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Pachi~, pachi~, the flames crackled in the campfire.
While watching the flames, Rei kept track of the surrounding movements and sounds.
At night, monsters would run rampant around the outskirts of the city of Gilm and frequently appeared on the highway. The monsters didn’t even care who they attacked.
In fact while Rei and Firuma were on lookout, there were already 5 Goblins casually piled up up at the periphery of the campfire. They were not defeated by Rei, they were defeated by Culotte and Supervia during their turn on lookout.
Fortunately, as they hadn’t received an attack since then, they weren’t as tense. Firuma held out a cup of tea using water that had just been boiled on the campfire and handed it to Rei.
「Sorry about this.」
Receiving the cup, he took several sips after smelling the fragrance.
Though it had already passed mid summer and was entering late summer, the nights could still be said to be very warm.
Under these circumstances, Firuma looked interestingly at Rei, who was drinking the tea without sweating.
「Hey, how can you drink hot tea in this hot weather without even sweating?」
To those words, though he twitched for a moment, he spoke up as Firuma looked at him silently.
「Aren’t you the same? Or are elves good at coping with the heat?」
「Hmm, well, about that. I suppose we can cope with a certain degree of heat because we live in the forests?」
「……About elves, I’ve heard stories, but don’t you usually shut yourselves up in the forest depths without coming out to human areas?」
「Ahaha~. I see, if it’s some of the elves who are very old then that certainly might be so.」
While smiling, Firuma had a somewhat lonely expression.
Rei saw that and understanding that he shouldn’t ask too deeply about the reason, changed the topic.
「Speaking of which, your bow seems to be quite a good weapon.」
Rei glanced at Firuma’s bow. Firuma was sitting opposite Rei, across the campfire, and had placed her bow down.
Though Rei didn’t have the power to feel other peoples magic, which a lot of mages could, he was still able to feel something from the bow. It was the same kind of feeling as Arogan’s magic sword and the Orc King’s great sword, in other words, he judged that it was a magic item.
「Ah, as I thought, you could tell? This is a family heirloom that is handed down from generation to generation. It’s an excellent weapon that can grant the wind attribute to arrows.」
「Heh~, wind attribute. Should I say, as expected of elves?」
「Ahaha~. I’ll take that as a compliment. But Rei, isn’t your own large scythe quite a good weapon?」
Firuma eyed the Death Scythe that was placed next to Rei.
In yesterday’s fight, while watching the mock battle before going to bed, she saw Rei’s small and delicate build easily handling a chunk of metal over 2m in size. Adding to that, sometimes it was with one hand.
「Seeing the mock battle from before……does it not let the wielder feel its weight?」
「That’s right. No doubt, that’s one of its abilities.」
「Heh~, from your words, there seems to be some hidden abilities.」
「Something like that. ……Well, if it starts to get difficult, you might be able to see them.」
While avoiding the issue, he drank the last of the tea in his cup.
He wasn’t naive enough to think of honestly disclosing all his magic items and trump card abilities to Firuma from the beginning.
They continued straight to the next topic.
「Hey, could I ask you something?」
「Rei, why did you want to become and adventurer?」
「My reason for becoming an adventurer. ……That’s right……」
In his mind, he recalled the explanation he had given to Ranga when he arrived at the city of Gilm for the first time.
「Originally, I lived for a while with my master who taught me magic. Adding to that, as it was in the heart of the mountains, there wasn’t anyone aside from my master and I.」
「Heh~. In the heart of the mountains, so you lived like the Elves.」
「Something like that. So in any case, I learnt magic from my master. As soon as that finished, Set ― ah, he’s the Griffon I tamed ― and I were forcibly sent to the Forest of Monsters with spatial magic. After that, I reached the city of Gilm after slipping out of the Forest of Monsters.」
While listening to Rei’s description, Firuma had a stunned expression.
As elves lived in forests, she had heard rumors of the Forest of Monsters.
They say that after you go in, you can never get back out.
They say that it was a forest where multiple Dragon species lived.
They say it was where the Majin of old slept
They say that large numbers of A rank monsters lived there, and so on. It was a forest with countless rumors that it was impossible to know what was truth and what was a lie.
Because of that, Firuma was surprised that Rei, who was able to safely escaped from the Forest of Magic, wasn’t A rank, let alone D rank.
「……It was good that you was safely able to get out of the Forest of Monsters.」
「Well, though we hardly encountered any monsters, it was all due to Set. So, anyway, I got out of the Forest of Monsters thanks to Set, but as you know Set is quite big. In other words, the food he requires each day is also correspondingly big. So, I though up the idea of defeating monsters and feeding their meat to Set…… If I became an adventurer, I would defeat monsters and Set would eat the meat. Moreover, if I received subjugation requests, proofs of subjugation and materials could also be sold at the guild, there were various benefits. That’s the simple reason.」
There was no way he was going to say that he became an adventurer in order to collect magic stones.
However, what Rei said about hunting monsters for food for Set or the story about receiving subjugation requests weren’t complete lies.
「So, that’s my reason for being here……hm? While talking, the sky seems to have brightened.」
Looking around, sunrise could be seen as the sun rose from the east.
Though Firuma probably intended to talk about why she became an adventurer, it left her mind as she was captivated by the beautiful morning glow.
While the two people watched the morning glow, as the surrounding area brightened up, a goso~ goso~ rustling sound could be heard from one of the tents.
「Ara~, that’s a shame. I wasn’t able to talk about why I became an adventurer.」
Saying that as she threw some dead wood into the campfire, Firuma greeted Culotte, who came out of the tent.
While seeing that, the second day of the rank up test began.
「That’s the bandit hideout.」
Inside the forest, Culotte, who was playing her role as the eyes of the party, muttered as she looked at a huge cliff ahead.
It was noon of the third day since the rank up test had begun, from Gran’s information, Culotte had easily found the bandit hideout.
A cliff drop of about 100m. At the bottom of the cliff, bandits could be seen coming in and out. The cave entrance probably led to the location the bandits were using as their headquarters. That was the bandit hideout that Gran had talked about.
「I see, with that small entrance, it certainly is impossible for large monsters to enter.」
The entrance to the cave in the cliff was quite small, when the bandits went in and out, they had to crouch down.
And though it was large enough for a person to get through, there were also bandits on lookout.
Confirming that, Culotte quickly went back to the place where Gran was waiting.
「I’ve found it.」
「Woah! Don’t scare me.」
To Culotte, who came out of the forest with barely a sound, Arogan almost reflexive attacked with his magic sword. But seeing that it was Culotte, he grumbled as he steadied his posture.
「What, it’s bad to be absent minded.」
「Come on now, cut it out Arogan and Culotte. You never learn every time.」
Looking at both of them, Firuma chided.
Any how, it could be understood that these two people really couldn’t get along ever since the mock battle in the city of Gilm. They had quarreled several times ever since leaving the city of Gilm.
Each time, either Scola or Firuma intervened to stop them. Supervia held the attitude of ignoring them while Gran couldn’t interfere as he was the examiner. And if you asked about Rei, as he was bad at dealing with people, he ended up angering Culotte further instead of calming her down.
Well, though it could be because of the arbitration, Arogan quickly stopped arguing and left. It seemed he still had some fear of Rei.
「Tch, I understand. There’s no fun with getting into a dispute with a thief anyway.」
Fortunately, there weren’t any particular problems as Arogan pulled out before it became a fight.
Rei called out to Culotte after glancing at Arogan.
「So, did you find the bandit hideout?」
「Eh? Ah, yes. As Gran-san said, the exit from their hideout to the forest is in a cave in a cliff.」
「A base in a cave……is it. Then it might be cleaned up surprisingly easily?」
「Eh? What do you mean?」
Maybe he was interested at Rei’s words, Scola asked. Rei’s answer was clear and simple.
「What, that’s easy. All I need to do is cast my fire magic from the entrance of the cave. With that, everyone inside will either be burnt to death or suffocate. Though it’s unlikely, even if there is a mage, they can’t protect all the bandits.」
「……That’s a little……」
As Rei said his idea, Scola words were stuck in his throat.
However, it was Supervia who objected.
「Please wait. Though Rei’s plan is certainly efficient, what happens if there are people in the cave who were caught by bandits? They would be burnt together with the bandits.」
「In addition, the bandits treasure. Wouldn’t it be a waste to burn up all the treasure those guys have gathered.」
Following Supervia, Culotte also rejected it.
It should be noted that adventurers who did bandit subjugation requests were basically allowed to take the valuables in the bandit hideout. Tentatively speaking, if a merchant insisted on claiming the items back, they would have to pay the adventurer for it, but that was rare as merchants attacked by bandits were often killed.
「Incidentally, one more thing. Though you seem to have forgotten, the purpose of the examination is to test if you can kill people. If Rei killed them all, it wouldn’t be possible to determine if the others could rank up or not.」
With one objection after another, Rei could only accept as he also understood the basis for it’s rejection
「Well, it’s troublesome, I understand. It’s an adventurers job to do troublesome things. As the leader, you have to fill the role properly.」
As Gran tapped his shoulder, Rei thought about the strategy again.
「Culotte, was the cliff entrance the only entrance you found?」
「Ah, I’m not sure. Either way, it was a pretty large cliff so it would have taken a while to go around it……tentatively speaking, as far as I could see, there wasn’t another entrance.」
「It seems the surroundings are also uncertain. In that case a surprise attack is best. That’s good, listen up. We’ll launch a night attack tonight.」
「Why don’t we attack now? If we attack at night, won’t we have to go through the forest at night? There is a possibility of getting attacked by monsters in the forest.」
To Supervia, who was confused about the night attack, Rei gave a small nod.
「If we go through the forest at night, we certainly might be attacked by monsters. However, in the daytime, there’s also a possibility that not all the bandits will be in the hideout.」
「I see, they could be out doing their business.」
「Ah. However, bandits won’t go out at night because of the monsters around. That’s why this is the plan.」
「I understand. Please continue.」
「But since I’ve said night time, as expected, they should have a lookout. Culotte, how are the surroundings?」
To Rei’s question, Culotte recalled the scene she had seen earlier.
「Close to the entrance, there was a small lookout building. I’m not sure if there will be guards at night.」
「If there is a watch, how many people will there be?」
「Hmm, though I can’t say for sure……maybe 2 people.」
Listening to Culotte’s words, Rei looked to Firuma and Scola.
「Can you two kill the lookouts from long distance? Without making a sound as much as possible.」
「I guess so. If it’s one, I can bring them down with my bow……Scola?」
「Depends on the distance. Culotte, you roughly understand the range of my magic right? How is it?」
「I think you can reach it if you use Wind Arrow.」
「I see. Then I’m fine.」
Hearing Scola’s words, Rei nodded.
「Then, after defeating the lookouts, first, Culotte will go in and check how many people there are. At the same time, check if anyone has been captured.」
「After that, Supervia and Arogan will take the vanguard. Firuma and Scola will be at the back.」
「What should I do after scouting?」
「After you know the number of people, and if there are no captured people, see if there are any other exits. Join back with use when you’re finished. If you find captured people, then you’ll have to rescue them.」
「I understand. ……By the way Rei, what will you do?」
「Finally, I’m last. When we launch the surprise attack, isn’t it necessary for someone to defend Firuma and Scola? In addition, because of it’s length, the Death Scythe isn’t suitable for fighting in narrow places. And because my main magic attribute is fire, it’s difficult to use it in a cave.」
The 5 people nodded at Rei’s explanation. Gran watched the situation from a distance in satisfaction.
(What, though his social skills are a weak point, he’s doing quite well as a party leader. I can relax much easier with this.)
「Okay, we’ll take a break now in preparation for the night attack. The lookout order is the same as last night.」
Following Rei’s instructions, they split up into lookout and sleeping as they prepared for the night attack.