Ardis who returned to the village after taking ten times longer than their leaving journey came to a surprising liveliness. Many trees in the surroundings were cut down, and there were multiple houses being built in places that were empty before.
It’s not his mistake that the population had increased. In fact, Ardis noticed there’re more people than usual with his mana detection.
「Let’s go greet the village chief first. 」
Prompted by Rona, they headed towards the village chief house first, and was greeted by the village chief himself and Sera there.
「Sorry, village chief. Just as you’ve probably heard from Rona, these are the two children that I brought. 」
The village chief smiled bitterly at Ardis who said so first, and allowed it casually.
「Yeah, I heard it. There’s not much difference for two more at this point. 」
It has been three months since Ardis and co had settled down in the village. They were treated as guests courteously at first but, they had already assimilated into the village completely now.
Ardis himself too had become familiar enough to ask a request without holding himself back.
「Thanks. ……Leaving that aside, there’re quite a lot of new faces I’m seeing? 」
His gaze was directed at the men that were building simple houses a little away from the village center.
「There’re thirty newcomers. 」
「Thirty more? 」
It was a village that had only about a hundred people originally. Suddenly hearing that the village had thirty more people, Ardis’s mouth repeated the village chief’s words unintentionally.
「There’re many people in Alburn that lost their home because of the civil war. Even if everyone is impossible, it couldn’t hurt to save at least a few, right? 」
Sera from the sidelines interjected. From how she spoke, it seems like she was the one that brought the refugees from outside.
Though in the first place, with no one else capable of dealing with the demonic beings in the Canobis Mountain Range, it’s easy to imagine that it could only be Nere or Sera if not Ardis himself doing it.
「I see. So that’s why 『There’s not much difference for two more at this point』, huh? 」
Ardis came to a conclusion after recalling what the village chief said just now. Certainly, if there’re thirty more people, another two more doesn’t change much in the bigger picture.
Glaring at his partner for a bit for failing to convey the most important part, Ardis turned his gaze back to the village chief, acknowledging his efforts and sympathizing with him.
「It must’ve been a trouble. 」
「It’s true that it was a trouble. But I can’t go against the act of kindness of Angel-sama. 」
Even though he said so, it’s undeniable that the village chief looked tired.
「However, is it really fine to have thirty more people suddenly? Like the remaining rations or something. 」
「About rations, Nere had gone out to buy more today for the time being. She should be returning by the day. 」
「And living quarters are as you can see. The villagers are building more but, they will be staying at the church for the time being. 」
Ardis’s question was answered by Sera and the village chief separately.
「In any case, the church is full now. Can you let the two you brought stay at your house for now? 」
「Of course. 」
Letting the siblings take the twins’ rooms, there would be no problem if Fillia and Riana moved to Nere’s room temporarily.
Either way, Fillia and Riana would sneak into Ardis’s bed by the morning. The twins’ personal room can be considered unused in the first place.
「Those two are the one Ardis brought right? 」
Sera looked at Haru and his sister who was behind Ardis. Without waiting for Ardis’s response, Sera stepped forward and looked at the two’s eyes for a moment.
「……Unn, looks alright. 」
Unknown whether what was alright, it seems like Sera has her standards of approval about who is welcomed in the village.
「Then these two will be left to you――」
Sera turned back and looked at Ardis.
「We’ll talk again when Nere returns, alright? 」
「Yes, a very important one. 」
Sera reaffirmed while smiling a little, but Ardis somehow had a bad premonition.
As Nere returned from procuring more rations, Ardis and co had dinner together for the first time in a while. Seven people were at the dining table.
Haru and his sister were included in that too. Although the siblings were brought all the way to the faraway Canobis Mountain Range without knowing why, it seems like they had gotten close to Fillia and Rona on the journey.
The sister seemed to be very self-aware, as she was proactively trying to secure a place for herself by helping Nere preparing the dinner.
On the other hand, Haru met the twins for the first time. Seeing Riana who looked exactly like Fillia, his gaze is still alternating between the two confusedly while sipping on the soup.
Although Fillia was taking good care of Haru, Riana looked at her as if staring at something strange. And after Nere heard the story from Ardis, as per usual, her expression didn’t change at all.
As for Sharu, it was the usual it doesn’t concern me attitude. Despite an inexplicable atmosphere, it wasn’t at all an unpleasant one.
After they had finished a peacefuller than expected dinner, as Nere and Haru’s sister was preparing the after-meal tea, the Angel-sama with red eyes visited the house.
「We don’t have enough land. 」
Sera who arrived sat on a chair prepared by Nere, and said immediately without even touching the tea.
「Land, you mean for this village? 」
「That’s right. 」
Nodding at Ardis, Sera closed her eyes as if enjoying the fragrance of the tea prepared by Haru’s sister.
「I mean, that’s expected. In the first place, the village can’t expand beyond the barrier, and with thirty more people now, there is a need to build more houses and expand the fields, it’s not strange to be lacking land. 」
It is a late thing to bring up now. Something as obvious as that must have been considered by Sera when she brought the people over from Alburn too.
Not understanding Sera who said so deliberately, Ardis had wrinkles between his eyebrows.
「And so, I’d like to expand the village. 」
「You mean expanding the barrier? 」
Since the barrier surrounding the village is set by Sera, it’s her will to expand or shrink its range. Of course, it comes with the pretense of her capability but, since she’s saying it, it’s likely not a problem.
「It’s not just about expanding the barrier, you see. 」
Not understanding her implication, Ardis prompted for further information.
「I can’t just expand it simply. 」
Hearing those words, Ardis tilted his head inwardly. It’s unlikely that the people living in this village would be opposing Sera’s will.
And of course, the people that just came from outside naturally have no voice in it. Since the village exists in the Canobis Mountain Range, it’s not under any countries’ jurisdiction or anyone’s ownership.
「Simply……? You’re saying you need someone’s permission or something? 」
「That’s exactly it, Ardis. Have you heard about the 『Demonic Beast King』 ? 」
「『Demonic Beast King』? …… No, never. 」
Ardis who had no recollections regarding that name shook his head.
「Judging from the name, it’s a demonic being? 」
「A little different from a demonic being. In simple terms, it’s the ruler of the Canobis Mountain Range. Grinder or Hell Mantis is as powerful as earthworms in its face. 」
Certainly, Grinder and Hell Mantis are both demonic beings that can’t match Ardis. However, they’re both known as dangerous demonic beings commonly.
Seeing from his previous experience of the Thoria territorial army against just one Grinder, it’s obvious how threatening they are against normal mercenaries and soldiers.
And if something like that is on earthworm-level, then the Demonic Beast King’s power is an unknown value.
「The mountains are something like its garden. It would probably leave us alone if we kept the current state but, if we expanded simply, it would probably be angered. 」
Ardis felt something was coming with Sera’s choice of words.
「That’s why, if we want to expand the village, we have to make a deal with it. 」
「……Meaning it has the intelligence to be negotiated with? 」
Sera’s nod affirmed Ardis’s words.
「In other words, I want Ardis to follow me on the deal. Of course, you would accept my request right? 」