C349: Afforestation Project Progress

Elzariel, the elf, is here. She was once a notorious leader of bandits who only stole from the corrupt rich.

She’s been caught, released, and now works on reviving their forest.
Her visit seems related to that.

“…What brings you here today?”
“Wait. Let me finish my food first.”

As soon as she arrived, she demanded to have some grub.
She shoves the food into her mouth, scattering rice around.

“I just love the food here! So much that I want to steal the entire supply!”
“Well, thanks…”

The food I cook is loved and appreciated by everyone.

But Elzariel seems to like it a lot, as if she’s a child throwing tantrums and doesn’t want to leave.
As she gobbles up the Chinese fried rice like a vacuum, Elzariel shows greed that she had never shown, even when she was a bandit.

“Ah… I’m full. More, please!”
“Um… Don’t you think it’s time you talk about your visit today?”

You took permission from the Demon King’s Army just to come all the way here because there’s something you absolutely have to tell in person, right?
You even made them send you here via teleportation.

If you say you made things up just so you can be here, people will lose trust in you.
Former or not, bandits have a terrible rep, after all.

“Don’t worry, I have something to discuss that also concerns you,” she says. “It’s about the tree-planting project.”

The tree planting project aims to regenerate the elves’ withered forest.
A forest that had once covered the territory of the former Human Kingdom is gone because their magic has sucked out the earth’s mana.
Mana, the source of magic, is also the energy that supports nature’s bioactivities.

“That forest was once our home. I have no objection to reviving it.”

This is why Elzariel is leading the Forest Restoration Project.

They’ve planted a number of young saplings in the vacant land that grew fertile by the return of mana.
In a dozen years or so, they’ll grow to become magnificent trees, forming a lush forest that will flourish for hundreds of years.

“We’ve got a problem.”
“A problem?”
“Someone has been interfering with our work.”

That doesn’t sound nice.

But why?
Elzariel is doing noble charity work; it shouldn’t be bothering anyone.
Besides, I don’t think anyone would benefit from interfering.

“Who in the world would do that?”

Well, that’s unexpected.
That’s Elzariel’s race.

“You’re saying elves are against it?”
“Elves are, by nature, an exclusive race, so even if we belong to the same family, we’re complete strangers to each other. The ones in opposition are the local elves living there. In other words, loc-el!”


Only a few habitable forests are left in the humans’ old territory.
We’re trying to get that forest back to its original size and state, but it seems some elves cling to this tiny space, stubbornly protecting their traditional way of life.

“Hardcore conservative elves, I’d say. As the number of inhabitable forests dwindles, many elves have either moved to the Demon Kingdom’s forests or abandoned their lifestyle to become bandits.”

Like Elzariel, for example.
She didn’t turn to stealing because she liked it but because she had to make a tough choice to survive.

“I guess you moving to a new place and exploring a different way of life is easier than sticking to the original. The ones who chose to live the hard way are the loc-els, who still live in the Human Kingdom’s small forest.”

Has she taken a liking to that nickname?

“It’s undeniably harsh to imagine sticking to a dying forest and upholding the traditional way of life. Those who dared choose this path are especially stubborn, even when elves are known for being innately so.”

And then, an intruder appeared on their territory—Elzariel’s tree-planting group.

“The afforestation is taking place where the original forest was located. Preparations are well underway to expand the naturally existing forest. For that, I thought I’d enlist the help of the elves who still live there. So, I went to say hello, but they only gave me the cold shoulder.”
“It seems that to them, those who abandoned the forest are not their friends. If you approach their domain, they consider you an enemy and attack you.”
“Oh no, we can’t proceed with the project, can we?”
“I’m afraid so.”

They shoot arrows at the people trying to plant trees and dig up the young seedlings they’ve taken pains to plant.
Work won’t progress much with such sabotaging.

But it’s supposed to be charity work that won’t bother anyone…

“The only way to proceed with the project is to eliminate these loc-els. I worked with the Demon King’s Army to attack them, but…”

Did you not try and talk to them first, at least?

“Alas, elves are invincible in the forest. They approach you, blending in with the trees completely unnoticed. And then they shoot a myriad of arrows at you.”

On the other hand, other races are unfamiliar with the forest and cannot disguise their presence.
They are slower and easier to hunt than any brainless beast.

“The shaman magic used by elves is a type of sorcery magic, but it’s more closely connected to nature spirits. If they shoot an arrow imbued with barrier disablement magic, it’s over for the prey.”
“That’s why sending the Demon King’s Army into battle is dangerous. The only people who can defeat the elves in the forest are other elves. In short, me!” she says, pointing to herself. “But no matter how brave and courageous I am, taking on a group by myself is reckless. So…”
“You came here?”

I finally found out her reason for coming here.
She wants to gather allies for the fight.

We do have about twenty elves on our farm, after all.
Plus, they all know Elzariel since they used to be their boss.

“So, you came here to ask for help from Aileron and the others?”
“That’s right. We’ll temporarily revive Thunderstorm Stonecutters and eliminate the sabotaging elves!”

I suppose it’s an appropriate measure, given that elves can only fight other elves in the forest.

“Noooo! No, no, no way!”

A beautiful tanned woman interrupts my conversation with Elzariel.
It’s Aileron, our farm’s elf representative.

“Were you eavesdropping, Aileron?!”
“Of course, I’d be alert if I knew you were coming, Sis! And for the record, I’m not going! I’m not going into battle!!!”
“What?! Aileron, we’re so close to reviving our home!”
“Even so! Once I follow you and leave the farm, you might hold me hostage, and I won’t be able to return here anymore! I don’t want thaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!”

She doesn’t trust Elzariel at all.

Our elves, who have grown accustomed to farm life, hate to leave this place more than anything.
They’re like the accused who don’t want to go to jail.
They hate it with every fiber of their being.

“Bah! Do you even hear yourself? You’ve become so soft! And you call yourself the second head of the Thunderstorm Stonecutters?!”
“I’m a humble potter now!”
“Shut up! I also want to live here and eat good food daily, but you’re the only one getting all that!”
“There it is! Your true intentions!!!”

As the farm owner, what should I make of this proposal?

Elzariel needs her fellow elves for the fight.
They don’t seem to mind, but it’s painful to imagine people of the same race killing each other.

The elves on our farm are our most important labor force and good friends; I don’t want to lose any of them now.

“I guess we have our answer,” I say to Elzariel, still arguing with Aileron. “I’m not going to lend you the elves. Instead, I’ll introduce you to some powerful allies.”

I’m not sure if this was a deliberate reference, but i found a site with a similar gimmick to ‘loc-els’.
地元のエルフ=ジモエル=jimoto no erufu (local elf)=jimoeru (loc-el)
ジモマガ=jimomaga=local mag
there was also a company with the same name (jimoeru) but its posts are quite recent (2021). this chapter was released in 2019.

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