C244: The Challengers

And so, Orkubo’s Castle’s Spring Campaign, an open competition-cum-attraction, began.
The first challenger to step onto the first obstacle, the Frustrating Balance Beam, was…

“Demon King?!”

That huge, awe-inspiring body and dark skin characteristic of the demon race is Demon King Zedan, without a doubt!
He is the ruler of the Demon Kingdom, but now that they’ve overthrown the Human Kingdom, he’s the ruler of the entire earth.

“Shh, Lord Saint! I’m here in secret today.”

Oh, I knew it.
But how did you know about this event?

“My wives told me about it. I’ve been busy with government affairs lately, so I was hoping to do some physical workout for a change.”

I see.
Well, they have indeed eliminated war by destroying the Human Kingdom.

“Ever since I started focusing on domestic affairs, I’ve virtually lost all of my free time! Just taking today off was quite the arduous task in itself!”
“If that’s the case, Demon King, please make full use of the obstacles here at Orkubo’s Castle to get your dose of exercise!”
“Indeed! My wives and children are watching, so I will reach the top and show them a father and husband’s dignity!”

He’s extremely motivated even as a new father.
But I get him because I’m also going to be a dad soon!
Please show them how strong you are by clearing the first obstacle with ease!

“Here I go, Goetia, Marine! Burn your father’s magnificent appearance into your memories!!!”

And then, he attempts the balance beam.
As expected, his sense of balance is outstanding, and he swiftly moves forward.

“Oho! I see; this is indeed difficult. But I can’t call myself a king if something this trifling stops me!!!”

Ah, if you only keep looking down at the beam like that-

Whonk!

“UWAAAAAAAH!!!”

Demon King Zedan; eliminated right after being hit by a ballista’s cushion ball and falling to the bottom of the moat.

“…”

He didn’t make it past the first obstacle.
What a harsh event this is.

However, we’re only getting started.
The number of participants is still in the thousands even after Demon King was eliminated.

“HEY, HEY, HEY! I’M NEEEEEEEEEEEEXT!”

Next, an excessively energetic man attempts the balance beam.
His complexion suggests that he’s a human, but who’s he?!

“Lord Sebontert?!” shouts Dalkish next to me.

“Do you know him?”
“He’s the feudal lord of a neighboring territory.”

What?!

“I’m envious that all the attention is focused on Dalkish’s territory! But we won’t lose in terms of popularityyyy!!!”

He dashes across the balance beam at a constant speed and clears the first obstacle that our ballistae didn’t have time to hit him.

“To the adventurers present here! After the event, be sure to stop by my territory’s famous dungeon, Narutaki Cave!”

He used this opportunity and risked his life just to promote a landmark in his territory?!

“Human feudal lords are so industrious…”

And so, more challengers attempt the balance beam. They fall, fall, cross, fall, fall, fall, and cross.

“Let us go as well.”
“I guess we should.”

Dalkish and I also began to relax our bodies with a warm-up exercise.

You may be wondering why we’ve been able to keep a close eye on the challengers’ movements so far.
There’s a reason, of course—we’re in this game ourselves. Their every move is completely visible to us!

I’d rather be the dancing fool than the watching fool at a festival; that’s why I’m a challenger today!
I’m going to reach the top where Orkubo is waiting!!!

“I’ll make it to the castle tower again to make my presence felt as a feudal lord and show off my territory even more!” says Dalkish.

I’m one of the designers of this game, and Dalkish is an experienced competitor, so we both managed to cross the Frustrating Balance Beam without a hitch.


Out of the first batch of 300 challengers, 170 have passed the first obstacle.
Since we couldn’t accommodate all 3,000 in one go, we divided them into batches.

Now that the first batch has passed the first obstacle, the second batch is next.

“There’s a lot more of them left than last time.”
“Adjusting its difficulty paid off. The numbers should only be half of the previous obstacle this time.”

Only a few people should be able to reach Orkubo.
If a fake challenger like me is one of the few remaining, then even better.

“Hehehe… The more competitors that get crushed, the better.”

Ah!
Who was that?!

Before the second obstacle, a participant standing next to me caught me off guard with his monologue.

“W-Who are you?”
“Oh, did you hear me? You can ignore that. I’m just another participant, an adventurer named Shabe.”

Adventurer?
As in the famed profession?
This is the first time I’m seeing one.

“Adventurers get rich by going into dungeons, finding treasures, and killing rare monsters. They’re most apt at events like this, I believe,” explains Dalkish, the feudal lord.

It’s true that this event, where you go to the castle tower and receive valuable prizes, can make you a fortune in a single stroke.

“I know what this event is hiding…”

No one even asked him, but he continued talking.

“I’ve been looking for the Saint’s Farm for a long time now.”
“P-Pardon?”
“It’s the hottest target among adventurers right now. Everyone’s desperate to find the Saint’s Farm, which is said to have all the treasures you can ever imagine!”

I pretend to not know anything.

“Many adventurers who wanted the same thing as me didn’t participate, saying they don’t have time for a silly event as this and would rather look for the Saint’s Farm. But you know what? They’re the silly ones!”
“W-What makes you say that?”
“Because the clue to the Saint’s Farm is hidden in this event!” says the young adventurer confidently. “I can tell from the prizes in this event! Where would anyone get such a luxurious variety of prizes? Don’t you think it’s most likely that they came from the Saint’s Farm, where all the secrets of this world can be found?!”

Everything he says is his mere speculation…
But he’s pretty much right on target.

“I’m going to reach the top and tell them that I want no prize but to be taken to the Saint’s Farm only! That’s my purpose for participating in this event!”

What an ambitious young man.

But he seems like trouble, so I signal a command to the elves in charge of the second obstacle to focus their attacks on him and eliminate him.

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