Bastard Swordsman Chapter 24

Securing Logging Operations

As the cold season approached, the town began its preparations for winter. Unlike modern homes that completely block out the outside air or are equipped with efficient heating devices, this wasn’t the case. The winter in the Kingdom of Halperia relied heavily on abundant firewood and charcoal.

The same held true here in Legol. However, due to the recent mysterious economic upturn, an influx of settlers had flooded into Legol, leading to a rapid increase in population. Consequently, the demand for lumber and firewood had surged. Continuous logging operations were only natural given the circumstances. Thankfully, being a country with strong food production was a silver lining.

“Charge deer, huh? You guys really hate the sound of logging,” someone exclaimed.

At the outskirts of the Baroa Forest, forestry workers were tirelessly laboring. Timber and any type of wood were highly sought after in today’s Legol. The Count of Legol, who had been hesitant about reducing the size of the forest until now, seemed to have finally given the green light this year. While the trees in the forest grew at an astonishing pace, reckless deforestation would eventually deplete the resources. Up until now, they had been gradually cutting trees and thinning from deep within the forest, but it seemed that transportation costs were starting to take a toll.

From our perspective as workers on the ground, it was actually more convenient and appreciated when the activity took place from the outside, as was the case now. However, no matter where you worked, monsters would appear.

Right now, just beyond the trees, a Charge deer was quietly observing us. This Charge deer, with its dangerous horns adept at charging and thrusting, was known for making noise by piercing and scratching the surface of trees to mark its territory.

For humans, logging was like picking a fight head-on with a Charge deer, or so it seemed. I don’t really get it.

But it would be troublesome if a Charge deer got angry just from logging. You guys have some pretty severe fantasy world Elf-like values. The Elves in this world wouldn’t get mad over something like that.

“Hey, should we clear this forest and turn it into a golf course?”

Smacking the trunk of a nearby tree with my bastard sword, I taunted the Charge deer. Quite the instigator. Normally, wild animals would flee from this sort of thing, but…

*Swoosh*

Hearing the sound, the Charge deer gave a high-pitched cry and charged toward us. Its tolerance for provocation was pretty low.

“Your face is all red.”

“!?”

I forcefully deflected the charging horns aimed at my lower abdomen with my bastard sword. That was quite the impact. Even with a good amount of force, the best I could do was slightly alter its trajectory.

However, thanks to that, the sharp horns of the Charge deer plunged deeply into a tree next to me. It’s like a Diablos, huh?

In this state, the Charge deer was powerless. It had the strength to break free, but it wouldn’t be instant.

“When you hear about a Kelby with the weakness of a Diablos, it sounds ridiculously fragile.”

Muttering something quite irrelevant, I slashed the throat of the Charge deer.

A piercing scream resonated throughout the forest.

“Hey, did you really take down the Charge deer?”

“Oh? You did it, bro? Much appreciated. It’s a pain to keep running away from those guys.”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s my job.”

I carried the Charge deer back to the work site. Here, many men were busy working on gathering the wood used in Legol.

I kept the dissection of the Charge deer simple, removing excess blood and innards. I planned to leave the detailed work to be done in a place where there were more people and resources.

“Oh, bro, if you’re gonna dissect it, the guild guys over there handle that stuff together. You should take it there.”

“Oh, so the Earth’s Shield is handling it. That’s good. Thanks, old man.”

“If something comes up again, I’ll call you.”

Sometimes, Charge deer would actively attack in response to the sound of logging, making the logging business in this world quite perilous. So, when logging, it was customary to bring a large group of workers and plenty of guards. This time, the main protection came from the Earth’s Shield, dispatched by the guild.

They were a classic close combat party with many veterans, providing much reassurance.

Heading toward where the Earth’s Shield was gathering, I noticed a familiar face.

It was Alex.

“Oh, Mongrel. I couldn’t see you, so I was worried. …Wait, did you take down the Charge deer? Alone?”

“Hey, Alex. Well, guys like me can move freely, you know? I was hunting down the ones coming from deeper in.”

Alex was one of the members of the Earth’s Shield, the same group I often talked to at the tavern. As I laid down the Charge deer I had taken down onto a tree stump, Alex began to inspect the corpse.

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“A young male, huh?”

“Fearless of the sword, huh? Inexperienced specimen, I suppose.”

“The wound is only on the throat, right? The fur seems like it could fetch a good price, which is great.”

“It’s light and easy to carry, isn’t it? Are you handling the dissection there? Can I ask you to share some of the meat? If you do, I’ll give you both front legs.”

“Is that alright? That would be very helpful, but… it seems a bit much to get that much for just the dissection.”

“It’s fine, it’s a hassle for me. As long as I can eat the liver, heart, and tongue, I’m satisfied.”

“You don’t eat meat, huh…”

“I do. But I get tired of it, so I end up selling it.”

I do like game meat, but eating it continuously gets boring. The seasoning is also limited… In that regard, organs and tongues are never boring. You can eat them infinitely.

“Besides, the Charge deer will keep coming for a while. If I’m going to be full, I want to eat the tasty parts.”

“The meat on the back is pretty good too, don’t you think?”

“Well, I guess so.”

“That’s an indifferent response…”

I do like deer, but I can’t help but compare them to cows.

“Hey, goblins and hobgoblins are coming!”

As we chatted about various things, a voice could be heard from the distant forest. It’s the signal for work. If there are hobgoblins, that means there’s a significant number of them. We can’t afford to let any escape. While it’s unlikely someone will get seriously hurt, it would be bad if we didn’t assist.

“Let’s go.”

“Sigh, after killing goblins, I’ll have to wash my sword.”

“You really care about that kind of thing, Mongrel.”

“I’m a guy who values cleanliness in Halperia.”

“You’re a strange one…”

“Your response is just too straightforward and insulting.”

With a casual pace, we made our way to the scene, where the vanguard of the Earth’s Shield was already engaged with a small group of goblins.

“Hey-ya!”

A member of the group swung a longsword, effortlessly striking down a goblin wielding a club from outside its reach.

Difference in size and reach of weapons. This fight clearly highlighted the stark contrast in size. In the Kingdom of Halperia, a longsword meant “a sword that’s as long as an individual can comfortably carry.” The minimum requirement for someone to be called a swordsman is the ability to reinforce their body through magic to some extent. This allows them to wield a longsword. Since they swing these swords with bodies enhanced by fantasy powers, it’s only natural that the main weapon becomes larger. Conversely, to take down the large monsters rampant throughout the country, these long and sturdy longswords are indispensable.

“It’s completely one-sided. The Earth’s Shield is as reliable as ever.”

“Well, goblins aren’t much of a challenge.”

While Alex said this with a wry smile, the new guild members don’t have it as easy. Blocking with shields, finding a way to avoid blows, and capitalizing on openings—all of these require tactics that need to be employed multiple times in battle. The Earth’s Shield’s conventional wisdom of killing them easily from a distance is clearly steps ahead. But still, I guess Alex enjoys this contrast.

“Alright then, I better get to work.”

“Yeah.”

Alex too dashed toward the group of goblins. Despite his usually polite demeanor, he instantly changed his stance to a more focused one and swung his sword once the fight began. He’s an interesting one. Scenes like these are better appreciated by women, but considering the Earth’s Shield is all men…

“Mongrel, can you just distract them for a moment?”

As I pondered lazily, a goblin, or rather, one that had “escaped forward,” was now approaching us. Why did the goblins, who had formed a group, come over to us? Why did they flee towards us? There’s no use thinking about it, and just pondering over their actions is pointless.

“U-hahaha!”

“!?”

I shouted loudly and banged my bastard sword against a nearby tree while threateningly. I’m feeling like a monkey. If a human suddenly transforms into a monkey, even goblins are bound to be taken aback. Their movements momentarily halted. These guys can’t really strategize in complex ways, but they can definitely be intimidated by odd gestures. A straightforward bluff is the best way to distract them.

“What was that noise just now…”

With a bemused expression, Alex sliced off the heads of two goblins who had come to a stop.

“An imitation of a big monkey.”

“It’d be better to just fight them normally and keep them distracted.”

“I don’t want to, it’ll dirty my sword.”

“How much of a neat freak are you?”

I was just ordered to distract them. So, I only needed to do that. Is it okay to defeat them? Well, if I don’t need to defeat them, then I won’t.

“But every year, this mission keeps us busy.”

“There’s no helping it. Especially this year, every place is panicking because there’s not enough wood.”

“I wonder if some families will freeze to death due to lack of firewood.”

“Who knows… I don’t want them to, but they probably will… it happens every year.”

“While scraping the filthy nose of the goblin, Alex speaks.”

“Man, it’s really dirty. Its snot’s like a string. Glad I didn’t have to fight it.”

“…”

“…Alex, calm down.”

Holding the dripping nose of the goblin, Alex takes a step closer to me.

“Since you helped distract the goblin, how about taking a piece of its body? Look, this.”

“It’s fine. Seriously, it’s fine.”

“Well, don’t hesitate. Come on, come on.”

“Stop it, don’t come any closer! Stop!”

The silly game of tag between grown men was brought to an end by the reprimand of the vice-captain of the Earth’s Shield, who was nearby.

“Thanks, Vice-Captain.”


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