Seeing the appearance of Clente and the others, Michelle finally has a chance to feel relieved.
Briefly looking, she confirmed that Clente and the others, all of them weren’t injured in any way. Having narrowly escaped from death, it’s only natural for a smile to form on her face.
The four mercenaries that were new to her, it’s the backup that Clente have brought. The reason that they made it back one day earlier than expected, is probably because Clente and the others cut through the forest forcibly.
But thanks to that, Michelle and the others were saved by a hair breadth. If they arrived one day later than expected, then it is sure that no one amongst Michelle and the others would’ve survived till then.
As the healer amongst the escort started treating Helena, the mercenaries that Clente brought with him looked after the students.
Michelle spotted the youngest male amongst the mercenaries was the only one walking towards the Whips’s corpse. He’s a young man with a short pinkish-purple robe, he proceeded to pull out the two short sword that was stuck in the Whips’s body, and wiped the blade wet with blood with a cloth before putting them in the scabbards on his waist.
In other words, it meant that the owner of the short swords is the young man in question.
Michelle squinted her eyes and appraised that young man.
His age is probably about four, fifteen. He looks to be around the age where people would admire and try to become a mercenary. Black eyes and black hair, and ordinary looks. The only characteristic that stands out is the piece of cloth tied over his forehead that can be seen between his bangs.
But from his stance, it gave off a feeling of strength that isn’t in any way inferior to the trained mercenaries like Helena and the others. From what Michelle can see, at the very least, he has incomparably better skills than Hansrick and the other students.
He’s a young man with a mysterious aura. Despite looking and having probably the same age as the students, he looked more like a veteran stood on the battlefields for a long time.
Finally, when Helena’s treatment is done and the students regained their consciousness, Michelle and Clente exchanged information, and discussed about their plans. And from that, it is known that the lucky occurrence this time was brought by coincidences and miracles intersecting with each other.
「I see, that’s why you all were earlier than expected. 」
Clente as the representative explained to Michelle.
「When we finally got out of the forest, we saw a carriage coming from the direction of Thoria. It’s a distance of half a day on foot but, using a horse carriage would definitely take lesser time. That’s when we tried to stop and tried to hitch a ride to Thoria knowingly it isn’t a good idea and――」
At Clente’s explanation, Ted interrupted.
「And that was the horse carriage that we were riding on. It’s really surprising that time. Since our carriage was stopped suddenly. 」
「I said it’s my bad already right. We got impatient and had no choices. I really do think it was rude to you brothers on the carriage. Uh……, well, and just like that, we stopped the carriage and tried to explain the situation, and what good luck that the people riding on the carriage are these four mercenaries. 」
And that’s when Clente tried to request for their help but, the other side were also dealing with an urgent quest, so the negotiation didn’t go through.
「But then. Listening closely, ain’t the urgent quest they’ve got is searching for those kids. Then we had no reason to be going separate ways. That’s why we were able to come back with help earlier. Since we can guide them to where their search targets are at. We got together and returned here. 」
「I see why you say it’s coincidences and miracles. In other words, we were just lucky. Well, we were saved because of that, so I’m not complaining. 」
Michelle who finally grasped the entire picture called out to Clente and the others.
「Well then, let’s talk about what we are going to do next. ……Uhh, you. You’re Ted, right? Are you the party leader? 」
「Well, something like that. 」
「You’ve probably heard it from Clente but, will you take the escort quest? The ones your party are going to escort are these children. Time period is until we return to Thoria. And the compensation is twenty gold total. 」
「No wait, what are you saying. We originally came here to save those chicks you know? The compensation is already paid by our side, we can’t be taking any escort fees from an old woman. 」
「Who’s the old woman! I’m only in the forties! Call me Michelle! 」
Ted looked at Clente with eyes that looked like he couldn’t be less bothered. And the archer with a small stature and steel-grey colored eyes giggled while trying to cover his mouth.
「I think you will be better off studying a little about how to talk with a girl. 」
Ted’s party member who was a red-haired girl said so with a fed-up tone.
「Well well, the both of you too. Wouldn’t leaving that after escorting those children back to Thoria be fine? Shouldn’t we prioritize getting out of the forest now? 」
Being the intermediary between Michelle and Ted, Helena joined the conversation.
It’s certainly as Helena said. Since Ted doesn’t seem to be caring about the compensation, focusing on leaving the forest and returning to the safe town first would be best.
Either way, Ted and his party are supposed to protect the students, and with Michelle and the others, their safety would be even better.
「That’s true. First we must get through the forest safely. The rest is after we return to Thoria. Are you fine with that, Ted? 」
「No problem. Then let’s depart now? 」
「If your party don’t have any complains. The students are already at their limits. Rather than stamina, it’s their mental strength that’s the problem. 」
It can’t be blamed. The students were living at the capital that guaranteed safety just few days ago. Even if they learned combative skills, it’s a clear difference between the academy that have no dangers and the forest that has monsters lurking.
The pressure and fear they never tasted in the academy, it can’t be blamed if they are crushed by it. Crushed by the fear of a demonic being that they’ve never experienced, the students except Solte were completely exhausted .
After Helena’s treatment is completed, they left the cave in quick strides. Michelle’s party, a total of six people, together with Ted’s party, four people, and the students, five people. A group of a total of fifteen members formed formations and headed north in the forest.
「Ahaha. This is quite the army, with this much people. 」
The archer with a small stature, Norris laughed brightly as he said so. That expression wasn’t a lie nor a made up. It’s probably because that they have the ability to be so carefree even in this forest.
Similarly, the red-haired female magician of Ted’s party, continued walking with a relaxed feeling. She was Orphellia, even as a magician, her movements didn’t have any gaps, it’s an insight to her experience as a mercenary.
For Michelle that had seen many mercenaries in her life, she can speculate that including Ted, the three of them are veteran mercenaries.
But, the only one that she couldn’t gauge is the black-haired swordsman, Ardis. Despite having not much different of an age than the students, his aura exuded is not inferior than that of Ted, Helena and the other veteran mercenaries.
From what she has heard, the one who finished off the Whips with the two short swords was him. If that’s the case, then his abilities can’t even be compared to the veteran mercenaries.
Even if it was already damaged, to snipe accurately with short sword from somewhere even the Whips’s vision doesn’t reach, and killing it with just two hits, if Michelle were to speak of this to her fellow peddlers, then she would just be regarded as overexaggerating.
They proceeded in a formation to protect the students. With Ted’s party taking the front, Clente’s party at the back, and the escort targets in the middle.
Walking for half a day will be enough to reach the route where the beasts and demonic beings wouldn’t appear. If they encountered any enemies, it would basically be Ted’s party dealing with them but, if the situation needs it, Clente and the others will back them up too, it was the formation Michelle came up with.
But that formation that had much thoughts put into it was futile, is what they have understood after an hour.
「I know, I leave the right one to you. 」
At Norris’s call, Ted pulled out the sword on his waist and took a low stance, before giving out orders to his comrade. The leaves above his head shook. With the heavy mass behind it, a light purple colored snake attacked Ted and the others. It’s a Ractor.
Along with a heightening shout, Ted swung the bastard sword fiercely. Dodging the attack that came from the Ractor jumping off the tree by moving slightly, he aimed from its mouth and slashed towards its torso.
In a single breath, the body of the Ractor was split into two from the mouth. Spinning around with his momentum, Ted dropped the second attack. While Ted lightly butchered the Ractor, Norris released three arrows swiftly towards the foliage on the right.
At the same timing when the third arrow left Norris’s hands, from the thick foliage, another Ractor leaped out. Just as the Ractor that has arrows already stuck in its torso deeply leaped out, it received the third arrow straight to the head.
With that, the Ractor was concussed for a moment. But as expected, that alone wasn’t enough to stop the large snake’s attack.
While hissing to threaten, the Ractor raised its head.
Against such a huge snake that was filled with murderous intent, it was a single short sword that approached its back without a single noise.
At a place where no one is there, the sword floated strangely. Even Michelle couldn’t understand what she was looking at. In the vision of Michelle who stared at this abnormal scenery, the short sword that was suspended in the air suddenly made its move.
The short sword that managed to sneak past its guard severed the Ractor’s defenseless neck from the back in a single stroke. After fulfilling its role, the short sword flew slowly back to its owner, Ardis’s hand.
From Norris call to the total annihilation of two Ractors, it’s about thirty seconds.
(I thought they are skillful but, to think it was to this degree……)
Ted’s party’s ability was more than what Michelle have expected.
Certainly, with Helena, Clente and the others, dealing with two Ractor wouldn’t be a problem. But, asking them to do it single handedly in a short time like this, they would be hesitating to say it’s possible promptly.
On top of that, the magician, Orphellia didn’t participate in the fight. So, in actuality, it was only three of them that overwhelmed the two Ractors.
Above all that makes Michelle confused, is the technique of Ardis who only looks like an ordinary young man. Sending the short sword flying, as if controlling it with an invisible hand and severing the Ractor’s neck.
A magic like that, even Michelle who travelled all around the continent never heard of it.
「That……, Michelle-san. 」
「……What is it, Solte? 」
「That sword just now, ……what was that? It looked like it floated in the air and cut the snake by itself to me but……」
It was something that even Michelle who have been seeing mercenaries fighting with monsters for ages saw for the first time. Even if she’s a student of the academy that teaches all kinds of combative skills, there’s no way Solte would know that.
「Who knows……? It’s my first time seeing that too. Helena, you know anything about that? 」
「No, it’s my first time seeing that kind of technique too. I have never even heard of a sword flying and cutting the enemies on its own. 」
From the looks, Clente and the other mercenaries have the same surprised expression. Their eyes have a slight interest in it but, as expected, they have never seen that technique too.
「It’s a waste but, since we are prioritizing getting out of the forest, we won’t be able to collect the materials, you mind? 」
Ted came to confirm, and Michelle who have no reason to oppose gave her consent.
After that, there were several occasions where the beasts attacked on the way but, every single one of them were finished off by Ted’s party, with no victim-like victims, they continued progressing through the forest smoothly.
The Twin Swords that appeared were struck down by either Ted beheading them with his sword or Norris penetrating them with his arrows. One of them tried to attack from the side of the formation but, with Ardis’s short sword, it was lightly exterminated.
Eventually, Michelle and the others arrived on the safe route, and at that pace, they left the Corsas Forest behind in half a day.