Chapter 36 - Snatching Everything But Your Life
“Ohh… I am so fortunate as to be able to ride on the carriage of the Holy Bird.”
“The Holy Bird?”
That day we met a merchant who was looking to head over to the next town so we gave him a lift.
“Did you not know? Uhm, you are the owner of this carriage correct?”
The merchant who was chatting with Raphtalia points to me rather than her.
He pointed me out even though I try to make it seem like Raphtalia was the owner while I pretended to simply be the guy who synthesizes our goods.
“You guys are getting quite famous. Word has it that there is a carriage drawn by a Holy Bird whose proprietors wander about bringing miracles as they sell their goods.”
The carriage rattles about as I take a look from within the carriage at Firo.
People seem to think pretty highly of you, when in truth you’re just a glutton who wants to be spoiled.
But just what are these miracles that he’s talking about?
Firo suddenly lets out a strange call and runs rampant.
The three of us who were in the carriage (Me, Raphtalia, and the merchant) grasp at the carriage’s handrails to keep from falling.
The wheels let out a loud rattle so I couldn’t hear what was going on outside.
Every now and then Firo flips out and causes a ruckus like this.
This is the fourth time since we’ve started peddling. Such a capricious creature.
“Watch it, it’s not just us two in here you know.”
“Oka-y, I mean…. Kweh!”
I whisper at her so that the merchant doesn’t hear.
It seems that a talking monster sticks out quite a bit, and I’d prefer not to invite any needless attention
… Though I have a feeling I might already be getting that attention.
The merchant is giving me a look in complete surprise.
“I’ve heard that it can understand our language, but it’s really amazing.”
“Yeah, I think so too.”
Now that I think about it, just understanding human language is pretty amazing, but being able to speak our tongue too? Such a high spec monster.
I’ll consider it as the expansive possibilities that the monster race can have. But even in that sense she might be something unbelievably rare.
“We just peddle plain old medicine and pick up any jobs that would benefit from our carriage.”
I respond going back to our original topic.
“It’s said that a saint riding the carriage bears special medicine, and the sick and ailing who drink this special medicine from his hand will be saved.”
“Is that so…”
It’s a bit expensive, but it’s medicine that most anyone can afford.
On a side note, it seems I can change which kind of herbs to use to make medicine that would best target specific symptoms.
The first medicine I made was an all-purpose one so its Quality was quite low. It might’ve been pretty good at stopping a cough.
But now that I’ve gotten my hands on a wide range of herbs, I can cater the medicine towards a specific purpose.
Fevers, pulmonary problems, digestive problems, skin problems, the efficiency of the medicine towards each of these issues depends on the type of herbs I use. I’ve just got all kinds of these targeted medicines on hand.
This type of stuff was covered in pretty fine detail in the intermediate recipe book. Though I still use the shield skill [menus] to help me out when mixing herbs.
“Plain old medicine you say?”
I pull out a bottle from our goods box and let him have a look at it.
“Is this the miracle drug?”
The merchant pulls out the top and takes a whiff.
“Well it certainly… Does smell like the medicine I’ve taken sometime ago.”
“… Do you know what it is?”
Is this guy also an apothecary?
As such questions go through my mind, he shakes his head.
“Nope, that’s just the feeling I get.”
So you have no idea!
I considered interjecting, but just let it slide.
“So, what kind of merchant are you?”
“I’m a jeweler.”
When he means jewels he probably means that. It’s probably in this world too.
He’s probably off to sell accessories and the like to some bigshot nobles.
“A jeweler huh… You’ve got money selling valuables to the nobles and yet you’re dealing alone?”
If there’s that much money riding on this merchant then it would make sense to bring with a comparable envoy to guard him. And yet he’s alone, which makes me quite suspicious.
“Your words hit a sore spot.”
Hahaha, the merchant responds with a short laugh.
“Jewelers come in all kinds. If I had to be more specific then I’d say I’m an accessory merchant.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Well then would you like to take a look at my wares?”
As he says that, the accessory merchant pulls out his baggage.
When I take a look inside, I see things like broaches and necklaces. Seem to be a few bracelets in there as well.
But the ores used seem to most all be iron or copper. As for the affixed gemstone… How can I say this, actually calling it a gemstone would be somewhat of a gray area.
“This time around I mostly just have cheap goods.”
“I see… Did your business not do too well?”
“Nope, this time I’m just selling low-profit accessories to adventurers.”
“Is that right…”
According to the accessory merchant, accessories can be Enchanted which could boost the wearer’s abilities.
“By the way, how much would each of these go for?”
“How much you say… This iron bracelet that increases the users Attack Power would go for about 30 Silver.”
Ooh… That’s quite pricy. Even my remedies don’t sell that high.
“If it was Enchanted it would go for 100 Silver.”
“Is that so.”
Hmm… I should definitely give this some thought.
My medicine business has more or less plateaued at the moment. I typically get pretty close to selling out, but since I have to buy herbs as materials, there isn’t much profit.
I wouldn’t be able to keep up with sales if I had to go out and gather the herbs.
They might have been fine for use back then, but the medicine made from gathered herbs are of too low efficiency to be sold.
“You would make these with Crafting correct?”
“Hmm… Indeed, making the accessories into this form would be crafting, but then I’ll be Enchanting them. Till that point it would be Crafting I’d say.”
… I see. So you could craft an accessory, but it wouldn’t be effective until you Enchanted it. Enchanting… this seems to be the kicker.
It has an unpleasant ring to it. Why would it be? I’ve seen the term a few times when I was making medicine. It came up quite a few times in the Magic Water and Spirit Water mixing instructions.
This is something you can’t make unless you’re able to use magic.
“This has been quite educational. Thank you.”
“No problem at all, the pleasure is mine.”
“Master-, looks like something is coming.”
Firo warns me in a slightly wary voice as she brings us to a stop.
From the suddenly stopping carriage, Raphtalia and I take a look at our surroundings.
And from within the forest came several figures.
All of them bore arms and approached us with a look that was anything but good.
They looked rather ragged, but they had pieces of armor here and there which resembled barbarians. It’s most certain that they’re mountain bandits or something of the like.
The accessory merchant called out in distress.
“Hehehe… You lot, bring out your valuables and leave ‘em here.”
I was almost astonished at such a cliché line.
It’s that sort of thing isn’t it. Is there really any point in charging into these situations?
Ah, I’m sure Firo already realized it but charged straight in anyway.
It’s written all over her face, ‘I can beat these guys, they sure are making light of me.’
“We know you’ve got a Jeweler holed up in there!”
The bandits shout at us.
I look over at the accessory merchant.
“I thought you said you didn’t have anything that was of really high value?”
“Yes… I don’t have anything of the like this time…”
Very nervously, the accessory merchant puts his hand to his shirt pocket as if he’s covering something important.
“I do have an accessory that would sell for quite a bit.”
“I see… So that’s what they’re after huh.”
Looks like I’ve let on a pretty risky passenger.
“I thought they wouldn’t target a merchant that’s carrying mostly nothing but cheap goods and going for personal matters rather than official ones, so I skimped on security.”
“Are you stupid? Geez…”
All I can do is sigh.
“I’ll be charging you an annoyance fee for this.”
“… I understand.”
The accessory merchant nodded with a solemn look.
“Raphtalia. Firo. They’re enemies.”
On my signal, Raphtalia jumps out of the cart and arms herself.
I pull the accessory merchant with me as I follow suit.
“Do not leave my side.”
“G, Got it!”
I change from a shield that I’m working on releasing the abilities from to a shield meant for battle.
“Y,You’re the shield…?”
The owner of the carriage of the Holy Bird was actually the notorious Shield Hero. At that fact, the accessory merchant was dumbfounded.
“What’s that? You guys wanna have at it?”
“Yeah. One must protect themselves from whatever danger comes after all.”
I answer, glaring at the bandit.
The goal of this fight is to prevent the enemy from reaching their objective.
In other words, it’s to prevent them from stealing what the accessory merchant is holding.
“Raphtalia. Firo. Are you ready?”
“Yes, I’m ready when you are.”
“I was just about to die of boredom.”
“I see, then… GO!”
At my call the bandits also brandished their arms and charged forward. From what I can see there are about 15 enemies give and take. There are about that number of targets.
I distract the enemies running towards me with the shield that suddenly appears out of thin air, then quickly activate my next skill.
Change Shield is a skill that allows me to change the shields that appear from Air Shield or Shield Prison into another Shield that I know.
The shield that I change it to is Bee Needle Shield.
Bee Needle Shield’s Special Effect is Shield of Thorns (S) and Bee’s Poison (Paralysis).
“Wha, The shield suddenly…! Gaah---!”
One of the people charging after me runs head first into the shield that suddenly appeared. He then tumbles to the floor, gets paralysed, and starts convulsing. Nice, it looks like the Special Effect is actually kicking in.
“The hell is---“
The cage that comes from the shield then traps one of the other bandits.
Each of the shields have different time limits. Change Shield’s cooldown time is 30 seconds. It’s not something I can really use repeatedly.
But it lets me bring down their numbers so it’s quite effective.
Three bandits appear in front of me. They must think I’m stupid as even though I’m an escort I’ve got nothing on but a shield.
I stand in front of the merchant and block the attack.
Sparks fly from the point it hits the shield, and I deflect the robber's attack as a metallic clang reverberates. It seems his Attack Power is below my Defence Power.
The shield I’m currently equipping is the Chimera Viper Shield.
Its Special Effects are Poisonous Snake’s Fang (M) and Hook.
The snake sculpture on the shield begins moving and bites the bandits who come to attack me.
The Poisonous Snake’s Fang retaliates with a poisonous counterattack to whoever tries to strike me.
“I, I won’t go down with just…. Ugh!”
“I, I feel sick...”
Poisonous Snake’s Fang poisons all who attack me. It’s not too effective on things that have resistance. It seems to be working. I’ve never tried it on people before but it looks to considerably effective. Also, it’s not really a detriment, but the poison is actually lethal.
I order the shield to use Hook. The snake ornament on the shield comes out and grabs one of the bandits. The Hook’s effect has no Attack Power, but just pulls anything from within 2 meters. It’s pretty useful when trying to climb a cliff.
The bandit’s movements begin to dull and a few of them start to fall over.
“T, This guy is the Shield Hero!”
The bandits start to get a bit spooked.
It seems they’ve just realized that they bumped into one of the country's famous heroes.
But it’s too late for them at this point. With that fear the bandits quickly affirmed their own disadvantageous position.
Raphtalia, with sword in hand, takes a swing at the bandit when she spots an opening. His armor protects him from the cut, but with the sheer force from Raphtalia’s swing, the bandit is smashed to the floor, hits his head, and collapses.
Firo moves at a breakneck speed, kicking one, then another, with her powerful legs that sends the bandits flying. Each kick, the bandits flew about 5 meters like Motoyasu did… No wait. That one just flew 20 meters.
......I’m pretty sure you would die from that?
In no time at all, the bandits’ numbers dwindled, and those that can remain standing numbered 6.
“You think I’d let you?!”
I capture the guy who looks to be the leader of the bandits with Shield Prison. The remaining bandits who try to run are captured by Raphtalia who is riding on Firo.
I’m glad they were weaker than I thought they’d be.
Though Raphtalia and Firo sure did quite the work.
I pass my judgment on the tied up bandits.
“Maybe I can turn you guys in for some kind of bounty?”
“At times like these I’m not sure there’s money to give for that…”
Raphtalia responds with a troubled face.
“Do you know?”
I ask the accessory merchant, but as expected he shakes his head.
“Even so I believe you should turn them in anyway.”
“Hmm… Is that so…”
The leader of the bandit troupe is looking at me with a flippant smile.
I can easily imagine what he’s thinking.
“‘We were attacked by the Shield Hero. We’re just normal adventurers!’ is what you’re thinking?”
The leader gives an unpleasant scowl.
That’s right! The officials will probably take our word over yours, you no-good Shield Hero!
“Well, I can’t root out that possibility.”
Just why is my reputation so bad… I think about it now, and I just can’t really accept it.
Thanks to that fucking princess and king, even if I do good deeds, no one would believe I did it.
“It can’t be helped. I’ll just kill you all.”
As they didn’t think I’d fathom that choice, the bandits all instantly turned pale.
Within the bunch one of them was frantically trying to undo the ropes, but Firo quickly came in and kicked him and he fainted in agony.
“I guess I can have my dangerous monster here learn how human flesh tastes like…”
I say that to the bandit troupe in a low voice with a hint of duress.
Firo says that as she stares at the bandit troupe, drooling.
“I wonder what I’ll do.”
“Y-You’re the Carriage of the Holy Bird aren’t you!? You’re supposed to bring miracles and yet you’re about to commit murder!?”
“It’s not like that’s a title I made up. One must protect themselves from whatever danger comes, right? I’ve been taking it up the ass from everyone else up until now. But now it’s your guys’ turn, so just give it up.”
“A-At least spare our lives!”
“Then give me all your valuables and equipment, and tell me where your hideout is. You’re fine to lie all you want. But you know, I hate being lied to to death. If you tell me one lie, I’ll have my Holy Bird here rip out each one of your four limbs one by one and eat them.”
I say that casually as the bandits tremble in absolute fear.
Since I’m the notorious Shield Hero, it’s very much effective.
“I, I got it! Our base is---“
I confirm the location on our map.
“Alright, looks like negotiations succeeded.”
As I bring my hand down, Firo lets out a kick with such force it knocks out all of the bandits.
“In any case, let’s strip off any valuables they may have. Oh? This guy has some pretty good gear. Raphtalia this will be yours.”
“Stripping the bandits of their goods… What we’re doing is exactly the same as them.”
So Raphtalia says as she follows my orders and quickly strips the equipment off of the bandit.
“Now give the guys that are poisoned some antidote and load them onto the carriage. Quickly now, we’ll be bringing these guys to the hideout as well.”
After confirming that the bandit’s base is really there, I proceed to strip the guards who were on lookout of their valuables in the same manner.
We then crammed the considerably abundant stockpile of treasure onto the carriage, and got all the bandits and tied them up in their base.
The various treasures were quite bountiful.
Things like plain money, food, liquor, weapons and armor, precious metals, healing pills and other cheap medicine.
It’s far more bounty than I imagined and an unexpected bonus income.
These guys might be the bandits that are raiding people all over the region.
The accessory merchant, who has been following my actions in a confounded manner, looks deeply at me.
“So, how much of an annoyance fee do I charge you?”
The accessory merchant comes to his senses at my question.
“Maybe a few Silver Coins…”
I proceed to threaten him.
Thanks to you, this whole predicament happened. I didn’t put in all this effort just for that much.
After negotiations, we agreed to one accessory as proper recompense.
“… That mindset to not just take the bandit attack without something back… I’m deeply moved.”
Something seems to have sparked inside of him. The accessory merchant has been looking at me with a fire in his eyes. Yeah he’s probably telling the truth.
“Okay then. I will tell you my secrets in Crafting and Enchanting as well as the trading routes.”
“… Isn’t that a bit much?”
That is way too much compensation, to the point it’s making me suspicious.
There’s a good chance that he’s trying to trick me somehow since I took an accessory off of him.
“Not at all. Greedy merchants such as yourself who wouldn’t take a single hit without some sort of recompense are becoming a rarity.”
“I’m sure there are countless people who are greedy out there.”
“That’s not what I meant. It’s how you squeeze every last drop of profit out of someone. Not just using them then disposing of them, but to keep them going in order to wring out everything they have is what I’m saying is necessary.”
“Using then disposing huh…”
I look over to the bandits whom I’ve wrung out everything from.
They seemed to be pretty well off judging by how good their clothing were, so I just snatched all the equipment they had.
They’re just getting their just desserts. Having all of their goods taken away from them feels like a fair curtain call.
“By doing that?”
“These guys tried to take our money and our lives. However, you negotiated and compromised to let them live so long as they gave you all of their possessions. They were after your life, so it would’ve only been natural for you to kill them. From your standing, [who had their lives in your hands], this is the best possible outcome for them.”
Well I do have a terrible reputation, so even if I tried to turn them in, there’s a good chance the officials would believe their testimony over mine. Though there was also the chance they would believe me.
“They bought their lives from you by giving you all of their possessions.”
“I guess you can look at it that way…”
“And then, when you could have had your just revenge, you used that as leverage to increase your own profits and wrung every last drop out of them!”
The accessory merchant let out a heinous smile.
What’s with this guy?! He looks extremely repulsive!
“W, Well, I’ll drop you off at the next town.”
“No way, I have so much I must teach you. I won’t get off until I’m done.”
Just what is this accessory merchant aiming to teach me!
I’m a bit worried about how fired up this guy is getting...
But with that we carry on with the goods we snatched away from the bandits and this merchant who seems to have warmed up to us.
This may not be very important, but the one who sold out the accessory merchant to the bandits was apparently a merchant union member. It seems that after that act he was excommunicated from the union.