Bastard Swordsman Chapter 19

A Glimpse of Unconcealed Power

Sheena’s Perspective

Observing the skill and character of the man close with Raina.

Mongrel, an ordinary guild member at bronze 3.

The aim of this investigation mission is to test him. Nothing more.

Normally just a simple round trip to the work shed, dealing with minor monsters along the way.

But due to poachers occupying the shed, it became a slight hassle this time… That said, it let me see Mongrel’s capabilities against humans, so it may have been good.

“You guys are criminals now. It’ll probably take a while to break out. But you aren’t total fools. If you work hard you might claw your way up before getting worn down.”

Night.

After our meal around the campfire, Mongrel spoke to the three we’d restrained.

For the listeners it likely feels like a lecture from the one who captured them. Vexing perhaps. But Mongrel is surely saying such for their sake.

I’d often heard Mongrel’s name from Raina’s stories, and saw him around the guild, so we’d spoken before.

Mongrel mentored Raina before she joined Artemis.

But it doesn’t seem like they did quests together in a single party. Even long-time friend Raina doesn’t really know about his skill, just “no clue.”

I heard this Mongrel went outside town with Raina recently and encountered a cyclops.

I won’t forbid her associating with him. He likely helped her sincerely, and while bronze 3, he’s been a guild member long enough to work steadily.

But if he acts rashly and can’t protect Raina in a crisis, that would be problematic for me.

I am Sheena, leader bearing responsibility for Artemis. However new, I don’t want a teammate like Raina injured or killed over foolishness.

So I decided to test Mongrel.

Skill is good. But not enough alone with Raina. His character can’t be ignored either.

Many boorish peasants join the guild. If Mongrel seemed a man of bad influence on Raina, I planned to bar all contact, keeping her away too.

…Watching him a day, I grasped the essentials.

His skill is good. No, greater strength and finesse than expected from bronze 3.

His eye for traps matches experience. Pathfinding and footwork, pass.
…The shot at goblins was amateurish, but his subsequent close combat with the bow blade quickly and reliably finished them off. While a silly spectacle, he could put on that clown act because he had ability to back it up I think. Likely not just naively soft.

Handling the rogues at the work shed was good too.

His bastard sword is middling armament, but swift strikes accurately exploited gaps, instantly neutralizing them.

His physical enhancement must be impressive. The ease flicking away the great knife was like he batted aside a branch.
Refraining from needless killing isn’t bad either. Attempting capture risks those providing rear cover, but proof he could reverse the situation with power let him try. Probably not simply softhearted.

He has might. Not eccentric. …Yes, no issue associating with Raina. I’m relieved.
Well, I’d kill without question if he tried anything improper this night.

“Weird guy, but good person right? Good right, Chief Sheena?”

“Yes. But you’re most relieved right, Ulrika?”

“Heheh…well, thinking what if something happened to Raina, of course I’d worry right?”

“You’re awfully clingy with Mongrel, made me wonder. Not deliberately overdoing it?”

“R-really? I was trying subtly…”

As a close age junior, Ulrika especially treasures Raina.

And there’s the former teacher thing with Mongrel, maybe some rivalry fueling thay too.

But after today, I expect Ulrika has also dropped reservations about Mongrel. He isn’t the type to dislike or distrust people in the first place. Certainly not someone with good character.

“Mongrel senpai, fresh grilled meat.”

“Oh, went out of your way to bring me some huh. Sorry Raina.”

“Th-that’s the meat we cut up…!”

“Hm? Wanna eat? Well, might be your last proper wild game meal, don’t wanna waste the meat. I’ll feed you some if you properly vocalize and reflect on today’s events!”

“D-damn…! Let me eat! I’ll reflect! I will!”

“Hmmm, don’t seem very repentant huh…?”

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“I’m repenting, I swear!”

…Well, is he good natured like that I wonder. His character…

…Despite talking at bars often, he’s a hard man to pin down, Mongrel.

“Got a water bucket in the room. Good to wash up before bed.”

“How considerate Natasha.”

“Didn’t participate in combat at all today. Let me make use of water magic at least.”

She is Natasha.

A highly skilled water mage, together since Artemis’ founding.

My reliable partner who’s stayed with me since I fled the royal capital. Another along today to test Mongrel for Raina’s sake.

“Sheena. Did he pass your inspection?”

“Well, eccentric as ever but should be fine I think. Relieved he’s no villain. What about you Natasha?”

“Interesting man.”

“…Interesting?”

Surprising. Quite taken for cold her. Why? In what way?

“Earlier, that man, Mongrel. He used his bastard sword to help Goriliana split firewood.”

“Ah yes, helpful work is appreciated but…”

“Observing his sword, I noticed something amusing. What do you think?”

Natasha narrowed her sharp eyes, smiling excitedly.
The smile of her pursuing scholarly interest… Something about the sword drew her attention?

“His bastard sword isn’t some cursed sword right?”

“No. The sword itself is likely mass produced common gear. Probably a botched longsword. The interesting part is elsewhere.”

More shoddy than I imagined. Though that alone would be interesting enough…?

“Mongrel deflected a great knife with one strike.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“I examined that great knife after. The blade had a deep gouge, finger-width deep. “

“…That’s…”

Tremendous sharpness. And power. I can understand blowing it away in one hit.

“And what of Mongrel’s? His bastard sword which should have clashed with the knife had not a single nick upon its blade.”

“!”

“Amusing no? Able to reinforce a mundane mass produced steel blade to match a great knife without yielding… Aside from astounding physical enhancement, his conduction to equipment is also formidable. Sheena, what’s his rank?”

“Bronze, 3…hard to believe.”

“Even the strict guilds of the royal capital would grant such ability gold.”

I knew he was strong. Handling difficult solo work, he always seemed at ease but…

That ease stems from this?

“Perhaps he has a combat physique Gift. Different sort but…same as us in a sense.”

“…!”

Gifts. Like Skills, obtained by miracle or something greater.

Most combat enhancement Gifts are drafted by the state. Those remaining dominate guild tops as top combat talent.

…So he hides his power?
Not wanting to stand out and reveal his Gift… Right, makes sense for sticking to bronze then.
Higher they climb, more dangerous the quests.

“I’m satisfied seeing something interesting. How to handle Mongrel, up to you Sheena. Do as you like.”

“…A quandary. Rejected once already, but maybe worth persisting…”?

“If I may offer personal opinion, I see no issue. We already have a man, and no problem if Raina cares for him. Follow your policy Sheena.”

Saying that, Natasha walked over to Goriliana.
Off to refill her bucket I suppose.

…Mongrel. Mongrel huh.
Combat enhancement Gift user…better here than taken, perhaps…?

“Check it Raina, Ulrika. Scoop fat from crazy boar belly like this, pour in animal fat and let it solidify, makes disgusting jerky rations.”

“Eww, gross! Haha, nasty!”
“Ooh. Instead of purposefully making rations, why not just normally hunt fresh meat?”
“A hunter’s perspective, readily taking meat…”
“Crazy boar fat is better for candles. Make some yourselves, sells well.”
“…Right…”
“Weirdo! If rations, dried meat is fine!”

…Well, seems lively joined, a positive viewpoint may be good.
Feels like he’d refuse, but patient invitations may change his mind.


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