Chapter 138.1: Flower Garden of Memories [Part 1]
“Hmm, Rina, I take it that the stairs you chose were not the right ones?”
There are five staircases in total that lead to the top of the big tree.
We drew three of them, and me, Lay and Misa were the only ones who were going that way.
The staircase Rina chose must have been the wrong one.
“Ah, yes. It was the wrong one. It was a staircase that went down.”
If I had gone down those stairs, I would have been back in the Trials Room, just as the Great Tree of Eniyunien had said.
There was no way she could have met me halfway, assuming the steps I was taking were correct.
It was not permitted to destroy the walls and take any other path than the ones that had been permitted.
So the only thing I can think of would be…
“…A hidden passage?”
I asked, and Rina nodded her head.
I guess hidden passages can be counted as paths that can be taken.
“When I was going down the stairs, I remembered. I had a feeling that Gunnier’s staircase wasn’t a straight path, so I searched the walls and found a hidden passage, just like now.”
So it wasn’t just luck that could cause me to fail the test.
“You hear me, right?”
With [Thought Communication Leaks], I talk to all members of my team.
“There seems to be a hidden passage in the stairs. If you find it, it will lead to a path that leads to the top. I suggest that you look all for it.”
Misha and the others replied that they would look for the passage.
If everything went well, they would all be able to reach the top of the mountain.
“Now, Rina, if you’ve been through here before, then you must have undergone the test of spirits, right?”
She shook her head when I asked.
“…Hmmm, I don’t remember taking a spirit test at all…but I think I went through Gunnier’s Stairs to the top…”
Was it just that she could not remember, or was she in a position to see the Spirit King without having to go through the trials?
“As I recall, there was a shortcut somewhere.”
“That’s something I’d really like to find.”
Using the magic of [Remote Clairvoyance Limnet], I projected Lay and the others’ vision onto it.
After giving it to Rina, I decided to keep moving.
“If you remember anything, just let me know.”
We walked up the stairs.
Rina followed behind me, her gaze fixed on Lay and the others in the [Remote Clairvoyance Limnet].
After a while, the end of the stairs was cut off.
Looking up from there, I saw a dozen or so tube-shaped trees stretching toward the top. All of them were large enough to hold about three people.
Probably inside those cylindrical trees were the stairs that Lay and Misa were climbing.
Looking down, I could see the ordeal room.
“This looks like an ordeal, huh?”
Rina exclaimed, pointing to a nearby wooden plaque.
――Trials of Wisdom and Courage――
If you step into the void, a path will appear.
This path would reject all but the most courageous and would lead them down into the abyss.
“Hmm. So you’re telling me to keep going and believe there is a path here even if it’s not visible to the naked eye. Perhaps if you try to play it safe with [Flight Fless] magic or something, you will fall and be rejected.”
Without hesitation, I stepped out into the air.
The sound of my footsteps echoed. There must be a staircase there, invisible to the eye.
“You can follow me.”
Rina walked behind me, looking a little hesitant.
After a while, I stopped.
“We’ll turn around here.”
Believing that the staircase floor was there, I turned.
With a thump, my feet stepped in the air and I walked up the stairs that were turning around.
“…How do you know?”
“Think about it. Every staircase you’ve ever been up has always turned around every hundred steps, right? Everything, from the size of the staircase floor to the size of the steps, was all the same. I can only assume that they were giving us a hint so as to help us tackle this ordeal.”
It was a test of wisdom and courage.
So along with courage, wisdom was also being tested to see if they would notice it.
“…When you asked me to try to remember, I didn’t pay attention to the number of stairs, much less the size of each stair…”
“I see. Well, no matter. You just concentrate on remembering the shortcut.”
Rina said, staring at my back.
“That’s amazing. It appears that I am simply walking.”
“What, this level should be no more than a child’s trick. The higher we go, the more difficult the ordeal will be.”
Rina paused when she heard this.
She turned her head to the side and stared into the void.
“…I remember…I think…I think there’s a path here…”
The stairs turn around every hundred steps.
Right now, we’re just about 33 steps away from the first step.
There shouldn’t have been any particular clue that would allow us to proceed sideways, but if Rina says so, it wouldn’t be surprising if there was a path.
“A hidden passage?”
“Maybe. But I don’t know if it’s a shortcut…”
Rina took a bold step forward.
She should have completely fallen off the stairs, but she didn’t.
There was an invisible path there.
“…Can I go this way…? I feel like there’s something important over there…”
Rina said with an earnest expression.