Jaaku Chika Teikoku

Chapter 2 – The Pursuers

The ones who attacked the goblin village numbered 500 people.
The adventurers assaulted first, acting as scouts while the soldiers gathered at the entrance, besieging and massacring them. Because the goblin village was in the middle of a forest, the soldiers consist not of cavalry or heavy infantry or spearmen, but a force with sword and shield wielding light infantry at its core and volunteers conscripted from the surrounding farm villages.
Then as for the adventurers, they were 10 teams dispatched by the Adventurers’ Guild.
They were parties who went through carnage, having defeated goblins and orcs as a matter of course, but also threw down ogres that were stronger than themselves.
Commander Jarre, who was entrusted with the goblin subjugation, put on a deep smile hearing the victory report from his subordinate. He was 40 years old this year, the knight commander from the nearest town of Bendall. As a clean-cut light-brown-haired man wearing a set of armor that barely maintained his dignity, he didn’t look like a man who was capable of leading 500 soldiers.

Truthfully, while it’s actually a battle where they could gain complete victory with very few victims, he made mistakes in the timing and some of his men lost their lives in vain.
Of course, he had thought of lots of excuses to put in his report to the feudal lord.

“The damage on the soldiers are: 51 dead and 140 wounded, 60 of them serious. That is all.”

He probably ignored his adjutant’s damage report.
Looking uninterested, Commander Jarre nodded several times and asked about their goal in attacking the village.

“Right right, rather than that, how’s the loot?”
“Sir, we managed to seize food in livestock and grains. Combined with the coins and gems, I think they are valued at 27 000 in common gold.”

Commander Jarre rubbed his beard and nodded in satisfaction.
With 10 000 common gold coins, 100 peasants could survive through winter without having to starve.
Of course, Commander Jarre never intended to hand the gold over to peasants. He just discussed his share of it with the adjutant.

“Will it be alright if we report 17 000 to the lord?”
“That much is a bit…, If we give priority to handing over the money and gems, 22 000, I think?”
“Hm, all right.”

It’s common sense in this world to surrender all the loot gained in battle to the lord. Then, the lord would divide the spoils among the subordinates. Loot can be various things, from simple money and gems, or otherwise food, livestock, weapons, antiques, or slaves.
They were all calculated in units called common gold, the amount of money they all get sold for.
This time, because of mobilizing the soldiers and employing the adventurers, they spent 2000 gold in expenses.
In other words, with the costs deducted, they gained 25000 gold in this battle’s victory.
Of course, when looking at the long term there are lots of parts that can’t easily be said like damages and loss of manpower due to casualties.
However, Commander Jarre paid no mind to such things.
For now he’d divide the loot he gained between himself and his subordinates, only filling his head with thoughts on how much he could swindle. With his skill [Cunning], he considered his crafty deeds a bit of a dishonest bonus.

“Anyhow, those goblins sure saved up a lot, huh.”
“Yeah, they’ve sure gotten fat.”

“Wahahaha”, Commander Jarre laughed in a loud voice.
Then, while his adjutant put on a servile smile, he added to his report.

“I ordered the adventurer groups to chase after the fleeing goblins.”
“Right, that was a good decision.”

Commander Jarre swindled the loot, and his subordinates also cheated by cramming more of the loot inside their own pockets. Then, the ones who swindled the most off the loot were the ones called adventurers, so Commander Jarre, with his [Cunning] ability, knows.
Drunk with victory, the soldiers laid waste to the goblins’ shabby houses, and pilfered money and goods off of their dead bodies, putting all they stole into large baskets and jute bags.
What the goblins saved up, they stole.
Commander Jarre prayed for the safety of the goblins chased by the adventurers.
That way, they could come and pillage them like this some more.

* * *

The adventurers couldn’t possibly know what Commander Jarre was thinking, but one of them cursed.

“Dammit, we got the short straw having to chase the runaway goblins!”
“There there, Tieres. Complaining won’t get you anything.”
“But the soldiers are probably rifling through the loot at the village by now~? Even though we’re the ones who killed the ogres and made sure it’s safe!”
“That’s true…, but we’re employed adventurers. If the client says go, we go, so we do nothing but chase them out like hounds.”
“I know that but still~”

The one who had been complaining, the one called Tieres, was a man in his mid-twenties, his whole body was wrapped in full plate mail and armed with a sword and shield, his eyes looking through a gap in the helmet that covered his whole face looked at his surroundings with waning motivation.
They were the warriors who slew many ogres and goblins.
Incidentally, the one who was calming him down was a man in priestly garb. With the holy emblem hanging from his neck, he was armed with a metal breastplate and a metal mace. He was a short young man with light brown hair.
The name of the priest of the holy god was Delitte.
Furthermore, Tieres’ grumbling was interrupted by a female voice.

“Shut up! I found the goblins!”

Tieres smacked his lips and looked at the woman.
She was a tall and slender girl with a black ponytail and cold eyes, wearing leather armor and a composite bow slung on her back, two daggers shimmered, hanging from her waist.
The girl was called Lorna, a ranger who excelled in tracking and bowmanship. She tracked the goblins’ footprints using her [Humanoid Tracking] skill.

“There are 20 of them by the footprints, they’re a bit far but we can catch up with them.”
“Thanks for your efforts, you can all go home now! Let us handle the rest.”

Agreeing with Tieres, another man likewise clad in metal armor yelled “That’s right, that’s right”. Delitte looked troubled his inner thoughts can’t be read, but he showed no signs of helping out Lorna.
Lorna was about to say something, but before that another woman flared up.

“Tieres! Leaving the annoying parts to us and keeping the good bits to yourself, you’re just the same as those soldiers!”

The woman had red hair and light armor, the term ‘tomboy girl’ seem to perfectly suit her.
Her name is Yslaine.
She was the leader of the all-female adventurer party [Iron Warmaidens] Lorna belonged to, a female warrior with quite a capable sword hand. Her longsword was sheathed at her waist but Tieres knows that it was imbued with magic.
The 4 others besides Lorna were all girls, as previously mentioned.
There are a mage with short build,  a priestess with her face covered in thin cloth, a muscular female warrior wearing something resembling underwear, and a female knight with her whole body covered in armor.
On the opposite side was Tieres’ adventurer party who called themselves the [Swords of Faith].
They numbered 13 members.
This side consisted of entirely males.
There were 7 people with full armor like Tieres, 3 priests like Delitte, and 2 mages. They actually had 2 thieves like Lorna but they were unluckily killed by goblins when they attacked their village.

“You shut up! You cheeky lot becoming adventurers even though you’re girls! Get lost before you hold us back!”
“Holding you back? Are you fucking kidding me!? Without Lorna here you’d have lost sight of the goblins!”
“I said you talk too much! You female warriors didn’t even kill an ogre and you still say something cocky like that!”
“Huuh!? Didn’t we help you out when the goblins took you by surprise!”

The two glared at each other and began quarreling.
Even simply chasing and killing goblins would earn them quite some cash.
They could exchange the finger they brought back as proof after killing goblins for money, and they could earn a bit off of the weapons and armor they stripped off them. Still, it doesn’t earn them much but it was better than nothing.
Income is irregular for adventurers, so when they’re on the job they won’t leave without earning some.
However, even if they were to pursue the fleeing goblins, Yslaine’s [Iron Warmaidens] were uneasy to attack with their numbers and Tieres’ [Swords of Faith] did not have the personnel that could track them down.
That was why the two formed a temporary alliance.

“We’re gonna lose them while you fight.”
“Tieres, while you’re having pointless quarrels the prey is going to escape.”

Lorna gave an icy cutting remark.
Delitte gently pacified his leader as well.

“Dammit, catching them will be first time first serve!”

Tieres gave an angry roar, but Yslaine laughed back saying, “I meant to do that from the start.”
For those girls, something like this was not unusual.
As an all-female adventurer group they were often looked down upon, when they first started they couldn’t get significant jobs and were made to put up with leftovers. However, they pushed through all the hardship and showed their true strength.
They exterminated goblins and thieves, menaces on the highways, they explored underground labyrinths where monsters made their nest and gained treasure. They experienced close encounters with death but they climbed over it and gained themselves fame.
But at the same time, clashes like earlier often happened to them.
It was envy.
Adventurers were mostly men, they wouldn’t accept that there were female adventurers in the same business that were more capable than themselves. Furthermore, it was not rare that when they showed the same degree of skill that they had feelings of envy and hatred turned on them.
Nevertheless, it was few but they do get goodwill from parties with higher skills than themselves.

(I feel sorry for men with small caliber)

Yslaine muttered that in her heart.
Her party members shared much of the sentiment.
They walked, all the while receiving chilly glares from the [Swords of Faith]. Only one of them, Delitte, sent them a worried look, but only Lorna noticed that.

Before long, the two adventurer parties found the entrance to the underground labyrinth.

“They went in here.”
“Oi oi, did this place exist before?”
“….. nope, we don’t know about it either.”

Before attacking the goblin village, they collected intelligence about the surrounding land.
They gathered information that there were several small hills and marshes besides forests, but they heard nothing about a place like this.
Probably the tomb of some great man or some ancient ruin.
The entrance to something underground, that looks difficult to make with current technology.
It was wide enough for ten of them to walk through side by side. It was probably wider than the central gate at the capital that the soldiers would line up and march under. Because it spiralled, they couldn’t tell what it was like inside. However since there were candlestands along the walls and instead of candles, magic lights attached to them, it was surely brighter than outside.

“This, could be by some chance…., might hold amazing treasure inside!”

Yslaine agreed with what Tieres said.
There are times when underground labyrinths often hold unbelievable treasure.
Yslaine’s magically-imbued longsword was one found in an underground labyrinth. Other than that, there were things like ancient coins and gems and works of art that would worth a fortune when sold. For that reason they were almost entirely used up, but if they found one more, no, half of one, they could quit the dangerous job of being an adventurer.
In most countries, people who find ancient treasure can keep it for themselves. The exception is when it’s part of a ruin exploration request, a portion of the findings are paid as fees, but since this is a goblin extermination, that exception does not apply.

“Let’s go you bastards!”

Tieres loudly commanded his companions.
Making a clanging sound, all the members of the [Swords of Faith] went down to the underground labyrinth.

“Yslaine, we should go too.”

One of the party members, the female knight, urged her leader.
“Of course”, the reply came immediately, but Yslaine was thinking.
With an underground labyrinth entrance this big in this kind of place, somebody’s bound to notice. At least the information dealer who was employed to collect information about the terrain around here should have noticed.
Considering their safety, they should withdraw.
However, she looked at her companions and thought.
Despite having been attacking a goblin village, none of them were injured. They are also almost not exhausted at all. If she lost her nerve here and heard afterwards that Tieres’ group got hold of lots of treasure, regretting would be too late.

“Everyone, alright?”

Finally she made sure everyone was okay with it.
Most of the time she would make the decision on her own as the leader, but she was getting a bad feeling from the underground labyrinth this time.
Sensing their leader’s unspoken uneasiness, everyone stated their thoughts.

“I don’t mind.”
“I, I’m all right. I almost didn’t use any magic, after all!”
“I have enough power left to use the divine miracles.”
“While killing the goblins, why not take the chance to get treasure.”
“There’s no problem on my part, we’ll regret it if we step aside here, no?”

Lorna, the short mage, the priest whose face was covered with thin cloth, the underwear-wearing muscular warrior, and the female knight covered entirely in armor each responded in turn.
Hearing everyone’s opinions, Yslaine made her determination.

“All right, then we should go, too!”

Thus, the [Iron Warmaidens] all went down to the underground labyrinth.

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