Despite his inability to persuade himself, Ardis continued to fight as a mercenary across multiple battlefields.
While combat is a vital part of a mercenary’s job, rest is also essential. There are various occasions when they stop by large towns while moving between battlefields.
「It’s also thanks to what we manage to accumulate that we can walk in towns like this openly.」
Ardis inquired after hearing the man with the eye patch say.
「It’s all about trust. Our Captain, after all, does not tolerate violence. He’s particularly well-known among the ladies as a ‘non-scary mercenary.’ However, because of this, he is despised by the other mercenaries. 」
「Isn’t that bad? 」
Luciel inquired as he walked alongside Ardis.
「Even though it is undesirable, it is unlikely that bothering with it will do anything. We are paid the proper amount in exchange for not looting on the battlefield. If other mercenary bands want to make a statement, they should learn our example first. 」
Darwat answered in place of the man with the eyepatch. Ardis and Luciel, as well as a few other mercenaries such as Victor and the eyepatch man, are currently walking in town.
Since a whole mercenary band wandering through the streets would scare the locals, Greyth instructed them to rest in groups and in rotation.
That is the distinction between Wisteria and the other mercenary bands, who are concerned with such matters. The other mercenary bands would most likely storm into town together and cause chaos.
「If they think we’re being an eyesore, won’t there be troubles if we fight together?」
「Although Ardis’s thoughts make sense, either way, mercenary bands might become enemies the next day. Even when on the same side, making use of the other party best is the norm, and small obstructions and harassment are as common as meals. 」
「Yeah. When things truly happen, all we have to do is show them how weak they are. After all, we have the strength to accomplish that. 」
Continuing Victor’s words, the eyepatch said so casually. Sighing a little, Victor condemned him for his choice of words.
「Joan. You are also one of us, considering such a violent response is unseemly. 」
「What? If they don’t stay still, strength is the only way to silence them, right? If we were a weak group, we would have disbanded long ago. 」
The man with the eyepatch, Joan replied in displeasure.
「Even if that is the case, it is not a reason to disregard other options. 」
「Aah~~aah, my bad! Unlike you, I’m not that learned! 」
「I’m not talking about learning here. 」
Victor and Joan weren’t wrong in their assessments. It’s true that, while self-discipline isn’t ideal for a mercenary band, it has helped Wisteria’s reputation, and it’s also true that strength is required to keep troublesome issues away.
「Alright, alright, Victor-san, and Joan-san too. It’s our rest day, so let’s take it easy. 」
Trying to stop the atmosphere from getting darker, Luciel interjected with a brighter tone.
「……I suppose, Luciel is right. We would be the same as the other mercenary bands if we make a scene here. Since it’ll damage Wisteria’s reputation, let’s put an end to the topic. 」
「Sorry, Luciel. A holiday is there to enjoy right. 」
The four renewed their spirits and strolled around the bustling streets as they enjoyed their brief break. Buying food from the stalls and watching the streets, enjoying the performance of the street performers.
「Here! A magnificent pink strand. Believe it or not, a ribbon with an ego that chooses its owner! Furthermore, it only favors beautiful women who appeal to its aesthetic sensibilities. Well then, will there be somebody here today who attracts its attention? 」
As the street performer spoke loudly, the pink ribbon on his palm began to move by itself. It depicted an action of glancing at the assembled observers by raising one end in a snake-like fashion.
「It’s really moving. 」
Eventually, it left the performer’s hand, and flew to the air by itself.
「It’s now floating! 」
「It’s like it’s dancing. 」
Fluttering left and right, and after some twisting and comical movements, the ribbon flew towards a woman from the spectators.
「Eh, eeeh? 」
「Seems like our ribbon has chosen this fine lady today. There’s no need to fear it, please stand still. 」
The performer called out to the confused woman. The ribbon delicately prodded the woman’s arm, as if it were a small animal scared of people.
It eventually curled around the woman’s wrist and formed a butterfly knot on its own, as if it had made up its mind.
「Woah, amazing. 」
「The ribbon really chose someone. 」
「How enviable. 」
The impressed spectators applauded.
「Congratulations miss. The ribbon will be yours to keep, please take care of it. 」
「Eeh…… y-yes. 」
The person chosen by the ribbon reflexively answered, but realizing that she was getting the spotlight, she showed a bright smile.
Walking down the street, Luciel talked about the performance just now.
「That performance right now was incredible! It’s kind of cute how the ribbon moved around like it was alive. 」
「That was also arts, right?」
「Yes, that was arts.」
As Ardis posed a question that was very different from Luciel’s, Victor admitted that it was indeed the situation. Hearing it, Luciel began to see stars in her eyes.
「Will I be able to do that too if I train hard enough? 」
「Who knows. If it’s that easy to imitate, then it wouldn’t have been a performance, right?」
「It’s possible. Shall I demonstrate? 」
Victor masked Ardis’s negative remarks. Saying it so breezily, Victor bought a violet-colored ribbon from a nearby booth and placed it on his palm.
While Ardis and the others looked on, the ribbon moved as it had earlier in the performance, curling around Luciel’s fingers and tying itself into a knot before stopping.
「Amazing. It’s exactly the same! 」
「It’s the same theory with the Captain’s flying swords. But there are a lot more finer details to keep track of, and the time between each movement is crucial. 」
「Don’t listen to him, Luciel and Ardis. Only because this guy is Victor is it easy to duplicate that performance just by looking. Normal individuals can’t possibly succeed on their first attempt. Even if it’s essentially the same as flying swords, I’m not confident, and even the Captain is unlikely to succeed on the first time. 」
「That’s only because your control is shoddy. 」
Having his lack of skill pointed out, Joan reflexively complained. Ardis can empathize with what Joan stated. After all, Victor was the one who taught him the basics when he first joined the mercenary band.
Now that he’s officially a member though, Ardis trains together more with the other mercenaries, and has less chances to cross swords with Victor directly.
Ardis could see that Victor’s strength was an insurmountable wall compared to the others after training with the other members and seeing a genuine battlefield.
Despite knowing that his own strength still has a long way to go, he can’t deny that the gentleman-looking Victor is out of the ordinary.
Luciel seemed as though she shared Ardis’ thoughts, as she questioned as if she could read Ardis’ mind.
「Isn’t it true, though, that Victor-san can accomplish anything? Isn’t it he as great as the Captain, whether it’s with the sword or with the arts? 」
「And he’s unneededly learned. 」
「What unneeded, the one thing that is definitely unneeded, is the unnecessary things you usually say. 」
Victor gave Joan, who was riding on Luciel’s words a cold gaze.
「A genius must be like Victor-san. 」
Luciel’s voice muttered with admiration and flattery, as well as a trace of jealousy. Victor’s face frowned.
「I’m certainly not a genius. But it’s true that I can do most things just by seeing them once. 」
「If that’s not a genius, then what is. 」
Joan’s merciless retort was ignored, and Victor continued.
「Whether it’s martial arts or magical arts, I’m proficient because I’ve been educated since I was a child, and I’m more knowledgeable than most people because I’ve had the opportunity to study a lot of books.」
「Then shouldn’t all those noble sons and daughters be geniuses if according to your logic? 」
「Eeh? How so, Joan-san? 」
It was not Victor that reacted to what Joan said but Luciel.
「Nn? You guys didn’t know? Victor here is originally a noble’s son. 」
The startling revelation caused Luciel’s volume to rise, and Ardis’ attention to fix on Victor’s face.
「It’s an old story. 」
「Why…… a noble in a mercenary band. 」
「Hey, Ardis. He might have his own problems too. Digging too deeply is……」
Tugging Ardis who asked out of curiosity by his clothes, Luciel whispered to him.
「Well, it’s not a secret or anything. It’s something everyone in the mercenary band knew. Since it’s a good occasion, I suppose talking about it is fine. 」
Victor chose to tell his own story, disregarding Luciel’s consideration. He walked to a neighboring street corner and sat on a random pile of junk.
While hesitating, Ardis and Luciel took a seat beside Victor, and Victor began talking about his birth in a tone that suggested he was used to telling stories.