Chapter 139 – Underground (5)
“You can free me from this armor!?”
“Yes. Of course. It is very simple.”
“How can this be······!”
Elrick Beltopata had been the warrior of the hero’s party in his past life. When Artpe had died, Elrick had still been unable to take off his armor.
Was it because he didn’t visit the underground world in his past life? Of course not. It was, because the curse infused within the armor was god-awful.
In fact, the curse was strengthened every time blood was soaked into the armor during a victory in battle. At this point in time, there was no Cancellation magic in the human realm that could free Elrick.
If Elrick met Aedia’s king or the holy priestess of Paladia in the initial stages of the armor’s curse, it could have been solved somehow. It really was unfortunate for Elrick.
“H…how!? How can it be done?”
It was something no one in the human realm could do. Artpe had nonchalantly said that he could do it, so it would have been strange if Elrick hadn’t shown any excitement. His armor clanked as he approached Artpe. Elrick pushed his head close to Artpe’s face as he spoke.
“I’ll be very angry if this is a simple prank. I put my life on the line in order to take off this armor.”
“The Dwarves have the unsurpassed ability to create magic through metal. I confirmed it with my own two eyes earlier…. However, their abilities are lacking for your purpose. At the very least, they won’t be able to do it with their current level of skill.”
“I already know that! That is why I am subjugating the Shadows of Sinners as I wait for them to train their techniques…..”
“I see. That’s how it is.”
However, Elrick had no idea when he’ll be able to take off his armor. At this rate, will there be any Dwarves alive? That was the question.
“Even they can’t do, so how will you be able to do it? That is what I want to hear!”
“Our conversation is getting pretty long······ Isn’t it strange to make so much noise on the street? First, let’s change location.”
“O…of course. ……come this way. We just need to go a little bit further.”
Artpe’s party accompanied the overly excited Elrick, and they headed towards their temporary lodging. Did the past owner die recently? The temporary lodging was quite large and clean.
“Now you should tell me!”
Elrick was so desperate that he turned around as soon as they crossed the front door. He shouted his words. A bitter smile appeared on Artpe’s lips.
“My girls need to rest.”
If Elrick was female, his party members would have watched over him with vigilant eyes. However, Elrick was male. His party was worn out from the travel between the Winter Queen’s ruin and the underground world. They meekly went to rest. The only one that worried over Artpe was Maetel.
“Artpe, is this really ok? What if the content within the armor defied all expectation and it turned out to be a cute girl….. I would…..”
“What the hell are you worried about?”
When Maetel received a flick to her forehead, Maetel obediently went away.
Artpe and Elrick sat across the dining table from each other. Artpe couldn’t see Elrick’s face thanks to the armor, but Artpe could hear the armor clank. Elrick was fidgeting. It was clear that Elrick was nervous.
“I already said that it’s possible.”
If he delayed this any further, Elrick would probably grab the axe propped up next to the front door. Elrick would probably bring the axe down on him, so Artpe decided to acquiesce to Elrick’s request.
“If you really want to take off your armor, it won’t be a problem. I’ll take it off of you as soon as Roa comes back.”
“Really! The cat is capable of eating more than the Demonic Energy!”
“Of course. The curse placed on your armor is especially thick and vicious. It is basically the ultimate delicacy for her.”
There was a massive amount of Shadows of Sinners within the Abyss. If Roa hadn’t known about that, she wouldn’t have been able to hold herself back for even a second. She would have been sucking out the curse within the armor by now.
“In that case!”
“In that case…”
Artpe’s eyes shone.
“Will you really be ok with taking off your armor?”
It was as if Artpe gaze was penetrating his helmet. Elrick’s armor clanked once again. Elrick was trying to respond in the most nonchalant manner as possible, but he couldn’t fool Artpe.
“You are really powerful right now, and you have earned the respect of the Dwarves…. If you lose the ability of the armor, will you be able to pull off exploits like right now?”
“······you already know about this armor’s abilities?”
“I just know that the structure of the curse isn’t simple. It isn’t simply there to torment you. It seems your torment results in bringing up your battle capabilities.”
Level was everything. When a difference of even one level was formed, it was hard for an opponent to overcome that difference. It didn’t matter how outstanding one’s skill was.
On the other hand, there were few miraculous factors that allowed one to transcend the difference in level.
The most typical example was the special Classes like being a hero and a holy priestess. Then there was the Innate abilities. Lastly, there were Artifacts that performed at a transcendent level.
Of course, the armor imprisoning Elrick’s body was such an Artifact. It strengthened the abilities of its wearer. Amongst these types of Artifacts, the armor was in the highest class. It was a legendary Artifact. The only item in Artpe’s possession that could rival the armor was the Demite Pipi.
Demite wasn’t a normal Artifact. It was closer to a living organism that possessed an innate will. If one took that into account, one could surmise as to how amazing Elrick’s armor was.
“······you are right.”
Elrick hesitated for brief moment, but in the end, he acknowledged Artpe’s words.
“I was able to measure up to the expectation of the Dwarves thanks to this Artifact. In fact, I had some idea that the pent-up frustration and anger within me was strengthening the power of the armor..”
“The curse is complicated. The curse on your armor has an additive effect. It changed your body and Record. That is why you were able to outperform your level. ….if you take that armor off, you will no longer be able to handle that power. You won’t be able to adjust to your weakened body, and in all likelihood, you’ll be in trouble. Do you want to take off the armor knowing this?”
It took some time for Elrick to continue his speech.
Artpe looked at him with amusement in his eyes. Finally, Elrick opened his mouth.
“I still want to take off the armor.”
“It isn’t simply because the armor is suffocating. I cannot deny the fact that the Artifact allowed me to reach my current status. I also know that the Artifact is part of my powers now, but…..”
It was unknown as to whether Elrick saw the smile forming on Artpe’s lips. However, Elrick didn’t make a fuss as he accepted Artpe’s words.
“In the end, the Artifact is a tool I use. I cannot let the armor use me. I cannot let it be my master. That is why I want to take off the armor.”
“Good. You have a proper understanding as to what an Artifact is.”
“Above all else····· I am tired of this lie.”
“A lie. Yes, it is a lie.”
When Elrick saw Artpe’s smile deepen, his armor once again clanked.
“I bet a lot of people told you that you are full of it.”
“Correct. I probably heard that I’m full of it from others more than the number of bread I ate in my entire life.”
“Then I’ll add to that number. You are really full of it.”
He had heard it too much that he wasn’t bother by it. Artpe shrugged his shoulders as he spoke.
“At this point, I know that you have a proper perspective on what the role of an Artifact is. That is why I have a proposal.”
“I want to turn it down.”
“No, you should hear me out first. In truth, the surest way of getting your armor off is to use Roa. However, there is another method that I can attempt.”
“······I really want to turn it down.”
There was a sure way of getting the armor off, so why would he choose another method?!
Artpe knocked on the can as he spoke.
“It is as you’ve said. Artifacts are tools. The problem with the armor is the fact that it is trying to use you according to its will. Listen to this. What if it is possible to advance the features of the armor. You will be able to take off the armor as you will while being able to use its power. Wouldn’t that be the best?”
“My mom always said there is no free lunch. She also said this. If a deal sounds too good to be true, I should chew on it a hundred times then I should decline the offer.”
He was told to decline a deal after thinking over it a hundred times! It seemed Elrick’s righteous attitude stemmed from a fantastic upbringing. Artpe was a bit nervous, but he didn’t back off.
“Of course, there is a risk. I have to touch the vengeful spirit. If the power of the Artifact runs rampant, there is a possibility of you and I becoming injured. If we leave it to Roa, she’ll eat it before the vengeful spirit of the armor can do anything to you, so there is no danger with that method.”
“As expected, I’d rather ask the cat to·····.”
“What if I said that method will allow you to control your enormous power? Wouldn’t you be willing to take such a risk?”
“Still, I want the cat to······.”
At that point, Artpe decided to bring out his last card.
“Don’t you want to join our party? Even if the task within the underground world is solved, you won’t be able to join our party in your state.”
It seemed Artpe had hit the bullseye. Elrick immediately fell silent.
“······how did you know?”
“It had been three years since the news about the heroes were announced. You lived in this dark underground, yet you didn’t forget about that information.”
Of course, Artpe had seen Elrick in the hero’s party with his own two eyes in his past life. Elrick fell for Artpe’s specialty called the Bluff skill.
“It is true that I wanted to join the hero’s party. I always dreamed about becoming a hero. Since I wasn’t chosen to be the hero, I wanted to stand next to the heroes at the very least…… However, it seems that won’t be possible. Doesn’t this mean that I am worthless without this armor?”
“No way. I am merely saying that you won’t be able to survive in the Demon world without the support of the Artifact.”
At Artpe’s words, Elrick’s armor clanked as he shouted.
“You guys are going to the Demon world!?”
“If we didn’t have to make an emergency landing here, we would probably be trying to enter into the Demon world by now. We just happened to arrive here by chance, and we found the evil spirits and you….. In truth, I thought this was a great opportunity.”
It was a chance to increase the number of party members.
It was a chance for Roa to eat to her heart’s content and grow.
······it was also a chance for him to experiment with his magic tome.
“I hope you aren’t misunderstanding my words. Your talent and body is already excellent. You are plenty qualified to enter into our party. However, we don’t have much time left. That is the problem. That is why I am suggesting we take a small risk here to increase your power. If we succeed……”
“I will go to the Demon world with you guys······.”
Elrick thought hard on it, and in the end, he asked a question in a small voice.
“Is…. Is there a chance I can die?”
“At most, you’ll suffer a normal critical wound”
“······all right. I’ll attempt it if you accept my terms. If you succeed, you’ll accept me into your party.”
“You made a really good choice.”
In truth, it didn’t matter if the armor became useless. Artpe could bring along Elrick using Maetel’s Record Master and Acceleration skill. He could induce a growth spurt in the Demon world. However, Artpe didn’t feel the need to mention this fact. He grabbed Elrick’s hand….. Artpe grabbed Elrick’s gauntlet and he shook it. There was no way he would let go of such a great opportunity to experiment with his magic tome.
“Then you should come here tomorrow. I have couple thing I have to prepare.”
The magic tome was being used against a vengeful spirit instead of a Demon. Still, it was in the margin of what the magic tome was capable of doing. He just needed to come up with several new methods in how he’ll use the magic tome. He had to prepare the magic stone.
He had never expected to meet Elrick in the first place when they drifted into the underground world. The fact that he was able to prepare the magic in one day was a miracle in itself.
“Tomorrow······ All right. You guys should be tired. You should get some sleep. Another battle awaits us tomorrow.”
“A battle…. Thank you for worrying about us. I’ll see you tomorrow. Get ready to take off that suffocating helmet.”
It was nebulous as to whether a battle would really occur tomorrow. Artpe put on a sly smile. He stood up, and he saw Elrick off.
This was how Artpe very easily tricked Elrick. It made him look forward to tomorrow.