Chapter 185 - Renewal Plan (6)
"You guys can go back now."
"What? You guys can go home now."
After acquiring everything he wanted from the owners of the merchant companies, he had continued to detain them. Artpe continued to lecture the heads of the merchant companies. His lecture was titled, 'How to effectively empty the wallets of the heroes and knights, because they care more about the name of the technique rather than the price of the item.' As if hit by lightning, Artpe suddenly stopped talking. He ordered the meeting to break up. His actions were quite suspicious.
"What did you do?"
"What do you mean? Stop talking nonsense. From beginning to end, my goal was to receive support from you."
"Support. Yes. Support….."
The heads of the merchant companies felt aggrieved and angered by Artpe's choice of word. However, they couldn't do anything about it. Artpe's level was so high that they couldn't contend in terms of power. They just grinded their teeth as they exited the tent.
"What? Headquarters······ What!?"
"What happened there!?"
They had been inside the barrier up until now. They hadn't been able to communicate with the outside world. As soon as they stepped outside of the barrier, their communication devices started lighting up.
However, they couldn't turn back now and argue with Artpe. Why? They had already given their word to cooperate with him. They had agreed to give up all their magic stones and Artifacts. If they asked why he emptied out their headquarters, Artpe would just mention the fact that they had agreed to give up all their items. It would be like talking to a brick wall. His answer would just piss them off!
"What's wrong? Why are you grinding your teeth? Are your gums hurting?"
"No······ I'm alright······!"
"Ah. Wait a moment."
The three men swayed on their feet as they left the tent. However, Artpe suddenly grabbed one of them.
"The head of the Seros merchant company…. Geota?"
"M...my name is George."
"Yes. I was referring to you. In truth, your name isn't that important. The identity of the being that controls you from behind is important. Isn't that right?"
At Artpe's words, George froze in place. He was trying very hard to look nonchalant, but his body shook involuntarily. He had been a merchant for several dozen of years, so he was armed with a poker face. However, the skill had its limit. It didn't work against Artpe.
The other two heads of the merchant companies didn't care what was being said. They were afraid of being ripped off even further, so they rushed out of the tent. The only ones inside the tent was the emperor, Artpe and George.
The emperor was puzzled by Artpe's words, but he observed George's complexion. It had turned pale. It made one think that Artpe's words weren't a lie.
"Could there really be another owner to one of the three great merchant houses?"
"I just found out about it. You can relax."
Artpe had received reports from his party, and he had pulled down his barrier. They had safely finished their tasks. However, at the end of Etna's report, she had added a new piece of information. Artpe had come up with a story to threaten the merchant houses. However, in the case of one merchant house, his made up story had actually come to pass.
"······the location of our headquarters was found out. The fact that you emptied out that place means…. Ahhhhh."
"Yes. The secret of your company has been revealed. I'm glad you are quick on the uptake, George."
Artpe put up a barrier once again. He grabbed George by the shoulders as he let out a low growl.
"You better tell me everything about your dealings with Jeriet and the other Demons. You shouldn't leave anything out. I'll kill the Demon King, and if your story doesn't match up, I'll come back for you. it'll end up badly for you and the others."
This was the Intimidation technique that he was able to use, because he had been a former Four Heavenly King! George's face turned blue. On the other hand, the emperor now knew that there really was a connection between the Demons and a merchant company of the humans realm. He stood up from his seat in shock.
"I never expected your far fetched story could be true!"
"What did you just say?"
"Let's hurry up and start the interrogation. I want to know how much of our information was handed over to the Demon King's army."
"If it was just the Demon King's army, I wouldn't consider it to be such a serious matter."
At Artpe's words, the emperor tilted his head in puzzlement. George's body started to shake. Artpe just let out a bitter laughter.
After some time passed, Artpe rejoined with his party members. Artpe was satisfied when his party brought back full Dimensional Pouches.
"Will this be enough, Artpe-nim?"
"It is far from enough. In the process of changing the Demon realm back into the human realm, Demonic energy will be converted into Mana. I think that'll somehow make up for the rest of the Mana I need."
"How big of a spell is it….."
He was turning back the human realm into a human realm. He was also turning the Demons back into humans. It would be an amazing spell. However, it was such a massive spell that his party members were having a hard time wrapping their heads around it. Vadinet could only shrug her shoulders.
"Roa, you are a mess"
"Nyaa? The resistance this time was fierce. Nyaah"
Roa looked aggrieved as she replied. She licked her arm. She was completely healed by Vadinet's holy power, but her defensive gears had been destroyed. Moreover, she couldn't completely hide the minor scars.
"Pet me, nyaahh."
She loved to eat the most, but she also loved acting cute like a cat. She stuck close to Artpe as she meowed. Artpe let out a bitter laughter as he extended Mana Strings from his hand. He used his Materialization magic to erase any blemishes. He let out a sigh. It came unbidden.
"Hoo-ooh. Nothing has been settled yet."
"The thing that hasn't been settled is Artpe's state of mind! You shouldn't touch any woman like that except for me!"
"You are the one that I shouldn't touch like that. Roa is a cat. She is safe."
"That is why she is the most dangerous one!"
Artpe went along with the conversations as he joked. He looked over each of them. Fortunately, the only one that had been hurt was Roa.
"Etna, you couldn't gauge the exact level of our enemy?"
"I could tell that he possessed high level. I believe he might have been one of the Four Heavenly King."
He was slowly developing a feeling that he was killing most of the past Demon King's faction. Was he making a false assumption? What's worse, the damned sunbae hadn't been able to kill the previous Demon King and the previous Four Heavenly King. They had been sealed instead! As he thought more about it, the previous hero was looking more and more incompetent!
"Alright. Let's head back to the Demon realm."
"In the end, we are going back to the Demon realm again."
"We've accomplished a lot, but I'm getting a weird feeling. I really don't know why."
The party looked to be somewhere between satisfied and dispirited. Artpe had a complicated expression on his face as he grabbed George by the scruff of his neck. He spoke towards the emperor of Zard.
"Soon, the tide of the battle will change. You should be prepared to chase the Demons to the Demon realm."
"You think the Demons will retreat on their own?"
"No. You'll be able to chase them out."
At Artpe words, the emperor's two eyes were full of question. From the start, the emperor had no idea what Artpe was talking about. However, Artpe didn't bother explaining himself.
"Let's go. When I see you next, the war will be at an end."
"The war······ It will end. That is music to my ears."
"That is why you shouldn't washout before I washout, emperor ahjussi."
The emperor let out a bitter laughter as he replied.
"For a brief moment, you sounded like a true hero. It would be impossible for me to believe that you were the one to empty out all the nations and the three great merchant companies."
"I collected everything, because I need it. Don't be so petty."
The party got on the Steel Horse. They planned on traveling towards the nearest Warp Gate at full speed. They planned on heading straight towards the Demon Realm. Their final destination was the Demon King's castle(or where it used to be)!
The great magic would start there, and it would cover the entire Demon realm. Then the magic will extend further to swallow the Demons. This would be true if everything went according to Artpe's plan.
He really had made all the preparations he could make. Currently, Artpe was asking himself as to whether more could have been done. Could there be something that he was missing? What if some other hidden Demon King made an appearance? Were there any more secret Dungeons he could visit?
He had always traveled down the appointed path.(Although, there were many unexpected and odd turns in the between.) The thing that was killing him was the fact that he had to lure in and kill an unknown enemy. He didn't even know the level of this enemy. If it was the current Demon King, there was around an 80% chance that his party would win out against him. However, this was the previous Demon King, who was stronger than the current Demon King! What nonsense was this!
Maybe, he shouldn't have destroyed the Demon King's castle. Should he have ascertained the location of his enemies before doing that? No, if he did that, the already powerful previous Demon King would have received support from the Demon King's castle. The current outcome was better than the alternative.
'Fuck. I blame the previous hero. It is all his fault.'
He sat in the middle of the Steel Horse, which was taking off. He had a glum look on his face. Maetel suddenly grabbed his hand.
"You shouldn't worry too much, Artpe."
"What? I'm not worrying?"
"Artpe can't know everything. You can't prepare everything beforehand. I think we are as prepared as we are going to be. At the very least, that is true in my opinion."
Artpe wondered how she was able to time her words so perfectly. It was as if she already knew what was in his heart. It was quite odd. However, it felt as if she had taken a load off his mind.
Yes, if his party was with him….
Artpe wasn't suited for the role of a hero, yet he was starting to have cheesy thoughts that was unbecoming of him.
Maetel continued to speak..
"Therefore, you shouldn't worry too much. It doesn't matter if it is the current Demon King or the previous Demon King. I'll destroy them all! I'll do it for our child, who will be born soon!"
"You should revise your words. You make it sound as if you are already pregnant."
"It didn't work!"
"You made my heart skip a beat!"
The war between his party members was about to restart. Artpe adeptly maneuvered through the situation as he mobilized the Steel Horse.
Artpe, Maetel, Sienna, Regina, Vadinet, Elrick and Etna were in their own thoughts as they watched the ground fall away. If they wanted to parse through all the thoughts in their mind, they would be up all night. Even then it wouldn't be enough time. The Steel Horse silently charged forward.
When they reached the first warp gate, familiar figures were waiting for them.
"You guys are late. Did the emperor cling onto you? Did he delay your travels?"
It wasn't just Silpennon. His guardian knight Leseti, black magician Deyus, holy priestess Aria, and of course, Dungeon merchant Mycenae was waiting there with Silpennon.
"Why are you guys here?"
"This really feels like it'll be the final fight. At the very least, we should decorate the place as if it's the final stage."
"The fact that you are speaking such words makes me think the final page of this story is approaching us. It does make me feel nervous….."
"What did you mean by that?"
When a hero's story comes to an end, every notable character usually mobilized. Artpe wondered if he was in a similar situation as that. Artpe suddenly became a bit sad when he realized the final battle was close at hand. Aria put on a bright smile as she tried to cheer him up.
"Since you are going to be facing the Demon King, I should step forward to offer my services as the holy priestess."
"Of course, your presence will be of help…. No. A holy priestess should be present in the human realm. They still need you."
"There aren't many Demons left in the human realm where I can earn my points."
Mycenae had spoken. He had a rough idea as to what these points were. It seemed she planned on bankrupting him. They were insisting on coming along. It would be heartless to turn them down. Artpe let out a bitter laughter as he nodded his head.
"Alright. The whole Demon realm will rush towards me once I start the spell….."
Silpennon's party was the strongest force in the human realm. Their absence would immediately bring hardship to the human realm, but their presence would increase the success rate of Artpe's plan.
Ok. It seemed the emperor will have to suffer a little bit more. Artpe had such irresponsible thoughts as he opened the door to the Steel Horse. The Steel Horse had gone through Reinforcements, so there was plenty of space. Even after Silpennon's party entered the Steel horse, there was enough space left.
"Let's go. We'll all go to kill the Demon King."
"You should have said that from the start."
Silpennon grinned as he got on the Steel Horse. He flinched when he came face to face with Etna. Fortunately, both sides tolerated each other's presence. Leseti and Deyus followed in afterwords. They had pretty determined expression on their faces.
"Ah, Deyus. Let's completely erase your Demonic energy before we enter into the Demon realm."
"Don't be a baby. It won't hurt much. Maybe."
Aria and Mycenae was the last to get on the Steel horse. Mycenae's eyes flashed. Somehow, she was brimming over with enthusiasm. It was scary.
"Nyaa. We are going to upend their food bowl. Nyaah-ahh."
"······yes. At least, you are still in your normal mode. I guess that's a blessing."
Artpe's party entered into the Warp Gate, which led to the Demon realm.
The final battle was approaching.