Two months had passed since Reiten’s defense battle.
It was already a hot topic in the capital by the time Ardis had returned but now that two months had passed, it had died down considerably. Even for Ardis who had been living a slow life after returning home started accepting requests again about a month ago.
Ardis replied shortly.
In 『Seseragi Inn』 of the capital of Gran. There were two people sitting at the same table in the tavern. One of them is Ardis, the other is a familiar man who recommends jobs for mercenaries.
「Please don’t be like that. 」
Jeanne who was Ardis’s familiar contact had a stunned look.
「I mean, I knew you aren’t on good terms with the church. But, since it’s a nominated request, shouldn’t you go and hear them out at the very least? 」
「I will refuse anyway even if I went. It’s only a waste of time. 」
At Ardis’s answer that didn’t budge, Jeanne had a troubled expression.
「It’ll be bad news if you just refused their offer without any reason. I also have my reputation to care for. It’s not any difficult job, the compensation is alluring as well since it’s nominated, why not consider it? 」
Saying so, Jeanne handed over the letter of the nominated request. Rather than that, it was more like Jeanne forced it upon Ardis.
「It’s an escort request. The escorted person seems to be around the same age as Ardis, and above all it’s a cute girl we’re talking about, you know? 」
「That sounds like it’s more trouble than ever. 」
Ardis’s expression seemed to have showed his fed-upness as he magnificently ignored whatever Jeanne said.
「On top of that, she’s the famed future Saintess, Sister Solte, you know? Wouldn’t Ardis benefit from such a contact? Rather than that, it’s enviable that you have a chance to do so. 」
Ardis who was yawning and saying no so far suddenly reacted to the name.
「Solte, you mean the one with a small stature and cherry blossom hair? 」
「What, even though you’re saying that you don’t want anything to do with the church, you had your eyes on Sister Solte? 」
Jeanne asked with a teasing tone.
「Nope. I met her before in one of my requests. 」
Hearing Solte’s name, Ardis recalled.
When he was still in Thoria, the request he accepted together with Ted and the others. It was to rescue the Mariules Academy students that had entered the Corsas Forest, and one of the students was a girl with the name Solte.
Certainly, she said that she entered the academy with the permission from the church albeit she’s a Sister there. Ardis recalled vaguely the request details mentioned that she has tremendous talent in healing magic albeit still young.
Amongst the five students that are in the forest, the only two that stood out was the noble young man with his stubborn pride and Solte who could give proper response. The request from church and Solte’s name had resurfaced that piece of memory in Ardis.
「Acquaintance? Then you have no reason to refuse right? It says that it’s from the church but, I’m pretty sure that the person herself wishes so as well? 」
「The person herself? 」
「Here, look at the signature of the employer. 」
Ardis looked at the request letter that was forced onto him.
Certainly, the employer section was written it was from the church, but the signature on it was Solte’s. It’s unlikely that she would have been the one to sign a request from the church in the normal procedure.
「Since it’s from someone you know, and it’s a paying job as well. It’s not good that you keep up that animosity forever, my honest opinion. 」
And now it suddenly became a scenario where Ardis can’t refuse easily.
In the end, Ardis settled with 「I’m not set to accept it yet. I’ll decide after hearing from herself. 」 and went back.
Normally, if it’s a request from the church, Ardis would have done his all to refuse. But since it’s from someone that he’s not entirely unfamiliar with, and the impression that he got from Solte wasn’t that bad at all. That was the main reason that Ardis decided to compromise the least.
The next day, Ardis headed towards the church that he would never get close to. Located in a lot in the hearth of the capital. It was a building a street away from the center of the town.
It’s built entirely out of selected white rocks, a church built 200 years in the past. Albeit the simple design that had no decoration on it, it still had a sense of majestic that would imprint its overwhelming presence on other’s memory.
Although the front door is wide open for anyone to enter and pray as they wished, they still had guards stationed there to bar any ruffians――someone like Ardis. After telling his business to the guard, Ardis waited for a while before a priest with plump ears came out from the church.
「Sorry for the wait. You’re the mercenary who accepted our request I suppose. I’m sure Sister Solte would be joyed. 」
「No, it’s not decided that I will accept your request. That’s after I hear your demand. 」
「Eh? ……I―I see. 」
Ardis’s answer was probably unexpected. The priest seemed to have doubted his ears for a second but regained himself and continued a beat later.
「W-Well, please come this way. Sister Solte will explain the details of the request directly. 」
Guided by the priest, Ardis set foot in the church. After going past the corridor, the space widened. Facing the entrance right in the middle situated the statue of the goddess carved from pure white marble. There were many people around on their knees facing that, Ardis glared at the people praising the goddess seemingly with an expression of hatred.
「What seems to be the matter? 」
「……No, it’s nothing. 」
At the priest who seemed to be startled, Ardis suppressed his emotions.
「If you’d like to, why not pray afterwards? The praying session for today is over already but, we can make an exception for someone who are here to accept our request. It would be quite selfish of us to do so but, I’m sure the great and generous Goddess would forgive us. 」
(No, that woman is the creature furthest from the concept of generous and great)
Ardis swallowed the words that almost came out unintentionally. Instead of the words he swallowed, another sentence that is still considered blasphemous came out.
「Is she really that amazing? That Goddess you speak of. 」
「That’s a given. The Goddess was the one who protected the world from the Evil God’s army in the War of Gods, and the one who granted us the wisdom of magic. The reason why we are born in this world and can live peacefully is also thanks to the blessing of the Goddess. That’s why, everyone should thank and praise the Goddess. And that is our task to spread the teachings of the Goddess. 」
The priest’s volume increased as he continued his preaches.
Contrary to the priest’s heated explanation, Ardis’s mood only grew worse. At the same time, a sense of anger swelled within Ardis.
「Please look at the wall over there. 」
Probably not noticing Ardis’s feelings, the priest pointed to a wall.
「It’s a depiction of the War of Gods. 」
The priest pointed to a giant face of wall covered with murals.
On it had mural of a war. However, it wasn’t a depiction of a war between humans. It was one of the Gods’.
A war between the Goddess protecting the world and the Evil God destroying the world. There’s a separation between good and evil that even a child would make out easily.
The largest drawing is the Goddess in a pure white clothing holding a sword that was glowing in her hands, surrounding her were the angels. That was the description of the holy army. On the other side, the creature what the church refers as the Evil God together with the demons were drawn.
「It’s the scene of the showdown between the Goddess and the Evil God. If the Goddess didn’t defeat the Evil God, I’m sure our world would have been enveloped in darkness. The world might be already destroyed as we know it. 」
Ardis looked at the drawing of the Evil God next. It was a drawing that inspired horror, the demons’ mouth split till their cheeks and sharp fangs gleamed.
The pupils that had evilness crawling in them. The sharp elongated claws. The dark skin like a beast’s fur. Having ten arms grown from his back, each of them holding a completely different type of weapon like swords, spears and axes. All of them had blood dripping.
That figure will definitely cause an instinctual repulse in whoever who saw it.
(Always making up stories as they like)
Ardis desperately suppressed his destructive instincts. Nothing will change even if he did so. He would only have the church on his back.
Even if he understood that, the humiliation that Ardis had to bear was hard for him.
「Oya? What’s the matter? 」
「……No, nothing. 」
「Is that so. Sister Solte is still waiting for us, let’s hurry up. 」
Seemingly not noticing the anger residing in Ardis’s eyes, the priest resumed his steps once again.