of Fairy, whatever species that may be,' Lone thought. Eolande was having very similar thoughts herself since it was rare for her to meet someone more powerful than she was.
"Of course I'm a Human!... I think I am at least?" Sophie asked with an uncertain tone in her voice. She really didn't care if she was a Human or not so long as Lone loved and cared for her all the same, but being doubted by someone like Lipsilk left her feeling uneasy.
"You 'think'? Humans are as fickle as ever. Anyway, I was clicking my tongue at how I can't really use him, not clicking it at him. The difference is in the details," Lipsilk waggled his finger around arrogantly. "The portal's open by the way, so everyone get in. Go on, shoo! Up you go! I'm a busy man, so I'll see you all later, that is if you pass the qualification tests, hehehe!"
After saying that, Lipsilk flew off of Kyuubi's back, and Lone's group, Rachel and the two High Elves included, suddenly had their bodies dragged towards the centre of the runic circle and in the blink of an eye, they were gone.
Lipsilk stayed for a moment afterwards to close the portal and a peculiar smile took a hold of his lips. "Very interesting. Even I've never seen a person with so many powers crammed inside of them. I wonder how that boy hasn't exploded yet? Very interesting indeed."
Just as Lipsilk finished closing the portal that led to the tree top, he abruptly began coughing and fell out of the air onto his side. Blood spewed out of his mouth, but oddly enough, it was entirely pitch-black.
Several nearby Wood Elves rushed to his side to see if he was okay. Lipsilk wasn't only one of the strongest world tree keepers, he was also the high elder of the trunk and everyone respected him immensely, so seeing him in such a state sent them all into a panic.
"Elder Lipsilk, is it that evil creature's disease again?" a particularly handsome and well-spoken Wood Elf said as he held Lipsilk and poured life magic into him, allowing the world tree to more easily grant the Fairy its energy.
Lipsilk hurriedly flew out of the Wood Elf's embrace and it was mere seconds before he looked perfectly fine again. "My apologies for worrying everyone. I merely lost my concentration for a brief spell. Nothing serious." With that, Lipsilk waved his hand and flew away, leaving the anxious and confused Wood Elves.
He made his way back to his own residence and he immediately collapsed as soon as he was out of sight. Lipsilk struggled to stay conscious as a stream of black liquid poured out his mouth. Whether it was blood, vomit, or both, was hard to tell.
It took a good few hours before Lipsilk was in a stable enough condition to stand up. "That damned Darkness Dragon... the interval is getting shorter and shorter between attacks... I need to kill that foul beast before I finally succumb to his retched power."
Lipsilk had a lot on his mind. Things did, however, seem to be at least somewhat hopeful thanks to Her Highness having returned. Perhaps with some training, she, the young Crimson Foxkin Rachel and the mysterious Eolande would be able to assist him in finally ridding the world tree of the threat that was its looming death.
"Hmm." A ponderous expression took a hold of Lipsilk's face while he drank a glass of medicine-filled water to help sooth his organs. "Perhaps that Golden Foxkin boy could be of use as well? He's only a C-Ranker, but perhaps... maybe I should test him myself at some point? Hehehe..."
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