Leon ran over to the ex-soldier, but all he found was the smell of rust and a puddle of blood on the floor. Putting his hand over the man's radial artery underneath his thumb, Leon tried to feel for a pulse, but all he was met with was a cold corpse. Although Leon had ended his fight fast, the man still bled out from his missing hand.
Even though Leon wanted to give his thanks, he could only keep it in his mind as he started sprinting towards the set of bushes he came from. Bursting through the bushes once again, Leon sprinted through the trees like an Olympic sprinter, until he re-entered a familiar clearing.
In the distance, he could see all the other villagers, but the scene in front of him only brought him horror.
Three men lied on the ground in giant puddles of red, various body parts were slice, but the one thing that was consistent between the bodies was the fact that their throats had been cut. The scene that Leon was presented with made him momentarily pause in shock. Although Leon had only just met the men, he knew that many of them had a wife and kids, but just like that their fathers and husbands had been snatched away.
With that thought, Leon's hand suddenly clenched so tight that his knuckles turned white, but he regained his composure and continued to run forward. But in his mind, a small drop of rage still persisted.
'Dead… for what?! Greed?'
Three scarred men stood in front of the dead bodies, they were breathing rather heavily and one of them even had a decent cut on one of his forearms.
By now Leon was within a few couple meters, he screamed as he ran towards the surviving villagers.
"You damn BASTARDS!"
Clenching all the muscles on his legs, Leon sprang off the ground until he landed with the remaining villagers. Leon was about to ask whether or not the villagers were okay, but he stopped himself from asking as he looked around.
There were only three men left with weapons, but they looked like they were going through hell as tears streamed down their faces while their eyebrows furrowed in anger from losing friends. Meanwhile, the old village chief held little Boadicea as best he could with one arm while he clutched and supported himself with his wooden cane. His legs were shaking as he thought the end would be coming, but once he saw Leon a smile of joy appeared on his distraught face.
"Leon! You are back! Where's…"
The old village chief was ecstatic that Leon had come back, but his look of joy subsides as he realized the ex-soldier wasn't with him which meant he was most likely dead. Silence blanketed the site, as the villagers realized they had lost another man, while the three scarred men were silent for a different reason.
One of the scarred men pointed towards Leon with his finger slightly trembling.
"Y-You there! Where'd you come from!"
Leon could tell that the man knew the answer already, so he wanted to drive the point home.
"Where'd you think I came from? I came from killing two greedy bandits."
Hearing his fears confirmed, the three scarred men swallowed their saliva as their mouths suddenly went dry like a desert.
"Lies! You must be lying! That's-that's impossible!"
The fear in the man's voice made Leon smile involuntarily, which looked like a demon smiling to the three scarred men.
"Impossible? That man with the goatee wasn't bad for a regular person, but for an adventurer? He was merely an ant trying to attack a mountain."
Hearing his leader described perfectly and the fact that Leon had come back alive, the man naturally knew the outcome of that fight, but Leon's declaration of being an adventurer was even more daunting. The man who had been calling Leon a liar dropped his knife and a wet patch appeared in his crotch area.
The men knew they had no chance at winning if their boss was defeated since they wouldn't be able to defeat him, so they split off in three directions. Leon was unsure of which one to chase, but suddenly the four remaining men started chasing all three targets.
They all threw their weapons at the bandits and two of them were hit and wounded. Seeing their lives at risk, they started sobbing uncontrollably
"Pl-plea-please, spare m-m-me, I'll do go-"
Although the villagers weren't killers, they still killed the two bandits but looked away while they did it.
"May our brethren's grieving families find peace…"
Leon looked at the two bandits' corpses with anger and a bit of irony.
'Hmph, they were acting all confident earlier, but the moment they smelled death. They turn and ran tail, even if they were weaker than me if they thought about rationally and defended themselves from the villagers they might have been able to take a few more down with them…'
The final bandit looked back at his comrades being slain, but couldn't care less as he only cared about his own life.
"I'm safe! I'm alive! Hahah-"
Before he could finish whatever he was saying, a wind slash thrown by Leon dug deep into his back diagonally and he started bleeding. He tried crawling away, but after a few feet, he lost strength in his limbs and slowly stopped moving as he bled out.
All the bandits had died, but none of the villagers were cheering. They all stood in silence as some of them even shed tears as they couldn't bear to look at the dead bodies of their friends or think about what they had to say to the families of the fallen men.
Even after a couple of minutes no one moved an inch and Leon didn't wish to disturb their grieving process, so he also stood still as he reflected on everything that happened. He wondered if he could have done anything to save more lives, whether he made the right decisions or missed something crucial.
However, even after a few minutes of reflecting, Leon could only sigh.
'I'm just too weak…this is why I must become stronger.'