Rio explained his circumstances with Latifa to Arthura and the others.
That he was on a journey towards Yagumo.
That Latifa was once brought up as a slave of humans.
About how he encountered Latifa in the middle of his journey.
And how he released Latifa from slavery.
And that he planned to deliver Latifa to the people of spirit.
「As I thought, this side is completely in the wrong, isn’t it? My apologies…………..」
After listening to the whole story, Arthura lowered her head with a sad expression.
Latifa, who was the subject of the talk, either because she was tired or maybe because she had given up on understanding the complicated story, slept through the story on Rio’s lap. No matter how you say it, that became the best evidence of her attachment to Rio.
「My dear Uzuma, it is not an exaggeration for me to say that the matter has gotten this complicated because of your rashness.Would you at least let us hear your reasons?
Arthura asked Uzuma, the winged woman, in people of spirit language.
「That, from what I heard from Oufia, she saw a trace of abuse and something that caused her ODO disordered and made her fall into a deep sleep, that guy ……….. I got the wrong idea about the things he did to her ………. then got enraged」
Against her will, Uzuma was forced to give testimony on her reason for attacking Rio. A Large amount of cold sweat was rising on her forehead.
「From hearing the story till the end, it seems that the kid was put into a deep sleep so she wouldn’t cry at night. In the first place, you’re always jumping to the wrong conclusion, despite always saying that you will think through things a bit more. Striking without thinking of the consequence, this idiot. How can the warrior chief be such a sorry person? Isn’t most of this problem your fault? Didn’t you think that it was unnatural or strange? N?」
「My deepest apologies! E, esteemed elder. 」
Uzuma was shrinking smaller and smaller as she apologised to Arthura.
「Don’t apologise to me. You better reflect on your misdeed carefully in your heart, your punishment will be decided in the elder council today. For now, be good and properly apologise to Rio-dono. Understood? 」
「That aside, Sara, Oufia, Alma, that’s including all of you too. Sooner or later you will also become the leaders of this country. It’s a sad matter for me that, despite your training, you still failed to stop that lone Uzuma from rampaging」
「Ye, Yes! 」
The wolf, elf, and dwarf girl twitched when she said their names respectively.
「Though there’s actually no need to give you guys a punishment, I wish that you reflect on this case in your heart」
The three girls lowered their head so deeply.
「My apologies. Rio-dono, I was too absorbed in giving those girls a lesson」
Arthura, that finished with her scolding, bowed her head to Rio again.
Though Rio pitied the quartet that seemed like they just got scolded, he just watched them silently, since he couldn’t understand any of it.
「By the way Rio-dono, by some chance, you’re not catching a cold right？」
Arthura, who noticed Rio’s bad complexion, pointed it out.
「Er~m, just a little cold………….」
Rio, with a glance, showed his appearance of only wearing his underwear beneath the blanket. Arthura sighed on seeing his sorry state.
「………………..That’s also our fault, isn’t it? We will immediately prepare a special elf medicine. The elders meeting will begin after the break of dawn. After that, there will be an official apology from the whole people of spirit. Till that time, please sleep on that bed」
「Thank you very much」
Looking at the bed pointed by Arthura, Rio gave his thanks.
That time, Uzuma’s pale expression had already somehow abated, then she was saying something to the wolf girl. Sara starting to talking, translating Uzuma words.
「That, uh~m, Rio-sama, Uzuma’s apologising to you……」
Uzuma was sitting in seiza, then pounded her head to the ground in a frantic state.
Otherwise known as DOGEZA.
「About that, please also accept our apologies. For our unjust treatment towards the benefactor who protected our brethren.」
Sara, Oufia, and Alma also said their apologies to Rio in DOGEZA.
「………. Though it would be a lie if I said “don’t worry about that”, I accept your apology. Since at that time, there was also the possibility that I might inflict some injury to Uzuma-dono too.」
While he was surprised by the fact that this world also had DOGEZA culture in his memory, he felt uncomfortable having an elderly lady and girls of the same generation as him prostrate in front of him.
Nevertheless, it was still useless to think otherwise. It seemed it was also not a nice choice to make the matter worse, if he was to consider their future relationship.
While thinking of all that, Rio displayed his acceptance of their apologies.
After he drank the delivered elf medicine, Rio fell asleep. By the time he woke up, it was already noon.
When he tried to raise his body, he noticed that Latifa was sleeping by his side.
The cold in his body had completely gone.
It seemed that the effect of the elf medicine far exceeded human medicine. It had reached the point where it was useless to compare them.
As he was softly stroking Latifa’s head, the door room was knocked.
「Yes. Please come in」
When the other side heard his reply, the door slowly opened.
Coming in was, the wolf girl, Sara, the elf girl, Oufia, and the dwarf girl, Alma.
The three that entered the room politely gave morning greetings.
「Is anything the matter？」
Rio asked the three that entered the room together.
「In the meeting this morning, we were temporarily appointed to take care of Rio-dono. So we have come to properly introduce ourselves again.」
Sara said that, representing the three of them.
As the eldest amongst them, she had somehow acted as their older sister-like figure on numerous occasions.
「For the time being, please think of the three of us as Rio-sama’s attendants in this village of seirei no tami. Please take care of us from now on」
There was only a small number of people who could talk in the human language among the seirei no tami.
Only those who stood at the governing level would be able to speak in the human language.
Thus, the fact that they were already acquainted with Rio aside, Oufia, Sara and Alma were assigned as Rio’s caretakers because of their ability to speak in human language.
「I will also be troubling you, please take care of me from now on. Pleased to meet you」
Rio said that while nodding his head in the proper manner.
「N, no, we’re the one who should say that」
Though for a different reason, as if being embarassed by something, those three also bowed their head down. Their movements looked stiff.
It was as if they were being overly aware of him; or to be exact, they were in some respects feeling guilty towards Rio.
「The news will come immediately. The elder conference was held in our hamlet till just now」
As if she had finally sorted out her feelings, Sara then spoke out with a tense face.
「It was decided that we will deliver our gratitude and apology to Rio-sama formally. It’s been arranged for this evening and we were told to inform Rio-sama about this during lunch, if you had already woken up」
Though he was feeling a bit uneasy that he would be apologized to in a formal occasion, he understood that it was necessary.
Leaving that aside, right now he was more interested in the meals of the seirei no tami.
「And then, the lunch is already prepared. Would you like have it now?」
「Thank you very much. Certainly, please.」
He gave an immediate reply to such a heaven sent offer.
「Yes. Then, shall we also bring the portion for Latifa-chan?」
「That’s right. Since I think that she will soon wake up」
Rio let out a gentle smile whilst looking at the soundly sleeping Latifa.
「Understood. Then, we will bring it immediately. Please, Oufia, Alma」
Oufia let out an innocent smile and Alma obeyed it in formal manner; they respectively answered and left the room.
Leaving only Rio and Sara, along with the still sleeping Latifa.
Silence fell on those two for a short while.
「That, Latifa-chan was a former slave, right？」
Some time later, Sara asked that question with sad face.
「Yes, she was.」
Rio answered with short nod.
Sara mentioned Latifa as the topic.
「Could it be that Rio-sama was an acquaintance of Latifa-chan when she was still a slave？」
「No. Though I can guess what kind of treatment she received, I never asked her, since I don’t want her to remember the time when she was a slave」
「I see……… Err, If you’re okay with that, could you please tell me the extent of what Rio-sama knows about her」
「Are you sure, it’s not an interesting story, you know？」
He wouldn’t tell the story if it was just to satisfy her curiousity. So he implied that in his answer.
「……Yes。 But, nevertheless I still want to know it.」
Sara looked at Rio, a strong will dwelled in her eyes.
Her strong will reached Rio, he then told Sara about the kind of treatment Latifa received, also his own conjecture.
At first the emotion was thin.
Catching sight of the traces of abuse all over her body.
He guessed that she might have received serious wounds during battle practice.
The things that she was doing, something similiar to an assasin.
The thought that maybe she also didn’t receive a decent meal.
The thing that she also had an extreme trauma.
He told Sara all of what he roughly knew about Latifa.
Though Sara become perplexed when she was told that assasinating Rio was also Latifa duty, after he finished with the story, her blood boiled as if remembering what anger is, and her body slowly started to tremble.
「THAT GIRL IS NOT AN OBJECT！ THAT……！」
Sara raised her voice as she couldn’t find something to vent her anger.
Even Rio also felt the same thing as her.
In her case, she was filled with strong emotion for her brethren, so it was only natural that she held even more strong emotion.
「Nevertheless ……………. eavesdropping isn’t a very good habit, you know」
Rio said that while turning towards the opening of the door.
「……Muuu~, so I was discovered. You’re a sharp one, right. I’m sorry.」
After saying that, Arthura stepped into the room, along with Alma and Oufia who were carrying the meals for two persons.
Sara was so absorbed in hearing the story that she didn’t notice those three getting closer.
「Then, about that child’s story. I also have something to say to Rio-dono.」
Arthura said that with a mysterious expression.
「Well, it’s just a possibility, but, that child, maybe, is my great-grandchild」
Rio eyes slightly widened when he heard that.
「My granddaughter dissappeared more than ten years ago …………. Originally, she was an active and playful child. At first, I had thought that, maybe she was somewhere around, wandering aimlessly because she got tired of this hamlet. However, she never came back. Just like that, there was also no news about her, I thought that she was attacked by beast or monster ………….. 」
Arthura threw a glance at Latifa who was sleeping while holding onto Rio’s clothes.
「Her face, that I missed, strangely overlapped with this child’s face. I wanted to hear her mother’s name, but at the same time I’m also afraid … This child, her mother has already passed away, right?」
「That’s right, I heard that she’s already passed away」
「I see……… 」
Arthura let out an extremely sad expression.
At that time, somehow reacting to the conversation that was happening, Latifa slightly opened her eyes and woke up.
「Did we wake you up? Good morning, Latifa. It’s time for meal」
「Un. Good morning. Meal, eat ………..」
Latifa said that, speaking like a spoiled kid with drowsy eyes.
「Rio-dono, my gratitude for you」
That look of Latifa snuggling to Rio, looked just like a happy pampered child.
Witnessing that scene, Arthura deeply bowed her head in gratitude.
「No, not at all. To be thanked like this … 」
Rio’s face grimaced a little when he was thanked by Arthura.
In the first place, he hadn’t plan to save her and then come here with her.
Certainly, certainly, after knowing Latifa’s circumstances, he had become something close to her guardian.
But, to accept her gratitude because of it, just like that, Rio wasn’t as thick-skinned.
Though she noticed the little changes in Rio’s expression, even with her long-life experience, she still couldn’t fully grasp what kind of emotion Rio had right then.
「Fumu, your long awaited meal will get cold. Go on, you should eat」
In order to change the mood in that place, Arthura urged them to eat.
After that, Latifa who had completely awoken started on her meal with bright and carefree smile.
Rio also started his meal, a little after her.
Though it was composed of dishes that she saw for the first time, it seems to be to Latifa’s liking.
Even the flavor was satisfying for Rio.
After that meal, Sara, Oufia, and Alma went on to deepen their relationship with Latifa.
Rio and Arthura watched their conversation while standing a bit away from them.
Because talking to girls close to her age was something new to her, at first Latifa felt awkward and couldn’t chat without Rio beside her. Despite that, she quickly got along with them.
Just like that, time flowed by and it soon became dusk.
Leaving Latifa under the supervision of Sara and the other, with Arthura as the guide, Rio arrived at the room where the elders of the seirei no tami held their council.
The meeting room of the elders was built on the top floor of the tree house in a noticeably great tree.
Rio had observed and got to know the lifestyle of the hamlet of the seirei no tami, while on his way to the meeting room.
Their living style was completely integrated with nature. Inside the forest, they constructed their residences or tree houses from stone or clay.
Rio was looking at the buildings with great interest, it was truly a fairytale-like scene.
Climbing the spiral stairs that encircled the circumference of the tree, the great tree that released overwhelming presence came into sight.
This was possibly the tree that he and Latifa was originally headed towards, before his capture.
Strangely, Rio felt it was especially strong for him in the seirei no tami’s place.
Before long they arrived at the top floor and entered the room where the elders were waiting.
In the room, close to 30 elders of the seirei no tami were seated on the lined up tree chairs in a U-formation.
Sitting near the front entrance were an elf and dwarf, who looked mature with age, and there was only one seat that was vacant.
「Well then Rio-dono, please sit here」
When Arthura urged Rio to sit on the chair near the vicinity of the entrance, he sat on the vacant chair in the inner side of the front entrance.
「O-child of human. We had heard about this incident. The matter about you; that you released our captured brethren from slavery, and then, the matter about the misunderstanding that was caused by our brethren and caused much trouble for you. We want to express our deepest gratitude. Thank you」
When the aged elf that sat next to Arthura said that, all the elders that were present stood from their chairs and bowed their heads to Rio.
From their serious tone and that conduct, Rio could feel their sincerity.
Alas, he felt a little uncomfortable with so many people bowing their heads to him at once.
「First, I’m availing myself of your gratitude, I have received it. It came to my knowledge that there’s unerasable some black history between seirei no tami and human race. Maybe the actions that you take, for all of your brethren, is caused by such sad history. I can say for sure that it was the accumulation of my tribe’s evil deeds up till now. That said, I didn’t receive any irreparable damage from that incident. For me, as long the misunderstanding was cleared, there’s no problem. Please lift your heads」
Rio answered with same level of courtesy.
The elders raised their heads in a perplexed state on hearing his words. They were staring at Rio with a surprised expression.
「Since you have said it like that, then we are most grateful. However, despite that, it is a fact that we had repaid your favour with enmity from our side.. Therefore, as compensation, we will like to grant some of your wish……………」
He seemed troubled in some respect, but the aged elf uttered those words with a solemn expression.
「My …………………. wish？ 」
「Rio-dono. Syldra ……. This man was saying that he wants to express our gratitude for rescuing Latifa. Also, as a way of making amends for the hardship we caused to Rio-dono due to misunderstanding, that’s what he meant. But, the rest of us could not fathom what Rio-dono, who is a human, would want to have. Do you have a wish that you would like granted? And somehow, our fellows are scared to hear what kind of wish you will make」
Hearing Arthura’s words, starting with the aged elf Syldra, then the other elders, all had embarassed expressions on their face.
From those same words, Rio’s face finally emit a look of understanding.
From the point of view of seirei no tami, they considered the humans, who has always treated their brethren like slaves, as vile creatures.
Because of that, they had misgivings about the promised wish.
Even though they didn’t know what a human might desire for, they still had to give their gratitude.
To ask him directly what he wants in such a straight manner seemed to be Arthura’s own decision.
That must have taken a lot of courage for them.
「I see…… Well then, please take care of Latifa for me」
Rio said that, as it has been his reason from the very beginning.
Hearing the words, the elders looked at Rio and couldn’t hide their expressions of disbelief.
「Only …………. that？ 」
Syldra spoke with dumbfounded tone.
「Uhm, I vaguely guessed that Rio-dono wasn’t a selfish person. But Rio-dono, that is what we had already planned to do since the very beginning ………….., if you ask for that, then it doesn’t make it a wish.」
Arthura said that with a little shock in the tone of her voice.
「I understand. But, because I don’t think that girl can quickly get accustomed to living in this hamlet. Therefore, I really wish for you to truly take care of that girl, as a most important matter」
A moment of silence descended into the room.
「KUKUKU. This guy is a real masterpiece! That human over there, he’s giving a priority to another race; someone who was unrelated to him rather, than his own profit! 」
Following that, the aged dwarf that was sitting next to Syldra broke into laughter.
「He’s just like how I had described, Dominique. Rio-dono is an extremely rational human. He also has a fine personality, so he will never think about making any absurd demands. 」
「Well Arthura, you know that because you had met and talked to him personally. An unknown, add to that a human! Of course anyone would become wary, heh!」
The aged dwarf called Dominique said that with pleasant tone to Arthura.
「I’m pleased, Boy! If it suits you, I will give my great-grand daughter, Alma, as your bride! No need to feel reserved. By all means, just say it」[TN : Alma flag GET!!! ]
Dominique declared that in loud voice.
「I wonder about that. I wish that you were a little more greedy. It would feel bad for us if we didn’t at least compensate you for the help and the unfair treatment we’d given you.」
Arthura also agreed with Dominique.
「That’s right. Do you really have nothing you wish for? 」
Syldra expressed that with a sigh, while looking towards Arthura and Dominique whose drowned in their own world.
「……….. Hmm, that’s true. When you said it like that then I would like to get some food ingredients from the hamlet. I also want you to teach me the things that I need to know about Seirei no tami, and maybe your language? I’m a little interested in it. That’s about it, I think? Ah, and it’s fine if it’s until Latifa becomes accustomed to this hamlet, can you allow me to stay here for the while?」
Rio said his wish with a gesture like he was pondering about something.
「This lad truly isn’t greedy at all ……….. 」
Arthura said that with admiration tone in her voice.
「No, actually it’s nothing like that …………. I’m greedy in my own way」
「That’s not what I mean. You have too little of the desire, which is characteristic of your race, the human race」
「Haa ……… 」
Rio showed an expression like he was not fully grasping what that mean.
「About those requests, I think we can manage them. But what is it that you want to know from us?」
Syldra asked about the details regarding Rio’s second wish.
「That’s right, it would be something like the way to use spirit arts, and then learning the knowledge of the seirei no tami that is useful in everyday life. Of course I won’t teach a third party about what I learn, nor would I thoughlessly disclosed the information.」
「The wish sounds fine to me. Are there any objections？ 」
All members shook their head immediately after Syldra said that.
「Fumu, then we will work on those requests. Are only those enough?」
After Syldra confirmed that there was no objections, he asked for Rio’s final confirmation.
Rio said that while lightly bowing his head.
「Well then, let’s continue. This is concerning the punisment for warrior chief, Uzuma. According to our law, the punishment must be decided by Rio-dono. Do you have anything on your mind? 」
Rio pondered after hearing Syldra words.
Uzuma stood respecfully in the corner of the room.
「No, nothing par ……… I personally think the punishment isn’t necessary, but if we have to do it, then I will just follow the local custom.」
「…………… Really, our worry was unnecessary. I’m sorry. Rio-dono, our doubt has sullied your pride. Once again we deeply apologize for our crude behaviour」
Because of wonder towards what kind of punishment will be given to Uzuma, Rio could only have a little cramped smile.
「No, since I don’t particularly care about such matter」
「Fumu, we’re really grateful for that. Well then, I wonder if it were okay for us to decide a punishment for Uzuma?」
In the end, it’s announced that the punishment for Uzuma was living under house arrest for a while.
After that, receiving self-introduction of the elders, along with a modest banquet, just like that Rio deepened his friendship with the elders of the seirei no tami.