Bastard Swordsman Chapter 16

Something Like a Counterbalanced Spear

I ended up taking a joint request with Artemis.

The flow being they want me to prove I have the fighting ability to protect Raina if I’m going to keep taking her out. Can’t call it overprotective. No one wants to entrust a young woman alone to some sketchy guy.

Above all I’m aware I come off as a weird old dude, so I know this sort of reprisal would come somewhere down the line. Not the first time my skill’s been tested either.

The quest to assess my skill was a 2-day forest search.

Searching for unlucky newbies who’ve gone missing in the forest, and dismantling any unauthorized traps foolish newbies have set up in the woods, one of those thankless clean-up tasks unique to this time of year.

Those who head into the forest and don’t come back are generally dead, turned bandit, or silently went back home. A pain to deal with either way.

That said, we won’t just wander the forest blindly. There’s a set route going to a work shed deep in the forest and back.

We can spend the night at the work shed if no one’s using it, and the area is decently safe. Reaching the work shed before full dark is critical.

Whether we encounter monsters or get caught in traps along the way is up to luck.

But in my experience, I’ve never had an uneventful hike on this route.

It’s a quest to assess my overall ability as a guild member.

“Kept you waiting huh.”

Early dim morning.

The Artemis gang was already gathered at east gate when I arrived.

“Oh, not all of Artemis assembled?”

“Of course not. It’s not a mass operation, and everyone has other things to do. We split up tasks too.”

“I’m last huh? Some unfamiliar faces, so let me introduce myself. I’m Mongrel, swordsman. Rank bronze 3.”

Five Artemis members were gathered.

Leader Sheena, junior Raina, Miss Goriliana who I mistook for a man before, and two others I know by face but have never spoken to.

“Heya, I’m Ulrika. As you see, archer. Rank silver 2. We’ve seen each other at taverns but never chatted right?”

The girl named Ulrika with light red hair seems cheerful and outgoing.

Feels like she could be a big sister figure to Raina.

“Natasha. Water mage, gold 1. I’m here to assess your skill. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Oh, this one seems real strict.

Long blue hair and a piercing gaze that spurns approach. Gives a cold impression.

She’s often with Sheena but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them talking. So that’s her voice.

“…”

This one…more than Artemis she’s got a Fate’s Heracles vibe…Gorilla, no, Miss Goriliana.

A stature I have to look up at. Sturdy powerful physique. Without a doubt…a woman. Thank you very much.

“Come on Goriliana, you should at least greet him. First time and all.”

“R-right. Mongrel senpai regrets it too, so he can’t be that bad. No need to be scared.”

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Pushed by Sheena and Raina, Goriliana reluctantly approaches me.
About the reach of that greatsword on her back. For some reason I’m considering that.

“Um…I’m Goriliana…silver 2 swordsman…pleased to work with you today…”

“Oh, uh, likewise, pleased to work with you.”

For that imposing look she mumbles kinda timidly, it’s kinda creepy.

Well, I probably made her timid with my awful first impression. But in that tone, who’d think she’s a woman? Even her voice is manlier than mine. Total blindside.

Anyway, let’s move past our misunderstanding today. Yes.
Don’t wanna make an enemy of someone who looks like that…

“We don’t need introductions right.”

“Nope. Gotta reach the work shed before sundown, let’s head out quick.”

“Hang on, you’re taking charge? With more Artemis members today, it’d be easiest if you followed our lead.”

“Yeah, no problem with that. Easier with orders. But today’s about seeing my skill right? Seeing me steer a bit should be good too no?”

“Ohh, I wanna see someone else’s approach for once, I only ever see how Artemis operates.”

“You get it huh, Ulrika was it? I’m counting on you.”

“Yes sir!”

Sheena looked a little reluctant, but can’t refute me if I said I want them to see my skill.

Letting me take point including directing us for now, they’ll observe how it goes today.

Entering the forest, we advance down a well-trodden beast trail.

The entrance area is familiar woods. Beasts basically never jump out around here.

So still feels like a leisurely hike.

But as precautions against surprise encounters, we’re in formation.

Wary of attacks from front and back, the order is swordsman – archers – mage – swordsman.

Lining up like this, conversations flow naturally with the archers.

“Ohh, so that’s why Mongrel-san has money going solo.”

“You take jobs meant for multiple people alone. Triple the time off right?”

Ulrika seems talkative, chatting up from behind a bunch.
Lively is nice, but wish she’d watch our surroundings a bit.

“But I’d never imagine Mongrel senpai being rich. Feels like you make weird purchases.”

“Rude girl. I only buy what I think I need.”

“Teehee.”

“With joint Artemis duty today, you brought your secret weapon bow right?”

“Huh!? Mongrel-san, you can use a bow!?”

“For real? Now that you mention it, something’s on his back…wait, that looks questionable.”

“Oh, wanna see? Picked it up cheap at a Black Haze market.”

March halted for new gear showcase. Annoying but can’t be helped.
Don’t look at me like that Sheena, Natasha. Seeing this you’ll understand.

“Behold! Bow blade!”

Unwrapping it revealed an awesome looking weapon with a small blade attached to the end of a bow.

That’s right. This bow blade normally attacks from range with the bow, but when an enemy closes in, the blade on the bow can be used like a spear!

“Woah…you seriously spent money on something like that again…”

“Haha…”

Huh, sluggish reactions. It’s got good length and can actually shoot arrows too you know?

Just the sword part is crazily in the way.

“I do want to ask though, Mongrel, can you actually use that properly?”

“Yeah I can use it. Even brought one arrow.”

“One.”

“Arrows are expensive. Didn’t have the courage for bulk purchase. Well, maybe I can hit from here to that tree distance.”

“Short range! That’s basically throwing knife distance!”

“It’s fine, if I miss I can just close in for melee. That’s what I’m best at anyway.”

…They’re looking worried instead of impressed with my new gear.

But me having a bow added doesn’t weaken me does it?

I don’t even think the arrow will hit, just be lucky if it does. Not so arrogant as to think otherwise.

I would like to borrow some and practice when free time allows though.

“Alright, woods are getting deeper. Let’s proceed cautiously.”

“Y-yes…”

“…Hey Raina. Is he always like that?”

“Oh, yeah, usually like that…”

“You know I can hear you right?”

Talk trash where the person isn’t around.


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