Subjugating the 『Unholiness』 in the frontier village, Ardis and the others who left on the next morning arrived at Reiten after two days. While being hushed by Kyrill who seemed really eager, Ardis casually walked down the streets while looking around the town.
Entering a building with the signboard, 『Litte Merchant Association』, Kyrill told the receptionist woman their purpose, and waited for a while before guided into a room. After being served some courtesy tea, they had waited for about five minutes before three people came inside.
The one leading was a young woman. She had a short grey hair and big maroon pupils. It seems that she’s blessed in appearance.
Following behind were two men. One was a middle-aged man wearing a tidy uniform like a servant. And the other was probably a bodyguard. Although he never had any armor on him, there was a sword on his waist.
Dark green hair and pupils of the same color. He had the muscles needed for a swordsman despite looking thin, he looked tidy overall. Even the way he presents himself with no gaps, it was evident of his abilities.
When he entered the room, he took a glance at Ardis before letting out an incomprehensible『Uha―』. Hearing that, the middle-aged man beside him gave him a very weird gaze.
「Sorry for the wait, Kyrill-kun. I’m glad you’re back safely. 」
Without even minding the development behind her, the young woman greeted Kyrill before sitting on the sofa.
「Yes, Marrieda-san. I have returned safely. U-Umm, this……. The sword in question. 」
Kyrill handed the sword that he had been hugging dearly for the past few days to the woman named Marrieda.
「Unn, certainly. Good work―」
Marrieda received and gave it a short glance before putting it away on the table.
Ardis felt something was wrong with her action.
After all, she was the one who purposely sent Kyrill deep into the forest to retrieve the sword. Normally, someone who did that would surely draw and inspect the sword at the very least.
Not even examining the sword’s scabbard or handle, not even showing a satisfied face on the item that she’d requested, it felt like that it was just something that she didn’t want.
「U-Umm. This means that the funds will be provided right? 」
「Of course~nii. Kyrill-kun’s hard work will surely be compensated~yon」
Hearing Marrieda’s words, Kyrill seemed to have a relieved expression.
「By the way, who is this young man here―? 」
Marrieda sent a gaze towards Ardis and asked Kyrill.
「U-mm……. He’s Ardis-san. That……, he helped me out a lot in Nagras……」
「That’s formidable. You’ve taken care of Kyrill-kun well~nii. Let me say my thanks too~yon. 」
Although she smiled, she never loosened her guard in her eyes as she said his words of appreciation.
「It’s nothing. I just did it because I felt like it. 」
In response, Ardis replied while looking grumpy. The person who handed the card in a sealed envelope to Kyrill is this person, so there’s no way Ardis can take what she says at a face value.
「Well then, Kyrill-kun. About the funding, I will be talking with your master in the next few days, rest well for today~yon. Ah, but Ellie is waiting in the president room, I recommend you go there first~nii. 」
「Eh? ………Why is Nee-san here? 」
As if hearing the most unexpected thing, Kyrill had round eyes blinking as he asked.
「Sorry…………, she found out. 」
Teehee, Marrieda said so while sticking out her tongue like that.
「Eh? Eeeeeeh!? 」
「Well―, it would’ve been good if we kept it secret one more day~nii. But she heard it from somewhere, and came to me huffing just now~nii. 」
It seems that Kyrill is starting to sweat.
「Now now, you should go to her now that her patience still hasn’t reach bottom. Maybe if you don’t hurry, Ellie will be the one coming? 」
「Eh – ah – umm, but……」
Kyrill who seemed to be half stood up looked alternatively at Marrieda and Ardis, and the president room door back and forth panickily.
「You don’t have mind me. Go calm your Nee-san down. 」
「Eh, ……ah, ……yes. 」
Kyrill who had hesitation to leave Ardis behind the room immediately darted out the room after he heard the reply from Ardis. After seeing off Kyrill, Marrieda confirmed with her servant.
「That room, have you prepared it~nii? 」
「Yes, I have prepared it just as specified. 」
「Nnn, then bring this to there. 」
Saying so, Marrieda handed over the sword on the table to him.
「And then, I want to talk with this young man here. Nicole, can you leave us alone~nii? 」
Marrieda gave her instructions to her bodyguard, but her servant complained.
「Please wait, miss. I advise to have Nicole stay behind. 」
「It’s fine, it’s fine. You don’t have to worry anything. 」
「But that can’t……. Oi Nicole, you say some――」
「Nope, can’t do―. That is not what I can deal with. There’s no chances of me winning at all. 」
The bodyguard man who called Ardis 『That』 immediately waved his hands and refused.
「See, Nicole said so too, just go quickly―」
The servant still didn’t give up despite that but, he was pushed out of the room by Marrieda.
「I will standby outside the room just in case. Please yell if anything happens. Though I don’t know if I will be of any use if that happens. 」
The bodyguard man had a cold tone as he left those words and left.
Thus, Ardis is now alone in the room with Marrieda. If it’s a scenario where a man and woman is left alone in a room, it would be discussed heatedly by young girls or madams who like to gossip but, the atmosphere flowing in the room was evidently not so sweet.
「Well then. 」
Marrieda who sat on the sofa once again took a sip of her tea before starting.
「Let me greet you anew. I’m Marrieda. I’m a merchant, also the president for this association~yon. Nice to meet you, 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』-san. 」
Ardis’s black pupils was full of question marks as he just heard a name he’d never heard before.
「Countless Swords Sorcerer? What’s that? 」
After moving to the capital, Gran from Thoria, Ardis hadn’t tried to hide his abilities. That is why the existence of sword magic, and the fact that Ardis is a user had spread in the capital, earning him the second name of 『Sword Magic User』.
Other than that, because of the feats of defeating the Three Great Demons, Ardis also has the title, 『Subjugator of the Three Great Demons』. But, 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』 is a name he’d never heard once in his life.
「Well, I know that you can’t get it~yon. 」
While smiling, Marrieda decided to gloss over what she said just now.
「It’s Ardis-kun’s first time in Reiten~nii? It’s a trading city so there’re many kinds of food ingredients imported, and many dishes here~yon. You can get interesting things to eat when you stay here~yon. Well, but we’re far from the seas, so fishes are mostly nil though~nii. 」
Marrieda had started spouting things that weren’t in anyway interesting to Ardis. It seems that she has no intentions of starting the main topic herself.
「We have food from Nagras too but, you don’t really have to――」
「Who are you? 」
Finally, Ardis who had no patience tagging along with her idly talk shot out a straight question.
And Marrieda replied with an unchanging smile.
「Huuuuh? Didn’t I say that I’m the Marrieda of Litte Merchant Association, right―? 」
「I’m not talking about that. 」
「Well well, don’t make such a scary face. I will say it first but, I’m not Ardis-kun’s enemy~yon. 」
Marrieda who said so with a nonchalant tone was greeted by Ardis’s glare.
「Huuuuh? I’m not trusted~nii? 」
「That’s a given. You think I have any trust for someone who would send a young child by himself to a demonic being infested forest? 」
Originally, the matter with Marrieda’s personality and Kyrill’s matter is separate. But the one who sent Kyrill in the forest full of demonic beings was none other than this woman. If she’s someone who has conscience, there’s no way she would do that unless she had malice towards Kyrill.
But in the end, Kyrill returned safely, and the sword in question was also retrieved. But that’s because that Kyrill had met with Ardis by chance. If Ardis didn’t help him, there’s no way Kyrill could’ve survived in Corsas Forest, not even reaching the ruins. Even if he did, there’s no way he could’ve left while fending away the attacks from the strange humanoids.
Thinking with common sense, if she had a swordsman like that Nicole as a bodyguard before, she should have more than enough money to let Kyrill get proper escorts in the capital. But before that, giving a task to investigate in the demons’ nests isn’t what anyone would do…….
「But it’s a fact that Kyrill-kun had completed his task~yon? 」
「That’s just hindsight-bias. 」
「Well, I would’ve given more travel and escort funds if I could―, but if I did that, Kyrill-kun would’ve never met with Ardis-kun right~nii? 」
(What in the world is this person saying?)
Ardis was super confused at Marrieda’s unclear words. If Ardis takes her words literally, it was as if her real purpose was to let Kyrill meet with Ardis.
But, there’s no way that could be the case.
The fact that Ardis entered Corsas Forest on the day, was total coincidence. Coincidentally, the blacksmith had finished the sword he ordered. Coincidentally, Ardis hadn’t taken up any mercenary request. Coincidentally, Ardis had decided to try out the sword he just got in Corsas Forest.
Even for Kyrill, he entered the forest coincidentally on that day, his escorts abandoned him coincidentally, and where he escaped from the demonic beings was coincidentally towards Ardis. There’s not one in a million chance this can be planned.
If she had knew that Ardis would appear, then she could’ve certainly predicted that they can find the hidden hatch in the ruins, that they can deal with the red humanoids in the night, that they can make it back to Reiten safely.
But Kyrill himself didn’t seem like he knew clearly about Ardis at all, in the first place, even if Kyrill did know, it was too many coincidences that it was impossible.
Lastly, the words that was written on the small card that was handed to Kyrill. That was undoubtedly a message directed to Ardis to get his attention.
「The card you gave to Kyrill. What are you planning? What do you know? Who are you? 」