The guild that found the bandit hideout decided to carry out the extermination operation three days later.
There were explanations from the guild and cooperation between the parties was set up.
That being said, under these hurried circumstances it's nothing terrific.
At most, it's one group storming the hideout from the east and another from the west.
Some parties are in charge of encircling the hideout and taking on the escaping bandits.
All in all, there are sixteen parties participating in the bandit extermination.
On the other side, we still don't know the exact number of bandits, partially because we don't want our moves to be noticed.
From the size of the hideout, they are assumed to be around thirty.
If they escape it's meaningless, but that being said, if we're not enough people, they'll turn the tables on us.
——it's quite a dangerous quest.
Still, they do a lot of damage on the roads and in the forests connecting Rinnal to the nearby cities. If nothing is done about them, it will become a hindrance to the citizen's everyday life.
Merchants wouldn't want to take these roads.
Following that, the town would decline.
You could very well say this situation is graver than it looks.
If you go to the royal capital, there seems to be not just the guild, but a proper knight order, but they move too slowly to be relied upon.
If you put in a request and go through all the required paperwork, they will come "some time" apparently, but frankly that's not good enough for the people.
"Hey, Shion. You sure about letting Alice participate?"
Before heading out for the operation, while checking our equipment at home, Uncle spoke up.
Shion, having looked at her own sword, thrust it into her sheath while turning around toward Uncle and clearly nodding.
"This is what she decided. As an adventurer."
"I know, but still..."
Uncle's face was full of worry as he looked at me.
... well, it's not like I don't understand how he feels.
I mean, so far I've done nothing but cause worries for them.
"Nichol-san, I'm just going to do what I can, so..."
... I'm not going to force my limits——
——is what I really wanted to continue with but nobody knows what's going to happen in the actual battlefield. I shut up.
"Uhh...huh. If it gets dangerous, think about yourself first and run away, ok, Alice-chan?"
That's a lie.
There's no way I can.
If it gets dangerous?
Our party obviously consists of Uncle, Shion-san, and myself.
Shion-san's group takes part somewhere else this time, so it's a party of family members only.
A situation where I, forming the backline of the party, is in danger... I don't even want to think about it.
"——alright, let's go."
I stiffly nodded at Shion-san's words.
Before leaving for the capital, I want to give something back to these people, if only just a little.
I can attack at range. I'm sure I can be of use in a party with Shion-san and Uncle who both use swords.
For the sake of the people in this town, too, I will strike the bandits.
I don't have to think about the opponents.
I can do that later just fine.
Seen off by Aunty, we began the operation————
The bandits' hideout is on the other side of town, opposite from the forest with the ruins. After leaving town, we advanced while staying clear of the road.
On the appointed day, we left early in the morning, but some parties had already headed out the evening before.
The groups left town at so different times from each other to get into position.
Whether it helps or not, the goal is to trick the bandits at least a little bit.
Because we're not many people, our party's goal is to take part in surrounding the hideout and take on the escaping bandits.
However, there's a good likelihood to run into a lookout or some bandits happening to be outside, so it cannot be called safe.
"We're almost there," Shion-san said while spreading a marked map and checking the surroundings.
Next to the river flowing continuing on to Rinnal, just outside the forest.
The operation begins when the sun has reached its peak.
With watches, it would be noon exactly.
And that time is soon.
"... I hope the people assaulting the hideout directly are fine."
"There's six groups of six veterans each. But we can only pray."
As expected, Shion-san was just as tense as myself.
Her eyes were attentively scouting our surroundings.
And Uncle, too, was leaning against a rock sized just right to sit upon, his eyes closed.
He might be listening for something.
As for myself, I couldn't rid myself of that bad feeling of foreboding assaulting me.
Our current mission was to wait, but I was restless if there wasn't something we should do.
I was restless in the truest sense of the word.
It wasn't the atmosphere to talk to Shion-san or Uncle, so for the moment I decided to calm down by changing the water in the canteen.
I went over to the river and submerged the canteen into it after dumping the old water.
By the way, the canteen is of course no bottle.
It's a leather bag.
While submerging the water bottle in the river, I inadvertently looked to the other bank, and noticed something unnatural about the shade of a rock; something was off.
The river was around ten meters wide, but I could see a big rock on the other side shine weirdly.
Was it some reflection?
No, these light particles...!?
I at once shouted to the others.
"Freezing breath, change to dancing blades——— Blizzard!!"
The man jumping out from behind the rock was singing his incantation.
The magic ice projectiles forming indeed turned into blades and poured towards us.
His target was———all of us!?
There is area of effect magic!?
From above our heads, icen blades rushed down like hail.
That's not something you can dodge.
To at least protect my head, I crossed my arms before my face.
Then I got skewered—— is the worst case I expected, but the shock I received was not that much of a worst case.
It was more along the lines of being hit my normal hail pebbles.
Of course, it still hurt.
But that was it.
At most, it might leave some bruises?
But looking at myself, I'm surrounded by something like a thin film of light.
Before the ice projectiles hit me, they hit the film of light and lose their power.
"So magic defense—— comes from Mind!"
Which means that the least injured in this place is me with my Mind 5.
On the other hand——
Especially Shion-san, she has Mind 0!
The moment the ice projectiles finally stopped, I turned around in horror.
Without a single scratch on her body, Shion-san drew her sword.
Not a scratch?
She dodged... all of them!!?
"Are you a monster!?"
"Why are you insulting me here? ... Pops, you alright?"
While glaring towards the opposite shore, Shion-san called out to Uncle.
"Yeah, this is nothing."
Uncle slowly got up with his shield.
An ice blade was sticking in his leg!
Uncle was laughing that it was nothing, but he wouldn't be able to move like that.
No, wait, the enemy on the other side of the river came first?
Without time to ponder, the situation evolved.
A group of people, probably bandits, came out of the forest.
Five people from the forest, a total of six with the man on the other side of the river!
They were a much more immediate danger than the man on the other side of the river.
Shion-san was rushing towards the bandit group.
Three of them had swords.
One mage on the other shore.
They had thought this through!
Thinking about cast time and cooldown as well as attack range, this was the optimal setup.
Supposing we didn't have anyone capable of ranged attacks, it would be onesided.
Before attacking the enemy, Shion-san gave me one look.
I clearly nodded at the signal in that look.
Shion-san made a small smile in return.
When I looked back to the other shore, the mage had just finished his cooldown and began casting anew.
Like I'd let you!
"You're slow! Split the heavens and become a ray of light, to strike my enemies——— Thunder!!!"
I instantly fired my magic.
One serious strike with chanting the incantation at that.
Seeing me invoke magic without any sign of generating mana beforehand, the mage on the other side of the river made a shocked face—— and fell, without any chance to dodge.
That probably meant I completely surpassed his magic defense.
The film of light made no change whatsoever.
The result gave made me shudder for a second—— but.
That could come later!
Stopping my thoughts, I rushed to Uncle's side.
"The wound... oh my god!"
Uncle was drenched in cold sweat and the blade of ice was still stuck in his left thigh.
This went beyond painful!
Even the blood flowing out was on the verge of freezing, this might lead to frostbite.
"H-hey, you're amazing, Alice-chan. Nice skills!"
Come on come one!
"That doesn't matter in the least!"
What should I do?
Even if I use heal, I think I should pull the ice blade out beforehand.
But won't he bleed out then?
But either way, like this he'll get frostbite.
"Give me that, please!"
I borrowed Uncle's swords and cut off a piece from my robe's skirt.
That made it a lot shorter, but that really didn't matter now.
I could use that in place of a tourniquet.
I tied it at the left leg's base with all my strength.
"Ghhh... I'm! Too weak...!"
Is this going to be enough?
If it's not really tight, it's pointless!
"I just need to tie this, right?"
Uncle laughed at me with his dandy face and tied the tourniquet once more himself.
"Y-yes! It's only for a short while, but make it as tight as you can!"
"Sure thing! Nnnngg!"
With his face contorting in pain, Uncle tightened the tourniquet.
"Sorry, please bear this!"
I grabbed the blade of ice and pulled it out in one go.
For that Uncle to cry like that, it must hurt a lot.
It makes me feel sorry.
But there's no point if I fail after all this.
After drawing out the ice blade and discarding it, I took a breath and willed the activation of another magic.
"Goddess of earth, grant compassion with your healing breath——Heal!!"
When I held my hands near the wound and chanted the magic, pale, white light enveloped it.
The wound which had had blood trickling out of it gradually closed.
However, the wound was deep.
Not something healing right away.
And you can keep the magic Heal active over time——I understood that right then.
You can probably decide to, depending on the wound.
However—— I felt how incredibly exhausting it was.
The mana inside my body was rapidly flowing out.
Now just that, my stamina was taken as well——or maybe I gave it to him?
Anyway, I quickly got dizzy.
Should I cancel it once and cast it once more?
No, Shion-san is still fighting, don't be so weak!
Show some spirit!
But I'm really collapsing now——on the verge of that, I somehow completely closed the wound.
"Haaaah... how is it? Do you think the leg will be alright?"
Uncle was touching the area the wound had been like he couldn't believe it.
"Looks like you're alright... thank god. Ah, please take off the tourniquet."
Uncle took it off and carefully got up.
Then raised his left leg a bit and stepped down.
"Hmm... it's a bit uncomfortable, so it's not completely recovered, but it's good enough."
Well, I'd be scared if it was already completely healed.
As relief overcame me, I noticed for the first time that I was too tired to even get up.
And like that, I went plop.
I let myself fall backward spreadeagled, as they call it.
Shion-san knuckled Uncle over the head.
"I've got one amazing little sister, don't I, Pops?"
After setting Uncle straight, Shion-san proceeded and tousled my hair, no holds barred.
"... if you put it like that, that should make her my daughter, too."
"You don't look at her like a daughter, stupid pops."
"N-nono! More importantly, the bandits?"
Stopping those two as they turned towards a weird topic, looked towards the forest.
"Eh? That is...?"
In the direction Shion-san was pointing were five falled bodies.
"......are you a monster?"
I'm never going against Onee-chan.
I secretly swore that to myself.