The medium short hair that had a brown color blended in with the night. The brown pupils were looking at Ardis with surprise and guard.
Although she was wearing a common outfit in the capital, her appearance looked too dirty, giving a wilting impression.
Her outfit looks like a normal town girl. But even if she looked like that, Ardis won’t easily let his guard down.
It’s easy to imagine questionable people disguising as normal townfolk, and in the first place, no normal town girl would be walking alone in the night here.
He can easily tell that the girl in front of him wasn’t any normal person.
「Who are you? 」
The blade of Skies of Myriad Colors was directed right at the girl’s throat as he interrogated.
But not even showing any fear, her eyes were looking at Ardis’s without wavering. That itself was the proof that the girl wasn’t any normal townfolk.
After all, rather than screaming for help when a blade was aiming at her neck, her gaze was instead sharp and looking for gaps to escape, it’s obvious that she’s trained in some way.
But on the other hand, the girl’s physique confused Ardis the most.
「What’s up Ardis? Haven’t done yet? 」
His golden partner glimmering in the moonlight had caught up from behind. Greeting Ardis as he approached, he looked at the person on the end of the sword and asked rudely.
「Who’s this stick figure? 」
Exactly, Ardis’s confusion was because the girl’s body was too skinny to the point that she looked like she had some disease.
Of course, there are individual differences in physique regardless of gender. There’re skinnier people from poorer family, and chubby people from blessed family.
But the girl in front of him was slim to the point that she looked like she would fall over at any time. The outlines of her elbow joints could be easily seen, and her ankle peeking out from the hem of the skirt was also excessively thin.
And she had been swaying from time to time already, it’s obvious that she hadn’t live well. And above all, with that thin physique, even if she wore like a town girl, she would still stand out.
Even if it was to blend in, that itself had made it worthless. It was because of that discrepancy that Ardis was terribly confused.
「No idea. 」
Ardis replied shortly with exactly how he felt to Rona. Neither Ardis nor Rona spoke for a while, and a period of silence flowed for a while.
As the silence continued, the girl swayed for two more times.
「You, are you with the guys that came at us just now? 」
Ardis asked again while his sword was still forward. The girl while silent shook her head a little.
「Where are you from? 」
「Who employed you? 」
But it seems like she doesn’t intend to answer any of that, the silent period continued.
「Aiming for us? 」
The girl again shook her head. Since she had no killing intent at all, Ardis could tell that it wasn’t a lie.
「Then surveillance huh? 」
But as Ardis tried to peer deeper, an out-of-place noise was heard.
It was the noise of a stomach rumbling.
And the source is the girl.
The sound reverberated needlessly loud in the silent alley of the night.
Everyone there became speechless.
On one hand, there’s Ardis and Rona looking at each other with a strange expression, and on another hand, there’s the girl with a composed face despite it was so loud.
The strained atmosphere lost its strain, and the meaning behind the silence changed slowly. Then as if losing his motivation, Ardis sighed and sheathed his sword, then Rona asked from the side.
「Is that fine? 」
「Well……, she doesn’t look hostile. 」
With various meaning imbued, Ardis answered Rona’s question.
「If Ardis says so. 」
Ardis gestured Rona who seemed like he didn’t care either way to come closer.
「Nn, what? 」
Approaching closer without a doubt, Ardis saw a moment and swiftly stuck his hand into the bag on Rona’s neck, and without any hesitation pulled out several of the baked confectionary and fruits.
「Ah――! Al, that’s my snack! 」
「You ate your fill already right. 」
Leaving aside Rona who was complaining, Ardis offered the bunch to the girl.
「Here, take it. 」
The girl who although still remained silent, her face was spelling out 「What the heck are you saying」.
「You’re hungry right? Despite these, it can fill your hunger for a little. Just take it. 」
It was now the girl’s turn to be confused.
「I don’t know who’s the one hiring you but, you should get away from someone who can’t even feed you. …… Though it might be my unnecessary meddling. 」
Stuffing the food into the girl’s hand forcefully, Ardis warned her as well.
「I will say this first, there won’t be any mercy if you’re coming at us like those guys just now. I don’t care if you’re just following around, but know that I won’t spare any sympathy if you’re hostile. Remember that. 」
Leaving aside the girl who stood there, Ardis turned around to the direction of the city walls. And Rona panickily followed after.
Looking back and forth towards Ardis beside him and the girl behind.
「She might be an enemy, is there a need to do that? 」
Rona asked as if not able to comprehend Ardis’s action.
「Why not might as well deal with her. 」
「She wasn’t hostile though. 」
「But isn’t it annoying. Even without hostility, she’s still an enemy right? 」
「Certainly, it will be annoying, but it’s not like we can just go and clean all of them up right? And her employer might not be an enemy. There’s a possibility she’s watching us under the Duke’s orders. 」
Ardis argued with a reasoning that he didn’t believe himself.
「Isn’t it impossible for the Duke to hire someone like that? She’s stumbling all around. She wouldn’t be able to do anything when it’s necessary like that.」
「Even if it isn’t the Duke, there won’t be an end if we gone for all of them just because they’re monitoring. 」
「Well, certainly there’re a lot of eyes on us―― rather on Al whenever we come to the capital. And since they’re clashing into each other sometimes, their employer must not be the same person. Well, that much people with interest in Al just mean that Al is becoming popular. Yo, celebrity! 」
「Don’t tease me like that 」
Ardis and Rona who had arrived in a corner of the capital verified that there aren’t any presences nearby before leaping over the city walls.
Although it is a wall about ten meters in height, it’s not even an obstacle for Ardis and Rona. Ardis who had landed outside the capital walked towards a direction where the light from the gates wouldn’t reach.
「Regardless of who it is, we will just deal with them when they come attack. But I don’t have any intentions of picking a fight with someone I don’t even know is a friend or a foe. Also……」
Ardis’s words cut off.
The girl just now wasn’t that much different in age than the twins or Minerva. And such a girl was risking her life to earn.
Despite so, seeing her thin body that was a proof that she couldn’t even eat well, Ardis’s heart felt a little pain.
There’re probably many children that have to sully their own hands in order to live and eat. It might not be far-fetched to say that the children had no choice but to sully their own hands.
Ardis isn’t a saint, nor a king with indomitable political power, nor a god.
He’s unable to smash all misfortunes and absurdities, nor did he have the sense of justice to do that.
But he thought that he would protect those that are in reach, and save those that he can. He knew that it is hypocrisy.
The reach of his hand is limited. The people he can save is only a small portion.
And for the current Ardis, the twins, Fillia nad Riana are his most priority. Ardis recalled the time when he first met them.
The two at first was on guard against everything, and not even able to have a meal properly because of that. The twins that time and the girl just now. For some reason their images overlapped in Ardis’s eyes.
He understood that it’s a cheap sentiment. But he can’t help that he can see them overlapping.
Since Ardis judged that the girl wasn’t hostile, he reached his hand out on a whim. Although late, Ardis regretted.
He should’ve left there without saying anything. Even if she’s not hostile towards Ardis now, that girl was only someone being used, and a disposable one to boot.
She would probably come at Ardis if it’s an order from her employer without hesitation. It might even be tomorrow that he would cut that thin body in two.
Ardis regretted sympathizing against someone like that on a whim.
「No, it’s nothing. 」
Replying vaguely towards Rona who asked, Ardis stopped talking. To not have the girl’s employer change his mind and aim for Ardis’s life, Ardis prayed inwardly.
Leaving Rona who asked despite so in silence, Ardis walked towards the forest.
「Al had become quite soft now huh. ……Well, it might be a good thing, I think? 」
Hearing the soft muttering from behind, Ardis pretended to not hear it as he continued walking in silence.