After walking for a while in the direction of the quarreling voices, I found myself near the bottom of the mine, in a place where the light was dim due to all the trees, and there, by the corner, where the red soil was after being thrown from the cliff, were a group of adventurers in gear. There were over 10 of them. I couldn’t see very well because of the shadow of the mountain, but I could tell that they were surrounding someone.
“Enough already!” [???]
“You’re just a buncha thieves only good for stealing other people’s spoils!” [???]
The surrounding men screamed jeers.
Their speech was rough perhaps because of anger or perhaps simply because they were lowbred, but either way, the current situation was grim.
Are they fighting?
“We’re not thieves!! We got it from someone!!” [???]
Huh? Haven’t I heard this voice before?
Brats who steals other people’s spoils… And a familiar voice.
I wrung out my hazy memory to try and recall.
…Could they be?
Paying careful attention to the direction of the wind as I usually did when hunting, I quietly moved through the trees and grasses and walked behind the men.
When I was about 50 meters away, my suspicions were confirmed.
On either side were slag heaps, and in front were two groups of men facing each other. Behind one group, which was made up of three young boys, were three young girls, who had their backs to a cliff. Although both the boys and the girls were frightened, they still tried to cover each other.
They struck a posture that suggested they were ready to fight the approaching men.
Yes, the young boys and girls were indeed the ones I met back at the cave just as I’d suspected.
…Huh? W-Which side started this mess?
“Don’t look down on us, slum brats!!” [Older adventurer]
I have no idea how things ended up like this, but the situation looks bad. Fortunately, things haven’t escalated yet, but I can’t exactly just show myself and tell these bandit-like people to stop. Let’s watch first and see how things develop.
At first glance, the 10 men look like the bad guys since they’re surrounding a group of 6 kids, but it’s them we’re talking about, so I wonder.
Those kids did just wordlessly take our spoils without saying a word, so if they did the same thing to those men, it’d be hard to fault them. Taking unwanted spoils just barely falls outside of larceny, but if those men want an apology, they deserve one.
I don’t think pushing the kids into a corner like this is a good idea, though.
In our case, everyone in my party but me called out to them and scolded them as a warning, but we didn’t push them to a corner and shouted jeers at them. There’s a big difference between this and back then.
The kids aren’t talking anymore. They’re already at the point where they feel they have to make a move. They’re literally one step away from a fight.
The best course of action is to call someone who can calm the situation down, but I can’t make it back with a single Warp… Moreover, I’m not capable of taking another person with me when using Warp. Pushing myself and causing an accident is out of the question. And if I ask someone else, we’ll end up taking unnecessary time when they ask for the location.
I don’t want to leave those 6 for too long since the other group is made up of either guys who’d willingly lay a hand on them or guys who just flat out don’t care.
Of course, I’m also one of the people just watching, but I’m confident I can put a stop to them with force should the need arise.
Sigh… What to do?
Considering what might happen, staying here might be for the best, but then I won’t be able to call anyone. On on one hand, I could call someone else to handle the situation, but the problem is that would put the kids in danger until I return.
…It’s nice to be alone, but times like these are really inconvenient…
I’ve never been hurried by anyone back at the forest, so it’s been a while since I was last inconvenienced by not having enough hands.
Hmm… The exact number of the men surrounding them is 12. They’re all more or less 20 years-old, but there’s one with a beard who looks like he’s 30.
He’s the only one who looks strong. The others aren’t even worth mentioning. But even that bearded guy doesn’t seem to have noticed me. At that level, the bandits I fought before were more dangerous.
It doesn’t seem that dangerous, but those 12 are definitely stronger than the kids. Since they have the numerical advantage too, there’s no hope for the kids winning. Self-defense is probably impossible too.
“Well, say something!” [Older adventurer]
…Well, if they stole something, then 10 or 20 punches is about right. Back in my days, corporal punishment was a given be it in school or at home. Of course, the current Japan would make a fuss now if such a thing were to be done, but this is another world. Here, this much is a given to discipline kids.
If they stole something, then normally they would have to be handed to the disciplinary office of the adventurers guild, so if anything, a few punches is getting off lightly.
It’s true what they did doesn’t completely fall under a crime, but it’s still close enough. And Jeff-san and the others already warned them earlier. So since they refused to take their advice, then I wish they’d clean this mess up on their own. In the first place, there’s not much point to me showing myself when we just met once.
Of course, I won’t just sit still if they go overboard.
But all this is based on the premise that they did in fact do wrong. If they’re not in the wrong, then there’s no need to be hit.
So, is it the 6 at fault or not?
In the end, I just came back right where I started like a broken record or something. This isn’t going anywhere.
…Yeah, let’s just ask them.
I put down the relatively untrained metal slime on the ground and stood up.
“Excuse me!” [Ryouma]
“Over there!” [Older Adventurer 1]
“A-A talking slime!?” [Older Adventurer 2]
“You fool! Look a little lower! There’s a head underneath the slime!” [Older Adventurer 3]
“Why the hell does that brat have three slimes on top of him!” [Older Adventurer 1]
“How long have you been there, you brat!?” [Older Adventurer 2]
“Sorry to intrude when you’re so busy.” [Ryouma]
When I left the thickets and revealed myself, the men turned to me with suspicion.
The group of kids also saw me, and when they did, one of the girls let out a voice.
“Ah, it’s you…” [Girl Adventurer 1]
When the men heard that, they smiled.
“What? So you’re one of them too?” [Older Adventurer 1]
“Not at all. I’m just passing by, actually.” [Ryouma]
The men weren’t buying it, however.
“From the looks of things, everyone here is an adventurer participating in the monster subjugation quest, yes? It’s almost the appointed time, so I was on the way back when I suddenly heard some people arguing.” [Ryouma]
“Really now? These guys seem to know you, though?” [Older Adventurer 1]
“Aren’t you just a thief too?” [Older Adventurer 2]
“I mean that’s a nice armor you’re wearing even though you’re just a kid.” [Older Adventurer 3]
The men started appraising me. Their eyes were all drawn to the armor I wore.
“I just happened to meet those 6 in the tunnel this morning. Did they steal something from you?” [Ryouma]
“That’s right. These twerps—” [Older Adventurer 4]
“We got the monster corpses from that kid’s group!” [Boy Adventurer 5]
“We didn’t steal your spoils!” [Girl Adventurer 6]
“Shut up!” [Older Adventurer 7]
“Do you have any proof!? You don’t!” [Older Adventurer 8]
“They’re telling the truth. My group agreed to give them the spoils. If you can’t trust me, then I can let you meet one of our members. Everyone else in my group is an accomplished adventurer, so I’m sure you’ll find their word trustworthy.
Anyway, it’s almost time for our roll call. Do you mind?” [Ryouma]
When I spoke truthfully, the behavior of the adventurers changed.
“W-We wouldn’t want to trouble your group…” [Older Adventurer 9]
“This is our problem, after all.” [Older Adventurer 10]
“You better not just be trying to buy time to destroy evidence!” [Older Adventurer 11]
“You might be plotting to cry help from someone! We can’t trust you!” [Older Adventurer 1]
“We don’t want to cause a scene either, you know!” [Older Adventurer 2]
“If this turns into a huge scandal, those kids will have a hard time getting a job!” [Older Adventurer 3]
It’s not obvious from their words, but when you look at the way they’re acting, it’s no different from how youngsters act when they try to hide screwing up at work.
It seems they don’t want others to know about this.
Seeing how the men didn’t want to clarify things, the equal scale within my mind tipped toward the 6 adventurers.
After a while, the one adventurer who hadn’t said anything until now finally spoke.
“I agree that there’s no point in further talks.” [Older Adventurer 12]
“Sacchi-san!?” [Older Adventurer 1]
The man called Sacchi spoke to me.
So, he really was their leader.
The other men went quiet when he spoke.
Well, he does look like the toughest one.
“You’ve got guts, brat. Just how did you manage to approach us undetected anyway? You know, I was paying careful attention to our surroundings in case some monster were to approach.” [Sacchi]
“I may look like this, but I’m still a hunter, so I specialize in hunting.” [Ryouma]
“I see… You guys, any further talk is just a waste of time. Just as the kid says, it’s almost time for the roll call, so… Let’s put an end to this.” [Sacchi]
Sacchi said the same thing I said before. He said it so decidedly you wouldn’t think he was the leader of these men who were raising up a fuss just a while ago.
Those men didn’t look like they were about to defy him either.
The men blocking the 6 adventurers’ way snorted, then they drew their weapons.
Tl Note: Haven’t uploaded the newer pdfs yet. Tomorrow.