「Are you the rumored sorcerer? You look quite younger than I expected. 」
Their first sentence was that.
After all, the name of 『Three Great Demons Subjugator』 and 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』gives an impression of someone tough and old. However, there’re many who get shocked when seeing Ardis’s real appearance.
After all, they would never assume Ardis looks like a young man in his fifteens.
That’s why Ardis is used to people commenting 「You’re younger than I thought. 」. On top of that, all of them are coming from people who are actually younger than him, he for sure didn’t feel comfortable hearing that.
「If you’re not satisfied with hiring a young person, then I wouldn’t mind if you let me off. 」
Actually, please do that, as he said so. Inside the guest room of the Duke’s house, after a rude remark from the duke daughter when they met for the first time, Ardis’s reply wasn’t pretty as well.
「No, pardon for my rudeness. If you are really as the rumors, then age doesn’t matter. As for that, I’ve heard many things from Battalion Commander Greystar already, so I have no doubts regarding your capabilities. 」
It seems like Ardis’s wish for her to rather not hire him didn’t reach.
Battalion Commander Greystar is referring to Moore. Saying unneeded things, in his heart silently, Ardis swore at the battalion commander who is not here.
「I’m Ardis. I have come on the request of that Battalion Commander for the instructing role. 」
When Ardis who had given up named himself, the daughter as well lightly lifted the hem of her skirt and bowed gracefully.
「Daughter of Duke Lavest of Nyrestria, Minerva. It’s a pleasure to meet with the famed 『Countless Swords Sorcerer』-dono. 」
Her face that still had remnants of youngness smiled. He heard from Moore her age would be twelve this year. She’s the same age with Fillia and Riana. A white fluttery one piece with a tinge of blue along with the long iris-colored hair that was groomed thoroughly reflected light.
Her thin cheeks gave off an impression of frailness, but she was definitely not sickly. Although her appearance would suggest nothing but a noble, it’s no doubt she is the culprit requesting to be taught sword magic this time.
「I will clarify first, sword magic isn’t something that is usable just by learning. Since I have accepted this job, I will teach the necessary. But whether you can use it depends on you. 」
There was someone who interrupted Ardis who said as he like. It was an elderly servant who had welcomed Ardis when he came and guided him to this room.
「Sorcerer-dono. Ojou-sama is not just a daughter of the Duke, she is someone who will succeed the family’s bloodline. Even if it meant being an instructor, please refrain from being rude. 」
He perhaps was also tasked with monitoring him. A man with almost all white hair, although he was being courteous, he also sent reprimanding gazes to Ardis.
「Sorry, unfortunately I’m just a mercenary who has no ties with being courteous. I don’t know what is considered rude, so even if you told me to refrain, I’m not sure how. 」
Of course, it’s a lie.
「If you don’t like it, I don’t mind you finding another person. I’m sure a duke family would have enough connections to find a magician who can be courteous right? 」
Even now, Ardis is still taking a disrespectful attitude. After all, he must keep Moore’s face, so Ardis couldn’t be the one to refuse, but if he can make the Duke family to not hire him, it would be the best.
The servant’s expression had blatant displeasure.
「It’s fine, Holga. It’ll be hard for him to be reserved while teaching as well. Of course, it can’t be the case in an official setting, but we are now in our residency. There’s no need to mind any outside eyes. 」
But if the person herself said she wouldn’t mind, the servant had no choice but to back off.
「Please call me Minerva without reservations. ……How should I refer to you? 」
「Ardis, is fine. 」
Ardis replied simply since it wasn’t of his concern.
「Alright. Ardis-sama it is. 」
「There’s no need for honorifics. 」
「It isn’t appropriate for a maiden to refer to a gentleman that is not her family nor a servant without adding on honorifics. 」
If she is saying so, then what about learning how to fight and sword magic despite being a maiden. Ardis had doubts on her values.
「Well then, Ardis-sama. I would like the lesson to start from today. Will the first lesson be a lecture? Or is it a practical lesson outside? I will have to change my outfit if it’s outdoors. 」
With the person in question weirdly excited, Ardis sighed and gave up.
「There’s no meaning to lecture. A wide place will be good. 」
「Holga, please guide him. 」
The servant replied 「Understood」 after receiving Minerva’s orders, before facing Ardis.
「I shall guide you along. 」
After she had left the room, the servant whose name is Holga turned around as a gesture for Ardis to follow along.
「Come to think of it, where’s Rona now? 」
As expected, they couldn’t let a golden beast whose length is more than a meter into the mansion, and so they took Rona to another place. Of course, he didn’t think that Rona would be treated badly considering Rona is Ardis’s company, but Ardis was sure that that hyperactive wouldn’t stay patient for much longer. It’ll be a trouble if Rona roamed around the residency by himself, after all, Ardis would be the one to take the blame.
「Your familiar is resting at where we are heading towards now. 」
The servant’s words reassured Ardis as they continued walking.
It is a wide place little far from the mansion where Ardis was guided to. The servant called it the training grounds.
In the first place, the Duke’s residency was large enough that it would fit a small village. The place called the training grounds is wide enough that a hundred or two people using it at once wouldn’t cause any trouble.
Although the mansion is still in view, it’s about the distance where swords clashing wouldn’t be heard.
「Yo, sorry for the wait. 」
Ardis called out to Rona who was lying on the ground.
Ardis who was guided to the training grounds waited for the Duke’s daughter to finish changing and coming over. The servant that guided him here went off somewhere, and other servants seemed afraid of Rona and kept their distance.
Since there aren’t any people in the vicinity that can hear them, Ardis could spare the hesitation and talk with Rona.
「You’re late, Al. It was so boring and boring and really boring. I can’t even run around even though it’s so wide here. 」
Rona looks just like a humongous predator for any onlookers. Although he was being treated carefully as he’s with Ardis, even the servants wouldn’t get near him without a reason.
It seems like Rona understood that too, that’s why he chose a spot right in the middle of the entire training grounds to not bother anyone.
「That’s why I said you don’t have to follow me right? 」
Approaching the pouting Rona, Ardis lied on the ground with Rona as the pillow.
「Is the talk over already? 」
「No, waiting for the miss to change. 」
「It will take long? 」
「Long, I presume. 」
Just as Ardis expected, it was about an hour later when Minerva arrived at the training grounds after changing. During that, without saying, Ardis was of course spending his time taking an afternoon nap.
「Al, she’s here. 」
「Yeah, I know. 」
Ardis who raised himself from the golden all-natural pillow saw a group that came from the mansion direction.
And among them was Minerva covered in a robe for magician use. The robe that covered her, the staff in her hands were both obviously works of excellent craftsmanship, just her appearance would qualify as a professional magician.
But of course, rather than being useful in learning sword magic, Ardis thought it was plain hindrance.
「Ardis-sama. I have completed my preparation, please instruct me well. 」
Minerva who came with many servants directed a smile to him. Contrary to that, all the servants were looking at him without even hiding their ugly faces. Ardis who endured sighing grandly spoke.
「Let me be clear. You―no, uh……, Minerva-jou wants to learn about sword magic, that’s why you wish me to instruct you? 」
「Yes. That is exactly right. 」
「I said so just now but, there’s no guarantee Minerva-jou will learn sword magic just by me teaching. Even knowing that, you still want to proceed? 」
Rather than for Minerva, Ardis was purposely asking again so that the other servants around can hear it.
「Yes, I don’t mind. 」
Just as he thought, few servants seem like they wanted to say something. But since the person herself said so, there’s no way they can complain.
「Again, if I am going to instruct, then it will be with my way. If you can’t stand it or think it’s impossible, then the instructing stops there. Make it a pretense that your side fired me or something. 」
Rather, that would be the best course, Ardis would get spared from the troubles and he would have excuses for Moore. Definitely please do that. Ardis hoped so secretly.
「Of course it will be as per Ardis-sama’s instructions. It was me who asked for it after all. 」
Ardis who took her commitment nodded with satisfaction.
「May I ask a question? 」
This time, it was Minerva who asked Ardis.
「What is it? 」
「I have been wondering for a while but, what is it that’s curling up at Ardis’s feet? 」
She was referring to Rona.
It was a four-legged golden beast with a length of more than a meter. It was strange to think that something like Rona could’ve entered a duke’s residency. It’s natural that Minerva is interested in it.
「This guy’s Rona. My partner. 」
「I didn’t see it just now though……」
「Since he couldn’t enter the mansion, he was waiting here. 」
While hearing Ardis’s response, Minerva had her eyes fixed on Rona. Her iris-colored pupils were shining with curiosity. Different than a Duke’s daughter expression that he saw till now, Ardis felt it was an expression that’s appropriate for her age.
「A fox……, is it? 」
For Minerva who was confused by Rona’s appearance, Rona made his bad mimicry of a bark.
「Eh? A dog? 」
As for the one who heard the unexpected cry, Minerva showed the expected reaction.
「That……, Ardis-sama. 」
Minerva asked Ardis with hesitation.
「If it’s alright later……, can I pat it? 」
「……If Rona doesn’t hate it. 」
「Thank you very much! 」
Getting approval from Ardis, Minerva had a happy face. It was the only moment Ardis thought it was a natural smile.
「Why did you decide for me. 」
Ardis heard a complaint from Rona.
「Well, leaving that aside, I will need to go through a few things. 」
Ignoring Rona’s voice, Ardis verified the situation.
「Minerva-jou, can you use magic? 」
「No, this will be the first time I learn about it I suppose? 」
「If you never used it, you haven’t learned how to use it? 」
It might be because his words felt a little reprimanding, the servants showed hostility to Ardis. Even Minerva herself seemed a little sorry about it.
「……Is it bad? 」
「No, it’s better actually. 」
To understand what Ardis knew as 『Magic』, the common magic theory and experiences in this world would be a hindrance. Rather than teaching someone who firmly believes that even a single fireball can’t be casted without chanting, Ardis thought that someone who doesn’t have any foreknowledge about magic would be better.
Next, Ardis focused his mana, condensed it and wrapped it on his right hand, and along with his normal left hand, he showed both hands.
「Look at my hands. 」
「My left and right hand, do you feel anything different between them? 」
Wrapping his hands in mana wouldn’t change their appearance at all. A single glance wouldn’t reveal anything. But not being able to tell them apart would mean that she isn’t even fit for sword magic.
「Difference, is it……? 」
Not understanding the true meaning behind his question, Minerva stared at Ardis’s both hands and compared them. Even the surrounding servants exchanged gazes between themselves, tilted their heads or shook their heads.
That’s natural. If it was so easy to tell the presence of mana, then no one would suffer. Even Kyrill only came to feel the difference recently. If she can’t tell them apart, sword magic would be a dream inside a dream.
But Ardis who didn’t expect much in the first place was shocked by what came out of Minerva’s mouth next.
「The right hand……is more, heavy……. No, it’s harder to see……, a distant feeling? 」
While the servants were shrouded in confusion, only Ardis and Rona had surprised round eyes. If Minerva can really feel the presence of mana, then learning sword magic is not impossible.
It was at this point when Ardis held the slightest interest for the girl, Minerva for the first time.