Chapter 138 – Underground (4)
Artpe already had a rough idea as to why the Dwarves were unable to travel aboveground,. They were too busy blocking the monsters called the ‘Shadows of Sinners’, and these Shadows had crawled out from holes within the underground realm of the Dwarves.
Despite this fact, the Dwarves had done well. They lived underground as they disposed of the Shadows. However, at some point in time, the power and number of monsters increased significantly.
Those that couldn’t withstand the change died one by one. While the number of Dwarves dwindled, the number of enemies continued to rise. When they were backed up against the wall, the warrior Elrick had shown up. He had possessed amazing power.
“However, I’m merely a warrior that is somewhat good at swinging my axe. I have no problem killing the strong ones, but I feel myself lacking against a large number of foes.”
The Dwarves were doing a little bit better than the worst case scenario, because Elrick had been helping them for the past several years. It meant Artpe’s party had come to the underground world at the right time.
“How many holes like that exists?”
“There are a total of 17 of them in the underground world. However, it is our conjecture that they might all lead to the same place.”
It seemed the Dwarves were finally able to let go of their wariness a little bit. A Dwarf peek out from behind Elrick as he spoke. Artpe didn’t hesitate as he confirmed the Dwarf’s theory.
“Right. This is a Dungeon. I believe the holes are multiple Dungeon entrances.”
“As expected, it is a Dungeon! However, it is a place that is crawling with these monsters. We didn’t have the courage to enter it, so we’ve been stuck in this situation.”
“There is a difference between courage and foolhardiness.”
“It makes me uncomfortable to admit that, but you are right….. Yes, it is impossible for us to clear it. That is why….”
Elrick asked him a question.
“Are you guys able to do it?”
“Of course. The question is how fast we can finish it. That is the only debate in this matter.”
The Dwarves had seen Roa’s rampage a moment ago, so they couldn’t gainsay Artpe’s confident words. Elrick also didn’t say anything further. He was a skilled warrior, so it wasn’t too hard to judge the power level of Artpe’s party.
“You said you wanted a Quest. So what do you want from the Dwarves in return for doing this Quest?”
“I’ll take whatever you guys can give us. Now that I think about it…..”
Artpe nodded his head as he looked at the assembled Dwarves. He had looked at each one of them through his Read All Creation ability. It seemed the Dwarves were stronger than any aboveground elite order of knights. Artpe also realized something.
Aside from their martial prowess that was beyond elite, the Dwarves possessed something else that was obvious.
Surprisingly, most of them had learned the Blacksmithing skill. Moreover, several of the Dwarves had achieved an impossibly high level in the Blacksmithing skill.
“I know that there are a lot of mastersmiths amongst you. WIll it be possible for you to fix our party’s armor? Ah. There is also something I want you to create.”
Artpe’s party hadn’t come across any good blacksmiths on their journey. From the beginning, his party had lasted by using the Dungeon rewards from defeating the monsters. They had used the Artifacts they had acquired.
Of course, the locations they had visited were extraordinary, so the acquired Artifacts weren’t lacking in performance. However, there was a difference between strengthening an item through magical energy, and the physical modification and optimization of an item. A skilled blacksmith’s hands could wrought remarkable enhancements even on products created through Artpe’s Reinforcement skill.
“That is all you want from us?”
“On the other hand, that is all we can give you, so I’m at a loss for words.”
“Elrick, why don’t we allow them to enter into our city?”
Elrick and the Dwarves exchanged few more words. They nodded their heads as they turned around. Elrick was wearing a steel helmet, so his expression was indecipherable. However, he could feel a sense of relief coming from Elrick. He was aware of the dangers of the underground world, and it would have been a lie to say that he didn’t welcome the appearance of Artpe’s party.
“They’ve decided to accept your offer. We will guide you to the city of the Dwarves. Actually, I’m also a guest of the city.”
[Nyaa nyaa nyaa.]
“All right, Roa.”
This was how Artpe’s party had ended the battle, and a temporary peace had returned to the square. As they traveled through the tunnel created by the Dwarves, more Dwarves started to appear from various locations, and they joined the procession.
“Who are these humans?”
“Did they come from the same place as Elrick?”
“They are powerful! I never expected them to help in the work of disposing the Shadows of Sinners!”
As they traveled through the tunnel, several thousand Dwarves had joined the procession However, the atmosphere was dampened by the fact that a part of the procession was carrying the corpses of their fallen comrades.
“Still, the number of death was small today. Is it because he showed up? I mean that big bastard.”
“He didn’t come to our location. Anyways, your side barely had any casualties. Is it thanks to those humans?”
“It isn’t quite correct to say that it was thanks to the humans, but…. No, you’ll be able to see it soon. Anyways, these humans are our precious guests, so please treat them well.”
“Ah, Artpe. It’s this way.”
Soon, the tunnel came to an end, and they were greeted by a very large space. It couldn’t be compared to the square from before. Maetel’s mouth fell open as she stared at the absurdly high ceiling.
“It is amazing, Artpe. I’m sure the structures supporting this place is artificial. Consequently, these structures are causing the Mana to gather, and it is propping up the ceiling.”
“The fact that you were able to realize that fact at a glance is amazing. …..yes. They are able to gain mastery over Mana through their blacksmithing skill. In fact, I heard that this is how they are able to create Artifacts. Of course, this is the first time seeing it in reality.”
Maetel was visibly happy when she heard his words.
“So even Artpe is seeing this for the first time. Hoo hoo.”
“…it…it is the first for me too!”
“It’s my first time too!”
The Dwarves had created this underground city, and various buildings were packed into this space. However, there weren’t many recreational facilities in the city. They only saw several pubs.
“In the past, we loved and enjoyed the arts….. However, we are too busy trying to eat and survive. Our city turned a bit soulless.”
When the Dwarf realized where Artpe’s gaze had settled, he shrugged as he gave an explanation. Artpe didn’t go out of his way to say anything negative. The fact that another race was able to live underground was miraculous in itself.
“What will you all do once the problem of the holes is fixed?”
“I’ve never thought that far ahead.”
It was understandable. The Dwarves had welcomed Artpe’s party, and they didn’t doubt Artpe’s party when they had offered help. However, the Dwarves didn’t have a complete grasp of the extent of power possessed by Artpe’s party. There was a high probability that the Dwarves thought they were adding powerful warriors on the same level as Elrick.
“It’ll be fine to think about that later on. Look over there. That place is where you guys will reside.”
“I’ll take it from here, Casibo. I want to hear some news about the human realm from them.”
“All right, Elrick. Let’s have some ale later on at the pub!”
The Dwarves left Elrick to guide Artpe’s party, then they immediately dispersed into the city. From various parts of the city, the sounds of hammers banging on metal was heard. When the Dwarves weren’t in battle, it seemed they were busy making preparations for future battles.
“Humans would probably faint from surprise at this sight.”
“I think so too, Artpe. Don’t you think it’ll be really fun if they are able to come above ground?”
It was a question posed by Elrick. This was obvious, but Elrick’s helmet prevent Artpe from ascertaining his expresssion.
“You can tell by looking at their equipments, but their blacksmithing technique has risen to a staggering level. The more shocking fact is the fact they are all well over level 200 on average.”
“Their number looks small, but yes, it is quite surprising.”
Instead of an era of prosperity, the Dwarves were continuously in a state of decline. This was why there were less than 100 thousand Dwarves left. On the other hand, around 70 thousand of the Dwarves were capable of fighting. Most of them exceeded level 200. No country above ground could boast such a force. Elves, who were the most well known race other than humans, couldn’t even come close to the Dwarves.
“So you want to send them above ground, Elrick?”
“No. It is because of the question you asked before. You asked them what they would like to do after solving the problem of the Abyss. Your question suddenly made me think about it. Their ability to reproduce and their battle capability is amazing. What would happen if they went above ground? If the human realm is at peace right now, would it bring unnecessary chaos to the world…..”
As if he didn’t believe his own word, Elrick shook his head.
“It won’t be too long before the Demon King’s army will invade the human realm. If such a dependable army decides to join humanity’s side, it would naturally bring stability back to the human realm.”
He never expected such words from Elrick, so Atpe couldn’t reply. It seemed Elrick realized that the human realm was in trouble. This was surprising in itself, but a bigger blow arrived immediately afterwards.
“Don’t you agree, hero?”
It seemed this guy knew everything. In his previous life, the warrior was the main member that Artpe couldn’t decipher in the hero’s party. He was a charismatic warrior in a can, and he had the ability to catch a person off base. When Artpe laughed without giving a reply, Elrick let out a light laugh as he asked another question.
“If you told everyone that you are the hero, everyone would have followed your words. So why didn’t you tell them?”
“Instead of suddenly showing up and declaring myself as the hero, I thought it would be better to tell them after we successfully finish the Quest.”
In truth, the situation had progress too rapidly that it would have felt awkward to reveal the fact that they were the heroes. However, he didn’t tell Elrick this fact. It also seemed Elrick liked his explanation.
“You are saying actions speak louder than words. Very good.”
“In that sense, I would like to ask…. How did you know I was the hero?”
“Of course, I know. You are unbelievably strong compared to your young age. Your name is Artpe, and above all else, it is your appearance. From the time you left Diaz, you grew a little bit, but you look almost exactly the same. That means the girl behind you is named Maetel? I’ve seen you guys not too long ago, so it would be strange if I didn’t remember you guys.”
“You are referring to the announcement made by Diaz!?”
Artpe was getting a feel for when Erick had entered the territory of the Dwarves! Elrick nodded his head in an indifferent matter.
“Of course, it was an announcement about the heroes, so I remember it. However, I never expected you guys to be so powerful so soon…….”
“It has been 3 years since we were designated heroes.”
“It has only been 3 years!? You guys got this strong in just 3 years!?”
Artpe looked at the shocked Elrick, and he wanted to say, ‘I should be saying that to you.’ Artpe remembered the formation of the hero’s party in his past life.
[Level : 287]
The party had begun with just Maetel and Silpennon. It didn’t take them too long to bring in the warrior as a comrade. At the time, the warrior had been struggling to get past level 200. For some reason, the current warrior was similar in level and skill compared to Artpe’s party when they entered into Paladia!
This was why Artpe had been surprised when he met the warrior.
There was only one possibility. In his past life, the warrior had joined the hero’s party without meeting the Dwarves. The heroes had run away in this life, and the warrior’s future had changed. That meant the warrior had fought incredibly strong monsters in the territory of the Dwarves, and his growth had been accelerated.
‘In terms of being a genius, this guys is a monster that far outstrips Silpennon..’
Somehow, he always used Silpennon as the measuring stick, so he felt a bit sorry about that. However, this only happened, because Silpennon was enough of a genius to be compared to other geniuses. Silpennon was a rare genius, yet a more extraordinary genius had appeared. The only thing Artpe could do was to blame the gods now.
“Anyways, let’s get back to the main topic…. From the perspective of a hero, it wouldn’t be bad to co-opt the Dwarves to the side of humanity. That is why I want you to concern yourself with what happens here. That is all I wanted to say to you. These guys are really kind.”
“You dont’ have to worry about it. We’ll end this soon.”
Elrick repeated Artpe’s words when he realized something. The small and cute black cat in Artpe’s pocket was gone. At some point in time, she had disappeared.
“Can it be? The cat can do it on its own?”
“Hue. You are sharp.”
The fact that Roa could or couldn’t solve this on her own wasn’t the problem. As soon as Artpe established a Quest with the Dwarves, Roa had been afraid someone would steal some of the energy from her. She had run straight towards the hole.
“That means we can leisurely tour the city, and we can leave after receiving the reward. Aside from that, I have a proposal for you, Elrick.”
“Koohk. You are quite good.”
When the fact that he was the hero was revealed by Elrick, Artpe had lost the upper-hand. Artpe had easily regained the upperhand right now.
He grinned as he asked Elrick a question.
“What if I said I can help you be freed from your armor? What would you be willing to do?”