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▪️The Black Dragon and the Chosen Ones

Deep within a dense forest.

Amber sunlight slants through the lush canopy, cascading against the branches and casting scattered beams of light on the ground below. The gentle forest breeze rustles the leaves, causing the dappled sunlight to sway, accompanied by the soft sound of rustling leaves, which creates a profound sense of tranquility.

A group of tall figures, dressed in worn-out cloaks and carrying various bags, walked silently through the forest with remarkable proficiency…

There were approximately seven or eight individuals in this group, and each of their faces bore subtle signs of weariness. Their movements appeared somewhat sluggish, as though they had endured a very long journey.

Nevertheless, even amidst the group’s weariness, a hint of caution still remained evident upon their expressions. They resembled a band of fugitives whose adeptly evading their pursuers, where any minor disturbance nearby no matter how small it is could instantly amplify their vigilance.

As the group progressed much deeper into the forest, the sound of rushing water gradually reached them.

Upon hearing the free-flowing sound, the expressions of everyone from within group visibly relaxed. Some even revealed a glint of anticipation and excitement as their footsteps inadvertently quickened.

Soon, they passed through the lush forest and arrived at the banks of a pristine river.

This particular body of water seemed to be several hundred meters wide, with its swift water currents crashing against the rocks on either side, as it generates bursts of mist that shimmers into colorful rainbows under the summer light.

Upon seeing the surging river, the leader of the group exhaled deeply.

He then took off his hood, revealing a pair of pointed ears, while his fiery red hair freely flowed along the gentle breeze.

The prominent crimson locks above his head easily revealed his identity—a young elf from the Rageblaze Clan!

“My fellow companions, once we cross this river, we’ll finally enter the Elven Forest. I’ve already dispatched a messenger ahead, and hopefully, some our fellow clansmen will soon arrive to escort us back.”

Upon hearing his words, the atmosphere within the group visibly lightened. Many of them had also began to lower their hoods as well, before leaning over the river’s edge to take a drink. Some were even so moved that they knelt down instead and started praying fervently toward the densely wooded forest on the opposite side.

This was a group of elves from the outside who finally decided to migrate back to the Elven Forest after a long time.

“Never did I imagine that after three hundred years, I would once again have the chance to lay my eyes upon the Vymur River and the Elven Forest!”

Looking at the river rushing in front of him, an elderly member of the group said in an excited manner.

The surging river before them was the so-called Vymur River. It held the distinction of being the longest river along the Saigües Great Road and was recognized as the world’s largest river. Reportedly, it even stretched almost up to two kilometers wide at its widest point.

Originating in the snowy ice fields of the northern part of the Continent, the Vymur River flowed impressively from north to south. It then abruptly turned southeast near the Dark Mountains before eventually merging with the southeastern outlet of the continent.

In its midstream, the river was turbulent, serving as a formidable barrier that divided the Elven Forest and the Fertile Plains.

And it was only after one reach a section of the river near the Dark Mountains that it gradually calms down, becoming navigable by boat.

However, this group didn’t need to do that and was well-prepared in advance.

A senior elf began chanting an incantation, with his form slowly morphing until he transformed into a giant eagle with a wingspan of almost five meters.

This is an exclusive shapeshifting skill of the Druids, which allows them to transform into a familiar animal while retaining seventy percent of the imitated creature’s strength.

The senior druid took on the form of a flying magical beast native to the northern part of the fertile plains—a Wind Hawk Gryphon.

However, just as the elder elf started ferrying the elves in his group one by one to the other side of the river, a resounding roar reminiscent of a dragon suddenly echoed from up ahead…

Shortly afterwards, a dark dot then appeared in the sky, growing larger and larger as it gradually fly towards their location.

Finally, after a minute, the startled elves saw a fierce-looking dragon flying overhead from the opposite side of the river!

Upon recognizing the infamous jet-black scales and the skull-shaped visage of the dragon, a sudden terror overcame everyone in the group.

“A Black Dragon!?”

It was without a doubt a dragon with a wingspan of nearly forty meters, almost reaching adulthood. Even from a distance, the elves could already feel its spine-chilling draconic aura!

To think at the last leg of their journey would their somehow encounter a Black Dragon… the most malevolent and tyrannical creature in all of Saigües!

However, this wasn’t the Dragon Valley, nor a Poisonous Swamp. So, why would a Black Dragon appear here, right at the entrance of the Elven Forest?

In an instant, the elves heightened their alertness to its maximum capacity.

Without hesitation, they universally turned and fled, retreating back into the cover of the forest in various directions. Their swift actions, seemingly synchronized without prior communication, showcased their familiarity with such situations.

After all, beings like that Black Dragon had a penchant for enslaving other sentient beings.

If they were to be discovered, even with their considerable strength, which was only at the Iron-rank level, the group would no doubt be completely overwhelmed.

However, unlike the elven group that fled, the fiery-haired young elf who had led them to this location displayed unexpected excitement instead.

“Oh, it’s Lord Meryer! He must have been ordered by the goddess to come and get us!”

The fleeing elves, upon hearing his words, couldn’t help but pause on their escape, before looking in confusion at the red-haired elf as he boldly strode towards the dragon’s direction, while shouting excitedly in a familiar manner as if he had known this terrifying black dragon.

“Lord Meryer! We’re here!”

“E-Eino! Have you gone mad!? Come back this instant! It’s a Black Dragon!”

The elderly elf who had reverted back into his original form due to fear shouted anxiously and worriedly towards this young red-haired elf.

Alas, it was too late.

Eino’s excited shouts immediately captured the Black Dragon’s attention, causing it to release an exhilarated roar as it soared directly toward the terrified elves’ location.

The elves displayed looks of utmost horror, while Eino hurriedly reassured all of them:

“Don’t be afraid, everyone. That Black Dragon is our ally. It’s already been tamed by the Divine Matriarch. Lord Meryer is not like those typical evil Black Dragons…it’s a kind-hearted dragon that upholds justice.”

… What?

A kind Black Dragon that upholds justice? And its an ally and had been tamed by the Matriarch?

Everyone in the group looked at Eino disbelievingly as if he grew another head.

Just as the elves were still feeling perplexed and apprehensive, the Black Dragon circled the air above them a couple of times before finally swooping down.

It landed on the river bank not far from them, then lazily yawned and cast a sidelong glance at their location, before remarking with a wry smile,

“Why were you all so scared? This lord wasn’t going to eat any of you.”

“”It’s your intimidating appearance that scares them!”

The instant Meryer spoke, a gentle, chiding voice interjected. Then, to the astonishment of the elves, a petite female elf with pink hair jumped down from the back of the Black Dragon.

She was dressed in an exquisite mage’s robe, whilst holding a skull-shaped staff. Her descent from the dragon’s back was graceful and practiced as if she had been riding on it for a long time already.

Meryer snorted lightly, and muttered with some dissatisfaction,

“Frightening? Hmph, this lord is clearly imposing and majestic!”

An elf riding a Black Dragon?

Witnessing the female elven mage leap from the Black Dragon’s back, the apprehensive elves opened their mouths wide in astonishment. Their eyes filled with shock at the sheer absurdity of the scene.

At this moment, they have finally come to believe Eino’s words. This intimidating Black Dragon could, in fact, be their ally!

Great Mother Above!

So even a Black Dragon… can also become the ally of the elves!?

“Lady Salty Cat, so it’s you who has come!”

Seeing the petite pink-haired mage, Eino Flame’s expression visibly brightened.

As one of the prominent leaders of the Chosen Ones, Little Salty Cat’s name was somewhat known even amongst the native elves.

Of course… due to the game system, Little Salty Cat’s username had undergone phonetic translation, so it didn’t sound strange at all to the natives.

Lately, an increasing number of elves from the outside have been gradually returning to the Elven Forest. So, whenever Evé senses any of these new followers approaching the vicinity, she immediately assigns some players the task of welcoming them.

This time around, it was Little Salty Cat who was tasked with welcoming these newcomers. After enticing Meryer with some honey-roasted meat skewers, she rode on it to welcome this group of elves who had migrated from the direction of the Fertile Plains.

“Hello, everyone. You have all worked hard to reach this place. Rest assured, I will be your escort along the way,” Little Salty Cat said after flashing a sweet smile.

Eino Flame’s expression turned solemn as he gestured a tree-shaped symbol upon his chest before earnestly stating,

“For the glory of the elves! Praise be the goddess!”

Little Salty Cat innocently blinked a couple of times before lightly coughing and quickly drawing the very same symbol on her chest.

“Uh… Praise the goddess!”

Observing the interaction between the two, the rest of the elves finally let go of their apprehension and began to approach the dragon one after another.

Eino Flame then turned his head back and introduced Little Salty Cat to the group.

“Everyone, this is an individual that the Divine Matriarch had summoned from another world. She’s one of the leaders of the Chosen Ones—Lady Little Salty Cat.”

Upon hearing Eino introduction, the elves’ gazes toward Little Salty Cat immediately changed.

“So you’re one of the legendary Chosen Ones!”

“A Chosen One? The ones Eino mentioned, who defeated the Caverock Tribe?”

They gathered around Little Salty Cat, bowing respectfully, which made the petite mage feel somewhat uneasy.

She awkwardly chuckled and said, “T-That… haha, welcome home, everyone. You’ve worked hard on your journey.”

Listening to the elves as they showed their reverence towards one of his subordinates, Meryer turned his head, glaring at them with his huge copper eyes, and expressed his discontent.

“Ruaah! Don’t forget about me! During the assault on the Orcs, This Lord had contributed a lot too!”

“Stop it, Meryer! You’re scaring them again!”

Little Salty Cat gently scolded, tapping Meryer’s scales with her staff. Then, addressing the newcomers, she added,

“Don’t worry. Despite his intimidating appearance, this big fellow here has a gentle nature.”

She then cleared her throat and continued:

“So, everyone, let’s get going. It’s just a few hundred kilometers from here to the core area of the Elven Forest. If we travel by foot, it’ll still take us quite a while. However, Meryer can fly us back much faster.”

Hearing Little Salty Cat’s words, the rest of the elves felt dazed, as if they were dreaming.

“Fly…F-Fly back while riding on the back of the Black Dragon?”

“What? Do you have a problem with that? If it weren’t for the honey-roasted meat, I wouldn’t even take any of you with me! If any of you still want to travel by land, then this Lord wouldn’t mind at all. Having fewer people would make it easier for me, after all.”

The Black Dragon snarled.

“Meryer!”

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