Creatures of the Elf Lands
“In that case, what place do you recommend first?”
Chiharu asked excitedly. The fifth princess was quick to begin explaining.
“Indeed. If you want a nice view, then going into the deep lands would be good. There is an elf settlement with a giant tree that is most wonderful. Elves were originally people of the forest, and so elves that were raised in coastal lands always dream of going once in their lives.”
“I see. I want to go then.”
Chiharu had a dreamy expression. A giant elf tree? It was the ideal kind of scene that you’d find in a story book.
“But it happens to be close to a dungeon. And I heard that the two Saintesses are not going to the dungeons on this visit. So I suppose we will just have to look at it from a distance.”
“Maki and Chiharu.”
“Our names. I’m Chiharu.”
“And I’m Maki.”
The fifth princess looked a little embarrassed.
“My name is Rhea. Chiharu, Maki.”
The way they said Chiharu was always odd. Still, Chiharu was starting to find the fifth princess a little endearing.
“What? Why are you three so friendly all of a sudden? Weren’t you rivals a moment ago?”
The first princess looked angry. Maki smirked as she stood next to her.
“Now, now. Aila, was it? I see what’s going on here. You want to be friends too, right?”
“What! Don’t you know who I am? I am the mother of the next king. A grown woman who has raised children. Why should I want to be friends with the likes of you!”
She snorted and turned her nose away. However, she did nothing about the hand that Maki had on her shoulder. Maki replied with a flat voice.
“Oh, well. I was hoping to have someone more experienced come with us. But I suppose us young people will have to go by ourselves.”
Then she let go of her shoulder and pushed Rhea and Chiharu’s backs as they started walking.
“Hey, wait a minute.”
“Uh? What is it now?”
Maki asked without even turning back.
“Yes, I am worried about leaving you young ones by yourselves. And so it is up to me, as one with more knowledge, to lead and monitor you.”
Maki swirled around.
“Is that so? Still, it’s quite late today. I think we should have tea somewhere and plan on where to go tomorrow.”
“What about the hothouse?”
“hothouse? At the end of summer?”
Chiharu asked with a puzzled look.
“The place is left open during the summer. It’s a relaxing place with many kinds of plants. However, you’ll see plants that are only grown in the elf lands as well, or so they say.”
“They say, huh?”
“Well, yes. The people who come from other lands. For us they are ordinary plants you see anywhere. I wouldn’t know if they exist anywhere else.”
That made sense. Maki then said with amusement,
“Alright, let’s go to this hothouse and be shocked by all the rare plants!”
“That is very good!”
Rhea couldn’t help but chuckle at her oldest sister, who was now fully on board. Then she signaled at a servant who stood nearby. The servant did not show any surprise at Maki and Chiharu’s behaviour, and instead just nodded before leaving. Chiharu guessed that they were going to go and prepare some tea.
The hothouse was right next to the living quarters of the palace. However, the palace itself was very big, and so it took them a while to actually reach it.
“Since there is some time until dinner, I brought you some refreshments.”
The servant said as they put it on the table, along with the tea. However, Maki and Chiharu were quite preoccupied.
“Wha! What is! Whoa!”
Maki said loudly. Chiharu was just frozen. Around them, what looked like leafy white carrots were walking around on two legs. Not only that, but they were gathering around and even trying to climb up Maki and Chiharu. But they didn’t even have hands.
“So you don’t know? They are Mandragora that will be leaving this place soon.”
“Well, so you found something they don’t have in the human lands! Maki and Chiharu. You must be so pleased!”
The princesses said happily.
“Uh, do you mean those things that can kill people with their screams?”
Maki and Chiharu were frantic.
“Well, I heard that the other countries are strange, but I had no idea they had such frightening plants.”
“You know, you can just stay here forever if you want.”
Rhea and Aila looked at them sympathetically.
“No, no. Mandragora are fantasy creatures. There were no moving plants in the country that we came from!”
Maki was busy brushing the carrots off her clothes. However, after realizing that they weren’t dangerous, Chiharu looked at them with deep interest.
“That being said, I’ve never seen them be so friendly to anyone. When they are ripe, Mandragoras split into two or three at the roots, so that they can move to a different place. So they are usually constantly on the move, and have no time to play with people. Still, they shouldn’t harm you either.”
Aira was tilting her head to the side. However, Maki and Chiharu had an idea about why this was happening. All living creatures seemed to like the Saintesses.
“They are actually kind of cute.”
Chiharu squatted down and let one of them climb onto her hand.
“They don’t have a face. But I guess their roots act as arms.”
As Chiharu made a bowl with her hands, the Mandragoras started to climb inside.
“Hehe. It tickles.”
As Maki looked at Chiharu with exasperation, a Mandragora started hitting her leg as if upset.
“There are two of you, so why don’t you give us some attention too? Oh, fine.”
Maki couldn’t help but find it cute when it was angry, and so she too squatted down and offered them her hands.
“I suppose it’s the power of the Saintess… Hmm…”
The two princesses were quite surprised at the sight. By the time the servants started to wonder if they should say something, as the tea was getting cold, they could suddenly hear some noise coming from outside. And then Aaron and Edwy came rushing in.
It was then that the Mandragora surrounded Maki and Chiharu as if to protect them from whatever was approaching.
“You two. Really, now…”
Aaron and Edwy said with a sigh.
“I don’t see why you’re so upset. We didn’t do anything this time, did we?”
“Hmm. Interesting. However, they are in the way.”
Aeris muttered with a hand on his chin. Then he walked up to Maki and Chiharu.
Chiharu’s first words to him were that he should be careful so that he didn’t step on them. Aeris had no reason to care, as they would continue to grow no matter how many he trampled over or pulled out, but he didn’t want to make Chiharu sad, and so he stopped.
And then all of the Mandragora turned around to look at him at the same time. Well, it was hard to even tell which side was the front or the back, but it seemed like they did have a face after all. And they stared at Aeris for a while. Or so it appeared. Get out of the way. No.
That’s what it looked like.
“Don’t worry. He’s a friend.”
Chiharu said. Then the Mandragora turned to look at Maki.
“Oh, uh, yeah. It’s as Chiharu says. He’s a good person.”
After this reassurance, the Mandragora parted, leaving a path for Aeris. Aeris then moved forward as if this was to be expected.
However, the others…
“The Mandragora can understand the Saintesses…”
The princesses were very surprised by this.
“That’s a natural reaction.”
“You know what’s really strange? Aeris demanding some Mandragora to move.”
Aaron and Edwy sighed.