At the entrance to the bandits’ cave El Search Party stood in a formation as they moved in.
“Uuu, I don’t like dark places…..”
“Don’t lag behind. Stay in formation Ara Haan.”
“Kukuk, for mere Bandits they chose a nice place.”
“Hey guys don’t get too excited. Be cautious.”
Rena stood in front of the formation. Every time she fired an arrow multiple of bandits dropped on the floor.
“Strange, it looks like there’s only one path in this cave.”
“What do you mean? Kukuk.”
“Even rabbits leave alternate routes to get away right? Why would bandits use this disadvantageous place as their base?”
“That man didn’t look like he had too much intelligence.”
Add agreed with Eve in his mind. No matter how you saw it Banthus was just a big weakling. He couldn’t beat their party’s weakest member Elsword and ran away.
Although he still couldn’t figure out how such a weakling had control over the Nasods.
“Kuku, I’ll figure that out by asking the person….. What are you doing?”
“Hii! B, Bugs!”
With her face pale, Ara clung to Add’s back and pointed at the cave’s wall. Just as she said the wall was swarming with spiders and other multiple legged bugs.
“That’s normal for a cave…. Get off of me.”
Ara’s soft part was touching his back and it was troubling.
Add didn’t let it show as he tried to shake Ara off but that made her face dive into Add’s hood even more.
Annoyed, Add was about to bring out his Dynamos to take care of the bugs when Eve used an Electronball to cleanly burn all the bugs away. Rather than the skill itself, Add was more impressed with how she had precisely controlled the output to only get rid of the bugs while leaving the cave wall intact.
“There’s no more. Ara Haan.”
“So stay in formation. This is the bandits’ base.”
Ara finally nodded and moved away from Add. Eve stared at Add and asked.
“Scout for hidden enemies with that.”
“Kukuk, not ‘that’ it’s called a Dynamo.”
Add let fly his Dynamos frontwards just as Eve requested.
Rena was already defeating all the bandits by herself and there were only small fry bandits here but he did so anyways because Eve had requested him.
Add looked at Elsword who hadn’t said anything since they’ve entered the cave. He was strangely quiet and it was bothering him.
“Well it’s better than him being loud….”
Just what did he talk about with Ara?
If you thought about it since Eun knew Add was after Eve, Ara could also hear about Add’s plan from Eun.
Ara could potentially know about his plan.
Add stared at Ara coldly but she was flailing her arms widely as she almost fell over after tripping on a rock
“Phew, I almost fell again.”
That clumsy Ara wouldn’t be acting so carefree like that if she knew Add was after Eve.
For some reason Eun was keeping his plan a secret for now.
Elsword held up his head and called Rena in front of the formation. Rena looked back after defeating the twentieth bandit.
“I want to ask something of you. I want to try fighting Banthus by myself.”
“Oh? Sure, go ahead.”
Rena answered instantly without much thought. This startled Elsword who had made the request
“Can I really?”
“You asked because you want to right? Then try your best. I’ll be watching over you.”
“But… It was because of me that Banthus got away…..”
Elsword spoke with a dark expression on his face. Rena lowered her bow and shook her head.
“If you didn’t do well last time, you just have to do well this time. If you don’t do well this time, you just have to do well next time.”
“…..Okay, got it! I’ll catch him this time for sure!”
He didn’t mention explicitly but Elsword must have been thinking Banthus got away because he wasn’t good enough.
Now he was getting riled up to make up for that mistake.
Elsword was rather skilled for his age. His strength to wield a huge sword bigger than his height and his magic capabilities were way above average kids his age.
Still he was the weakest amongst the Search Party members. Add could defeat him within 5 seconds if he wanted to.
Elsword getting riled up to he could make up for his mistake and Rena who allowed him to do so,
“I’ll cheer you on Mr.Elsword!”
And Ara who was smiling brightly,
And Eve who didn’t say anything but looked strangely satisfied. They were all too soft.
Add put on his hood and sighed deeply. He couldn’t agree with this atmosphere where everyone was warmly cheering for Elsword
‘……What was this?’
He didn’t care an inch about Elsword.
Capture Banthus, find out how he was able to control the Nasods, and then use that information as a bait to capture Eve.
It was a perfect 3 step plan.
Add’s low laugh rang across the cave.
Because of Rena’s efforts the El Search Party was able to get past all the bandits plus the swarm of bats without a scratch and reached the bandits’ main hideout
“No way! You guys are still alive?! And how did you find me here?”
Banthus was haughtily sitting in his chair surrounded by treasures. Surprised, he stood up hastily. His bandits were also glaring at the party with weapons in their hands.
“So Mr.Banthus you were here after all. Put down your weapon quietly!”
“There’s nowhere to run. Surrender or get hurt.”
“Face me Banthus!”
“….But what about the Phoru?”
When Add murmured this, every party member that’s been saying a line towards Banthus all turned their gaze towards Add. Their gaze seemed to say ‘what the heck are you saying?’ Add explained as if it was obvious.
“Red Giant Phoru was supposed to show up…..”
“What, you liked Phorus?”
“I didn’t know you had such unusual hobby.”
“Phorus are cute! I like them too.”
“Ahah, So Add actually liked Phorus huh? That’s so cute~”
Add’s face heated up at everyone’s lukewarm reaction. Why was he being treated like someone who blurted out nonsense?
“Don’t kid with me! On the way here…..”
“We didn’t encounter any Phorus on our way here.”
After listening to Eve’s cold words Add covered his eye patch with his hand. Why did he suddenly say that?
He didn’t understand it himself. Could it be that side effect of the ‘jump’ is affecting his body and mind strangely?
“….Forget about what I just said.”
“Phorus are soft and it feels really nice when you hug them! I know what you mean!”
“Then he could go hug them now.”
“I didn’t think you were that kind of person…. Strange.”
“Guys, don’t be like that. I like Phorus too. B, but I didn’t expect that A, Add was hiding that kind of hobby. Pffft.”
“…….I said forget it!!”
With his face red, Add shouted loudly and this got everyone to stop talking.
But Ara still staring at him with a gaze that said ‘I understand how you feel’, Elsword staring at him as if he’d seen a rare creature and Rena was trying to suppress her laughter…… It felt insulting.
…..He was glad that at least Eve didn’t show any change in her expression.
“If you’d like we can look for Phorus on the way back.”
“Ah, that sounds good. I want to play with Phorus too!”
“I told you to stop…..”
Add felt like he was getting bullied and was about to snap then a shout came from other side of the cavern.
“How dare you! Are you guys making fun of me!? You better not be thinking you’d be able to get away safely after intruding my base!”
Banthus was angry because El Search Party members were talking to themselves merrily in front of him as if they came out here on a picnic.
Situation might be different if he was by himself. But right now he had 30 of his elite bandits with him.
“Sorry, I’d like to have you surrender quietly right now but I made a promise.”
“Not being able to judge the difference in our battle strength. What a lowly creature.”
“Anyone is fine, come at me!”
“Hm, shall we start!?”
“……I’m in an extremely bad mood right now. You better shut up!”
El Search Party showed no fear towards enraged bandits in front of them.
“How dare you! Everyone! Attack! Show them how scary the Banthus bandits are!”
30 bandits all shouted at once and charged at the El Search Party.
Then 30 screams rang out across the cavern as all the bandits fell on the floor. When Eve swung her whip, Add fired shockwave from his Dynamos, Rena fired her arrows and finally Ara swung her spear lightly, the cavern was cleared of bandits.
It was 5 versus 30 but it didn’t even take 5 seconds for the situation to conclude.
Banthus panicked and looked around, but this was a cavern with one path. There was nowhere to run.
Capturing Banthus now would be easier than flipping over page of a book….. But Rena looked back at Elsword.
“Ok, Elsword. I promised right? Go ahead and fight.”
Elsword shouted then grabbed his sword and headed alone towards Banthus.
With all his men defeated, Banthus was too immersed with figuring out a way to escape. He saw Elsword coming at him alone and frowned.
“You are going to fight me by yourself again? You’re taking me too lightly!”
“It doesn’t matter who I face. I don’t have time to waste staying weak.”
Elsword calmly lowered his stance.
“Bring it on old guy. It will be different this time.”
“Hmph, looks like you haven’t been taught a lesson on how harsh the world is.”
Although Banthus talked big he hesitated. Even if he somehow beat Elsword, the remaining four were fearfully skilled.
He absolutely couldn’t find a way out of this.
“We’ll let you go if you beat Elsword,”
Eve abruptly suggested towards hesitating Banthus. Banthus couldn’t believe what he heard and asked for confirmation.
“You better not be lying.”
“Nasods don’t lie.”
“Kahahaha!! Alright. You better keep your promise when I beat this brat!”
Banthus spoke confidently as he held up his sword but he hesitated again when he saw Elsword. Elsword in his low stance was glaring at him with an unwavering gaze.
As if he wasn’t interested in anything other than this fight, it was an enormous concentration.
While Banthus was groaning in hesitation, Add who was watching from afar asked Eve.
“Why did you give that useless condition? What if he loses?”
“Well, if would be troublesome if Banthus couldn’t focus on the fight. Elsword is trying to fight seriously and it would be bad if his opponent’s mind was all over the place right?”
Rena explained to Add instead and Eve nodded in acknowledgement. Eve’s gaze was solely focused on Elsword.
He could get over Eve’s reaction since they’ve known each other…… Add suppressed his displeasure and asked Rena.
“…..I don’t understand. Why do you favor Elsword so much?”
“Hmm? He’s hard working? It’s admirable to see him work towards becoming stronger.”
“Mr.Elsword wants to become stronger! And be able to soon!”
Even Ara joined in and Add made a tired sigh.
It’s true that Elsword’s achievements were impressive compared to his age, but he didn’t know why he’s evaluated so highly.
“I still don’t get it….”
“Elsword will become stronger than anyone.”
Eve spoke while still staring at Elsword. As Add frowned in displeasure, Eve added as a certainty.
As the party talked, Banthus and Elsword were standing off. No one risked making the first move.
‘….This brat. Is he the same kid as before?’
Sweat ran down Banthus’s head as he glared at Elsword. Elsword was still in his low stance staring at him as if he’d jump at Banthus at any moment. His concentration did not waver.
Banthus didn’t want to make a reckless move but he was at a disadvantage if the time went on. Humans needed a lot of patience to maintain tension, especially during a battle.
Banthus couldn’t take the pressure anymore and charged as he swung his sword. His sword dropped down with a force that’d crush a boulder but Elsword’s expression didn’t change as he dodged calmly by moving backwards.
Judging by the risky distance he dodged by, it seemed he’d read the movement of his sword. But Banthus had plans of his own as well.
Banthus wasn’t taken aback and thrust with his sword again. It was a combo attack taking into account Elsword would dodge the first attack.
He was defeated last time because his downward strike had missed but it won’t happen this time. Banthus haughtily thrust his sword but didn’t let his guard down. You could never be too careful so here’s the thrid attack!!
When his second attack connected, Banthus didn’t bother to check as he launched another attack. With this 3 hit combo that brat won’t stand a chance……
“Are you done attacking?”
Chill went down Banthus’ spine as he heard this. Elsword had narrowly dodged his second attack, lowered his stance even more and had approached closer to Banthus.
Elsword didn’t answer as he swung his sword widely. Banthus wasn’t able to dodge it and was hit directly. He fell on the ground even before he got a chance to scream.
Banthus went down with just a single strike.
“You were so slow that I could see all your moves.”
Elsword finally answered Banthus’s question after defeating him. Banthus wasn’t conscious to hear it.
Eve approached Elsword when he was shaking the dust off his sword and loosening his stance.
“For you that was rather impressive.”
“This is nothing. Ah, I’m hungry.”
Elsword was rubbing his stomach when Ara came to congratulate him as well.
“That was amazing Mr.Elsword! You’re showing results of training with me!”
“…..I learned well from you but I don’t want to ever again.”
“Eh? Why?!” “You’re scary when your hair turns white….”
Rena who was watching the three of them talking looked back towards Add.
“How was that? It turned out fine right?”
“…..I could do that much with my eyes closed.”
Add answered bluntly and examined the area. He had suspected hidden Nasods like last time but he couldn’t find anything else.
“El they stole from Ruben isn’t here as well…”
“Did he hide it somewhere beforehand?”
“Not likely judging by how surprised he was when we entered.”
Add and Rena conversed but two of them were thinking of different matters.
‘Did he obtain Nasods from before just by chance?’
It wasn’t a compelling hypothesis…. But he’ll be able to question Banthus when he wakes up. If Banthus tried to hide it, he’ll just show him what true fear is.
“Why don’t you say something to congratulate Elsword too?”
“Hmph, why do I have to say something like that? That was just kids at play.”
“Elsword will become stronger quickly. Kids with purpose are strong.”
Rena spoke calmly. Add wanted to protest but stopped. It was because she was correct.
Also he didn’t want to admit it…. But Elsword was currently at a much higher level than he was back in Ruben. Although he wasn’t sure how he achieved such a progress in such a short time, it seemed he had trained with Ara and whatever they did proved very effective.
“So 1 turned into 5, there’s not much difference…..”
“He’ll become 100 soon, and 10000 soon enough. If you don’t hurry he might catch up to you Add.”
“….Don’t make me laugh.”
Rena smiled brightly when Add’s lowered his voice.
“Ah, sorry. That was rude of me just now. I know you also work hard towards your goal.”
“Hmph…. You don’t need to apologize.”
It wasn’t just Elsword that became stronger because they had a goal to work towards. It’s not like Add acquired his current strength without any goals and purpose.
That’s right everything was for….
Add’s gaze turned towards Eve. She was hitting Elsword. He must have said something she didn’t like during their conversation. Elsword was also raising his voice as he was getting beat and Ara was flabbergasted trying to stop two of them.
No matter how much Add looked at her Eve didn’t look back.
Add put on his hood and turned back.
“You’ll become mine in the end anyways.”
It didn’t matter now.
If she didn’t look.
He’ll just have to make her look.