◆ In front of Mist Village ◆
「 Alright, the search is over. 」
「 Thanks for your help, Kiki… 46 dead or missing… 」
【 Kiki Lv: 74 Class: Sniper A Rank 9 Place 】
The one who rode a bird with large wings and searched from the sky above the forest was an A Rank girl named Kiki. She wore large glasses, her emerald hair was tied in two sections, and her blue eyes shone with dignity.
I was surprised that there were so many dead people, rather than wondering how they managed to search for them from the sky in that fog. I searched with them from the ground, but there were not many people alive. It was rare to find anyone who had been misled by the fog, and most of them were near death. The most common were those who had their party half destroyed by the fog trackers.
「 Anyone who can’t even handle a floor monster like that doesn’t belong in A Rank, right? 」
Some people were saved by the search, and yet this is what they said. I wanted to punch him in the face, but I didn’t want to get disqualified for doing so. All the injured people were housed in the carriage, but I wonder if the people whose bodies were never going to be able to fight again, regretted it. It’s an exam, and they make you do it even to the point of risking your life, and as expected, I want to complain to them.
「 I don’t mean to sound harsh, but this is not the kind of mission A Rank is given. This is what I mean when I say we’re going to test you to see if you can withstand it. 」
Mugen replied with a glint in his head. I could see the logic, but I wondered if there was a better way. Thinking about this, we boarded the giant carriage again.
108 people passed, 46 people died (including the missing), 31 people withdrew, 127 people failed.
Avangard Grasslands Again
「 Congratulations on passing the second exam. Let me explain the next exam to you. Oh, I’m Laurel, the third examiner. 」
Laurel, as I recall, is also one of the Five Top Rankers. She had a neutral face, and I was convinced that she was a woman. Her body is even thinner than Yuyu’s, but the sound of her lyre, as I’ve heard before, makes people feel calm. I’m not really interested in music, but I like her music.
「 It’s getting dark. Now, before it gets dark, let’s start the third test. The test is for you to show us your Skill Play. Yes… defeat the enemy, save your allies, assist. I’m sure you’ve used a variety of skills in your battles to survive until today. I want you to turn them against me.
The condition for passing this test is not to defeat me. I want to see how powerful and beautiful your Skill Play is. That’s what I want to see. I’ll give you a score, and the top twenty from the highest to the lowest will pass. 」
「 Oh, the top twenty? That means the rest will automatically fail! 」
「 That’s right, Bobs-san. Is there a problem? 」
「 No… nothing. 」
I wonder if I’m going to be rejected if I complain to this person… Yuyu looks like a quiet person, but she’s not, and Laurel looks like a tricky person. Also, it seems that this test is much calmer than the previous tests. I should just unleash my skills on that person. Oh, but I only have two skills, Sonic Ripper and Sonic Spear. I wonder if I’ll be okay.
「 You’re free to form a party or go at it alone. You only get one chance. Now who’s going to be the first? 」
She was kind of casual compared to when we first met. I think she was talking to me respectfully, like Yuyu, but I don’t remember her being like this.
「 Hey, Josh. Do you want to team up with me? 」
「 Yeah, that’s better. I’m not sure if I can do it on my own. 」
「 Oh, that’s right, Laurel-san, we’ll both do it! 」
「 Ah, okay. Okay, let’s get started. 」
Bobs snapped his fingers and Josh held the knife in both hands. As far as I could tell, Laurel wasn’t that good at close combat. But even so, a B Rank adventurer should not be able to stand up to her. And I think that’s not what she’s really about. If they don’t realize that, it’s probably going to be tough for them to pass this test.
「 Anytime, come in. 」
「 Yes! Here we go! Let’s go! 」
「「 Discord’s Debilitating Performance. 」」
【 Laurel played an eerie tone! 】
【 Bobs’s attack power has been greatly reduced! 】
【 Josh’s attack power has been greatly reduced! 】
Bobs’ explosive punch was able to damage the mist tracker, but it never managed to reach Laurel. After releasing it, Bobs’ legs and feet suddenly began to collapse, and he lost his balance and fell down.
It was hard to believe that this was the tone Laurel was playing Each sound was so inconsistent that it made me uneasy to listen to it, and it affected not only us but also the examiners who were watching the game. There were even people who couldn’t stand it and had to cover their ears.
「 Ryua-chan, this tone is really weird… 」
「 Yeah, but I guess this is the skill of that Laurel. 」
「 Oh, the power in my legs… La, Laurel-san, you’re talking about the wrong thing… This is not the skill… 」
「 I didn’t say I wouldn’t fight back, didn’t I 」
Josh barely stood up and approached Laurel with quick steps. Perhaps he was faster than she thought, and only for a moment, Laurel backed off a little.
【 Josh tried to steal Laurel’s weapon! But he failed! 】
Just as Josh’s hand was about to touch the lyre, Laurel hit him back by one fist. Then, as if he had lost his strength, Josh collapsed again, helpless. He clutched the grass and tried to get up, but he couldn’t seem to move anymore.
「 Oops, this is why shift is so tricky. But I don’t think you’ll be able to pass this one… Discord’s Madness. 」
【 Laurel made a noisy sound! 】
【 Bobs was confused 】
【 Josh was confused! 】
Staggering to his feet, Bobs punched Josh in the face. Josh fought back with a knife, and if this continued, one of them would be badly hurt. I don’t think they can take the test anymore. Even I can see the result if they pass or fail.
【 Yuyu casts All Recover! The confusion between Josh and Bobs has been lifted! 】
「 With Laurel, this is to be expected… 」
「 Thank you, Yuyu. Bobs, Josh, did you realize what’s going on? 」
「 Oh, what the hell am I… 」
「 Let’s see. Bobs, Josh pair, 10 points. I’ll give you credit for the energy and ingenuity to try to take the lyre, even after listening to my debilitating performance of discord. But if there are two of you, you have to work together. I wouldn’t know what the party is for if you didn’t cooperate. 」
「 Uh… 」
The two of them shushed each other, unable to argue. It wasn’t a given that they would fail, but a ten would be like a fail. The two sat down with their shoulders slumped.
I didn’t think that music alone would be able to cut down on their strength to that extent. Baste, who I fought in the preliminary round of the tournament, was a similar type, but this was on a different level. That one lyre could change the game. He’s pale and thin, but I don’t think he’d be able to inflict a single wound on anyone with even a modest amount of skill, even if this were a match.
I’m okay with it, but I wonder about Roel. I looked next to her, and she was desperately trying to cover her ears. I see, but I wonder if such a method would work.
「 Ryua-chan, we’re going to do this! 」
「 Then how are we going to attack… 」
「 Oh, uh… 」
Roel’s depression was intense when I pointed out the fundamental flaw. I wondered if he was really confident about it. Even though I’m not very good at thinking, I noticed it, so there’s no way Roel wouldn’t have noticed it. Sometimes this girl is a little off. I thought for a moment that I could use a leg kick, but I quickly canceled it.
「 The nickname I got from the fact that I can control the battlefield with just one tone that I play is battlefield poet…. If you want to attack that thing, it might be easier to go into Ulfang’s nest alone. 」
Balm, who was standing next to me, muttered this with a sigh.
◆ Avangard Grassland Night ◆
「 Let’s judge. Niessen, Buie, and Expy. 25 points. It’s a good offensive and defensive party, but it’s too templated to be interesting or easy to read. I was able to get some good coordination, though. 」
One after another, I felt as if the test takers’ hearts were breaking. The expressions on the faces of those with 25 points now were completely exhausted. More than half of the test takers had tried since then, but most of them had failed to satisfy Laurel. Even if they don’t get a high score, they still have a chance of passing, but almost all the people who were given low scores are silent. The girl adventurer from earlier is still crying because she couldn’t do anything and was told something very harsh.
I thought she seemed like a kind person, but she was quite harsh. On the contrary, that cynical smile was terribly irritating. I feel like she’s even enjoying looking down on the other person from the bottom of her heart. I was going to challenge him, but Roel suggested that we watch the others fight first and see how Laurel fared. She’s surprisingly calm, or maybe she’s just a smarty.
「 I can’t watch this, you small fry. They have no money, no position, no honor, no power. They’re full of people who don’t have guts or brains. I pity the people who don’t have any of these things, don’t they feel empty living? Laurel, we’re next. 」
「 …Then come at me. 」
Laurel’s brow creased, clearly angry that B Rank had called her out. The other party was the one who had messed with Roel. A woman with an all back, brown hair, and a naked look. I glanced at Roel, but he didn’t seem to be intimidated by them anymore. Now he’s looking firmly at them.
「 Well, I guess I’ll just have to pass it quickly, and then we can burn tonight. 」
「 Yah hey… 」
「 Okay, Bricna and Tataka. Let’s get on with it. 」
「 Okay, Formas. 」
The brown-haired one is probably Bricna, and the all-back guy, Formas, pats her lightly on the back. I quickly dismissed the unimportant question of whether he was going to shoot fire magic to burn up the night. Tataka dances like a butterfly as the battle begins. The sound of the lyre, rather than robbing them of their power, was giving them both strength. Whenever the sound of confusion was played, they danced differently to counter it, and it was so beautiful that it almost made a picture by itself. The candidates who were watching the game were also gazing at her without saying a word.
This time, to prevent her from escaping, Bricna trapped Laurel with a barrier of flame. The circular barrier was ablaze, glowing red in the darkness of the night, and Laurel was not going to remain silent, so she played a tone that I had never heard before, and this time the flames contracted as if they were being sucked into the ground.
Laurel smiled and was proud of her victory, but Formas grabbed his sword in both hands and started running. He would never be able to catch him at that speed at that distance, or so he thought. He was on the right track until halfway through, but here it was ruined.
「 It’s too slow, this is only good for 40 points at best… 」
「 You’re going to have to catch this guy! 」
In the middle of his run, Formas threw his sword away. He then took out a palm-sized iron tube from his pocket. What was released was a small piece of iron. It struck Laurel’s chest at high speed.
「 Gaaaah! 」
「 Hey! The blow is over! What do you think, Laurel-san, are you surprised?「」
「 Oh, that’s Metallica’s… 」
「 Yes, it’s a gun. I asked my dad to get it for me. My father is the president of the Mataire Trading Company. 」
「 Mataire Trading Company, one of the world’s leading arms traders and distributors… 」
「 I’m not interested in swords, I’m interested in this. 」
【 Formas Lv: 25 Class: Gunner B Rank 】
Is this company so great that it causes an uproar? I don’t know anything about that, so I can’t really say. I’m not sure what to make of this.
「 It’s my fault for being completely off guard, I’ll admit. Formas, Bricna, and Tataka; eighty points. You did a great job of faking the sword and catching your opponent off guard. But the same move will never work. 」
Laurel played, and the wound began to close up. The lump of iron seemed to have gone through, and Laurel picked it up from where it had been lying in the grass.
「 A weapon that shoots iron bullets at high speed… If something like this were to become a full-fledged weapon, archers would be out of business. 」
「 That’s ridiculous! It’s true that the power is tremendous, but the killing power and attack range of the bow is better! 」
Kiki recoiled, waving her hands in the air as if she thought her class status was threatened. It was certainly much faster than the speed of an arrow, and it seemed small and easy to carry. If it was an ordinary opponent, they wouldn’t even know the moment it was fired. I see, so we’ll use that.
「 Roel, here’s the plan… 」
「 Let’s go for one one more. I’m sure we’ve already completed more than half of it. It’s getting late, so let’s split up and get ready for the final exam tomorrow. 」
「 We’ll do it! 」
「 Mu, you were very active in the attack on the Demon King’s army, I believe… yes, I see. 」
Even though she had just been shot, Laurel stood in front of us as if nothing had happened. She had her lyre at the ready and was ready to play as soon as we started. We decided to go for it, just like we had planned.
「 Come on, let’s do this! 」
【 Laurel played an eerie tone! 】
【 Roel casts Speed Force, Ryua’s speed has increased! 】
There would be no time for idle fiddling with the lyre. When my fingers slowly began to move, I had already begun to act.
【 Ryua unleashed Sonic Spear! 】
【 Ryua unleashes Sonic Spear! 】
【 Ryua unleashed Sonic Spear! 】
【 Ryua unleashed Sonic Spear! 】
The four Sonic Spears that I fired hit both my hands and both my ankles. The extremely thin Sonic Spear penetrated each part of the body and disappeared. 4 points were shot at the same time, and blood spurted out at different times. To a normal person, it would have looked as if the blood had suddenly spurted out of Laurel’s limbs. The evidence of this was that the gallery was watching with bated breath, not even noticing that it was over.
This was only possible because Roel’s Speed Force made it possible for me to shoot repeatedly. Unlike the sonic ripper, this one couldn’t be fired in rapid succession yet. I was grateful for Roel’s Speed Force, as it had the disadvantage of a large gap due to its emphasis on the power of a single shot.
「 Guh! 」
「 Oh, I shouldn’t have done that. I might have overdone it… 」
Losing the support of both legs, Laurel slammed her knees into the ground hard and fell face down. The amount of blood loss was so great that Roel immediately rushed to her heels.
「 Um, are you okay? My Ryua-chan seems to have overdone it… 」
「 What do you mean ‘my’, I’m not a dog 」
「 Ugh…? Uh…? my, my scar… it’s gone. Did you heal it? 」
She seemed quite confused. She sits up and checks her limbs over and over.
「 Laurel-san, what are our scores? 」
「 Score? Oh, oh, right. Oh, right… To be honest, I had no idea what they did to me. The only thing I know is that you attacked me at an unseen speed due to your enhanced speed. That’s all I know. 」
Even if there is no other quick strengthening magic, this person can attack at a speed that can not be seen. It can’t be helped, so I’ll just shut up and listen to you. I’ll just shut up and listen to her results too.
「 You have strength, which is needed more than beauty or anything else…100 points for you. 」
「 Yay, Roel, that’s perfect! 」
「 Yes! We’re perfect together! 」
I was so happy that I wanted to go around holding hands with her. If I got a perfect score, I would definitely pass the third test. As I was celebrating, I caught Formas out of the corner of my eye, gritting his teeth in frustration. He even bared his gums, and looked in a terrible shape. Bricna and Tataka are trying to calm him down by holding his shoulders or something. I guess he was really annoyed off that Roel, who he had made fun of before, had passed him.
「 Why did you pass? I didn’t see anything… maybe Laurel didn’t make much of a difference? 」
「 He’s not a class that fights in the vanguard, you know. And yet, it’s nonsense to make this kind of test. 」
「 That blood gushing out of him is suspicious… isn’t it fake? 」
Laurel was weak, what happened, that’s all I can hear. I didn’t do it because I wanted these people to praise me, but I still don’t feel good about these things.
「 Let’s get the rest of you to come over. If you want, everyone can join us? 」
Laurel’s comment seemed to be a provocation, as if she was about to give up. But Laurel actually took on the remaining dozens at the same time. Laurel was able to fight without relying on the lyre and dodged all of their weapons and magic with minimal movement. Like Yuyu, she seemed to have shown the dignity of a high-level person and thoroughly broke the test takers’ hearts.
Even a surprise attack like Formas’s would pass. Power is the key to adventurers, and this test itself may be a silent message from Laurel.
20 passed, 88 failed.
◆ Avangard Castle Town Hotel Maison Corridor ◆
In the end, no explanation of the final exam was given. I heard that we should gather at the Adventurer’s Guild tomorrow, but I wonder what we’ll be doing at the end. I wonder if we’ll be sent to a dungeon like Mist Village again.
「 I’m so tired, I think I’m going to fall asleep as soon as I get back to our room. But I’ve got to take a shower! 」
「 Oh, that’s too much trouble. I’m just going to sleep. 」
「 No! You’re a girl, you should take care of your appearance and stuff! 」
「 When I was in the Cave of the Abyss, if there wasn’t a water hole, I wouldn’t be able to clean myself for a while. 」
「 You’re filthy! 」
As we were walking along, someone was leaning against the wall in front of the room. It was Formas, dressed roughly in a black shirt and waiting for me.
「 Hey, you’re late. 」
「 I was just eating… I mean, why are you here? 」
「 I’ve got a room at the Royal Suites on the top floor here. An elite man like me is expected to have such taste. I’m not hurting for money. 」
「 I didn’t ask you. How did you know where we were staying? 」
「 There’s very little information you can’t get with a few gold coins in your hand. You’ll have to remember that. 」
For some reason, Formas looks confident, and Roel seems to have gotten over this guy and is standing alongside me.
I wondered if someone had been blinded by his money and revealed our room to him. It’s a terrible story. A couple of gold coins for just that, that’s not normal, that’s not rich.
「 I’ve never been in need of anything in my life. I can get anything I want from my father, even women. I have over thirty women now, and none of them have ever been a burden. I’ll buy you anything you want, and you’ll do whatever I tell you. As long as you obey me, you’ll never have to worry about food. I don’t care about money when it comes to my own things either. This shirt I’m wearing is cheap, 200,000 gold, though. 」
Formas gave us a snake-like look. We ignored him and tried to walk past him.
「 You say Ryua. You, be my woman. 」
I don’t know what he was babbling about, and I was really tired. I also couldn’t understand the words meant. Maybe I should ask Roel what it means later.