21st Century Archmage - Chapter 66
Chapter 66: Meeting the Elves
‘We need a ton of mithril!’
If I hadn’t met the dwarves, we would have had to overcome quite a lot of trouble. Even the empire would be hard pressed to protect Nerman while being on the wrong side of the magic tower and merchant group that were the top heavy-hitters of the continent.
That’s why we needed strength, strength so powerful it could send everyone packing with their jaws dropped the moment they stepped foot into Nerman.
‘Is it that mountain…?’
I flew north like Cassiars explained, flying past countless high and pointy peaks of the Rual Mountains before we arrived at a massive, triangular mountain. I was told that the Elven Village was located in the middle of these mountains, a village hidden by an illusion magic circle that prevented Temir and humans from finding it.
‘A magic circle!’
As we leisurely descended with the triangular mountain ahead of us, I felt the faint aura of mana. The flow of mana was so weak that I wouldn’t have been able to perceive it had I not reached the 6th Circle.
‘You’d have to be an 8th Circle Mage to make a magic circle of such huge scale!’
Just thinking about something and seeing it first hand was like heaven and earth. I had expected it, but seeing the wide-area magic circle upped my tension.
‘They’ve fortified it with a magic crystal.’
The illusion magic circle made an enormous area look exactly the same as the surroundings. An incredible magic crystal would be necessary to power an 8th Circle magic circle long-term. There was a limit to drawing in mana with a magic circle, and that limit could be resolved with an expensive magic crystal.
His mana perception ability as outstanding as mine, Bebeto let out a short roar filled with quite a bit of vigilance.
At that moment, I felt it too—something flying towards me.
‘!! That is—!!’
After descending to around 1,000 meters above ground, the mana barrier disappeared. The appearance of an ordinary forest vanished into thin air, revealing gigantic trees at least 100 meters tall creating a forest, as well as natural dwellings in between. There were zero artificial colors; everything was in harmony, as if it had grown there like that.
While I was momentarily stunned by the sight of the Elven Village that suddenly appeared when I broke through the illusion barrier, my ears caught the faint sound of something whistling through the air.
An elven mana arrow controlled by Sylphs! I hastily erected a barrier of the same attribute.
A single arrow crashed into the Air Shield I’d memorized. As mana collided with mana, milky light flashed in the air.
‘An elven Skyknight…’
Bebeto roared his piercing rage towards the person who sent an attack his way.
And then, I saw it—
A white bird flying urgently from one side.
It wasn’t a wyvern. It looked like an eagle, but a mane of white fur was growing around its neck. Though it was only half the size of Bebeto, it was approaching at a considerably fast speed.
‘Ara? That is—!’
An elf was standing atop the bird, whatever it was, and drawing a bow. The elf was wearing thin, silver leather armor and a mask that couldn’t quite be called a helmet.
The distance between us was just 400 meters.
I hesitated. The moment I leveled a Blessed Spear at the elf, I’d be crossing a bridge of no return.
And the next moment, I could see ten giant eagles behind the elf that attacked me.
“Please halt! I came because I wanted to talk!”
Using mana, I shouted loud enough to make the mountains shake.
Flap, flap, flap flap flap.
For a moment, the elf’s nocked bow stopped.
However, it only lasted a moment before the elf shot another milky mana-charged arrow at me.
Elves were known as master archers, and their arrows were charged with mana on top of that. Far smaller than a Blessed Spear, the arrow cut through the air.
Bebeto was born to fight.
At my cry, he released a knifelike roar as he rushed towards the large-headed eagle.
It was already too late to throw a spear. I let loose one of the many 5th Circle spells I’d memorized before coming here.
Master Bumdalf’s signature spell casting allowed me to do what most mages couldn’t–cast a spell in an actual fight as dire as this. A spell could only be cast by drawing the mana in the atmosphere, a feat that demanded a high degree of concentration.
But I was different.
The mana in the atmosphere reacted as if waiting for my chant, and a sharp tornado of wind shot explosively forward.
The arrow crashed into my magic and was sent flying into a different direction.
‘Holy! Look at that!’
But that wasn’t the end of the arrows—the elf was already drawing back THREE arrows at the same time. They stabilized themselves with their lower body atop the eagle and only used their upper body to draw the longbow.
‘I’ll be at a disadvantage like this!’
Unlike spears, the arrows had almost no delay. In addition, I could see several eagles coming over from the distance—reinforcements would be here soon.
The distance to the elf drawing back their bow was already 200 meters.
Just a few breaths later, we would be face to face.
The moment I raised a spear, a conversation with the elves would definitely cross the River Styx.
Fwip fwip fwip!
Without waiting for me to make a decision, the elf’s three arrows came flying at me with incredible speed.
My insides burning, I cried out a spell, another 5th Circle wind spell.
The Wind Field encircled Bebeto as he flew, gathering wind into a storm in an instant.
‘I’ve got you now!’
I couldn’t resolve this by holding back any longer.
The incoming arrows crashed into the wind storm and bounced away.
As soon as the cast finished, the spell imbued with my will was fired like a cannonball at the eagle. A brutal wind offensive spell, Wind Press could blow up the target with pressurized air. The pressure could be increased many times over according to the caster’s mana quantity.
‘Hooh! They can even use magic?’
Surprisingly, the cheeky elf barely avoided a crisis with Shield magic.
“Wind Press! Wind Press! Wind Press!”
However, they didn’t know that my specialty was beating a beaten man, and then hitting and hitting them some more!
Pop! Pop! Pop!
Compressing the air over and over, the powerful Wind Presses burst towards the elf.
One of them crashed into another shield.
But then came the heavy sounds of impact and the eagle’s pained cry.
I defended myself in the urgency of the situation, but I had no intention to kill the elf, so I didn’t put too much force into the spells. However, the king eagle took a blow full-on, scattering feathers everywhere as it whirled a few times before plummeting down.
We were only 30 meters apart. The elf screamed right in front of me as they began to plunge headlong to the ground.
It was already too late to save them on Bebeto. In the blink of an eye, I unclasped the safety ring and sprang into the air.
There were only around 800 meters to the ground.
In order to reach the elf, I increased my acceleration speed, and the incredible wind force smashed into my helmet.
If things could have been resolved nicely with words, I could have avoided all this toil and trouble, but thanks to this stubborn asshole of an elf, I had to go frickin’ bungee jumping now.
According to the law of gravitational acceleration, we plummeted and the elf was one step away from becoming a mashed potato when—
I was able to grab the elf’s hand, the ground so close I could see every blade of grass and stone.
I pulled the elf’s body into my embrace.
I was using Fly, but I had been dropping vertically rather than flying horizontally, so it took a ton of mana to level out.
After switching to horizontal flight with enormous difficulty due to the momentum, my gaze was met by some huge trees. They were easily over 100 meters tall, as if they grew up on a diet of pure fertilizer.
I barely grazed past the trees, the branches almost hitting my feet.
And then, I saw it.
Five elves atop five king eagles, their bows drawn towards me.
I couldn’t see their faces because of their silver masks, but I could tell how mad they were from the mana shimmering on their arrows.
Just then, I felt something squishy under my hand.Our acceleration had decreased almost to a standstill. I could feel something pressing right up against my airplate…
And the electrifying feeling of a certain something traveled from the hand holding the elf up my spine.
My widened eyes turned slowly from the elves to the one in my arms, and a wordless cry burst out of my lips.
The scale mithril armor worn by the elf had gathered around areas like her shoulder and legs after the mana supplied to it stopped, and the mask on her face had also disappeared.
What appeared was a 175 cm tall, well-proportioned beauty so perfect that even world-class models would cry in defeat. Her silver hair gleamed with a slightly blue luster in the sun and cascaded and fluttered in the wind.
I unconsciously gulped.
The elven lady had most certainly lost consciousness due to the magic aftershock. For a moment, I couldn’t help but silently admire her red lips, cold and intellectual-looking eyes, and her furrowed, perfect forehead. I even had a momentary impulse to use Fly and run away with her in my arms.
Bebeto, flustered from me jumping off so suddenly, was being held captive by several Shuriels.
‘To think the elves had saint-level beauty….’
In any case, I had come here to have a conversation. A skirmish broke out because of this elf suddenly attacking me, but that wasn’t my fault. Holding the elf, who exuded an otherworldly aura different from humans, I slowly descended onto a clearing in the Elven Village.
Before I knew it, over a hundred elves had hurriedly gathered. Dozens of archers were leveling mana-charged arrows at me.
My feet hit the ground.
At that moment, the elves’ curious and frosty gazes centered right on me.
I took off my helmet, smiling awkwardly.
What inadvertently came out of my mouth was the German greeting from Earth. But the only response that awaited me was the expressions of earthlings meeting an alien. There was absolutely no way they would welcome me, someone who was holding their ally in my embrace and giving an awkward smile.
‘Why isn’t this woman waking up?’
Thanks to wearing such good quality full-body mithril armor, there were no traces of injury on her. The lady elf had definitely just fainted because of the sudden magic attack and the fear from falling.
The hostile eyes of the elves alternated between me and the woman.
‘What a crowd of seriously lucky dogs.’
Most of the women were easily over 170 cm, while the men were over 185 cm, hitting around 190 cm. I could only see beautiful women and men that would make Russian lingerie models from TV shopping channels look like squids in comparison.
Just then, the circle of elves surrounding me parted to make a path for five elves.
‘Elders? But why are they so young?’
I could tell from the way the elves bowed towards the five elves that they were elder level.
‘W-What an enormous amount of mana!’
Elves could normally live for hundreds of years. If you trained magic throughout those long years, it was only natural that humans would never be able to compare. I felt mana quantity beyond what I could handle from the elven elders who looked like handsome middle-aged misters.
Guo! GUO! GUOOO!
Captured by Shuriels and the elven Skyknights, Bebeto roared angrily as he was forced to land next to me.
As he did so, being twice as big as a king eagle, Bebeto’s weight shook the earth.
‘Are we prisoners now?’
I didn’t have any intention to attack, so I didn’t go on the offensive, but we were captured all too easily.
‘No, I’m the one with the prisoner.’
The silver-haired elf was still in my arms. In the elves’ eyes, I was the one with the prisoner.
“May green serenity be with thee… O’ human, this is a restricted territory where your people are not allowed. Release the elf and leave.”
As was becoming for an elder of a nature-loving race with a taboo against killing, the elven elder extended a greeting to me and asked me to leave. The middle-aged male elf had streaks of white interspersed in his blue hair. His smooth face made him look like a kind-natured neighborhood mister.
“May green serenity be with thee… I wish to apologize for barging in like this and breaking your peace.”
Courtesy would be met with courtesy. I bowed my head and expressed my respect to the elves. My sense of manners wouldn’t allow me to speak with my head straight up to these elves who were as ancient as mountain spirits several hundreds of years old.
‘Sigh, if it were the dwarves, I would just offer to have a drink.’
It was as if I came to a solemn funeral.
There were already tons of elves gathered in the clearing.
Just then, something unexpected happened.
The elf lady soundly unconscious in my arms groaned as if waking from sleep as she wrapped two long arms around my neck.
‘What kind of jackpot is this!’
The time and place weren’t quite right, but the feeling of the woman’s soft arms wrapping around my bare neck sent waves of electricity running down my body.
But I was helpless, completely helpless.
In my right arm was the lady, and my left arm was holding onto my helmet, so I was forced in my defenseless state to endure the elf lady’s savage attack(?).
The elven lady squeezed me like I was her pillow, and just then, I—completely unwittingly—powerlessly, so very powerlessly lowered my face towards hers.
We were almost touching—I could feel her sweet breath.
‘J-Just kill me already!!’
This was just torture.
The moment I was about to throw all thoughts to the wind and press my lips against hers, the closed eyes of the elf flashed open.
Her eyes were like glass, like a blue coral reef atop a field of white snow.
Our eyes met just like that.
What an incredibly awkward moment.
This PG-15 scene played out in front of hundreds of spectators.
The elven woman’s body trembled intensely.
“Narmias, how did this happen?”
It felt as if the little bird in my arms was flapping its wings to fly up and away into the sky. The elven woman scrambled with alarm out of my embrace in an instant, and as her warmth left, I woke abruptly from my reverie.
“Haha, it seems there’s been a slight misunderstanding. I didn’t know how, but I accidentally broke into the illusion magic circle, and this elf-nim shot her arrows in the thick of the situation. I cast magic in order to block those arrows, and as you can see, things became like this.”
I gave a short but concise explanation in the elf lady’s stead. The elders and elves turned from Narmias to look at me.
“That is correct. O’ branch of eternity, esteemed Elder.”
“Return and prepare.”
“I humbly obey.”
‘Huh? Why is he sending her back all of a sudden?’
We were pretty much strangers, but still, we had almost touched noses just now! Regret rushed in like a wave.
‘Why are these jerks shooting daggers at me like that?’
While I was watching Narmias’ captivating back as she quietly disappeared into the throng of elves, I felt a lot of male elves shooting sharp glares at me.
It was a familiar sensation, something I had felt a lot at Kirphone Covert… Jealousy.
“Imprison him in the Cave of Punishment.”
“We humbly obey.”
“Wait a moment! I am the Lord in charge of Nerman. This isn’t good for either of us. Let us resolve matters with conversation! Conversation!”
At the sudden order to imprison me, I shouted at the back of the elder as he left.
However, the heartless elven elders disappeared, and I was left with elven warriors drawing bows and swords at me.
The thought of drawing my sword did occur to me for a moment, but I dismissed it. The elders looked stronger than me, and there were elven Skyknights flying in the sky. Bebeto could get hurt.
‘Alright then, since things are already like this, might as well have a nice, long rest in the Elven Village…’
I didn’t feel any bloodthirst from the elves. They were staring at me full of jealousy and rage, but nothing more.
And there was something strange, too. The elder told me to leave at first, but then he suddenly ordered my imprisonment.
There was definitely some kind of reason behind that.
‘Wow! Wellness retreats galore.’
Only now did the elves’ houses come to my attention.
They weren’t brick houses like in some wellness retreats, but there were large spaces amidst the roots and trunks of the enormous trees as if they were put there by nature’s hand. And those spaces were furnished by dead wood or stones to make the elves’ houses.
Warm rays of sun sparkled as it passed through green leaves and tree vines, greeting me and saying, “Welcome to the Elven Village.”
* * *
Join our Discord for updates: https://discord.gg/sb2jqkv
* * *
‘The stars are so beautiful.’
Late evening had descended on the Elven Village. Starlight poured in through a stone window with a clear view of the sky.
‘To call this a prison is just… Tsk tsk.’
The entrance of the cave was ‘blocked’ by a few dry sticks weaved together; if I wanted to, I could easily escape from the large stone window. There were two elven warriors outside, but I could take care of them with one spell. ‘Seriously no manners, they didn’t even give me dinner.’
Wanting to experience the life of the elves a bit, I let the elves put me in prison and everything, but they didn’t give me any food. Around 100 meters away, the Elven Village was enjoying a peaceful night.
Just then, I heard footsteps.
‘Is it food? Aww, it’s not.’
It was a few elven warriors with mithril swords the shape of rapiers at their hips.
“The Elder wishes to see you. Come with us quietly.”
Maybe they were hostile to humans by nature as the elven warrior frostily told me to shut up and follow.
“Let’s do that.”
The door to the prison, which was more like a wooden barn door, opened.
‘You sure are impatient.’
Not even giving me a chance to stretch once I got outside, the elven warrior walked forward briskly.
‘Hm? We’re not going to the village?’
The elves who came to get me led me into a forest thick with trees instead of going to the village. There was a small path, but it was obviously a gloomy place.
‘These guys can’t be…?’
Even if they mugged me, all I had was a wyvern and an airplate, things not very useful to the elves. I dismissed my suspicions. If they had wanted to kill me, they would have tried to do so from the start.
“How many elves are living here?” I asked.
I tried to start a conversation, but the elves’ mouths were screwed shut. They were as silent as a grave.
‘Seriously, such poor taste.’
The fiery dwarves were a hundred times better.
‘This is why they get picked on.’
In the history books, it was said that humans and the demi-humans had lived together at one point. But for whatever reason, after a huge war broke out between the humans and the demi-humans, there was very little interaction for almost a thousand years.
‘What kind of place is this?’
After going through the thick patch of forest, we arrived.
Before me stood a tree even bigger than the massive 100 meter ones. Easily 20 meters in diameter and 150 meters tall, the tree stood there in all its glory. Underneath it, there were a few houses made of wood.
“Go into the building you see in the front. The Elder is there.”
When we came into sight of the houses, the elven warrior’s voice trembled a little.
‘Mana barrier? What is this place?’ Surprisingly, a mana barrier was deployed around the large tree. ‘It feels like purification magic.’
As I walked towards the place the elf had directed, I discerned the flavor of the mana.
Then, I quietly passed through a dense, transparent mana barrier, the second time today since crossing the mana barrier from the illusion magic.
‘Eh? What are those sounds?’
There were coughs and groans that I hadn’t heard outside the mana barrier.
‘Patients? Then is this a hospital?’
I turned around in confusion, but the elven warriors were already gone. I walked towards the central building the warriors had told me to go to.
‘This is pretty unsettling…’
I only came to get mithril, but I could somehow feel things getting complicated.
I hesitated a bit in front of the door.
“I see you’ve arrived, come, enter.”
It was the voice of the elven elder from the day.
‘Ara? Why is his voice like this?’
Unlike when he ordered my imprisonment, the elder’s voice was devoid of energy.
I opened the door slightly and went inside.
It was a simple room.
As expected for elves who loved nature, the inside of the room was made without cutting live wood. It had a single bed, two chairs, and two large windows. That was all.
Next to the bed was the elder, and on the bed, a young elf.
“Sleep now… The soft rays of the sun will tickle you awake next morning.”
The elder stroked the child’s hair with gentle movements.
Under the elder’s mana-imbued hand, the child fell into slumber. There were red spots all over the child’s face and body.
“I apologize for not being able to offer you a cup of tea.”
“No, sir, it’s not a problem.”
This wasn’t a good time or place to ask for food. The heavy air of the hospital room brought melancholy to my heart.
“The years have been so very long…” Taking his hand off the child’s head, the elf elder looked out the window as he suddenly began to speak. “It has already been a thousand years since we have lived without direct contact with humans. We have nothing, but we also lack for nothing, so we elves, who were quietly born in nature, returned to nature. Of course, there were a few elves with big dreams who left at the time, but just like how one cannot drink polluted water after having tasted a clear spring, the elves have separated from the human world.”
The elder’s monologue continued like a confession. “Even the dragons that were the absolute strongest at one point in the Middle Realm all disappeared. When I was young, an elder told me that they had opened a gate to a different dimension and left. Because they could not be the rulers of the Middle Realm due to the gods who love humans, the dragons left on their own accord.”
The elder recounted parts of this continent’s history that I didn’t know.
“And the Middle Realm was left with the demon beasts and monsters left by the demons, humans, and the demi-humans. At first, it was peaceful, in its own way. The humans weren’t very numerous, and before magic and sword techniques developed, they were only able to survive by borrowing the strength of us elves, dwarves, and beastmen. However, all the peace was shattered because of humans, who always want something bigger than what they have.”
I didn’t know why he was telling me this, but I nodded at the elven elder’s words. Humans lived greedily, wanting more than what they already have. That was something I had thoroughly seen and experienced myself.
“The demon beasts and monsters were pushed back one by one, and the continent’s land was claimed for habitation as it expanded. The humans became more and more prosperous. Excellent, outstanding scholarly abilities and efforts, as well as reproductive ability that the other races could not compare to, became the foundation for the humans’ prosperity.”
‘R-Reproductive ability… Kek.’
I had nothing to say. Because I, too, was a human who had to bow to reproductive ability.
“And then, there was war. The records are passed down only orally, but it was said to be truly fierce. The humans made a kingdom and suddenly enslaved the demi-humans. Of course a war would break out. There was peace amongst everyone, but the humans one-sidedly made the others into slaves, and all the demi-humans felt rage.”
It wasn’t something I did, but my face burned.
It was a foregone conclusion.
There were countless abominable acts of human selfishness and greed occurring on 21st century Earth as well. Not knowing the wisdom that sharing is caring, only humans would take and take, leaving the things they took to rot in storage.
Not long ago, I saw a certain piece of news on TV. We were a terrifying race of people that would toss wheat into the ocean blue just because the price of wheat plummeted when there were hundreds starving in Africa.
We wouldn’t be much different here on this continent as well.
“However, your ancestors were different. What frightening existences humans were back then. After just a single year of war, the most warlike among us, the beastmen, were almost exterminated, and the elves and dwarves were chased into various mountains in the continent. An 8th Circle archmage was burned to death by thousands of human mages hurling Fire Balls without rest, an archspirit was forcibly de-summoned after getting hit by a mana-charged spear, and the steel claws of the beastmen were split in twain by the Aura Blades of Masters. I didn’t see it personally, but doesn’t it sound incredible?”
What kind of actions the greedy humans would take was crystal clear without seeing it.
“And the surviving demi-humans became like this today. Besides the occasional times when we leave for a short while to get things we need, we have lived very peacefully. In these mountains, where the monsters who were previously our enemies block the humans for us.”
Even a greedy human would be hard pressed to barge into these barren mountains. Or rather, since humans already had the huge playground that were the plains, so they would only be curious about the elves.
“Sigh… It seems I said unnecessary things to you, a human.”
“No, sir. I am grateful to have heard such interesting things.”
“But how did you find this place? You don’t look like someone skilled enough to see through the illusion magic circle…”
“Allow me to formally introduce myself. I am the newly appointed Lord of Nerman, Baronet Kyre de Adaron. There is something urgent I need the Elven Village’s cooperation for, so I ended up trespassing upon your peace.”
“Oh dear, I haven’t even told you my name, have I. I am the Chief Elder of the Green Wood Clan, Parciano.”
‘If he’s the Chief Elder, just how old is he?’
The dwarves had a lifespan of nearly two hundred years. But elves could live even longer than them. I was curious about Chief Elder Parciano’s age—just from appearance, he looked to be in his early thirties.
“In human years, I believe I have lived around 400 years.”
Even if you ate mountain ginseng as a snack every day and made alcohol with an herb of eternal youth, you wouldn’t be able to live this long. But Elder Parciano stated without reserve—and as if he were undershooting the age, no less—that he was 400 years old. My grandpa’s grandpa and his grandpa’s grandpa could call him “senior” and it would still fall short.
“Why so surprised? I can easily live another 100 years, but do I look that old to you?”
Chief Elder Parciano was more like the mister next door rather than an elven elder. Just like my first impression, he was kind and warm.
“Is it because of the mithril?”
As if to show that his 400 years weren’t just for show, the Chief Elder hit the bullseye in one go.
I had nothing to hide.
“So the dwarves told you. For those fellows with useless greed towards those stones to tell you this place… You must be a human worth trusting.”
The Chief Elder had the insight to put one and one together. The last thing he said about me being a human worth trusting was completely off the mark, but I nodded.
“Mithril is an absolute necessity to develop the territory. Please allow us to mine until we can find a different mine.”
At my honest words, Parciano closed his eyes tight and fell into contemplation. It didn’t seem like an easy decision.
“It wouldn’t be humans mining, but dwarves. Also, I will take the location of this place to my grave.”
I didn’t know if he would believe me, but I was someone who knew how to keep this level of promise, at least.
To be honest, I didn’t want the elves living peacefully as a part of nature to live out in the world with humans. Because even if it wasn’t me, there were countless humans who would commit unspeakable crimes.
“Your words do seem believable. You’re quite different from that one human I met around a hundred years ago.”
‘A hundred years ago?’
Somehow, whenever I heard ‘a hundred years ago,’ I would think of a certain person.
“He was an impressive person. He is probably the only human to have reached the 8th Circle in the history of humankind.”
Every hair on my body stood up on end as soon as I heard that.
“He flew over one day without warning and demanded that we give him the mithril airplates we made. Haah, I even got this scar on my forehead fighting with that human back then.”
The Chief Elder drew back the hair on his handsome forehead, revealing a brutal-looking scar that looked to be caused by fire.
This human, there wasn’t a single place where he DIDN’T cause a ruckus. I had no idea how the hell he became as close as thieves with the dwarves, but it seemed he picked a fight with the elves.
“S-So what happened then?”
“Haha, we were robbed. He caught the attacking elven riders, stripped them of their platemail on the spot, and disappeared using Warp. That was the most dumbfounding moment in my 400 years of life.”
Yep, that sounded like my eccentric master, all right. If he had approached them nicely, he might have been able to get what he wanted via 8th Circle mage treatment, but Master just took them by force. Mentioning him wouldn’t get me very far in life, that’s for sure.
“You’re the first human to come since that incident.”
‘I’m sorry. That mean human mage’s disciple is me. I deeply apologize for not being able to tell you.’
“Haha, you must have had a hard time. From your words, it seems you met the Golden-Eyed Reaper Aidal, a mage known in the human world as well for being a scumbag.”
Master was on Earth anyway, so I took the liberty to crap on his name a little.
“The real hard time came afterwards… Because of that, this quiet place was swept with a fever for magic for a time.”
It was obvious that the elves had learned magic to try and get revenge. There might even be elves in their prime who still remembered their resentment from back then.
‘Gotta be careful and then some.’
It wasn’t beware of the dog, but beware of the master. Hatred was a scary thing.
“I will permit it,” said the Chief Elder at last.
The problem was solved easier than I expected. But there was a string attached.
“But, I have a condition.”
“Yes? By condition, you mean…”
“Cure the sick elves.”
“Pardon? C-Cure the elves?”
“Yes. I’m sure you realized it, but this place is meant to treat elves when they are sick. If one stays here, where the mana of the Holy Tree of Earth gathers, most illnesses can be treated on their own. However, a year ago, a sickness spread around the village. No elves have died yet, but the afflicted are sick for a long time before losing their energy and collapsing on the spot. There are already over twenty such elves. I want you to cure this disease.”
‘Well whaddya know!’
It was the start of an emergency mission. If I refused here, the tiny bit of goodwill the elves had towards me would go poof and I would never be able to come here again.
However, I couldn’t accept without a little hesitation, either. I was no Physician Heo Jun, so how in the world should I cure these sick elves?[TN: Heo Jun was a court physician in the Joseon Dynasty. He’s one of the most famous doctors of ancient times because he compiled a book on Chinese medicine that is still considered as one of the classics of oriental medicine today.]
“I know it is a difficult request. However, won’t there be a way somewhere in the human world?”
The elves were probably far more advanced than humans in magic and various mystical treatment methods, but the Chief Elder asked me to do it.
‘Ah! That’s right!’
Just then, a certain thought flashed through my head like a lightning bolt.
“I will do my best. No, I will definitely cure them!”
“Really? Can you really cure them?!” said the Chief Elder, unable to believe me even though he asked me to.
“But you must give me a moment. I will find out the treatment method and come right away.”
“Ohh! Thank you. If you are able to cure the elves, the Green Wood Clan will remember that favor for generations!”
“Haha, what favor. It’s something I should do as a matter of course.”
It was true that this was something I naturally needed to do.
The problem was simply that it wouldn’t be free!
* * *
After coming out of the elf hospital building, the refreshing air filled my lungs.
‘I’ve struck it rich!’
Nothing was confirmed yet, but as long as she was there, everything would definitely be resolved.
I quietly walked in the Elven Village, which used almost no artificial things. The inside of the village was calm, without a single light, but there were various parts of the large trees that were lit up brightly.
‘Ara, what kind of light is that?’
They weren’t fireflies, but hundreds, thousands of insects far brighter than moonlight that were brightly lighting up the Elven Village. It felt like nature itself was showing me the path. The moonlight poured its silver light as it descended upon the earth, and underneath it, the shining insects were dancing in tandem as they enjoyed a night festival.
I watched the beautiful scene, my heart feeling light thanks to things working out well. Satisfaction filled my chest.
I continued through the village. The elven warriors were gone, too. In the Elven Village, everyone was sleeping. Perhaps the Chief Elder had given an order, but no one came to supervise me.
‘This brat! He’s fast asleep!’
His master hadn’t come back yet, but the black wyvern with golden stripes dared to fold his wings and sleep in the Elven Village’s central clearing. He knew exactly what kind of crisis had befallen his master, but Bebeto was conked out—what a little shit.
‘Rise and shine, you litte brat!’
Making a fist in preparation, I stealthily approached Bebeto.
“Lala~♬ ♪ ♪~~?~”
The moment I approached the big Bebeto, I heard a beautiful melody riding the wind into my ears.
Surprisingly, above Bebeto’s head, there were a few Sylphs and shining insects dancing together.
‘Who is it?’
Whoever it was, they had managed to put the temperamental Bebeto to sleep. From the voice, it was definitely a woman.
I quietly walked around Bebeto towards the place where the melody was coming from.
“Lali~ah ♬ ♬….”
I didn’t know what kind of song it was, but the tune was as soft and sweet as a voice from the heavens. As if drawn into a deep sleep by the song, Bebeto didn’t open his eyes.
‘Who might it be, this lady who is unable to sleep tonight…’
I was slightly expectant.
The elf woman was brave enough to sing next to a fierce wyvern. She had definitely been waiting for me.
‘Ohh! What a killer mood!’
Didn’t someone say that a woman was made a goddess by the big three?
Lighting, Mood, Angle!
The woman was stroking her long, cascading hair as she sat on Bebeto’s large knuckle. Ensconced by the light of the moon and the firefly-like insects, she showed her slender figure without concealing anything, a sight that made my heart sting.
The elf woman was perfectly framed by the big three.
My heart raced like a starving colt stumbling into a field full of carrots.
The moment I was about to try talking to the elf lady, I noticed the color of her hair.
‘I-It can’t be—!’
The elf woman’s singing stopped abruptly at my voice. She slowly turned her head towards me.
To my shock, the elf woman who waited for me on this beautiful moonlit night was the elf who had attacked me, Narmias.
The moment I saw it was her, countless questions rose in my heart. I had held her for a brief time due to unforeseeable circumstances, but that shouldn’t be a very good memory for her. I was, of course, thankful for the experience, but for Narmias, it must have been a shameful moment.
But here she was, waiting for me. And deep in the night, when all the elves were sleeping, no less.
“So you’re here…”
She confirmed without a trace of doubt that she had been waiting for me.
“You haven’t had anything to eat, right?”
My responses were truly pathetic.
That was just how scrambled my wits were.
I kept racking my brain, but I couldn’t come up with a single reason why the elf Narmias had waited for me so late into the night.
“This is a lucasias fruit. It will taste similar to the bread that humans eat.”
With her slender fingers, Narmias passed over a fruit covered in green leaves.
I was hungry.
But the questions in my head made me forget my hunger.
This fruit called a lucasias was around 10 cm wide and long and smelled like a ripe banana.
There was no reason for it to be poisoned, so I took a bite. Surprisingly enough, it tasted and felt exactly like bread.
‘Natural banana bread!’
This was bread baked by nature itself, not bread made with wheat sullied by pesticides and chemicals. I hastily gulped down the bread. Yes, I was hungry, but I also had to eat it happily to show thanks(?) for Narmias’ care.
“Please take your time eating it. I have more here.”
The fierce energy from when she attacked me was gone. Instead, Narmias was helping me from the side like a housewife.
‘Wait a moment, could it be connected to those words?’
Before I left the elf hospital, the Chief Elder had looked at me with a meaningful expression and said that when I went outside, there would be a problem I would have to resolve.
No matter how much I thought, the answer didn’t come.
I scarfed down a few banana breads in that confused manner.
“Thank you for the meal.”
“Thank you for enjoying it.”
When I slightly bowed my head along with my thanks for the food, Narmias also bowed. And she even thanked me back, her words ringing with sincerity.
“I’m sorry, but is there something you need to say to me…?”
“Huh? No… That is…”
At my question, Narmias’ face flushed red.
I was sure there was something she had to say.
‘She can’t be telling me to take responsibility for that minor matter, right?’
The only thing that could possibly connect Narmias and me was the brief fight in the day and her being in my arms for a bit. However, it made no sense for me to take responsibility for her life because of something so small. To put it frankly, if I would have had to take responsibility for an incident of that level in the human world, I would have already gotten a lifelong partner in kindergarten.
‘This birdbrain that knows no such thing as loyalty!’
Bebeto had been conked out without even knowing if his master was dead or alive. Only after he heard my voice did he open his sleepy eyes and look absentmindedly at me.
“Let’s go home, Bebeto.”
Despite my inner thoughts, my voice was gentle. There was no need to show my prickly personality in front of this pretty elf.
‘Ara, this little shit is—?’
He should be getting up right away at my words, but Bebeto let out coquettish cries as he rubbed his long horns on Narmias’ body.
Envy came before rage. I did have the experience of hugging Narmias, but I was wearing an airplate then, so this level of intimate skinship was naturally something to envy.
“Thank you for troubling yourself to come out here. Next time, if there is time, let us at least have a cup of tea together.”
If I weren’t so busy, I would invite her outright to a meal, but I didn’t have any time because of all the little lambs waiting for me back home.
“Then, may peaceful serenity be with thee.”
“…May green serenity be with thee…”
Once I used the cheesy phrase of the elves, Narmias returned it with an elegant dip of her head, all while exuding some kind of regret towards me.
I lightly jumped onto Bebeto’s back.
Even though the elves were sleeping, Bebeto let out a loud roar.
Flap, flap, flap flap flap.
Beating his wings, we lifted off from the Elven Village.
‘Does she have something to say?’
Narmias’ silver hair fluttered naturally within the draft caused by Bebeto. She was looking at me like Hachiko.
I couldn’t just leave, so I gave her a wave.
In response, she waved back.
A few beats of Bebeto’s steel-like wings later, we flew into the sky, leaving the elf woman’s gaze as she watched us to the end behind us.
* * *
Narmias, who had watched the human named Kyre departing until she could no longer see him in the night sky, let out the breath she had been holding.
She could feel it.
That even though the Elven Village was dark and quiet, most of the elves were listening to the conversation between the human and her.
‘If this, too, is the intent of the gods…’
The elves who had lived a long time said the humans were heartless.
Because they were existences that could not live for very long, they lived fiercely without being able to realize the truly important things in life.
And this man, Kyre, left.
Not knowing what it meant to share breaths with an elf, the black-haired human man became a shadow and flew briskly away into the sky.
Narmias let out another sigh.
According to the customs of the elves, she could no longer meet a different partner.
She was now tied to the fate of having to give her everything for his sake.