「Permission to go to the Great Tree has been granted?」
On a day some time after Rio held the first cooking class, he was notified by Arthura that permission to approach the Great Tree had been granted .
「Uhm it seems that the cooking class started by Rio-dono was very well received and your reputation jumped quite a bit . In addition to that, when I was explaining the reason why you wanted to go to the Great Tree, I told them you were contracted to an unidentified spirit . Because our faith is centered around spirits, we respect all who are able to contract spirits . 」
Arthura told Rio the details about how she managed to obtain permission .
「I see . 」
Hearing the story, Rio let a bitter smile creep onto his face .
Although the level of distrust against Rio was not alarming, it had been greatly abated recently .
While Rio only started the cooking class for Latifa’s sake, he found it rather amusing that various benefits for him also emerged as a result .
「Then, we can go to the Great Tree during the next Spirit Festival?」
Based on what he knew, the next Spirit Festival was scheduled to be held in two weeks .
「No, I’ve arranged it so that we’ll go before the Spirit Festival . Otherwise you may be unable to keep calm with so many people watching . 」
Almost the entirety of the Seirei no Tami population would gather around the Great Tree during the Spirit Festival .
Arthura was being considerate for Rio since it was not an issue that should be discussed in public .
「That’s… I’m truly grateful for your consideration . 」
Rio thanked Arthura’s consideration with a smile .
「Hoho, a youngster like you wouldn’t be able to keep calm in front of such a massive amount of people . Besides, I also regard Rio-dono as my benefactor . This much is just a simple matter, you know . 」
Arthura floated a gentle smile while talking .
「That’s why, aside from me, there will only be four people tagging along: Oufia, Sara, Alma, and Uzuma . The condition for permitting you access is that we’re to accompany you as guides, so I hope you don’t mind . 」
「Sure . I don’t mind . 」
As for Rio, he did not mind the condition so he immediately replied .
「Umu, then departure is in 3 days . It’s not far so it’ll only take us 30 minutes to get there . 」
And so, 3 days later, guided by Arthura and the others, Rio proceeded to the Great Tree where the Quasi High Spirit, Dryad, resided .
By the way, Latifa also tagged along with them in order to meet the spirit for the first time . [ED: Seems like the custom for Seirei no Tami to greet the Dryad] [TL : well, Latifa is a lost child of seirei no tami, so Dryad actually didn’t know about her birth, maybe just a pre-caution]
Though he saw the Great Tree on a daily basis during his time in the village, Rio became overwhelmed by its presence as he got closer .
「I’m not sure how to describe this, but, while the surrounding trees are also really big, none of them emit a divine and majestic presence comparable to the Great Tree . 」
Mesmerized by the Great Tree when he witnessed it, Rio voiced his impressions .
「Ara, I’m so glad that you say that . 」
The charming voice of a woman was heard .
Arthura, Uzuma, Sara, Oufia, and Alma immediately knelt the moment the voice was heard .
Rio and Latifa also followed suit .
「It’s a pleasure to meet you . I am Dryad, the spirit residing in the Great Tree . 」
Introducing herself with an innocent smile, a young woman appeared before Rio wearing a one-piece dress adorned with beautiful flowers .
Possessing wavy, long green hair that reached the ground and emerald coloured irides, she gave off the impression of an ephemeral beauty, yet was wrapped in a gentle atmosphere .
「Excuse my rudeness for the late introduction . I am Rio . 」
At Dryad’s sudden appearance, the bewildered Rio respectfully greeted her .
「Un, Rio right? Nice to meet you . 」
Dryad let out a sweet smile, that would captivate anyone who witnessed it .
「Now, I wonder if you have some business with me？The Spirit Festival is coming up, right? 」
Gently floating in the air, Dryad directed her gaze towards Arthura and the other three who were kneeling behind Rio .
「Yes . We’ve come today to seek assistance of Dryad-sama regarding a dormant spirit residing in Rio’s body who is of the human race . It is unfortunate but none of us know anything in regards to that spirit . 」
Looking at Rio, Arthura stated the reason of their visit .
Dryad’s eyes moved back to Rio .
「A spirit inside this child? Certainly I can feel something like that from this child but… do you really not know anything about the spirit sleeping in your body?」
Dryad said that with a curious expression .
「Yes . I really don’t know anything . 」
No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to recall anything related to a spirit from his memories . That was the reason for his simple reply .
Rio spoke the truth displaying a wry smile .
「So that’s how it is . N—, may I examine you a bit?」
「Yes . Rather, I’d be grateful if you did . 」
After receiving his consent, Dryad gently touched his body .
Rio felt a foreign substance entering his body but did not attempt to resist .
「Oh my, you possess an amazing amount of Odo . Such delicacy too . Are you really from the human race? Moreover, yep, there’s no doubt that you’ve formed a contract judging from your completed circu— …eh!?」
While she was confirming the condition of the spirit residing within Rio, her body flinched in surprise .
「Did you find something?」
Noticing Dryad’s odd behaviour, Rio asked her .
「…the spirit residing within you is a humanoid spirit . 」[TL : Dryad can be considered a part-human, part-plant, and part-fairy, that’s why her rank is Quasi High]
Dryad said in a baffled voice .
Hearing Dryad’s words, everyone present except Latifa had an astonished look .
「A humanoid spirit?」
Sensing the apparent change in atmosphere, Rio inquired Dryad further since he was left out of the loop .
「In its current state, I’m unable to figure out anything more other than that it’s a humanoid spirit . U~n, just that the humanoid spirit is of considerably high rank . It’s not impossible for it to at least be equal in rank as me . I just about as surprised as all of you are since since it’s not a type of spirit one usually comes across . 」
Dryad briefly explained the situation .
「…By any chance, did you arrive at the Seirei no Tami village around one year ago?」
As if remembering something, Dryad suddenly asked him .
「That’s right, I certainly did arrive at the village around that time…」
While affirming Dryad’s question, Rio slightly tilted his head to the side, wondering how she knew of that event .
「At that time, I briefly sensed the presence of a powerful spirit . Perhaps it was something akin to a resonance between powerful spirits . The spirit sleeping within you feels similar to the one I felt then . It may have been brief, but the spirit within you should’ve awoken for a short while . Do you really have no recollections about that time?」
「…No, there isn’t . 」
Raising his hand to his lips, Rio vigorously searched through his memories but could not recall anything related .
「U~n . I see . If it’s like that, then I give up…」
Dryad said so with a troubled expression .
Her resigned statement struck Rio slightly off balance; it was such an anticlimactic answer .
「Dryad-sama, is the spirit sleeping within Rio-dono’s body really a High Spirit?」
At that moment, Arthura gingerly cut into the conversation .
「That can’t be possible… According to the legends, the Six High Spirits disappeared from this world over 1000 years ago . No High Spirits have been born after that . 」 [TL : Dryad rank is Quasi[Fake] High-rank, while Rio spirit rank is High-ranking[True] spirit]
While Dryad made a gesture, as if thinking about something, she emphatically shook her head towards Arthura’s question .
It was an event which occurred over 1000 years ago .
The human race lived in the western parts of the Yufilia continent . They lacked the prosperity of the current era and magic did not exist . By forming many small communities, they were barely able to survive . It was a period referred to as the Dark Ages . During this time, six Wise Gods, or seven according to the Seirei no Tami, appeared in mankind’s history .
And then, as if to oppose the Six Wise Gods, a power emerged during that time, one that opposed the six wise gods .
It was the demon army, led by their King .
They, the demon race, emerged from the depths of the labyrinth situated in the Peninsula of Death, the westernmost point of the Yufilia continent . They rampaged across the surface, annihilating all who opposed them, and begun a campaign of world domination .
Opposing them were the human race lead by the Six Wise Gods .
The Gods bestowed upon mankind the means to wield magic and sacred artifacts . With their newly acquired gifts, the human race waged a long and bloody war against the demons .
The great war was recorded in history as the Demon-God War; a devastating war lasting over a hundred years .
Though the records did not go into great detail about the war, it was known that countless numbers of lives were lost during the struggle . In addition, many magic tools and artifacts used during the war were lost and current technology could not reproduce them .
As the Demon-God War raged in the west of Yufilia, the Seirei no Tami living in the central part of the continent could not remain unaffected for long .
The theatre of war continued to spread and eventually the demon army turned their attention towards the Seirei no Tami . Although they managed to repel the demon army’s invasion, the Seirei no Tami suffered heavy losses .
The High Spirits protecting the world at the time became worried about the Demon-God War that was quickly engulfing the whole continent . They decided to ally with mankind and the Six Wise Gods in the ongoing conflict .
Thanks to the participation of the High Spirits on the side of the human race, the demon army was overwhelmed and pushed back to the westernmost point of Yufilia . Unfortunately, the High Spirits were caught in a trap laid by the retreating demon army and all of them vanished .
Then, with the advent of the heroes and their divine armaments, before long the demon army was destroyed bringing an end to the great war .
That was the extent of knowledge known by the human race .
Thinking back to the Demon-God War, Rio pondered about the possible High Spirit Dryad said to be residing in him .
「Perhaps it’s a Quasi High Spirit similar to me, but I can’t find out anything more about it in its current state . 」
Learning that there was a High Spirit possibly residing within him, Rio held an undescribably complicated feeling .
It was only natural that he felt that way because up until now, he had been completely unaware that such a great existence resided in his body .
「Can it not be wakened?」
Thinking it could be awoken like from any natural slumber, Rio threw out a suggestion .
「Since it’s fallen into quite a deep slumber, it’d take a considerable amount of power to forcefully awaken it . It’d be best to refrain from doing so though since it’s still in the midst of recovery, absorbing your Odo through the circuit connecting the two of you . 」
Worrying about the spirit inside Rio’s body, Dryad admonished him .
「So that’s how it is… I understand . 」
Although he still did not completely understand the situation, Rio nodded at Dryad’s words . Or rather, there were no other alternatives .
「Seeing how you weren’t aware of that spirit, you probably possess some sort of connection with that child before you gained awareness . Because its condition is quite stable during its sleep, it should be recovering at a steady pace . I believe it will awaken in the not too distant future . 」
Dryad told Rio her conjecture to alleviate some of his worries .
In the end, the investigation into figuring out the true form of the spirit residing in Rio’s body was put off because he did not want to trouble Dryad any further . Since it could not be helped, Rio left it as is for the time being .
「Even so, never in my wildest imaginations did I ever think Rio-dono may have contracted a humanoid spirit . Now that it’s come to this, Rio-dono’s position within the village do a complete 180 turn . 」
Arthura who fell silent in deep thought earlier calmly stated her assessment .
Rio parroted her statement, questioning what she meant by those words .
「Umu, Rio-dono should already know that the Seirei no Tami honour the spirits . That’s why those who are able to form contracts with spirits are highly regarded and attain special standings within the country . You should’ve already known everything up to this point . However, that distinction is elevated even further if the contract is with a Quasi High Spirit or a High Spirit . Rio-done will most likely be treated like a saint among us . No, you will definitely be . 」
Sara, Oufia, and Alma all nodded their heads in response to Arthura’s words .
「E~tto, a saint…?」
Rio became nervous because even though he had not done anything noteworthy, his status was going to be elevated to such an outrageous level .
「Haha, you don’t have to feel so alarmed . Rather you should should consider yourself fortunate . Rio-dono received special permission to come to this place because you were contracted with a mysterious spirit . Now that we’ve come to know of this, just take heart in the fact that your treatment will improve . 」
Arthura laughed cheerfully telling him not to worry .
「But if that’s the case, then the next in Spirit Festival…」
Arthura started mumbling to herself seemingly lost in thought .
On the other hand, Dryad subtly directed her attention towards Latifa, who was happily chatting with Uzuma, Alma, Oufia, and Sara .
「You’re called Latifa, right? So cute . Please look forward to the upcoming Spirit Festival, I’ll give you a blessing kiss . 」 [TL : EH, A yuri flag???]
It seemed that Dryad took a liking to Latifa, who looked like a small animal .
「Yes! Please treat me well!」
Latifa returned Dryad’s greeting with a beaming smile .
「Haa haa . So adorable… Nee, can I hug you for a bit?」[TL : -_-…… . . ]
Looking at Latifa with a slightly passionate expression, Dryad eagerly threw her arms around her .
It seemed the rumour that she had a free spirited personality was true .
Rio smiled wryly at Latifa who was in panic at Dryad’s childlike behaviour . [TL : It’s said 5 in raw, but I change it to 4 due to the sentence structure] [ED: Japanese inclusivity, when listing people the person himself is included . E . g . I have 4 siblings in english would usually mean 4 brothers and sisters but in japanese it would indicate 3 brothers and sisters plus the person speaking . Or so I’m told . ]  [ED2: aka Maou]  [TL : WARNING!!! spirits are immortal presence the so called NOT TOO DISTANCE IN THE FUTURE is different from human concept] [ED2: You just killed my anticipation . ]