「Hey hey Al!」
「Aren’t you hungry yet? 」
「We just had lunch though. 」
「Can I have some dried fruits? 」
「So you had no intention to converse from the start, I see. 」
Ardis was standing on top of a small hill. Amid the plains that spread outwards to the horizon, there was a tiny patch of foreign objects.
The foreign objects were small tents accompanied by silhouettes of people from Wisteria, the mercenary band that Ardis is in.
Being a mercenary band with over three hundred members, it’s natural that they couldn’t simply locate a town that can accommodate them all easily.
Aside from large cities, most towns do not have the facilities to handle such many people at once, thus they would usually be camping in the wild.
Although this is also partly possible due to their ability to defend themselves against wild creatures, it doesn’t imply they aren’t cautious while they live in the wild.
Greyth has always upheld the custom of nominating mercenaries to patrol about the camp to assure security, despite how unnecessary it might be. With the gathering of such powerful Wisteria mercenaries, they can likely protect themselves well in sudden emergencies.
This policy of his is the reason for why Ardis is currently stationed atop the hill with a view of the whole camp. Patrol is supposed to be based on a two-person team.
However, currently there were no mercenaries on the hill besides Ardis. The only other creature there was a golden four-foot beast that is speaking human language.
「Dried fruits don’t rot, and they’re super sweet. Humans are amazing inventors, right Al?」
Given the name of Rona, the beast has matured and entered the ranks of adults.
Ever since they first met, the golden fur ball has grown, and it now even has the strength to battle equally with the seasoned mercenaries.
The fact that Ardis alone was allowed to patrol is thanks to Rona’s presence there. Rather, it’s the common opinion in Wisteria that Rona is stronger than Ardis.
Even though he could possibly live on his own, Rona has opted to remain with the mercenary band, likely owing to the human-made sweets rather than a genuine interest in humans.
「Hey hey, that’s enough patrolling. Let’s return, Al. It’s dried fruits time! 」
Rona, who was circling Ardis, rushed him. Waving about was his golden tail that was as soft as a paintbrush.
Seeing him like that made Ardis sigh, but like Rona stated, it was true they’ve patrolled enough.
「Alright alright. Then let’s head back through that basin there. 」
「Okay!! Go go! 」
Despite being impressed by Rona’s gluttony, Ardis made sure to keep a close eye on him. Ardis returned to the camp after a thorough scan of the surroundings and proceeded to the tent where Greyth would be waiting for a report.
However, in the midst of that, Rona suddenly stopped.
「What’s the matter, Rona? 」
「Nn―……, Ruu is angry. 」
Rona’s ears twitched as he turned to the right.
「Ruu is? 」
「I think she’s arguing about something. 」
As if he was asking about what they should do in this situation, Rona turned his face towards Ardis.
「……Let’s postpone the report. 」
Ardis hurried his steps to the right, intrigued by Rona’s assertion that there is an argument. Eventually when he got near enough, Ardis could hear numerous voices.
The familiar voice was definitely Luciel’s. Ardis’ face quickly turned bitter when he finally spotted her.
「Please stop it already! 」
The first thing that came into his view was Luciel unnaturally raising her voice while covering for several other girls behind her.
There were five males confronting her, who were the source of Ardis’ displeasure. They’d all just barely joined the mercenary band on trial a few days before.
Although they are new members, they aren’t amateurs in fighting. They are all people that were affiliated with another mercenary band before and have their own share of fighting experience.
They came to Greyth, who was known for his kindness, when their mercenary band was decimated in a large-scale fight, and they lost their place to go.
They are far more powerful than Ardis, but they are still members of the mercenary band on trial and have not yet donned the official uniform.
Mercenaries from other mercenary bands are more or less like them, but it seems like these five have yet to understand the unwritten rules in Wisteria.
Despite being told firmly upon their entry to the band, it seems like they haven’t got out of the 『common sense』 that they are familiar with.
Seeing how the girls behind Luciel were afraid, Ardis could make a guess to what had transpired.
「Ain’t it alright? it’s not like we’re asking them to accompany us in the night. It’s just a little invitation to drink with us. 」
Marty, the leader of the group of five, is the one in charge. Although he has a pleasant face when he wears a brighter expression, it is clear he is visibly displeased right now.
「They are growing girls that are still apprentices! They are not here to accompany you drinking! 」
「Hahn! As if there’s any use for women in a mercenary band other than chores and nightly affairs! 」
Children are not treated as disposables by Wisteria. The captain, Greyth, forbids using them as tools for men’s enjoyment in Wisteria under all circumstances.
They didn’t understand that.
「I’m not aware of any other mercenary bands, but these girls certainly did not join Wisteria for that kind of purpose!」
「It’s only natural for those who can’t fight to pleasure those of us who are fighting for our lives! Get out of the way and don’t waste our time! 」
「Not in a million years! 」
Luciel slapped away Marty’s hands that stretched outwards.
「Enough is enough, this bitch! 」
Was his pride hurt when someone weaker resisted against him? Marty reached for his sword on his waist.
「Stop right there. 」
As he couldn’t stand quietly watching this any longer, Ardis stepped in between them. Seeing Ardis’s appearance, Luciel’s tight expression loosened a little.
「What are you trying to do by drawing that? 」
Marty’s rage exploded as he received Ardis’s cold gaze.
「Aahn? Stay out of this you brat! Don’t get on your high heels you greenhorn! 」
「Greenhorn or not, rules are rules. What you are doing is clearly a breach of our discipline. Making a move on the children under our protection is not permissible. Do you still not understand that Wisteria is a different place with different rules, than the mercenary band you were in before? 」
「Fuuhn. A greenhorn acting like he’s so smart……」
Marty scoffed at what Ardis said and snickered at him with a dangerous gaze. His look, with half of it curving upwards, was incredibly disturbing.
「Are you saying that you yourself can face against five of us? What a joke. 」
Seeing how Marty was so confident with his ridiculing laughter, Ardis informed him of the harsh truth.
「Looks like you’re laughing because you don’t understand what is happening. Look around. 」
With Ardis pointing it out, he finally realizes. Marty and his friends turn pale when they look around them.
It was not only Ardis who arrived at the scene after hearing the ruckus. There were more than several tens of mercenaries gathered, all who directed piercing cold gazes towards Marty and his friends.
All their hands were already on their swords, with some of them looking eager to pull it out.
In Wisteria, children and girls are not subjects to be taken advantage of. It’s unthinkable and very much a foreign concept in other mercenary bands, but it’s something everyone in Wisteria follows. It seems like Marty and his friends could not understand that.
「Tch, every one of you getting so caught up with a joke or two. 」
He must’ve realized that his odds are bad.
「Oi, we’re leaving! 」
After spitting on the ground, Marty along with the other four of his friends left the scene.
However, Ardis did not miss it how Marty glanced at Luciel dirtily before he left.
「Did you see that? 」
Rona noticed it too, asking without elaborating much.
With a grotesque expression like that, it is unlikely that Marty and his friends who can’t assimilate into Wisteria will remain silent about what just happened right now.
Sensing the upcoming trouble from Marty’s glance just now, Ardis starts to think of a counter plan.