「So…… regarding what we’ll do from now on.」
Beside the twins who curled up in their coats, Ardis broke the silence.
The dawn that started to shine over the grasslands. Overcoming the first night after leaving Thoria, Ardis talked about their headings while preparing breakfast.
「We should aim for the capital first. 」
If they progressed southwest from Thoria on the highway, then they will arrive at the capital after about five days.
「Then there’s three choices after that. Stay in the capital, or the Coalition of city-states, or the empire. 」
In the west of Nagras Kingdom, there’s a gathering of various sizes of towns. Having form an alliance between themselves, it is now known as the Coalition.
Then there’s the Elmenia Empire in the southeast. The empire which lies on the southeast of Rovres Continent, they are hostile with Nagras Kingdom since the olden times, the history of the two country was filled with wars. Even now, the two country is still at throats with each other.
「Will the north not be considered? 」
「Well, the country there……」
Going past the plains of Thoria in the north, there’s a country called Bronshell Republic.
It is a country where its president is determined with an election, although the country itself is very rich, the fact that the men are superior than women there is what made Ardis not consider it.
「Nere will be troubled if we went to that republic. That country doesn’t acknowledge something like a female mercenary after all. 」
In the first place, there’re no work for females in the Bronshell Republic. Even the official government positions are only opened to males by law, and there wasn’t anyone that would hire a woman. Of course, the right to vote is only given to men.
Ardis didn’t think to bring the twins to such a country. That’s why it was excluded from his choice in the first place.
「And living in the empire doesn’t sound really easy. I guess our only choice is go for the Coalition huh. 」
Elmenia Empire is a country with a strong noble prioritization, so it couldn’t be said as a country that’s easy to live. On the other hand, the Coalition is made of unique towns with different cultures, it’s worthy for them to pay a visit. The only thing that the Coalition is lacking is the unity between their towns but, as a place to live, it isn’t worse than the kingdom in any way.
「Let’s look at the capital first. If there’s an official detain warrant for us, then let’s head west for the Coalition. 」
After deciding their future plans, they rested fully well on the day, and started moving when the night had fall. If they are going to fly, then doing it in the middle of the night will be better as they will be less visible, also they are also warding against any pursuers that might’ve come from Thoria.
Without the worrying presence of a pursuer ever appearing, Ardis’s party progressed to the capital through the sky, and landed somewhere in the forest about two hours walk away from the capital.
「I guess we have to secure a shelter first. 」
Ardis said so.
He didn’t know how the detain incident will spread to the capital. Of course, Ardis didn’t think that the information will travel faster than they who were flying. But just in case, if Thoria had planned it with the Kingdom in advance, it wouldn’t be a smart idea to show himself publicly.
That’s why he thought to conceal himself in the capital to gather information for the first days in advance would be best. And in case of emergency, Ardis or Nere should enter the royal city alone so that they can escape immediately.
So, he thought to set up a base here, and split the job up between himself and Nere to enter the capital to gather information and taking care of the twins. Nere agreed as she said, 「If my master says so」.
「Nere go chase away the dangerous beasts around here. And procure some preys while you’re at it. 」
「Acknowledged, my master. 」
Although it isn’t as bad as the Corsas Forest, it’s a place where humans doesn’t live. Of course there’ll be carnivore beasts around. There’s no need for Nere to annihilate them but warding them away is surely needed.
「Then, I will be getting into the base making. 」
「Ardis, making house―? 」
「Ardis, big house―? 」
The twins who had enough sleep during the day, they maintained their energy although it’s already very late in the night. They stuck around Ardis, and asked interestingly.
「It’s more like a shack rather than a house, what I’m making that is. Well, for the time being, it’ll be good enough if it can be a shelter for avoiding rain and winds. 」
Since there’s still some time till the dawn, Ardis used his magic to illuminate the surrounding dimly, and removed the trees that will get in the way. Cutting off the excess leaves and roots with the wind and piling the logs on the base made by compacting the soil.
He didn’t care to use dried logs or not, since it’s just a temporary lodging, he decided to save time and effort.
After lining up logs on the roof as well, Ardis used soil baked into a hard tile and laid it on the roof to prevent the rain leaking inside. And drying the leaves that he cut from the trees with his magic, they were made into a bed replacement and put in the room.
Probably attracted by the sound and the light, Twin Swords that came near occasionally was easily defeated by Ardis after blowing them away.
The twins continued to stick onto him even when he was working but, he thought that it was better than having them sit further away and risk getting attacked by Twin Swords, so he didn’t mind it as he continued the work.
After finishing the temporary base in under two hours, Ardis carried the tired twins who were too active inside, and sat down while floating the light source.
(I should’ve put in more effort in making the ground flatter huh)
Although the ground was lined with dried leaves, Ardis frowned at the uncomfortable seat more than he expected. Thus, he cut down a few more trees and sliced them into floor tiles shape and arranged them in the room.
「I returned, my master. 」
As he was doing this, Nere had returned. Preys that she had hunted for meals were put down from her hands.
「Good work. How was it? 」
「It wasn’t anything tough. There’s really no need to pay any extra caution to the beasts. And then, there was a pond nearby. But the water there is too polluted to be used, but since there isn’t any river around, there should be underground water nearby. It might be worth a try to dig a well. 」
「A well huh……, then let’s leave that for tomorrow. You can rest for the day. 」
「I shall proceed with butchering these first. My master can rest first. 」
Lifting the preys to her chest height as she showed, Nere stepped outside.
It’s about time the night goes, and the sun rises.
(When the sun rises, make breakfast. Dig well. Fences for this shack. Exploring the surroundings. Remove any dangerous beasts. And……, I guess improving the facilities here will be next huh)
While feeling the presence of Nere outside, Ardis curled up in his coat and slept.
From the next day onwards, Ardis and Nere had been working on improving the living environment of the small shack that is their base. When the sun had reached overhead, after taking a late breakfast with the meat that Nere butchered, they started working immediately.
「The first should be the well right? 」
As a test, Ardis dug up random spots around the shack, surprisingly, the third one had water spurting up. Not settling for that, he continued to dig a few up and chose to make the well above the water vein that’s the cleanest and has the most water.
After that, he cut down more trees in the surrounding, and divided the into some suitable length and shaped them into a grid, before putting it up on the perimeter of the shack.
Because that he was using magic with his abundant mana for everything, it took at most three hours for him to dig the well and put up the fence around the perimeter, if it would been have done by manpower, then it’s probably a work that’ll need more than ten days.
Without ever knowing that the scenery unfolding in front of their eyes was anything but normal, the twins’ eyes sparkled in joy by the new things which continued to be added on.
「Ardis, what’s next―? 」
「Ardis, make a big one―! 」
「It’s enough for now, the rest will be for later. 」
The twins who were unsatisfied pouted.
Compared to when they had first met, they came to be more expressing. In Thoria, they were afraid of people but, since there isn’t anyone around, they probably finally had a chance to do so.
If so, it might even be better to live like this rather than in a city. Of course, that is said after their safety is guaranteed.
(Also, I guess a playground in the front yard huh……)
While adding on another agenda to tomorrow’s schedule, Ardis called out to Nere.
「Look out for a little. Also look after Filia and Riana for me. 」
「My master. If it’s investigating or chasing away the beasts, I shall go」
「No, I want to know about our surroundings myself as well. I will return before the sun sets. 」
Ardis left those words as he stepped into the forest. While dealing with the carnivore beasts that he come across occasionally, Ardis walked around the forest that is about thirty minutes away from the shack.
Just like what Nere said, there’s a pond nearby, and aquatic creatures such as 『Shell Cow』 or 『Crawlers』 which are rare to a forest are living there. But that was all he found interesting. The beasts that came out wasn’t in anyway threatening enough for Ardis and Nere, of course, there wasn’t any demonic beings or the likes of it around.
Then, it means that if there’s anyone that comes here, they are most likely mercenaries. There probably wouldn’t be any cases of peddlers or travelers getting lost in this forest.
It’s conveniently a nice spot for their base. Ardis dealt with two small beasts and brought them back to the base as souvenirs while the daylight is still out.
The next day, after Ardis built the playground inside the fence perimeter, he left Nere to look after them again, before entering the forest once again.
While pretending to chase away the beasts that is dangerous for the twins with his overwhelming power, he dealt with those that are foolish enough to not care despite his efforts.
Well, it wasn’t all bad since he can use the ones he hunted as food. There’re still leftovers from the food supplies he brought out from Thoria but, since he’s going to check out the capital himself, it’s difficult for Nere to take care of the twins and hunt for food at the same time. Now that Nere and Ardis is still around, it’s better for them to stock up on food.
Fortunately, they both had absurd magic capabilities. They can make cold storage for food, and to maintain it is easy enough for the both of them.
Just like this, five days have passed since they left Thoria. It’s enough time for even walking peddlers to reach the capital from Thoria. Of course, if they are on a horse, then they would’ve arrived a long time ago. It should be a good time for Ardis to start his investigation on how the matter in Thoria is spread into the capital.
「Nere. Take care of the twins for me. 」
「Acknowledged, my master. Leave it to me. 」
Since the twins will be staying here, either Ardis or Nere will have to stay here. From their abilities, it doesn’t matter which of them stays, but psychologically Ardis would like to stay. But if Thoria had sent someone over to monitor the capital, having Nere investigate would be eye catching.
After thinking about it, Ardis decided that it would be better if he was the one going to the capital. Fortunately, the twins had gotten familiar to Nere as well, so there’s probably no problem for them to stay with her for a while. And his trust for Nere personally too had increased more than before.
「I’ll probably be back on tomorrow dusk or night. 」
「Ardis, be safeー」
「Ardis, souvenir pleaseー」
Ardis started his 『Floating Strides』 and pulled through the forest after being sent off by the twins. Probably because that the gate of the capital isn’t opened yet, there wasn’t anyone he came across while he progressed off the highway.
Continuing his journey without encountering anyone, Ardis circled the highway and walked about forty minutes and arrived at the capital’s South gate.
Nagras Kingdom capital, Gran. Its population is about three hundred thousand, it’s the largest city of Nagras Kingdom, and one of the few largest cities in the entirety of Rovres continent.
Gran which was in the north of Canobis Valley, like Thoria, it’s facing the ocean, and is also famed for its sceneries and nature. The big highway that split the entire Rovres Continent, traveling northeast on the highway leads to the Bronshell Republic, the West to the Coalition, and the Southeast to the Elmenia Empire.
With Gran as a successful town in the trading industry from a long time ago, many people and items are gathered here, together with a huge amount of money. With that much financial power, Gran which used to be only a single capital country expanded its territory into a kingdom.
The capital is made of the old district which had the old houses from the pre kingdom era, and the new district which was after the kingdom is founded. The old and new district is separated by the wall of the old district surrounding it. The wall is a relic from the pre kingdom era.
The new district was created back in the days with more leeway but, the population of Gran had never stopped increasing till this day, so there isn’t really any more leftover land for development.
It seems that there was plans to expand the outer walls, but since it will use up a huge sum of money, and their relationship with the empire isn’t the best now, it didn’t seem likely the empire would let them go if they did so.
While recalling what he had heard from Norris before, Ardis walked normally towards the outer wall. It seems that it was just the right time for the soldiers to be opening the gate.
(Now then, hope that there won’t be anything……)
While suppressing his nervousness, Ardis called out to the gatekeeper soldiers.
「Is it opening soon? 」
「Yeah, wait a little while more. The preparation is almost done. 」
The gatekeeper took a glance at Ardis’s face, before replying without changing his attitude. From that, it seems at the very least, any orders regarding Ardis weren’t distributed to the gatekeepers.
So, Ardis stood around and waited while looking at the surroundings.
「You’ve come quite early huh」
Probably that the preparation is done, the gatekeeper called out to him.
「Actually I wanted to enter the capital yesterday night. But having attacked by a Grass Wolf, I didn’t make it in time before the gate closed. 」
「Oi oi, that’s quite the trouble. Good work out there ……, Wait, you’re a mercenary? 」
「Do you see any peddler here? 」
「As expected……, I don’t see any peddler. 」
The gatekeeper smiled kindly and said.
「Is that so, so you’re a young and brilliant mercenary huh. But isn’t it dangerous to camp outside by yourself? Although I can’t do anything if it’s past the gate closure time, we will just let it slide if you camp in front of the gate. Since there’re guards during the night, also there’re lights here, it should be much safer than camping in the wilderness. I recommend you to come over here even if it’s a little far if there’s a next time. 」
At the gatekeeper’s attitude which was friendlier than expected, it loosened Ardis’s cautious heart a little. Paying the tax called a 『Toll』 to enter the town, Ardis completed the procedure officially.
During that, many mercenaries and caravans had passed by Ardis heading out from the capital. There’re many people who prefer to leave early, it was as expected from a capital.
「Alright, it’s done. Your first time to the capital? Then I should tell you things that you should be careful about」
「No, I came here before so I know」
「Is that so. Then there’s no need for me to say huh」
While thanking the gatekeeper, he stepped into the capital while encompassed by the fresh morning air.
(The first will be securing a retreat path, and the inn for tonight, I guess)
While surveying the surroundings, Ardis disappeared into the back alley.