“Don’t stop!” [Scarred Man]
The one who said that was not the leader, but the man who was thrown into the cellar. He didn’t have the right to give orders, but it was the right order nonetheless. His ghastly voice kept the other henchmen from stopping fire.
Magic and projectiles rained from above, and while Ryouma was able to dodge them with his magic and his nimble movements, he still ended up getting hit. Fortunately, his inner vest was able to block them all, but several arrows were now lodged into it.
The outpour of magic and various projectiles continued until one arrow finally manage to make its way to the back of Ryouma’s head.
“Got him!!” [Henchman 1]
The henchman rejoiced when he saw his arrow successfully hit Ryouma, but for some reason, Ryouma didn’t fall down.
Right after Ryouma made that sound that wasn’t a word, the man that prematurely celebrated was struck by lighting.
“Kento!” [Henchman 2]
“Forget him! Don’t stop shooting! Kill him!” [Leader]
“He’s… alive!?” [Henchman 3]
“You’re kidding!? He was hit right at the back of his head—” [Henchman 4]
When the kidnappers saw Ryouma keep fighting despite the arrow sticking out of his head, they all started having second thoughts. Those second thoughts caused a delay in their attacks, allowing Ryouma the leeway to cast another lightning spell, this time knocking out several people.
It was then that the leader realized something, and he yelled after turning.
“The hostage is— He’s behind us!” [Leader]
But it was too late. Of the three guards who were watching over the bag, the man in the middle had his neck cut off.
The person responsible for that was none other than another Ryouma.
When they heard the leader call out to them and saw the head of their comrade flying, the other two guards tried to kill the hostage, but they were too slow.
“!? KyAaA!!!” [Hostage Guard 2]
“Tch! Ga…” [Hostage Guard 3]
The female guard attempted to penetrate the bag with her spear, but before she could, Ryouma kicked her down the cliff. The remaining male guard then tried to thrust his spear into Ryouma, but Ryouma pushed the tip of his spear with his left hand, letting it hit nothing more than the empty air over his right shoulder, then with his iron slime katana, broke the spear in half.
The katana didn’t stop, however, and it kept going into the man’s chest until blood spurted out, and the man was no more.
“aGU!” [Henchman 5]
Meanwhile, more and more people were being knocked out by the other Ryouma’s lightning magic. Unbeknownst to them, however, the Ryouma that was fighting below was none other than a mimic slime transformed into Ryouma’s appearance.
Ryouma had already switched with the mimic slime before coming here, and was controlling the slime through Sensory Link. The mimic slime itself wasn’t actually able to talk past the level of a baby, but with Ryouma’s help, it could easily pose as the real thing. Moreover, with the mimic slime being a slime, handcuffs had no effect on it, and it wouldn’t die unless its nucleus was hurt. With all that in mind, the mimic slime was indeed the best decoy Ryouma could have asked for.
While the kidnappers were busy with the fake Ryouma, the real Ryouma had followed the mimic slime, and was sneaking around the barrier, while he ordered the slimes to position themselves.
And now, with his sneak attack a success, Ryouma took the bag and invoked his magic.
“Wait—” [Bandit Leader]
“—Tch!” [Bandit Leader]
As Ryouma vanished with his dimension magic, the mimic slime and his weapons also vanished. The leader bit his lips upon seeing that, but…
“He’s above!” [Bandit Leader]
He immediately found where Ryouma and the mimic slime were. When he shouted, the rest of the gang followed, and a storm of arrows came shooting at Ryouma and the mimic slime. But with the place Ryouma and the mimic slime were at being above the kidnappers and a blind spot to many, the arrows shot, but they never managed to get past the mimic slime.
As the kidnappers continued to shoot at Ryouma and the mimic slime, Ryouma ordered the mimic slime to defend while he confirmed Elia’s safety. Upon opening the bag, he saw a girl with blonde hair, but it wasn’t Elia. It was someone else.
(I couldn’t sense Elia’s vast magic power, so I already thought this would be the case…
Shadow slimes, return.
Emperor Grave Slime and Rimel Birds, deal with those who try to escape.
Magic Slimes, Metal Slimes, and Iron Slimes wait at the designated location.
You may attack if the runaway kidnappers come your way, but don’t kill them yet.
It looks like I’m gonna have to make that leader talk.)
After Ryouma was certain that the fake hostage wasn’t in any state to fight, he gave orders to his slimes and stood up.
” ‘Vaccine’ ‘Smoky Fire Ball’ ” [Ryouma]
After casting some anti-poison spell on himself, Ryouma threw down a fire ball that emitted black smoke, upon which, the leader screamed.
“Don’t breathe that smoke!! If you breathe it, it’s over!” [Bandit Leader]
Smoky Fire Ball was a combination spell of the magic attributes: fire and water. The fire ball would emit a strong poison, which would scatter to the surrounding. The leader knew this beforehand thanks to the scarred man, but…
“*Cough *Cough… I breathed some…” [Henchman 5]
“*Cough!” [Henchman 6]
A direct hit from the spell could certainly knock someone out, but even without that, the smoke emitted could paralyze when inhaled. Many of the surrounding people ended up doing just that, and they fell down to the ground, unable to move. As the wind scattered the black smoke, more and more people fell to the ground.
“Well I’m not just gonna stand here, doing nothing! ‘Wind’!” [Henchman 7]
“Don’t blow the poison here!” [Henchman 8]
“Oi! Hurry and run!” [Henchman 9]
“Get out of the way!” [Henchman 10]
The poison had no effect on Ryouma, who casted an anti-poison spell on himself, or the slimes, who didn’t need to breathe in the first place, but the effects on the kidnappers were catastrophic. Half of them were either knocked out or forced to run, while the remaining half were led by the leader in an attempt to climb up to where Ryouma and his mimic slime were.
They still didn’t seem to understand what Ryouma not running away meant, as the female mage among them casted Earth Wall to lift them up, only for them to end up being bombarded by Ryouma’s poison while he waited for them up top.
By the time they got up, there were only 8 of them left along with the scarred man. If an outsider were to see this situation, he would surely think that Ryouma and the mimic slime were the ones being driven into a corner, but in truth, it was the other way around.
“You sure not running was wise?” [Ryouma]
Ryouma asked, to which the leader answered.
“Either way it’s over for us unless we kill you!” [Bandit Leader]
As soon as the leader said that, four of them attacked Ryouma and the slime. Each one of them brandished their sword or axe, but the mimic slime used its electric magic ‘Spark Ball’ to knock them out.
As soon as it did, however, the leader came running in to slash his sword diagonally down at Ryouma. In response, Ryouma spun on his right feet to dodge the oncoming attack, while striking the leader’s gauntlet with the back of his katana. Unfortunately, the leader managed to pull back in the nick of time, causing Ryouma’s attempt to hit nothing more than the leader’s sword.
The leader clicked his tongue as he tried to retreat, but Ryouma struck again with the back of his katana, this time toward the leader’s chin, but then…
“OoOOOO!!!” [Scarred Man]
The scarred man let out a great cry as he made a valiant charge for Ryouma. In his hands were a small sake bottle with cloth hanging out of its opening.
(That thing is dangerous!)
But right at the very moment Ryouma thought that—
” ‘Fire’ ” [Scarred Man]
It was not an attack-type magic, but a simple spell that lit something aflame, yet that was more than enough. The scarred man ran for Ryouma while holding the sake bottle that was now stuffed with a cloth lit in flames.
(Fire? …A bomb!? ‘Magic Hand’ !!)
“!?” [Scarred Man]
As soon as Ryouma thought that, he used Magic Hand to push away the man and the bomb.
In the next instant, the sake bottle that had started to burn inside was pushed away, causing cracks to appear on the bottle, and thus, making it explode. While it didn’t explode right away, it still exploded near enough the scarred man for him to suffer severe burns. The scarred man writhed on the ground away from Ryouma.
(He actually ran at me with a bomb! Is he mad!?)
Ryouma looked at the leader as he thought that, but for some reason, the leader was also surprised. It appears the scarred man was moving on his own accord.
While all of this was happening, the slime knocked out another three, allowing the leader to finally be captured.
“Can you explain what’s going on?” [Ryouma]
Their positions reversed, this time the leader was the one being interrogated by the mimic slime – who was still in Ryouma’s shape – with his hands cuffed by the magic sealing handcuffs and his whole body restrained by a metal slime. As Ryouma looked at the fake hostage, Ryouma asked the leader to explain the situation.
The leader seemed to have resigned himself to his fate, as he started talking honestly like a criminal in some B-Rate detective flick.
“We handed her to a slave trader.” [Leader]
“The Dark Guild has many hiding places used to either store dangerous goods or be used as a ‘cellar’. So I guess she’s either being held in one of those places, or being smuggled through the tunnels.” [Leader]
“It’s a story from long ago, but supposedly, the people responsible for making the hiding places found a cave near Teressa, which they used as the starting point to dig the tunnels. Nowadays, adventurers visit that cave to look for magic jewels, but it used to be an unpopular spot that was useful for hiding.
The tunnels allow us to transport hot goods quickly, while the smugglers are responsible for transporting them.” [Leader]
After a brief pause, Ryouma continued.
“Were you trying to buy time by calling me out here? Or were you actually aiming for me?” [Ryouma]
“…We could get another lease on life if we could just get your attention and buy some time. Not doing anything meant either execution or the cellar.
If we could make you one of us, well… that would be great. But magic tools that can really bind one’s magic are too precious, and without any, we figured it would be easy to just kill you.” [Leader]
(In other news, these guys are basically disposable pieces.)
When Ryouma asked the next question, he asked with a colder, more solemn voice.
“That’s why you brought someone else? Because you had no intention of giving back the hostage?” [Ryouma]
“…If this were last month, we might have brought the real hostage. At that time, we still had a dark mage with us who could cast the Curse of Obedience, but his heart suddenly stopped before turning into a lich.” [Leader]
Ryouma’s face twisted when he heard that.
“That thing was one of yours?” [Ryouma]
“Used to be.” [Leader]
“…Well, there’s no point talking about that now. Tell me how to get to these hiding places of yours.” [Ryouma]
After getting everyone to spill the beans, the rest of the captured kidnappers included, Ryouma sent a Rimel bird to contact the others, while he quickly went south the canyons with the emperor slime and the fake hostage girl on his shoulder.
“You’re sure this is the right path?” [Ryouma]
“Yes! Now, please! …Stop! …this thing …I’m …Going to die!” [Leader]
“We don’t have time for that!” [Ryouma]
Ryouma ignored the leader that was being flung around beside him, while they hurried south.
According to the man, the tunnels were dug so deep that one could not go down it, but it allowed one to quickly reach the borders of the country. If one were to go slow, one could be there by tomorrow afternoon, but if fast, one could be there as early as morning.
With it being late into the night, Ryouma hadn’t the time to dally, so he had the emperor grave slimes throw them up whenever they needed to climb up, passing through the tentacles of the slime, while the slime then climbed up by bringing its nucleus and body up the cliff. Then whenever they needed to go down, the slime would go down first, then they would jump onto the slime, using it as cushion.
Using this method, Ryouma could directly go South without any detours, but in exchange, the whole process felt like an endless ropeless bungee or reverse bungee. Such a feeling could make even a big man cry, but Ryouma persisted while the leader cried as they made their way like this to the nearest hiding place of the Dark Guild.
Inside a carriage that rumbled as it drove was a lone girl.
It was Elia.
When she opened her eyes she looked around her surroundings.
There were no windows in the carriage, and the paltry light in her vicinity was barely enough to see anything.
Looking down to her hands, she noted that an iron ring was attached onto the both of them, connected by a metal chain. When she looked beside her she noted that there were two others just like her, who wore the same cuffs. Looking around, she noted that there were even more people, and everyone was cuffed.
When Elia moved a bit, the chains rustled, causing the other two in front of her to take notice.
“Ah, you’re awake?” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“Are you ok? I can’t see, but since you were sleeping all this time, you must be in bad condition.” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“Ah, umm… yes. I don’t think, there’s anything wrong with my body…” [Elia]
At most, she felt a bit lightheaded, but that was to be expected since she just woke up. There was nothing else other than that. She checked her body and her clothes again, but with nothing amiss, she heaved a sigh of relief.
“That’s good… But then again, considering where we are…” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“Where are we?” [Elia]
“We’ve been kidnapped.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“I see…” [Elia]
“You’re not surprised… That’s good. Nothing would change even if you made a fuss, after all.” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
The one who told her that they were kidnapped was the girl to her right, while the one who praised her was the girl to her left.
“You should probably sleep some more. I think they made you inhale some medicine.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“You were sleeping all this time, after all.” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“Umm, you two are…” [Elia]
“We’re adventurers. We belong to a party known as Flowers of Famize. Doesn’t ring a bell though, huh.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“Don’t mind. We’re an up-and-coming three-girl party. It would be strange if you’ve heard of us.” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
Suddenly, a man banged on the front door.
“Shut up! You’re noisy!” [???]
“Don’t worry, he won’t do anything. He’ll just yell, at most.” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“We feared he would do something to us too, but after he brought you, everything suddenly became lively, and they forgot about us.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
The two girls spoke to comfort Elia.
“We’ve been on the road all this time without a break, I think they might be running from someone.” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
“Someone might be coming to rescue us. It would be bad, if we couldn’t move then, so you should get some more rest.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
When Elia heard about someone possibly coming to save her, the face of four people came to mind.
“…Can I ask something?” [Elia]
“What?” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“Did you see them bring another girl other than me when they brought me here?” [Elia]
The two girls shook their heads.
“We were in a jail-like place before being stuffed into this carriage, so I don’t think there’s anyone else.” [Girl on Elia’s Right]
“You were the last one. Were you with someone?” [Girl on Elia’s Left]
As Elia said that, she meekly leaned onto the wall behind her.
(If the others aren’t here, then they’ll definitely know that I’m missing. Gramps will surely come to save me. These two girls are right. I shouldn’t do anything stupid.)
Elia stifled the fright welling up with logic.