Chapter 54 – Frate’s Festival (7)
“Two thousand gold.”
“Two thousand five hundred.”
“We’ve got 2,500 gold. For reference, this amulet’s prior owner was Sir Patra. He had won every battle he had participated in. He was executed after the rebellion when it was found out that his cousin had been involved with the archduke’s faction. The ability and luck of this item made its owner victorious in battle. At the same time, it has the curse of false accusation over it. In the hands of a good craftsman, its performance can be overwhelmingly improve!”
“Sir Patra….. I’ll express my admiration towards him by bidding 3,000 gold.”
“Three thousand three hundred gold.”
The greed of the people were used as firewood. The auction heated up. Most of the artifacts and treasures were sold for an exorbitant amount of price. People paid several thousand gold for each item. The crowd as a whole were going nuts.
The artifacts that were relatively low priced, bulk items and specialized items with no controversial stories behind them were all sold during the day. The ones that were being put up for auction were the absurdly expensive items, and the artifacts with questionable stories behind them.
“Next is Marquis R’s wife’s private……”
“Five hundred thousand gold!”
“Seven hundred thousand gold.”
How could people get excited and pay a high price for a simple piece of cloth that holds no magical energy? Even if the owner was a beautiful woman, it doesn’t mean a piece of cloth would gain some kind of special significance.
Artpe thought humans were truly foolish as he turned his head. When he did, he found that Mycenae was staring at him with displeasure. Artpe decided to make an excuse.
“You know what’s going on here?”
“Even if you are young, I guess you are male.”
“It isn’t like that. I wasn’t looking at it, because I wanted to buy it. I was curious as to the thought process behind the scoundrels that want to buy the lingerie.”
“Yes, I’m sure you were doing that. You are at an age where you should be very curious about such things, so it isn’t as if I can’t understand it…. However, you should refrain from putting your hand on your party members. It won’t end with a joke.”
“I already know, ajumma. I don’t want you to even joke about such a subject.”
Currently, Artpe didn’t fear the Demon king the most. He worried Etna or Maetel would come at him at night. He was worried they would assault him by throwing their body at him. He knew he would be on the losing end if he lingered on this topic, so Artpe changed the topic by force.
“Anyways, they already know each other’s identity, yet they don’t hesitate to buy such items.”
“······it happens only in Frate. Everyone becomes a bit freed from their rank and power. If people become restrained when they enter the Frate’s Festival, it would cause an immense negative impact on Diaz’s economy. This is why no one is objecting when they know the underwear of someone’s wife is being traded.”
“Moreover, it has been 3 years since the last festival, and the power of the throne is as weak as it has ever been. This is also after the rebellion…… It holds all the ingredients that is needed to make things worse”
Moreover, the spoon of the Demon King’s army had been placed in this pot. They had fantastic timing.
Artpe felt the upsurge in the atmosphere inside the auction house, and the curse was slowly being activated. Artpe could feel it through his entire body as the cursed artifacts started resonating with the activating curse. He let out a deep sigh. When Mycenae saw this, she must have had a slight misunderstanding.
“······so do you want the underwear of Marquis R’s wife?”
“I don’t need it.”
“If it is underwear, I can give you mine. It’ll be 1,500 gold.”
“I won’t accept it even if you give me 1,500 gold.”
“Customer, you are very rude!”
“I’m better than the immoral merchant, who is trying to sell me her underwear for 1,500 gold.”
The tension within the auction house continued to build, and it felt as if it would explode if a single spark was introduced. At that moment, a new cart was brought in. It was placed on the auction house’s platform.
Artpe unconsciously looked at it, and he became a bit surprised at what he saw.
“Next item is…. This is quite surprising! It is the longsword of Sir Edward Meletin, who ended the rebellion!”
The auction house was overturned once again. There were individuals that suddenly stood up from their seat. Some even unmasked themselves by mistake.
Artpe had been surprised by the artifact itself, but the people here were clearly surprised by the name of the artifact’s owner.
He asked Mycenae a question.
“Who’s Edward Meletin?”
“Didn’t you just hear what he said? He’s the one that ended the rebellion. He was a knight employed under a nameless marquis, yet his sword was able to emit strands of fire aura. He burned the black magicians and knights that were under the Archduke’s faction. When he captured the Archduke, everyone was shocked! They thought a new powerhouse had made his presence known. It was speculated that he was one of the top-ranking knights with a level over 250. They wondered how and why this man had been unable to distinguish himself before…..”
“Ah. I see….”
So that’s how it was. Artpe answered without much energy as his eyes took in the longsword.
The complete information about the item was reflected in his eyes.
[Netherworld Flame Sword of Madness]
[The Fire Spirit Meltia was born from a volcano in the Demon world. She lived freely for tens of thousands of years before she was forcefully imprisoned by the power of a curse. Three types of metal mined from the volcano in the Demon world was combined to make a sword where she was imprisoned. The sword can emit an outrageous amount of fire, and it can burn everything it cuts. As a price for using this power, the user’s magical energy will be depleted, and in the end, the soul will also be harvested. The soul once again turns into the chain that keep Meltia imprisoned. This in turn increases the artifact’s power.]
“Of course, he wasn’t known until he acquire that sword……”
“Huh? Do you perhaps know something about it? Aht! That’s right! If it is you, you should have the information regarding that sword…..”
The sight of the description of the sword made him feel disgusted. He felt dumbfounded by it, and at that moment, he heard a groan from nearby.
He didn’t have to turn around to know the owner of the voice. It was none other than Etna.
She was born from fire, and she held domain over all fire. A Fire Spirit was trapped within a mere item through a curse, so he didn’t have to ask her to know what emotions she was feeling right now. Did she perhaps enter into this auction with the purpose of recovering this item? It made him wonder.
However, that was impossible. That sword was the trigger that activated the curse of the Demon King’s army. He was sure of that point.
Artpe carelessly spoke the name of Etna. He quickly took control of his own mouth. What would be accomplished by calling her over? She couldn’t go against the Demon King’s orders. It wasn’t as if Artpe could step forward in her stead to overturn the board.
“This sword of fire contains the valor of Sir Edward Meletin! We’ll start it at 5,000 gold!”
“Seven thousand gold!”
“Eight thousand gold!”
The highlight of the auction was probably this flame sword. It didn’t matter if one was a count, marquis, baron or a viscount. Everyone became excited as the price of the sword kept increasing.
“I have to buy that!”
“Sir Edward Meletin······ I’m sure it was that sword!”
As soon as they entered Frate, the curse that had been secretly building within their body started to reveal their teeth. The curse started to encroach on their body.
There were the participants bidding on the items, the people that were guarding the bidders, and the people that didn’t have the money to bid. The ones without money couldn’t speak out, so they were burning with desire. It didn’t matter who they were. The curse influenced them in an impartial manner.
“Nine thousand gold!”
“We’ll changed the minimum amount you can raise the bid to 2,000…..”
“Huh. This is weird. This is too….”
“······it has started.”
Artpe realized the trigger had been pulled at some point. It was as the Demon King’s army had intended. The desire of humans within the auction had reached its zenith, and it caused the curse to thicken. It was thick enough to be seen with one’s eyes.
Then another curse was activated, and the curses started to stack. It was something even a level 200 magician wouldn’t be able to escape easily. The trap was encircled around everyone’s neck.
Then the Demons that resided in the port and the outer city started to make their move. Everyone was focused on the auction house at that moment. The Demons unhesitatingly emitted a vast quantity of magical energy to trigger another curse. In a flash, the curse reached its zenith, and it covered the entire city!
Artpe had recognized it early on. The magical energy was formed into the shape of a magic circle. Everything and everyone gathered within the auction house was being used as ingredients. It was a magic circle that embroiled the entire city!
There was no turning back now. The whole city would be imbued with the curse. A very small spark could burn the city to the ground!
“Twenty two thousand!”
“Twenty six thousand!”
Mycenae was a Dungeon Merchant. As a basic requirement, her level was high, but her understanding of magic was also deep. Of course, even she didn’t pinpoint what was wrong within Frate. However, she was well aware of the fact that the people were acting in an abnormal manner.
“C…customer, this is…..”
She wondered if she should just run away from here. At this point, she didn’t care about her reputation as a merchant or the Anywhere company. She looked ready to cry, and by instinct, she grabbed Artpe’s hand.
From the beginning to end, Artpe continued to remain in his seat. He grinned as he looked at Mycenae’s expression, then he firmly held her hand.
“I told you I’ll protect you. Don’t worry about it.”
Mycenae shut her mouth. The hand that was holding her hand was so dependable that she forgot that he was younger than her for a brief moment! She acted silly, because she had suffered a surprise attack by Artpe. However, at that moment, the situation was approaching its climax.
“Thirty six thousand······!”
“I said thirty six thousand first!”
“Then thirty eight……”
“Fifty thousand······!? Eeeeeeeeek······.”
“I don’t have that much money. I don’t have that much money….. Shit. The treasure is right in front of eyes, yet I’m going to lose it!”
“If I can’t solve this with money……”
It was very natural as to how the spark would be lit. Someone just had to unsheathe his sword or chant a magic spell, and it would spur the magic circle into completion.
The curse would be spread towards the city, and if things went well, it could spread to the entire country. It could even spread across the border to burn everything. It was a clean and bold strategy that wasn’t seen even in the legends or myths.
It seems the Demon King really put effort into this plan. If he acted this way in the previous life, Artpe wouldn’t have died!
“This is my revenge, you damn bastard.”
Artpe smirked as he mumbled to himself.
It happened at that moment. It felt as if blood was about to be shed inside the auction house when the sound of a roar rang out.
“What the hell······!?”
The nobles and their knights had been about to confront each other for the Netherworld Flame Sword of Madness. However, they all fell to the floor at the same time.
It wasn’t just their movement being suppressed. The yell that had come from an unknown source had completely dominated their mind and body. The energy that had been making them act crazy was dispersed. It was as if they had just woken up from sleep. Their eyes turned round as they looked at their surrounding.
“What am I doing······?”
“M…my god. Tomas, I want you to put your sword away! We are supposed to fight with money, yet you are trying to show off with your martial prowess. This isn’t an action that is befitting a noble!”
“However, his lordship…. His lordship gave the order…. Mmmm? What the hell?”
While some people were confused, the ones that were still unable to break completely out of the curse were still in an agitated state. They were about to attack the confused people that had stopped in place! Once again, the roar filled the auction house.
No, it wasn’t just the auction house. The yell rode along the energy of the curse that was gathered inside auction house, and it spread into the magic circle formed by the Demons.
Of course, most of the curse’s energy that was boiling up in the city was being ‘eaten.’ The trigger and the fuel was being consumed before it could explode. This was why the curse lost its energy before the people residing in the city had any idea something was wrong.
“W…what the hell is this…..?”
As a Four Heavenly King of the Demon King’s army, Etna had to polish her senses over the countless number of years. This was why she was the first one to realize something was wrong. Her eyes turned round.
She knew that the auction house had been destroyed and rebuilt that day. However, she only sensed a strengthening spell that reinforced the structural integrity of the auction house. She hadn’t sense any other trace of Mana. Who could have done this? Someone had casted a intricate spell that had tricked even Etna!
“No, the only one culprit that could have pulled this off was Artpe…..”
Etna looked at Artpe with dumbfounded eyes when her gaze met his. Artpe had such a mischievous smile on his face that she wanted to pinch his cheek. However, Artpe opened his mouth before she could say anything. He just shaped his words without vocalizing it, but his message was delivered to her.
‘I’ll get it back for you.’
“Get back what……”
She unconsciously spoke the question out loud, but in the next moment, she shut her mouth. Artpe had casted a spell over the auction house. To be precise, it was a ‘Spell Modification Spell’ that he casted using the Greed Beast and his Mana Strings. There was still another step that had yet to occur.
The first stage of the spell was to let the Greed Beast suck in the curse that was supposed to spread into the city using the magic circle. However, the curse hadn’t completely dissipated. The second stage of his plan was to send the remaining curse energy into the Demons on standby using the magic circle.
[Auction house! It is at the auction house!]
[Koo-hahhhhhhhhhhk! It is mine! I’ll have it!]
All of the city’s greed was focused on the auction house. Of course, the cursed Demons unhesitatingly headed towards the auction house.
The auction house had been at the center of the magic circle. In the process of reconstructing the auction house, he had used his Mana Strings to make a fundamental change to the magic circle!
“Demons! It’s the Demon race! Demons appeared from all over the city, and they are rushing the auction house!”
“Then the abnormal state of our mind from a moment ago…..!”
“Demons! It’s the Demons! We are being raided by the Demons!”
Everyone within the auction house came to their senses as they stood up. Artpe let out a leisurely smile as he watched this sight.
He had made fixes to the Record link, and he had transformed Sienna’s curse. In the process, he had become quite good at modifying spells. He had access to the heart of the magic circle, so of course, he was able to make changes to this curse! It wouldn’t have made sense if he was unable to do so!
“Customer, this is······.”
“It was supposed to be humans vs humans. I just changed it to Demons vs humans.”
Artpe spoke in a nonchalant manner as he laughed. Mycenae had no idea how he was able to use such a method. All she could do was stare at him with her mouth wide open.
“I had my eyes wide open, yet you got me ······ Amazing.”
Moreover, it was the same for Etna. She possessed abilities that was close to what a high rank magician possessed, but she didn’t deal with highly difficult spells. Her ability was focused on making powerful magic using fire. Of course, Artpe was well aware of this fact. This was why he was able to use such a bold strategy.
The items in the auction house was supposed to cause conflict amongst the humans, but the humans automatically lost interest in the items when they were faced with the prospect of facing Demons. Of course, those items were…..
“Yes. You should eat a lot and grow rapidly.”
As its owner, he could vaguely see its form. The Greed Beast was eating the energy of the curse that was filling the auction house.
The egg was able to be hatched, because countless requisite was gathered and overlapped in this place. It was busy eating the curse and evil mana that was right in front of it. It would probably be able to materialize fully when it was able to eat everything here.
“Well, I should…..”
Artpe let out a truly satisfied laughter as he turned around. He could feel the explosive energy of the Demons on the other side. They were all bundles of EXP that would be good for him.
“…put the finishing touch on this.”
From the start to the end of the second Quest, everything had progressed according to his calculations.
It was time for him to acquire his reward.