Chapter 108 - Stagnant Water Puddle (1)
There were two oceans and a continent between Aedia and Paladia. It was a massive amount of distance. It would take several months to cross one ocean, then one had to travel on land before traversing a different ocean. However, they didn’t have to take this route.
The temples possessed Warp Gates in various regions spanning the whole continent.
“So this is where they hid them.”
“The location of the Warp Gates possessed by the temples are considered to be top secret. Of course, we are willing to expose their locations to the heroes. When the battle with the Demon King’s army starts in earnest, you’ll have many occasions to use it.”
“On the other hand, if the location of the Warp Gates could be traced, it could really fuck us up.”
“I’m confident that such a thing can’t happen.”
The priest’s confidence was well founded. The performance of the Warp Gate was on par with the Warp Gates possessed by Aedia. When Artpe looked over the Warp Gate, he found out the reason why this was the case.
‘There are traces of sunbae-nim left here too.’
It wasn’t just that. The previous hero had just renovated it. This Warp Gates were old even before the previous hero had put his hands on it.
These Warp Gates had existed throughout the everlasting history, and they had grown their abilities by eating the Records of countless other beings. They weren’t simple Warp Gates. They were so advanced that they could be considered to be holy relics.
“We’ll have to travel seven times through the Warp Gate. Before the Gate activates, please imprint hero-nim’s Mana into it…..”
“Ah. Of course. I’ll do that. Since the two of us always travel together, I’ll be the only one that’ll imprint my Mana on it.”
For some reason, Maetel was happy about Artpe’s gesture. The priest was taken aback, since Artpe wasn’t following established protocols. There was no way the two heroes could be together at all times. However, the priest had no choice. He accepted Artpe’s words.
There were Warp Gates installed all over the continent, and they were all hidden. However, they were all tied together by a cord of Mana.
These Warp Gates needed permission from the temple to be used. There was a holy spell placed on them. It acted as a locking mechanism. However, if an individual was registered to be an ‘owner’ of one gate, one could freely use all of the other gates.
“It is time.”
“It’s like a walk in the park.”
The priest activated the Gate, and Mana poured out of the Gate. The Mana reached out towards the whole party, but at Artpe’s guidance, it was all gathered in his hand. While the priest and the holy knights were shocked by his Mana Control, Artpe quickly finished the registration.
“It really······ It is an ability befitting a hero.”
“Of course, it is. I'm the hero. Let’s go.”
Before Artpe registered himself, the Mana pouring out of the Warp Gate had worked in opposition against Artpe. Now the Mana was like a warm and soft energy that was diffused around him. They immediately entered into the Gate, and soon, they arrived on a remote island located in the middle of the ocean.
Maetel’s eyes turned into dots when she saw the vast stretch of water in front of her. Artpe grinned as he gave her an explanation.
“The priest said we have to go through seven gates. Of course, we have to cross the ocean in the process of doing so.”
“I see. So this island is….”
It wasn’t just an island. There was a powerful barrier anchored to the Warp Gate, and it covered the entirety of the island. It was said the temples were the most powerful force within the human realm instead of Aedia. When one saw the structure of this spell, such an assessment sounded plausible. Artpe scanned the entirety of the island, then he nodded his head.
“As expected. I can see why you guys were able to protect the frontline against the Demon King’s army in multiple wars. This probably allows you to maintain your power over the years.”
“······it seems you have studied a lot after being designated the hero.”
These words weren’t something a 15 year old should be saying. The priest asked in a dumbfounded voice. Artpe nodded his head as if it was nothing.
“When we left Diaz, I knew we would one day become involved with the temples. Of course, I made preparation for that eventuality.”
“We are the absolute allies of the heroes. You don’t have to make such preparations….. Actually, we were disappointed when both of you declined the summons of Diaz. That caused us to run in circles…...”
“Ah. I don’t like outside interference. I understand that you guys are trying take care of us, but you should back off at this point.”
“······understood. I’m glad that you understand that point.”
Artpe rebuffed the priest nosing into his business. However, he couldn’t help but break out into laughter.
The priest wanted blind trust, because they were absolute allies. It had been awhile since he had heard something so dumb.
Even if he could trust their character, that didn’t mean he could trust their competence. A dumb ally was more dangerous than a smart enemy. Artpe had realized this fact when he watched the Demon king!
‘These guys are worse than the Demon king. I’d rather trust Etna than you guys.’
Fine white sand filled the sandy beach. Maetel laughed as she kicked the sand. As he watched Maetel’s back, he confirmed a piece of information with the priest.
“So it is impossible to cross over to the next gate right now?”
“Yes, we need around four days for the Mana to be gathered.”
“If I supply some of my Mana, I can cut that time into two days..”
“······if it is hero-nim, it really might be possible to do as you said.”
Fortunately, not all priests were completely blind. They saw Artpe’s skill when he seized control of the Warp Gate. The priest determined that Artpe wasn’t making any false assertions, so he backed off in an acquiescent manner. Artpe poured his completely full Mana into the Warp Gate.
“Huh. Even if it recognized you as a user, a Mana with completely different nature was able to charge the Warp Gate…..”
“Well, I just have to make the Warp Gate perceive my Mana in the same way as it perceives the ambient Mana in nature.”
“You really have an incredible amount of knowledge in the way of magic…...”
After spitting out the party, the Warp Gate had been emitting a subdued light. A more intense light was being emitted now. Of course, the amount of Mana within the Warp Gate couldn’t transport Artpe’s party, the priests and the holy knights all at once right now. It would be too burdensome.
“We have no choice, but to stay here for two days.”
“That is why we’ve arranged accommodation here. I’ll lead both of you to it.”
“All right. ······ah. Wait a moment.”
Artpe looked at Maetel, who was playing on the beach with her heavy armor on. He smirked as he spoke.
“We’ll go after we play here for a little bit.”
“······it seems both of you have a good relationship with each other. It looks very good.”
“Your expression doesn’t look too good.”
“That is······ The holy priestess is really looking forward to meeting the hero. However, the two of you are very close to each other, so I’m a little bit worried that there would be no room for the holy priestess between the two of you.”
“She’s been looking forward to meeting the hero…. Me or Maetel?”
At Artpe’s mischievous question, the priest had a puzzled expression on his face.
“Of course, she is waiting for Artpe-nim. This is especially true when your exploits in Aedia were spread. Hmm….. The rumor that Artpe-nim’s looks are exceptional has been spread across Paladia.”
“······she’s waiting for me? Not Maetel?”
“That’s right. Of course, Maetel-nim is beautiful, but she…..”
The priest shut his mouth. Artpe was also at a loss for words. An uncomfortable atmosphere developed between the two of them. Artpe was sensitive to such things, so Artpe backed off a little bit.
“I want you to go over there”
“The holy priestess isn’t waiting for her! She’s waiting for you!”
“I understand, so just go over there.”
Artpe chased away all the priests, then he approached Maetel. She was still playing with the sand..
“Artpe, look at this. The sand is white, and it is so fine!”
“It’s been awhile since you acted like a kid.”
Maetel was too occupied by the white sands, so she didn’t completely catch what he had said. Artpe let out a bitter laugh as he spoke.
“Nothing. You should take off your armor and play.”
“I won’t be able to protect Artpe from unexpected situations if I take off my armor.”
“There won’t be any unexpected situation here. You don’t have to worried about that.”
“I'll be alright.”
“······ok. I’ll do as you say.”
She returned after she took off her red armor, which had been covering her upper and lower body. She came back with only light clothing on. Of course, her armor had gone through three Reinforcement, so their weight was negligible. Still, it couldn’t be compared to moving without the armor.
“Look! Look, Artpe! I’m leaving behind footprints! It is like running atop snow!”
“You are amused by all kinds of things.”
Maetel had already seen the ocean in the port city of Frate. However, there were no beaches with sand there, so it had been impossible for her to play there. This was also true of the port city of Belata in Aedia.
She finally was able to enjoy the ocean in this place. It had been a long time since he had seen her enjoy herself like this. She was feeling pure joy. Artpe suddenly realized that he was also having fun.
“It seems even the temples can be helpful like this.”
Artpe mumbled to himself as he turned his head. He could see the priests and holy knights gathered near the accommodation provided on the deserted island. They were secretly watching Artpe and Maetel.
“Wide Area Message spell!?”
He frowned at them. Artpe chased the men into the lodging. He didn’t want them to interfere in such a moment.
[Nyaa nyaa nyaa.]
“You want to play too?”
“Roa, come here!”
When he released Roa, she transformed into her small cat form. She ran across the beach, and she chased down Maetel. The footprints of a girl and the paw prints of a cat were imprinted on the sandy beach, and they were being washed away by the ocean water. This sight automatically put a satisfied smile on his face.
“Instead of farming, it might not be too bad to live near the beach..”
Artpe carefully added a beach house to his retirement plan. Then he took off his robe and shoes. He returned with only his light clothing on.
As a finishing touch, he took out the branch of the World Tree from his Dimensional Pouch. He planted it on the beach. The branch’s wide leaves created a canopy, and it kept the sun off of him. The World Tree hadn’t given him the branch so he could block out the sunlight as an emergency measure. However, he didn’t care about that.
“Shall I continue my work?”
However, Artpe couldn’t work on his magic tome for long. Maetel wasn’t satisfied with playing only with Roa. She ran up to him, and she started urging him to come into the ocean.
“Artpe, the ocean water is cold! It feels good! Let’s play!”
“No, it’s all right. I don’t want to compromise myself to such youthful follies. I’m suited to a dark life…. Ooh-ahhhhhhh!”
Artpe was trying to act dignified, but Maetel used her overwhelming physical ability to reverse the flow of the water. He was upended by the water. Thankfully, he was able to protect the Magic Tome and the Ink in time. However, that was the only thing he could protect. He had taken off all of his defensive gear, so he was soaked to his underwear.
“Really? I’m working right now. You are being annoying…....”
He quickly manifested his magic, and he floated into the air. Maetel’s eyes were still fixed on him. His hair was wet, and his underclothes were sticking close to his body. Maetel’s eyes spun when she saw this.
“Why is your mouth watering?! Our roles are reversed!”
“Artpe, let’s play together…..?”
“Ah, I'm already in a bad mood…. Ooh-heek!”
Artpe sensed that his body was in danger. From that moment on, Artpe and Maetel started playing a game of tag. Something that was more precious than their lives were on the line. As if she found all of this pathetic, Roa cried out.
“Artpe, let’s play together!”
“What do you mean when you say you want to play with me! If you don’t give me an exact explanation, I’ll be put in a difficult spot! Hey! Stop trying to catch me! Roa, help me!”
[Nyaa nyaa nyaa.]
The heroes played tag for five hours. It continued until the sun set on the beach. Artpe performed a monumental feat. He didn’t get caught by Maetel before she became tired and hungry. However, he received punishment from her as a consequence of his actions. She kept rubbing her cheeks against him during the entire dinner time.
They had to cross six more Warp Gates.
At each gate, Artpe didn’t spare his Mana as he recharged the Gates with his Mana. It took them only two weeks to enter into the holy nation of Paladia.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Hey guys. This is the other regular chapter for this week. Enjoy~