The giant fangs aiming at the axe wielder were deflected by the large shield.
The axe wielder collapsed on the ground unintentionally, the sight of a swordsman who stood in front as if covering him came into sight, and opened his mouth.
「Get back. 」
Waiting for the axe wielder to escape, the swordsman with purple hair took a stance with his sword.
「Sorry for the long wait, then shall I start the show. 」
Contrary to his light tone, his expression was sharp without any gaps facing against the gigantic snake. While the gigantic snake threatened with its hissing, the timing when the purple-haired swordsman decided to strike at , it suddenly turned and shrieked.
Hansrick and the others was surprised as they looked for what happened, in the next moment, the torso of the gigantic snake ruptured, and a huge volume of blood splattered.
At the unbelievable sight, Hansrick and the others who was stunned, witnessed another rupturing of its torso.
「W-What is……? 」
Hansrick muttered as if in shock, and appeared a figure of a blonde hair girl from the foliage holding a sword slicing away at the body of the violently acting snake.
The girl as if dancing around the snake gracefully as she butchered it alive. Every single step she took, was followed by the sound of flesh being cut, and the surroundings were painted in blood.
The figure of her beautiful blonde hair swayed lightly in the air as she danced around, rather than fighting, it would be more suiting to call it a sword dance. Hansrick and the others too, forgot about the predicament they were in as their gazes were stolen by that gracefulness.
As the snake’s movement have slowed down because of the flurry of attacks, the purple-haired swordsman aimed for the head, and that was the ending strike.
Escaped from the danger, as Hansrick and the other finally had a chance to catch their breath, the purple-haired swordsman started to scold the blonde-haired swordswoman.
「Oi, Helena! Don’t just simply take my prey! 」
「Ara, don’t talk bad about me. Isn’t your job to protect those children, and mine is to hunt the Ractor? 」
「Shut it! Something like Ractor, I’m more than enough by myself! 」
「Rather than dealing with the Ractor, protecting them is prioritized, isn’t that what Michelle said? You’re really no hope. 」
「What did you!? 」
「Yes yes, that’s enough. Clente and Helena, both of you did a good job. Fighting is fine but leave it later. 」
Claps sounded from the dense foliage along with a voice.
And who appeared following the voice, is an elderly woman with a dark blue-colored hair tied at the back. Without batting a single eye to Hansrick and the others, with just her words, the purple-haired swordsman and the blonde-haired swordswoman who were arguing became docile.
On top of that, three more man appeared behind her. All of them were fully equipped, it’s obvious that they are all mercenaries.
「Damn! Even though it was a rare chance for me to appeal my true ability! 」
Clente who was the purple-haired swordman stomped the ground as if regretting over it.
「Don’t say it like that. Didn’t you do your part perfectly. Rather than a unicellular brain that only knows to rush at the enemy, isn’t a man that can protect what he must protect much better, don’t you think so too? 」
「Mu, if you say so……」
Passing through Clente who seems a little still unsatisfied, the elderly woman made her way in front of Hansrick and the others.
「Are you injured? You might think it’s excessive handling but, it really looked to me that you guys were in danger. So, I offered out my hands for a little. 」
Hansrick and the others who were saved just like this, went into the cover of Clente and the others.
Clente and the others is mercenaries as expected. The elderly woman was a peddler, Michelle is her name, and she was about to get out of the forest with the other five mercenaries she hired.
On the way, young mercenaries――people who seemed like mercenaries to Michelle――was having a tough battle, so she decided to help out is the explanation.
In the beginning, Michelle was thinking that she would give them some medicinal supplies as a goodwill as she neared them. But out of consideration for Hansrick and the others as she realized that they can’t win against a Twin Swords, she warned them.
「You people’s academy, haven’t they taught to『Know your capability』? When you can’t even victorious against Twin Swords, how could you even come to think of entering this forest. 」
「Then are you saying you can win against Twin Swords? 」
Hansrick who asked the exact opposite unhesitatingly, Michelle scoffed at it.
「Don’t say such stupid things. I’m a peddler you know? It’s not my job dealing with fights, I do business. But, I know of my own capability, and I know the danger of this forest too. So that’s why I hired five skillful escort. This is what I mean by knowing yourself. If you people hired someone properly, then I won’t say this. Can’t win even when you had escort, that I can understand. But you people have looked down on this forest, and didn’t even hire an escort. And what you expect to do with this much. 」
At the undeniable truth of Michelle, even though it was something they should have known themselves, Solte and the others was depressed.
And the only one who wasn’t convinced was Hansrick. He was born in a wealthy family, Hansrick who was regarded as a genius ever since he was small, he wasn’t the successor, but he had a bright future.
Even when he entered the academy, his position as the first place was never lost, he always excelled in his results. His swordsmanship which was shown to the entire academy, was not in any way weaker than the academy’s instructor,
For him who have never tasted true failure, he must’ve been not willing to accept the result this time. On top of that, he’s getting a lecture from unknown peddler. His pride is probably in shreds.
Solte raised her voice from the side to Michelle.
「It’s as you said, we are indeed too short of insight. 」
They were blessed by luck and didn’t encounter any beasts and demonic beings on the way here, but that doesn’t mean it will hold true when they go back. Of course, they have understood the fact clearly that they won’t have a chance to get back to the town on their own if that happens.
「I’m terribly sorry for making requests like this but, can we stay together until we escape from the forest? 」
Since it’s like this, it will be the safest choice if they accompany Michelle and the others who have the proper ability to counteract the monsters in the forest. What Solte suggested, it was probably what their conclusion came to naturally.
「Fumu……, you have five people here? How is it, Helena? Will it work? 」
「It’s impossible. It’s difficult to protect including Michelle, six people. If you say that you won’t mind if there night be one or two sacrifices in the process, then it’ll be different. 」
The blonde-haired swordswoman answered immediately. Contrary to her expresionless face, her long blonde hair that reflects the sunlight, and slightly pointy ears that are peeking through the hair, she’s a girl that gave off a memorable impression.
A leather armor dyed silver was on her body. Without a shield, she only had two short double-edged daggers hanging on her waist. She looks about in her late twenties. But to get asked from Michelle about her opinion, she’s probably the leader of the mercenaries’ party.
「We learnt how to take care of ourselves a little. Although it might not be enough to make a difference in combat, but at the very least, we won’t be dragging――」
Solte’s words were interrupted by Helena.
「You say so but, from our side, on top of we don’t have the confidence to protect you all, it might even cause danger to our original escort target of Michelle. And also, you don’t look like you have training in getting protected right? 」
「Training in getting protected……is it? 」
「That’s right. For us, rather than escorting even one of you, escorting two Michelle’s is easier. 」
「That’s, what do you mean? 」
In an instant, Solte’s question was answered by Helena.
「Same like protecting someone, being protected has it’s techniques too. The positions of your enemies and comrades, grasping the topography, changing your position to be easier on the escorts. Maintaining a formation for easy retreat if the situation worsens. Above all is the strong mind with calmness to be able to endure any kind of changes in the situation. Something like that isn’t learned in one day or one night but over various occasions. Michelle-san have experienced many battles in the past. Even if she doesn’t take part in the battle, the times that she has witnessed a battle probably isn’t far off from ours. That is why, depending on the battle, how to move to be easier to be protected by us, how to move without getting in our way, she has known this all in her mind. 」
「Oya oya, your escort fee won’t go up even if you flatter me. 」
Michelle laughed lightly at the side.
「It’s not like I’m flattering. It’s the truth. Somehow, Michelle-san is just so much easier to be escorted. 」
「C-Certainly we have not received training like that. But, we properly know how to protect ourselves. 」
「You still don’t understand so I’m saying this. For escorts, the most troublesome subjects to deal with is children and animals. Do you know why? 」
「They don’t listen……Is it? 」
「Mostly correct. Then what is the next troublesome subject in your mind? 」
「Uh, hmm…………, an ordinary person without combat ability? 」
「Wrong. Of course, escorting a civilian is troublesome too. But, more than that, the ones that is more troublesome is 『People who think they can fight even though they can’t』. Civilians can at least realize that they don’t have the capability to fight, they won’t face the enemies themselves, to have someone leaping into danger themselves is just wasting our effort. Even worse than a civilian. In other words, it’s people like you I’m talking about. 」
「Of course, if you say you have the capability to defend yourselves, then it’s a different matter. But, if you can’t win against Twin Swords which are the weakest in this forest even when you have five people, it isn’t very convincing. Well, in any case, if we were to escort six people with five, the risk of getting through the forest is too high. 」
Solte couldn’t say anything anymore. Because that they were just pointed out that they haven’t understood they were getting ahead of themselves thinking they can defend themselves when they can’t.
But, the one who couldn’t sit and take it. It’s Hansrick.
「What!? You’re going to abandon us like this!? 」
It was different than the usual violent tone that he had, it was confusing for the other four students. It was so different that it was unimaginable with his usual atmosphere full of confidence.
「You just rushed into a dangerous forest by yourselves, what is he saying now, this brat? 」
The purple-haired swordsman laughed as if teasing Hansrick.
「Stop that, Clente! It’s not very mature! 」
And Michelle stopped that.
「Hehe. Then, what it’s gonna be? 」
「It’s a boat we’ve boarded already. If we were to abandon them now, it’s just going to give me nightmares. Helena, sorry but can you stay here with me? 」
「And us? 」
「Clente and the others are to return to Thoria and request for help. If it’s twenty gold coins for down payment, then you can get four or five people. 」
「Then, what about Michelle and the others? What you gonna do? With just Helena, she can’t possibly protect all of you right? 」
「We will just find some empty cave and shut ourselves in. It’s a little regretful but with Helena there, we can do it anyhow for about four days. The food supplies are more than enough, so if we just secure water source, then it’s enough that we can wait for your return. 」
「Fumu……, I guess it’s better than taking the brats out for a walk, huh……. Got it, then let’s get started! First is finding a suitable cave! 」
And so, waiting for Clente and the others’ return along with more mercenaries, Michelle, Helena, together with Hansrick and the others, a total of seven people is waiting for help in the cave.