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Chapter 60: The smell of the first battle is hoodlum extermination
At the very beginning, we considered the possibility of being attacked by bandits on the road to town. To put it simply, we were making a fair profit in the town, and we also had horses. So, the three of us decided on a strategy in case we were ever attacked.
Pattern A was if we ran into a group of thieves that use projectile weapons.
Pattern B was if we ran into a number of hooligans.
Pattern C was if we were attacked by demon beasts.
And so, this time we were going with pattern B.
Marina's role was to call for the military police if we were near the town, or Shello-san or Rebecca-san if we were near the mansion.
"Marina wants to fight too. Marina's job is to protect my liege," Marina rejected the idea at first, but seeing as she was currently the best on horseback, no one else was suitable for this role other than Marina. Once Diana's horse riding improved, we could consider passing that role to her instead, but in Diana's case there was the possibility of Diana being the target of the thieves, so it was difficult. It was terrible to say this, but from that perspective it would be better to send the Turk tribe, Marina, instead.
Now… Until Shello-san and the others arrived, it was my role to buy time, or perhaps even defeat them myself…
I drew my sword and held it lightly in both hands. I had felt it before when training with Shello-san, but readying my sword really made me feel elated. It might be tending towards the dangerous side. Shello-san had said that many swordsmen vocations jump head-first into battle and ended up dead. When it came to battle—even if they were bandits—I wasn't ready to kill anyone. I just had to buy time until these guys either ran away, or Marina brought Shello-san here. If possible, I didn't want to experience battles yet.
"But you bandits sure are stupid. There's an elf on our side, you know? Did you think it would work out somehow?"
I gave them one more chance.
In this world, elves were considered one of the strongest battle forces. In a world where magic wasn't very common, elves who could use spirit magic were a wonder to behold. In other words, mere human bandits should be terrified of elves, which should act as a deterrent from being attacked to a point… but.
Well, ours were a bit of an exception.
"Ahh, damn. And I thought it'd be an easy job. Enough. You guys, kill that one already. Don’t hurt the elf."
However, the bandits took no notice of my words.
Hmm? That's strange…
Weren't they afraid of spirit magic…?
In fact, if they were saying not to hurt the elf, does that mean Diana was their aim? There was no way bandits like this should know that Diana couldn't use spirit magic… Oh, perhaps they didn't know elves were spirit magic handlers because they were stupid. That was also possible… right?
Well then, I guess all that was left was the actual battle.
According to our plan, the thieves would falter here, and we would buy time as planned, but things doesn’t always go as planned.
I had gone through Shello-san's hellish training many times, to the point I had received Shello-san's own acknowledgement that 'you won't be defeated by your everyday bandit'. I had received it, but…
…No, now that it'd come to this, I had to do it.
I had a demon sword much lighter than training, and my teacher had been Shello-san, the famous deputy of the military police. There was no way I'd lose to a common hooligan.
I held my sword and looked at the opponent. On the order of the leader, the other two young bandits drew their swords at the same time. They were both using ordinary broadswords. It was my first real battle. However, strangely enough, I didn't feel any fear.
The bandits completely underestimated me, as they moved to enclose me from both sides. While it was troublesome to take on two people at the same time, I was able to stay surprisingly calm. Possibly due to my opponents grinning so much, I couldn't feel any spirit in them. They were completely underestimating me, thinking that I was a defenceless merchant.
"Diana, everything up to now has been within our expectations. We're going to stop them as planned. Try not to use our secret weapon. But if an accident occurs, don't hesitate to use it."
"Leave it to me, Master. We'll make them see a fearsome sight."
Diana's eyes burned with a sparkling fire. It was a little scary.
From that point onwards, we didn't need any words. All that was left was to suppress them by force!
"O-Oi! We didn't hear 'bout this! Y-You, how can a simple merchant boy move like that? And what is that sword! What didya do to 'em?!"
"I have no obligation to respond to muggers. Diana, tighten the restraints on those guys."
"T-The grass is…! Stop! Damn it! What's happening?!"
"Well, that was a good substitute for training. At least I know that I can easily win against three men with no battle-type vocations for now."
"Don't let your guard down, Master. We were just lucky our opponents were idiots this time."
"Well, that's true… They didn't have any projectile weapons or troops in ambush either."
Diana and I succeeded in suppressing the bandits without any injuries. It felt like it went a little too smoothly for a first real battle, but demon swords and spirit magic were basically cheats, so that was probably to be expected.
As we planned for pattern B, Diana used her spirit magic to support me.
Due to her 'special guidance', Diana was restricted in her use of spirit magic at the moment. However, this restriction was idiosyncratic, and to put in her own words, 'it can be used by communicating with the spirits to have them co-operate a little'. And that 'little co-operation' was exceptionally strong.
Blowing gusts of wind, accelerating flames, digging pitfalls, wrapping grass around bodies, making trees walk to block paths, dancing clouds of dust…
They may seem lame when put into words, but they were extremely effective irritations during battle. And unexpectedly, my beloved sword 'Jet-Black Demon Sword, Heart of Blood' was an overpowered weapon.
First, it was light. It had less than half the weight of a claymore. Furthermore, like the demon sword name suggested, it had amazing special effects. I didn't have a chance to test the special effect until now, so it was my first time experiencing it—and it really was unfair. I felt nothing but gratitude at my good fortune obtaining such a sword for free.
The two young bandits came charging forward at the same time.
The man on the left (henceforth Bandit A) swung his sword down over the right of his head, and the man of the right (henceforth Bandit B) thrust his straight forward. They were somewhat in time with each other. Their movements were fatally slow compared to Shello-san, but it was otherwise a good attack. I dodged the thrust and stepped to my right. I then slashed at Bandit B's feet lightly, like a soft caress. It was an attack merely meant to distract the enemy and put distance between me and the opponent.
Bandit B fell down with a crash, as though he fainted. Even I had no idea what had happened at first. The same probably applied to the bandit. It was as if the bandit had been injected with deadly poison. In reality, it was the special effect of the demon sword, 'Absorption', activating. Normally, the 'jet-black coloured' blade would be dyed red, and pulsate eerily. Then, I felt vitality similar to bioenergy flow into me. It might have been good when feeling down, but at full health it honestly just felt sickening. Perhaps if I described it as the feeling of forcefully taking someone else's lukewarm blood into your own body, the image would be clearer? I guess it meant that the demon sword's name wasn't just for show. For a light scratch to absorb so much… the draining ability was way too strong.
Bandit A faltered. I was also surprised, but conveniently slashed sideways with the aim of inflicting further drain. However, Bandit A repelled my attack with his sword. Creating distance with a back step, he glanced at the leader in a plead for backup.
The leader was struggling, stitched to the ground by Diana's spirit magic. Every time Diana smiled and muttered something, the grass wrapped around the leader tightened its grip. The grass itself could easily be cut, but once his right arm was free his left leg would get caught, and when his left arm was free his right arm would be tangled again… to put it simply, it wasn't easy to get away. From a combat perspective, the leader was probably the strongest, so it was lucky we were able to overpower him so easily. Since three against one was dangerous, after all.
Bandit A seemed to gather his courage as he let out a manly roar and charged forward. It was a simple attack with no battle vocation behind it. Honestly nothing more than a charging attack. If it was one-on-one against him, I didn't feel like I could lose. It was a good chance (if not somewhat disrespectful) for me to use him as a practice opponent.
I dodged the opponent's attack, made an opening, repelled him, then pushed him back. He was sweating heavily, but I wasn't tired at all yet. My sword was light, and so were Bandit A's attacks. Since he was a bandit, I thought he'd at least have some strength to him, but he was pathetically weak. I figured that's just how it was for those who didn't have the right vocation… but still… Bandit A's had started to show in the dullness of his movements, and I lightly slashed at his arm. 'Absorption' activated, and Bandit A instantly collapsed.
Now only the leader remained, and he was already being restrained by Diana.
Thus the fight was over.
Looking at the conclusion, it could probably be called an overwhelming victory. We even managed to refrain from using any of our several types of secret weapons bought in Japan.
Several minutes later, Marina came back with Shello-san and Rebecca-san.
They tied the bandits up with rope and contacted the military police. The bandits would probably be sentenced in the imperial capital later. For the record, bandits were normally beheaded, and even first-time offenders had their arms decapitated. Shello-san said it was okay to kill bandits, which was rather disturbing. It was impossible for me to kill them. Just absorbing their energy made me feel sick…
However… to think that bandits would really appear.
From now on, I had to practice my horse riding, swordplay, and formations even more. We were lucky this time, but there was still the possibility of a larger group of thieves attacking next time. If the enemies had battle-type vocations, we wouldn't get away so easily. Our equipment was still incomplete too. As far as work went, it should be alright to leave more and more to Etowa.
…But the story didn't end there, and after the bandits were handed over to the military police, Rebecca-san's lecture was waiting for us.
"So why did Jirou end up fighting?"
"Like I said, Marina moves the fastest and I can't make the horse gallop, so we had no other choice. In fact, you could say we couldn't run…"
"If that was the case, then why didn't you let Marina fight and wipe out the enemies instead? Fight together, at the very least."
"No, fighting was the last resort and Diana's an elf so I thought that would provide enough of a deterrence. Although I didn't expect them to be idiots that challenged us anyway…"
"Hmm. Fine. You managed to pull through this time because the enemies were weak, but Jirou, make sure you use your slaves, since you're still weak yourself. I'll say it over and over again, but that's the reason your slaves are here. Okay? If you really want to fight yourself, come over to our place as much as possible and train!"
I simply didn't want to use Marina like a sacrificial pawn, but I didn't say that out loud.
Perhaps I should get male slaves for battle purposes after all…
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