In the night forest, the sounds of mayflies persistently echoed. In such an environment, several people advanced through the forest.
「Tch, they’re persistent!」
Arogan, who was advancing at the front, brandished his magic sword at the darkness in front of him while clicking his tongue. A Goblin that was about to attack had it’s head cut off and fell down before it could even scream.
「Seriously, are we crazy to go through the forest at night?」
「……You didn’t say anything during the strategy meeting at noon. Too late now, isn’t it?」
As he said that, Supervia thrust his sword into a 1m long Giant Bat without a sound.
「Haa~, I don’t understand why you’re taking monsters so lightly.」
「You know, if you have any complaints, you should talk to the person himself and not us. You always go quiet in front of Rei, and you get all arrogant when he’s not around.」
Though Arogan scowled at Culotte, he understood that they shouldn’t be wasting their time with this and quickly advanced through the forest.
「Generally speaking, our party balance isn’t that bad? One thief, two warriors. However, we don’t have enough for a rear guard.」
However, he still grumbled.
Yes. The only people currently advancing through the forest at night were Arogan, Supervia and Culotte. Of course, Rei, Firuma and Scola weren’t just resting at the back. According to the strategy discussed at noon, the 3 would stay back to look for a position to snipe the bandit lookouts. These 3 had a different job, they had to quickly cut down the lookouts in the case the long distance sniping failed……
「Rather, if the sniping fails, the lookout will alert the guys inside. So we have to do something about it. In the first place, why couldn’t they come with us and then snipe.」
「That’s why I was saying, Rei said this just to be sure. Aside from that, come on, we’re almost out of the forest. It will be bad if we suddenly came out and alerted the people on lookout. There’s no helping that the sniping group is taking separate action. Aside from the ranger, Firuma, and Rei, who’s mysterious in various ways, Scola is a genuine mage so he needs to be at a distance that won’t alert the bandits.」
Though Supervia said that to Arogan, Culotte smiled as she heard that and continued.
「That’s right, Rei would be harsh to Arogan if we were seen like this. I want to see how he would look like.」
「Hey, don’t say something nasty like that as a joke. Seriously, I understand, I’ll do it seriously.」
While Arogan demonstrated his strange ability to cry out in hushed tones, Culotte quietly looked ahead to the point where forest ended and where the cliff entrance to the bandit hideout was.
As according to Culotte’s expectations, there were 2 lookouts. However, you could clearly see they weren’t taking it seriously.
(Are they confident that their hideout wouldn’t be found……or are they just stupid.)
Glancing for a moment, Culotte turned her eyes to Arogan.
(……Though he’s probably stupider.)
It would have been nice to have a torch. After all, although as adventurers, they had the occupation of thief, they weren’t bandits, and just because Culotte was a thief, it didn’t mean she she stole things or had good night vision.
However, although they were called lookouts, they weren’t really looking around, instead they were talking with each other and laughing loudly. Seeing that, Culotte couldn’t really call it a lookout. Anyway, erasing her sounds, she got within 10m of the lookout without them noticing.
(Scola wouldn’t have been able to erase his sounds at this range, thinking of that, even Arogan might have issues.
Muttering in her mind, she checked to see how the two people were doing.
Both Arogan and Supervia had already pulled out their weapons, they were ready to attack at any time. Culotte checked her dagger, which had been used to cut the throat of a Goblin in the forest, and waited.
「……Still not yet?」
They had been hiding on the edge of the forest for a few minutes. Maybe he was impatient that the attack still hadn’t begun, Arogan gave a small mutter while Culotte patiently waited for Scola and Firuma’s attack.
At the sniping location, away from Culotte’s position, Firuma muttered in amazement as she watched the bandit lookout, visible in the distance.
It was no wonder, the people at the lookout were laugh and talking, they basically weren’t acting as lookouts.
「You know, since you’re helping us all, you shouldn’t blame yourself, okay?」
While listening to their exchange, Rei looked towards the forest.
Normally speaking, if he wasn’t a thief like Culotte, it would be impossible for him to grasp the state of the dark forest. However, because his body was made by Zepairu’s organisation and ignored common sense, he could see into the forest without any issues.
In Rei’s view, he could clearly see the 3 people, Arogan, Supervia and Culotte, hiding near the edge of the forest.
「It seems the 3 people in the vanguard have reached their positions successfully. Are you ready?」
The two people nodded in silence to Rei’s words.
Seeing that, Rei nodded as he told them to start the night attack.
「Okay, Scola, start casting your magic. Firuma must match his timing and attack with your bow at the same time Scola casts his magic.」
「Leave it to me.」
Nodding, Scola began to cast his spell, Firuma notched an arrow to her bow to match the timing.
『Wind, turn into an unseen arrow to pierce those before me.』
Scola’s incantation to cast his magic was the same one he used in the mock battle., invisible arrows were created. The invisible wind arrows were already difficult to see in the day, at night, their stealthiness increased further.
Finishing the incantation, Scola held his magic in place, ready to cast, and looked at Firuma. Seeing Firuma’s nod, he released his magic.
Along with his words, 5 invisible wind arrows were launched. At the same time, Firuma let lose her arrow towards the lookout.
The next moment the two attacks were released, the wind arrows stabbed into the neck and head of the lookout who was sitting down, the other man didn’t realise what had happened as an arrow dropped down and pierced into his head at the same time.
「They’ve done it!」
The lookout hit in the neck and face by the wind arrows crumpled to the ground, spouting blood from the wounds in his neck and face. The other man fell at almost the same time, an arrow piercing his head. Seeing that, Culotte gave a sharp cry to Arogan and Supervia.
The two people heard the words and started running quickly out of the fores, rapidly closing the distance to the lookout.
And as they closed the distance, Supervia clicked his tongue.
「That’s bad, the person Scola attacked with magic hasn’t been killed. Arogan, you have to kill the lookout on the ground that’s still alive. Watch out for people coming out of the cave.」
「Hey, why me!」
「Shut up, we don’t have the time. From now on, there’s no time to spare. It’s a race against time.」
「Tch, I understand, damn it.」
While talking, they finally reached the lookout. Supervia hid himself next to the entrance and check inside as said that to Arogan.
Fortunately, all they could hear was laughter and cheers. Judging that they were all reveling and probably didn’t notice what happened to the lookout, Supervia let out a sigh of relief.
Nearby, Arogan was looking at the lookout who was struggling on the ground in pain and confusion……Arogan froze up.
「Shit, like this……」
To the misfortune of the lookout, Scola’s magic was still immature. ……No, for an E rank adventure, it was already strong enough. But even though all 5 wind arrows had hit his head and neck, as they prioritized speed and stealth, they weren’t enough to kill the lookout.
In that sense, maybe the happier person was the one who had his head pierced by Firuma’s arrow. Because he was killed instantly, he wouldn’t have known what had happened.
「Arogan, make it quick!」
Kill him, Supervia quietly ordered Arogan, who was hesistating.
However, for Arogan to kill a person……it was the first time he had to kill someone of the same race, his hands trembled and wouldn’t move properly. In the mock battle against Rei, Arogan had gone in with the intention to kill! But though he wielded a magic sword, for better or worse, it he hadn’t actually killed anyone. Because of that, the magic sword in his hand trembled.
「Tch, Culotte, as Rei said, check inside the cave.」
As Supervia saw Culotte replace him at the cave entrance, he approached the lookout, who was writhing on the ground, and casually swung his long sword down at the man’s neck.
With the blade of the longsword, head of the lookout rolled to the ground while leaving a trail of blood.
Though he had seen dead monsters, It was the first time Arogan had seen a dead human. Arogan ran towards the shadows while vomiting.
While looking at Arogan with a complex expression, Supervia strained his ears to listen to the sounds in the cave.
Fortunately, though the lookouts had died, only shouts of happiness and laughter could be heard.
In such a situation, the rear guard joined up.
「Where is Culotte?」
「She’s gone inside as planned in the strategy.」
While answering Rei, Supervia looked at Scola and Firuma.
Firuma didn’t seem to feel any guilt from killing a person. Or maybe she just had enough mental strength to hide it. However, Scola was clearly looking pale.
To Supervia’s words, Rei looked at Arogan, who was still vomiting in the shadows.
「It seems so. It’s because the lookout survived the magic that was used.」
「Well, it was the first time he’s had to kill someone. It’s not unreasonable.」
「Supervia seems to be calm.」
「I’ve become used to it. Speaking of which, you don’t seem to mind it either?」
「Well, I wonder……so, you’ve come back.」
Noticing Culotte coming back with silenced footsteps, Rei ended the coversation. While they had a surprised look, they understood as the person in question came out of the cave.
「How was it?」
At Rei’s question, Culotte gave a small nod.
「There’s one main path ahead. However, it later splits into 3 passages. On the right path, there seems to some people who maybe merchants who have been captured. Because there were guards, I couldn’t see exactly how many were captured. The middle path is quite wide, the sounds of reveling were coming from there. Also, the left side seems to be some sort of armoury and storage area.」
「Number of bandits?」
「There’s slightly less than 30 people.」
「I see. Are there any other exits to the outside?」
「I didn’t check as I didn’t have enough time.」
「In that case, should we try to kill as many thieves as possible at first contact?」
「However, it won’t be as easy if there are merchants taken as hostages.」
To Rei’s murmur, Supervia spoke up.
「Well, that’s true. ……Culotte, do you know if there are any side paths that go from the prison to the area where they are partying?」
「I said it before but I don’t know as there was no time. But you’re asking for my personal opinion, as they’re not expecting a subjugation force to come, I don’t think they would be able to respond to an emergency situation.」
「In that case……Culotte, you have to head to the prison first to secure the prisoners. After that……Gran, what will you do?」
When he called out into the darkness, Gran came out with a wry smile.
「I didn’t expect to be noticed. So, what do you want?」
「After we rescue the hostages, can we leave them to you or is it considered part of the rank up test?」
「No, you cant. My role is strictly to ascertain whether you have the ability to go up to D rank. I’m not supposed to help if there is no compelling reason. So, in other words, the current situation isn’t important enough.」
「……It can’t be helped. Though it’s regrettable to reduce our combat power, Culotte, after rescuing the prisoners, come back here and hide yourself.」
「Okay, we’ll enter the cave. As I said at noon, Arogan and Supervia will take the vanguard. Center are Scola and Firuma. I’ll be the rear guard……can you do it?」
Arogan’s nausea had finally settled and Rei called out to him as he returned. Arogan nodded with a bitter expression.
「Ah, I’ll do it.」
「I-I’m fine. I’ll manage it somehow.」
Giving Scola some time, he started to feel better than before.
「Okay, we’ll rush in.」
At Rei’s cue, they rushed into the cave.