Ex Strongest, Being Told Goodbye
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In a literal sense, the ritual was something about offering something important.
However, the offerings were dedicated to the Forest God, not the shrine maiden. The shrine maiden was merely a mediator and intermediary.
However, this ritual seemed to be done for the first time in years. It hadn’t been done for several hundred years, and it seemed that a new ritual was added for this time.
However, if anything, this would be more appropriate. People had to pay the price to make their wish come true.
It was also a story that Soma had heard somewhere…
“Hmm… so what are they doing this time?” (Soma)
While talking about such things, the ritual was moving on to the next stage.
Soma had not done anything this time, but still nothing was said. The man was offering something in the end, but this time, he came to the place of Soma … and soon after that, it began to take place.
It was difficult to explain, but… the closest thing that in Soma’s mind was a drinking place where people greet the higher-ups. Of course, the higher up in this case was Felicia, and the Elves were the ones who greet her. In short, while pouring alcohol to Felicia, the Elves were talking about something.
Furthermore, the rituals mentioned earlier and those before that gave only few seconds for each person, but this time, long time was given to every single person. The shortest was one minute.
What were they really doing?
“Aa, you mean that? The first ritual was the prayer. The next one is to pay the price. Then, she conveys their heart to the Forest God. I’m sure the Chief said so.” (??)
“Yes. As expected, that is unreasonable to be conveyed immediately. Well, in order to understand their heart, they really need to talk about it.” (??)
“Hmm… don’t their voices reach because of the barrier?” (Soma)
“It’s something like that. In order to convey the heart properly, they need to talk without being heard by others. Well, that’s the explanation that is given to us for the time being. Aah yes, I think that this time, there is a message from the Chief to you.” (??)
Soma thought that there was nothing again this time, but… no, when he thought about it, much time had passed. With that amount of time needed per person, it would be night by the time everyone finished especially when considering the remaining number of people. He didn’t know how long this ritual would continue, but… if that was the case, it wouldn’t be strange if there was some kind of instruction here.
“So, what is the content?” (Soma)
“Aah, as for the ritual, Mr Guest also can take part. Your turn is the last turn though.” (??)
Basically, Soma had no problem with that. What came into his mind was the intention of doing so.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t something that could be understood by thinking it. Thus, there was no reason to refuse. After thinking a little bit, he nodded in the end.
“I have something to worry about, but I’ll just ask her directly. I will understand that way.” (Soma)
“Well, it seems that there is some time before that.” (??)
“You’re right.” (Soma)
At the end of the line of sight, there were still a lot of Elves were making a line. As Soma saw that man, he shrugged his shoulders with a wry smile.
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When he noticed, it was the time that the curtain of night fell down.
Even though it is an open place, it was probably because the trees standing around it were too high. The overhead was covered with branches and leaves, and the sunlight didnt reach much. Even so, he could somewhat see the color of the sky through the gap, and it was starting to get black little by little.
The man’s turn ended, and Soma’s turn came next.
When he moved forward to replace the man, he felt a slight sense of incongruity for a moment. It was a proof that he entered the barrier. Then, when he looked around, he could see Felicia and Joseph.
What was displayed on Joseph’s face was a sour look as always. Soma only saw the man only for a few times, but every time, that expression was on his face. It didn’t matter if he used the phrase ‘as always’.
Then, on the Felicia’s side was…
“How should I say this… I feel a sense of incongruity after all…” (Soma)
“Eh…? Is that weird?” (Felicia)
“You… are you going to say that it doesn’t fit her?” (Joseph)
“No, I don’t mean that way. It just means that I am unfamiliar. That’s because your impression has changed a lot. If I have to say, it looks really good on you.” (Soma)
Rather than having a different impression from being a Witch to a shrine maiden, it was a change that people said to be a different person, but that wasn’t a compliment. The white hair and red eyes looked amazingly well in white and red. Of course, the original features were good, but even if it was said that this was her original form, it looked good enough to be honest.
“I-I see… t-that is… thank you very much.” (Felicia)
Anyhow, why this man’s sour look getting worse even though he was complimenting her? It was the same as before to begin with, but there were also feelings of anger hidden there.
However, Joseph and Felicia were just in a relationship between the Elven Chief and the Witch hidden there. There should be no reason to feel angry.
But, Soma just shrugged his shoulder, not caring about trivial things such as the reason. He hadn’t heard it directly, but he could guess it somehow.
In that case, there was no need to ask, and he didn’t come here to listen to the reason anyway.
“So, why did you call me? Are you going to ask me to participate in this ritual or something?” (Soma)
When Joseph was asked in that way, he seemed to have remembered it. The slight anger was completely retracted, and only the sour look displayed there. He snorted once to make him feel better. Then, he opened his mouth.
“Humph, if that is your intention, I’m letting you to participate from the beginning. But, this is for us, the Elves. It doesn’t concern outsiders like you.” (Joseph)
“Well, that’s true. Well then, for what reason you are doing this?” (Soma)
“Humph, of course, so that I can talk to you about the matter this time. I thought I didn’t have to give you the details…” (Joseph)
“I told him to explain the details after the ritual. So, he is going to do it properly.” (Felicia)
Joseph snorted as if he wasn’t interested, but it seemed that he was going to give the explanation. When Soma turned his gaze upwards and think what he would talk about…
“But it’s also about the secrets of our Elves. There is a limit to the details, but … Well, if this is briefly said, we are going to carry out a ritual to calm our god Forest God.” (Joseph)
“Hmm… Do you need Felicia’s power for that? Felicia is a Witch, isn’t it?” (Soma)
The moment Soma uttered the words, Joseph’s gaze was directed to him, and his eyes were narrowed.
But, what was there, perhaps, wasn’t the kind of anger. It was something more different.
But before he figured that out, Joseph’s eyelids were closed. Then, a sigh was exhaled.
“…Yes. As you may not realize, this is a problem with the survival of our race. That’s why it was necessary to use any hand. Hmmph… Of course, I’m also unwilling. Originally, this is a problem that should only be solved by us.” (Joseph)
“Well, I don’t care about the surrounding matter, but… wouldn’t it be nice if you say that from the beginning? In that case, I wouldn’t have to purposely spend my time.” (Soma)
“Hmm… are you going to say that you can be easily convinced? Because I saw that the possibility was low, I made it a late move. You are accepting my words obediently, so you may have seen the ritual done this way, right?” (Joseph)
If he was told that, it might be true. Rather than ritual itself, if he didn’t hear the circumstances of the Elves from that man, he might not have been easily convinced.
“I see……. It is possible that you need to spend more time as a result.” (Soma)
“Yes, that’s how it is. One of the reasons is that I didn’t have much time to spare.” (Joseph)
That was certainly a sensible story. It was already almost night as of now. If Joseph had taken the time to explain it to Soma, it would have been almost certain that it would have been even later at night.
“Hmm……. I was convinced for the time being about that, but, by the way, can I ask you one thing?” (Soma)
“…What is it?” (Joseph)
“Do you really want me to leave this forest without doing anything?” (Soma)
If he didn’t do well, it will be a fatal problem. Soma didn’t mean that, but the Elves were sheltering the Witch, but even the survival of their race was endangered. There was no way he could ignore such a dangerous factor.
“Hmm… I have made a promise with her. We will keep our promise. Absolutely. No matter what you say, there will be no problem.” (Joseph)
“What does that mean?” (Soma)
“You also have heard about her exile if the circumstance ends safely, right? So, there will be no Witches here, and you can do whatever you want. We are the Elves, you know? In this forest, we can completely hide the trace of that.” (Joseph)
Soma could not say that it was overconfident. As a matter of fact, it has never been known to anyone that a Witch was hidden here. If so, it would be possible to hide the traces.
If there was a problem–…
“In the first place, is it really alright to exile a witch?” (Soma)
“It is worth to do so in this circumstance. Certainly, it is pitiful, but it was better than our race die out because of an unwilling Witch. And you’ve heard of it? That We Elves can’t lie. That is, everything I just said is true.” (Joseph)
When he turned my gaze to Felicia, she looked back straight. The eyes were sincere, but at least to Soma, he couldn’t feel any intention other than for Felicia. It was unlikely that it was being said.
“Are you sure?” (Soma)
But, when he checked it just in case, Joseph nodded plainly.
“Yes, there is no doubt. …And I’m sorry.” (Felicia)
“Hmm? What is that apology for?” (Soma)
“Although you tell me to ask help from you, I still have no need for that.” (Felicia)
“I have a feeling that I still haven’t understood everything, but… even so, the ritual will end with this, am I right?” (Soma)
“”No, what we’re doing now is the ritual, but it’s the preparation stage. The ritual performance will be performed the day after tomorrow. But it’s true that we don’t need your help.” (Joseph)
“Is it enough with the help of the Witch only? If it so, I think it is better to have a lot of helps, isn’t it?” (Soma)
“Well, I told you so, didn’t I? If it is manageable, we will do something by ourselves. No, but should I say this? The only thing other than the Witch’s help is a hindrance.” (Joseph)
Joseph said so with his unchanging sour look, while Felicia was looking straight at him. Then…
“That’s about it. …And, there is one more apology. I owe you a lot, but I’m not sure if I can return it back to you.” (Felicia)
“I told you, I’m the one who owe you, but… leaving that aside, what is the meaning of this?” (Soma)
“There’s no meaning, it is as it is. It’s because I’m going to say goodbye here with you. …Soma, thank you very much for everything until now.” (Felicia)
As it was, Felicia was telling him such words.
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