Michelle’s escorts――Since they were knocked out by something other than alcohol, the banquet came to an early end before the night was late.
After Ardis received his portion of compensation to fill his pocket for the first time in a long time, he returned home. The job that he prepared to be away for more than ten days depending on the situation, thanks to Michelle and the others’ help, it was shortened considerably.
Even for Ardis who left the twins in the house, he could say it’s fortunate that he doesn’t have to be away for a long time. Above all, Ardis is happy that he can sleep on his bed comfortably.
Even with his necessary spending in mind, with the compensation this time, he wouldn’t need to worry for the time being.
Ardis who finally arrived back home, opened the lock on the front gate and entered. The house that he has been living for about a month or so, as expected it had a better sense of security than the inns.
Having a family who awaits your return――In this case, the two girls wouldn’t even communicate with Ardis properly, even so, it’s been a long time since Ardis have a place to return that has someone else there.
The life of the three people that started unintentionally wasn’t all bad, as Ardis thought about that while entering, he realized that the atmosphere of the house was different than usual.
Just like before, Ardis who peeked into the twins’ room as usual to inform them that, 「I’m back. 」 came across the scene of one of the twins collapsed on the floor while breathing roughly. And the other one was holding her hands tightly.
「Oi, what happened!? 」
Ardis panickily hurried to the twins. The girl who was collapsed has reddish and fevering cheeks as she gasped for breath painfully. Her eyes were closed, and Ardis couldn’t tell whether she was sleeping or passed out.
「A cold……? 」
Ardis isn’t a doctor nor a pharmacist. And of course, he didn’t have the ability to diagnose with just a glance at the symptoms.
If she was a normal person, then taking her to the church to receive treatment would be the usual steps. But because they were twins, it wasn’t a choice to be taken easily. Since the apostles of the evil god opposing the goddess in this world are twins, the twins themselves are considered taboo children.
It’s unimaginable for those that follows the goddess’s teachings would treat the twins. Even worse, most healers are believers of the goddess.
If so, what about a doctor? Unfortunately, even the doctors can’t be relied upon. They would probably reject with the same reason. The streets are filled with the goddess’s believers.
Even pharmacists are the same. Even if anyone is willing to treat the twins, it would be known that the twins are living in this house, and Ardis wouldn’t be able to leave the house in the future without worrying.
「Riana is going to die……, don’t die please……」
While holding on to the other twin that is suffering from the fever desperately, the other girl――Filia――she was pleading while tears flowed from her pale-yellow eyes.
For the twins that are rejected by the goddess, who would they pray and rely to? Ardis felt uneasy at the situation.
「In any case, let her rest on the bed first. 」
Carrying up the collapsed twin――Riana, Ardis laid her down on the bed that have never been used even once.
During this period, Filia have not left Riana’s side even once. Normally, people would distance themselves from a sick person but, it’s an unimaginable scene for the twins. Since forcibly separating the twins would have the opposite effect, Ardis let Filia did as she liked.
Using magic to chill a wet towel, before resting it on her forehead. Wiping her body sweat occasionally, it has been few hours since Ardis started looking after her. When the dawn has come, Riana’s fever has started to go down, but in her place, Filia started to heat up.
Since she had been accompanying Riana for the entire time, and the twins’ body was weak in the first place. On top of the fact that she didn’t have a meal since Riana collapsed from the fever until Ardis returned. There’s no way Filia could stay healthy like that.
But, when Riana’s fever started going down, Ardis was relieved. Looking from Riana――It’s probably the same cold that infected Filia, as her symptoms looked same to that of Riana’s.
Thanks to letting Riana who regained her consciousness resting on the bed comfortably, and resting with cold towel on their foreheads, their symptoms have cooled down completely on the next morning.
During that time, Ardis was looking after them as he fed them food that are easier to eat and cooling drinks. Occasionally, he would hold the twins’ hand, wetting and chilling the wet towel again and patting their head, as he stayed beside them as much as possible.
Ardis doesn’t have any experience looking after sick people like this. But, while he didn’t understand why, but he thought that he must do it like this. It’s not a part of his memories or experience, but something that he couldn’t remember was compelling him to do that.
In the end, it was just a plain cold but, for the children to be safe without even eating after collapsing on the floor, it was thanks to Ardis who returned before it was too late.
What if the request of rescuing the students was delayed? Or what if he returned late by a day? The twins might have become cold bodies in the worst case.
Ardis felt a chill on his back as he thought about the possibility. He has only realized the danger of leaving just children in the house now.
But even so, Ardis can’t stay at home looking after them all the time. Other people would have a choice to hire a helper. One silver is probably enough to hire someone to take care of them. But since the fact that they are twins, it’s difficult. If it isn’t someone very trustable, then he can’t leave the twins to them.
Thinking about that, Ardis came to realize the connections he has are little. But that wasn’t bad entirely.
From the day that Ardis nursed the twins, the distance between them shrunk by a considerable margin that’s visible to the eye.
The responses of 『Unn』 or 『Nnn』 started to be mixed with other words. Before they would hide in the corner of the room while looking at his expression, now they would occasionally follow behind Ardis when he walked.
Above all, the fact that they have been able to sleep on the bed made Ardis relieved. Since sleeping on the floor like before and catching a cold would not be desirable in any way.
At the same time, the emotions of self-mockery started appearing in Ardis. Ardis didn’t intend to be close with the twins in the first place. Looking after them for the time being and finding foster parents for them or letting them be apprentices in the merchant firm was what Ardis have thought.
But they were living and eating together for more than a month now, it couldn’t be helped that he became more caring for them. But now, he became totally sympathetic with the twins.
Unable to leave behind the twins that would occasionally show a rare smile while calling Ardis’s name, while teaching housework to them and occasionally taking a nap together with the twins, he continued enjoying the slow and fulfilling life.
「So? Are you going to work? 」
Ted said while glaring with a sour face. Since Ted who already have a natural villainous face made an expression like that, the twins which were sitting beside Ardis shrunk back and clung onto his arms.
While prioritizing looking after the twins, Ardis haven’t received any requests for almost a month after that. So, Ted and the others had no choice but to come to Ardis’s house.
「Ted, don’t make such a scary face. The children are afraid. 」
「What, weren’t you the one who said that Ardis should take a job now after a long while? 」
Ted who had an unpleasant face talked back at Orphellia.
「Certainly there’s that matter as well. But, I’m also worried for the children. 」
『The children』 that she said were referring to, the twins that had a cautious expression while hugging onto Ardis’s arms.
「From that, it seems that they have become closer. 」
Seeing how the twins act, Orphellia had a relieved smile on her face. Of course, she can’t say that they became more like『Normal people』 but, at the very least, seeing how they interact with Ardis, she can imagine they have a good relationship.
「Guess so. It was a headache at first, but now it’s okay. 」
Ardis showed a troubled expression as well.
「Then, can you take a job now? No way your savings can last that long right? 」
Norris interrupted from the side.
「That’s right, Ardis. You’ve been rejecting our offers these days, and you don’t even have signs of earning any money. 」
Ted’s words caused Ardis to smile bitterly. It’s because that he couldn’t deny Ted’s words.
The job that he took before the twins had fever――Rescuing the academy’s students――the reward that he got there was about a little over forty gold. It was an amount capable of feeding a normal household if they are not wasteful for two whole years. Of course, if it’s just Ardis and the two twins’ girls, then it would be more than enough.
But, Ardis is a mercenary himself. It’s not just about securing the necessities like food, shelter and clothes. The maintenance of weapons, and the procuring of medicinal supplies, the prices of those are in a different league than the products that the average citizens uses. Even that much gold would disappear in no time. Certainly, it’s about time that his pocket feels lonely.
But, the problem is regarding the twins. The twins that have finally dispelled their caution towards Ardis and started showing signs of depending on him.
They would follow behind Ardis closely as he walked. When Ardis relaxes on the sofa, they would come and sit beside him. When Ardis would take a nap near the window while enjoying the warm sunlight, they would be there napping together with him when he realized.
And during the night, even though there are beds for the twins to use in their room, they would come crawling into Ardis’s bed. As expected, going outside is still scary for them, they didn’t follow Ardis who will go out to buy items but, when he’s in the house, they would cling onto him.
And Ardis being Ardis, he started to be caring for the twins, and it somehow became that he couldn’t help but hesitate to leave them home and go out for jobs or hunting.
「Even so, you can’t be like this forever right? 」
Ted is certainly correct. In fact, Ardis has thought that he should find a job soon as well.
「And there. We’ve brought an interesting topic. 」
Norris who peeked at Ardis’s expression started talking.
「You heard the talks about the pretty lady that comes out on the highway? 」
「What’s that? 」
「Ahaha, you’ve been a shut in for a long time. Even though it’s not just Thoria, even the capital has this rumor going around now. 」
Norris who seemed to be laughing at something funny but, it’s just the usual him. As Ardis’s gaze has been telling him to hurry up and explain――.
「On the highway, about half a day from here to the capital, supposedly there’s a young lady appearing there. And, she’s supposedly very strong too. 」
「……A bandit? 」
「No no, totally wrong. Just that, she would ask for a bout with the mercenaries or the merchant’s escorts that come by. Then she would win it easily. Even with the veteran mercenaries as her opponent. She hasn’t lost once. 」
「I can’t grasp the reason. 」
「Right. I also don’t understand. I mean, that lady, she didn’t request anything even when she won. And she wouldn’t even reply when asked for the reason, and so, many speculations have been going on. 」
From just the story, it can even seem like a travelling mercenary is just looking for fights to gauge her ability. It’s even speculated that she did it for fame. But the problem is the person is question never spoke of her own name, so that theory probably is all wrong.
「Just that, there’re no news of her opponents being injured or even any deaths, if she was refused, then she would let the people go without doing anything. So, there isn’t anyone who really thinks that she’s a problem. From what I heard, there’s even one time that she saved a merchant from bandits. 」
「If she doesn’t do any harm then there’s no problem. Then why are there people who thinks that she’s causing problems? 」
There’re many others who thought the same as Ardis. It can be even said that she’s contributing to the security of the highway without any harm, and she wouldn’t touch any of those that who doesn’t wish to, so it’s should be just about the appearance of a person with a weird personality.
Recently, it seems that there are even those who goes out there to meet her specifically, but if she’s doing it because that she wants to, then no one can judge her for anything.
「There’s no harm even if you leave her alone. If there is, then it’s a problem about reputation. 」
「Reputation huh……. So that means, the lord and his army had said something? 」
「Bingo. It’s a request from Marquis Thoria. 」
The woman hasn’t committed any crimes or disturbed the security. But because that she’s an unknown person, and the fact that she’s just doing as she pleased on the streets of the lord, it would damage the credibility of the lord. If it was handled badly, then the hostile nobles would even use it as a tool for political wars.
「Hmm. And, the contents? 」
「Negotiation. And inviting her to the lord’s mansion it seems. 」
Ardis who listened that furrowed his brows.
「I don’t get it. If then, wouldn’t it be fine if the lord’s subordinate went instead? 」
「Who knows? Maybe he doesn’t like the idea of sending his own men for a mercenary out in the fields, or maybe that he was refused before. With the information that we have now, we can’t really make a conclusion about that. Just that, since it’s not a subjugation request, and there probably wouldn’t be injuries even if you had a round with her, isn’t it a perfect fit for Ardis after a long time of inactivity? 」
「Well, that might be true. And, the compensation? 」
「Two gold for succeeding. One silver if failed. 」
「Isn’t it too lacking? 」
Ardis’s concern is justified. Even if they succeeded, merely two gold for four people for the entire day, it’s not an amount to be worth considering. Even worse, just a single silver if they failed. It’s the same as working for free.
「Ah, we will be taking another request. Conversing with the pretty lady will be Ardis’s job. 」
「We will be out towards the direction of the wastelands for a little while. 」
「What, it’s like that huh. 」
It seems that this request was truly only brought here for Ardis’s sake. While Ardis didn’t think it was unneeded care, since they have brought the request this far out for Ardis, Ardis decided to accept their goodwill.
After telling the bar where Ardis will be handed the information, Ted and the others returned.
「Ardis, going out―? 」
「Ardis, leaving―? 」
Suddenly, the twins pulled on both his arms and asked.
「Yeah, I will be going out for a little tomorrow. Can the both of you stay home? 」
The twins nodded at Ardis’s question, and asked another question with their pale-yellow pupils staring at Ardis.
「Ardis, won’t abandon us? 」
「Ardis, ……will return? 」
「……Don’t worry, I will be back soon. 」
Albeit young, looking at their desperate faces, Ardis replied with a kind smile while gently patting their head.