The second day since Nina arrived.
Using the morning to suggest countermeasures to her, she asked her to sign the commission document if she approved.
Once noon passed, she had receptionist duties.
When she was standing behind the counter while gazing at the ever unchanging rain, the branch’s door was opened vigorously.
What was it this time?
Looking towards the door, she saw a group of people standing with their faces covered by hoods.
Ilya, who’d seen who they were despite their attempts to hide it through her [God’s Eyes], unintentionally let out her voice.
When the group lowered their hoods, their blonde hair and blue eyes were exposed. With snowy doll-like skin, their graceful appearances left a strong impression.
The dozen or so good looking men and women who’d appeared had long ears at the sides of their heads.
The people that marched in were a group of elves.
What had caused Ilya to react like that wasn’t that they were all elves as anyone could see.
The cause was a man in the center of the group.
Clad in extravagant clothing that just barely avoided being pompous, the man surrounded by his robust escorts fixed his gaze on Ilya. He was practically glaring. To the point that you’d feel his gaze even after looking away.
(… Maybe he’ll leave?)
While Ilya was praying for that, Ria crept closer to Ilya and pulled on her sleeve.
“(Ilya, those people look important!)”
(I know, I know… haah…)
Not able to ignore Ria, Ilya opened her mouth to speak, hiding her reluctance.
Hearing her speak as though to usher them in, the group used that moment to draw closer to her.
Everyone in the branch looking at her was painful.
“… What business do you have?”
“I came to pick you up. Return with me.”
Hearing the man’s words, the dining hall grew even more noisy than it already was. A strange mood filled the room due to the music stopping because of the bustle.
Likely impatient from Ilya attempting to come up with some plan, the man straightforwardly walked up to the counter.
When he drew close to her, the man whispered towards her with a graceful smile.
“You said that you would return if I came, so I came.”
Ilya realized what he was talking about.
(Oh, I did say that, didn’t I… But you actually came!? I meant don’t ever come here!!)
Her grief never made its way to him.
“Who are you all!?”
Who was that? The one to appear and make the situation even more complicated was none other than the branch vice manager.
As somewhat of a silver lining, him showing up caused the man to move a bit away from Ilya. Although Ilya didn’t expect him to even come close to what she wanted—that is, him driving them away altogether—the branch vice manager pressed on the group.
Even so, her expectations were unfulfilled.
“Stop there. Do not come any closer to Eldest-sama.”
He was stopped by elves that drew their swords.
(So it was no good after all, huh.)
Hanging her head in her mind, Ilya resolutely changed gears and stared at the group of elves.
“… But Ilya-sama.”
“Don’t act with the same rules as in the village. You all are the ones in the wrong here.”
A few seconds passed with Ilya staring down the elves, their swords still drawn.
The elves ceded to Ilya.
Some of the elves’ faces paled from her bone-chilling gaze, but Ilya didn’t appear to pay it any mind and, after seeing that they had all sheathed their weapons, once again faced the man before her.
The man was the one with the right to command them, but didn’t appear to be particularly upset about his subordinates obeying Ilya’s command.
“Let’s do this again. It’s been a while, Fountain Eldest-sama.”
“Yeah. Since the time you brought York back.”
The man, speaking almost as though he missed her, was named Reginald Fritz.
He looked like a graceful man in his twenties, but he was an elder that governed Fountain Village and lived more than ten times that.
If York were to be considered a genius when it comes to ice-type magic, it could be said that he was a genius in water, fire, and wind attribute magic.
“Your readiness in wanting to trouble me is endearing. Because of that, it will be enough for you to return home for now. We will continue after reaching the village.”
And then each of the elders as well as the higher-ranked patriarchs would gather to decide Ilya’s fiance.
However, Ilya disregarded that as something too ridiculous.
One of the man’s eyebrows twitched in response.
“Why? I said that I would come after you came here, but just how long do you think it’s been since I told that to York? You panicked hearing that I was taking care of this child, didn’t you?”
Seeing Haku, Reginald’s eyebrows stirred even more, his guards’ gazes all focusing on him. Judging from the course of events, Ilya had guessed dead-on.
Because the Elf Village and the Heavenly Palace, within which dwelled the Dragon God, were both trade partners and mutual shut-ins, he could only think of it as them trying to gain information.
Because she was keeping the Dragon God’s child, it wasn’t unreasonable to believe that her relationship with the Dragon God had strengthened.
Reginald expected that she would eventually return after being unable to bear the loneliness, but if the person she was with was the Dragon God, it would be the same as losing a massive advantage they had over the other long-lived races. Flustered, he hurriedly tried to bring her back.
(So it was like that, was it?)
At any rate, Ilya was happy that her conjecture hit the mark.
Anyhow, she would use that to press on him.
“I dislike people who are so petty. Please, withdraw.”
His fault, his pettiness, could in a certain meaning be called the pride of an elf.
Undine’s not choosing him, someone that held a cheat-like ability for magic, was because she didn’t like that aspect of him.
On the other hand, York, who held an arrogance in that he looked down on others, was flexible in his dealings with humans that he tentatively acknowledged and people he was interested in.
She’d heard that Undine was pleased with his very un-elf-like purity and tolerance (?).
Even while she’d taken the time to think about things like that, none of them reacted.
(Is it around time to have them understand the situation?)
Just as Ilya was about to begin speaking—
—a rain-soaked man burst into the branch.
“Midee River’s water rose more than we thought! It’s not gonna hold!”
Its reinforcement wasn’t enough.
The elder smiled eerily.
“Ilya. You called me petty, correct?”
“Then I will have to correct your evaluation. Everyone.”
Hearing Reginald’s dignified voice, the surrounding elves all simultaneously straightened themselves.
“We will be going to reinforce the river.”
“”” Sir! “””
“How’s that, Ilya. This will be free, of course—”
The elves all stopped moving.
So that they would know they didn’t mishear her, she spoke once again.
“There is no need.”
Then, as though to ridicule the elves who’d completely stiffened at this point, a joyful voice echoed through the hall. Everyone’s gazes focused on a boy with a fairy on his shoulder.
“Yeah! It’s our turn from now on you guys can all go and leave!”
“If we ask Gnome, it’ll get done in one shot.”
He either didn’t understand or wasn’t interested in thinking about it, but either way, Gabriel just stood there. Partia was confused enough to make up for Gabriel’s share.
“Because I believed that the river would flood beforehand and consulted with Lord-sama in advance. We have already put countermeasures in place.”
When looking at the dining hall, several people waved their hands in response.
Those on alert at the branch were only the closest reinforcement group, there were other groups on standby in various places as well.
Even so, Partia wasn’t satisfied by that and hopped over to Ilya’s shoulder, continuing to speak.
“B-but wouldn’t it be better for us to go!?”
“That may be the case.”
Before explaining, she exchanged looks with Rachelle and had her act as planned. It wouldn’t be a laughing matter if they were too late due to her explanation.
Confirming that they began, Ilya looked back to Partia.
“Partia. Do you know how society works?”
“I don’t know!”
It was obvious that she didn’t think about it at all from her immediate response, but it wasn’t as though Ilya would stop with that.
Although her purpose was for Partia to understand it herself, it was also for Partia’s sake.
“… Right. This place has your favorite pudding, right?”
Partia’s vigorous assent caused Ilya to smile wryly.
Ilya knew all too well that the girl was a child who was fundamentally honest and would give it her all when it came to her goals.
“You pay money to the shop for the pudding you eat, but that money is then indirectly distributed to the traders who transported the materials here, as well as the farming families who were paid to produce the ingredients.”
It worked a little differently than that in truth, but well, it was close enough.
She had spoken with conviction in order to fill her words with a persuasive strength.
“However, if you produced all of the ingredients and made it yourself, what would you not do?”
“… Buy it from the shop?”
“Correct. Because of that, the shop wouldn’t be able to sell pudding. Because the shop wouldn’t be able to sell it, it wouldn’t buy the ingredients for them from traders. With that, the traders would no longer stock those ingredients and wouldn’t purchase from the farming families. What would happen then?”
“The farmers would be in trouble?”
“The farmers wouldn’t be able to make money and would have to stop being farmers. As a result, pudding would disappear from the shop. Although this is an extreme example, of course… a single action can influence many different groups of people. This situation now is the same.”
Partia’s pouting was fading, so she probably understood at least some of what Ilya was trying to tell her.
“Sure, it would be settled quickly if you asked for Gnome to solve it, but that would cause the people who earn their money from the same type of work to lose their income. If that happened, they may leave Rondéville to find a place they could make a living. With the people who could reinforce levees gone, what would we do if the river flooded over again? Would you be in Rondéville at that time?”
Her way of speaking had accidentally become a little harsh.
Conscious of that, Ilya patted Partia, who was hanging her head in shame.
“I said it just a moment ago, but that is just an extreme example.”
Even though Partia felt gloomy, she didn’t seriously reject Haku, who was trying to comfort her together with Ilya. Thanks to Haku, she was able to regain her former vigor.
“People with power must think about how their power influences those around them… It’ll be even more important after you turn into a fairiel, so make sure to remember it, alright?”
Now that persuading Partia was finished, Ilya switched gears.
When she turned back towards the elves, they reacted with a start.
(Now to make sure they understand.)
“Ilya. That thing we talked about earlier, about recei—there’s lots of Ilya-like people!?”
Immediately after she thought that, Nina, who was coming down from the second floor, raised her voice in confusion.
There was a commission preparation document in her hands, it looked as though she’d come down to bring it to her.
Ilya thought of an idea.
“Eldest-sama, do you seriously love me?”
The entire hall exploded because of the words that Ilya herself spoke while having to endure the chills going down her body.
(Wait a moment… That might’ve been a bit much.)
As expected, Reginald misunderstood Ilya as being embarrassed and responded in confidence.
“Naturally. Nobody could love you more than me.”
(Ewwww! Gross, gross, gross!!)
Ilya’s body was covered in goosebumps.
It didn’t show because she was wearing the [Miko’s Restraint], but it was all she could do to keep her face looking calm.
However, he misunderstood Ilya yet again due to her unintentionally looking away from him. Reginald grasped her shoulders and brought his face close to hers.
“With you by my side, be it the Dragon God or Demon God… I would lose to no one.”
(Gyaaaaah! Stooooop! Ueeeh… I feel sick…)
Despite anguishing and reflecting on her actions, she was deeply aware that this was her chance.
He’d dug his own grave.
“If so, prove yourself.”
Ilya mobilized all of her willpower to appear calm, smiling as big of a smile she could possibly muster.
Then, keeping her voice low enough so that only he could hear—
“If you can make Sylph surrender, I’ll be able to depend on and live with you in peace of mind.”