We Would Both Be Happier if We Were Not Invited to the Mansion
The carriage raced at a speed that seemed as if its wheels might ignite due to friction.
Amidst the peaceful woods, tranquil sunlight filtered through, flowers in bloom, and butterflies danced. Yet, amidst this picturesque scenery that could entice one into a leisurely picnic, a single carriage sped through as if pursued by a dragon.
“Damn it! Hurry up! Run faster…!”
The coachman desperately whipped the foaming horses.
Chasing the carriage were a group of bandits riding Fleurmores, monsters with colorful feathers, resembling ostriches, but armed and armored. More precisely, they were individuals who rode these monsters, using them as mounts.
Like beasts salivating at their prey, the bandits laughed while commanding their bizarre birds. Most of them carried swords, but among them was one who wielded a convenient magical medium, a short staff, even while mounted.
With magic, the horses’ legs were stuck to the ground.
The horses toppled due to their inertia, and the carriage, naturally, rear-ended them.
The coachman on the driver’s seat was thrown out with great force, landing on the distant ground and lying motionless.
As soon as the carriage stopped, the door opened from the inside, and two women stumbled out.
One was a girl in her late teens, dressed in a sparkling dress that resembled snow. The other was a woman in her thirties, wearing a modest but sturdy-looking dress. They were the eldest daughter of Marquis de Grancel and her maid.
Even if they stayed in the carriage, they would only be trapped and captured.
The judgment to flee was correct.
However, as they stumbled while trying to escape, they were soon surrounded by the Fleurmores—like they were being pursued by dragons—in the midst of the picturesque scenery that might invite a leisurely picnic.
“…What about the guard adventurers?”
“They were supposed to hold them back… but…”
The two women held onto each other anxiously.
Looking at the men who had drawn their swords, the maid’s eyes widened in shock.
“Sorry about this, it’s business, you know.”
One of the attackers on a Fleurmore spoke.
The Fighter carried a short spear on his shoulder and grinned wickedly.
Normally, he was one of the adventurers who would have been the ones defending against external threats. Ultimately, this escort party had collaborated with the attackers.
Of course, they were hired by the Marquis through the Adventurers’ Guild. That’s why they entrusted them with guarding the carriage.
The Adventurers’ Guild managed adventurers rigorously in exchange for a brokerage fee, and they wouldn’t assign individuals with a lax attitude to such important tasks.
However, times were different now.
The country was currently under threat of invasion by the Khenis Empire.
Adventurers were fleeing, and the quality of those who took jobs had decreased. The guild was in turmoil, and its management structure broke down.
Now, even if adventurers grabbed dirty money and hopped high, would the Guild come after them?
…It was inevitable that some adventurers would think so.
“Gehehehe… Don’t worry, we won’t kill you.”
“As long as your daddy coughs up a hefty sum, that is. But well, we’ll see about that, hahaha!”
“Hey, you know, don’t you wanna taste the goods? As long as you’re alive, we can figure something out, right? Uhihi, uhehehe…”
The bandits dismounted their mounts and advanced towards the two women without bothering to hide their vulgat laughter.
And splattering blood.
Suddenly, one of the bandits screamed.
His throat had been slashed open. He collapsed, a pool of blood spreading.
A girl with honey-colored hair fluttering like a flower in the wind suddenly appeared, interposing herself between the attacked women and the assailants.
She looked about thirteen or fourteen years old, going by her appearance. Despite her delicate frame, her confident demeanor made her appear about a size larger than she actually was.
She wore leather-skirted corset mail, favored by female Thieves. In one hand, she held a crescent-shaped short blade. In the other hand, for some inexplicable reason, she had a hand mirror adorned with silver designs that resembled a cradle.
“Run, both of you.”
“Who are you…?”
Her tone was firm and left no room for questioning.
As if pushed from behind, the two women got to their feet and escaped through gaps in the encirclement, stumbling as they went. The young adventurer retreated while protecting the women’s backs, and once they were gone, she turned to face the bandits.
But the bandits were still not panicking.
The speed of a woman’s retreat was hardly impressive. With the Fleurmores, catching up would be easy. Even if they dealt with this nuisance, they could still catch up.
“Who the h*ll are you?”
“…To be honest, even I want someone to tell me what I am right now.”
Looking genuinely troubled, the young adventurer let out a sigh.
“There’s just one opponent, take care of her!”
Amidst the perplexed subordinates in this strange turn of events, their leader remained composed.
Upon his command, the subordinates regained their tension and readied their swords.
In response, the young adventurer… peered into the hand mirror.
“Hmm, I’m so cute again today!”
“What are you… huh!?”
As the leader of the bandits swung his sword and attempted to slash at the girl, something unexpected happened.
The image of the girl looking into the hand mirror fragmented into multiple diamond-shaped afterimages and scattered.
Leaving behind a droning sound, the figure disappeared.
The swung sword sliced through the air and, carried by its momentum, embedded itself into the ground.
The girl embraced the man who had swung his sword, piercing his throat.
A crescent-shaped short blade swung sharply, and blood and spittle were flung to the ground as he collapsed.
The man, unsupported, crumpled to the ground.
“Ah, just when I was saying that I hadn’t really put what I learned to practical use at all… I can do it after all. ‘I skipped temple school and went straight to studying murder!’ Not something to be proud of, huh?”
With an expression of genuine annoyance, the girl played with her mysteriously glowing hand mirror while letting out a sigh.
A treacherous adventurer thrust his sharp short spear.
His strike was as if he could pierce the very air and skewer her, yet once again, he struck nothing but air.
The girl’s form fragmented into diamond-shaped afterimages and disappeared again. Then she was behind the spear user.
The girl seemed to have anticipated his movement.
Although it appeared that the spear user had thrust at her, it was a feint. She let the spear’s motion flow through as if she was reversing its trajectory, extending a stiletto-like dagger from her side into his back.
The spear user’s face was cleaved in two, top to bottom.
The girl, who had seemed to have maneuvered behind him, had unexpectedly attacked from the front.
“… This b*tch!”
It wasn’t a fatal blow.
However, caught off guard by the unexpected attack and blinded by his own blood streaming down his face, the spear user swung the short spear he held in his hand in desperation.
The spear didn’t strike the girl but grazed two nearby bandits.
One of the startled bandits had his throat cut by the girl in that instant.
“Calm down!” “Idiot, where are you aiming?” “How many of them are there!?”
And chaos erupted.
The bandits, still bewildered, collectively attacked the girl.
Yet, they couldn’t catch sight of her. She disappeared like a bubble after an attack, and when she seemed to be on the right, she appeared on the left.
When they thought she would attack, she retreated. When they anticipated a slash, she thrust.
Appearance, presence, movements — everything about her was misleading.
It was as if they were facing five enemies who all looked the same. The bandits were unilaterally thrown into disarray.
“Fall back!” “Idiots, surround her! Form a circle!”
The resounding clang of a large gong-like sound reverberated, restoring discipline to the disarrayed bandits.
It was an order from the leader who had been observing cautiously.
Before they could even think, their bodies moved.
The remaining bandits halted their attacks and formed a defensive ring.
Within the radius of a three-step perimeter of their encirclement, the girl ceased her movement.
The bandits, standing at equal intervals, pointed their swords straight at her to prevent her from approaching.
“Neither a teleportation nor duplications, huh? Isn’t that dizzying?”
As the triumphant leader spoke, the girl didn’t particularly deny it. Instead, she seemed to find it amusing.
“Wow, you caught on quickly! I almost regret that you’re just a bandit. You’re surprisingly capable, old man. You’re well-equipped and seem to have good command. I’d say you’re group of deserters from a country that was destroyed by the Khenis Empire.”
“Shut up. You’re nothing more than a cornered rat now. Heh heh, your body lacks allure, but your face ain’t bad. The crime of disrupting our work is heavy, woman. We’ll plug up all three of your h*les and make you scream.”
“No more mutilation!!”
And then the leader’s head was sent flying.
The bandits, who had been focused on the girl, finally noticed upon hearing the strange shout.
It was a monster that had attacked the leader from behind.
A man with a robust body, it could be described as pallid, his eyes clouded, and his skin so pale it bordered on blue-white. His long blond hair was tied high on his head, and he wore attire seen in the Empire and the Far East, secured with sash.
The weapon in his hand was a beautifully sharpened single-edged sword.
The man, in the guise of a monster, caught the flying head of the leader, then bit into a cheek and tore off a piece of flesh.
With their emotional anchor shattered as their leader was killed so easily, the bandits lost their formation, screamed in misery like defeated dogs, and retreated.
Watching those bandits, the girl looked at them with eyes that seemed to hold pity for their suffering.
“Sorry. It was my selfishness that let those two get away, and I had no choice but to fight alone. But it seems they’ve gone far enough now… From here on, it’s military action. Your flesh is our supply, sustenance for the Ciel-Terra Army. And your bones are new recruits. I can’t stop this, even if I wanted to. So don’t take it personally, okay?”
With a pose that made it seem as though stars were twinkling around her, the girl pleaded for forgiveness.
Before they could even ask what was going on, a dazzling horde of undead, equipped in splendid armor, poured out from the surrounding forest.
Ghouls in knight armor. Skeletons as well. And liches, wearing robes and holding staffs.
A ghoul swordsman in red dragon-scale armor, mimicking the appearance of an adventurer.
A giant man, his mechanical arm swinging wildly while emitting steam.
A female martial artist in Empire-style clothing with a tag attached to her face…
And thus, a nameless bandit gang disappeared from the roads.
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