「Nothing as expected, huh……」
Moore muttered as if it was an obvious thing. They’re at the forest near the Duke’s residency.
It is exactly here where Ardis and the others managed to return to this world. After getting the freedom to leave from the Duke, Ardis and Rona came here in search of any clues left behind.
Of course, if there’s anything left behind, Rona would’ve already noticed it the moment they returned. They came here just in case but, Ardis had already expected nothing will be found.
「But there was an investigation a year prior. It’s unlikely to think we have missed anything. 」
It was a private soldier that was tasked by the Duke to guide them around that answered. The soldier that’s probably also tasked with monitoring them is one of the few survivors of the raid on the Duke’s residency a year ago.
Ardis and Moore had heard about the incident a year ago in detail from the Duke himself just now. After all, a Duke can’t possibly be such a kind person that he would leave alone the people that dared to bare their fangs to his family.
『We already determined the culprits. But considering the opponents, we can’t bring them out to the light. I’ve already taken as much retaliation as I could, but I can only say that they got us good this time. 』
After that, they also determined what happened during the raid in the night on the Duke’s residency. A curse that made people disappear. That is what was used in the raid.
Using many sacrifices in order to make people disappear, the existence of such a despicable cursed tool was found.
『To think that something like that existed. 』
After receiving news of the raid, a portion of the army was sortied and when they arrived at the residency, it was shrouded in a creepy silence.
The attackers, the private soldiers, and even the many servants that should be there went missing, and only bloody marks of battle remained in the mansion. While in confusion, they organized an expedition in order to search for any survivors or attackers, and they were able to capture a suspicious person in the forest near the Duke’s residency.
It seems like there was a box-like item with an unfamiliar shape there.
『Were they the sacrifices, or did they disappear because of the curse, either way, most of the people in the residency disappeared overnight. Even my daughter, the Battalion Commander, and you. 』
After using all their hands in order to interrogate the suspect they managed to apprehend, the information they gained, what the Duke thought at the time was an absurd fairytale, but the reality is a cursed item that caused everyone to disappear.
With no way of knowing where everyone disappeared to, the Duke had no hands to pull. In the first place, he had no way of knowing whether the disappeared people are even alive.
Under that situation, a year had passed.
『To think that it is actually a tool that transports people to another world……』
Rather than making people disappear, the cursed tool was actually capable of transporting people into another world. But because no one was ever able to return, it was acknowledged as making people 『Disappear』.
「Well, can’t blame them. After all, the missing people might be also experiencing a difference in time flow. 」
As for Moore who tagged along without Ardis even asking, he’s conversing with the guiding soldier as if he’s the spokesman.
「Yes. His Excellency thought about the possibilities of other people returning, so it is planned that a small guard post to be built here and have someone monitor the spot. But, there’s also a lack of manpower, so finding someone to always stand guard is……」
「Well, there’s no helping that. Because of the incident, even servants and private soldiers all went in smokes right? And considering it’s a Duke’s house, it’s not like simply hiring people is possible, I can understand that a year is not enough time to gather enough talents. 」
Because of the incident a year ago, the manpower of the Duke’s residency was critically in the low. That’s also the prime reason why the gatekeeper soldiers were pointing their weapons at Minerva.
Though, they must’ve known about the Duke’s daughter but, there’s no helping it since the circumstances is like that. After all, the Duke’s residency had hired many new faces in the one-year period, and on top of that, it is publicly said that Minerva was sick and couldn’t show her face.
「Though, it was only yesterday for us……. Right, Rona? 」
Moore sighed with a troubled face, and started talking to the golden beast below.
Rona who was pretending to be a normal beast considering the presence of the soldier replied shortly since he was asked a reply.
「Tough being a dutiful man huh. 」
Teasingly, Ardis said.
「Seriously. Even though I have not the slightest responsibility at what happened, suddenly there was a year of absence. And just as I expected, my position in the army is dismissed, and my name must’ve been unlisted from the military. But thanks to the Duke, the servants at my house was able to find a new job, so I guess that’s the silver lining. 」
「What’s your plan after this? 」
「After this huh……. Returning to being a mercenary at this age is tough after all, and spare me from going back to the military and climbing back up from a rookie soldier. Well, since the Duke is willing to provide me a living for the time being, I guess I have some more time to think. And what about you, Ardis? 」
「I will return to the forest today. I will depart after greeting Minerva. 」
「What, it won’t hurt for you to be laid back a little more right. ――Ah, could it be……. A woman is waiting? Then, I guess there’s no helping it right. 」
Moore had a smirk as he guessed randomly. However, Ardis’s response wasn’t the greatest too.
「It’s none of your business. 」
Certainly, there’re people waiting for Ardis in the house in the forest. If just by gender, it’s true that she’s a woman, but at the very least, they aren’t in a relationship that Moore imagine.
「Since there’s nothing here anyways, let’s return to the mansion. 」
Saying so, Ardis turned his heels.
「Oi oi, you don’t have to be that shy. Hey, how is she? Aren’t we comrades in arms having crossed worlds, tell me won’t you? 」
Ignoring Moore’s curious questions as he panickily chased behind, Ardis left the forest in quick strides. After greeting Minerva, Ardis left the Duke’s residency.
Not even dropping by the stalls in the streets, he quickly left the capital and went straight for his house in the forest. If he manages to enter the forest, Rona as well won’t have to be mindful of others’ presences.
「I wonder if Fillia and Riana is doing well? 」
Ardis had nothing to say.
Only Rona’s words reverberated on its own and disappeared into the forest.
「It’s fine. Nere isn’t a cold person who would leave children in somewhere like this and leave……probably. 」
「………… That’s true. 」
Ardis replied shortly after a short silence understanding that it’s Rona’s way of soothing the atmosphere. In reality, they had no idea if the house they return to will be the same from a year ago.
He had known Nere despite everything for a whole five years. He has no complaints with her abilities to look after the twins, and she’s also trustworthy enough.
But in the first place, it was Ardis who asked Nere to look after the twins.
If Ardis were to disappear suddenly, there’s no reason for her to continue looking after the twins. If she had judged that Ardis were to never return, how would she treat Fillia and Riana.
Although he thought she wouldn’t abandon them, there’s also a possibility she would leave them to someone else and go on a journey herself. Other than Nere, only Kyrill and the members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』 knows about the twins.
It’s too much to hope from Kyrill since he’s a student after all, and Ted and the others might not even know Ardis went missing. If he knew this would happen, he should’ve made more connections, as Ardis regretted so but――.
「But in the first place, it’s impossible to bring the twins while working as a mercenary huh. 」
It’s difficult to bring children on a mercenary job. On top of that, if the children they brought are twins, even if they’re the 『Bright Stars of White Night』, it’s still too much.
Walking with heavy steps in the forest, Rona suddenly said. Ardis immediately cut off what he was thinking and started sensing mana in the area.
The many beasts and demonic beings living in the forest. A strong mana presence can be felt right in the direction where they’re heading.
Mana that is stronger than any living creatures in the area.
「Is it Nere? 」
He spoke of the name he thought of immediately.
The problem is with the two signs of mana beside that. Certainly they’re feeble compared to Ardis’s or Nere’s.
But it’s at a level that can be said as plentiful strong with this world’s standard. The size is about a person’s.
The two moved in a rhythm like they approached and separated from Nere, then took a breather.
「Are they in a fight? 」
「Might be so, but were there any small demonic beings in this forest? 」
「Kyrill would have a signature about that big but……. There’s two of them after all. 」
「Well, we will know after we get there. There’s no need to worry about Nere if they’re only at that level.」
The three mana signatures repeated movements akin to crashing into each other, then separating. While being on guard, Ardis and Rona advanced towards the house.
Then just as they moved a little closer, the movements in mana suddenly changed. Among the three, the smaller two suddenly turned directions and approached them quickly.
While being on guard, Ardis’s feet didn’t stop. After all, the two small signatures aren’t significant enough for either Ardis or Rona. Even if it’s a surprise attack, they can easily fend off any.
On top of that, the opponent haven’t bothered hiding their presences at all, but headed straight for them. There’s no way they’re threatening to Ardis and Rona.
Just as they thought the mana signatures are close enough that they will be able to visually see them, the silence in the forest broke with loud voices.
As if already arranged in prior, the voices were together, the voices that originated from the two mana signature were voices that Ardis knew well.
Two human figures that ran with their all between the trees in the forest. The bluish eyes with a green tint that Ardis managed to see.
The glossy platinum blonde hair that didn’t suit their shabby clothes were fluttering in the air intensely. There were the two girls that were bigger than what Ardis remembered.
The twin girls that showed themselves were like arrows as they leapt wholeheartedly in a crash course into Ardis.
Without even slowing down their momentum, Ardis easily received the two that called out his name.
Seeing the twins that hugged him as tightly as they could, Ardis finally felt that he was truly back in this world.