The woman who split up with Ardis was guided by the maid into a waiting room in the mansion.
「The audience is currently under preparation. Please wait for a little while. There will be tea served soon. 」
The maid who guided her offered a seat in the room, before leaving the room.
The woman sat on the fluffy sofa and looked around the room lightly. The walls were decorated with paintings, and the top of the antique tables in the four corners of the room were filled with glittering glassworks.
Anyone looking at it will be able to discern all of them are arts of highest grade. Of course, trading things like those would need a fortune unimaginable for any average citizens.
The numerous crafts and ornaments were not just something as a decoration for the room. It is to symbolize wealth and to show power. All to overwhelm the guest with Sir Thoria’s wealth the moment they stepped in the room.
It was one of the foolish things like social standings, honor, and status that humans started to care for countless millennia ago.
The woman had understood that fact, but she couldn’t empathize at all. The countless existence of the Sarah1 and their creators would probably give their limitless love and benevolence to such human beings. But for the woman who is only a daughter of a Sarah, she didn’t have the capability to feel that.
Although so, she had never thought herself to be pitiful or sad. She understood that she has her own roles, and others have theirs.
She was bestowed strength along with the ability to detect enemies. That’s right. With that, she could know how many gazes are monitoring herself right at this moment from the hidden rooms.
「Thinking they are hiding with that much huh. 」
As if covering her soft mutter, she held the cup of tea she was served at her mouth.
Before maids had come to bring more tea, and even after that, the gazes monitoring her every movement from the crevices of the painting or the crafts around the room had never stopped.
Although the reason of Thoria’s lord summoning the woman to his mansion is not known, at the very least, they are putting on a façade of good treatment.
In the first place, even if she was under the eyes of surveillance, it’s not like she can do anything about it. If it’s not for her master’s orders, she wouldn’t stay in this unpleasant place for even a minute.
But having told, 『Go meet with the Lord』, as a servant, she cannot betray that, albeit feeling a little reluctantly.
As she kept quiet while waiting, she was finally called about the time when she had the second serving of tea.
「Apologies for the long wait. The preparation of the audience is finished, please follow me. 」
Another maid different than the first one came to guide her, and they progressed deeper into the mansion. After about a two-minute walk, they arrived at a big double door with two tough looking soldiers on both sides.
「Please enter this way. 」
Following the hand signal of the guide maid, the soldiers opened the door from both sides.
Looking past the door that opened slowly, there was a hall about fifty meters in both dimensions. The room was heightened at the inner part, and a throne with sparkling jewelry decorating it right in the middle, however it’s currently empty.
Red carpet was unfolded from the entrance until the inner part, with both sides lined up with a total of twenty fully armed soldiers.
Facing that atmosphere, the woman narrowed her eyes.
The room was made befitting of an audience. Albeit the second biggest capital of Nagras Kingdom, the mansion was big considering it belonged to a lord with only one territory. It was also littered with expensive looking art crafts, though it’s probably too much of that just for a single guest.
There are soldiers lining up on both sides, with the empty seat at the front probably for the lord’s use. Despite directly meeting the person in power, they haven’t even requested her to disarm, or even search her.
The woman didn’t let the suspicion in her heart show, as she walked to the center of the room leisurely.
「Stop there. 」
A single man appeared from the furthest in the room. Wearing a loose robe, an old man with magnificent beard appeared and called out to the woman with a deep voice that doesn’t show his age.
The woman listened and stopped her steps, before looking towards the owner of the voice. The old man walked to the chair, and stood beside it.
「I heard the lord wants to meet me, are you the one? 」
The woman who said so without a sliver of respect instantly chilled the surroundings.
「Bastard! What insolence!? 」
One of the men who was in line yelled out while brandishing his spear, but it was stopped by the white bearded old man.
「Control yourself, general. Asking etiquette from a mercenary doesn’t help. 」
The man who was called general obeyed, but his expression is clearly showing his reluctance.
「Now then, regarding that question just now……. Of course, I’m not sir Thoria. I’m the one handling internal affairs in Thoria, Costas. Let’s hear you out first. Mercenary, what is your name? 」
The woman replied flatly to that question.
「I have no name. 」
「Bastard! Stop messing around! 」
Once again, the General scowled at the woman.
「I’m not. What doesn’t exist doesn’t. Well, you can call me whatever. 」
The woman thought it would more suitable for her to be saying stop messing around. She was the one who was summoned for some business, but the person himself who summoned her had not shown up, and even the representative that came out said roundabout things like 「Let’s hear you out first. 」
In the first place, the woman had no business here, so it was troubling for her as she didn’t know what to reply. Her thoughts probably showed on her attitude. Adding on the fact that she didn’t name herself, Costas’s expression didn’t seem very pleased.
「I expected to tolerate some disrespect but, to think that you wouldn’t even name yourself……. Well fine. general, finish it early. 」
「Yessir. Leave it to me! 」
It seems that the both had already arranged the development of the scenario. Once again, Costas spoke towards the woman.
「Now then, woman. The fact that you are repeatedly challenging other mercenaries in our territory had reached the ears of His Excellency. Along with the fact that you have never lost. I have heard that first-handedly from the commander of our territorial army who had exchanged blades with you. 」
Commander? Territorial army? The woman was confused.
Come to think of it, the appearance of the people lining up on both sides seemed familiar. She couldn’t quite recall it since it wasn’t impactful. She certainly vaguely recalls a man who challenged herself few days ago was wearing something like that.
「But you see, something like our army commander getting defeated lightly by a wanderer mercenary without even breaking a sweat is unbelievable. Is something like that possible? No, something like that mustn’t exist. No way it will. Since there are truths and deceits in rumors, isn’t it a job for a politician to make the fact clearer for all the citizens? 」
He said this and that in a roundabout way but, in short, Costas is saying that, 『We need to erase the fact that our army commander had lost to a wandering mercenary, and to do that, summon the mercenary to our home territory and crush her. 』. Saying that the lord wishes to meet with her is most likely just a facade.
「Fumu. Then shall we not quickly finish it as you wish? 」
「Hou. You don’t look like a bragging fool but……, do you think you can win against our elites? 」
Costas is only saying what he thinks is correct. The woman replied while having her hands in her pocket.
「So? Who’s my opponent? Shall I take it as everyone here including you? 」
The man called general replied for Costas.
「The proud warriors of our army would never do something cowardly like grouping up on you! Decken! Go! 」
A young man stepped out after being called out by the general.
Probably the strongest amongst them all. The woman thought that he looked to have some skill as well.
But that is all if she’s comparing with the others’ average level. As a matter of fact, he is far below the level of Ardis and herself.
「Fret not, I won’t take your life. But, you will certainly wake up with some painful injuries. 」
While drawing a thin sword from his scabbard, the man with the name of Decken declared.
「Is it fine if I use real blades as well? 」
「Of course. That is exactly why we had not disarmed you. We’re not shameless enough to be proud of hurting a helpless woman. 」
That’s why use whatever you deem necessary, Decken said.
Although she understood the reason as to why didn’t they disarm her now, she couldn’t grasp her opponent’s thoughts at all. Summoning someone to their own territory, and surrounding one person with twenty, while howling, 「Not shameless」. This is probably what they call thick faced.
The woman took out a dagger from her pocket with her right hand. Against Decken who lowered his stance with the thin sword, the woman only lightly grasped her dagger and stood upright.
「Here goes! 」
Decken took a step out along with a shout and dealt the first attack. The woman gracefully sidestepped, barely avoiding the blade.
「Aren’t you capable! 」
While saying something, Decken swung the sword for the second and the third time, but none of them even got close within a single step of the woman. The woman had repeatedly moved away from the trajectory of Decken’s attack with grace. It was as if she was a stalk of maiden silver grass dancing in the winds.
Finally, Decken who continued to dish out attacks continuously started to show signs of fatigue. Having missed all his attacks on the woman, Decken started to show frustration as he yelled.
「How much longer are you going to run for! You can’t even counterattack huh!? 」
Taking his distance, he yelled towards the woman while adjusting his breath.
「Hou. Are you satisfied already? 」
The woman seemed to take his response as giving up.
「Then I shall go to you myself」
Having said that, the woman kicked against the floor.
「Wha! Where……!? 」
Decken lost the figure of the woman. The next moment, the thin sword in Decken’s hand was blown away. The sword drew an arc in the air, before letting out an unpleasant sound as it crashed into the ground.
「Do you still want to fight? 」
The woman’s dagger was just before Decken’s throat.
He probably was unable to understand what had happened after all. The advances of the woman, her burst of speed, and the technique to dive into his blind spot in an instant. All of those were way out of league for Decken’s ability.
「Impossible, Decken he……」
The General muttered with a stunned expression.
「Now then, has this convinced you? 」
Without changing her insolent attitude, the woman said.
「Or, could it be that you haven’t acknowledge it yet? If so, it’s fine even if all of you come at once? 」
「Nuu……, you just had to say it! 」
The soldiers who lined up, every one of them had expressions that certainly couldn’t be said convinced. Especially the general man, who had a red face who seemed like he will rush to the woman at any time. As the woman prepared for the continuation of the fight, another new voice broke the silence.
「Stop, general. Any more is unneeded. 」
Starting from the general, Decken, Costas, even every soldier excluding the woman stood unmovingly while facing towards the origin of the voice.
「Sir Frederick! 」
Tracing after everyone else’s sightlines, the woman saw the figure of a man coming out from the deepest of the room. Probably around early forties. His excess meat on his belly showed his unhealthy daily eating habits.
Although light of intelligence dwelled in his eyes, the woman had felt darkness amongst that light.
「You had shown enough. Praiseworthy. 」
While saying the words of praise that wasn’t clear who it was directed to, Frederick lowered his back onto the empty chair. With that, it meant that Frederick was the owner of the mansion, in other words, he is the Sir Thoria in question.
Leaning his heavy body on the chair, the Sir declared leisurely.
「The woman there, you’re as cold as the rumor says. I’m interested. Work for me from today onwards. 」
Without caring for the woman’s opinion, he started giving out verdicts on his own.
「With that much strength, you would be the new commander very soon……. No, now that I look closely, aren’t you quite the looker. How about just becoming my bodyguard? Umu, that sounds good. You can’t just be a concubine in a war but with your ability, you can certainly be my attendant and my guard at the same time without problems. 」
Frederick pushed the proposal one-sidedly, while showing a lustful smile.
Of course, there wasn’t anyone there to stop that. Costas or the general, Decken or the soldiers, there weren’t even one of them dared to interrupt his speech.
But there was one single irregularity on site, it was only the woman with an unpleasant expression who was different.
「What are you saying. I don’t have the slightest interest to work for you. 」
Saying her insolent words, it was the general who reacted first once again.
「Wha, you bastard! Speaking so insolently towards His Excellency! 」
Inside the room which originally already had animosity all around, a new wave of dangerous atmosphere filled the room. As expected, Frederick seemed to be a little shaken as well.
「What did you say, woman? You said you don’t want to work for me? 」
「I already have my master who I pledged to. I will only work for my master, Ardis. If you are a strong man who exceeds my master, then it’ll be different, but I can’t see any of that. 」
She said that, and tried to leave the site without sparing another eye.
「W-Wait! What do you mean!? Haven’t you come here for a position under me!? 」
Stopping her steps, while only turning her head around, she said while staring at Frederick with her sky colored eyes.
「I have only come here to meet you on behalf of my master’s order. Since we have already talked, this command is fulfilled. As such, I have no reasons to stay any longer, I shall leave now. 」
At the unexpected answer, Frederick who was about to stand up from his chair, looked at the back of the woman stunned as she left.