Chapter 57

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Return from the Settlement
I listened to the adventurers we rescued, and they explained that all their equipment and clothing had been stripped from them and discarded in the forest before they were imprisoned in this cave.
They had left everything in the forest, and the adventurers hadn’t seen it since.

The number of survivors was 28.
It’s uncertain if any adventurers were killed during the time before they were brought here.
Well, it’s a relief that nearly 30 people were saved.

“There’s nothing in this hut, it seems.”

“Then, let’s destroy it.”

“Yes. Lady Lily, please.”

The surviving adventurers used Talat’s threads as makeshift underwear to cover themselves.
After that, Alizée provided healing magic for their wounds.
I could have done it as well, but apparently, they wanted to keep my ability to use powerful healing magic a secret within the Trade Guild.
Healing minor injuries is part of the test to advance to the Green Rank, so that’s already known.

Once that was done, Uhihna and Tomoa kept watch over the rescued adventurers to make sure they didn’t do anything reckless.
Meanwhile, Alizée, Keuko, Akumi, and I checked the village and began the destruction.

At first, Keuko was cutting unstable rocks with her sword, but we realized it was faster if I used magic to blast them away.
The sound of rocks collapsing would echo either way, so there wasn’t much difference in using magic to blow them apart.
Therefore, to save time, I went around blasting rocks.
I think I’ve destroyed about half of the village’s buildings by now.

“By the way, Ogre villages seem to have almost nothing. How do they live?”

“Ogres, except for higher-ranking ones, don’t use weapons. They live using their bodies alone and don’t have the concept of using tools.”

“I see. Monsters are mysterious.”

“For Ogres, weapons symbolize higher ranks. Of course, it’s not just for decoration.”

Among the Ogres I turned into charcoal with magic, there seemed to be Ogre Knights, Ogre Magicians, and an Ogre King.
Ogre Knights were equipped with swords that could be held with one hand, Ogre Magicians had staves, and the Ogre King had a two-handed sword.
However, we didn’t find Ogre General’s weapons, which was strange because that meant there was an Ogre King without an Ogre General.
After searching the settlement thoroughly, it was confirmed that the Ogre General had not been defeated.
It’s unclear where it went, but we didn’t have time to investigate that now, so we prepared to evacuate from the settlement.

We planned to evacuate at sunrise, so until then, it was camping time.
I’m the one being protected, so I’ll just sleep until we depart, but it was not that easy for the other adventurers.
Although the forest was surrounded by spider cobweb walls, we were powerless against monsters that attack from the sky.
If we sleep carelessly, we could be killed by an aerial attack.
Grudgingly, the adventurers took turns on night watch, alternating between keeping watch and sleeping.

The next morning, I woke up with a refreshed face and checked the plan for the day.
The plan was simply to leave the settlement and return to Vardmoi, but there was some trouble before our departure.

“What!? Our weapons are gone!?”

“Of course. We came all the way here to rescue you, but having your equipment stolen and discarded was unexpected. Since we can’t give you our equipment, you’ll have to go back to Vardmoi barehanded.”

“Aren’t we the ones you’re supposed to protect? Then…”

“We are your protectors, but there’s nothing to give you. Besides, anything is better than us returning to Vardmoi on our own, and you guys can retrieve your equipment from the Adventurers’ Guild, right? Without our help, you’d be defenseless here and vulnerable to further attacks.”

They seemed to have no counterargument to that, so they reluctantly followed along.
By the way, isn’t that guy the one who used to persistently invite me to his party in the past?
What’s he doing here now?

On the way back, Talat focused his everything on intimidation, so we didn’t encounter any battles.
The rescued adventurers were walking nervously, and since they were barefoot, it took some time, but we managed to reach Vardmoi before the gates closed.
Well, their ordeal will continue after entering Vardmoi.

After all, men with only their hips covered and women with their chests and hips wrapped in threads walking through the crowded streets in the evening was beyond embarrassing.
The women were showing more skin than ladies of the night.
I didn’t really care about it, though.
I mean, there was absolutely no armor or clothing in the Ogre settlement.

Then, after arriving at the Adventurers’ Guild, the last trial awaited them.

“What!? We have to pay 10,000 Rubies to the Adventurers’ Guild!?”

“Yes. It was agreed upon that 10,000 Rubies would be paid for each person rescued in this search request. The expenses for the rescue request will be covered by the Adventurers’ Guild because it was urgent. However, the rescue fee for the rescued adventurers will be borne by each individual.”

“Even if you say that, we don’t have that kind of money! Our equipment, clothes, and belongings were taken by the Ogres! There’s no way we can make that payment!”

“You don’t need to worry about that. In addition to the 10,000 Rubies for this rescue, we will also lend you 10,000 Rubies. Please use that to purchase new equipment and tools and repay the Adventurers’ Guild. Don’t even think about running away; we will find you through the Adventurers’ Guild’s network if you do.”

“That’s… but…”

All the rescued adventurers were hanging their heads in shame.
After thinking they had been saved, they now had a total debt of 20,000 Rubies to deal with.
But they should be grateful; their lives were saved for 20,000 Rubies.

Then, the man who had been following me around was interrogated along with all the relevant parties, and it turned out that he had been the instigator of this incident.
He had apparently known about my Ogre extermination business since my White Rank days and had spread the word to other Green Rank adventurers.
As a result, this incident occurred, causing significant damage to the Adventurers’ Guild as well.
While he wasn’t directly responsible, he was demoted to Black Rank and would be ineligible to take the promotion exam for the next five years.
I hope he doesn’t hold a grudge against me somewhere down the line…

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