“In conclusion, interrogating an underling is not that worthwhile.”
Loren washed his blood-stained hands at a well by the road, dried them with a piece of cloth torn off from the bandits’ clothes, and said. Gula frowned at him a little.
They had successfully intercepted the raid, but since the bandits were too efficient, it didn’t make much of a difference. Half of the stolen goods were left behind, and Gula killing off tens-odd bandits by herself were the only successes they could claim if they had to.
As for the bandit Loren had captured, he was handed to the town officials while still breathing. He was made to talk, of course, but after getting the information he thought he needed from him, Loren could only let out a hollow laugh. Loren didn’t think the surviving soldiers and town officials would be able to get anything out of him, but he didn’t know of the bandit’s ultimate fate.
“He did have some useful information though. Well, if he didn’t lie.”
“I’d be impressed if he had balls to bullshit us after all that.”
Gula, who had been present at the scene, said with a shudder. Loren wondered why an Evil God like her would say that, but there was fear in her eyes when she looked at him, and her body did tremble. He couldn’t tell if she was serious or not.
“Was it really that nasty?”
It was Tizona who asked that question.
They were at a dining hall in the northern area of the town, which wasn’t damaged by the raid. They were staying at a different inn this time, since they got evicted from the previous one even after explaining about their circumstances.
Lapis had left to talk with the surviving town guards and officials, as Gula hated troublesome things and Loren and Tizona weren’t confident about being able to provide a good explanation. They were currently waiting for her to come back.
“I don’t think of it as something nasty anymore.”
“Isn’t it a common practice on the battlefield? It’s just a mean to extract intel from captured enemies.”
Hearing Loren saying so, Gula turned her attention to Tizona, who was also a mercenary. Tizona became flustered and waved her hand.
“Is it not a common practice?”
“I’m basically just in charge of fighting. Dealing with prisoners is someone else’s responsibility… I don’t know what they do.”
“Well, it’s surely not something for <Hellfire Sword> to do.”
That said, Tizona also wondered why the hell would they leave interrogations to <Decapitating Wind>, but since she knew Loren would deny being that person if she asked him, she only smiled vaguely at his remark.
“So, what’d you get from him?”
Gula seemed to be watching Tizona’s reactions still, but she changed the topic nevertheless. Loren also found the topic of prisoner treatment annoying, so he jumped at the chance.
“It’s not very useful.”
“That’s fine too. Just tell me.”
“First of all, the one I caught was on the lowest level of their gang, so he didn’t know anything about their HQ.”
This was a common thing in large organizations. It was also an evidence of how big this gang of bandits was.
“The ones attacking this time are based in one of the depots scattering in this area. All the loot they get will be gathered there, and only the valuable ones are sent to HQ.”
“I’ve never heard of something like that before.”
Loren agreed with Tizona. Even though it was also a rather strange practice in itself, the bandits in this world usually brought all their loot to their HQ. To have designated depots for loot would require them to break up their force and base accordingly.
“And isn’t it strange to transport only valuable items to HQ? Bandits normally take all they can, don’t they?”
“I think so too, but it seems credible since that guy did confess so. There will be people coming from the HQ to appraise the loot and take some of the valuable ones back to HQ. The rest will be left as the depot for those based there to do as they like.”
“That’s quite fair.”
“Are bandits supposed to be fair though?”
As Gula and Loren argued with each other, Tizona sat in silence with her head tilted in puzzle.
Lapis returned just then. She seemed tired, so after spotting the group, she ordered some drinks and joined them.
“You’ve worked hard. How was it?”
Loren asked, but Lapis raised her hand to signal him to stop and wait until their drinks arrived. Tizona and Gula thought the report should come first, but since Loren left all the troublesome decision-making to Lapis, he didn’t rush her.
Before long, the owner came carrying their drinks. Lapis drained her glass in one gulp, exhaled heavily, turned toward the other waiting members, and finally started speaking.
“Well, I was helped by understanding people.”
According to Lapis, handing over the captured bandit was also considered a big deal. The town officials and guards believed that their party had repelled the bandits more readily than expected, and so they thanked them, and easily accepted their demand for reward.
Loren found their response a bit too lighthearted and got suspicious, but Lapis had a different opinion:
“I think it’s better to just accept their gratitude quietly and get their cooperation, instead of going against them and losing their goodwill.”
“Even if we’re asked to work with them on the town defense, we can’t. We’re in the middle of a job ourselves.”
Tizona’s quest for the ruin expedition must take priority, thus repelling bandits was just a side job. From Loren’s point of view, even if they were asked to work with the town, they must reject it.
“That’s true. So, I think we should let Tizona make the decision.”
Tizona pointed at herself, and Lapis nodded.
“Yes. You’re currently our client, so no one, but you should decide our course of actions.”
“What decision should I make?”
Tizona seemed to think that what Lapis said was not incorrect, so she calmly turned towards Lapis and asked.
Lapis held the cup with both hands, raised it as if she was praying, and looked at Tizona:
“The town officials request, or rather expressed their wish, that we somehow deal with the bandits attacking them this time.”
“What do you mean by ‘deal with’?”
“It means ‘deal with’. Obliterate them if possible. If not, deal enough damages to them so that they cannot attack the town again.”
Tizona folded her arms and considered this. The other three watched her, Loren with an unchanged expression, Lapis with a frown, and Gula with a bit of astonishment on her face.
“A quick question: it’s not like we can’t do it, right?”
“We’re still not sure about their force, but… no, it’s not like we can’t.”
From Tizona’s question, Gula wondered if she had known about her own and Lapis’ true power. But a short while later, Gula remembered that just Tizona’s power alone would be enough to deal with the bandits.
“Loren and Gula have killed a number of them already, and we know about their depot’s location from the captured bandit.”
“Ah, that’s right.”
“I’ll be troubled if we’re asked to tackle their HQ. But just a depot won’t take us much time, will it?”
“Tizona, you’re amazing!”
Lapis said with no hint of exaggeration, and Loren choked a little hearing her exclaim. Lapis and Gula turned to look at him as if asking what was wrong, but he waved his hands at them to indicate that he was alright.
The truth was, he was surprised to hear the word ‘amazing’ coming from Lapis, but it was difficult to explain that to them. The two girls didn’t seem to notice his predicament, and didn’t ask more questions.
“But I think you also know that I’m not in a position to waste time here.”
“Then, let me tell you one good thing.”
Putting her glass down on the table and raising one finger, Lapis told them another piece of
“If we can complete their request, aside from the reward, the town will let us do what we like with the loot found at the depot.”
“That’s very generous of them.”
If it wasn’t related to a specific job, the goods found at a bandits’ place would belong to whoever attacked them. However, if the attack was done due to a request from a client, the client normally claimed the stolen goods.
Since the town offered to reward them for dealing with the bandits’ depot, it would be normal for them to claim the goods found there. But the town proposed to waive their claim this time, meaning their party could take whatever they wanted once the job is done.
If one didn’t consider the risk of dealing with an overwhelming number of bandits, then this was an extremely good job. The biggest problem was getting rid of the bandits.
“If I say I want to take on their request, what will your answer be?”
“That depends on your remuneration, of course.”
Client decided the course of actions, but the contractor had the right to accept or refuse it. Tizona also agreed with this point.
“One more gold coin for each then. How is it?”
Tizona asked Lapis, but she didn’t answer, instead she looked at Loren. She considered him their party’s leader, and thus he should be the one to decide what to do.
“Do we have time for this?”
“It’ll be a problem if it takes seven or eight days.”
“It probably won’t take that long.”
“Then there’s no problem. So, do we accept this job?”
“Well, what should we do, I wonder?”
Lapis had already left the decision to him. As for Gula, when he glanced at her to check her reaction, he saw her yawning. Apparently she wasn’t interested in the discussion at all.
After a while, Gula finally finished yawning and noticed that Loren was staring at her. She jumped in surprise, but immediately realized he was asking for her opinion and nodded twice. It seemed like Gula had also left the decision-making to him.
Loren turned back to Tizona and answered:
“Alright. We’ll attack the bandits’ depot.”
“Good. We need a map of the place and its surroundings. Then we need to come up with a plan.”
At Tizona’s words, Lapis started unfolding a map of the area around the post-town she had procured somewhere on the table they were sitting at.