Edited by : Felix-sama 🙂
Ardis, who agreed to meet up again with Ted and the others the next day returned to the forest where Nere and the twins were waiting. Although it’s a forest full of danger, it’s nothing more than a refreshing walk for Ardis.
Since he wanted to let Nere know that he’s coming back, he didn’t bother killing his presence as he headed back to the house. It’s her after all. Ardis’s presence had probably been detected long ago.
While fending off the carnivorous beasts that appeared occasionally, Ardis eventually caught sight of the aptly named, 『My home』. The roof of the house which was made lower to not stand out in the forest, the firewood and storage shed that were made as dummies, the once empty fields that were now magnificent vegetable gardens, and the playground that had swings, slides, seesaw and a vaulting box that hadn’t been there before.
It was Ardis’ 『My home』, which always changed considerably every time he returned from a trip.
As soon as he arrived, Ardis smiled and said.
「Somehow, there’re more things now? 」
Nere who was sitting in the middle of the garden for some reason didn’t seem surprised in the slightest, replying.
「I’m glad for your safe return, my master. 」
Her gentle smile was like that of a young maiden welcoming the person she was waiting for.
「Ah! It’s Ardis! 」
「Welcome back! Ardis! 」
The twins who had been doing something behind Nere’s back suddenly raised their voices when they saw Ardis arrive.
That moment, the sound of something being cut was heard. Fluttering like the leaves on the trees, something fell to the ground softly. Riana and Fillia who saw it unintentionally let out a noise.
Following the gazes of the twins, Ardis’s eyes fell on the Aliceblue object.
Unintentionally, Ardis let out a similar noise, but Nere stood up as if nothing had happened as she bowed to Ardis.
「My master, it’s still a little early but shall I prepare the meals? 」
If only her words were better, there’s nothing to complain about her abilities or her attitude as a servant. Raising her face, she had a smile which would’ve made any immature men crumble.
Looking past her smiling face, it was only a part of her long straight hair that had been ruined. That the Aliceblue hair that had been flawless before was now ruined because of the imperfection, made Ardis feel strange.
「Nere, sorry! Sorry! 」
「Nere, are you fine!? Pain!? 」
It was Fillia who was holding the scissors while crying as she desperately apologized to Nere. Beside Fillia stood Riana, teary-eyed.
「Uhhmm……. What was going on here? 」
Ardis asked, looking between Nere’s hair and the twins alternately.
「What, it’s nothing. The children said they wanted to cut my hair. And so it became something like trying to learn barbering. Well, ――」
She picked up her hair that was scattered on the ground, and said as if it wasn’t anything important.
「――They were probably too excited to see Master that they forgot about their hands. 」
Putting her hand on Fillia who is still apologizing desperately, Nere lightly patted her.
「No need to be so upset, Fillia. Hair will grow back if you leave it be. 」
Then, removing her hand from Fillia’s head, Nere swung it towards the ground. Without a chant, just with a single motion of her hand, a small flame manifested, and burned the hair on the grass into nothingness.
Ardis who saw that let out another noise. Seeing the Aliceblue hair burn up, Ardis recalled the conditions of the female merchant in Reiten.
「Nn? What’s the matter, my master? 」
Because of the question his servant asked with a straight face, Ardis started explaining the weird situation that had happened in Reiten.
Moving back into the house, after explaining everything, Nere nodded with a 「I see. 」.
It was a house that had quite the lively atmosphere since the last time he seen it.The four seats were all filled, cheerily steaming in front of them were four cups of fragrant grass tea.
「In short, you need my hair to get information out of that female merchant? 」
「Of course, I won’t do it if Nere is against it. 」
Even if it’s hair that will grow back, it’s still unsettling to have someone using it for unknown purposes. It’s natural for anyone to feel disgusted at that prospect.
Ardis wants to know something from Marrieda. But that’s still merely Ardis’s personal request, it’s not like Ardis wants to know so bad that he will force Nere.
Nere who heard about the story stood up, and took out a dagger hidden in her pocket. Then, under the stares of the other three people, she grabbed a bunch of her hair and sliced it off without any hesitation.
While Ardis is still speechless in shock, Nere tied the hair together with some thread and offered it out to Ardis.
「If so, take it. It’s just some hair, since it’s not really important to me, use it as you wish. 」
「But you didn’t have to cut that much off……. Just one strand is enough……」
Seeing Nere had cut a lot of her own hair off expressionlessly, Ardis explained awkwardly.
「There’s no need to worry, it’ll grow back soon enough. It’s not bad to feel the breeze at my neck for some time. 」
「I-Is that so……」
Nere’s long hair were cut slightly above her shoulders. Ardis who had only seen her with long hair since they met was speechless, seeing the different impression his servant gave than usual.
「But, I have two conditions that I wish master to agree to. 」
Nere suddenly leaned out from her chair, and made a serious face.
「……The conditions are? 」
「You need not worry, it’s nothing difficult. 」
After taking a breath, Nere took a sip at the herbal tea she poured herself.
「The first. I wish master to share the information that is obtained by trading my hair. It’s not like I desire to dig out master’s past nor the intentions to force master. But, it’s the information that is traded for my hair. Shouldn’t it be reasonable that I know what it is as well? 」
Although it’s already been half a year since he met Nere, there are still mysteries surrounding her. But Ardis hasn’t bothered to investigate about Nere.
Unless Nere wanted to talk about herself, Ardis didn’t have any intentions to ask her about it, whether in the past or the future. That’s because that Ardis didn’t want her to ask about his past, that was the main reason.
It wasn’t that Ardis doesn’t trust Nere. If he didn’t trust Nere, then he wouldn’t have let her take care of the twins.
But Ardis himself isn’t clear if he should talk about himself. After all, he isn’t really clear what had happened to him either, so he’s hesitant to explain it to Nere. That’s why, he had been secretly glad that Nere had never asked about it.
Although he doesn’t know if Nere felt the same way, she hadn’t been asking Ardis about it at the very least. But just like what Nere said, it is information that is exchanged for her hair, she naturally has the rights to learn it.
「Got it, I will do that. 」
「And the other condition――」
After nodding at Ardis’s answer satisfactorily, Nere raised the other condition.
In front of Ardis who is having a serious face, the servant smiled as her eyes narrowed.
「To have my hair cut. 」
Ardis asked for confirmation as he didn’t get what Nere was talking about for a moment. Nere said while touching the portion of her hair that was now cut slightly above her shoulders.
「Isn’t it too messy to leave it as is? Since the twins had their hair cut, I might as well have Master tidy up my hair. 」
「That’s the second……condition? 」
「That’s right. 」
「I don’t really mind if it’s just that but……」
After all, it’s a simple matter to solve with wind magic. Eager to start, Ardis who was about to manifest blades of wind was stopped by Nere.
「Hold your horses, my master. Could you cut my hair without using magic but scissors? 」
「……Isn’t it a matter easily settled with a wind blade? 」
「That would be too uncaring. It wouldn’t be interesting if it was not taken care of with heart and patience. 」
Saying that, Nere handed over the scissors they had used before, and went to the garden together with the twins.
「Eh? Cutting with a scissors? Someone else’s hair……? I’ve haven’t done that in years……? 」
A voice was heard from outside the house, rushing Ardis who was still hesitating somewhat in his seat.
「My master! What are you spacing out for! Even if it’s still early, there’s still preparation for dinner yet to be done! Hurry up would you! 」
Ardis, being the one ordered around for a change, took the scissors and went to the garden nervously. It took him an hour before he was finally free.