Chapter 133 – Winter Queen (4)
[I never expected a group capable of passing the last trial to make an appearance.]
“Trial? I bet you are planning on saying this is another test. Am I right?”
Artpe heard a female-like voice. It was as if the voice had been planted directly in his brain. He replied in an apathetic manner as he sat down.
He looked defenseless, but an extremely thin Mana String was surrounding his body. He would be able to react to any attacks that came his way.
[Nope. I have nothing else for you.]
“That means you have something more for the other party members?”
The female sculpture nodded her head in assent. Artpe had been absentmindedly watching the sculpture. He suddenly choked.
“You are alive!?”
[It is an Artifact containing all my Record. It is apt to think of me as a type of Golem. …..do you mind if I continue my speech?]
She had shown him insolence in this ruin. Artpe wondered if he should shut her up. He also wondered if he should listen to her. He mulled over it, and his heart was slightly leaning towards the latter option.
“All right. Do whatever you want.”
[First, I want to talk about you. You easily ignored all my plans, and you were successful in reaching this place. You blocked all my attacks, and in the process, you passed all the trials using brute force. This is why I decided that any further tests would be meaningless. On the other hand, this isn’t the case for your party members.]
“Are you saying they were able to reach this place, because they relied on my power?”
[I inevitably came to that judgement, so I decided to give them another opportunity. It’s a chance where they’ll be able to prove their worth. Do not worry. They did received your help, but they did reach me. I will not put their lives at risk.]
“It just means you can’t muster up an attack that can kill them. You have created five pocket dimensions. Your power and will have been split. Will you be able to kill my party members, who are over level 300, with 1/5th of your power?”
At Artpe’s astute observation, the female sculpture didn’t give a rebuttal. She had lost this move, because she had underestimated Artpe’s assessment ability.
[······yes. You are once again correct. However, it is also true that I have no intentions of killing any of you.]
Artpe didn’t deny that point. In his past life, Artpe couldn’t reach the ruin’s owner through his own power. It had been the same for the hero’s party. The female sculpture had given them suitable trials, and only through her will did they receive a reward. In the end, she had given a part of herself to them.
She could only mimic life, but she wasn’t alive. That was why she was able to make such sacrifices. Maybe, this was the design of this ruin in the first place.
“Basically, you don’t want me to interfere with the test.”
[That’s exactly it.]
Artpe knew that this being had the ability to rip apart this pocket dimension. This was also true for the pocket dimensions containing his other party members.
If he wanted to exit this ruin while gaining all the rewards, it would be best to go along with her tests. Instead of killing this being to acquire the loot, it would be better to gain the cooperation and blessing of this being. He would deal directly with her. This was the obvious path.
Artpe remained seated as he nodded his head. He let out a sigh.
“I know my party is enduring hardship right now, so it isn’t sitting well with me……”
[You really love your friends. Last time, you also came here for someone else. I guess it is the same this time around. You haven’t searched out this place just for sake of the hero’s party. There is another reason, right?]
Artpe’s movement suddenly ticked to a stop.
“It’s a good thing you brought that up. You.”
For a short time, he had forgotten that he was separated from the others in this pocket dimension. However, that wasn’t the biggest reason why he sounded annoyed right now. The voice had spoken as if she knew everything. The owner of the voice had a secret, and this secret was like a fishbone stuck in his throat. It kept aggravating him.
Fortunately, he was separated from his party members. He decided it was the best time to resolve the question he had.
“How much do you know?”
[I just remember the flow.]
However, it seemed the female sculpture knew that this question was coming, so she answered in a comfortable tone of voice.
[I know that you searched this place out as a Demon, and you’ve come to this place once again as the hero of humans. I also know about the children, who used to be on the other side of you in your previous life. They have accompanied you to this place. The time-frame of events have been hastened this time around, but that holds no importance to me. You possess an unheard of power to flip history, but my Record is too deep to be damaged by it.]
Artpe was a bit shocked, so he became silent.
It wasn’t as if he had believed that he was the only one to remember one’s past life. He had been aware of the possibility. This was why he had made numerous preparations before he moved. He prepared for the unexpected.
However, when he was faced with someone that acknowledged knowing about this past life, he was at a loss. It lasted for a brief moment.
[You probably have a vague idea about it? I was once a queen that had ruled over winter. I’ve existed as a human and a Dragon. In the end, I continued to live on as a concept. I died, yet I wasn’t fully dead. My Record remained within the depths of Glacia. Do you realize how vast my Record had to be for that to happen? I’m sure I don’t have to explain any further.]
“So there are other beings besides you…..?”
[I don’t know how many there are, but I’m probably not the only one. Do you mind me asking you a question this time?]
The thoughts within Artpe’s head was starting to get complicated, so he weakly nodded his head.
[How were you able to reach me? I was barely able to discern the fact that the power and Record of the Wind Spirit King was infused into your boots. However, that doesn’t fully explain why you and your party was able to get so close to me. The wind would just carry you, but the one in charge of setting the destination would have been your responsibility.]
The question asked by the voice was also something he had expected. Since she knew about the past lives of Artpe and the hero’s party, their conversation would go smoothly. He didn’t hesitate as he gave her an answer.
“Until I reached this place, I had dreams about it. Somehow, I was able to see you face off against my party members.”
[I see. You used that information alongside the boots, which contains the Record of the Wind Spirit King. You are sharing Records with your comrades through dreams.]
He was exchanging Records with his party members through dreams. Artpe had suspected this was the case, so he unconsciously accepted this information.
‘As expected, this might be caused by Maetel’s power.’
Artpe shut his eyes as he thought.
From the moment Maetel learned the Record Divide in the Hero’s development Dungeon, he had sometimes seen events from his past life from a different perspective. It was memories of events he hadn’t personally experienced.
At first, he thought he was reconstructing past events using his imagination. He thought he was under a delusion. However, the dreams were too detailed, and he was able to clear this ruin thanks to the dreams. It would be pathetic for him to deny the truth now.
Yes, the dreams were Maetel’s Record. Artpe had seen her Record. It wasn’t the present Maetel, but the Record of Maetel from her previous life.
[I hope you won’t ask me if such a thing is possible. History was been rewound, but that doesn’t mean the event that happened disappeared. It was merely covered up. The truth remains alive deep within her heart.]
“Does that mean she knows about her past life……”
[Maybe. That is unknown to me. If her Record was bigger, I might have been able to confirm it.]
“Thank you for giving me such an obvious answer.”
Artpe gave a gruff reply, then he shut his mouth. He had learned two shocking truths, so he was low on energy. One of the reason for his annoyance was that he couldn’t do much to change what would happen.
‘Shall I ask her after I exit this place? If she knows everything, how should I respond? What if she doesn’t know anything? That might put weird ideas into her head……’
Artpe grabbed his head as he struggled over the problem. The female sculpture called out to him once again.
[If you don’t have anything further you want to ask me, I want you to tell me what you want from me.]
“······you should already know this.”
[You mean this.]
The female sculpture opened her mouth. A small sculpture that looked like an exact replica of the bigger sculpture appeared. In truth, it was a creepy sight.
“I didn’t receive this item like this last time!”
[On the other hand, the quality of this item is higher this time. I am breaking off part of myself. This will suit her better..]
In truth, she wasn’t wrong. A soft cold energy was emanating from the item. It couldn’t be compared to the sculpture he stole in his previous life. He naturally realized something when he looked over it.
“You are a sculpture made out of the world’s first ice, and this is a part of you.”
It took him a very long time to discern the makeup of the item using his Read All Creation ability. It wasn’t because it was made out of many elements. It had been bonded too well, so it took him a long time..
It would have been understandable for a foe like the Kraken where he couldn’t lay eyes on the entirety of a subject. He could take in the item in its entirety with his eyes, yet it was taking a long time to see its true nature. Maybe, his Read All Creation ability was still lacking. This might be the impetus that would grow his ability.
“This is all I want. I just want my party members to acquire real power..”
This place was the biggest reason why Regina was able to go toe-to-toe with Etna in their past lives. It was the blessing of the Winter Queen.
The archmage Regina became a pivotal figure after receiving the power of the Winter Queen. She had been a big help to the hero’s party when they crossed over to the Demon realm. It happened after Artpe’s death, but it would have been impossible for the hero’s party to defeat Etna without the power of the Winter Queen.
[You can rest easy in regards to that. Since you’ve joined them in seeking me out this time, they…. Yes. The entirety of my power will be transferred to her. In terms of aptitude, she is closest to me. That is why she will gain the most power.]
“You are quite thoughtful in your consideration.”
In this life, Artpe had never been at a disadvantage thanks to his Read All Creation ability and the memories of his past life. However, the so-called Winter Queen remembered her past life, so she wasn’t at a disadvantage against Artpe.
“Yes. That should be enough. I guess I just have to wait now.”
Artpe weakly mumbled to himself as he put away the sculpture. It would be great if Etna became happy after receiving this item. However, he became depressed when he thought about the unavoidable fight that would occur when he met her once again.
The annoying voice stopped him once again.
“What do you mean what else? I want you to properly empower my party..”
[I still have something I have to give you. The sculpture I just gave you is merely a very small fragment of myself. It wouldn’t be fair to just give you that.]
“Since we cleared the ruin, you want me take everything? I merely used Blink once to get here. The reward seems disproportionately large compared to my action.”
[You revived the Wind Spirit King’s power. You were successful in bringing back the power of space and time. Your achievement isn’t trivial, so you can boldly ask for more. Therefore….]
The Winter Queen let out a bitter laugh as she spoke.
[It is time to give my Record to you too. You should meekly take it since I am offering it to you.]
When Artpe heard those words, he didn’t understand what she meant for a brief moment. He tilted his head in confusion, but his eyes turned wide when he discerned the meaning of her words.
“Right now…. You are choosing your own demise?”
[No. It means I choose to live my life in a different way. I’m not sure if this could be called living….. I’m sick of it. Even more so in recent years.]
Artpe smirked when he heard the Winter Queen’s voice. She spoke lightly, but it seemed she was serious. Still, he didn’t need to accept anything more from her when what she was offering wouldn’t be of much help to him…..
“Then you should look at this.”
[······ho-oh. I see.]
She had the most interested look on her face since she started conversing with Artpe. The Winter Queen answered him.
[The ice sculpture isn’t the only present you will gift her.]