Chapter 71: Encounter
The horses’ hooves stepped on the grass and shook my body lightly. I felt the swaying movement of the horse. My head whirled and my body was tired. I couldn’t deny the lack of sleep. Not surprising though, since I didn’t sleep last night.
I couldn’t afford to rest now. As a fellow escort, I had to be vigilant. And at this precise moment, a demon monster stood right in front of me.
「…But, hero. Is there any other way? 」
A man asked me that question with a seemingly closed throat. The man who spoke was the escort knight who held the bridle of his horse. Both of us were the ones commissioned to get close to the demon beast.
This situation wasn’t one were you could try to find a different way. The path was obvious. True and unquestionable. The important aspect to take into consideration now was how to deal with that monkey-shaped monster.
I wet my own lips in order to respond. However, before I could talk, the man continued to add more questions and doubts.
「New wines are expensive. It would’ve been a better idea to subdue that monster with our own strength, than waste our precious wine.」
Indeed, his inner thoughts were honest and comprehensible. He was a Heraldic Knight after all. That meant that he learnt chivalry, and the mastership of swords and spears. His training must’ve been straight and sharp. I understood it perfectly. If it were for myself, I would fight proudly upon facing a threat if I volunteered to accompany the Saint on an important mission.
But, it was too late for that now. The demon monkey lost consciousness after pouring the barrels of wine into its large mouth. In this era, this type of monsters was probably not resistant to alcohol. I thought that we were saved thanks to the sacrifice of our wine barrels.
Still, I understood his intentions. Certainly, having wine to distract a monster without fighting it was against the pride of chivalry. The man rubbed his chin with his own finger.
「So, I wonder if that was really necessary. It went well, but it could’ve been worse. We needed those barrels for the upcoming talk with the elves.」
The knight seemed to have a strange-looking face when looking at me. I couldn’t see his face properly, because he was wearing a long helmet. He snorted after professing those spiteful words.
He went up to the front, and slowly pulled the bridle of his horse. The horses’ hooves began to walk through the wild grass once more, as we went to the place where everyone waited for us.
「We’re here not for fighting but for a negotiation with the elves. That’s the most important matter now…So, let’s be respectful to one another.」
There were times when we couldn’t help but smash the trees as we went ahead. The wild grass was also stepped by the horses’ hooves. I responded to the knight in order to appease the animosity between us. That’s why I assembled those words in my mouth. One of us had to show a little courtesy here.
「Elves are a rare race. If we ally with them, we’ll need to look at our own feet so that we won’t show them bad manners…So, if I think deeply about it, I guess that your plan was the right way. Sorry about my rudeness moments ago. Even if it was a monster, we have to try to avoid any unnecessary trouble. It’s a mistake to smudge this forest with blood without their permission. If we attacked that monster on an impulse, things would be bad for our side.」
The escort knight professed those words with a strangely sounding tone.
When I heard it, I distorted my face. Those were undeniable facts. They were a completely different race from humans.
Actually, some people believed on the contrary. Elves and humans had language and both could speak. Both of our races had two eyes, one mouth, one nose and two ears. Many people identified us as the same kin, or identical beings. But, that was an absurd idea.
For the elves, we had no sense of reason, morals, or conventional wisdom.
So, honestly, while I thought that forming an alliance with the elves was not that far-fetched, it was still an insane task. Something told me that it would be hard to accomplish it. Ann said that the Heraldic Order had good history with the elves. It seemed that they were allies in the past. To be honest, it was hard for me to believe in such an improbable story.
「Anyways, they’re currently living in this forest and nearby, on the hanging gardens of Mount Ghazalia. But, I must say that they have very different values from us, albeit narrow ones…」
「…Is that so. I see. It’s just as you say. I agree. I also have the same thoughts. We are a sensitive race.」
My ears shook. A sharp voice sounded next to us as if it were the wind. Still, such a voice miffed the bottom of the earlobes. My heart beat violently. I felt hasty palpitations that shook my whole body.
「So, it’s better for you to avoid speaking with a loud tone. After all, we are very narrow-minded and we can’t see for ourselves, even in front of clean water. I can see that you humans have such bias about us.」
It was as if this person’s voice was united with the forest. When the leaves of the trees were dancing in the wind, the figure with a sharp voice appeared in front of us.
I knew that technique very well. The elf’s hands were agile and strong. They used it often in their daily lives. In their territory, forests and nature were their friends. Therefore, they made use of the trees’ trunks and stems to move around in their territory. This was not an instantaneous move, but easily surprised my eyes with its flexibility.
The sharp-voiced person stood before my eyes. Next to me, the stunned escort knight appeared to have lost his voice.
「I don’t welcome you here, humans. But, I made my oath. That’s why I appeared before you shamelessly.」
At first glance, the mysterious person looked like a slender, well-proportioned young man.
Elves usually had a unique appearance. I usually felt that their spirit was embodied with their well-shaped bodies. I knew that it sounded odd. But, it was hard to describe their figures with mere words.
At first, he looked like a shorthaired elf. The position of his saber that he held on his waist was visible. In addition, the appearance of long pants was exactly those of men. Yeah, the escort knight and I probably thought that this elf was a young boy.
「I have knowledge that you humans have respected us elves. Then, I shall give you one piece of advice in accordance to my oath.」
The voice vibrated through the wind. The elf’s facial expression was resolute. I felt that sharp tone throughout my earlobes.
However, my emotions weren’t swayed by those feelings anymore. Or so I thought. I stopped moving as if I were frozen.
At this time, my brain was clearly in a state of confusion. I tried to understand, but I couldn’t understand it.
I expected it. I was prepared for it. I was going to move forward regardless of it. But now, my body didn’t respond as if my spine had frozen.
I thought that I overcame my resentment and grudge when I took Caria as my comrade and when I took Filaret’s hand. I was convinced that it wouldn’t affect me anymore.
「You mustn’t reach the hanging gardens of Ghazalia. It will only bring you more tragedy. Especially, if you people are from the Heraldic Order. This is my advice. So pay attention, don’t get near the hanging gardens, no matter what.」
This young elf hid the appearance behind the clothes he was wearing. This elf was no boy. I was completely fooled at the beginning since the appearance was completely different from what it used to be. This elf looked like an entirely different person. But, that particular voice. How could I forget that voice? That tone was the voice of someone who easily trampled on other people.
Ah, I was just an ordinary and insignificant person. I was only a “dwarf”. I once belonged to the Rescue Party in the Journey of Salvation. I was involved with many geniuses, but one of them got especially close to the hero of the party, Helot Stanley. That said member believed that it had risen to the very top.
But, why. If I were a true hero, would I fret over an insignificant grievance? Would an unpleasant small emotion be engraved in my heart if I were in fact a hero?
「Okay, we shall keep it this way. But, I must show you some courtesy first. Yeah, even though I hate it. My name is…」
In front of me, this elf continued to speak as if nothing much happened. She spoke as if she played a song with her lips. But, she paused before professing the remaining words. Ah, that name.
「…Eldith. It’s both a masculine and feminine name. But, the elves usually use gender-neutral names.」
…Eldith. The Elf Princess and a member of the Journey of Salvation. And…the worst of them all.
The worst you say…hmmmm…
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