Herbert’s group parted with Ashitaba and headed for [Chaotic Flugel].
This time, they kept battles to a minimum to conserve their strength and mana while also still following the shortest route available.
“Hmm, this definitely seems chaotic.”
What Herbert was looking at as he said so was a tree. This thin tree crooked and wrapped itself around the middle of some kid of post.
He then traced the surface with the scabbard of his sword. After some of the moss fell, the texts written on it were revealed.
“Welcome to the Flugel Earldom! You’ll soon be in the city of Gistam!”
It was probably a signpost to prevent travelers from getting lost. Despite it being ancient, its characters were just a little worn and were still very much legible.
When Herbert returned to the group, Rodeo looked exasperated.
“Young master, monsters can pop up at any moment. I’d rather you don’t wander too much.”
“Sorry, I’ll be more careful. It’s my first time coming to a place like this, so I guess I’m a bit restless.”
“New recruits tend to behave the same. I can understand your feelings, but please follow my lead more closely from now on.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Even while they were talking like that, Rodeo was constantly checking their surroundings. After all, they have officially entered [Chaotic Flugel], and monsters could come attack them anytime and from anywhere.
“Alright, let’s go. Use the hand signals we’ve discussed before and talk only in whispers, alright?”
Under Rodeo’s guidance, their group cautiously made their way into the forest.
Rodeo had been told beforehand about the vegetated area where the [Stone Root] might be found. The description in the letter was rather light on the details, so they didn’t exactly know where it was. As such, they needed to proceed even more carefully.
Incidentally, this general area they were headed for was the innermost part of the [Chaotic Flugel].
Without saying anything, Rodeo place his right hand behind him and raised its index finger. This was their signal when someone wanted to proceed alone.
Despite Herbert being frustrated at himself for not being able to sense whatever monster Rodeo seemed to have, he said nothing and let Rodeo proceed alone.
In an instant, however, Rodeo vanished.
Before Herbert knew it, Rodeo had already cut down with a single attack a monster that had somehow gotten so close.
Herbert was not able to see Rodeo’s swordsmanship. It wasn’t because it was too fast for him though. It was just that the gap between motions were terribly short. His movements flowed so smoothly and so effortlessly.
By the time Herbert noticed something was off in the surroundings, Rodeo’s attack was over and the monster down.
“(R-Rodeo’s so strong!)”
“(That one’s a Death Stalker. I reckon it’d be tough for you to fight, young master. Unless you went all out, that is.)”
“(Woah…by the time I noticed anything, the fight was over.)”
The three of them whispered like that so as to not attract the attention of any good-eared, nearby monsters.
Rodeo, in a good mood due to the two’s praises, hummed as he listened.
“(Alright, let’s proceed. I’ll still be counting on your magic so don’t think you have it easy, but leave the outriders to me.)”
Like that, Rodeo’s demonstration of unparalleled prowess began.
Whether the monster was alone or in a group, weak or even C rank, it didn’t matter because Rodeo cut all of them down.
He would sometimes ask for Marlon and Herbert’s support, but it clearly wasn’t because he lacked the strength to handle the enemies alone. It was more so that the two wouldn’t get careless while they were still within [Chaotic Flugel].
Rodeo was that strong.
Back when Rodeo was still an adventurer, he undertook missions where he had to escort nobles. During one of those missions, he met Maxim who immediately took a liking to him. Before long, Maxim managed to convince Rodeo to walk the career path of a House Unruh military officer.
Rodeo had gained his combat prowess primarily from fighting monsters. To put it simply, his fighting style could be described as ungentlemanly. He would not hesitate surprise attacks from behind his opponents; weaving in faints between exchanges; he would even make his allies—Herbert and Marlon in this case—move forward and then make an attack of his own while the enemy was distracted.
Rodeo usually used the same swordsmanship that was traditional within the kingdom, but he was using something completely different this time. Maybe this personal style was the one he used whenever he got serious.
Rodeo has been away from battles, so his physical strength and skills have declined…or so he would claim, but Herbert couldn’t believe any of that, especially right now. If Rodeo was this strong now, just how strong was he in his peak?
At any rate, Herbert fought several times by now and their group has made decent progress. Especially considering that they have spent almost no mana so far.
By their estimates, they were halfway toward their goal.