In front of the remnants of an abandoned mine, I looked at the ruins of a village that had probably been abandoned quite a long time ago.
Right now, no one lived here, but the slight traces that it was inhabited remained.
“So this is the Bandits’ stronghold.”
Novem held her staff as she stood next to me. She remained wary of her surroundings.
Perhaps because we had several times the numbers of the thieves, the group had become quite lax.
“Lyle-sama, our morale is too low.”
“Yeah, that’s a problem. Of course, this time only, that’s to our advantage.”
Unprepared adventurers dressed as soldiers.
There were some yawning incessantly, and even some who were smiling and talking about how they were going to use their rewards.
Looking at them, I’ve gotten around to thinking whether I really should be giving them two silver.
While earnestly working, I didn’t even earn ten large copper.
I thought it was just a little unfair.
Now that I had completed the most mundane of requests, I could understand how extraordinary of a reward two silver was.
But, I understood that wisdom was separate from feelings.
『If you asked me to lead this bunch in battle, I would usually refuse, but… well, this time only, these guys’ atmosphere is vital.』
How would the enemy make their appearance?
They must have their countermeasures already.
It took a full day for us all to reach the destination. Once the sun comes up tomorrow, we planned to launch our attack.
I look around myself.
“… Novem, don’t act alone. Right… call Lockwarde-san, and fight together. There are some other female adventurers scattered here and there, so you can act alongside them.”
When I said that, Novem shook her head.
“No, I will be by Lyle-sama’s side. Being able to perform healing, I think I will be of use.”
It looked like she planned to not leave my side.
The ancestors were also of the same opinion.
『Lyle, don’t leave her. It would be troublesome if she were taken hostage. They’ve probably already noticed that Novem is one dear to you. More than anything, the ones around us right now… you can’t trust them.』
It was just as the Fifth said.
We hurriedly gathered them around the mine, but there were enemies inside.
Of course, the ones whp noticed it were all of the ancestors.
『They’re no fools. They must have some countermeasure or another. As long as they have their leader, they’ll be able to take action… because of that, do you know how much trouble we went through?』
The Fifth’s voice became low.
The family heads of history detested bandits. No wait, they were a headache to all feudal lords.
They were also an enemy of the people, and if they flowed into the neighboring territory, then they also became someone else’s problem.
“Lyle-sama, the preparations are in order.”
Novem informed me, and I nodded.
“Let’s do this according to plan. To prepare for tomorrow, have everyone take a rest. Right… call only Lockwarde-san over. She probably wouldn’t be satisfied with something like, ‘it was over before we noticed it.’”
“Then let’s go together.”
I took Novem and headed for Lockwarde-san’s place.
This went without saying, but the heads of history warned me against leaving Novem alone.
Inside the mine…
“Leader! They’ve come. They’ve casually started making camp.”
Hearing his subordinate’s report, the large man grinned.
He tightly gripped the red gem and took up the axe he left close by in his other hand.
It was one of his spoils of war, the weapon of a lord.
Clenching the large battle-axe, he looked at the gem tied to his left. Cloth was wrapped around it and his hand several times to make sure he didn’t drop it.
“They’re making light of us. We’ve fought plenty a time ourselves. How ‘bout we teach them what a real battlefield’s like?”
He said that with a smile, and the other bandits also reached for their weapons.
The ones who had infiltrated as adventurers had also returned to give a report.
All twenty seven were gathered.
“Good! We’re launching a night raid!”
He made a declaration.
But a single one of his men looked down and raised a voice of surprise.
In the place where they had all gathered, smoke began to pour in.
『Oh, that smoke’s sure streaming out.』
While listening to the Fifth Generation’s voice, I took the wooden branches and boards we took with us and set fire to them.
They had their leaves still attached, and they were of a variant of tree well-known for letting out a lot of smoke.
They also had an effect of irritating the eyes.
“Novem, is your magic alright?”
“Yes, I can still go on.”
As Novem said that, Lockwarde-san beside her opened her eyes wide and observed the situation.
“W-what is the meaning of this? Didn’t you say we were attacking tomorrow morning?”
I swung my head from side to side.
“That’s way too blatantly obvious, so once the enemy finds out, they’ll try to get the initiative. Also, the enemies that had infiltrated us already went back, so…”
The portion of the bandits that had hidden themselves in Dalien were seen through by the ancestors… mostly the third generation.
At the same time, it became clear they had other conspirators.
Through our search, I was a little surprised when the names came out, but…
“Infiltrated? Where did you learn something like that!? If you knew, shouldn’t you have captured them, or, well…”
『… When you’re crushing them, you got to do it all at once. It’s foolish to get some strange grudge on yourself by the leftovers. It was quite a waste, but that’s why Lyle put on his stupid act, and even spread the money. Oh, it looks like this isn’t the time to explain. Lyle!』
To the confused Lockwarde-san, I said there was no time to explain and drew my sabre.
『Okay, if it’s about Skill Effects, I can assist you. Use pops… the Fifth generation’s Skill with mine, Lyle.』
The Sixth Generation called out, and I activated the Skills.
Because of the Skill that increased my abilities from ten to twenty percent, 【Full Over】, even if was temporary, I became able to handle them.
The Fifth Generation’s Skill was 【Map】.
And the Sixth Generation’s Skill that he recommended me to use alongside it was 【Search】.
Map was a Skill that let one take in and observe their surroundings as a map.
Right now, I could understand the structure of the mines like the back of my hand.
Search was… one that allowed me to discover the arrangement of enemies and traps.
Both of them were extraordinary and useful Skills.
However, using them normally was an extreme expenditure of Mana. So even if I wanted to use them, it was only for a brief period of time.
I confirmed the situation around me.
It didn’t seem that I could detect any traps within the mines. Only the bandit brigade was running around them.
“As I thought, they have an escape route… I’m sorry, could you go relay a message to Zelphy-san?”
The one I made a request to was an adventurer.
One who specialized in the line of collecting money for human targets… you could also call him a bounty hunter.
“The info’s nice and accurate and all, but… could it be you have a Skill?”
The adventurer man was shocked as he heard me specify their formation.
I smile and play it off.
“Well, I wonder.”
As I said that, he apologized and hurriedly scampered off.
He was wearing a black robe, so it looked as if he disappeared into the darkness as he ran off.
“He had quite some force to him. So you hired skilled ones as well? I’m a little relieved.”
As Lockwarde-san said that, I tilted my head to the side.
“I’m not hiring him. He is helping me, though.”
Lockwarde-san didn’t seem to understand it, but as she became lost in thought, Novem held up her staff. She interrupted us with magic and started preparing another spell.
The other adventurers also prepared their weapons for the approaching enemies.
“They’re quite fast… From the front, there are six of them coming.”
As I said that, those around me seemed mildly surprised, but their expressions soon turned to serious ones.
『You’re using it quite skillfully, aren’t you. Even if you can’t keep the Skill up, you use it only the instant you need it to cut consumption. I can’t think that you just learned it a little while ago.』
The Fifth Generation praised me.
Because of Full Over’s boosts, I was able to clear the conditions to use the skills.
Using the Third and Seventh’s Skills was still impossible, but the others, if only momentarily, were possible.
“The First Generation sure is great.”
As I whispered that, I heard the First’s voice.
『So you finally get it, kid!』
『Oy, you promised to be quiet, right? Look, Lyle… in front of you.』
As the Fifth took over from the First, I prepared my sabre.
Lockwarde-san was overcome by the events going on around her, but she still held her weapon aloft. What she held was a lance unbefitting a Lady.
As Novem used her magic, one of the bandits that emerged from the smoke was blown away.
She suppressed the output.
I also took on one of the bandits that cut at us.
Screaming that, the one who came at me carried a dagger. It was single-edged, slightly curved, and also had some width to it.
If I received it with my slender sabre, it felt like mine would break.
Right, if I received it…
I hit the dagger aside, destroying his stance, and like that, I propelled a kick into his stomach. This time, I wouldn’t be killing them.
Because that was the contract we exchanged.
When I looked around, I saw that the bandits were being suppressed easily.
One of the bandits who had previously masqueraded as an adventurer looked at the man who tied him up and cried out.
“W-who the hell are you! I never saw someone like you with them!”
The man continued to tie the bandit up silently.
Once that was finished, he shut the bandit up with a few, well-placed punches.
“They’re quite skillful. Their movements are something else. We were right to rely on her.”
Novem was of the same opinion.
When we finished the first wave, I used the Skills again. Rather than keeping them up, using them for a short duration when I needed them was the correct choice for the current me.
“… Full Over.”
After using it, I confirmed my surroundings again.
On the map that floated up in my mind, the bandits moved around in the mine…
Besides the main entrance, there were usable escape ways in the tunnels. After turning back, they had started running, aiming at another point.
But there, we already put Zelphy-san’s group on standby.
Using the Skills, I checked to see if the strategy had succeeded. But from within the Jewel, I heard the Fifth’s voice.
『Don’t let your guard down until it’s all over. If the command grows lax, the rest will follow. You can relax once you’ve done everything and returned to Dalien.』
I cleared my throat and concentrated.
『Right. It’s fine to use the Skills in moderation, but make sure you see as much as possible. Normally, you would be confirming them constantly, but there’d be no point if you collapsed.』
I touched the Jewel to convey my thoughts of understanding.
After learning that the entrance was already blocked up by adventurers, their movements were clearly thrown into confusion.
But one presence disappeared, and their movements quickly got back into order.
『So they made an example of one. It seems it’ll get troublesome from here on. The enemy’s been driven to madness by the fear of death. Lyle, if restraining them becomes impossible, kill them immediately. Whether they are bandits or not, they don’t look like enemies you can be negligent around.』
Hearing the Fifth’s opinion, I touched the Jewel again.
The Fifth had the most experience with battling against enemies like these.
The House climbed up to viscount-hood, and he had to act as a superior to the other territories in the region.
He answered their calls for help, and I heard there were numerous times he was forced to dispatch troops.
And when they had just climbed in rank, their relations with the territories placed below them were quite vague, or perhaps they were simply looking down on him… That was also the time when a large amount of enemies came for the Walt House.
According to the Fifth, the reason was clearly that the surrounding nobles were envious of his promotion.
Meaning the surrounding nobles had kindly deposited some harmful presences onto the Walt House’s land in large quantities.
The one who crushed them all was the Fifth.
『Good grief, if they’re not going to use the mines anymore, it would be easier if we just collapsed it on them. Even sealing off the entrance would have been nice.』
Leaving aside the Fifth’s ominous remark, I felt some of the remaining bandits running in our direction.
The reason they didn’t go in Zelphy’s direction was probably because of the casualties they faced there.
Their responses from the Skill had decreased by five.
I released the Skill and waited for their arrival. As I prepared myself, the surrounding adventurers saw that and clenched their weapons as well.
Their reaction… meant that they knew I was aware of the enemy’s approach. They have faith that it was the power of my Skill.
『It seems you’ve earned a high evaluation for yourself. Well, our family’s skills are ones that are envied by everybody everywhere. Put them to good use, Lyle.』
As I answered that in my head, the bandits burst out of the slightly-parting smoke with desperate looks in their eyes.
Within them, a large man toting an axe emerged.
『That’s definitely the bandit brigade’s boss… Lyle.』
Hearing the Fifth say that, I started towards the man without using any Skills. The desperate bandits also found their own opponents in the people around me.
They probably don’t have the leisure to lend me a hand.
Novem lifted up her staff in order to use magic.
But I blocked her with my voice.
“I’ll do it!”
As the large man heard that, he openly knit his brow, and he flourished the axe in one of his hands.
The axe that looked like it would require two hands was easily handled by him.
No matter how much muscle he may have, the way he wielded his weapon gave me an uneasy feeling.
“A brat shouldn’t try showing off, oy!”
I dodged his horizontal swing by jumping backwards. I led the charging giant into a hard-to-maneuver-in formation of trees.
“Naïve!! I have this with me!”
Saying that, he thrust his left fist towards me. From the gaps between his fingers, a red light poured out.
Hearing me say that, the large man spoke up with pride.
“That’s right! What’s more, it’s a first class one with multiple Skills in it! You’ll be minced in no time! I mean…”
The battle axe he swung collided with a tree. Normally, it should have come to a stop there, but without slowing, the tree was cut down.
He had felled a tree in one strike.
“There’s a Skill to increase my weapon’s strength! This gem teaches me how to use Skills! It’s the best!”
Just raising the weapons strength doesn’t allow you to swing it single-handedly.
Just as I thought, he probably has a number of troublesome skills in that.
“A Skill to enhance my muscles! And from the edge…”
『Oy! Jump to one side!』
The First let out his voice. I wasn’t within his range, but I immediately jumped.
From the axe he lowered, a shockwave flew out. A number of trees were split in its path, displaying its power.
“Tsk, you’ve got good instinct on ya’. That was a Skill to send a shockwave. But still… this next one’s amazing.”
The large man grinned. He smiled, and then, he suddenly disappeared from my sight.
I immediately heard a voice from above, so I leapt from where I was. But the impact itself destroyed my stance, and I rolled across the ground.
What I saw before I rolled was a scene of the ground having been gouged out. It wasn’t something I could think of as that man’s doing.
I used the momentum from my roll to stand, but I saw the man approaching before my eyes.
“Next’s an outrageous one called Slash. This one’s speed and destructive power are five times my usual!!”
I saw the man’s battle axe coming down on me.
The attack that approached me at an amazing speed was something that had come from a Skill.
From around me, I heard voices.
Novem and Lockwarde-san called out to me.
In the next instant, the First Generation’s face came to mind. With his arms folded, the form of him sitting in the meeting room’s chair was, despite his barbaric attire, awe-inspiring.
And a grin began to form on his mouth.
『What are you waiting for… get him, Lyle!!』