Chapter 50 – Frate’s Festival (3)
Artpe had died. His life had come to a absolute end when he had been stabbed by the thief’s dagger.
The thief clicked his tongue. He retrieved his dagger as he let out a sigh. The hero looked on with dazed eyes as she spoke with a voice devoid of strength.
“There is no way that man had any intentions of coming to our side. He’s our enemy. We have to kill our enemies. It will endanger you If you hesitate.”
“No. That isn’t it. That can’t be true, because he…….”
Before she could continue her words, the Mana in the atmosphere started to burn up in flame.
The magician had already sensed their enemy approaching, so she had quickly thrust her staff forward to cast a defensive spell.
However, the enemy’s Mana exceeded what the mage could block. In the end, the hero’s party all suffered from burns. The warrior acted tough by crushing a potion bottle with his hand, and he splashed it over the party to heal them.
A seething yet earnest voice of a woman rang out from the top of the castle wall.
“You bastards… There is no way…. I won’t forgive you.”
“F…Four Heavenly King.”
“Fire Witch Etna!? He really called her here!”
“Look, Maetel! That bastard never intended to side with the humans!”
The warrior was appalled, and the thief yelled out as he grinded his teeth.
However, the hero no longer heeded their words. The only thing she had eyes for was the sight of the witch clutching the corpse of Artpe. She easily pushed aside the thief with the brush of her hand.
There was a deep blood colored flame surrounding the entire body of the witch. However, it couldn’t evaporate the tears that were falling from eyes.
“How dare you do this to my Artpe. He was my only remaining hope, yet you guys…..!”
“How laughable, witch! You’ve killed thousands to hundred thousands of humans. You’ve ended the lives of family members and lovers!”
“We are past the point where we can persuade her with logic. Everyone raise your magical energy. Let us kill our enemy.”
The hero had become despondent at Artpe’s death, so the archer calmly tried to lead the party. The archer had an arrow drawn back, and there was a thick cold energy hovering around the tip of the arrow.
The witch possessed extremely strong power of fire. This was also why her weakness was the most well defined amongst the Four Heavenly Kings. Even though she was a much more powerful exististance than the Four Heavenly King they had just defeated, there was a chance that they could win against her.
“Please help, Regina.”
The mage calmly nodded her head, and she started chanting her spell. Despite them being overwhelmed by the witch’s spirit, the fight would start now. She had trained too much as a magician to give up and back off so early in the fight.
Instead of changing the nature around her, she changed herself to be closest to ice. She reinforced the change as she created a new technique to resist against the heat. Then she placed the blessing of the Winter Queen on the members of the hero’s party. It especially strengthened the cold energy placed on the archer’s arrow to the extreme.
“Ridiculous. How laughable! You cannot endure my wrath with just the blessing of the Winter Queen. You would have to bring the Winter Queen here if you want to do that!”
While she clutched Artpe to her, the Witch started to unleash a torrent of her power. It was as if she controlled all the flames of this world. From the depths much deeper than the foundation of the castle wall, magma started erupting from the ground. The magma quickly covered several hundred meters to hit the hero’s party.
The heat emanating from Etna spread to the entire castle wall. In a flash, the whole region turned into a magma field. The party barely had enough ground to stand on. The sky was thick with clouds, yet it started to part. The gray colored sun of the Demon world appeared from between the clouds as the sunlight created a pillar of fire.
Several hundred thousand Fire Spirits cackled as they revealed themselves.
“Koohk. That monster.”
“We’ll win this.”
The thief let out a curse, and the magician calmly made a declaration. Her words were echoed by the members of the hero’s party, and it buoyed their power.
“It is too hot. I can’t approach her.”
“You idiot. You should take off that can of an armor.”
“I can’t take this armor off. It is cursed.”
“······who did it?”
The hero’s party was trying to resist the heat in one way or another as they got into formation. The witch quietly opened her mouth. There were enormous fireballs floating around her. Dozens, hundreds, thousands, hundred thousands….. They floated into the air to assault the hero’s party.
“Who killed Artpe?”
“It was me, witch!”
Finally, the hero took a small step forward at that moment.
She had barely been able to steady her wavering eyes. Strength returned to the sword she was gripping.
“I’m the one that killed Artpe Hirtana Kelduke.”
“······you did, hero?”
The witch twisted her mouth. She had lost Artpe, and things couldn’t go back to how it was. The violent flames matched her anger as it swirled around her body.
“Yes, I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you, so that I can hate without reservation.”
All the Fire Spirits turned to look at the hero. It was as if half of the world was against her, but the hero calmly opened her mouth in front of such a sight.
“He wanted me to tell you something at the end..”
“What did Artpe say! What was his last words!”
“He said he doesn’t particular like older women.”
The hero had a small smile on her face. It was a smile that was holding back her tears.
“It seems you are a bit slow. You were ditched.”
Surprisingly, the witch Etna laughed when she heard the hero’s words. For a brief moment, the anger of the Flame Spirits lessened a little bit.
“Artpe, you idiot. I already knew that from the beginning. You should have left some other words behind, you dummy……”
Etna quickly stole a hand towards her eyes to wipe at her remaining tears. Then all the Fire Spirits gathered to revolve around her arms.
“In the end, it was me. In his last moments, he thought about me. Yes, that in itself makes me happy. That is why……”
The flames exploded.
The daughter of the Phoenix gave a proclomation.
“I’ll send you all to a painless death. It will only take an instant.”
“Bring it on!”
The hero also wiped away the remaining tears from her eyes. She flawlessly entered into her battle mode. She bravely charged towards the flame. The warrior and the thief followed behind her. The mage lifted her staff, and the archer notched another arrow.
The victor of the battle was the hero.
Artpe slowly opened his eyes. Maetel’s face was close enough where their noses were about to touch. Maetel’s eyes were round as she kept puckering her lips. She was slowly narrowing the distance between him and her. The Mana String appeared out of nowhere, and it impacted on her forehead. She pulled away in pain.
“You are too much, Artpe!”
Artpe ignored her as he replayed the scene he saw within his dream. In front of Artpe’s death, the Witch of Flame Etna had gone berserk. Then there was the hero Maetel. She refused to back down as she charged forward with a sad smile on her face.
This was obvious, but he didn’t remember seeing such a sight. If he did, it meant Artpe was an Undead.
‘Was it really what happened after I died….. There’s no way that can be true.’
After Artpe had died, his Read All Creation ability had immediately sent him into the past. This was why there was no way he possessed the memory of what happened after his death.
It had been a very long time since he had met Etna. Maybe he had created a dream with her personality and actions as a basis. He decided to accept that theory as the truth.
It was merely a false dream, yet he couldn’t easily forget what he had seen.
Etna’s scream continued to ring inside his head.
‘I was her last remaining hope…. If she herself told me that at the time, I might have fallen for her. I was also exhausted by everything at the time like her.’
It seemed his meeting with Etna had been a shock to his system. He kept telling himself that he hadn’t liked her, but he might still have some lingering feelings left for Etna.
‘Even if I do have some feelings for her, I have to throw it away. I won’t have to fight her right now, but since a madman like the Demon King still exists, I’ll eventually have to face her. I’ll be in a similar situation as what I saw in the dream today…..’
A bitter smile automatically formed on his lips. On his opposite side, Sienna was still sleeping as she grabbed onto him. She mumbled in her sleep as she tried to find Artpe’s body heat again. He put the blanket over her, and he got out of bed. Maetel had woken up early like Artpe. She got up from the bed as she asked him a question.
“Artpe, what are you going to do today?”
“Originally, I planned on sightseeing various locations, and I wanted to participate in the auction….. Still, I don’t think things will turn out so well like that.”
He inferred it from what Etna had said to him yesterday. The Demons had inflicted a curse on the human world a year ago. It seemed the stage for the second assault on the human world would occur in Frate. He had no idea why, but the Demon King’s army always seemed to show up in the path of the hero. Still, he didn’t plan on running away now that he knew something was going to happen here.
‘In the first plan hatched by the Demon King’s army, the highest level opponent was level 100. Even if they hatched two or more secret schemes in the past year, the one in charge of this plan should be around level 150. The variable here is the Four Heavenly King Etna. It seems she’s aware of the plan, but the chances of her participating in the plan is low. I can say that with 100% surety.’
This was the Demon King’s style. If the Demon King wasn’t such an unreasonable idiot, the human world would have already been wiped out from the outset. In terms of magical energy and martial prowess, the human world couldn’t hold a candle to the Demon world.
‘Still, Etna already had a rough idea of how much magical energy I possessed, yet she told me to get out of the city. Mmmm. If I see myself as an outside observer, I would judge myself to be around level 300.’
Of course, he didn’t have any proper area of effect magic spells. His magical energy was really high compared to his level, but his true skill level was well below that of a level 300 magician. However, from the outside, he would look like a level 300 mage. This fact was important. It would allow him to use one of the indispensable skills of the Four Heavenly King. He would be able to use his Bluff skill.
‘I don’t think the Demon world would have invested a strong enough force to be able to stop a level 300 magician…….’
This meant there was only one answer left.
‘They’ll invade in a manner that would make one feel dirty just observing it.’
Artpe furrowed his brows as he thought about the experiments in Diaz. They had tried to turn humans into Demons. From the start to the completion of the Quest, Artpe’s party had never been in danger. However, the Quest had been annoying, and it had done a lot of damage to the psyche of everyone involved.
He assumed it would be the same this time around. It seemed the Demon King was using a significantly different approach compared to his previous life. He was using a method that would put Artpe in the foulest of moods.
At that moment, Maetel had seen him frown. Maetel spoke as she grabbed his cheeks. She kneaded it as if his cheeks were clay. She tried to get his face to relax.
“Don’t worry too much, Artpe. It doesn’t matter what happens. I’ll protect Artpe.”
“It isn’t me I’m worried about. Other people will be in danger.”
“Then I’ll save those people!”
She was second to none in the human race in terms of being dependable. It was als true that he felt much better at her boasts. Artpe smirked as he petted her head.
“Yes, I’ll put my trust in you, hero-nim.”
“Yes, you should trust only in me!”
That’s right. Artpe and Maetel were heroes, who possessed Innate abilities. Thanks to Etna he was able to get a basic idea on what might occur here.
If he had the time to worry, it meant he should use that time to better use. It would be more productive to make preparations.
‘All right. First things first….’
If he was to point out what troubled him the most, the first thing to come mind was the curse.
It could make people act crazy. It could spread a disease. It could turn the water foul.
All of this could arise from cursed Mana.
He was absolutely certain that a curse was included in the plan of the Demon King’s army.
Thankfully, Artpe had a method of defeating curses. It was the Obsidian of Greed, which had turned into a first grade item during the first Quest.
If he used it in conjunction with his Read All Creation ability, he would be able to extract curses. It didn’t matter if the curse had been activated or not. It possessed a cheat-like ability.
There was still a good amount of wiggle room before the Obsidian would be upgraded into S Rank. If this venture wasn’t enough to push the Obsidian into the next rank, he could use his Reinforcement spell to advance the Obsidian. He had trained the Reinforcement spell as much as the other spells for the past year, and it had reached level 43.
“If I have this, all curses will…… Uh?”
He had used his Read All Creation ability to frequently check his surrounding, but he hadn’t checked anything within his clothes. He finally realized a serious change had occurred within his robe.
“It’s not here?”
“What’s not there, Artpe? Hesitation?”
“I don’t have scruples in the first place.”
“Your love for older women?”
“I never had that in the first place.”
“Then why won’t you kiss me!”
He pushed the hero far away, since she was pestering him. Then he conducted a thorough search of his robe, yet he couldn’t find the Obsidian of Greed. The only thing to come out from his robe was the Demite’s Gemstone, which had refined about 1/50 of itself, and the Chaos Egg.
No, it was no longer the Chaos Egg.
[Beast of Greed’s Egg]
[From within the chaos, it had combined with a cursed item. It created the Beast’s Egg, which is waiting to be born. It covets all negative energy, so it might hatch immediately if negative energy is provided. ]
“Huh? Isn’t this Artpe and my love’s……”
“If this is the fruit of our love, I don’t want such a love..”
“You are too much!”
Artpe finally realized the reason behind the disappearance of his Obsidian of Greed. However, he couldn’t ask the egg why it had eaten the obsidian. He let out a short sigh as he raised the communication device.
“Uh, ajumma······ Do you have artifacts, potions, or items that originated from evil…..?”
Since he couldn’t ask the question to the egg, he had no choice but to ask it when the being inside egg was hatched.