Lapis and Tizona came back after some time . Loren told them about Gula’s idea, and they readily accepted it . Loren was worried about Tizona crossing the moat, but Tizona herself didn’t seem to care much .
The cause of Loren’s worry was Tizona’ over-the-top armor . He wondered if she really could swim in it . He had been taught the technique to swim in armor during his mercenary days as it was a necessary skill, but it was only for light ones made from leather and such . Likewise, he just couldn’t imagine swimming in plate armor like Tizona’s .
“It’s not that wide, so it’ll be fine even if I go underwater . ”
The moat was too wide to leap over, but it seemed like Tizona believed that if one was resolved to go underwater, it wasn’t impossible to hold one’s breath and cross over it .
“I can use <> to create a slope while you guys cause an uproar . ”
“That skill of yours is surely convenient . ”
<>, Tizona’s ability that could burn down everything within a designated range, seemed to be able to reduce anything in its range into ashes, regardless of where it was combustible or not . She could use it to turn part of the moat into a gentle slope; then she just had to hold her breath and ran through .
“Is it alright if I cause a commotion after getting past the fence?”
“No, just try to get into the ruin . Going in first will be difficult, but some bandits will follow you inside, relieving the pressure on our side . ”
“Understood . Leave it to me . ”
Tizona slapped at her own chest and said . Loren believed that with her skills, the likes of these bandits wouldn’t be able to hinder her . But there was one thing he had to clearly explain to her:
“Once you’ve entered the ruin, please don’t go overboard until we’ve joined you . The leader is quite capable, being able to organize this many people . ”
“That’s right . It’ll be a difficult feast for anyone who is not at the level of the rumored <> . Even you and me won’t stand a chance fighting him alone . ”
“No, I won’t stand a chance at all . ”
Loren still stubbornly refused to be considered in the same rank as Tizona . Aside from that, the course of action was decided, and Tizona began to move away from the gate of the bandits’ HQ . The other three waited until it was safe to a.s.sume that she had reached the designated location before commencing a flashy attack to attract the bandits’ attention .
“I’m itching to put my skills to use . ”
“No, Lapis, you can’t go all out in front of Tizona, right?’
They couldn’t afford to let Tizona, who would return to her mercenary company at any given moment, witness anything abnormal . And Lapis using magic despite being a priest was one of the most abnormal things . Such a sight would be so beyond common sense and shocking enough that it would make Tizona question Lapis’ lineage .
In Gula’s case, they could actually make do by insisting that her power came from her being a superior magician . Magicians normally didn’t join mercenary companies, so if Tizona asked around after returning to her company, she wouldn’t be able to confirm anything . Even if she happened to talk to another magician about Gula, they still had a lot of excuses to use, like she was using unidentified spells excavated from ruins or some kind magic-infused items .
“Well then, shall we start now?”
Lapis urged a short while later, in a tone that made everyone wonder if she did feel anything about Loren’s jab earlier .
They needed to make a show to attract the bandits‘ attention, so hiding themselves had become unnecessary at this point .
“Let’s make the most flashy ruckus we can!”
Loren gave a cry to raise everyone’s spirit and charged out from his hiding place under the trees . Gula and Lapis followed after, but even though they had leapt out of the grove with great force, they immediately slowed down and got back behind Loren for some reason .
Without slowing down, Loren ran towards the bandits’ base while wondering if he should act as a vanguard to support a “magician” called Gula and a “priest” called Lapis .
Some bandits appeared, weapons at the ready, to intercept the party .
[‘Onii-san, so we’re going to attack as flashy as possible . Got it!’]
Shayna suddenly spoke in Loren’s mind . He had no time to ask her what she was planning to do . He ran to the moat and crossed swords with one of the bandits who were coming out to meet them .
The difference in their skill level was glaringly obvious . Fire sparked when their swords met, and the bandit’s sword shattered . Loren’s greatsword continued on without losing momentum and cut the bandit into half diagonally from the shoulder .
Loren pulled the sword back to hack down at a spearhead thrusting at him . The head of the spear-wielding bandit flew high into the sky with a splash of red, its eyes still staring dumbfounded at the broken spear .
“A raid?! How many… three?!”
“Raise the bridge! Cut off their path and shoot at them with bows… uwaaah?!”
From this side of the moat, they could hear the bandits at the gate shouting . If the bridge is pulled up, Loren wouldn’t be able to commence attacks, but they could let Gula use her magic from this side . He was puzzled by the shrieks mixed in with the bandits’ conversation though . Nevertheless, Loren wondered if he could manage to cross the moat before the bridge was completely raised and ran through the bridge with all his might .
“The bridge… doesn’t move?”
Loren was sure that he had heard orders about raising the bridge . But the bridge, which was about 10m long, showed no signs of being lifted, and he was able to run through it in one go . Crossing the moat was disappointingly easy to the point of being anticlimactic, but the reason of this being the case was waiting for Loren on the other side .
“Wh-what?! Hey, stop! I don’t understa… gyaaa!?”
“Don’t bite! Don’t eat me! Please don’t eat me!”
“What all of a sudden all these undead?!”
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Running past the gate, he saw the bandits falling into chaos . The source of the turmoil could be traced to the unexpected change in behavior of some individuals within the fort . Loren noticed that some bandits were looking extremely ill and exhausted, and it to his surprise they suddenly started attacking their more healthy counterparts . The former had bloodless, bluish white skin and their eyes were blank, showing no signs of life left within . They launched themselves at their fellows with unnatural speed, clung on with both arms, and bit their bodies with white teeth . And these weren’t isolated cases – from what Loren could see, they were everywhere .
“A bone dragon, appearing by coincidence?”
“No matter how persuasive we are, it won’t be enough to convince her, right?”
One of the horrible things about undead damage was that the victim would become an undead themselves . In short, the damage would multiply endlessly .
Realizing this, Loren hurriedly turned towards Shayna mentally, but she casually replied in an unconcerned tone:
[‘It’s alright, onii-san . I will properly put everyone down after a while . ’]
They had come to raid a bandits’ base, but ended up causing an undead outbreak instead . This was much less severe in terms of scale and damage . Shayna seemed to have considered this much, and Loren was relieved at her words .
“Won’t they attack us?”
[‘It’s not normal to attack the king, right?’]
“It’s alright then… But isn’t this a bit too flashy?”
Things had gone out of control with this outbreak . This wasn’t about attracting bandits’ attention anymore . Of course, the chance of Tizona noticing this had decreased, but it simply was because the undead had started wreaking havoc inside the base .
“Can’t be helped now… We can’t do anything about this . ”
“Broken items are unsalvageable, but most cash and jewels can still be retrieved from under the rubble . ”
“Hmm… . Can I go get myself something to eat?”
Gula, who had been very dissatisfied with the breakfast, said while looking longingly at the bandits being crushed under collapsed buildings and eaten by their zombie colleagues .
Normally, Loren would tell her to have her way with it . But he was worried about Tizona, who had gone in first by herself . Also, there seemed to be an Evil G.o.d in there, and facing them with Gula gave him a very different sense of security . So, he asked her to hold on for now .
“Later . We need to follow Tizona first . It’ll be terrible if she gets into some troublesome fight . ”
“That’s harsh… You’ll have to let me eat delicious things when we return to Kapha . ”
“…As long as you don’t make me go bankrupt . ”
If he refused her, Gula wouldn’t budge . So Loren took a while to find an appropriate way to answer her . And if she did eat without reservation later on and made a mess of it, he thought he would have to rethink how to deal with her .
It was unclear if Gula could guess what Loren was thinking or not, but after looking at the base a bit regretfully for the last time, she followed them and walked towards the entrance of the ruin .
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