Lone returned to the Galleon without issue, and he immediately went to find Eolande and Swind. However, as soon as he boarded, he was met by Al'ka and the woman High Elf known as 'Your Highness'.
Looking toward Al'ka, Her 'Highness' spoke in her native tongue. "Please tell him that I am glad that he is safe and that I hope the World Tree can continue to bless him on his path."
After having heard the two talk quite frequently, Lone had managed to more or less master the language thanks to his more than genius level of talent for learning.
Al'ka looked somewhat surprised by this, apparently, such an expression was rarely used on outsiders, but Al'ka swiftly nodded and opened his mouth. "Lone, I'm glad to see that you're fine. We'd like to-"
"Thank you. I too, wish the blessings of the World Tree upon you," Lone interrupted with a perfect accent to his words.
From what Lone had read, most, if not all, Elves respected and worshipped various World Trees that were scattered across Altros. According to the myths, these trees were the pillars that supported the Heavens above Altros, a fabled place known as Ankara.
The Wood Elves and a few other sub-species of Elves were known as the protectors and Keepers of these trees. Many powers on the continent valued these trees due to their naturally rich energies and the powers they could give people by consuming their sap, so the Keepers of such trees were fierce and powerful warriors feared and respected worldwide since they could repel such greedy forces.
The High Elves though, they had a different job. They lived at the very top of the World trees. No one except the High Elves and a select few had ever been to the top of a World Tree, and this fascinated Lone.
Thankfully for him, one of the books in Clicker's 'treasure' room in his Dungeon explained all of this, and Lone was very curious about whether or not another realm above Altros actually existed. So he took a chance by displaying his knowledge of the ancient Elven language being spoken by the two High Elves before him.
Al'ka and the woman looked visibly shocked, and Al'ka, in particular, looked very nervous. "How is it that you know our language, Lone? I wish to trust you, I really do, but the only people that know how to speak our tongue are the Keepers of the World Trees. It isn't a thing taught to outsiders." Al'ka had a slightly dangerous look in his eyes while he spoke.
"My apologies. I just thought it'd be best to thank this lovely lady for saving me in her own language instead of using an intermediary." Lone slightly bowed his head.
"How do you know that she was the one who saved you?!" Al'ka's voice was growing more and more agitated the longer he spoke, and the nearby crewmen were starting to watch what was going on in interest.
"Shall we go somewhere more private before continuing?" Lone asked. Naturally, he could tell that Al'ka and his companion didn't want to be discussing this in public.
Al'ka and the woman nodded their heads, so the three of them went below deck and entered Al'ka's groups' room. Neither of the Halflings were present, thankfully.
"Well?" Al'ka asked seriously. Clearly, he wanted a solid explanation from Lone, and without one, he wouldn't let Lone leave.
"To answer your first question," Lone calmly replied before looking straight into the eyes of the woman High Elf. "Without beating around the bush, I'm kind of a genius. I once spent a year on an island in the western ocean, and there, I found a book that was written in an Elven dialect."
Al'ka didn't look impressed. "And I'm supposed to believe that this 'book' was written in our language? Preposterous! Like I said, no one has ever been given access to our language before besides our own kin or fellow World Tree Keepers."
"Please, Al'ka, let me finish," Lone said in a slightly lecturing tone. It was like he was trying to explain something to a school kid and he had once again become a teacher. Al'ka's cheeks flushed, making his handsome face look very childish.
"As I was saying, while the dialect written in the book was clearly different to the one spoken by you and this lovely lady, being a natural genius, I was able to learn your language after hearing it being spoken the few times you two have talked on this voyage by comparing it with the Elven language I self-taught myself from the book I mentioned." Lone then closed his eyes and rubbed his brow with his fingers.
"I'm very sorry if I offended you two by using your home language. To answer your second question, I'm very sensitive to mana, so I could naturally feel how little mana she had upon seeing her, bringing me to the assumption that she had used a powerful skill of some sort to locate me since I know Captain Sabrina isn't capable of something like that," Lone said while looking truly apologetic.
"I figured it would be more polite to answer her well-wishings myself, instead of through you, Al'ka. Again, I'm sorry if I somehow offended you," Lone sighed.
'I try to be nice one time, and this is what happens. Maybe I should go back to being arrogant all the time? Hahaha...' Lone laughed dryly in his mind.
Al'ka and the woman remained silent for a few seconds and various emotions flashed through Al'ka's face. It took him a moment, but he explained everything that Lone had just said to the Elven woman since she couldn't speak common Beastkin, and a thoughtful look crossed her face.
Opening her small mouth, she spoke to Lone, "I understand that it isn't your fault. The only problem is that if a person can speak our language, it means that they are a Keeper of the World Tree we protect and that they have been accepted by our clan. As it so happens, we were going to the Crimson Foxkin clan to collect one such person. You being able to speak our language, however, slightly complicates things."
Lone frowned. 'Fuck. It's just a language, why does it have such a deep meaning?'
Seeing Lone's expression, the woman's lips curved into an understanding smile. "I feel like the best thing to do right now would be to discuss our next steps with the Crimson Foxkin clan's Elder. Wouldn't you agree, Lone? As it stands, we must bring you back to the World Tree now, regardless of your prior plans."
Lone's frown deepened. "Does your clan have a lot of books pertaining to your clan's history and culture?" he asked, confusing the two High Elves.
Al'ka immediately replied, "We do have such records, yes. Why?"
Lone's frown lessened slightly. "And I'm technically not a Keeper of your World Tree yet, am I?"
"T-That's true...wait...you can't possibly..." Al'ka had a shocked and almost mortified look on his face.
"Perfect!" Lone's frown had fully turned into a beaming smile. "Well then, until we reach your World Tree and talk to your clan's Elders or Leader, I'll be teaching my companions how to speak in your language so we can become 'Keepers' as a group."
Al'ka almost immediately passed out. A few people in the past had been in a similar situation to Lone. Having possessed extraordinary talents in languages and having accidentally learnt the home language of the High Elven people, they would be forced to become World Tree Keepers, and most loved the opportunity since it came with many benefits. But never before had someone thought of exploiting such a loophole like Lone.
The woman's eyes flashed and a deep look crossed her face. 'Interesting...perhaps, such a person who can think like this is exactly who our clan needs right now in our weakest moment.'
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- The Lazy Author
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