Chapter 37 – Come to Think of It, I’m a Hero (5)
In his past life, the hero had grown rapidly despite being severely handicapped by her environment. She had grown from level 200 to level 374 in just a year. Even if a great chef assisted in her devlopment, it would have been impossible to do without her Innate Abilities.
That’s right. The hero had awakened to an Innate Ability called Acceleration at the age of 19. The Acceleration skill could function as either a passive skill or an active skill. It sped up all her abilities. The smallest benefit from her movement speeding up, and the largest benefit came from it influencing her growth.
Her level up had been unusually fast until now thanks to a small fragment of her latent innate influencing her. Moreover, the power of Acceleration allowed her to move at unbelievable speed to cut down the black magician.
Of course, if she used it as an active skill, it would consume significant amount of Mana. However, it was the maximization of her basic movements, so it wouldn’t exhaust her.
‘I knew she would awaken to it faster, since she was injected into live battles at an earlier age compared to her previous incarnation. However, I never expected her to learn that particular ability at age 13……’
Artpe looked at Maetel who looked confused. He mumbled to himself as he felt dumbfounded.
Most in the human race didn’t possess an Innate ability. It was the same for the Demon race. Even if one had the requirements needed to possess an Innate Ability, it was unknown as to when a person might develop that Innate Ability. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if it took several dozens of years for it to develop. It wasn’t impossible for one to fail to develop one’s Innate Ability in one’s life time.
However, once one’s Innate Ability was awakened, one would gain a power that was on a whole different level. One would also grow at a pace that couldn’t be compared to the previous rate. Most of the beings that left an indelible mark in history all had Innate Abilities. Even when an Innate Ability looks useless, it had a special quality of overpowering other skills and Classes.
Maetel had heard Artpe’s explanation, but it seemed she was having a hard time wrapping her head around it. It was to be expected. Her actions wasn’t something she had done consciously. It had resulted, because she had let her instincts take over her body.
If she was asked to use the Acceleration ability again right now, she would be unable to use it. Of course, the Innate Ability would continue to influence her since it had been awakened. Her level up pace would be faster than before….. Artpe had a thought. Maybe it would really take them less than 2 years to kill the Demon King. He let out a feigned laughter at the thought.
“Maetel, you don’t have to worry too much about it. I’ll slowly walk you through it.”
“I understand, Artpe. As expected, Artpe already has an Innate Ability? ······hue hue. You really are amazing.”
It seemed she felt a little bit better after deposing the black magician. Maetel was finally able to bring herself to smile a little bit. Aena, who had been watching all of this, impatiently tugged at Artpe’s sleeve.
“M…magician-nim. Can we now…what I’m trying to say is……”
“Yes, I’m sorry. This was such an unexpected development that both of us became absent minded. We’ll finish the Quest now.”
Artpe shook off Aena’s hand, and he turned around. Beyond the dead corpse of the black magician, he could see children writhing in pain.
The black magician imprisoning them was dead, yet the children was unable to realize this fact. The children were a hollow shell of themselves. They had lost their normal thoughts and senses. They were being tormented by the pain.
“You will be ok now, kids. We’ll help you guys!”
“It hurts. It hurts!”
“I want to see my mom. Mommy.”
The communal space was a mess. How many children were in this place?
The number of monster corpses they discovered coming to the 3rd floor was insignificant compared to the number of children here. If every child here became monsters,…. If the Demon King’s army took control of the monsters here to attack the other towns within this kingdom…..
“The war with the Demon King’s army will be hastened a little bit…..”
They had put a lot of effort in turning the children into monsters, yet they were killed and thrown away inside the Dungeon. The black magician beheaded by Maetel had spouted some nonsense about an experiment. It seemed they weren’t simply trying to turn children into monsters.
‘No, this isn’t the time to have such thoughts..’
Artpe took out the Obsidian of Greed. At that moment, the flow of energy within the communal space changed.
There was the faint energy of curse in the air, and the wicked energy leaking out from the corpse. Then there was the curse energy roiling within the innocent children.
All of it were changed into black smoke. This black smoke flooded towards Artpe and the obsidian he was holding.
Maetel had been overwhelmed by the sight created by Artpe. However, she let out a scream when she saw him grip his head. Artpe shook his head as if to tell her that she didn’t need to worry about him.
He was using the obsidian against numerous children at once. Even if he was the possessor of the Read All Creation ability, he couldn’t escape the headache created by this act….. Still, he’d rather endure the headache rather than see the hero’s heart crumble in this place.
“You should comfort the children. There is a close connection between the curse and their emotions…… If you speak to them in a calm voice, it should be enough. Please do this for me.”
It was hard to tell if they were human or trash if seen from afar. The children were carelessly thrown together in a neglected pile. One could tell that they weren’t given much food or water. It was the perfect environment that would fuel the advance of the curse.
“Sienna! Sienna, where are you!”
Aena kept calling out her dongsaeng’s name as she walked amongst the children. It seems she wasn’t having any luck finding her. Artpe didn’t have any reason to stop her. He fully understood what she was feeling right now.
“You’ll be fine, children. You’ll all be fine now…. You’ll be fine.”
It was almost like a miracle to them. At that moment, they heard a voice that made the hearts of Maetel, Aena and Artpe brighten. In the midst of the children groaning in pain, they definitely heard a voice that held consciousness!
There was a quick catch in her voice as Maetel let out a shout of joy. As if he had been waiting for this moment, he started giving her directions.
“Let’s move him out towards the perimeter! More and more children will be freed from the hold of the curse!”
Maetel let out tears of joy as she took the child to the perimeter. It wasn’t just that child. She separated the children in the throes of pain, so each child had some room of their own. She hugged and stroked the children.
Her heart had been in a heightened state from the rage she felt. However, her heart had now calmed down. She directed an endless amount of worry and sympathy towards the children. When he saw this, Artpe let out a sigh of relief even though he was suffering from a headache.
“I…I can see again. Who are you, noona?”
“I want you to bear with me a little bit further. You’ll make a complete recovery soon!”
As more Mana rushed towards the obsidian, more children gained consciousness as they were freed from the curse. It started with one child. The number increased to 10, 50….. The expressions of the other children started to calm down.
“Amazing, Artpe…. You are amazing.”
The number of children gaining consciousness went past 100, yet Aena hadn’t caught sight of her dongsaeng. Aena calculated the date when she was captured. Her dongsaeng shouldn’t have been amongst the slain monsters….
Artpe firmly bit his lips as he checked the status of the black obsidian. The obsidian had darkened to a point where it indicated that it had almost reached its limit.
He knew there was a limit to how much it can store, but it had filled up too fast. This quest had been much larger in scale than he had expected it to be.
Fortunately, Artpe had prepared for the worst, so he had a contingency plan in his back pocket.
In the process of smashing through the beginner’s Dungeon with Maetel, he had acquired the Reinforcement skill. This wasn’t just a normal reinforcement skill. The skill allowed him to improve an Artifact at its foundation. In his previous life, Artpe wouldn’t have dare to dream about obtaining such a skill. It was a Rank SSS skill!
This skill was in Artpe’s hands right now.
He could see the structure of all items through his Read All Creation ability, and now he had the Reinforcement skill. He could use Reinforcement on specific parts of an item, and it was possible for him to reinforce an item that was supposed to be impossible to reinforce. Basically, it was a cheat.
It was as he surmised. It was possible to strengthen the Obsidian of Greed with his Reinforcement skill. In a flash, half of Artpe’s enormous reservoir of Mana was consumed by the obsidian. The obsidian shone brighter than before, and it had increased in size.
Once again the flow of energy within the space changed. When the obsidian’s absorption rate was reinforced, the cursed Mana hidden within the body of the children couldn’t resist against the pull of the obsidian.
“It hurts. It hurts too much!”
Screams of pain erupted from various locations. However, the pain was proof that they were alive.
The scream became shouts, and despair turned into joy.
Artpe was controlling too much Mana flow, so it felt as if his head was about to burst. He ignored the pain as he kept increasing the absorption rate. It would be a tragic comedy if monsters were born, because he dawdled.
It was at that moment when Aena found her dongsaeng. Her dongsaeng was sprawled amongst the children. She had been barely able to regain consciousness thanks to Artpe’s power, and she was able to face her unni.
Artpe glanced towards them when he became loss for words.
“Sienna? Sienna, what’s wrong! Sienna!”
A tragic comedy of a situation was about to really occur right now.
“Unni, it hurts. My head and chest hurts so much. Unni, unni.”
“S…Sienna! Magician-nim! My Sienna is….!”
Artpe didn’t reply to Aena’s heartfelt plea. He firmly shut his mouth, but he was able to see the most accurate information regarding the girl named Sienna through his eyes.
[Level : 1]
[Strength : 6 Agility : 7 Stamina : 14 Magical Energy : 23]
[Transformation Progress to Intermediate Magic-type Species 33%]
The curse applied to Sienna had been a success, and she was being turned into a monster. He could try to pull out the curse energy, but the change had already started. The curse and her Mana were tangled, so his actions might make her suffer more pain before she died.
It was an absurd situation. How could the timing be like this? Why did it have to be Aena’s dongsaeng? It was a most laughable situation he found himself in. This story seemed to be tailor-made for a hero’s story. It almost made him question if this scenario was constructed from the beginning.
“Magician-nim! My dongsaeng’s face is darkening…. Magician-nim!”
Maetel was taking care of the other children. Her face stiffened when she realized what Sienna was talking about. However, she wasn’t like Aena who kept calling Artpe’s name. She asked Artpe a question with a calm voice.
“Artpe······ Were we too late for this child?”
What did she plan on doing if they were too late to do anything? Artpe was afraid of her answer, so he didn’t ask the question. She was extremely pure, and she wanted to save the children. In the future, he knew she would regret her decision if things proceeded along this path.
“W…warrior-nim. She can recover. It isn’t too late for Sienna! Warrior-nim! Please speak some sense into her, magician-nim!”
It seemed Aena could sense what Maetel was planning on doing. Her eyes turned round as she desperately clung to Maetel.
She was only level 1, so she didn’t have the power to stop Maetel. However, Maetel couldn’t advance as she turned her gaze towards Aena. Matel’s face was also distorted.
“Aena…. What if Sienna harms the other children…. What would you do? How would you handle this when the other children will become involved.…. I don’t know the answer. I’m sorry, Aena. I don’t know….”
“You can’t, warrior-nim! Please save Sienna! Magician-nim, magician-nim!”
It seemed the conversation with Aena had the effect of pushing Maetel towards an unfavorable outcome for Aena. Maetel firmly shut her eyes before she opened them. Sienna was starting to change, so Maetel slowly walked towards her.
“Wait a moment, Maetel.”
Artpe stopped Maetel at that moment.. The obsidian had reached Rank S thanks to the power of the Reinforcement skill. He had absorbed all the curse from the children except for the one within Sienna.
There wasn’t a single ounce of curse energy within the communal space. It didn’t matter what the Demon King’s army had planned here. A part of their plan ended in failure at that moment. At this point, the Quest could be seen as a success.
Of course, this would be true if they excluded one person, Aena’s dongsaeng.
“I said stop, Maetel. The Quest hasn’t ended yet.”
Maetel continued to walk towards the child, but she obediently stopped when she heard him call her.
Her mouth opened. Her voice shook.
“Is it possible······?”
“You should keep your sword unsheathed. We don’t know when she’ll run rampant.”
Maetel unsheathed her sword with trembling hands. Aena no longer held onto Maetel. She just looked at Artpe with pleading eyes.
As he received pleading gazes from the two girls, he let out a long sigh as he walked forward.
At his core, Artpe didn’t like adventures. He was of the opinion that adventurers shouldn’t do adventures.
There was no reason to take unnecessary risks for him. There was no reason why he should expect failure.
He could check all answers with his Read All Creation ability. He just had to act when he had the right answers. It was that simple.
However, he was looking at Sienna’s information window. She seemed to be in a hopeless situation, but two things bothered Artpe.
First, there was the ambiguous term of ‘Intermediate Magic-type Species’ written in her info. Secondly, he saw the word ‘Experiment Success’. He hadn’t been able to see those words in children that had been successfully turned into monsters.
What if the goal of the tests weren’t to make children into monsters? If that was their goal then they would have branded the monster-turned children as successful test subjects. Why would they kill them once they were turned into monsters?
As he kept thinking about it, he kept having questions about the word ‘Intermediate Magic-type Species’. Of course, monsters were a magic type. So why did they use the particular expression of magic type species?
When he discovered the curse for the first time in Aena, he had seen the same phrase. At the time, it hadn’t caught his attention. However, maybe Artpe was operating under a misapprehension?
What if the black magicians and the Demon King’s army weren’t aiming for a simple monster transformation?
What if the fact that the children were completely turned into monsters were considered to be failures? What if they were killed for that reason?
What if there was something special about Aena and Sienna?
What if Sienna was the ‘only’ success in their experiments?
“Koo-koo-ahhhhhh. It hurts so much, unni. Unni, unniiiiii!”
“Sienna, no! Sienna!”
When it specified magic type species…. It might be referring to the ‘Demon race’.
This test was aimed at making humans into demons.
“Shit. That damn Demon King……”
If this was truly the Demon King’s plan, maybe the Demon King came up with a ‘control’ plan that differed from the one in his previous life!
“Maybe he is thinking about using ‘Absolute Control’ on all the beings on this world!”
Artpe gritted his teeth as he shouted those words. He couldn’t remain calm any longer.
The massive amount of Mana stored within his body was resolved into a Mana Strings. It looked as if wings had sprouted from Artpe.
The dark Mana threads clung to the entire body of the human girl who was turning into a demon. He started desperately tuning her Mana.
“I won’t let you do this······!”
Artpe’s eyes shone with a purple light.
“I won’t let you have her, you son of a bitch!”
He was able to see past everything to reach the truth. His Innate Ability always led him towards the right path. He combined the ability with a Unique spell called Mana String.
It was supposed to be impossible to combine the two abilities, yet they were combined. The girl’s body was being demonified at an uncontrollable speed. Her body twitched.
The Mana within her body started flowing backwards at the guidance of the Mana Strings.
The hero forged a miracle at that moment.