A few nights after returning to Wisteria.
Ardis exited the tent and sat on a nearby small hill, staring up at the moon in the night sky through the clouds.
Beside him was his sitting companion, Rona lying down, his golden colored body.
This wasn’t a night watch.
Ardis was blank mindedly thinking about stuff when someone approached from behind, pulling his consciousness back to the reality.
「So, you’re finally back. 」
The owner of the voice didn’t have any animosity.
Slowly approaching Ardis, he crouched down, and violently circled his arm around Ardis’s shoulders.
「Sark huh. 」
「Ou. If you couldn’t tell me apart from Elion, then I guess your eyes must’ve really gone bad after that long while of absence. 」
「I haven’t gotten dumb enough to not tell Sark from Elion. 」
「I guess so, right. 」
Then, Sark sat down just like that, and crossed his legs.
「I heard it was a reconnaissance mission? 」
「Yeah, for a bit. I don’t like to do those kinds of difficult communication missions like Elion. That’s why it’s more common for me to now do scouting missions on my own. This time I travelled a little further on my own, but I didn’t think that Ardis would come back in that time. I thought for sure you died in some patch of earth somewhere after going dark for so long without any communication, but it’s good to see that you’re back with us now. 」
Sark who continued talking like a broken faucet suddenly became silent.
「…………About what happened to Ruu, I heard it from Elion. 」
Sark’s voice after the short silence was quiet.
「Did you see off Ruu already? 」
Ardis nodded at Sark’s question.
「We did a funeral for her at the valleys near Lixia. 」
「That place huh……I see. She can rest well if it’s that valley. After all, she really likes pretty tanning spots. 」
A short period of silence.
Sark, who seemed like he couldn’t stand the silence, tried to speak out.
However, he wasn’t saying anything concrete, and his gaze was swimming everywhere while he made a pathetic expression.
「Ah, no…… unn. 」
Even when Ardis asked, he didn’t make it clear.
Rona, who was laying comfortably on the ground at the moment, abruptly moved his ears and turned around.
At the same time, Ardis and Sark both noticed the approaching presence as well, so they too turned around.
「……What’s the matter, Kyo? 」
The person there was the youngest young man as an official member in the mercenary band.
After being called out, the young man blinked a few times and realised what was going on.
「The night watch roster isn’t you today right? 」
「Eh……ah, yes. 」
Seeing how he responded with a few beats, Ardis smiled bitterly as he asked.
「Are you sleep walking? 」
「No, it’s not like that……huh? Why……? 」
Kyo looked as though he didn’t understand it himself either, with a puzzled expression on his face.
「You have training tomorrow, right? It’s going to be painful if you don’t sleep now. 」
「O-Oh right. Unn, then I will go sleep now. 」
After hearing Sark’s words of advice, Kyo turned around, and went the direction of the tents.
Seeing his back figure, Ardis felt his chest sinking.
Although he was the one that wished it, he was still a child despite being acknowledged by the captain, Greyth, as an official mercenary.
He’s at an age where being under protection is still natural.
It’s unlikely that his spirit is completely unaffected by the psychological damage of the mercenary world that even adults’ trouble from.
「……Is it because of me that he’s involved? 」
「It’s the path that he chose. Your thoughts are the same as looking down on Kyo’s own will. 」
Sark rebutted Ardis’s muttering words.
Ardis in the past too decided on his own will to join the mercenary band.
『It’s not possible to do it now since we have a job to do after this, but I don’t mind sending you two to a town or somewhere along the way. 』
It’s difficult to think that Greyth had not given a choice to Reina and Kyo too when he gave one to Ardis and Luciel at that time.
「But well, if we’re counting children as our forces……I think it’s pretty much an unsavable story―」
Sark changed his expression into one of self-depreciation.
「It’s not like we can take care of everything. 」
Ardis understood the meaning behind his words too.
「Did you hear about our plans? 」
「Yeah. That’s why I’m here now. 」
The reason why Ardis is back in Wisteria is because he’s joining that plan.
There’s no reason other than that.
「We will let that woman taste karma. We have been fighting for that purpose all along. Wisteria is not just a normal mercenary band anymore. It’s a gathering of avengers. Not just me, but even the captain and everyone know it’s not normal. However, we can’t get over it at all if we don’t beat down that woman. 」
Despite saying it so casually, the smoldering flames of hatred that resided in what Sark said weren’t different from the vows carved in Ardis.
「We’ve gotten a new reason for her to taste revenge no matter what now. That’s why let’s leave pondering whether this path is correct or wrong till after beating that woman. Isn’t that right, Ardis? 」
「I have no words to deny that. 」
There’s no need to confirm it with words at this point.
They just lightly bumped fists with each other.
Currently, just knowing that they’re companions with the same aim is enough.
The sparkling starry night sky was colored in a dark color beneath the twinkling starry night sky, which later transformed into a somewhat lighter grey due to multiple torches.
The terribly unreliable light source illuminated the gigantic building in the darkness.
「Preparations are all completed. The situation is going well. Rather, it’s been proceeding all too well. 」
Greyth’s voice that wasn’t particularly loud reverberated clearly because the surroundings were very quiet.
Some nodded meaningfully, some grinned, and some meditated quietly.
Showing various kinds of responses, everyone of Wisteria waited on instructions from Greyth.
Two months had passed since Ardis’s return to the mercenary band.
Sole mindedly, they had been preparing everything for this day.
The gaze they directed was at their nemesis, General Jelia’s castle.
After the long preparation, Ardis and the others finally arrived in range of getting Jelia’s neck.
「I can’t agree that our preparations are all completed with just this number of people but……」
Greyth replied with a bitter smile as Ardis muttered.
「Well, don’t say that. Even if the number of our members recovered, that doesn’t mean we can bring newly joined mercenaries or apprentices here, right? 」
With Greyth as the leader, all the older members like Lexy and Joan that have experienced the bitterness five years ago are all here.
On the other hand, any new members that joined the mercenary band afterwards are nowhere to be found.
The plan this time is only participated by the old members and volunteers.
「Just us here is enough for a revenge battle. For the new faces, our revenge doesn’t concern them at all after all. 」
Moreover, in this plan, the members of Wisteria were divided into three groups.
One of them is naturally the attacking group to take out the woman general Jelia directly.
Leaving aside Greyth, that is of course, Victor, Sark, and Elion, the mercenaries that form the central pillar of the mercenary band, along with Reina and Kyo who wanted revenge for Luciel. Naturally, Ardis and Rona are the same.
Another group helping the feudal lord in his rebellion had already grouped up with the feudal lord army.
Finally, the third group was for holding and delaying the Rodelia main unit as long as possible.
With the attacking group being the largest, the rebel aiding group coming next, the smallest group is the one with a headcount of not more than twenty, since they are practically only playing pranks on Rodelia’s main unit.
「Since Rodelia’s main unit hasn’t come yet even at this time, it’s fine to assume they’ve succeeded in delaying them. 」
「Yeah, how long has the suppression unit been sortied? 」
Agreeing with Victor, Greyth asked to estimate the timing of rushing in.
「Two hours―― I suppose. I think it’s a good time now. 」
The strategy that Wisteria executed was too magnificent, as expected, a suppression unit from General Jelia’s castle was sortied.
The enemies probably thought there was no problem since they will regroup with the main unit soon, but their main unit had been delayed plentifully from the expected arrival time.
At this moment, the number of guards in the castle is only a few.
On top of that, the elites were probably allocated in the suppression unit, so it can be said that they are very vulnerable now.
On their opposing side, there were more than a hundred elite mercenaries here.
Although their numbers are an overwhelming edge, that doesn’t mean there’s a second chance to make a situation like this in the future.
The result now is of the plan that took both Greyth and Victor about five years in the works.
「Listen here y’all. Our aim here is the general, that woman’s neck alone. Although there are probably not many enemies inside now, it’s natural they will have defensive measures like automatic intercepting arts. 」
Greyth continued after looking over everyone.
「But ignore all of them. The time when they are in chaos is the deciding factor during a surprise attack. Finish them off before they have a chance to grasp the situation calmly. But no matter what happens inside, retreat by yourselves when thirty minutes has passed. Staying any longer than that would mean exponential risk. 」
Everyone there nodded as a response.
「Got it? Don’t die in vain. 」
It’s not as if they gain anything from winning.
Nor was there anyone that prepared a reward for them.
There weren’t any words that would convince people that would march into death just to clear the remorse of their comrades, a reason that didn’t fit a mercenary at all, would say.
However, the people here still chose to remain despite hearing that, and fully understanding the meaning behind it.
No one tried to point out the contradiction behind Greyth’s words.
「Yeah yeah. We mercenaries just have to survive, right? 」
「After saying that, you better don’t simply die, Greyth. 」
Joan and Darwat, the seniors that walked alongside Greyth for many years casually rebuked.
「Well then, it’s time to go. 」
Lexy asked from the side as Greyth was about to give an order.
「Captain, are we not doing the usual thing? 」
「……There’s no way for that right, this is a surprise attack. 」
After a short while of losing his words, Greyth showed a stupefied face.
「Can’t we do it in a small voice? 」
「But is there any meaning in doing it softly? 」
「Don’t say that. Still, somehow, it feels a little strange to go into a battle without doing that. 」
「Isn’t it fine? It’s the stage of revenge after five years. A battle that is more meaningful than any others for us. 」
As a few people agreed, eventually, even Victor agreed to it, as Greyth had no other choice but to sigh greatly.
「No choice. Don’t y’all dare to make a loud noise. It’s not any joke if we get discovered before we even did the surprise attack. 」
Prompted by the surrounding gazes, Greyth pulled out his sword and brought it up to his head.
With the mercenaries surrounding him, everyone similarly pulled out their swords and pointed to the sky.
Pointing their blades to the small moon, words spun out from Greyth’s mouth.
「Our swords are for the sake of victory! 」
「For the sake of victory! 」
Half of them kept their mouth shut, while the remaining half repeated after Greyth.
While singing the same words that was unclear repeated for how many times, Ardis realized again that he’s truly a member of Wisteria.
「Our hearts are for the sake of our comrades! 」
「For the sake of our comrades! 」
This time, everyone followed along with their mouths.
A battle for the sake of their deceased comrades.
A battle for the sake of Luciel that was trampled upon.
All of them, carving into their mind now again.
「Here we march, with glory under our flag! 」
「With glory under our flag! 」
Normally, it would be a cheer at maximum volume for the sake of raising battle spirit.
However, it was very quiet this time, almost like a whisper.
The words that the mercenaries spoke while brandishing their sword, was almost as if a poem sang under the moon.
It didn’t fit at all a group that is soon going into a war.
However, that was only an imagination.
「It’s time to end it here. 」
With Ardis’s unintentional soft mutter, time restarted again.
Greyth swung his sword down, parallel to the horizon and pointing towards the castle.
With those words as the signal, more than a hundred mercenaries started sprinting towards the castle wordlessly.