TWEM Vol. 1 Chapter 12
Chapter 12 – Thieves
…as feared, after we finished our lunch break and set out again my Detect Presence picked up several human responses.
I was wondering if they really were what I expected and confirmed that they were heading our way.
The event flags are being used already!?
A few minutes later, 20 thieves appeared and blocked our convoy’s path.
“If you hold your lives dear, leave all your goods and luggage and go back where you came from…though you’re not going back in one piece!”
After one the thieves made this proclamation, his comrades broke in vulgar laughter.
Finne quickly walked in front, as to protect Youte and the other merchants.
“I will hold them back, in the meantime please escape, everyone!”
Finne’s bravery only excited the thieves even more.
“Wow, look at the pretty princess!”
“Catch her alive, men! And tonight we’re going to have a lot of fun!”
The thieves’ tones and expressions were as disgusting as it gets.
Ryan and the others stepped forward too, shielding Finne from their lecherous gazes.
“Don’t push yourself, our rank is higher! Leave it to us!”
In response to Ryan’s words, Nathan, Anita, and Iraly readied their weapons too.
After what he said, I couldn’t stand back without fighting, I thought, and walked forward too.
Finne, however, turned towards me and spoke in a firm tone.
“Mr.Haruto, please take Mr. Youte’s convoy with you and escape! The most skilled fighter should be the one to protect them!”
Ryan was probably thinking the same thing, as his eyes urged me to go quickly.
“Too bad, I can’t do that…oh, Mr. Youte, everyone, please don’t come down from the carriages. It’s safer inside.”
I walked towards Finne and the others while casting a barrier around the carriages.
“Why did you come here!?”
Finne angrily protested after I arrived at her side.
Her theory that the strongest person should be the one to protect others when they escape was definitely right.
But it was an option to consider only when you had to run away or your side didn’t have enough fighting power to protect those you were tasked to escort.
Thanks to my barrier magic the convoy was safe. Besides…
“You can’t fight with your legs shaking like that, can you?”
I said to Finne.
It was only visible if you paid attention to her, but her legs were indeed trembling.
The thieves had much larger numbers and their gazes towards her were surely intimidating, so I was impressed that she didn’t lose all will to fight.
When I pointed out that her legs were shaking, Finne shuddered.
“You don’t have to force yourself if you’re scared.”
“S-scared…? I, I’m not…!!”
Probably unnerved by our exchange, one of the thieves — probably the leader — raised his voice.
“Enough babbling, brats!! Do you really plan to fight us? The six of you against all of us!? Bullshit!! Men, kill them all!! But take the women alive!!”
The leader’s order sent all thieves to attack us at the same time.
The six adventurers on our side, however, all had a degree of experience. And I was rank A, after all.
It looked like the enemy overwhelmed us with numbers, but since I joined the fray there was no way for us to lose.
A few minutes after the battle started, the thieves numbered less than 10.
I wanted to see how the others fought, so I decided to take a supporting role. If anyone attacked me I’d knock them unconscious, though.
Ryan and his party, as expected of rank B adventurers, fought without much trouble even against multiple foes. Their victories were not crushing, but they managed thanks to the fact that the enemies also targeted Finne and me.
Finne, on the other hand, made me have cold sweats sometimes.
She could hold her ground one on one, but—
“To the side, Finne!”
She was focusing on the enemy in front of her and didn’t notice another thief coming to attack her from the side.
I called to her and used the skill “Ground Shrink” at the same time, then punched in the stomach the thief attacking Finne from the side, while activating “Hold Back”, so I only knocked him unconscious.
“I’m sorry…and thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it. Just be more aware of your surroundings.”
Finne answered forcefully, then knocked out the enemy before her.
Soon enough, the last thief standing collapsed too.
We tied up the unconscious thieves, knocked one of them awake, and started interrogating him about their hideout’s location.
Ryan stood in front of the thief, his arms crossed, and spoke.
“Name of your gang and whereabouts of your hideout. Start talking.”
“Like hell I will!! You’re not getting away with this!!”
“I see, if you don’t even have a name, of course you can’t say it…pretty pitiful for a band of thieves.”
“What did you say!? We’re the ‘Ebony Wolves’, so watch your mouth!!”
The thief fell for Ryan’s taunt all too easily, but Youte let out a surprised “Eh!?” after hearing his words.
I never heard the name before, so I asked Youte if he knew it.
“Mr. Youte, what are the ‘Ebony Wolves’?”
“They’re a band of ruffians that has been recently wreaking havoc in the area around the capital. The leader is a very tough one, no matter how many times the army or adventurers have driven him into a corner, he always manages to flee…I never expected to encounter them, though.”
I would have never expected them to be famous thieves either, they were pretty small fry.
Finding their hideout seemed to be the top priority, so I asked Ryan to switch places.
“Ryan, do you mind letting me take a stab at it?”
“Will you be alright?”
“It’s my first time interrogating someone…so maybe?”
Ryan stepped back, begrudgingly letting me take over the task.
“What, is it your turn now, brat? I got nothing to say to you, shoo.”
The thief talked me down like this the moment he saw me, so I quickly snatched the knife hanging at his waist and stabbed it in his thigh, without hesitation.
“Silence. I’m asking the questions now. If you can’t answer…consider yourself dead.”
I let out some killing intent and the thief probably realized he was really going to be killed, so he nodded as vigorously as he could.
“Good. Where’s your hideout? Also, tell me how many members are left in the Ebony Wolves.”
“I’ll talk, I’ll talk, so just wait a moment!!”
I picked up the thief’s sword from the ground and pointed it at his neck.
“If you enter the forest here and advance for a bit you’ll find a cave. It’s one of the bases we use. I-it’s really true!!”
“You’re not lying, are you?”
God Eye let me know already that he wasn’t, but if I believed him too easily they might think I’m a pushover. I thrust the blade closer to the thief’s neck.
“I-I’m not lying!! Please spare me!!”
“You haven’t told me the numbers yet.”
While saying this, I pushed the tip of the blade against his neck. The thief felt blood start trickling, so he panicked and started talking.
“Y-yes!! We Ebony Wolves are 27 in total, and 20 of us set out to attack merchant convoys today. We didn’t plan to attack you people from the start, so please spare my life!! I’ve told you all I know!!”
Hmm, according to God Eye, he really wasn’t lying.
I activated a Lightning magic spell via the sword pointed at the thief’s neck, sending an electric shock to make him lose consciousness.
“Okay, we know the place and their numbers, shall we go?”
I turned around towards the others and found them spooked by the way I conducted the interrogation.
Ryan then timidly asked me a question.
“Ha-Haruto…was that really your first time…?”
“Yeah, I know, there had to be a more efficient way to make him talk…I still have a long way to go.”
“No no no, that was more than enough!!!”
Ryan, Nathan, Finne, and the others all replied in unison.
“Are you sure?” I replied while moving the unconscious thieves to the side of the road.
I also put up a board next to them, which read “We’re a bunch of dumb thieves”.
“E-ehm, is this necessary?”
The question came from Finne, but Ryan and the others also looked at me, puzzled.
“Of course it is! Without this, people that pass by might end up helping them.”
That apparently wasn’t what Finne and the others meant by the question, though.
Maybe the “dumb” part was unnecessary?
They were pretty dumb, though…
Finne and the others didn’t say anything more about the topic, so I turned towards Youte.
“Mr. Youte, I’m thinking of taking 2-3 people with me to go crush the thieves’ hideout.”
“But you would be facing those Ebony Wolves…and with more than half of our escort gone, what should we do?”
Seeing the anxious expressions on Youte and his subordinates’ faces, I made the barrier around the convoy visible to the naked eye.
“You’ll be fine as long as you stay inside the barrier. It can protect you from both magical and physical attacks.”
The barrier was made by my maxed out skill: it wasn’t going to break unless something incredible happened.
“…is that really true?”
Youte still had some doubts, so I created a similar barrier, then called to Ryan and his party.
“Guys, could you attack this barrier? Use any means you want.”
“Alright…here I go! Haahhh!!!”
Ryan and Nathan attacked at the same time, but the barrier didn’t even flinch.
Anita and Iraly then launched the magic spells they were chanting towards the barrier.
The two spells crashed against the barrier at remarkable speed, but they just produced a loud noise and vanished.
The barrier was unaffected, naturally.
“Are you serious…?”
“Not even my magic could affect it…”
“I-it’s really amazing!!”
“It can withstand all that…?”
Ryan’s party and Youte were all bewildered.
“Now you believe me if I say you’ll be okay, right?”
Youte answered me in one breath.
“Y-yes, indeed, I see we’re going to be safe. Please take care, then.”
“Thank you very much. Okay then…Finne, Ryan, Anita, come with me.”
I had Nathan and Iraly stay with the convoy, just in case.
We proceeded through the forest for a while, eventually finding the cave mentioned by the man I tort…interrogated.
We hid in the bushes and checked if the information he gave us was correct.
“Yes, it’s definitely here.”
Detect Presence confirmed that there were seven people inside.
The thief said they were 27 in total, so the cave had to be their hideout.
“Good. Chaaaaarge!! Gah”
“Yes! Here I go—! Guh”
Ryan and Anita suddenly started to run towards the cave, so I grabbed their napes to stop them.
“Wait. We don’t even know the enemies’ positions, don’t just charge in blindly.”
“…so what are we going to do?”
Ryan looked at me, puzzled. I told him to wait a little while, then used Detect Presence and the map to see the inside of the cave in detail.
“There are two guys next to the entrance of the cave, probably the lookout. Once you go inside there’s a room on the right, with two people inside. There’s another room adjacent to it, with two more people. Then there’s one person in the room farthest back…judging from the presence and magic power, that’s the leader.”
My three companions were very surprised by my words and poked their faces right next to mine.
“How can you tell so much?”
“Yeah! I want to know too!”
“How did you do it!?”
Ryan, Anita, and Finne were all eager to know.
Anita and Finne were one thing, but I can’t say I enjoyed having Ryan’s face right next to mine.
“Ryan, you’re close, too close!!”
Hmm, how could I explain it? I didn’t want to talk about the map…
“…it’s a secret. It’s not that important, is it? I’ll come up with a plan, so give me a moment.”
“Do we really need one? They’re more than us, but we have the upper hand in terms of fighting power, don’t we?”
“I guess you’re right…okay, I’ll take the lead, you guys come after me.”
I walked in front, followed by Finne, Anita and Ryan.
As soon as I entered the cave I used Ground Shrink to get closer to the lookouts in one instant, putting them both to sleep via a punch to the stomach.
“Okay, let’s go.”
My companions nodded firmly.
Lit torches were placed at fixed intervals inside the cave, so it was rather bright.
We arrived at the first room and knocked on the door.
“What’s wrong? Pretty strange for you to knock.”
The person behind the door spoke in a tone that indicated he was curious, then the door opened.
In the same instant, I used lightning magic to knock the person who opened the door unconscious.
“Rook, what happened!? Shit, we’re under attack!!”
The other man inside the room tried drawing his weapon, but I approached him faster than he could move and promptly knocked him out via my usual stomach punch.
As the man collapsed on the floor, the door leading to the next room opened.
Alerted by the thief’s shout, his two comrades came out already armed.
Ryan and I nodded to each other, then split to deal with the two foes.
I dodged the thief’s slash, circled behind his back and struck his neck with a sideways chop, knocking him out of commission.
I looked in Ryan’s direction and saw him in the act of planting a knee in the thief’s solar plexus. Hmm, not bad.
Finne and Anita looked at thieves as if pitying them, but I paid them no mind.
“Okay, the next room’s the last one.”
We stood in front of the door leading to the furthermost room.
I tried twisting the doorknob, planning to barge into the room and take out the leader inside, but the door was apparently locked.
I told Finne and the other two to stand back, then knocked on the door.
They looked at me curiously, then we heard a voice from inside.
I grinned, then feigned a panicked tone.
“Boss!! We’re under attack!!”
“What!? Is it the soldiers from the capital!?”
At the same time, the door flew open.
The leader of the Ebony Wolves, however, did not find one of his lackeys, but me.
“W-who the hell are you!?”
“Just an adventurer.”
I punched the leader in the stomach and sent him flying across the room.
“Gah…shit!! You’re gonna pay for this!!”
The leader grabbed a battleaxe and charged towards me.
I easily dodged his attack, however, and punched him again in the stomach, but this time my fist was clad in lightning magic.
Because of the damage and the shock, the leader quickly fell into a catatonic state.
“Guys, I’m done here.”
When I called them, Finne and Anita came out, looking conflicted.
“Was there a point to us coming here…?”
Hey, you can’t expect me to carry seven people by myself, can you?
We proceeded to tie up the leader and drag him out of the room.
We also tied up the unconscious thieves in the other rooms and my three companions carried them out.
We returned to where we left Youte and the others and tossed the thieves, with the exception of the leader, with the other 20.
We had decided to load the leader on one of the carriages and bring him with us to the capital.
Having him as a prisoner would make it easier to explain and also make our feats more credible.
We departed and after about one hour of travel, we could see a large city in the distance, probably the royal capital.
“Phew, we’ve finally arrived.”
“Yes…all sorts of things happened at the end, but we’re finally here.”
So I sighed, and Finne agreed with me. Her voice seemed tired too.