「You can do it? 」
「No problem. 」
Ardis asked the girl to help gather information around the capital. Although he was covered head to toe with his hood and robe, it’s still risky for Ardis to walk in the streets.
Unlike that, the girl can move freely. Considering she originally has a shady occupation, Ardis thought that she should know how to gather information.
It was a complicated decision for Ardis. Even though he really wants to help, it’s not like he could bring a child to where he is heading in the future.
However, if the girl could prove her worth to Ardis, then Ardis would have an excuse to bring her along. In other words, Ardis only wanted a reason to let her tag along.
Luckily, the girl who was in another sense lacking in common knowledge like the twins would have never had the chance to be influenced by the church to despise twins.
In a way, Ardis wanted to bring someone that he thought useful to him. Rather, it was what he wanted himself to hear.
「Citizens, mercenaries, shop and inn owners, what do they think about the incident this time. And also what’s the church planning. Help me find out if they’re going to form another subjugation squad or not. Since the time is tight, there’s no need to do the impossible. 」
The girl replied with a short 「Nn, okay. 」 towards Ardis who added on an unnecessary comment at the end. The girl who was initially thin had started to regain some mass after Ardis feeding her, so she can properly blend into the crowd.
Few hours after that. The girl returned to Ardis who was doing nothing but staring at the busy stalls on the street.
「How is it? 」
Ardis asked for the result for the first thing.
「Mercenaries and shop owners albeit little, there’re few on your side. But majority are on the side that you are an evil cult member. Normal citizens are worse. They believe the church without doubts. 」
The usual silent girl was being talkative for the first time. It seems like she can be detailed if the work needs it.
「The church? 」
「A second subjugation is set in stone. They are going to gather forces from other countries. 」
「As expected huh……」
Ardis decided that he should hasten his departure from the capital from the expected news. Luckily, there’s probably still room to spare.
Gathering people from other countries would need considerable time. It’s unlikely that an attack would happen today or tomorrow.
「The church has basically decided the second subjugation already. Few are against it. There’s a pink-haired sister who is going around appealing not to, but no one would listen. 」
「Who’s that? There’s someone that reckless too huh. 」
「The name is unknown, she’s about twenty years old. 」
「It couldn’t be Solte, ……right? 」
That’s the only person from the church that Ardis considered himself relatively close. Although she’s same in the regards with other clergyman that her faith is in the Goddess but, personally, Ardis didn’t think that she’s a bad person.
Ardis thought that they could be good friends if she wasn’t someone of the church.
「Also, when the person in charge of the entire operation, a priest named Dret was alone in his room, he muttered something strange. 」
The girl continued her report regardless of Ardis’s thoughts.
「Something strange? 」
「『Might as well use this chance to its best huh』, he said. 」
「What’s that? 」
「Don’t know. It was only a random mutter.」
It’s apparently what she coincidentally heard only. Ardis wouldn’t know the meaning behind it either.
But at the very least, Ardis knew that the girl had the ability to sneak into the personal room of a high-ranking priest in the church.
That was a result better than he expected, as Ardis now obtained a reason more than enough to justify his plans.
「Just as promised, I will treat you to a dinner as much as you like. Should we go to a restaurant? 」
The girl shook her head by a little at Ardis who asked, then pointed at the stalls at the street.
「The stalls are fine? Well, it’s better for me too since I can’t stay in a same place for long. 」
Ardis along with the girl walked onto the main street. Calling out to the stall owner, Ardis bought all the unsold food and handed it over to the girl.
As the food disappeared at a consistent pace as he handed it over, Ardis spoke of his next request after the girl eventually finished her meal.
「I will be leaving the capital soon. 」
「To where? 」
「Don’t know. I’m planning to go west but, anything after is an uncertainty. 」
「……When do you return? 」
「Probably never. 」
The girl had nothing to say to Ardis after that. But just slightly, Ardis could see her 『Troubled』 expression.
「Want to follow? 」
Just as he asked, the girl had a new expression of 『What are you saying』.
「Your orders are to monitor me right? For me, I don’t mind if you want to follow. But that’s on the pretense that you won’t hurt any of my companions. There will be terrible consequences if you show clear hostility. 」
Knowing that the organization that gave the order to the girl was destroyed, Ardis don’t expect that the girl will turn hostile after this long. However, thinking about the twins too, he should nail in the fact now.
「So how is it? 」
Ardis asked the girl who looked slightly hesitating. The final order to monitor Ardis remains in her as supreme. Naturally, if the target, Ardis left the capital, she wouldn’t be able to continue it as well.
「……I will. 」
The conclusion was the decided from the start.
「Then it’s decided. Prepare for a long journey and wait at the west gate before sun rises. I will come to pick you up then. 」
As Ardis’s one hand landed on the girl’s head, rather than an answer, it was a questionable gaze that came.
The next morning, Ardis had left the twins to Nere and Rona and departed from the forest by himself, going towards the west gate outside the capital.
In the midst of darkness before the sun rises, Ardis approached the mana signature slightly off the main highway and called out.
「Is your baggage that much only? 」
A small human stature faced him. The sack that she carried on her back was like the baggage that mercenaries or explorers would carry when they go on a day’s adventure.
Although it didn’t look at all like the baggage prepared for a journey to the neighboring country, Ardis in the regards of little baggage was not that much different.
She probably noticed it was Ardis approaching with her smell or whatnot. The girl nodded without looking surprised.
「Let’s depart before the gate is opened. We will meet up with my companions first. As I said yesterday, don’t make a move on my companions. There’s nothing I will say if you behave well, and if you can answer my request occasionally, then meals are provided too. 」
「I know. 」
「Is that so. Good, let’s go. 」
Ardis prompted the girl as they headed west from the highway. The girl followed about five steps behind.
「Oh right. 」
After few minutes of wordless walking, Ardis suddenly recalled something and turned around.
「You have a name or something? 」
If they’re going to act together in the future, there’s a need for her to have a name. But naturally, the girl stayed silent.
For the girl, Ardis is her target. There’s normally not a fool to introduce themselves to their target.
「I know that you were called as 『Crimson Osprey』, but that’s a codename used within the organization right? 」
The girl’s eyes widened. The girl must’ve not expected that Ardis knew her name.
「Well, it’s not like people raised in that organization would be given a personal name huh……」
Ardis who was convinced by himself started thinking while walking. The girl was currently in a sense nameless but, that would be inconvenient for the future.
Despite so, using the codename she had in the organization, Crimson Osprey, would probably only spell trouble.
There’s probably one or two fake names that she had used during intelligence missions but, it’s probably not for her own identity, and in the first place, Ardis didn’t want to use a name that would bind her to her past.
「You have a name that you want to be referred as? 」
As he asked so, the girl had an inexplicable gaze.
「If you don’t have any particular preference, then I will decide on my own. Hmm…… 」
Ardis thought about it while walking. Although he simply decided for Nere, it’s different this time.
After a while of going back and forth with ideas, Ardis eventually came up with a name.
That was a name of a cloud spirit in a legend in Ardis’s world. Clouds that can flow freely and not bounded by anyone.
Ardis felt that it was a well suited name for the girl who should be released from the invisible shackles that is the organization.
「I will call you as Sharu from now on. Also, I will introduce you to my companions so. 」
The girl seemed uncaring at Ardis’s declaration. Seeing that, Ardis had a bitter smile, before facing forward again.
The night narrowed overhead, and as if chasing that away, the eastern sky lightened. Under the still dim sky, multiple tens of clouds were floating towards the west.
Beneath those which can travel freely without being shackled by anyone, the two on the ground were walking towards the country border in silence.