Chapter 2 – Third Examination ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼ ▼
The next day.
A group is running at a slow pace in a deep fogged woodlands.
Adding the ten people who passed the second examination and the twenty who are seeded, a total of 30 people.
No, more specifically, deducting the red-haired girl, there are 29 people.
The examinees shut their mouth to the deepness of the fog. More specifically, the deep fog where they could only see 2 meters ahead.
And within that thick fog, running for about two hours.
Many of the third examination participants had fed up expressions.
However, that does not mean that that shows fatigue.
Every one of them is a strong person and their basic physical abilities are high. That is why there is no way that they would get tired slowly running for around two hours.
ーーif we’re going to run, let’s run properly. How irritating.
In short, that is what they meant by being fed up.
For guys who trained to some extent, running at the speed of 10km/hr is something that could be only described as irritating.
Although, it seems that the examiner Judy who is running at the forefront is of course, well aware of that.
She turns around, looked at the bored expressions of the examinees one by one, and grins.
And there, Junpei narrowed his eyebrows.
“With Judy’s expression right now, some should notice right……?”, He thought.
Junpei said to Ami who is running beside him.
「n? What is it?」
「……do you know where we are?」
From what Junpei guessesーーright now, the ones who accurately grasps the situation is a little more than have of the participants. The remaining others have already dropped out, or maybe about to drop out, just hanging by a thread.
「Where, you say……? This is the Heat Haze Desert right?」
*Hyuu*, Junpei whistled.
「Well then, the next question. Roughly, how far is the adventurer’s guild from here? Also, how long has passed since we started running?」
Thinking for a while, Ami answers.
「……my sense of time isn’t tricked so, about a little longer than two hours…… the distance is probably a little more than a hundred kilometers. It’s just, my sense of distance is being tricked, so I don’t have much confidence」
“Un”, Junpei nodded.
In fact, they have already exceeded a hundred kilometers from the adventurer guild’s branch long ago.
「I’ll confirm this. What do you mean by being tricked?」
「From the start point, about 30 minutes to an hour, it was really a slow marathon. But, from then on……we were running in ridiculous speed」
In other words, as a matter of fact, they are running several times of the world record for the marathon in Earth, and Junpei and the others have run up to this distance.
Even if they are examinees who are participating in the B-Rank examination, it is not easy to maintain that amount of speed for an hour. Not mentioning that those who have magician class jobs would have quite a lot of burden.
Moreover, it is an abnormal situation where the person itself is completely believing that they are running at a slow pace.
As a result, a few people have already dropped out. They run continuously until they exhaust their stamina without noticing, and finally disappear without notice.
「However, unexpectedly, you can follow with ease huh?」
「Well, my job has the characteristic of being light after all」
「About you……I don’t expect anything about your fighting strength, but it looks like you have the minimum skills that a thief should have huh」
「Thinking about where the guild branch is built, doesn’t this desert look like a great examination stage? Since it’s a desert stage, it is natural that one should at least have countermeasures for hallucinations and illusion techniques」
“Yeah”, Junpei nodded once again.
「If you know that much then there’s no problem」
The fatal mistake that Judy did earlier.
She turned around within the deep fog where one can only see two meters ahead and looked at the group of examinees. Although it is a situation where they are muddle-headed because of the hallucinations and illusion techniques, many of the participants noticed something strange because of that, and perceived it.
The surrounding scenery.
Right now, the scenery that has spread in Junpei and the others’ vision is not for nor is it woodlands.
It is only dry sand dunes and craters that continue to the horizon. By the way, the craters are made by the famous antlion of the Heat Haze Desert.
「The famous giant antlions of the Heat Haze Desert……it looks like from here on, there are the nests of their strengthened variant species. There’s the possibility that normal antlions would be defeated by the examinees instead, so I think that Judy intentionally chose this route?」
「Variant species huh……you’re well-informed」
「I said this earlier too but, my job is a thief you know? Well, I am a “robber” though……still, the ability to scout and lots of knowledge is needed. Having things other than fighting abilities is very convenient when joining parties……or rather, one should know at least that much or else they won’t get any profits」
「By the way……you know a lot about this world’s geography and living things right?」
「Didn’t I just say that」
「I could tell the antlions with just looking but……I want to know about those cactuses」
“How ‘amazing’……”, Ami shrugged her shoulders.
「What do you mean you don’t know about cactuses? Isn’t that the cause of the illusions and hallucinations?」
「I don’t know what you mean by ‘what’ but, I don’t know it so there’s no other way of saying it」
「Don’t tell me, you……are you resisting the status ailments with just your natural skills? Those cactuses’ hallucination is something that even A-Rank adventurers could be affected without proper countermeasures you know?」
And there, Junpei did not know what to say.
He made a deprecatingly amazed smile to the【All Status Ailments Resistance】that he got from the No Life King.
「Well, I have resistance on status ailments with my skill」
「……those ninja-like movements that you did in the towers before, that incomprehensive skill of yours too……what a guy」
「Getting back on the topic, what do you mean by that earlier?」
「You can see the giant antlions here and there in this desert right?」
「Yeah, it’s those craters that have about 20 meters in diameter right」
「And cactuses have grown here and there in the desert. What do you think they are for?」
“Hmm……”, Junpei thought for a while.
「Literally, as you can see, the antlions would drag down their preys right?」
「And compared to that, the cactuses release narcotic substances in the air, and adds illusions to that. And then, if everything goes well, they are in a cooperation which when the guys passing through the desert would get drunk in illusion or hallucination, getting captured within the desert, and eating by the antlions right?」
That’s right. Junpei understands. Soon after they began to run from the guild, although it is very lightly, they were under the effects of illusions and narcotics that the cactuses release. Junpei thought that it was Judy who did it at first, but because the effects became denser the closer they get nearer to the desert, he doubted the possibility that there might be some other thing, for example, a plant in nature that releases narcotic substances.
Towards Junpei’s analysis, Ami made a dumbfounded expression.
「If you know that much then……no, what else do you want to ask me other than that?」
「What I want to ask is why, they are in a……symbiotic relationship」
“Ahh”, *Pon*, Ami puts a fist in her palm.
「In the center part of the antlion’s nest, there is an underground cave that has spread」
「Well, in reality, it’s something like a narrow space though」
And there, Ami pointed at the living thing with two lumps far away.
「Look, they look like a camel right?」
「Yeah, they do」
The difference with that thing to that on Earth is that the color of is fur is purple and looks poisonous. Looking very carefully, there are several of them walking here and there.
「And so, the antlions captures humans, kills them, and drags them inside the underground space, not eating them immediately」
「And then, there is a lot of salt content inside those lump of the camels. And so, they can purposely change the density of the salt content in their pee」
Junpei who somehow understood what it meant showed blatant displeasure.
「You, do you really understand it with just that now?」
「I want to confirm this, most probably……the prey who get captured, they became minced right?」
「Yes, that is right, though……」
And there, Ami noticed the intent on Junpei’s question and made a hateful wry smile.
「It looks like you really understand huh. You……unlike how you look, you’re, hmm, you have sharp insights, or should I say quick-witted……」
At that time, Junpei felt light pain run in his head.
It’s true, since he was thrown into the labyrinth, he felt that his senses are strangely sharp.
Most of the things that he thinks of are correct, and the strategies that he devised were also just fit.
That was even though when he was still in Japan, he was a slow-witted simpleton……
While feeling strangeness somewhere, Junpei shook his head.
「Most probably, the camels could refine salted human right?」
“Yes”, Ami nodded.
「It’s because of those camels’ existence, being able to create preserved food, that caused the sweep over of the antlions and cactuses in this desert」
「The camels and antlions eat salted food, and the camels walking around gives the cactuses manure or fertilizer, in other words, huh」
And, at that time, one of the examineesーーone who still believes that they are still running inside the forestsーーslips his foot and fell into the crater that the antlions created.
He was immediately devoured into the middle of the sand getting his body chomped, and finally get dragged underground.
From how that miserable scene looks, those guys who have dropped out before they have completely entered the desert might have it better.
「By the way……that, right now, won’t you help him? If it’s you, you can do it right?」
Towards Ami’s question, Junpei shrugged his shoulders as if to say “what kind of joke is that”.
「I don’t have that much of a bad taste that, I would enjoy hurting other people without any reasons, but……」
「What do you mean?」
「I’m not that good of a person that, I would save other people without any reason as well. Well, it would depend on the time and circumstances but, saving that guy right now would only be a loss of time. Also, who knows what kind of trap is in there」
Ami asked Junpei strangely.
「If so, then……why did you help me?」
In a blink of an eye, deep within Junpei’s mind, it started to tingle in pain.
Small insects, *ZawaZawa*, they freely crawled inside his brain……it was that kind of an unpleasant feeling.
While contorting his head to the abnormal tingling pain, Junpei said inside.
ーI don’t fucking know……