The Elf Saint is a NEET, so I Forced Her to Work in Another World, Vol. 16
“Milady, what do you think?”
I glanced at Meanor, who meekly followed as we trudge the narrow hallways of the Holy Consulate. The Human Saint had just ended our meeting, and since it was nearly the time for long sleep, my servant and I would just get something light to eat before we head back to our room.
From her expression alone, I could tell that my maid never liked what she heard. We elves, while we were allies to humans, beastmen, and dwarves ever since time immemorial, were fiercely independent people. We could always aid our friends, but it would be easier for a leviathan to enter a small doorway than for us to ask for help from anyone.
For us, being helped by other races is a sign of weakness.
Well, it’s not like we’re truly averted on this matter. Elves were like that because we believe that receiving aid would entitle that individual to certain privileges, and our people were afraid to do something they didn’t like while granting those requests. As such, we avoid being indebted to anyone else…save for our own kin. And Meanor was worried about the offer of the Human Saint. While I was aware of her intentions to help us, I was also concerned of the Lady Madelaine’s ‘forceful’ behavior…
Not to mention, the man she assigned to take care of me, the Lord Kuro…haa…he’s pretty annoying.
I didn’t mean that in a bad way…well, a little bad—just a tiny weensy bit, I guess? The Lord Kuro was annoying because he kept on prodding me to do something about Cherwoods’ situation, even when I told and made him understand that my god-powers were waning, and my people lost their confidence and faith in me. But no, he’s too determined to push me and ‘step up’ on my role as saint.
Why is he that persistent?
As long as I could still face the High King of the Gods and stare at Him without feeling guilty…whatever the ending of Cherwoods and the elves might be, then I’m fine with everything. Besides, it’s not like I chose to be a saint; this god-power given to me should’ve been passed to a more suitable candidate during the selection process. Didn’t the heavens supposed to know our futures? Why did they never see that? They should’ve been aware that I would end up like this, and acted accordingly to prevent this tragedy.
It’s never my sin.
My train of thoughts dissipated when I heard Meanor’s voice. Still wearing her ‘worried’ expression, she asked if I was fine, for I’d been unresponsive to her questions. Nevertheless, I reassured her that nothing’s wrong with me. “Well, if there’s anything weird that’s going on,” I told her as I looked around to see if there’s anyone eavesdropping on us, “it’s the Lord Kuro’s persistence on ‘helping’ me.”
“I think I understand his reasons, though, Your Holiness,” my maid replied. “After all, he wouldn’t be here if not for you opening that portal for him. Spending six dark, cold and lonely years inside that dead, barren world was enough to make anyone insane.”
“Yes, he is insane, involving himself in matters he has no control of. Look, I’ve made it clear for that guy that he doesn’t owe me anything,” I reiterated. “In the first place, it’s my own desire to open something that’s led to this! You know, I regret actually opening up that portal; my life inside my room at the tree palace was peaceful before the Lord Kuro came!”
“Your Holiness, I personally think the human lord is right, though…”
There was a long pause as I stared at Meanor. Taking a deep breath, I pointed out, “I believe so too, Mea. However, the Hinwe of now is different from the old Hinwe. As much as I wanted to change myself, I have no will to continue anymore. If I can choose between becoming a saint or serving as an ordinary maid, I’ll gladly choose the latter. I’m not cut out for this saint stuff…”
“Milady…please don’t say that…all the races look up to your wisdom before. You guided and protected the ancestors of these people and ours, generation after generation. And even today, your ideals are still being followed.”
“Ah, it’s been long in the past,” I flashed a smile to reassure my servant, though I never wanted this talk. “It’s just that, I’m already tired of living up to the expectations of others, Mea. They only know me when my help is needed; otherwise, they disregard my words and would get angry when their schemes fail. Are they even aware it’s not my fault? Dealing with others is painful and exhausting! Soon, the Lord Kuro will learn that his attempts to ‘change’ me are in vain.”
“But…will you give him a chance?”
I chuckled, “What happened to the elf culture of not accepting help from other races?”
“Your Holiness, more than your servant, I’m also your friend,” Meanor bowed. “And for me, I treat you as a blood-sister, and revere you as my saint. My family have long served you, and we believe that it is the right thing to do. As the heir to their wills, I won’t allow you to be hated, and belittled by our people when you have sacrificed so much for them…even if it means asking for the humans to help.”
“Well, alright,” I heaved a sigh. Honestly, I couldn’t look into my maidservant’s eyes; they were full of unwavering devotion and determination. “I’ll accept the Lord Kuro’s aid, as well as the Lady Madelaine’s offer. However, I’ll make them see the costs of helping someone who has long given up on herself.”
It was determined that we’d eventually return to Cherwoods and reinstall the Lady Hinwe Tal-Inwir as the Elf Saint.
But, for this to be possible, the former admiral of the Royal Navy of Cherwind, Lady Margaret Jean, recommended that we gather a formidable force once again—a fleet of steam warships, and an army—to reinforce the claims of Her Lazy Holiness. It was a sound plan, drawing from our experience from the Battle of Tenedrim Lagoon; though, I had my reservations. As what we learned before, the elves were extremely xenophobic when it came to their lands, and culture. An army and fleet of human, beastmen and demons propping up a ‘failed’ elf saint would be counterproductive, and could lead to tragedy.
Seirna’s sword is always drawn against those who go against her, after all.
Because of that, the captain of the Paladin Guards’ Corps, the Lady Sylvia Henristone, suggested that we form an army of elves—armed and trained with the latest weapons and tactics from Chersea, Cherwind and the Federal Demon Republic (to Chersea’s extreme north, beyond the region known as the Desolate North)—to spearhead operations against the rebels of the Saint’s Tree. With a sizeable elvish migrant population in Chersea and Cherwind, it was a good course of action.
Still, there were problems. The elvish migrants had negative opinion of the Lady Hinwe, and they wouldn’t fight for her; she’s the very reason they left Cherwoods in the first place! Also, as always, the human kingdoms won’t lend a hand to a venture they deemed they had little benefit. The demons and the beastmen were more enthusiastic; but, the elves hated the demons (at best, cooperation was at economical and practical levels, as was the example shown by the Lord Haya hiring elvish mercenaries to fight against his sister). The beastmen, for their part, were a more ‘palatable’ option for the elves; the only problem was, the elves would see our intervention as an affront to their ‘independence’, making any force aside from the elves themselves impractical.
I’m afraid our help will turn into an event similar to the Franco-Belgian Occupation of the Ruhr during Earth’s 1920s.
I guess we really needed to work on Lady Hinwe’s attitude and outlook if we wanted for this plan to succeed.
And so, Ruro advised us to stand down. As of now, the Elf Saint was pretty useless, and sending her back to Cherwoods in her current state would mean a sure death for her. Lady Hinwe’s death would prompt Seirna to wipe out the elves, which was pretty ironic since the saints were supposed to guide people, not murder them. Nevertheless, I quite understand the reason behind the Saint of the Flame’s threat; after all, systems were placed to ensure a smooth flow of things…including realm/world matters. And, if I remember right, she voiced her concern of what might happen in case a ‘ruling’ saint was murdered; no one among us knew the consequences of such action.
All the saints of the past ruled until they died of old age, see? All saints, from all races.
I also think we’re not out of danger yet. The Seductress could still be lurking around, or at least, the last vestiges of her presence. I’m not risking ‘reviving’ her and damning Chersea, Cherwind and the Demon Republic just because some elves decided to murder their saint, and they got killed in turn.
In the end, we agreed to shelve the plan for later. Much of the expectations was put on me, for everyone thought I could solve the problems with Lady Hinwe’s character. However, I beg to differ. The Elf Saint had largely given up on herself; she’s not even fighting the ugly labels put on her. If I wanted to ‘push’ and ‘encourage’ her, she must change the way she treats herself, and it’d take time…not weeks, or months, we’re talking of years!
Yet, our time to do something about her waning god-powers is short.
Ugh, thinking about it is making my head hurt.
Still, I would persevere. Even throwing away the situation where the Elf Saint’s death could set off a chain of events that might trigger the return of the Seductress, I would help the Lady Hinwe. Disregarding Gaius’ plan for me to get Her Lazy Holiness’ trust and acquire her god-powers, I would not abandon her. For me, this issue was personal; the Elf Saint—with all the pomp and prestige of her title—was still a mortal. An elf. And most importantly, a ‘feeling’ person. As a teacher, it was my duty to help my students achieve success in their lives.
Well, yes, she’s not my student, but I want to repay the Lady Hinwe for the ‘third life’ she gave me.
As it was nearing the hour of the long sleep, Maddie eventually moved to adjourn the meeting. We hadn’t eaten anything yet, for after the Hagena and Duke of Shent docked earlier, the Human Saint insisted on talking to us…especially me. Of course, the conversation dragged on, until the matter of taking care of the Lady Hinwe while she couldn’t return to Cherwoods came into the fore. Unable to decide just yet, the elves asked for more time to consider our proposal.
Well, I was of mixed feelings on that issue. I won’t refuse helping Her Lazy Holiness, but at the same time, my finances were in the red. While Maddie did reassure she’d do something about it, knowing her and Chersean diplomacy…I suspected there’d be some kind of arm twisting in the background.
So, I resolved to talk to her later. I was just waiting for the others to leave. Lady Hinwe and Meanor were gone first, followed by Ruro, Natasha and Seirna. Her Fluffy Holiness, however, came to me and planted a ‘wolf’s kiss’ on my forehead. Then she whispered, ‘I missed you so much, master,’ before leaving with the two other saints. Lily, for her part, squeezed my hand for a bit, and brought it to her cheeks with her eyes closed…ostensibly to feel its warmth. After a few seconds like that, she went back to her prim self and left.
Only Maddie and I were in the inner room of the Holy Consulate.
The moment we were alone was the moment my fiancée waited for. She didn’t even let me speak any word; she pulled my collar towards her, wrapped her arms on my neck once she reached it, and pressed her lips unto mine.
I was bewildered by her actions; nevertheless, I did not dislike it. Of course, as someone who spent six long years alone—and with no assurance that I would get out of that dark, broken world (also, not counting those times I was separated from her during my stint in Cherwind and Cherflammen), I won’t deny the suppressed feelings I had for Maddie. I sorely missed her. The softness of her skin and lips, her lovely figure engraved in mind…and those lovely silvery-blue eyes…I felt them all once again as I fought back her advances with my own.
In my mind, only one phrase remained. I love you so much, Maddie!
It seemed this lovely girl was reading my thoughts, for her kisses intensified when my thoughts told my honest feelings. Her hands explored my entire being, and it’s as if she won’t let me take a breather. However…
Suddenly, she stopped and sat back in her spot earlier. I could only stare at her, surprised at Maddie’s abrupt changes in moods. But, my sweet fiancée replied to my expression with a smile.
“S-Sorry,” she laughed softly. “Any more than that would make me unstoppable. I…I mean, right now, my whole body is yearning for you, Kuro. If I removed your clothes, we’ll end up doing it. I wanted to respect your wishes, see?”
“W-Wishes?” I was dumbfounded at that moment.
“You want to marry first before we do ‘it’, right? I’m always prepared for you, Kuro, but you’re always thinking of respecting my family’s wishes,” Maddie winked at me. “And, err…well, I don’t want to lose you again, so I won’t force my desires on you.”
“R-Right…” Yes, I remembered and understood what she meant. Well, I won’t deny I was a bit disappointed; but, I still wanted to earn the ‘graces’ of her father and siblings, so we should wait and do ‘it’ after marriage.
Then, a long yet warm silence. Maddie and I stared at one another; soon, her eyes were filled with tears. I was alarmed when I saw her like that, though she stopped me from worrying.
“Took you long enough to come home, Kuro,” she whispered.
“Well, at least I’m back home,” I smirked as I wiped Maddie’s tears and caressed her cheeks.
My fiancée then rested her head on my chest, silent as she listened to my heartbeats. Honestly, I was hungry, but fuck that. My time with Maddie was more important than my stomach, and so I’d stay with her for as long as she needed me.
***Somewhere in Cherwoods…***
An army of elves marched across the great forest of Cherwoods, with picks and shovels on their hands instead of bows and swords. A few distances away from them, a great structure was slowly emerging from the hollowed-out ground: the Grand Canal of Cherwoods, originally the plan of the human, Kuro of Arles, to combat the desertification of the elves’ realm. As they arrived, the group went past another throng of their kin, moving out of the construction zone and into the rest areas.
The work was deemed important, so the elves hurried on its completion, organized into several teams taking turns after the other so that the construction never ceased.
At the head of the effort was Sir Eldarv, captain of the Elf Saint’s Life Guards. His orders came from the Lord Kuro himself, acting in the name of the Elf Saint, with explicit orders to use everything and every way to speed up the work on the canal. It was a complicated compromise, as the elf lords from various cities around Cherwoods balked at the idea of a human directing their work. However, time was of the essence; Her Holiness the Lady Hinwe was nowhere to be seen, and the sands were advancing every moment they delayed. So, they begrudgingly cooperated.
With unrestricted powers in his hands, the elf captain enlisted the nearby local populations for the monstrous task. The Grand Canal required deep trenches lined with limestone, so the water won’t get muddy and stretched from the Gulf to the forest edge of Cherwoods, bisecting the region into two. Smaller canals were also planned, but the priority was the main artery, estimated to bring in huge volumes of fresh water into the interior.
A significant part of the forest was cut down to make way for the temporary settlements, storage areas, and for the canal itself. However, Cherwoods’ trees were not those found in Chersea, and Cherwind; these were giant ancient redwoods, a diameter of which required at least twenty elves joining hands to surround. Cutting a tree took several long sleeps, and a few changes of turns of the workgroups. And that’s only one part of the task. There were also elves assigned to transport limestone from the cliffs to the northeast of Cherwoods, and elves mining and cutting those to proper shape as well.
The Grand Canal took a lot of the elvish workforce that the food production and other sectors of their economy were strained to keep up with their domestic demands. And they were nowhere near the quarter of the distance needed to fully complete the project.
“That human surely doomed us to death,” an elvish leader muttered.
Upon hearing his murmurs, Sir Eldarv stood from his chair, and asked the elf, “Milord, do you have any concerns about our task?”
The elf—intimidated by the question of the Life Guards’ captain—answered, “Sire, I mean no offense for what I uttered, but even with almost all of our people working all the time to hurry with the construction, the physical impossibility is just high! Several of our kin have already been injured because of the rush, and others are reaching their limits as well. Food supply is also dwindling; those who used to farm are drafted into our ‘workgroups’, and that pesky human—acting in the name of Her Holiness—cut off trade with the other realms. I’m afraid if this goes on, we will all die…either by the advancing sands, or by overwork!”
Sir Eldarv heaved a sigh, and explained, “Well, this is our chance to counter the sands. While we’re of the same opinion, milord, the advises of that human are effective; it would be criminal for us to shelve it because we don’t want to ask for help from outsiders. So, we have to take the risk. Surely, I believe you don’t want to die without fighting against it.”
“Anyway, it’s just this one time. Let’s finish this, then return to our homes without worries of advancing sands devouring our crops and land.”
“Heh, I’d rather die resting in my home, than die with overwork,” the elf replied. “Nevertheless, I’m worried about my child and my wife, so I’m here with my people. In any case, how’s Her Holiness?”
The Life Guard captain shook his head.
“That useless saint. She should just die already, so another saint—one that’s more competent—can take her place.”
“I implore you to cease such talk, milord,” Sir Eldarv rebuked him. “While she is lazy, the Lady Hinwe is still our saint. But, in any case, we’re working on a solution. Please wait a bit longer…we’re hoping this problem will end soon.”
Because of our logistics, personnel, and personal issues, we decided to return to the Holy Palatial Gardens. We couldn’t risk igniting a protracted conflict with the elves, should we force reinstalling the Lady Hinwe to her throne and that attempt fails. A meticulous, and well-thought plan was better than a quick, but impromptu scheme, especially in the matters of strategic importance.
Once we arrived at the palatial gardens, I was handed back my old room inside one of Maddie’s opulent guest mansions, and Lady Hinwe was assigned the room next to mine, along with Lady Meanor. Paladins guards were stationed nearby, ostensibly to watch for Her Lazy Holiness’ safety. Meals and clothing were provided, and there’s also allowance for both of them…similar to how they treated me when I first came here. The Human Saint’s only condition for the Elf Saint’s stay was to remain inside the palatial gardens’ compound at all times, and that she should report her destination whenever the Lady Hinwe wanted to go out.
Of course, it’s not rocket science for Her Lazy Holiness to immediately agree to Maddie’s ‘lenient’ conditions. I mean, coming from a perspective of a former shut-in, her terms are favorable for the Lady Hinwe’s attitude.
As for me, I made it clear to Maddie that I won’t mooch off her generosity the second time. While I did accept her offer for me to stay in my old room in the palatial gardens, it’s only temporary—at most, a week or two, until I find a nice little property for me to buy with my own money. Well, the Human Saint did offer me a job at the Academy, but when I learned that they’d make some ‘adjustments’—like removing some people in the staff just to accommodate me—I immediately rejected it.
I envisioned the Academy to be an educational institution available for everyone, including the employees. And because they already filled up positions up till the next school year, I can’t just barge in and grab someone else’s work, can I?
Damn it. At least, let the culture of corruption and the ‘benefactor’ system in my country remain where it belongs. Chersea is not the Philippines, and I don’t intend to make the former similar to the latter.
Any case, I had to focus on what’s in front of me.
“Hm? What do you need?”
“Hello!” I flashed my usual smile as the owner of the place—a big man in his late 40s, with a nice set of mustache and beard—came out to meet me. “I’m wondering if the job vacancy you posted is still available?”
The man stared at the job vacancy sign he put up in his store. Then, looked back to me. His eyes went to the sign again, and then to me once more. The man asked, “You look familiar…”
“Uhm…” I was thinking if I should tell him the truth about my identity, or give him a false name. However, I did not prepare for this; I had no fake identification papers to back a false persona. So, I told him, “Err…I-I’m Kuro…”
“Kuro?” the man laughed. “Isn’t that the Commoner General? The greatest hero to ever live since the legendary Cassandra David? Don’t play jokes on me boy, let me see your identification papers!”
I was reluctant to hand him my identification papers. However, the man insisted, and threatened to make a scene for disrespecting the hero if I didn’t show him my documents. So, I just asked him, “Sir, can you please stay quiet once you see my papers?”
The man grabbed it from me and read its contents. Soon enough, like what I expected, his expression turned from annoyed to that of shock. Then, he quickly kneeled in front of me, handing my papers back, and pleading, “Milord, if my family had found favor in your eyes, please spare us from your wrath!”
“Hah? Eh, uh…it’s fine!”
“I disrespected you, milord!”
“No! It’s really okay, I forgive you!” God! I wish you’d just stay quiet, damn it!
The man’s pleas did not go unnoticed. Soon, the guards of the town of Arles were heading towards our direction, thinking I was doing some ‘underhanded’ work. To make my situation worse, the neighbors of the store owner also brought out their makeshift weapons to defend their friend.
“Milord! I don’t want to make an enemy of the Holy Palatial Gardens!” the man clung to my jeans, as if he’s doing it on purpose, so I couldn’t run away.
I tried to shake him off, but he was persistent. “Ahaha…yes, it’s alright! I don’t know what you’re talking about, but you can now let me go!”
Soon, however, the town militia and the neighbors were upon me, and I couldn’t escape anymore. Apparently, the store owner did restrain me, so his friends could meet and greet their hero.
But yeah, I still have no work.
Fuck this. I’m always having the worst luck whenever I look for work here in Arles.