046 Exploring the Demon Woods 3 p.3

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Something was rustling in the grass and moving towards the stunned Joel and others.

“What are you doing here! It's dangerous!”

The boy who wore a fur waistcoat, looked like a hunter. However, it seemed incredibly unlikely for a hunter to be alone in this dangerous dungeon, nor did he seem like he was capable of blowing away the manticore with magic. The matter of fact was that he was no ordinary person.

Sheeran muttered, staring intently at the boy's ears.


Elves had ears sharper and sharper than other races. It was unmistakable evidence of being an elf.

Indeed, this Trees of Darkness was an unexplored forest. It might not be surprising if there were elves living in isolation from the humans. But why had he decided to help humans at the last minute, given elves’ usual animosity against humans?

“Anyways, let’s run. If we don't, that monster will come after us again!”

“Um, yes...”

“This way, come on!”

Leading the way, the elf boy ran windwards. Joel and the others hesitantly chased after him.

“Um, is this fine, Joel?”

“I'm not sure if we could have beaten the Manticore without any losses if we continued like that. I think we follow him here and escape.”

“I agree. We were able to fight back, in part because the manticore was just playing around. Also, our original goal was to find out what monster lurked within the forest. In that sense, we've achieved our goal.”

“I suppose so. But is it safe to go with that elf?”

“Hmmm, elves recognise these monsters as enemies too, right? Then perhaps we can trust him.”

At any rate, he had saved their lives earlier. It was true that humans and elves weren’t on the best terms because of slavery. But it was not completely impossible to be friendly either, since there were some elves who left their forest to become adventurers and integrate with humans. Moreover, they were in a dangerous place where they could encounter monsters at any time. There was nothing in it for the elf to be tracking them.

Such a line of thought would be the norm.

After running upwind for an hour or so, they stopped in a small clearing, like an air pocket in the woods. There was no sign of them being followed from behind. Did they shake off the manticore?

The elf who led Joel and the others here turned to look at them while wiping sweat from his face.

“Well, that was too dangerous, outsiders. What brings you to the depths of this forest?”

He said this with a smile, perhaps out of relief at having survived a close call.

The Trees of Darkness was an unexplored forest. This elf probably did not know about the existence of the human race, let alone the profession of an adventurer.

“Well, we are monster-slayers by trade, and that's what we're here for. We came to slay monsters.”

Joel, the leader of the group, blurted out a vague explanation. There were many adventurers who got into conflicts with elves who lived in forests. Sometimes, there were adventurers who were not interested in defeating monsters, but in the exotic plants and mushrooms in the forest. And of course, those items were of high value to the elves who lived in the forest. Joel didn't want to explain the situation fully and complicate things.

The elf boy maintained his smile.

"Really?! Wow, you're here to slay such a scary monster! It's a big help to us who live here, too!

“Haha, we don’t deserve that much praise.”

Drawn into the conversation, Mariono smiled too.

“Really, it's not something to be praised. We failed to finish off the manticore. Ah, we aren’t blaming you at all. If the fight had continued, we may have been in trouble.”

“That’s a relief!”

The boy replied cheerfully to Rosalie's words too.

Sheeran interjected.

“By the way...you.”

“Yes? What is it?”

“What’s with this lousy act?”

She gave her verdict coldly.


It was so abrupt that one could almost hear the elven boy stopping all his movements. His expression froze in the masked smile.

But it was only for a short moment. He started speaking again with a smile.

“Wait, no, no! What even is ‘acting’?”

“Sheeran? What do you mean?”

“Yeah! What the hell is going on?”

Joel questioned her with a serious expression, while Rosalie compared her companion with the strange elf. Mariano stared narrowly at the boy while putting a hand to his chin.

Sheeran continued.

“The ebbs and flow of his emotions were too constant.……And his voice is exaggerated. As though he was a pimp luring girls in the slum into prostitution.”

“What a terrible thing to say! As though I am somebody who does terrible things to women! I am going to be angry if you don’t apologise!”

The elf expressed his anger in a joking manner, raising a fist to the side of his face.

But Sheeran was not all impressed by his pretense.

“If you're trying to be angry, I think it's too late. You are being too tolerant of me, a half-elf, aren't you?”


"Elves hate children with human blood in their veins, so much so that they refuse to even catch a sight of them.”

Indeed. It was unheard of for a normal elf to have such a long conversation with a half-elf. It's all the more so if the half-elves were suspicious. Elves prided themselves on the purity of their blood and would curse at mixed-blood elves as though they were hairless monkeys. There was no way an elf would show any tolerance for half-elves.

This was more likely to be the case if the elves were so closed off that they didn’t know the concept of an adventurer.

“No, I mean, it was too dark and I couldn’t see clearly! And besides... yeah, yeah! I don't care about those things! Don't you think it's ridiculous to be trapped in discrimination and prejudice and all that? That's what I think! That's it!”

“Oh, that's very noble of you, isn't it?”

“So you do understand, Mr. Priest!”

The boy smiled at Mariano, thanking him for helping out.

“But you seem to know quite a bit. Where did you learn the indecencies of the outside world, such as ‘pimp’?”


"And you said 'someone who does terrible things to women'? You know what it means, don't you? Where did you learn such a word? By the way, it means 'a person who introduces girls to work in brothels', to be precise. Do you have prostitutes and pimps in your village? You didn't even know what we were doing in the forest when you saw us dressed like this, young Elf?

Mariano readied his mace with a stern look. He considered the elven boy in front of him to be a complete enemy.

Joel also pointed his sword. The effects of the magic sword had expired. But the dull glint of the worn sword was more than sufficient to draw blood.

“And how did you know that Mr. Mariano was a priest? He is in full body armor and armed with a weapon. If you weren’t familiar with human society - if you're not an adventurer, wouldn’t you think of him as a warrior, rather than a priest?”

“Oh! So you were trying to trick us!”

Finally, Rosalie, finally able to grasp the story, held her staff tightly.

There were too many peculiarities with this elven boy. He seemed like he was pretending to be unaware of things he had already known. For Sheeran who was brought up in the slums and Mariano who had gone through hardship during his solo days, they were absolutely convinced that he was trying to deceive them.

Joel and Rosalie trusted their two calm companions wholeheartedly.

The ‘balance’ in the Guardian of Balance was tilted in the direction of recognising the presence in front of them as an enemy.

As expected, the elven boy shrugged his shoulders and raised both his hands resignedly.

“Haah...I guess that’s it. You're more perceptive than I thought, despite being a half-breed of a hairless monkey. Those guys from the other day were much more simple-minded.”
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