We haz Felix-sama with us here too! yay!
After that occasion, Ardis had brought the woman out for hunting several more times.
Although he wasn’t really feeling great about it, hunting with the woman was super smooth and efficient. If it’s just about fighting, then Ardis himself would be enough but, since it involves retrieving the materials, it’s different.
Even if the helping hands only increased by a pair, the efficiency would increase by several fold.
Sometimes hunting Despairs and Beast Kings on the grasslands, sometimes Whips and Ractors in the forest. Ardis had drawn a line between himself and the woman in his heart at first but, as the days continued like this, his caution had slowly lowered.
At the very least, the woman hadn’t shown any hostile behavior towards Ardis. Rather than that, she would support Ardis’s work actively.
In the first place, it’s a dangerous job where mercenaries work together with death at their side at all times. After being together for seven days, it’s normal for a sense of trust to build between them. The time flow is different than for the people who are living peacefully in town.
Around this time Ardis had started regarding the woman as 『A mercenary companion that can share the danger』.
A certain morning, the rain was falling as he woke up.
「Ardis, it’s raining―」
「Ardis, today work too―? 」
Ardis peeked out the window at the sky, it was covered in a layer of dark clouds. Instead of the morning sunshine, he only felt the humid air.
「Nope, it’s rain for the first time in a while. Unn, let’s take the day off. 」
The rain doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. Ardis who judged the rain will be continuing for quite a while decided to cancel the hunting for today.
「Hurray―! Ardis play! 」
「Read book! Book! 」
「Sure. But after we finish everything okay. 」
While telling the twins who were excited while smiling bitterly, Ardis swiftly finished the preparation of breakfast.
Finishing the meal with the twins who had higher tension than usual, Ardis was cleaning up the dishes in the sink when his pants were tugged from behind by the twins. As he faced around to see what’s wrong, the both pointed outside the window and said.
「Ardis, the woman person is totally wet」
「Ardis, the white hair person is pitiful」
The twins pulled Ardis by the hand to the window. The figure of the woman covered in the white hood getting drenched with rain came into sight.
「Ardis, woman person has no house? 」
「Ardis, white hair person no bed? 」
Judging by the condition of her hood, the rain probably started around midnight. Even though it would be normal to get an inn if it’s a rainy day, Ardis was half amazed that the woman hadn’t budged.
「Ardis, the woman person is still wet now? 」
「Ardis, not bringing towel? 」
The twins brought out a big towel and offered it to Ardis who was looking outside the window. They probably wanted him to bring it out to her.
At the sight of the twins who can now care for others as opposed to the times that they would huddle in the corner of a room while scared, Ardis’s cheeks unintentionally relaxed. But on the other hand, he is at a loss as when to take the twins to the outside world. It’s not like Ardis can care of them forever.
「Well……. The woman comes first now huh. 」
Ardis received the towel from the twins, and went outside to the entrance himself. The woman is standing perfectly still beside the gate. If someone who didn’t know the situation saw this, it probably looks like she is receiving some kind of punishment.
「Oi, how long are you planning to stand there being wet? 」
「It’s a good morning, my master. 」
In response to Ardis’s voice, the woman said with a blank face.
「Isn’t it fine if you stay at an inn if it’s raining. It’s not like I have any recollection of asking you to guard the house. 」
「Don’t mind it. This degree of rain is not a problem for me. 」said the woman, water dripping from her hair and hood.
「It’s exactly because that’s not the case that I’m here. Here, use this. 」
As he offered the towel, the woman accepted it with both hands.
「Thank you for your benevolence, my Master. 」
While saying so the woman took the towel in her hood, and dried her Aliceblue hair. The figure of the woman wiping her wet hair with her eyes closed wouldn’t lose to portraits of a beautiful girl by the best painters. Even Ardis was charmed for a moment despite his caution towards her.
But the next sentence that the woman said was shocking enough to petrify him.
「Convey my thanks to the young twins. 」
That moment, Ardis’s black eyes were filled with alarm.
「……Oi, woman. 」
「What is it, my master. 」
The woman received the pressure-filled gaze of Ardis head on.
「Just now, you said the twins? 」
「I did said it, what about it? 」
Alarm bells were ringing in Ardis’ head. He hadn’t mentioned the twins around the woman.
「Why do you think there are twins? 」
「That’s strange. Something like that, sensing the presence is more than enough to tell. I can’t be calling myself a servant if I can’t even tell how many people I am supposed to be guarding. 」the woman said matter-of-factly.
「Then I must ask, how many people are living in this house, including me? 」
「Of course. Isn’t it three people, my master and the two twins? 」
「Why are you sure they are twins? 」
「The color, the size and the shape of their mana is completely matching. Something like that, there’s nothing possible other than twins normally. 」
Ardis looked at the woman’s eyes silently. The sky colored pupils reflected Ardis who had no expression on his face.
Being together for these few days, Ardis had understood that the woman had no hostility towards him. Although the reason behind her proclaiming herself a 「Servant」and calling Ardis her 「Master」 wasn’t known, at the very least, she didn’t have any intentions to antagonize Ardis.
But whether that makes it okay to reveal the twins’ existence, Ardis had not made up his mind yet. If the woman’s words are true, then she had known about the twins from the beginning. Should he cut ties, or take her to his side. Ardis was hesitating between the two choices.
After his hesitation, he decided to toss out the deciding question.
「………………You, the goddess, ……what do you think about her? 」
「『What do I think』, quite an abstract question you have. And it’s a sudden one. 」
「Fumu. Even if I tell you what I think, what should I think about someone that doesn’t exist. It’s a pointless question. 」
「Doesn’t exist? The goddess? 」
「Not just limited to the goddess. They don’t exist, what you all call gods. At the very least, they don’t exist in this planet. 」
「Planet? What is that? 」
「The earth, sea and the skies. It means everything this world encompasses. And there’re no gods living in them. They might’ve been here countless millennia ago, but in this age of humans, they’re long gone. 」
Ardis eyes widened at the shocking revelation. There isn’t anyone who doubts the existence of the goddess.
And in this world where the goddess and her apostles directly interfere in events, there was someone who denied the existence of the goddess head on. Ardis hadn’t met anyone like that before other than himself. Even if there were someone else, they were probably all lunatics or villains.
Ardis made up his mind and said.
「Then what is the goddess that the people in the church believe in? 」
「Who knows. Like I know about someone I’ve never met before. 」
Sacrilege flowed from the woman’s mouth easily.
「It seems that the self-titled goddess hates twins or something but……, there will surely be at least one pair of twins per hundred births. Even if the goddess is there or not, it’s the nature of life. It’s too childish for anyone to be discriminating against just because they are twins. Don’t be alarmed as I won’t say anything to anyone, if they are people that my master is protecting, then they are mine too. I will protect them at all cost. 」
「……Those words, can you swear by them? 」
The woman took off her white hood, and stared at Ardis with her sky-colored eyes.
「I pledge, my master. On my parents and my raison d’etre. 」
As she was still standing in the middle of a downpour, her face was soaked to the bone in a moment.
「I understand. That pledge, I will trust it. 」
Ardis relaxed his expression.
「Enter the house first. Now that we both are already drenched. 」
Ardis and the woman, with the both of them drenched in water, stepped into the living room.
Even though the twins would normally leap towards Ardis whenever he’s back, their expression were different this time. Even though they have seen her for a few days, a stranger had come in. Both of them were hiding behind the sofa, and were peeking at the woman.
「Fillia, Riana. Can I have a new towel? 」
「My master, that will not be needed. 」
Having said that, the woman extracted the water from herself and Ardis’ clothes, leaving them dry. The twins who saw that showed curiosity in their eyes.
「It’s magic? 」
「It’s magic. 」
「It dried so fast」
「It was the winds」
「That woman person is a magician then. 」
「She’s same as Ardis then. 」
Putting aside the twins who were talking between themselves with whisperingly soft voices, the woman corrected her posture and said.
「My master, will you not introduce the twins to me? 」
「Yeah. As you see they are girl twins, the right one is Fillia, and the left is Riana. 」
Although he became capable of discerning them apart lately, Ardis would still make mistakes if he doesn’t pay enough attention.
「Fillia, Riana. She’s ――」
Saying that, Ardis stopped.
「Come to think of it, I haven’t heard your name. 」
It didn’t matter when he only brought her to the lord’s mansion but he can’t introduce her to the twins if he didn’t even know her name. Rather than that, it’s Ardis’s blunder for just calling her 「You」 without even asking her name once for the past seven days.
「I said it before but, I have no name. 」
「No, isn’t that a joke? 」
「I won’t do something foolish like hiding my name from my master. 」
「Eh……, then you’re serious that you have no name? 」
「That’s what I’ve been saying. 」
「T-That’s true but……. Then how can I call you? 」
「My master can just call me whatever he likes. Calling me 『You』 like before is fine. 」
「No, that would be strange right? 」
It would be possible if it’s just them, but it’s not like he can introduce her as 「This is you-san. 」to someone else. Although Ardis’s reasons were justified, the woman didn’t seem to pay it any attention. That would be a problem, so now Ardis is brainstorming for a name for the woman.
「What’s that person’s name? 」
「They say she has no name 」
「Then it’ll be Nanashi-san1. 」
「She’s not nameless? 」
「Nanashi because she doesn’t have a name? 」
「That’s why Nanashi-san」
「A name of Nanashi-san? 」
「Could it be a name of Nanashi-san? 」
「If she’s Nanashi-san then she has a name right? 」
「Huh? That’s true」
「She has a name so it’s Naaru-san?2 」
「It’s Naaru-san then. 」
「Unn, Naaru-san. 」
The twins were whispering behind the sofa again. As expected, calling her 『Naaru』-san or 『Nanashi』-san is just harassment.
「Nanashi……, Nameless……, Na―le……」
Ardis, thought of the name 『Nere』 from the reverberance of 『Nanashi』. Ardis opened his mouth as he thought that it would be fine to give up.
「Alright, you will be called Nere from now on. You don’t mind? 」
「Acknowledged, my master. Then I shall name myself as Nere. 」
The woman――Nere accepted without even a single complaint.
Will it be fine if she accepted that easily? Ardis worries about it a bit, but in the end, his nature of avoiding troublesome things won.
「I’m Ardis’s servant, Nere. Thank you for offering me that towel. I appreciate that. 」
She spoke the name, Nere which was just given to her a few moments ago to the twins who were still peeking half-faced behind the sofa.
As for the twins, their curiosity won against their fear of strangers. They won’t run away since Ardis is around but, they won’t get close to her either.
「Fumu, well it’s fine. I will wait for them to get familiar with me. 」
Nere didn’t think of closing the gap forcibly.
「Now that that’s settled, why did you think that the towel was from the twins? 」
「The past seven days, just like my master had monitored me, I have also been watching my master. Of course, I have realized that my master is on guard against me. There’s no way that my master will be naïve enough to treat someone that could be an enemy kindly. 」
Nere showed a rare smile as she spoke confidently.
Ardis couldn’t deny that. Certainly, Ardis had judged Nere was someone trustworthy as a mercenary in the past few days. But that is only when it’s about mercenary business, that is different from what kind of views she has against the forbidden children.
Even if they recognize each other as a mercenary, she will become an enemy of Ardis if she shows bad intentions towards the twins.
But the moment when Nere had denied the goddess’ existence, Ardis had judged her closer to a friend than someone who might become an enemy.
Well, it’ll be fine if I only offer something like a towel in the future.