Chapter 538: The Bluff (2)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
On this day, the sun shone brightly while the sea breeze rolled in gently.
Seagulls screeched in the sky, squabbling with each other over scraps thrown out by the guests of a nearby inn. A few kids frolicked around the port’s open plaza. Near the docks, workers called out to each other as they bustled about, loading and unloading cargo from their ships. Further away, shop houses were in the midst of construction.
It was an ordinary day like any other.
At noon, a seemingly ordinary merchant vessel appeared on the horizon. It slowly made its way towards the port of Ferde.
High Elf merchant ships were a familiar sight to the port’s inhabitants. Though nothing stood out from it on the surface, this particular merchant ship was different from the others that came before it.
On the outside, the merchant ship and its deck seemed normal enough. In reality, it had an extremely spacious hold beneath its deck. Only a small portion of that space was reserved for holding cargo. The rest of it was emptied out for its passengers. There was even enough space for a great hall.
It was lunchtime. In the ship’s great hall, eight High Elves were seated around a long table. The three High Elf Legendary masters, Bryant, Sonya and Milose were in their midst.
The other five High Elves were no ordinary folk. One of them was a young High Elf who bore a resemblance to the Elf Princess Milda and was almost as old as her. He was Prince Phillip, who also happened to have been saved by Link once. The four High Elves around him were among the best diplomats and negotiators the Isle of Dawn had to offer.
When the port of Ferde appeared before their ship, the voice of a sailor called out to them from the deck, “Your Highnesses, Ferde is just ahead of us.”
Hearing this, Bryant turned to Sonya and Milose. “It’s time. Go get ready.”
“Yes, Prophet.” The two young Magicians wiped their mouths clean with their napkins. They then rose from their seats. With a slight movement, their bodies dissolved into a green mist and vanished from the ship’s hold.
The merchant’s vessel was just a facade. Its true cargo were the negotiators inside its hold. Six Silver Storm Sparrow ships hung back a few thousand feet from the merchant’s vessel. If anything went wrong, the Silver Storm Sparrow’s magic spells would descend upon the port of Ferde in retaliation, which would result in grievous injuries on both sides.
Of course, this was only a contingency plan. If Ferde would peacefully accept their terms, they would not need to resort to violence.
There were two reasons as to why the High Elves preferred a peaceful resolution with Ferde.
The first one was that the Army of Destruction had amassed its forces in the northern region. The Isle of Dawn needed the humans to be their first line of defense against the Army of Destruction there.
The second reason was that Ferde now possessed a powerful army of 30,000 men. It also had a Legendary master watching over it. They could not possibly ignore such military might. Even if the High Elves were to act against Ferde, they still had to make thorough preparations for such a confrontation.
The merchant’s vessel continued on its path. Prince Phillip had just finished his meal as well.
He had been to Hot Springs City. Back then, Link was the one who had rescued him. He had felt much gratitude for what he had done. Even now, Prince Phillip still had a high opinion of Link.
It was a shame, though, that good and evil never meant much when it came to dealing with interracial issues.
“Prophet, do you think he’ll be willing to hand her over?” Phillip asked. Deep down, he knew that Link would resist. He still remembered the time they met at the magic market. Back then, Link had faced off against three masters all on his lonesome without even a hint of panic. He had beaten all three of them up, leaving two dead and one running off with his tail between his legs.
There was no way someone with a strong will like Link’s would ever submit so easily to others.
Even Bryant could not say anything for sure. He was silent for a moment. Then, he spoke, “If what we’ve heard of Ferde’s military strength is true, Link will probably hand Evelina over to us. He’s an intelligent man, and the port is the lifeline of Ferde.”
Phillip was no longer the naive young man he was before. He sighed. “I hope so.”
After a moment of silence, he asked again, “What will happen to Evelina? Will she really be executed?”
Though Evelina was a half-elf, she had lived in the High Elf royal palace, Andwar ever since she was little. Phillip knew her for as long as he could remember. Among the High Elf Princesses, Evelina was always so full of life and good-tempered. He would always follow her around wherever she went when Phillip was still a child.
They had played many pranks together, like the time when they threw a beehive into a guard post where the imperial guards were having their afternoon naps. There was also that one time when they poured unicorn urine into the wine barrels in the wine cellar. At a banquet on the next day, most guests felt that the wine did not taste quite right, but finished their glasses anyway out of courtesy. A wide smile would spread across Phillip’s face every time he thought of all the pranks he pulled together with Evelina.
But now, they had both grown up. With the power she possessed, Evelina posed a real threat to the safety of the Isle of Dawn. She had even defected from the Isle of Dawn. As a High Elf prince, Phillip was ordered by her mother to bring back this traitor to the island.
Big Sis Evie, why would you do this? Phillip sighed inwardly.
In truth, he knew the answer to this question. But he could not bring himself to say it out loud. He was also powerless to change anything.
Bryant too had conflicted feelings about this. Due to her half-elf identity, Evelina had suffered constant discrimination from the other High Elves. As a former human Magician, Bryant’s life was also anything but an easy one. He understood more than anyone what Evelina was going through. His granddaughter had paid the ultimate price for it.
After a long silence, Bryant finally said, “Probably not. Once we bring her back, the elders will then decide her fate.”
This meant that certain death awaited Evelina back on the island. The elders had already made their decision, and they had all come to the conclusion that Evelina would be sentenced to death if any evidence of her committing treason against the Isle of Dawn could be found. Evelina had indeed betrayed them and nearly killed Elovan.
They fell silent again.
A while later, Phillip asked, “Will there be war between us and Ferde?”
This time, Bryant’s reply came immediately. His voice did not waver as he spoke, “Yes.”
Bryant thought about this for a moment, then settled on using a metaphor as his reply. “If Firuman was a mountain, then we High Elves would be the tiger living in it. Before the rise of Ferde, all the prey living in the mountain belonged only to us. The whole world belonged to us. We were rich and peaceful. But now, another tiger has appeared on the same mountain. The two tigers would then fight over their share of the mountain until they starve each other out.”
Phillip tried to argue. “But there are only 3 million people on the Isle of Dawn. The imported goods we received are all stacked up high in our warehouses every year. Most of the excess food is simply left in it to rot. It is obvious that the yearly supply of resources we receive greatly dwarfs our demand.”
Bryant shook his head and smiled. “We may have enough, but to the human race, it will never be enough. Ferde represents the entire human race. This particular tiger has a huge appetite. It will not stop growing. Once it reaches a certain point of maturity, the whole world won’t even be enough to sate this beast’s hunger. No one will be able to rival its strength. When that happens, our race will be at the mercy of the humans.”
The human race occupied the richest regions of Firuman. There were more than three hundred million of them, a few hundred times more than the High Elves. If they were allowed to develop freely, it would be a complete calamity for not just the High Elves, but the other races of Firuman as well.
It was not that the High Elves were incapable of harmonious coexistence with the humans. Rather, they would not be able to bear the consequences of letting the humans flourish rampantly, which was why they had endeavored for so long to maintain the power balance between the kingdoms on the continent.
Prince Phillip now understood somewhat the relationship between the two races.
He looked out of a porthole. Outside, a magnificent port built out of huge white stone had entered into view. Hundreds of merchant vessels were parked around the docks, forming a forest of masts bobbing gently on the water. A magnificent lighthouse stood in the distance. Rows of houses were arranged neatly around it while people swarmed the streets. Farther still, more houses were being built.
The whole port was brimming with so much life, and energy one might not find back on the Isle of Dawn.
The port was massive, perhaps three times bigger than Monoson, the biggest port on the Isle of Dawn. This all came into fruition in the span of merely two years.
At that moment, Phillip felt the threat that the humans posed to them.
“Prophet, if we go to war with them, will we win?” asked Phillip.
Bryant looked out at the port and let out a soft moan. He then said, “Can’t say for sure. What we do know is that we are a lot stronger than Ferde right now, and we are positioned strategically well in comparison to the humans. Alright, let’s not discuss this any further. Ship’s entering the port. When you meet the Lord of Ferde, remember not to show any sign of weakness, no matter what happens. I’ll be right beside you.”
“I understand.” Prince Phillip nodded. He calmed himself down, stood up and climbed out onto the deck. Bryant walked beside him, and they were then followed from behind by their entourage of diplomats.
Once the ship entered the port, the High Elves immediately headed towards the port administration office to show their papers. When the officers confirmed that it was the High Elf prince himself, they immediately summoned extravagant carriages for them, which then drove them straight towards Scorched City.
Prince Phillip and Bryant were in the same carriage. The prince looked out of the window at the wide, smooth road ahead of them. He murmured to himself in surprise, “He’s already expecting us.”
There was no way he would have prepared all this in such short notice.
Bryant remained impassive to their extravagant reception. “Don’t think too much about it. This is his domain after all. He should already know we’re coming. There’s nothing to be too surprised about.”
Phillip nodded and tried to keep himself calm.
When the High Elves’ carriages drove towards Scorched City, Link, Vance, and the others were making their final adjustments to the magical houses.
There were thirteen magical houses. They were all hastily built and distributed across different parts of Scorched City. Each house contained a huge number of Magicians. They were all assigned the task of focusing their power into ethereal equipment. The magical houses also concealed their collective auras and only allowed Legendary power aura to seep out from within.
From a far enough distance, it would seem as if each house contained a Legendary master in it.
Ten seconds later, Link began collecting the results of the Magicians’ test runs.
“Everything normal in magical house number one.”
“Everything fine in number two.”
“Sunlight Power leaking out from number three, proceeding to turn off power.”
Out of all thirteen magical houses, only two reported malfunctions and were forced to power down. On the other hand, the other eleven were operational and capable of carrying out Link’s deception.
“Thirteen Legendary masters (eleven magical houses plus Link and Evelina), this will surely give those High Elves a good scare!” Vance laughed out loud.
According to Evelina, the High Elves had five Legendary masters at the moment. Four of them had only recently reached Legendary. This was impressive in itself, but now, thirteen Legendary masters had sprung up in Ferde, which was more than what the High Elves had at their disposal!
Legendary masters were not to be trifled with. Anyone would be scared witless by such power.