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Arc 26: What can be done for tomorrow
Chapter 251: Start of the Examination, and Survival
It seems that the examination notice, inviting new recruits for the Brunhild Knight Order, is attracting attention in its own way after being posted on places like the guild.
Speaking of which, the wages for the knight order of our household are low. Furthermore, the applicants won't be able to rise very high even if they get promoted. It sounds as if it's better for them to apply for other knight orders if they choose this kind of occupation based on the amount of its income.
People like adventurers risk their lives acquiring treasures or taking down magic beasts — an intense workline — but even second-rate adventurers should still be able to earn more than the knights of our order. I want to raise their wages when the country becomes more affluent, but it's still impossible to do so at the moment.
If I'm to talk about the advantages of working in our knight order, it will only amount having a steady income and basic necessities being free of charge, I suppose. Their lives won't be as dangerous when compared to those adventurers. Although some of them will be fighting against Frazes, the others won't even ride Frame Gears.
Due to these reasons, I was thinking that we would only be able to gather about 1000 people at most like the last time (which is still a considerable number nonetheless), but the number of applicants has tripled contrary to my expectation, totaling more than 3000 people. That has surprised me a bit.
We've planned to employ about 150 people from among those numbers, so I guess it means that the there will be about 20 applicants per position.
First of all, it will hard to conduct the examination at the castle courtyard, so we've gathered the applicants in the large plain to the north of the castle.
Several ordinary onlookers have come for some reason as well — it's like we're doing some sort of trifling show. Oh well, it will be more convenient to have the townspeople present here due to what we'll be trying to do from now on.
『I am Rain Netherland, Commander of the Brunhild Knight Order. I will be conducting the new recruitment examination for Brunhild Knight Order』(Rain)
Rain-san introduces herself through the speaker of a smartphone that has been changed into a microphone as she stands on the stage.
By the way, Nicola-san, one of the vice-commanders, has the family name of "Strand", but both Rain-san and Norun-san, the other vice-commander, had none.
Given that it doesn't sit very well with their positions and can make them lose their faces, I've given them family names during this occasion. Rain-san became [Rain Netherland] while Norun-san became [Norun Siberia]. Both names come from the species of rabbits and wolves respectively, but people of this world won't know it unless they are told as much, so it will perhaps be okay. I think those names suit those girls quite well since they are beastkin.
Tentatively speaking, I've considered that it's better for me not to appear publicly during the examination this time, so I haven't made an appearance. However, I'm participating in it, having disguised myself as examinee after applying [Mirage] on myself; I want to confirm various things with my own eyes. It'll be troublesome if there are examinees who know me since my face is pretty well known in the castle town.
I've notified our current knights about this in advance, so I won't be suspected of something. I've also told them to treat me as an ordinary examinee.
Moreover, I will be able to take a good look at other applicants if I act this way from now on. I've already managed to discover some people who are unfit to join our order.
There are some people who, from the beginning, have shown no signs of listening to what Rain-san is talking about on the stage. Are they making light of her because she's a woman and a beastkin on top of that? Under no circumstances those guys should be able to pass this examination.
I look over the examinees gathered here and once again notice that the number of women seems to be really big. Isn't it about 40% of the total? Well, there are few knight orders that employ female knights, and even those mostly employ women coming from noble families only. It's not like those that come to our household, which doesn't care about social status, don't know about that.
Besides that, there are definitely more beastkins and demokins than the last time. The big number of beastkins is fine, but I wonder whether the demon king has instigated the demonkins or not. It can't be, right? Did he do it to gather the minute details new about his daughter Sakura? No matter how much of a foolish parent, no, an overly doting parent he is, this draws quite a bit of attention. ….I want to think of them as regular examinees.
『Now then, we will start the first examination. Please look behind yourselves』(Rain)
Along with Rain-san's words, the sound of wings flapping echoes at the back of the examinees. The thing that's reflected in the eyes of those who've turned around is the figure of a huge dragon glaring at them from the skies.
The dragon faces towards the heavens and roars, emitting a radiance like that of a sapphire. Oi-oi, isn't that too much? Come on, I've only told her to threaten them.
「It's a d-d-dra-dragon! Why is it here…. !!?」
「Run away! We'll be killed…! !」
A large majority of examinees have started to run, scrambling to be the first ones to escape and hoping to scatter in all directions. The dragon flying in the skies —— Ruli is silently staring at them go.
Those people that ran have, of course, been disqualified. We don't need those who, first and foremost, run away and leave behind the place they've been despite the presence of innocent onlookers.
Fumu, so the number has decreased by about ⅔, huh?
Ruli heavily descends onto the ground in a short while, and Rain-san starts talking.
『Those who prioritize their own safety, not protecting the citizens they ought to protect, have no place among our the knights of our country. Congratulations, Ladies and Gentlemen. Those who are still here have passed』(Rain)
Due to what she has said, the examinees finally start to notice that what happened was an examination. Among those present, there were those who fell down, having lost the strength in their backs. It appears that some people couldn't run away because they were too surprised, but it's still within my calculations. Those type of people will likely be rejected during the next examinations or during an interview anyway.
Some of the escaped examinees came back and gave excuses like that they've "tried to fortify the defences after returning to the town at full speed" or that they "have ended up running unintentionally after being swept away by those around them", but Norun-san and other examiners didn't respond to them at all. There were people that still refused to back down, so I'd telepathically asked Ruli to roar at them. They then left this place as fast as the wind. They won't be able to make an excuse now.
Ruli flaps her wings and returns to the skies, having finished her duty. The sound of Rain-san's voice once again echoes in the ears of the examinees who are absent-mindedly seeing off the figure of the dragon.
『Well then, for the second examination, we'll have you spend three days in the forest west from here. You're prohibited to bring your own food; There's no need to worry about water because there's a river running through the forest, and canteens will also be provided. Those who exit the forest before the time limit will be disqualified. Moreover, several of our knights in this forest are acting the role of the [Oni]. You won't be killed by them, but you'll be thrown out of the forest if you lose consciousness. Therefore, please be careful』(Rain)
The examinees then raise questions one by one after Rain-san has finished the explanation.
「Are there any ways to oppose the [Oni]? 」(Examinee #1)
『There are, of course. It won't be a problem even if you defeat them. Naturally, I would like you to avoid killing them as much as possible』(Rain)
「Are we allowed to unite with other fellow examinees into groups inside the forest?」(Examinee #2)
『That too is not an issue. However, please remember that it will just make it easier for the [Oni] to discover you if you guys manage to form groups』(Rain)
「How many [Oni] are there?」(Examinee)
『I can't answer that question. There might be just one of them, or even a hundred. However, all of them are wearing [Oni] masks, so you should be able to know immediately if you see them』(Rain)
「Are we allowed to use magic?」(Examinee)
『Unfortunately, the use of magic is prohibited this time. A special barrier has been erected in the forest making all of your magic unusable, so make sure to be careful』(Rain)
The forest being burned due to a fire-attribute magic will be a big deal after all. In short, everything should be fine if they continue to escape from the [Oni] for three days; They should be able to deal with their circumstances in one way or another even if magic is unusable
『Those who stay inside the forest until the end of the third day will pass the examination. There's no upper limit on a number of people who can pass. No one will fail should everyone here remain. Still, you'll be able to teleport here if you unfasten the badges that we'll be distributing now and throw them away, be due to a life-threatening accident or simply your desire to resign. If you believe you can't take it anymore, don't try to do the unreasonable and make sure to teleport here. By the way, those badges will still work even if you go outside the forest, and they will teleport you here. Of course, it will lead to disqualification 』(Rain)
We're distributing the transfer badges we've used during the previous recruitment. I've received the last badge, and notice that its number is 1192. Ooh, it's a good omen, which marks the making of a good country. Hmm? Which reminds me, hasn't the year been changed to a different one already? Oh well, it's too late to worry about that now.
(TL: A mnemonic pun here it seems. I got a reference to the former year when Kamakura Shogunate has been established, 1192, which is read いい国作ろう, literally "ichi-ichi-kyu-ni (1192)" or “making a good country”). It has been changed later to 1185, it seems. Hence the full meaning of this paragraph)
『Lastly, what I'm going to say may be natural, but intentionally depriving others of their badges or driving them outside the forest is prohibited. Of course, you will be disqualified if you do that. Ladies and Gentlemen, I expect you to act in a manner befitting those of the knights』(Rain)
Rain-san gets off the platform, and Nicola-san starts leading the examinees to the western forest as their guide.
I'm walking among the applicants, mixed-in with them and traveling in groups when a black-haired woman in lightweight armor walking next to me starts to speak.
「All preparations have been finished. We can move at any time」(Tsubaki)
「First, let's watch over how things will go for about two hours; I want to see what kind of actions will they do, okay? Ah, should there be some guys who look like they would do something underhanded, throw them out of the forest. There's nothing to talk about with those types 」(Touya)
「As you command」(Tsubaki)
Tsubaki-san nods while walking beside me. She is a part of the infiltration group, same as me. To be frank, it's not just her — several members of the knight order have mixed in among the examinees. Most of them are Tsubaki-san's subordinates though.
Without food, it can't be determined when someone will be attacked. It will surely be an easy task to see when those people will bring out their true characters during this occasion. The members who will be probing that… they are here for that, but they are also here to ensure the safety of the examinees, just in case.
It's not like there won't be any fellows who won't think of doing something bad a well. In addition to that, there are also a number of magic beasts in the forest.
I've even made various devices and, sure enough, I'm looking forward to how many people will be able to stay inside without running away. Ku-ku-ku… Ah, I can't do that now. I've totally become like some sort of bad character. I'm reflecting on that. I am.
The western forest is sufficiently wide, and, with its trees growing in a deep abundance, it makes the field of vision quite narrow.
Brunhild was, originally, a land with numerous magic beasts of which I'd made a clean sweep. However, even though I'd done that, the magic beasts living in this forest had once again started to become quite numerous.
People usually don't tend to stop in this place very often, with most of those who do being adventurers who have been requested by the guild to acquire raw materials once in a while. There's hardly any damage from magic beasts due to the forest being separated from the highway. I've also considered whether or not we should hunt down the dangerous looking magic beasts on this occasion.
We've reached the edge of the forest while I was thinking of that, being completely unaware of the current situation.
Nicola-san stops everyone and starts to explain the procedure.
「The examination will take place from here on out. You'll be entering the forest following the order of your badge numbers after receiving a canteen. Make sure to report to us though when your number comes up, and if you've decided to resign. In addition to that, if those of you without a weapon make a request, we will provide you with ordinary weapons should that be deemed possible. You're free to act once you've entered the forest. The [Oni] are already there, so please be careful. Now then, number 1, number 2…」(Nicola)
Nicola-san takes photos of the people entering the forest with a smartphone, confirming that they've definitely entered it.
Norun-san starts to do the same, and my number, which is the last number, is called out after more than 30 minutes. There's no need for them to take a photo of me, but they've still taken it just in case.
「Well then, please have Flora and people capable of using recovery magic be on standby, and place the teleport destination to the headquarters. E~to, both Nicola-san and Norun-san will be playing the role of the [Oni] as well, right? 」(Touya)
「Yes. I'll enter the forest after this」(Nicola)
「I'll also do the same, but what should we do if we encounter His Majesty or people from the infiltration group inside the forest?」(Norun)
「It's fine for you to attack us as you would the other examinees. We'll oppose you up to the point wherein our activities won't look suspicious. Once the night falls, I'll switch to the role of an [Oni] as well」(Touya)
Norun-san displays a cramped smile towards my reply.
「… Please hold back, okay? Otherwise, it'll be dangerous for those who'd be His Majesty's opponents」(Norun)
Well, members of the infiltration group should also be able to aptly move around as much as I do.
Most of our knights are playing the role of the [Oni] with the exception of those working in the office. Both Baba-jii-san and Yamagata-ossan are participating as well. By the way, the [Oni] were expressly told to overlook those examinees who are displaying something notable. After all, it's possible for those examinees to reach the interview if they have something shining in them.
I've had everyone playing the role of the [Oni] hold onto stun rods bestowed with [Paralysis], so they shouldn't be able to wound the examinees. Even if those applicants were defeated, the [Oni] can leave them as they are if they show some promise. If they don't show anything worthy of note, their badges will be taken from them, and they will be teleported, disqualifying them in the process.
Although Moroha-nee-san wanted to participate as an [Oni] as well, I've managed to sooth her and turn her down somehow. It's no joke, really. There won't even be a single successful applicant otherwise, I think.
「Well then, I suppose I'll be entering the forest now. If something happens, contact me via the smartphone」(Touya)
「Have a safe trip」(Norun)
Nicola-san courteously bows his head, and Norun-san sees me off while waving her hand as I step forward into the thickly overgrown forest.