Chapter 128 – Her Her & Her (4)
The battle had been about to reach its climax. It had been a kill or be killed situation.
However, their surrounding froze out of nowhere, and it was as if the Ice Dragon had come to some understanding. It nodded its head, and it disappeared. As a consequence, the tension that had built up was ruined.
“Flustered. Relieved. Surprised. Happy.”
“Whew. I was barely able to stop you all.”
Arpte had assessed the situation, and he had brought everything to a halt. Artpe calmly landed with two women in tow. He landed in front of three women. Sienna wanted to jump into Artpe’s arms, but she held herself back. She asked him a question..
“Oppa, what just happened?”
“I stopped the ruin from disappearing.”
“The Dragon itself was the ruin? If I killed it, wouldn’t that have solved everything?”
Etna was a little bit angry, because he had interfered in her fight. Her cheeks puffed out as she interrupted the conversation between Sienna and Artpe. Artpe wondered why Etna was here, but first, he gave her a detailed explanation.
“The Ice Dragon is the guardian of the ruin, and it is also the soul of the ruin. You can’t kill the Ice Dragon through conventional means. The way you attacked the Ice Dragon would have killed it temporarily. The only thing that would have resulted in the Ice Dragon’s death would be the early arrival of spring.”
“Why? If I kill it, its Record, Mana and loot will be granted to me. For several hundred…. I lived for quite a long time, and this rule has never betrayed me.”
“However, you also know that the rule you are talking about can be circumvented through magic.”
She had an idea as to what he was talking about, but Etna closed her mouth. Artpe smirked when he saw this. He gave her an additional explanation.
“You fought against the Ice Dragon. It guards the ruin, and the ruin is linked to the entire continent of Glacia. If your flame can consumed the entirety of this continent, you will be able to gain everything within the ruin. Well? Are you able to do that?”
“Yes. That is why I froze everything again. I’ll say this once and for all. You can’t enter this ruin. It is that type of a ruin.”
She answered him, but Etna’s cheeks remained puffed up. She looked like a child that had been scolded by her mother. Sienna snickered at the sight, but when Etna glared at her, Sienna acted dumb.
Artpe sighed as he observed all of this.
“If I knew Etna was here, I would have gotten here faster. I cleared one Dungeon on the way here, so…..”
“You stopped off somewhere on your way here!? Oppa, you are too much! Do you know how much I’ve missed you!”
At that point, Sienna had reached the end of her patience. She freed herself from all anxiety as she hugged Artpe. She clung to him. Vadinet had been calm as she stood next to Artpe. Her eyebrows twitched for a brief moment, but she didn’t do anything else. She looked as if she was suffering under a Stun spell.
Of course, Artpe knew why Vadinet was acting that way. This was why he didn’t find the sight to be amusing!
In truth, Artpe was feeling complex emotions more so than anyone present here. However, he decided to take care of the urgent task first.
He thought Sienna wouldn’t be lonely since she was with Regina. However, it seemed he had been wrong. Sienna was close to tears as she rubbed her cheek against his chest.
“Oppa, you are too much. You really are too much. You are too much.”
“Yes. I’m sorry. It seems I was really late.”
The two of them had never been separated for a long period of time before. It seemed Sienna relied on Artpe. She relied on him much more than he had imagined.
Normally, Sienna acted much more mature compared to Maetel. When he saw Sienna act spoiled, it was a bit heartwarming. He felt like a dad, who got confirmation that his daughter was still young. It was a strange feeling of relief.
On the other hand, Regina was very quiet as she approached them. The whites of her eyes flashed as she spoke.
“You have more women. Rare beast.”
“I’m sick of hearing such words. I have to hurry up and bring in a male party member.”
Artpe and Maetel had started the hero’s party, and it had been the two of them for awhile. In no time, the party had expanded to five members. That wasn’t all. There was Silpennon’s party. They were operating separate from Artpe’s party. However, both party shared the same goal, so the hero’s party had nine members in total.
“I still have the problem of needing to recruit two more members.”
“Amazing ambition. Respect. However, I don’t like it.”
“They aren’t women.”
Regina was glad to see him, but she could only convey her feeling through curt replies.
However, he couldn’t be carefree right now. It wasn’t time for him to play with Regina.
“Artpe…. You’ve grown up a lot.”
“Yes. I’m in the midst of my puberty. Besides that…..”
The five members of Artpe’s party was bunched together, and Etna was standing a bit away from them. She was looking at him with a vacant look. He had to take care of business with Etna.
“Why are you here, Etna?”
“I······ I read that the item that I want is here…..”
“There is an item you want? Ah.”
Artpe immediately knew what was going on. He was sure she was talking about the sculpture made out of the world’s first ice. Moreover, he was sure that this item existed in the ruin that they were about to go in.
In his past life, Artpe had acquired this very item from this ruin.
Of course, his abilities were lacking then, so he couldn’t acquire anything more than that item.
“So where did you hear about it?”
“Mag······ Koo-hmmm! I found the information in a library.”
“…..at a library……”
Artpe tilted his head. In his past life, Artpe had a very hard time finding information about this ruin.
It wasn’t as if there weren’t any hints to be found in the Demon realm. However, the hints stopped well before it mentioned the ruin. He was a bit reticent to say this, but Etna didn’t have outstanding powers of deduction or reasoning. There was no way she would have been able to come here through her own power.
“I…. I did receive some help from others.”
“I see. However, it seems you didn’t find out about the fact that you cannot enter the ruin.”
Etna became sullen as she lowered her head. Artpe was thinking about the consequence of Etna not being within the Demon realm. He wondered what was going on there right now, but first, he decided to console her.
“Don’t worry, Etna. I have a good idea as to which item you want.”
“However, it is a bust now. I wanted to get it before Artpe came. I never expected it to be a ruin that I cannot enter…..”
“I said don’t worry about it. The main reason for finding this ruin has nothing to do with the sculpture. I’m willing to concede that item to you.”
A bright smile appeared on Etna’s face. When Sienna saw this, she wondered why he was suddenly conceding the sculpture to Etna. He had explicitly instructed Sienna to acquire the statue. She was having a hard time reconciling this fact, so she tilted her head in confusion. In the end, she came to a realization.
‘Maybe, it wouldn’t have mattered if Etna unni never came to this place. Maybe, Oppa might have been planning on gifting the sculpture to Etna unni in the first place…..?’
If Maetel found out about this truth, Maetel would probably get really angry. Sienna already knew Maetel was very angry at the mere existence of Etna. Sienna knew all of this, but she just assumed that everything would turn out ok. Of course, the situation wasn’t ok.
“Then I’ll take one step back, and I’ll wait here.”
“No, you should take couple more steps backward. Your presence will make the ruin melt.”
“Well, you guys head in first.”
Artpe pushed the other party members into the ruin first. They thought Artpe was rushing them a little bit, but they didn’t say anything. They obediently entered into the ruin…… Artpe was the last one left, and he once again made Etna make a promise to him.
“If you enter the ruin before we exit, the ruin will disappear. We’ll be stuck in a different dimension for a whole year until winter comes again. Please refrain from coming in.”
“Yes. I won’t go in no matter what. I’ll just wait for you.”
Arpte had arrived when she had given up on acquiring the artifact. At Artpe’s extremely considerate gesture, it felt as if she was on cloud nine. It had also been awhile since she had met Artpe. Her heart started beating faster when she caught sight of him. The fact that he had matured into a babe played a role in her heart beating faster.
“If nothing goes wrong, we’ll be out in a month. It is a long time. Are you willing to wait for us?”
“I don’t mind waiting that long! See you, Artpe.”
Etna made a firm promise with Artpe. The ground around her was slowly melting away, but she was able to float in place using her Mana. She wouldn’t drown.
Artpe grinned when he saw this….
He quickly turned around, and he headed into the ruin. There was a bucket of cold sweat coming down his face.
“Crazy! Why is Etna here?!”
“Artpe, you can change your attitude on a dime.”
They had defeated the weakest amongst the Four Heavenly Kings. After defeating Jeriet, it was logical to face the 3rd strongest amongst the Four Heavenly King. This was Etna. However, the level difference between the hero’s party and Etna was wide!
When he realized Etna was here, Artpe had thought the chef had changed his recipe. He thought Etna was here to kidnap the other members of the hero’s party. He almost deluded himself into thinking that.
“Ah. This is driving me crazy. The fact that we are the heroes had been spread all over the continent. The news that we had killed the weakest amongst the Four Heavenly Kings will be spread, and at that moment, Etna will be the next one to take a crack at us. Thankfully, she didn’t realize the identity of Vadinet…….”
“Artpe-nim, is she a Demon? She is incredibly strong…..”
“She is the 3rd strongest amongst the Four Heavenly King. In truth, she is the last person I want to meet right now…. Ah. There is a trap over there.”
Artpe methodically dismantled the traps within the ruin as he spoke.
“It isn’t as if I don’t have a plan to deal with her, but it is too early. Shit. I never expected Etna to travel to the northern continent of her own accord…….”
“That woman likes Artpe. She isn’t that much of a threat.”
“······yes, she probably does like me. However, that doesn’t make her less dangerous. The Demon King’s ability works on the entire Demon race. It isn’t weak enough to be broken by her personal feelings.”
“Hue hue hue….. Artpe-nim seduced one of the top leaders of our enemy….. You really are amazing.”
Vadinet let out a kind laughter as she spoke. However, she couldn’t hide the lines that appeared between her brows.
In the beginning, she had thought her only rival was Maetel. It felt as if she had been slapped in the face. The two party members, who had been waiting for them, were women. Moreover, one of the leaders of the Demon King’s army was eyeing him. Of course, it felt as if her insides were about to burst!
‘T…this isn’t a problem that can solved by separating Matel from Artpe-nim……!’
“Are you ok, Vadinet?”
“Y…yes. Of course. I feel healthier just by being near Artpe-nim….. Ha ha ha.”
The emotions of Vadinet, which was being disguised by her smile, was almost palpable by Artpe. Her hostility wasn’t limited to Maetel. Her hostility would be spread out amongst multiple people. Maybe, it was a blessing in disguise? His logic sounded a bit off, but at the very least, Vadinet won’t shank anyone within the party.
“Even if Etna likes me, she can’t go against the Demon King’s orders. Moreover, the fact that we grew rapidly doesn’t matter right now. This environment has weakened her significantly, yet she is close to level 380. It is almost impossible for us to win against her. So….”
Regina absentmindedly repeated his word. Artpe raised his head, and he slowly expanded his Mana into the enormous winter ruin as he spoke.
“We need to acquire the power that will allow us to subdue her before we exit this place. ….also, the leading role for this plan is you, Regina.”
This was the reason why he had sent Sienna and Regina ahead. He knew that they would fight the Demon King’s army in earnest when the business within Paladia wrapped up. If possible, he had wanted the two girls to have finished everything by the time he had arrived. He wanted them to have finished their growth by then……
However, that had only be a wish. In the end, the five of them had to attempt the ruin.
“······you are trying to earn my favor in a roundabout way. It is a annoying, but a little bit cute.”
Regina once again misconstrued his word .
“Whatever you just think I just said, it isn’t it.”
Artpe let out a sigh as he took a step forward. They were greeted with extreme cold air that had accumulated since ancient times. Then there was the guardians that guarded the location where the Winter Queen slept……!
[Let us bury the intruders!]
‘Of course, I prepared something else too.’
As he watched his party get ready for battle, he stroked the cover of the magic tome within his pocket.
In the process of developing Aria into a pure holy priestess, the magic tome had destroyed the Demonic Energy, and it had evolved once again. He wanted to somehow complete the magic tome before he exited the ruin. If he could do that…. If he could do that, Etna would…..,
“······alright. I’m coming!”
Artpe put away such thoughts as he manifested and lengthened his Mana Strings. This was the first time the competed hero’s party of five members was mobilized.