「Seriously, you really did nothing other than spectating huh. 」
Ardis was exasperated at Rona who approached him talking with a relaxed tone.
「Eeeh, no way that’s the case. I properly looked after Minerva and Moore right? In the first place, you can easily take care of it, so there’s no need for me to participate right? 」
Rona was looking at the small river where the dark water disappeared without even a sliver of remorse.
「Rather than that, Ardis, look. 」
Ardis was prompted and looked at where Rona pointed out, and what he saw was something ovular that looked like a puddle of water reflecting light remaining at the bottom of the dried river.
「Water…… that’s not it, huh. 」
「Well……, since there so much mana flowing out, there’s no way it’s normal water right. 」
Just like what Rona said, it was a mirror-like surface that looked like water but was radiating powerful mana. The fact that it had held its shape even after Ardis’s white flames indicated it is nothing normal.
「That’s what the polluted water said huh, 『Dense mana』. 」
Leaving aside Ardis who was muttering, Rona walked towards it.
「Al, let’s investigate it quickly. The water will probably start flowing again soon. 」
「I know, you two stay a little back. It might be dangerous. 」
Ardis replied to Rona and said so to Minerva and Moore before following his partner in golden color. What they could see as they peeked inside the ovular mirror.
It wasn’t the color of the riverbed, but branches with green leaves waving in the wind. An unimaginable scenery of trees and branches waving in the wind was seen through the gap.
「What do you think? 」
「Nnn―, isn’t it the jackpot? It looks similar to the portal I can open to the other world. 」
「It certainly looks like it’s connected to some other place but……. It’s also possible that it’s a totally different world right? 」
「Can portals to all kinds of world really be made? Thinking about what happened, this thing must have something to do with it. 」
「That might be so but……」
It’s a phenomenon that Ardis had never encountered or even heard before. And it appeared at a timing like this, it’s too unlikely to be a coincidence.
On top of that, if Rona said that the portal that he can open to cross the world looks like this, the chances that this is the right gateway to get back to the other side is high.
But even so, it didn’t mean that they could just jump into it easily, they are still lacking evidence for them to make a judgement.
If it turned out to be a completely different world on the other side, the chances of them returning to the world where the twins are waiting would be near nil.
Moore’s voice was heard while the two was pondering.
「Oi――. What happened? Is it anything dangerous? 」
「Nn――, it doesn’t seem like it, you two come take a look too. 」
Since it didn’t seem dangerous, Rona invited the two over.
「Uwah! What the heck is this!? 」
「You might not be able to feel it but, there’s a lot of mana around this thing. I think that this might be connected to the other world but……」
「But there’s no way to know for sure? 」
Moore started thinking after hearing what Rona said, then Minerva who was looking at the trees reflected on the mirror suddenly exclaimed.
「Ah, this is……! 」
「What is it, Ojou-sama? 」
「This forest, I think I have seen it before! 」
All gazes were focused on Minerva after hearing what she say.
「Is that true? 」
「Yes. It’s a forest near my mansion. The big tree there, it’s the tree that we often use as a landmark when we enter the forest. There’s no mistake. 」
Minerva was confident as she looked at it closely, and so Rona asked Ardis.
「You heard her, Al. 」
「……There’s still some risk to take, huh. 」
If possible, he would’ve liked more time to think about it but, there’s also a reason why he can’t do that. One of the reasons is the difference in the time flow of the two worlds.
One day here would mean a year on the other side. The short time that had passed while they are pondering would’ve probably meant few hours on the other side.
And another reason is the ovular mirror seemed to be changing slowly.
「Somehow, it looks like it’s getting smaller? 」
「…… It certainly looks like it. 」
Minerva and Moore also noticed the change.
Although it was slight, the size of the ovular mirror was getting smaller. The current size seemed like it can fit two persons at once, and looking closely, the diameter seemed to be dwindling.
「The polluted water must’ve absorbed a lot of mana. 」
Ardis agreed at what Rona said with a nod.
Although they didn’t know how much mana was absorbed from the mirror because of the dark water, at the very least, the mana radiating from the mirror is decreasing as time goes on.
When it eventually exhausts all its mana, it’s not difficult to imagine that it will disappear into nothingness.
「So, how is it going to be? 」
Rona prompted for a decision.
「…… There’s no other choice than to go. 」
There’re no other clues after all, and if they let this chance slip, there’s nothing to guarantee they will find another mirror like this.
On top of that, Minerva and Moore have to return as soon as possible, and the consequences of not is clear.
Ardis judged that although there’s still some risk, there’s no choice other than to jump in.
「Well, I guess I will be going first. I still can return if it’s not the one after all. 」
After saying that he would be the first, Rona showed no hesitation and jumped into the ovular mirror.
Then as if getting sucked into the water surface that didn’t splash, Rona’s figure disappeared.
Then following that, a golden beast showed up at the forest beyond the mirror.
Rona had scouted out the surroundings with a speed that was absurd, then was waving back to them with his front leg. Even that movement looked strangely too quick, it reminded them of the difference in time flow.
「I-It seems alright. 」
「Who will be going next? 」
Minerva looked a little relieved, and Ardis asked.
「I will go first. Ojou-sama will come after me. You don’t mind being the last right, Ardis? 」
Ardis nodded wordlessly, and Moore showed no signs of hesitation at all as he jumped into the mirror.
Seeing that, it is Minerva’s turn now. Ardis pushed on his pupil’s back.
「Is it scary, Minerva? 」
The trembling in the girl’s hand can be felt.
「……No, I’m fine. 」
Although it was obviously a lie, it’s still better than having her freeze in fear.
Ardis hit on Minerva’s back gently.
「Well then, Shishou, I will be going first. 」
Minerva who had come to her resolution jumped into the mirror after saying that. Now, Ardis is the only one left.
The ovular shaped mirror had obviously shrunk in size, it is almost two times smaller than how they initially found it as.
The size would probably be barely enough for a single person if any more time passes.
Ardis was hesitating.
If he chose to jump into it, he could probably return to the other world. But that would also mean Ardis would bid farewell to this world.
What was the result of challenging the woman general, what happened to his comrades in arms after that, he was always concerned with that in the past seven years.
He might never reunite with the people he knows in this world if he chooses to go now. Even if no one survived, he probably can meet up with those that never took part in the expedition.
And above all, the woman general that is his nemesis still resides in this world. Rather than a legend that he might or might not meet, the person herself is still leading an army in this world.
For the past seven years, the person that he wanted revenge on most is on this side. It is an urge hard to suppress.
It is so for the Ardis that had experienced seven years, and also the Ardis that had experienced seven days. While holding back his urge to find that woman now with his reasoning, Ardis closed his eyes.
He must make a decision now. There’s not much time left.
If it’s six years ago, he might’ve been able to cut clean from the other world easily. But there are figures that Ardis could see even if he closed his eyes now.
If before he met with the twins, before he met with Nere, and before he met with Kyrill……. Something he couldn’t have predicted, a world that had no ties to him at all, had now become a place he can return to.
Although the heart of revenge that was still burning tried to retain Ardis here, there is also the face of Fillia and Riana he could see. If Ardis chose to stay in this world, what would happen to them both.
Nere might look after them in the end, and Rona who can travel between the two worlds would probably help them as well.
But that would be wishful thinking. After all, it is none other than Ardis himself who decided to take the two twins under his protection. Pushing that onto Nere or Rona would be too irresponsible of him.
Nere for some reason seems to hold Ardis in high regards as her master and abides him, and it became that she looked after the twins because of Ardis.
Then there’s also a possibility that she would abandon them if Ardis disappeared. Although Rona seemed like he would help them occasionally, he probably wouldn’t do anything to the point of sacrificing his own lifestyle to look after them.
And Kyrill is just someone he hired to educate the twins. Even if he owes Ardis favors, it would be too much for Ardis to think that he can look after the twins until they become adults.
In the first place, he doesn’t have the financial power to do that.
About four or five years more and the twins might be able to stand on their own but, if they lose Ardis’s protection now, their future would probably be bleak.
The time limit approached slowly. Ardis unconsciously tightened his fist. Confusion, hesitation, faltering, conflict, irritation, a wide range of emotions were flowing out of him.
The wish to stay here because of his revenge that he has yet to fulfil while wandering seven days in this world, and the unwillingness to abandon what he should protect in the other world that he had lived together in the seven years.
Words that sounded like cries can be heard.
Only few tens of seconds had passed since he shut his eyes. But Ardis felt it was a long and painful time.
Eventually, he made his decision, Ardis shook his head as if to cut himself from his unfulfilled wishes.
「I will definitely come back. 」
That’s what he swore on himself. It is an oath that he will never break. After looking up at the sky that had nothing, Ardis stepped out towards the ovular shaped mirror.
The mirror that can fit a little more than a person sucked in Ardis’s body.
His vision turned over.
While being surrounded in darkness that not a single sliver of light can be felt, Ardis felt his consciousness was getting further.