There were two persons who are introduced as Rona’s company.
One of them is a swordsman. Rather than a mercenary wearing armor with decorations, he looked more like someone who belongs to an army. His age seemed similar to Ardis.
It seems like he has some skill with the sword but, his movement is too dull. If he wasn’t even deploying his mana around at all times, Ardis couldn’t hope much from him.
Another one is a girl with not a single tinge of tan. Although there were some tangling, the luster of her hair is obviously only possible with daily care. Although she had a short sword that had mana too disproportionate for her looks, she didn’t look even one bit like someone who fights.
Her conduct looked like someone to be protected, and from how the swordsman call her 「Ojou-sama」, she must be a daughter of some rich merchant or noble.
「How about until we find a settlement or a highway, I suggest we tag along?」
「If they can follow, then so be it, I don’t have the intention to match my speed to some kid’s stride. 」
Rona had suggested to have the two persons tag along with Ardis. It seems like Rona was asked by someone to look after the girl.
It would be something ridiculous originally. After all, Ardis had fought against the woman general, lost, and while he was suffering in pain, Rona was by himself taking an easygoing escort request by his own.
If he had the leeway to accept such a request, then he should’ve hurried and participated in the fight with the woman general. Although Ardis thought so logically, strangely he wasn’t angry at all. Rather, it felt like he was approving of Rona’s action.
While feeling something amiss, Ardis agreed to let them follow. Ardis himself has no idea where they are after all. Although there is the purpose of relying on Rona’s superior senses and smell, Ardis felt it was more like he wanted someone who knew him well to be there so that he wouldn’t lose himself. The two additional baggage is within tolerance.
While exchanging information, Ardis and the others moved to a place and prepared for a camp. And in the end, the conclusion was Rona was similarly thrown in a situation like himself.
In the end, their motive didn’t change at all, the conclusion was to continue locating a human settlement. Although he didn’t know who was it that requested Rona, it seemed like Rona was taking good care of them.
Though as expected, he wasn’t keen on even the task of creating drinking water was dumped on Rona, and so he interrupted.
「At least make your own water. Don’t treat Rona like a servant. 」
Even if he’s an escort, Rona didn’t have to be treated like a gofer. His words were thorny because of the two’s arrogance of not even willing to use their own hands.
Leaving aside the man who seemed to disagree, Rona said.
「Don’t blame them Al, they can’t use mana after all. 」
「Can’t use mana? 」
Momentarily, Ardis’s thoughts stopped. Ardis who had finally finished comprehending the severity asked the man.
「Why would people who can’t use mana lurking outside the town? 」
「I’m a swordsman. I can fight with my sword even if I can’t use magic. 」
The man rebuked with something that can’t even be an excuse.
Could he be thinking that he is a swordsman just by practicing sword forms. It wasn’t difficult to imagine Rona’s difficulty escorting the two.
「If you’re a swordsman, then it’s more so. How can you even fight without being able to make a foothold? 」
「Foothold? What the heck is that? 」
How did he even plan to fight without making a foothold? In place of Ardis who is so stupefied that his words are stuck, Rona performed it and explained. Ardis became even colder seeing the surprise on the man’s face with Rona’s action.
「Don’t name yourself as a swordsman if you can’t even do that much. Leave your sword and live in the safe town if you don’t want to die. 」
Although it was rude, it is considered common knowledge even for people that never studied. Unable to create foothold, unable to redirect mana towards the sword’s blade, facing against any beast in the wilderness is utmost foolishness.
Not having the capability to fight yet getting out of the town would only mean that they’re too uneducated or they’re just looking to die.
「Even I have my pride for becoming a battalion commander with just a sword! Do you expect I can keep quiet being ridiculed like this! 」
「A man who can’t even use a single art? What kind of countryside battalion is that to have you as its commander. 」
Ardis wouldn’t have said something like this normally. But now that he had lost his comrades, unable to do anything against the woman general, the anger at his own powerlessness had nowhere to disperse, it’s natural he’s irritated.
His anger that had leaked out turned into sharp blades of words and hit the man in front of him.
「If you’re so hungry for a fight, then I will be your opponent! I will let you taste plenty of the sword you want! 」
The man who was provoked put his hand on the sword.
「Enough is enough! 」
Even for Rona who had been trying to keep them under control lost his patience. With Rona’s harsh reality check, it seems like the man had finally understood his own power.
Just as he continued hearing the conversation between Rona and the two, suddenly the word 『Twilight』 that he had no recollections of was heard.
Ardis felt a headache suddenly. It felt like something being pulled out from his head forcefully, as he supported his head with his hand.
The black curtain that covered the entire sky. Why did something like that come up in his mind, Ardis himself didn’t understand either.
「There’s no such thing as twilight in this world. After all, it is a different world that the one you two are born on. 」
「A different……world? 」
While being irritated by the indescribable uncomfortableness as he continued hearing, suddenly something absurd like 『A different world』 was heard.
「This is the world where I was raised in. And also the world Al――Ardis is raised in. 」
「Why would my name come out there? 」
Then finally Ardis’s name was mentioned, and reflexively he interrupted.
「Eh? Shishou? 」
「This guy is Ardis? 」
Rather than Rona, it was the man and the girl who reacted. With confusion in their expression, they were looking at Ardis.
「For the time being, I will explain to these two people first. Since it’s too complicated to explain to both sides now……, I will explain it later to Al. 」
Seeing Rona who looked like he was tired and half begging with his expression, Ardis reluctantly backed off. The unexplained pain in his head was gradually fading.
「Now then……. It’s time for Al. How should I start. 」
Rona who had finished explaining to the two had come to Ardis, and started the conversation with a difficult face.
「There’re already things I wanted to ask, but thanks to the story just now, everything is just a mess. 」
「Well that’s……, I guess that would be the case. Even I don’t know how I should go about this. 」
「Let’s start with something basic……」
「Nnn? What? 」
「You……, you’re Rona right? 」
Although it might sound stupid, Ardis felt like he must verify that first.
「Are you sleep talking? 」
「……That might be the case. 」
The fuzzy consciousness that seemed to be afloat, and the periodically reoccurring headache. It felt like he wasn’t being himself, more like experiencing a dream. Still, the pain, resentment and revenge that was carved into his soul was clear.
He wasn’t sure of his own existence. Ardis was experiencing such anxiousness.
「Well, answering it sounds stupid too but, my name is Rona. A friend of Al and Ruu, and someone who swore to take revenge on that woman. There’s no mistake in that. 」
「Is that so……」
Realizing that it was a stupid exchange, Ardis nonetheless felt a little relieved. Even if it’s not a reality but a nightmare, having a partner that he can trust around calmed him down.
「But, what? 」
「I think there’s a big difference between the me that Al met few days ago, and the current me. 」
「What is that? 」
「After separating, I reunited with Al two days later, then spent about five years together with Al. 」
「……What the heck are you saying? 」
「Well, I guess that doesn’t explain anything. Unn, how should I really go about this……」
Rona pondered while his triangular shaped ears shook.
「It might be long but pay attention. The last time Al met with me, I was injured right? 」
「Yeah, you were in a incapacitated state. 」
Just before the expedition to subdue the woman general, Rona was gravely injured in a battle. Because of that, Ardis and the others decided that Rona tagging along won’t be possible, and Rona was to focus on healing his injuries.
「And so two days had passed as I rested and I managed to move around then but, as expected, hunting would be difficult, but then my stomach was totally empty then, and Al or anyone wasn’t there……」
「……That story, is it necessary? 」
Ardis didn’t understand the intention of Rona explaining that.
「Well well, just keep hearing. Our species, we have a special hunting ground for emergency uses. There’re many suitable preys and no strong enemies, making it the best hunting ground. But it seems like it can shorten your lifespan if spent too much time over there, that’s why I don’t use it unless it’s really an emergency, and I had always returned quickly after hunting. 」
「Shorten your lifespan? That’s quite a dangerous place. 」
「Unn. Though it was found out later it doesn’t actually shorten my lifespan. Thanks to Al. 」
Ardis’s brows furrowed at Rona’s explanation that seemed to make no sense. It felt like the pain in his head restarted again.
「……Still can’t get it. 」
「Since hunting by myself then would be too much for me, I had to use it even if it meant shortening my lifespan. And that was the only place I could think of hunting in safely. Then, just as I thought I filled my stomach and about to return, I heard someone’s voice. I was wondering what to do but it seemed like it wasn’t dangerous, so I stayed around and peeked. Then I saw a human girl looked like he was being assaulted by several other man, and I happened to help her out. Her name is Solte by the way, do you recognize it? 」
「No way I would know though. 」
Although it was an obvious answer, the name seemed to catch on something, it was an uncomfortable feeling of having something small stuck at his throat.
While adding a hand to his aching head, he signaled Rona to continue.
「Then, there was a mercenary that was supposed to be an escort for that Solte girl. And his name is Ardis. 」
「Black hair and black eyes, using flying swords, and even though I wasn’t completely healed, he could fight evenly with me, and even in the finale, he understood the passcode of 『Third whites of the second』, so――」
「No wait! Who the heck is that? His name is not just same, but he knew the passcode? There was someone who used my name!? 」
「Well, that was what I suspected at first too. But, Al. You think I would mistake your smell? Even if you were in a child form. 」
「A child? Me? 」
「Unn. About fourteen or fifteen? It was a good fight considering he seemed weakened as he became younger. 」
Ardis felt pain in his head again.
「Hey, Rona. Am I seeing a nightmare or something? I can’t understand a single thing happening. 」
「A dream huh……. At the very least, I’m confident to say that I’m not in a dream. 」