“I beg of you, can’t I request an audience with the ruler of this city?”
Eladia, who wanted to learn more about the situation she and her sisters had been placed into, first asked the female zoan warriors, who were taking care of them, whether she could be allowed to meet with Souma.
She was told that Souma is absent as he has gone out of the city with everyone for the sake of training. But, the female zoan, who felt sympathy for the circumstances of the elven women, decided to get in touch with him by using the drums and even received an answer.
“It looks like he can meet you if it’s in the evening and afterwards.”
It was a reply she received due to the good intentions of the female zoan, but Eladia sighed slightly in her heart thinking Ah, as expected.
It’s because according to her experience so far being told that she can only meet them in the evening and beyond always meant that she will be brought into their bedroom.
For that reason Eladia prepared for the meeting with Souma by cleansing herself with water from the well, applying lipstick, having her sisters comb her hair and dressing herself with the best clothes she had.
The appearance of Eladia, who had prettied herself up like this, possessed a beauty that couldn’t be seen as anything but an illusion that will vanish once touched. Her sisters, who noticed from her appearance that she was about to offer her body to a human for their sake, could only shed tears.
The place where Eladia, who was sent off by her sisters in tears, was led to was the location where Souma was arranging the countermeasures against the punitive force together with Garam and the other leaders.
Eladia, who had thought that she will be certainly brought to the bedroom, or that it would at least be just the two of them, was slightly bewildered.
Even so, she immediately switched her thinking and swiftly surveyed the people present.
According to the stories of the female zoan this rebellion is led by a human.
Currently there are merely two humans present in this place.
One is a frail-looking boy. It can’t be this one. The other one is a man at the prime of his life with an expression that immediately tells that he’s a veteran soldier with one glance. There’s no doubt that he’s the human who directed this rebellion.
Coming to that conclusion, Eladia tried to guess what kind of woman that man likes, but the one to whom the female zoan, who guided her here, called out to was the boy.
The boy came up to Eladia, who was bewildered while thinking Well, I never!, and smiled at her.
“Nice to meet you. I’m called Souma. Umm…”
Eladia felt shaken beneath her smiling mask.
Eladia, a high-class prostitute, was confident in her ability to appraise a man. However, even with her using that ability, the boy in front of her didn’t look like a person who would do something so outrageous whatsoever.
But, once she slightly observed the movements of the people in this place, it became apparent to her that this boy being the core of this place was an undeniable fact.
Feeling surprised, albeit only slightly, due to her being this confused for the first time after several decades, Eladia breathed out slightly and calmed her emotions.
“Excuse me, but would it be fine for you to tell me your name?”
Souma first asked Eladia, who was in such a state, for her name.
She considered it strange that he was someone speaking in such an extremely humble manner, but, Eladia introduced herself without batting an eyelid.
“I feel extremely delighted to see your countenance. I’m called Eladia. I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance.”
She showed a gentle smile while saying so. With just that, the eyes of Souma, who isn’t used to women, began to slightly waver.
The sharp-sighted Eladia, who didn’t fail to notice that, muttered in her heart “He’s more childish than expected.”
Souma, who doesn’t know that she was thinking about him in such way, awkwardly scratched his cheek while asking,
“I heard that you have something you wish to consult me about?”
Are you going to play it like that? Eladia revealed a faint, ironic smile.
If there were men, who pushed her down with force as if there was no use in arguing about it, there were also those who tried to attract her affection by praising her beauty while laughing vulgarily. And, understanding that she’s in a position where she can’t resist, there were also men who enjoyed inducing her to say indecent words or words of submission by playing dumb like this.
That’s why Eladia chose words to flatter a man’s vanity in order to win a man’s favor just as usual.
“I’d like to be honored with your esteemed benevolence, Lord Soma. My pleasure is your pleasure. I shall offer all of this body and soul to you, Lord Soma. Please, grant your endless compassion to this humble me.”
Souma was flabbergasted due to Eladia going on her knees while spreading the hem of her clothes on the floor like a flower.
Due to his reaction, Eladia lamented whether she made a mistake in her way of dealing with him. Wondering whether he maybe prefered a woman, who shows more resistance, over an obedient one, she made her body tremble, averted her eyes slightly and pretended to conceal her shame, contrary to her previous words.
But, instead Eladia became baffled due to Souma starting to panic.
“Wa-Wait a moment!”
At last Souma realized that there was a discrepancy in their mutual understanding.
“What do you mean by that!?”
Marchronis, who happened to be present, was unable to watch this any longer and told Souma,
“She’s wishing for your favor. You might even call it servitude.”
But, even so Souma only continued blinking his eyes incessantly, not understanding the situation at all. Marchronis, who thought that it wouldn’t get through to him unless he chose a more direct approach, explained plainly,
“She’s telling you to ravish her as you like. It looks to me as if she will accept that delightfully. In exchange, she requests your protection.”
Finally Souma understood the state of affairs. Just as he did, his face became bright red, he opened his eyes very widely and yelled,
Souma is a man as well. In the novels he read in modern Japan, he didn’t dislike the trope where the protagonist, who made a trip to another world, creates a harem and has sex with various cute girls. He even had the dream of also creating such a harem, if he ever went to a different world. Of course he intended to properly reserve spots for elven girls in that harem.
However, once he actually came to a different world, he absolutely never had the leeway to create something like a harem. But then again, even if he had the time to do so, Souma, who didn’t associate with women, probably wouldn’t have the ability to do so in the first place.
He looked at the others around him to find some help, but the males apparently couldn’t understand why Souma had lost his composure to such extent.
In this world, where strength still meant everything, it was a matter of course that the winner obtained the right to freely do anything with everything the loser owned. That’s exactly why it would be unlikely for someone to criticize him, if he made Eladia his sex slave as requested by her.
Souma comprehended that this appeared to be the common sense of this world, but there was no way for him to be capable of simply changing his attitude completely and receive her happily. If he had such nerve, he would have led a slightly different life.
Besides, after all is said and done, the unshakable trust of Shyemul, who whispered “Don’t confuse Soma with such a vulgar man” next to him, was very terrifying.
Souma didn’t have the guts to the degree of saying that he would accept Eladia in this kind of situation.
At any rate, because Souma resolved his misunderstanding, he frantically persuaded Eladia, waving his hands around like crazy while doing so. In a certain sense he might have been more desperate than at the time of making the “Proclamation of Iron.”
“… Are those your true feelings?”
As result of that, Eladia was finally able to realize her own misunderstanding. Her face, that looked artificial like that of a doll until just now was only filled with puzzlement. It had become extremely human.
“I don’t plan on turning anyone into a slave! It’s the truth! You and your elven friends are free.”
From his frantic behavior, Eladia judged that Souma didn’t seem to be lying.
At that moment the consciousness of Eladia, which had been detached until now, fell straight into her body.
And then Eladia cried.
The many years, where she had her heart and body thoroughly defiled and yet continued to protect her sisters while using her father’s last words as sole support, weren’t in vain. She felt that she had been repaid for all of it.
Eladia sobbed at times while having a fit of crying.
Eladia continued to weep in front of Souma and the others, who were bewildered by her suddenly bursting into tears, for some time.
Once Eladia finally smiled charmingly after having run out of tears, she apologized for her impoliteness until now and began to talk to Souma,
“Don’t you need elven archers?”
Currently Souma’s forces only consisted of zoan, dwarves and dinosaurians, all of them great warriors who possess strong bodies. However, they can only demonstrate their might in hand-to-hand combat, and are really bad at fighting with ranged weapons.
Because of that Souma, was wracking his brain on what to do with the punitive force’s enemy archers. The words elven archers were exactly the kind of words Souma wanted to hear.
But, although it’s only natural for the elves of the fantasy works known by Souma from modern Japan to be strong at archery, he felt doubts whether that was really true in this world.
Seemingly those doubts appeared on his face. Eladia laughed slightly and told him “Please look at my skills first.”
As it had been decided that Eladia would exhibit her archery skills in front of everyone, a scarecrow was hurriedly set up in the feudal lord’s residence’s courtyard. And then, while being observed by Souma and the others, Eladia stood around thirty melt away from the scarecrow.
At the time when she was about to pick up the bow that had been prepared for her, Eladia hesitated slightly.
For elves bows are tools they use every day. They are companions who share their joys and sorrows. And to some they are even holy. Won’t I get rejected by the bow, if the sullied me tries to touch it? That worry crossed her mind.
However, she resolved herself and took the bow into her hands.
The touch of the leather coiled around the grip part. And the existence of the wood she could feel through it. An agitation similar to blood regurgitating immediately ran throughout her entire body alongside the feeling of the bow sticking to her palm.
Yeah, in the end I’m really an elf.
Eladia trembled due to the suddenly deep emotions she felt after actually touching a bow for the first time in several decades.
After Eladia enjoyed that excitement for a short time, she checked the bow once more. The condition of the grip, the bend of the bow and the strain of the bowstring. The bow was bigger than Eladia’s ideal bow, but in reverse its tension and elasticity felt unsatisfactory. But she came to the decision that a crude, strong bow would be probably be for the best as her skill had declined as result of her not having drawn a bow for a very long time.
Eladia, who directly confronted the scarecrow serving as target, checked the contents of the quiver at her waist with a glance. There were seven arrows inside.
“Since it’s a bow I’m holding for the first time, I’d like to be allowed to only test it with two shots.”
Eladia combed her hair upward, exposing the elves’ characteristic long and pointed ears.
It’s not like the elve’s ears are big for no reason. It’s essentially the result of them having evolved so that they won’t miss a single faint sound in order to find prey, and in reverse, to sense the approach of dangerous beasts within the forest with its bad visibility due to the thickly growing trees.
Moreover, they are not just big. One won’t know if they don’t observe them from quite close-by, but inside the external ear (A/N: An ear is composed of external ear, middle ear and inner ear. The parts appearing outside the body belong to the external ear. Those parts are commonly referred to as ear.) there are minute creases depicting complex flowlines. One can consider their effect as an amplifier which efficiently collects the sounds caught by their long ears.
Moreover, according to a theory, the elven ears are highly efficient sensors that can sense not only the wind’s direction and its strength, but also the temperature and the level of humidity, on top of the atmospheric pressure. In reality, fine nerves, incomparable to those of the humans, run along the elves’ external ears.
And, for the elves in question that wasn’t a theory, but instead they instinctively knew that they can sense the situation in their vicinity by exposing their ears.
Eladia fired one arrow first. That arrow largely diverted to the right of the scarecrow, and moreover fell down with a “plop” far away from it.
Next was the second shot. This time it flew straight ahead, but even so it dropped next to the scarecrow.
Among those who observed that an atmosphere resembling that of disappointment spread as they wondered whether the elven archery, of which they had heard in rumors, was really something like this.
Eladia nocked the third arrow.
If one said that she wasn’t nervous, that would be a lie.
With the two shots so far she was mostly able to grasp the peculiarities and power of the bow. However, apart from that, her own skills after not having touched a bow for several decades had declined more than she had expected.
But, if she didn’t show the proficiency of the elves here, they would inadvertently fall behind the other races.
Eladia’s nerves were screaming due to her tension, just like a bowstring that was causing grinding sounds after having been drawn to the limit.
At that moment a gentle gust of wind rustled along Eladia’s ears.
『No good, Eladia. If you put that much power into it, it will deviate to the right.』
The words of her father teaching her archery in the past reverberated in Eladia’s ears.
The elves have only few things they are obsessed with. It’s because they have the leeway to simply enjoy the things that caught their interest at times due to their long lifespan.
However, the sole exception was the bow.
Elves are born while grasping a bow.
This was a timeless phrase extolling the elven skill in archery that had been widely spread across the Seldeas Continent.
As one might expect, that was too much of an exaggeration, but the elves let their babies hold onto toy bows and they are given bows to train with as a present once they reach the age where they gain the ability to understand what’s going on around them. From the time she became aware of her surroundings until the time when she was caught by the imperial army, Eladia endeavoured in training everyday with her father as teacher.
For elves that was a short time, but in reality it was comparable with the period it takes a single human to be born and grow up into adulthood. The basics, which were carved into Eladia while training for those many years, still dwelled within her.
“… Understood, Father.”
Eladia fixed her aim slightly.
And then she shot the arrow.
A light thump was audible.
At first everyone didn’t understand what kind of sound it was. But, once they strained their eyes, they saw the scarecrow’s body quiver faintly with one arrow stuck right in its middle.
Admiration leaked out of everyone’s mouths.
The next shot arrow pierced a location slightly right above the previous arrow. Souma and the others wondered whether its aim was slightly off. However, with the next shot arrows piercing the scarecrow’s throat, forehead and head, they understood that the previous arrows pierced the heart and the solar plexus.
Souma, who isn’t well-informed about archery, considered that to be amazing, but because he didn’t know just how amazing it was, he asked Shahata, who was extremely knowledgeable about archery among those he knew.
Shahata answered him with a resentful look,
“Sir Soma, you are a tease. Please spare me from asking about the difference between the light of a candle and the radiance of the sun.”
If it was such a distance, hitting the scarecrow wouldn’t be difficult for Shahata. But, as expected, precisely aiming at the vital spots up to that point was impossible for him. Precisely because he thought that he had reasonable skills himself, Shahata dropped his shoulders in a crestfallen manner.
Seeing that, Souma admired it with “To such an extent?”
At that point, Eladia, who had finished shooting the arrows, walked over and gracefully bowed towards Souma.
“I’m very ashamed for showing you such crude skill. With this, this is the best I can do.”
“Is that bow bad?”
Souma was surprised due to her phrasing it as if she would be able to show him even better results if she had a better bow.
“No. Isn’t that a good one for a human bow? But, once you experience an Elven Bow, you will always feel dissatisfied with anything else.”
“Those are bows that are handed down among us elves. I’d like to make one if we have time, but this time I have no other option but put up with this bow.”
A strong conceit could be sensed in Eladia’s words. I guess she’s quite confident in that Elven Bow or whatever it was. Having his interest aroused due to that, Souma asked for no particular reason,
“Hee. What kind of bow is it?”
“You are interested in it?” Eladia’s eyes shone mysteriously. “The manufacturing method of Elven Bows is something that’s not allowed to be taught to others by all means, but if you insist on it, Lord Soma…”
At that moment a weird voice resounded.
It was a strange voice that came out because Dvalin forcefully swallowed his surprise down.
Dvalin was probably the only other person in this place that knew the value of an Elven Bow.
The range and power of shooting arrows also depends on the archer’s skill, but the tension and elasticity of the bows that are commonly used are set. For that reason it’s fine to make big bows with a rather high tensile strength if one tries to raise the the range and power in a very simple way. In other words, a long bow.
However, for the elves, who hunt in the forest, the bow is a daily tool. Carrying such a lengthened bow within a forest overgrowing with foliage and vines would be very inconvenient.
Accordingly the elves enhanced their bows by improving on the used materials instead of lengthening them.
What came out of that process was the bow called Elven Bow.
In contrast to the bows of this era that were created by using just one kind of lumber, an Elven Bow is created by pasting together several materials such as metal, and the horns, bones, skins and tendons of animals. By combining materials with different levels of hardness and elasticity, they regulate the tension and elasticity of the bows, and it has reached the point where the different composition of the materials can endure the strength that will be put into the bow.
Due to the devising of the combination of materials and the bow’s shape, an Elven Bow is a super-weapon that has the size of a small bow while possessing power and range equal or even beyond that of a longbow.
It was only natural that the human countries, starting with the Empire that spent all its time warring, wanted to get their hands on the manufacturing method of that Elven Bow. However, the production process of the Elven Bow is a secret of the elves. All human craftsmen, who tackled its manufacture, failed.
It’s said that thereupon the Empire’s imperator caught the elven king, who knew the production method, and tried to extract the knowledge from him through torture. However, no matter what torture he was forced to suffer, the elven king never disclosed the secret. The emperor, who was enraged by that, thoroughly raped the elven king’s queen and princesses in front of him, but even so, the elven king didn’t say anything. Finally the elven king used a momentous gap in his surveillance and threw himself out of a window, and thus protected the secret of the Elven Bow with his own life to the bitter end.
Souma, who didn’t know about those circumstances and the value of the Elven Bow, showed a modesty characteristic for a Japanese.
“Err, well, if it’s such important manufacturing method, you don’t have to force yourself to tell me.”
Due to that, Dvalin, who had pricked up his ears to the limit, leaked a small sigh.
Dvalin, a dwarven craftsman, harbored complicated feelings about the Elven Bow.
Even with all the boasting of the skilled dwarven artisans, one thing they weren’t able to make in this world was the Elven Bow.
They disassembled the few Elven Bows they managed to obtain and thoroughly investigated those. Using the same materials, the even created a replica to the degree that one wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from the real bow, and yet, no matter what they did, they weren’t able to reach the power output of the real Elven Bow for some reason.
At last a single dwarven artisan put aside his pride, and after piling up mountains of gold and silver treasures, he asked the elven king to teach him the manufacturing method. However, the elven king answered like this:
“Would you feel like teaching me the manufacture method of glass if I piled up the same amount of treasures?”
Just like the manufacturing method of the Elven Bow for the elves, the manufacturing method of glass is a secret for the dwarves they would never share with others.
It’s said that the dwarven artisan left dejectedly while unable to return a single word to the elven king.
After Eladia slipped a chuckle due to the disappointed Dvalin, she changed her expression and deeply bowed her head towards Souma.
“I’m very sorry for doing something as boorish as testing you, Lord Soma.”
Due to these words Souma realized that he was tested whether he would flatter the elves in order to get the information about the secrets of the Elven Bow out of them, but he didn’t even show an attitude of being offended and only smiled wryly. Not only that, Souma frantically soothed Shyemul who became angry due to Eladia’s rudeness in his stead.
After that he once again praised Eladia’s archery highly.
That wasn’t just because he had been taught about the greatness of her ability by Shahata.
It was because Eladia is a master archer and a beautiful elven woman. She was exactly like a character out of the fantasy novels which Souma had repeatedly read in modern Japan. It couldn’t be helped that Souma, who likes fantasy, would get excited with such a person in front of him.
Due to Souma admiring her with glittering eyes owed to his childish excitement, Eladia reflexively revealed a smile.
What sweet person he is.
Eladia was truly astonished of herself for harboring such emotions towards a human.
“So, is it possible for me to be employed as archer?”
Of course there was no way for Souma to refuse that request. The result was that the elves were added to Souma’s camp.
It’s a digression, but another day even Souma was allowed to draw a bow as a test.
However, despite Eladia drawing the bow easily, Souma couldn’t pull it even halfway, no matter how much strength he put into it.
“A bow is not only about strength. It’s something you draw with reason, Lord Soma.”
Although he was told so, Souma didn’t understand at all. He pulled the bowstring desperately, but at last it reached the bow’s limit and he reflexively let go of it. Because his way of drawing was a total mess, the nocked arrow shot off sideways going in who knows what manner. It eventually bounced off Garam’s chest, who was standing around that area.
After comparing Souma and the arrow that fell at his feet, Garam said following,
“Soma. You are someone with a blessing, but you shouldn’t be a nuisance to your surroundings, okay?”
Souma couldn’t do anything besides feeling ashamed.
Eladia, who received Souma’s consent, immediately rushed to her sisters while holding a bundle of bows in her hands.
Although Eladia was clad in a somewhat vague mood that she would be broken at the time when she left, she ran back with an expression full of life. Her sisters were surprised wondering just what had happened to her.
Eladia simply explained Souma’s intentions in front of the bewildered women, and then said,
“If there’s some among you who want to regain their stolen freedom and dignity, pick up a bow alongside me!”
Of course no one raised an objection.
The elven women, who stood up with bows in their hands, started to move full of motivation, as if taking back the time they spend in idleness until now.
For the sake of regaining their archery sense that had started to dwindle in the many years that had passed, they started to train while even forgetting to sleep and eat. Seemingly unable to be satisfied with the bows that had been used by Bolnis’ guards, they borrowed tools from the dwarves and remodelled the bows with their own hands. Being unsatisfied with those as well, there were some who started to make bows by themselves.
“Making bows and arrows is nice and all, but are you guys alright?”
It was natural for Souma, who visited their workshop, to be worried. As far as Souma knew, the elven women continued to train and make bows and arrows with almost no rest or sleep. It was a big help that they were doing their best, but it was obvious that they would collapse if they went on like this.
However, Eladia shook her head slightly.
“I’m very sorry for causing you to be worried, Lord Soma. But—.”
Eladia turned her eyes towards her sisters who were making bows and arrows.
“Please look at them. Those happy expressions. Those girls are currently very happy. It’s because they can touch a bow, although they thought that they would never again be able to touch one, and they can make arrows, although they thought that they wouldn’t be able to make those. Please let those girls do as they like for now.”
Once he was told so, Souma couldn’t say anything.
Certainly, the faces of the elven woman, who are making bows and arrows, are sparkling vividly. Their appearances already aren’t those of sex slaves who only live with their raw pessimism. They look like warriors who are about to fight by their own volition.
“Please make sure to watch their performance of repaying your favor, Lord Soma.”
And then Eladia entered the encampment alongside her 200 sisters. Although they had the overwhelmingly advantageous condition of having the northern wind in their back, they repelled the archer battalion of Holmea, according to Eladia’s announcement, almost without even giving the opponent the leeway to shoot their own arrows.
The elven women at this time covered their mouth with a black cloth, feeling ashamed to reveal their faces on the battlefield because of their stain of having been sex slaves.
This was something they did in imitation of the zoan after hearing that they did the same when they launched a night raid according to Souma’s instructions for the first time. After this it became a custom for them to always conceal their mouths with a black cloth whenever they stood on the battlefield.
Even though they were slandered for being the “『Divine Son of Destruction』’s prostitutes” later on, at the same time, their loyalty and superior archery, which was feared by the surrounding countries, became the archetype of the “Black Elven Archers.”
Once his momentary shock passed, Darius collected himself and surveyed the enemy camp.
Going by the movements within the enemy camp and the number of arrows released against our archer battalion, I estimate that the number of elven archers is around 200. Even if they might be elven archers, there’s absolutely no need to be afraid of them if it’s such a small number.
Also, even if there was an ambush hiding somewhere, he couldn’t believe that they would have a bigger number than those within the enemy camp. As expected, if there had been such large-scale reinforcements, it should have been noticed at some point, no matter how you look at it.
Once he thought so, I guess there will be an ambush as predicted at first. Apart from that, there are slightly more than expected. In that case this battle will reach its conclusion as long as we defeat the enemy’s main force that’s secluding itself within the enemy camp with our entire army rather than idling around and being afraid of an ambush.
Having made his decision, Darius passed a decree to a messenger.
“It will never end like this! Tell the heavy spear infantry battalion! Advance and trample down the enemy camp!”
“I shall repeat the order! Tell the heavy spear infantry battalion! Advance and trample down the enemy camp!”
Having heard Darius’ order, the messenger whipped his horse once and galloped towards the heavy spear infantry battalion. A short time after his figure vanished within the regiment, the drums were played and the regiment ran, similar to ripples, in a joined formation alongside the beats of the drums.
At last the prided heavy spear infantry started to move in a dense formation.