Bastard Swordsman Chapter 18

Advantageous Negotiations

The Balua Forest northeast of Legol is an important lumber harvesting area for Legol.

Lacking resources, Legol has high demand especially for timber as building material. Huge amounts also needed as firewood in winter.

The clear detriment of it also being monster habitat can’t be ignored, but somehow people can’t live without the forest’s bounty.

Scattered through Balua Forest are several work sheds, providing simple lodging and workbenches for tool maintenance and repair.

Used by hunters, forestry workers and more, these work sheds aren’t open to just anyone however.

Use is restricted, only permitted for those with guild approval, or others sanctioned by the town.

But there are no locks.

And once it’s like that, it doesn’t matter what anyone says. People who use them freely crop up in droves.

A roofed building with walls you can sleep in, unlocked, deep in a lush forest. Naturally forest rogues love places like this.

That’s why guild members like us today do periodic patrols, but I do think we need to address this somehow.

Especially reserving shed use. It’s common for approved users’ days to overlap.

When groups overlap, it gets as cramped as a mountain hut, with nowhere to stretch out and people packed in sleeping on each other’s legs. I seriously can’t deal with that kind of thing.

“I sense people inside. Outside is…a dismantling spot.”

Near the work shed is an open shed, with half-finished lumber projects and crude bricks strewn about carelessly.

And from a tree at its side, a severed hoof sways, presumably from dismantling a wild creature. Probably a crazy boar’s.

“People in the work shed.”

“Number…a few maybe? I hear voices but.”

“Hunters maybe?”

“…Let’s see.”

I took a look at the dangling crazy boar hoof.

Seems it was caught in a snare trap. The type that constricts and forces bleeding with spiked fittings. Maybe from its mad struggling when snared, the spikes dug in deep and it couldn’t pull free. The sturdy rope buried and practically fused into the leg.

And this spiked fitting and rope seem familiar.

“Ahh jeez.”

Comparing it to the illegal trap recovered just earlier, they match.

The ropes, fittings, both nonstandard homemade. Matching completely.

No mistake, these remains are from the same rogue using illegal traps.

“We found a hassle huh.”

“No kidding. Could’ve pretended not to notice but…”

I exchanged looks with Sheena.

She also seemed reluctant, same as me.

Honestly, minor illegal acts are fine. If not caught, not harming others, plenty break laws.
But found while investigating, and together at that…feels awkward pretending not to see.

Problem is, they’re already in the shed.
And sunset is nearing. We have to spend the night around this work shed no matter what. With petty criminals.
Just thinking about it is tiresome right?

“…Let’s move before full dark at least. Hey, I can leave negotiating with the shed folks to Artemis right?”

“Yes. With our ranks… No. If possible, could negotiations be left to you too Mongrel?”

“Huh, why me? You all have more prestige.”

“I want to see how you deal with people, criminals. We can fully back you if needed. But if you’re unsure, that’s fine too I suppose.”

Woah, saddling me with the crap job huh.
Well, fine. Just provide covering fire without friendly fire please.

“Got it…I’ll try to settle this peacefully as possible. But just to be clear, pretending nothing’s amiss and cohabiting a night is out right?”

“Impossible. Can’t show rogues any openings. Restraining them at minimum is mandatory. No telling what criminals might do.”

Sheena has a strong sense of justice.

Well with an all female party like Artemis, I’m sure she’s had experiences warranting caution.

“Be careful, Mongrel senpai.”


With Raina preparing her bow, I knocked on the work shed door.
The chatting inside ceased, silence. After a while, footsteps approached.

“Who’s there?”

“Guild member here for lodging. Gonna open up?”

“Eh, sure.”


Inside the opened shed were three young men, dressed as hunters. Currently sorting choice cuts of meat from a dismantled boar it seemed.

Can’t say if I’d seen them at the guild. Newbies for sure though.

At least they clearly weren’t “bandits!” types, so I felt relieved.

Almost certainly still the rogues who set illegal traps though.

“Three of you huh. The one hanging from the tree outside, that your meat?”

“Yeah. Small crazy boar. Real powerful one.”

Openly confessing huh. Not even trying to hide it?

“Hey, you.”
“Oh crap…”

Too late playing it off buddy.

Ahh, so that’s decided it. Damn. What to do with these guys.

Could just turn them and the evidence in to the city guard once back in town and be done with it, but the problem is the meantime.

“…Set illegal traps right, you guys? Confiscated this.”


“Can’t play dumb since I heard it straight from you. Those iron decorations on your necks, newbie guild member stuff. No excuses with the basic lectures you got.”

The three young men furtively glanced around, flustered.

They’ve got skinning knives. And machetes. Same reach as short swords but more powerful, albeit slow swings without physical reinforcement magic.

“…Old man.”

“Still not quite old man age. Call me Mongrel.”

“…Mongrel-san. We’re broke and struggling. That’s why we’re working hard hunting like this. The traps…yeah, bad idea in hindsight. But it’s not that bad right? Just let it slide this once? We won’t do it again.”

Well those are the excuses you’d make in their shoes.

“Sorry. We’re in these woods investigating too. Abandoning that duty and ignoring things would ruin our credibility as guild members.”
“Can’t you look the other way?”
“And you guys think illegal traps are no big deal right? Balua Forest belongs to Earl Legol. The guild is tasked with partial oversight by the nobility. There’s no comparing earnest trust from nobles versus pleas from you iron rank nobodies.”

Won’t get involved with guys who clearly won’t follow simple rules. Pointlessly dangerous without any appeal.

And promises to quit are flimsy as a puff of breath. Only one illegal trap found today, but surely searching would reveal countless more right?

“…Notch. Jest.”
“No choice huh…”

No clear words, but the three placed their hands on their weapons and steadily approached me.
Have mercy. I don’t like human blood.

“Ah…let’s take this outside. Too cramped in here right?”
“….Mongrel-san. You alone?”
“Nah, not alone. Five outside.”
“Silver and gold ranks. Three top archers. Swordsman who could kill a boar bare-handed. Super skilled mage. So, y’know. …Give up. You guys are out of luck.”

Maybe intimidated by the luxurious hidden troops, they halted without leaving the shed. Well it is scary.

“…Bullshit. Bluffing.”

“Bluff!? Then let’s do it Roddy…!?”

“Now now, wait up. Or, why not take a look outside? Seeing should make it clear there’s no chance. Attacking me here, we’d have to counterattack as well.”

“…There are hidden troops outside. But the numbers and gold stuff is crap. This old guy’s bronze. No way he’d team with them.”

Nice! Wrong yet reasonable deduction! My rank is so awful! Spot on!

“We’ll kill the old guy first, then take out the ones outside too!”

Negotiations broke down huh. Should’ve had Sheena come from the start…!

“Sorry everyone, no good!”

Saying that, I dashed outside the shed.

And the three rogues rushed after me, machete in hand, advancing.

“Don’t shoot! I’ll handle it alone!”


The instant the three came out, Sheena’s group already had firing position ready.

But they somehow stopped just short of loosing at the last second. Much appreciated.

Conversely, seeing the reported formation waiting outside made the rogues freeze up in surprise.

“You don’t die falling slave either.”

I swung my bastard sword, deflecting the bewildered machete guard.

No chance of blowing away heavy great knives against my magically reinforced blade.

Followed by kicking the seeming leader’s stomach, forcibly crouching him.

Placing the blade’s tip at his exposed neck means it’s over.

“Drop your weapons and surrender. I won’t do you dirty at least.”
“…! Don’t kill Roddy.”
“I won’t kill him if you drop the weapons. Both of you…. Artemis, fire if they try anything.”
“Of course.”

They were wary but the three showed no further resistance in the end.

Seeing the difference in power, they likely abandoned resistance completely. Meekly discarding weapons and obediently following our restraints.

Ironically, the sturdy rope for traps came in handy restraining them.

Tools that can bind crazy boars’ mad rampages. Once bound by the rope they’ve abused so much, they likely won’t try anything foolish.

“For just one quick sword strike, that was splendid.”

The bound young men sit with gloomy expressions near the shed.

Muttering to each other here and there, but probably not plotting escape. Doubt it’s talk worth eavesdropping on.

Watching them from afar, Sheena and I conversed.

“Just deflected his weapon.”

“True. But you seemed a bit soft on those trying to kill you.”

“Bad wakeup.”

“One misstep could have meant someone hurt.”

“Exactly right. No excuses.”

Properly, I should have killed them when talks broke down.

Exit and have Artemis volley them quickly. That would have been the safe tactic, the orthodox move. They weren’t worth showing mercy by this world’s standards…anyway.

“But I’m also glad you aren’t someone who can kill people without hesitation.”

“…Unrelated to my combat strength?”

“Yes. But we didn’t only want to see that from you either.”


“Raina’s like family, so of course. …With kind partners, some flaws can be overlooked.”

“Calling them flaws now.”

Raina and Ulrika gathered rotted wood around the shed, split by Goriliana into reasonably sized firewood.

Prepping to make a fire. Dinner looks to be that boar meat the men were cutting up.

“I acknowledge you, Mongrel.”

“Yessir. Happy to hear it.”

“What, you can be more excited. …If you like, I could let you into Artemis. We likely couldn’t act jointly on all quest types however.”

“No thanks. Just girls.”

“Hehe, the refusal Raina mentioned.”

Her laugh then was the same soft one she shows teammates.

“But too bad. With you we’d have had a second male member after Ulrika.”


That’s a guy? not a girl!? Can’t tell at all!

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