Our battle continues.
In the end, we lost ten people at the third obstacle.
The bizarre monsters created by the mermaid have a characteristic of splitting and increasing in number the more they’re hit, making it impossible to deal with them in a proper fight.
It’s not like the only way to escape from them was to dodge, either, because they also have a characteristic of reacting to any sound. If you try to walk noisily, they would instantly catch you and push you into the hole.
It cost us ten of our men before we realized this.
And here’s the digest of the rest.
The fourth obstacle, named “Let’s Brainstorm! Belena’s Human 3D Puzzle,” was guarded by a demoness like Varlina.
It was so complicated that thirty more of our men were eliminated at once.
If it weren’t for Varlina’s wit, all of us would’ve been wiped out.
When Varlina saw the obstacle master on our way out, she said, “Is it just me, or do you look an awful lot like someone I know?”
“It’s just you.”
We were in a hurry, so we paid no more attention to her.
The fifth obstacle, “Natto Eating Contest,” was guarded by a strange, winged lady.
We thought it was just a punishment game when we were served gooey, rotten beans and told to eat them. Surprisingly enough, they were delicious, especially when I poured a special blackish-brown liquid over them. Mayonnaise was also a popular condiment among the other soldiers and Varlina.
However, two people said they couldn’t do it and backed down.
Disliking a particular food without having tried it isn’t good.
“Isn’t that noble-looking woman with the winged lady… Princess Letasreit?”
“It’s probably just your imagination.”
And we just went on.
I really thought I was going to die at the sixth obstacle.
A dragon was waiting for us.
“Gah-hah-hah-ha! Well done making it this far, lowlifes! I’m your next test! See if you can defeat me!”
As we are about to pass out while standing, another lady appears and scolds the dragon.
“Didn’t we reject your suggestion because you’ll be raising the bars way too high?! Be a good girl and go home!”
‘What? It’s no fun being left out while everyone else gets to have fun!”
“Just go home!”
The dragon disappeared on its own, making us clear the obstacle.
However, three people had bubbles foaming in their mouths and fainted.
The seventh obstacle had two doors, and we had to jump into one of them.
If we went into the wrong door, we’d get covered in mud.
There was no hint as to which door was the right one.
“Now, it’s all up to luck after all that we’ve been through so far?!”
There were ultimately only two of us left, me and Varlina.
“We finally made it to the castle tower!”
In other words, the final obstacle.
The strongest orc is behind the door in front of us.
If we enter it, we will have to fight him.
But the orc that we faced at the bottom of the hill… His aura had greatness in it that made me believe that even if we had all the original 250 soldiers with us, we still wouldn’t be able to beat him.
Will the two of us be enough of a match for that very same opponent, let alone defeat him?
I felt my hand being grasped. It turns out Varlina was holding it.
“I’m sure you’ll be able to win and protect this territory. You are the feudal lord of this land, after all!”
“It seems I’ve been looking at you with prejudice, thinking that we can’t understand each other because we’re from different races. That’s why I decided to put my personal feelings aside and be a supervisor.”
“I’m the same.”
Not to mention, we humans are the losers, so I’m even more obstinate than she is.
“But the hardships we’ve faced so far together have cleared any tension in the air. There is no difference in our races when we stand together as one and try to protect our land.”
“You are also one of us.”
I squeeze her hand back.
“From here on, we are one, in times of trouble and in times of peace!”
“Together till death do us part.”
Confirming our strong bond, we both open the door to challenge the mighty orc that awaits us…
“Congratulations on reaching the castle tower!”
The sudden and loud banging surprised me.
I thought my heart was going to stop.
“My Lord, aren’t these crackers too loud?”
“Hmm, I may have used too much gunpowder since I made them hastily out of necessity…”
In addition to the orcs, there are also the goblins, elves, mermaids, a demoness, a winged woman, and a lady who looks a lot like Princess Letasreit.
So it won’t be just the orcs, but all of them beating us up?!
These brutes are practically not giving us any chances to win!!!
“You made it to the keep and managed to conquer Orkubo’s Castle! Congratulations!”
“Both of you get a prize for making it this far! Ladies first!”
Varlina was startled upon being called.
“You get a dress made of adamantine silk sewn by Batemy! It’s an orthodox design that you can even wear for a hundred years!”
“Adamantine silk is now forbidden in the Demon Capital, so it’s quite rare. It’s temporarily sewn; please try it on later so I can measure your sizes.”
Looking closely, I realized there were several other new faces.
“There’s even someone who looks a lot like Batemy!”
“Hello, former comrade. Didn’t know scavenging for men in an occupied territory is how people get married now. Time flies fast!”
Varlina’s confusion was also passed on to me next.
“Here’s for our male champion! You get my handmade mana metal shield!”
“The war is over, so I thought a shield would be better than a weapon. You can equip it and fight with it! Or maybe even display it in your living room!”
Huh? What’s going on here?!
This is it? We’ve conquered the castle and got a prize just by reaching this place?!
What is up with this flow of events? What did they make us do?!
“Well? What are your thoughts on our castle?” asks the man who seems to be in charge of this place.
Decent looks and skin tone; is he perhaps a human?
“Did you enjoy yourselves? That’s what this castle is built for, you see!”
After hearing the man’s explanation, I was convinced that this castle was not built to attack or settle down in this place but purely for fun.
The aim behind its construction was that—if those who built it can enjoy it, then those who visit it should also be able to enjoy it.
Thinking about it now, the obstacles we encountered up to this point were challenging, but that was what made it so thrilling, to the point that it made me want to rechallenge it.
After experiencing them firsthand, I can easily accept their claim that they were built for fun.
I can’t believe they thought that far ahead to provoke us and invite us in.
…However, there is one thing that needs to be said.
“Don’t build attractions in human territory without permission.”
“Sorry,” says the man and the orc as they both get down on their knees to apologize.