Chapter 36 – Come to Think of It, I’m a Hero (4)
Artpe ran through the Dungeon with his Read All Creation ability active. He was able to find the trap. He was able to assess the number of the nearby enemies and their abilities. He was also able to monitor the amount of Mana possessed by the Dungeon.
His existence made any traps and ambushes irrelevant. Moreover, no one could endure more than a single attack from Artpe and Maetel. Aena was running without rest, yet she was barely able to keep up with them.
“They are strong······!”
“That is the third line in the ‘50 lines that no one survived after saying it’. You must have studied it a little bit.”
Artpe had been running while he kept a hold on Aena’s hand. He lightly infused Mana into his dagger. The dagger pierced through the throat of a retreating soldier. When the soldier fell, the black magician hiding in the back was revealed.
“B…blessing of the clandestine darkness……”
His opponent revealed his identity as a black magician by chanting a spell. However, the dagger planted inside the throat slid out as it rose into the air again. It embedded itself into the black magician’s heart.
The black magician had no idea what had happened to him. He fell helplessly to the floor as Maetel also took care of the remaining soldiers in a flash. She mumbled to herself as if she was dumbfounded by what had occurred.
“They are too weak.”
“Do you remember me telling you about the Demon world’s greatest chef?”
“Yes! I want to eat food that was cooked by that demon!”
Artpe looked at her with peculiar eyes when she said those words.
“It seems the Demons are making a once in a lifetime food here.”
“How do you know that? There are only bad people here.”
“There is a reason.”
If there was a powerful Demon present here, there was a good chance that Artpe and Maetel would suffer a defeat. However, this was probably a minor plan, so why would they dispatch a Demon over level 200 here? It wasn’t something that was done lightly. All the black magicians up until now were humans, and none of them were over level 50.
In truth, the Demon King didn’t just send the weakest first against the hero. He sent the weakest amongst his subordinates to do all his tasks. This was also true when he dealt with the joint forces.
It somewhat made sense if he planned on only letting the strongest survival regardless if they were allies or not. Anyways, no matter how he thought about it, the Demon King was an idiot.
“No, we can’t run away.”
“We….we have to call him…..”
“No, we can’t call him.”
The weak typically ran away when a strong opponent made an appearance. If running away wasn’t an option, they called for reinforcement. Of course, it was useless in front of the all-around hero Maetel and the rotten hero Artpe.
They were all killed as soon as they were found, so news didn’t flow towards the inner Dungeon where others were on standby. This was why they died saying similar lines or they died before they could even speak.
Artpe planned on making a manuscript that wrote down the most common phrases spoken before death by minor characters. His enemies here were faithful in using those repertoire of phrases.
“Use the transmission magic!”
“That isn’t working either.”
At the very least, Artpe was vigilant about their use of transmission magic. They didn’t have to be afraid of anyone within the Dungeon, but if an officer of the Demon King’s army could be mobilized, there would be no countermeasure.
Of course, transmission magic was useless in front of his Read All Creation ability and Mana String. His opponents couldn’t even use a simple magic or a curse.
“D…do you guys realize what you’ve just done!”
“Yes, we already know, so you don’t have to explain it to us.”
It was as if the soldiers deluded themselves into thinking they were the archduke, and the black magicians put on air as if they had risen to the seat of the Demon King. However, they were all killed by Maetel’s sword and Artpe’s dagger before they could utter their threats.
The 1st floor ended in short order, and the 2nd floor also didn’t take too long.
Aena was getting tired as she tried to keep up with them.
“How… Hehk. This is…..”
When they descended to the 3rd floor, Artpe spread his Mana Threads in all directions. He immediately asked for silence from his party members. Then his expression crumpled in a rueful manner.
“As expected of a first Quest…. The Dungeon ends at the third floor. However…. The Quest started a bit too late. Tsk.”
“Sometimes Artpe says some very profound words.”
“The children are here…….?”
The curse present in the atmosphere of the 1st and 2nd floor was bearable for normal people. However, it was possible to see the curse with one’s eye on the 3rd floor. It looked like a very thick fog.
“Koohk, magician-nim. It feels as if the air is burning……!”
When he saw that Aena’s complexion had immediately turn pale, he took out the obsidian as he clicked his tongue. It sucked in all the curse residing within the atmospheric Mana.
Aena’s complexion improved a little bit, but the pain she was feeling wouldn’t subside until he could get rid of all the curse in the atmosphere. Nevertheless, it was fortunate that he had gotten rid of her curse earlier.
“We’ll be running at full speed from now on. Aena, you have to run as if your life’s on the line. Understood?”
The 3rd floor was unusually quiet. There were only three people running across the floor, so small sounds echoed throughout the hallway. All the traps were disabled and destroyed . The soldiers and black magicians that had shown up on the 1st and 2nd floor every time they had gotten bored weren’t present here. The curse on the 3rd floor had been strong enough to be dangerous to them too.
“It is so quiet that it is making me feel very uneasy. Artpe……”
“Don’t worry. The children aren’t dead yet. At the very least, not all of them.”
Artpe’s words hinted at something. It was easy to discern what he was talking about. The expression on the faces of Maetel and Aena hardened. However, their steps quickened as if they were responding to their emotions.
Maetel bravely ran through the Dungeon filled with the curse. Artpe tied the Obsidian of Greed to a Mana String, and he rotated it to suck in all the curse. He kept storing the curse as he followed her.
Aena followed behind them, and tears were already filling her eyes. She held a branch in her slender hands. She had brought it with her as her weapon, and her heart shook like the branch.
They passed one room than another.
Maetel suddenly came to a stop when they went past the 3rd room.
A groan leaked out of Maetel’s mouth. Artpe had seen the information regarding his surrounding with his Read All Creation ability, so he knew why she was reacting that way.
If possible, he hadn’t wanted her to see this sight. However, the Obsidian of Greed sucked in all of the fog created by the curse. It made the surrounding brighter, so it was impossible to miss it.
“······they are dead.”
Maetel spoke with a trembling voice. One could see a dead monster at the corner of the room. It had lying in a pool of its blood. Artpe kept silent as Aena also caught sight of the monster.
The monster had a small body as if it hadn’t fully matured, yet its arms and legs were abnormally long. It was wearing tattered human clothes, and it was crusted with dried brown blood.
When she confirmed the other monster corpses, Aena let out an inarticulate moan. The monsters weren’t wearing clothes or accessories that would allow her to identify them. However, they all looked like her dongsaeng to her.
Artpe was able to find out that the children had turned into monsters around 10 days ago using his Read All Creation ability. However, he kept that fact to himself. All the dead monsters here had been in the same situation as Aena’s dongsaeng.
“Why did they kill them······?”
“That I do not know. If their goal was to make children into monsters, they probably wanted them for something. They must have had a plan. The fact that they killed the children instead of sending them out into the world…..”
It was hard to come up with an explanation. If the Demon King’s army wanted to sow confusion in the outside world, they would have sent the monsters out into the world. They had succeeded in applying the curse, yet the monsters were killed? It was an idiotic move.
If not, maybe there was a plan that Artpe was unable to discern?
“It must have hurt a lot.”
While Artpe was going through his thoughts, Matel mumbled to herself in an absent minded manner. The monsters had died as they spit out blood, and Maetel couldn’t turn her gaze away from them. She kept repeating the same words as if something had broken within her.
“It must have hurt a lot…. It must have hurt a lot….”
A red energy started emanating from her body. It was a sign that her Berserker skill was about to be activated. Artpe quickly grabbed her, and the energy was instantly gathered within her. The fact that she was able to retract it so easily was scarier than the skill itself.
Maetel turned towards Artpe as she made a request.
“Artpe? The children…. Please don’t leave any behind….”
When Artpe extended his hand, the corpses of the dead monsters were incinerated in a flash. He had spent a great deal of money learning this magic, yet he had never expected this would be the first place he would use it. He was dumbfounded at the turn of events.
“I’m sorry, kids…. I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner.”
Maetel mumbled to herself as she stood still. She watched the corpses of the children turn to ash inside the fire. Aena couldn’t shake the thought that her dongsaeng might be amongst the dead monsters. She wasn’t in her right mind. Artpe watched them as he firmly bit his lips.
‘Maetel’s abilities are amazing, but her mind is too immature. If possible, I wanted her to experience such dirty business later on…… Shit.’
Since the incident had already occurred, nothing could be done about it. Artpe wanted to change the mood surrounding Maetel and Aena, so he lightly clapped his hands. He drew their attention to him.
“We can mourn for them at a later time. We have to move before it is too late.”
Maetel firmly nodded her head. She glared at the fog created by the curse, and she launched herself forward.
The 3rd floor of the Dungeon was ridiculously long compared to the other floors. Every time the curse was absorbed the sight of one or two corpses of monsters revealed themselves.
Aena’s body shook every time more corpses were found, but the two heroes didn’t stop. The only thing they did was to burn the bodies with flame when they were found.
The only thing that deserved a special mention was Maetel’s status.
[Level : 174]
He knew Maetel hadn’t activated her Berserk skill, but when he checked with his Read All Creation ability, her Berserk skill was progressing in real-time.
When she saw the corpses of the monster-turned children being burned to ash, she threw herself further into the fog created by the curse, and a red energy emanated from her. It looked as if it would manifest, but Maetel collected it back into herself every time. It was as if she was building up her rage as she waited for the moment to release it all at once.
It was something that could be seen in Berserkers that had learned to control their emotions over numerous years. It was a stage that could be attained after being in countless battles, yet Maetel was showing similar signs to those Berserkers. Even Artpe didn’t dare to guess what she was feeling right now.
“I…I’ve already counted over h….hundred of them, magician-nim. What shall we do? What can we do?”
“The scale of this operation is much larger than I expected. In a worst case scenario, there’s a possibility of there being more of these Dungeons. …….Maetel, stop.”
When she heard Artpe’s words, Maetel immediately stopped in place. She also could feel it. The person responsible for these atrocities were nearby.
The Obsidian had already sucked in as much curse as it could in the atmosphere, so the black magician on the 3rd floor had immediately known something was wrong. This was why he had placed a trap as he waited for the party to come to him.
Of course, a Dungeon and a magician that could cast a curse of this caliber couldn’t defeat Maetel at her level, but……
“I know you are angry. However, if you aren’t able to shape your rage to your will, it will someday trip you up. Most Berserkers eventually meet their death through this mistake.”
“Artpe······ Thank you for the warning.”
Maetel had a faint smile on her face. When he was faced with the smile, he realized his warning had been unnecessary.
“However, I’ll never make such a mistake. I can’t afford to make that kind of mistake at this moment.”
“·····yes. Let’s do this.”
When Maetel took one step, Artpe extended his Mana String to completely disable the trap waiting for them. Of course, when he did so, their enemy became aware of it.
“You guys saw through the trap, you damn bastards!”
There was only one enemy here. To be precise, there was only one black magician capable of enduring the atmospheric curse.
“You guys made such a ruckus…. That is why I’m going to deal with you myself…huh?”
The obsidian had sucked in all the atmospheric curse. One could see children carelessly discarded all over the large room as if they were a collection of junk materials. Then there was the middle aged man wearing a overly elaborate robe pointing his staff at them.
“You guys are kids…..!?”
The magician was also able to see the party now. When he realized the intruders were merely three children, his eyes widened in surprise.
“I never expected children to be able to endure the curse to reach this place!”
Artpe calmly asked the question.
“Are you the one who spread this damned curse?”
“Of course, I spread it! However, the result has been sub-optimal. Now that I see you guys….”
An ugly smile appeared on his face..
“If this goes well, I might be able to succeed in my test!”
Maetel gripped her long sword hard.
While they confronted the black magician, she continued to look over the fallen children inside this communal space.
She saw the starving children who were sullied by the curse. They were in pain.
The red energy soared before it was absorbed. This process kept repeating itself. If rage could be personified, Artpe thought the person would look like Maetel right now.
“You are bad. You are really bad!”
Maetel couldn’t hold herself back, so she denounced her opponent. The amount of red vapor emanating from her body kept increasing.
It seemed the black magician was unable to see this vapor. If he could feel her heavy anger, he wouldn’t be able to smile like right now.
“Haha. You are very funny, child! Who do you think you are? What allows you to be able to determine what is right and wrong? You have a lot to learn! A lot!”
Maetel ignored his words as she slightly bent her knees. She pushed her sword for a to get into her stance.
There was a distance of 50 meters between Maetel and the black magician. From the black magician’s perspective, it looked as if she had lost her cool. He thought that was why she didn’t register the distance between them. The magician grinned when he assessed her state of emotion. He laughed as he raised his staff.
“It seems I’ll have to give you an explanation. I’ll tell you what my test is for. It is for our great……”
The bastard tried to do something evil characters had a patent on. He tried to explain why they were doing such bad things, their final goal and the method in which they would terrorize the world. However, he wasn’t able to enlighten them.
Maetel’s long sword cut his head off in one stroke. Normal humans die when their head was severed. The dead do not speak. Unfortunately, the bastard hadn’t put a curse on himself that would have turned him into a lich.
Until a moment ago, Maetel had been pretty far away from her target. However, she was putting away her sword as she stood where the black magician had been standing previously. Aena and Artpe’s eyes turned round when they saw something akin to magic. Maetel turned to look at Artpe, and she was in a similar state of shock.
“It feels weird, Artpe.”
She couldn’t use magic. If so, did she borrow Artpe’s boots to use the Blink spell? Of course not.
“It feels as if this power has always been within me.”
“That’s······ So that’s how it is.”
Artpe replied with a dumbfounded yet hollow voice.
He was having a hard time believing the information reflected in his eyes. He already knew she was a genius, but he never imagined the possibility of her talent exceeding the hero from his previous life.
[Level : 174]
[Innate Ability : Acceleration]
The hero from his previous life had barely been able to awaken to her innate ability called Acceleration at age 19.
Maetel had just awakened to it at age 13.