It was a rainy day.
I set up an object of worship in the storeroom of the mansion.
I actually planned to bring a rugged rock from a mountain stream here, but since it was troublesome, I had decided to use a mirror for now.
I placed a simple altar in the back of the room and precisely aligned it. And it's done.
My head with my black hair and black eyes is reflected in the mirror. I grinned.
It's been about hundred years since I had my own shrine, so it couldn't be helped that I was happy.
Nonetheless, I have to work harder to gather more believers. There are only 11 months left until the Demon Lord's return.
Then Rii came in.
"Keika-san, everyone has arrived. They have gathered a little apart from the village."
Rii stumbled over some raw materials that weren't properly stowed away.
I moved quickly and caught the falling girl. Her slender body leans against my arms. It's a flexible and soft body of a growing person.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes... thank you."
Rii was blushing and nodded in my arms. Her green hair smoothly flows.
She panted with a small "*au...*" when I held her tightly.
I let her stand up and spoke.
"Then, shall we go?"
Rii nodded while having a gallant smile floating on her face. Her cheeks were red.
By the way, I had set up a magic circle that only lets Celica, Minya, Fal and Rii enter the storeroom.
Fioria was waiting outside the room.
"I'm sorry you have to do this in the rain."
"I don't mind, let's go."
We went outside and left the residence.
I'm guided by Fioria and Rii and we head northwards from the village.
--One hour later, we met up with about 200 elves.
The chieftain Jagd steps forward and lowers his head.
"Keika-sama. Thank you for coming in the rain."
"Don't worry about it. I don't dislike the rain."
"Then... you said that you wanted something from us?"
"That's right. First of all, I want you to stop moving with everyone. It'll be suspicious if you all suddenly disappear."
"Yes, that's why we thought that about half of us should remain there."
"That's good. I want the stump to remain as a fake World Tree. --And with that regard, I want you to make the stump into a tourist attraction."
Voices of surprise rose from the elves. Some are even gazing at me with obvious criticism.
Well, it's only natural.
I heard that elves refrain from interacting with humans.
Jagd frowned with his beautiful face.
"We should invite humans...?"
"That's right. Even though it's just the stump, that big tree is certainly magnificent. It shouldn't only be seen by the elves but also the humans to feel the greatness of all the trees in the world that come along with it. Also you can tell them the story about the dreadful Demon Lord and the frightening Barrier Muuk and how Hero Keika repulsed the evil. It'll become a great tourism spot!"
--Of course it'll also lead to an increase of believers.
"Will it really be okay to make a show out of your deeds...?"
"I'm happy that you think about that. But, there are still a lot of people who don't know about it and are frightened from the shadow of the Demon Lord. To give them a peace of mind, even if you have to exaggerate, shouldn't you convey the deeds of the hero to them?"
"I see...certainly, we have suffered very much as well."
I made a serious face when I told them my proposal. That was the preface for the main subject.
"Also, you aren't paying any taxes, right? Rather than being a self-governing region recognized by the Fabrica Kingdom, you should pay taxes. Then there's a high chance that they'll cooperate with you against the Demon Lord's army. Also it'll increase the interaction with the humans."
Jagd's and the other elves' beautiful faces distorted and looked troubled.
"Taxes, you say... We have almost no income... And even if we could sell woodwork, we have no materials due to the desertification. Also they are handmade and can't be mass-produced. Since it's in a desert, there's not really much to see for sightseeing and we don't have anything else to sell, so it doesn't seem that we could pay."
"You can purchase materials from the humans after you've amassed a lot of money by selling your other specialty beside woodwork."
"Our other specialty...? What could that be..."
Jagd tilted his head.
I giggled and spoke.
"You have one, right? You have a huge amount of salt! One ton of ocean water contains 20 kilograms of salt. You should have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of tons of salt. Just call it 'Elf Salt' and sell it with the message of 'That's why the elves are living that long' as sales strategy and you can easily take twice the regular price. But don't forget to add the warning that eating too much of it will be harmful."
Jagd and the other elves who were sitting in a row had their mouths gaping open and were lost for words.
"Se-Selling that salt..." "Something like that..." "I only thought about it as the bad stuff that weakened the World Tree..." "It's the idea of the hero who saved the world!"
"Doesn't that sound good? Of course you'll impose a limit on it. That way it'll be a rare product. And once you've built some shops and accommodation facilities, you can build a stone road from the World Tree to Industria."
Suddenly the dumbfounded Jagd got on his knees and saluted.
"Keika-sama, I am deeply impressed. Not only did you defeat the demons but also thought about our future lives!"
All the other elves knelt down simultaneously. Maybe out of deep emotion there were even women with tears floating in their eyes when they looked up to me."
Moreover, they knelt in the rain-soaked mud.
I received their highest respect.
Jagd speaks further.
"Certainly, we elves haven't interacted with the humans so far. As a result, we ended up protecting the World Tree alone."
"I guessed so. Everyone has to work together to oppose the Demon Lord's army."
"Those words, I'll engrave them onto heart."
"It's alright already. Please stand up, everyone."
The elves stand up. The beautiful men and women are full of mud. But everyone has a beaming smile on their faces."
Jagd speaks with a heartfelt voice.
"We'll follow your proposal and will focus on tourism and product sales and try to find a way to cooperate with the humans. We'll leave hundred strong and hundred eloquent, prejudice-free people at the stump."
"Yeah, give it your all. It might take a lot of time though to correct the misunderstandings and prejudices against your customs.
Jagd reveals a smile from his face.
"In that regard we have more than enough of that. We're a long-lived species after all."
I also smiled back.
"Well then, we'll go. Thank you very much for even saving the elves' future."
"I still don't know whether it'll work out, but I wish you a bright future. Take care."
Jagd looks at Fioria.
"Fioria, you'll stay by Keika-sama's side and support him."
"Yes, Jagd-sama. I plan to serve him with all my might."
"We'll leave this wonderful person in your care."
The elves are lowering their heads and leave.
"Thank you very much, Keika-sama" "You've brought us hope" "Thank you very much for coming to aid" "We'll work hard for a better future"
They left northwards in the rain. They were very light on their feet.
Finally, only I, Fioria and Rii were left.
Fioria's huge breasts shook as she lowered her head.
"Keika-sama. Really, thank you very much. We'd never would have thought about such a way."
"Keika-san... you're amazing. I respect you very much!"
Rii's eyes were sparkling while she praised me. Her eyes were full of enthusiasm when she looked up at me.
I was a bit perplexed.
Actually I did it for myself. I simply wanted to increase my believers.
I wonder why they are adoring me that much.
My haughty behavior hasn't changed from the past. I wonder why the response is so different from the earth.
Is it because they can see me...? No, that's not it. Then, what could it be...
I seemed to have noticed something, but I still don't get it.
I shook my head, turned my back to them and began to walk towards the village.
"Well then, we'll catch a cold if we stay in the rain any longer. Let's go home."
Rii was clinging to my arm.
Her small breasts are pressing against me.
"What is it?"
"I, wife... no, it's nothing, after all."
"Rii. You mustn't say anything that might embarrass Keika-sama!"
Fioria, who was walking next to me, gave out a warning.
Rii dejectedly casts her eyes down. Water is dripping down her shoulder-long green hair.
"That's right. I'm the only one who's allowed to make embarrassing proposals. I'll take a bath with you two once we've returned."
They raised their voices in surprise. Their faces were blushed beet-red.
"We have to warm our bodies since we got wet from the rain."
"Yes..." "*uu*... I have to prepare my mind..."
I returned to the village while enjoying the shy behavior of the women to my left and right.
We went into the bath right when we returned.
Of course including some naked socializing.
Probably because Fioria had made up her mind, her huge breasts were magnificently exposed, but Rii covered her slender body with a towel.
When she even tried to get into the bathtub with the towel I made her stop. She was red to the ears when she exposed everything.
It's true, elves in the nude are beautiful like a piece of art.
Rii was exhausted when she went out of the bath.
"I... already don't have another choice anymore but to become Keika's wife..."
She murmured something like that.
The rain stopped when it became dusk.
Lapisia was spinning around while she spoke.
"I also worked hard today, so there'll be sausages! Sausages!"
"What have you worked so hard on?"
"The road, I turned it to stone! Now I want to eat sausages!"
In a haste I checked it with "Clairvoyance".
Then, the road that leads from the village to the capital was completely paved.
I shout out loudly.
"What! What have you done!"
"...W-Was it bad, Keika?"
Lapisia shrank from anxiety.
I groaned with "*uun*" and was in thoughts.
At some point it certainly had to be made.
However, paving the road also brings dangers with it.
Since the convenience for transportation improves, it'll be easier for the Demon Lord's army to attack the capital. And the village's defenses are still far from complete.
-- This might cause some trouble if the capital notices it.
On the other hand, maybe I could use it for negotiations. I can hope for faster village development and an increase in believers.
"Hmm. You shouldn't have paved it on your own volition. The road can also be used by bad people after all. Always get my permission before using your power from now on."
She looks like she's about to cry and clings to me.
I stroke her head to cast away her uneasiness.
"Even though you did it because you wanted to eat sausages, doing it for the sake of everyone isn't bad. You're a good girl. But be careful from now on."
"Yup... I'll become a good girl even more."
Her warm, slender body was lightly shivering. She seems to cry.
I gently stroked her head while whispering "alrighty, alrighty..."
However, the dinner consisted of all kinds of vegetables that she disliked.
She ate in silence while tears were floating in her golden eyes.
Yuusha no furi
92: The elves' future