Chapter 148 Elven Magical Artifacts
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
After concluding my conversation with the Spirit Tree, the elders guided me to the central square of the village.
This was to observe items unique to the elven village that could serve as negotiation materials.
”Please, help yourself without hesitation. These were prepared for you.”
Before I knew it, I found myself seated at a banquet table, receiving hospitality from the elders.
The table was adorned with an abundance of delicacies, enough to feed even the elders present at the banquet.
”What’s wrong? Is your appetite not up to it?”
”Oh, no. It’s just that the sheer quantity is a bit overwhelming, and these dishes are unlike anything I’ve seen before.”
”We elves have an abundance of time, so we tend to get carried away with various things. Food is a necessity for life. However, even if it’s necessary, one can grow tired of similar meals for centuries. That’s why I was passionate about creating new dishes to avoid monotony. These are the results of that effort.”
Indeed, that explains the lack of coherence in the dishes. The table is a chaotic assortment of cuisines from different times and regions, making it impossible to imagine their flavors.
”Let’s start with something light. These are vegetables I pickled. Please try my pride and joy.”
”Okay, thank you.”
The appearance resembles cucumber pickles, with the surface showing signs of proper marination. As I take a bite, a balanced blend of sourness and saltiness spreads on my tongue. Biting into the pickles releases a lingering umami that gradually permeates.
”Delicious… It has a nice balance of sourness and saltiness. Is this pickle brined or vinegar-marinated?”
”Both. It’s brined first and then pickled in vinegar. The saltiness from brining mellows out during the vinegar-marination period, and over decades, the sharpness fades, resulting in this taste.”
Of course, these elves have a vastly different sense of time than human. Elves crafted this pickle, and it wouldn’t be surprising for them to present pickles aged for decades or even more. Although I doubt they would serve anything that could upset the stomach, the notion of consuming something aged for decades does require some courage.
”By the way, how many years is this pickle aged?”
”This one was brined for ten years and then marinated in vinegar for thirty years, totaling forty years.”
While pickling is a form of preservation, I still find it hard to believe that such extended marination wouldn’t result in spoilage. Yet, tasting it doesn’t give the impression of decay. It makes me wonder if there’s a special cooking method involved. As I ponder, other elders join the conversation.
”Hah, your pickling goes on for too long. It ruins the subtlety of vinegar marination. Brined for three years and vinegar-marinated for seven, that’s the best way to pickle.”
”I believe pickling vegetables for a year in vinegar is the finest. You see…”
”Oh, for me, it’s the five-year brined ones that truly shine. I’ve been saying that for a century.”
Clearly, even among the elves, there’s a diversity of opinions on pickling methods. Each elder passionately defends their preferred way, claiming it’s the best. While the year-long marination aligns with the elven concept of time, considering a one-year marination as “shallow pickling” does seem quite lenient.
”Very well, let’s have Neil do a taste test to determine whose pickles are the best.”
Amidst the heated debate, the conversation seems to be veering off track. Sensing the need to redirect the discussion, I raise my hand and interject.
”Excuse me, I would like to return to the settlement before nightfall. Could we please begin selecting the specialty items to present to His Majesty?”
”I see. Well, we can’t help it then. Since deciding on the best pickle can wait for another time. Is that acceptable to everyone?”
The other elders seem to willingly set aside the competition for the best pickle to focus on selecting gifts for the king. One of the elders signals, and elves start bringing various items to the square, forming a small mound beside the banquet table.
”So, all of this is for that purpose?”
”Yes, indeed. We were uncertain about what would be appreciated, so we gathered items we’ve created.”
Checking all of these would certainly be time-consuming, but having one or two items that could convince His Majesty should be sufficient. With this quantity, there’s bound to be something that catches His Majesty’s interest. I pick up an item that catches my eye and ask the elders for confirmation.
”It’s a hand mirror made by Parter.”
”Is there any magic involved?”
”No, it’s just a regular mirror with decorative elements.”
”And how about this box?”
”That’s a marquetry crafted by Shanyini.”
”Any magical properties?”
”…Then, what about this?”
”It’s a wooden nymph figurine carved by Dagosa.”
”Could it also have…”
”None of these items have magical properties.”
Wait, I have a bad feeling about this. Three consecutive ordinary crafts? Could it be…
”Excuse me, are all the items brought here just regular items without any magical connection?”
”Absolutely. Is it a problem that they’re not magically related?”
”Well… To be frank, it is.”
While some enthusiasts might appreciate these items, they are mostly impractical. It’s highly unlikely that presenting these items to the king would yield a positive response.
”Aren’t there any magical tools? Items that utilize elven magic?”
”Even if you ask, magical tools are typically created by imbuing magic into objects, right? Unfortunately, we’ve never created such tools.”
Oh no, this isn’t turning out well. I had expected the elves, being skilled in magic, to possess impressive magical artifacts that are hard to find in human settlements. But this seems to be a major miscalculation.
”Why haven’t you created magical tools?”
”Even if you ask why… Well?”
”To put it bluntly, we haven’t felt the need.”
The simplicity of their answer deflates my expectations. My assumption that elves must possess remarkable magical tools is proving naive. Unlike the greed-driven humans, it seems the elves don’t seek excessive convenience or efficiency. Living quietly in the forest, they don’t require magical tools.
Upon reflection, it’s apparent that magical tools designed for widespread use by non-magic users might be unnecessary for the proficient elves. With this realization, as I slump my shoulders, one of the elders, wearing a troubled expression, speaks up.
”…There is only one item that can be called a magical tool.”
”It’s a wedge created in the past to purify labyrinth.”
That must be the Ameris Wedge. It was originally developed by the elves, and while they vanished along with the Spirit Tree, humans later examined the original wedge and managed to produce replicas with slightly reduced performance. Creating them is costly, and while having several is not a problem considering the ongoing labyrinth infestation, it would be ideal to obtain authentic wedges from the elves.
”However, I doubt His Majesty would be satisfied with just the wedge. After all, humans can also create wedges.”
”Don’t lump those failed replicas, incapable of anything but halting labyrinth expansion, with our wedges. As I’ve mentioned, the wedges we create can purify labyrinth when driven into the land that has turned into a labyrinth. Ours can cleanse the labyrinth.”
”Really? Elven wedges are said to be slightly more effective than human-made ones, but the difference isn’t substantial.”
”Humans, unable to flawlessly replicate, likely boasted about their nearly perfect reproductions.”
This is quite an astounding revelation. From what I’ve heard, the performance disparity isn’t slight at all. The developers of the replicas probably had a good grasp of the original’s capabilities. Whether it was for the sake of their pride as developers or due to pressure to replicate the item, the results are remarkable.
If the elf’s wedge indeed possesses such capabilities, it would be a groundbreaking discovery. Traditional wedges are almost ineffective when driven into a fully labyrinth-infested area. They might temporarily weaken the labyrinth’s control, but they’d break within an hour due to the strain.
Therefore, to conquer a labyrinth, one must enclose the labyrinth perimeter with wedges, preventing its expansion, and then explore the labyrinth’s interior dominated by core and duplicate entities to destroy the labyrinth’s central entity. On the other hand, if the elf’s wedge works as described, it could both drain the labyrinth’s power while narrowing the search area.
The duplicates can only exist within the labyrinth, so if we insert the wedges, we’d only need to deal with the core monster, the source of the clones. This would greatly simplify the labyrinth conquest.
”It might work, and this could convince His Majesty—”
”No, it won’t.”
Just as I thought I had found something that could satisfy His Majesty, one of the elders interrupted my words.
”Wedges won’t do; we can’t spread those around the human settlements.”
”Our elven villages exist within labyrinths that people can’t easily enter. Other clans’ villages are the same… Imagine what would happen if our wedges started circulating among humans. You understand, don’t you?”
Elven villages exist in a separate dimension, and aside from elves and spirits inviting them, outsiders can’t easily enter. However, the elves can’t remain isolated in their villages either.
Occasionally, they descend to human settlements to acquire items that are difficult to obtain within their own realm. The fact that their villages are surrounded by labyrinths prevents people from approaching carelessly, so there’s no worry about being seen carrying supplies back to their villages.
But if the labyrinths were to be conquered and people started wandering near the village, their movements would be restricted, affecting both the Nyim clan and other clans.
”Providing the wedges might guarantee our safety. But what about the other clans? We can’t jeopardize other clans for our own protection.”
Given the circumstances, I couldn’t argue further. However, I still needed items to convince His Majesty, so I racked my brain for solutions.
”…I’ve got it! Um, is it possible to borrow the services of someone who can use spatial magic for a short while?”
”Someone who can use spatial magic? What do you intend to do?”
”If we don’t have magical tools that would satisfy His Majesty, I thought of making some. So, I was considering having someone who can use spatial magic come to the settlement and assist in the development of magical tools.”
As I explained this far, I noticed that the elders’ reactions weren’t positive. They all seemed preoccupied or wore expressions of concern.
”Spatial magic, huh… There’s someone in this village who can use it, but only one. Since there’s just one, if that individual isn’t present when anomalies occur in this realm, we won’t have anyone to address the situation. What’s more…”
”That individual is me.”
Raising her hand as she spoke was one of the elders seated next to me in the meeting room. She had opposed using the wedges as trade goods earlier.
”There were already insurmountable reasons explained, but there’s another impossible reason. You see, I’m obviously quite old, and I can’t travel far.”
”In that case, could I bring one researcher who can create magical tools using spatial magic here, and develop the tools ourselves?”
”I’m sorry, but that’s also out of the question. We’ve trusted you alone; we can’t extend that trust to others, even if it’s someone you trust.”
No luck, huh? I had thought that if I could create magical tools using spatial magic, I could protect the elves and persuade His Majesty that we can continue producing useful magical tools utilizing elven magic. But now, I was at a dead end. Just as I was hanging my head in resignation, the elder who was skilled in spatial magic placed a gentle hand on my shoulder and softly asked,
”If you’re interested, would you like to learn spatial magic?”
Please bookmark this series and rate ☆☆☆☆☆ on here!
Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.