「What happened!? 」
Ardis immediately turned his gaze forward, and saw a group of the refugees running about. However, his mana detection doesn’t reach that far, since it was quite a distance away, he couldn’t see for sure what was happening.
「I will go take a look. You guys stay here and be careful. If any pursuers show up, let me know immediately. 」
After saying so, Ardis started running towards the source of the trouble.
「Let me accompany! 」
Ellenoa followed behind but, Ardis didn’t bother waiting for her and rushed forward. Ardis who ran ahead leaving Ellenoa behind found a group of beasts attacking the refugees.
A six footed creature with its head, chest and abdomen all connected with segments. Although its black shiny body was similar to the Twin Swords, it was larger, and had a higher center of mass.
Although the horns on its chin isn’t as sharp as a Twin Swords’, it can still easily break a person’s arm.
「Ari huh! 」
That’s one type of beasts known as Ari among the mercenaries. Its length is about fifty to seventy centimeters normally.
It’s not that difficult to deal with on their own but, the problem is their numbers.
Unlike Twin Swords that would only go up to four or five in rare occasions, Ari normally form groups of several tens to several hundreds.
When facing them in a group, their threat is even greater than a Twin Swords.
The refugees that had no means to fight back started running in all directions. Using mana detection, Ardis confirmed the number of Ari, and called over fifty swords from the 『Gate』.
Following his orders, the flying swords flew above the heads of the Ari assaulting the refugees. The flying swords stopped in the air, and then turned downwards and started diving.
With the first flying sword stabbing through the head of one of the Ari, the other flying swords followed suit.
Among the running refugees, the flying swords struck with unbelievable accuracy.
「From where……? 」
Before the refugees could understand what they were seeing, their threats were getting removed.
「I-I finally caught up……」
There, Ellenoa who chased after Ardis finally arrived. It seems like she had impressive stamina considering being a magician of the academy, she still had the room to see what was going on even after running a kilometer or so.
「Looks like it’s almost cleaned up already but……, can you leave those to me? 」
Seeing the group of Ari assaulting the refugees had been defeated, Ellenoa saw another group a little ways from them and asked Ardis.
「Then it’s up to you. It’s a good chance to see the caliber of a magician from the academy. 」
Another group of Ari is coming to them. Their numbers are about thirty. Although it’s a number insignificant for Ardis, it should be quite the foe for normal mercenaries.
Kyrill probably would’ve done something about them easily but, it’s not something normal students can go up against.
With the intentions of immediately following up if she couldn’t do it, Ardis let Ellenoa try. With Ardis’s approval, Ellenoa took up her staff and started chanting.
「The fierce crimson that is the miracle of flames born of the ancient dragon’s breath ―― 」
Hearing Ellenoa’s chant, Ardis was a little impressed. After all it was not a magic that students should be able to use.
「――Ferno ・ Resta ・ Ganov! 」(Flames of Purgatory)
With the name of the spell as the trigger, a giant red flame ball devoured the group of Ari heading towards them.
The high temperature flames that impacted the ground burned the Ari and caused violent winds to blow them away. The shockwave even reached Ardis, as the hot winds blew past his cheeks.
After the smoke and dust settled, there were only the corpses of the Ari that are burnt to a crisp scattered around.
Even though the Ari were gathered, she nonetheless still finished them off in one blow. Her abilities are more than enough for an actual fight.
「Magnificent. A magician from the academy is not all show I see. 」
Seeing Ellenoa’s more than expected performance, Ardis was praising her honestly.
「Hearing that from someone who can make twenty of those at the same time doesn’t really make me happy though. 」
Ellenoa was saying that with her back faced to Ardis seemingly trying to hide her shyness. It seems like she doesn’t have an honest personality.
Although there was still some victims, there’re lesser thanks to their quick response.
The refugees that seemed to be running in all directions because of the chaos finally seemed to calm down. Among them, there was one person muttering something, as Ardis heard.
「That guy…… isn’t him the Countless Swords Sorcerer? 」
With Ardis’s knowledge, there’s no one else that uses sword magic. The same knowledge is within the capital’s citizens as well.
Naturally, the identity of the person using it, unless really ignorant people, they would know in an instant.
「Countless Swords Sorcerer, you mean the one that was branded a heretic by the church. 」
「Isn’t him someone from an evil cult? 」
「I even heard he killed a priest from the church. 」
「Why would someone like him here. 」
「Won’t we get targeted by the church too if we’re together……」
Two years had already passed, the matter should’ve cooled down significantly. However, it’s the truth that he can’t underestimate the church’s influence.
While keeping Ardis at a distance, their anxious whispers was expressing their disproval.
There might be quite a lot of abandoners if it’s like this, Ardis who thought about it like that sighed for a little before turning around, going back to his post.
It was at that time.
「What a selfish bunch. 」
Suddenly, Ellenoa was angered.
「You people, who do you think you are? Certainly, he’s the mercenary known as the Countless Swords Sorcerer before. He’s also branded a heretic by the church. But what about it? Did any of you was harmed by him? Are you saying that he had been violent, injured you, or demanded unrealistic things? 」
「B-But the Countless Swords Sorcerer is of the evil cult, the church had……」
While Ellenoa was quelling the mass, one young person made a weak rebuttal. Opposing that, Ellenoa snorted unlikely of a lady, and then interrogated the young person.
「The proof? Did you see anything that convicted him as one? Did you hear about the truth from the person himself? Just because it’s from the church, you believe in it without thinking about anything. What an age already, how about trying to think for yourself a little, don’t you feel ashamed? 」
While stuck for words, Ellenoa glared at the young person with a chilly gaze.
「Leaving aside if he actually caused you any inconvenience, but I bet everyone here only met him for the first time. Are your ears for decoration? Is your head properly connected? Think about it properly. Did he do something to you? Hey, you there. Did this Countless Swords Sorcerer did something to you? 」
The middle-aged man that was beside the young person was called out by Ellenoa unexpected.
「……No, me, not really……」
The middle-aged man that was suddenly questioned had confirmed with a difficult voice. Rather, he had no other choice but to confirm.
After all, he didn’t even meet with Ardis before. There’s no way he was harmed.
Of course, there will also be some among the three hundred thousand citizens of the capital that had been harmed by Ardis.
However, subjugating the Three Great Demons, winning against the Empire in the war four years ago, rather than harm, it was benefits for most of the capital citizens.
They should be able to understand as well that Ellenoa was right if they calmed down and thought.
If some other young girl said so, they might’ve rebuked. But strangely, Ellenoa had the indescribable dominance that didn’t allow the other party a chance.
Rather than logic, they probably understood instinctively, as the refugees docilely listened to her.
Ellenoa who had probably gotten the answer she wanted from the middle-aged man for some reason denied it herself.
「Really? There’s no way that’s the case right. 」
「Eh? No, I mean……」
The middle-aged man had no idea what Ellenoa was trying to say, as he expressed confusion in his tangled words.
「Four years ago, I participated the war with the Empire as a student. It was the Countless Swords Sorcerer that saved me just as we thought it was over, having surrounded by the Imperial soldiers. For me till yesterday, he is nothing more than my 『Benefactor』. I was not harmed, there was no reason for me to dislike nor hate him. 」
It was the words that Ellenoa herself had said to Ardis just a little while ago. Facing the middle-aged man that couldn’t comprehend what she was saying, Ellenoa asked again.
「What about you? Did he do anything? Rather, what have he done for you? 」
Having said to that point, even the other refugees there realized what Ellenoa was saying.
「H-He saved me……」
That’s right. They’re similarly saved by Ardis like Ellenoa, there was not a single reason to hate him.
「The others? 」
Ellenoa looked around the refugees. Many of the people seemed apologetic as they averted their gazes.
「What connects you and him is the benefactor and the benefitted. No more, no less. With that in mind, reflect on what you did just now. 」
Was she satisfied seeing that, Ellenoa left those final words and prompted Ardis.
「Let’s go, Ardis-san. 」
Ardis didn’t have the intentions to voice out to the refugees himself. If they don’t do anything direct, then he planned to let them do whatever they liked be it rumors or what.
However, Ellenoa had spoken on behalf of Ardis of what he couldn’t say. But that’s only meaningful if it was said by a third party.
Even if he was correct, even if he had logic, it could only be self-defense if he said it himself.
This time, Ellenoa as the third party had helped him. Thanks to that, the peoples’ thoughts might change a little.
「Should I thank you? 」
Ardis unusually said so, seemingly bothered about it, but Ellenoa’s response was unexpectedly rude.
「Don’t need. I didn’t do it for your sake. I just hate people like them. 」
So she’s that type huh, as Ardis felt like she understood Ellenoa a little more.
「Is that so……, got it. 」
Ardis quietly backed off, and walked back to the tail of the group with her.