Chapter 12 - Growth of the Heroes (4)
[I’ve already acknowledged…. Kuhk!]
[We’ll back off for now, and the others will test….!]
“I told you I won't let you guys run awayyyyyyyyy!”
Artpe’s Mana was being shared with Maetel, and she was like a predator that didn’t get tired.
The Skeletons couldn’t gauge Maetel’s ability using her level. Still, they managed to come to the right decision. They expressed their intent on giving up on the battle. However, it was way too late to do so. Maetel’s rage refused to diminish when she saw their shameless behavior. It actually increased it.
“You guys originally planned on killing Artpe! Now you want to admit defeat and retreat? You guys are mean. You are all very mean! I almost lost Artpe! You guys want to end this with just a single speech! You guys are really really mean!”
[There’s no point. We told you there is no point in going further than this!]
[The hero’s rage… Your rage will put you on a path of no return…..]
“You guys are the one, who will be put on a path of no return! Eeyahhhh!”
When one saw Maetel’s outer appearance, one would assume she’ll have a hard time lifting the huge bastard sword. However, the sword was moving freely in the hands of Maetel.
The white blade didn’t discriminate between vertical and horizontal swings. She was like a salmon wading up a fierce current. She mercilessly sliced and crushed the bodies of the Skeletons.
Fortunately, she still had enough awareness to realize that she must not kill any of them. She was basically holding onto a single thread of her reason.
It was something very hard to do even for Berserkers, who lived many years alongside their rage. However, Maetel was doing it.
“You are running around wildly like an idiot…...”
Artpe recovered his Mana, and he focused on sharing it with Maetel. Of course, Artpe’s Mana was on a different class compared to Maetel’s Mana. Even after supplying Mana required to sustain Maetel’s Berserk state, he was still overflowing with Mana.
After he became somewhat confident in maintaining the link, he gathered the sharp bone fragments in his surrounding. As he maintained the Mana link with her, he strengthened the bone fragments with Mana. Then he started attacking them from distance. Each throw incapacitated a Skeleton.
The two heroes once again started an airtight attack. They were facing a group of enemies that had increased in size by several dozen magnitude!
[I have no idea what is going on.]
[Why are there two heroes? Did these two really show up in the same era?]
[Our role is to conduct the test. That is it. It is our duty to guide them to the next location then we will back off.]
[However, at this rate….]
She dismantled the limbs of the most talkative Skeleton first. Maetel’s bastard sword was swung like a club, and she sent the disabled Skeletons into the corner of the hallway.
There was a pile consisting of 90 Skeletons.
Artpe made sure the Skeletons couldn't recover. He mainly used his shield to dice them up. The shield was connected to Artpe by a strap reinforced by Mana, and it freely sliced through the air. It was like a boomerang.
[This is like….]
As the two heroes continued their dominance, a particular Skeleton was hit by Maetel’s sword on its cheek bone. It let out a groan that wasn’t actually a groan.
[It is as if we are the ones being tested.]
[This runs contrary to the point of this test.]
[We will make changes.]
“Oh man. What is it again…. Huh?”
At that moment, the Mana density within the Dungeon suddenly increased.
The hallway rolled as it widened. It became unfathomably large. Then he felt the Undead Mana from the other side increase in an uncontrolled manner. The walls kept contracting than expanding, and the flow of Mana within the Dungeon quickened.
An enormous change was occurring to the entire Dungeon. Maetel was taken aback. She broke out of the effects of her Berserk skill, and she turned to look at Artpe.
“What is going on, Artpe…..?”
“...I get it now. I’ve been firmly under a delusion.”
He wasn't like Maetel. He wasn’t afraid of the unknown. Before one knew it, a smile had appeared on Artpe’s lips.
If a Demon, who was much more proficient in magic than him was here, this Demon would have realized it much earlier. However, it couldn’t be helped, since he was the weakest amongst the Four Heavenly Kings.
Still, he had realized it before it was too late. That would be enough. He could straighten this out. This was what the power possessed by Artpe was for.
“The change of the Dungeon is ongoing. No, the Dungeon itself is trapped within a magic spell.”
Who labeled this as a beginner’s Dungeon? This Dungeon had been made to look sloppy on purpose. This was a genuine Dungeon. This couldn’t have been formed naturally, and it wasn’t something a regular person could make.
[We give the test.]
[If they are better… If they are more extraordinary… If they are overpowered… If they are geniuses...]
[We will send out everyone. We just have to test them again.]
The sound of marching could be heard. Several dozen level 50 Skeletons appeared from down the hallway. There were countless number of Skeletons readied behind them.
They came from the front, back, left and right. The hallway kept expanding, and it broke down the walls and stairways. The dead sleeping below were all awoken.
Every one of them were connected through the Record Link.
This was a very severe ordeal for beginner hero, who barely eclipsed level 30. However, she just fixed the grip on her bastard sword.
“It’ll be alright, Artpe. I'll protect you. I’ll crush them all. ”
Her emerald colored eyes didn't shake at all. She was too brilliant and strong to be seen as a mere 12 year old girl.
Ah ah. Maybe this was the point where she would open her eyes as a true hero. Artpe grinned when he saw this, and he raised his gaze.
“Yes. Someone had planned all of this. I don’t know which era this person was from…...”
The Skeletons kept bringing up the subject of heroes. At this point, they were acting in a brutal and annoying manner as if they were bullies. Aside from their actions, he was sure they wanted to check the qualification of the heroes. This gave him a good idea, who might have designed this Dungeon.
“I’ll crush you all so thoroughly that you won't be able to be recycled. I’ll take everything that is yours.”
His purple eyes contained the power of the Read All Creation ability. His eyes let out a light as he surveyed his surrounding.
A large scale ancient magic was protecting the entirety of the Dungeon. Their level of power wouldn’t be able to do anything against it. It was a magic spell that changed depending on the situation. It changed to put the challengers up against a wall.
This was why it was time for Artpe to step forward. This was why they stood a chance of succeeding.
“Every magic has a structure, and all structures have weaknesses. Of course, it’ll be difficult to instantaneously drive a wedge between the magic spell to break it…..”
This magic continuously acted on a large space, and if even one thing went out of whack, the spell would come crumbling down.
Of course, it was known amongst mages that it was impossible to find the structure and the cracks within an ever changing magic spell. This widely accepted idea was turned on its head when Artpe Hirtana Kelduke of the Four Heavenly Kings appeared.
However, Artpe’s name wasn’t known to those in this era.
This was why no magic had yet been prepared to counteract against Artpe!
‘Huh? Wait a moment. What happened to the me that should exist right now in this era? Am I absent or was I swapped with someone else? If that isn’t the case, then….’
In a flash, he had a terrifying idea, but this wasn’t the time to mull over those thoughts. He shook his head to expel all thoughts unrelated to their survival. Afterwards, he checked up on Maetel.
“Ooh-ohhhhhhhhhhhh! I can do this! I can do this!”
Maetel didn’t back down from the Skeletons coming from all sides. She ran wild. Artpe’s reserve of Mana was too vast compared to his level, so her Mana usage didn’t even make a dent in his Mana supply.
She didn’t know how to retreat, and she had no fear. Instead of shying away from the large number, she harassed them. She restricted the movement of the Skeletons.
It was as if she had been trained in personal and group battles for several dozen years. She was adept at it. The fact that she was doing all of this on instinct was the most startling fact in all of this.
“I won’t back away…. I won’t forgive you guys….!”
[We need more! There aren’t enough of us!]
Above all, her sword strikes were slowly getting sharper and heavier.
Aside from the need to maintain the Berserk and the Bone Gauntlet, she wasn’t using any Mana. She was able to lightly dodge the Skeletons' swords, which were infused with their Mana. Each of her sword swing were able to crush the bones of opponents, who were 20 levels higher.
She made a lie of the common phrase that said a difference in level meant a difference in battle capability. Currently, a hero had been born on this continent, and she was easily jumping over her limits. It was as if she was mocking those who had to live within the restriction of levels.
Even if the Skeletons increased in number, they couldn’t overcome against a single slender girl. They grudgingly had to acknowledge her growth, and they despaired.
[Strong······ She shouldn’t be this strong, yet she is too powerful. In a situation where she should be retreating, she chose to charge straight ahead!]
[She shouldn’t be allowed to grow right now, so why is she growing stronger!]
[Level - 32]
[Battle Step Lv6]
“Why? Her skills have increased.”
He was genius, who learned the Berserk skill after getting a taste of the Bone Gauntlet’s buff effect. She was in the early level 30s, yet she had achieved level 7 on a weapon skill. Achievements such as these were no longer surprising.
Artpe checked and confirmed that Maetel was barely receiving any wounds. He determined he didn’t need to monitor her constantly.
“For a little while, you should hold them off by yourself, Maetel. I think I’ll be able to change our situation by a little bit.”
“I believe in Artpe. Artpe can do it.”
Even if he hadn’t received her encouragement, he was confident he could do this…
Still, he felt a surge of energy from somewhere, and he wondered if the Link magic was the cause.
“Alright. Trust in me.”
Artpe lifted the corner of his mouth. As he laughed, he raised both his hands. The shield connected to the Mana strap rose into the air, and it started revolving around his body.
Even if he wasn’t able to inflict the curse unto the Skeletons, it was still possible for him to defend again their attacks.
“If a powerful magic spell was the only thing important about a mage, he would be called by the name of his strongest magic. However, there was a reason why mages don’t use that naming convention. The distinct name of a mage and their various talent they possess has importance…..”
A mage’s true worth didn’t come out when facing a single enemy using fire or ice.
A single gesture could change the tide of battle. A mage was only recorded in history when one could change the direction of the battle by oneself.
“I see it. I can see everything. I know where I’ll have to tweak…..”
The Dungeon was trying to compensate for the fact that there were two heroes. The standard requirement for this Dungeon was for one challenger, so the Dungeon was merging into a single floor to contend with them.
These Skeletons were only at level 50, but the ones afterwards would be higher in level. Moreover, they would also be connected through the Record Link.
It would be the end if he let that happen. Even if Maetel was a genius who could ignore level differences, there was a limit.
What should he do? He had sufficiently strengthened the abilities of Maetel. It would also be impossible for Artpe to personally grow right now.
This was why he had to turn the enemies and the battlefield on its head.
“If this was a regular structure, this should be impossible to do. However, the entire Dungeon is being controlled by a spell, so this is a different situation.”
Artpe’s purple eyes shone as they started to let out an odd luminescence. He could see all the Mana flowing from the Dungeon’s wall, hallway and ceiling.
He could see where they met, and he saw how it curved to change the structure of the Dungeon. He also could see how the Mana was being used over the monsters!
He had found it. Mana threads shot out from the tips of Artpe’s ten fingers. The Skeletons knew he was up to no good, but they also knew that they were lacking in ability to be able to touch the boy.
It was the damnedest thing. Before Artpe stepped forward, he had made thorough preparations. No one would be able to interfere with him.
This was the result of the struggle of trying to escape the fact of being the weakest amongst the Four Heavenly Kings! He had always been sacrificed first before. However, he had had transitioned into being a hero now. The results he had gained from before was bearing fruit in a brilliant manner!
“This is easier than establishing the Mana Link. The fact that I can see your magic should be a terrifying reality for you guys…. I’ll show it to you now. ”
The 10 strands of Mana Threads from his fingers extended out towards the surrounding. The Mana Threads reached specific locations on the Dungeon’s hallway, ceiling and floor. Then the sharp ends of the Mana Thread started to bore in.
The vibration that was shaking the Dungeon became worse.
“Here, here and there…...”
[W...what are you doing!?]
[Do you really think such a weak move could sever our connection!? Impossible! That is impossible!]
“You are right. It is impossible. I’ve barely reached level 30, and it isn’t as if I can cancel such a fucking old and large magic spell.”
However, there was one thing he could do.
Artpe let out an evil smile as he swung his two hands. The 10 Mana Threads undulated as they surged towards the wall, hallway and ceiling. They were absorbed into various locations.
[There was a change... No, there wasn’t any change….?]
The Dungeon stopped shaking. The ever-expanding hallway stopped expanding, and no new Skeletons appeared..
The Dungeon walls, which had disappeared, started to slowly grow back. The out of control Mana within the Dungeon calmed a little bit.
“Artpe… Nothing has changed?”
“Yes, Maetel. You made the correct observation.”
Artpe waved his hand at his surrounding. The protective shield, which had been revolving around him, shot out towards a group of Skeletons.
Until a moment ago, new Skeletons had appeared every time when a group went down. It was an attempt to tire out the two heroes. However, one could no longer see the reinforcements.
“Ah. This is….!”
[Can it be….]
[Our connection to our comrades on the other side was severed. Our magic was reduced by the Dungeon’s power! This means he manipulated the magic spell…. My god. How could such a young child do this!]
Maetel quickly realized what had occurred. The Skeletons were a step late in realizing it, and they started to talk noisily amongst themselves.
Artpe had expanded his magical senses, and he had encased the current hallway and the several hundred Skeletons within it. He spoke in a confident manner.
“Nothing will change from now on. Your reinforcements won’t be coming.”
It was as if the reinforcement were gone. It wasn’t an easy task to erase one’s enemies from the face of this world using pure Mana.
Yes, they were still alive. Even now they were probably stamping their feet as they waited for their turn to come.
However, they would be waiting on the Dungeon’s next floor, which won’t open until all the Skeletons here were killed.