Chapter 168 – A Man’s Contract (1)
After he confirmed the death of the Demon, Artpe immediately used his teleportation skill. He used the ability of his Blink Boots to teleport his party to a far away plains in the Demon realm. He had done it without asking for his party’s opinion on the matter.
“W…where are we?”
“What the hell? Did our battle end······?”
Aside from Artpe and Maetel, the other party members were having a hard time figuring out what had happened.
They finally met a formidable enemy for the first time, and they had been prepared to go all out. Artpe looked like he was doing something, and in an instant, the Demon went on the defensive. The Demon looked as if he was about to use his hidden card, and Maetel had acted as if she had been waiting for that moment. She had cut off his head.
Then Artpe picked up the magic stone, and the party was standing in an open field in the Demon realm.
“Something doesn’t feel right about this. It feels as if we’ve skipped several crucial steps! Something is really wrong with all of this, but we were able to achieve our goal without a hitch. Therefore, I can’t really complain….!”
“Everyone should stop talking about such trivial matters. I want you all to gather around me. This place isn’t safe. The barrier around Nanaria Bodra’s ruin was broken when the Demon infiltrated it. The other Demons, who are nearby, would have immediately sensed it. However, the ruin……”
Artpe moved his gaze towards the place they had just left. As expected, the ruin was unable to maintain itself. It had transferred all of its power and Record to the magic tome. As soon as Artpe’s party left the ruin, it started to fall apart. He could see the Demons gathering in the nearby region.
The Demons were moving quickly, and they could sense that the ruin had held something with incredible amounts of Demonic energy. They were shocked and angered as they watched the ruin collapse.
“They’ll start searching the nearby regions. They’ll go through the same process as the Demon, who had visited us before. That is why we have to move quickly. Golems, I want you guys to stay here.”
“It’s the Golems!?”
Surprisingly, Artpe hadn’t just extracted his own party. He had brought along the surviving 17 Golems!
The Golems moved by sucking in Demonic energy, so they were able to move in the Demon realm or anywhere near a Demon. Each Golem were over level 370, so it would have been too much of a waste to leave them behind in the ruin.
“You guys will protect us. Demons will arrive here. I want you guys to fight until the moment you are destroyed.”
[Gee gee gee gee gee gee]
[Geeeeeee gee gee]
Maetel spoke as she watched Artpe give Mana and orders to the Golem.
“Artpe, what are we going to do now? The ruin was supposed to be the last place where we were going to increase our levels. The plan was to charge the Demon King’s castle afterwards….”
Originally, he had wanted his party to gain EXP. He had learned the secret of this world instead. He hadn’t wanted to learn about this secret, but it was thrust upon him.
The Demons were originally humans. The Demon world was created when an energy created by the humans had run amok. This energy was called the Demonic energy. Everything had become distorted thanks to human greed. The hero’s party represented humanity, and they were supposed to kill the Demon King. Of course, the secret inevitably took the wind out of their sails.
“What are we supposed to do······?”
“Maetel, this changes nothing. We do what we have to do.”
At first glance, Artpe’s words sounded cold, but he was just stating the truth.
“Do you really think we can get along with the Demons, because they used to be humans? No. Even if they were humans, it wouldn’t matter either. We aren’t fighting, because we are the heroes and they are the Demons. We fight them, because they are our enemies.”
Even now the Demon realm was invading the human realm. The Demon King had the mentality of a great chef, but he was doing it so that he could develop the heroes close to their limits. Then he would step forward to crush the heroes. He wasn’t doing it, so he could play house with the heroes.
“We just found out that we have enemies, who had been moving with the intent of reclaiming the Evil Hearts. Why do you think they had their eyes on that item?”
“I killed the Demon before he could tell us.”
One didn’t really need to hear the Demon’s words to know what was going on. One just had to think about the former hero. Why did Nanarai Bodra seal the Evil Hearts?
“Their goal is to turn the human realm into another Demon realm. All humans would be made into Demons, and the Mana would be turned into Demonic energy. If they had the power of the Evil Heart, it would have been possible…. Well, I’ll pose a question to you. Who is the biggest impediment to their plan?”
“Artpe and Roa?”
“You are correct.”
He hadn’t intended it to be like this from the start. However, Artpe and his magic tome represented the antithesis to the Demon race. Their continued existence meant that the plan of the Demon race always had the chance of failing.
“Even if our ancestors made the Demon race several hundred years ago, we shouldn’t make our decisions based on our heart. We aren’t directly responsible for their plight, so we don’t have to feel sorry towards them. We are just beating up people that are trying to kill us. It’s simple, right?”
“I think you are making things a bit too simple, but…. Ok.”
Artpe hadn’t faltered from him objective since the beginning. The process in reaching his goal had taken on different complexions, but nothing had changed.
“Master, will we be able to defeat the Demon King with our current power?”
“It will be close. It is possible, but there is a high probability that someone will die in that fight. ….if one of us dies, everything was for naught.”
Of course, the hero’s party from his previous life couldn’t even measure up to the current party. The hero’s party from his previous life charged the Demon King’s castle despite working under very bad conditions. As a result, they had been bloodied. However, that wouldn’t happen with Artpe’s party.
“Since our plan A was a bust, we have no choice but to move onto plan B.”
“Huh······ You have a plan B?”
“I just made one right now.”
The Demons had already detected Artpe’s party located in the open plains. Artpe couldn’t detect the Demon King, but he could sense the man, who used to be the strongest of the Four Heavenly Kings in his past life. If Artpe fought only against that Demon, they would be able to win without much difficulty….
‘If I fight him, the Demon King will react in some way. Normally, he wouldn’t move until all the Four Heavenly Kings are defeated….’
The Demon King’s castle was ruined. The Demon King’s absolute position of advantage was being cut away. At this point, it was unknown as to how the Demon King would respond. Nothing would surprise him. When the faction tied to the previous Demon King had shown up, Artpe stopped seeing the current situation through the prism of his past life.
“There are many unexplored regions in the Demon realm. It is unlikely that we’ll find any Evil Hearts there….. If we are looking for places to level up, we have to head towads those regions. That is our only option.”
Basically, these were regions that one visited after clearing the final boss. It was supposed to happen during the postscript, yet they would be going there ahead of time. If enemies that weren’t supposed to exist appeared, it would be no problem now! Maybe, the forces of the past Demon King was residing within one of these unexplored regions…
“They are coming. Let’s pick up the pace.”
Artpe left behind the Golems as he used Blink again. Once. Twice. He continued using it until they were completely clear from the territory of the Demon King’s castle.
“Artpe, one guy is following us.”
He didn’t need her words of warning. He knew, who was following them. Artpe had done his best to erase the traces of his Mana as he repeatedly used Blink. However, he couldn’t gain any separation from his enemy. Moreover, the Demon had already reached a location near them.
“Wow. His voice is still pompous.”
Artpe clicked his tongue as he used Blink again. He wasn’t the type of person to stop, because someone said stop!
[Your features and clothes…. I’m sure of it now. You are the hero named Artpe! You are the one that tricked Etna!]
It wasn’t too surprising to hear that the Demon knew his identity. The Demon, who had entered the ruin, had immediately recognized his party too!
But······ He remembered that this man liked Etna. Etna had always bombarded Artpe with love, and this man had always looked at him with anger in his eyes. Artpe had always wanted to avoid all of them. When he looked back at his old self in his past memories, he didn’t miss it at all. Artpe once again buried the useless memories of his past, then he used Blink again.
[How long will you be able to run away like this? You dare to race Petra-nim!]
Artpe was using Blink with his party in tow. They could no longer see the ruined Demon King’s castle, but the man was stubborn as he remained on their trail. At that point, Artpe realized that something was awry.
‘There should be only one Four Heavenly King left in the Demon realm that is following the Demon King’s orders. Why would the Demon King let his only subordinate with real power leave his side? Wouldn’t the Demon King want the Four Heavenly King by his side?’
Artpe suddenly stopped. This place was part of the Demon realm, but Demonic energy was scarce here. It was a wasteland that the high ranked Demons rarely frequented. It was unknown as to how many consecutive Blinks he had used, but his party looked a bit nauseous.
“Artpe, did you come up with a plan?”
“No. I just think that our current situation is a bit odd. Did the Demon King completely abandon the Demon King’s castle after we blew it up?”
“Where did he go?”
Maybe, the Demon King became afraid after he witnessed the unbelievable power of the hero’s party? Or maybe, he regretted his slothfulness. He might have gone into training for several months to emerge as a Demon King at the prime of his power. It was also possible that the current Demon King had been assassinated by the force that had followed the previous generation’s Demon King.
“The Demon King isn’t nearby. If that is true…..”
If it was just this single Demon, they didn’t have to run away like this. Artpe gripped his staff as he turned around. He immediately saw the man with burning blue eyes, who was coming towards him at high speeds.
“It wouldn’t be a bad option to defeat him here before we leave.”
[Submit to my anger! Freeze! I will punish you in the name of Petra Dealeto Tekotooth!]
Petra was the first ranked Four Heavenly King in Artpe’s past life. Artpe was tired from using a great magic in the ruin, but he wasn’t alone. Roa had gotten stronger after eating the Evil Heart. She might be able to defeat this Demon by herself.
‘Still, he might have gotten stronger, while we were exploring the ruin. Let’s see….’
Purple light was emitted from Artpe’s eyes. He stopped the enormous cold fog emitted by the Demon as he activated his Read All creation ability. His eyes took in all information regarding Petra.
[Petra Dealeto Tekotooth]
[Level : 390]
As expected, this guy’s level was lower than the Demon they had just fought in the ruin. Moreover, he hadn’t developed any Innate ability. He hadn’t evolved into a different race. If his party party fought against Petra, they would be able to win….
‘Wait a moment.’
Artpe’s thoughts came to a halt. The male Demon was close enough for Artpe to see him with his eyes. He could even see the fuzz on the Demon’s blue skin.
‘Why doesn’t he have his collar on······?’
Artpe was so surprised that he remained frozen. The Demon was rushing straight towards him, yet he stood there.
He checked the bastard’s information using his Read All Creation ability. He even did a thorough search using his magical energy.
This bastard wasn’t being controlled by the Demon King’s Innate ability.