The night spreads in the sky, lesser pedestrian can be seen walking down the streets.
Excluding a certain corner of the entertainment district, all parts of the town are shrouded in silence, the moonlight that shone through the clouds periodically illuminated the two.
「Oh, look at the time. 」
「Whose fault is it, whose? 」
Ardis stared into his golden partner who muttered while looking up at the sky.
「But I mean, it’s too good of a chance to let up. 」
「Even so, that didn’t mean you have to sweep one end to the other. 」
The third day of the Lotus Cup.
Although Moore lost to Ardis in the quarterfinals himself, his performance was more than acknowledged by the Duke. And since there was soon to be an empty position in the duke residency, as the guard captain was about to retire due to his old age, the Duke extended an offer to Moore, and Moore who didn’t yet have a concrete direction accepted it.
After that, a party of Moore getting appointed as the guard captain and Ardis winning is held in the Duke’s residency. And of course, Ardis as one of the main characters had to participate as well.
Although they couldn’t return to the forest by the day is still out, if it’s just a dinner, then it wouldn’t be so late. It’s easy to imagine they can make it in time before the city gates closes.
And Rona who had been on standby napping in the training grounds of the Duke’s residency during the match in the day was allowed into the party venue thanks to Minerva, and taking that as an approval, Rona completely discarded the concept of self restrain and threw himself into the pile of food.
As he levelled one table after another, the Duke who thought it was interesting ordered the cooks to bring more. And then it became a show of Rona continuing to stuff the dishes that came out of the kitchen continuously until all of their ingredients ran out, and it was already too late in the night by the time they realized.
「Thanks to you doing that, we’re totally late in schedule. 」
「It wasn’t even all. Look, I even brought out the fruits and confectioneries out as takeaways like this. 」
Rona who counter-argued with Ardis showed the contents of the bag hanging from his neck. The bag was filled with baked confectioneries and sweet fruits.
「You’re still intending to eat more after that? 」
「It’s a souvenir, a souvenir. Don’t you think Fillia and Riana will be happy? 」
Ardis sighed deeply, and reminded his partner.
「Don’t only bring them sweet food, it’ll be a bad habit for them. 」
「It’s alright. After all, only one-tenth of these are for them. 」
「The rest? 」
「Of course for me? 」
Ardis didn’t understand what was Rona’s point for arguing that it’s a souvenir anymore. Even as he looked towards Rona with an exasperated face, the partner in question only hummed with happy strides and changed the topic.
「Wouldn’t the inn already closed by now? 」
「……It’s bad to wake the innkeeper up now after all. But then again, the gates are already closed……. No choice, let’s climb the city walls somewhere secluded. 」
Ardis and Rona left the main street.
Walking down the street where there’re no foot traffics, they arrived at some residency blocks where it’s totally silent.
The surrounding atmosphere suddenly became strained, and Rona called out to Ardis to catch his attention.
「I know. 」
Although walking as if nothing was happening, Ardis’s consciousness was sharpened. Of course, without Rona saying, he could feel the presences surrounding them.
「That’s quite a lot. 」
The responses he got with mana detection was a lot. Surrounding Ardis and Rona in all directions, they were slowly inching closer.
「They must be really unwilling to let Al show up in the semifinals. 」
As for who, Rona didn’t clearly say it.
After slowly walking while leading the bunch of pursuers, Ardis and Rona stopped at a place that’s obscure enough. Judging that they will definitely come attack, Ardis drew the 『Skies of Myriad Colors』from his waist.
At the same time, as if on a signal, all of them rapidly enclosed. From the shadows of buildings, above the roof, from the other side of the street, more than thirty people appeared with weapons in their hand, charged at Ardis and Rona full of killing intent.
「What, they’re all second rates. 」
Rona muttered as if lost his interest. After all, assassins that couldn’t even hold back their killing intent aren’t foes to be reckoned with.
「They’re probably intending to overpower with numbers. 」
Ardis replied with a slight contempt. Certainly, if there’re enough numbers despite second rates, the opposing side wouldn’t get by unscathed.
Even if it’s against a veteran mercenary, five or six should be more than enough to finish the job. But then again, that only works against normal veterans.
Have they known in advance. The name of the one they’re trying to go against. The feats unbounded by common sense accomplished by that person.
「I leave my back to you. 」
Delegating each other’s roles, Ardis took Skies of Myriad Colors in his hands and faced against the assailants ahead. Easily dodging the blade that came his way and a stroke from his sword.
Seeing the first one fall over in the corner of his vision from a grave wound, he directed his sword towards those in the back.
The assailants that panickily tried to take distance was suddenly met with another sword from the side.
「When did!? 」
The assailant with a surprised expression found a white blade in a 『一』 shape through his neck.
Even though another tried to take distance, there was another yellowish green blade that stabbed through him.
「F-From where……!? 」
Easily losing both of their comrades, one of the assailant looked around in panic. And what he saw were twelve flying swords shimmering in the darkness.
Of course, Ardis had not brought all twelve swords on him. Ardis used to carry three swords on him before but, the current Ardis only have Skies of Myriad Colors on him.
Using a special technique, Ardis had managed to draw out twelve flying swords. Of course, there’s no way the assailants would know, they would only realize the swords came from nowhere.
The blades reflecting the dim moonlight found themselves in the assailants’ vital spots.
「Thirty is too less. 」
Ardis manipulated the flying swords while giving a taunting comment, the swords aimed for the assailants like invisible hands.
「Wha, this……gaah! 」
「F-Fast! Uwaaaa! 」
They’re not flying with just a straight path. Sometimes hacking, sometimes bashing, sometimes piercing, and sometimes slashing.
The lump of steel known as a sword moved like it has a will of an elite swordsman, mixed with feints. They aren’t easily handled by the opponents.
Flying swords that can race through the air, in front of the assailants that had never experienced going against them, their lives easily were robbed.
Only one minute had passed since. A corner of the street were painted with the blood of the assailants.
「My side here is done already. 」
Rona approached while saying after cleaning up the assailants behind them.
「Looks like you’re used to opening gates too. 」
「Yeah, thanks to that I can go without carrying swords. 」
The flying swords that returned by Ardis’s side as if sucked into a thin opening in the air, disappeared from there.
The twelve swords served their role and disappeared without leaving a trace.
「Though it’s so small only swords can fit through. 」
Ardis’s voice was filled with irritation.
「Won’t that solve itself with time? Once you get a hang on it, then making it bigger wouldn’t be a problem. And being able to store swords on the other side is quite beneficial now already right. Thanks to that, cleaning up a bunch of them is faster too――huh? There’s still one remaining. 」
Without Rona pointing it out, Ardis can already notice the presence. About thirty meters away, there was another mana signature about a human size hidden.
「I will be right back. 」
Replying shortly, Ardis moved in swiftly to catch up to the last remaining person. Although it wasn’t a strong mana signature, sneaking around at a time like this, it can’t be a normal citizen.
Seems like it had noticed Ardis’s movements too, the target quickly retreated.
「As if you can run. 」
But it is already too late. If he wanted to escape from Ardis’s pursue, he should’ve escaped when Ardis was occupied with fighting.
Even if he tried to run now, Ardis can easily sense his location with mana detection, and shaking off Ardis that can make footholds in the air is impossible.
Ardis chased after the shadow in the alley who tried to disperse his tracks. Predicting his course, Ardis descended from the night sky right in front of the shadow.
He must’ve not think that Ardis would circle to his front. A surprised cry was heard from the shadow.
Seeing that figure, Ardis’s Skies of Myriad Colors that was in a trajectory stopped in place.
「Who are you? 」
Ardis’s confusion was natural.
The person he thought would be in a same dress up as the assailants was actually a young girl dressed up in a normal townfolk’s outfit.