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Day 311Edit

==== Translations - CLEANED & EDITED. Early part is my own TL [EDIT AS YOU LIKE WHEN NEDDED~ INA.XP32] ====



Day 311

Today's weather is sunny and clear, what an ideal day for a start "Hell Week Festival", isn't it?

While thinking that, I climbed the platform which I instantly built by raising the ground. I looked around the [External Training Grounds] that was already expanded more than before and now so well maintained.

Those who will fight in the [Holy War] are there. As the leading role of this "Hell Week Festival" along with my woman, I have arranged the troops equally and in an orderly manner to be easily seen and before me is the whole tribe with from shortest to tallest, small bodies such as Goblins and Kobolds in front, to tallest in back, those proud of a big body such as Minotaurs and Trolls.

Some parts of the more mature members are are absent from these columns this time because of their jobs backstage, with a few exceptions. Even by just this members that are standing in the columns surpasses over 3,000 members.

If I classify the members whose standing in line ―

  • "Ogre" species - 100
  • "Lord" species - 30
  • Various others...
  • And so on with such a group.
    • (= ~ 4150 + 3-5 thousand or more skeleton warriors. He is bad at estimating needs the "Bureaucratic Census" skill)

The rest of them are a mix of a variation of tribes.

This classification and number are only a rough guess since it can't be helped.

For example, the goblin races have the goblin mage, goblin rider, and including goblin cleric that are summarized in the same category. It is the same If it's Lords, then Earth Lords and Wind Lords are gathered under the same classification.

Because the tribes numbers will fluctuate more as the numbers increase I am going to have a harder time classifying them finely.


However it will be fine, even I will omit it this time because it is only troublesome and quite the hassle if I make it too detailed.

For the time being, I'm going to have it like this roughly for now, and if I think to that extent it won't be a problem.

According to members, it can be said that in a sense it is a proper conclusion if the number of the members are increased to wrong number of digits lower in comparison with the past, but this can be said to be a natural consequence from the Members actions.

In the first place, there are kinds of tribes, which are small and weak, that have acquired racial abilities to survive in the severe world of nature like having an extremely short a period from the pregnancy to delivery, this applies to goblins and hobgoblins and includes Kobolds.

(ED note:If you remember, goblin took 30-40 days of pregnancy until the it ready to born --- Caudyr Note - Actually, Goblins only take ~20 days. A little longer if it's between two goblins. HOBgoblins take ~40 days, iirc. Ogres may as well...don't think it's much different from Hobgoblins for them.

It takes less time for Lords and above (Higher XP capabilities), with a Human mother to grow about only 1 day however she was bedded 20-30 days before pregnancy shows, but an unknown external variable allows growth at nearly simultaneously (very risky) in 1 day (the sisters), so technically any of the female Elves or Dryad-san could suddenly become pregnant from Rou months or years later after depending on their biology and the unknown external variable.)

In addition, women with the title [Demon Child's Holy Mother] that grants enhancements to female members has increased, and because there is no shortage of food, the childhood mortality rate has lowered which helped contribute to this increase of numbers.

After [Existence Evolution] occurs, since the ability of its former species is inherited from their parent(s) with high probability, there are more of this type, then the natural [Rank up] ability, this inheritance greatly increased the number of ogres, coupled with racial evolution further increasing ogres to a higher probability. With this ogres have became the top seeded race and its also when evolution's will start to slow down.

(ED:I guess the line above means that ranking up a 2nd time will make growing slower. (Fastest) Goblin>(fast growth) hobgoblin>(slower growth) Ogre/halflord/half vamp,etc. Remember it took Rou 14 days since birth from goblin to hobgoblin and 30 days later to Ogre and 81 something days for apostle lord? and 134 days till living god rank. You get the drift, but then he is special and Ogres were said to be Common route of [Rank ups].)

It is natural that the number of members also increased because members who achieved advancement as well and called in their tribes acquaintances from their hometowns, and had their whole families altogether join or resulting from scouting the individuals with the highest quality's in each place. Therefore, total number of our members are increasing.


Not only are the merely about 3,000 people before my eyes soldiers but also the noncombatants who participate as a stagehands, behind the scenes, of the "Hell Week Festival" and people who are currently working at a store of each place. There are also a lot of people who cannot participate because their body is not yet ready like the young and immature or those whose bodies aren't meant to fight.

As for others there are a large number of members teamed up with their≪Familiars≫ of many varieties.

The members clad in equipment are different for each individual, but the quality of equipment expresses the true strength and status of members who are wearing it on their body.


For example, there are Goblins and Hobgoblins, which are more numerous, that had just recently evolved or were recently born and are still at low-level base equipment. Or, in the case of Kobolds, most of them have been provisioned with a defined style of complete sets of equipment.

The power assist function was included in the armor packaging of the black skeletons that belong to the military units and have variety of complicated shapes. Having Parabellum emblems embedded on the armor, I equipped black skeletons with weapons made of black bones, such as the 【Bone Nail Gun】, which shoots out bone nails, and the 【Bone Snake Sword】, which is connected with magical steel wires.

Even if I compare just this with the armed forces of a kingdom or empire for the time being, I got the equipment finished to be a considerably higher quality for those equipped as general soldiers who are mostly underlings.

The armaments are already sufficient enough to speak of, though there are grounds for exceptions, there's case that those who were not able to do [existence evolution] from members of our generation such as the Goblin Elite. Other than the regular equipment, they are equipped with many items that have been made by us. The weapons I got from going into the dungeons, prepared by myself, blacksmith-san and dwarves, or also from the leprechauns who are painstakingly using the magic metal and special fiber.


The quality of equipment should be able to fit along with how influential users are or their worthiness so they will be used to it and not change their overall balances with it. In some cases a goblin is stronger than an ogre, and it is the reason that there are many of them who posses high-status equipment, that is what it means to be a Elite.


Anyway, although their balance with equipment is slightly bad because of the physical size that varies greatly according to certain tribes and species. Still it was splendidly worth seeing very much, and was quite the spectacle having the the state of the complete armed members in columns.


Even under normal circumstances, there might have shown many ill-natured faces and many that do not like the feel of the equipment, being the equipment also feels a little bit too futuristic, and the sight is just like a depiction of the demon king's army out of a story.


When I look around at the columns, from on the platform, to the wide area while thinking about things, it could be seen if whether a person has the look that was filled with motivation, a person who looked pale due to being totally frightened by fear, or who can keep smiling a somewhat broken smile which varies depending on the person themselves.

When I laughed and they grin to respond to it, I somewhat had a feeling that their tension has gone down with only a reflected nervous smile, though a cursory glance would tell you that it was forced, but it could just be my imagination. ~~[TL;ED Note: It's the situations where you got forced to smile to make sure your superior doesn't notice if you actually doesn't like it at all. za~tsu(ザッ) here is kinda "sigh" sound from the army after relieved Rou didn't notice it. Here, at certain point Rou is dense (just like how he failed to notice the wife's want "night actions" from him)]


The Goblin and Kobold near the front row quiver with excitement in anticipation of an adventure with some of their faces growing a deathly pale, and some were in such a state that they were fainting from too much excitement and being supported only by their armor. (Lesson 1: don't forget to breath when excited)


I than declared the holding of the "Hell Week Festival", and with a courageous shout to get started, they filled the vast forest with shouts of joy, delightful screams, roars and tears.


It started, and at first I distributed the members into 10 groups sorting them from the first to the tenth accordingly by their capabilities.

With about 300 members in each group and a limited field there would be too many events to hold on same day, which means the groups have to respectively participate on different days for each part of the "Hell Week Festival" events.


In order to make sure that the management of the "Hell Week Festival" goes smoothly, it's been decided that each supervisor will be in charge of running only one event.

These supervisors will be organized as follows:

Inspectors are me and Kanami-chan.

Supervisors are:

Minokichi-kun and Asue-chan who both of them had returned before dawn.

Burasato-san and Supesei-san who had both already returned with the Grimoires and magic swords that they had collected.

Kugime-chan and Aifu-chan who had both returned from a little bit of sightseeing.

Avenger who had returned with us, and Rusty Iron Knight who has been training our members at the base for awhile now.


By the way, Seiji-kun is the only member of the [[[8 Demon Generals]]] that isn't going to be a supervisor. Since he's the commander of the Medical Corps, ≪Prière≫, he's going to be working behind the scenes and will be on standby unless there's an emergency.


The main purpose of this "Hell Week Festival" is to completely boost the average strength of the members.

In order to raise survival probability for the [Holy War] even a little, those that have reached more than a certain degree of strength are able to support the others through this extreme training regiment building teamwork and are the reasons to train well for a short term intensively.


If hey are trained in around ten days as planned they should become battle hardened and harder to kill, but I do wonder how many people will remain standing until the last day.


I move onward to the "Hell Week Festival" solemnly while praying for half or more of them make it.


By the way, I will be in charge on the first day, the event set to the highest standards which is challenged by the first group. It is the first sunrise of the "long distance obstacle competition" in the large forest.


The distance will be 52 kilometers.


About 10 kilometers longer than the standard marathon, and its location is in the forest's rich natural environment with many challenges and rest areas.

With the exhausting trail roads, the physical strength necessary is already far more than standard while they are also equipped with armor increasing their overall weight.

Besides, when I said "obstacle", I meant I prepared the course for a lot of attackers for them to run into that lie hidden around the course.

The spiritual energy leaking from the hot springs is causing the large forest to continuously expand and grow, and also causing the strong monsters which haven't settled down to be attracted toward the hot springs and powerful apparitions (spirits) that appear. Also, The topography becomes the haunted place that fluctuates similar to echoing sounds and its surrounding places.


It will be extremely difficult just to finish the race.


Since it's a competition, there is a punishment game for losing.


I arranged it so that there's not much differences in the ability between the two force before it has begun. Everybody from the start will run so desperately that no amount of luck or strategy could overturn them. (Blitzkrieg aka Zerg Rush)


My job was easy, I was at the tail end of the group giving those that lagged behind encouragement beatings.


■――△――■

【A certain Tigerman's perspective】


Suddenly, the events from the past flow through my mind.

It was seven years ago, I was Ordered by the clans of the village to study from foreign exchange and warrior training, there were 4 of my comrades that left the village along with me.

I struggled for a while being as a beastman, but it was good fun and I thought I would be successful. As adventurers we encounter various requests of a wide variety.

However one of the requests turned out to be a trap, and as a result we are put into slavery, forced to work for another empire's military.

Our lives were valued less than common iron scrap metal.

Poor housing, little food, days around the severe battlefield.

I can't bear the rough treatment and abuse of the Imperial Army which didn't mind so much as a hair to the sacrifice of our lives, and one friend who when out together with fell down, and then two fell down dead, we were in a state where death comes without even know it.

But I'm still alive, what kind of karma is this.

My life should of ended on that battlefield, but I was saved by the help of the Noble Ogre who I owe a debt of gratitude now.

I intended to continue making effort to repay the favor he gave me.

As a result, I came to being accepted here and thought it possible to call it clan or family.

Even more so, from now on, I will continue to repay this debt.

However, that determination for that answer is a little bit shaken.

「"INCOMING FROM THE RIGHT! Since the vanguard is large, use your shields to sweep it away while the rear guard fights."」

The trees are lush and the forest is dense.

It reminds me of my hometown village where I used to lived. I and my companions would have been covered in mud while desperately advancing forward.

『Katakatakatakata』

(sound effects Bones rattling)


The sounds coming in tandem from the right-hand side of us which are the advancing of a column of the black skeleton army.

Their numbers, about one hundred. The army of black skeleton which stands cross file order in between the trees without any turbulence, shielded by a simple barricade of stacked logs and bones with 【Bone Nail Gun】 poised in perfect order, squeezing the trigger in unison.

Immediately after, the bone nails were shot from the muzzles approaching at high penetrating speeds.

They weren't aimed at vital parts for safety reasons, though this could not be ignored.

「GAAAAAAAAAA!」

Our vanguard roared as we step forward when got a chance with the companions as our shields, these hooked claws equipped on the hands were knuckle gloves which were forged with the magic alloy which the dwarf blacksmith developed at the end of his research, [Tiger Claws of Magic] enchantment included.

The magic item [Tiger Claws of Magic] exerts its effect by loading it with magic, and will produce three huge magic claws the size of a sword.

I moved both arms relying only on physical ability with no wasteful movements of power using the inherited Arts of my tribe, that only males could use, the "Beast Arts". The third "Dance of the Clawed-Hashbrowns" to beat down and knock the bone spikes away.

(the statement above could use help)

With the swing of an arm the ten bone piles close enough were flipped and scattered and discarded, which became debris that accumulated underfoot.

Although not even one second has passed since the onslaught of bone nails began, they still continue from the rear and show no sign of waning.

「――Their numbers were many」

The shooting of the bone nail guns didn't stop.

However, it was natural.

In one second the 【Bone Nail Gun】 could fire two rounds, and with one hundred black skeletons operating rifles this produced two hundred nails per second being discharged.

High rank classes such as the black skeleton commanders which are few in numbers, but are mixed throughout the bone army, are not armed with 【Bone Nail Guns】, but instead with a different weapon, improved in all performance aspects, the 【Bone Nail Assault Rifles】 which discharges a substantially increased number of rounds.

「Mixed with a mighty high bone pile island--the horror!」

As for the bone nail gun we can cope without a problem, but the five piles using the Bone Nail Assault Rifles had several more times the power than what my arms could prevent.

Cooperating clearly slowed me down for a moment, but as a result I am now being targeted.

The deep murderous killing intent that i sense accelerates from danger of the surrounding environment where in I saw it.

To the rear of the bone army was the black skeleton sniper with a strengthened improved long distance shooting specification 【Bone Nail Sniper Rifle】 and the trigger was just squeezed.

「Gaaaa~tsu!!」

(a grinding noise)

The Bone Nail Sniper Rifle's muzzle discharged a slightly larger thicker bone nail that was approaching at high speed to my head in order to take away life surely, its impossible to dodge and evade left or right.

I follow my instinct and bare my fangs.

Thought and movement were one action and because I was running on instinct, I closed my mouth and my fangs cut into the bone nail stopping it.

However, I feel that it would of unceremoniously shot through my mouth if I was missing even the slightest focus, while thinking that it doesn't matter if I have broken my fangs as my neck muscles expand in force.

The fang bite took dreadful pressure, and I succeeded to bear the nausea from the smell of the heated bone nail.

While I succeeded in avoiding a clear death, and a cold sweat falls down my back, with a rush I spit out the bone nail.

What is left is fine debris in my mouth, but bad feelings to the sick gritty powder taste, but we will not talk about that.

I hit the bone piles like a hurricane with a single minded devotion.

A rear defender fights back with a 【Bone Nail Gun】, although at first seems the enemy decreased, but all of a sudden there are numerous simple log barricades being formed, and it doesn't decrease at all and is really troublesome, and above all the number of moves the enemy can make is too vast.

Since it is becoming difficult to move as the bone piles that are knocked down are now crowding my feet, I think that the situation will begin to gradually decline--

   Gulp*

「「「“The earth swallows"!!」」」(sounds cooler than a hole appears)

The help came from half-earth lords who cooperated together using fourth rank magic to bring the appearance of the huge hole in the ground at the feet of the black skeletons.

The area of effect and development of speed was a joint work of several demons which exceeds the power used by a single earth-lord.

The earth closes in like a carnivorous beast swallowing in the black skeletons along with the simple log barricades leaving no chance to crawl out.

The earth makes a rumble sound and mixed in are also crunching noises, where you can feel the tremors and hear the logs and skeletons braking down and getting crushed together.

I stomped on the earth a couple of times to confirm its rock steady, and i ran to hunt the remaining sniper.

The end of the competition is close at hand and now I give full priority to the bone nail sniper.

「Katakatakata」

(more bone rattle noise)

I move at high speed approaching the bone pile, the key points to the black skeleton sniper is accuracy, therefore its best to prevent it from zeroing in, and get in reach with the magic tiger claws.

As i was coming into reach, I was forced to stop as "Black Bone Ramparts," an installation type barrier to protect and the figure of the black skeleton sniper.

The obstruction was a magic item, a Parabellum original, eight meters high and ten meters wide, with thousands of black bones layered with magic which doesn't allow attacks and forces them to be incomplete.

There is simply no comparison between this and the simple log barricades, very appropriate to call them castle walls.

"Hushiyurururu......gautsu!"

「フシュルルル……ガウッ!」

(for the life of me I couldn't figure out this sound effect “hushiyurururu......gautsu!” is closest in english)

But without regard to it, I use "Beast Arts" article thirteen "Fierce Tiger Penetrating Palm"

"Fierce Tiger Penetrating Palm" is a unique breathing technique because of its characteristic of gathering the body's magic and energy to focus at a singular convergence point of magic and compresses it to form a ball to shoot out of the hand, the more focused its compression the higher its penetration power.

The black bone rampart was struck head-on and passes through making a palm sized hole and from that hole is a responding sound of the black skeleton sniper that was hiding in it.

「フシュルルルルル……」

(“hushiyurururururu......” sound effects)

While I exhale, I check my surroundings for any surviving soldiers, and there doesnt seem to be any.

Still maintaining a minimum amount of vigilance, I check the back of the black bone ramparts to confirm the kill.

The black bone sniper's ribs and spine were crushed, and scattered about the ground, and there was no movement at all.

Verifying its death, I collected the bone nail sniper rifle from where it rolled on the ground.

Before, we were told that, should we defeat our attackers, we are allowed to keep the personal effects that were on said victim.

So these two items were now mine, the 【Bone Nail Gun】 and the 【Bone Nail Gun Sniper Rifle】, which is still very valuable and useful later on.

The power of the "Fierce Tiger Penetrating Palm" would work exceptionally well with these two items, increasing their penetration and power of destruction, I will be able to use it like this almost immediately.

I found the operation control panel and the black bone ramparts folded into a state of a rectangular box, and I put the three looted magic items in the storage device.

This just might be worth all the pain, I thought to myself as i returned to my colleagues.

As much as i would like to slow down, it will be difficult to finish the race within the time limit.

「Check for wounded」

「Twelve people injured, treatment is finished and movement won't be a problem.」

「Is that so.... but we must push forward, we got a quarter to go. How much hardship will be after this, just thinking about it makes me tired.」

When returning, the confirmation of circumstances had been finished.

There were many injured people this time, and yet there weren't any beyond saving.

In spite of it being a happy moment, we still had ten kilometers to travel, of the three hundred that started with our group, nearly eighty are injured, and thirty dropouts appeared.

Twenty of the thirty dropouts were people that tried to outwit others at the beginning of the games.

There is no blame on them, because those that fail receive a punishment game.

But those that proceeded ahead of the group were marauded on by attackers and soon fell out.

Those who stand alone will be attacked heavier than the group.

If there is only one person it is much harder to resist an attack, because with many people and solid camaraderie resistance becomes possible followed by unhindered movement forward.

Anyway, I go ahead of the group of the preceding pair using the cooperation of the group to advance forward, the conclusion had be decided all the same with no loss in speed to the finish.

We proceed even if at high risk, but do not know if there is enough time.

To advance is hell, to retreat is hell, what a crisis.

We advance forward, while thinking about the debt of gratitude of the demon that pursues us from the rear.

I am thankful for him by training us, but couldn't he be more gentle?.

I would probably die before I could repay this favor.


■――▽――■


Night began and it was finally over, but there were more people that completed the whole distance than expectations.

The first lesson was of sacrifice, and resulted in the rest coming to cooperation naturally.

Unfortunately many dropouts appeared, but it's not a problem because I am not among them.

It could probably be said to be a satisfactory result.

Here, after I get such a feeling, while thinking, it is good, that, in order to obtain the vital force for tomorrow, I ate luxurious food from which the labyrinth ingredients were used, that were many in quality and quantity.

After all it was the sister's cooking.



Day 310 == Day 311 == Day 312




just a quick copy and paste from google

=="It needs to be edit and cleaned" thanks orthanos ==Click expand to view.

(Orthanos edit and clean, needs gramer, spell checked, and a true translation. But it reads well and flows nicely. Also first full day edit.)


Day 311

Today's weather is sunny; I wonder what the weather will be like as the Hell Festival continues.

While I think about it, I climb the hill, looking at the << external training fields>>, which has expanded beyond what it was in the past.

Those that will fight in the Holy War and attend this Hell Festival are grouped in a formation such that the smaller species, such as gnomes, goblins, and kobolds, are in the front, while the larger species, like minotaurs, trolls, and giants, are lined in the back.

All the members are here with the exception of those that are working behind the scenes. Over 3000 members have lined up. Classifying the members present by species:

"Gnomes goblin" species 800

"Demon hobgoblin" species 700.

"Big Ogre" species 100.

"Big Demonic Troll" species 40.

"Pig Demonic Orc" species 50.

"Wild Boar of Demonic Orc" species 20.

"Demonic Monkey" species 30.

"Half-Lord Demon" species 80.

"Lord Demon" species 30.

"Demon Minotaur" species 15.

"Half-vampire Dhampir" species 30.

"Vampire-Vampire" species 15.

"Death-eater Demon Ghoul" species 40.

"Kobold" species 400.

"Elf" species 30.

"Insectoid" species 10.

"Ape-man " species 30.

"Human" species 200.

"Lizardman" species 50.

"Half-Dragonewt" species 30.

"Dragonewt" species 15.

"Half-Demon" species 20.

"Red Cap gnome" species 20.

"Dragotaurus" species 10.

"Centaur" species 20.

"Dullahan" species 15.

"Tiger Beastman/ Weretiger" species 50.

"Wolf Beastman/ Werewolf" species 50.

"Cait Sith" species 50.

"? Familiar ?" 500.

Other various.

- And so on.

(Editors note:Dragotaurus is like centaur, but centaur is half-horse half-human, dragotaurus is half-dragon half-human)(TIger Beastman=Weretiger, Wolf Beastman=Werewolf, Cait Sith=Cat Beastman)


The classification and numbers count is only rough estimation.

For example, the goblin species have the goblin riders, goblin cleric, and goblin mages that are summarized in the same category. Same with the Lords and Half-Lords, which have Earth Lords, Wind Lords, and so on, but remain in the same classification.

If you try to classify them more finely then the numbers will fluctuate a bit, however, it's too much detail and quite the hassle, so I'll skip it this time. Doing just this much will be okay though, as there won't be any problems. It's an order of magnitude increase in the number of team members in comparison with the previous , but this can be said to be a natural consequence from Members action.

To begin with, Goblins, Hobgoblins, and Kobolds, which are the races referred to as the weaker species, have the racial ability for extremely short period of propagation, an ability that has been given in order to survive in the harshness of nature.

In addition the [Demon Child's Holy Mother] title that grants enhancement to female members has increased, and because there is no shortage of food, the childhood mortality rate has lowered which helped contribute to this increase of numbers. Then [Rank up] ability greatly increased the number of ogres, handed in earlier racial evolution with high probability. This has became the top seeded race and is also when growth will start to slow down.

(I guess the line above means that ranking up a 2nd time will make growing slower. (Fastest) Goblin>(fast growth) hobgoblin>(slower growth) Ogre/halflord/half vamp,etc. Remember it took Rou 14 days since birth from goblin to hobgoblin and 30 days later to Ogre and 81 something days for apostle lord? and 134 days till living god rank. You get the drift, but then he is special and Ogres were said to be Common route of [Rank ups])


More credit goes to members who brought back their entire families while away during scouting missions, which also raised our numbers.

I can see only the 3000 combatants in front of me, but there are also the non-combatants who participate behind the scenes of the festival, who are currently working around the clock. There is also a large number of those who can't participate due to being too young or not having the right body.

Such a wide variety of members are also teamed up with ?Familiars?.

Although equipment is different from each individual, the quality of one's equipment represents that member's ability and status.

For Example, the most numerous, in this case newborns, low level goblins, hobgoblins, or kobolds, are provided with the lowest most basic formal armament.

Exterior armor of subtly different shapes of black bone coats that have a power assist function, with the parabellum emblems on their backs and equiped with [Bone Nail Rifles] that shoots out a bone pile (the nail i guess), and connected with steel wire is a magicly enchanted black bone snake sword (A bayonet?).

(I am not sure of the above paragraph)

As regular soldiers only, compared to the Kingdom and Empire troops, most of the underling equipment proves to be pretty high quality.

Although there is sufficient grounds for exceptions for those that could not [Rank up], as is the case with our generation of members, the Goblin Elite. In addition to the formal equipment and armor, they were allowed Dungeon items or, things made from Blacksmiths, Dwarves, and Leprechauns that were painstakingly made using magic metals and special threads.

Of those equiped with better quality items, its only influence is dependent on if the Goblin is stronger than an Ogre, being Elite means high-status, only few make the cut.

Anyway, the body size and body type of each species vary widely, and some have bad balance. Still though, they are fully armed members who lined up and have been viewed as quite the spectacle.


It seems some have ugly faces, and many do not like the feel of the equipment with futuristic looks, now makes it look as if it is a scene coming out from a story like hells army.

If you were to look over the stage you would find a wide range of expresions. There were those motivated, those with fear, growing pale, and there were those with a broken smile. When i laughed, they laughed in response, though a cursory glance would tell you that it was forced.

In the front row were Goblins and Hobgoblins shaking with excitement that some of their faces grew a deathly pale, and some were in such a state that they were fainting from too much excitement and being supported by their armor.

Anyway, I declared the beginning of Hell Festival, and cheers, screams, and tears filled the forest.

To begin with, I distributed the members into ten groups, organized by their capabilities. Being grouped this way was too large for the field, with about 300 members in each group, so it was decided to hold a different event for each day of the Hell Festival.


In order to make sure that the management of the festival goes smoothly, it's been decided that each supervisor will be in charge of running only one event.

These supervisors will be organized as follows:

  • Kanami-chan and myself.
  • Minokichi-kun and Asue-chan, both of which had returned before dawn.
  • Burasato-san and Supesei-san, who had both already returned with the Grimoires and magic swords that they had collected.
  • Kugime-chan and Aifu-chan, who had both returned from a little bit of sightseeing.
  • Avenger, who had returned with us.
  • And Rusty Iron Knight, who has been training our members at the base for awhile now.

By the way, Seiji-kun is the only member of the 【Eight Demon Generals】 that isn't going to be a supervisor. Since he's the commander of the Medical Corps, ?Prière?, he's going to be working behind the scenes and will be on standby unless there's an emergency.


The main objective of the festival is to boost the average strength of team members.


It is to raise our probability of survival for the Holy War, even if just a little bit, in order to reach a certain extent around for support, is this extreme short term training menu.

I wonder if in as little as ten days we can forge the will of, die hard, but live well. I wonder how they will turn out on the last day.

I'm praying that at least half of the festival will proceed smoothly.

I will be responsible for the first day, the event that the highest level first group will be a "long-range obstacle competition" in the large forest.

The distance range will be fifty-two kilometers.


About ten kilometers longer than the standard marathon, and its location is in the natural forest rich enviroment with many challenges and rest areas.

The physicaly exhausting trail roads abound, and each member is also equipped with full armor increasing their weight.

Violators who were prepared by me on the course said "obstacles", are large in number and lurking.

The haunts have started to change in the wake of the expanding forest, many powerful monsters are drawn in as well, the spiritual energy leaking from the hot springs is the cause. Even if you unplug it, it won't stop this current expansion.

It will be extremely difficult just to finish the race.

Since it's a competition, there is a punishment game for losing.

I fixed it so that the difference in ability doesn't divide them, from the start everyone will run so desperately that no amount of luck or strategy could overturn.

My job was easy, I was at the tail end of the group giving those that lagged encouragement beatings.


■――△――■

【A certain Tigerman's perspective】


Suddenly, the events from the past flow through my mind.

It was seven years ago, I was Order by the clans of the village to study foreign exchange and warrior training, along with me were 4 of my comrades that left with me.

Being a beastman I struggled for a while, but it was good fun and i think i would have be successful. As Adventurers we encounter various requests of a wide variety.

However one of the requests turned out to be a trap, and as a result we are put into slavery, forced to work for another empire's military.

Our lives were valued less than common iron scrap metal.

Every day was over poor housing, less food, and severe battlefield.

I can't bear the rough treatment and abuse of the Imperial Army which didn't mind so much as a hair to the sacrifice of our lives, and one friend who when out together with fell down, and then two fell down dead, we were in a state where death comes without even know it.

But i still live, what karma is this.

My life should of ended on that battlefield, but was saved by the help of the Noble Ogre, who now i owe a debt of gratitude.

I intended to continue making effort to repay the favor he gave me.

As a result I came to being accepted here and thought it possible to call it clan or family.

Even more so, from now on, i will continue to repay this debt.

However that determination for that answer is a little bit shaken.

「"INCOMING FROM THE RIGHT! As the vanguard is large, while the rear guard fights, use your shields to sweep it away."」

The trees are lush and the forest is dense.

It reminds me of my hometown where my village lived, and my companions and I would have been covered in mud, desperately advancing forward.

『Katakatakatakata』

(sound effects Bones rattling)


The sounds coming in tandem from the right-hand side of us, are the advancing column of the black skeleton army.

They number, about one hundred. The army of black bones which stands cross file order inbetween the trees with out any turbulence, shielded by a simple barricade of stacked logs and bones with [bone nail rifles] poised in perfect order, squeezing the trigger in unison.

Immediately after, the bone nails were projected from the muzzles approaching at high penetrating speeds.

They were not to aim at vital parts for safety reasons, this could not be overlooked.

「GAAAAAAAAAA!」

We vanguard roar as we step forward with the shields of a companions if possible, these hooked claws equipped on the hands were knuckle gloves which were forged with the magic alloy that which the dwarf blacksmith developed at the end of his research, [Tiger Claws of Magic] enchantment included.

The magic item [Tiger Claws of Magic] exerts its effect by loading it with magic, and will produce three huge magic claws the size of a sword.

And I move both arms relying only on physical ability with no wasteful movements or power from using the inherited Arts of my tribe that only males could use, the "Beast Arts". The third "Dance of the claws-hashbrowns" to beat down and knock the bone pile off exactly.

(the statement above could use help)

With the swing of an arm the ten bone piles close enough were flipped and scattered and disconnected, which became debris that accumulated underfoot.

Although not even one second has passed since the onslaught of bone nails began, they still continue from the rear and show no sign of waning.

「――Their numbers were many」

The shooting of the bone nail guns didn't stop.

However, it was natural.

In one second the bone nail rifle could fire two rounds, and with one hundred black skeletons operating rifles this produced two hundred nails per second being discharged.

High rank classes such as the black skeleton commanders which are few in numbers, but are mixed throughout the bone army, are not armed with [bone nail rifles], but instead with a different weapon, improved in all performance aspects, the [Bone nail automatic assault rifles] which discharge a substantially increased number of rounds.

「Mixed with a mighty high bone pile island--the horror!」

As for the bone nail gun we can cope without a problem, but the five piles using the bone nail automatic assault rifles had several more times the power than what my arms could prevent.

Cooperating clearly slowed me down for a moment, but as a result I am now being targeted.

The deep murderous killing intent that i sense accelerates from danger of the surrounding environment where in I saw it.

To the rear of the bone army was the black skeleton sniper with a strengthened improved long distance shooting specification [bone nail long distance sniper rifle] and the trigger was just squeezed.

「Gaaaa~tsu!!」

(a grinding noise)

Bone nail sniper rifle muzzle discharged a slightly larger thicker bone nail that was approaching at high speed to my head in order to take away life surely, its impossible to dodge and evade left or right.

I follow my instinct and bare my fangs.

Thought and movement were one action and because I was running on instinct, I closed my mouth and my fangs cut into the bone nail stopping it.

However, I feel that it would of unceremoniously shot through my mouth if I was missing even the slightest focus, while thinking that it doesn't matter if I have broken my fangs as my neck muscles expand in force.

The fang bite took dreadful pressure, and I succeeded to bear the nausea from the smell of the heated bone nail.

While I succeeded in avoiding a clear death, and a cold sweat falls down my back, with a rush I spit out the bone nail.

What is left is fine debris in my mouth, but bad feelings to the sick gritty powder taste, but we will not talk about that.

I hit the bone piles like a hurricane with a single minded devotion.

A rear defender fights back with a bone nail gun, although at first seems the enemy decreased, but all of a sudden there are numerous simple log barricades being formed, and it doesn't decrease at all and is really troublesome, and above all the number of moves the enemy can make is too vast.

Since it is becoming difficult to move as the bone piles that are knocked down are now crowding my feet, I think that the situation will begin to gradually decline--

  • Gulp*

「「「“The earth swallows"!!」」」(sounds cooler than a hole appears)

The help came from half-earth lords who cooperated together using fourth rank magic to bring the appearance of the huge hole in the ground at the feet of the black skeletons.

The area of effect and development of speed was a joint work of several demons which exceeds the power used by a single earth-lord.

The earth closes in like a carnivorous beast swallowing in the black skeletons along with the simple log barricades leaving no chance to crawl out.

The earth makes a rumble sound and mixed in are also crunching noises, where you can feel the tremors and hear the logs and skeletons braking down and getting crushed together.

I stomped on the earth a couple of times to confirm its rock steady, and i ran to hunt the remaining sniper.

The end of the competition is close at hand and now I give full priority to the bone nail sniper.

「Katakatakata」

(more bone rattle noise)

I move at high speed approaching the bone pile, the key points to the black skeleton sniper is accuracy, therefore its best to prevent it from zeroing in, and get in reach with the magic tiger claws.

As i was coming into reach, I was forced to stop as "Castle walls of black bone ramparts" an installation type barrier to protect and the figure of the black skeleton sniper.

The obstruction was a magic item, a Parabellum original, eight meters high and ten meters wide, with thousands of black bones layered with magic which doesn't allow attacks and forces them to be incomplete.

There is simply no comparison between this and the simple log barricades, very appropriate to call them castle walls.

"Hushiyurururu......gautsu!"

「フシュルルル……ガウッ!」

(for the life of me I couldn't figure out this sound effect “hushiyurururu ......gautsu!” is closest in english)

But without regard to it, I use "Beast Arts" article thirteen "Fierce Tiger Penetrating Palm"

"Fierce Tiger Penetrating Palm" is a unique breathing technique because of its characteristic of gathering the body's magic and energy to focus at a singular convergence point of magic and compresses it to form a ball to shoot out of the hand, the more focused its compression the higher its penetration power.

The black bone rampart was struck head-on and passes through making a palm sized hole and from that hole is a responding sound of the black skeleton sniper that was hiding in it.

「フシュルルルルル……」

(“hushiyurururururu......” sound effects)

While I exhale, I check my surroundings for any surviving soldiers, and there doesnt seem to be any.

Still maintaining a minimum amount of vigilance, I check the back of the black bone ramparts to confirm the kill.

The black bone sniper's ribs and spine were crushed, and scattered about the ground, and there was no movement at all.

Verifying its death, I collected the bone nail sniper rifle from where it rolled on the ground.

Before, we were told that, should we defeat our attackers, we are allowed to keep the personal effects that were on said victim.

So these two items were now mine, the bone nail gun and the bone nail sniper rifle, which is still very valuable and useful later on.

The power of the "Fierce Tiger Penetrating Palm" would work exceptionally well with these two items and increase their penetration, and power of destruction, I will be able to use it like this almost immediately.

I found the operation control panel and the black bone ramparts folded into a state of a rectangular box, and I put the three looted magic items in the storage device.

This just might be worth all the pain, I thought to myself as i returned to my colleagues.

As much as i would like to slow down, it will be difficult to finish the race within the time limit.

「Check for wounded」

「Twelve people injured, treatment is finished and movement won't be a problem.」

「Is that so .... but we must push forward, we got a quarter to go. How much hardship will be be after this, just thinking about it makes me tired.」

When returning, the confirmation of circumstances had been finished.

There were many injured people this time, and yet there weren't any beyond saving.

In spite of it being a happy moment, we still had ten kilometers to travel, of the three hundred that started with our group, nearly eighty are injured, and thirty dropouts appeared.

Twenty of the thirty dropouts were people that tried to outwit others at the beginning of the games.

There is no blame on them, because those that fail receive a punishment game.

But those that proceeded ahead of the group were marauded on by attackers and soon fell out.

Those who stand alone will be attacked heavier than the herd.

If there is only one person it is much harder to resist an attack, because with many people and solid comraderie resistance becomes possible followed by unhindered movement forward.

Anyway, I go ahead of the group of the preceding pair using the cooperation of the group to advance forward, the conclusion had be decided all the same with no loss in speed to the finish.

We procede even if at high risk, but do not know if there is enough time.

To advance is hell, to retreat is hell, what a crisis.

We advance forward, while thinking about the debt of gratitude of the demon that pursues us from the rear.

I am thankful for him training us, but could he not be more gentle.

I will probably die before I repay this favor.


■――▽――■


Night began and it was finally over, but there were more people that completed the whole distance than expectations.

The first lesson was of sacrifice, and resulted in the rest coming to cooperation naturally.

Unfortunately many dropouts appeared, but it's not a problem because I am not among them.

It could probably be said to be a satisfactory result.

Here, after I get such a feeling, while thinking, it is good, that, in order to obtain the vital force for tomorrow, I ate luxurious food from which the labyrinth ingredients were used, were many in quality and quantity.

After all it was the sister's cooking.


PLACE TRANSLATIONS ABOVE THE BAR. THESE ARE THE RAWS, LEAVE THEM HERE UNTIL SOMEONE DOES A REAL TRANSLATION (NOT JUST A GT OR RUSSIAN TRANS). CLICK EXPAND TO VIEW THEM.

“三百十一日目”

今日の天気は快晴で、なんという祭り日和だろうか。


そう思いながら、俺は大地を隆起させて造った即席の壇に登り、以前よりも拡張?整備された?外部訓練場?を見回した。

そこには聖戦にて戦う事になる、今回の祭りの主役である彼?彼女達が、全体が見やすいように小鬼(ゴブリン)やコボルドといった小さな体躯の種族は前に、牛頭鬼(ミノタウロス)巨鬼(トロル)といった巨体を誇る種族は後ろに、と整然と並んでいた。


今回生成体は一部例外を除いて裏方に回っているのでここには不在だが、整列している団員だけでも三千名を超えている。


整列している団員を分類すれば――


小鬼(ゴブリン)”種が八百。

中鬼(ホブゴブリン)”種が七百。

大鬼(オーガ)”種が百。

巨鬼(トロル)”種が四十。

豚鬼(オーク)”種が五十。

猪鬼(ブルオーク)”種が二十。

猿鬼(ヤフル)”種が三十。

半鬼人(ハーフ?ロード)”種が八十。

鬼人(ロード)”種が三十。

牛頭鬼(ミノタウロス)”種が十五。

半吸血鬼(ダムピール)”種が三十。

吸血鬼(ヴァンパイア)”種が十五。

死食鬼(グール)”種が四十。

“コボルド”種が四百。

“エルフ”種が三十。

甲蟲人(インセクトイド)”種が十。

猿人(オロリン)”種が三十。

“人間”が二百。

蜥蜴人(リザードマン)”種が五十。

半竜人(ハーフ?ドラゴニュート)”種が三十。

竜人(ドラゴニュート)”種が十五。

半魔人(ハーフ?ミディアン)”種が二十。

赤帽子(レッドキャップ)”種が二十。

半竜馬(ドラゴタウロス)”種が十。

半人馬(ケンタウロス)”種が二十。

首無し騎士(デュラハン)”種が十五。

虎人(ワータイガー)”種が五十。

狼人(ワーウルフ)”種が五十。

猫爪兵(キャットネイル)”種が五十。

“?使い魔?”が五百。

その他色々。


――といった具合になるだろう。


ただこの分類と数はあくまでも大雑把なモノでしかない。


例えばゴブリン種ならゴブリン?メイジやゴブリン?ライダー、あるいはゴブリン?クレリックなどを含んでいるし、鬼人種なら地雷鬼(アースロード)疾風鬼(ゲイルロード)などが同じ分類として纏められている。

それに上記以外の種族も居るので、分類しようとすればもっと細かく、数も少し変動する事になる。


しかし細かくし過ぎてもただ面倒なだけなので、今回は省略している。

今は大雑把にこれくらい居るんだ、程度に思っておけば問題はないだろう。


それから以前と比べれば桁違いに増えた団員数だが、これは構成メンバーからしてある意味当然の帰結と言える。

そもそもゴブリンやホブゴブリン、コボルドなど弱小種とも言うべき種族には妊娠から出産までの期間が極端に短いという、厳しい自然界で生き残るために獲得した種族的能力がある。

それに加えて【鬼子の聖母】を持つ女性団員の増加、食料問題の改善、幼少期の死亡率低下などの要因によってこれほどの数にまで至ったのである。

それから【存在進化】して上位種になったとしても以前の種族的能力は高確率で受け継がれる為、本来ならもう少し成長が遅いオーガなどの数も大きく増えた。

それ以外にも功績を上げた団員が故郷から家族を呼んだり、一族総出で入団したり、あるいは各地で見所がある者をスカウトしたりしているので、団員数が増えるのは当然だ。


ただ目の前の約三千名だけでなく、祭りの裏方として参加する非戦闘員、現在も各地の店舗で働いている者、まだ幼く身体が出来ていないので参加できない者も多数居るので、総団員数はもっと多くなるのだが、それはさて置き。


そんな種々様々な大勢の団員達は、?使い魔?に至るまで完全武装の状態だった。

装備品は個々で異なるが、装備品の質はそれを身に纏う団員達の実力を表してもいる。


例えば最も数が多く、新しく産まれたまだ低レベルの底辺かそれに近いゴブリンやホブゴブリン、あるいはコボルド達の場合は、その殆どが支給されている制式装備一式のみの状態だ。

パワーアシスト機能を備え所属する部隊で微妙に形状が異なる黒骨の外装鎧、パラべラムの紋章(エンブレム入)りのコート、そして骨杭を撃ち出す【骨杭射小銃(ボーンネイルガン)】や魔鋼線で繋げられた【蛇腹骨剣(ボーンスネークソード)】といった黒骨などを使用した武器を装備している。

これだけでも一応、王国や帝国の軍隊と比べても、一番下っ端である一般兵の装備としてはかなり質が高いモノに仕上がっている。


十分といえば十分ではあるが、【存在進化】こそ出来なかったものの俺達と同年代のゴブリンエリートとでも言うべき団員達の場合は、制式装備の他に、自身で迷宮に潜り揃えた武具、あるいは鍛冶師さんやドワーフ、レプラコーン達が魔法金属や特殊繊維を使って丹精込めて造った品々を装備している。


装備の良し悪しはそれに見合うだけの実力者という事であり、場合によってはゴブリンがオーガよりも強く、地位が高い事は多々あったりする訳だ。


ともあれ、身体の大きさは種族によって大きく異なるためややバランスが悪いものの、それでも完全武装した団員達が並ぶ様は中々見応えがあった。

ただでさえ凶悪な面が多い事もあり、少々装備が未来的過ぎる気がしないでもないが、まるで物語に出てくる魔王の軍勢のようだ。


色々思いながら壇上から広範囲まで見渡すと、やる気に漲ったような顔つきの者も居れば、まるで恐怖に怯えるように青ざめた者、あるいは何処か壊れたような笑みを浮かべている者まで様々だ。

それに応えるようにニコリと笑ってみると、ザッ、と何だか引かれた気がしたが、多分気のせいだろう。


最前列に近いゴブリンやホブゴブリン達は顔面蒼白になりながら武者震いし、興奮し過ぎたのか失神して外装鎧によって支えられているような状態の者も居るが、ともかくだ。


俺は祭りの開催を宣言し、歓声とも悲鳴ともとれる雄叫びが大森林に轟いた。


開始してまず最初に行ったのは、奮い立つ団員達を実力別に第一から第十までグループに振り分ける事だった。

流石にこのままだと多すぎるので、一グループ約三百名で纏め、それぞれ日替わりで異なる祭りの催しモノに参加する事にした訳だ。


祭りを円満に運営する為、一つの催しモノにはそれぞれ監督官が付く事になっている。

監督官は俺とカナ美ちゃん、朝日が昇る前に帰ってきたミノ吉くんとアス江ちゃん、蒐集した魔剣や魔術書(グリモワール)を持って既に帰還していたブラ里さんとスペ星さん、ちょっと観光して戻ってきたクギ芽ちゃんとアイ腐ちゃん、俺達と共に帰ってきた復讐者、そして前々から拠点で団員達を鍛えていた鈍鉄騎士、といった構成だ。


ちなみに【八陣ノ鬼将】で唯一監督官ではないセイ治くんは、裏方として医療部隊?プリエール?を率い、いざという時の為に待機している。


準備万端な今回の祭りの主な目的だが、団員の平均的な戦力強化である。

聖戦で生存確率を少しでも上げ、次に繋げる為に、ある程度以上に達している幹部や一部はサポートに回り、短期集中的に鍛え上げる訳である。


予定では十日程度で以前よりも鍛えられ死に難くなる筈だが、さて、最終日まで何人残れるのだろうか。

俺は半分以上が残ってくれる事を祈りながら、祭りは粛々と進行していく。


ちなみに初日に俺が担当する、最も水準が高い第一グループが受ける催しモノは、大森林での“長距離障害物競争”となっている。


距離は鬼らしく五十二キロ。

フルマラソンよりも十キロほど長い距離なのだが、場所が大森林という自然豊かで、起伏が多い場所である。

消耗する体力は舗装された道路などとは桁違いであり、また重量のある武具を装備した状態だ。

しかも“障害物”というだけあって、設定したコース上には俺が用意した妨害者達が多数潜んでいる。

それを抜きにしても温泉から漏れ出る精霊などの力によって現在進行形で拡大している大森林には、以前はいなかった強力なモンスターが多数住みついているし、地形も局地的に鳴動するかのように変動する魔境と化している。


完走するだけでも困難を極めるだろう。


それなのに競争というだけあって、順位別に罰ゲームもある。

実力に隔絶した差があれば始まる前から決まってしまうが、そこまで差が出ないように振り分けている。ちょっとした運や作戦で覆る程度なので、皆必死になってやる事になった。

俺は最後尾で、遅れそうになっている奴らを叩き上げるだけの簡単なお仕事です。



■――△――■


【とある虎人(ジャグ?バオ)さん視点】



ふと、過去の出来事が脳裏を過ぎった。


数年前の事になるが、俺は氏族の集落から外貨獲得と武者修行の為、四人の仲間達と共に外に出向いた。

獣人としての苦労などもあったが、しばらくの間はそれなりに楽しくやれていたと思う。冒険者となって様々な依頼をこなし、様々な出会いがあった。


だが色々あって罠に嵌められ、その結果として奴隷に落とされた俺達は巡り巡って帝国軍で働かされる事になった。


あそこでは俺達の命など、クズ鉄にも劣る価値しかなかっただろう。

劣悪な住居、少ない食料、厳しい戦場を巡る日々。

俺達の命を犠牲にする事など毛ほども気にしない帝国軍の酷使に耐えかね、共に外に出てきた仲間が一人倒れ、二人倒れ、俺もいつ死ぬか分からない状態だった。


だが何の因果かこうして生きている。


本来ならば戦場で散らしていたはずの命を、助けてくれた恩鬼が居る。

その恩に報いるため、助けられてから尽力し続けてきたつもりだ。


その結果、働きが認められて氏族の家族達をここに呼ぶ事も出来たのは良かったと思っている。


だからより一層、これからも恩義に報いようと決意していた。


しかしその決意も、今はちょっとだけ揺らいでいる。


「右から来るぞッ!前衛は盾に、後衛は応戦しつつデカイので一掃しろッ」


樹木が鬱蒼と生い茂る大森林。

普段なら故郷の集落を思い出すそこで、俺と仲間達は泥に塗れ、必死に前に進んでいた。


『カタカタカタカタ』


縦列で進んでいた俺達の右側からやって来るのは、武装したブラックスケルトン達の軍勢だ。

その数約百。少しの乱れもなく樹木の間を縫うように整然と隊列を組む黒骨の軍勢は、丸太を積み上げただけの簡易バリケードを盾にして、骨杭を射出する【骨杭射小銃(ボーンネイルガン)】を一糸乱れぬ動きで構え、一斉に引き金を絞った。


途端銃口から飛び出てくる骨杭が、俺達を撃ち抜こうと高速で迫る。

最低限の安全の為に急所は狙わない、何て事もなく、そのどれもが俺達にとって看過できない致命的な軌道を描いていた。


「ガアアアアアアアアアアッ」


咆哮と共に俺達前衛は仲間の盾となるべく前に出て、ドワーフ鍛冶長達が研究の末開発した魔法合金で鍛造してくれた三本の鈎爪付き手甲【アムラブフの虎爪】に魔力を込める。

マジックアイテムでもある【アムラブフの虎爪】は魔力を込めた事によって効果を発揮し、鈎爪はまるで大剣のように巨大な魔力刃を纏った。

そして身体能力だけに頼った無駄の多い動作ではなく、俺の氏族の男児にのみ継承される“獣術?バガルドラ”柔の型第三番“爪の舞(ジャガ?ムル)”を駆使して流れるように両腕を動かし、最小の力で骨杭を正確に叩き落としていく。

腕のひと振りで十近い骨杭が弾かれ、あるいは切断されて足元に残骸が蓄積されていった。


一本も後方に通す事は無いが、攻撃から数秒が経過しても骨杭の猛攻は一向に衰える気配がなかった。


「――ッ!数が、多いッ」


ボーンネイルガンの射撃が止む事は無かった。

しかしそれは当然でもあった。


一秒間に最低二発は撃てるボーンネイルガンがこれだけのブラックスケルトン達によって運用されれば、単純計算で一秒間に二百発撃ち込まれている事になる。

それに数こそ少ないが軍勢に混ざっているブラックスケルトン?コマンダーなどの上位種達は、【骨杭射小銃】よりもほぼ全ての性能が向上されている【骨杭射突撃銃(ボーンネイルアサルトライフル)】を装備している為、実質的な数はもっと多い。


「混じっている高威力の骨杭が厄介な――ッ、しまッ!」


ボーンネイルガンの骨杭は問題なく対処できていたのだが、ボーンネイルアサルトライフルによって放たれた骨杭が五発纏めて撃ち込まれ、普段の数倍以上の威力に防いだ腕が跳ね上げられてしまった。


明らかに連携して狙われた結果、俺は一瞬だけだが動作が停滞する。

濃密な殺意を向けられ、死の危険から感覚が加速。通常時と比べてゆったりと進む周囲の光景、その中で俺は見た。

軍勢の後方に一体だけ居る、黒骨を追加される事で強化されたブラックスケルトン?スナイパーが、遠距離狙撃仕様の【骨杭射狙撃銃(ボーンネイルスナイパーライフル)】の引き金を絞るその瞬間を。


「ガアアアッ!!」


ボーンネイルスナイパーライフルの銃口から射出された他よりも若干長く太い骨杭は、確実に命を奪う為に俺の頭部に高速で迫る。崩れた体勢では左右に回避する事は不可能だ。

ならば、と俺は本能に従って牙を剥いた。

考えて動いていたのでは手遅れだったに違いない一撃は、しかし本能に従った事で間に合い、骨杭に牙が食い込む。

しかし気を抜けばあっさりと口内を撃ち抜かれると感じ、自慢の牙が砕けてしまっても構わないと思いながら、首などの筋肉が膨張するほど力を込めた。

噛み付いた牙には凄まじい圧がかかり、螺旋する骨杭によって牙が削られる熱感と異臭で湧き出る吐き気を堪え、何とか防ぐ事に成功した。


明確な死を回避する事に成功し、ドッと冷や汗が背中から吹き出しながら、ぺっと骨杭を吐き捨てる。

口内に細かい破片が残っているのか、ザラザラと粉っぽい感触がして気持ち悪いが、そんな事も言っていられない。

まだまだ続いている暴風雨のような骨杭の数々を、一心不乱に叩き落とした。


こちらも後衛がボーンネイルガンなどで応戦しているので敵の数は最初よりかは減っているものの、乱立する樹木や簡易バリケードが邪魔をして思ったよりも減ってはおらず、それに何より敵の手数が違いすぎる。

叩き落とした足元の骨杭でそろそろ動きにくくなってきたので、このままではジリ貧だと思っていると――


「「「“大地の餓孔(アスープ?メギラ)”ッ!!」」」


――仲間の半鬼人達が協力して岩土系統第四階梯魔術“大地の餓孔”を発動させ、ブラックスケルトン達の足元に巨大な孔を出現させた。

数鬼の力を合わせて発生された“大地の孔”は単鬼で発動させた時よりも効果範囲が広く、また展開速度も逃げる間を与えないほど速かった。

そして為す術無く簡易バリケードや樹木と共に落ちていくブラックスケルトン達が這い上がる間もなく、まるで肉食獣が草食獣を喰らうように大地が閉じる。


ズゴゴゴゴという地響きに混ざる何かが折れ砕ける音が聞こえたので、落ちたブラックスケルトン達は地中で樹木ともども圧壊されたのだろう。


それを確認する間もなく大地を蹴り、俺はまだ残っているブラックスケルトン?スナイパーを狩るために走った。

周囲の景色が高速で後ろに流れていく視界の中で、ブラックスケルトン?スナイパーが俺の胴体を狙って銃撃してくるのが見えた。

手にしているのは近接戦での扱いやすさと連射性を優先したのか、ボーンネイルガンに換装されている。


「カタカタカタ」


高速で迫る骨杭は俺の急所を狙っているが、正確であるが故に読みやすく、その軌道上に鈎爪の魔力刃を置く事で容易に防ぐ事が出来た。

そして間合いに入る事はできたのだが、土中から突如として設置型防壁“黒骨の城壁(ブラックボーン?ランパート)”がブラックスケルトン?スナイパーを守るように出現し、その姿を覆い隠した。

高さは約八メルトル、横幅は約十メルトルにも及ぶ黒壁は、幾千もの黒骨を幾重にも束ねて制作されたパラべラムオリジナルのマジックアイテムであり、半端な攻撃を受け付けない堅牢な構造をしている。

丸太を積み重ねただけの簡易バリケードなどとは比べ物にならないそれは、まさに城壁というに相応しいだろう。


「フシュルルル……ガウッ!」


だがそれに構わず、俺は“獣術?バガルドラ”剛の型第十三番“猛虎の穿掌(ガラム?ドラ)”を放った。

“猛虎の穿掌”は独特の呼吸法によって全身から掻き集めた魔力を収束し、圧縮して掌打と共に撃ち出すという、敵が堅牢であればあるほど効果を発揮する一点突破系の獣術である。

その破壊力と貫通性は体得している獣術の中でも抜きん出ているものがあり、眼前のブラックボーン?ランパートに対して、手札の中で唯一通用する獣術でもあった。


真正面から直撃したブラックボーン?ランパートは全体からすれば僅かな孔である掌状に貫通し、その背後に隠れていたブラックスケルトン?スナイパーを仕留めた手応えと音が響く。


「フシュルルルルル……」


息を吐き出しながら周囲に残存兵が居ないか神経を研ぎ澄ますが、どうやら居ないらしい。

それでも最低限の警戒は解かず、俺はブラックボーン?ランパートの横から回って本当に仕留めたかどうかを確認した。

ブラックスケルトン?スナイパーは胴体部、つまり肋骨や胸椎が粉砕された状態で、細かい破片を地面に散らばらせながら動く気配な全く無い。


確実に仕留めたのを確認して、俺は足元に転がっているボーンネイルガンとボーンネイルスナイパーライフルを回収した。


倒した妨害者(ブラックスケルトン)達の武具は、討伐した者の所持品になると事前に言われている。


なのでこの二丁は俺の物であり、ボーンネイルガンはともかく、まだ製造数が少なく貴重品であるボーンネイルスナイパーライフルを獲得した事は後々何かしらの役に立つだろう。

一点に威力が集中する“猛虎の穿掌(ガラム?ドラ)”を使った事も幸し、破壊を免れた戦利品の動作に問題は無さそうだった。使おうと思えばすぐに使えるだろう。


それからブラックボーン?ランパートの制御盤を操作し、広がった状態から長方形の箱のように見える収納形態にして、戦利品の三つを収納系マジックアイテムの中に入れる。

これ等を得られただけでも苦労した甲斐があったと思いながら、俺は足早に仲間達の元に戻った。

もたもたとすればするほど、完走する事すら困難になってしまう。時間は有限で、貴重だ。


「負傷者の確認はどうだ」


「怪我人は十二名ですが、既に治療済みです。動きに問題はありません」


「そうか……しかし進めたのがまだ四分の一にも満たないとは、な。この先、どれほどの苦難があるのだろうか。考えるだけで、嫌になる」


戻ってみれば、既に状況の確認は済んでいた。

今回はまだ怪我人が少なく、行動不能に陥っている者はいない。


それは喜ばしい事ながら、しかしまだ十キロメルトルも進んでいない現状で、約三百名中、既に八十名近くが大小の怪我を負い、脱落者は三十名ほど出ていた。


脱落した三十名のうち二十名は開始と同時に先行し、他を出し抜こうとした集団だ。

それは別に咎める事ではない。下位の者には何かしらの罰ゲームがあると言われているのだから。

だがしかし、先行した彼?彼女等は今回のような妨害者達に襲撃され、呆気なく脱落する事になったのである。


妨害者達は単体としてでなく、一個の群れとなって襲ってくる。


例え一対一ならば軽く凌駕していても、一糸乱れぬ動きで襲ってくる妨害者達に対して、少数で抵抗する事が出来るのは限られた者だけだ。


ともかく、先行組の脱落があってからは出し抜くよりも、まずは協力して進もうという事になった訳だが、やはり進行速度はどうしても低下してしまう。


先行しようにも危険度が非常に高く、しかしこのままでは時間が足りるか分からない。


進むも地獄、退くも地獄とはこの事か。


俺達はまた前進しながら、ふと後方から密かに付いてくる恩鬼に思いを馳せた。

俺達を鍛えてくれるのはありがたいが、もう少しくらい、優しくならないものだろうか。


恩を返す前に、俺が死んでしまいそうである。



■――▽――■



夜に入ってようやく終わったが、予想よりも完走した者が多かった。

最初に犠牲となった仲間の結末を教訓に、残りが自然に協力した結果だ。

残念ながら脱落者も出たが、それは織り込み済みなので問題はない。

ほぼ満足いく結果だったと言えるだろう。

今後もこんな感じで行ければ良いな、と思いながら、明日の活力を得るため、大量に確保している迷宮食材を使った豪華な料理を振舞った。


やっぱり姉妹さん達の料理は、ウマー。

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