Editor: Areth Kyntaul
“Your Highness, did you discover something?”
I had a drink of tea and then resumed watching the merchants who blocked the platform with their carriage to sell their fruits.
They came out here not long after the sun had come up to sell their fruits. Their fruits were very commonly seen elsewhere but not here. They somewhat resembled pomegranates. Once you cut through the outer layer, though, you would find that it’s similar to a tangerine. It’s like a fruit that’s divided into two parts.
I noticed that lots of elves who passed by bought some. They bargained, packaged goods, and took money just like any other normal merchant. Even though it was a little strange for them to be wearing raincoats and hoodies, nothing they did was out of the norm.
I ordered a cup of tea and sat upstairs at the pub early in the morning… God knows why a pub sold tea… Luna and I sat here the entire morning watching them sell fruits. Even Luna was starting to get a little bored. I was starting to ponder about life as well. Why was I here watching them run their business?
Am I being prejudiced and jumping the gun? I feel that they aren’t good people because they aren’t dressed like good people… Making a judgement like that is somewhat problematic. I can’t identify anything suspicious about them. And bringing a pile of fruit to kidnap elves? Or is there an issue with the fruit?
Mera would definitely be able to tell if any drugs were used in the fruits, but the only thing I can rely on now is the small book Mera left behind for me. The book itself is pointless because I have no clue what ingredients were utilised.
But I don’t think it’s likely that they spread drugs onto their fruits because the shell is tough and people eat the fruit inside. If they wanted to infuse them with drugs, they would need to use a syringe to inject the drug into it. But the fruit looks a bit like a coconut shell, so they would have to make a hole in it or else there would be no way to infuse the fruit with a drug.
However, the fruits I just saw Luna purchase and bring back don’t have a hole in them. So it suggests that those merchants are legally operating. Am I reading too much into it? Are they just here to sell fruits? But why did they react when they heard my name? Why are this group of people so odd? Or could it be that they’re up to something else and it’s not related to the elf-trafficking case?
No, there’s also the likelihood that they don’t have any ulterior motives and are here just to sell foods, but just happen to be dressed a little strangely. I’m questioning if I’m too uptight causing me to suspect everyone. I won’t concede that they’re behaving somewhat strangely, but then at the same time, they’re not behaving strangely.
Luna spun the fruits on the table around out of boredom and asked, “Your Highness, if there is nothing, let’s leave this place. We have sat here all morning. Do you intend to have lunch here too, Your Highness?”
I watched them sell the last portion of fruits on the horse carriage and then lead it away. I stood up and said, “Alright, let’s head back.”
“Did you discover something, Your Highness?”
“No, nothing at all. I wonder if it’s because they’re covering it really well or that there’s no issue with them at all. Am I too uptight…?”
I smiled helplessly as I walked to the counter to settle the bill. I also asked the owner, “Boss, don’t you feel that the group of people selling fruit at the entrance are slightly odd?”
“Odd? Why? They’ve been selling fruits here for years. That’s how they are every visit.” The boss swept the copper coins I handed him into the counter and carelessly said, “I would agree that their dress-up was slightly odd when I first saw them, but every time they visit, they just sell fruits. They usually come at this time every year. Sometimes they will make a few more visits to sell salt or wheat. In any case, they’re travelling merchants here.”
I nodded. It looks like they have several years’ worth of history doing business here. So does that mean that I’m thinking too much? If they were trafficking elves, they would only be able to escape once. If they came a second time, they would have to have had a death-wish. It looks like I thought too much.
So, if there’s no problem with that group, how are elves being trafficked from the village? I swept my gaze around me. The people in the bar were basically rearing trouble for themselves, but most of them were men laughing and chatting as they drank their beer. I don’t see anything out of the ordinary. My original speculation was that this village was trafficking elves or it was a transfer point. If that group of people were just selling fruits then who is trafficking elves?
“Boss, are there any other merchants besides these people who come to this village?”
“Plenty. We commonly go out to buy things. Our village produces gold, so lots of people come to buy it. If you’re asking about merchants, then there are too many.”
“No, I meant humans.”
“Oh, humans. Very few humans come since we don’t sell our gold to humans. Our village was destroyed by humans in the past. We’re already being very generous by allowing them to come here. We won’t sell a grain of gold to humans. They’ve robbed enough from us!”
I noticed the boss looking at my ears. Luna came up from behind and wrapped her arm around mine. She smiled and said, “Let’s go, my beloved.”
“Ah, alright. Thank you. Goodbye.”
Luna pulled me out of the pub since it was really awkward for me to talk about humans. When we exited the pub, we saw the merchants who sold fruits. It looks like they brought two horse-carriages and inside are fruits. They didn’t have to shout. They just stood there and when elves who enjoyed fruits passed by, they’d buy one or two.
I could sense people looking at me, but when I looked in their direction, they looked away to either count money or hand over a fruit.
Not being able to identify a problem sucked. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something wrong with them, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I’m not sure if I’m just sensitive or if there’s something wrong with them. I feel that if a group of people are so oddly ordinary that there’s nothing out of the ordinary, then they are most suspicious.
Where do I start with this?
The dates for deals are not fixed. According to what the merchant said last time, there should be another group of elves imported this month.
I just wanted to destroy the church, but there are so many branches spread out around the place. All of the leaders at each of the locations must like female elves.
I looked at Luna who was smiling next to me, and she nodded to show she understood.
I need to go in full-force this month, but where do I begin? I don’t have a lead yet. But I felt that I could never let my guard down against the group in front of me.
“Valkyrie, since you’re His Majesty’s woman, you must know where he went. He’s got the evidence, doesn’t he?”
Nier opened her eyes and glared at the merchant angrily. She replied, “That’s right… I do know… but I won’t… ah… ugh… I won’t… I won’t… tell you!”
The merchant watched Nier subconsciously rub her legs against each other, chuckled and said, “It’s tough to resist it, isn’t it? Let’s do this, Valkyrie. I don’t intend to continue. We shall show the prince the most the minimum amount of respect. We won’t touch his woman. However, you just need to write a letter complaining about your miserable predicament and we’ll rel-… Argh!”
Nier suddenly leapt up from the ground and bit his ear. The merchant screeched out in pain loudly. He instinctively stood up, but his ear couldn’t bear Nier’s weight, causing half of his ear to be torn off. He cried out in pain as he covered his ear and desperately backed off. Nier spat out his ear covered in blood and thundered, “Don’t even try threatening His Majesty with me! There’s no chance! My duty is to protect His Majesty! I shall never let him suffer because of me! I would rather die than betray His Majesty!”
“I’m afraid you won’t be dying here! I’ll make your life more miserable than death! I’m going to completely turn you into a sow!!”
He covered his ear while crying out loud and pressing down on Nier’s head with one foot. He shouted, “Drug her! Drug her! We can’t touch His Majesty’s woman, but if she begs us for it, that’s not our fault! I’m going to completely destroy your chances of seeing him!!”