It had been four months since Ardis and the others left Thoria for the capital and started living in the forest nearby.
Ardis had stopped trying to not stand out like before, as he hunted the violent monsters around the capital one after another.
Since Ardis had already judged that it wasn’t needed to hide the existence of sword magic, the second name of 『Sword Magic User』 had started spreading along with the name of 『Subjugator of the Three Great Demons』.
「With this much, there surely wouldn’t be anyone left who’d dare to make a move on you. At least the mercenaries in the capital wouldn’t. 」
Chezare who was the information broker said.
Although Ardis is now known as an exceptional mercenary, he had never teamed up or formed parties to accept any request. Ardis who only accepts requests by himself makes him stick out like a sore thumb among mercenaries who normally form parties of four or five people.
On top of that, strong monsters that are normally subjugated with a full party of mercenaries, are easily taken care of by Ardis, of course Ardis would have even more eyes on him.
As for Ardis, he didn’t have any difficulties even when moving on his own. Rather than that, if the opponent is a demonic being, most mercenaries are frankly useless against them. They can’t be compared to Ted and the other members of White Night of Bright Stars.
However, they’d help with efficiency. Ardis would like helping hands for retrieving materials and holding baggage, like Gresche and the others in Thoria.
But, when he actually tried to recruit people, there were only people that wanted to leech off Ardis because he was the subjugator of the Three Great Demons. Because of that, Ardis would rather hunt by himself.
As usual, Ardis is by himself today, as he headed towards the craftsmen district, walking down the main street of the capital of Gran. Ardis had heard that the three swords he had ordered had been completed.
「Master, you here? 」
After knocking lightly on the door, Ardis entered without waiting for a reply. Since he had been infusing the mana into the sword when they were forging it, it’s a place that Ardis had visited many times in the past four months. There’s no need for him to be feeling reserved now.
「Welcome, Ardis. 」
The one who replied was the disciple young man, Horst.
Compared to the time when the both of them had a head on clash on the first meeting, his attitude seems much more mellow than before. From the master’s explanation, it seems that Horst had thought that Ardis was an inexperienced mercenary.
Well, even if that were the case, Ardis is paying 600 gold coins. He wasn’t shameless enough to be rude to Ardis. Even if he’s not a craftsman, he must’ve been able to understand that retaining a paying customer is important for his own livelihood.
On top of that, with Ardis being such an exceptional mercenary, he’s a customer that all craftsman would try to retain by all means necessary.
「I came as I heard it was completed…… The master? 」
「I will go call him now. Please wait for a bit. 」
Horst went inside the room and called the master. A few minutes later, the master came out with Horst together with the three swords in their hands.
「My bad for the long wait, Ardis. 」
「Are those the completed swords? 」
Ardis’s gaze was on the three swords.
「Yeah, they’re the once in a lifetime masterpieces of Schmelz. 」
The three swords are then placed on the table.
「Their names? 」
「This one’s the 『Springtime Mist』. It’s a sword with wind attribute. 」
The master took out one of the short swords from its scabbard. Its blade is giving off a weak yellow-green glow.
That is the special effects of a metal when it’s mixed with Lesha Powder. Depending on the attribute of the mana of the one infusing it, or the way the mana was infused, the attribute of the metal will change like a rainbow too. That’s why Lesha Powder is also known as the Rainbow Dust.
「Then this 『Moon’s Blizzard』. It’s the one with ice mana in it. 」
It was another short sword that the master pulled out of its scabbard. It had a white chilly aura encompassing it.
「And lastly, the 『Skies of Myriad Colors』. Its sharpness and toughness are reinforced by the unattributed mana. 」
It was the broadsword that was longer than the other two swords. Ardis took the sword into his hands and drew it, the blade was reminiscent of the autumn sky, a slight bluish glow on its blade.
「How’s it? Aren’t they quite well done? 」
「Yeah, thanks for your good work. Here, the last of the payment. 」
Having paid the two hundred gold as deposit before, Ardis handed over the remaining four hundred gold coins. Handing over the leather pouch containing the rest of the gold coins, the disciple received it with trembling hands.
「I will be heading over to the forest right away. 」
If there’s any adjustment with the grip and the scabbard needed then come again, said the master, waving lightly. Ardis excused himself and headed towards the Corsas Forest east of the capital to hunt.
There aren’t many who step into Corsas Forest willingly, due to the many demonic beings lurking.
The only visitors are the mercenaries who come here to hunt demonic beings, or the peddlers and caravans looking for the shortest route, with their mercenary escorts, or occasionally the eccentrics and treasure hunters looking for rare materials and relics in that dark forest.
It is believed that in the past, a town might’ve existed where the forest now stands. There are a lot of ruins under the overgrown shrubs and bushes, there have been several occasions where structures that look man-made have been discovered.
Of course, unlike those who hunt or peddle, the treasure hunters aren’t guaranteed results in the forest. There are many occasions where no ruins or relics are found even after a long and hard expedition.
Although there are some occasions where the treasure hunters are quite skillful mercenaries, but most are brand-new mercenaries without any experience.
That’s why whenever the treasure hunters tried to investigate the forest, they usually hired a few mercenary escorts. Because there aren’t many appearances of dangerous demonic beings near the entrance of the forest, there is no problem with only having a small number of escorts normally.
If the treasure hunter himself has the ability, then he might even go by himself. However, Ardis is currently deep in the bowels of the forest. Being deep in the territory of the Whips, there shouldn’t be any other humans around here.
That is exactly why Ardis could give his all rushing through the forest, safe from prying eyes.
Hearing the desperate calls of someone, Ardis spotted a human mana signature surrounded by three other large mana signatures using his mana detection.
Ardis immediately leaned his body forward and kicked against the ground. Reaching his top speed in just an instant, he weaved through the trees and headed straight to his destination without reducing his speed once.
Not even ten seconds had passed, and the figure of the owner of the voice was reflected in Ardis’s eyes. Covered in a blue robe, it was a person with a small figure in light equipment carrying a bag on his back. Together with the three Ractors which were surrounding that figure.
Ardis drew out 『Springtime Mist』 and 『Moon’s Blizzard』 from their scabbard respectively and tossed them into the air. Drawing 『Skies of Myriad Colors』 himself, he dived straight to the nearest target without dropping his speed.
Before the Ractosr could realize something is wrong and move its gaze from the prey in front of it to Ardis, its neck came into contact with 『Skies of Myriad Colors』.
As if getting absorbed into the giant snake’s neck, the bluish blade ruptured its muscles and meat, cleanly severing its neck without any resistance.
Similarly, 『Springtime Mist』 and 『Moon’s Blizzard』 dropped the other two Ractor’s heads. With the excessive momentum, Ardis who stopped past the Ractors was satisfied with the sword’s edge, as he recalled the two short swords.
「They’re good swords. 」
As expected of blades tempered with the Rainbow Dust. With this much, surely it will hold up even against opponents of the 『Crimson Eater』 level. Wiping away the stains of blood from the three blades, Ardis stored them back in their scabbards, and looked at the person who raised the distress call.
「A child……? 」
Since the voice was high pitched, and had a small figure, Ardis totally thought that it was a girl, but it seems that his judgement was completely off the mark.
Despite having the remnants of a baby face, there’s no doubt that the face belonged to a boy. As for his high-pitched voice, it’s probably because he hadn’t reached puberty yet.
「You alright? 」
To not scare him, Ardis tried making his gentlest expression and called out in a soft voice.
As Ardis pulled up the young boy from the ground, there was a question mark in Ardis’s mind.
With the young boy in front of his eyes, the location is definitely not right. The location is deep inside Corsas Forest which countless demonic beings inhabit. It’s a place where no one would dare to enter unless they are experienced and strong mercenaries.
Although Ardis felt that the young boy had more mana than average, it’s probably right for his age. Even the hand he pulled up had no signs of creases or experience holding a sword or any scars of battle.
To come here by himself with that level of ability, it couldn’t even be called lacking. With his pearl white hair, he was too pretty to be a mercenary.
「Where are your friends? 」
The young boy must’ve gotten separated with his comrades in the forest. They might’ve already fallen prey to the forest. It was natural for Ardis to think so.
That’s why Ardis asked about his companions to the young boy. If they were separated, then Ardis is willing to take care of him until he reunites with his companions. However, it seems that the young boy who was asked of his companions wasn’t able to open his mouth.
「Did they get taken out? 」
Ardis took the boy’s silence as an affirmative. But contrary to Ardis expectations, the young boy shook his head a while later, and opened his mouth after a little hesitation.
「The escorts……, they went back first……」
「With that much payment……, here is where we say goodbye. You will need to pay more if you want to go further……. They said……」
It seems that the escorts that the young boy hired had abandoned the young boy in this middle of the forest and returned. As he just heard an absurd story, although it didn’t show on his face, Ardis was deeply confused.
It’s exactly those kinds of people exist that mercenaries are still being referred as barbarians and ruffians.
「Is that so……. I understand your situation now. Then let’s leave here quickly. There’s something big heading here. 」
The young boy’s eyes that seemed innocent and naïve looked at Ardis.
「A high chance it’s a demonic being. 」
「Hiee―! D-Demonic being……! 」
When Ardis checked out the young boy’s location with his mana detection, he had also checked out the surroundings as well. There was a big reaction that’s moving towards Ardis and the young boy. It’ll take less than five minutes before it reaches them unless they move first.
「Let’s move quick. 」
Leaving his words short, Ardis threw the young boy over his shoulders, and left the corpses of the Ractors there.
After five minutes, Ardis lowered the young boy back onto solid ground.
「It should be fine if we’re this far away. So, continuing back from where we stopped. 」
After judging that the young boy had calmed down after surveying his surroundings, Ardis started the conversation.
「Here isn’t somewhere safe for people who don’t know how to defend themselves. If you want to go back to the capital, I’m willing to bring you back. 」
Since it was Ardis’s original plan to test out his new swords, he had planned to try it out on Whips or something. Because his pocket is still quite warm, there wouldn’t be a problem even if he went a day without income.
「You chose the wrong escorts. Well, let that be a lesson for you. Next time, hire some proper escorts. 」
But even though Ardis said so in a gentle tone, the young boy’s response was dull. After a short moment of silence, the young boy averted his gaze, and slowly opened his mouth.
「I don’t have money……」