Chapter 177 – Phoenix’s Daughter (4)
“We’ll speak to her after we let Etna recover a little bit.”
[We have to ask her the question first.]
Artpe frowned as he tried to get in the way of Petra. However, he let out cold energy from his entire body as he stopped Artpe’s advance. Petra took a small step towards her. As he did so, he had made an explosive declaration.
[Etna, this man is the hero. Despite this fact, do you wish to be with him?]
This bastard took the initiative like this! Artpe wanted to calm down Etna a little bit more. He was going to be careful in how he confessed to her. This bastard poured vinegar all over his plan!
Before Artpe could say anything, Etna carefully grabbed onto Artpe’s sleeve as she spoke.
“What if I said I want to be with him? Will you return to the Demon world without making a fuss?”
Artpe was the one that was more surprised by her answer. Etna replied in a nonchalant manner.
“From the beginning, I knew you were either the hero or a member of the hero’s party. Moreover, I already told you how I feel about you. I can understand Petra not being aware of it. I don’t like the fact that Artpe became so surprised by my words. Do you treat a woman’s heart so lightly?”
“No, I didn’t mean it like that······.”
[I see. I understand what you want now.]
Petra replied in a calm manner.
[You are rejecting me, and you are choosing the hero over me.]
“Yes, that’s right. I don’t know why you are with Artpe, but I no longer want the Demon race and the Demon King’s army force me into doing things I do not like. Above all else, I don’t want you to pressure me into staying by your side. It is sickening.”
At that moment, Artpe felt the Soul Contract activate. It meant Petra had went against the contract. It was a somewhat predictable turn of event.
[However, you are a Demon. You were born into the Demon race, yet you choose to reject your Demonhood?]
[In all my life, I have never want to be a Demon, Petra.]
Petra created cold air around him. As a response, Etna emitted flame from her entire body. However, she had been severely weakened thanks to residing in the ice continent for the past year. Her fire had lost much power. If she used a bit more power, she might really die.
Artpe gritted his teeth as he created a barrier. He put the barrier over Etna, then he glared at Petra.
“Petra, do you no longer love Etna? Are you planning on killing her?”
[I do not need a woman that doesn’t love me. She was born a Demon, yet she rejects the Demon race. I do not need such a woman. Above all else, the woman decided to attach herself to the hero! I have nothing more to say!]
A fierce cold wind arose, and it hit Artpe and Etna! The barrier was infused with Etna’s fire. The barrier was able to stop Petra’s attack, but Etna couldn’t entirely avoid being weakened by the attack. His cold energy had been strengthened by the ice continent!
“Why did you bring that bastard here, Artpe!”
“He said he could guide me to you. Even if I am amazing, I can’t find you without a single hint. If I tried to do that, how long do you think it would have taken me to find you?!”
[Hero Artpe, you should have realized in the beginning that I have no lingering attachment to my life. As a price for breaking the Soul Contract, I will die. You are an idiot for giving me a Soul Contract knowing this.]
Petra had planned on doing this from the beginning. He already knew the a form of relationship had been established between Artpe and Etna. This was why he pretended to guide Artpe to Etna. He just wanted to kill Etna with his own hands. Artpe finally realized what Petra’s intention was.
This guys was plain stupid.
“The cost of the Soul Contract isn’t merely your life….. You really failed in your life as a Demon.”
It seemed Petra was under the assumption that Artpe was solely banking on the Soul Contract to keep him in line. If he believed that, the true idiot was Petra.
“It is as the name implies. The cost of a Soul Contract is your soul.”
If one broke the content of the Soul Contract, one’s Soul would be stolen by the other party. Basically, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that this wasn’t a simple death. Still, one wouldn’t be entirely wrong to say that death was the end result of breaking a Soul Contract.
However, one would be mistaken to think like that. As the word implied, a soul was the essence of a being. It contained all of one’s Records. If one just wanted death of the other party, one wouldn’t go through the annoying process of drafting a contract. It would be quicker to bash the other side with a mace.
[I don’t care what it entails······!]
Petra finally realized that the Soul Contract he had drafted with Artpe wasn’t a simple item. He bit his lips as he pull up every iota of his Mana.
[I just have to kill you before it activates!]
When he lost to Artpe’s party, he had been in a sorry state. However, in the process of coming to the ice continent, he had recovered his power. When he stepped onto this icy land, his power had exceeded the power he possessed during his prime.
Petra’s calculations weren’t too far off. It took time for the penalty of the Soul Contract to be enforced. Moreover, he might have a degree of resistance thanks to his level and experience. He was trying to kill Etna and Artpe before he died. It was a plausible tactic.
Of course, Artpe had prepared an item for such an eventuality.
“Etna, I’m sorry. I know I should treasure this item, but······.”
Artpe had taken out the flame sword, which had been gifted to him by Etna! After using the magic stones, he had finished his 4th Reinforcement on the flame sword. It had been a lot of help in their previous battle against Petra. Was he holding up the sword, because he wanted to slash Petra with it?
No way. Artpe was currently Reinforcing the sword again. He had come up with this idea when he saw Etna send out a maelstrom of fire to block Petra’s cold energy.
“The barrier from Frate….!”
There were many ways to use the Reinforcement skill. Artpe had mainly used it to permanently strengthen the functions of an Artifact. However, there was a way to temporarily strengthen the function of an Artifact. Of course, there was a price that came along with doing this. His current action was closer to the latter option.
[You think that’ll be enough!]
“I’m not worried.”
It wasn’t a simple flame. Mana Strings under the control of Artpe emerged from the flame sword. Each Mana String was infused with the power of fire. The Mana Strings started to weave together in the air to create a strong and rigid barrier.
The fire sword, which was at the heart of the barrier, was starting to crack as time passed. It was the price for adding more heat to the barrier.
“No, don’t attack him!”
The Steel Horse had arrived late. Artpe’s party was about to rush forward when they saw what was transpiring. However, Artpe blocked them from approaching any further. It was easier to block Petra’s attack when it was focused on him.
[Do you think a mere Artifact can block a spell that was created with my life on the line?!]
“You lost the moment you thought this was a mere Artifact!”
There was a grin on Artpe’s lips. Afterwards, he increased the output of his Reinforcement skill. What happened was….
Her flame sword was completely destroyed! The intrinsic nature of the Artifact remained the same, yet the output was steadily increasing. In the end, the sword couldn’t withstand steady climb of its power, so it broke.
Despite this fact, the heat created by the sword remained in place. In fact, the power was still increasing! It was thanks to the flame within the sword escaping the restricting confines of the sword!
“This is the greatest ability possessed by an Artifact. When an Artifact sacrifices itself, an extreme result occurs. It is able to create a great magic in one go! This is a spell created by combining the Reinforcement and the Materialization spell….. I call it the Waste Money spell!”
“You should have given it a bit cooler name!”
Etna had been pretty impressed by the spell, but she appalled by his horrible naming sense.
The enormous fire shield easily blocked the cold energy. Petra bit his lips.
[This can’t be happening! You betrayed the Demon race. You betrayed the Demon King. You betrayed me…. I…..!]
Artpe used his Materialization spell to slowly change the shape of the barrier. In a flash, the wall of fire increased in size, and the sound of the flame covered up the howl of Petra. The flame wall engulfed Petra! When it came to using fire, Etna could basically be called the mother of the flames. Even she gulped when she saw Artpe’s attack.
The horrible scream of Petra could be heard from beyond the fire. The scream of pain wasn’t simply caused by the fire. His power was being internalized through the fire. The ‘penalty’ of the Soul Contract was finally starting!
[Ggoo-ahhhhhhhhhhhhh! Herooooooooooo! You bastard, Artpehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!]
“Don’t act so familiar with me.”
[How dare you! You bastardddddddddddddd!]
At the moment of his death, did he miraculously remember his past life? Artpe’s eyes turned sharp, but Petra spoke no more. The Soul Contract, which was in his possession, crumbled away after spending all its power. Afterwards, the flame was suddenly all gone.
‘It wasn’t a simple waste of money. I borrowed the power of the Artifact, but I manifested it using my Materialization spell. The Record from the Materialization spell still remains…. It won’t be as powerful, but I’ll be able to recreate this spell again.’
Artpe’s heart was beating faster. He finally found a way to grow his Materialization spell. He didn’t have many enemies left, but he had ominous feeling tha he’ll meet those enemies in the near future!
“Artpe, are you alright!? W…what happened to Petra!”
He had come here to save Etna, yet he had forgotten about her. He had been drunk on his magic. When Artpe’s worried eyes landed on her, Etna let out a bitter laugh as she replied.
“I’m fine. It seems Petra is dead, but he left his Soul behind.”
The flame had been extinguished, and a very small blue marble was left behind. Artpe let out a smile of satisfaction as he picked it up.
“In the old stories, there are stories about the Demon race trying to revive the Demonic god. Normally, the vector for the Demonic god in those stories were characterized as marbles. It talked about the fragments containing the soul of the Demonic god. Most of these fragments took on the shape of marbles…. However, this marble contains the soul of a powerful Demon.”
The story about summoning the Demonic god seemed to come up every couple dozen years. However, the world hadn’t ended yet. It was just an old story.
If Artpe just threw away this Soul Marble, some brainless idiot might try to summoning the Demonic god. The idiot might be enticed by the Demonic energy within the marble.
“However, it is impossible to revive someone using the marble even if it contains the Demon’s soul. Of course, it contains all of the Demon’s Record, but that is it. In truth, it is just a very good ingredient for making an Artifact. It can also be used in magic…. Regina might like this.”
In truth, he had thought about strengthening Regina’s magic. He had this idea when he met Petra once again. As soon as he made the Soul Contract with Petra, he had expected things to turn out like this. If he spoke this out loud, he would look too unscrupulous and villainous, so he kept this fact to himself!
“Anyways….. I’m glad you are unharmed, Etna……”
Artpe took the marble as he turned towards Etna. The very first thing he checked was her slim neck. There was no collar. It seemed something really did happen to the Demon King.
“Unharmed? That’s what I should be saying to you…. I really thought you were dead…..”
After the hectic situation came to an end, tears welled up in Etna’s eyes. In their last meeting, Artpe’s party had escaped to the underground world as they brought down the Winter Queen’s ruin around them. Of course, Etna would have thought they were dead!
“I should have stopped him, but I wasn’t able to. I… I…..”
At that time, Etna had been fettered. The Demon had been stronger than her, and they were of the same race. How could she interfere with such a foe?!
Artpe let out a bitter laughter as he shook his head from side to side.
“Anyways, I want to ask you something.”
This might cause her pain once again, but…. Despite this fact, he believed that she was waiting for this question.
“Will you be with me?”
Artpe tossed the slightly embarrassing question towards Etna.