"Is this the top? Why didn't Lipsilk bring us here directly?" Lone asked after he rubbed his eyes and adjusted himself to the sudden change in locations. For some reason, he felt queasy and abruptly fell to his knees before violently vomiting.
In fact, everyone did the same except for Sophie, Al'ka, Her Highness and, oddly enough, Kyuubi. Naturally, Sophie was fine since she was more than accustomed to teleporting and had long gotten used to the burden it put on the body. On the other hand, the two High Elves were from the World Tree, so it only made sense for them to be resistant to the side-effects of using a portal.
While Sophie had teleported Lone a few times in the past two years, due to the nature of her teleportation being different to the nature of this one, it hadn't built up an immunity to the side-effects for anyone except herself.
Lone would have thought more deeply about why Kyuubi was fine, but he was far too busy trying to contain his lunch, much like how Breena in his shadow, Swind and Eolande were. In particular, Eolande had been hit very hard by the nauseating feeling.
While teleporting was similar to entering an exiting a dimension like she did with her Glade, the very slight difference had a huge effect on her weak body. Like she had always stated, her strengths were most definitely not physical in any way, shape or form.
"Husband... Help me... Urg..." Eolande called desperately before a puddle of this morning's breakfast made its way onto the floor.
"Welcome back, Your Highness, Captain Al'ka," a High Elven woman wearing a tight leather outfit that resembled the battle gear of a ranger, said as she walked down the steps that lead to the inactive portal where Lone's group was.
Her auburn eyes looked at Sophie who was busy cuddling Kyuubi. "I see one of the unexpected keepers is accustomed to teleportation. Have you, by chance, met Sir Deposit before?"
Sophie looked at this exceedingly beautiful Elf and had an anxious look on her face. While she was far more confident now than she was a couple of years ago, Sophie still got somewhat flustered when she was spoken to by an unfamiliar person for the first time.
"Em, no? I-I can teleport," Sophie replied truthfully with hesitance clear in her voice.
"You can do what?" the Elven beauty asked with a look on her face that would indicate she didn't believe Sophie in the slightest.
At this point, Lone had managed to get back up to his feet after earning a new skill.
|Skill: Teleportation Sickness Resistance|
Allows the host to resist the side-effects of teleporting to varying degrees based on mastery.
|Mastery:||Beginner Level 1|
'Well, that was the first times my guts have ever felt like they were trying to escape my body... I guess Soph is more talented at manipulating space than this 'Malcolm' is, huh?' Lone pondered as he wobbled forward towards the High Elven woman.
"What a shoddy way to get up this tree. Why don't you have stairs or something? I'd have rather walked. I'm not sure about you High Elves, but I can tell you that I prefer my lunch to stay inside of my stomach and not have it splattered all over the floor," Lone laughed softly while he put a hand on Sophie's head and stroked it lightly.
Sophie immediately wrapped herself in Lone's fluffy tails to hide and she enjoyed the feeling of his hand brushing her hair. 'Thanks, Lone.' No other words were needed. Both Sophie and Lone knew that she struggled with social interactions nine times out of ten so it was only natural for Lone to steer the focus away from her, but regardless, Sophie still felt warm inside at Lone doing this.
"I believe I asked that new keeper a question," the Elven beauty said, completely ignoring Lone's comment.
Lone's eyebrows furrowed. 'Does it matter that Sophie can teleport? Sure, space magic isn't learnable, but it's not rare to the point that it's unheard of. Space mages and just like soul oracles, right?'
"She can teleport, yes. But as you can probably tell, she's just a c-ranker like myself, so her range and mana are limited. Why does it matter anyway? Can we be brought to our new residence?" Lone asked before he gestured to Eolande, Breena and Swind, "As you can see, my companions are struggling to keep this lovely portal free from vomit," he added with a smile.
At this point, Her Highness walked forwards with Al'ka behind her, prompting the Elven beauty to bow down subconsciously. "This one, Tal'hat'mata, greets Her Highness, again."
'That name's a mouthful and a half, huh?' Lone thought as he scratched behind Sophie's ears absentmindedly like she was some sort of small animal. She naturally didn't protest and closed her eyes to savour the sensation while she rubbed two of Lone's tail tips against her face. After two years of such fondling, Lone had grown numb to it.
'I wonder how important this woman really is? Even Lipsilk didn't say her real name... Ah. Is it something similar to Eolande? As soon as someone says her true name, she's obligated to marry them? But then again, why would that only be the case for her, and not for Al'ka and this 'Tal'hat'mata'? Maybe because she's Elven royalty?' Lone was enjoying himself as he wildly speculated, however, his guess was almost exactly right, and thankfully for him, he had learnt his lesson with Eolande so he was trying his best to not accidentally gain more unwanted brides if at all possible.
"Please bring the new keeper candidates to their residence. I will be visiting father in the meantime," Her Highness ordered. She then turned to Lone and said, "I'll come by tomorrow to help you adjust to life on the tree top, Lone, Rachel. I suspect everyone else will be given different jobs than the two of you and they may be required to move to the tree's trunk, but only time will tell."
"Sounds good. It is pretty late after all, but we'll have to talk about that whole 'different jobs' thing later. I won't be splitting up with my group. I'd rather leave than do that," Lone shrugged dismissively.
While he was more than happy to help the world tree keepers with their purpose, he wasn't going to risk any of his friends' lives by letting them get too far away from him in an unfamiliar place for a prolonged period of time. Call Lone overprotective, but he truly cared for his friends, so he couldn't take any risks, especially considering that the world tree had people as strong as Lipsilk in it.
Tal'hat'mata's expression crumpled when Lone said this. She stormed towards him and looked at him fiercely. "How dare you speak with such arrogance to Her Highness like that! Get on your knees and apologise immediately."
Lone gazed at the Elven beauty with pity. 'Sure, I'm being a bit arrogant, but can't she tell that Her Highness and Al'ka are treating me with respect? Some people are just born stupid, I guess.'
Al'ka sighed as soon as he saw the look on Lone's face. "Tal'hat'mata, stand down. Lone, we'll review your situation and I promise we'll bring the matter of keeping your group together up to the council, okay? Your talents as a soul oracle will definitely be useful, not to mention the control you seem to have over darkness. I'm sure these things will win you some favour amongst the council's elders."
"Is that so? That's good. Well then, 'Tal'hat'mata', was it? Please, lead the way," Lone said with a charming smile directed at the now stunned Elven beauty.
'H-H-H-He's a soul oracle?!' Tal'hat'mata's face paled almost instantly.
More often than not, new world tree keepers that weren't High Elves or Wood Elves tended to be very arrogant and prideful since they were exceedingly talented people wherever they came from, much like in Rachel's case. However, such people were a dime a dozen here, so Tal'hat'mata had a habit of hazing such people to show them that they meant very little in the world tree, for now at least.
It also didn't help that Lone and his group were received by the trunk's elder, Lipsilk and had travelled to the world tree with Her Highness personally, so naturally Tal'hat'mata was slightly jealous and resentful of Lone. His status as a soul oracle flipped those feelings around almost instantly. No amount of racial prejudice within her could hide the respect she naturally felt for such a rare and talented profession.
"I-I'm sorry for my-my impudence Sir-Sir Soul Oracle. P-P-Please for-" Tal'hat'mata stuttered and fumbled over her word repeatedly. Despite being over two-hundred years old and being a B-Ranker, she was struggling to stay composed in front of an esteemed soul oracle.
"It's fine. Just take us to our residence, please? My lover is very tired, aren't you, Soph?" Lone said as he stroked Sophie's face very lightly.
"Mmm," Sophie mumbled in response.
Now on Kyuubi's back, Eolande mumbled to herself, "Must be nice, having him call you his lover in public."
Kyuubi growled lightly in response. "Oh, shush you. I'm allowed to complain to myself." Eolande skillfully rubbed the back of Kyuubi's ears to calm her down. Quite clearly, her time spent riding on the young Golden Fox had allowed her to learn a thing or two about controlling the girl.
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