Pieces of ice about a fist size was hurled towards Ardis from Fillia’s palm. The attack that consisted seven of them didn’t hit Ardis but flew off into the distance in the forest.
Riana attacks from the side. The mana taken shape as sharp wind blades came at Ardis. Ardis kicked against the ground into the air seemingly unaffected by gravity.
Spinning in the air as he dodged Riana’s wind, Ardis flicked two small rocks towards the twins’ legs.
The small rock that dug into the ground with a dull sound caused Riana’s balance to crumble and landed on her butt. On the other hand, Fillia managed to defend against the rock with a physical barrier, but lost her sights on Ardis in the process.
Fillia who lost her sight on Ardis found a hand on her head the next moment.
There was the figure of Ardis landing on the ground behind her. At that moment, the twins that fought together against Ardis lost.
After a violent patting on the platinum blonde hair, he gave a short appraisal on Fillia’s fight.
「There’s still room for improvement. 」
「Uuu――, Ardis is merciless. 」
Lightly tapping on Fillia’s head who looked displeased, Ardis approached Riana and offered a hand.
「Here, Riana. Are you hurt? 」
Pulling Riana up by her hand, Ardis as well performed the routine of messing up her hair like he did for Fillia.
「My butt hurts……」
「Try to react a little faster next time. 」
Ardis smiled bitterly at the displeased Riana. It’s the house in the forest where Ardis and the others live in. The sparring that happened in the familiar garden ended naturally with nothing out of the ordinary.
About half a month after being branded a heretic by the church. Heeding Moore’s warning, Ardis had been staying put in the house without taking up even a single request.
Eat, sleep, sparring with the twins, sleep, sunbathing, sleep……. It was a dream-like slothful lifestyle, but it didn’t last forever either.
As if eager to present their own growth, the twins had been begging to spar with Ardis. They’re probably intending to make Ardis acknowledge their strength and allow them to tag along on his work.
Although if Rona was around, he could’ve pushed that onto him, but unfortunately Rona was out at the Duke’s residency to pass a message to Moore.
He’s most likely being fed sweets by Minerva currently.
According to Nere’s appraisal, the twins had already reached the level of 「Ractors are already not any threat」. Regarding that, Ardis agreed as well.
Certainly, the power of their arts are already on veteran level on the magician scale. The arts that didn’t require any chanting was fundamentally different from the magic that Kyrill learns at the academy.
More ways to adapt, having the freedom to alter the spell as one wished, just with the possibilities of attacks, they might be able to win against opponents stronger than them.
However, that’s only if going against unintelligent beasts.
「No matter how strong are your spells, they’re meaningless if they don’t hit. You’ll have to work on entrapping a quick moving opponent as well. 」
「Uuu――, so harsh……」
「Muu……, how bitter. 」
The twins were booing at Ardis who gave them a bad mark. One’s true combat ability is not decided by the strength of their arts.
Especially when going against intelligent creatures such as demonic beings or humans, there’s an emphasis on how to turn the battle to their own advantage and how to lead their opponents into their attacks.
Although they can surely perform quite well on a frontal fight, the twins aren’t yet proficient in the regards of fighting sense.
「Seems like you are finally moving slightly. 」
As if knowing that the sparring had ended, Nere appeared from the house.
「Though I would prefer to take a nap throughout afternoon. 」
Although Ardis only wanted to spend his time taking a nap other than the time hunting for food supplies, he couldn’t refuse easily when the twins were pulling both his arms and begging.
In the end, Ardis now has a light workout before meal as a sparring partner for the twins.
「I see benefit in helping their will to improve though. 」
The words that Nere said with a rude expression was like teasing at Ardis. About six years that Ardis had met the twins. It’s not unusual for Nere to be joking lightly nowadays.
It’s the proof that they’re becoming closer.
「If it is a good time to take a break, shall we have lunch? 」
「Hurray, food――! 」
「I’m hungry! 」
Just as Fillia and Riana replied energetically at Nere’s suggestion, Ardis’s expression suddenly turned serious. Looking backwards, Ardis directed his gaze towards the forest with no one.
「What happened, Ardis? 」
She must’ve realized something from Ardis’s look. Fillia peeking at Ardis’s face asked.
「Nere, take the both of them inside the house. 」
「What seems―― aah, I see. 」
Just as she was about to ask purely in curiosity, Nere suddenly realized the reason and stopped the question halfway.
「Looks like some guests has arrived, uninvited guests though. 」
Ardis detected many mana signatures. Their size was about a human size, and there were more than a hundred of them. And their numbers continued to go up.
「Trying to surround us huh. 」
A large portion that came from the south started making their way towards the west seemingly trying to surround the house. The synchronized moving speed and their disciplined movement. There’s no way they’re demonic beings or beasts.
「Here, Fillia and Riana, come in the house. 」
「I can fight too! 」
「M-Me too…… 」
The twins appealed seemingly misunderstanding their opponents are beasts but, naturally, Ardis didn’t intend for the two to experience fighting with fellow humans yet.
「No. You two must stay in the house together with Nere. 」
Refused by Ardis strongly, the twins hesitantly entered the house together with Nere.
「Well, then……. What a number of guests we have. 」
The sounds of birds disappeared from the surrounding, human-like presences continued to increase in number, and slowly approached the house.
Between the leaves swayed by the wind, footsteps from the south was starting to be heard.
「Here they are. 」
Ardis pulled out 『Skies of Myriad Colors』 from his waist and looked over the surroundings. The first thing that caught his eyes was small groups that have no coordinated equipment.
Splitting into groups of few people, they’re probably mercenaries seeing the way they move closer without showing a gap within their group.
Then another large group behind the mercenaries that has coordinated equipment. The equipment that has the color white as its base was something Ardis had seen before.
「The church’s inquisition army huh. 」
Ardis’s monologue was spiteful as his expression distorted. They’re soldiers that executes the church’s mission. Sometimes protecting someone, sometimes going against a country’s power, and sometimes subjugating the Goddess’s enemy.
They’re the one and only violent group of elites that the church is proud of. Their numbers counted from the mana signatures including the mercenaries are about a hundred.
And the other about two hundred large group was circling to the west. It’s at a scale that can be said as an army.
Naturally, they haven’t gathered coincidentally, but have come with a clear motive.
Although if there’s only a few mercenary, then they might’ve lost their way to here but, seeing that many people along with the church’s soldiers, it’s apparent what their purpose is.
The group stopped at the distance where they can clearly see each other’s face. The inquisition soldiers that were in a line split in the middle, and two men appeared from the middle.
Ardis realized immediately what was the matter seeing the two familiar faces, but still threw the obvious question in a rude tone.
「What a lively gathering. Let me ask just in case, what’s your business? It couldn’t be a missionary in the middle of this forest right? 」
Of the two person, the man in the same equipment as the inquisition soldier spoke.
「We are the proud soldiers who execute the holy task of keeping the world’s balance under our Goddess’s name! Hereby take note that being suspected of an apostle of the Evil God who has kept the enemy of our Goddess, twins alive, you are advised to surrender, a sermon will be held in the presence of our Goddess. Heretic Ardis, surrender yourself, become anew and realize the benevolence of our Goddess! 」
It was a middle-aged man with the special characteristic of plump ears that had announced so. It was the same priest that he’d met recently on the Cleansing Rite and also during escorting Solte.
He’d been attempting to hint Ardis with meaningful words but, it seems like it didn’t go that well. And the reason behind that is likely the person beside him, a slightly old man who is glaring at Ardis with the intention of kill.
Unlike the inquisition soldiers, the old man was wearing unusually extravagant clothing and a dirty grin.
「Ha―ha―ha! Even you will be finished with this. How fitful of you to die as a heretic! 」
Ardis had never conversed with that man before. However, Ardis knew of his name, and he is certainly someone ill-fated with Ardis.
It is Marquis Holguin who has an unstable-looking face and a pleased smile. Rather, he’s the previous marquis now.
The culprit behind the attack on Minerva, his reputation was crushed by Ardis who won in the Lotus Cup, he is the man who was forced to live in seclusion after procuring the wrath of the crown prince with his various plots.
Naturally, his hatred on Ardis is severe. The 『Noble’s gofers』 that Chezare spoke about before is probably referring to the previous marquis’s gofers.
Although there’s no reason for the church to bring along the previous marquis here, the converse would be different. Ardis inferred that the previous marquis’s plot took shape by making use of the church.
It seems like I was really hated, although natural, as Ardis smiled bitterly inwardly as he refused to listen to the priest.
「I’m troubled to have you say I’m an Evil God’s apostle without any proof. I don’t remember believing in the Evil God or even saying anything like that. It seems like you wasted a trip here because of baseless rumors, unfortunately, I have no business with you all. Just go back already. 」
「Whether it’s baseless or not will be apparent under our Goddess’s judgement. Surrender and receive your judgement. 」
「So where’s the proof of that Goddess of yours being correct? 」
Ardis said so as a matter of fact laughing at his stupidity.
「Wha!? Are you doubting the credibility of our Goddess!? As expected, you are nothing but a member of an evil cult! 」
Ardis who was even more stupefied poured more oil into the fire.
「So anyone who isn’t on your side is a member of an evil cult? Ha―, what a righteous church. 」
「You are still intending to make a fool of our Goddess!? 」
「Rather, making a fool or not. I’m just saying that it’s meaningless. 」
「H-How dare you say that……! 」
The priest that is on the verge of exploding in anger then said to the previous marquis.
「Your Excellency, I’m afraid that man no longer has the right to be judged, he must be dealt with now! 」
「That’s right, that’s right. 」
The previous marquis agreed with a big smile unlike the priest burning in anger.
「……Will you be lending a hand for this holy cause? 」
「Of course. 」
The previous marquis nodded with a grin affirming the priest. Hearing that, the priest shouted to all the inquisition soldiers.
「Holy warriors, there is no longer need for any mercy! It is time to judge the evil apostle who was led astray. 」
At the priest’s orders, the inquisition soldiers cried out.
「Make witness to the benevolence of our Goddess! The hammer of judgement shall punish the heretics, as we are here to execute that cause! ――Get him! 」
That moment, it was the opening act of the rare battle between humans in the Corsas Forest, played by about a hundred people including the mercenaries and the inquisition soldiers on one side. And the other side, it was solely Ardis with Skies of Myriad Colors in his hand.