|Author: Sasaki Ichiro
|Original Source: Syosetu
|English Source: Re:Library
Morning came, and four people along with one animal—an elf, two humans, one beastfolk, and a Divine Beast—walked along the plateau, bathed in the morning mist.
Incidentally, only a handful of men escorted us to the outskirts of the village. Some stayed behind to give a hell of a beating—I mean, to monitor the peculiar, ineffectual creature known as the village chief and his son, while the rest remained on high alert, ready for battle as if in a DEFCON 1 state.
“…I can take them off now, right?”
It had been more than an hour since we departed from the northern pioneer village and entered the Seraph Mountain Range. After confirming that we were far enough away, Pryui—the elf girl who appeared to be 14 or 15 but was actually a youthful 144-year-old for an elf—looked back at me and irritably removed the bandages around her ankles.
“Yes, thank you for putting up with it. After all, it would be unnatural for your injury to heal in less than a night.” I had asked Pryui to wear the bandage and pretend to limp as part of a ruse.
“How troublesome. I’ve heard from the Elder that Healers receive a certain amount of respect among you humans, so why bother hiding it?”
“My mentor advised me to. Besides, being treated as special is often the same as being treated as an outcast.”
Seeing me shrug my shoulders, Pryui furrowed her beautiful eyebrows and offered a terse comment. “…I don’t know about that.” Though still blunt, she was not as hostile as when we first met.
At that moment, Lana, who was following us—more precisely, seated on Vier’s back—let out a small yawn. She was usually still fast asleep at this time of day.
Seeing that Lana was nodding off, Vier used her wings to keep the little fox girl from falling. “Thanks, Vi…”
Noticing Lana rubbing the sleep from her eyes, Vier replied with a cheerful “Don’t worry~.” Since her words didn’t reach Lana, I looked back at them and translated: “It’s okay, Vier says not to worry about it.”
“Mhm,” Lana nodded.
Not to be outdone by the local elf Pryui and the former feral child that I was, Eren walked along the dirt path effortlessly, her strong legs trained by farm work. From the back of the line, she asked Pryui, who was leading the way, “By the way, is there a reason why we’re the only ones going to the elf village? Is there a rule that forbids men?”
“There’s no such rule, but there are two reasons why,” Pryui responded dismissively, without looking back at Eren, as she continued to lead the way.
Incidentally, ever since we shared a simple wild vegetable and mushroom soup last night at the same dining table—though it felt more like camping since we were right next to a fire—Pryui seemed to have let go of her old grudges and had begun conversing normally with us humans, albeit only with me and Eren. She remained as hostile as ever to other humans, however…
Also, could it be the work of Spirit Magic Art? As she walked in the lead, her hands moved in certain gestures, causing the plants and trees to open a path for us.
“First of all, you’re not from that village. We elves don’t show mercy to those we consider enemies, but strangers like you aren’t particularly of concern to us. Second, you’re the only outsiders liked by the spirits; others aren’t. The smell of greed emanating from their bodies is so strong that spirits don’t want to come near them.”
To be honest, neither Eren nor I really understood what spirits were. I suppose that sensing spirits is just normal for elves.
“Does that mean I could be a Spirit User if I train myself?” Eren asked, a bit expectantly.
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“More or less. If you purify your body and soul and train for 10 years away from civilization, you may be able to see spirits. Though I’m not sure if you can become a ‘Spirit User’ as you call it. We elves are friends of the spirits; we don’t use them as tools.”
Pryui’s reply was honest but straightforward, and, in a sense, unobtrusive, making Eren slump her shoulders. I suppose it wouldn’t be that easy for humans.
“Well, even among humans, some people are born with the rare constitution called Second Sight that lets them see spirits.”
“Those people usually have elves or fairies as ancestors. You beans call them changelings and blame us and the fairies for their special gifts. Annoying.”
Upon hearing my words, Pryui, the elf and the expert in this field, spoke her piece, showing a slight frown. Incidentally, when she said “beans,” she meant legumes and pulses, though contextually, it was a derogatory term that races who claim descent from the World Tree use for humans.
Pryui then switched to Elvish and added, “Speaking of Second Sight, I’d advise you to undo your transformation magic. Any strange tricks will lead to misunderstandings.”
“…So it’s been seen through.”
“My affinity with the wind and water spirits is high, and the ones around you are excitedly telling me about how you look. If someone as young as me can see through it, you won’t fool any elf in the village.”
“…I didn’t peg spirits as talkative.”
With a sigh, I took off my necklace and stored it in the pocket of space. If the recognition-inhibition spell didn’t work on elves, then there was no reason to incite unnecessary friction. Fortunately, both Eren and Lana already knew what I looked like.
“Hou, so that’s what you look like. —I must say, while I knew generally how you appeared, seeing it in person is something else altogether,” Pryui’s eyes opened slightly as if she was impressed.
“Why, it’s a spell my mentor cast, after all. It’s so precise that it can fool the eyes that see and the fingers that touch.”
For some reason, Pryui made a complicated face when she heard me boasting about my mentor. She mumbled something along the lines of “…no, that’s not what…” then stopped mid-sentence as though she just realized something. That’s when she gave me an odd, resigned look and resumed her walk.
I don’t know why, but people around me tend to make that expression and sigh. Am I oblivious to some kind of unspoken rule? The idea makes me anxious from time to time. Then again, being the listless person that I am, I probably just attract people with a similar nature to my environment.
“I think it’s called homophily. —By the way, how long do you reckon until we reach the elven village? If it’s still far, I’ll request Vier to fly us there.”
With Vier’s physical strength, she should be able to accommodate four girls at once. Besides, Ms. Christy taught me the weight-reduction art using the void attribute, so I could at least halve our combined weight.
“Hm, you seem to misunderstand me, but… putting that aside, it will take a while for us to reach the village. However, someone will pick us up before then, so it’s best not to be conspicuous.”
“Pick us up? Were you giving them smoke signals?”
“Something similar. With the help of the tree spirits, I’ve been relaying my situation to them. After all, I spent the night in the beans’ den; who’s to say my friends haven’t already organized a death squad to rescue me?”
Pryui made such an outrageous statement casually.
“Doesn’t that mean they’ll find the village with you nowhere to be seen, providing enough spark for an all-out war to begin?”
“That’s why I’ve been sending signals, to prevent that from happening. I just received a response a while ago, so my friends will be in contact with us shortly. Jill, I owe you a debt of gratitude, so I will side with you and try to be your intermediary, but… I will not be responsible for how the villagers and the Elder judge it.”
I see. So all those wiggly-wobbly hand gestures weren’t just to pave the way; they were also for sending signals.
“…I feel you’re making fun of me, Jill.”
“Surely it’s just your imagination. Perhaps it’s your exhausted mind playing tricks on you.”
I lightly brushed aside Pryui’s accusation when something caught my attention within my Search art.
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“Around 45 mertes from here, 11 people are approaching us in a hemispherical formation, hiding among the trees. They’re armed with bows, but I don’t think they’re very well-trained with them.”
“Oh boy, can their bloodlust be any thicker? They won’t be able to hunt a single little dog with this much bloodlust in the air.”
When I shared my observation, Pryui bitterly commented.
“—Ashimi Asteri! Ashimi! I know you’re here. These folks aren’t enemies; show yourself!”
Pryui’s Elvish words echoed among the trees, and after a while, a handsome elf who appeared to be in his early twenties emerged from the thicket. He rested a hand on the hilt of a sword at his waist, his expression stern.
I’d say he’s nearly the same height as me. His skeletal structure seemed fundamentally different from that of a human, presenting a slender physique that didn’t quite look masculine. In fact, he was effeminate enough that you really wouldn’t want to go to the restroom with him.
In the book “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton, the miniature Clocks family borrow things from the “human beans” who live above them. That is why humans are called “beans” here.
A classic tale of lost-in-translation, I see. Speaking of which, it has a Ghibli adaptation; The Secret World of Arrietty. Go watch it.