“Oh, right. Boss. There’s something I forgot to tell you.” [Fei]
He said as if he suddenly remembered. I wonder if it’s something important.
“When you interviewed us. I mentioned that Leelin took after her mother. Do you remember?” [Fei]
“That was a lie. Actually, Leelin and I have no blood relation. We just became father and daughter because we were affiliated with the same squad.” [Fei]
Wow! That was a lot less relevant than I thought it would be!
Oh, but I guess it must be pretty important for him.
“We’ve been playing the role of father and daughter for over 10 years, so she’s no different from a daughter to me. There are a lot of things that are hard to explain, but I just wanted to let you know since you already know about our situation.” [Fei]
Apparently, at the Win House that he worked at, in order to reduce the number of children that were abandoned after losing their parents in the war, they took the orphan children and gathered them into an institute. There, they gave them training and used them. Leelin-san is one of those children.
“Raising children into assassins and using them… You might think it’s cruel, but that was normal in our country. And besides, children who weren’t taken in had worse lives. Those children couldn’t live at all.” [Fei]
After her talent as an assassin was recognized, she was placed under Fei-san. The institute, however, was not just meant to turn the children into assassins. It could also train them into civil officials or soldiers. There were all sorts. Although it restricted one’s course in life, it served its purpose to help the children.
As we discussed that topic, we eventually fell silent.
But it wasn’t because the mood was spoiled due to the conversation taking a dark turn.
“Someone’s here. Up ahead.” [Fei]
There were several footprints on the ground.
“They’re wearing shoes. Should be humans… Since these footprints are still here despite the rain this morning, then they should have passed through here roughly half a day ago.” [Ryouma]
“There should be 10… or 15 of them. That’s too many for hunters. Should be bandits. What should we do?” [Fei]
“…We’ll reach a river if we keep going in this direction. That’s probably what they’re headed for. It’s the same direction as my old house.” [Ryouma]
“That’s a problem.” [Fei]
Despite saying that, Fei-san did not look at all troubled.
Still, it seemed he wanted to leave the decision to me and said nothing more than that.
“We could change directions here and go to main road, but…” [Ryouma]
I was planning on spending the night at my cave house.
If I avoid these bandits I’ll have to change my plans.
Moreover, the sun will set by the time we reach the main road.
And besides, as someone who lives in this forest, I can’t just leave those bandits alone.
“I want to deal with the bandits. Can I rely on your help?” [Ryouma]
“Of course. Please wait here, Boss. I’ll go scout a bit. I’m sure they’re not that far off.” [Fei]
…I’m sure Fei-san will be fine. He’s probably a lot better than me at following tracks and moving quietly.
I mean I couldn’t have predicted that the bandits ‘weren’t that far’.
I wonder how he could tell that. I’ll ask him later.
“I’ll count on you then. Please don’t push yourself, though.” [Ryouma]
“Leave it to me, Boss.” [Fei]
Fei-san quietly moved out and vanished into the trees. The only sound that followed him was the wind rustling the leaves.
One hour later, Fei-san came back.
“Good work out there.” [Ryouma]
When I said that, I heard the grass rustling behind me.
“…So you can sense me.” [Fei]
“I told my metal slime weapon to tell me if metal (feed) were to approach. There are bandits nearby, after all.” [Ryouma]
“Still, you shouldn’t have been able to tell it was ‘me’ with just that…” [Fei]
Actually, the bigger question is why you had to approach me from behind.
If not for the report of the slimes, I wouldn’t have noticed him in time.
As expected, he really is a pro. Retired as he may be.
It’s a bit late to be realizing this, but I sure got lucky hiring him to be the store’s bodyguard.
“So, how was it?” [Ryouma]
“There were indeed 15 of them. They are preparing to make camp in front of a cliff up ahead. It’s probably the place you were talking about. I heard them talking about a briefing for tomorrow while gathered around a fire, so I’m sure they’re bandits. They seem experienced too.” [Fei]
“Can we beat them with just the two of us?” [Ryouma]
“They have four mages and three archers. They have swordsmen and spearmen for close-combat. They have relatively good equipment and their balance is good. But that’s about it. There weren’t anyone particularly strong.
If we wait until it gets dark, I can take them out by myself. In the past, I would have used people at their level to train new hands. The two of us should be enough. If the two of us take them together, we should be able to end them instantly.” [Fei]
We decided to take out the bandits.
For future reference on similar situations, I decided to leave the plan to the pro.
“Boss, please use this.” [Fei]
That’s the pocket watch ordered from the Dinome’s Magic Tool Workshop a few days ago.
It was pricey but it was convenient, so I got one for all of my employees at the store.
On its exterior was engraved some clothes and slime relief. Of course, I had one too.
“First I’ll lead you up to a point where they won’t notice you. After that, stand by, and after 15 minutes, show yourself before the enemy. Do the same thing if the enemy manages to find you. If they attack you immediately, then fight, but if they talk, then… Tell them that you’re a new adventurer who got lost and had just come here to gather herbs.
I’ll use those 15 minutes to get to the other side, so while you have their attention, I’ll take them from behind. I’ll take out the mages first. To be honest, I specialize at assassination not fighting. But anyway, when the fighting starts, we’ll take them out immediately.” [Fei]
To maximize our strong points, I was tasked with playing the bait.
After deciding our plan, it was time to carry it out.
“Excuse me! [Ryouma] Is anyone out there!?” [Ryouma]
“Who goes there!?” [Bandit 1]
Just as planned, I showed myself to the bandits.
When I called out to them, they didn’t just look toward me, but also to other directions. Just as Fei-san mentioned, they were indeed experienced.
“…A kid?” [Bandit 2]
“What the? It’s just a brat…” [Bandit 3]
“I’m no one suspicious! I just got lost!” [Ryouma]
“…An adventurer?” [Bandit 4]
“Yes. I just got my first job today. I got an herb collection job, but I was so excited that before I knew it…” [Ryouma]
“What a tragedy…” [Bandit 5]
“He he. You said it. Why don’t you come over here and rest?” [Bandit 6]
I played the fool and approached them. Upon seeing a child like myself, they couldn’t help but let their guard down.
But it didn’t seem like they had any intentions of showing me the way back.
They nonchalantly reached out for their weapons… But before they could draw their weapons, the four bandits furthest at the back suddenly collapsed.
The way they fell was just like when a certain anime’s detective would start giving his deduction.
They turned to their fallen friends, but that was a fatal mistake.
I drew my sword from its sheathe and sent it toward the neck of a man.
“Enemies!?” [Bandit 1]
“GUFU!?” [Bandit 2]
“—Ah” [Bandit 3]
Next, I sent my blade thrusting for a bandit’s neck. Then I swept sideways with my blade. I worked my way through the bandits starting from the closest one. One fatal stroke for each bandit.
“This brat!” [Bandit 4]
The bandit stuck out his knife, but I dodged it by a hair’s breadth, then I struck his heart dead. That makes four…!
I felt the presence of mana.
Fei-san and the bandits were engulfed by the rising smoke.
The smoke didn’t flutter in the wind. It was a smoke that didn’t obstruct me. Is this Fei-san’s magic? This is my first time seeing it.
I’ve never heard that chant before, but it’s probably similar to the poison-type spell, ‘Smoke’, which creates a smokescreen.
Even if the caster himself enters it, he won’t be poisoned.
“GUAAA!?” [Bandit 5]
“Darn it!!” [Bandit 6]
“E-Eek!?” [Bandit 7]
Screams resounded from the pillar of smoke. I cut down the men as they crawled out of the smoke… Not even 30 seconds had passed since the battle started, but all the noise was gone already. When the smoke cleared, Fei-san and several men lying on the ground appeared. Blood could be seen dripping from Fei-san’s straight sword.
It was clear as day what happened inside the smoke and who the victor was.
“It’s over, Boss.” [Fei]
“A spectacular job.” [Ryouma]
But now that I’ve seen his real skills…
Isn’t his pay too low?
…I should get Carm-san to give him a raise when I get back.