TWEM Vol. 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 4 – The Elven Village
The next day, we arrived safely at the Tonitia Forest.
“So this is the Tonitia Forest…”
Tonitia Forest was also known as “Sea of Trees” due to the trees being so thick that we could barely see into the back.
There were many tall trees, and some of them were so big that their trunks were several meters thick.
Everyone was speechless at the sight, including me, except for Ephyr.
I guess this is what it means to be overwhelmed by nature.
It looked like we wouldn’t be able to proceed into the forest with the carriage, so I decided to have Maguro enter the subspace along with the carriage.
According to Ephyr she would know roughly the location of the village when she got close, so we proceeded with her in the lead.
“…The monstrous presence is growing thicker. Please be very careful.”
At my words, everyone proceeded to look around nervously.
Well, it’s good that they’re vigilant, but?
“Hey, don’t just look around you, watch your steps too—”
Before I could finish my sentence, Tendo stumbled over a tree root and nearly fell.
Seeing Tendo like this eased our tension and we proceeded with a good sense of urgency, but only Ephyr seemed to be very wary of her surroundings.
Perhaps the horror of the attack on her village had come back to her?
“Don’t be so cautious, Ephyr. If anything happens, we’ll protect you.”
“O-Okay. Thank you.”
Ephyr looked relieved at my words. I hoped I’d been able to ease her burden a little…
Just as I thought that, my detect danger skill reacted.
They must have noticed it from my reaction or by themselves. Everyone raised their alert level and readied their weapons.
“We’re under attack!”
I shouted sharply while activating the barrier magic.
The next moment, something hit the barrier that surrounded us and fell to the ground.
Looking down, I saw an ordinary arrow.
I stared in the direction the arrow came from.
It was hard to tell through the branches, but there was a man with a bow and arrow on a tree.
I used a combination of physical boost and ground shrink to instantly close in on the man.
“Wha-?! When did he!”
The man, who looked to be in his early twenties, made a flustered sound.
He threw the bow he was holding at me and quickly pulled out a knife, but I avoided the bow and circled behind the man, and then I put him down and restrained him.
“Who the hell are you guys, attacking us out of nowhere?”
The moment I asked him that——
“Get your hands off our comrade!”
Along with the voice, arrows came flying from both sides.
I quickly avoided the arrows, but the man I had been restraining slipped out and moved directly to his friends using wind magic.
“Whoa whoa, you attacked us first, didn’t you?”
“Hmph, what do you expect after setting foot on our land!”
Hmm? ‘Our Land’?
Looking closely, the men’s ears are pointed. Don’t tell me…
“By chance could you guys be—— elves?”
“That’s right! We are the elves of the Tonitia Forest.”
Oh, so they weren’t wiped out.
If these are the elves of the Tonitia Forest, I needed to confirm something.
I was about to open my mouth with that thought——
“Also, I don’t know why she’s with you, but I will have you return our ‘Princess’ back to us!”
The elven man said and readied his weapon again.
I see, so they saw Ephyr and attacked us.
Hmmm, it didn’t look like they’re going to calm down and listen to me. I could just clean them up nicely and be done with it, but if it’s all the same I thought I’d just let Tendo and the others give it their best.
I jumped off the tree branch and walked back to where everyone was.
Everyone must have been able to see what was happening, and without panicking, Tendo and Mogami stepped forward.
The three elves followed suit and stopped right in front and quickly shot arrows at us.
While I was grabbing the arrows and stopping them, two of the three elves on both sides switched their bows to daggers and rushed in.
The next moment, a high-pitched shrill echoes.
As Tendou lunged forward, he caught the elf’s dagger with his holy sword. Tendo went on to hit the elf in the gut with the hilt of his holy sword, knocking him out.
Successively, a muffled thud was heard.
It seems that Mogami ducked the dagger, grabbed the opponent, and threw him on his back.
“I’m glad to see you’ve both learned to hold back a little.”
“I’m still not comfortable with hurting people with weapons after all.”
“Yeah. It was a spur of the moment thing for me too, but I’m glad I was able to handle it.”
As we were talking about this, the male elf that was left standing released his magic.
“Acting like some kind of bigshots! ——Air Arrow!”
“Hm, in that case, me too.”
I unleashed an air arrow with no chant and easily canceled it out.
In addition, I fired off another air arrow, which flew straight to the elf.
The elf was surprised, and quickly jumped to the side to avoid the magic.
But I circled behind him and put a knife around his neck.
After making sure they were unconscious, I tied all three of them up together.
“…Now what, Ephyr?”
I asked Ephyr, who was being protected by everyone, what to do with the three of them.
She looked at the three of them with concern. They probably knew each other.
“W-Well, I’m but a slave now…”
I guess she’s trying to say that she’s not in a position to ask for something, and being reserved.
“I see. Then this is an order Ephyr. I leave it to you, Ephyr, to decide what to do with these three.”
“…Okay, I understand. I would like to hear from these three people.”
Ephyr looked me straight in the eye and said so.
I nodded and woke up the three elves.
“Hey, wake up. How long are you going to remain passed out?”
I woke them up with a flick to their cheeks.
When the three of them woke up, they slowly looked around, saw me, and started screaming.
“H, hey, sunnavabitch! Hurry up and untie this rope!”
“Come on! And get away from the princess!”
“Lady Ephyr! Why are you with the humans!”
They were being noisy and annoying, so I intimidated them for a moment, and the three of them let out a frightened “hiiii” and quieted down.
Finally, Ephyr spoke up.
“…This man saved my life, and everyone else knows what happened, and so they brought me here. So please do not speak like that.”
But even after hearing Ephyr’s words, the elves could not believe it.
“Even so! Humans cannot be trusted!”
“That’s right! They brought their army and marched into the sacred forest!”
“My family, my friends, they died right in front of me, you know?! Humans are——”
“Please believe me! They are not bad people!”
The three of them stared at us after being stunned, as if it was very unusual for Ephyr to raise her voice.
It’s not like I don’t understand their resentment towards humans, but I couldn’t proceed unless they trust me.
Then Ephyr explained what had happened so far since she left the elven village, and the three of them finally stopped staring at us.
But I guess they couldn’t decide whether to trust me completely and asked cautiously.
“…Hey. Can we really trust you?”
They asked me with serious expressions, and I answered seriously.
“Trust me. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m on your side.”
Seeing that the three of them were convinced, I untied the ropes and released them.
Then, on our way to the elven village, we asked the reason why they attacked us earlier and the current situation of the elven village.
These three seemed to have been patrolling around the village, and when one of them spotted me with Ephyr he attacked me.
The two guys who attacked me later said they saw the first guy caught by me and they attacked.
It is said that the three of them are among the strongest in the elven village…well, I guess they were pretty much out of luck with me as their opponent.
And as for the current situation of the elven village, the invading army ravaged it as much as they could and then retreated.
Although there were a good number of people who fell but did not die or were able to go into hiding, the damage to the village was great, and there were a lot of victims and the displaced.
Although they managed to restore the village to a livable condition, they could not grasp the whereabouts of Ephyr. That’s when we showed up…or so the gist went.
As we proceeded through the fog that concealed the elven village, the elf in the lead—— the handsome guy who attacked us first, apparently named Tashal—— spoke up as we finished hearing about the current situation.
There doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary…then the next moment, a strong light surrounded us.
The light soon faded, and when I removed my hand from covering my face, I saw a beautiful scene spread before my eyes.
An open land, with a narrow river running through, and fields.
Most of the houses were built on the ground, but there were some that were built on huge trees.
There are traces of burned-down houses and fallen trees here and there, but…
Still, the elven village looked beautiful.
We were making our way through the village to meet the village chief.
Naturally, the gazes from the residents of the village were harsh.
We are the same humans as the army that attacked them before, it couldn’t be helped.
But their gazes turned to one of joy when they saw Ephyr with us.
The air in the village seemed to light up as they cheered.
They wondered why she was with us, but they were more than happy to have Ephyr back.
So you were this loved, Ephyr.
“——This is the house.”
We arrived in front of the largest house in the village.
Tarshal knocks on the door of the village chief’s house.
“Village chief, are you there? It’s Tarshal. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
“Hmm? Hold on.”
Then a young man’s voice came from the inside.
After a long wait, a handsome young man opened the door and came out.
I thought it might be the voice from earlier, but I was surprised because I had an image of the chief as an old man.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Tashal. So, this someone you’d like me, to, meet…?”
The village chief saw us…no, his eyes widened when he saw Ephyr.
And immediately, he went down on one knee on the spot and bowed his head.
“I’m glad to see you safe and sound lady Ephyhr. I am awfully sorry about what happened to lady Elsha and lord Elba.”
“…Aegan, raise your head. Thank you for bringing everyone together”
At Ephyr’s words, the village chief—Aegan looked up and stared at Ephyr.
“Not at all. I was just doing what was natural. Lady Ephyr, I beseech you, please come back as our chief!”
“…I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Ephyr said, shaking her head.
And then, continued to speak slowly to Aegan, who seemed to be on the verge of asking, “Why?”.
“I was about to die when this man…master Haruto, saved me. When master Haruto found out what had happened to our village, he brought me here. That’s why I’m going to continue to follow master Haruto.”
Aegan looks at us after Ephyr’s words.
“So you people are Lady Ephyr’s savior?”
I replied, after having quietly watched the conversation.
“That’s right. Ephyr was sold into slavery in a state where she was about to die, but I bought her and healed her.”
Aegan, apparently surprised by the word slave, opened his eyes wide and looked at Ephyr, who nodded back, and then closed his eyes as if in thought. A few seconds later, he opened his eyes again and looked at us.
“…So that’s how it is, I see. Please come inside if it’s all right.”
There was no reason to reject the suggestion, so we decided to discuss it with our group, Tarshal and company, and Aegan.
First of all, Ephyr explained in detail how she had escaped and was bought by me.
After the seemingly long but short explanation, a few minutes of silence drifted over the room. In this silence, Aegan was the first to speak.
“… You said your name was Haruto right?”
“Please pardon me for the belated greetings. I’m not the official village head, but I’m Aegan, a relative of lady Ephyr, who is acting in the absence of the village head and his family. I would like to express my gratitude to you for rescuing our princess.”
Aegan bowed, and Tarshal and the others followed suit.
“Please raise your heads. It’s not a big deal. Besides, I have some kind of connection with the lot…Kingdom of Glicente that attacked this village.”
“Wha—, that army belonged to the Kingdom of Glicente! …So, what’s this connection you mentioned?”
“They kicked me out of the country after labeling me incompetent. And then I almost got killed… I managed to survive and now live in the Kingdom of Perdis.”
“So that’s how it is. That must have been rough.”
Well, I skipped the details quite a bit, but it’s mostly accurate anyway.
“Aegan, do you want revenge on Glicente?”
The elves in the room twitched at my words, and Aegan answered as if representing them.
“…Of course we do. How could we not want to avenge our dead brethren?”
The elves nodded vigorously, but Aegan continued helplessly.
“But we lack the strength to do so. Didn’t you get kicked out because you were powerless too?”
“Yeah, at the time I got kicked out anyway. But not anymore. I can at least give you guys a hand.”
Aegan looked to him for confirmation, and Tarshal nodded.
“We crossed blades, and I can tell you that this human is quite strong. I was completely helpless against him, and he had me pinned down.”
To be honest, if Tarshal and the others can be considered to be among the strongest, then I think I alone am more than enough to suppress this village…but, I’d better not say that.
“So what are you gonna do? Do you want revenge? Or not?”
“…Please allow us time to think about it. It’s not something I can decide on my own, so could you wait here for a while?”
With that, Aegan got up and walked out of the house, taking Tarshal and the others with him.
After waiting for about half an hour, Tarshal came to call me, and says, “Please come with me.”
We were led to the village square.
Many elves had gathered there.
According to Tarshal, Aegan had gathered everyone in the village.
When they saw Ephyr among us, they cheered.
When the cheers subsided, Aegan opened his mouth.
“Thank you all for gathering here. As you may already know, Lady Ephyr has returned to the village! The humans with her are the ones who rescued her!”
The elves in the square looked at us with mixed emotions.
Well, this was a mess created with no thanks to the humans in the first place, so it’s only natural that they have reservations showing their gratitude.
“Well, now that Lady Ephyr is back, I would like to ask. Everyone——would you like to take revenge on the humans who attacked our village, on the Kingdom of Glicente?”
The word ‘revenge’ from Aegan caused a stir.
“What do you mean by revenge, village chief…?”
“Exactly what it means. There’s a good chance that the Kingdom of Glicente will strike again. Before that happens, we must attack and avenge our people, our friends and our families!”
Agan says so powerfully, but there is a voice of anxiety.
“I certainly do want revenge! But…”
“Yeah, we couldn’t even hold our own against that army.”
“And yet, we want to take on a country…won’t we just end up losing our brethren again…”
That’s not surprising, the elves were vulnerable.
So I stand next to Aegan and raise my voice.
“It’s true that you elves won’t be able to defeat Glicente on your own! But what if you had someone with overwhelming strength in your company? Maybe someone capable of defeating an army of ten thousand by himself?”
A human who suddenly steps forward and spouts such a thing would surely be looked upon with reproach.
“As you can see, I’m a human. I am sure you all have your reservations——but I also have a bone to pick with Glicente. And I certainly can’t forgive those who made my friend, Ephyr so sad…so if you really do want revenge, I, the most powerful man in the world, will help you!”
After saying that much, the square fell silent.
The silence persisted for a while, but then Aegan glared at me.
“———Hmph. The world’s strongest, huh? Then you must have the power to back up that claim, right?”
Hmm? Seems like Aegan changed his tone?
Well, I did rob him of his speech stand after all, then went on to say something outrageous like being the strongest in the world, it’s not surprising that he got pissed. I said ‘I have the power’ but I didn’t mention anything like it being my own strength as an individual, and it’s possible that he thought I could borrow Perdis’ troops.
Or maybe he was pissed off about what I said regarding ‘Ephyr being my friend’ or the fact that I bought her as a slave.
…I’m pretty sure I’m doing something to piss him off.
But there’s no need for me to pull any punches at this point. I don’t think I can convince them otherwise…rather, I have a feeling that Aegan was up to something with this change~.
“Why? You want to find out? Don’t tell me you want to have a duel with me or something?”
“…Oh, that’s a good idea. I’m going to make you regret your big mouth.”
Aegan snickered as if he was mocking us.
“So, what’s the rules of this duel?”
Aegan asks if we can set some rules, but that’s a given.
“It’s going to be just me over here. You can have as many as you want on your side.”
“Wha—! ? ――Hmph, fine. Just don’t regret it.”
Aegan said this as a throwaway line, and then suddenly Iris pulled me back to where everyone was.
“What are you thinking! You can’t just take on any number of people against a race of elves who are skilled in magic! No matter how strong you are, Haruto…”
“That’s right, Haruto! Sure with your ability, you’ll be able to take on a few, but anymore and it’s going to be tough even for you!”
Asha and Ephyr nodded at Iris and Kusel’s words.
I’m sure everyone but Kusel knows what I’m capable of…they’ve only seen my status, and I am sure they think it’ll be pretty dicey if dozens of elves skilled in magic gangs up on me.
There was only one person who looked at me differently.
“…What do you think, Finne?”
“Haruto will win for sure. I believe that there is no one stronger than him. I’ve seen him destroy a horde of ten thousand demons with my own eyes, and he is also my beloved. I think it’s our role to believe in him and await his victory.”
Everyone fell silent at Finne’s words.
Finne’s face was slightly red. Is it because she said something she usually doesn’t say?
“——Haruto. Is there anything we can do?”
Tendo said this to me when he was sure no one else would object.
“Yeah, let’s see… I don’t know what’s out there, so keep everyone safe will you. You are a hero. You are not a tool for killing people. Protecting them is what you, heroes, are supposed to do.”
Tendo nodded to my words without saying anything.
And while we were talking, Aegan came to call me, probably having finished selecting the members.
“We’ve decided. There are five of us. Are you sure about this?”
That’s not much, I thought they’d come in larger numbers…
“No problem. Is there any open space around?”
“Yeah. On the outskirts of the village, there is a clearing larger than this square. Let’s go there”
I was then led to a rather open area.
Of course, the village elves in the square were following us.
As I made my way to the center of the clearing, five individuals came out of the group of elves…
“Huh? Aegan, are you fighting too?”
That’s right, Aegan was among them.
At my words, Aegan opens his mouth, his chest heaving.
“Yeah. I may not look it, but I am one of the strongest in the village. Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet now. You’re the most powerful man in the world, aren’t you?”
“You bet I am. No chance in hell I’m going to lose.”
The elves looked at me angrily as I said this, but I brushed them off aloofly.
And then, in return, I invoked intimidation—
“Now then, shall we begin?”
–I said this.