Editor: Areth Kyntaul
I scanned the merchants sitting next to me slowly enjoying their mushroom soup out of the corner of my eyes.
Freya was playing with the dog I just bought her. I thought she was just testing their reactions. I never expected her to actually really like the dog. But, the dog seemed to really like the name ‘Prince.’ He would ignore you if you called him anything else. It’s alright. I don’t mind. It’s not named Troy, so I don’t care.
Freya is my adopted-sister, too, so there’s nothing wrong with naming it ‘Prince.’ Freya’s attention was totally focused on scanning the people by us. I can’t see through a person completely, but Freya should be able to. Freya’s observation skills and wits are far superior to mine.
She looked at them and quietly said, “Brother, if you have any plan, it would be best to speed it up. Though we were able to confirm whether or not they are our enemy, we have also given them a reminder in the process.”
“Uhm, I know.”
I gave a small nod and then continued, “The most important thing now is that I’ve got no clue what exactly they’re aiming for; I have to go with a counterattack strategy. I don’t know where to go to find out about their plans, nor do I know if they’re related to the elf-trafficking case, however; I feel that they are definitely involved. The problem is I don’t know what they’re planning.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. Brother, I believe that they will let the cat out of the bag. A plot will be kept completely hidden if just one person carries it out. But once you have a lot of people participating, it’s easy to slip up and get discovered. Since they’ve got someone from the village involved, their movements will be very obvious, so you don’t have to worry.”
Freya looked at me and then chuckled softly as she continued, “I don’t know what they are plotting either. But since it’s a business deal, money will definitely be exchanged. As for where the money comes from, I need to go with you to a certain place. Mm, we can’t approach it without Miss Luna, though.”
Luna paused before asking Freya, “What place?”
Freya took out a gold coin from her pocket and placed it on the table. Luna and I understood with that. What she meant was that she wanted to go to the goldmine. The mine where gold was mined and collected.
Though we knew that Luna’s brother was a miner, and we had a map, we never thought about going there. I was occupied investigating the group of merchants and overlooked the matter with the gold.
Freya looked at us and quietly said, “Since they are trafficking elves, they must be doing it for profit. So the question is, for what sort of profit? I think that the villagers here want gold more than gold coins, real gold. But this village produces gold itself, so why do they need to acquire gold from outsiders?”
“That’s right. I am thinking that the gold mine here has not been producing gold for some time now.” Freya looked at Luna, who was shocked, and continued, “Miss Luna, twenty or thirty years is a very short amount of time to elves like you. However, that is a long period of time for humans. Would a goldmine last after two, three, or even five decades, including the damages suffered from wars? The price of gold is stable precisely because it is a rare mineral. If a goldmine could last for a century, then humans and elves wouldn’t need gold.”
“But… but… my brother works every day… and… and the village provides gold… Ah! You mean… but… but that doesn’t make sense.”
Indeed. It’s incomprehensible. Neither Luna nor I could comprehend it.
Freya looked at us and patiently explained, “It’s simple. The gold that was provided was obtained from selling elves. As to where the elves came from, I’m not sure. I also can’t understand why they tried to obtain gold after running out. Can’t they just notify the capital that they have run out? Why did they have to resort this method? Elven laws don’t require them to provide gold, do they?”
“I don’t… think so.”
I only glossed over the elven laws. The elven laws are extremely primitive, but there was nothing about gold-producing areas having to produce gold.
Freya stood up and said, “Let us go and take a look, then. If it is empty there, then it proves the truth is as I said. If the goldmine is still producing gold, then it’s another story.”
“Freya, how did you…”
“I noticed it in the morning. Luna’s brother’s mining tools were completely covered in dust. It would be understandable if it was because he used them underground and brought them back up, however; I noticed that the inside of his mining hat was also covered in dust. Normally speaking, the inside of a hat which you wore every day wouldn’t be covered in that much dust. So that goes to show that he has not worn it in a long time.”
I stood up as well. Luna stood up in a tense manner. She stuttered, “Y-… yes… but… but… our village.”
“There is no need for you to say anymore, Miss Luna. From your perspective, the village hasn’t changed, but it has changed completely.”
Freya looked at Luna and continued in a resolute tone, “Because the hearts of the elves have changed, or otherwise, these elves are no longer the elves you happily interacted with back then. I can only sense oppression from the crowd.”
I nodded and added, “Luna, let’s go. Let’s go and take a look. You are a member of this village, so I don’t think they will refuse you. But it will be hard for us to approach it.”
“Uhm… yes… but… but…”
“Let’s go, Luna.”
I forcefully grabbed Luna’s hand. Luna’s eyes were filled with despair and suffering. I’m certain of it. Everyone wears that expression when their village gets completely destroyed. Moreover, this was a heavier blow to her than the first time it was destroyed.
But there’s nothing I can do about it. This was something that was bound to happen.
The prophet smiled helplessly and said, “But that is life. Life is without regrets. My king, the sun has come up. Sorry, you must head off now.”
I stood up. The weakness I feel on full-moon nights is something I still can’t get rid of. I used the wall for support and walked to the entrance. I then turned around to say to him, “What happened next is as you all know. I enjoyed my conversation with you, even though it was just me recounting my past.”
“Uhm. That’s good. It is a rare honour for me to be able to know of the Hero King’s past. Goodbye, Hero King. Although I do not know if we will have the opportunity to meet again, please send my greetings to Miss Nier, Miss Lucia and your children.”
I nodded and laughed softly. I said, “They are all well. The kids are well too. They are very cute. I will not become like my father. Humans and elves would be in even more danger if there were to be a few more son-con mothers. Nier… Lucia… I really love them. Luna too… of course…”
“Nothing happened to them that time, so do you still regret not being at the imperial capital at the time? What exactly is it that you regret? Was it that you did not save Nier sooner? But Nier was fine too, both her purity and life.”
“You could say so… that was the only thing I don’t regret… But at the time, I still really regretted it… My body is now so weak… precisely because I was late in rescuing Nier…”
“… Hero king, please look after yourself…”
“Please tell Nier that…”