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We defeated the Ogre and got to know the elves.
We didn’t gain their trust, but they were far from hostile.
I’m glad to have done so, but I don’t think I can claim that I’m at an amicable place.
I’m happy to say that I can’t just insist that my heart is open.
Eculate, an elf from the Bana Forest, is drinking tea with an expression that could best be described as “tsun”.
In addition, she holds the cup with one pinky finger up, which is very elf-like. Elves, both in reality and in stories, are known to be temperamental.
However, just because they are difficult doesn’t mean they can’t be disrespectful to those who will be guiding them through the forest.
I asked Eculate to explain.
“I heard someone mention that ogres should no longer be in the forest of Bana, but they have appeared, do you know why?”
Eculate shook her head and confirmed they didn’t know either.
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything like it in hundreds of years.” (Eculate)
“So this is the first serious crisis in the Bana Forest.”
“Yes, they started appearing six months ago, but recently the damage caused by the Ogres has been very severe. Crops have been raided, farmers have been killed, young patrolmen have been slaughtered, and they do whatever they want.” (Eculate)
She continued with a look of anguish on her face.
“That’s why we tried to organize a subjugation team to get rid of them…” (Eculate)
“You’ve been beaten back, weren’t you?”
Instead of saying “Yes”, she just bowed her head.
The “Forest fairies” seem to have quite the high pride.
“But when you don’t know why you can’t do anything about it.”
Eculate’s complexion clearly changed when she heard those words. She seems to be hiding something.
“We’re not exactly bound by fate, but we’ve fought together, crossed swords. I’m not asking you to trust me, but I can help you if you talk to me.”
I guess she believed in what I had done so far, not in my words.
She looked at Chloe’s profile lightly but told me.
“…This is not yet a proven fact, only some thoughts from the elders.” (Eculate)
She says after explaining.
“There are rumors that it was the Doll tribe who unleashed the Ogre’s seal.” (Eculate)
Chloe’s both shoulders twitched. She can’t not react, I guess.
“Does Eculate believe that story?”
“…I don’t know. I hate the Dolls, but I don’t think it’s good to start doubting them without having any evidence.” (Eculate)
She might be a tsundere, but she doesn’t seem to have a twisted personality.
On the contrary, she seems to be a very honorable woman.
At first glance, it seemed like we would not get along, but then I began to feel a little closer to her.
So I made a light suggestion.
“I hear that the Dolls are as proud as the Elves. I don’t think such races would resort to such schemes, and the real enemy would be the Ogres, not the Dolls.”
“…That’s right.” (Eculate)
“That’s why I want to find out the true cause of the Ogres resurfacing. Eculate, can you cooperate with us?”
She puts her hand on her delicate chin and thinks about my suggestion.
“…We’ve brought… outsiders into the sanctuary, and we’re going to explore… together. If the elders find out, the patrol leader will be dismissed.” (Eculate)
A self-deprecating comment, she was an elf with a strong sense of justice and camaraderie. The answer may have already been decided from the beginning.
“…I understand. I’ll cooperate with you. No, cooperate with us. Help me find out the cause of the Ogres resurfacing.” (Eculate)
When I heard that word, I smiled and extended my right hand.
“Thank you. I admire your courage and determination.”
Perhaps inspired by my words, the Eculate stared at me with a puzzled expression.
And the maid girl who said something unnecessary.
“As expected of the ‘Shadow Court’ magician, Leon-sama. He finds women wherever he travels. Every port he lands on has a woman of his.” (Chloe)
It’s not like that, I want to say, but I can’t argue with that.
Because I have seen something extraordinary in the mild-mannered Sicily.
She was smiling like a goddess, but she had just crushed the cookies that had been served as tea snacks.
Of course, it was obvious that this was not an intentional act.
This person had never in her life taken food for granted, nor had she ever hit anything, even unconsciously.
In other words, that’s how angry and jealous she is.
I noticed that Chloe was smiling at me when I looked at her with a troubled expression.
What are you laughing at in this situation?
I whispered a protest, but she replied in a carefree manner, “Ufufufu.”
Her point is this.
“I’ve been serving Her Highness since she was a child, and I’m glad to see her finally acting like a girl of her age. I’m glad, truly.” (Chloe)
“Did the princess not go through puberty?”
“Yes, she did. She was an unfortunate girl who did not know love or romance. But since the arrival of her prince, Leon-sama, she has spent sleepless nights and writhed in jealousy, and at last her time has begun to move.” (Chloe)
Chloe said with a deep sense of joy. I guess she was worried about Her Highness, but I didn’t want her to be that optimistic.
In other words, the princess has not completed the rites of passage that a girl of her age should go through. I shuddered at the thought of the blowback that might come.
Observing Sicily again, she seemed to be embarrassed that she had crushed the cookie with so much force.
“I don’t know why I did such a shameful thing.” (Sicily)
I’m in tears.
It’s kind of cute, that she is jealous, how what’s with the late puberty? Eculate releases that statement that is completely indifferent to the air around her.
“Is she unaware that she is jealous? Is she a child?” (Eculate)
The whole group froze at the words, but fortunately, they didn’t seem to have reached the princess’s ears.
I hurriedly changed the subject and Chloe helped me with it.
She poured me a second cup of tea.
The second cup of tea wasn’t just tea, it was mushroom tea.
She had offered her treasured ingredient suited to Eculate’s liking.
Elves are unrivaled mushroom lovers. Mushroom black tea is a delicacy made from fermented mushrooms. Eculate, who loves mushrooms both due to her race and as an individual, was suddenly intrigued.
“I’m curious about the fermented mushroom tea made outside the forest. Fermented foods bring out the colors of the land they came from.” (Eculate)
Eculate’s eyes sparkled.
It was good to have the attention away from the princess.
In this way, the tea party was in full swing.
After drinking three cups of mushroom tea, we folded up the tent and headed deeper into the forest.
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