Editor: Thor’s Stone
It’s been thirteen days since we started our journey.
We’ve traveled smoothly on the designated route and didn’t face many problems along the way. However, it was quite evident that as we approached the Great Demon Forest, the numbers of monsters prowling the surrounding areas were increasing at a noticeable rate.
When we first started our journey, there were times when we didn’t manage to encounter any monsters for an entire day, but right now, we were encountering at least two to three monster packs as we traveled along.
Yesterday, we encountered two-meter tall, humanoid monsters with pig heads called Orcs. There were two of them. According to Elna, Orcs were considered as fairly high ranking monsters.
In any case, Sharon and Selena proceeded to make them targets for magic spell practice and eliminated them in a snap. Since they were monsters with humanoid shapes, I had some misgivings when I was retrieving the magic stone from one of the corpses, but it seems it wasn’t the case for Cleria and Elna. It looks like the way we view monsters is fundamentally different.
According to the monster guide book we purchased, it seems that the magic stones of Orcs were considerably more valuable than Gray Hound magic stones. But even so, they were actually easier to defeat compared to Gray Hounds since they were slow-moving and easy prey to magic spells. I actually want every monster we encounter from now on to be Orcs if possible. If we used swords instead of magic, we may have a bit of trouble due to their large builds, but even so…
Right now, all of us have become fairly proficient in driving the carriage. And it was not just driving the carriage as well. We have also become proficient in horseback riding. Elna assured us that we would be able to learn quickly with some practice, especially since the horses we had were quite obedient, and it really turned out to be the case.
Along the journey, we were able to pass several villages where we could have stopped over for some rest, but in everyone’s collective opinion, it seems that camping outside was actually more relaxing and agreeable.
We will be arriving at the fortress city Gants within two days. I have already managed to check an overhead shot of the city taken by the drone, but I wonder what kind of place it really is?
『D-1 to Captain.』
The drone hasn’t directly contacted me ever since that one time at the start of our journey.
(What is it?)
『There is an overturned carriage three kilometers ahead, and I have confirmed more than ten human corpses and five live ones around it.』
I wonder what’s up? They could have possibly been attacked by monsters along the road. There was a chance they were attacked by bandits as well. During our journey, there were several times when we managed to meet up with traveling merchants or adventurers along the way, but this was the first time we’ve encountered something like this.
(Please proceed with reconnaissance.)
The image feed from the drone’s cameras was then displayed in front of me on a virtual window. It flew at high speed straight toward the incident point and arrived within moments. The drone then hovered in place above it. I had a good vantage point of most of the road, but there were parts covered by masses of trees.
The image zoomed in. I confirmed the fallen carriage as well as the corpses. There were about thirteen or so bodies as far as I could confirm. The five who were alive were taking out the luggage from the carriage. One of them tore open one of the bags. No matter how you slice it, that isn’t something the actual owner of those bags would do. They’re most probably bandits.
Man, the state of social order around these parts sure is a mess. To think we’d encounter guys who would not hesitate to take the lives of others to fill their own pockets. I can’t believe it. We may be too late to rescue the victims, but we’ll have to prepare countermeasures in any case.
I’ll have to discuss countermeasures with the others. I pulled the reins and stopped the carriage.
“What’s wrong, Alan?”
“We ended up encountering something troublesome.”
I had everyone get down from the carriage and explained the situation to them.
“It looks like there are some bandits up ahead. I think they are actually in the middle of attacking victims as well.”
“You can even tell something like that though scanning magic!?” Elna exclaimed in surprise.
“Yeah. There are five bandits in the middle of the road. I plan on going on ahead, but what does everyone think?”
“Let us make haste! There may yet still be some survivors!” Cleria answered.
“The probability of there being no survivors is quite high, but… Just keep an eye out for each other and be absolutely careful, alright?”
We went back to the carriage and started heading forward at a faster pace. When we reached a point about two hundred meters away from the actual scene, the bandits finally noticed us.
They hurriedly went to hiding on both sides of the road, but I could see all their positions through the overhead image feed. I saw two who were equipped with bows.
“Elna, there are two people equipped with bows. Be careful of them.”
I warned Elna, who was sitting beside me on the coachman’s seat. I can aim with my rifle even with one hand, so I can deal with the situation even if they did fire arrows at us..
When we were only thirty meters away from the scene, the two bowmen knocked arrows on their respective bows. I managed to confirm their actions through the live feed and launched Flame Arrows on all five of them.
Even if they were hiding, they were just using the tall grass as cover, so I could detect them just fine using my magic sensor.
The flaming arrows headed for the tall grass and several miserable screams rang out.
“Lay down your weapons!”
I jumped down the carriage, with Elna following right after me. The other three girls jumped out of the carriage as well, and we proceeded to round up the bandits.
I did shout an order for them to disarm for formality’s sake, but since I hit their shoulder with Flame Arrows, the bandits were all busy writhing on the ground in pain and couldn’t give a damn about it.
We secured their knives and weapons and kicked them out to the open road. There were five of us as well, so we finished apprehending them quickly.
The bandits who were thrown out to the road rolled around the ground for a bit before coming to a stop in the middle, but it looks like the pain from their injuries have mostly subsided.
“W-What the heck’re ye guys doin!? We were jus hidin inside the grass an all! Why’d ye attack us all of a sudden!?”
“Oh c’mon. I saw you and that guy over there pulling your bows, plain as day. You guys are bandits, right?”
“D-Don’t spout nonsense! We can’t possibly be bandits! We only pulled our bows for self-defense.”
“Hmm. So what’s with this situation then?” I asked sternly as I scanned the area.
“T-This is–! W-We were the ones who were attacked by bandits! We somehow managed to survive and were about ta go on our way.”
“So all of the dead people here are your comrades?”
“T-That’s right! Well, there are some bandit corpses mixed in too.”
“So, is this guy also your comrade.”
I pointed at a guy who looked like an adventurer.
“Y-Yeah. He up an died on us. Poor fellow.”
“What’s his name?”
“Eh? Oh, uh, his name’s Danny.”
I checked the corpse and searched for the man’s Guild I.D. If he was really an adventurer, then he should have an I.D. on him. There we are.
“This guy’s name is Gill. This confirms you’re bandits then.”
“Tha–! That guy’s someone else! I dunno why, but it looks like Danny had the I.D. of another person on him!”
“This is all getting tiresome, Alan. We still have to cover a lot of distance, and taking them along with us would just be burdensome. Let’s just kill them all here,” Elna mercilessly suggested.
“Oh, you’re right. Let’s do it then.”
I pulled my sword out.
“W-Wait! The rest of our guys’re gonna come here soon y’know! So ya all better run for it while ya still can!”
“Now that’s just one stupid excuse.”
“Wait, I say! I’m tellin’ the truth! Take a look at the corpses! There are ten who look like adventurers and three who resemble us, right?”
When I took a look at the corpses, I managed to confirm his claim.
“We couldn’t have killed ten people with just eight of us, right!? We really do have comrades!”
“Hou, so where are those comrades of yours then?”
“We have a lair just near here, so y’all better start running!”
There was no reaction from the magic sensor. They may really have a base, but I guess it’s relatively further out from here.
(D-1, please scout the area and confirm any structures that may possibly house a group of people.)
“Why did your comrades go back to your lair?”
“We managed to snag three pretty women earlier, so they were plannin’ on enjoyin’ themselves… The rest of us here made some blunders and were left here to take care of the loot as punishment…”
After hearing what the captured bandit said, there was a palpable rise in aggression in the air. The captured bandits seem to have noticed it as well. When I turned around, I saw the four girls displaying really scary expressions.
“Let’s hurry and rescue them, Alan!”
“Yeah, alright.” was the only answer I could possibly give.
It looks like D-1 managed to find the bandit lair. The image feed revealed a cross-section of a large cave, where ten people shaped digital avatars were displayed. So their lair was inside a cave. Since it was underground, searching for it took a bit of time.
Since there were ten digital indicators, if we account for three of those to be the captured women, then the other seven must be the remaining bandits.
The distance from the bandit lair was three kilometers from here. Now then, we can’t just leave the carriage unguarded here. Would it be better if we split up? Nah, it would be safer if we went there together.
(D-1, protect the carriage and don’t let any people or monsters approach it.)
“We’re all going to head to the bandit lair now. You girls all okay with that?”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“Okay then. Untie Tarth and Syrah from our carriage and secure them on that tree over there.”
We can’t take the horses with us after all. I’ll take some light magic tools with me as well. We finished preparing after a short while.
“Yosh! We’re gonna have you all guide us to your hideout! Run like your lives depended on it! Your lair is in that direction, right? If you guys stray from the right direction even just by a little bit, we’ll burn you down with magic spells. We’ll also burn you down if you guys act like burdens. You got that, scum?”
“Y-Yeah. We got it!”
The captured bandits started running toward their lair. We followed closely behind them.
While on the way, a cheeky fellow attempted to stray from the path, so I launched a Fire Ball and made it so that it brushed past him as close as possible without actually hitting him.
“Hiii!” he screamed miserably and hurriedly went back to the proper path.
The rest of the bandits saw what happened, and they properly behaved themselves afterward. They even ran in a completely straight line. After about thirty minutes, we finally arrived at the cave in question. It looks like the bandits didn’t post any guards.