Chapter 144 – Connection (4)
Aside from the Dwarves that were packing up the belongings they would take to the surface, the rest of the Dwarves were tasked to improving the gears of Artpe’s party.
The Dwarves made sure that all the equipments fit the body of each party member. Then they tried to achieve an overall balance in their equipments. They used additional ingredients to create equipments that the party was lacking. Before the next official appearance of the hero’s party, the party’s ability and arsenal was being upgraded.
“This is the first time dealing with the equipment of a magician or a priestess! G…go get the records left behind by our ancestors!”
“I…it really has been a long time…. Hey! Don’t disassemble that! You might kill the power of the materials!”
While the Dwarves were moving busily, Artpe remained in a quiet room. He was continuing his work of refining the branch of the World Tree.
He had thought about doing this when he received the branch from the World Tree. It was the ideal material to create a staff. It would accept his Mana, and it would boost his Mana. It would also allow him to control his Mana if his Mana went out of control.
He hadn’t had the opportunity to work on the staff, because he had prioritized making the Magic tome first. He had finished making the Magic tome, and as it happened, he would be staying underground for couple more days. Therefore, he planned on completing his staff..
“Ah. I found Artpe!”
“Stop clinging to me, Maetel. It is hot…. You dork. I told you not to cling to me.”
“I’m not gonna let go~ Eh-eet. Eh-eeet.”
Artpe had a lot of things to do. Unlike him, Maetel’s specialty was fighting, and everything else to do with Artpe. When she realized that they would be staying in the underground until the Dwarves were done making preparations, she hadn’t left Artpe’s side. Her hobby and forte was Artpe, so it couldn’t be helped.
She had always worn armor, but she had shed the armor now. She had become lighter, and her appearance delivered a critical wound to his sense of desire. Moreover Maetel didn’t let go unless Artpe truly hated it. Therefore, she continued to cling to him. He gave up after giving an adequate attempt at dislodging her. He decided it would be easier to shore up his control over his desire.
“Artpe, what did you do with the leaves that came with the branch?”
“Half of them were made into tea leaves. The other half….”
Artpe’s finger pointed towards the table.
There was a small glass jar atop the table. Magic stones from high level monsters were contained within the jar. It also contained the finely ground power of the World Tree leaves. Each crystal kept absorbing and emitting Mana. Maetel’s eyes twinkled when she saw the brilliant light.
“You can’t eat it.”
“I won’t eat it!”
It seemed she still had a little bit of her emotions as a pure girl leftover within her. Artpe let out a small laughter when he saw this. He spoke.
“You should train like Vadinet or Sienna.”
“I tried. My skills doesn’t increase when I train by myself.”
“What about sparring?”
“They are too weak to spar.”
Artpe took a glance at Maetel’s info. He realized that her Swordsmanship had already reached level 80.
Mmm. It was to be expected. If she wasn’t overpowered to this degree, she wouldn’t be Maetel. Recently, Artpe had moved to the fore as he took care of most of their problems using his magic. This was why there were less instances where Maetel had taken an active role in a fight. For a brief moment, he had forgotten that the biggest cheat within the hero’s party was none other than the original hero Maetel.
“No, it is nothing.”
He stroked Maetel’s head. Maetel purred as if she was Roa. Artpe resumed his work as Maetel stuck to his back like a shell on a turtle’s back.
He shaved the angular parts, and he trimmed the branch. He continued to sync his inner Mana flow with the branch. This was how a personal staff of a magician was produced. The Dwarves wanted to make Artpe’s staff for him, and Artpe had been aware of their desire. Unfortunately, this wasn’t something someone else could do for him.
“Artpe will become much stronger after making that?”
“It’ll be difficult to bring about drastic change. Still, I think my power will increase by 10 percent. If I can create the staff exactly to my specification, I think it’ll be possible to increase my power by 15 percent.”
Ten percent didn’t sound like a lot, but Artpe was already over level 310. A 10 percent increase in power would allow him to be on the same level as someone at level 340. However, Artpe had excluded any uncertain variables when formulating his assessment, since he hated uncertainty. Therefore, it was possible for him to gain much more power than he forecasted.
“Wow. Will you be able to fight against the Four Heavenly Kings?”
“It still might not be enough. If Vadinet and especially Elrick gained about 30 more levels, it might be possible.”
At Artpe’s pessimistic words, Maetel became sullen. Artpe finally had a thought as to what was bothering Maetel.
“Are you perhaps thinking about what occurred at the Winter Queen’s ruin?”
Maetel didn’t hesitate as she acknowledge it. She bit her lips hard as she spoke again.
“We ran away.”
“Yes, we ran away. We were weaker than our foes. It couldn’t be helped.”
“That means······ What would have happened if the Winter Queen hadn’t guided us towards the underground?”
“We would have charged out of the ruin, and we would have fought him…. We would have also fought Etna to the death.”
Since they had cleared the Winter Queen’s ruin in its entirety, he had gained the ability to shatter the shackles placed on Etna by the Demon King. However, this couldn’t be done while fighting another Four Heavenly King at the same time. The task wasn’t that easy to accomplish. Once another Four Heavenly King made an appearance, Artpe’s plan had been wrecked.
“A fight to the death…. That means death was a possibility······?”
She knew the answer, yet she asked anyways. Even Maetel wasn’t that dumb. She was just going over the implications of those words once again. Artpe declined to answer her question.
“I was scared.”
Maetel’s body shook. She was still clinging to Artpe, so her tremors could be felt by Artpe. He thought about what to do next for a brief moment. Soon, he let go of the branch of the World Tree, and he grabbed her hands.
“Everything is all right now. They can’t attack us while we are underground. Even if we meet one of the Four Heavenly King once again, we are capable of buying enough time. We’ll be able to run away. This fact doesn’t change even if Etna is with this other Four Heavenly King.”
“If it wasn’t for the Winter Queen, death was a possibility.”
“I told you. Everything is ok now.”
Even Artpe’s words were having a hard time calming down Maetel. It seemed the fact that she was fine until now was miracle in itself.
“Matel······ I might sound a bit cold for saying this, but you are a hero. Up to a certain point, you should be prepared for the possibility of your own….”
“I’m afraid of losing Artpe.”
It seemed she hadn’t been thinking about the threat to her own life. That thought hadn’t even crossed her mind. Artpe was at a loss for words, so he laughed. However, Maetel was serious.
“You cannot die, Artpe.”
“I won’t die. I won’t die.”
“You really really cannot die.”
“Yes. Don’t worry about it.”
Artpe continued to console Maetel, who was having a hard time coping with her worries. It seemed she finally calmed down after acting spoiled to her heart’s content. She fell asleep while clinging to Artpe’s back. Artpe kept letting out a sigh as he continued his work.
After playing with Pipi to her heart’s content, Regina had come back to return Pipi, and she had witnessed everything. She gave an astute observation. Artpe was shaving the World Tree’s branch. He was cantankerous as he gave his reply. Regina ignored him as she sat at the edge of the bed.
“You treat Maetel like the favorite wife. Vadinet is jealous. She is fighting with Sienna for the spot of 2nd wife.”
“Even if you are joking, you shouldn’t say such words.”
Vadinet didn’t have any direct combat abilities. If she fought with Sienna, Vadinet would be crushed by Sienna’s hammer. Regina had a slightly pleased expression on her face when she saw Artpe shudder.
“It is all karma.”
“Yes, let’s just say it is all my fault.”
“It is the man’s role to accept everything.”
“Gonna get stabbed.”
It wouldn’t be Artpe. Some other woman might try to stab Maetel. Regina was about to say something more to Artpe, but he just waved her away. It meant he wanted to focus on his task, and he didn’t want her to interfere with his work.
“I’ll just watch.”
“You should train your magic.”
“I always train. My best training method is to be next to Artpe. I resist against Seduction magic.”
“I don’t use such a spell. All right?”
Artpe grinded his teeth as he smoothed the branch. His hand was surrounded by Mana Strings, so the branch was getting smoother everytime his hand passed over it. The branch continued to let out a brilliant light, and the light filled the room. It was a magical and magnificent sight.
Regina had been watching the process when she suddenly had a thought. She asked him a question.
“Where did you learn how to make a staff?”
“I learned it from a book, you dork.”
“You are younger than me, yet you have more knowledge than me. Are you really younger than me?”
“Maybe you are just ignorant relative to me?”
She continued to have a blank expression on her face, yet her cheeks puffed out. It was a cute sight, so he snickered. Regina’s eyebrows twitched.
“Artpe is weird.”
“Yes, yes. I’m weird. Let’s just leave it at that.
Artpe extended a hand towards her. Regina tilted her head in puzzlement when she saw his gesture. Then she carefully placed her small hand atop his palm. Her hand was cold yet cool. It felt as if her hand would shatter if he gripped her hand with a little bit of force. It naturally made Artpe feel nervous…. No, this wasn’t it.
“I don’t want your hand. I want Pipi.”
After receiving Pipi from Regina, he placed Pipi near the polished branch of the World Tree. Pipi understood its role, so it tried to sync with the branch of the World Tree, which was emitting Mana. Artpe nodded his head as he looked at the two items.
The core process in which he would make a true ‘Demite Staff’ would start now.
“Pipi has the ability to control Mana, and it can maintain an active spell. At the same time, it can boost my Mana.”
Artpe was carefully watching the resonance between the Demite and the branch of the World Tree using his Read All Creation ability. When he spoke, Regina tilted her head as she gave a reply.
“I cannot do that. It is impossible for me to boost Artpe’s Mana.”
“You are a bit different from Pipi. Both of you are Demites, but you were created to be an extremely independent being by the humans. In the process, your sense of self had solidified, and it became defined in your Record. That is why it is difficult for you to mix with another person.”
Artpe let out a bitter laughter as he continued to speak.
“However, there is something even a Demite cannot do. It can boost my Mana, but I cannot easily take control of a Demite’s pure Mana. If I’m not careful, our Mana might clash.”
“······agreed. Amplification of Mana, and a Demite’s own magic are two different function. It doesn’t overlap.”
“That is the only downside to using a Demite. That is why I’m trying to use this branch of the World Tree.”
It would act as a bridge. It would allow Artpe to mix his Mana with Pipi’s Mana, and at the same time, Pipi would be able to boost his Mana. There was no Mana cost to this process. In fact, it would amplify the Mana instead of there being a loss of Mana. This was the power of the World Tree’s branch. It possessed a tremendous ability befitting the name of the World Tree.
“I already made a channel where my Mana will flow. When Pipi finishes its synchronization, the channel where Pipi’s Mana will flow will be formed. The next step is simple. I have to direct both channels towards Pipi. At the end, I just need to create a structure that’ll loop in the branch of the World Tree. It’ll allow Pipi to finish the amplification. What do you think? It is really easy, right?”
“It doesn’t sound easy at all.”
“The branch of the World Tree is awesome, so it’ll combine Pipi’s Mana with mine.”
While the two conversed, Pipi was synchronizing with the World Tree’s branch in real time. Artpe kept watching the process, and he brought out couple strands of Mana String. His eyes were filled with resolve.
“All right. Let’s start.”
No man in this world knew where this underground location was. In such a location, an Artifact that would be placed at the zenith of history was being born.