(262) The secret of Dark Elves
Yesterday night, I was able to cross quite a considerable distance thanks to my run.
By noon that day, we arrived at the entrance to the Great Forest.
Quite a number of trees were growing densely in the forest.
Rarael traveled with a carriage so there should have been a wide path but I couldn’t find one.
There was no other choice so I transferred the desert runner back to My World and Shumei and I walked on foot.
I used Hawk’s Eye to observe the forest from the sky.
Hn, I couldn’t find a place that seemed to be a settlement.
“Let’s move further in for now.”
I didn’t use the Hiding or Remain Unknown skill so that the Dark Elves would notice us.
A forest that humans have not touched was hard to traverse as expected and we were quickly stalled.
I could travel by jumping on the branches of the trees if I was on my own but what should I do now?
Just as I was thinking —
I caught an arrow that was about to pierce Shumei.
At the same time, Dark Elves with bows and arrows appeared surrounding us.
They all had the appearances of young girls. The girls had silver hair and brown skin and they were all wearing masks.
I heard that the male Dark Elves were hunting in the depths of the forest.
“Hume, do you enter knowing that this is Dark Elf Sacred Land?”
“Please say that before shooting! I am Ichinojo! I come as friends of Rarael‧Mi‧Modan!”
I raised the amber brooch and announced.
The Dark Elves all stopped moving the moment I did that.
Then, a familiar Dark Elf leaped from the branch above and landed in front of me.
“You are earlier than expected, Ichinojo.”
“Yeah, I have some minor business.”
“And this girl is —”
Rarael looked at Shumei standing beside me.
Shumei stared at Rarael’s face.
“It has been a long time, Rarael-sama.”
And she lowered her head.
” … Perhaps, Shumei?”
It seemed that they were acquaintances.
The Dark Elves formally apologized for firing the arrow and we were led to their village.
The houses were all treehouses made from branches. It was no wonder that I couldn’t find them when I searched from the sky. There didn’t seem to be any open spaces where they cut down the trees.
Also, as I heard from Rarael, the village was only made up of girls.
I was certain that if the Dark Elves that surrounded us took off their masks, they would all have beautiful features.
Dark Elves were all beauties.
We were guided to the largest tree house called the meeting place.
In that room, everyone sat on the floor and the conversation started.
I explained the reason we came to the five Dark-Elf representatives.
“I see — so you guys came here for that.”
The exceedingly simple reply was a little unexpected.
“You don’t seem surprised.”
“Ah, we already know that the Principality’s army is marching toward this forest. Shumei, your father has given us that information in secret.”
As expected, His Highness the Prince had asked the Dark Elves to escape in his own way.
“In that case, why have you not run? The difference in number is significant. Do you believe you are able to win? Do you plan to fight guerrilla warfare in the forest?”
“That’s impossible. If we fight, we will all be captured, sent to the church, face trial in the so-called demon trial and be made into slaves — or in the worst scenario, sentenced to death. Although the chance of everyone dying in battle might be a lot higher.”
“In that case, why —”
“We can’t run. We have something we must protect.”
“The item you must protect is more important than your lives?”
Rarael stood up when I asked that.
“Ichinojo, please follow me. I have something I want you to see. Shumei, sorry but please wait here.”
The entourage of Dark Elves stood up and tried to stop Rarael but Rarael shook her head with a smile.
“Don’t worry, he is all right.”
What exactly did she want me to see?
“Ichinojo, are you adept at moving through the forest?”
“I believe I am able to jump from tree branch to tree branch.”
“I see, then let’s take the short cut. Follow me.”
Rarael said as she showed off her amazing jumping ability.
I chased after her.
After jumping between tree branches for 30 minutes, we leaped down and entered a hole.
” … Ha, ha, I didn’t expect you to follow behind me without losing your breath. Perhaps you look like a Hume but you are actually an Elf?”
“No way. But I understand why Rarael asked Shumei to wait. It would probably be hard for Shumei to come here.”
“That’s not the only reason.”
We delved into the dim cave.
After passing through the cave, I saw — a huge tree covered with leaves that glowed golden.
“This — a golden tree? But I didn’t see it from above?”
The tree shined under the sunlight — I definitely would have noticed it when using Hawk Eye.
“The cave we passed through serves as a barrier so it can’t be seen from the outside.”
And then, Rarael cautioned me to not step on the golden tree roots as she explained.
“This is our Dark-Elves’ god, the Golden Tree — it’s sapling.”
You’re kidding! No matter how you look at it, isn’t it a hundred years old great tree?
It can grow even larger?
I see, so this was something like the Dark-Elves’ Sacred Tree.
I was convinced.
But the story didn’t end there.
“Ichinojo, there were only women in the village, right?”
“Yeah — you mentioned that the men were hunting in the depths of the forest.”
“That’s a lie. The Dark-Elf is a female-only rare.”
Are the Dark-Elves only capable of giving birth to females?
Or they expel their males … that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“We Dark-Elves are not capable of bearing children. When the Golden Tree matures, it will drop a fruit with a single large seed and countless small seeds. The large seed will be nurtured as the next generation Golden Tree while we Dark-Elves will eat the small seeds. After eating the seeds, the Dark-Elves will be pregnant with children. I don’t know why we are a race like this. Although we are called Dark-Elves, we are a completely different race from the other races, even including the Elves.”
Born from the seed of a plant, I never heard of such stories before.
” … You don’t believe me?”
“No, I do. I have not heard of it before but I have acquaintances who are born through unique means. They look and behave like humans so I can accept if Dark-Elves are such existences as well. Although I am surprised.”
” … I am glad I spoke to you. And so we can’t leave this Golden Tree. Even if we have to fight with humans.”
“Why do you tell me this?”
“We will definitely lose. And when we lose, we intend to disappear along with this Golden Tree. Shumei may not be able to accept it so maybe I wanted someone to know this story at the very least.”
Rarael said and gently touched the bark of the Golden Tree.
The princess striving to protect the things she wishes to protect and the Dark-Elves who are prepared to die for the sake of protecting that which they must.
And I, my unemployed self who wanted both protect that which I wish to protect and that which I must protect, pondered.
” … Hey, Rarael. Can’t you replant this Golden Tree at a different location?”
“Hahaha, don’t speak of the impossible. Unfortunately, such a place does not exist. This tree is difficult to move and more importantly, when the Golden Tree matures, it will exceed a hundred meters in height. It can’t be hidden without a barrier. And we do not have the skills to re-establish such a barrier.”
I guess so. A place where nobody will find it, there’s no way such a place exist —
No, there is a place where definitely nobody will find.
I was struck with an idea.
Now then, I had two choices.
I can help the Dark-Elves if I break the promise that I must keep.
So, what would I choose?
The choice was obvious.
“Rarael, if you plan on dying, do you mind lending your ear to what I have to propose first?”