The ordinary scenery of the small paths that ran through the town, surrounded by agricultural fields as far as the eye can see, seemed to change into a different world just by having the presence of these women standing here in this place.
And the one causing the most change to this mundane scene was none other than the strongest and most beautiful of the Black Rose Spirits of Ente Forest, Diadora herself.
「It’s been a while, Diadora, Fio, Marl」
「It’s good to see you all again」
After I had spoken, Seline also greeted them with a happy smile on her face. In response, Fio and Marl’s smiles bloomed like flowers, and although she was a little more reserved than those two, Diadora also smiled affectionately.
「Jeez, because Dran and Selia never come home, it’s been so lonely!」
Fio said this to us in protest, but her beaming smile negating any persuasion she might have had.
It’s most likely true that they had been lonely, but compared to how happy they’d been during our reunion just a few months ago, their happiness now was far greater.
「We missed you so much~. The villagers treated us all kindly, but it’s still lonely not having our friends here」
Marl agreed with Fio, but because Marl had a younger, more child-like appearance than Fio, it created a greater sense of guilt that stabbed through my heart.
「I’m sorry. But I write letters to you all. I send them every month, is that not enough?」
「Of course it’s not enough. Compared to reading words on a letter and sending a response, being able to see you face to face and exchange conversation in real time is completely different」
「That’s right, that’s right. Besides, I can’t read, so I have to get Fio or the other villagers to read your letters for me!」
「Hm, well, you got me there. I thought you two could be more patient, since your life spans are much longer than humans, but it seems that isn’t the case. I miscalculated」
「Fufu, we’ll have to make it easier for you to come home to the village more often then, Dran-san」
「Let me think. The next time I should be able to stop by again will probably be during the holidays in the winter season. If you sulk again next time like you are now, then I would be troubled」
「If there’s something I can do to help, then I’ll do anything」
「That would be helpful. This time, thanks to Selina, we were able to make great progress on paving the roads. I’ll probably have to borrow her strength again next time」
「Stop asking for the impossible, you two. Dran and Selina went to Galois because they wanted to. If they’re your friends then you would give them their blessing and respect their decision.
Though regardless, you say you missed them, but I feel the same exact way. Fufu, in any case, I’m glad the two of you seem well」
「Thank you, Diadora. I’m relieved that you’re all doing as well as always. Did you come here today together with the business people again?」
「Yes. Bern Village has been receiving a lot of human visitors from various other places lately, so everyone in the forest has become interested in coming to the village too.
We have a bond with you, Dran, so we’re able to prioritize that and come to the village often. But thanks to that, a lot of them are jealous of us」
As Diadora elegantly moved her shoulders to shrug while somewhat concerned, I first thought about how I should respond. I searched for the right words to say by running through my thoughts for a moment.
「If that’s the case, then you should treat them with souvenirs to improve their mood. I can help you look for some good souvenirs」
「Now, now, Dran-san. Diadora-san and everyone will still be in town for a few more days, right? We don’t have to rush around, let’s just take our time and catch up with each other first. How about we walk around the street stalls in the plaza?」
A food trip, huh? Well, if it’s food stalls, then there wasn’t just the plaza. There were plenty of stalls lined up along the simple lodging facilities. But it would be quite fun for the five of us to go walking around together.
Thankfully my wallet was full. So I could take on the full cost this time. As a man, I should be dependable that way.
「That sounds good. I’m sure there’s a lot to catch up on, and I want to hear Diadora and Fio’s opinions on how Bern Village has changed while we’ve been gone too」
「If you’re fine with our opinions, then we’ll tell you all about it. Now then, I’ll leave escorting us up to you, Dran」
「It would be my pleasure」
Adding the three of them to our party, we left the Bern Bathhouse and started moving our feet toward the food stalls set up throughout the town.
First, we headed to the nearby plaza in the middle of town.
Merchants from Galois had come to this village in search of Ente Forest’s rare plants, mushrooms, and fruits, and not to mention the furs, bones, and fangs of animals that live exclusively in Ente Forest. The village had provided this plaza for the Galois merchants to conduct business with the village people and the forest’s inhabitants.
Across from the village leader’s house and the all-in-one inn, bar, and eatery that had a bell tower to ward off evil spirits, was the plaza. This open space has a long history alongside Bern Village, and many trusted merchants had set up shop here.
After collecting souvenirs for Diadora and Fio’s friends, we headed for the bell.
「By the way, Dran, Selina, we’re always visiting you in Bern Village, but won’t you come by to our place in the forest sometime?」
As we each quench our thirst with the drinks we’d bought in front of the bell, Fio began to speak, starting with that question.
「You could do that as well, but actually, we had some plans to go to the capital city near the center of the forest soon. We were thinking you two could also come with us」
「Oh, the capital of the Wood Elves, huh? But even if it’s us, would we be allowed to step foot inside?」
「As long as you have Olivier-sama’s authorization, it will be fine. That person, he won’t tell us the details, but he’s actually quite an important person among various clans of the Wood Elves in Ente Forest」
He usually works as the headmaster of the Magic Academy in Galois, but maybe that role also includes acting as the mediator that connects the inhabitants of Ente Forest with the people of Arcrest Kingdom.
Based on the way the headmaster was treated in Cywest Village, I had assumed he was a person of considerable status, and it seems like I was right about that.
「I’m grateful for the invitation, but how many days will it take to get there? That’s what I’m curious about」
「If you pass through the special ‘Fairy Road’ starting in Cywest, then you’ll arrive in less than a day. It’s just the right season for Yggdrasil to become more lively, so there will be a lot of festivals going on in the capital, and you’ll be able to fly farther than usual on the Fairy Road as well」
「Oh, the World Tree Yggdrasil. If I remember correctly, there should be five of them here on this earth. This one is called Ente-Yggdrasil, right?」
「Yes, it’s just as Dran says. Ente Forest grew outward starting from Ente-Yggdrasil, that’s why it’s called ‘Ente’ Forest.
But it’s a little mysterious.
The activation of Yggdrasil is usually synchronized with the earth veins of this planet, so this season shouldn’t be starting yet, not for a while longer. But for the past decade or so, the earth veins in only this area have been activating unexpectedly sooner than usual, so the season has been beginning earlier too.
So that’s why the elves in Cywest Village have been thinking that there might be something going on in Bern Village that’s causing this.
Well, in the end, we haven’t been able to find anything, so the mystery of the abnormal activation of the earth veins hasn’t been solved yet」
The cause of that mystery, it’s me. Ever since I was conceived in my mother’s womb, my presence had begun to interfere with the earth veins, gradually spreading its own roots out, until now, where it has even started to have influence on Yggdrasil too.
The activation of Yggdrasil causes the World Tree to spread its roots out across the whole world, and release rich mana, vitality, and magical power in great abundance.
Because of that, when the activation of Yggdrasil comes, it is a huge blessing that all living beings receive. It is a season meant to be welcomed with open arms.
If the season for Ente-Yggdrasil’s activation has been coming earlier, then that means the activation seasons for the other four World Trees have also been happening earlier.
Hmm, if I want to confirm with my own eyes just how much my actions affected the World Tree, then I should accept Fio’s invitation.
「This sounds great to me. I don’t think there’s anyone in all of Arcrest Kingdom who has set foot in the center of Ente Forest. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot of things if i go」
「Is that so? Then that’s good. Oh, just to let you know, Olivier-sama should also be returning home for a while, so I think we’ll be able to meet him.
It might be a little awkward, but please endure it」
「It shouldn’t be all that awkward. So then, when should we get going?」
「We’re returning to Cywest tomorrow, and then we’ll be going to the capital the next day. So if you can come to Cywest by noon on the day after tomorrow, that would be good.
We plan on staying there for two nights. We’ll be staying with some relatives in their house over there, but they’ve properly prepared rooms you two as well, so rest easy」
From there, we continued to talk about our plans in the capital city of the Wood Elves, Deep Green, and then parted ways as the time for dinner arrived.
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