「Ah, that was close! I involuntarily invoked quite a high-powered flame out of reflex, but… I wonder if the surrounding area is alright?」
Tanaka’s short sword broke after being exposed to the three men’s furious attacks. As he got flustered because of it, he wielded Ignition like that of a sword out of reflex. He was in such a flustered state that quite a high-powered flame was released. However, it could be said that he was fortunate that he still managed to somehow suppress the scale of the magic. Otherwise, the trees in the forest would have been cut down overnight, such a bizarre phenomenon was prevented.
「I might have done it out of reflex since they were so intent on killing me, but… Urkk….」
The three corpses were created due to his own action. Seeing them, Tanaka suddenly felt his stomach churning. At the very least, though, the fact that the cut parts were not in so much a gruesome burnt state was the saving grace of all. Thanks to that, Tanaka managed to somehow hold his inside in.
「Phew. But still… Hmm, what to do now?」
Standing in front of the three corpses, he began to worry about the matter.
「Come to think of it, according to Old man, aren’t the items inside our item boxes supposed to get thrown out when we die?… There seems to be nothing here, though. That means they really weren’t the bandits, after all.」
In particular, the three corpses showed no signs of scattering out the stolen goods. Rather, they didn’t seem to possess anything on them at all.
「In other words, it can be said that I’ve turned into a salaryman who has killed the thugs who came at him on the spur of the moment, huh. Well, this is not good… I wonder what the laws of this world state on this matter. Can I claim it as self-defense? … umumumu… Hmm? It may be a bit late but, is there even law in this world?」
Once again, Tanaka realized how little he knew about this world. For the time being, though, he decided to put that matter in the corner of his mind. The most pressing matter at hand was what to do with the current situation.
「Hmm… From the look of it, someone that possess such a mysterious way of killing, I think the most likely culprit is… a monster.」
With a hand on his chin and a crisp expression on his face, Tanaka muttered as such. This was the result of his objective and convenient examination of the scene.
「… But still, what a cruel way of killing. Truly unforgivable, that damn monster!」
Tanaka continued to talk to himself as though he were trying to convince himself. Gradually, his righteous heart began to flare up. And in the end, he pointed his anger at the imaginary monster.
「…What an unfortunate accident for these promising young men to encounter such a monster in a place like this. But I don’t think there’s anything more I can do than this. My apologies.」
With that, he calmed down his blazing heart and was about to leave. However, he suddenly recalled the broken short sword in his hand.
「I received it from Old man, so I guess I’ll keep it as a memento.」
Tanaka put the broken short sword into the item box. And then he moved, intending to leave the scene as he was. However, Tanaka’s eyes suddenly caught a sight of a certain sword. It was the sword wielded by one of the victims who were unfortunately killed by the monster.
「Hmm, what a waste. Yup, it can’t be helped. I guess I’ll take this sword as a memento, too.」
Tanaka picked up the sword and its scabbard, and then checked their condition. It was a common, ordinary sword you could find anywhere. However, he found it quite comfortable to wield. Sheathing the sword in satisfaction, he was about to quickly leave. However, he turned for the last time toward these victims.
「O innocent brave warriors, rest in peace. I shall avenge you without fail!」
Tanaka disappeared into the forest with a hot-blooded spirit raging in his heart. While being intoxicated with his own coolness….
◇ ◇ ◇
After Tanaka departed, a figure appeared on the scene of the unfortunate accident, according to Tanaka.
「That sure was amazing of him. Just who in the world is he….」
Echigoya recalled the battle from earlier as he stood in front of the queer corpses that had gotten split apart.
Even as a former B-ranked guild member himself, he couldn’t see through Tanaka’s fighting style at all.
「When I first saw an A-ranked guild member, I thought their battle style was like that of an inhumane monster, but… I guess the real monsters are those who couldn’t even be seen through at all, huh….」
Before he knew it, his tightly clenched palms were getting sweaty. He relaxed his palms and switched his thoughts.
「But still, the problem is these guys. I’d expected them to be people disguising themselves as bandits to disrupt trading, but… Considering the skills they displayed earlier, were they perhaps trying to thin out Hinoki soldiers? … For the love of god, that country sure know how to cause trouble.」
After saying this, he quietly left the scene.
◇ ◇ ◇
Echigoya and the other spent the night safely. And the next morning, they resumed their journey toward Fugu town. If there was something worth mentioning, it would be how strangely Tanaka had been acting. Echigoya decided to brilliantly ignore it, though…. And so, in the evening, they arrived safely at the town of Fugu.
The troupe immediately headed to the guild of this town. The mission was now hereby completed as they had arrived in the town. Echigoya then bid his farewell with the three guild members.
「Well, really, thank you so much for safely escorting me here, all of you. After finishing my business here, I’m planning to head to another town, so I guess this is where I have to say goodbye to you all.」
That also meant their temporary party was hereby disbanded. After a brief greeting to each other, each guild member disappeared into town on their own.
As they did so, Echigoya saw them off. Just then, a man who seemed to be an acquaintance of his approached him.
「It’s been a long time, Echigoya-san. Nevertheless, I heard that the highways have been very dangerous lately due to the bandits, but… well, all in all, I’m glad to see you arrive in this town safely. The disturbance with the distribution of goods has also been a huge trouble for us, intra-town trader, after all.」
Apparently, the man was a trader of this town. He seemed to be honestly happy that Echigoya, a merchant, had arrived in this town. That very Echigoya replied to the trader with a smile on his face.
「Yes, really. I was truly lucky during this trip.」
Echigoya turned his attention to the back of Tanaka, who was disappearing into the town. He then added.
「I’ve even found some pretty good stuff, after all…」
Year 5963 of the creation calendar, Autumn, bandit accidents had occurred around Hazama town. Unbeknownst to Tanaka, however, this incident was gradually concluding.