The harvest began in the morning in a hurry.
Originally it was planned a few days later, but I had warned them that it would rain from tomorrow on.
There was a danger of burgeoning if the ripe wheat would get wet.
Almost all slaves and beastfolks participated.
I and Celica were meeting a catfolk girl in the reception room.
She has bright, brown hair and cat ears. She's small, but her arms and legs are very, very supple. There weren't any surplus muscles. She was 20 years old, but she looked younger.
"Good morning, Keika-sama. I'm Anila and I'm a messenger nya."
"You went around the beastfolk district, right?"
"Yes. I delivered letters and messages to all the villages nya. Running is my strong point, so I can quickly flee from danger nya."
"Then can you please tell me the locations of the beastfolk villages and their populations, where the Demon Lord's army's garrisons, fortresses and so on are, and also give me a general overview of the terrain?"
I showed her the map that Celica had drawn with a pen.
Since Celica's country had relations with the beastfolk district, she knew the rough geography.
"Yes nya... hmm, here is the catfolk village and there are still about five injured and old people remaining. When going to the northwest there's a hill where about 70 tigerfolks live. In the forest is a settlement of about 900 wolffolks and dogfolks. Bearfolks are living half-way up the mountain, but only about ten. They are usually walking around the mountain. In the grove to the north live 200 boarfolks and 60 tanukifolks. To the north of the forest is a fortress..."
There are about 25 beastfolk tribes and about 2300 beastfolks. It's even less then I thought.
Apparently they were forced to work by the Demon Lord's army or fled to different places. Others have been made into food and the like, hence the population had decreased.
But it seems that on ordinary village only had about hundred inhabitants to begin with.
Celica adds the information from Anila to the map.
"There were also about five other tribes in the past, but they vanished. They probably fled or were attacked by the Demon Lord's army and wiped out."
"There are also some tribes whose overall population is only in the single digits, huh. Three dragonfolks, five snakefolks, two elephantfolks and six lionfolks. Aren't they pretty much extinct?"
"They challenged the Demon Lord's army and were defeated. They were almost completely slaughtered. Additionally, they also reduced the number of cats, mice, foxes and deer, who had cooperated."
"The cowfolks are also quite few with only about ten."
"Since all female cowfolks have huge breasts, they are kidnapped as playthings by the demons. And later their fate is to be eaten. The males are eaten when they're young. Apparently they are the most tastiest among the beastfolks."
"That's tragic. They've probably been brought to higher echelons of the Demon Lord's army. ...That reminds me, there is also one among the sheltered beastfolks. She certainly has huge breasts."
"The cowfolk Sujita-san was supposed to be eaten as the victory banquet, so I'm really glad for your help."
"She was supposed to be eaten?"
"The plan was to force-feed her with wheat porridge until her stomach swelled and then roast her in whole."
"...I'm glad that it didn't come to that. On the other hand quite a lot of tribes are going along with the Demon Lord's army..."
"We did it to survive, we didn't have a choice nya. Please forgive us, Hero-sama."
Anila lowered her head. Her cat ears were drooping.
I wondered why she was sometimes ending her sentences with "nya".
"I don't really plan to blame you. You didn't know whether you wouldn't be attacked instead... well, I've got a general idea of the locations of the Demon Lord's army's towns and fortresses. That's quite helpful, so thank you for that."
"Nya! It's an honor to be of use to you! I'll help you wherever I can as long as it's nothing scary!"
Anila's tail stood straight and she held her head high.
"The demon's were constantly pursuing me. That's why I'm quick on foot to run away."
"I see. That's hard."
"That's why I feel relieved that I can live in this village."
"That's good to hear. --So what's left is Sujita since she's the only cowfolk. She might be suffering, so please convey the message that they should be careful not to bully her to Mahal."
"To think even of the small details, as expected of a hero! I'll immediately tell him nya!"
Then she left enthusiastically.
It seems that she'll help on the fields once she has conveyed the message.
After that only I and Celica were left.
Celica speaks while brushing her blond hair back with her hand.
"I'd like to help them, but their location is bad."
"There are fewer than expected. It'll be difficult to defend them as of now."
"Yes... even if we'd make it into a self-governing dominion and add it to the Daphnes Kingdom, we won't be able to rush there if they are attacked."
"Since the large forest acts as a barrier, it's a hindrance when they are attacked. That's why I want to make it possible to rush there at any time."
"What should we do. It can't be, do you already have an idea, Keika-sama?"
"There is a way. I could use a fairy door."
Celica's blue eyes had an astonished look in them as she nodded.
"... if you say you can do it, you can do it, Keika-sama!"
"Yeah, leave it to me."
I stretched my hand out and stroked Celica's head. Touching her blond hair feels pleasant.
Celica's cheeks are blushing. She's leaning against me.
"*Ah*... I'll also work hard."
I separated from her after feeling her body temperature for a while. I head to another place.
I left the mansion in Celica's care.
I go around the mansion, to Haya's workshop in the backyard.
As usual, the four heads tall Haya was creating something on the workbench. Her small hands left afterimages behind as they moved.
"You're enthusiastic even in the morning."
"Oh. Is it already morning? Good morning. I asked Rii-san to install the donation box."
"Ah, thank you for the help. So, have you decided on the specifications for the paddle steamer?"
"The plans are done, so I could make in in four or five days. I'll make large wheels and connect them with a shaft to the Golem Core. All that's left is to bring it to a harbor and install them into an existing ship."
"Creating the hull as well is impossible, huh."
"I don't have any coworkers after all. My hands are too small for that."
Haya looks down with a sad face. Her triangular hat is drooping.
"It won't be long. I'll go to the frontier continents and take back the fairy world."
"Ah! Is that true? Thank you very much, Keika-san!"
Her eyes suddenly sparkled after she's been looking down depressed.
"That's why, please begin with the construction."
"Yes. By the way, I came up with even better ideas than a paddle steamer..."
"That gives me a bad premonition..."
Haya spoke with her hand proudly on her chest.
"The paddle steamer has bad energy-efficiency. You could make it to the frontier continents in three days if you'd use a jet engine."
"Heh. But won't the hull break into pieces from the waves."
"It can withstand them with magic~. Also, it'll perform better if it's screwed together. It'll last for one week. After that it'll start to leak but that can also be prevented with magic."
Haya's eyes were tearing when I immediately answered.
"If we rely on magic too much, we'll be annihilated when we encounter a demon that can dispel magic. And even if it's not a monster, there are also magic dispelling barriers. I'd like for it to drive without any magic if possible."
"I see. I get that you've thought deeply about it. It's no problem if it matches the humans' technology, right?"
"That's what I mean. Please tell me or Celica if you need some materials. Then, I'll leave it to you."
Haya took her hammer again and started to process metal.
In the evening, the harvest was finished.
The fields were divided into several parts and wheat was put there to dry.
The people were still picking up fallen ears.
However, since the big job that they had to do once a years was over, everyone was radiantly smiling.
The villagers and the beastfolks were still somewhat distant, but they have started to open their hearts when they've helped with the harvest.
It was a good trend.
And since it seemed to take some time, I and Lapisia helped as well.
Reaping the golden wheat was fun.
Lapisia speaks while she looks at the piled up wheat.
"There's so much wheat!"
"Thanks for the hard work. What's left are the threshing and the drying."
"Removing the wheat grains from the stalks. --Look, just like that!"
The villagers were pulling the wheat through a threading machine that looked like a comb with thousand teeth.
Lapisia looked astonished when she gazed at the scene. She seemed to be deeply moved emotionally.
I stroked Lapisia's head. I can feel the warm body temperature of a child.
"By the way, thank you for the help."
"Was I... a good girl?"
"Yes, you've been a good girl."
Then she put her thin arms around my body and hugged me tightly.
She frowned for some reason and spoke.
"How much...was I a good girl?"
"You were a really good girl. A really, really good girl."
She buried her face in my stomach.
She's slightly trembling.
--Somehow, she looks different from usual.
I ask her while I hug her slender body.
"What's wrong, Lapisia?"
Then she speaks as if she's whispering while she hugs me.
"... Say, Keika."
"What is it?"
She raised her face to my words. Her young face shows the expression of an adult.
"How much do I have to be a good girl to meet mother?"
Tears were floating in Lapisia's golden eyes.
I caught my breath.
Lapisia has been a good girl all along.
She rescued the World Tree, improved the village and listened to anything I told her.
She listened to all my orders and requests without even one complain at all.
Although she doesn't like studying or vegetables, she still endures everything well.
She only throws a tantrum when her Mother Earth God instincts are kicking in for the sake of the world.
I thought that she did it because she has mentally grown.
Of course she has, but maybe she also tried to be a good girl the more she missed her mother.
Did she everything because she wanted to see her mother as soon as possible?
--I want to let her meet her. Even if it's only short.
I hugged her body tightly. It's a pure body without any dirt. Her body is warm.
I buried my face in her blue hair while I spoke.
"You can meet her soon."
"Keika!? Is that true!?"
"Yeah, it's true."
Lapisia hugged me tightly.
With the whole strength of her thin arms.
I thought that my ribs would break.
I endured it with all my strength and gently patted her back.
Yuusha no furi