「I―said―it―already! I said I don’t need it! Do you not understand, old woman!? 」
「Who’s the old woman! I’m still in my forties! 」
「We already have enough compensation from our requestor! 」
「I said just take it! Haven’t anyone taught you to listen to the elderly! 」
「You just admitted you’re an elderly, old woman! 」
「Who’s the old woman! I said I’m still in my forties! 」
Ardis and the others that returned to Thoria safely, after they reported to the requestor, the students were taken back by the people sent by the academy.
Since every one of them were safely escorted back, the compensation was paid in full. So, they decided to, 「Let’s go drink some. 」, and Michelle and the others decided to tag along.
For Ardis and the others, there wasn’t any other matters to attend to, but for Michelle’s side, it didn’t seem to be the case. And now, they are arguing about the compensation.
But, the way it was carried out was a little strange.
Normally, it’s the mercenaries trying to increase the compensation, and the peddlers trying to haggle down the price. But what they are doing now is completely the opposite.
For escorting the students back to Thoria, Michelle wants to offer Ardis’s side twenty gold. But from their perspective, it wasn’t money that they have any reason to accept.
Any other mercenaries would’ve received it happily, but unfortunately, Ted is a weird man who’s overly conscious about the appropriateness of the compensation.
Just like that, a corner in the bar became a situation of 『The mercenary who rejects taking the compensation』 and 『The peddler that insists on compensating』.
「Say, can I go take a nap until they finish? 」
「What are you spouting. You are related as well, so be awake properly. 」
Ardis who is already on the verge of nodding off, Orphellia didn’t let him escape. Leaving them aside, Ted and Michelle’s quarrel didn’t have any signs of stopping soon.
For Ted, the fifty gold that he had gotten from the original requestor is already a huge amount, and it wasn’t a hard quest as well.
If it wasn’t for Michelle and the others that protected the students, Ted would’ve spent numerous days going around the forest to look for their remains. If worst comes to worst, they would return with empty hands and wouldn’t get compensated.
Fortunately, because of Michelle and the others, the students were able to be found and escorted back safely. Their help is easily worth more than fifty gold.
On top of that, Michelle have used her valuable magic gems for the sake of protecting the students, and most important of all, she used her time that’s the most precious to any peddlers.
Originally, Ted would take a portion out of the compensation to pay Michelle back, but she instead said, 「It’s something I decided on my own, and did it on my own. I didn’t do it because I want your money. 」 stubbornly.
With that reason, she would never accept it. And Ted have been insisting over that. Michelle, on the other hand, regardless of the process, they’ve fulfilled her request, so she feels the responsibility to pay them for that.
「But Michelle-san. Didn’t you use magic gems? Isn’t that super expensive. Paying twenty gold on top of that would be a large deficit right. And you don’t get anything in return……」
Orphellia said in a sorry tone.
Certainly, peddlers prioritize their own profits, and move because of that. Since she has been doing business till this age, she definitely has loads of experience, to ignore her interest like this is a little out of ordinary.
「Nothing to gain, huh……」
Michelle let out a grin.
「Then should I be pursuing profits like the peddler I am? 」
And what Michelle requested was, Ted’s 『Bright Stars of White Night』contacts. It’s not an exclusive contract but, they will prioritize Michelle’s escort request when it is needed, and contact Michelle about their availability regularly.
「Twenty gold is, I guess you can think it as the down payment’s down payment. What, I won’t tell you to abandon your quest if you have any, and I won’t force you to come with me. Just remember to be my escort whenever you’re free. I will pay you for that as well, you can refuse if you don’t want to too. 」
「Will doing that benefit Michelle-san in any way? 」
Orphellia asked the question innocently.
「For us peddlers, it means a lot to know skillful mercenaries. It directly correlates to our life and death, if we hire veterans, then that just means we can do business even in dangerous places. 」
From what Michelle have said, it’s hard for a normal peddler to hire those mercenaries with true skills.
On top of that, mercenaries that have abilities and have good personality are rare, if they are even a little famous, they would get snagged by nobles or a lord, even the big merchants would do that.
Making a connection with skilled mercenaries before they are known, it’s why it’s worth to do such an investment.
「I can get the money back anytime. But relationship isn’t something you can get even if you have money. If I can get that with just twenty gold, then it’s a cheap price to pay. So, well, just take the money without reserving. 」
As she stretched her hand like that, Ted hesitatingly took the twenty gold.
「Well, now the difficult talk is over! Let’s drink together to deepen our bonds for the remaining time! Today is my treat! Drink and eat all you like! 」
At Michelle’s call, the group turned the bar into a place of banquet.
A total of ten people including Ardis.
While the dishes came from the kitchen constantly, Ted exchanged glass with Clente until they were totally red on the face.
Orphellia seemed to be having a talk between woman with Helena. Meanwhile, Norris have been going around Michelle’s escort party introducing himself.
「So, can’t you drink with a happier face? 」
Michelle called out to Ardis who drank the beer in his glass on his own.
「I don’t really like such party. And I’m sleepy. 」
「Oya oya, so cold. Well, it’s better than becoming totally drunk and getting out of control. Well, drink up. 」
Michelle who laughed sat on the seat beside Ardis and began pouring liquor into Ardis’s glass which still have some in it.
「You said you’re Ardis right. How old are you? 」
「What? Are you trying to pick up on a brat like me? 」
「Haa……? ………P-pick up, ………Ku, kukuku……hahaha, ha-ha-ha. You are saying I’m trying to pick you up!? I thought you were an uncaring guy, but you’re unexpectedly interesting! Hahaha! 」
Michelle who seemed to be entertained laughed loudly while banging on the table.
「Kukuku……. Really, well, there’re still some man who come to me doing that as a joke but, you are the first one who said the reverse to this old woman. Well drink up. 」
Michelle who laughed on her own, forcibly added on the liquor and asked Ardis again.
「It’s not like I’m trying to pick you up but, you don’t look much older than those students today but, you’re awfully used to combat. Been a mercenary long time? 」
「Who knows? I don’t even know how many years I’ve been one. 」
Ardis’s words have no falsehood. Struggling just to survive, he had already lost track how long have it been. The seasons were only there to change the fighting situation and conditions, and the dates were only there to change the timing of the strategy.
Every day’s conversation was just 『Who survived the battle』or 『That unit was wiped out』, no one was paying attention to something insignificant like the dates.
How old has he been, how long has he been fighting, Ardis haven’t been keeping track. That time, no one had any spare time to track such things after all.
「Well, if you don’t want to speak of it, then I won’t force you. Well, drink up. Rather than that――」
Michelle who understood Ardis’s intention wrongly, changed the topic as she poured more liquor.
「Your magic, what is that? For a sword to be flying and attacking on its own, I never seen something like that. Is that magic popular in the Nagras nowadays? 」
「I wonder, at the very least I never seen someone else who can use it in this country……」
「That means, you’re one of the unique holders? 」
「Who knows? Maybe there’s someone who can use it other than me? 」
「So at the very least, it’s rare enough to be 『Maybe there’s someone』huh. 」
Michelle was awfully hooked on the sword magic. While on the conversation, Michelle who seemed to keep on pouring liquor is making Ardis drawing back. If so, he will just have to not drink the glass but, it’s Ardis’s nature to just keep drinking when he’s being spoken to.
「I want to be on good terms with you from now on. You won’t say no to a request from an old granny right? 」
Michelle who would fume when Ted called her that, but she would add that on her lines herself. On top of that, she would use that to get an advantage, as expected of an aged merchant. Rather than an old woman, she’s more of a sly one.
「Of course, it will be a give and take business. If you have anything you want to find, consult me, I won’t charge you any. Well drink up. 」
「Got it. I will look for you if I got anything. I will accept your escort request whenever possible but, make sure you will compensate properly. 」
「Yeah, that’s good. Then, let’s us cheer for the future! 」
「That’s fine but, can you please stop filling――」
「Arudeiiff! How can you leave your comrade hereee, so unfaaairr! 」
Towards Ardis who tried to complain, the bright-red haired Orphellia who is the only female in the『Bright Stars of White Night』, leaned on him.
「Orphellia, it’s not like I abandoned you or anything. In the first place, weren’t you having fun talking over there? 」
While frowning, Ardis replied calmly.
「Just little back―, when I hesitated to choose which soup foe my dinner. Then you know―, that bald old man just decideeed for mee……bald, bald……, ffufufu. That super bald old man you know――, I can’t―! 」
But against Orphellia who have already gone weird, a proper conversation wasn’t possible. It’s just half an hour after the banquet started, but the red-haired magician is already all out.
Her long hair, which was usually hidden in her robe, now extends down to her chest.
「Hey――, Arudeess. Eat this――. Itt’ss supeer baad―! No need to pay for anethingg―. Hey heeey. Eat please please――. 」
Orphellia is the conscience of the 『Bright Stars of White Night』. Ted who talks roughly often, and Norris who looks to be sociable but is actually a cold person, compared with the other two, she is the most upstanding person.
But that’s only when she’s sober.
Orphellia’s affinity with alcohol is the worst. She seems to enjoy drinking but, frankly she’s being an annoyance to the others. Even saying it reservedly, Orphellia when drunk is just too 『Uncontrollable』.
First, her head not working properly, then speaking gibberish. And on top of that, she will just be annoying others. Especially, her weird notion of 『Feeding bad food to others』would surface whenever she’s drunk.
「Got it, I will eat it. I will eat it so don’t put so much on it. 」
「Yaaay―, dass why I super love Arudeess―! 」
And the victim of 『Feeding bad food to others』 would usually be Ardis.
Ardis put the small candy that Orphellia offered in his mouth. A bitterly taste spread out in his mouth together with an unpleasant stickiness. It’s a taste that will make you feel anger at the creator as to why did he make something like this, and why did he not taste it himself.
「Yeah, I will eat it. 」
But what came out from Ardis mouth, is the simple words that didn’t contain his complaints. Michelle who was sitting beside similarly tasted the candy, before making a face as if chewing on bitter worms before spitting the candy out. Then downing a full glass of water left on the table.
「Y-you are fine!? 」
Michelle who coughed repeatedly asked Ardis.
「Well……, it’s still food. 」
At Ardis’s response, Michelle have a gaze as if staring at a strange person, while Orphellia yelled with a disappointed face.
「Arudees――, so booring! Hey everyone―! Try tasting this! Hey hey, take this―! 」
While leaving her disappointed comment, Orphellia found her next victims, and headed towards the other mercenaries who were having a happy time.
Looking closely, Helena is already knocked down on the table. It must be that she has already received Orphellia’s grace before Ardis.
「Ou? Candy? Might as well take it」
「Wai! Stop, Clente! 」
Clente and the others who were oblivious reached out their hands. The only ones who knew Orphellia’s bad habit, Ted and Norris have tried to stop them, but it was too late. The mercenaries who are already half drunk happily put the candies in their mouth――. Needless to say, every single one of them were sunk.