Chapter 11 Challenge! Tower of Trial (First Floor - First Part)
The morning three days later.
Parties of heroes candidates have gathered in front of the Tower of Trial. The average party has 3-5 members.
I saw Gaff as I was looking at the other party members.
He draws closer while grinning. Disgusting.
"So you didn't run with yer' tail between yer' legs."
"Back at you."
Gaff looks down at the old man and Celica.
"What, you didn't hire some decent adventurers? A senile old fool and yer' mistress won't do at all."
Gahahaha, he's laughing while insulting.
The old man ignores him, but Celica looks angry.
I laugh Gaff off.
"Aren't your members worthless? They look fit to be in a mountain."
U, Gaff holds his breath. But he immediately smiled.
"That Maz has challenged hero exam's Tower of Trial many times. He knows everything. Do you even have an experienced one?"
Maz... if I'm not mistaken it's the archer bandit.
Did he make him challenge the exams for the sake of this day?
"No need for an experienced one. We'll break through any trials ourselves."
"Heh, I'll be enjoying yer' dying moment!"
He went back to his underlings while grinning and saying that.
--I won't forgive this guy. Don't think you can insult a God this far.
I'll quickly clear this exam and advance to the tournament.
I'm challenging the tower with a party of four.
Me, Celica, the old man, and a big man.
The big man is taller and wider than me. His whole body is wrapped in black.
Everyone has a big rucksack on their back.
Still, there sure is a lot of people in the open space around the tower. It's crowded even to the main street. Lots of jeering and cheering.
Fido Grill stalls are making a killing.
Many monitors for the broadcast are installed in various places in the city, people are waiting for the start.
By the way, of course they're doing a bet.
The old man and Celica were going to enter too, but I stopped them.
I have two reasons.
One, the odd is quite low since the facts that I came in third and had a run in with Gaff were known.
The other reason is that I don't think the thing with Lapisia will go very smoothly.
After waiting for a while, a man in the prime of his life who seems to be the examiner finally appeared on the rooftop of the Tower of Trial.
He's moving nimbly contrary to his age. A deep voice echoes.
"Future heroes who have broken through the trial of 『Wisdom』. We will now begin the trial of 『Courage』. Break through all five floors of this tower and reach this rooftop before the sunset. In other words, only ones who cleared the tower in 10 hours will pass the trial. --Then starting from the first, enter your door! First turn, Gaff's party."
Cheers and jeers come mixed.
Gaff enters the first door while cursing.
The second party's leader is a robust-looking warrior with broad-shoulders.
His face looks dauntless. With a thief and a magician, they enter the door.
"Third, Keika's Party."
I immediately walk while letting the sleeves of my Wafuku flutter. My Geta are making rattling sounds.
People are cheering.
"Do your best, bro!" "Make it fun!" "Old man, I'll take care of Minya if ya die!"
"Shut up! I ain't giving my daughter to you!"
We entered the third door with a relatively warm cheering.
The inside is dim.
The floor is of stone pavement, the wall is made of stones too.
The passage's height and width are around 2 meter each. It's unexpectedly wide.
There's a big door at the end of the passage.
Candle lights are put on the ceiling at an interval.
I speak while looking up.
"Sure is convenient, we don't need torch or lamp."
"That is because the broadcast cannot be seen otherwise."
Celica straightens her rucksack and powerfully nods with her blond hair swaying.
"Let us advance, Keika-sama."
"Yea, old man, I'm counting on you to be the vanguard. After that it'll be me, big man and lastly Celica."
We slowly advance while being careful.
I activate <<Truth Sight>> that can see through everything while walking.
Any kind of trap on the floor and wall will appear.
"Oh? There's a hidden door this close by the entrance."
The old man turns back and replies.
"How'd you notice that. As expected of Keika."
"Can we use it?"
"There's a stair leading to the upper floor, looks like it's a maintenance facility. It can't open without specific key or magic."
That means the stone coffin was carried to the upper floor huh.
In fact, I can't feel the unpleasant presence of that malice on this floor.
There doesn't seem to be any trap in this passage, so we continue on and open the door at the end.
The inside is a very big room.
About as big as a playing field of an elementary school. I can't see the edge as it's too dark.
There's another door inside the room. That's the only exit.
"What is this place....?"
"There's a signboard here...."
Celica points at the wall in the entrance.
Written is, 『Preliminary trial. Defeat the fake one to obtain the key. However, there is no penalty even if you defeat a real one.』
"Fake one? I don't really understand, but that means there's no problem even if we defeat them all right?"
"That seems to be the case, Keika-sama."
Celica nods, the old man replies.
"Just right fer' warming up."
"Nyaa", suddenly I heard a cute voice below me.
There's a cat when I look below.
Its small and cute body is snuggling on my leg.
Its standing tail is slightly curved at the end.
The mark of affection.
"Oh my, why is there a cat in this place?"
Celica bends down and reaches out while staring at it.
There was no particular danger when I saw it with <<Truth Sight>>. It's just an ordinary cat.
The cat squints and rubs its face on Celica's white hand. Cute.
"There's no trap, nothing. I wonder if it got lost?"
Just when I was puzzled.
I suddenly heard rushing sounds from the depth of the room.
"Nyaa!" "Nyaon!" "Nyau!"
Countless fluffy cats came flocking like a tsunami.
It was not just one or two hundred.
Several hundreds of loveliness bury the hall.
The old man's eyes are lit up and he shouts.
"C-cats! And so many!"
"So we have to kill them to find the fake one!"
"Impossible! Doing such a thing to such lovely creatures!"
"Dammit, what should--uwaa!" "Kyaa!" "Foo!"
We were swallowed up by the cats without being able to fight back.
It's impossible to do anything in this wave of fluffiness!
I saw with <<Truth Sight>>, but the ones here were all ordinary cats.
Of course it's easy to kill them since they're weak.
Our actions are broadcasted to spectators through the monitors.
Their confidence would decline toward a candidate of hero who could kill such a cute creature like this!
"Kuh! So this is what a trial of hero about!"
It's really unthinkable for a human to come up with such an inhumane plan.
Underhanded! As expected of demon king, underhanded!
I shout at the old man while pushing the waves of cats.
"Old man! Do something about this!"
"T-telling me that--hawawa."
"Old man like ya shouldn't 'hawawa'-ing!"
But, I can understand that feel.
Lovely cats on the floor are crowding us. They're also climbing our bodies. On our arms and faces.
The cats are rubbing their bodies while looking affectionate.
Feel like I'll ascend to heaven even though I'm a God!
And then the old man shouts in a serious tone.
"I can't! Sorry, Keika! I love caaaats! I'd rather die than killing them! --Hawawa."
The old man closes his eyes and disappears under innumerable cats.
--We've lost a valuable man. I'll pick up your bones later.
....Well I've somehow sensed that the old man loves cat.
Her wife was a catfolk after all, and he stopped being a bandit and became a honest man in order to raise her catfolk daughter Minya.
I look at the other side. I can see a blond hair that's half buried in cats.
"Damn, I can't become a hero if this keeps up! --Celica, can you do something!"
"Nyaaa, desuyo, nyaa. ...Ha! That's right Keika-sama! I'll help you now!"
Celica who looks like she's been charmed suddenly gets up in high spirit.
She shakes off the cats that have climbed her body and swiftly pull the sword on her waist!
She's taking a pose with the rapier as if threatening.
The cats are separated once, but then their tails stand up and they snuggle on her legs.
Celica's graceful face warps as if it's going to cry.
"Ah, so many solitary cats in a group.... I'm truly sorry Keika-sama! I'm a useless woman."
With that as her last words, she's buried in the mass of jumping cats.
--Celica, killed in action.
However, Celica's words hit me.
When you think about it, it's strange for them to get attached to us all at once when we don't even have catnips.
Moreover, the cats are acting too cute. They're accurately tempting humans.
It's most likely not just some remote-control technique.
Something that knows the situation must be giving detailed instructions in this place!
I shake off the cats and activate the <<Truth Sight>> once again.
I look at the cats who are rubbing their bodies while meowing.
The cats keep climbing up my body no matter how many times I shake them off.
There's a lone cat with a different status.
It looks exactly like a cat and acts affectionately together with the other cats.
However, it can't deceive God's eyes, it's displayed as 【Magic Doll】.
"Animal shaped golem huh--Haa."
I quickly draw my Tachi, and flash.
The sound of something hard being cut echoed in the wide space.
The cat golem breaks while scattering gears and springs around while wailing.
The other cats stop moving.
At the next moment.
They ran away from us all at once.
The ones that remain are the old man in heaven, and Celica who's gasping with her skirt rolled up and underwear on display.
I speak while sheathing my Tachi.
"Hey, we're going."
The old man rubbed his eyes and stood up, Celica fixed her clothes with a red face.
I take a silver key among the scattered parts on floor.
It's the key for the next door without a doubt.
The old man and Celica come to my sides and say.
"Such powerful enemy right out of the gate.... Keika yer' awesome. Noticing a doll mixed in them. That was dangerous y'know..."
"As expected of Keika-sama. And I was in mess, I'm very sorry..."
Celica said that while straightening her disheveled blond hair.
"Well that was probably a trap to waste our time and reduce people's confidence in us. What a dungeon with disgusting personality this is."
"Alight then, let's go--let me take that key."
The old man takes the key and opens the door in the interior.
A dimly lit passage. The atmosphere is different from before.
Looking at it with Truth Sight, it's full of traps.
"From here on, it's the real deal. Let's brace ourselves and do our best."
"Ya got it!"
Celica smiles with her blue eyes. Her white teeth shine.
It's a comforting smile that makes you smile just looking at it.
--I have to protect this smile.
I'm going to work hard, in order to meet Celica's expectation and become a God in this world. I continue on while strongly gripping my Tachi's hilt.