A new chapter of Samurai NOT
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Samurai NOT 35
“That’s our target today,” the chief said, pointing to a lone rider in the middle of the forest path. “Do you think you can do it, Shōma?”
The boy said nothing, only nodded. He had seen the bandits do that so many times he already knew how. And most importantly, he knew he could do it, even if it was his first time taking the lead.
He left the hiding place and moved among the trees as quiet as possible. The task was simple. He had to scare the horse enough to make the rider lose control and fall from the animal. Then the bandits would surround the target and get everything they could from him. And they had to, they would take his life as well.
Though the chief wasn’t against that, he preferred to steal. Because a robbed noble didn’t attract as much attention than a dead noble,
When the rider was closer enough, the boy already had everything planned.
With a sharp rock, he hit the horse on the head. It wasn’t strong enough to kill the animal, but it was enough to make it neigh and raise the front legs.
The rider held the reins tight and fought to keep control. But another sharp rock, on the rear legs this time, made the animal trash and dash.
The noble lost control and fell as the animal went on, bleeding.
“Good boy!” The chief slapped the boy on the back with his heavy hand once. Then he covered his face with a cloth, and laughed as he left his hiding place, shouting at the top of his lungs. “Today isn’t your day, my pal. If you don’t wanna meet your ancestors, leave everything you got.”
In matters of instants, all the bandits surrounded the horseless rider.
Despite trying to show all the dignity of a noble, holding his head high and staring the chief in the eyes, his face betrayed him; he was too scared.
When the chief flashed a terrifying smile and pointed his own sword, the noble façade broke and he was trembling. With that many weapons at his face, there was nothing he could do except give everything of value he had, including his clothes.
The chief preferred to leave their target with their clothes and whatever little dignity they had left. According to him, if they humiliate a noble too much, he would definitely seek revenge. But his high quality clothes was hard to let go.
As they headed back to their lair, the bandit chief laughed and slapped the boy on the back with the heavy hand a couple times.
“Not bad, brat. Not bad at all. Your idea was really good!”
“Yeah, Shōma, it was,” another bandit said. “We tried rocks before, but it never worked.”
“‘Cause we never thought about sharpening it, ya idiot.”
“What about that bolder idea ya had?”
“Oh, yeah. He’d just joined us and was trying to show up. But he did it before the target was in the right place and hit a tree instead of the horse,” one of the women said.
“The tree fell and blocked the road, stopping the horse. It worked. That’s what matters,” he said, sulking.
It wasn’t the first time the boy heard that story. Every time, he got embarrassed like that.
“Yeah, but thanks to that, we had all that extra work to get the tree out of the way so the soldiers wouldn’t come looking for us at that area!”
There was a moment of silence and then they all laughed.
“Still, today was too good! Look at all the jewelry he had! Why a rich boy would be traveling with this all alone?”
“Maybe a present for a future wife,” the chief said. “But to travel without protection… he should’ve used this jewels to pay for a sword or two.”
“He didn’t look that smart. I pity his woman who has to marry a loser like that! Did ya see his face? He tried to put a brave face, but he was almost pissing on his pants when we drew the swords!”
Everyone laughed again. Even the boy couldn’t help but do the same.
When they arrived at their lair, the group celebrated as if they had done a great job. One thing the chief never skimped was the food. He always made sure there was enough for everybody to eat.
When the boy asked, one of the women said was because the chief never had any food to eat when he was a kid.
In the next weeks, the swords, the armor, the clothes, and the jewelry from the noble were sold for a fortune. At least from a scavenger point of view. The boy had no idea how many battlefields they had to scavenge to get even a fraction of that money.
And that how the bandits lived. They stole from nobles, merchants who dared traveling through the forests and the mountains, and anyone who looked like they had enough to share. The chief, however, banned stealing from villagers who had less than them.
Every day the less threatening looking members hung around the castles, fortresses, and cities, hoping to hear something that could lead to good money. The boy had tried, but people still hadn’t forgotten about the demon child Ashura.
However, they had to be careful whenever there was a fight nearby. Even with the ever going war, there were soldiers looking for them.
Despite all that, life with them wasn’t that different from the life with the scavengers. They looked for a chance to make money in the morning and gathered around the fire at night to eat. And even when they hadn’t gotten anything, whenever the conversation started, it was lively.
After the food, the boy liked that part the most.
As the week passed by, he had grown accustomed with his new life. He didn’t even remember the last time he had slept with his stomach empty. Even his new name didn’t sound so bad anymore.
One night, as they sat around the fire, eating and talking, the chief announced almost with a huge smile.
“Hey, listen up, you dirty bunch. I just heard some great news,” he said looking around the fire to make sure everyone was looking at him. “In a few weeks, a big target is coming this way. I heard it at the castle a noble is coming to check his lord’s vassal because he suspected there’s something fishy going on. Something about stealing taxes.”
He let the words in the air, letting everyone catch on.
“Are ya crazy, chief? You want us to go after the lord’s subordinate? Who’s coming for stolen taxes?”
“Yeah, it’s too crazy. Even for us. There’s no way we can stay here after that.”
“You’re all wrong. If we don’t let anyone alive, the lord will think it was the subordinate who kill the noble.”
The bandits exchanged looks all around the fire.
“B-but how can we kill a noble like that? He’ll have a bunch of swords around him.”
The chief flashed a smile of someone saving the best part for last.
“In other to catch the subordinate in the act, this noble is disguising himself as a traveler and has little protection. This is gonna be our biggest robbery!”
The bandits exchanged looks again. Then, as the first smiles appeared, shouts of joy echoed in the night.
Thanks for reading.
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