With a Love Sorceress I'll Make My Romance Last!
When the morning dawned, I awoke with a yawn and a stretch, then realized I was sweltering. This cottage of mine wasn’t the fanciest of lodgings: the floors were made of dirt, the furniture was worn, and there was a distressing lack of air conditioning — but I’d lived in worse. The cottage was at least larger than my apartment back in Japan, and I didn’t even have to pay rent! All things considered, other than the heat, I couldn’t complain.
In an attempt to fight the summer warmth, I opened a window. As pulled aside the glass, I heard voices; and not just one voice, but a group of them. I turned to see what was happening.
A whole flood of people stood at my front door. They glanced my way.
I quickly shut the window.
“A mob?” I whispered to myself as I hid by the floor. “An angry mob? Are they anti-elf or something? Is this what Claire meant when she said things would change?”
But the longer I listened, the more I realized they weren’t an angry mob. Rather, they seemed concerned that I’d run away from them.
Nervously, I stepped through my cottage and opened the front door.
“Great Elf Roki!” An older gentleman hailed my name, holding his arms high up in the air and bowing deeply onto the ground.
I watched in complete shock as all the other people then echoed my name in chorus, and fell to their knees, bowing.
Numbly, I stood there, mouth agape. “What are you doing?!”
Down the road, a mother and child rounded the corner. That exact same mother and child that saw me last time talking to a bulletin board.
“Mama,” the little girl pointed, “why is the town-board elf yelling at those groveling people?”
Immediately, I hid my face in embarrassment. I swear, how did this little girl keep noticing me at the worst times? Her mother shuffled her away, and I turned back to my problem.
“Please stop this,” I gently ordered the crowd.
The older gentleman looked up. “But we heard bowing meant great praise to your kind.”
Well sure, maybe in Japan — but the Elven Customs book I read never said anything about this!
“And where did you hear that?” I asked.
The older gentleman pointed to the back of the group, towards one of the women. She raised her head just enough for me to see her smirk. It was Miss Bradleton, the middle-aged woman that Madam Claire used as her disguise.
“Of course,” I grumbled. I should have known Claire had something to do with this.
“Great Elf,” the older gentleman repeated, clambering to his feet. “I am the Mayor of Rivasvale. I only wish I had a better cottage to offer you! A paltry place such as this must be far beneath your standards!” The mayor fell to his knees and bowed again. “Please forgive us!”
The other village folk chorused his words, all begging “Please forgive us!” in unison. I hardly felt deserving.
Finally I realized: when Claire said she had a hard time convincing the mayor to lend me a cottage, it wasn’t because of a dislike of elves. It was because they were scared to offend me!
“Please, just treat me like anyone else,” I tried to put him at ease.
“But a Great Elf only leaves their Forest once in a hundred years!” The mayor then shook his head. “No, once in a thousand years! Elves are the Great Sages, the long-living masters of wisdom and magic that aid our people. To think our village has been so blessed. We must praise you every day for—”
“I’m an idiot!” I interrupted.
“Pardon?” The mayor tilted his head.
“I was kicked out of the Grand Forests because I’m an idiot!” I wished my made-up story wasn’t so close to the truth. “So don’t praise me. Seriously. I’m an absolute moron.”
In the back of the crowd, Miss Bradleton struggled to stifle her laughter.
The villagers murmured among themselves, taking in this new information. While they were a little disheartened, the mayor still addressed me.
“We came here hoping to provide necessities for your stay,” the mayor continued. “Though you may be a, uh, sagely moronic elf, you are still an elf. To honor the Great Elves that advise our Kings and Queens, it is against our Kingdom’s laws to mistreat you in any way.”
I sighed, realizing I wasn’t going to win this argument. Clearly, this Kingdom owed some great debt to elven kind. I needed to go along with it, or I’d only stand out more.
“Also,” the mayor continued with a glint in his eye, “we have heard that elves travel well-prepared to reciprocate such generosity.”
I stared at him blankly, wondering what he meant. Then, I let out a soft ‘Ahh’ of realization. This was why Claire gave me all that money. They expected elves to be rich.
“Of course, Mister Mayor!” I put on a regal air, reaching for the satchel on my belt. I pulled out a gold coin. “Will this be enough for your troubles?”
The mayor’s eyes went wide. He snatched up the coin and showed it to his people, who cheered. For the next few hours I became overrun with visitors, and my quaint little cottage filled to the brim with supplies. Foods, clothes, furniture: it just kept piling in. I hoped I’d paid them enough.
As the parade of supplies continued, I shuffled over to the ever-watching Miss Bradleton.
“This is your fault isn’t it?” I asked.
Miss Bradleton held an innocent smile. “Whatever do you mean? I’m just the village widow, knitting blankets in her later years.”
“Madam Claire,” I sighed, “please tell me you didn’t use your magic on them.”
She gently shook her head. “Nothing more than the magic of money, dear Roki-kun. That gold coin of yours just paid them for the next three months.”
“Three months? For all those people?” I glanced in my satchel, choking when I saw all the gold coins within. For my own safety, I made a note to leave these coins in Claire’s hut, and only take a few with me as needed.
Then, seeing how the villagers now bowed to me as they passed, I frowned. “I can’t take Mia around the village with everyone treating me like this. I know I asked to be rich and handsome, but did you have to make me an elf?”
Softly, Claire mumbled, “I did that to secure your safety in the future, just in case one day I’m not around to help.”
Abruptly, Claire shoved a hat over my face and onto my head. It was a puffy brown hat, similar to a newspaper boy cap in style. I spluttered and tried to arrange it properly.
“A hat of illusions,” Madam Claire explained, “it will allow people to mistake you for human, but only if they don’t already know who you are.”
“That won’t help me much then,” I sighed. “It’s barely been three days, but everyone in Rivasvale seems to know me!”
Madam Claire tapped her lips in a smirk. “Then explore the next town over, Roki-kun. It’s a place where you and Mia could go on dates undisturbed.”
“That’s…actually a good point.” I secured the hat in place. “Do I just follow the signs to get there?”
Claire nodded and reminded me to use the opal-stone to call her, should I get lost. Thus, I set off, weaving through the incoming villagers with my head down. The further from my cottage I went, the less people took notice. It seemed Claire’s hat really was working.
Following the carriages, I reached the road out of Rivasvale. I gazed at a signpost. Although I’d been gifted the ability to understand their language, I still didn’t know what ‘28 knivots’ possibly meant in terms of distance. I chose to head in the direction of ‘Sivan’ — the town listed as the shortest length away. Considering Madam Claire told me to go there, I figured it couldn’t be too far of a walk.
As I started along the path, a pair of merchants trotted by on horses. They kept to a leisurely pace, and I ended up walking alongside them, picking up pieces of their conversation.
“...Did you hear?” One merchant said to the other. “There’s an elf here now!”
“No doubt on one of their sage pilgrimages across the human Kingdoms.” The man rolled his eyes.
“The story gets better,” the merchant moved his horse closer to the other, “the elf proposed to Miss Faralind!”
“Come on! Now I know you’re lying. Faralind? That cursed family would never attract an elf. I’d believe you more if you chose any other girl in town!”
The merchants laughed it off, agreeing that it was nothing more than rumor.
But for me, I stopped in my steps.