Bastard Swordsman Chapter 17

The Reward of a Single Arrow

“Wait. Pitfall trap here.”

I stopped the trailing Artemis members and crouched by some bushes.

No doubt about it, concealed by the branches. An artificially set trap.

Just ropes to snag limbs and restrain, but a huge pain if you get caught walking through the woods.

Traps like this require nearby colored ropes indicating trap placement, and numbered tags sold by the guild attached to the trap itself, but this had neither.

And buried at the trap’s base were iron fragments to further weaken snared prey. Quite the full set of egregious violations.

Country bumpkins really are so much trouble with crap like this.

“Illegal trap.”

“Let’s dismantle it. Lots this year.”

“The newbies lately don’t think at all. Free to do whatever back home I guess.”

“The guild’s initial lectures need to be more substantial. Maybe even written tests.”

“No one would be left if they did that.”

Ulrika’s concerns are valid, but with this many rogues around.

Is it about half proper guild members, half criminals? If it won’t work then might as well thoroughly sift them out. Probably cheaper than letting them squat half-assed.

“Hmm…I see. So you have an eye for spotting traps.”

“Well, I’m decently competent. Go easy, I’m no lifelong hunter like you all. Some oversights are unavoidable.”

“No, you see far better than I expected.”

“…Was that actually praise?”

“It was praise.”

“Your eyes are scary somehow.”

“So noisy.”

“Hahaha.”

“Ulrika, quiet.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Walking the forest spotting oddities is a skill honed since coming to this world.

So honestly, not very confident. What counts as average skill for others feels awfully uneasy without my reincarnated MC cheats. Ironically that anxiety makes me study harder.

“Tracks.”

“Huh, where Raina?”

“Here.”

As we continued on, Raina was first to spot signs.

I’m seriously bad at finding tracks. The ground all looks similar. And I can barely follow the beast trails.

“You’re right. Great find Raina.”

“Nice work Raina!”

“Ehehe.”

Seeing Raina get praised, I understand her treatment in Artemis.

I knew they were friendly, but she really gets doted on like the baby. I’m glad.

“What is it…”

“Nothing, didn’t say anything.”

She probably doesn’t like being seen like that at her age.

Well, she’s 16 already now. Looks young but Raina’s a full-fledged adult.

“…The tracks, large stag I think?”

The previously silent mage Natasha stuck her fingers in the tracks measuring depth.

Gauging the prey’s weight from how deep the soil sank. Probably.

By the way, stags here refers to chagedeer, deer-type monsters with wicked sharp horn shapes.

With horns specialized for thrusting over swiping, they love charging and impaling enemies with their simple yet potent attack method.

Despite having clearly carnivorous horns they’re herbivores, so the impaling seems to be just a hobby or instinctive. A genuine hated pest getting a new harmful trait.

I hear more find them troublesome than crazy boars for their horn reach. Even veteran guild members get killed by them yearly.

But subjugation bounty is better than crazy boars since the hide sells.

Horns, fur, meat all fetch a price. I usually break the horns though.

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“Doesn’t seem to be its territory. Just happened to pass through.”

“Doesn’t seem headed to a water source either. Weird.”

“With all the rookies harassing them lately, their ranges are unpredictable now huh?”

“True. Might be pointless thinking too hard yet… What do you think Mongrel?”

Don’t toss that question to me.

“I just kill whatever I find, got no hunting expertise. I just head to locations posted by the guild and randomly search around. My civilian perspective would just give nonsense opinions.”

“…I see, that’s how it is. Understood. Let’s resume moving.”

“Yeah.”

It’d be nice if some moderately tough monster like a chagedeer or crazy boar showed up so I could quickly show my strength.

Smashing some appropriately strong creature would make them recognize my power.

And I wanna try the bow blade first shot.

“Oh?”

“Gua?”

While walking and thinking that, some goblins came from up the beast trail. Two of them maybe.

Like coming face-to-face on a mountain hike.

Obviously they won’t be friendly if greeted with a “hello”, but still.

“Goblins, huh.”

“Grown in numbers lately. The ones hiding in fields fled to the forest maybe?”

“Don’t bother trying to predict goblin behavior. Mongrel, want me to clear them with the bow first?”

“I’ll take both. No problem with little goblins.”

The goblins on the other side snarling and acting aggressive. Normally they’d flee our superior numbers, but noticing Artemis’ crew are prime females, they’re riled up instead. That’s goblins for you.

“One arrow is plenty. Why? Because one is enough to kill one.”

“Something’s started.”

I drew back the bow blade with an arrow nocked.

The bowstring strains. Drawing closer swaying their clubs, the solo solo goblins.

“Your stance is weird.”

“No giggling, Raina.”

“Too far from your body. Bring it closer to your face.”

Honed, piercing concentration blocks out the noisy women’s crappy heckling, soon peaking.

“Fly!”

“Gwah!?”

The shooting star loosed flies at a blurring speed, deeply piercing the trunk of a tree beside the goblin.

“Shhh shucks.”

“Yeah no that was lame.”

“Hey no laughing. Everyone’s a beginner at first.”

“Show the power of the bow blade!”

“Gyah!?”

While they were distracted by the stray arrow, I swiftly slipped into the goblins’ vicinity.

The blade’s decent reach quickly slit the goblins’ throats and hearts, at least erasing the two witnesses to my blunder from this world.

“Bow skill needs some work, but nice decisiveness up close.”

“Oh, Mongrel senpai’s giving up on that now?”

“Not like I can use bows anyway.”

“Aww, Mongrel-san’s sulking. Sorry ‘kay?”

My trusty bastard sword is best after all. With this I can handle almost anything.
Done with bows today. I’ll hang it back at the inn as decor.

“…As ever, you keep using a shortsword.”

“Hm?”

Sheena looked at my bastard sword like she had something to say.

Well, it is a good 20cm shorter than military longswords, so I get it.

“Properly gripping the hilt gets decent reach, it’s fine. This one’s long.”

“Then you should use a longsword.”

“Ha.”

“What’s with that laugh?”

“You all have yet to know the power of the bastard sword.”

Everyone has these “oh really?” looks, but I’ll show them when some monster shows up later.

“Mongrel senpai, I know that sword’s strong.”

“Oh, you get it Raina? You’ve seen it in action.”

“Yup. Hard to complain after seeing and being saved firsthand.”

“Hmm…well I did hear about that from Raina, buuut, isn’t it kinda unbelievable? Maybe we’ll have Goriliana-san and him spar later?”

“Um…for me that’s a bit…”

I do wanna show my good points, y’see.

Fighting Goriliana, I’d rather not.

It’s not that I’d lose, just, she’s scary. Kinda.

“Alright everyone, time to take a break. Lunch time.”

We kept walking after that, taking short breaks in clearings here and there.

Dismantling some traps, casually driving off weak monsters, with no major trouble we arrived at the work shed in the late afternoon.

“Someone’s already here.”

Looks like there are previous lodgers at the work shed.

Forestry workers or expedition groups sometimes use it, so it happens.

But.

“Problem is whether they’re proper guests.”

“…Yeah.”

Serious expressions unlike before settle on everyone’s faces.

Right. This work shed, it’s also an ideal hideout spot for bandits.

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