"What's your name?"
She didn't reply.
"Don't you elves have names?"
She didn't reply.
"You are an elf right?"
She kept walking, hell-bent on ignoring Satoshi. The man himself was flying a few steps behind her, content on following her.
“I like your pants. What kind of materials are they made from?”
After the exchange where Satoshi had declared he'd follow her, it didn't take long for her to realize she wasn't getting rid of him easily. Just like her bow and dagger, clothes had appeared out of nowhere and she had donned them on even with Satoshi watching. They were all dark-colored clothes, but didn't look to be made from the hide of any animal. Perhaps elves cultivated some material and these were woven, Satoshi wondered. For her uppers, she had wrapped a long piece of cloth around her chest, leaving her shoulders and stomach bare. The lowers were like tight pants reaching up to her ankles. The entire outfit either let her body show or if it didn’t, it made the outlines perfectly clear. The dagger had disappeared so she didn't have any belt, though Satoshi knew she could summon it at a moment's notice if the need arose. Satoshi was surprised she didn't put anything on for her feet but he surmised it as an elf thing.
In simple clothes and barefooted, the green-haired elf had then walked around the lake to the other side where she picked up her bow that had fallen in the fight with the monkey beasts. She didn't have a quiver so Satoshi thought that she'd probably be able to summon arrows at will just like her dagger. Thankfully, she didn't attack him with it.
After that, with her bow in one hand, she just quietly moved around the forest while Satoshi tried to get her to talk to him.
"Are you alone here?"
She ignored him.
"Or there are more elves around? I'd love to meet them."
She ignored him.
"I know there's no one else around.", Satoshi whispered.
She tried to ignore him. If someone else had been looking at them, they wouldn't have noticed but Satoshi did. She gasped when he had said that and that meant she was at least listening, which made Satoshi happy.
"And if you want to know how, all you have to do is ask."
She ignored him.
“Come on, no need to be shy.”
She maneuvered around the forest with extreme ease, like she was a part of it. Somehow she knew where the bushes were thick and where there were depressions in the ground and seamlessly avoided them. If Satoshi didn't have his detection, he'd have lost her moments after they'd started.
“I’ve never seen anyone move so smoothly in the forest. Can’t say I’ve met a lot of people, but I have seen a few adventurer teams in Domania. None were as good as you. Have you met beastkin people before? Their kingdom is pretty far from your standard since you can’t fly like me. Ah, I don’t mean any offense in that. In fact, I’m a little jealous of people who can walk since I can’t anymore.”, he told her the story of how he lost his leg as soon as he arrived in this world. She gave no reaction whether she was listening or not but he kept telling her, some part of him just happy to converse(even if one-way) in English.
At the same time, Satoshi tried to observe her movements. He could tell she was going through a convoluted path to try and lose him but the sheer ease she did it with fascinated him. When he had traveled with other adventurer parties, like Meste's party, they would hack at the bushes and branches in their way to make a path. The elf on the other hand, never even plucked a leaf. She just walked but it seemed so fast as nothing slowed her down. Even flying, Satoshi had trouble keeping up as he would occasionally have to take some longer ways to keep up when he couldn't figure out how she got through certain paths, particularly in a certain area that had lots of vines entwining each other and surrounding trees. He was pretty darn sure she had come here just so she could get rid of him.
Not just the flora, she was also careful of the wildlife. Her movements were incredibly quiet and no beasts would realize she was close. But she would, and she would slightly modify her path to avoid the beast. It was so subtle that if Satoshi didn't have his detection ability, he wouldn't have realized she was doing that.
Funnily enough, since Satoshi was following her, the beasts detected him and tried to attack him. He'd just blow them away with a moderate wind (by his standards) to not do a lot of damage. Normally he wouldn't care, but right now he had an elf to impress.
"You know.. I can tell that you're trying to get rid of me by taking these convoluted paths."
She ignored him.
"But not the beasts. You're not intentionally leading me to them in hopes that something will kill me. It almost feels like you're trying your best to avoid them so I don't get them. It's admirable how much you care about the forest."
Satoshi tried compliments to melt her but her response was the same; silence.
Satoshi would also occasionally fly up to check if there was any clue as to where she was leading him but it was all trees in every direction, except for the mountains he had been at earlier. They hadn't covered much distance, now that he was traveling at her speed. Normally, he would be going at least a hundred times faster than this when he'd be flying but he didn't have a choice. Following her was at least a hundred times less boring than flying in the sky for hours with no destination. Even if she wasn’t talking back, the company felt good to him.
"In the morning I met a dragon. Or I thought it was a dragon. Do you have dragons here? It was fun to play with it. It was trying to eat me and I was trying to not let it, without moving from my position."
For hours, he was either talking and observing her or just observing her. She would occasionally pick fruits or herbs but only from places they grew aplenty. The items would then disappear like her dagger. He asked her about it but obviously she didn't reply. He also picked some of the fruits after her and put them in his bag pack that he'd gotten for his adventurer jobs. He briefly wondered about the job that he had come for before getting lost. He figured it didn't matter. Domania was becoming too much for him anyway, with him not being able to make connections with people. Having to constantly be on guard and hide his identity had been annoying and stressful. Meeting this elf could be the break he was looking for. Now if he could just get her to talk somehow.
Satoshi told her about things from his world like airplanes and rockets. This time he knew she was listening because sometimes she would snicker to herself, clearly thinking he was lying. He never told her he could sense her doing that, or she would have stopped.
During the night, the elf climbed a tree and slept on a branch; the branches here were really thick so there was little chance of falling. Satoshi would do the same, but a distance away from her. He had enough experience with his ability to know that his passive detection would wake him up if anyone got too close, so he wasn't worried about her killing him in his sleep. And he'd told her so, though without the details of his abilities, so she wouldn't get any ideas. Because he was worried about killing her in his sleep. He tended to react rather violently to fast-moving objects waking him from his sleep; a result of his paranoia from constantly being on alert in Domania.
Satoshi found a nice branch, several times thicker than him and sat down. He had to prepare himself for what was to come next.
He had been pushing himself too much today. The elf took little rests and as a consequence, so did he. He had been pushing his headaches back harder and harder and this was the consequence. As soon as he stopped channeling his breathing through his ability, the headache returned. He continued a very small use of his ability to maintain a sound barrier, otherwise he'd invite predators.
He had faced this before so he knew what to expect. He had been pushing himself, but he was careful to not do it too much so it was relatively mild. There were times he would have tears coming out of his eyes from the pain.
He had a very good solution on how to deal with this though; he lowered his air supply and let himself fall unconscious in a couple of minutes.
The next morning, Satoshi woke up fresh. As fresh as anyone from the modern era who had to sleep the whole night on such a hard surface, which is to say, not very. But at the very least, his headache was gone.
He pushed himself up without using his powers. By micromanaging the flow of air around his body, he could control his limbs without having to use his muscles. But it wouldn't do to not exercise, otherwise his muscles would degrade. Ever since his time with Feriana, he hadn't missed a single day of exercise. He did his regular set of stretches, which were a lot more versatile than what a normal person could do since he was able to suspend himself in air. On a thick branch, he did some pushups, and on a thin one, some pull-ups. Using air pressure to hold his lower body in place, he also did some crunches. It wasn't possible to do normal sit-ups with a single leg so he adjusted his weight using the air pressure again and did some sit-ups as well. He did a couple more exercises with multiple sets of each. In the end, he used some air pressure to massage his shoulders and back.
Getting a nice massage after an exercise was the best. The massage with air obviously had its limitations, like not being able to use oil or feeling cold due to the evaporation, but he could control the pressure pretty precisely and it felt good on his sore muscles after having slept on a hard surface.
Such an activity after waking up was only possible for him because of his ability to channel his breathing. Over time he had gotten used to his lung capacity and he would force air in to their limit. Using his ability to breathe was easier and much more efficient than doing it using his chest muscles but that in itself would eventually make his chest muscles weaker. So for the next 30 minutes, he meditated, breathing in and out without any help from his ability. He focused on his breathing, only sometimes getting distracted by sexy thoughts of his beautiful companion.
He had found the order of exercise, massage, and meditation the best in his experience. He would sometimes skip the massage and rarely the meditation but he made sure to exercise every day.
Rising from his sitting position, he stretched again.
"That felt good!"
Now that he was done with his morning routine, he figured it was time to get around to more important orders of business.
"Now let's go back to me lovely!"
Eating some fruit from his bag, he flew over to find the elf. Unsurprisingly, she was gone.
"Hmm… Did she go looking for me?", he joked. Obviously, she had run away when she saw the opportunity.
"It is so cute of her to play hide-and-seek with me. Maybe I should hug her from behind to surprise her." Then his hands would slip and..
Satoshi closed his eyes and focused on detection. He could search to about a kilometer in radius at once but over time, he had developed a sonar or radar-like method, in that he would look in a single direction at a time and rotate his direction of perception. This way was slower but he could cover a lot more, depending on how thin of an area he searched at any given time. By making his detection cruder, he could even further increase his area of search. Even with a very crude search, he could tell apart a humanoid from a beast and since he was expecting only a single humanoid reaction to register in his detection, it was the perfect moment to go crude.
He went through each feedback in sequence and..
"Found ya.", he opened his eyes and grinned.
Humming a happy tone, he took to the sky and started moving towards her position.
"How shall I greet her?", he wondered.
The hug from behind would definitely get him a dagger to the face so that was out.
"Let's enact hide-and-seek.", he decided.
"Miss elf~.. Where are you~?", he pretended after reaching close enough.
"Can't you leave me alone for 5 minutes!?", she screamed back.
Satoshi was taken aback. Yesterday she hadn't uttered a single word to him after their initial encounter and suddenly she was screaming at him again? What had happened? He had been totally intent on pretend-playing hide-and-seek, expecting her to not respond to him.
Satoshi couldn't see her as she was squatting behind some bushes. He felt around with his power to figure out if she was concocting some kind of poison over there..
It was suddenly clear to him what she was doing.
"My apologies! I'll be over there.. or uh.. Well, I'll just find you in a while!"
He shouted an apology and left.
(No matter the species, they gotta do their business.)
"What do you want from me!", the elf approached him upon returning. She was clearly pissed at him hindering her at a delicate time.
"Be my friend.", Satoshi replied, without skipping a beat. His meeting with her today had gone differently than he could have expected but he wouldn’t hesitate to use it to his advantage.
"Never say never."
"Never", she emphasized.
"At least give me a chance to prove myself. Tell me what can I do to show you I mean well?", he tried a sincere approach.
"I don't what?"
"You don't mean well. You're an elemental! You may say you're good but I know you.", she scowled.
Satoshi was surprised. Now that she was talking face to face with him, he realized something unique, something he could never clearly see about her before. It attracted him more than her synchronous green hair and eyes. It caught his senses sharper than her perfect white skin. Now that he could see it, it was more distinctive than her pointed ears. It was her inviting pink lips and the way they moved. It captivated him, unable to think of anything else at the moment.
"You're not speaking in English.."
Yes, he was hearing different from what she was speaking. Her lip movements didn't match the sounds that reached his ears.
"What!? You don't even care what I'm saying!", she shouted at him in a mix of anger and humiliation.
"How're you doing that? Is that magic?", Satoshi came closer to her, his sight focused on her lips, studying their movement.
She was taken aback as he suddenly flew towards her.
She had had enough of him. First, he had humiliated her and now he was humiliating her even more! She took out her dagger and stabbed him. Well.. almost.
Even though they were now only two steps away from each other due to Satoshi having moved closer, her dagger never reached him. Instead, her body flew back and impacted against a tree trunk.
Contrary to yesterday's 'thwak', no sound came today. Satoshi had property made sure to soften her impact at the last moment using an air cushion. It wouldn't be becoming of him as a man if he were to consciously injure such an outstandingly beautiful specimen of the feminine body.
"I thought you'd learn after yesterday.", He pretend-sighed, a plan already forming in his mind on how to use this situation.
He again flew closer till he was about a foot away from her.
She tried to kick him between his legs but that strike also never connected and now even her legs were also pasted to the trunk by an incredibly strong wind.
"Now that was a cowardly move.", he pouted.
"Stay away from me!"
Instead Satoshi moved closer, still fixated on her lips.
"I'm right. You're saying something else but I'm hearing something else. Translation magic? How do you do that? And it is God damned better than even Google translate!"
Satoshi was mind-boggled. If such convenient magic existed then what was all that effort he put into learning the beastkin language!
"As if I'd ever tell an elemental!", she continued to struggle.
(Ugh… why do I even bother asking?)
Satoshi was now slightly annoyed. Shouldn't the elves share such useful magic with others! Could she even imagine how much the world would be able to develop if there was no language barrier? It was people like her who wanted to selfishly keep their secrets that could otherwise potentially be used to bring about revolutions! If only she wasn't so pretty, he would be inclined to teach her a lesson the hard way. Or maybe because she was so pretty, he wanted to teach her a lesson the hard way.
He looked at her closely, now that she couldn't resist. Her green emerald hair blew back as a mysterious little wind made its way through them revealing her distinctive ears. His eyes followed them down to her slender neck so bewitching, it took willpower to resist caressing it. Lower from there, his eyes took in her exposed collarbone, captivating enough to lure any man to want to kiss it and leave their mark. Her breasts, though small, were some of the enchanting he'd seen, from what he remembered from the previous day.
She shut her eyes tight and looked away as his gaze took in every part of her.
"You know..", Satoshi moved even closer, whispering into her ear, "If I touched you right now, could you stop me?"
He pulled back and gave a mischievous smile.
She glared back in absolute vile hatred. If looks could kill, Satoshi would have died thousand times over.
"Okay okay. No need for that. I'm only kidding."
He stood a moment, thinking
"But I am rather pissed at you attacking me again. I've done nothing but be nice to you. That needs to stop."
She said nothing but her glare spoke for her.
"Clearly, you're not going to listen to me. So I gotta do this by force."
Her eyes widened as she understood what he meant. What kind of torture would he use? Her body shuddered.
"So I'm going to strip you."
"Come again?", she blurted out in reflex.
How was taking off her clothes torture? He had seen her stark naked yesterday. Was he going to rape her? Her struggles became more fierce as now she understood what he meant.
"I haven't been in this world for long but I do understand some things. Other than the elementals, no one should be capable of chantless magic.. unless they're using enchanted items."
She stopped her struggles. For some reason, she was having a really hard time following the elemental's line of thought.
"And for you to be able to take out your weapons without reciting any chants, you have to be using an enchanted item. So I'm going to strip you of it by force.", he gave a mischievous smile again
"You worded it like that on purpose!", she finally understood what he meant.
"Whatever do you mean, I wonder?", he whistled in ignorance.
"Anyways, so I'll be taking your rings."
Yesterday when she had pulled a dagger on him near the lake, the only thing she had on were 4 rings. So he figured one of them worked as her 'inventory'.
He moved to her hand while keeping her pinned to the tree trunk. He extended to pull the ring but she closed her hand in a fist.
"Seriously? That's your idea of struggle?", he taunted her.
He was a man. He could easily pry his fingers open if he just-
"Okay this is weird."
He grabbed her thumb covering her fist and pulled but it didn't budge. He used another hand and pulled with both and the thumb came off just a little.
He scratched his head confused. Even the elf looked surprised at how physically weak he was.
"You're so weak!", and.. she actually put it in words.
"It's not my fault-", he pulled again and failed, "-you people are so damn strong!"
He tried another time but once again her fingers didn't budge.
"It's because I'm not from this world", he told her, finally giving up, "Even if I look the same, our physical strengths are worlds apart."
She had heard in his rants from yesterday that he wasn't from this world, though she had a hard time believing it. The reality that he couldn't even pry open her fist just made it a little more believable.
"Okay so you get to keep your rings.. but we have to do something here. I can't have you keep attacking me. I haven't had this power for long and you have no idea how hard it is to control it. I can't guarantee I'll be able to hold back next time.", he lied. He could control his power perfectly well.
He faced the elf again with an innocently sad face. When she realized how weak he actually was, somehow she'd lost her glare. She quickly brought it back as he faced her.
He let her go without a warning. Expectedly, she landed on her feet, perfectly balanced.
"Look. I'm not asking you to trust me or even be nice to me. Just.. don't instigate anything okay? I'm a little mischievous and it's a bad habit of mine but.. I swear that's all there is to me.", He told her with all the sincerity he could muster.
She looked away from him. He couldn't tell what exactly was going on in her head but it was working.
"Okay.", she said after some time, "But don't think for one second that you'll get anything out of me. I'll never give in to an elemental."
"I hear you. Loud and clear.", he relented.
She walked around him and retrieved her dagger. Then wordlessly left.
(Phase two went well.)
Needless to mention, all of it was an act that Satoshi had pulled.
(Do not underestimate a man who has had nothing better to do the last couple of months than fantasize about a moment like this!)
Effectively, there were two broad ways to go about this, according to him. Something a person believed to be naturally true either took time to change or a major event. The latter approach was faster and had worked for him before his fight with the beast king. It had worked on Meste's party and Feriana. But after the fight, the legend was on everyone's tongue and the standard of "major event" required to change their minds could no longer be done on an individual level.
Having met the elf so far out in the woods, he had thought it might work on her as well. That's why he set up a similar scenario where he saved her life. He had tried the approach by saving her from those monkey beasts but it had failed so he had immediately switched to the long-term solution.
Theoretically, he divided the long-term solution into 3 phases. In the first phase, he had to make the individual comfortable enough to at least consider talking to him because unless there was a mode of communication established, there was no getting through. There were a lot of ways to do this but considering various variables, he had decided on a one-sided rant at her for the whole of yesterday. He was prepared for it to take longer but luckily he caught her in the morning in an odd situation that was completely outside of a violent context. It succeeded in eliciting a response from her when she came to talk to him today. The point of phase one was simple; once you've talked to someone, you won't find it as hard to do it again.
Then he immediately moved on to the next phase, which was to bring her to the same level as him. Rage was something that would eventually dissolve but fear was a barrier that would decide the nature of their relationship. If she kept her fear of him, deep down she would always see herself as inferior and the only way out of it would be to make her accept her inferiority which would lead to the same situation as Feriana, where the other party had to revere him. If that didn't happen, the fear would come out as some other feeling, either more rage or depression.
That's why he pretended that he was physically weak. He was indeed weaker than the people in this world but not as much as he had made it out to her. When he was trying to pull her fingers, he simply adjusted his strength to make it look like he was. He could have easily pried off her fingers if he wanted.
Now even if she's fearful of his elemental power, she will subconsciously find comfort in the fact that he is no match for her physically. So rather than a mouse in front of a snake, she'll see herself as at least a small dog.
It may not necessarily have an effect on her immediately but it was definitely important to develop her attitude toward him with this in mind. That way even when he eventually discloses the fact that he was pretending right now, she'll already be used to the attitude of treating him as an equal and he'll hopefully be in a position to make an apology where she'll actually care.
Another benefit of the whole act he did was to touch her hand, a very neutral area of her body and she didn't even realize that she was supposed to be mad about it. By having indicated earlier that he was going to touch her in intimate places, he had raised her expectations, making her fume with rage. But then he only touched her hand which, in a normal situation she would have been averse to, but now something she was relieved about. Any hesitations she still would have had about the physical contact would be overshadowed by the context of him trying to take off her rings. If he had actually gone ahead and taken them, it would have, without a doubt, ruined his image (the collective image of elementals was as bad as could be but he had to make her see that he was different).
Now it was time for phase three. With phase one, he made a crack in her communication barrier and it was only a matter of time before it broke. With phase two, he set the level of their eventual relationship. Now for phase three, he had to actually build the relationship. The aim was to simply go through enough events to change her opinion of him. This could take days or weeks or months, he had no idea. Neither was there a set of events that he had for reference but the idea was to keep at it and take every opportunity possible.
"Well, let's get on with this then."
He followed after her, determined to win her over.