Chapter 42 – Hero VS Kingdom (4)
There were 2,000 people, but a thousand of them were children who couldn’t work. Still, they were making great progress in carving out a small city at the middle of the small mountain. All the tasks that couldn’t be done through the power of the people was solved by Artpe. Of course, he used his Mana Strings.
“T…the mountain is collapsing.”
“It is being pulverized.”
“The forest······ An entire forest is being swallowed up……”
The Mana Strings consumed a lot of Mana. However, the large consumption rate became a problem only in battle where every minute and every second mattered. Since no one had chased after them yet, he had plenty of time. He had the luxury to be able to use the Mana Strings to his heart’s content. This was possible because his Mana recovery rate had increased compared to his days as a Demon.
Artpe used his Mana Strings every time his Mana recovered. He carved the mountain, dug up the ground or he processed the trees. He had had cut down the forest in its entirety.
Naturally, the townspeople started looking up to Artpe as if he was like a godlike figure.
“He isn’t human.”
“I’ve seen magicians before, but they weren’t like this.”
“Did you just see that? He extended his hand once, and twenty trees just fell.”
When the large-scale construction came to an end, the townspeople firmed the ground, and they started gathering the fallen trees to create building materials. They were doing minor tasks compared to what Artpe was doing. This resulted in a city being created at an incredible speed.
The ground was flattened in a half-day, and buildings started going up after another half-day. The people that weren’t of help in the construction were given the task of gathering food. They were sent out into the mountain.
Just the same, Artpe filled up the food stores when they didn’t bring back enough.
How did he do so?
“Customer, who do you think I am!”
He did it through the veteran merchant Mycenae of the Anywhere company.
“You are someone convenient to use in various situations.”
“If you were a little bit more circumspect with your words, I might have agreed with your sentiment!”
“Ah. I want you to leave behind your cheapest rations. I need enough for 3,000 meals. Tsk. I don’t have much money left after purchasing the Crystal Ball of Blessing…. I’ll have to empty out another Dungeon soon.”
“You just straight up ignored my words…….”
Dungeon merchants rarely appeared outside of a normal Dungeon. The rules changed a little bit when one bought a voucher from them. It was possible for one to trade with a Dungeon merchant outside.
In this particular case, Maetel and Artpe had cleared out the Dungeon located within this mountain. Mycenae found out about it since she designated herself as the merchant in charge of dealing with them. She had shown up like a phantom that was haunting them, and Artpe had pulled her outside of the Dungeon to make a deal.
“You are young, yet I’ve never met a customer with so little manners. In five years, I’m sure you will make many women cry thanks to your unruly heart.”
“I’ll probably be the one crying. Maetel would have beaten me with a club before it could reach that point.”
Mycenae narrowed her eyes as she glared at him.
“As expected, you like her?”
“Are you trying to meddle in the love life of a customer?”
“If you don’t have particular feeling towards her, I might put some of my spit on you to call dibs.”
“By the time I grow up, the spit you put on me would have dried up, and there would be no trace of it left.”
Artpe snorted when he saw Mycenae’s ears flutter around. If one took compliments from merchants at face value, it’ll lead one to bankruptcy in the end.
However, his face hardened a little bit at her next words.
“I really want to hold the title of being a lover of a hero at least once.”
For a brief moment, Artpe froze in place when he heard her words. Should he dodge the statement? Should he deny it? He mulled over it, but there was only one answer he could give from the start.
She wasn’t fishing for information. She was sure of her own claim. He had always had a feeling in the past that Mycenae knew about their status as heroes. If he denied the claim, it would cause unnecessary difficulties for both sides.
In the end, Artpe shrugged his shoulders as he replied towards Mycenae.
“That’s right. We were quite skillful in keeping it a secret up until now.”
“Of course, However, I’ve already realized it from the outset. Haven’t our meetings been quite coincidental after our first meeting? I tried very hard not to unnecessarily arouse your attention.”
“Why are you bringing this up right now?”
He had a decent idea on why, but Artpe spoke in a sullen manner. Mycenae chuckled as she spoke.
“I believe you have a modicum of trust in me now. I want to establish a firm cooperative relationship. Moreover… You already know this, right? It doesn’t matter which Dungeon you enter. I drop everything I have going on to beat all the other merchants in showing up in front of you. It was my way of keeping both your identities a secret. In truth, I deserve thanks for doing such a task.”
“Didn’t you do it to monopolize the trades with us, since we are heroes with bright futures? Wasn’t it an attempt to increase your profit?”
“Of course, that is my ultimate goal.”
Mycenae boldly acknowledged that fact. Then she added more to her explanation.
“However, I also do not want the Demon King to take over the world. This is why I tried my best to protect the two heroes from being solicited by unnecessary people. It is a task where my practical interests and doing the right thing intersects.”
“In truth, I confirmed my suspicions when I saw all of this today.”
Mycenae spoke as she pointed towards the construction site of the small city. A large number of people were embarking on a new life. Everyone thought the construction of the city would be difficult, but Artpe’s complete support had made the job much easier. Thanks to his help there were very few people that complained.
“I thought you only went around smashing Dungeons, but you are doing very hero-like tasks. Every person here has absolute trust in you, and they rely on you. This also made me confident that I could trust and rely on you, customer.”
“It is very unexpected to hear such words from a Dungeon Merchant. Don’t you guys put profit above all else?”
“All the more reason to put my trust in you”
Mycenae let out an alluring laugh as she spoke.
“Customers like you let out an always radiant light, and many people get tangled in that light. It isn’t a coincidence that heroes are the bane of the Demon King, In a chaotic world, the only ones able to bring the hearts of the people together are the heroes.”
Heroes unite the hearts of the people? Heroes weren’t religious leaders. If one discounted their abilities, heroes were normal human beings. Other people did as they liked by relying on the heroes. It was a one-sided and disgusting relationship. He didn’t have such a relationship with the people here, so it seemed she was under some delusion.
“······yes, it would be convenient to have someone I can trust too.”
However, Artpe didn’t have to go out of his way to shatter such delusions. She could package her sweet words in every which way, but in the end, it was a business relations.
This was why this relationship had to based strictly on profits and losses. Emotions didn’t have to enter into the calculations. He erased the countless thoughts he had been thinking. He let out a light laugh as he extended his hand towards Mycenae.
“Soul Contract. I’m sure you came here prepared with one.”
“Of course. I had a very hard time, since the efficacy of the contract had to be high. I had a very hard time coming up with a story for the headquarters of the company……”
“A cost of the contract is usually split between the two parties. However, since you’ve suggested it first, you should take on an additional 10% of the cost. I’ll pay 40%.”
“Your calculations are always precise·····.”
Mycenae pouted as she brought out the contract. Artpe put his index finger on it, and he dragged it across the contract. The basic outline of the contract had already been created. As his fingers scanned over the contract, conditions were modified, added and deleted.
“It isn’t just me. You are forbidden to talk about anyone I deem to be an ally. From this point on, that will me Maetel, Sienna, Silpennon, Leseti and me.”
“However, once you start encountering more and more people, there is a danger of me being in breach of contract without meaning to.”
“If it is a situation where they will find out even if you don’t open your mouth, the contract will make the proper judgement. If you are careful with your words and actions, you won’t be in breach of contract.”
“Then I needed something that would count as profit for me. I want you to sell 10% of the items you gain in Dungeons exclusively to me.”
“Of course, Maetel and any of my other party members have to agree to sell it to you. It has to be a unanimous decision. Also, I won’t sell any items that I choose not to sell to you to other merchants. If you don’t have the purchasing power, you have to find a suitable owner to sell the items to.”
“Since this is an exclusive contract, could you give me a grace period to come up with the funds? Moreover, the 3rd Clause must…..”
Artpe and Mycenae pitted their heads against each other with the contract between them. They were precise in their calculations, and they double checked each clause. The townspeople were busy constructing the city, but when they caught sight of the young magician, they thought he was quite talented in picking up women.
“······also, I have an additional addendum.”
In a flash, Mycenae raised her head from the contract to look at Artpe. When he met her eyes, her eyes were very serious. They were clear and deep. He was a bit surprised by them. He wondered if the conversation up until now had been a set up for this moment.
“What is it?”
“The place is a bit far from the Diaz kingdom, but….. Does customer know about the Forest of Eternity?”
“It is located on the border of Duchy of Tiata. It is the place of origin for the Elves. Isn’t it centered around the World Tree?”
“······as expected, you know about it. I heard you guys were in a country town before both of you were chosen as heroes. So how are you so knowledgeable?”
Mycenae let out a sigh at Artpe’s words. He let out a bitter laugh when he caught a hint of irritation in her sigh.
The information regarding the Forest of Eternity weren’t widespread amongst humans. The residents of the forest were zealous in protecting their location. They had cut off all communications with the outside world. It was as Artpe had said. The residents were none other than Elves.
“Then do you perhaps know what the Forest of Eternity is facing right now?”
“I can make a guess. The friction between the Duchy and the forest might have worsened. A country that covets the Elves might have sent out an organized group. The monsters might be causing more mayhem. The World Tree might be drying up. Maybe, all of these events are the reason why the Forest of Eternity is being ruined.”
“You are absolutely correct. It is all of the above. The Forest of Eternity is in overall distress. If things continue to head in this direction, it’ll be in ruins soon. It will all be thanks to those that thinks with their lower body instead of their brains!”
Elves were beautiful. It was said that they were born from the vital force of the World Tree, and they were beautiful enough to be called fairies. It was just amongst humans. They wer considered to be one of the most beautiful races amongst races that were capable of rational thought. Of course, many people desired them.
“Amongst the smut that is circulated within the kingdom, 80% of them deals with Elves.”
“Men are the worst······!”
If people were just reading books about Elves, it could be considered to be charming. However, in the past, countless number of people trespassed into the Forest of Eternity to kidnap Elves. The Elves had to fight against them over the long years. This was why Elves spat on the ground when other races were brought up.
“The manhood of Orcs and human men should be severed.”
Mycenae grinded her teeth as she spoke. She expressed her anger as her ears fluttered fiercely. Artpe couldn’t help but chuckle. She was speaking very serious words, so he didn’t get why she looked so cute right now.
Artpe wasn’t into older women, yet she had just delivered an effective blow on Artpe. Sadly, Mycenae was too incensed to realize this fact. He lightly slapped his cheek with one hand. He took in deep breaths as he opened his mouth.
“It can’t be helped. However, you guys always managed to hang in there.”
“······that’s true. We’ve managed to hold out until now.”
Mycenae nodded her head. Since Artpe wasn’t going to hide the fact that he was a hero, she didn’t plan on hiding the fact that she was an Elf. To be more specific, she was a Dark Elf.
In truth, she possessed a powerful presence. Even Silpennon was able to pick up on this fact. Artpe possessed Observation magic that was ranked higher than what she possessed. There was no way he hadn’t picked up on her true identity.
“However, it has gotten worse recently. It really seems like something is happening within the forest. Unfortunately, I was reduced into becoming a Dark Elf, so it’ll be difficult to give direct help to the forest…..”
“The World Tree is really petty. Whenever one of you makes a little mistake, it reduces them into Dark Elves.”
“I…it isn’t the World Tree’s fault. It was because I was inexperienced! Anyways, that isn’t important. It is the Forest of Eternity.”
Artpe narrowed his eyes when she finally broached the main subject.
Mycenae looked straight into his eyes as she made a sincere request.
“At some time in the future, could you accept my Quest which is related to the Forest of Eternity?”
“All right. You should also put that into the contract.”
Artpe had agreed to it so easily that Mycenae was taken aback.
“Is it ok for you to accept it so easily? I’m not sure I should be saying this, but the situation within the Forest of Eternity is very dire. It might get very dangerous for you!”
“I’ll be dragged to that place anyways if I continue to act like a hero. I have no reason to turn down an extra reward when I know I’ll have to do this later.”
In Artpe’s past life, the Elves living inside the Forest of Eternity had suffered a a really horrible ending. Moreover, if he went by what was happening within the Diaz Kingdom, the current situation would probably be worse than what occurred in Artpe’s past life.
‘I have to do something before it is too late. Tsk. I’m already doing something annoying right now, yet I have a future appointment to do another annoying task. This is why I didn’t want to become a hero…..’
However, he would work diligently from now on. He would do it for the peaceful farm life he would greet in the future.
“Your counterpart isn’t here, so I’m not sure you should agree for her….”
“Ha. If you were going to say that then you should have something before you took out the contract. Maetel is leaving everything regarding the contract up to me. ”
At that moment, Maetel was with Sienna. They were exploring a Dungeon they had found on this mountain. Maetel was teaching the ABC of battle to Sienna, and they were gathering any items that was worth money.
Normally, Dungeons were very hard to find, yet it wasn’t a problem for Artpe.
“So this finalizes the contract?”
She had been trembling inside, because she thought Artpe was going to ask for something very big. She nodded her head.
“Ooh. Oooh. I hate this feeling.”
When the draft was completed, they put their signatures on it. The Soul Contract split into two, and two pages were absorbed into the body of Artpe and Mycenae.
It was an incredible magic contract. When there was a breach of contract, the penalty would be inflicted on one’s soul. It was very expensive, but it allowed each party to completely trust each other.
This was why it was possible for Artpe to ask her questions that he had wanted to ask.
“Do you have a Skill Book that can be used by a Warrior Priestess?”
“That child was given the occupation of Warrior Priestess!?”
“So do you have it or not?”
“I don’t have it right now. Do you realize how rare a Warrior Priestess Class is? Moreover, most of the Skill Books related to that Class is under the care of the temples….. Ooh-ah. You are giving me a very difficult homework from the beginning!”
“Please, I beg of you.”
Artpe had on an impudent smile. It was an expression that would never be on a face of someone making a request. When he stood up, Mycenae grumbled at the fact that he left the matter as is….. She smacked her lips when she felt the energy that was being released from the bottom of the mountain.
“As expected, you weren’t just doing a simple construction job.”
Artpe had a twisted smile on his face. He didn’t have to answer her. The smile was answer enough.
“I’ll see you next time, ajumma. Please take care of Silpennon and Leseti.”
“I’m almost done with that task. If you want to purchased the Warrior Priestess Skill Book, you’ll have to call me a bit sooner next time!”
Mycenae took something out from her pocket. She threw it towards Artpe before she disappeared. Artpe confirmed the identity of the item as he snatched it out of the air.
“······it’s a communication instrument.”
It probably was a communication device that connected only with Mycenae, and it might double as a summoning device.
It seemed such services came along with making an exclusive contract. Artpe snorted as he put it away. Then he took a step forward as he weighed the enemy force that was busily climbing up the mountain.
“Yes, it is nothing. You should continue to build.”
The townspeople, who had been busy in their tasks, tilted their heads in puzzlement at Artpe’s movements. Artpe shook his head as he waved them away. If they got involved in this, it would get more complicated. From now on, the situation would be in Artpe’s domain.
‘So, I just have to exclude the region containing the Dungeon where Maetel and Sienna is traveling towards…..’
The Read All Creation ability worked fiercely as all the information about this region was injected into his brain. He knew where Maetel and Sienna was heading. He had the information regarding the size of the enemy force, and the terrain they were climbing. He even had the information regarding the structural integrity of the region supporting the small city they were building, and the mess that was left behind when Artpe gathered the ingredients for the construction……
He finished his calculations.
“All right. Let’s do this.”
Artpe extended both his hands as he extended dozens of Mana Strings. All of them burrowed into the ground to cause a weak earthquake.
He had uprooted all the trees, so the soil was loosely held now. The tremor hit this region.
“What the hell? I feel a vibration.”
“Vibration? What the hell…. Uh?”
“I…it’s the soil. There’s rocks mixed in with the dirt….”
“It’s a landslide! A landslide has just occurred!”
It was a enormous landslide that was almost impossible to replicate even with high rank magic. It engulfed the soldiers and the black magicians!