Leaving the luggage to Lapis and Tizona, Loren and Gula rushed towards the location, from which smoke was rising.
“Is’t alright for me to fight a lil more seriously this time?”
Gula asked Loren as she followed him closely from behind. Still running, Loren spared her a half-glance and replied:
“Not a good idea. Play it safe, play it safe.”
“Why’d you leave Tizona-chan behind then?”
If Gula could fight in earnest, it would surely be easy. But no matter how strong the bandits were, there was still the possibility that not all of the town guards are killed off by the time Loren and Gula reached them. Loren couldn’t let Gula eat the bandits when there were witnesses around.
“To keep her eyes off us.”
As long as Tizona wasn’t there to see it, if they could sufficiently feign ignorance about the whole thing later, Loren did plan to let Gula loose a little. Even if there were witnesses.
“I wonder if I can secretly eat somethin’ then…”
They reached the south district of the town while talking. There were fires here and there, as well as guard corpses lying on the ground, probably killed by the bandits. They could also see the bandits that had invaded the town moving about. The scene made Loren stop and rub his eyes.
“This is rather amazing, isn’t it?”
There was a reason why Loren had to stop. What was happening was completely different from the image of a ‘bandit attack’ Loren had in his mind.
“Don’t care about the guards! Just take the goods!”
“And don’t go after the residents! If you have that much free time at hand, go move the bags!”
“Don’t go burn everything like idiots! Only burn the buildings!”
From the look of it, the bandits were moving their loot out one by one in a well-organized manner. Several of them seemed to be in charge of supervising the process and under their orders, the other bandits were packing their loot, loading them onto wagons, and the fully-loaded wagons were leaving the town one after another.
“Seems like they’ve already wrapped up everythin’.”
From behind Loren’s back, Gula peeked at the scene and voiced her impression. But watching the way-too-well trained bandits working gave Loren a very bad feeling.
“Aren’t they behaving too well?”
Gula put his bad feeling into words.
Attack, kill, loot, burn, then run; bandits’ MO could be summed up by those words. But the behaviors of the bandits raiding this town are very different from those lawless acts; they moved as if they had been trained.
“So… wha do we do now?”
“What do we do, you ask… No matter how well-behaved they are, they’re still carrying this town’s supplies away, aren’t they?”
If Loren was asked whether well-behaved bandits should be let off, then the answer was no. Still, the too-strangely-behaving bandits made it difficult for him to just kill them. He wondered what was up with them.
“Then I can eat some, right?”
“Only if you take care to not get found out.”
As if having received a permission, Gula licked her lips, as she passed Loren, then jumped right into the midst of bandits carrying supplies out of town.
To the bandits, who had finished their raid and were now wholly engaged in transporting loot, Gula’s assault was a great surprise. In an instant, more than half of them had fallen prey to the invisible fangs and disappeared.
“What?! What’s going on?!”
“Are there still some guards left?”
The bandits burst into an uproar like a nest of ants being poked at. Watching from the shadow of a building, Loren couldn’t decide who was the villain here, them or Gula. The bandits were surely in the wrong, as they did attack the town – that was an undeniable fact, but Gula, who lunged at them like a dog off leash and immediately started an indiscriminate slaughter, certainly didn’t look like someone who was working to help the town.
“Damn! What’s with this woman?!”
“It’s just like there are many teeth around here!”
“Run! Let the wagons go first! Dump the leftovers!”
Even in the midst of considerable chaos, the bandits still acted fast. Except for those fighting Gula, all others immediately gathered their loot bags, got on the remaining wagons and made off at full speed. Loren admired their quick reaction, but it was not like Gula would let her opponent get away.
“Wha?! You even don’t leave any food behind?!”
Light spheres shot out at the same time of her shout, accurately destroyed the axles of the wagons. Losing their wheels, the wagons bounced on the ground and tumbled over. Loren watched the display while casually twisting the neck of a bandit who had noticed him and had come to attack.
The lucky bandits who fell out from the driver’s seat immediately got up and readied their weapons. The unlucky ones stayed still with broken or twisted bodies. But in no time, the ones who could get up had their bodies torn off, chewed off, and swallowed into thin air by Gula.
Before long, Loren and Gula were the only ones who were still moving at the place. Gula wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, relaxed her body, then turned towards Loren, who was watching everything from a distance like some sports game.
“Thanks. Any witnesses?”
“Some residents survived, but I’ve sent them to have a nap beforehand. As for the bandits, all except the ones who ran off were killed.”
‘Just as expected’, Loren thought and looked down at his feet. When Gula was fighting, some bandits had also come to attack him here. He had killed almost all of them barehanded, but an idea suddenly came to his mind, and he decided to keep one alive. So instead of killing he knocked him out, and was currently keeping him under his feet.
“Hey Loren, are we takin’ those bags?”
“Is there any reason to? Let’s just return it to the residents.”
There was no problem for one to claim the stolen goods one had recovered, but Loren was not thick-skinned enough to do that, even if the goods were recovered directly from the bandit’s hideout.
“Why? Don’t work for free!”
“We can also demand some rewards from the town. Just leave it to Lapis, she’ll work out a good deal.”
Having said that, it looked like the guards who came to intercept the bandits had been almost completely wiped out, and he had no idea who to negotiate rewards with. Loren decided to also leave that to Lapis and turned his attention back to the bandit he was currently stepping on.
The bandit was a man who looked to be near thirty years old. He seemed to have been a bandit for quite a while: he was covered in scars, and his face was vicious even in his unconscious state.
Even if he looked scary enough to frighten children, there was nothing he could do while unconscious. Before he woke up, Loren decided to do what needed to be done: he picked up a rope used to tie loot bags, and properly tied the bandit up, then threw him over his shoulder.
“Eh? Is that an emergency ration?”
Having realized that they were about to bring that man somewhere, Gula asked.
“Emergency ration for whom… Ah, you mean you?”
“You also eat people?”
“Cannibalism is not my hobby. And I’ve heard that people don’t taste good.”
Gula’s face stiffened at Loren’s smooth comeback. She hadn’t expected that reply at all.
“From whom did you hear it?”
“A fellow mercenary who once got caught in a siege. The enemy was using starvation tactics, so they had to eat whatever seemed to be edible… Well it’s nothing important.”
The odor coming from the bandit made Loren grimace. He smelled of sweat, filth, and dirt. ‘Maintain personal hygiene, won’t you!’, Loren thought. But a hygienic bandit probably didn’t exist anywhere in this world, so he just resigned himself to it.
“Is there any place where we can avoid public eyes? We don’t have much time.”
“How‘bout under the shadow of that ruined warehouse?”
Gula gestured at the place with her chin, and Loren headed there with slightly-quickened steps, the bandit still on his shoulder, and Gula followed him. She seemed to be interested in what he was planning to do. When Loren dropped the man to the ground, leaned against the wall of the warehouse and unhurriedly opened his jacket to pull out something, Gula generally understood his plan.
What Loren pulled out from his jacket was a knife. He held it in his right hand, blade naked, and slapped the bandit with his left. Gula asked.
“You wanna to hack him? It’s a bit dirty, isn’t it?”
“Well, that depends on his endurance.”
The bandit’s eyes opened just a slit. Loren knelt down behind him, flickering the knife in front of his eyes so that he could see it better.
The bandit looked around with slightly-opened eyes. His awareness seemed to still be hazy, and he couldn’t grasp what kind of situation he was in. When he finally realized that he was being tied and couldn’t move, and noticed Loren waving a naked knife in front of him, he let out a short, small shriek.
“Don’t make a sound. If someone comes, I’ll have to deal with you real quick.”
Loren pushed the blade close to the man’s cheek and said. The cold steel blade seemed to fully wake him up, and he paled.
Loren seemed pleased with that. He leaned in just a bit closer and whispered:
<“Well, I don’t have much time, and I don’t want to get my hands dirty.”>
‘What the hell are you planning to do?’, the bandit stared at Loren as if seeking for an answer. He actually could guess, but just couldn’t make himself believe it.
Loren paid it no mind and continued:
“First of all, I’ll give you a quick demonstration about what will happen from now on if you don’t answer my question.”
“P-please stop. Just ask what you want to ask!”
“For the sake of both of us, I hope you’ll tell the truth. I don’t have time for you to lie to me. So, it’s better if you experience once what will happen if you lie or keep silence. Easy to understand, isn’t it?”
Loren unhurriedly dragged the blade on the bandit’s cheek down to his lips. Tears came out from the bandit’s eyes, and he even seemed to want to shake his head to beg Loren to stop, Loren’s firm grip only allowed him to move his neck. A stiff, broken whine leaked out from his mouth.
“I’m not an expert, so I’m not very good at this. Well, it’s probably enough though, so enjoy it.”
The bandit let out a muffled scream and flailed his feet wildly. But as Loren was straddling him, he was almost immobile, and he could only let Loren do whatever he wanted without being able to resist.
“Uwah… So Loren even knows of these nasty things.”
Gula exclaimed. She was covering her face with her hands, but still peeked out from behind her fingers to watch the scene. Meanwhile, Loren just continued his knife work without a change in expression.
Xem: Dear readers, in this chapter I have edited lines of Gula to make them more aligned with her relaxed, informal and laid back demeanor. Please share your thought on this in the comment section below