Chapter 9 Cramming for Exam at the Library
The Royal Library is at the center of the city next to the castle.
In contrast to the castle with its many palace-like steeples, the Royal Library is a rectangular building made of stones. It's gray colored and looks sturdy.
Celica and I enter inside. Many bookshelves are put close together narrowly.
The smell of old books is pervasive inside the building. The windows are small, probably to prevent discolorations from sun rays. It's lit with magical light even though it's still noon.
There's a lot of illustrated books and practical guides that are popular near the entrance.
The second floor houses the literatures.
It seems records and such are stored underground. I don't know how many floors are under the ground, but it seems only people with high social positions could enter the second basement floor and below.
We went to the first basement floor to check out the monster that would appear in the exam, Octopus Ton.
By the way, Octopus Ton was a devil with bull horns, spider arms and octopus legs.
We look for books related to myths.
The myths of this world resemble the other myths. Creation God created the world, and let its children Gods to rule it. God of Sky, God of Earth, God of Wood, Water, Fire and such.
Amongst them, the newly born God Vanus, the holy god spread his influence, gaining many believers. It seems he has the power to defeat monsters and demon king.
The priests and cardinals of this country are also of Vanus belief.
Leaving that aside, we couldn't find the God called Lapisia.
Celica lets out a sigh with her hand on her cheek.
"I've never heard of it... Where did Keika-sama know it from?"
"Well, I just happened to overheard it in a tavern."
"Is that right. Should we continue to investigate?"
"I'd rather check out ceremonies for Gods."
If I can't defeat it, I don't have any choice but to calm its spirit.
I'm not sure if it would listen to an appeal from an outsider like me though.
In the first place, I'll likely get turned to stone during the ceremony.
Since I was told not to look at it, maybe it can be done somehow if I just don't look at the figure. Like the Greece's Gorgon myth.
I unintentionally stop my hand and mutter.
"What's the matter?"
"I was thinking the way to cope with petrification attacks."
"There should be no monster that dangerous in the exam."
"It's going to appear from the rumor I heard though. Haa."
"Such a dreadful thing...."
"Well, in the worst case scenario, I have a way to deal with it though."
I have no choice but to use my trump card.
I'll fiddle with the drawing lots and pick anything but number 3.
If it's going to be decided unilaterally instead of drawing lots, I'll tear off all the paper on the tower's entrances and shift them when the guards aren't looking.
We can pass it safely if I do that.
....But then, I won't be able to save the child God who told me not to look.
And that will mean I'm running away from Gaff's scheme.
As a God, I can't stand that.
The real victory is by completely winning against scums.
"They sell Earth Holy Water for curing petrification. However, items that can prevent petrification are very expensive. The cash in hands are..."
Celica looks down. A sorrowful look appears on her graceful face.
Having no money is painful.
However, petrification is even more painful.
You won't be able to move once you become a stone, you can't go back to your original form if the stone is broken.
"You should just be a stone from the beginning!!"
"Y-you're too loud, Keika-sama."
She caught and pulled my Wafuku's sleeve.
A librarian wearing a long robe came to the bookshelves related to myths where we were. He's smiling, but his eyes are not.
"What seems to be the matter? Were you not able to find the document you want?"
"Uh, sorry for being loud. We were investigating a God called Lapisia, but we had no success."
"Lapisia? --Ah, that one is not here."
"Eh? You know about it!?"
"Yes it's one of the minor legends. If I'm not mistaken the title should be 『Maternal Love』. The child is not actually a God, but one born between human and God."
"W-where can I read that!?"
"I think it's on the first floor at the place with children books."
"Thank you! We're saved!"
I see, it's a half-god so it's not in the myths.
While smiling, the librarian's blood vessel pops up.
"And also, please keep your voice down in the library."
Celica and I went to the first floor after apologizing.
We went out of the dim basement, and felt warm just from the sunlight coming from the small windows.
The place with children books.
I pulled the 『Maternal Love』 from a picture book's bookshelf.
I read it at once. The story was like this.
The Earth Goddess fell in love with a human man.
They lived happily together and a child was born.
However, it was an unforgivable act for a God.
The Creation God who knew about the circumstance ordered the goddess to kill the child.
The goddess was going to kill the child.
However, her love for her child was too strong, she couldn't do it.
She even thought of offering her life instead to seek pardon.
However, if she died, the earth would also die.
Suddenly, the goddess's husband thought of a good idea.
They would lie about killing the child, and hide the child in a coffin buried in the earth.
The Creation God was no longer enraged, the goddess and her husband lived together for a long time.
The child is still sleeping even now, embraced by the Mother Earth.
And they lived happily ever after.
....So that's Lapisia.
The story has probably been quite distorted, yet there are a lot of cases where parts of a legend are true.
In other words, rather than containing Lapisia's wrath itself, I should borrow the mother's power instead.
Burying the coffin is probably the quickest and easiest method.
With a cheerful look on my face, I speak to Celica who should be nearby.
"Alright. The prospect looks good. Let's go back."
"Fe, ah, yes."
Celica almost dropped the book in her hand. She was reading a different picture book.
"Do you like picture books?"
"My mother often read me this book. I love this story the most."
"It's a story about a girl who's tired of her carefree life with nothing happening, she goes on an adventure and finds her own prince-sama."
"It's very wonderful you see!"
With sparkling blue eyes, she said that powerfully like a dreaming girl.
"Hmmm. Good for you. Now, let's go back."
"Ah, you don't understand the splendor of this story do you! This is~"
She kept on insisting during our way back to the inn.
I could memorize it by reading once since I had memory improvement, but since Celica looked like she was having fun, I ended up just nodding to her.
Just hearing her bell-like clear voices was fun.
Next day. The day of the exam.
It was a refreshingly clear morning.
After eating some light breakfast, I immediately went to the hero registry.
I passed through to the second floor hall.
Many single desks are lined up. I counted about 100 seats.
Half of them are already occupied by the hero candidates. These guys seem used to it.
I take a seat in the back. Ultimately there are about 80 people participating.
Gaff came in the last minute.
He was in plain clothes and acted lazily like he wasn't going to take an exam. His breath smells of alcohol.
He's probably going to pass even if he just writes some random things.
I wait for it to begin while looking down on him.
After a while an old man wearing priest clothes entered the room.
Looks like he's the proctor.
He talks with a hoarse voice.
"Ee, good morning everyone who's aiming to become the hero. We will now begin the test of 『Wisdom』 required for a hero. Geography, history, weapon, armor, magic. Monsters' weak points. All the wisdom needed for a hero as a leader who commands his party. We will choose 32 people with the highest marks from this exam. The test will end when the sun has inclined in the western sky."
"Shouldn't it be until sunset!?"
"That's way too short."
Looks like it's shorter than the last year's exam.
They must be thinking that prolonging this will only waste money since Gaff, who's paid them a lot, will become the hero anyway.
The examiner looks completely unfazed.
"Those who aspire to become a hero have to be able to cope with any situation. And we will announce the result of the exam today at sunset."
"What the heck!"
"That's way too fast!"
Right at that time, one man raises his hand.
"Last year, the people who passed the exam drew lots in another day to decide the turns to enter the Tower of Trial, how will it be this year?"
The examiner answers like it's natural.
"This time they will be assigned sequentially from 1-32, from the highest score to the lowest."
The room rustles again.
They're doing as they please. Mine is definitely the third then.
However, no one was against it.
Since everyone is in the same situation, they unwillingly approve.
Papers are distributed, and then it starts.
The room is filled with noises of pens moving on the paper.
When someone wants to go to the toilet, they get blindfolded and taken away.
The exam is over by the evening.
I answered all of them. There should be no mistake.
It might have been a pointless effort, but I also thought of it as a way to review hero's knowledge.
The score was not announced, only the order was.
Well they can't exactly announce Gaff's score after all.
The examiner speaks while looking at a sheet of paper in his hand.
"The first who passes the written exam, Gaff."
"No way...." "Why is that guy...."
The room is filled with surprises, and resenting mutters.
Gaff stood up and laughed gahaha.
"Failing at these little problems huuh. You guys ain't qualified to be the hero."
The atmosphere inside worsen.
The second one was another guy.
The next one was me.
Well, I've already expected this.
And then, the atmosphere inside subtly changes.
"Oy, that guy's...."
"Isn't Keika the guy who drove Gaff away?"
"Is he that strong."
"You serious. I'd like to see that."
It's already become a rumor in the city huh.
Looks like that Gaff guy is really hated. He probably acted violently in other shops besides the old man's.
Together with admiring looks from everyone, I look at Gaff with smirking eyes.
Gaff grandly clicked his tongue and went out of the room after glaring at me with begrudging eyes.
You're the bad one here. That guy is really irritating me.
Well anyway, for now it's ended as planned--.
Just when I thought that.
The examiner who's standing in front of us speaks with a hoarse voice.
"That is all for the announcement. Congratulations for those who passed. For those who failed, please try again next year and work hard to defeat the demon king. --Well then, excuse me."
Several people stood up. Some heaves a sigh of relief, some bitterly bites their lips.
However, the examiner utters unexpected things lastly.
"Also, the test of 『Courage』 will be held in three days from now. People who failed this test cannot enter the party. Please participate as a hero next year."
I also reflexively shouted.
The men are pressing on together.
"I was going to hire the guys who failed!"
"We won't make it in time now!"
Such and such.
However, since we're all under the same condition again, they yielded.
Gaff who is already in a party with his underlings overwhelmingly holds the advantage.
The exam this time is really set for Gaff to win.
Just how much did they pay them.
Rather, that guy left without hearing this.
He probably already knew about it. It's just as planned huh.
I'm thinking with folded arms. Creases are formed on my forehead.
I had asked the tavern old man to look for people but he said it would take one week.
Moreover, you can't hire people who fail the hero exam.
That means, skilled people in this Royal Capital will be in high demand.
They probably will decline if we don't pay them.
I wanted to hire a thief or a priest, but it's probably impossible.
--Now then, what should I do.
I left the hall which continued to be noisy and went back to the inn while deep in thought.