Azen continent, north of Central continent.
In the northern part of Azen continent, there is a forest called Keidroya Forest.
During winter, it is covered in deep snow and only monsters that can withstand that kind of environment go there. It’s a place that humans almost can’t go to.
However, there is an exception. There is one place there where a person could live.
The elves built a village there and the center of that place is the world tree.
Perhaps it is the world tree’s blessing. Only the area surrounding it has become livable and is not affected by the severe cold.
It’s not that it doesn’t snow there but it is much less compared to the outskirts.
Using that area, the elves have lived in that village for a very long time.
The deep, wide forest and the harsh environment have become their natural fortification enabling them to repel the influence of other races.
It is not that there was never any contact but they were not catastrophically affected by any external factor.
However, the village is not without problems.
The biggest of the several problems is their low fertility rate.
There are various reasons like bad effect of being a long-lived race and the influence of the world tree whose role is about to end but no one could give a solution.
Including other problems, the village is presently wrapped in something like a sense of stagnation.
However, a new wind blew away that sense of stagnation and it is also about to blow the elf village.
「…..what do you mean by you want to get close to the sacred world tree?」
Kousuke sighed. That line has been repeated since earlier.
Kousuke’s group visits the elf village but not on their usual party of three. There are five of them there now including Sera and Zepar.
They were treated well when they first came to this village.
It is probably because of the presence of the high elves Sera and Zepar. They were neither friendly nor hostile and the talk progressed normally.
A new world tree was born in the tower. To manage the world tree, they want to borrow the elves’ hand. For that reason, they want the elves to migrate to the tower.
The discussion went through including the detailed conditions with Zepar as the center. The representatives of the village participated with the discussion with interest rather than opposing.
However, that happened.
The atmosphere changed completely as soon as they said that they(including Kousuke) wanted to get close to the world tree.
According to them, the world tree is sacred and even the villagers can’t approach it. They won’t let outsiders get close to it.
Aside from the two high elves, they won’t allow others to do so.
They used various excuses to not let Kousuke’s group of three to approach the world tree.
At that time, they almost wanted to give up since they couldn’t understand the reason why the elves didn’t want them to approach the world tree.
Then, someone rushed into the room where they were discussing.
「What’s this….!? Don’t you know that we’re in the middle of a discussion with our guests?」
The person(elf) who entered the room whispered something to the elf in the center.
Upon hearing that, the representative’s complexion changed.
「……what do you mean?」
「I also want to know but….that’s the will of the shrine maiden-sama….」
The representative, who thought for a while with arms crossed, stood up.
「Guests, my apologies but I have to leave for a while. Could you please wait a little longer for our response about your previous request?」
「Oh, that’s fine….」
Zepar and Sera looked at each other since Kousuke himself answered.
「Thank you….I’ll ask you more about the migration of the village when I come back.」
The representative said so and walked out of the room.
Those who were left behind tilted their heads and resumed talking about the migration.
After a while, the representative who had left earlier came back when they were discussing the migration to the tower.
「I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. You were allowed to enter the sanctuary so please follow me.」
Hearing those words, the room became noisy.
Mainly on the elves’ side.
「Can’t you calm down? That’s what shrine maiden-sama has said. She wants me to take these people to the sanctuary.」
The noisy place suddenly calmed down.
「There are a lot of things I want to talk about with you but can you follow me to the sanctuary first?」
「Haa….if I could go near the world tree then let’s go…」
Despite being confused with the sudden change of policy, Kousuke replied like that.
Upon hearing that, the representative was relieved.
「Then, I will guide you. Please follow me.」
That said, Kousuke’s group followed the representative.
When Kousuke’s group arrived at the sanctuary, a female elf greeted them.
Unfortunately, Kousuke can’t tell the age of an elf so he has only seen her as someone who looks 20 years old.
And for some reason, the female elf, who introduced herself as Sheryl, is wearing the so called Japanese shrine maiden outfit.
(No way, to think I’ll see this outfit in this world….)
Kousuke listened to Sheryl while having a feeling of discomfort because she’s wearing a shrine maiden outfit.
「Thank you for visiting. I would like to apologize first. Originally, I should be the one who should have picked you up.」
Unlike the other elves, she was treating Kousuke as the main guest.
「Eh, areh?….No, I thought it was impossible in the first place as said by that person….?」
「If it is not you, it would have been true.」
Sheryl is clearly looking straight at Kousuke’s face when she says that but Kousuke can’t hide his confusion.
「I’m sorry for keeping you here for a long time. Please come with me….Elder Dorje, you can come too.」
The elf called Dorje, who had guided them there, went together with them as Sheryl said.
The sanctuary has a barrier that covers the whole world tree.
It is a considerably big barrier so that the world tree can’t be seen outside of the barrier.
By the way, the elves also surrounded the barrier with a fence.
Entering the sanctuary means entering the barrier. Because of that, the world tree, that can’t be seen, appears.
Guided by Sheryl, Kousuke’s group looked up at the world tree as they entered the barrier.
「….heh. It looks amazing.」
「It is really an existence that supports the world.」
As expected, Kouhi and Mitsuki are also fascinated by its presence.
At first, Kousuke was overwhelmed by the appearance of the world tree too but now, he is distracted by something else.
His left eye can clearly see a figure of a woman at the foot of the big tree.
「……I welcome you…..I’m sorry but I can’t leave, can you come closer?」
As told by the woman, Kousuke approached her.
Needless to say, Kousuke knew who that woman was.
「Can I borrow your hand?….Before that, let’s have everyone see me first.」
At the same time as those words, the woman, who can only be seen by Kousuke, appeared in front of everyone.
Sheryl, who can only hear her voice, is also surprised to see her figure.
That is not surprising.
As Liston told them earlier, the existence of fairies of the world tree is only a legend for the elves.
It is almost impossible to make them appear in public.
Only after seeing other’s reactions did Kousuke realize that she’s the only one who could see her earlier.
That said, Kousuke held out his right hand towards the woman.
「…..Please touch the trunk.」
The moment Kousuke’s right hand touched the trunk of the world tree, the whole world tree was shrouded in pale light.
Everyone watching gasped aside from Kousuke.
Though his hand touched the trunk, he felt like something’s flowing into him.
「That’s my power as I functioned as the world tree. I don’t need it anymore so give it to her.」
The world tree fairy in front of Kousuke smiled and interrupted him.
「….It’s alright. My role as a world tree has already ended. From now on, I will only exist as a normal big tree.」
The fairy said that with a very calm expression.
「…I understand. However, can I have a branch of this tree?」
「?….I don’t mind but, what are you going to do with it?」
「From now on, this tree will live like a big tree. However, you’re not, aren’t you?」
「The fact that this tree will no longer be a world tree means you, its fairy, will disappear. That’s too saddening since we’ve only met. I was wondering if you could dwell in that branch.」
This is the method he came up with when he obtained the knowledge contained from the power from the world tree.
「However, you won’t last long even if you dwell in the branch so I plan to plant you near that child. That way, you’ll be able to continue to exist, don’t you?」
Seeing the smiling Kousuke, the fairy lost her word for a while, and bowed her head after.
After emotionally saying that to Kousuke, she turned her eyes to the elf in shrine maiden outfit who’s already in tears after hearing them.
「…..Sheryl, as you heard, take care of things from here.」
After hearing Sheryl’s reply, the fairy’s figure disappeared even from Kousuke.
「Then, let’s go back. It would be bad if we stay like this.」
Before anyone was aware, Kousuke was already holding a branch in his arm.
「My apologies. Please leave the spreading of information to me.」
「I will return with Kousuke-sama. Ah, Sera and Zepar, one of you should go with us. We can’t plant the world tree branch if we’re not accompanied by someone who knows the circumstances.」
Sera and Zepar nodded to Mitsuki’s command.
Kousuke’s group returned to the tower in a hurry using Mitsuki’s teleportation while the others dealt with the elves.
Dorje, the elf villager, who was stunned by what happened, heard the details from Sheryl and finally understood the seriousness of the matter.
As a result, the elf village, unlike before, must go with a different flow. In the end, some of the elves from that village migrated to the tower.