Afterwards, they advanced without another incident and went toward Beirun while camping. They had to take a detour around the forest surrounding the Wraith Plains, not only merchants such as Nack, but large scale caravans did the same, too. Thus, not a lot of monsters came near them from the start. The reason was that, there was already plenty of prey inside of that forest. And one day before they were due to arrive in Beirun, Shin and the others encountered what they were asked to defend the caravan against.
“Poor merchant-san. If you don’t want to die, hand over the money and baggage.”
They were bandits.
Though according to the information Shin and Tiera exchanged with Gaien and Tsubaki, bandits seldom came out; they did not seem to have any luck. It goes without saying whose ‘luck’ it was.
They were not a numerous group, but they were properly armed in leather armor and were holding longswords as well, which was likely to earn them money. Though one might not want to know how.
“Then, how? I don’t know if I’m confident enough to ambush and take on 6 people head-on all alone, what should I do?”
Shin looked back at Gaien and Tsubaki.
“That won’t change anything. If we attack, they might turn the table.”
“One person should leave the right to slay someone with impunity to me.”
Ignoring Tsubaki’s remark, which they didn’t know whether she was joking or not, the three people moved out.
The strategy had already been decided. They formed a basic formation with three people, where Shin, Gaien, and Tsubaki stepped forward, while Tiera was to cover them. Yuzuha was left in the wagon in case there was an opponent they couldn’t perceive.
The enemies level were about 150 on average, although the man who started to talk was unexpectedly higher-leveled at 163. Shin was a little surprised by that. They could make a living as normal adventurers, but he thought that they might have had various things happen to them to make them stay like that. No matter how much he thought about it, it wouldn’t change anything.
Nack as well this time, held an axe for self-defense.
It was only a matter of time before the battle began. While the tension increased, Tiera was holding her breath inside the canopy, and recalled what Gaien asked earlier.
‘Shin, Tiera. Have you ever killed someone?’
When the trip first began, it was the first question that Gaien had asked of the two people. Even though this was the first barrier that adventurers aimed to strike at, it was because the request for the guard was an E rank request. Therefore the possibility that an enemy related to this request would appear existed. The mortality rate was divided by each rank for adventurers; high rank requests at rank B and above had a much higher mortality rate. Aside from monsters, many of them were killed by people. It was a rank E.
(It’s alright. I will defeat them.)
Only Tiera hadn’t killed anyone yet among the members. Shin’s worrying about this was reflected on his expression, but she said it would be alright. She ought to do it. If she couldn’t do it, the danger toward the three people stepping forward increased.
“Oioi, do you intend to fight with only three people? There’s still time now?”
“Shall you leave the young lady too? I can entertain her in a bunch of various ways!”
The stinging lines from the bandits was heard by the three people. Of course, it was only natural.
While looking at such three people, it was Shin’s name that came out from Tiera’s mouth. Tiera’s sensitivity was particularly strong even among the elves. That’s why she understood it. Just after the bandit said to leave Tsubaki behind, the feeling from Shin changed a little.
It didn’t change to bloodlust. But it became sharp and dark. The calm presence that Tiera knew vanished, as she felt some kind of sinister feeling coming from Shin. From Tiera’s perspective, it was already another person’s presence. Was Tiera not keen enough? Neither Gaien nor Tsubaki seemed to have noticed it. Be it fortunate or not, it was only Tiera who felt the change to the present Shin.
(I can’t leave Shin like that any further. That Shin is no good!)
The hand holding the bow filled with power.
Before she knew it, Tiera’s thoughts of killing without hesitation, disappeared from her head. The opponent was a bandit, and in addition to that, he was obviously a habitual criminal. To be a bandit repeatedly in this world was equal to having a worthless life. There were no other destinations except the execution stand if caught. For such opponents, to compare them with Tiera’s worry for Shin, their existence itself was already too light.
The arrow was nocked in the bowstring, which in turn was drawn to the limit. She aimed at the bandit lurking in the bushes nearby. That person might have had the intention to hide, but it was no different than casually going for a walk for the elf Tiera. While aiming, she waited for the signal from Gaien.
“I don’t like useless killing. I will stop if you pull back, but I will kill if you don’t.”
“Oioi, can you see the situation? I know that one is merely a rank E.”
“No matter how much of a rank A you are, don’t you have to fight while protecting other members? You better turn a blind eye to us without causing trouble rather than showing off that strange spirit, don’t you agree?”
Where did they learn that information from? The bandits knew that they were all low-rank with the exception of Gaien. Even though the number of bandits hidden and visible aiming at Nack were unknown, it was clear that this was not an accidental encounter.
“There’s no need to listen any.”
“Leave the number of people to two.”
Shin and Tsubaki made eye contact. The negotiations broke down. No one here thought it would end any other way. They only wanted time to prepare so as to lessen the damage while observing the other side.
Gaien shook his head a little, reacting to Shin’s and Tsubaki’s remark. That was the starting signal for the attack.
In the next moment, an arrow shot by Tiera flew out from inside the canopy, and was sucked up into the thicket where the bandit hid in.
There was no scream. However, a dull sound of something hitting the ground was audible.
One red marker that existed on Shin’s map disappeared. Was it the head or the heart? It might have hit one of the two. The HP vanished in a single blow. It was an instant death.
“Tsk, what a failure. You guys, do something!!”
The leader appeared to curse, far from mourn over the death of their comrade. The bandits rushed to attack after they received their instructions.
“Then, two bandits per person. Leave the person alone if you can’t do it. You heard the story.”
“With no injuries?”
“You should listen to the directions, do as you like to the others, I don’t care.”
Gaien and Tsubaki calmly exchanged disturbing words. It was as if they were used to it. Even though there was sure to be a level difference between Tsubaki and the enemies, she didn’t seem to be eager at all.
Gaien stayed as he was, and Shin and Tsubaki scattered to the right and left, distracting the bandits.
Three bandits were going for Gaien, one for Tsubaki, and two for Shin. Was there any 【Analyze】 skill holder among them? The low-level was after Tsubaki rather than Gaien.
“Are you making fun of me?”
Anger was mixed in with Tsubaki’s words. The bandit whom she faced was certainly stronger than Tsubaki when one only looked at levels. Still, just because the bandit was stronger didn’t mean that they would be able to knock her down easily.
A chill ran through the back of Tsubaki’s neck, to place where the she thought the bandit hid his hand. She immediately close the distance, caught and pulled the bandit’s sword with her gauntlet.
“Heh, you have some nice intuition, don’t you?”
The man looked at her, like he was making light of Tsubaki’s body. Red aura was being released from the sword grasped in her right hand.
She shifted her gaze and saw the surrounding state. All of the bandits, though the colors were different, had weapons that gave off an aura like the man in front of Tsubaki. Did all the members have a Magic Sword, they appeared to have weapons with similar characteristics.
Apparently, besides from the level, there also seemed to be a reliable chance of success due to the equipment.
“Don’t put up much resistance. I can’t enjoy it if I kill you, kukuku”
The bandit noticed that Tsubaki’s gauntlet was just a common mass-produced item. It was not possible to defend with this. Therefore, he had no doubt about his superiority.
“If you see me as being only small, you’ll experience pain for looking down on me.”
“Haa, say that after you defeat me!!”
The bandit lunged at her while speaking. Was the attack aided by the sword? Obviously the speed level was faster than before. However, Tsubaki didn’t lose. She was enveloped in a white aura and ran before the bandit arrived at her position. The real nature of the aura was 【Spirit Manipulation • Katsusen】.
As the name implied, it is a martial art skill that strengthens the body, although an inferior version. As for the ‘Katsusen’ that was attached there, aside from body strengthening, it indicated that it specialized in speed increase.
Tsubaki left a white afterimage and jumped toward the bandit’s chest, and drew back her fist. Though the bandit was surprised that Tsubaki’s speed was faster than his own, he judged that it was not possible to clash with it, and instead tried to guard with his hand that wasn’t holding the sword.
But Tsubaki’s aim was not to deal damage. She aimed at the hand that was holding the sword. The bandit’s reaction was good, but he didn’t read Tsubaki’s aim until after it happened. The fist wrapped in her gauntlet directly hit the bandit’s right hand, breaking all five of his fingers. Bones poked out from the bandit’s fingers, as they bent in the wrong direction.
“Even if you have a good weapon, you are untrained.”
No matter if his weapon was a Magic Sword or not, the user’s ability didn’t change. The bandit, who was screaming intensely, couldn’t defend because of the excessive pain. In front of that virtually defenseless enemy, Tsubaki accumulated power in an instant.
Her fist was released along with that word. At the same time, a dull sound that wasn’t supposed to come from the body was heard. The bandit was sent flying off into the sky while continuously vomiting blood.
Beyond that point, there were figures of bandits surrounding Gaien.
Without any time to react, the bandit who was sent flying crashed into one of them, and disappeared into the thicket. Because the sound of heads-butting together was heard, the person who was thrown would probably not move for a while.
The bandit who was hit again had the pit of his chest cave in, so that rather than his intestines, it was certain that his heart had exploded. It was an instant death similar to the person who had received the arrow from Tiera.
“W-What it is now…”
One of the bandits, whose comrade was suddenly sent flying, looked at the thicket in in a daze.
When in front of an enemy, that was a fatal opening.
“Idiot! Don’t turn your eyes away from this fellow!!”
It was already too late when the bandit’s leader yelled out.
Gaien approached the bandit who showed the opening and swung his long katana down.
The bandit barely reacted to the voice of the leader and broke his posture, thereby he became unable to defend against the single blow from Gaien that was filled with power. The long katana raised a buzz as it clashed against the Magic Sword. The Magic Sword was repelled, and from the single blow of the long katana, it was blown away together with the body. By a miracle, the Magic Sword seemed to act as a substitute for armor, defending the bandit from the long katana. But unfortunately, although the Magic Sword gave off the impression of protecting the bandit’s life by reducing most the momentum from the long katana, it was disappointingly not enough and broke in the next moment. Naturally, the bandit’s body, which the Magic Sword protected, was still in one piece.
Looking at his subordinate from the side, the squeaky voice of the leader came out. It was unthinkable to beat a Magic Sword and cut it in two, even for a rank A. His eyes were wide open as he looked at Gaien like he saw something unbelievable.
“Though you guys are Magic Sword holders, unfortunately, they are no match for my Magic Katana.”
The battle situation that they thought to be to in their favor was overturned in an instant.
The incident that happened in front of him was unbelievable for the bandits’ leader. The information he had received claimed that they all were rank E, with Gaien as the sole exception. They were supposed to only lost half of their men at worst. For the one who went up against Tsubaki, despite being a Magic Sword holder at C rank, he was a subordinate that was worthy enough of being her opponent.
The confused leader clung to the tiny bit of hope that a subordinate would save him, but he even turned toward his aide. And then, what came into his view next, was yet another impossible scene.
Immediately after the battle started, two bandits went to face Shin. One of them had brown hair and the other man had blond hair. The one with brown hair was level 151, the blond hair was 153. If one were to say it in adventurer terms, they would be C rank. Looking at the deployment, Tsubaki had taken down her sole opponent quickly, Gaien was holding four people, and the two people here, probably going after Nack, were already expected by Shin. The man who lurked in the bushes was the lowest level among the bandits while the blond man had the highest level next to the leader. At that level, he might even be able to deal with the flying arrow. The air he gave off was clearly different.
“Well, what has been done can not be undone.”
He muttered, and blocked the route of the two people.
To force Shin out of the way, the guy with brown hair went ahead and unsheathed his sword. The aura attached to this Magic Sword was yellow. However, the katana Shin was holding was different in a big way. For the Magic Swords of the current world, the definition was different compared to the Magic Swords from the game era.
Though the place where the aura leaked out from on the blade was identical, the sword itself was originally classified as a 《Legend》 grade, not a Magic Sword. The swords that the bandits had were not Magic Swords in the true meaning of the word.
The bandit’s sword gave off an aura like steam, but the white aura which Shin’s katana emitted was converging in the form of a sword in order to fit around the katana’s blade. The air pressure of the aura, released from the Magic Sword showed the quality. An aura that did not scatter, and instead surrounded the sword’s blade was said to be the top in ability.
Therefore, the natural outcome of the two people clashing their swords was displayed.
After the blades clashed with a little rivalry, it ended when a clear sound rang out and the sword of the bandit was broken. Both items could be called Magic Swords but one was a Magic Sword imitation. However, the katana that Shin held displayed its ability multiple times, and could exchange blows like the real deal. The sword that uselessly discharged its aura was so different from Shin’s standard that he would call it a fake.
The brown hair looked at his sword that could even inflict a wound on a Horn Dragon but yet was broken in a single blow. And then, continuing with that gap, with the same stroke, Shin cut down the brown haired man.
“Waa!? broke――n !?”
The voice raised was filled with surprise because he was cut, and the bandit with brown hair collapsed.
Like a flash. There was no hesitation in that movement.
For Shin to kill a person, it didn’t mean that he was used to it. But he was already beyond the stage of hesitation, worry, and other such things since a long time ago. During the death game, nobody wanted to get tangled up with a person who fought on the front line.
Besides, the opponent was a bandit who wielded a sword with evil intentions. When he saw the blood remains from a previous victim on the armor, it was impossible for his sword to be dull.
He never looked at life lightly. However, he shouldn’t be too serious either.
“Now then, what are you going to do?”
Shin didn’t look at the brown haired man that collapsed, instead he stepped in front of the blond hair.
Shin had a light tone. Speaking as if he was asking for the description of a meal, giving the blond hair more pressure.
The blond hair, who was shocked, was making an ugly face. He looked at the place where the brown hair’s Magic Sword broke, perhaps, for the first time. Then his line of sight changed to compare Shin’s katana with his sword.
“Anyways, that sword is a nuisance.”
Shin casually stepped forward, and waved his katana. With that alone, the blond hair’s Magic Sword was smashed apart.
“Wha!? T-That’s ridiculous…My Magic Sword is…”
The blonde hair muttered dumbfoundedly after seeing his Magic Sword that had already become only a hilt. He was not able to see the single blow from Shin from a distance where he should have been able to. Shin didn’t use any skill. With only stats and ability, he closed the distance of several mels in an instant.
“Next, to immobilize.”
With those words, Shin’s figure vanished. Thereupon, an acute pain ran through the blond’s limbs.
The body, without the support of its hands and feet, collapsed onto the ground. At the rear, Shin put his katana back into the sheath. He had shattered the bones just by striking with the back of the sword.
“Did it end there too?”
“Yeah, Shin was tormenting him.”
“He just going easy on him!”
While they were exchanging jokes, the leader, who was the opponent of Gaien, looked at Shin. The blond hair was equally confused about the situation. No matter how much he thought about it, that was not the fighting power of an E rank.
“Now then, let’s have a talk about the person who handed over the information to you.”
The situation was explained to Nack, so there would be time for them to interrogate the leader. When Nack understood that he might have been deliberately targeted, he consented.
The interrogation was performed by Gaien and Nack, as they entered the thicket and Shin and Tsubaki returned to the wagon.
Tiera had a worried face toward the two people, especially as she approached Shin――――
“Good job, for the time bei――muguu!?”
―――― And she suddenly held Shin’s head, embraced to her chest.
Tsubaki stared in amazement at the sudden action, and Shin, whose speech was interrupted, was confused. Tiera’s jacket was open, exposing the chest, and Shin’s face was in held in there. Though there was the inner cloth, the fabric was not thick enough. Therefore, a fairly vivid sensation enveloped Shin’s face.
Though there was no space to completely enjoy the sensation, as the person in question, Tiera’s action, was too abrupt.
“Um, what are you doing?”
“Don’t move…just a little…bit…okay…”
It appeared that Tiera had some sort of purpose for the time being. Tsubaki, who was forcibly convincing herself to watch their progress attentively so as to understand. This situation was too incomprehensible to get involved with. Above all, Tiera’s expression was awfully serious.
When he heard Tiera’s oddly charming voice, Shin became docile too. That state was maintained for a while and when Shin was about to start being able to enjoy the soft sensation that surrounded his face, Tiera let Shin’s head loose.
However, both of her hands firmly held onto Shin’s head.
Tiera, who said nothing, stared into Shin’s eyes with a serious face. Shin felt it was awfully long, although it was only a few seconds.
Finally, after nodding a little, Tiera released Shin’s head, and went outside the wagon to be on lookout.
“What is it…now…”
Though he asked Tsubaki, she similarly didn’t understand it either. Shin had a question mark over his head as well.
While taking distance from Shin and Tsubaki, Tiera searched for Shin’s presence. Even though it was only a fairly small range from Shin and others, it was still out of normal for G rank adventurers.
Relief spread through her chest as she secretly moved to behind the wagon. Until a few minutes ago, Shin, who returned with Tsubaki, still slightly wore that presence as usual on the surface. That dark, sharp, and unpleasant feeling that she wanted to run away from by reflex.
Although it was a momentary thing, when looking back at the action she took, it was an action which she really thought of seriously, but at the same time her face became almost as red as a beet.
In the beginning, when Tiera hadn’t come to Tsuki no Hokora yet, Tiera, who was totally frightened, was gently embraced by Schnee. Her anxiety was softened by that act alone.
Thus, she thought that the presence might disappear if she did the same thing. For Tiera, who had limited contact with others, she thought that it was the most effective way.
Anyways, the result was a success. If anything, she was a little panicky when she returned to her sanity, but because the goal had been reached, she considered it a good thing.
(Am I the only one who noticed? Or am I strange?)
She felt the familiar thirst for blood at the time when she was driven out of her village. She was still mentally young back in those days, but she only felt fear. On the other hand, when Shin confronted the bandits, she noticed the change in the nature for the thirst for blood. No, it might be good that she noticed.
Tiera personally didn’t understand her sense well, but it was because of the sense of impending crisis that it became stronger. The impulse that she couldn’t understand. Though it was not regarded as manipulation of the heart and mind, there was strangely no discomfort. She seemed to understand that there was no danger at all; there was a strange trust.
When she composed herself before long, in a sense, it was obvious what Tiera would think of next.
(After this, what kind of face should I make when I talk with Shin…?)
Where had the seriousness, when embracing Shin tightly, gone? The bewildered appearance of saying “Au Au”, when seen by a person who knew the usual Tiera, would think of it as really cute.
Though she intended to hide and move, Shin and Tsubaki having perfectly witnessed her appearance, was a fact not known by Tiera.