None of the elves lagged behind because they were in a good condition despite their imprisonment. The elves had regained their vitality as soon as they were released from their restraints, so it wasn't difficult for them to follow him. Thanks to that, the movement speed of the party was quick, and they soon reached the large barracks.
Theo searched the empty surroundings several times using magic and Mitra, before muttering with an absurd expression on his face, "They didn't leave any guards?"
Perhaps Vince's fight had caught their attention. Even so, it was weird that there would be no guards. It was common sense to leave a minimum number of troops in case there were still enemies remaining.
Theodore questioned it since he hadn't seen the Janissary's flare signal while rescuing the four elves.
He ended up rescuing all eight elves. As the four new elves stared at him with strange eyes like the first four had done, Theo struggled to make a decision. Should he step back from this mission or join Vince?
The plan they had established was based on the assumption that there were eight captured elves. Of course, the presence of the high elf wasn't within the calculations. Vince was supposed to have attacked the large barracks, yet he had been distracted in another place.
It was time for Theo to be more flexible instead of insisting on sticking to the mission plan.
"A little bit further." Instead of stepping back, Theodore decided to move forward.
There was an eerie silence, but he couldn't sense anything. It meant there weren't any elements threatening him at the moment. Theo started to walk again with the eight elves.
This place wasn't on Canis' map, but fortunately, there was no need to get lost. The many footsteps scattered in different directions were all heading toward the same place. Soon, the party reached the spot where the fire pillar had occurred.
"This…!" Theo's eyes widened as he witnessed the devastation from the front of the group.
It was horrible enough to make his stomach nauseous, while the elves turned pale as they subsequently saw the scene. This was the answer to his earlier question about the guards.
The humans, who had been burned alive, were scattered everywhere. Even their eyeballs were melted down from the high heat. The burnt skin of the corpses stuck to the ground, and the bitter scent filled their noses.
"Urgh!" In the end, the elves couldn't stand it and took a few steps back. Otherwise, they would've probably puked. At this moment, they resented their sensitive sense of smell. Unlike humans, the noses of the elves, who lived in the forest, weren't used to bad smells.
However, Theo was relatively less affected and jumped toward the source of the odor without hesitation. It was because he saw a familiar person. "Master!"
"Geez, you came first." Vince, the middle-aged man wearing tattered robes, smiled as he looked at the elves behind Theo.
There were exactly eight elves. Vince realized that Theo had rescued the elves in the large barracks. This was something Vince was supposed to have done. It was like Veronica had said; it wouldn't have been enough if he came here alone. Vince flinched as he felt a throbbing pain.
"Master, your injuries…?!"
"I took a blow. They are inconsequential wounds, so don't worry."
Of course, the wound wasn't really inconsequential. The Austen Janissary hadn't missed the chance to wound Vince with his sword while half of his body was burning in the fire storm. As soon as the almost dead Janissary realized there was no chance of winning, he had struck Vince.
Vince had narrowly avoided a fatal injury, but he was still wounded. He endured the pain and said, "Well, it looks like both of us encountered trouble."
The two people recovered their strength while talking about what had happened. They were able to breathe better after removing the bad smell with magic. Then the elves unconsciously turned toward the grey tent which contained the high elf.
"High elf… I read the name in a few books, but I never thought I would see them in person."
"It is the same for me. Usually, they never leave Elvenheim. Only four people at most would've met them in this kingdom."
Vince grinned as he folded his fingers. "His Majesty, Tower Master Blundell… and now, us."
"They are really rare."
Some self-proclaimed elf scholars doubted the existence of the high elves as within the Meltor Kingdom, the closest kingdom to Elvenheim, only two people had seen a high elf. Theodore and Vince might never have seen one if it wasn't for today.
At this moment, the entrance of the grey tent fluttered like a wind was blowing past.
"Ah." No one could be blamed for unconsciously let out a sound.
The existence which appeared from behind the tent cloth was perfect enough that no embellishments could describe it properly.
They had light green hair with a gentle shine and pale limbs which were white even in the darkness. There was a strange sense of androgyneity since it was hard to tell what their sex was just by looking at their appearance. Their hazy eyes looked at Theo, Vince, and the elves.
'Man… No, woman?' The person looked like both a male or female.
The dreamlike face smiled at them before speaking.
"Daughter of the Blue Evergreen Tribe, the tribe's sixth dancer, Ellenoa, thanks my benefactors." The calm voice sounded like a bell through the darkness.
Just like her appearance, her voice was gender neutral, but she referred to herself with a definite gender. Theo and Vince accepted the greeting belatedly and introduced themselves.
"I am Vince Haidel."
"I am Theodore Miller."
However, Theo saw a strange sight as he bowed his head.
In the place where the ground had turned black from the large-scale fire magic, a small bud was rising from the ground. The soil around Ellenoa's bare feet was regaining its vitality. A miraculous scene was unfolding right before his very eyes!
Theo realized why the existences of the high elves were concealed so thoroughly.
'They have the power to revive nature itself. This is the identity of the high elves…!' Theo lifted his head with an admiring expression and came into contact with Ellenoa's silver eyes.
It was at this moment that…
[Hoing!] Mitra sprang out unexpectedly from the ground where the bud was sprouting.
Ellenoa's eyes widened with surprise. Meanwhile, Theo held the small body in his palm. "Ah, what a surprise. Why did you jump out all of a sudden?"
[Horororong!] Mitra made strange motions on the palm of Theo's hand. It seemed like a dance, but her short legs and arms waving about was just a funny sight.
Thanks to the contract, Theo could share Mitra's feelings to some extent. The feeling which came from her was of pure joy and excitement. The elemental was excited due to the presence of the high elf.
"…You are accompanied by a precious person." Ellenoa's response was surprising. She stared at Mitra dancing on Theo's palm and smiled gently. If she was within reach, she would've stretched out and stroked Mitra's head.
Maybe Ellenoa knew some secrets about Mitra that he didn't know. Just as Theodore opened his mouth to respond…
"I'm sorry but we'll have to delay the story for a while, Theodore."
"Guests are coming." Her words were scary and ominous. Then there was the sudden sound of horseshoes against the ground, and armour and weapons rubbing against each other as the Bergen guards arrived in the area.
Lee Yoonsung's five senses, rather than Alfred's sensory perception, quickly noticed their approach. He nodded to the high elf and backed off. They would be able to talk later.
"…Hoo, I can rest a little bit." Theo finally realized the fatigue which had accumulated in his body as he looked at the group approaching from afar.
Pain was lingering all over his body. The pain, which had been dulled by the excitement of battle, was slowly returning, so he naturally sat down.
Thus, the disturbance in the night came to an end.
The effectiveness of the order which Veronica had written was amazing. She was the great mage who reigned at the top of Meltor along with Blundell. As the Red Tower Master, her name was almost the same as the king's.
When Earl Bergen saw the order from the Red Tower Master, he immediately treated the Theo and Vince with great care. From the huge baths to the ingredients used in their dinners, nothing was spared. In Theo's case, he had to struggle to chase away a maid who had entered his room secretly.
The same was true for the nine elves, including Ellenoa.
"They are being served separately in the annex. They are being given fruits from the city streets. Earl Bergen is truly a resourceful person."
After having a busy night and sleeping nearly all day, Vince and Theodore walked side by side along the corridor. Unlike their shabby clothes from last night, their clothes looked quite luxurious today. The finest clothing from the mansion were wrapped naturally around both bodies.
Theo tried to ignore his feeling of awkwardness as he replied, "Is the Earl of Bergen that resourceful?"
"At least, I think so. He is good at keeping favour with other people without going out of line. Didn't you suffer from this last night?"
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"He did the same when I first arrived at the academy. He hasn't changed."
Theo's face turned red as he thought about the naked maid in his room last night, but Vince nodded as if he understood. Vince had experienced many things in life, so it wasn't a big deal for him. They followed a guide and soon arrived in front of a large door. Then the guide politely said goodbye to them.
"So, shall we enter?" Vince glanced at Theodore before entering.
After waking up, the two people had received an invitation from Earl Bergen stating he wanted to dine with the people who had stopped the slave trade. Despite meeting senior magicians previously, this was Theo's first experience having dinner with a nobleman.
Vince was hoping that Theo wouldn't be burdened, but…
Vince smiled at Theo's calm expression.
Indeed, Theodore had already met Kurt III twice. He had also exchanged fists with Veronica and conversed with Blundell. It wasn't burdensome to meet a noble after already encountering such huge figures.
If Vince had to use an analogy, those huge figures were like dragons, while Earl Bergen was an ogre.
"No, it is nothing. Let's go straight in," as Vince replied, he pulled the door knob.
The big door spread to the left and right, and a bright light entered their eyes. As the two people passed through the dazzling light from the chandelier, a loud shout rang out, "Honoured guests, Vince Haidel and Theodore Miller, from the Magic Tower are entering!"