Chapter 88 – Sleeping With the Enemy (1)
The captain’s eyes opened wide. He couldn’t believe the words coming out of Artpe’s mouth. The magician in front of him was powerful enough not to be attached to any nation, yet he said he wanted to be a wartime mercenary. It was such a practical word.
“That’s right. I’ll make sure you guys win against Aedia no matter what. However, you will have to pay the price.”
“Even if I’m offered such a deal….. It isn’t within the scope of my authority to accept it.”
The captain never expected to encounter such a situation, so he was extremely taken aback. On the other hand, it wasn’t as if he could turn down the offer from a supernaturally strong being, so the captain planned on getting ahold of Artpe using flattering words.
However, at that moment….
The shrill scream of a girl could be heard alongside the sound of an explosion. When he turned to look, he caught sight of Regina floating in the air. Maetel was below Regina. She was grinding her teeth as she jumped towards Regina.
“Where are you going!”
“You can’t go!”
When Maetel landed, she bent her knees. She activated her Acceleration ability, and she was able to jump several hundred meters into the air. She turned a simple jump into a hyper jump.
Regina used several dozen types of spells at once. She tried to use Teleportation magic at the same time as she tried to bind Maetel. However, the two beams emitted by Maetel’s longsword cancelled all her magic spells. When Regina saw this, her eyes turned round. Afterwards, Maetel grabbed her by the scruff.
“I said you can’t go!”
Maetel threw Regina towards the ground! Even if Regina was a golem, her function was geared more towards magic than physical ability. She couldn’t withstand the shock, so she fainted.
A delicate girl had floated into the air, and she had used dozens of spells. In the very same moment, another delicate girl destroyed all the spells, and she had thrown the first girl towards the ground. It was a distance of several hundred meters. All the knights amiably fell silent when they witnessed this sight. Artpe let out a bright smile as he continued to speak.
“They are my party members. Aren’t they strong?”
“You guys are a powerful collection of individuals. Where have you been all this time? Why have you stepped forward at this moment in time?”
The captain asked in a serious manner. Artpe also answered in a serious manner.
“We came from within the ocean.”
“It seems you have no intentions of answering my question…. Well, it doesn’t matter. Your words have reassured me. If it means victory for our nation, we are willing to ally with everyone except the Demon race…. My superiors will probably not turn down your offer.”
“All right. The most admirable part is that you guys won’t ally yourselves with the Demons.”
When Artpe replied in a joking manner, the captain’s face crumpled in a peculiar way.
“We did try to kill the civilians, and it is a sin that can’t be washed away. Even if we were stopped in our attempt, it is a sin that we must bear for the rest of our lives. However, even we won’t sell out the entirety of humanity. Would such foolish people really exist in this world?”
Such people existed…… However, Artpe declined to speak this out loud. There will come a day when they’ll find out this truth. It might be sooner rather than later.
“I’ll bring my party members. Ah. Before I do that…..”
Artpe lightly wave his hands. That was all that he did. One of the knights had been standing around absentmindedly, and blood erupted from an unfortunate location.
“I’ll be back. You guys can wait for me here.”
The nearby knights were shocked as they took a step backwards. Artpe spoke as he put on a cold smile. The captain couldn’t say anything despite Artpe’s act of violence. The knight had lost the possibility of a future, but the captain had a hunch as to why such an act had been committed against him.
The knight that had just died right now had spoken up right before they clashed against Artpe’s party. He had spoke vulgar words when he saw the beauty of Maetel and Sienna.
“Captain, he is too dangerous! We have to turn him down!”
“We will be creating an irrevocable problem!”
“No. I want you all to be quiet.”
When he saw Artpe use Blink to head towards his party members, the captain spoke in a low voice.
“How can I not know that? However, this magician doesn’t need to deal with us to accomplish what he wants. On top of that, he is someone that we can’t control. If this is all true, wouldn’t it be better to make it so that our nation benefits in the process?”
“Still, he didn’t need to kill one of our comrades! Moreover, there are knights here that have lost their arms to him!”
“It isn’t as if his actions were groundless. He had a personal grudge against that knight. He has a good case for the actions he took.”
“I’ve already prepared to give up my life for this war. Isn’t it the same for you all?”
The captain looked at his subordinates, who had shut their mouths. He spoke with a bitter voice.
“I want you to keep your personal feeling in check before you make your call. If you still can’t accept my decision, you can officially bring it up with my superiors. The decision will be made from up on high.”
While there were heated exchanges going on between the knights, Artpe re-joined his party. He check on Regina’s status.
“As expected, she is quite sturdy. She fell several hundred meters to impact on the frozen ground, yet she has no outward injuries.”
He ignored the sound of Maetel clicking her tongue as he carried Regina. He had just met the magician, and he couldn’t let her go free. He planned on taking her with him like this. When Maetel saw this, she asked him a question.
“Artpe, isn’t this kid affiliated with Aedia? So why did you talk about joining up with Daitan? If we want this kid to join our party, we should be fighting on the side of Aedia.”
“It isn’t as simple as that. Aedia, Daitan and Tiata are currently….. Moreover, we have to keep what is happening in the Forest of Eternity in mind.”
“Do you think the Forest of Eternity has something to do with what’s happening here?”
“Maybe. That is why I’m going to check it out for myself.”
He would drag along Regina as he did so. Regina’s sense of self was sparse, but it wasn’t as if it wasn’t there. He could probably guide her towards the right decision. He was sure she would join up with them.
“By the way, you tried to kill regular soldiers for your own gain. It looked as if you didn’t feel any regret in doing so.”
“If it is for Artpe, I’ll do anything…ah-yaht.”
She was speaking out loud such terrifying words, so Artpe flicked her forehead pretty hard.
“There are other ways to achieve your goals. There is no reason why you should harm other people. This is especially true for the innocent people. You bear the responsibility of holding the Hero Class, so you should think hard on my words.”
“But Artpe…… Wouldn’t there come a time when I would have to do the very thing I mentioned? There might come a time when I will have to cut down an innocent to achieve a goal we really want. At the very least, there will come a time when I would have to harm such people…. Wouldn’t that time come in the future?”
At her words, Artpe stopped for a brief moment. Why would it not happen? They were heroes, and each of their actions affected the world. He could think up too many scenarios that it put him in a tough spot. Unbeknownst to them, they might have already harmed innocents several times without realizing it.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Despite this fact, Artpe was firm with his words.
“That will never happen.”
At the very least, he wouldn’t let her experience it. He would do the dirty work. In his past life, the hero’s comrades did the same thing.
This was why she would always shine with the light of purity. She would be radiant like herself from the past.
Artpe didn’t voice his thoughts out loud, yet Maetel’s expression turned nasty.
“Artpe, you are thinking about something weird again. I always know. Sometimes, Artpe puts on a grim face like right now!”
“As expected, you really are using a mind reading skill.”
Maetel looked pretty angry as she glared up at him. However, Artpe didn’t budge an inch. Maetel was out of patience, so she was about to unleash her rebuke like a wildfire. At that moment, Artpe extended his hand, and he placed it on her head.
“This isn’t a problem that I can accept and forget just because Artpe patted my head……”
“Be a little bit more patient, Maetel.”
“When you grow up a little bit more and your heart is a bit more hardened, I’ll share everything with you. …….until that time, I want you to leave everything to me.”
Artpe came up with an adequate cover for himself, but his words caused her cheeks to turn red. It was as if her cheeks were about to explode. She was already in a good state, but she was barely able to squeeze out a rebuttal.
“B…but Artpe is the same age as me……”
“I’m more mature mentally compared to my age. You are more immature compared to your age. Of course, there is a difference between us.”
“Artpe is bad.”
He hadn’t hesitated to assault her with the truth. Maetel pushed her lips forward. However, it seemed she had accepted his words. She leaned in closer as she slightly moved her lips.
“When the time come, you have to share it with me.”
Good. As expected, she was a simple woman. He was mumbling these thoughts inwardly as he let out a smile of satisfaction. At that moment, Maetel’s lips fluttered, and she let out some sharp words. It made Artpe’s heart stop.
“You have to tell me everything Artpe is hiding.”
It was an unexpected counterattack. Unless one was an idiot, one would have picked up on the fact that he was unusual. She was supposed to be an idiot, so he had never expected Maetel to say such words.
How long had she known? Maybe, she knew it from the beginning? He didn’t think that was possible, yet she had kept her thoughts secret. She had brought it up at this moment. He wasn’t sure about anything any more.
For a brief moment, Artpe was at a loss for words. Maetel slightly raised her head, and she her gaze remained fixed on him. Her emerald colored eyes were pure and unfathomably deep. It was as if she was looking deep into his soul.
“Are you going to share it with me?”
“….all right. I lost. I’ll tell you.”
It was a complete defeat. Maybe, she called into question his attitude, because she wanted to lead the conversation this way. Artpe cleanly admitted his defeat.
“Someday… I’ll tell you someday.”
“Yes, that is enough for now.”
Maetel’s face became much brighter as she backed off. Artpe felt sorry towards Maetel, but he couldn’t tell her the whole truth. So from when to when should he make up the story? He had to make is so that the story sounded plausible. Maetel had to accept it as the truth.
Artpe decided to take a day off in the future, and he would come up with a story that no one would suspect it to be false. When he was having such thoughts, someone grabbed Artpe’s sleeve.
“Oppa, I feel left out…….”
Sienna had been excluded from the conversation between the two heroes. She was close to tears at that moment. Even if she was very patient, she couldn’t endure the space that had been created between Artpe and Maetel! It was a space where only the two of them had existed!
“Will you share it with me too, oppa? You’ll share it with me, right? Yes?”
“Yes, I’ll share it with you too.”
“Ya-ho! I love oppa so much!”
He planned on making up a story to tell Maetel, so it wouldn’t matter if he had one more audience. Artpe didn’t hesitate at all as he nodded his head. Sienna was so happy that she hugged him. Sure enough, Maetel became angry when she saw this display.
“Wait a moment. I worked so hard to hear that answer from you, so why did you give such a prompt answer to Sienna? Wasn’t it supposed to be a secret between Artpe and me!?”
“That’s because oppa likes younger women. Isn’t that right…?”
“Stop saying words that’ll be misunderstood. Let’s go.”
Artpe patted his noisy companions, and they headed towards the knights. Of course, Regina was still unconscious.
The captain had mentioned that his superiors had the authority to make decisions. He wanted Artpe’s party to meet with his superiors directly, so the captain quickly acquired a carriage. After Artpe’s party got on the carriage, they were treated with utmost care.
Of course, they were still deep within enemy territory. They couldn’t place flowers on the road or blow trumpets on the way back. Still, the knights were extremely submissive in their behavior as they treated Artpe’s party with respect. It made one wonder if this was how being a noble felt.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
Regina, who had abruptly been kidnapped by Artpe’s party, had not resisted. She knew she couldn’t run away, so she obediently sat next to them. She kept spouting words like ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘I cannot understand’.
“You’ve shackled me. I cannot go against Aedia. It is cumbersome to keep me as a hostage. Why haven’t you killed me?”
“I want to bring you into my party. That is why I can’t kill you.”
“You’ve shackled me.”
Regina kept repeating the same words. It was as if she was trying to say, ‘How can you not understand me at one go, you moron!’ Artpe let out a bitter laugh.
“Yes, I already know. A restriction has been placed on you, right?”
“······that’s right. Have you realized what I am?”
“Yes. Aren’t you a golem?”
If a golem could defy its owner, no magician would want to make a golem. That was why a magical shackles were placed over most golems. They couldn’t defy their owners or specific candidates chosen by the owners.
The magicians didn’t need an Innate Ability like the Demon King. It was possible to create these shackles during the process of creating a golem. Regina was probably talking about this.
“If you know I am a golem, why would you want me in your party……?”
“I want to know your own thoughts. Can you tell me what your thought are without the restriction influencing your answer?”
Artpe asked her a question. Regina slightly raised her head. There was a slight expression of puzzlement on her face.
“My personal thoughts aren’t important. The restrictions are absolute. I follow Aedia.”
“No, the important thing right now is what you think. That is why I’m not trying to persuade Aedia. I’m trying to persuade you”
“Your kidnapping of me is a form of persuasion?”
She was pretty astute in asking her questions, but Artpe let out a big grin as he shook his head.
“If we hadn’t used hard measures, you would have run away. I want to keep you here, since I have to show you some stuff. I apologize for kidnapping you.”
“If apologies were the be-all and end-all, we wouldn’t need laws.”
······it seemed her sense of self wasn’t weak. It seemed she already had a firm sense of self. Artpe looked at her face with suspicion, but her face remained expressionless.
“I feel this is human foolishness. A golem is a golem. It is impossible to persuade one just by simply showing one a different perspective. ……..additionally, a golem can only be a golem. My appearance was chosen for me. I look younger, but I’m not younger than you.”
“······where did you hear such words?”
“I exercise my right to remain silent.”
Artpe smirked when he heard her reply. He turned his gaze away. Maetel was sitting next to him, and she was glaring at Regina with sharp eyes.
“I don’t like you.”
“A woman’s jealousy…it is ugly.”
“······I’ll kill you.”
Artpe clicked his tongue as he watched Regina and the hero bicker.
‘It seems I won’t be able to persuade her any time soon. Still, I accomplished the intended goal of depriving Aedia of its greatest power.’
It wasn’t up for debate. Regina was Aedia’s strongest card. Since Artpe had pocketed their strongest card, Aedia was probably in a state of panic.
From now on………
“I have to upend the table.”
“Ah. Oppa, you have pretty evil expression on your face.”
“You are quite observant.”
Artpe grinned as he replied.
“I was thinking about starting our Quest now.”
“Were all the Quests we’ve been doing up until now misdoings!?”