After neutralizing the bastard next to me, I grabbed Austin, who was sitting on the other side of me, and threw him out of the carriage before I stepped out as well.
The carriage was just too narrow to fight properly.
Ellen smashed her sword into another man and then got out of the carriage herself.
It completely stopped in its tracks.
The coachman was on their side.
“What quick-witted kids.”
The three adventurers that were still unscathed climbed out of the carriage; their expressions showed that they were greatly alarmed.
Two of them had been beaten in an instant before they could even attack us.
“How did you know?” one of the men asked.
He drew his sword. Ellen drew her sword as well, standing before the guy.
“I heard that most adventurers aren’t any different from thieves.”
They lived in places where the law couldn’t reach.
Ellen seemed to have heard about the real nature of adventurers from Artorius.
There were no robbers among adventurers.
…But all of them had the potential to resort to robbery if there was an opportunity.
“There are a lot of adventurers who, rather than taking actual risks, target novice adventurers armed with expensive gear.”
Ellen and I were decked out with rather expensive gear, and we were novices on top of that. We were also really young.
Those guys might not have been robbers.
However, as soon as they saw us, they felt like they had no other choice but to resort to robbery.
Ellen seemed to have known that it would turn out like that. The Darklands weren’t some fairytale-like lands full of romance, adventure, and mystery.
…They were the lands of robbers infested by adventurers who sought money, not an adventure.
Adventurers risked their lives to earn money.
If they had the opportunity to earn some money without much risk, then there was no reason for them not to take it.
They knew that stripping Ellen of her equipment and selling it would get them a lot more than them taking risks by hunting demons and getting paid for exploring unknown terrain.
He kept looking at Ellen and me as if we were just holding a normal conversation.
They must have robbed others more than just once.
“N-no way… H-how could you do that…”
Austin staggered to his feet while also drawing his sword. I didn’t know if he would be of much help. He seemed to be on our side, making it a three-on-three situation.
The man who seemed to be the group’s leader nodded.
“Don’t regret it, brats!”
They started running towards us.
They approached Ellen, Austin, and me, respectively.
In an unexpected twist, I actually had to face humans in real battle, not demons. I had been nervous and tense before, but I didn’t even feel the smallest bit of nervousness at that moment.
The guy before me swung his sword down on me.
I was a little confused, seeing him slashing down from top to bottom like that.
How could he come at me like that?
It was my first time in a real sword fight, but I had seen that attack over a hundred times already.
…And I had countered that attack over a hundred times as well.
There was just one big difference—
It was much too slow.
I grabbed the handle of my sword with my right hand and the blade with my left hand.
It was the half-swording technique Ellen had shown me.
I blocked the sword as it came down by holding my sword horizontally in front of it.
Then, by naturally turning the tip of my sword, I pushed my sword towards the man’s neck.
Deflecting and stabbing at the same time: defense and offense were simultaneous.
His sword got pushed down to the right, and the tip of my sword was aimed at his neck.
If I pushed it further in, I could stab his cartoroid artery.
In just a single hit, I managed to place my sword against the nape of his neck, and he immediately let go of his sword. He looked very pale.
Ellen didn’t even need to use her sword.
She incapacitated the man who was rushing towards her with a low kick. With only that single kick, the guy fell to his side, screaming.
…However, there was a really big difference in their body weight, and she just ignored all of that. How great was her leg strength?
And the guy who was about to fight Austin, after seeing the other two getting subdued so quickly, instantly let go of his sword.
He wasn’t sure about Austin, but he quickly realized that he wasn’t a match for Ellen and me.
The fight ended as soon as it started.
A win was a win.
We managed to emerge victorious from a life-threatening situation.
“…What’s going on?”
However, it felt empty.
Why was it so easy? It started similar to my training sessions with Ellen, but the actual battle ended in just a single stroke.
Of course, it would be like that, huh.
“Anyway, you bastards. Let’s start with the center, shall we?”
It was time to rob the robbers.
* * *
There were five adventurers and one coachman.
After disarming all of them, I made them sit on their knees.
I squatted down in front of them and shook six money pouches in front of their eyes.
“What’s the point in hiding anything when you’re faced with death, huh? Give me everything while I’m still nice.”
“Thi-this is all we have…”
“I already said that we don’t have anything else…”
My threats seemed to have made them cry. Ellen just leaned her back against a tree, not caring about what I was doing, and Austin was staring blankly at me.
He seemed to find it unbelievable that I was in the process of reverse-robbing the robbers we had just overpowered.
“Looking at the party setup you have going, plus even employing a coachman, it’s more than clear that you’re habitual offenders. And yet, you have less than ten gold coins in total?”
“That’s! That’s… We used it all to buy equipment!”
“Is that so?”
“Then we’ll just take that equipment.”
Those guys were trying to steal Ellen’s and my equipment to begin with.
“Take it all off.”
At my words, those bastards started taking their gear off. They might have been tempted to attack us using their bare hands, but Ellen and I were far beyond their skill level.
I sighed when I saw them completely undressed before me.
The expression they displayed when I glanced at them was really a sight to behold. They probably never expected to be treated like that by someone so much younger than them.
“Didn’t I say you should take everything off? Do you think you have any human rights now?”
I rummaged through the clothes of those men that were naked except for their underwear and found five more gold coins.
* * *
Five adventurers and one coachman were sitting there in nothing but their underwear.
“What should we do? It’s difficult to take all of the equipment with us. It doesn’t look very useful either.”
We would get some money if we sold them, but their quality wasn’t anything to write home about. They had probably lied when they said that they spent all their money on buying equipment.
Maybe they just left it or hid it somewhere.
And we weren’t really there to earn money…
Ellen shook her head at my words.
“Money isn’t an issue. Let’s decide what to do with these people first.”
They didn’t just suddenly turn into common robbers. I mean, they had even conspired with that coachman to rob us.
What happened to all the novice adventurers and weaklings they had robbed?
The fact that they hadn’t been caught yet after doing those kinds of things with their faces exposed meant that not all the adventurers they got their hands on survived.
Ellen was asking a rather normal question, but it had a subtle meaning.
It was up to us to decide whether we should kill those vicious criminals or not. Regardless of whether we were able to do something like that or not…
If we had been defeated, they would have robbed and killed us.
I wondered if I was even capable of doing something like that.
I had blown up some knights while I was trying to escape from the Demon King’s Castle, but I wasn’t actually sure if they died or not.
However, I had seen people die right in front of me, and I had seen a vast sea of corpses.
I didn’t know if I could do something like that with my own hands. When I thought about doing it using a sword… would I be able to handle that feeling?
I was familiar with violence, but I wasn’t familiar with the concept of killing someone, and I didn’t want to be, either; that should have been the same for Ellen.
But what was Ellen’s opinion about it?
I mean, if I absolutely had to do it, I probably could do it, but I wouldn’t be happy about it in the least.
“How about… We hand them over to the Exian Guards?”
Austin, who was listening to the conversation between Ellen and me, gave a careful suggestion. The six naked people before us sitting on their knees trembled terribly because our decision would decide whether they lived or died.
We didn’t have to handle them. We could just leave them to the guards.
“…Anyone who looked at them would think that they were the ones robbed, not the ones who tried to rob us.”
“…I suppose so.”
I had no other choice but to agree with Ellen.
We didn’t get hurt at all, and I had taken everything from the robbers except their underwear. If we took those guys to the guards and told them they were trying to rob us, we would actually be the ones ending up in jail.
“If these bastards told them we were actually the ones who robbed them, we’d get in trouble.”
“N-no, no! We won’t! If you let us live, we’ll stay quiet! We’ll just go to jail quietly!”
“Please, have mercy on us just this once! We’ll live a good life!”
Up until then, they had dismissed us as some brats, but it was quite funny seeing them being so polite to us when we had their lives in our hands.
“Would you fuckers believe me if I explained to you how I’d wake up tomorrow before I even went to sleep?“
Of course, I wouldn’t believe anything that came out of those guys’ mouths.
It might have been even more troublesome for us if we handed them over to the guards.
In most web novels I had written, one of the standard developments was that the main character cooly cut off the heads of mobs before moving on. Rather, if I didn’t kill them off, I would get a lot of bad comments asking me why they hadn’t gotten killed.
Although I knew it was the right thing to do, I couldn’t make that decision so easily because of the situation I was in. Most people couldn’t even twist a chicken’s head with their own hands. However, if they suddenly got into a situation in which they had to kill a person, they would be rather disconcerted, right?
Of course, I wasn’t someone that never had to twist a chicken’s neck before.
“I don’t really want to kill them, so should we just cut off their hands one after the other? Like that, they won’t be able to do something like this ever again. They might bleed out, so we have to burn the wounds to close them up.”
Austin and Ellen stared at me after I uttered these words.
I knew what they meant.
“…Isn’t that even crueler?”
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“…It’s so detailed. I’m scared.”
Ellen’s complexion was a bit pale. How rare.
Austin’s face turned kind of blue, and he couldn’t utter a single word.
No, I didn’t want to kill those guys, so I thought about a proper punishment to give them.
However, if we cut off their hands at their wrists, they might die from the bleeding, so wasn’t it rather considerate of me to suggest closing it up with fire? Without that, they might die, you know? I was trying to be merciful there, you know?
…Is that a problem for people who are used to describing extreme violence in writing?
Come to think of it, didn’t I come off as a total freak just then?
Let’s pull out your eyes~ but if I do that, your face might collapse, so I’ll put some pebbles that resemble them in your eye sockets. It’s all because I care for you, see?
Did it sound something like that?
Austin seemed to be getting more and more afraid of me as time passed.
Of course, the robbers who heard about my plans were trembling like crazy, not taking into account their ghostly pale faces.
They seemed to regret having gotten on the bad side of a madman.
“I’ll let you go.”
It seemed that Ellen didn’t want to have any blood on her hands after all.
Ellen pointed to the leather armor they had taken off and the equipment and regular clothes.
The equipment was just too worn down, so it was unlikely that we would get anything for that stuff. And if we were actually trying to sell it, we might get suspected of having robbed some adventurers.
“Burn all of this.”
For the crime of having tried to rob us, those guys were punished by having to return to the Exian Outpost in nothing but their underwear.
* * *
Translator – KonnoAren
Proofreader – ilafy
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We burned up the robbers’ equipment after saying we wouldn’t sell it.
Things that couldn’t be burned were destroyed by Ellen personally.
No matter if I was wearing shin guards or not, the scene of her breaking swords with her shin like they were wooden baseball bats made me shiver.
One usually couldn’t break blades by kicking them, right?
That’s what I thought, at least.
The robbers must have realized that they tried to lay hands on one absurd monster, as all of them looked rather drained.
Even though they just lost everything they had on them, they bowed their heads as we left, thanking us for letting them live.
Anyway, we managed to secure about eight gold coins and a carriage with three horses tied to it.
Austin, who had driven a carriage and went to St. Point before, was in charge of driving the carriage. Looking at how he was acting earlier, he was weak, so he didn’t seem like the two-faced type.
Ellen and I sat on the remaining room on the box seat on either side of him, not inside the carriage.
“But aren’t horses pretty expensive?”
Even if it was supposed to be a medieval Fantasy, this world had little to do with the actual Middle Ages.
But still, weren’t horses incredibly expensive in the Middle Ages?
No, they were pretty expensive, even in modern times.
I felt like we earned a lot of money just by having stolen those robbers’ horses.
I was just talking to myself, but Austin still answered.
“Ah… Well… That’s true for horses a knight would use. Of course, these horses aren’t cheap either, but…”
I nodded at Austin’s explanation. The horses tied to the carriage looked bigger than ponies, but they probably couldn’t be ridden well—they looked to be on the older side as well.
They definitely seemed to be of different breeds and weights from those I saw in Temple’s horseback riding class. Austin was stuck between Ellen and me, so he was shivering terribly, probably feeling quite the pressure in having to drive the carriage properly.
“By… By the way, you guys are really strong.”
“Yeah, I was also pretty surprised.”
I mean, I was really surprised that I managed to defeat them so easily.
“Even if they were specialized in robbery, I thought they were adventurers who had quite a bit of experience under their belt, so I didn’t expect them to go down in a single strike.”
Since they were vicious criminals, they should have had some experience in killing people and enough practical experience in fighting humans. However, the fight ended with just a counter of a simple downward slash.
If I hadn’t stopped my sword there and had cut his carotid artery, I would have instantly sent that guy to hell.
“There aren’t many people who have been professionally trained in the use of weapons.”
Ellen answered me in a low voice.
Ellen crossed her arms as she watched the passing scenery.
“To be exact, most adventurers get by with those skills, but few have been actually trained in technique and the like.”
“I-is that so…”
Austin muttered in a daze as if he had been stabbed by Ellen’s words.
Being an adventurer was a job for idiots who liked to rush into battle without a thought; they did all sorts of other things as well. They carried weapons and wielded them, but most weren’t professionally trained fighters.
It was possible to become good with the sword while living as an adventurer. But what one learns is more akin to survival swordsmanship than the systematic swordsmanship we had learned.
—Swordsmanship meant for survival.
In other words, it was like a fight between a street fighter and an MMA fighter. Of course, one could push their opponent down just with the big weight difference, but techniques were great in controlling an opponent that didn’t know anything about them.
So that was probably why it felt so easy to subdue them.
“Most techniques are based on the assumption that the opponent is armed. It’s something one doesn’t need to know if one is only going to pursue a job as an adventurer… except in cases like we just witnessed.
Ellen’s words were really sensible.
Adventurers fought against demons and demonic beasts; they weren’t armed, for the most part. Of course, there were some among them that wielded weapons, but those were very special cases.
However, what Ellen and I had learned was how to subdue and kill an armed opponent.
In other words, they were techniques against armed humans.
Adventurers didn’t need to know those kinds of things, so if one was only going to do the work assigned to adventurers, there was no reason for them to really learn proper swordsmanship.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to know, but it wasn’t necessary.
Anyway, Ellen and I had continued to hone our skills in subduing armed humans. So, no matter how much experience they had on us, they would never be an opponent for someone who had been trained systematically.
The swordsmanship they used on clumsy monsters and novices could be described as something that someone on the street might use at best.
Such a level of swordsmanship would never work against us.
I would never be able to surpass Ellen, and it was only a short time that I had been training, but regular people like them would never be able to defeat me, who had trained every day until I dropped.
After all, most adventurers’ swordsmanship wasn’t even beyond my pseudo-swordsmanship, which I had managed to level up not too long prior.
It was a new feeling.
“Did you two… learn professional swordsmanship?”
“…Well, if you ask like that, I’d say yeah.”
I learned swordsmanship from lectures, but I learned the most from Ellen, so my swordsmanship teacher was actually Ellen.
“I envy you…”
The emotions carried by Austin’s vague words didn’t come to me so easily.
I thought I was quite weak compared to Ellen, and that still rang true.
I thought that I was quite average in battle strength for someone of the Royal Class.
However, Austin didn’t even seem to have gotten the opportunity to learn swordsmanship. I didn’t know if it was because of money, the lack thereof, or something else.
In Temple, they didn’t just train the students in Royal Class how to use weapons. There were a lot of general students who chose combat majors.
Those guys would be treated like amazing talents in places like the Darklands.
After thinking about it, I understood what it meant to be a student of Royal Class, which could only be visited by a select few. I had even practiced daily and sparred with the strongest person in that place.
“…It would have been weird if it wasn’t that easy.”
It would have been rather strange if I hadn’t overpowered them so easily back then.
Before I knew it, there was already a big gap in combat capability between me and the general public.
Even life-threatening fights felt pretty easy.