Chapter 14 - The Link Between You and I (2)
A modicum amount of time had passed from that moment. It was a short amount of time where not even one hour had passed. It was also the moment in their lives where Artpe and Maetel had to focus the most.
Artpe was in a precarious situation where his Mana was about to bottom out, so he continued to keep a low profile. In the end, Maetel’s Swordsmanship had reached level 9…..
The Skeletons, who were exhausted from battle, tried a new tactic where they purposefully tried to die through Maetel’s attacks. However, Artpe intercepted them by throwing his shield into their abdomen. They were put out of the battle by the hard hits, and the only thing these Skeletons could do was roll around the floor.
Finally, Artpe felt himself reach his limit in terms of his body and Mana.
“It is all done, Artpe!”
“Ggoo-oohk. All right.!”
Artpe was moments away from losing his consciousness. He was about to fall to the floor. However, a voice of an angel could be heard through Artpe’s ears. Artpe gritted his teeth as he fought to stay up. He checked the state of the Dungeon.
It was as if hell had manifested on this floor.
[There is no way…. I’ll accept…..]
[Death… I only want an honorable death…..]
The number of Skeletons, who had died, was zero. The number of Skeletons capable of continuing the battle was also zero. The floor was a mess. It was hard to tell if the bones were ribs or spines. They were all just rolling around the floor.
The two heroes had taken down over 400 Skeletons, and it drove home the absurdity of the situation faced by the party of two.
“Are you ok, Artpe….?”
“I’m still alive but, you…. Are you able to cancel your Berserk state?”
It was as she said. Her emotions started to calm after speaking those words. The red haze that had covered her entire body dissipated, and her Mana calmed. Artpe let out a bitter laugh at the sight.
Rage had swept over her, and her rage had paralyzed a portion of her rationality. He had been a little bit worried that she wouldn’t have been able to cancel her Berserk state. It might have led to an accident occurring….
It seemed his fears had been baseless.
Still, a wrong was a wrong even if the two of them survived the battle unharmed. First, he ended the Mana link with her. He narrowed his eyes as he spoke in a stern voice.
“Were you aware that you had learned a dangerous skill?”
“Yes. However, if I hadn’t maintained it, I thought Artpe would die….”
“Still, if you had died, all of this would have been for naught. If I survived while you died in this place, do you think I would have been happy?”
When she heard Artpe’s cold voice, Maetel’s cheeks turned red, and she lowered her head. When he saw this sight, he finally took his ire down a peg.
It was easy to forget, but she was a beginner hero. She had picked up the sword less than a week ago. She was only a 12 year old girl. Yet she had somehow kept a hold on her rationality as she maintained her Berserk skill. In truth, she deserved praise.
“The danger of using that skill is so high, because it is a skill that deals with an emotion. If you think of the skill as your absolute ally, it’ll come back as a blade that will plunge itself into your heart. I just want you to remember this fact. All right?”
“Y...yes. I’ll keep that in mind.”
“....all right. Let’s finish this.”
In truth, he wanted to sit her down and give her a lecture. However, he worried his words would create an artificial ceiling for her talent, so he decided to leave it be.
He violently pulled on the threads connected to the shield. The enormous shield fell from the air to destroy the skulls of the nearest Skeletons. All the Skeletons on the floor had already been inflicted with several layers of the shield’s curse, so they couldn’t put up any fight against the shield. They were broken into pieces.
[Our comrades were completely annihilated…..]
[Our power is getting stronger, but….]
“May I destroy all of them, Artpe?”
“Yes, you can destroy all of them.”
Artpe let out a kind laugh as he raised his hand again. The shield floated into the air as it followed his hand gesture. It stood on its edge, and it started to rotate in a violent manner. Maetel also squeezed out the remaining energy left in her tired body as she swung her bastard sword.
Every time one Skeleton was killed the other Skeletons felt a surge of energy within their bodies. However, the only thing they could do with the abundance of energy was to rattle around the floor. Of course, as more Skeletons died, the defense of the remaining Skeletons also increased. The Skeletons couldn’t even jump towards the two heroes to attack them, so the improvements being wrought on the Skeletons were meaningless.
“A single blow isn't enough to kill them. Eh-eet! Eh-eet!”
“There is a better way to do this, Maetel. You shouldn’t unnecessarily harm you weapon’s durability.”
Artpe extended his Mana Threads, and he took control of the Skeletons, who couldn’t put up much of a fight. He started bashing the skulls of Skeletons against each other.
He was able to smash and eliminate the Skeletons in an effective manner!
[You… You wicked bastards…..!]
He used the hardened skulls against each other! Although his past occupation was being one of the Four Heavenly Kings, he was displaying a level of ruthlessness that might exceed the Demon King!
“Artpe is amazing! This really is easier than breaking them with my sword!”
“Yes, it really is….”
The current hero was already different person now. In her previous incarnation, Maetel had been a pure and innocent woman. He had seen her shed tears when one of the Four Heavenly King had died. She had been a virtuous woman. Now she was a girl, who was smashing Skeletons against each other!
Artpe realized how important early education was as he swung the skull. If someone saw the two, they wouldn’t think they were heroes. They looked like great candidates to become the next Demon King.
Finally, the moment of truth arrived.
“These are the last ones, Artpe.”
“Look at how hard their skulls are. It is hard to call them as being Skeletons anymore. They are almost on the same rank as a Dullahan.”
[We want you to give us an honorable death….!]
The power of several hundred Skeletons were split between the two remaining Skeletons. The two skulls were the product of this process. They were so heavy and hard that one wondered if they could be used as weapons. Artpe was weak in strength, so he couldn’t even lift the skulls. Maetel, who easily swung the bastard sword, was barely able to lift them.
As an experiment, she threw the skulls against the wall. The blameless wall cracked instead of the skulls. Artpe tilted his head in puzzlement when he saw this.
“I think it is comparable to a level 100…..?”
“So is it better to catch 400 level 50 Skeletons or one level 100 Skeleton? Which gives better EXP?”
“Of course, the former gives an overwhelmingly more EXP. Anyways, this magic wasn’t meant to give its opponents EXP in such a manner.”
In terms of EXP, Artpe and Maetel was suffering a very huge loss through this venture.
If they had killed 400 normal level 50 Skeletons, they would have been strengthened by a ridiculous amount. However, if one looked at the outcome of this battle, it had been equivalent to killing a level 10 Skeleton.
“However, the world isn’t only about EXP.”
When one defeated an enemy that was significantly higher in level, one’s Achievement was recorded. It was something that followed one throughout one’s lifetime.
If one defeated a level 70 enemy at level 50, the Achievement remained throughout one’s lifetime. It had the effect of aiding the one, who had acquired the Achievement. Even if one faced an enemy of higher level at a later date, the effects of the Achievement won’t weaken or disappear. It helped one fight the higher level enemy head-on. It even had an influence on the acquisition of skills, and the reward items that one acquired from battling monsters.
“On top of it all, you can’t ignore the skill growth that occurs when you apply the finishing blow. Normally, a skill grows the more you use it. The other method to grow your skill is to kill an enemy using the skill. If you acquired the skill while fighting an enemy, the successful killing of the enemy allows the skill to grow once more.”
Of course, there was no adjustment if one wasn’t successful in killing the enemy. This was also true for running away or canceling the battle. The reason why this happened was unknown.
Someday, he’ll ask the question to the god, who had made this world. He’ll seize the bastard by the collar.
“The technical term for this phenomena is called Rumination.”
“Artpe knows everything!”
“I don’t know everything. I know what I know.”
While Maetel was asking questions and receiving answers from Artpe, she was bashing the two skulls against each other. Cracks were forming on the skulls. Her repetitive action was so mechanical that he felt goose bumps all over his body. Artpe took a small step backwards.
[I won’t forgive you. I will revive someday, and I will raise my sword in revenge against you guys!]
“Yes. Next Undead, please.”
“Hoo-ooh….. This is the last one!”
Maetel let out a shout as she brought one skull against the other. At that moment, she gathered the small amount of Mana left inside her body into her arms. This single strike was more powerful than any of her previous blows. It cleanly pulverized both skulls. At the same time, it wouldn’t have surprised Artpe if she gained the Bash skill through this action.
Anyways, this was how all the monsters on the 6th floor were eradicated. The Mana and the Record had been gathered into a single bundle. It was finally released from the monsters, and it was given to the challengers.
Maetel let out a short moan. Artpe had somewhat expected this so he kept his mouth shut, but it wasn’t as if he was fine. It felt as if all their internal organs had been dislodged. They felt nausea sweep over them as if their internal organs were spinning around like a tornado.
“Artpe…. This is....”
“Endure it…. It is the level up.”
“This is it? Koo-oo-oohk.”
[Level : 34]
[Level : 35]
[Level : 36]
[Level : 37]
Artpe could see Maetel’s information update in real time. His innate ability wasn’t broken. Artpe was probably going through a similar situation as her right now.
The two Skeletons had been strengthened to the extreme, and their EXP was divided between two, who were in their early level 30s. Of course, their levels would increase in a flash. A level up strengthened the body and soul. They were going through about a dozen level ups, so it wasn’t strange to see their bodies undergo an abrupt change.
“It hurts so much, Artpe.”
“Endure it. It’ll pass soon.”
[Level : 41]
Maetel’s ability shone in this instance. Even if she received the same amount of EXP as others, she grew at a much faster pace. Artpe’s pain was slowly ebbing away, but it seemed Maetel was still in distress.
When Artpe experienced his rapid level ups, he felt his Mana fill up in an instant. He took deep breaths as he monitored Maetel. Shortly, Maetel also let out a deep sigh as if she was expelling everything that had built up inside her. Then she sat down heavily.
“Level ups are really miraculous… I’m incredibly tired, yet I feel really strong..”
“Your existence seems to be most miraculous phenomena to me.”
[Level : 43]
[Mana Control Lv8]
How could this information be about a girl, who picked up the sword only a week ago? Even a mercenary, who participated in battles for 10 years, would be unable to grow to this extent!
Artpe still didn’t like the purpose behind this Dungeon, yet he had to grudgingly admit that it had been very helpful in radically maturing the hero. She had grown in skill by facing an amalgamation of monsters that resided on a single floor. What Achievement will she be able to gain if she faced a monster, who possessed the combined might of all the floors!
‘Of course, it’s a death sentence to carry out the original test.’
He still couldn’t believe he was able to cause change to the Record Link. It really was a result that had risen out of his desperation. Artpe shook his head as he let out a bitter laugh.
“The wall is opening, Artpe.”
“It is set-up to do so.”
They had gained control of the 6th floor of the Dungeon, so the Record Link placed on this floor was cancelled. When they descended to the 7th floor, they arrived at a small fountain. It was placed there as if to encourage the weary to rest at this spot. Artpe looked at Maetel, who let out a cheer. He smiled as he nodded his head.
“Don’t be fooled. It is poisoned water.”
“This Dungeon is really terrible!”
“You’ll be fine if you keep that attitude. There is nothing here you should trust in this damned place.”
Before Artpe could finish his words, a faint light started to emanate near the fountain. Artpe’s eyes twinkled when he discovered it.
“I’m sorry. Let me modify that statement. There is one person you can trust here.”
The light disappeared, and in its place, a beautiful woman with a big cart appeared. Maetel tilted her head in confusion when she saw this stranger suddenly appear in front of them. Artpe grinned. He turned to look at Maetel as he spoke.
“I’m talking about the Dungeon Merchant.”