The carriage with the crest of the Helterose family was moving alongside the forest route. It was already long past its best years and could use a lot of maintenance which suggested that whoever was riding inside wasn't of great importance to the noble family.
Nonetheless, the journey was a peaceful one, not a single monster or bandit showed up to slow it down...
...although that in and of itself was a bit suspicious too...
The coachman gulped down his saliva and glanced back at the carriage nervously.
Then, he took a deep breath and pulled on the reins, taking a turn and getting off the well-maintained road into a wild path that didn't seem to get much traction.
The road he picked was rough and the old carriage was making sounds as if it was about to break apart at any moment, but surprisingly the people inside of it didn't voice any complaints, making the coachman breathe out in relief.
After a few minutes, the surroundings turned really wild and the horses started neighing in unease, picking up on the smell of monsters lurking nearby but the experienced coachman kept them at bay.
Finally, after recognizing a landmark, the man pulled on the reins and stopped the carriage, and pulled out a red handkerchief.
He glanced back at the carriage one more time and waved his hand, waving the handkerchief like some sort of flag.
At that signal, a dozen or so rough-looking men came out of the woods with nasty expressions.
Every single one of them had a nasty look on their face and all were staring at the carriage while surrounding it.
One of them nodded at the coachman and the coachman nodded back, climbing down his seat and walking off to a safe distance.
"We stopped... Hey, if we are at our destination, why aren't you opening the door?"
A voice of a young prideful girl came from the inside of the carriage and the men around it exchanged nasty smirks, amused by the naivety they were faced with.
"Hey. Are you deaf? What kind of bandits-wannabes are you? Seriously, you better be Noelletta's people, because if you are the best big brother Urtervia can muster, then I will be sorely disappointed in him..."
Still... the girl continued complaining in exactly the same tone of voice but her words wiped the smiles right off the men's faces and caused the treacherous coachman to turn ghastly pale.
While the thugs were becoming uneasy, the door to the carriage opened and two masked boys exited it in silence.
They both reached out their hands and helped an eleven-year-old red-haired girl step outside.
After the graceful entrance, the red-haired girl was offered a folding fan by her masked attendant and she opened it and partially hid her face after accepting and opening it.
After glancing to the sides with her eyes glowing dangerously from above her fan, the red-haired girl snickered and hummed, casting a spell that erected a wall of flames around the dozen bandits and the trembling coachman who hid behind a tree.
And yet, the spell despite being impressive for someone so young didn't worry the men surrounding the carriage.
Why would it?
What the fire magician did was merely enhance their own encirclement, cutting her way of escaping.
Not to mention that the spell would disappear at the moment of her death, which would be in minutes if not seconds.
With some not even sparing a glance at the raging fire behind their backs, the bandits raised their weapons and started approaching the girl and her attendants.
"Oohhh~? Silent and tough, aren't we? You all seem like professionals, which means that your services are rather expensive~ How lovely~! I really hope you accepted the payment upfront and drained as much money away from either of those morons as possible~!"
"Shut up and die!"
The unwavering confidence that the young girl showed managed to unnerve two bandits who shouted and rushed at her...
"Aku. No mercy."
In response, Kierul closed her fan and her expression turned dark as she gave an order.
Without a word of confirmation or any additional warning, the two masked attendants at the girl's side multiplied into a whole group and charged at the approaching men.
The bandits panicked but didn't falter and one of them, most likely the leader, shouted – but then his face and the entire head were sliced apart by a heavy dagger that one of the masked attendants pulled out from behind his back.
Despite losing their leader, the other bandits managed to endure the initial wave of attacks and were locked in combat with the masked attendants.
*STAB* *STAB* *STAB*
Those unlucky to get ganged up on would end up dying shortly after when multiple daggers stabbed into them.
It wasn't like the masked boys would suffer no losses, in actual group battles there are no absolutes and so some of them would fall and bandits that killed them would release a triumphant cheer.
Before the bodies of their victims would turn into silver mist and flat away and they would get their weapons and limbs sliced in half by another opponent.
"Richness of swallows~"
*WHOOO* *FWEEEEE* x48
In the midst of the chaotic battle, Kierul lowered her fan and cast another spell – a nest-like fire burst in front of her, and dozens of bird-like flames shot into the sky and began circling around the area enclosed by the wall of fire.
*FWEEEE* x48 *BOOOM* x48
At her excited command, all the spells turned into heat-seeking missiles and homed onto the bandits below...not!
Instead, they all swooped towards the trees outside the ring of fire and exploded upon contact with hiding people...
Four charred bodies of archers hiding in the branches fell to the ground with a loud noise while the body of the fifth one was hanging down, with the corpse's foot stuck on the cracked bark.
"Aku. I said no mercy. Stop playing around."
Satisfied with the outcome of her spell, Kierul nudged the one masked attendant who never left her side and furrowed her brows grumpily.
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