Chapter 4 – Tartious Forest
1. The Sacred Tree
“This is unbelievable.”
The beautiful blonde priestess said as she shook her head, she shook it quite violently.
“I can’t believe it.”
Little Merrill said.
“This really is unbelievable.”
The burly warrior woman said, as she squinted at the man.
(I don’t want to believe this is true.)
The man was none other than a magician of the Kingdom of Ohfun, Louie. He heard the three women talking, but he knew he couldn’t answer them back.
Mostly because he knew he wouldn’t be forgiven.
Because of Louie, all four of them were now prisoners of the Tartious forest. Known commonly as the “Forest of Strife”, a forest full of goblins and all kinds of other creatures, but mostly notably Elves.
Despite the forest being a dangerous place, they didn’t run into any kind of monsters despite moving deep into the forest.
Their goal was to find a five hundred year old oak tree, and bring the tree branches back to the Magician’s Guild, then Louie would be able to create another wand.
Otherwise, Louie cannot use magic. Besides, you need a wand and a long cape to be a magician, it will also let others know who you are. A magician doesn’t generally carry a sword either, but Louie does.
The search so far has progressed smoothly. Unfortunately, the only place where they can find an old tree is somewhere in the Elf territory, everyone except Louie couldn’t believe that they’d have to do there……
Louie cut off an oak branch, a moment later he heard a strange sound.
He knew it was Elf tongue, but didn’t know what it meant.
Learning the Elf language is one of the compulsory language courses in the Magician’s Guild, although learning such a thing isn’t that important.
The most important language is the language of the ancients, especially the high and low languages. If you can’t understand the meaning of these two languages, you are not qualified to become a magician.
Louie grew up learning the ancient language under his adoptive father, Carwes.
But Louie had been unable to speak the Elf language.
Though if he knew the Elf language, maybe Genie would praise him for his efforts.
“I’m sorry, I’m don’t know the Elf language.”
Louie said, as started climbing down the tree.
Genie looked around, but she couldn’t tell where the voice came from.
“It’s probably just a stray elf. Unless they have a hiding place nearby.”
At that moment, the priestess of the Goddess of Mylee stepped forward, she had an uneasy look on her face.
“Could it be a dark elf?”
The female warrior said, as she pulled a large sword from her back.
She had much experience fighting dark elves and goblins, in addition to her fighting skills, they would stand a good chance at winning in combat.
“A dark elf? This place really is dangerous.”
The little thief girl Merrill murmured, as she pulled out her dagger.
Louie just happened to be in a unique position, he was right above her and he could clearly see her breasts. However, even from his point of view, Merrill’s chest was nothing special.
“Are you jumping from there?”
Genie asked Louie, as she raised her head.
“You must be joking!”
Louie angrily replied.
In order to obtain more branches, Louie climbed over the tree a couple of times. If he jumped from such a high place, he’d certainly injure himself, or even lose his life.
“Why don’t you use an incantation?”
Genie said, mocking him.
(If I use magic, then demons are sure to come. But I don’t have a wand.)
Louie thought. Even if he could use magic, the group would surely become food for the monsters.
So far they hadn’t encountered any monsters, maybe it was good luck on their part, but they are in a dangerous forest, luck can only get them so far.
(This is no time to mess around.)
Louie said inside himself.
Whether it was magic or a projectile, Louie was an excellent target right now. If an enemy attacked, he’d be done for.
“Do you think they’ll attack the guy in the tree first? Though it’s not like they know our position……”
Little Merrill said, Louie could hear her clearly.
“The hero should shoulder any responsibilities……”
Merrill finished speaking, Melissa couldn’t stand her comment.
“You think he’s a hero?”
Melissa said in protest.
Louie couldn’t stand it either, he didn’t want to be the first one to be targeted by the enemies magic and arrows.
However, nothing happened.
“If we get attacked, you better move!”
Louie couldn’t bear it any longer, he loudly shouted.
Louie cried. Then he left the tree, he floated gently to the ground, he was like a feather.
(That actually wasn’t too hard, the height was only a little more than mine.)
Louie thought. His heart now calmer than it had once been.
Genie showed Louie her obvious disdain.
Melissa wondered, if he was able to jump from that height, does that make him a hero?
“Well, why don’t you ask a dark elf?”
A figure dropped to the ground, and slowly walked towards Louie.
“Never mind, it’s just a regular elf.”
Merrill put her hand on her chest, and sighed.
She had long, thin leaf-like ears, her silver hair went down to her waist, she had a tall yet plump figure, she was also wearing dark green clothes. Also, tied to her waist was a dagger, on her shoulders was a bow and a quiver. Currently, she was examining Louie.
Louie looked back at her, she was a pretty young woman. He had heard that elves live long lives when compared to humans, he couldn’t imagine how old this elf in front of him was.
However, he had only heard rumours about their beauty, now he knew it was true.
She was like a fine paining or a magnificent statue, through the gap in the trees leaves and sunlight smiled upon her, this gave the young elf girl a more fantastic impression.
Louie had long become accustomed to women, but to see a beautiful elf, he couldn’t help but stare.
The elf stopped about ten steps in front of Louie.
“She is wary of us.”
Melissa said to herself.
“Obviously, she’s just met us.”
Louie said, in response to her words. Melissa looked at him coldly.
(I’ve got to make a good impression.)
Louie thought. If he wanted to prove he was a hero to someone, it was be this elf, and not the woman who follows him because of a revelation from her God. Louie sometimes thinks that her revelation was nothing more than a simple dream, though he would never say this to her, mainly because he feared the repercussions.
However, thanks to Melissa, Louie was able to become an adventurer. He intends to learn as much as he can from the three women in his party, this will enable him to become a great adventurer.
Especially when it comes to comparing himself to the warrior woman, he didn’t want to lose to her again. One day, he hopes that he could be called a magical warrior.
“……This is nerve-racking.”
The elf girl was standing ten paces away from Louie, he didn’t know what to say to her, he hesitated for a long time. Finally, he said something.
“You said this is nerve-racking.”
Merrill went behind Louie and pushed him.
“If there is something wrong, I am willing to help.”
Little Merrill is a thief, she was accustomed to negotiating with all kinds of people. She knew it would be hard for Louie to talk to her, but she wanted him to at least make an effort.
“Talk to her.”
Merrill said coldly.
“She must have appeared because we were cutting branches off that tree, hopefully we haven’t troubled her.”
“……Is that so?”
That is most likely one of the reasons. Because this is a forest where elves live, they serve as the de-facto guardians.
“Have we troubled you, since we cut the branches?”
Louie asked the elf girl.
“We don’t mean to destroy this tree. You see, it’s still in good condition. Anyway, what has been cut off will only grow back.”
Louie said, not knowing if that was true or not.
The ancient tree they took the branches from was over five hundred years old, the tree trunk was also very strong. Even if they took ten branches, it would not have that much impact on the tree.
“Although it will not wither……”
The elf girl said thoughtfully.
“Oh, so you can speak? We entered this ancient forest to gather branches for a special reason, we have got what we came for. We will leave the forest immediately.”
The elf girl sighed, now she started to speak rather slowly.
“This tree……no, all of these trees are called Trees of the Dead. Our tribe has a custom, if someone dies, their body is buried in the ground, and a tree is planted on top.”
“In other words, these are graves?”
The words of the elf girl caused Louie great shock, after listing to her explanation, he realized that their actions were no different from grave robbers.
“Yes, this place is very important to my tribe, it’s a scared place.”
Then, the elf girl looked at some branches lying on the ground. From the looks of it, a tree had been cut down recently.
The elf said in a remorseful tone.
“Ah——we had nothing to do with that!“
Merrill said, trying to convince the elf.
Genie and Melissa looked at each other, and sighed.
“We really didn’t know, we’re sorry.”
Right now, this was the only thing Louie could say.
“No, I should have said something before you cut the branches……”
Then, the elf repeated the words “cut down” again.
“We apologise for our actions.”
In this vast forest they looked for a long time, but they didn’t expect to stumble upon a scared place that belonged to the elves. They would have to find ancient trees someplace else.
“You can have these back. These are the branches that we cut.”
Louie picked up the branches, and walked towards the elf girl.
Then, Louie apologized to the elf girl again. After they said their goodbyes, Louie and the three girls turned to leave.
“Wait a minute!”
The elf girl shouted.
“What is it?”
“This is our forest, normal humans or hunters aren’t allowed in these parts. If you walk around in the forest, it will only cause me further problems.”
“Your forest, but we……”
Then, the elf’s tone of voice changed.
“You cannot casually cut down trees and kill animals. If you want to bring back some branches from the ancient trees……”
The elf girl lowered her head, it looked like she suddenly thought of something, then she lifted her head, she had a bright smile on her face. It was almost as bright as a flower in full bloom.
“If you don’t mind, come and meet my tribe. If you return to my village, you can have as many branches as you want.”
A smile appeared on Louie’s face.
At the same time, someone mercilessly kicked Louie in the back of his foot. Out of the three women, Merrill was the only one who would attack using her feet. Also, she was a thief, nothing she does is considered “clean”.
“What was that for?”
Louie said, staring at the little thief girl.
“Don’t you think it’s strange?”
Merrill bent over and whispered into Louie’s ear.
“What do you mean by strange?”
Louie spoke as quietly as he could.
“I’m referring to that elf’s suggestions, are you stupid or something?”
“That’s a terrible thing to say.”
Louie couldn’t stand the thought of the elf having ill intent.
“Don’t worry about it.”
As a result, Merrill denied Louie a smile.
“Elves are a noble race, they wouldn’t do anything mischievous.”
“Are you sure about that, this is their territory?”
Merrill couldn’t believe that Louie ignored her warning.
“She’s not an evil dark elf, she probably wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Louie said with confidence.
Although this was the first time Louie had met a real elf, he had read numerous books about them, he was convinced that he was right.
“In addition to dark elves, I’ve heard rumours about other elves.”
“A rumour is just a rumour. I believe that this elf is a woman of her word.”
Louie said decisively.
Merrill was very confused, she slumped her shoulders.
“If you say so.”
Merrill said with disdain.
“I cannot allow you to casually walk around the forest either, I’ll lead you out afterwards.”
The elf girl was listening to all of Louie’s and Merrill’s conversation, she could see through their anxiety.
(I believe in this elf, she is trustworthy.)
Louie was determined——
“It’s dangerous to walk around the forest unguided, we would also be causing problems to the elf. We’ll do as she says.”
Then, Genie said something.
“……If you say so, brave hero.”
While Melissa was reluctant to follow Louie, this was the first time she had not complained about him.
Perhaps out of Loue’s confidence, Melissa wanted to reassure everyone.
“In any case, it’s not like we’re going to die.”
Naturally, Genie was upset, Merrill too. However, they didn’t show they’re dissatisfaction.
“Alright, it’s decided.”
Louie said, while smiling. He then told the elf girl that they were “willing to go with her”.
Though, that’s not to say that Louie didn’t find her a little suspicious.
Then, they all introduced themselves to the elf.
“My name is Celecia.”
The elf girl introduced herself, and thus they began a relaxing stroll in the forest, heading towards the Elf village.
After a while, they finally reached the elf village.
Immediately, four armed elf soldiers descended upon them, they disarmed the group and put Louie and the three women in a small hut, they were effectively under house arrest.
They were charged with the crime of hurting a Tree of the Dead.
However, Louie didn’t know how serious this charge really was.
2 – Magical Treasures
“I can’t believe this.”
The three women said simultaneously.
“You can say that again.”
Louie’s conscience was shouting at him, it was telling him that it was all his fault, he wanted to block out all such thoughts.
Though, there was one thing that he wanted to know. Why did they stick him in the same room as the women? If he was in a separate room, he wouldn’t have to listen to the three women berate him.
Right now, Louie felt like he was in purgatory.
“What will happen next?”
Merrill thought out aloud.
“I don’t think they’ll kill us……”
Genie wasn’t confident in her answer.
“In the end, all we can do is hope that the elves are honourable.”
Melissa wanted to believe Louie.
“I’m sure it will work out just like in the books.”
No matter how Louie tried to justify it, it just came across as useless.
“You can’t be serious. Do you believe everything you read in a book?”
Louie admitted, much to the dismay of the three women.
“Oh, Great God of War, Mylee. Your foolish servant hasn’t finished her trials yet, her life is in danger.”
Melissa continued praying, she hoped that if they died, it would be a mercifully one.
(Do that someplace else.)
Louie didn’t intend to die here. However, he didn’t think he could lose his life for cutting a branch from a tree!
“Perhaps if we confess our sins to God, we will be forgiven.”
Louie jokingly said, he wanted to liven the mood.
“Well, you are the hero so you should go first.”
Genie sneered at him, Louie felt like he was a fool being ridiculed.
It was clear to Louie. He was responsible for this whole incident today, since he was the one who wanted to ancient branches in the first place.
“Although the elves took our weapons, we still have our luggage. There must be something that we can use to escape.”
However, Merrill immediately said: “I don’t want to get chased around in a forest by elves unarmed”.
Indeed, they’re weapons were confiscated before they were put in this hut.
Though, since Merrill was a thief, she did have some tools tucked away in her luggage.
(I forgot, I borrowed some magical treasures from Ila……)
Louie almost forgot, before he left for the Tartious Forest, Ila literally handed him a pile of magical treasures.
They were the “forest fairy cape”, two sticks that point in a direction, and a magical flute. These three magical treasures each have a magical effect, the cape renders the wearer invisible, the sticks show the way, and flute can summon demons.
These three treasures hadn’t been used yet, but in this situation, they were totally useless.
(There’s no way these would come in handy.)
“Anyway, we should at least try and communicate with them.”
Louie said to the three women.
“Do you have a plan?”
Genie said, then their attention shifted to the entrance to the hut.
The door was opened, the elf girl called Celecia appeared before them.
“What are you going to do with us?”
“The elders are discussing what to do with you. You humans are different from demons, but this is the first time we’ve caught humans harvesting the sacred wood.”
“You lied to us!”
Merrill shouted at the elf girl, she was furious.
“Say what you will, but it was for the best. Even though I lied to you, I truly am sorry.”
Celecia’s face was full of emotion, Louie looked at her quietly.
“Don’t you have a conscience?”
Melissa calmly said.
Listening to Melissa, Louie knew that the elf was afraid of something.
“If I let you walked around the forest and take the sacred wood, the tribe would have blamed me. I was forced to lie to you, I’m sorry……but there was no other way.”
“Our actions may be unforgivable, but will you kill us?”
Genie said in a low voice.
“That’s not my decision. It’s up to the elders. Though, I’m happy that the man wanted to believe in the elves. Normally humans hold prejudice against us.”
“I’m sorry, most people have trouble understanding elves.”
Louie felt betrayed too, but he didn’t hold a grudge.
“Really? What a pity……”
Celecia revealed a lonely smile.
(I really have poor luck with women.)
Louie thought, as if he had been cursed.
“I’ll send someone to give you water and food. As for your fate, it’s out of my hands.”
“I was almost moved to tears.”
Genie’s laughter rang out in the hut, but she was actually quite upset.
“You say this is the first time you have caught humans, but if these demons cut wood, what do you do to them?”
Melissa asked the elf girl.
“What do you think we do to them?”
Celecia said with a grin.
“Oh, I understand.”
“I believe that you humans are more sensible than demons. Though, the elders don’t think like I do, they think humans are just as bad as the demons. But if you can prove to them that you are different from the demons……”
Celecia said, hoping that Louie would understand her. Then she left the hut.
“Thanks for the advice.”
Melissa said, then she watched Celecia walk away through a slit in the door.
“I have a bad feeling.”
Melissa then turned and faced Genie.
“I think this is a trial.”
“Maybe it is.”
“Then so be it.”
Genie and Merrill agreed with Melissa.
“It was just a branch, why must they throw a fuss?”
This was an unexpected development, naturally Louie was stunned. He couldn’t wait any longer, he just wanted to kill someone.
“That damn woman, these elves can’t just kill us.”
“These elves aren’t noble at all, and apparently normal people can’t understand them.”
“They are more stringent than the thieves’ guild.”
The three women said.
“I don’t want to die here.”
The three women said in unison.
Louie had something else in mind, instead of complaining, he wanted to create some kind of distraction.
“Alright, but how do we bust out of here?”
Even though they could be killed, Louie found himself rather calm, he wasn’t afraid at all. However, when he heard those words, he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable, mostly because Genie could put all their lives at danger.
“Elves don’t just use magic, they use bows and arrows too.”
Genie smiled as she talked.
“And their archery skills are outstanding.”
Merrill said outright.
“Great God of War Mylee says that life is a battle.”
“They can’t decide when we die!”
“If we are really going to start a fight, I’m happy to join in. However, if I do, will you accept me as your partner again?”
“We aren’t going to wait here for the elves merciful judgement, that isn’t our style.”
Genie angrily looked at Louie.
“That’s not what I said. Anyway, shouldn’t we discuss the plan?”
“There’s no need for that.”
Merrill said in a low voice, something was troubling her.
“I will not give up!”
Louie wanted to convince them.
“However, if we can prove to them that we aren’t the same as demons……”
“Yes! I am a monster!”
Louie happily shouted, as he put his hand on Melissa’s shoulders.
Melissa was stunned by Louie’s sudden outburst, all of the women were.
“It’s true! It’s true!”
Louie shouted wildly.
Genie and Merrill looked at each other.
“I’ll let them know, that humans and demons are different!”
Louie vowed. He had thought of a concentrate plan, one which would secure their freedom.
“I can’t believe it.”
Celecia said in disbelief.
“Our tribe hasn’t been attacked by monsters in decades, ever since I was born, I haven’t even see that many monsters.”
Louie heard the elf girl say, he wondered if she was hundreds of years old.
While the elders were discussing what to do with the humans, the village came under attack from monsters.
Louie and the three women were freed from captivity, but they were to help defend the village against the monster attack.
Although they had gotten their weapons back, Louie was still un-armed. Now he had to rely on his strength, though he still could have used a sword.
They don’t know how many monsters Louie knocked out.
Also, Genie showed her impressive combat skills, she defeated a lot of monsters.
The elves found that they fought bravely against the monsters, this removed any doubts that they were harmful to the elves.
Also, they didn’t take the chance to escape during the confusion. This helped convince the elves that they weren’t bad guys.
“These humans think the elves are noble, also, as you can see, they helped fight against those monsters. Do you think you can change you point of view of the humans?”
Celecia tried to convince the village elders, she hope that they forgive them for the crimes they have committed. As a result, Louie and the three women were freed.
They also got the branches Louie wanted (and some small branches that Ila wanted). They had got what they came for.
Then, they were led to the edge of the Tartious forest by Celecia.
“You may go back to the human world.”
“Great, thanks to your help, we were able to return safely.”
Louie said to the elf girl, he gripped her slender hands, and shook her hands.
“It was my pleasure.”
Celecia said, her cheeks glowing red.
“Well then, goodbye.”
“Goodbye. I hope we meet again.”
After they finished speaking, Celecia slowly disappeared into the woods.
“Meet again, what does she mean?”
Merrill murmured after the elf girl left, she then forcefully breathed ten sighs of relief.
On their way back through the forest, the three women were silent. As far as Louie knew, he was all alone.
Although he can up with a plan, it created unexpected results.
Louie didn’t just free them, they got what they came for.
However, the monsters attack wasn’t random, in fact it was because Louie used the magical flute to call a bunch of monsters to his position. If the flute was used to its fullest, an entire army of monsters totalling a couple hundred would have descended upon the village. Luckily for Louie, he didn’t know how to do that.
Since the battle was really intense, the elves did suffer some causalities, Louie felt saddened by this.
People died, and Louie knew it was all his fault.
This was how the forest became known as the “Forest of Strife”, because elves and monsters always fought each other.
The elves always knew that battle with monsters were inevitable, this helped prevent more people from losing their lives, the helped Louie’s conscience.
“Let’s go home, we don’t need to be in this forest anymore.”
Louie said to the three women, they all breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
“I couldn’t believe that……”
The three women said in unison.
Now, they leisurely walked back to town.