Two days after that. Unable to withstand the Monarchy army’s siege, Reiten’s city gates were forced open.
「Aa~aah. In the end, the helper army never made it. 」
While watching the Monarchy soldiers storming through the streets from one of the rooms in the association’s building, Nicole sighed.
Reiten had requested help from other cities of the Coalition but, in the end, it seems like no army managed to make it in time.
「If it’s a half-assed reinforcement, then it wouldn’t stand a chance against that big of an army anyways. Having said so, there simply wasn’t time to gather soldiers from around the Coalition. 」
「At the very least, I hoped the army from Calves would arrive……」
Nicole lamented the fact that his hometown was too far. Calves that can be considered the alliance leader of the Coalition, despite not as much population as the former Nagras’s capital, Gran, it’s still one of the largest cities in the Coalition.
Although it was impossible for them to empty their city and come, they could at least expect a thousand soldiers.
However, Calves is located further west of Reiten, and it’s too far away for an army to march to here.
「Well, in any case, the fall is expected~nii. 」
Marrieda who had calmed down after getting her revenge regained her speech pattern as she said with still a chilly face.
「Are you really planning to leave Reiten? 」
「Well yeah. There’re few employees that don’t want to leave Reiten no matter what, so the association will still be here. Although I hope that it can become a branch and continue business but, it’s no doubt that the scale will become a lot smaller~nii. 」
Marrieda answered Ardis’s question without showing any linger. Looks like she already made her plans to escape Reiten.
Ardis who had been relieved of his escort request made preparation to escape together with Sharu.
It would be difficult for them to escape once the Monarchy army stabilize their reign but, now that it’s very chaotic, it’s possible to get out taking advantage of it.
Of course, thinking normally, if they are found by bloodthirsty soldiers, they wouldn’t get by easily. However, Ardis and Nicole is there.
If the enemies are just normal soldiers, they can break through without problems even if they’re going up against multiple.
「Leaving that aside, are you really fine giving that to me? 」
「Giving what~nii? 」
「The consumables and food in your warehouses. Well, I guess they worth lesser than precious stones or art pieces but, it’s still a big asset for the association right? 」
There’re various low-value items packed within the warehouses of the Litte association. Marrieda had offered all of them to Ardis happily.
「Yeep――, it’s fwiine. Anyways, they will get stolen when the Monarchy army discovers them, I don’t mind if you take all of them~nii. Also, remember to destroy the warehouses suitably when you finished~. 」
「If that’s the case……」
When the Monarchy army enters, it’s unavoidable that the army or the citizens will start looting everywhere. It seems like she would rather Ardis blast a hole in the warehouse rather than letting them get to it.
An hour after that, confirming that preparations are all done, Marrieda had gathered people to escape from Reiten.
「Nn then, let’s get going~nii. 」
There were about sixteen people. Twelve of them are employees that decided to follow Marrieda and escape from Reiten.
Sharu who had been moving in the shadows by herself is now docilely beside Ardis.
「Even though I was this close to conquering all of them. ……What a shame, to have not tasted all the famous menu there. 」
As Ardis smiled at Sharu who muttered so, Nicole approached from behind.
「Who’s going to lead? 」
「I will be at the end. Sharu can be the guide. And even if something happens, I can support from the end as well. 」
「Then it’s settled. 」
Exchanging short words, Nicole started taking lead at the head of the group. Just beside Nicole was Sharu, then Marrieda, then the other employees.
Getting outside, Ardis looked around the surroundings and confirmed. There were sounds of swords clashing in the streets. And occasionally, there were painful cries that can be heard.
「It’s not burning everywhere……? 」
Ardis muttered thinking it was a little unexpected. However, it’s not a time to be impressed now.
Following behind the group, he focused on his role of watching the surroundings.
Even if they were advancing avoiding human signatures, there was a limit to how much they can do. They encountered three groups of soldiers or so by the time they reached the outer walls.
Having said so, they only encountered small groups of each having three soldiers or so, Nicole alone without Ardis’s help was able to cut through them easily.
Although cannot compare to Ardis, Nicole is not a normal person as well. The fact that he can win against a demonic being by himself is already pretty monstrous.
「Here is good? 」
「The walls are thinnest here. It’s a little unclear since the scar is old but, it was probably broken down once before. And rebuilt with the minimum strength, I believe that it was left like that without proper rebuilding for a long time. 」
Sharu was surprisingly talkative answering Nicole’s question.
「Since that’s the case, Ardis, it’s your turn to shine. 」
Without even being told to, Ardis intended to. Although it’s uncertain that a normal magic attack can pierce through a city wall, Ardis’s arts is a different story.
「Get back a bit. 」
Seeing everyone taking shelter behind something, Ardis purposefully chanted.
「The radiance that pierces through the abyssal darkness, marble path that leads to the world within, invisible domain that blocks the way that is the curtain of the sage who had forgotten his roots――Pierce through, the empty space. Unleash thyself, fallen one who lost thine wings. To the foolish us who struggle for the unreachable, grant us the sliver of hope ―― Teill ・ Sele ・ Kvois! 」(Dazzling Light)
Imitating the magic Teill ・ Sele ・ Kvois, Ardis created a strong beam of light, shooting the city wall in a straight line.
The city wall that got hit turned red instantly, and then got wrapped in a radiance. When the radiance dimmed down, there was a large hole in the city walls showing itself.
「Oh my――, your magic is serious business as always. 」
Nicole started speaking enjoyingly towards Ardis that casted ice arts to freeze the burning wall.
「Real arts are something more cruel. Mine is too cute in comparison. 」
Remembering a face of one of his past comrades, Ardis returned a bitter smile. Since the Monarchy army had already entered the city, the encompassing on the outside is loosened.
Through the hole in the city walls, they escaped out of the city, and they headed north weaving through the seams of their encompassment.
Although they could choose to run to another Coalition city, the Monarchy’s intentions is still unknown now, so there’s a possibility that they will encounter war again where they arrive.
If so, they came to a decision to head over to Glock Village first where the refugees had already been living in.
Then few days of heading north. The group arrived in the village without any troubles.
The governing body, Moore and the priest Elma welcomed Marrieda and the others from Litte.
Despite there were some that left, the Glock Village had expanded to not the scale of a village any more.
There’re too many things lacking for Glock Village that can be called a town now.
And one of them is the presence of a business association. They’re receiving provisions from Michelle for the time being but, she still has her periodic schedule of heading into the hidden village, so she can’t stay in the Glock Village for an extended period.
And there, the people that came to fill the role were the people from the Litte.
Even if a headquarters shop is not possible, a natural course of conversation happened where Moore and the others requested for a branch to be built there for the sake of trading with other towns.
「So what’s Marrieda’s take on this? 」
「Nn? A shop in this village~nii? 」
「Yeah. What were your plans initially after escaping from Reiten? 」
「I planned to move the base to another city of the Coalition~nii. 」
Marrieda closed her eyes for a few seconds.
「Well, it might be good to stay in this village――」
「Somewhere with nothing like here? 」
「No way that’s the case though. I will have a monopoly now after all, and if providing for three thousand people, that’s quite a business too――. Either way, I have to fulfil my promise with Ardis-kun about the Heavy Iron ores and also the food right? Thinking about it, leaving aside a headquarters, it’s possible to set up a branch here~nii. 」
「That’s well, having Litte here would be saving a lot of effort for the village too. 」
「Well, either way, there’s a need to gather information now yo~n. Will the Monarchy army set foot to other cities of the Coalition, or would they settle down and stabilize. Whether the Empire would make a move. How the other Coalition cities are acting. It’s might or might not be profitable to move without information. In any case, I have to contact Ellie and the other employees, since most money aren’t on me. 」
In the end, Marrieda and the others settled in the Glock Village, and decided to prioritize getting information about the employees that escaped to various places.
And the one that was assigned that role was none other than the long serving escort of Marrieda, Nicole.
Ardis thought it was really unexpected, though it’s not like he has any saying in it.
Watching Nicole advancing his preparation quietly, a few days had passed spending time as he discussed the operation of the village with Moore and the others.
And then, the day before Nicole’s departure. Nicole called out to Ardis when he was alone.
「About Ojou, she’s in your hands. 」
The first thing he spoke was without his usual easygoing atmosphere, but with a serious expression.
「It’s not like you had to be the one going. Is there no one else up for it? 」
Although he knew he was saying something unnecessary, Ardis asked what he thought.
「It can’t be helped. The other employees travelling on their own is too dangerous, and it’s not like we can leave it to an unknown mercenary either. Also, I have my personal reasons too. 」
「Personal reasons? 」
「I mentioned that my hometown is in Calves right? 」
「I’m someone’s child as well. I have my hometown, my family and my friends. It’s natural to be worried right? 」
Hearing Nicole’s question, Ardis speechlessly nodded. Because Ardis doesn’t have anyone who shares his blood, he doesn’t know well what kind of feelings are directed to a family.
However, despite not having any blood relation, he has important people. The comrades he shared food from the same pot were like family, and the twins that are in the hidden village is irreplaceable for Ardis now too.
Although not able to totally understand it, he could predict what feelings.
「Now that the Monarchy had invaded Reiten, the other cities won’t be able to ignore it either. Calves is far from Reiten but, they are vulnerable to armies crossing the sea as well since they’re not that far from one. And on the way of gathering information, I intend to deliver information about the Monarchy army as well, and help my brother if he needs it. 」
「Are your siblings in Calves? 」
「Yeah, a total of seven of us. I was the forth son, so I was able to do what I like but, my elder brother couldn’t. Leaving aside peaceful times without anything happening, I want to help them in a time of need, well…… it’s something families do right? 」
Although he can’t understand for real, Ardis has some recollections of something similar. That’s why he didn’t deny Nicole’s words.
While nodding, Ardis recalled Marrieda’s weak expression as he mentioned it.
「But isn’t it cruel leaving Marrieda alone now? Although she looks fine now, I’m sure she’s still……. Isn’t it better for you to be there in times like this. 」
Nicole smiled despite his expression of pain.
「Don’t say that. I don’t want to do it honestly. But for Ojou, the association is important, and if it’s important for Ojou, then it’s the same for me. For the association to stand again, I have to move now. Nothing can be obtained if I want everything to be perfect, so I can only choose the best choice for both. 」
It seems like it was a result of many logical thoughts. The expression from Nicole showed that he himself was suffering too.
「……If you and Marrieda had talked it out and agreed, then I have nothing to say. 」
「Thanks for worrying. However, the fact that I can leave Ojou’s side is also because you’re here. I know how stupidly strong you are, and despite saying this and that, I believe you will help Ojou. So Ardis. Sorry but, about Ojou, I will leave her to you. 」
At his renewed request, Ardis couldn’t ignore it either.
「Since you’re going to this length, then sure. Although I’m not in the village every day, I will make sure to look after Marrieda. 」
「Sorry, I owe you one. 」
And then, finally seeming gotten a load off his shoulders, Nicole regained his easygoing attitude, and then departed from the Glock Village getting sent off by Marrieda and Ardis on the next day.