Normally it will take five days to reach the village. It’s not because they are far from the village. Rather, it was because instead of a proper road, there was only a bumpy forest path.
Above all, the forest path is the natural habitat of dangerous demonic beings that would easily rob lives even if they’re experienced mercenaries. Needless to say, there’s no carriage path, and even if they brought horses or donkeys, they would only be bait for demonic beings, in the end, only people could carry the baggage.
Naturally, that will slow down their speed by a lot. It can’t be helped that a one-way trip takes five days. Even more so when Michelle and the others are now void of their baggage after escaping from the soldiers.
Leaving aside water, they don’t even have any food. And it was then that Ardis suggested taking the horses, riding on them and hastening the journey.
「No, I mean, it’s right that we’re a little short on food. But as expected, riding on horses would be too risky right? The demonic beings will be attracted. 」
Ted’s worry was natural. Sera’s special charm wouldn’t work on horses. Even if Michelle and the others were wearing the charm, the demonic beings will still be attracted to the horses.
「I will deal with them if they come. The time is precious now. 」
Ardis can create water with arts, as for food, he can just take them out across the 『Gate』 pretending to take them out of the bag on Sharu’s back. Even if it took five days, there’s probably no worry about food and water.
However, the time they had was limited. Ardis is very much interested in the Thoria army. He wanted to send Michelle and the others quickly to the village, and head over to investigate if possible.
The numbers of horses is enough. Of course, since it’s not a flat path, it’s impossible to get through quickly but, if Riana and Sharu share a horse with anyone, it would still be quite quick compared to walking.
「Meaning, you’re going to fight off all the demonic beings while keeping up with the horses? Ardis, are you conscious that you’re saying something really ridiculous? 」
His words were met with questions. But on the other hand, Norris looked into Ardis’s eyes pleased seemingly expecting something interesting to happen.
「As long as you stay close in a group, you can leave the rest to me. 」
Announcing so confidently, leaving aside Norris, all the other people seemed troubled at Ardis’s declaration. Having said so, the members of 『Bright Stars of White Night』 certainly didn’t complain. In the end, Michelle respected Ted and the others’ judgement, and accepted Ardis’s suggestion.
It was two days later that Ardis and the others arrived near the village. Since they’ve entered the radius of the village’s barrier, there would be no dangerous demonic beings appearing, so it would be safe even if they are on their own.
「Iyaa……. I knew it was ridiculous but, I have to really renew my opinions on Ardis’s ridiculousness――」
Norris laughed heartily while riding on the horse with a bow on his back. As for the others, they could only laugh drily.
「You really went and dealt with all of them. 」
With an expression of seemingly gave up in something, Ted agreed with Norris. Just like Ardis’s declaration, including all the other mercenaries, Riana and Sharu, Ardis had protected ten people just on his own. On top of that, they were ten people riding on horses that are delicious baits for the demonic beings.
Just as Ted feared, they encountered several demonic beings on the path of the forest of the Canobis Mountain Range but, without sparing any time, Ardis had already called out flying swords over the 『Gate』 and finished them off. There wasn’t even time for Ted and the others to get off their horses and participate in the fight, it was truly an instant kill.
In the end, even though the road was bad, they rode on horses, and the trip that would’ve normally taken five days was shortened to just two days. It will only take half a day more before they reach the village. While thinking so, Ardis noticed large mana signatures closing.
There were two of them. Eventually, when the two came to show themselves before the party, it was a question that started their conversation.
「Huh? Why are you all together? 」
The owner of the signature is Ardis’s partner, Rona and following behind him is Rupus, one of the Khlores that became a member of the village two years ago.
Since their signatures were even larger than the demonic beings, and they’re also within the barrier, also they approached from the direction of the village, with all those hints, Ardis were able to infer it’s them.
「Yeah, nice timing. Rupus, can you bring Michelle and the others to the village? 」
「Ah, yes. 」
Ardis pushed on the responsibility to Rupus who agreed without even asking the reason.
「You’re not going to the village? 」
「I’m interested in what the Thoria army is doing. Rona and I will go investigate for a bit. 」
Ardis answered Michelle’s question like that, and Orphellia from the side interrupted.
「But Ardis, you haven’t gotten sleep for two days right? Isn’t it better to take a night of rest in the village first? 」
「It’s not like I didn’t sleep at all. I’m fine. 」
When they were camping in the night, Ardis had slept for short periods while keeping an eye out on the surroundings. The body that was younger than Ardis’s original was reliable enough that a little lack of sleep won’t cause his performance to drop. Being young sure is good, as Ardis smiled bitterly inwardly.
Of course, there’s still a bit of sleepiness assaulting, but since he’s used to it, it wasn’t particularly distracting. Rather than that, he prioritized to find out the situation now. Ardis who came to such a conclusion left the escorting job to Rupus, and went on his way back.
Riana complained to follow along but, as expected, Ardis didn’t allow this particular time. If a fight broke out――, the opponents are likely humans. Riana who is lacking experience in fighting against people, in a meaning is more dangerous than facing demonic beings.
「Let’s go, Rona. 」
It is only his partner that he can leave his back to that he brought along.
「……You will explain properly right? 」
「Of course. Let’s talk on the way. 」
As Rona followed a little hesitantly, Ardis started walking towards the grasslands. After taking enough distance from Michelle and the others, Ardis and Rona flew up in the sky and started moving quickly.
「Thoria army? I don’t know much but, aren’t them the bunch that Al and the twins had troubles with? 」
「It’s not that big of a deal to call it trouble though. Well, it’s the truth that they aren’t opponents that we want to be involved with. 」
「Then why not just leave them alone. 」
「They chased after Michelle and the others, I can’t exactly leave it like that without knowing anything right. At the very least, I want to know the reason. 」
After explaining what he’d heard from Michelle and the others along the way, just as they exchanged a few words, there were shadows wriggling in the distance.
「What’s that? 」
Beginning to see the outlines of the shadows are humans, Ardis soon came to understand what is happening there. They’re a gathering of armed people. And they were split in two groups, each fought and killed each other.
「Thoria army and……, the one fighting are also from the Kingdom huh. Though I’m not sure which territory they’re from. 」
Ardis and Rona are now currently above the wide grasslands that connected the capital to Thoria. It can be said that they’re about in the middle of the country territory, far from the border.
Even if there’re fights between human and demonic beings, it’s too unusual to see people crossing swords here. However, what they saw was that exact unusual sight. The Kingdom armies split into two faction and slashed at each other, it was exactly a representation of a war.
A Thoria cavalry rode across the grass, and with their momentum scattered the opposing infantries. A lucky arrow landed on the horse of that cavalry, making it go wild from the pain, shaking off the soldier, as he was surrounded by other infantries and about to be cut, spears from behind stabbed through the infantries, killing them.
In the chaos of victims and perpetrators changing wildly in instants, only the ominous color of red was increasing. Roars to expel fear were mixed along with the painful death cries, the sounds that were too cruel to be called a ruckus reverberated in the surroundings.
「Al, the capital. 」
Ardis who looked south at Rona’s words unintentionally cringed his face.
「Is it burning……? 」
The capital that was still far in the horizon can only be seen hazily from this distance. However, from the shadows, there were thick smoke that could never be seen normally were rising up in the sky. If they can see that from this distance, then it’s not just a normal occurrence.
「What the heck’s going on. 」
「What now? 」
Although grumbling at the unexpected development, Ardis had already decided what to do. The battlefield unfolding below them are between people that didn’t have anything to do with them. However, there’re people that he is familiar with in the capital.
Although he had only met with the information broker, Chezare for the past two years, there’re still people that he hasn’t forgotten about.
Few faces floating up in his mind, Ardis said without hesitating.
「Let’s go to the capital. 」
「Thought so. 」
Along with Rona who expected the answer, Ardis headed south. The blue sky that stretched outwards without bounds above. On the day that was sunny without clouds, Ardis and Rona’s destination was the capital Gran covered with a dull color. While feeling unsettling anxiousness in his chest, Ardis hurried over to the capital.