“Oh it’s alright, isn’t it? Weapons should be used… But, a dagger called <Dragon Slayer>? Do we use it by throwing? The dragon’s breath has a longer range tough.”
Loren brought the valuable items back from the warehouses just as Tizona and Gula returned from searching the main building. As Tizona was in the situation where every single dime mattered, he was worried what she would say when he asked to keep some items for his personal use, but she agreed so easily that it was a bit anti-climax.
“I’ll be thankful if you can consider them as part of the reward.”
“It’s fine for me. Can you discuss with Lapis about their worth?”
Loren answered without hesitation, and Tizona looked disappointed towards a smiling Lapis, who was standing beside Loren. As Loren didn’t know much about goods appraisal, Tizona was hoping to make a good deal out of the two daggers. However, her plan fell to pieces when she was asked to discuss with Lapis.
Anyway, Tizona herself didn’t know that much about the value of magic-infused items, so it was unclear who might have come out with a better deal should she negotiate directly with Loren…
“So, what have you found?”
“Rather meh for a gang this size. But considering their territory being around the borderlands, it’s not that bad I guess.”
Gula dropped the rather heavy bag she was carrying on her shoulder to the ground. The clinking sound of coins coming from the bag let everyone know what it was stuffed with.
“There are a few gold coins, some silver coins, and a lot of copper coins. There are some gems too, but they don’t look to be very valuable.”
Gula wasn’t very satisfied, but Loren thought Tizona seemed relieved. The cash would be enough to pay for their remuneration, and the rest Tizona could claim as her own. They would go to pay the debt she was carrying, but just one look at her face let him know whether it was enough or not.
“This is not enough, right?”
“Did I let it show? Sorry. Of course, it is not, but this is not our target anyway.”
Tizona’s target was the ruin, this depot was just a detour. Loren, however, believed that to be able to earn a rather decent sum from just a detour was a success already.
“Then, do you want to take these goods and the captured bandits back to the post-town?”
They had got what they needed, so there was no need to remain at this place anymore. They needed to return to the town and let the officials know they had completed their request. Furthermore, they also needed to deal with the loot they had salvaged: the sum wasn’t that much, but they couldn’t travel carrying that many coins. There had to be some way to store it.
And, the ten captured bandits also had to be delivered to the town officials.
“Taking these guys back to the town is so troublesome…”
They could be stuffed into the carriage if there were only one or two of them, but ten would break the carriage. Ten people would also be too heavy to drag along, even with everyone properly tied up. Loren also considered waking them up and made them walk on their own, but then the party would have to match their speed, and it would take longer to return to town.
“How about getting rid of half of them here?”
They might be able to manage with five of them by stuffing some into the carriage and dragging the others along, but Loren couldn’t consent to Gula’s suggestion.
“We told them that we would hand them over to the officials during interrogation. It doesn’t sit right with me to break a promise, so no.”
“You’re way too honest.”
Gula was shocked to see Loren keeping his promises even to bandits, but Lapis said:
“It’s what’s good about him.”
Since Loren didn’t consent to getting rid of half the bandits, Gula also didn’t force it. But the problem of how to deal with them still remained.
“Seems like we have no choice but to make them walk back.”
“Won’t it take too much time? Will it be alright?”
“We didn’t expect the raid to end this early anyway. It’ll take about a day to walk back, so it probably won’t be a problem time-wise.”
“So, should we tie them to the carriage?”
“Then if all of them cooperate to pull the carriage back, we won’t be able to move forward, will we?”
What Lapis said was quite reasonable. There was no reason for the bandits to obediently walk behind the carriage at all. They might also risk being killed by Loren for doing it, but if all of them pulled at once, the carriage might stop or even overturn. And if the carriage overturned, they might be able to escape if they were lucky. Considering all this, they probably wouldn’t quietly walk behind the carriage to let themselves be handed over.
“What should we do then?”
“Let’s wake them all up, then kill one in the most gruesome way possible.”
Lapis made that very unexpected statement with a very serious face. Loren looked troubled, while Tizona looked at her with a startled expression.
“The last one in the line will be a good choice. Then Loren will say something like this: ‘If you think of something funny, you’ll become like him. So that you don’t forget, we’ll pull him along together with you’.”
“I see. The corpse will get worse and worse being dragged, making the fear unforgettable. It’s a good example.”
Gula nodded in agreement.
Tizona walked up to Loren, who was still scowling, and whispered into his ears:
“Loren, you… You should choose your party member more carefully.”
“Sometimes I think so too.”
Loren answered, then turned towards Lapis and Gula, who were eagerly waiting for his approval, and shook his head to refuse that proposal.
“No. I said I’ll hand them all to the officials. No matter what, I won’t agree with killing one to make an example.”
“Is that so? What do we do then?”
Lapis immediately asked, surprisingly she didn’t look to be very disappointed.
First of all, Loren asked Gula to wake up the bandits. After Gula returned their stolen stamina, the bandits regained consciousness. Once they noticed Loren standing nearby, their faces stiffened, and they began to try distancing themselves from him by any means possible.
Loren watched them struggling for a while. He finally spoke, unhurriedly and clearly:
“Listen. Just obediently run after the carriage. You may find it harsh, but resign to it as this is just reaping what you’ve sown. Don’t try anything funny. Just so you know, my party wants to cull you, so that it’s easier to get back to town. I promised to hand you over to the officials, so I’ve stopped them for now. But if anything happens, then that’s it. And I can ensure you that if something happens, then what I did to you would appear as a massage in comparison.”
Loren believed that rather than threatening, telling them the truth would be enough to make them understand.
But the content of his speech was definitely threatening. The bandits stopped moving, and looked at him with fear. He watched them and titled his head in puzzle:
“What’s this? I’ve just told you the truth due to kindness.”
The bandits’ teeth began chattering, and Loren scratched his head. He thought it’d be kinder to let them know right from the beginning what might happen instead of letting them have rebellious thoughts due to lack of understanding, but it seemed like the result was somewhat different from expected. Loren wondered if he had done something wrong. To worsen his worry, Lapis and Gula were, for some reason, smiling especially bright at him and giving him thumbs up.
Thanks to Loren’s act, the bandits followed after the carriage exceptionally meekly. As expected, they couldn’t let the bandits run continuously, so they took several breaks throughout the night. As a result, when they returned to the post-town the next day, the sun was already high in the sky.
Without even time for a rest, the party immediately handed over the bandits, who were covered in wounds, then reported to the top officials about completing their request.
An unexpected trouble occurred then: Since they had returned too soon, the officials were questioning if they had just caught the bandits on the way and returned. Gula took offense at their doubts, flew into a rage and wanted to eat them all. It resulted in Loren frantically trying to calm her down while Lapis negotiated with the officials.
After Lapis told them to question the captured bandits and dispatched some people to check the depot to verify their story, the town officials requested some time to do that. For the time of questioning the bandits, Loren’s party was grounded.
The room they were forced to stay in was a first-class guest room. When Tizona and Gula were relaxing on the sofa, Loren secretly asked Lapis
“About the depot, is it alright to leave it like that?”
They had left the depot as-is after taking what they needed, and Loren wondered if they should have done some cleaning up.
Lapis answered after thinking for some time:
“It’s fine, isn’t it? There’s nothing left at that place.”
“Nothing… What if there’s something left?”
“There’s nothing left. The only things remaining are half-destroyed buildings.”
Normally, there should be corpses at the scene of the battle. But this time, it had been Tizona and Gula who did the killing. Loren and Lapis barely had to lift a finger. Tizona killed by burning, so the corpses were reduced to ashes and Gula devoured her opponents, so nothing of them remained in this world.
If there had been corpses, they would need to deal with them somehow, so that they didn’t attract beasts and monsters or got possessed by spirits and became undead. But since there was none this time, Lapis believed they didn’t need to do anything.
“Doesn’t that also mean there’s no proof of us destroying the depot?”
“There are the ruined buildings and the captured bandits, so it’s alright.”
It would take some time, but Lapis believed everything would be alright. She didn’t worry at all. The town officials had said they needed some time to verify their story, and even though they were grounded, it didn’t seem as if they were being suspected: their treatment was good. Watching Tizona and Gula relaxing on the soft sofa, Lapis thought that there were no problems at all.
“We’ve already expected them to doubt our report. We’re not that pressed about time, so resting here for a bit is not such a bad idea.”
“Well, maybe I should sleep for a bit.”
There was nothing they could do while being grounded, so Loren thought it would be better to take some sleep to cure some fatigue. He sank into one of the sofas in the room and closed his eyes. His breathing immediately became even.
“I should sleep too, I guess.”
“So will I, next to Loren… eh?!”
Gula said and stood up to walk towards Loren, but Lapis cast her a look, sharp enough to kill a man on the spot. Noticing this Gula changed her mind and somewhat flustered went back to her seat.
Lapis continued staring at her for a while to keep her in check. Once Gula had given up and curled up on her sofa, Lapis went to sit next to Loren, leaned her head on his shoulder and slowly closed her eyes.
Before long, the room grew quiet with no other sound but the breathing of four people.