It was Minerva who responded to Rona’s mumble.
「Do you know that person, Rona? 」
Rona simply answered, 「Guess so」 towards Minerva’s question.
At the very least, Rona knew that no one on the other side called Ardis by 『Al』. And if Rona called Ardis with that nickname, then not many people will know he was referring to Ardis.
In the first place, Rona hadn’t talked in public face to Ardis. The only exception to that was Nere but, of course, Minerva and Moore weren’t there when that happened. That’s why 「Al」 that Rona mumbled wasn’t anyone that Minerva knew.
Rona thought that he should explain it to the two people but immediately dismissed that thought after all.
In the first place, Rona himself wasn’t clear on what happened either, he didn’t think he could explain well to the two, and he felt that he had no obligation to do so either.
「I will be going ahead for a while. You two should stay here. Yell loudly if it’s dangerous, then quickly run away. 」
Rona who had quickly given up explaining anything started walking in a pace slowly towards Ardis who is fighting against numerous Nedulos.
Moving closer, Ardis’s figure is now clear. There were injuries all over his body, the broken equipment, and the sword that had lost its edge and became a blunt weapon, and a sooty face.
His face was full of impatient and hatred. It was as if he is a totally different person than the Ardis who were smiling peacefully at the twins.
Above all, the difference is that Ardis is not in his younger form. It was a body before thirties that had several scars, it was the appearance and age that Rona was familiar with.
Rona had last saw this Ardis two days before when he went to the other world and found the younger Ardis, and stayed for about five years. They had determined the flow of time between two worlds is not the same, and if Rona’s calculation is correct, here would have passed seven days for the five years there.
(Is he really Al?)
If Rona is looking at Ardis now, then who is the Ardis on the other side.
(A fake……, though that can’t be the case)
Even if he rejuvenated, Rona knew well Ardis’s fighting style even when he had half his power. If Rona had really failed to discern the real for five years, then he might as well be blind.
(Well whatever. Let’s think after talking to this Al)
Only two of the Nedulos which were crowding him remained, serving as a cooling down session for Ardis. The black pupils that was hitting down the Nedulos turned to Rona, and then returned to his battle as if nothing happened.
(He’s Al alright)
At the very least, from the fact that he didn’t have animosity towards Rona and wasn’t surprised. After Rona made about ten steps around, Ardis had landed after finishing all of the Nedulos off on the ground with not exactly the greatest expression.
Ardis’s words were short when he spoke.
In this short distance, Rona’s conviction wasn’t shaken. The person ahead of him is undoubtedly his partner, Ardis. But on the other hand, Rona was thoroughly confused as he tilted his head.
Rona didn’t have the basis. But for some reason Ardis who he should be really familiar with is having a strangely thin presence even though Rona is right beside him.
「What are you doing here, Al? 」
Rona with a mountain load of questions inside him asked an abstract question. But regarding that, Ardis’s response was very much unexpected and intense.
The expression of seemingly enduring something broke down, and was replaced with intense anger. And that stabbing glare was right on Rona, as he yelled angrily.
「What am I doing!? 」
Rona’s fur stood. With the killing intent that seemingly had a blade rushing at him, his instincts deployed a barrier immediately.
「Of course it’s because we lost! I by myself, in this forsaken land, and fighting in this kind of appearance! Do you think I look like someone that had won against that woman! Do I look like I’m celebrating right now! 」
With Ardis yelling angrily and exuding an intense pressure, Rona’s tail was between his legs, and his ears fell flat as he shrunk.
「Our plan was known! That woman, she had laid her traps and waited! Everyone was just playing on her hand! Joan too, Dawatt too, Lexy too, they were all killed! Even Greihs with that wound can’t……! At the very least, that woman must……! But I can’t, I couldn’t do it! Elion and Sark, they even sacrificed themselves for me and then I’m just wandering in this place……! 」
Ardis’s eyes were bloodshot.
If anger could be changed into destructive force, then it would’ve turned into blades and had already destroyed everything and anything around. There was a person there that gave off a dangerous feeling that one would get cut up into pieces if touched accidentally.
Ardis’s mana that were filled with intense emotions had leaked and interfered with the atmospheric mana, causing an unsettling air. It definitely wasn’t an illusion that the surrounding looked like it was hazy in a mirage.
The short period that felt long.
It was about three breaths out later that Rona was released from the intense pressure.
「……Sorry. It’s no use lashing out on you. 」
As if a changed person, Ardis had a weak voice as he apologized. Putting a stop on the seeping mana from himself, he is starting to calm down as he regained his breath.
But for Rona, it only felt like Ardis had put a lid forcefully on his overflowing emotions.
「Rona. Do you know what’s this place? 」
「Don’t know. I’m also looking a way to return. ……What about Al? 」
With Ardis’s intense pressure gone, Rona could finally answer albeit still a little fearful.
「……No. I’ve been walking seven days already. Elion was the one that blew me here but……. That bastard, if he had that kind of trump card from the start, he could’ve just sent me to that woman……」
While seeing Ardis whose face was distorted, Rona had turned his head in full speed in order to grasp what happened.
(This is probably right after challenging that crazy woman……and lost)
After hearing what the Ardis from the other world said and seeing the Ardis now, Rona inferred.
(Seven days from that time, then there would be seven years. The calculation matches up. But that means there were two Al at the same time? Unn――, this doesn’t make sense)
For the time being, Rona brought up a name that the other Ardis would definitely know.
「Hey Al, do you know the name Nere? 」
「Who’s that? 」
「Fillia, Riana, or Kyrill, do you remember them? 」
「Name of the recruits? Sorry but I don’t know well about the recruits. There was no time to do so, neither were they allowed on the mission this time. 」
Ardis reacted as if he really didn’t know who they were.
And of course, there’s no reason at all for Ardis to be lying to Rona right now. In other words.
(The other Al is someone else? No, that can’t be the case)
There’s no way Rona would mistake Al. No matter how different their races are, or how different they are as creatures, the bond between them is not so shallow.
(They are both Al. Both are the same person, but different……)
As Rona realized that both are the real Ardis, he was also forced to acknowledge that the Ardis in front of him isn’t the same existence as the one in the other world.
From the conversation, Rona was able to find out that this Ardis had last saw Rona seven days ago, and had no knowledge about the other world at all. Rona thought about revealing everything to this Ardis but he immediately dismissed it.
There’s a high chance that he would be taken as making a bad joke if he tried to explain it now.
If that happens, then Rona wouldn’t leave unscathed. Ardis who looks like he is still in a state of despair and filled with anger might do something out of his rage.
It was honestly scary.
「Was the last time Al met me seven days ago……right? 」
While peeking glances at Ardis, Rona carefully chose his words.
「Yeah, we went straight to the subjugation after that. 」
If that’s so, Rona inquired.
「How about until we find a settlement or a highway, I suggest we tag along? 」
「Unn, the two over there and me. 」
Rona turned around and faced Minerva and Moore.
「Who are those two? 」
Ardis showed a strange expression after seeing the two people.
Of course Ardis knew they were there, but being unable to use even a single spell, they are truly an existence akin of a pebble for him. If Rona didn’t bring it up, Ardis probably would’ve ignored them to the end.
「Unn……. It’s difficult for me to explain everything but there was someone who wanted me to look after the girl. So I can’t leave her here. 」
Though the man isn’t included, Rona added on.
Rona was a little taken aback as it felt like he was making use of Ardis, but even after explaining it, Ardis might still refuse.
Leaving aside the other world, Rona knew that taking two persons that is totally a baggage and venturing in the wilderness against demonic beings and beasts here is being reckless.
But since it was technically Ardis himself who asked Rona to take care of Minerva, it could probably work.
(Though they’re still quite different)
Ardis who didn’t know what Rona was thinking said so.
「If they can follow, then so be it, I don’t have the intention to match my speed to some kid’s stride. 」
「I know. 」
(Well, the Ardis here would totally say that)
While Rona agreed on that, he was thinking of a way for the two to not be left behind.