Aeshma, one of the new members of the Heavenly Four, has arrived.
“Lord Saint! I’ve come to report on the afforestation progress!”
I thought she had dropped by to hang out, but she’s here to talk about work.
What a diligent person.
“Afforestation? What are you talking about?”
I remember it.
It’s the project to revive the dead forests in the Human Kingdom, right?
Our elves made a huge fortune from selling their crafts, so this idea was proposed as a way to use their excess money.
There was this grand backstory where the elves, originally forest-dwellers, were driven out of their homes due to the humans’ environmentally-harmful activities.
Now that the Human Kingdom has been overthrown, the Demon King’s army is bringing back the devastated nature.
“We’ve been busy making fields and growing seedlings since last winter. Everything is proceeding smoothly!”
“I see. Are you going to start planting trees soon?”
“Oh, no. It will take at least another year or two for the seedlings to grow to the point where they can be planted.”
O-Oh… Is that so?
Come to think of it, it’s not uncommon for trees to be a hundred or a thousand years old.
It’d be a mistake to think that their span is only about a few months.
“I estimate we won’t be able to start full-scale planting until the following year.”
Sowing and harvesting crops multiple cycles a year thanks to the hyper-fish fertilizer has made my sense of time deviate from the norm.
At first, we thought of planting otherworldly trees that we grow but discarded the idea after some consideration.
We didn’t want to upset the balance of nature by introducing any more alien species.
Coincidentally, the use of hyper-fish fertilizer to promote growth was also banned.
Unlike our farm, where the only purpose is to grow and harvest crops, the trees will form a forest that will live on for hundreds of years.
But the faster they grow, the shorter their lifespan will be.
Hence, Aeshma and her team were compelled to work solely on this project and nothing else…
“This project was originally meant to utilize the Demon King’s army after the war with the human race ended. But if anything, no words can express our gratitude to you, Lord Saint, for providing the funds for this.”
It’s not me who funded this project, but the elves.
May you accept their sentiments of wanting to revive their home.
“Consequently, there’s something I’d like to ask you, Lord Saint.”
“While we wait for the saplings to grow, we’re steadily making preparations for the next phase. However, there is a problem with the said preparations…”
And what’s that?
“It’s about the designated area where we plan to plant the trees. Since the purpose of this project is to revive the elves’ forest, the trees must be planted in the land where they once lived!”
I see… I guess so.
She really is diligent, after all.
“This is disgraceful of me to admit, but neither I nor any of the soldiers in the Demon King’s Army know where their forest used to be.”
“Oh… That is quite the dilemma…”
But it’s not like it’s your fault.
Elves may have branched off of demons, but they’re considered a completely different race now.
Not having an in-depth understanding of another race is understandable.
“Which is why we need someone knowledgeable about the elves’ former home.”
“The first thing I thought of was the elves who live here. I’d like to borrow their wisdom!”
“If possible, I’d like them to accompany us on our afforestation project as a consultant!”
When I gathered the elves and explained the details, they broke out into a riot.
“I don’t want to go! I don’t want to gooooooooo!!!”
Of the approximately 20 elves gathered here, all of them flatly refused.
It’s reviving the forest you used to live in, you know?
Shouldn’t you at least cooperate?
“Because!!! Accompanying the Demon King’s Army means we’ll be away from here!”
“I won’t be able to eat the farm’s delicious food! Nooooooooooooooo!!!”
“The fluffy futons! The relaxing hot spring!”
“I don’t want to stop working on my craaaaaaaaaafts!!!”
They’ve been completely domesticated by our farm life!
They used to boast about their pride as forest-dwellers and said it was preposterous for elves to sleep under a roof at first…
Now they sleep in a log cabin with cotton mattresses on beds they made themselves and frilly pajamas made by Batemy.
I hear some of them even sleep with cuddly toys in their arms.
They’ve lost touch with their wild side.
Wherever did their pride as forest-dwellers go?!
“We can’t live off the farm anymore!”
“If we move from here, everywhere will be just the same as prison. If so, just kill us. Pleaseee!!!”
They’re starting to resemble Adam and Eve about to be expelled from Eden!
“Does this farm take away the residents’ will to be independent?!”
“Um… I don’t think that’s how it works…!”
Hmm, we’ve had people come and go on our farm.
These elves are just throwing a tantrum like spoiled children.
“If that’s the case, I don’t think we can select an advisor for the project from among them.”
These helpless elves…
“I’m sorry, Aeshma. You came all the way here only to get this response…”
“It’s okay; I’ll try to find another elf who can help us.”
And the discussion ended there.
Some days later…
“I found an elf willing to help.”
Aeshma has brought good news on her next visit.
To think there’s still a benevolent elf out there…
Our spoiled elves should learn from her.
“What kind of person is this elf?”
“She has a bit of a complicated background… So, I’d like to discuss that with you as well.”
A complicated background?
What’s with her mumbling?
“The elf’s name is Elzariel…”
Mm-hm, I see.
What about Elzariel, then?
“She used to be a thief.”
“She used to steal left and right from the Demon Kingdom and the Human Kingdom. Our army finally managed to capture her in a prestigious arrest mission. But this all happened a long time ago.”
Hmm, what’s this déjà vu feel I get from her story?
“She was supposed to be executed immediately since she was a wanted criminal of the Demon Kingdom.”
But she survived.
Aeshma said she was part of a group of chivalrous bandits, stealing only from corrupt merchants and nobles and sharing what they stole with the poor.
“Because of this, there were some people in the army who defended her. One of them even manipulated the situation and hid her, making it look like the execution had taken place.”
A moving tale.
“She’s been in hiding for a while, but she obviously can’t stay that way forever. Hearing about our recruitment, she took the chance and came forward.”
Will she be forgiven for her crimes and contribute to the project to revive the elven forest, or will she receive capital punishment?
“She’s a little hard to control, so I consulted Astres, and she told me to ask you, Lord Saint, about it. And so, here I am again…”
I know why Mrs. Astres directed her to me.
She also knows the history of the elves who work for us.
I call the two elves beside me.
Before settling on our farm, these two had different titles—the leader and second-in-command of their former bandit group, the Thunderstorm Stonecutters.
They’re in the same line of work as the elf in question.
“Do you know her by any chance?”
Aileron shakes her head so vigorously that I thought her head would come off while Maelga silently makes an X with her arms.
…So, they do know her.
“All right. I’ll have Elzariel come to our farm to confirm things…”
“Ah! Wait, wait, wait!!!” hastily interrupts Aileron. “Fine, I’ll admit it! Sister Elzariel is one of us! In fact, she’s the founder of our group!!!”
it took me almost 200 chapters to realize that all the elves’ names have ‘el’ in their names. meanwhile aileron…