「In any case, a toast for ourselves for living. 」
A restaurant in the capital of Nagras Kingdom, Gran. With Ellenoa formally starting the celebration, Kyrill, Rai and Ellenoa bumped their glasses full of fruit juice.
The smiles that were on the three persons around the round table, the joy of seeing each other making it alive. A week had passed since the war with Empire, the three persons that had finally had some time to cool down and realize the fact of surviving the war finally held a celebration.
A party consisting only the three of them, in any case, it wasn’t appropriate for them to celebrate loudly in the capital that is shrouded in a dim atmosphere from the lost. On top of that, there’re casualties from their academy as well. Even if most of them aren’t people they had talked with, they can’t feel nothing.
On top of that, the total of eight thousand soldiers, five thousand did not return, the remaining three thousand excluding the injured are only at most a thousand five hundred.
And among those, majority are from the Thoria territorial army, now that they have returned to Thoria, not even five hundred soldiers are in the capital to defend against any invasion.
「But there’s no need to worry about the Imperial forces that retreated for some reason, huh. 」
Rai muttered in disbelief while forking a thick piece of meat that was roasting.
「Why did they do it? Well, it’s good for us that the capital won’t be involved in the war, but it’s a little creepy not knowing the reason. 」
「Though they might have some circumstances that we don’t know, you’re right it’s creepy. 」
The people in capital in a way are now on the verge of death. On top of the grave injury that made them unable to move, it’s as if a knife is still at their throat.
Even though it only requires a small push to win, the Empire’s decision to retreat isn’t something that can be understood by normal students. The Kingdom’s military experts must also be in confusion, and now working their best to solve the mystery.
Skewering a piece of fried potato that has the fragrance of garlic while thinking about that, Rai asked Kyrill.
「Won’t you know something? The black-haired-san would look like he knows something. 」
「Black-haired-san, Ardis-san? 」
「Yeah, that monster-san. 」
Instead of Ardis, Kyrill had a grumpy expression.
It’s true that Ardis has an absurd monstrosity level of strength. But he’s Kyrill’s benefactor, and also his teacher. Of course, Kyrill knows that Rai’s words aren’t with any ill intentions, even so, he felt a little angry at someone saying rude things to his greatest benefactor.
「Hey Rai. Even if you didn’t mean it, it’s bad to refer someone who saved our lives like that. 」
Instead, a criticism rises from another direction.
「No, sorry. I didn’t really mean it. 」
「It’s fine. I know that. 」
While saying so to the awkward looking Rai, Kyrill replied the question that was asked earlier.
「But Ardis-san is just a mercenary, I don’t think he would know anything detailed. 」
「No no. He has so much strength, 『Just a mercenary』 is not correct. Rather, he’s not just at the level of so much strength. 」
「I’m on the same page with Rai. If that child is 『Just a mercenary』, then there’s no place for other mercenaries and the magicians in the army. 」
「Ah―, it’s not like I meant in that way……」
With a feeling of hard to explain, Kyrill reached his hand to the fish dish that was brought to him while finding words. The white meat that was steamed with herbs stimulated his appetite through his nasal.
「Hey Kyrill. Who is that child? I know he’s powerful and he’s the 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』 but, he’s that strong with an age not really different than us. Even though seeing him myself, it’s hard to believe. 」
「Nn―. There’s a misunderstanding, I don’t Ardis-san is the same age as us. 」
Ellenoa’s hair swayed as she tilted her head.
「I met Ardis-san for the first time four years ago, where do you think we met? 」
「Isn’t it the capital? 」
「Corsas Forest. The deepest area. 」
At the location pointed out by Kyrill, there was a sound unbefitting of a nobility daughter.
「Why in that place? Rather, you were there too? 」
Rai who seemed to be drawn in by the location asked.
「Well, leaving aside why was I in the Corsas Forest. I was twelve that time but, Ardis-san looked like four or five years older than me that time. 」
「Wait Kyrill. So you mean, that child――no, he was fifteen, sixteen during then and now should be about twenty? 」
His appearance really didn’t show much about his age, Ellenoa was skeptical about it.
「There’s no doubt some growth is there compared to four years ago but, for Ardis-san, I don’t think his looks match his age very well. 」
Though, if that’s the case, his bodily growth is too late, Kyrill muttered so inaudibly.
「Hey, Kyrill. About meeting him four years ago in Corsas Forest. 」
Leaving aside Ellenoa in confusion, Rai asked.
「Was the black-haired-san that strong back then? 」
「Yeah. So strong that he can treat the demonic beings in the forest as playthings. 」
At Kyrill’s immediate response, Rai’s face cringed.
「When we were getting out, there were bandits that surrounded us. 」
Kyrill on the other hand continued his story.
「With ten or so bandits, he had the leeway to test out a cursed weapon too. 」
「Hey Kyrill. I don’t think your words are understandable. 」
Ellenoa who stood up from the confusion hugged her head once again at Kyrill’s words.
「Unn―, there’re mountains of things I want to retort but……」
「Anyway, I didn’t really understand Ardis-san’s strength that time. Was it after entering the academy? I came to realize how amazing of a person he is. 」
While stabbing the already cold olive oil fried mushroom, Ellenoa who finally recovered from the series of confusion complained to Rai as if remembering something.
「In any case, we’re saved because of him. Please don’t speak rudely if we meet him. 」
「I know. I’m thankful to that black-haired-san too, and also respect towards his strength. I said it right? No ill will. 」
「Even so, if it doesn’t reflect in your words, then there’s no meaning. 」
Seriously, Ellenoa had a given up expression and changed her target to Kyrill.
「Of course, I’m intending to thank him again but, Kyrill, I should thank you too. 」
「Eh? Why me? 」
「I mean, didn’t he come to the war because of Kyrill? 」
「I wonder? ……No, that might be it. 」
Come to think of it, it might be that case.
In the first place, Ardis had no reason to participate in the war. Now thinking about it, Ardis might’ve participated in the war for Kyrill’s sake. At the same time while feeling happy, Kyrill also felt a sense of sorry at his own powerlessness.
After biting off a chunk of meat without knowing what Kyrill felt, Rai changed the topic after drinking the juice.
「But again, that magic was really overwhelming. 」
「That magic, by which do you mean? 」
Ellenoa asked which magic he was referring to.
For her, any one of the multiple 『Flames of Purgatory』, the earthen walls that were raised to protect them, the 『Bow of Rainbow』 that shot out more than a hundred light, all of them are not normal.
Regarding that, Kyrill agrees too. Any single spell of his are incomparable to the magic casted by normal magicians.
「No, I mean the sword magic. I heard he was only controlling two swords but……, rumors can’t be trusted huh. The league is too different. 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』 is not just a show huh. 」
「It’s not just that now. It seems like he’s gotten a new second name now. 」
「A new second name? 」
「Yes, 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』. It’s a strange name, but certainly fitting after having seen that scene. 」
「H-hee……. Is that so. 」
If Ardis heard about this, he would surely make an uncomfortable look, Kyrill was sure of it.
「Certainly that was something someone muttered that time. 」
「Yes. But do you know who spread that name actually? 」
Kyrill and Rai had a 「You know? 」 face at each other.
「It seems like it was the messenger soldier that time. 」
Perhaps not hoping for an answer from the two, Ellenoa answered the question herself.
「That messenger, he’s surprisingly well connected. He went all over the place and spread the fake sounding but real feats of his――Ardis-san along with the strange name. Though there were many that were not really impressed by that seemingly absurd story, there wasn’t any bright things to talk about then. So it might’ve been a good topic to chat about. 」
「Fake sounding but real? 」
What do you mean, Rai’s expression asked for further explanation.
「The story of 『Standing against a thousand cavalries by himself』, something along those lines. 」
「It’s the truth though. 」
Rai who heard the explanation from Ellenoa verified the truth of the story. After all, Ardis alone did in fact repel all the enemy cavalries by himself.
「Something like 『He can cast thirty magician’s worth of spell at once』. 」
「Another fact. 」
Certainly, thinking back at how many upper grade spells that were casted at once, that scale probably needed thirty advanced magicians.
「And 『Killing the enemy general with a thousand blades』. 」
「Another fact. 」
Although they didn’t count, at that time, a thousand swords――strictly speaking, blades from spears, axes and others――were all controlled by Ardis. And Ardis taking down the enemy general is another undeniable fact.
「I see. Certainly, I would be skeptical hearing it. After all, it still feels like a dream for us even though we saw it first handed. 」
All of them were describing the truth without exaggeration, of course those who just heard the story won’t believe it. There’re many who just takes it as a story.
「Well, it’s the truth so there’s no problem? I mean, the black-haired-san isn’t troubled right? 」
「Should be. ……He probably doesn’t think getting his name known is a bad thing. 」
Kyrill replied with a little hesitation. After all, Kyrill couldn’t imagine at all Ardis’s happy face at the prospect of his name getting known.
Then a while after that, Kyrill and the other two chatted over the meal happily. Few dishes were served on the table, and their empty glasses are filled with more juice.
But opposite to Kyrill and Rai who increased in talk, Ellenoa’s words become lesser. Eventually, when all of the food is leveled, the after-meal desert, mille-feuille cake were brought to the three people.
In contrast to Rai who had already finished eating it using his hand, Ellenoa who used her fork to cut a portion from the surface off muttered.
「What will happen to this country I wonder. 」
It is the three’s thoughts. Even if they are celebrating their safe return, the reality is that the fate of the Kingdom is still unknown.
「Will both of you return to your home country? 」
Kyrill is from Reiten of the Coalition. He’s living in the capital right now as he’s attending the academy and had participated in the war on the obligation of a student. But all in all, he doesn’t have any responsibility towards the Kingdom.
「I wonder. Since we were sortied in the war once and fulfilled the responsibility. I don’t think anyone would say anything if we chose to return……」
Rai as well is from the Coalition. Although he’s from a different state than Kyrill’s, it doesn’t change the fact that he has a place to return outside of the Kingdom.
「What about Ellenoa? 」
Asked back, Ellenoa was looking away as she said.
「I’m birth of the Kingdom. And also, as a noble birth, I can’t leave my obligations……」
After knowing Ellenoa for the past few months, and having understood her personality, it was an expected answer that made Kyrill frown.
Although they didn’t know why the Empire didn’t follow through and invade, another attempt might happen at any time. And there’re no longer any soldiers that can put up a fight in the Kingdom, even in the capital, there’re only about few hundred soldiers left.
In this situation, choosing to stay in the capital isn’t a smart choice. In fact, there’re many citizens that had already packed up their belongings and fled to the Coalition or to Thoria. Although it’s a rumor that Kyrill heard, it seems like there’re even some royalty escaping the capital in secret.
「Though I don’t really think someone like you that isn’t the head nor a successor have to feel so responsible……」
「I know. I will think about so when it’s really dangerous. But now……, it’s still not a time to escape. 」
Her sense of responsibility is strong, or maybe she was being too tough on herself.
「Well, ask me anything if you need it. A true friend is much more precious than any fame or money, that’s what my uncle always says. 」
At Rai’s words, Ellenoa who seemed surprised asked again.
Her expression was like she never expected to hear that.
「Oi oi, what are you saying now. What are we if not friends? I mean, aren’t we already comrades that had lived through the same hell? 」
Rai being stunned at what she said was natural. It was the same for Kyrill.
「Yup. I think of you two the same way. Although I can’t be like Ardis-san, I will be of help as much as possible. I believe Ellenoa isn’t that unjudgmental to do anything reckless, I will do everything I can if Ellenoa wants to leave the Kingdom. After all, I’m working for a merchant association. We have connections all over the place. 」
「We will help if you have any troubles. Of course, it’s within what we can do but, at the very least don’t forget that we’re on your side. 」
Kyrill’s words were reinforced by Rai.
「I see, friend……. A true friend……」
While repeating those words, Ellenoa had a brimming smile as she looked back.
「Rai, Kyrill. Thank you. Umm, I’m really happy. 」
Along with the words of appreciation, Ellenoa’s face bloomed like a pretty flower. Ellenoa had a reputation of being someone cold and tough but, it is at this time Kyrill wanted to deny all of those rumors.
Unlike the usual coldness, it was a natural and defenseless smile.
「Eh, aah, unn……」
Even Kyrill was stuck on words to reply. Leaving aside Kyrill who was facing his difficulties, Rai changed the atmosphere with a 「Then」
「Let’s toast again. For the sake of our safe return, and for our friendship! 」
The three once again toasted with three glasses filled with juice. With voices that are loud enough to make the server’s brows twitch, the high pitch sound of the glasses bumping resounded.