Chapter 171 – A Man’s Contract (4)
Artpe didn’t know who and when he’ll make a contract with. Therefore, he always carried around Soul Contracts.
The Soul Contract required mutual consent, but it could be used by anyone with a soul. It could be human to human, Demon to Demon, human to Demon, human to spirits, etc. There was nothing more reliable than a Soul Contract.
“However, there is a downside to the Soul Contract. If the one signing the contract possesses too much magical energy, the power of the Soul Contract will have a hard time enforcing its terms. In such instances, the contractor’s Mana is used to punish the other side. If one is short on Mana, a thorny situation occurs. All your Mana gets sucked into the otherside.”
Maetel signed at the bottom of the long contract. She nodded her head.
“That is why everyone in our party is signing the contract. We are co-signing the contract, so our Mana will act as auxiliary in case of emergency?”
“Our Maetel has become a lot smarter.”
“Compliments. Give me more compliments.”
As a gifted Demon, Petra had wanted to fuck over Artpe using this feature of the Soul Contract. However, Petra could only watch in silence as Artpe’s whole party signed the Soul Contract. They cooperated to complete an excellent Soul Contract.
He didn’t know about the others, but Petra knew that he couldn’t win against the massive amount of magical energy possessed by Artpe and Regina. Moreover, there was the girl with the cat ears. She seemed be from an anthropomorphic race, and he was having a hard time sensing her magical energy!
“Good. Let’s go over the contract once again. Until Petra completes this contract, he cannot directly and indirectly harm those that are designated to be allies of Artpe. Moreover, he cannot lie to them. Artpe will make the judgement if the terms are broken.”
[This in an unfair contract!]
“Why are you complaining when you’ve already signed it?”
He could no longer run away. Petra had put a noose around his neck when he acted out on an impulse. Petra let out a groan. Artpe had a cheerful expression on his face as he read the rest of the contract.
“Petra will guide Artpe and his party to Etna. He will protect her from any external factors that might influence her decision. If she refuses Artpe’s offer of accompanying him, Petra will be released from the contract. However, he will not be able to attack Artpe’s party in this eventuality. If Etna makes it known that she will follow Artpe’s will, Petra will carry out the will of this contract. He will follow Artpe’s orders. Mmm. It is a great slave contract.”
“Artpe likes freedom. Is it ok for you to coerce someone like this? Is it ok to make him submit to you?”
“I believe that those, who are capable of thinking and acting for themselves, should be free. However, this guy doesn’t deserve to think and act for himself. He is trash.”
“As expected of you, Artpe.”
Petra had been the one to suggest the contract, yet why did he feel aggrieved? Petra gritted his teeth as he had this thought.
‘Anyways, you’ll be able to see Etna for yourself, and you will be able to hear her will As a result, I’ll have the chance to be freed from this contract. There is nothing for me to lose here.’
[I was released from the Absolute Control, but I am not sure if she was freed from it too. You realize this fact, right?]
“Of course. However, it won’t be a problem. That won’t get in the way of us being able to confirm her wishes.”
Moreover, he had completed his research for the purpose of freeing her. It was a collaboration between Artpe and sunbae-nim. He was able to create a type of reclamation magic.
Petra had no idea as to why Artpe was so confident in his answer. However, he had come to a conclusion that they were talking past each other, so Petra decided to drop the conversation.
[I guess I’ll have to guide you to Etna. She hasn’t returned after leaving for Glacia. We’ll start our search there.]
“We already know about Glacia. As expected, you won’t be of much help.”
[That’s not all. I can trace her tracks using my magic!]
“You are a stalker.”
Artpe thought about the time he had met Etna in Glacia.
She had been searching for the sculpture made out of the world’s first ice. However, she had to wait outside the ruin, so she had left the rest up to Artpe. It happened when the party cleared the ruin. They were about to head out when a powerful Demon had attack the ruin. At the time, Artpe’s party decided to retreat, and they had headed towards the underground world.
At the time, Artpe assumed that Etna would team up with the newly arrived Demon. Both were of the Demon race, and Etna still had her shackles on. From what Artpe was hearing from Petra, it seemed he had assumed wrong.
[After Etna carried out the Demon King’s orders, she was given a vacation, and she was supposed to be left alone. It happened during that time. It is as you’ve said. The previous Demon King’s forces made contact with her. I believe they had made some plan that would make sure that she headed towards Glacia. At the very least, they baited her there. She would be weakened in the northern continent, so they would be able to subdue her easily.]
The previous Demon King’s forces had secretly baited a Four Heavenly king out of the Demon realm. They planned on subduing her. The purpose of this plan was to weaken the Demon King’s power. Basically, the past Demon King’s forces was locking horns with the current Demon King’s forces.
It meant Artpe should have gone out to help her fight the other Demon! He had blindly assumed that the Demon would be on the same side as her. He had been an idiot! Of course, his assumptions had made sense at the time!
‘No. At the time, I hadn’t perfected my reclamation magic. I took the preferable path. We were able to take care of the Evil Heart thanks to the Winter Queen, and I was able to complete the reclamation magic. It isn’t too late if Etna remains unharmed.’
Artpe decided to stop beating himself up, and he focused on Petra’s words.
[However, she won’t fall so easily.]
It was easy to discern why Petra thought that way. Artpe’s party had arrived on the northern continent with impeccable timing. The Demon, who had come to subdue Etna, had become confused by his party’s presence.
‘He had to destroy the Winter Queen’s ruin on top of subduing Etna. He failed by attempting to accomplish both task at the same time. When Etna saw the Demon, she probably realized what was going on.’
He finally had a full picture on what was going on. He just had to work under the assumption that the Demon realm was split into two. It couldn’t be more clearer than this.
[The spy was amongst the Four Heavenly King. The one that recently rose to the highest rank amongst the Four Heavenly King was the traitor.]
Petra gave a short description of the new Four Heavenly King. There was only one new information Artpe was able to learn from Petra. He had met the new Four Heavenly King before. When? It was when Artpe’s party had entered Nanarai Bodra’s ruin!
‘All right. I’ve eliminated one complication.’
Artpe silently clenched his fist as he listened to Petra’s explanation.
[However, it was too late by the time we realized this fact. You guy killed Jeriet, who was working behind the scene, in Paladia. Etna went on the run after being attacked, and she hasn’t returned yet….]
Artpe thought Petra was crying. However, when he looked closer, he realized that Petra’s blue skin had a red tint to it. It seemed Petra was embarrassed by what had happened.
[Any meaningful force within the Demon King’s castle was the Demon King and me. When the civil war was about to heat up, you guys destroyed the Demon King’s castle with your spell. The previous Demon King’s forces used this opportunity to mount an all-out attack. You can guess what happened afterwards.]
He never expected everything to be so connected!? While Artpe became dumbfounded, Petra continued to speak.
[The governing power exchanged hands. I don’t know what happened to the Demon King. I just know that my Absolute Control was dismissed. I lost all connection with the Demon King. Afterwards, the previous Demon King’s faction assigned me to the region around the Demon King’s castle. They split up as they headed towards various regions of the Demon realm. Since they’ve captured the heart of the Demon realm, they said they’ll search for an item out in the open now. I’m not sure what they were searching for.]
Petra didn’t know about it, but Artpe knew what they were searching for. If he summarized the situation, Artpe’s party had destroyed the Demon King’s castle, and it had helped the previous Demon King’s faction expand their power base within the Demon realm. On the other hand, Artpe’s party had acquired all the Evil Hearts, so he had completely messed up their plan. As expected, life was fun!
[I decided to cooperate with them for the sake of the Demon realm. Moreover, I believe Etna will make the same choice as me.]
“We’ll know when we ask her. Let’s go.”
He turned around in an energetic manner, but none of his party members looked happy. Maetel spoke on behalf of everyone. She sounded sullen.
“In the end, we are fighting for that woman? It feels as if we are the bridesmaids.”
“If Etna joins our side, it’ll be more beneficial than us leveling up couple levels. I want everyone to follow me without giving me lip.”
“We are returning to where we came from after eating the Evil Hearts in the Demon realm.”
“That isn’t all we did. We destroyed the Demon King’s castle. Our actions also precipitated an update to the forces of the Demon realm!”
“Nyaa. I liked it. Master is the best. Nyaa-ah.”
It had always been like this after Artpe’s party had started their adventure. Something always seemed a bit off. Artpe’s party left as they had such thoughts. There was no sign of the Demon King, Four Heavenly Kings and the Demon King’s castle. The only thing left was a scene of desolation and ruin.
On the other hand, the war between the human realm and Demon realm was intensifying as the days passed.
The human alliance had been formed with the Zard Empire taking on a key role. Silpennon, who was the new king of Diaz, and the Dwarves also took an active role. They were able to complete the alliance. Even if the human realm was able to effectively gather their strength, the Demon King’s army attacked with the intent of bulldozing everyone.
While they were crossing the ocean, they had been unexpectedly attacked by the merfolk, so their number had been reduced drastically. However, they were still the Demon race.
All the Demons were at least level 200, and a single Demon was able to wipe out a human battalion. The human realm didn’t possess many powerful beings on par with the Demons. In the end, the Demons had to be killed one by one, and the casualties of the human soldiers were high. It was a war of attrition. It didn’t matter which side won. The pain would be felt on both sides. As the war dragged on longer, the human realm became impoverished. People started losing their will to live.
“Move a bit faster! Can’t you see them crawling towards us!?”
“The Demon reinforcement troop is coming from 11 o’clock! We need reinforcement too!”
“The holy priestess is sending up a prayer! All the injured should be moved close to her!”
The battlefield was extremely loud. It didn’t matter if one was at the top or the bottom of the hierarchy. It was hard to distinguish if one was a Demon or a human on the battlefield. Everyone was drenched in blood. It was hard to tell if an attack was coming from an ally or an enemy. Everyone just pushed forward.
Silpennon was an extremely bright beacon of light amongst the chaos.
Silpenon had faithfully followed the recipe created by Artpe. In the end, he had become the strongest at stealthy attacks, and he also didn’t lose to anyone in a head-to-head contest. Once he showed up on the battlefield, he wiped out all his enemies. His allies were mesmerized by his bright red hair. Even if they hadn’t received any special buffs, strength returned to their arms when they saw Silpennon. They were able to swing their swords again.
“I’ll break through the right side, so I want you guys to bunch there!”
“Understood, your majesty!”
“That person is the new king of Diaz······!”
Several dozen heads of Demons flew into the air each time his twin daggers split the air. The humans cheered each time they saw this. However, Silpennon felt himself lacking, so he continued to move faster.
‘This place isn’t the only front line. I have to finish the fight here, and I have to go help the Elves…. Artpe, you bastard. Are you really accomplishing something in the Demon realm?’
Was he perhaps only taking care of the Four Heavenly King?! Silpennon grinded his teeth as he turned around. At that moment, a large scythe mowed down the humans. A powerful Demon had made his entrance. It looked as if Demon was on a different level compared to the other Demons.
‘In the end, that bastard Artpe wasn’t able to stop the Four Heavenly Kings either! ······I can’t win against him by myself.’
He made a quick judgement. He wasn’t planning on running away. He had planned for such an eventuality. He had a contingency plan where he would be able to gather all his party members, who were spread out all over the battlefield.
Silpennon had been about to contact the holy priestess. However, an enormous scythe appeared in front of him. Silpennon was able to dodge the attack, but he couldn’t stop his communication Artifact from being destroyed..
[I finally found you, young king of Diaz.]
The Demon was truly fast as he arrived in front of Silpennon. He had a creepy voice. His voice sounded like a slithering snake. He spoke as he withdrew his hood. Of course, it was Silpennon’s first time seeing this face.
It should be the first time, yet.,…
[Or······Should I call you the thief of the hero’s party, who had his place stolen? Would that be easier?]
The combination of words spoken by the Demon had nothing to do with him, yet he felt a buzzing in his head when he heard the Demon’s words. He came to a halt.
The Demon just grinned as he watched Silpennon.