113 Chapter 113 Elven Capital
Elves sleep for only 4 hours a night. Ironically, that meant that Stella and Joseph were up before them.
Joseph started to warm up the soup as the elves slowly got up. It was very interesting to him, as he observed them sleeping. It was more of a trance than a true sleep. He would have to look into that more some time.
"Aren't we in a hurry? We've been up for almost an hour and prepared breakfast and I've even been working on spells," he said to Stella.
Stella didn't reply as she finished sharpening her blades and putting them away. The elves had no response to his comments either.
He decided to set up his next spell priorities while he waited. STONE MISSILE for another attack spell, STAFF so he could start making them for himself and his apprentices, BANISHMENT from necromancy to force any demons they came across to go home, and COOK because he was surprisingly annoyed about not being able to do that. He had long since stopped worrying about the elves being startled by his constant use of magic.
As they were leaving the camping area, he glanced one last time at the orange trees and almost stopped. Every single orange was gone. Glancing at Stella, he chuckled. He made them for her, after all.
If he hadn't been told by the elves that they had passed into the eastern kingdom, he wouldn't have known. The border wasn't even marked. Stella wasn't very impressed either.
"I think if I were going to attack, I would send a group around, under the edge, and pillage the heart of the kingdom before there was a response. Then, if the kingdom finally responded, I would have a large group of criminal slaves and force them to march far enough into the wasteland that the pursuing troops all died."
Stella shook her head in disagreement. "I would send several groups of assassins under the wall where nobody was watching, and murder the officials in the kingdom, or kidnap their loved ones and force them to obey."
Elwin said, "Many things the humans do confuse us. We had fully expected there to be patrols along the borders but found none."
"No wonder it was so easy for you to get so many elves to my father's new home."
"You would think that they wouldn't be so scared of the wastelands," added Stella, shaking her head. They all agreed.
Soon after that, they finally arrived at the border of the elven forest. Joseph was amazed. The mana simply stopped at the elven forest, almost like an invisible wall was blocking it. The gap was where the elves had drawn runes to prevent the humans from crossing the border. The barrier looked to be a modification of the PROTECTION rune, but Joseph didn't recognize the spell. He had only achieved basic understanding of PROTECTION and hadn't studied farther into it just yet.
On the other side of the border, the forest had very weak mana, and almost as soon as the mana was released from the trees, it was being reabsorbed by other trees, with only a small trickle being bled off to the runes powering the barrier.
"Is there any special reason the elven forest has a ring around it that prevents mana from getting in?"
"I am not aware of such a ring."
"The mana comes to the edge of the forest, and then there is almost a magical dead zone. The runes composing your barrier are there, and draining a trickle of mana out of your forest. All day, every day, for thousands of years."
"That is very interesting. We should get you to our king quickly."
"Give me a day to experiment if you would please."
"I think it would be better to have the king aware of the situation first. Otherwise I don't know what they may think you are doing."
"Ugh. Alright. Stella do you mind being a bit of a battery?"
"Hand," he said with a smile. She held out her hand, palm up. Joseph switched to a language from their last lives. "Let me know if you feel any discomfort. The area in there has little free mana. I won't be able to recharge easily. You need to hold extra mana for me in case we need to teleport out."
"Yes, Master Joseph," she responded, in the common language of this realm.
Joseph slowly channeled the mana from around them, into himself, and then into her, like when he was feeling her mana circuit out. This time it was just flowing through her without affecting her mana.
(STELLA HAS PURCHASED MANA BATTERY. MANA BATTERY CAN HOLD 40 UNITS OF MANA. MANA BATTERY WILL RECHARGE AT 1 PER HOUR WHEN ABOVE 50% IN NORMAL MANA AREA. MANA BATTERY RECHARGE WILL BE REDUCED BY HALF WHEN IN LOW MANA OR BELOW 50% OF CHARGE REMAINING. MANA BATTERY BELOW 50% WILL NOT RECHARGE INDEPENDENTLY IN LOW MANA AREAS. CAUTION! COST TO USE MAGIC IN LOW MANA AREAS IS DOUBLED)
Joseph looked at her and she smiled.
"Thank you, Stella."
'Hey system, how many points is that?' he thought.
(MANA BATTERY IS NOT AVAILABLE TO HUMANS.)
"Do I tell you often enough, Stella, that you are awesome?"
"Yes, Master. But I do enjoy hearing it anyway."
After her battery was topped off, they headed into the forest. She had enough mana stored to let them escape the forest twice.
Going through the no-magic zone was heavy. It felt almost like swimming for a long time and then trying to get out of the pool. Joseph made sure not to leak mana. He had pretty much gotten used to keeping it contained, but in the low magic area, it was even more important. It felt incredibly weird to not have extra mana around.
A large group of elves greeted them on the other side.
"Elwin, we are here to assist in escorting the…guests."
None of the new elves appeared to be mages, but Joseph couldn't see around all of the trees in order to tell. They were a quiet bunch. Even Elwin and Virion were quieter now in their forest. It almost seemed like the mourners from a funeral procession. Joseph went to a lot of those in his past life. They weren't exactly good memories.
"Stella, I don't think they would be patient enough for us to play a game of bunny tag, do you?" he asked, trying to come up with something to lighten the mood.
"I found it doubtful, Master Joseph," she replied with a smile.
The outskirts of the capital could be seen just before supper. He could see the capital forcefully pulling mana from the forest into itself. It left the forest just enough mana to survive, but some spell was in the center of the capital drawing in all the rest. It might even be under the castle itself, judging by the radius of effect.
Joseph wasn't certain, but the forest appeared to be extremely old growth.
"I think these trees are so old they are weak, and not really growing anymore. I haven't seen a single small tree growing the entire day. With no clear spots for new seedlings to grow the mana grows stale and stagnant. Growing trees are more vibrant and produce more live mana."
The elves looked at each other, but none of them seemed to want to answer, or make a comment. It was almost as if they didn't have the energy. It was very disturbing.
The city was eerie. It looked beautiful but had little vibrancy. It was like a painting of an elven city, more than an actual elven city. It was as if the entire populace was suffering from being slightly lethargic.
In some ways it was more unsettling than the cities overrun by drug lords in his previous life in the Kingdom of America. The threat of violence kept everyone awake and alert. This city seemed to lack even that. No inns, no trade, no hawkers selling wares in the bazaar and everyone knew that there wouldn't be.
As they walked the streets, they attracted a fair number of looks, but even then, it's not like parents had to keep the children back from running up to them full of curiosity. Finally, the palace was in front of them in all its glory. It was certainly beautiful. Joseph had no memories of anything like it at all. The walls were carved with reliefs, as if the carvers could fly. What's more, there weren't any visible seems or blocks. The entire palace looked as if it was carved out of a single giant rock. It was obvious magic was used in its construction.
"Stella, this is the minimum. My castle has to be at least this cool, agreed?"
She nodded very seriously.
"And twice as big at least," he added, craning his head to take in the entire breadth of it.
The elves weren't very impressed with his discussion but he didn't care.
"That's a lot of stairs. I'm going to install elevators and escalators, too."