I should have mentioned at the beginning that the defense force led by me, Dalkish, a feudal lord of the former Human Kingdom, had two hundred and fifty men.
There were fifty more than I had initially requested which shows the competence of my retainer and the passion of my men to protect their land.
Then, after crossing the first obstacle, that two hundred and fifty…
Dwindled to a mere eighty.
“We’re down to less than one-third!”
“I told you so! Just because there are ten balance beams doesn’t mean all of us should hurriedly cross it!” angrily says the demoness supervisor Varlina, who had also managed to overcome the first obstacle somehow. “Thanks to you, the soldiers with terrible balance fell one after the other! Imagine not knowing what to do when the slow person in front of you got hit by the cushion ball!”
“But don’t you think the goblins are also cheating? They suddenly added more ballistae during the second half!”
Seeing three more of them made me go pale.
Though, the goblins were gone before we even reached the other side…
“We have no choice but to move on with the remaining troops so we can save our fallen men!”
“Yes, but I think it would be better to proceed while thinking more calmly.”
Perhaps it was because of the humiliating chaos at the balance beams, but both of us have grown weary in mind and body.
Crossing the moat made us even more anxious, for we are about to enter the castle in earnest.
We proceeded deeper into the enemy’s territory with extreme caution.
It seems that we can’t go anywhere else than follow the signboard’s directions due to the castle walls and natural terrain around us.
“The castle gates?!”
Typically, castle gates are meant to shut out the enemy in case of an emergency, so they’re supposed to be closed to us, the enemy army. However…
“It opened easily!”
On the other side of the gates is a beautiful, dark-skinned woman.
“Good job making it this far! I am in charge of the second obstacle, Aileron the elf!”
She has the same dark skin as the demons. Are they not from the same race?
Oh, her ears are long and pointy.
“Don’t get self-complacent just because you managed to clear Gobukichi’s obstacle. My obstacle is even harder!”
“We wanted to set up a more jungle-like trap…”
“But it was rejected for its severity. Too bad.”
More elves are popping up…
“Behold, the second obstacle! We call this one the Trap of the Ruins!”
The field widened with the elf’s signal, and the entire area beyond the castle gate became clearly visible.
It’s a slope! A long, steep slope reveals itself beyond the castle gates!
They must have made use of the slanting path used as the castle’s foundation.
But for some reason, I have a terrible feeling about this.
“Let the trial begin!”
When the elf activated something with magic, something appeared from the top of the hill.
A boulder so huge that I, an adult man, even have to look up.
It’s also spherical, so it naturally rolls down the slope…
Rumble, rumble, rumble!
It’s headed in our direction!
I thought we were going to get hit, but the slope must have been adjusted in a way that the boulder could change its course…
In addition, it’s not just a single spherical boulder, but more of them keep rolling down in succession!
“These boulders are made to rotate by magic, so they will keep rolling forever.”
“If you can avoid them and reach the goal at the top of the hill, you’ll clear the second obstacle! We wish you the best of luck!”
And then the elves teleported somewhere else.
Aren’t they excessively using teleportation magic?!
“I see now… I understand its structure!”
“Both sides of the slope are flanked by walls and cliffs, making it impossible to escape. The boulders also keep us from going off course midway,” says Varlina.
However, such analysis is unnecessary for me.
I understood the groove of this castle from the first obstacle!
No longer will my army suffer an embarrassing defeat. We will clear it without a single person eliminated this time!
“Go forth, my men! Climb the hill with your eyes glued only on the mass of white clouds in the blue sky!”
My loyal and brave soldiers respond immediately.
“No! If you let your momentum get the better of you and rush mindlessly like last time, you’ll-”
Varlina tries to stop us, but twenty or so soldiers have already rushed toward the slop with rolling boulders by that time.
All of them were utterly beaten.
“You fool! If a group of people rushed into this long and narrow slope, they would just get in each other’s way and be ultimately crushed by the incoming boulder!!!”
Twenty of my loyal and brave soldiers disappeared at once!
“Any life-form that comes into contact with the boulder will activate the teleportation spell, so they won’t be injured.”
“They’re being kept in a separate room, just like the eliminated soldiers at the first obstacle,” explains the elves.
“Why did you repeat your mistake at the first obstacle? Are you a fool? Are you a fool?! Is being foolish a trait of you humans?!”
This demon wench is just saying whatever she wants!
But I can’t argue with her because what she said was right…
“Ugh, run up the hill one by one, men! Watch the person in front of you and carefully predict the boulders’ trajectory!”
They climb the hill one by one.
Nevertheless, the boulders rolled down relentlessly, crushing any unfortunate soldiers who made a mistake.
“Lady Varlina, stay behind me!”
“Don’t worry about me. A mountain road like this is nothing to the legs and feet trained by the Demon King’s Army!”
Varlina and I head up the hill, dead last in line.
Fortunately, fifty soldiers were able to traverse the slope after our change in tactics safely.
All that’s left is her and me…
When I turned around, I saw that Varlina had tripped and tumbled down!
“Are you okay? Hold on to my shoulders!”
“Why are you coming to save me? You’re going to get eliminated too!”
In fact, the boulder is already right before us.
If we don’t dodge it, we’re bound to get hit.
But Varlina has tripped and can’t move instantaneously.
The only thing I can do now is to carry Varlina’s body and…
“THEY’RE FLYING?!” shouts the soldiers at the top of the hill.
After magnificently dodging the boulder, I ran up the rest of the slope, Varlina still in my arms.
“This ends the second obstacle. Fifty-two people have passed.”
The elves disappeared, sounding somewhat disappointed.
“That was amazing, sire!”
“It’s incredible how you could jump like that with a person in your arms!”
“You’re so strong, sire!!!”
Being praised by my men isn’t all that bad, but…
I have to put down Varlina.
“Sorry, I had to do it out of necessity.”
“No, there are also plenty of times when skin touches skin on the spur of the moment on the battlefield…”
Is it my imagination, or do her cheeks look flushed?
Demons have darker skin, so it’s hard to tell.
I wish she would show this honest side of hers more. It’s cute.
What am I thinking toward a demoness?!
We regained our composure and continued onwards.
There’s a mermaid at the third obstacle.
“Welcome to the third obstacle. I am Zoth Syra, the Witch of the Abyss.”
She’s swimming in the air.
“You must be surprised. This is a new concoction that changes the properties of air to water. It’s my own invention. This will allow me to move freely on land without taking the humanizing potion,” she says as she smoothly glides the air with her tailfin. “I’m passively participating in this game hosted by Orkubo. These bad boys will be your playmate in this obstacle.”
The mermaid spills some kind of colored liquid out of the glass tube she took out onto the ground. It foams and gets bigger until it finally becomes a horrible and indescribable creature!
“Lady Varlina! What is that? Is that a monster too?!”
“Eeeeek! I don’t know much about mermaid magic!!!”
We, the invaders, shudder at the inexplicable appearance of the creature.
“This is a Deep One that I have tweaked for this game. It has neither thorns nor fangs, so you can rest assured that you will not be injured. Your goal is to reach the exit while running away from them.”
Behind the mermaid is a boundary line that looks like a goal.
I guess we’ll just have to get there.
“Hahahahaha! It’s ridiculous to think that you can challenge the army directly under Lord Dalkish with brute strength!” snaps one of my men.
He must be fed up after the last two obstacles.
“I’ve had enough of these petty obstacles! I’m going to thoroughly squish this creepy little pest!”
As the soldier swung his sword, the creepy thing easily split into two or three pieces.
We can easily defeat it!
I think it’s going to be relatively easy to get through this obstacle.
“Oh, I forgot to mention…” listlessly says the mermaid. “That Deep One may have no thorns or fangs, but I added some interesting features in turn.”
The monster that had been torn apart by the soldier’s sword immediately regenerated and returned to normal… well, not entirely back to normal.
The torn parts each regenerated and became whole again.
“The more you slash and hit them, the more they multiply. If you attack too recklessly, you’ll be stuck in a field full of Deep Ones.”
You should have said that sooner.
The soldier who attacked it has been surrounded by Deep Ones and cannot move!
“Ahhh! Don’t crowd me! Don’t push! Huh? Where are you taking me?!”
The soldier is helplessly pushed by the monsters to the corner of the field with a hole that could easily fit a person.
Not long after, he was pushed down into the hole by the multiple monsters.
“Of course, if you fall into the hole, you’re eliminated. Keep me and Orkubo entertained with your futile resistance.”