Chapter 45: History of an Intellectual Artifact
Cold sweats dripped on Jimmy's face as he shrunk back in fear and soon raised both his hands in surrender.
"How did you know?" Edith asked as she moved her finger and turned the Pistol's hammer with a click.
"D-Don't shoot me. I'm also a Mystic." He said in a hurry.
Edith wore a surprised look on her face and then furrowed her brows.
"Why are you here then?" She asked while not removing the Pistol from his forehead.
Meanwhile, Jimmy breathed out a sigh of relief and started to speak.
"I came here to ask if you are interested in joining a certain group mission."
Edith's thin eyebrows arched upward as she heard his words and soon fell into deep thoughts.
'Mission? Why is he inviting me now? To learn more about me?'
Edith retrieved her Pistol and probed.
"What kind of mission is that? Can you tell me more details?"
Seeing that Edith was willing to listen to his words, Jimmy nodded his head with a forced smile and then spoke.
"Two days ago, Underworld Boss of Riverdale issued a mission to explore the Unexplored Forest on September 18th. Boss Night-eye said that only Mystics will be allowed to participate in this mission and asked the seven Rowdy gangs to recruit new Mystics from the outside."
'September 18th... Unexplored Forest... Something is definitely suspicious going on here.'
"I'm not interested." Edith instantly refused to join in an unknown mission. Although Charles came here to monitor Jimmy and to find clues about A-035, he wouldn't act rashly just to gain more information. Moreover, Eve also warned him to be more careful when joining the 'Ruin' related mission, so he didn't accept the mission.
As Jimmy was about to turn around in disappointment, Edith raised her hand and muttered.
Jimmy got startled for a moment and soon stared at her in puzzlement. In the meantime, Edith stared vacantly at the orange sky for a moment and soon sighed.
In reality, she stared at the game interface and noticed a new mission suddenly popped out in front of her face.
[Main Quest: Save the Intellectual Artifact and gain its full ownership.
Quest Description: On October 2nd of the year 6396 of the Second Arcane Era, a big change will happen in the Unexplored Forest and would cause a massive change in the 'Fate' of the Arc Kingdom. Participate in this mission and save Runeth from being devoured by the Chaos Wanderer.
Quest Reward: 8,450 Experience Points.
Mission Deadline: October 2nd.
Quest failure: Unknown
'Intellectual artifact? That's a new term. I also have an option to decline it? Hmm, the Mission Deadline… It's the exact date Eddie Nightwind mentioned in the prophecy. It looks like I won't be able to avoid this 'Fateful encounter' even if I decline it now.' After encountering those strange coincidences, mystical effects, and all, Charles knew that escaping from the 'Fate' was not an option.
'If I didn't grow stronger and break these 'Fate' like shackles, I will forever be played around by the bunch of schemers. These mind tricking and manipulating powers are nothing in front of pure strength. My main-class is the best example of that.'
The corner of Edith's lips curled upward as she stared at the mission icon for a second and soon spoke.
"I will accompany you in this mission."
'This mission is definitely dangerous... But the Quest Reward is quite tempting for me. Moreover, I have more than a month to prepare. Something is telling me that this mission has some connection with the Escort mission. If so, I can ask Team Leader and continue this undercover mission as Edith. If this mission has nothing to do with escort mission, I can just use an excuse and withdraw.' She thought for a moment and then spoke,
"Although this mission looks dangerous, I don't think it will affect my personal mission. Moreover, if I find something good in the Unexplored Forest, I might quit my job and enjoy my life peacefully. I need to go out for a while and prepare something for this mission. Mr. Jimmy, you can come here on the 18th morning and pick me up." After saying those words, Edith turned around and shut the door from inside.
In the meantime, Jimmy shook his head in a gloomy look, turned around, went near his house, and muttered in a creaky old man's voice.
"I didn't expect such an outcome."
He then stared at the red-gem embedded bracelet for a moment and chuckled.
"Jimmy, your time is nearing."
"You will never succeed." A solemn voice echoed from the red bracelet and soon died out.
"Hehe, that's not possible. When I cast the final 'Miracle' on Charles, I will get his heart as a reward. It will be my final success. Heh, after so many years of schemes, I'm almost succeeded in everything and also gained full control over the body of the Holem family's 65th descendant. Specifically, I almost gained control of your body. When your soul withers and enters the cycle of reincarnation, my soul will directly enter your body and will obtain full control over it as per the 'Ancient Agreement'. Along with the 'Heart' of the Nightwind family descendant, I will finally obtain a real body and then rise as a true 'Origin Seeker'."
"What a cursed life I have… Holem's Crown... Can you tell me your true name before my soul withers? What is your true goal? Why are you targeting us?" A weak solemn voice came out once again from the red bracelet.
'Name, is it?' The Holem's Crown in Jimmy's body went silent for three full seconds and soon said in his mind.
'My real name is Runeth, one of the fifty-seven Universal Explorers in the whole Universe. Long ago, I was ambushed by your ancestor and his friends and then sealed in an 'Eternal Prison' for 20,000 years…
Well, the reason for their success is mostly because of my weakened state, though. After my strength got entirely absorbed by the Nullifying Stone, the Holem family members captured my soul in a separate soul stone. They then created an intellectual Artifact with the help of a damned Divine.
That's how I was reborn as a Series-A Artifact. The Holem family then forced me to sign a slave-like agreement and started conquering multiple planes with the help of my 'Miracle' ability.' The Holem's Crown suddenly paused for three full seconds and then continued with a disdainful tone,
'But, they underestimated me. When I signed the slave-like agreement, I also used a trick and added few conditions for my freedom. I then altered those conditions little by little with the Holem family descendants' help and started playing different tricks like forcing them to sacrifice their people's luck.
Finally, I made another gamble-like agreement with the seventeenth head of the Holem family. I forced him to give one of the Holem family members' bodies a reward if I succeeded in helping them escape from their homeworld. Regretfully, when I cast the big 'Miracle,' someone interfered with my 'Fate' and separated me from them.'
'I then traveled in the void for hundreds of years while gathering luck powers to create another big miracle. That miracle is the result of me coming to this Edhen world with the help of the Nightwind family elder, Eddie Nightwind. Well, I also fell for Eddie's trick back then and once again signed a slave-like agreement. No, this incident happened due to my arrogance and overconfidence. After that, I started to look for Holem family members and then waited for Eddie's contract to over. After 25,560 years of a long wait, I'm finally going to get my freedom and return to the Easica World.'
Upon hearing the Holem's Crown's long history, even Jimmy got stunned for a moment.
'You are the Unluckiest among all.' He squeezed out those words and then went silent.
"Hehe, in this Universe, everything has a price, Jimmy. Honestly, you are a good person, a very good one. Even though I'm an enemy, you didn't hold any grudge against me and remained rational. That's why; your life is going to end very soon." The Holem's Crown, aka Runeth, spoke out loud as he opened the wooden door with a click and then walked in.
In the meantime, a dark shadow eye hovered above in the air for the next ten seconds and soon dispersed into smokes.
A second later, Charles opened his eyes inside the old hut and soon turned his face serious. Using the 'Shadow Eye,' he watched Jimmy's earlier actions and heard the unfamiliar old man's voice.
'Holem's Crown seems to have already gained full control over Jimmy's real body and also appears to be planning to take my heart as a reward. That red-gem embedded bracelet... Is it's the Holem's Crown? Did the Holem's Crown change into a bracelet instead of a crown using the imitation-like skill? Moreover, the 'Last Miracle,' is it? I need to find a way and trick it to sign the Contract of Imagination before the 'Last Miracle.' This artifact is indeed a dangerous one.'
Charles inhaled deeply and then stood up from the stone slab. After that, he packed his belongings and walked out of the old hut in Edith's appearance.
Like the last time, he made few turns and soon found a dark alley to remove his disguise. After he removed his disguise, he changed his cloth into a formal one and then cast [Conceal] skill on himself.
After roaming in the streets for an hour, he arrived in front of the Withering Shadows office building and then walked in. Once he walked in, he saw Emilia was seated on the receptionist desk and seemed to be in the middle of writing.
He first went near her, cleared his throat, and spoke politely.
"Good Morning, Team Leader." Although his word sounds like a teenager's one, one could feel that his tone contains not a single emotion hidden in it. It was neither joy nor sorrow.
Raising her head, Emilia stared at Charles for a second and pointed her hand at the opposite ladder-back chair.
"Take a seat."
Nodding, Charles took off his long black coat, placed it on his hand, and sat down.
"I got some information about the Escort mission, Leader." He didn't want to beat around the bush, so he went straight to the point.
Emilia stopped her black quill as she heard his words and soon asked.
"What is it?"
"Jimmy visited me this morning. He said that the Underground Boss Nighteye issued a mission and asked the seven rowdy gangs to recruit Mystics. He said that they are planning to go to the Unexplored Forest on September 18th and invited me to join this mission."
"September 18th?" Emilia went silent for a few seconds and soon asked.
"Did you accept his request?"
"Yes," Charles nodded.
"Smart move. I also felt something was off about this escort mission." She deliberately paused for a moment and then continued with a sigh.
"Look like something big is going to happen in the Unexplored Forest. Charles, you will be our last card so unless something big happens, don't expose your real identity. Continue your disguise as Edith Oliver and stay hidden among the Slitherer's Rowdy gang. Your secret identity lies with me, not even Andrew knew about this."
Charles's smile widened as he heard her words and nodded his head in approval. After exchanging few words about the escort mission with Emilia, Charles walked out of the Withering Shadows building and went to El Street.