Bastard Swordsman Chapter 21

A Guild Member’s Turning Tide

One day as I was, as usual, whimsically doing city sanitation work.

“Yo Mongrel, cleaning again today huh.”
“Oh, Barlgar, been a while…what’s with the getup, pretty intense.”

Called out by Barlgar, I looked his way and there stood Barlgar in armor so battered it was on the level of a veteran hero back from the brink.

Seemingly just back from a quest, with large luggage on his back. And the short spear in hand was gruesomely snapped.

“What happened? Rise undead?”
“Alive here. Honestly it’s a mystery I’m still alive.”
“Whoa.”

For some reason he proudly showed me his iron buckler, riddled with dents and gashes inside and out. Some holes nearly pierced through. Wounds that would definitely heavily injure or kill a person.

“Was with Sword of Harvest on a guard job, and took a secondary survey request at the site. Went to a forest near the border for illegal logging investigation. Well, total bust that was.”
“Illegal logging, timber theft huh.”
“Yeah. Thought maybe some idiot bandits trying to profit being right on the border, but it was a harvest mantis!”
“Woah.”

Harvest mantis.

A nearly 4 meter long, wickedly dangerous praying mantis type monster inhabiting forests near the Harpe-Zanaculate border.

It’s long, sharper than average scythe-arms lop through vegetation rapidly as if harvesting. And jaws that can apparently crunch right through soft iron armor and whatnot.

Can’t fly with the wings on its back, but the quick flapping of its sharp wings alone can shred surroundings.

I see, that’s the cause of the countless gashes on the shield and armor.

“Barely took it down in a group of 10…but 2 of us died.”
“Two!?”

I was sincerely shocked.

“Just two is lucky!?”
“Right? Saved that it didn’t become a prolonged battle. Without the guy who suicidally charged and slashed its belly, we might’ve been wiped.”
“I see…”

Harvest mantis are vicious monsters. Hard to evade scythe swings and annoying wing flapping. Their spinning heads show no openings.

The sort of foe multiple golds would challenge together. Frankly, if met, you don’t approach and leave it.
With just two casualties…that Sword of Harvest, huh…

“Got a nice penalty payment from their guild branch. And the max death benefits.”
“As it should be. Way different from bandits and a harvest mantis. Milk them for all they’ve got.”
“I hear the party that accepted the initial survey is getting slammed with penalties too. Doesn’t bring back the dead though.”

Barlgar’s been a guild member a while too. Disasters like this are surely not his first or second time.

But losing comrades you’ve adventured with long must be hard to bear. Obviously.

“…Might be the last replacement for this short spear too.”

Staring at the spear’s ragged broken shaft, Barlgar muttered as if lost in thought.

“What, you quitting the guild?”
“Well, not odd at my age right? Learned this time. When it counts, I can’t move like my youth. Won’t outright quit yet, but a bit more…”
“…Retirement huh.”

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“Better retire than after some huge injury making job searching a hassle.”
“True enough. …There’s always transferring to the Legol Security Corps, Barlgar. Their guard work would be less straining.”
“Hrmm, considered it but…I do have some attachment to Sword of Harvest, y’see.”
“I see.”

Attachment huh. That’s important for sure.

“Well, not something to decide in a day. See you Mongrel. Gonna be busy a while, probably can’t hit the taverns for a few days.”
“Shame. Well, speak up whenever.”

And Barlgar left.

Watching him walk away swaying the battered buckler atop his luggage, he felt somehow more “ah, age comes for all” compared to when I looked up to him as an older brother figure.

Flourishing and decline. The mighty must fall.

Barlgar kept at it steadily inconspicuous, but even he can’t defeat age.

His face looks pretty young still I’d say, but he’s over 40 too. Hard to keep up with young teammates, understandable to find it tiring soon I’d think.

Hrmm, acquaintances hinting retirement somehow stings…

Not unrelated to me either. Barlgar’s circumstances resemble my future somewhat.

What do after retiring?

A cafe master sounds ideal. Just wiping glasses and cups as the master.

Hire someone to handle the annoying tasks like cooking, serving, billing.

To manage that I’d first need to find and obtain coffee beans from somewhere, a likely insurmountable wall, but searching a few decades should turn some up probably.

…The more I imagine it the more I wanna be a cafe master.
Don’t wanna wait for retirement, wanna open shop now. I wanna run a cafe by day, bar by night.

Ah but no. Still the age to enjoy eating.

I’ll dropout only after my body rejects greasy food. Doubtless continuing my current life is most profitable till then. I’m knowledgeable about life.

“Alright, do my best tomorrow too.”

I cleaned my street extra thoroughly, completing today’s city sanitation work.

“Check it Mongrel. This, my new gear. Astruth spearpoint.”

Next morning at the guild, I met a pumped up Barlgar.

“…Feel free to be more somber. Why you so jazzed?”

“Barlgar-san apparently bought some top grade new short spear and buckler that just arrived at the weapon shop. Guess that’s why he’s elated…”

According to Alex there, it was a big purchase.

Astruth steel has a way better rep than Zanaculate metal.

“And this small shield, how ’bout it? Nice crestwork huh? They say it can even repel Zanaculate morning stars in the center!”

His beaming has elementary schooler sparkle.
No way it can repel Zanaculate morning stars.

“You seem happy Barlgar, but is that gear really good? Said you’d retire after your next purchase right? Astruth steel crazy sturdy I hear.”
“Supposedly! My first time using it too, excited! Nah, got windfall from penalty payment and couldn’t resist these babies. See?”
“See? Dude you can’t retire for a while now…”
“Right!? Hahaha!”
“Don’t hahaha me.”

“Well with quality gear like this I can keep at it another decade! Gotta show these young ‘uns! Can’t lose!”

Dude’s so wishy-washy! And I’m saying that!

Give me back yesterday’s rare serious side after moping a bit!

“…Saying can’t lose to young guys, very stereotypical old man talk…”
“Haah!?”
“Alex, stop. Truth sometimes wounds.”

Despite everything, seems Barlgar will continue active.

If anything, the improved equipment may let him be more active than before. I’m glad.

…But old guys have a reputation for getting cocky, pushing too hard, and taking bad injuries while feeling in their prime, so I still hope he retires at an appropriate time…


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