High School Hack and Slash Chapter 137 Part 1

Twelve Labors

―― the peripheral world 『BIBLIOTHECA』, the glazed myth 『****』――

―― 『The Arena of the Abyss (Tartarus Colosseum)』, 『The Gate of Choice (Sybilla Gate) 』 domain ――

「… By any chance, is this a dungeon?」

「I don’t know.」

Alone with Seiichi, I stand stock still there like a fool as I look around at our surroundings.

The gloomy and hazy space is teeming with the smell of a dense miasma.

Under our feet is a disc-like stage.

As I look up at the darkness-colored sky, it makes me feel like I’m looking up from the bottom of a dark hole.

When it comes to this kind of thing, it’s that.

I guess there’s no mistaking it that it’s a dungeon-esque wondrous space.

There are some messages in the Interface, and it seems that we’ve ended up losing our way into a dungeon-like mysterious area.

「… There are things that look like doors, aren’t there?」

「Yeah.」

Around the perimeter of the circular stage, twelve stone doors are standing side by side.

No, rather than doors, I can only see them as monolith-like monuments.

There seems to be nothing behind them, so I feel like they’ll fall down as it is if we were to push them.

If Seiichi were to vigorously rush in and fall down along with the door, as expected, I’m confident to say that even I would end up laughing.

「Give me a break. Why is an event starting out of the blue? It’s messed up in a lot of ways, isn’t it? Follow the arrangements properly, damn it.」

「Hell if I know.」

Could you stop laying blame on others?

「I can’t seem to see the figures of the other guys, but does that mean they’ve been sent somewhere else?」

「Yeah, it’s just the two of us.」

「… No, that’s true, but stop putting it like that.」

What a demanding man.

Well, it’s no use even if I lock eyes with Seiichi, so I try checking our current situation.

Nonetheless, though, there are nothing but those suggestive rock doors.

If it is a door, it’s a single piece of slab the size of a statue could fit through.

It has neither handle nor knob, and an elaborate relief drawing is engraved on the surface.

What is depicted in it is probably a scene from the story.

A scene in which a man is trying to rope a horse-like creature, a scene in which he is confronted by an army of women wearing spiked helmets, a scene in which beautiful women are scrambling for apples, and so on.

Each of the twelve monoliths must have had a separate relief drawing engraved on it.

Of the twelve, three have turned into smooth blank spaces.

「Does it have some kind of meaning? This thing, I mean.」

I think both Seiichi, who is scratching his head, and I are not suited for this kind of brain work.

Riddle-solving of this kind of gimmick is Shizuka’s specialty.

「Talking about it like this won’t take us anywhere. For the time being, let’s try checking them out from one end to another.」

「Yeah… No, wait.」

What Seiichi is about to reach out for is a monolith with a magnificent antlered deer embossed on it.

「That one is, not right. That’s, not it.」

The words are not coming out, as if the back of my throat is clogged.

However, a sense of urgency, as if the pit of my stomach is burning, is welling up inside me, telling me that that one is a no-go.

That choice is surely a bad one.

There should be a choice we have to choose beforehand, no, before anything else.

「Hmm, wait. The quest subject that Himechi was persistently asking about, did that by any chance refer to this?」

「No, like hell if I know….」

Seiichi, his eyebrows furrowed, mutters incomprehensible things.

「By any chance, did she know things would turn out like this? … Nah, no way that could be true, huh. But it’s too good to be a coincidence guha.」

「Calm down.」

For the time being, I try smashing a kick into his butt.

I don’t know what kind of gag he wants to play, but right now, the feeling is in a rush over here.

「The hell are you doing?!」

「Not a thing or anything. Time is precious right now, so we ought to not waste it.」

「Y, yeah. That’s certainly true, but that’s quite impatient of you. When it comes to you, that’s unusual, or should I say….」

No, isn’t it only natural to be impatient?

Rather than talking about such a thing, if you have any idea about this Lore raid-esque gimmick, then do spit it out.

「There was this subquest called『Twelve Labors』, right? If that’s what this is, then no matter how you look at it, these things are probably the trigger keys.」

Twelve quests and twelve stone doors (monolith).

It’s so blatant that I can’t help but suspect misdirection.

I have no idea what kind of thing this『Twelve Labors (Hercules Quest)』 is, but that name alone could be a clue to the quest.

「… No, Himechi has been persistently bringing up the subject since quite a while ago, no?」

「So, what kind of quest is it?」

Seiichi, sporting a dubious look on his face, scratches his head.

「Well, it’s the so-called trials of the champion Hercules from Greek mythology. It’s a story where in order to atone for the sins he committed, that guy had to complete the trials given to him by the good-for-nothing king one after another, or something along those lines.」

「Oh.」

「The number of those trials is twelve, and the quests that are modeled after those trials also seem to be twelve in number. If you conquer that throng of quests, you’ll be able to lower the difficulty level of the『Tartarus Arena』 itself (raid). Moreover, they also serve as triggers to activate the gimmicks in the arena that will give the challenger an advantage.」

「Hmm, you’re quite knowledgeable about it.」

When I try to praise him, he lets out a deliberate sigh.

I’m irked by the yareyare-type appeal.

「And, then. The gimmicks that are opened up in the subquests seem to be of various kinds, you see. And even among them, the most important one is probably the『Gatekeeper of the Underworld (Cerberus)』, which boasts the so-called undead authority (system).」

「You mean sexually?」

「Just where did the sexual part come from? It’s an annoying cheat that unless we snatch that authority away from Hercules, he’ll come back to life no matter how many times we kill him, you see. Putting it the other way around, it also means that our side will come to be able to use the undead cheat, too.」

「The same as Rashomon, huh.」

「No, they may be similarly death avoidance mechanisms, but their core system philosophy is different. If the『Rashomon』 system is that of Save and Load, the『Gatekeeper of the Underworld』 system only keeps your flesh and essence from separating. If it’s a boss monster, it probably has a self-regeneration ability, but in the case of humans, there’s a need to regenerate the flesh with a potion or something.」

Seiichi, sporting a distant look on his eyes, spills out a vainly detailed explanation.

His somewhat inorganic archaic smile is eerie.

Having pointed out that I’m being impatient, Seiichi is conversely too calm, isn’t he?

It was as if he was an onlooker, a spectator watching a play being enacted according to the scenario.

「Well. It’s a convenient authority (ability).」

「I see. I get it that you’ve been doing your best with your study for the test.」

「… That’s not how it is, but….」

I lukewarmly ignore Seiichi, who is back with his vacant face.

The point is, we have to crush the『Gatekeeper of the Underworld』 subquest first.

Of the twelve monoliths, I stand in front of a relief depicting a three-headed doggy.

Hmm, it doesn’t budge even when I touch it or push it.

For the time being, let’s try destroying it.

I try to hit it lightly, but it gives off a sense of profoundness as if it were a gigantic rock mountain.

「It’s impossible. It’s said that there is an order in which the『Twelve Labors』 are opened. The『Gatekeeper of the Underworld』 is the twelfth, and the last quest to be opened. The first one is the『The Great Lion of Gold』… or so it should have been, but I can’t seem to find it.」

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