|Author: Sasaki Ichiro
|Original Source: Syosetu
|English Source: Re:Library
“Establish negotiations with the elves ASAP. On-site decisions are entirely yours. You are under strict orders to prevent it from escalating into an armed conflict.”
I patted Vier, my Sirius familiar, on the back and fed her her favorite homemade cookies—simple ones made of wheat flour and nutritious chico nuts—to reward her for covering the 6-hour distance by carriage in just 4 hours. Though I’m fairly sure that at least 2 hours were lost due to Ms. Christy freaking out after receiving the report, discussing the matter with her retainers, and then writing a letter back to me; the letter that I am currently reading. I heaved a sigh.
She ordered me as if it were easy.
The villagers were unmistakably invaders in the eyes of the elves. They were also plunderers who had stolen the elves’ land and nature, which the latter had carefully nurtured. Furthermore, the elves had put up with it for 30 long years until they finally ran out of patience and issued an ultimatum.
This is already checkmate.
“By now, there is no more room for negotiation except to accept the elves’ demands in full.”
What I offered to the people gathered in front of me was hardly a solution but rather a natural outcome. Hearing this, Curtiss, the butler, nodded his head indifferently. Walter, the knight in charge of security for this expedition, and Norman, the leader of the adventurers’ party, also agreed, with bitter looks on their faces.
Village Chief Demelio was the only one who looked frustrated. He didn’t speak up, however, perhaps unable to bring himself to go against the flow. Instead, he was simply seething on the sofa he sat on, tapping his foot on the floor.
“With that being said, establishing where we draw the line is necessary. If they demand an apology from Her Imperial Majesty personally, or the cessation of this region, or even wish to claim independence, then that would certainly bring disgrace to the empire.”
“Exactly! Those savage monkeys…err, woodlanders are looking down on us, citizens of the empire. Who knows what they will take from us if we give them a compromise? We should deny their every demand!”
Riding on the coattails of Curtiss’ sigh-laden words, Chief Demelio spat and fervently proclaimed. However, everyone listening could only meet it with an icy-cold gaze.
“…What is this idiot doing here?”
That question resonated with everyone in the room, Eren and Lana included.
“Fortunately…as imprudent as it sounds, we are lucky that the elves still have their wits about them. So, before this escalates any further…and before the trouble spreads outside the vicinity of the Brandmüller household’s territory, we should take action.”
“Which means we naturally will have to spend the next several decades restoring the logged mountain through reforestation and make preparations to desert the village at a minimum.”
“HUH?! Um, excuse me, what do you mean by deserting the village…?!”
Some annoying bug buzzed into the conversation between Curtiss and me. We, obviously, ignored it.
“But to the elves, that’s just restoring things to how they should be. They still have 30 years’ worth of grudges that need to be settled. Unless we offer them something extra, I don’t think they’ll readily accept those terms.”
“This is hard. Elves have a different sense of value from us. They aren’t interested in our money or products. Apart from the odd ones who visit human settlements out of curiosity, the real elves living reclusively deep in the mountains remain a total mystery, even to me.”
“Hm. It would’ve been simpler if we were dealing with indigenous human tribes. All you’d need to do is hand over the head of the person in charge.”
Norman, a seasoned adventurer leader in his thirties with experience in interacting with several elves, furrowed his brow, emanating an air of veteran dignity. Walter, the squad captain of the knights and roughly the same age, also sighed, visibly annoyed.
“Well, worst-case scenario, if they do demand the head of the person in charge, then we’ll have to comply.”
Following Curtiss’ icy words, our eyes finally landed on Demelio for the first time—from the neck up, to be precise.
“Eh…?! Wh-, what does that mean?”
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Sensing the disturbance, the village chief let out a hysterical voice. His presence had already faded from our collective consciousness, however, as we all nodded in agreement.
“‘That’s that, then.’”
We willfully ignored the already-discounted Chief Demelio and his rants, as we progressed in our discussions about how to contact the elves.
“First and foremost, we have no choice but to make the first move. The delegation will include myself, Vier, and Curtiss to handle the negotiations. Additionally, I’d like Mr. Norman to come and help us navigate the elves’ customs.”
“I don’t think I can be of much help, so don’t expect too much. Also, I’ll charge extra for that.”
“We will prepare any additional rewards handsomely. Although, I wish you would remain here in the village, Milady.”
“That won’t do. To clarify where responsibility lies and to show our sincerity, it’s only logical that I, representing my mother, should take the lead.”
“How admirable. Many can talk the talk, but few can walk the walk.”
As we listened to Norman’s words, our eyes fell on Chief Demelio (RIP), who continued to spout self-justifying nonsense like, “It’s for the village!” and “The empire is bound to protect its citizens!” to evade any responsibility falling on him.
“Walter, please keep an eye on the villagers. Make sure they don’t do anything rash while we’re gone.”
“…Understood. That does seem like a necessary measure. I am deeply sorry that I can’t protect you directly, Your Ladyship.”
“Leave that to me. This young lady is destined to become a good woman. We have plenty of beauties, but good women are rare. It’d be a significant loss to lose her here.”
Upon hearing Walter’s sigh, Norman responded with a grin that exuded masculine charm and accepted the task. I tried my darndest not to smile when receiving that praise. For some reason, being called a good woman made me happier than being called pretty.
“So, we’ll start by focusing our search in the areas where the elves are most likely to be found, and ensure we don’t display any form of hostility. Does that sound good?”
Everyone (except the village chief) nodded their heads to my words, their expressions serious.