Chapter 131 - Winter Queen (2)

Chapter 131 - Winter Queen (2)


Until the 6th floor, the 3 man group of Sienna, Regina and Vadinet was sufficient in clearing the Dungeon.  Artpe provided Mana when needed to his party members as he worked on the magic tome.  However, monsters over level 300 started appearing on the 7th floor.  This was when they started hunting in earnest as a 5 man party.

At first, Artpe was a bit worried as to how to deploy the party.  This was the first time he had experienced being in a 5 man party.  In the end, he put Sienna and Maetel in the front.  Artpe was in charge of containment and support.  Regina brought up the rear as she used her AoE magic to kill the monsters.  Lastly, Vadinet was in charge of heals and buffs.  The speed at which they cleared the Dungeon became incredibly fast.

Above all else, the prior party arrangement had relied very heavily on Artpe’s Mana.  Since he was able to escape that party structure, he spent less time resting.  He needed less need to recover his Mana, and he was less fatigued.

“It seems we were the problem until now.  Whether it was investigating the ruin or containing the monsters, we left it all to Artpe-nim.   We were in the wrong.  Hoo.  It seems our lack of skill is at fault…..”

“........I worked really hard to protect Artpe until now!”

Maetel said those words, but she looked chastised by Vadinet’s words.  Since she was only good at fighting, she might have overly relied on Artpe in all other aspects.  She might have shifted too much responsibility onto him.  This wasn’t something new.  She had such thoughts before.

“It is fine.  Even if I ordered Maetel to do it, she can’t do it.”

“You are too much, Artpe!”

“You just have to work hard on tasks that you are capable of doing.  Like right now.”

“I don’t know if you are trying to console me or if you are treating me like an idiot…...”

After the 7th floor, they worked diligently for another 10 days before they reached the 9th floor.  They were able to find the staircase leading down to the 10th floor, which was the last floor of the ruin.

“It really….  It really is an enormous staircase.”

“We should check on our rewards before we head down.”

Artpe easily extracted the rewards from te Dungeon.  He did it so well that it made one question as to how he was able to find everything the Dungeon had to offer. However, Artpe’s party members were used to this sight now.

It wasn’t something one could do, because one could sense Mana.  He had an ability that could catch small discrepancies that even a highly trained thief couldn’t catch.  He had the the ability to reveal all secrets!   It didn’t matter if his party had expanded in number.  It didn’t matter that his comrades were able to help him in many ways.  It was still up to Artpe to find the rewards.

“You guys should have this on hand.”

After he cleaned out the 9th floor of its rewards, Artpe turned around to face his party.  He handed them small clear crystals.  He gave several dozen to each of them.

He had started gathering them from the 1st floor of the Dungeon.  It had been scattered in random locations.  The party members had wondered if these functioned similar to magic stones.  However, the crystal held a very minute amount of ice type magical energy.  They couldn’t feel any large power within it.

“What are they?”

“They are consumable Artifacts capable of absorbing a finite amount of cold energy.  The amount of cold energy they can store is limited.  However, we do have a lot of them, so I think it’ll work out somehow.”

For reference, the crystals could be consumed after they were completely charged with cold energy.  They were helpful in casting Ice type magic.  However, there was no point in casting ice type spells in this ruin, since they wouldn’t be effective.  The crystals wouldn’t be used for that purpose.

“Artpe-nim’s present······  I will treasure it as an heirloom.”

“Didn’t I just tell you that they are consumable Artifacts?”

The party immediately descended the staircase towards the 10th floor.  The staircase was wide, and it was seemingly endless.  They busily descended the spiral staircase, and they moved further and further away from the ceiling.  The air around them continued to get colder.  They could feel a strange Mana emanate from the heart of the staircase.

When Artpe felt the flow of this strange Mana, he raised his head as he smirked.  He was just reminded of a memory from his past life.  The rest of his party was a beat late in sensing the Mana.  They tilted their head in puzzlement.

“It feels as if we passed through something.  How strange.”

“It isn’t strange.  The staircase has the role of a watcher.  It classifies the intruders of this ruin.  Also, it is a sign that we are on the right path.

“Watcher······.”

“Yes.  This ruin changes its appearance depending on the person searching out the ruin.  The 10th floor is basically the last chapter.”

‘This route is for the hero’s party.  In my past life, I wasn’t allowed to take this route.’

He nodded his head when he was faced with something quite different from what he had found in his past life.

At the time, Artpe had one goal.  He wanted to take the sculpture to Etna.  He knew the staircase was guiding him towards a different route from his past life, but he didn’t resist.  It was because he knew that something he desired was at the end of all of this.

‘From this point on, it is an unknown territory for me.  I  know who the owner of the ruin is, but…   I can’t help but be nervous.’

How long had they walked down this magic staircase?  

At some point in time, they were greeted by a hallway made out of ice.  It looked as if it was made out of clear glass.

They arrived at the 10th floor of the Winter Queen’s ruin.

“Wow.  How pretty…..”

“Until the 9th floor, it looked as if nature had created those floors.  This place was constructed according to a specific plan.”

The hallway was decorated with ice crystals that shone with a magical light.  In the previous floors, many monsters had harassed the party.  It had been annoying.  They couldn’t see a single ant at the entrance to the 10th floor.

“It is filled with overwhelming energy, Artpe-nim.  Are you sure we're allowed to enter this place?”

“That is why it is welcoming us like this.”

“This is a welcome······?”

The reason why there weren’t any monsters on the 10th floor wasn’t hard to discern.  There was an overwhelming presence at the end of the hallway, and it was letting out an energy that challenged Artpe’s party.  How could a monster dare to appear in front of such a presence?!

“Is it the energy of the Ice Dragon?”

“No.  The Ice Dragon is an existence that is closer to being a concept than a real being.  Once we entered the ruin, there is no way we would encounter it.  Instead…..”

The Ice Dragon had been protecting something.  They might come up against the true substance of what it was protecting.

In his past life, he had believed that this ruin held a vestige left behind by the Winter Queen.  From the dream he had(It was a completely different story as to whether he believed the dream or not.), the appearance of the 10th floor signified that this place didn’t hold merely a vestige or a symbolic representation of the Winter Queen.

“Let’s go.  Our preparations are pretty much done.”

While the party was mesmerized by the beautiful view manifested by the ruin, Artpe had finished making all his preparations.  Artpe ventilated the air around the party.  Maetel had been circling Artpe as she looked around.  She tilted her head as she answered.  She dragged out her words.

“What is that?”

“Tome of Destruction.”

Artpe suddenly had two books hanging off his waist.

One was the magic tome he had been working on.  The other was something picked up by Silpennon, who had cleared all the Dungeons in Diaz.  It was an artifact called the Tome of Destruction.  At a glance, it was hard to tell if it was a spell book or a magic tome.  It was a magic tome.

“Of course, the production of this magic tome had been finished, so its use is very limited.  It has the ability to boost the power of destructive type magic,  It is very good in what it’s meant to do.”

After Artpe was successful in acquiring it from Silpennon, he had used Reinforcement three times.  Its performance was brought up close to its limit.  If needed, he can use the magic stone to put it through additional Reinforcement.

On the other hand, it had a downside of needing to be recharged once all the Mana within the book was consumed.  Despite this downside, the Tome of Destruction was a very good Artifact.

The power infused within the Tome of Destruction can be partitioned and used multiple times.  It was also possible to release all its power all at once!  How great of an item was it!

“If things go sideways, I want to blow up the entire ruin and run away.”

“I wondered why you weren’t saying such words…...  So?  What is that on Artpe’s head?”

The additional magic tome on his waist wasn’t the only difference!  As a male, it was a bit suspect to where such an accessory.  However, the silver hair accessory somehow looked well on him.  He touched the item as he gave an explanation.

“This is the Crown of Wisdom.  According to legend, it has the effect of accelerating the thought process of the wearer.  In truth, it is an Artifact that allows one to circulate one’s Mana faster.  Its extreme effectiveness is mirrored by a severe side effect.  It can be used only for a short amount of time.”

“What about the glasses in your hand?”

“This is the Eyes of Prophecy.  This is for you, Regina.  It is a high rank Artifact that allows one to assess magic by looking at the enemy’s Mana flow.”

“Why doesn’t Artpe use it?”

“I don’t need such an item to know everything.”

It was a very arrogant thing to say, but no one could dispute his words.  Artpe placed the glasses on Regina’s face, then he gave one or two Artifacts to the other members.  

Maetel received the Blood Fragment necklace, and the Twilight spear.  Sienna was given a ring called the Spring of Tears.  Lastly, Vadinet received a staff called ‘Heavenly Punishment’. The item had an extreme tendency towards destruction, so the temple had ordered it sealed.

“······Artpe-nim.  Wasn’t this the item stored with the treasury of the Zero Class?”

“It is something I wanted to give to you, Vadinet.”

“I’ll treasure it!”

The disposition of Maetel and Vadinet differed.  Maetel was like, ‘If Artpe likes it, then I like it.’  In Vadinet’s case, it was like ‘If Artpe likes it, he is absolutely in the right.’  If he was to split hair, Vadinet’s disposition was scarier.  

“Oppa?  This ring….  I get a feeling that I’ll be able to regenerate my arm even if my arm is severed.”

“You are correct in your assessment.”

“Artpe, does this necklace upgrade my Berserk skill?  Am I right?”

“Correct.  If you use it consecutively, you won’t even be able to recognize me.  Be careful in its use.”

“Where did you acquire all these treasures······.”

Most of them were acquired from Diaz.  He didn’t know why, but Diaz had Dungeons with long history.  The probability of finding good items increased in such Dungeons.

Moreover, Artpe knew where the Artifacts appeared in his past life.  It wasn’t difficult to pick and choose which Artifact would be needed for his party members.  In truth, the one to do all the leg work was Silpennnon!  He was the one that excavated all the Artifacts!

“If you check the Artifacts, you’ll understand why I didn’t give them to you earlier.  It is true that these items possess powerful abilities, but their limitations are quite clear.  If used once, these items takes time before they can be used again.  That is why I don’t want you to think of it as part of your equipment.  I want you to think of them as consumable Artifacts.”

“Instead of using it in the ruin, should we save it?  Shouldn’t we use it in the fight against Etna after we leave this place?”

“We came here to acquire power that will allow us to defeat Etna.  That is why we are using these Artifacts here.”

Originally, it was as Maetel had said.  He planned on equipping them with the Reinforced Artifacts after they cleared the ruin.  He was going to it to them right before they left.  However, the ruin was giving off a very alarming vibe.

In such situations, one shouldn’t think ‘Mmm.  Everything will be fine.’  That was how extras died in stories!  When one senses a weird vibe, one should be prepared to face an opponent that was 100 levels higher!  This will allow one to escape safely if things went wrong!

[Are you done making your preparations?]

Artpe was about to say, ‘If you guys are done equipping the items, let’s go.’  However, a voice that was like a single thread of winter wind reached them.  Artpe stiffened when he heard the voice.  The voice was too similar to the voice he heard in his dreams.

“That voice······.”

“My god······.”

The other party members also froze when they heard the voice.  Maybe they sensed the enormous power behind the voice at a subconscious level.   Or maybe it was because they were forced to perceive a being that shouldn’t be perceived.

Artpe was worried his party’s spirit would be broken before the battle even started in earnest, so he spread his Mana.  He pushed back on the encroaching energy.

[You don’t have to be so wary.  I don’t have the hobby of taking the lives of guests.]

“Guests…..”

When he heard those words, he slowly activated the Tome of Destruction.  Maetel unsheathed her bastard sword as she half-opened her eyes.  Sienna grunted as she raised her hammer.  Regina and Vadinet blinked their eyes rapidly, since they didn’t know why their party members were acting this way.  Artpe ignored all of them as he made a declaration to the voice that originated from an unknown location.

“I’m sorry, but we aren’t guests.  We are merely grave robbers, who plan on taking everything.”

[Hoo hoo.  If that is your wish….  For now, I’ll treat you as you wish!]

The voice disappeared.

Afterwards, the hallway shook, and ice spears emerged from all direction!

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NaughtyOtter's Thoughts

Hey guys.  This is the regular chapter for this week.  Enjoy~