「I can’t promise you anything. 」
Ardis left the Litte Merchant Association along with those words.
People he had given up to ever meet again once, there’s a possibility that he can get a clue about his comrades. While suppressing his feelings that would’ve overflowed normally, Ardis gave his reply vaguely.
As he greeted Kyrill before leaving the building, Kyrill and his sister suggested, 「Please let us thank you」, and that Ardis stay in Reiten for a while. But Ardis had no leeway to be staying in Reiten now.
Especially the sister, she was really insisting on retaining Ardis, but as Ardis told her that he has an emergency to attend to, and will be back to visit within a week, she finally compromised with 「Then you must visit us during then」.
Ardis who left the merchant association behind decided to resupply his daily necessities and preserved food from the general stores.
「They’re quite cheaper than in the capital huh. 」
Ardis who confirmed the price after looking around said, then he bought some dried meat, salt, some spices and polishing sandpaper.
By the time he had done with shopping, the time was already afternoon when he looked up in the sky. Ardis stood around as he surveyed the people who walked in the main street for a while.
What Marrieda had requested from him was a strand of 『Aliceblue』 hair from 『A woman with strong magic capabilities』 and 『Sky colored eyes』. Although she seemed to be referring to Nere when she said so, still, she never pointed specifically at Nere. If there’s someone who fits the requirements as well, even Marrieda wouldn’t be able to complain.
Ardis didn’t want to involve Nere and the twins if possible, it was Ardis’s true intentions. As such, Ardis is trying his luck, looking around if there’s anyone else who fits the characteristics, but so far there isn’t. Aliceblue hair is rare after all, not even Ardis had seen more than a few times in his life.
Would there be someone if he went to the capital, he thought, but when he started to imagine Aliceblue hair with the other characteristics, Ardis started frowning.
In the end, it seemed like there’s no way other than bringing Nere’s hair somehow. While thinking so, he felt irritated since everything seemed like it was going Marrieda’s way.
That time, Ardis’s gaze fell on a certain man. It was the small statured man who casted some kind of spell onto the sword in Litte’s building just now.
With that exotic clothes of his, he stuck out like a sore thumb in the busy streets of the trading city. After extinguishing his moment of hesitation, Ardis went closer to the tanned man.
「Can I have some of your time? 」
「Eh? What is it? 」
The man who was called out had a surprised expression at first, but after seeing that Ardis was the person beside Marrieda just now, he lowered his guard.
「Aah, you’re the person beside Marrieda-san just now. 」
「Sorry for the bother but, can I talk with you for a while? 」
Since Ardis was someone Marrieda knew, the man quickly agreed. Ardis called out to the man in hopes of getting even just a little information of the mysterious woman.
The man belonged in a group of travelling artists.
From west to east, their travel was accompanied with various kind of danger throughout the year. The danger of being ambushed by bandits, being eaten by carnivores. All of them were able to be fended off with strength. The group were surrounded by mercenaries as they travelled.
「But, there’s something you can’t win no matter how strong you are. 」
According to the man’s story, there’s also the danger of getting some kind of dangerous disease while travelling. Coincidentally they were unlucky, the symptoms of the epidemic that they’ve got from another country suddenly started appearing before they reached Reiten.
Of course, to let them enter the city with the epidemic on them would mean spreading the sickness, as such they were not allowed in the city.
For Reiten, it would’ve been better if they went somewhere else. Although the city was basically hushing them to go away, it’s not like their group could do that.
After all, all of them collapsed under the disease, there were only a few people who can move properly.
「We wanted to buy medicine but we can’t enter the city, and it’s not like the doctors or pharmacist would come out of the city all of a sudden. Even if we wanted to move to another city, there were too many of us that couldn’t move. That time, the only one who helped us was Marrieda and her Litte Merchant Association. 」
Marrieda’s association had provided food, water and medicine regularly to the people outside the town who was rejected by Reiten. Thanks to that, their group had recovered about half a month later, and was finally allowed to enter the city.
「Of course, it’s not like they did it for free. Even so, they charged us cheaper than the market price, above all, all of us were saved. That’s the most important part that even money cannot buy. 」
He wanted to thank them no matter what, and such he was requested of sealing the sword that Ardis and Kyrill brought in.
Can coincidences like that even happen? Ardis was really skeptical in his mind. Along with the timing that Ardis and Kyrill found the sword in the ruins and brought it back, now, it’s revealed another travelling artist had coincidentally saved by Marrieda and he coincidentally had the techniques to seal the sword.
If it was only one thing, then it can be dismissed as a fluke. But it’s said that three coincidences form a miracle. Rather than being a miracle, it felt more natural to suspect that the outcomes had been going accordingly to someone’s plan.
Without showing his suspicion, Ardis continued the talk.
「What was that just now? It didn’t look like magic but, it also seemed different from the prayers of the priests. 」
「The priests huh……」
The man had a bitter smile.
「That’s a special technique passed down in my tribe after all. It’s different than the usual magic. As for being a prayer……, well it’s about half correct. At the very least, it’s different from the prayers in the church. 」
With a soft voice, the small man explained as they were in a public place and it wasn’t a topic to be discussed loudly. Following him, Ardis lowered his voice as well.
「It’s different than the prayers in the church……? 」
「The prayers in the church are more like 『Praise our Goddess』, my tribe’s prayer is a little different. 」
「In detail, what difference it is? 」
「Well, it’s about the same meaning as 『May a good journey be blessed unto you』. Like our journey in life, it’s a prayer that has the meaning to hope for the brightest in our future. 」
「Hmm, I see. 」
At the very least, it’s a prayer better than the prayers that praise the Goddess blindly.
「Sorry. I think I will have to excuse myself soon……」
「Aah, sorry for holding you up. Thanks for your time. 」
Although Ardis thought that he could have gotten some information about Marrieda from him, the story he got from the man had just added more confusion.
Ardis who said goodbye to the man stayed in the main street for a while to keep a lookout for any Aliceblue-haired person. But, there wasn’t any result in the end. In the end, he concluded that searching in Reiten is futile, and left the city before dusk completely falls, and headed back to Nagras.
Ardis started walking eastwards towards Gran. Eventually, when the night had completely fallen and the surroundings are covered in darkness, he left the highway and took off in a secluded area after confirming no one is around. Just like that, accompanied with darkness, Ardis arrived back in the capital after half a night, and waited for dawn before he entered Gran.
With no signs of fatigue even though he hadn’t had a wink of sleep, he went to Jean to report about the successful subjugation of 『Unholiness』, then he went to the shaman to give him the suckles. About the use of the suckle he saw in Reiten, he decided to keep it a secret for now since the legitimacy isn’t confirmed.
After that, Ardis visited the information broker, Chezare along the way.
「Along the way huh……, quite the treatment you have for me. 」
Chezare voiced his complaint sharply.
「It’s true you’re along the way after all. 」
Ardis replied as if nothing was wrong.
「So? A female with Aliceblue hair? 」
「That’s right. And she must have sky colored eyes and strong mana, any clues? 」
To confirm if anyone fit the characteristics that Marrieda gave, Ardis asked Chezare about it. Well, even for the mighty Ardis, he has neither the effort nor will to search through three hundred thousand people living in the capital.
「You, are you thinking that I’m some convenience store or something? Even if I’m a capable information broker, there’s no way I know everyone living in the capital? 」
Even after voicing out his complain listlessly, Chezare still searched through his memories.
「Aliceblue hair……, sky colored eyes……, strong mana……, female……. Wait, huh? 」
Chezare looked up at the sky as if he recalled something.
「Isn’t that, the mercenary woman? What, you’re trying to tease me even now? 」
Chezare threw out another complaint with a frown formed on his serious face.
「Haa……. It’s only her as I thought huh……」
「Eh? What do you mean? 」
Since it was rare seeing Ardis sigh, Chezare asked him.
「No, it’s nothing. Sorry for bothering. 」
After deflecting Chezare’s question simply, Ardis flicked a copper coin to him, before leaving the store.
Ardis who finished all his business after going around the capital muttered while staring at the sky.
「I guess it’s time to return huh――」
「Oi, Ardis! 」
Suddenly, a rough voice came from behind, calling out to Ardis. The voice wasn’t polite but, it wasn’t unpleasant to hear. Rather than that, Ardis knew the voice from somewhere.
「Ted? Even Norris and Orphellia? 」
Ardis who turned around found the members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』 that he worked together when he was in Thoria.
And so, Ardis changed their location to his frequented inn, 『Seseragi Inn』’s dining hall. Ardis and the members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』 shared a table for lunch.
「Geez, I know your situation but……. You could’ve told us first. 」
「That’s right, Ardis. Even Ted here is super worried about you. 」
「Yeah, he made a face like this with his worrisome personality. Ardis would know right? 」
「Shut up you lot! 」
Ardis’s cheeks loosened at the casual interaction that hadn’t been happening for quite a while.
「You guys didn’t change at all. But didn’t I send a letter to you guys after I left Thoria? Was it not received? 」
Although Ardis didn’t have many acquaintances in this world but, he had tried to be a little considerate for the three of them who can be said to be his comrades.
As such, Ardis had gone out and send a letter to them after settling down in the capital about half a month in.
「A letter? Are you referring to this? 」
Orphellia took out a single parchment and put it up on the table.
「There’s not even a name of the sender or where you went, how can we be assured with just that? 」
Ted and Norris who were beside her nodded agreeing. The letter wrote as such.
『I’m doing fine with
We left Thoria for the time being.
PS: I’m not tone deaf. 』
It was a letter consisting only of the essence of the essences. Rather than a letter, it felt more like a simple signal. Even so, Ardis has his own reasons too.
After all, if he wrote where he went, there was a possibility that when the Thoria army gets their hand on the letter, they would know where Ardis, Nere and the twins went. On the same note, he didn’t write his name because it might cause troubles for the members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』.
For Ted and the others who had spent a lot of time with Ardis commenting that he’s a tone deaf should know that the sender was Ardis because of the note he left in the letter. As for the location, Ardis planned to contact them again after he had settled in and the situation with Thoria had calmed down.
Certainly, Ardis can’t blame them for reprimanding him as he hadn’t contacted them after that single letter, but Ardis couldn’t understand if it was that serious for them. While surrounded by the three’s voices, Ardis was thinking peacefully.
「But well, since the rumor of 『Subjugator of the Three Great Demons』 had been known in Thoria not even a month later. We knew where you went immediately. 」
「Ahaha. Everyone didn’t believe it at first, thinking it was just another fake news. But then came the name of 『Sword Magic User』, so we knew that it was Ardis. 」
「So? Are you returning to Thoria? 」
Orphellia asked Ardis as the representative.
「I’m currently based in the capital. At the very least, I’m not going to return as long as Sir Thoria and the General is still there. 」
「Leaving the General aside, it would be tens of years later when Sir Thoria goes……」
Ted said so as if fed up.
The house of Thoria is a famed family since the forming of Nagras. So, if there wasn’t anything super serious, their house probably wouldn’t ever go out. The current head, Frederick, is still considered young as he’s before forty, it’s not sure when he will have a successor.
「That being the case, it seems like Ardis probably wouldn’t be back in Thoria for a while……. It’s not like we can change our base of operations to here as well. 」
After all, 『Bright Stars of White Night』 had taken root in Thoria for a long time. With their long history of contribution and trustworthiness, their results and honor, connections with other people, and mercenary comrades who will be willing to support them. It probably wasn’t possible for them to throw all that away and change their base of operations.
「Well, I will contact you if anything happens. Sneaking inside and rendezvous is easy after all. 」
On the other hand, Ardis didn’t look the slightest disappointed. He had been doing most things by himself, so he didn’t have any lingering to a party.
「By the way, what are you guys doing? Have a request in the capital or something? 」
After all it’s rare to see Ted and the others who has their base in Thoria come so far out to the capital.
「Yeah, we have some good paying job in the Coalition. So, we’re actually on the move to there. 」
「The Coalition? 」
「In specific, the town in the east, Reiten. 」
Norris added on supplements.
「What a coincidence. I’m heading to Reiten in these few days too. 」
Hearing Ardis’s words, they were surprised.
「Then should we move together since a while? 」
「Unn……. I’m not really sure as of now when I will be ready, is that fine for you all? 」
「Nope. We’re not in a hurry after all. Well, if it’s within three days then it’s fine. 」
That’s fine if that’s the case, so Ardis accepted their offer.
「Let’s leave the scheduling for the departure for next time. I will meet you all tomorrow. 」
Leaving behind those words, Ardis left 『Seseragi Inn』.
For the time being, return to his home and rest for the night. Ardis was thinking of the image of 『My home』 that he’d been away for a while, as he walked down the main street that led to the gate.
After lightly greeting the gatekeepers that he’d become totally familiar with, leaving behind the busy capital, he walked towards the forest that has the house where Nere and the twins are waiting.