The next morning, Ardis left the twins at home and headed towards the bar that Norris told him. Receiving the request officially, Ardis headed west on the highway from Thoria.
Not encountering any monsters, the journey continued for two hours smoothly. Since he didn’t have plans to be wasting more than a day worth of time on this request, he kept his baggage to the minimum, and didn’t care for hunting on the way or even joining a party.
While he managed to cross a distance that needed six hours for the average mercenary in just two hours, if anyone were to have seen that, their eyes would definitely widen in surprise.
The distance of Ardis between each step was about three meters. It’s not a stride normal to a human of hundred seventy centimeters.
Besides that, if anyone were to see his strides, they would probably be confused. Because Ardis’s feet never touched the ground but floating above the ground.
He would kick against the empty air few centimeters above the ground, and each time he did that, he would progress by about three meters. It’s the result of Ardis making his body float with magic.
He adjusted himself the same way he would with his short sword and propelled himself the same way as well. If he wished to, it’s possible for him to take a laid down posture while flying several hundred meters above ground.
But the reason why Ardis chose to act like this is because that he was using magic in an extraordinary way.
Since in this world, the magic that allows human to fly in the air doesn’t exist, nor the knowledge to do so. Of course, if Ardis were to fly above ground despite that fact, it would become a huge incident.
That’s why, he can only restrain his speed, and faked the walking motion in case someone saw him.
It’s possible that he takes a high enough altitude that nothing other than the birds will be able to see him, but in the end, landing and lifting off is the risky part.
It would be totally fine if it was somewhere remote, but now he’s travelling along the highway near various towns, so he couldn’t know when he could be spotted if he did that.
Using such a method of travelling in this request would only take two hours, and four including the return trip.
With the time of negotiating considered, Ardis expects returning to Thoria well before the evening comes. As he thought so, he continued his 『Floating Strides』heading towards the destination.
Fortunately, without encountering beasts or bandits, Ardis arrived at the mentioned place just a little past noon.
「I heard it was around here but……, is it that? 」
Ardis could see groups of people in the distant.
Although it’s along the highway, it’s a rare scene in somewhere far away from human settlements. As he went closer, they were mostly mercenaries sitting on the ground.
There’re several peddlers in sight as well, probably taking a break from their journey while watching the interesting event. They were sitting on some suitable rock while holding a bottle of water.
Looking around, there were also peddlers with their passionate businessman spirit selling items to the crowd.
There wasn’t any atmosphere of hostility, only laughter and cheers resounded as if a festival was happening.
「Who’s my next opponent? It’s fine even if all of you come at once. 」
It was a female voice with a manly tone. The owner of that voice can be seen surveying the crowd. Long hair of a pale azure tint. And sky colored eyes that were deep and clear. She looks a little expressionless, but her appearance is well defined. She looked more like a noble’s daugther.
With a white hood and a long robe, she looks more like a magician or a healer, but her stance and action gave off a feeling of an experienced warrior.
「Alright! I’m next! 」
A sturdy looking warrior stood in front of the crowd.
「Do it! Gandolph! 」
「Don’t you dare lose! 」
「Don’t get taken out easily you hear! 」
「Alright! Five copper on Gandolph! 」
「One silver on the little miss! 」
Voices that can’t be considered cheers or jeers were raised all around.
The warrior with the name Gandolph had a chainmail over his body, and a halberd in his hands. It was an appearance that is considered rare even amongst mercenaries.
He looks to be in his mid-thirties. It’s also the age when warriors are said to be in their prime.
「Little miss is strong but, I have been swinging around weapon and fighting well before little miss is even born. I will show you what the difference in experience in age means」
「Before I was born, huh? You speak of some interesting things. 」
While making a bewitching smile with her pretty face, the woman said so. She looks to be seventeen or eighteen but, her smile was even more bewitching than the dancers in town. Accompanied by the cheering and whistling of the crowd, Gandolph faced against the woman.
「Then, let’s go. Little miss! 」
With Gandolph’s voice as the signal, the fight started.
The first hit. Spinning above his head, Gandolph swung his halberd as if drawing an arc across the woman’s legs horizontally. Without even trying to evade, the woman leaned her body forward, and kicked against the ground lightly, closing the distance to Gandolph’s abdomen while the pale azure tinted hair shook.
While smacking his lips, Gandolph forcefully changed the trajectory of the halberd, but the woman had already closed the distance. Probably judging that his halberd wouldn’t make it in time, he anchored the halberd on the ground, and swung himself to the side using the centrifugal force.
But at the time when Gandolph managed to fix his stance and gripped his halberd back after the revolution, a dagger is already at his neck.
「With this, it’s my win. 」
The woman who already circled behind Gandolph declared.
「Seriously―! It’s impossible even for Gandolph―! 」
「She’s really too strong! 」
「Shit―! I’m broke now―! 」
The results came out just in a few seconds.
It’s not that the man named Gandolph is weak in any way. From what Ardis saw, at the very least, he definitely has the ability to win against a Beast King with just himself, if not even a Despair.
But such a skillful mercenary was totally treated as a child. Even though he heard from Norris and the old man in the bar before, with the woman’s ability, it’s certainly possible that she hasn’t lost once.
If she has the ability to restrain herself to not kill the mercenaries, then that just means she has enough of a difference in ability to do that.
「Who’s next? 」
Without even taking a single breath, the woman directed her sky colored eyes against the crowd again.
「Oi, what now? 」
「You go. 」
「Even that Gandolph was defeated in that short time you know? It’s impossible for me. 」
The mercenaries were whispering to each other, and it doesn’t seem that anyone was going to challenge her.
「No one? 」
At the woman’s call, Ardis took a step to the front.
「Eh? Hey hey, kid. Give it up. 」
Misunderstanding Ardis who have stepped out as a challenger, the middle-aged mercenaries called out to him to convince him to retreat.
They probably thought that against someone that even the veteran Gandolph couldn’t do anything against, an insignificant-looking young man challenging her is just too reckless.
Contrary to the mercenaries who seemed confused, the woman narrowed her eyes and started appraising Ardis.
「Hou……. Finally, someone who seems good enough is here. 」
Towards the woman who was muttering something, Ardis stretched out his palm and said.
「Wait. I came to negotiate with you. I don’t have the intentions to fight you. 」
「Negotiate? Did you say negotiate? 」
The woman asked with a voice devoid of emotions.
「Yeah. I just want to talk with you. It’s not like I came here to fight――」
A single dagger was thrown aiming for the throat of Ardis who was still talking.
Against that, Ardis unconsciously put out his left hand and deployed his physical barrier to the front. The dagger thrown by the woman was deflected, before falling to the ground, leaving the harsh sound of metal colliding behind.
「Oi. Listen first. 」
Ardis said in a cold voice. Of course, that degree of a surprise attack wouldn’t faze Ardis at all, but having his lines cut off made him upset. If this was a battlefield, then talking with the enemy is certainly a fool’s move.
But Ardis has come for the purpose of negotiating, and that should have been conveyed to the woman clearly from the start.
「It’s not funny when someone came for negotiating but got a dagger thrown at his throat as an answer. 」
「You, you said you wanted to talk right? 」
「I said that, but have you listened properly? 」
「For I have no reason to listen. But you want me to listen. With our views different, there’s no choice but to have one side give up their intentions. 」
「And so? 」
「I have no intentions to listen, if you want me to despite that, then you must convince me. 」
「You speak difficult words. Why not say it simpler? 」
「In other words. If you want me to listen, ――then win against me first! 」
The woman closed the distance in an instant.
Following Ardis’s voice, sharp spears made from the earth appeared from the ground. The woman who was blocked of her advance changed direction immediately, before pointing her index finger towards Ardis.
「Let’s start with a small one. 」
Lumps of ice started forming around the woman, before shot out aiming for Ardis.
「Fiel・Maneena 」(Magic Barrier)
The ice lumps that aimed for Ardis were completely blocked by the barrier that Ardis deployed. The next moment, another attack of a fireball came from above.
As Ardis dodged that with a sidestep, the woman advanced while holding her dagger as if waiting for that.
Avoiding the blade that came for him, Ardis tried to grab onto the woman’s arm as she swiped the blade, but wind blades started forming as if to block that.
At Ardis who took his distance away from the assaults from the wind, the woman pointed her finger again.
「Then what about this? 」
Countless light formed into a belt above the woman’s head, before shooting towards Ardis.
Ardis leaped sideways, blocking only the light that would hit him with his magic barrier. The light that hit the ground incinerated a part of the ground before leaving behind a burnt smell and disappearing.
「Then this? 」
Once again, countless light appeared on top of the woman’s head. But this time it wasn’t scattered but condensed into one before shot towards Ardis.
Ardis judged that taking that attack face on would be dangerous, so he tilted the magic barrier so that it would be deflected.
「Hou. Quite skillful. Who are you? 」
「That’s my question for you. 」
Ardis said while glaring at the woman who seemed composed. Offensive magic that didn’t need a chant. Since Ardis came to this world, he had never seen someone other than him capable of that.
Just looking at the strength of the magic, he could tell that the woman is not an average person. The feedback that he got from the barrier, it was to an extent that even Despair or Whips would be killed in an instant.
「Oi, was that girl a magician? 」
「Is this real. Crap, did we seriously get taken out by a magician with just a dagger? 」
「That might be the case but, that movement is definitely not a magician’s. 」
「Even if you say that, that kid is the same. The way he moves, he doesn’t look like a magician too. 」
The mercenaries who were watching the fight between Ardis and the woman commented noisily. They watched the woman who have been dealing with themselves easily with just a dagger without ever using magic once, releasing magic one after another.
Misunderstanding that the woman was a light warrior with a dagger, there were even mercenaries who were angry as they realized that they were not even treated seriously.
In addition, they received the shock of seeing a young man that can’t be described by anything but a newbie dodging and fending away the woman’s ferocious attacks smoothly.
Forgetting to bet on the side that will win, the mercenaries’ gazes were stolen by the intense battle unfolding in front of their eyes.