It seemed the men were lying in wait behind the surrounding trees.
What made them stand out was the fact that they wielded western-like swords and knives in their tightly gripped hands.
The bandits numbered around 19 and their group stopped approaching ours when they were about 10 meters apart.
The guards pointed their swords at the men in front of us. Inukami-senpai had her hand on the hilt of her blade due to the tension. Then, we could hear someone frivolously laughing within the group of bandits. After a few moments, the bandits all joined in and laughed along with him. The laughter actually helped us settle down a little.
“Heeeh, being able to find prey all the way here, I really am lucky!! Ain’t that right, brothers!?!?”
The person with the shaved head, which I assumed to be the leader, said so along with his henchmen.
I wonder why, normally I should have felt terrified, and yet I didn’t feel afraid in the slightest.
“Fueeeh. You bunch, if you don’t want to get hurt then leave all your money here.”
“Who would give it!?”
“Is that alright? You think you can win against these numbers? If you can’t, then you’ll have to.”
Following that statement, the bandits raised vulgar laughs.
Inukami-senpai, who was next to me, slowly pulled on the cuff of my clothes.
……I see, Senpai was a girl too. You’d normally be frightened if some guys suddenly raised vulgar laughs.
“Usato-kun, Usato-kun, those are real bandits!”
“Senpai, you never fail to impress me.”
She wasn’t afraid at all. As expected, Inukami-senpai was Inukami-senpai.
The bandits were staring at the guards but suddenly raised a distorted grin as their line of sight moved towards me and Inukami-senpai.
“Kukukuku…… The ones in the back are good, we can definitely take them back. Before we had the problem of not having enough loot but it seems like it’s solved with this now eh!”
“You bastards! You heretics…!”
“Heretics? Hahaha, as far as we’re concerned, that’s a compliment!! ….Nn? Looks like there’s a monster here….”
One of the bandits standing relatively closer to me looked in my direction and had a blue face when Bluerin entered his sight. What was it? Was it really so strange for a human to be taking a monster along with him?
“B-Blue Grizzly! Ain’t that a Blue Grizzly? What a thing you’re bringing along!!”
“……? Bluerin, are you in fact something really amazing?”
‘Of course’ was what Bluerin tried to say.
Well, this attitude was an improvement from his usual unproductiveness.
Shifting my attention from Bluerin to the henchmen, one of them seemed to be talking to their leader.
“Head, it’s still a cub! We could still raise it ourselves!”
“Is that so!!”
“You guys…. That’s right. We’ve long past the level of commoners, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Let’s goooo!!!”
I wonder if he was trying to console his henchmen due to his dignity as a head. Or rather, these bandits used to be commoners? Was that why their clothes and equipment were all worn-out?
However, they were the ones coming to attack us. There was no need to hold back. As they charged with their knives and swords, our two guards were ready to intercept them. To be honest, I wasn’t really all that capable of fighting. If we could, we should take a hostage and run.
As I coated my foot with healing magic and put strength into it——
Along with a soft voice, a flash of light went past the guards and aimed directly towards the henchmen. The person who was unfortunate enough to take on the lightning twitched and quivered before inevitably collapsing onto the ground.
Next to me was Inukami-senpai, her hand was similar to a gun’s as her finger was stretched outwards. It was her lightning magic huh. Following that, one of the guards turned around to look at Inukami-senpai with a dignified smile and said,
“As expected of Suzune-sama! Eeh, it looks like we won’t even need to lend a hand!”
Certainly, it looked like the guards’ turns wouldn’t come with an attack that strong. Although I had to wonder if the person who got hit was alright.
“S-Senpai. You didn’t kill him right?”
“O-Of course… Probably.”
Why’d you stutter there? You’re scaring me.
Due to Senpai’s attack, the bandits from before were now intimidated seeing as even their legs couldn’t move. Although the bandits still timidly checked on the person who had received the lightning attack.
I could hear Senpai sigh in relief.
However, this was good. Senpai could just keep shooting out lightning and take care of these guys. The best part was that it would cover up how weak I really was when it came to fighting. Understanding that, I called out to Senpai,
“Go Inukami-senpai! Mow them down!”
“Could you stop saying it like that?”
—After she said so, she fired consecutive shots of lightning from her fingertips. The henchmen fell one after another. There was really no need for us to step in. We would probably get hit by Senpai’s lightning if we just recklessly charged in. Inukami-senpai at the moment was a—
“A human stun gun… no… a human electric eel.”
“If you say that one more time, even I will get angry you know!?”
The bandit’s numbers gradually reduced until there were only 9 left. Then, Inukami-senpai struck their leader down on the ground, and he gave a shout that matched his large body size in volume.
“Isn’t using magic unfair!?!?”
……If you say something like that, I would be troubled.
As for the reason, I now knew why I could keep my composure when I first saw these bandits. These guys, their faces weren’t frightening at all. If Rose was a 10 and Tong was a 6 then these guys were a 2. It was no wonder they weren’t scary.
Thinking so, I came to an agreement with myself. All that was left was to bring down the remaining henchmen and their head. Meaning that I could just leave the rest to Inukami-senpai—
“……Something else is coming.”
It seemed the dark robed person sensed something again. I couldn’t see anything but I could certainly hear a large number of footsteps. Although these footsteps appeared to be a bit different, they sounded as if they were hopping. Dark Robe-san could tell when an enemy was approaching, however, they couldn’t tell which direction they would come from. We had to be prepared for anything.
In front, the bandits’ head had a bewildered expression as something akin to a wild red boar appeared from his right and blew him away.
“……Usato-dono, Suzune-dono, they’re Fall Boars, please keep your distance!”
“Why are these guys here!? We should have already passed their habitat!”
Was what the red-haired guard exclaimed due to the unexpected development. Wait, these boars were Fall Boars!? There was a whole herd of them! The two guards would be able to avoid them but Inukami-senpai and I were in a tight spot. I immediately called out to Bluerin,
Bluerin gave an intimidating roar towards the Fall Boars behind us but they didn’t stop their charge. However, the Fall Boars were coming towards me and Inukami-senpai rather than Bluerin.
I would be fine, I was already aware of how sturdy I was. But Inukami-senpai— I had to protect her. Thinking so, I was about to stand in front and cover for her but I noticed she was taking a stance to shoot. After a short while, an intense amount of lightning fired from her fingertips.
“Usato-kun, that’s dangerous!”
The fired lightning hit one Fall Boar while another one dodged it. Shortly after, Inukami-senpai fired another burst of lightning. But seeing the large pack of Fall Boars still rapidly approaching us, I knew this wouldn’t end well at this rate.
“This is bad.”
One of the traits that Fall Boars were known for was their jumping power since they were born with very strong hind legs. Adding their natural ability along with a full power charge from them, there was no doubt we’d end up high in the skies if we got hit. Inukami-senpai’s lightning wouldn’t be enough. Furthermore, the boars were only looking towards Inukami-senpai. I wondered if it was their instinct. They probably felt that she was more of a threat to them than me.
I could avoid them but Inukami-senpai couldn’t.
Of course she couldn’t.
Before she came to this world, she was just a normal girl in high school. Even I probably wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for the fact that I studied their ecology before and learned their movements.
On the spur of the moment, I seized Inukami-senpai’s shoulders and placed myself as a shield in front of her with my back facing the Fall Boars. If Inukami-senpai couldn’t avoid them then there was no choice but for me to receive them……! If it was me, I wouldn’t be injured to a great extent and could heal myself afterwards. After a few seconds passed, I felt an intense impact on my back———— Inukami-senpai and I were tossed up.
Luckily, my rucksack prevented me from taking a direct hit. Even so, I felt a numbing sense of pain on my back. I immediately used healing magic on myself to keep conscious. Inukami-senpai——— She fainted!?
“Did she get hit…..!?”
I embraced Inukami-senpai in my arms to protect her as we were descending to the ground. Below us was some foliage, we could use it to cushion our fall. But as we landed, I realized that we fell on a steep slope. Dammit, our landing spot was bad.
We kept rolling down on the slope; we already gained so much momentum that we couldn’t stop. My rucksack tore open and the things inside flew out as my body struck the ground over and over.
I couldn’t see anything as my vision was being obscured by clutter. As we kept advancing, suddenly, I felt that I was floating on a strong current— it seemed like we fell into a river. The current was so powerful that I couldn’t bring Inukami-senpai ashore while carrying her. I pondered on what to do as I surrendered myself to the river’s flow. Given this chance to think, I suddenly realized that this place was a bit familiar.
—————Huh? Did I come here before? Ah, I remember now, it was right after Rose tossed me in this forest and I was escaping from the Grand Grizzly. To escape last time, I jumped into this river… Which meant that beyond this point was—
“Wasn’t there a waterfall……?”
But after passing the waterfall, the current should settle down. It was one thing if it was just me but now there was also an unconscious Inukami-senpai… I should be prepared for the worst.
When I saw that we were close to the waterfall, I firmly held Inukami-senpai in my arms. Trying my best to prevent her from being crushed by the water pressure, we dropped down from the waterfall.
Kurokata: Back to the forest.