Change: Heavy Metal → Heavy Iron
――Four year had passed since Ardis met Rona again.
After finding a reasonable spot for Rupus in the Corsas Forest and bringing him over, they had been accepting subjugation request and travelling to various places to earn their living funds. There wasn’t any opponent that could stand against the pair.
Without ever forming a party, the black-haired young man that is widely known as the 『Sword Magic User』 and the 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』 had cleared difficult subjugation request with a golden beast one after another.
「Nothing today as well? 」
「Yeah. It’s sad. 」
The streets of the capital, Gran. Rona asked while walking, Ardis replied simply without giving much thought into it. In this four year, Ardis had brought Rona around, and investigated all kind of documents and ruins as well as interviewing people.
Still, he hadn’t found a clue that could assist in his return to his home world. He couldn’t hide his disappointment already. If there’s no concrete proof that Ardis can’t cross back to his own world, he would never give up.
On the other hand, Rona doesn’t look that much down compared to Ardis. That’s natural. Unlike Ardis, Rona is able to return to their home world whenever he liked.
He would sometimes vanish after leaving behind something like 「I’m returning for a while」, a light greeting before coming back half a month or so later.
Although Rona says that 「I came back here as soon as possible」, it seems like the flow of time is totally different with the two worlds. If Ardis’s calculations are correct, it would be a year here before a day passes on the other side. That was the reason why there was a discrepancy four years ago when they reunited.
「Aren’t we pretty much finished investigating the entire Kingdom as well as the Coalition? Where will be the next? 」
「Hmm……. I guess the Empire would be the next, huh. 」
Ardis’s base of operation is in the capital of the Nagras Kingdom, Gran. The Coalition is at the west of Nagras Kingdom, and its relationship with the Kingdom is considered on the better side.
That’s why, travelers and information about them come into the Kingdom often. But, the story’s different with the Elmenia Empire located south-east of the Kingdom.
The two countries had already clashed many times for the sake of land. Leaving aside merchants and mercenaries who are always travelling around, the traffic between Nagras Kingdom and Elmenia Empire is virtually zero.
If the exchange between the two countries are little to begin with, the information they share are of course nothing. Worse, what Ardis is looking for isn’t any normal information. If he wants to have a chance at finding what he wants, there’s no choice but to visit the place in question and investigate.
「The north? Was it the Bronshell Republic? 」
「We can go there anytime. But the empire is different. 」
In terms of distance, the Kingdom is nearer to the Republic than the Empire. But for Ardis and Rona who can move swiftly without depending on long journeys and carriages, the distance didn’t matter much.
However, if they’re talking about the western side of the entire continent, then it would be different but, there wasn’t much difference between the distance of the Empire and the Republic.
The problem is with the situation. Since the two country had been on bad terms originally, the worse can only come in the future. The trigger was the new development of the Heavy Iron mines in the northern area of the capital.
After all, the Kingdom which had to gather Heavy Iron in the mines near the Empire previously can now obtain the same thing near their capital. Heavy Iron is a kind of metal that’s unlike its name, it is light compared to normal iron, if refining is done properly, it will attain a hardness stronger than steel.
Although they’re used in various tools, necessities and building materials, the most effective use for them is in the equipment of the soldiers. With four years that the Kingdom had time to mass produce equipment using Heavy Iron, the balance between the two countries’ military prowess is beginning to tip.
The one on edge is the Empire. For them, the longer period they stay put, the stronger the Kingdom would be able to get. There’s no way the Empire is going to sit back and watch their opposing country gaining on power steadily. The speculations at this point are not 『Will there be a war』 but 『When will the war happen』.
「If a war does start, then gathering information will be difficult. Better if we head for the Empire first. 」
「Well, there’s not much we can do at this point right. 」
「That’s true but……. Why don’t you feel even a little remorse at what you did? 」
In the first place, one of the reasons that they prioritized the Coalition instead of the Empire was because of Rona. The Coalition which had a large gathering of unusual food ingredients from all around the continent was a prime target for Rona who has an insatiable appetite.
The situation had become like this because Rona was really insisting on investigating the Coalition first, probably because of his appetite. Certainly, during that time, the strain between the Kingdom and the Empire wasn’t as bad as now, that aside, Ardis agreed to it as well so there’s not much to complain now.
「Ah, we’re nearing the gate, time to be quiet. 」
With nearing the northern gate of the capital as an excuse, Rona said so lightly.
「Don’t just return to being a beast when it’s not looking well for you. 」
Under Ardis’s irritated gaze, the golden beast cried out like a normal dog.
「Ardis-san? Isn’t that Ardis-san!? 」
Going past the gate, Ardis who was walking on the highway of the capital Gran was called to a stop. Ardis who turned around to look for the owner of the voice found a young man calling out to him.
The young man had a good-looking pair of clothes on him. The pearl white hair was longer than Ardis’s hair by half a head.
He didn’t look barbaric at all, but it didn’t seem that he’s a noble as well. He didn’t look like a mercenary, noble or even a commoner. He had an impression of someone living in a city for his whole life, his impression is closer to being a normal citizen.
「It’s been a while! 」
「Yes, I’m Kyrill. I’m glad, I almost thought you forgotten me. 」
A certain apprentice that worked under a merchant association in Reiten of the Coalition. That’s Kyrill. Four years ago, Ardis had saved Kyrill by coincidence in the Corsas Forest.
After that, Ardis had participated with the defense battle facing against the army of beasts and demonic beings but, the trigger of all that was this person.
「Yeah, it’s been a while. Two years…… was it? 」
「Yes. I think that’s about the time since we last met. 」
Kyrill confirmed with a voice that had undergone his adolescent change.
「You gained quite the height again. 」
Ardis muttered as if jealous at Kyrill’s growth.
Ardis met Kyrill for the first time when he was still twelve. That time, their height had a huge difference but, as of now, the difference only amounted to a half a head at most. Well, the reason behind why their height difference had narrowed was not just because of Kyrill’s growth though…….
「That aside, you’re in the capital? For business? 」
Unlike four years prior, Kyrill is no longer a child. Although he’s still not fully experienced, there’s ought to be some task given to him. Or it might because that a certain someone had told him to come here.
「Actually, I will be attending the academy in the capital from tomorrow. 」
「Ha? Academy? Is it the Mariules Academy? 」
Ardis asked again since it was unexpected.
「Studying in the academy? 」
「I mean, what about your work? Rather than that, you’ve enough funds to attend the academy? 」
Even if the Mariules Academy had commoners attending, the tuition fees till graduation is not something to be scoffed at. Unless they’re from a rich family, there’s no way for one to attend the academy normally.
On top of that, for Kyrill who is an apprentice, it probably wouldn’t be possible for him to afford it, and above all, he still had to work as an apprentice at the association.
「Marrieda-san is willing to pay for the tuition fees. 」
「That Marrieda? 」
Hearing that name from Kyrill, Ardis slightly frowned.
Marrieda. That is the name of a certain woman with a playful attitude and peculiar speaking habits. At the same time, she’s a successful merchant having the title of president of a large merchant association with her young age.
「Yes. When Ardis-san came to Reiten last time, didn’t we talked about what happened in the capital. 」
Recalling what Kyrill said, Ardis became speechless as his hand was on his chin.
「…………The one with the shaman old man? That you have the aptitude to become a magician? 」
What he managed to recall was the occasion when he brought Kyrill into the shaman’s shop after returning from the Corsas Forest. The shaman at that time saw the twelve-year-old Kyrill and told him he had the aptitude to become a magician.
Come to think of it, Ardis did mention it three years ago when he visited Reiten again and had an occasion to talk with Marrieda and Kyrill.
「That’s right. Marrieda-san seemed to remember that, 『If you have the aptitude, then it’ll be better to nurture your talent』, she said. 」
Even if the shaman said that Kyrill had the aptitude, it’s not like the shaman was anyone famous. Usually, no one would take it for real.
Even if they trusted the shaman, it’s unthinkable that someone who is working at a merchant association would be given permission to thread the path of a magician.
That aside, Marrieda had an extraordinary ability, it was 『To select the future that she selected in her dreams』. The reason why Ardis found Kyrill, and the reason why Ardis participated in the defense battle, it was all possible because of Marrieda’s ability――or it’s inevitable because of her ability.
Did she see some kind of dream again, Ardis thought. Since only the person herself could know what happened in her dream, Ardis couldn’t guess but, could it be a scene that Kyrill becoming a magician, or is it Kyrill living in the capital…….
「Then, she convinced our president and Nee-san, apparently she’s waiving all the fees. 」
For Kyrill’s president, Marrieda is the benefactor who had saved their merchant association from certain ruin. And for his sister―― the president’s daughter whom he refers as Nee-san, Marrieda is still a benefactor on top of the fact that they’re childhood friends.
If Marrieda managed to convince them, then Kyrill attending the academy wasn’t that strange.
「But……. As the compensation, she gave me an order to bring back a silver award no matter what……」
His tone changed suddenly, Kyrill seemed really stressed as his shoulders drooped.
The 『Silver award』 that Kyrill just mentioned is the award given to the most excellent student in the Mariules Academy during the graduation year. In other words, Marrieda’s 『Bring back the silver award』 meant that Kyrill is to 『Graduate as the top student』.
Certainly, Kyrill seemed like a clever boy when Ardis first met him but even so, it’s not an easy position to get considering it’s the Mariules Academy. Recalling the heavy task that was given to him even before he admitted the academy, Ardis decided to console him albeit a little awkwardly.
「Fight on, nothing I can really say other than that. 」
As if to turn away the dark clouds forming above Kyrill’s head, Ardis changed the topic.
「Then, are you preparing for the admittance today? 」
「Yes. And I will be looking for work as I study. Even if Marrieda-san is willing to fund my studies, I still need money to buy some necessities. 」
Hearing that, Ardis’s brows jumped. Recently, he had some troubles that he needed to solve, and he thought that why not hire this young man.
「Hey. If you’re interested, want to be employed by me? 」
「By Ardis-san? 」
With the unexpected offer, Kyrill was surprised.
「Yeah, as for the details……let’s see, we will talk it over a meal. I will treat you so come with me. 」
「Ah, yes. 」
「You have any shops that you need to go? 」
「I will leave that to Ardis-san. I’m still not familiar with the capital, the shops are still all new for me. 」
Ardis gave him the name of the inn he frequented.
「Then, let’s go to the 『Seseragi Inn』 I guess. 」
「Seseragi Inn? 」
It seems like that name still remained in Kyrill’s memories. Even if he couldn’t remember the name, he will surely remember the incident that he wouldn’t ever forget.
「Still remember? It’s the inn we stayed in four years ago when we first met. 」
With that as the trigger, Kyrill seemed to recall something, but his face turned blue the next moment. After all, he recalled Melir’s 『Creative dishes』 that was served to him grandly, the day that he forced himself to eat.
「……T-That inn? 」
It was a face on the verge of crying.
「What’s the matter? Let’s go? 」
With Ardis hushing on, Kyrill started following behind albeit seemingly hesitating. It was a voice that was much more depressed than the talk with the 『Silver award』 before.