Chapter 144 – Conciliation
In the bushes across from the Full-belly Dining Hall.
Two elves watched the restaurant while being hidden with concealment magic.
“Eating lunch with a friend… I am happy for you, Queen Evangeline…”
Synthia said with great emotion.
“I don’t think that it’s anything to cry about.”
Estelle said with exasperation.
“You truly are a dispassionate, modern person, Estelle. But one day, when you are older and wiser, you will understand.”
“I’m already an adult. I’ve been living for more than a thousand years.”
“Will, that is still a child for us elves.”
Synthia shook her head, and then elegantly ate from the small bag of fried potatoes that she was holding.
After closing her eyes and relishing the flavor, she said,
“These are so good. You try some, Estelle.”
“…I had been wondering about that.”
Estelle said with a suspicious expression.
“How do you know about human food anyway?”
“Well, I had many opportunities to leave the great forest, due to my diplomatic work.”
“However, elves strictly believe that the less contact one has with lowly human culture, the better.”
“Yes, indeed. But when working in the outside world, a lot of unexpected things can happen. If you run out of the food that you prepared, then you must secure some locally. And so I had no choice but to engage with these outside cultures.”
“You say that, but you seemed quite excited when choosing a store.”
“No, I was not. I think you are merely making assumptions.”
“I saw you give detailed instructions regarding the flavor of the potatoes.”
“One must receive food with respect and gratitude. It is good manners to eat it in the best state. Besides, I wanted it to taste similar to the food that we usually eat in the forest. This one is called ‘forest green’ and uses natural ingredients from the forest…”
“I am quite sure they called it ‘garlic cheese and pepper.’”
There was silence for some time after that.
It felt long, like a few thousand years.
“Yes, it is garlic cheese and pepper from the green forest. Natural ingredients taken from trees.”
“That’s not believable. Please stop.”
Estelle said coldly.
“So, Synthia… You’ve been secretly enjoying human food, haven’t you!”
“Well, what choice did I have? Once you start eating human food, elf food starts to taste a little bland. Sometimes, I just want to eat some fried food with salt and cheese.”
“You are a disappointment and disgrace. I shall have to report your actions to the council.”
“Wait! We can talk about this calmly.”
“Human technology is on the rise. This is an age where they can pose a real threat to the great forest. And so it is important to learn about the outside world, and absorb anything that we can use. While it is good to protect your history and tradition, as the elvish teachings say, everything changes in this world. It is not possible for things to remain the same. And so I believe that we cannot be bound by old ways of thinking.”
“And I don’t believe there is anything worth saving in these crude and vulgar cultures.”
“Still, that is just how you view things from the outside. It may be different if you give it a chance. Respect them and try to understand. That is important.”
“You can use all the pretty words you like to justify yourself, but it won’t change anything.”
“Just try some. Here, I will give you one that has extra cheese on it.”
Synthia offered her a fried potato.
“If it will make you stop. I will take one bite.”
Estelle said with a sigh.
“But it’s clearly evident that such a vulgar thing would not be delicious.”
“I see. Well, it was not that terrible.”
“Right? I also thought that it was impossible at first. And so it was quite a surprise when I tried it.”
Twenty minutes later, Estelle and Synthia had their arms full with food.
“As I usually eat food with more delicate flavors, this special balance is rather comforting.”
“Indeed. It is so different from elf food.”
“To think that I rejected such a thing before trying it. Prejudice is a scary thing.”
“I know. Because it was the exact same with me.
“Let us try that dish next.”
As they enjoyed various human dishes, Estelle started to feel a renewed respect towards Synthia.
(Being flexible enough to understand other cultures and respect them. It is not always an easy thing to do.)
Our instincts to cherish our own values inevitably makes us want to deny the values of others.
Because what you cannot understand can be scary.
We want to label something and stay away so that we feel safe.
(However, there are things you will be able to see by putting in effort to understand and respect other cultures. That is what Synthia was trying to teach me.)
Though, Estelle had no idea.
(While there were some complications, the results were as planned. I succeeded, and Estelle is now implicated in the crimes.)
Synthia had been completely fooled.
(This food is delicious. It would be a waste to not adopt it. I must slowly win over those elves with power, and work to bring cheesy fried food into the forest.)
She had the expression of someone putting a long-term plan into action.
The unfortunate truth that this woman, who seemed intelligent and deep, was just thinking about improving her personal food situation.
It was better that some things remained unknown.
Still, the two talked excitedly as they enjoyed the human food that they could not normally eat.