Chapter 14 – BANDITS AND TRADERS – A
I had a new comrade on my journey of pain. It’s a jelly slime. Her name’s Blobsy... wait, was it a her or a him? Pretty sure slimes didn’t have that sort of distinction anyway, so I say she’s female from now on.
Hey, Blobsy. Say hi.
[Blobsy] [Race: Jelly Slime] [Kin of Shedy, the Demon]
[Magic Points: 10/10] [Hit Points: 10/10]
[Total Combat Power: 10]
[Special Skill: Laundry]
She could handle a squirrel at most.
Her special skill was to disintegrate any stubborn stains she touched. A terribly tiny blob. I couldn’t even imagine how she’d fight.
...what should I do? Apparently she’s my kin now, but it seemed next to impossible for her to do anything besides being a cute mascot and washing clothes. Well, the cuteness already made her indispensable to me, though.
Like right now. While I was resting a bit to recover from the stress, Blobsy started to bounce after some grasshoppers, probably for food. Then she returned, giving up after catching nothing, and began munching on some wild grass.
I started walking again. She jerked in shock, then panic-bounced after me. Once she caught up, she circled around me in excitement, tired herself out, then desperately climbed me. Now she was blobbing out on my shoulder, resting.
I might not know what she was thinking, but she seemed to understand what I wanted. Plus somehow, I always had a sense for her location.
And so I continued my journey to search for a human country, with the salve for my bruised soul sitting on my shoulder.
Once we left the horned wolves’ territory, the forest turned out to be surprisingly peaceful. Nothing was jumping out at us every few steps. There were only squirrels, rabbits, deers, and other such animals.
No wonder Blobsy could survive.
But even in such a peaceful forest, there still existed that weakest of monsters: the red caterpillars. Surprisingly ubiquitous, these bugs. They weren’t worth anything to me at this point, and even Blobsy could probably outrun them. It’d be troublesome if they picked a fight, though, so I took off my hood and scared them off with my natural face.
My head was just a blank oval. If I didn’t have the rabbit ears, it’s be just an egg.
Two days since Blobsy came with me, my [Humanoid Form (Amateur)] skill leveled up again.
[Shedy] [Race: White Ghast] [Low Demon (High-Rank)]
?A low demon made of dust and gases. An intelligent spiritual lifeform.
[Magic Points: 330/330] 5↑
[Total Combat Power: 363/363] 6↑
[Unique Skill: Reroll] [Racial Skill: Fear]
[Simple Identification] [Humanoid Form (Apprentice)]
The amateur was an apprentice, now.
I knew it. Once I acquired the foundation for shapeshifting, it’s a lot easier to improve the skill.
The dishwasher had graduated into the potato-peeler. My food’s good enough for me to eat, but not enough to serve any customers.
I didn’t need to build my sandcastle barehanded anymore – the rise in skill rank gave me a ‘trowel’, so to speak. My hands, once mittens, could do rock-paper-scissors now.
I hadn’t been idle with my hunting, either. There weren’t any strong monsters, but I did get attacked by a bear. Not a huge one, just around 120 centimeters. It had some weird white markings around its neck.
It had around 150 combat power, but in the end, it was just a normal animal. Pitiful, both in terms of the damage it could deal to me – which was none – and the experience I got from drinking it dry.
Out of everything, it was Blobsy processing the bear that was most surprising.
She squished herself, spreading out on the carcass. I left her alone for a while, thinking she was just nibbling. 30 minutes later, the whole bear was gone.
Wait a minute... why was she still tiny? Where did all the meat go? She still looked like a 20 centimeters ball of jelly.
I identified her again, but nothing had changed. I suppose it wouldn’t, considering that I was the one who killed it. She only ate the corpse. If you could raise your level just by eating, then all the people of royal and noble families would get crazily muscular the older they get.
I walked, inane musings in my mind, and stepped past the forest border before I knew it.
Trees were still there, but sparse. Most of the land was grass. I scouted the area for human presence, thinking I might have finally gotten close to civilization. No signals I found resembled them.
There were a few herbivores dotting the grasslands. They looked like plesiosaurs. Seemed quite docile, and they had slightly higher combat power than me anyway, so I elected to stay away.
I kept along the boundary between the forest and and grassland. It didn’t take long for me to find a well-trodden road. Finally! About 5 meters wide, so it was probably a highway between towns.
Humans recognizing me would be bad, so I put up my hood and detoured away from the road, wading into tall grass and copses of trees. Then I heard sounds of fighting from somewhere far off. I put Blobsy on my head and hurried.
A while after, I saw two horse carriages being attacked by a small group of people. A perfectly clichéd scene.
Horses? So this world had trains, but not cars? A closer look revealed a group of spear-wielding men surrounding the carriages, wearing crude armor, numbering ten-odd, and looking much like the typical bandits. The defenders were dog and cat-eared beastpeople wearing ratty clothes.
“Don’t let those damn bandits get any closer!” A chubby human shouted from the back of the carriage. Three beastpeople readied their handaxes, faces close to tears, their necks bound by the same kind of choker that I once saw in the hand of the magician who attacked the elves.
I supposed that proved my slave-choker hypothesis, then. And that was some seriously impossible orders. Three slaves with handaxes and knives, wearing nothing but rags, couldn’t possibly hope to win against ten-plus decently equipped bandits.
As I got closer to the scene, Blobsy hid inside the cloak’s pocket. She seemed scared.
“With just those few chumps?!” A huge bandit, probably their boss, laughed uproariously. “Leave a carriage for us, and we’ll spare your life! Come on, you lot, deal with them!”
He gave the order to his smirking underlings, yet the men didn’t move. Instead, four well-armed beastman slaves came forward, their neck bound by the same kind of chokers.
...both sides were fighting with slaves? Just giving orders?
Once the bandits’ slaves found out they were about to fight their own people, their faces stiffened in anguish, and they feverishly shook their heads.
...was this another game event? I only ever saw demihuman slaves. If this wasn’t an event, then what the hell was this world’s ‘humanity’?
I was dumbfounded, my eyes glued to the scene. Apparently the chokers could compel the slaves – they began fighting with tears in their eyes.
“D-Damn animals, protect the goods! If you lose, I’ll send your kids to the mines!”
“Come on, fight harder! What, do you not care for your precious friends and family?”
Both the carriage owner and the bandit leader didn’t spare a second thought before using intimidation as their first choice of motivation.
I didn’t even have the chance to interfere before all the trader’s slaves were stabbed to death. None of the bandits’ died, and only one had a rather serious wound on his arm. The battle was over in a blink of an eye.
“Damn useless vermins! Waste of money!” The trader swore obscenities at his dead slaves while kicking their corpses.
The bandit leader looked satisfied. He ordered his men to appropriate one of the carriages.
“Bwahaha! Alright, I’ll take that one. Better get some better slaves next time, merchant, or hire adventurers...” He glanced over the wounded slave and nonchalantly mutter, ”Oh, right, you. Can’t use you now, can I?”
He stabbed a spear right through the bleeding slave.
“Hey, merchant! Compensate for that one too!”
The trader reluctantly acquiesced, his mouth twitching. He handed over several gold coins.
...an unspoken agreement, perhaps, between the merchants and the bandits. To turn banditry into a proxy battle, with slaves the only one getting hurt.
The group of bandits leisurely walked off with one carriage. The merchant, unharmed, kept on cursing his slaves for quite a while. His driver had had to calm him down, and they left the area with their single carriage. The four dead slaves were thrown to the roadside and ignored.
...was this really a game event?
My original plan was to aim for the bandits preying on travelers. But now, I couldn’t pick a side. I didn’t want to pick a side.
The merchants were pissing me off more, but if I let the bandits go, there was no guarantee I could find them again. At least I remembered all their faces.
‘Hey, Blobsy. Which side should I go for?’
She crawled out of my pocket and bounced in the directions of the bandits.
I see. The more the merrier, right?
‘Hey, can you track the bandits without letting them know?’
She bounced her reply.
‘I’ll be dealing with the trader, first.
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