The men had spread out to both sides to surround him, so Ox threw his left sword to the left center, while he himself rushed to one of the men to the right. The man managed to brush aside Ox’s sword, but the left sword came back and struck him hard on the head.
Ox had created this technique because of his unwillingness to part with the sword despite losing his hand. However, after meeting Ryouma and getting the Mana Regeneration Potion, he was able to overcome the weakness of his small mana pool, allowing him not only to last longer, but also to take his training to another level.
“S-Save me!” [Adventurer 1]
“You bastard! That was dangerous!” [Adventurer 3]
“Gyaaaa!” [Adventurer 4]
The left sword was controlled through magic, so it had a much wider range compared to a normal sword. Through that, Ox could suppress the men surrounding him, while taking down those that were isolated.
“I’m not just gonna stand here and wait for my death!” [Adventurer 5]
One of the men knew that he wasn’t Ox’s match, so he gambled everything on one last attack, but his blade was blocked by Ox’s right sword. At times, he would deflect the enemy’s attack with his meticulous techniques; at times, he would rely on his strong arms to deflect them.
The left sword attacked, while the right sword protected. The two swords that danced freely engulfed the enemy like a tornado.
Not only did the men fail to exchange blows with Ox, they could not even approach him. When more than half of their numbers have been rendered incapable of combat, the man furthest away from him began to gather his mana onto his hand.
“Fireba—!?” [Adventurer 6]
But his spell could not be completed.
“W-What is this needle? Uu…” [Adventurer 6]
The pain that abruptly erupted from his shoulder stopped his invocation. When he examined it, he saw that a thin needle had penetrated him.
In that short time, intense pain and numbness assaulted his arm.
“What’s happening? What’s with this smoke!?” [Adventurer 7]
One of his friends noticed that there was something wrong with him and tried to call out, but something even stranger happened.
A thick cloud of smoke had suddenly covered them from behind, and with the darkness of the night, their already limited sight became even more limited.
There were fires springing up all over the city, so it wasn’t strange for the stench of fire and the smoke to reach them. But because their attention were too focused on Ox, they failed to notice that
They did think that it was clearly artificial, but by the time they realized that something was up, it was already too late.
“Oh no—” [Adventurer 8]
“Guah!” [Adventurer 9]
“Who is it! Come out and show yourself!” [Adventurer 10]
The needles that shout of the smoke bore into the men’s limbs one after another, rendering them incapacitated.
They tried to figure out the enemy’s location from the trajectory the needles followed, but…
“Guha!” [Adeventure 8]
“Wha— Uu…” [Adventurer 9]
Dolce and Fel entered the fray. They were both security personnels like Ox.
Dolce used his spear to hit a nearby man on the head before hiding back in the smoke, while Fei quietly took a man from behind and dragged him in restraints into the smoke. The rest of the men were understandably taken aback by the appearance of two new enemies, but that just allowed more poison needles to attack them.
Moreover, Ox never stopped taking down one man after another.
Now, only three men could still fight.
“Damn it!” [Adventurer 10]
“Ah, hey! Don’t run away!” [Adventurer 11]
“They’ll kill us!” [Adventurer 12]
“Shut up! We’ll die either way, so we might as well run!” [Adventurer 10]
Now that things have reached this point, they have already judged that there was no hope for victory.
One of the men ran toward the wall of smoke. His comrades told him to stop, but—
“Gyaaaa!!” [Adventurer 10]
—a scream resounded as soon as he entered the smoke.
“Can’t you… let us off?” [Adventurer 11]
“Damn it, just what the hell are these people!? Why the hell are people like this watching over a tiny store!? We were able to avoid being enslaved, but now, this is what we get? This is a trap! We’ve been had! We’ve all been had!!” [Adventurer 12]
Of the remaining two, one of gave up, while the other started to lose his mind. Neither no longer able to put up a resistance, they subdued before long.
“I checked around the store, and there doesn’t seem to be any more enemies.” [Leelin]
“I see. Thank you, Leelin-dono. Your assistance was a big help. Of course, your assistance as well, Fei-dono, Dolce-dono.” [Ox]
“I doubt the results would have changed even if we hadn’t joined.” [Dolce]
“Long-range attack’s are a hassle. And I’m not experienced in catching fleeing enemies either. Alone, I might not have lost, but the enemies that focused on fleeing might have been able to get away.” [Ox]
“There are no events in the fighting arenas that involve catching someone, after all. But we specialize in that moreso than combat. We have the slimes we borrowed from the boss too, so it was a piece of cake.” [Fei]
Fei said that with a chuckle before turning his attention to the bamboo tube tied to his waist.
In the next moment, the smoke that covered their surroundings entered the hole of the bamboo tube as though they were but threads spun by it.
The smoke was in fact none other than the Smoke Slime that evolved from the Ash Slime.
It usually looked like a pile or lump of ash just like the ash slime, but its particles were light enough to float in the air. Their abilities were similar to those of the ash slimes and the sand slimes, so they could scatter and gather at will.
It was through that that Fei could create a smoke screen that could be manipulated at will.
“I can also get as much poison needles as I want, so they’re very reassuring. Adjusting the amount of poison is a bit troubling, but that’s a minor problem.” [Leilin]
Leelin laughed as she showed off the bracelet on her right wrist.
That was the Sting Slime that evolved from the poison slime.
“They’re great for capturing people too. Who would’ve thought I would one day form a contract with a slime?” [Dolce]
On Dolce’s shoulder was a Spider Slime that evolved from the sticky slime. It could spit out threads even more durable than those of the sticky slime’s. Because of its threads, the people they’ve caught couldn’t move an inch.
Dolce couldn’t use any magic when he was first employed. It wasn’t because his mana pool was small or because he lacked talent, but rather, he was born in the slums and didn’t have a teacher, so the thought never even crossed his mind.
But as he continued to work as security in Bamboo Forest, his finances and his time gradually opened up enough for him to do as he pleased. Dolce chose to use his free time to strengthen himself, and started training in magic in hopes of at least being able to use a basic strengthening spell.
Moreover, there were a lot of people nearby that he could ask for advice, from Maria and Ryouma, who managed the store’s slimes, to Fei and Leelin, who learned magic because of their last job.
As a result, Dolce was able to learn basic magic, and at Ryouma’s recommendations, formed a contract with a spider slime. Fei and Leelin both also learned the basics of Monster Taming, and with Dolce, they all succeeded at strengthening themselves.
“The assistant-manager and the others are in the ‘special room’ that the boss prepared, so we just have to focus on intercepting the enemies. They’ve all been half-assed so far, though.” [Ox]
“…These guys may be adventurers, but they’re probably on the lower end. They probably couldn’t make enough money and had to borrow money from a shady lender.” [Dolce]
“The ones that tried to sneak into the dorm from the back were yelling about debts too.” [Leelin]
When Dolce said that, Leelin mentioned the words she heard from an attacker.
Dolce glanced at the unconscious bound attackers, then continued.
“When I was a kid, I heard from the adults in the slums that the shady lenders are sometimes connected to illegal slave traders… Slave traders like those have no regard for the rights of slaves. The places they sell their slaves to aren’t any good either. They are also very strict in their collections, and if they can’t collect from you, they will relentlessly pursue your family and relatives, so it’s hard to escape.” [Dolce]
“I see… Though I do think it’s their fault for borrowing money from someone like that in the first place… I can’t help but sympathize with them a little as someone who also became a slave because of my debts.” [Ox]
After a short conversation, the four of them decided to take turns resting to prepare themselves for the next attack.
Ox waited by himself in front of the store for the guards to come and pick up the men they caught.
(I really lucked out to be sold off to a decent slave trader, huh. I’m even making enough for myself…)
As he reflected on his own good fortune, he renewed his vow to do his best to protect the store and its employees.
With the way he was now, it would be difficult to get past him and damage the store or hurt the employees.
Attacking from the back or attempting a surprise attack wouldn’t go well either because of the two former assassins keeping watch.
Dolce with his newfound strength and the slimes were there too.
That’s why, even without Ryouma, the Bamboo Forest Laundromat had more than enough protection.