"I'm sorry but we will be camping out again tonight. We'll enter a town tomorrow morning, please restock our foodstuff then. Ghett-san, please stock extra food for the horse."
Orst said that on the third day's morning. The original plan was to stay in the town tonight, so they're delaying it a bit.
No one knows what kind of information or knowledge that prompted the decision, but since it's an order by their client, none objected.
Afterward, the wagon passed by several travelers, but none was particularly suspicious.
Around noon, something got caught in Lecan's <Life Detection>.
There's no one in the highway ahead of them visibly, but someone is lurking at the hill next to it. Being invisible to bare eyes must mean that they're hiding behind the hill.
"Vandam. Someone is hiding behind the left hill ahead. One person."
Lecan didn't inform about the fact that the person in question did not posses mana. It's to keep his ability from being known more than necessary.
"Hum. I'd hate to get attacked from far above with our flank exposed."
Vandam pondered a bit while stroking his goatee.
"The distance from the hilltop to the road is about 100 steps. Arrows would easily reach us from above there. Arrows won't work on the wagon, but it'd be a different story if they got Graced weapons."
Eda intervened from behind Lecan.
"Mine magic bow will shoot through that guy's mug once he shows it up the hilltop!"
<Bow of Isya> will surely reach the top of that hill even if it's 100 step far apart. It probably won't hit, but the opponent will surely go back into hiding. It'd buy enough time for Vandam to run up the hill with his horse and defeat the enemy.
"Alright, let's go with that. Everybody! There's a suspicious person at the left hill ahead. Be on your guard as we proceed! We'll commence counterattack if they attack!"
At this point, Vandam made light of their enemy since it only numbers in one person. Thinking that there was nothing to fear with their collective offensive prowess. A judgment he soon regretted.
Eda got on top of the wagon. She sits on her knee while balancing her body on the swaying wagon, sets up her bow and readies a magic arrow. She's in position to shoot anytime.
Lecan probed their enemy's location with <Life Detection>, drawing a straight line between them and the wagon in his head. Just as Lecan came right beside the wagon, or in other words as the wagon passed next to the hill, someone stood up on top of the hill.
Vandam shouted like he was screaming when he saw the enemy,
Eda shot her arrow. The arrow flew straight toward the assailant on the hilltop and pierced through their chest. Yet, let alone falling down, the assailant didn't even show any sign of pain.
It's a weird man.
He's wearing nothing on his upper half saves for a small belt. His lower half is of trousers with loose cloth. Having an unbelievably obese constitution and lustrous black face and body. Even though he's so far away, it's somehow very obvious that he's got bloodshot eyes.
Vandam made his horse run up the slope. But he's taking the slightly roundabout route from the right as to not obstruct Eda's vision.
The man on the hilltop put his hand inside a bag on his feet, gripped small black things which he tossed above. Then he grabbed the big hammer that was in his left hand with both hands and swung it hard.
By this point, Eda's second arrow had pierced the man's belly, yet it had no effect again.
A huge explosion occurred when the hammer hit the black small round things that then proceeded to fly straight toward the wagon.
Dodging these incoming objects would be a simple matter with Lecan's kinetic vision and reflexes. But it might hit the wagon or Eda if he did.
"Flame Spear <Bandroux>!"
He unleashed the above spell almost unconsciously. With a cast time faster than any <Flame Spear> he ever cast before. Within a time frame not short enough to even blink, he managed to circulate and converge his mana, perfectly constructed the magic, and actualized a high powered offensive spell that clashed with around 20 black bullets right next to the wagon.
BOOM, with a stomach-rumbling sound, the black bullets exploded.
The second shot of his attack magic landed on the enemy at bizarrely quick speed. Far faster than the magic arrows Eda shot. Zeki who was riding the horse in the back and witnessed the whole thing could only see a ray of light connecting the enemy with Lecan's hand in a straight line the instant Lecan raised his hand.
The flame spear opened a huge hole right in the middle of the enemy's chest. He slowly fell down on the spot.
Nike was already standing next to Lecan before anyone realized. With her sword drawn out. Perhaps she was going to shoot down those black bullets.
<TLN: If you're reading this novel at any other site than Sousetsuka .com you might be reading an unedited, uncorrected version of the novel.>
"He was an adventurer called <Bufuz of Crushing Hammer>. He originally worked in dungeons, no specialized in dungeon diving, but after losing his partner, he started accepting shady business in exchange for huge sums. I believe several towns have put up his wanted posters."
According to Vandam's explanation, the Graced hammer Bufuz was carrying would cause an explosion if it strikes an object. The recoil from that was what made the iron bullets fly.
Adventurer Association does not accept quests that make adventurers do crimes, but there are underworld organizations that specialize in exactly that. And among adventurers who take on underworld jobs, Bufuz was famous for his destructiveness.
"Sorry. The fault lies on my judgment. I should have launched a preemptive strike or at least stopped the wagon first. I wasted the information Lecan got."
"You did not."
"In any case, you were really a great help. You have my thanks."
Zeki the mage came from side and talked to Lecan. It's unusual for this taciturn man to initiate a conversation.
"You didn't do preliminary chant with the <Flame Spear>. You might have secretly done it with the first shot, but there was no time for that at all with the second shot. How'd you do that."
Lecan knitted his brow. Zeki didn't say anything when he cast <Recovery> without preliminary chant even though he did it right in front of his eyes. Why would he ask that now of all time, he wondered. However, Vandam deciphered Lecan's expression for a different meaning.
"Zeki. Like hell an adventurer would reveal their cards. Just drop it."
"Can I have a moment please."
It was Orst who spoke up.
"In cases like this, all escort members hold ownership of the loot. Which is the Graced hammer this time. You have to decide whether to take the item itself or exchange it for money."
"Lecan. Do you want to take this hammer for yourself?"
"No, don't need it."
"Is that so. Then let's sell it. Sorry, but it's gotta be split up evenly with everyone."
"Well then, I'm sorry for the trouble but in order to ascertain its power, Lecan-san, could you hit a tree with this hammer please."
Lecan lifted the hammer and headed toward a tree.
It's a curious hammer. It looks like metal yet feels like wood in hands. Even though a battle hammer is supposed to concentrate its impact point, this hammer is flat on both ends like a wooden mallet.
Lecan raised the hammer and swung it toward the tree from the side.
A huge explosion occurred. As the hammer felt like it was about to fly off, Lecan reflexively put more strength into his hands.
Looking at the tree, a section of its thick trunk has been blown away into nothingness. The upper section fell down just like that, producing a loud sound.
"What splendid power. Vandam-san, could you have a go as well."
Vandam involuntarily dropped the hammer when he received it from Lecan.
"What the heck's up with this thing's weight!"
Vandam managed to lift up the hammer he dropped and hit it on a nearby tree.
An explosion occurred, and the hammer flew off Vandam's hands, but the tree broke down nonetheless.
"Thank you very much. I've grasped a rough understanding on its strong and problematic points. It will take time if we put it on auctions. If you wish to sell it right here and now, we can offer you four gold coins, would that be satisfactory?"
Vandam looks at Lecan with eyes full of expectations.
"Vandam. You decide."
"Sorry 'bout this, Lecan. Orst, buy it now."
"Thank you very much for your patronage."
They got four large silver coins each as incidental income. Both Vandam and Zeki looked pleased.