「Anyways, I’m quite busy too. 」
Taking over Greyth who left the tent after saying so, Lexy brought the two out of the tent.
「Come with me. 」
He and the girl, who only just got the names, Ardis and Luciel respectively panickily chased after Lexy who already went ahead.
「We’re now made of about three hundred members. I think our scale as a mercenary band is big but, well, they say there’s always something greater. Just like what Captain said just now, we’re currently camping out until the next job. Those there are old-fashioned eccentric old men, and there are the newcomers that just joined us. The tent we were at are for the women. The Captain is usually with the older members, so find them if you got any business. 」
While looking back occasionally to confirm that Ardis and Luciel are following properly, Lexy showed them around the place.
Though, there’s nothing but lines of tents to see. Showing their faces to the members are probably the main objective of the walk.
「Ah, there he is. Victor! 」
Lexy brought them to one end of the camp. Seeing how multiple mercenaries are hitting each other with weapons, it seems like they are undergoing training.
Finding Victor among them, Lexy yelled.
「What is it? 」
The wheat colored hair followed as Victor turned around. Victor himself was probably training like the other mercenaries.
There’s sweat on his forehead. Even while sweating, his standing appearance is clearly different from other mercenaries.
Although not really standing out, he’s not blending in either. Ardis got such impression from him.
With an uninterested expression, Victor glanced at Ardis and Luciel for a bit.
「I can guess what it is, but let me confirm. 」
「Teach these kids how to hold a sword, the Captain said. 」
「Why do I have to do something so troublesome……」
Just as I thought, Victor had such an expression on his bitter face.
「Then why not go with the Captain? If Victor attend the meeting, won’t those old men be happy too? 」
「No thanks. Spare me from dictating who will live and die. I can only take care of myself with my capability. 」
「If you don’t want to attend the meeting, then at least do this much to help the new members. 」
「In the first place, asking me to attend is strange. 」
「Isn’t it natural to have someone smart to do so? 」
「That’s only if the person wants it though. 」
「That’s what they call a disagreement. What a shame. 」
Lexy spread her arms and shrugged purposely. Their normal exchanges are probably similar.
Victor as well didn’t seem to complain any further, and just sighed before affirming.
「There’s no choice……. For the both of them? 」
「I will take care of Luciel, Victor can take care of the kid. 」
「Ah, right. The Captain gave them names. Seems like both of them don’t know their own names. 」
「Fu――n. Don’t know, huh……. Well, any way is fine. 」
「This girl is Luciel. The kid is Ardis. 」
「Luciel and Ardis……. Despite looking like that, the Captain is quite the romanticist. 」
Lexy tilted her head at Victor’s muttering.
「Yes. Luciel is the name of a precious stone of a certain fairy tale. 」
「Precious stone? 」
「A deep blue precious stone with a slight purple tinge, the incarnation of a spirit that leads the soul of the main protagonist traveller back to his hometown. Of course, it’s just a fairy tale. Well, anyways, it’s not a bad name for a girl. 」
「Hee……. What about Ardis? 」
「It’s also something from the same story. It’s a special stone that never shatters no matter how hard you try to break it. Moreover, it gets stronger the more you try, it’s a name of a mineral that’s used to make equipment. Isn’t it a perfect fit for him? 」
Victor laughed a little. Even his smile was picture perfect. Not expecting such an origin story for their own names, Ardis renewed his impression for the easy going Captain.
「Blue precious stone…… together…… 」
The girl, Luciel muttered after hearing the story. Her voice was very soft, likely that no one other than Ardis heard.
Since she didn’t seem like she was speaking to someone but rather muttered in monologue, Ardis decided to ignore it.
「I see……, as expected, a learned man is different. 」
Although it sounded ironic, Lexy’s tone and facial expression certainly didn’t feel malicious, only impressed.
「It’s just that I’ve more chances for such things when I was still a child. 」
「Isn’t it exactly that reason that the Captain wants you to attend the meeting? 」
「Oh my, it was a trick question I see. 」
「Anyways, you look after the kid. There’s not much time left after all. 」
「Alright, fine. 」
Luciel who heard their conversation thus far spoke in fear.
「U-Umm…… holding a sword, me too……? 」
「That’s right. If not, I wouldn’t have brought you along here. 」
Why are you even asking, Lexy who answered in such fashion made Luciel’s face turn blue.
「I-I…… can’t……… in a fight………」
Her frightened voice disappeared in the motivated yells of the mercenaries, even Ardis who was just beside her only heard a few parts.
「She can’t fight. I will fight enough to cover for her portion too. 」
After being on the run for several days, he understands the girl a bit more
Her weak stamina that can’t even handle a mountain walk, knowledge as much as Ardis, and her hands without a single blemish, her appearance showed that she hadn’t experience any hard life prior.
It’s easy to imagine that she has lived a life without any struggles. A little reckless to hope for someone like her to hold a sword now.
That’s why he offered that he will fight more even for her portion.
「It doesn’t work like that. Didn’t we already explain that we are a mercenary band? 」
Ardis nodded silently and Victor continued.
「We are not always living in a safe town. Rather, living in a safe place is not how we spend the majority of our time. A mercenary band’s work is for war, in other words, we are always in a battlefield to kill or be killed. Certainly, the Captain intends to protect you two. But it’s not like he meant to protect you two unconditionally. Going to a battlefield naturally means that our business is to fight, and not to protect you two. 」
Lexy from the side interjected and added.
「Of course, the Captain doesn’t intend to just throw you two out in the battlefield. But still, no matter stationed how rear, the enemies might still come regardless. At that time, being defenseless or having the ability to resist with a weapon makes the difference in surviving or dying. 」
「No matter a chef or a carrier, in here, everyone knows how to fight. Even if fighting is not their job, they must prepare themselves for a fight to protect themselves. That’s what being a member of a mercenary band means, you must learn to fight at the very least. 」
「It’s for protecting ourselves……? 」
Victor replied 「Yes」 to the asking Luciel.
「Even if the two of you intends to leave the band and head to some town, it will be after our next job at the very least. The Captain will put you guys at the safest place, but being on a battlefield means that there is no absolute safety. 」
Ardis who doesn’t have the appropriate knowledge can’t judge whether what Victor and Lexy said is the truth.
But still, their words didn’t smell like any lie. Luciel probably thought the same.
Eventually, she came to a decision and faced Lexy.
「……I understand. If it’s to protect ourselves. 」
Lexy who nodded satisfactorily turned to Ardis next.
「So? The kid? 」
「I intended to from the start. 」
No matter staying in the mercenary band or leaving with Luciel, he thought from the start that he needs to learn how to fight.
For Ardis, there’s no reason to refuse their offer. Sending her to a safe place somewhere, it’s fine that he think what happens afterwards when he done that.
After all, being someone with no place to return, not just that, Ardis who didn’t know if he’s a human or not stopped thinking about it.
「I see. Then, he’s yours, Victor. Luciel, come with me. 」
Lexy said so and took some distance together with Luciel. Victor then called out to Ardis who was looking at them, 「Now then」.
「Although I’m reluctant, we should start as well. A training sword suit for you……… well, this will do. 」
Grabbing a smaller sword from the pile nearby, Victor handed it over to Ardis.
「Ever held a sword? 」
「……Probably not. 」
Ardis had only ever used the small knives he found in the facility ever since he regained his ego.
Whether he had held a sword prior to that is not what Ardis knows. The sword that he held probably for the first time was unexpectedly heavy.
However, Ardis who had recovered significantly now can easily handle it.
「That’s fine. Then show me how you move first. I will only be defending and dodging, just come at me as you fit. 」
「……Are you sure? This, the blade is not dull. 」
Although shabby, Ardis still held a real sword in his hands now. It’s not a training sword with a dulled blade.
「Fufuh. To think that you would think you can hit me with that? 」
A taunt―― is not quite right. Victor was only saying nothing more than the truth.
「……Then, I will really swing my hardest? 」
Of course, Ardis knows Victor is strong too. After all, he hadn’t succeeded in getting out of the tent once when Victor is there.
「Sure. There’s no meaning if you’re not trying your hardest. 」
「Is that―― so! 」
Seeing how Victor was still easy going, Ardis stepped in and swung with no precursor.
Victor was standing near Ardis in the first place, his sword can reach with just one step.
Holding the sword in both hands, his momentum swung in vertically downwards. The blade drew an arc and approached Victor.
However, it lost its target just before landing.
「Try slashing harder. 」
By the time he noticed, Victor was already behind him.
And by the time he turned around and swung his sword, Victor had already retreated three steps backwards.
He stepped further forward for a slash, but as expected, it was dodged again easily.
He knew it already. Although his memories being vague, he still felt like he had fought with beasts and human before.
However, it didn’t feel like his own, but some other person’s experience. Moreover, he didn’t have any memories of holding a real weapon like a sword.
His opponent is an active mercenary that can easily subdue Ardis even without any weapon.
He was bested in age, physique and experience. Managing to hit him frontally is difficult.
If so, how――.
「Thinking is important but, enemies won’t be waiting for you to finish thinking. Even I won’t be so free to wait for you. 」
While thinking how to hit Victor, Ardis who was deep in his thoughts did not notice Victor’s advance.
He tried to hit Victor with his sword while sorting his thoughts but, they are all only simple sword swinging.
No matter how many times he swung it, it has no base, all of them didn’t reach.
That day, Ardis continued trying until his arms can no longer support the sword, but in the end, his blade never did touch Victor once.