The two entered the portal side by side. Kang Oh had passed through several portals before, but this was the first time his heart had pounded so hard.
'Despia... I wonder what kind of place it is.'
It was clearly a dangerous place. Song Lee Shen, a geography professor at Peking University, had named Despia one of Arth's most dangerous places.
Plus, it was called the Land that Bordered Hell! That only made him more excited. High risk, high reward! The more dangerous it was, the more profitable it would be.
'Plus, if I'm the first player to enter Despia, then...' He'd be able to monopolize Despia for a while! That'd be a huge advantage.
'Of course, that only applies if I can live through it.'
Not only would it give him a chance to complete Eder's quest, but he'd also be able to complete Valan's third test; find the Black Hammer Dwarves and ask them to make him a demon sword out of the adamantium.
Thus, Kang Oh's heart pounded like crazy. Eder's heart did no such thing. After all, he was occupying an undead body, so his heart would never race. However, he felt so excited that it was almost as if his heart was beating!
'We're finally going to Despia!'
Eder looked back on his life. In the past, he'd had a good life as the greatest healer in the land. However, the Goddess of Death, Deborah, had cursed him as a price for his arrogance, and had ruined his life. Even so, he'd managed to survive.
Then, he'd met Kang Oh. On their travels together, he'd gone through so much abuse and hardship. Ah, what a sad time!
He was headed for Despia, the only place that'd give him a chance to return to the land of the living. Thus, he couldn't help but feel as though his heart were racing!
A short while later...
Kang Oh and Eder passed through the portal!
* * *
[You have reached the Land that Borders Hell, Despia.]
The land was entirely black, as if someone had dropped ink all over it. Gray smoke rose from the cracks in the ground, and the smell of sulfur wafted from someplace else.
'A volcano?' Kang Oh saw a huge volcano. The crater released a ton of smoke and volcanic ash like an active volcano.
Kang Oh raised his head a little higher. The ceiling was completely black, just like the ground.
'The underworld...' Someone had once told him that Despia was the underworld. Was it Tino who'd said that?
"This is Despia?" Eder said, sporting a vacant expression.
"Yeah, this is Despia."
"I only see a giant volcano. I don't see a temple anywhere." Eder's only concern was finding the Goddess of Death's Temple.
"Let's proceed with caution."
There was virtually nothing known about Despia. Thus, they had to slowly gather some information.
Kang Oh and Eder began moving forward. When they stepped onto the cracked, stone earth, the land began to shake.
Several stone monsters suddenly appeared.
'I've never seen these before.'
Kang Oh and Eder anxiously readied themselves for battle. However, the stone monsters began fighting each other, as if they weren't interested in the two.
Bam! Whack! Whack! Whack!
"What are they doing?" Kang Oh asked, looking completely lost.
"I have no idea."
It was difficult to make facial expressions in Eder's current body. Even so, Eder managed to look puzzled.
Soon, the stone monsters' battle had an effect on Kang Oh and Eder too. They haphazardly threw rocks, which also flew at the two of them!
The two gazed at each other. There was a tacit understanding between them.
Kang Oh and Eder simultaneously said.
Then, they ran away from the battlefield far faster than they could speak.
Kang Oh and Eder discovered a pack of monsters that were leisurely walking around. They looked just like rhinos. Of course, they were no ordinary rhinos. There was lava in their mouths, and their bodies were covered in black rock.
'I've never seen these things either.' Kang Oh carefully looked them over. 'A charge from one of them looks like it'd do some real damage. They must spew lava from their mouths too. Defense must be top-notch. They have to be around level 350.'
As expected of Despia! None of the monsters they'd encountered thus far seemed weak.
"You're not going to fight them, are you?" Eder asked.
"No. We should prioritize gathering information over fighting."
"A wise decision."
Kang Oh and Eder didn't bother the group of rhino-looking monsters, choosing to follow them from a distance instead. The rhinos were headed for the volcano after all!
How much time had passed?
Kang Oh and Eder continued to follow them, and eventually made it to the volcano's entrance.
"Over there." Eder pointed at a cave's entrance.
"Does that lead you inside the volcano?"
"Shouldn't we take a look?" Eder believed that Deborah's Temple may exist somewhere within the volcano.
"Mm. We should look around some more first."
There was a high chance that even stronger monsters inhabited the volcano. Going in without a plan was foolhardy.
The situation suddenly took a turn for the worse.
All of a sudden, they heard cries from the air. A black cloud appeared near the crater, and approached the rhinos!
A short while later...
The black cloud was actually a giant flock of eagles. They were the first monsters he'd seen that he actually knew about.
Death Eagles were so powerful that a single one of them could take on 10 wyverns all at once. To think he'd see so many of them here!
'I've only read about them before. It was unknown where they lived, but... It seems like they live in Despia!'
The problem was...
The Death Eagles weren't just attacking the rhinos! They hovered around Kang Oh and Eder too. What's worse, the rhinos spewed their lava at the Death Eagles, transforming the land into a sea of lava.
'This all happened in the blink of an eye.'
This wasn't good.
"Mr. Kang Oh!" Eder said anxiously.
"We have no choice. Run to the cave!"
Now that it'd come to this, they only had one option: entering the cave!
Kang Oh dashed towards the cave. Then, one of the Death Eagles swooped down on him.
Its powerful talons, which could even pierce through steel, tried to snatch his head. However, Kang Oh fell to the floor, causing it to miss completely.
"Follow me!" Kang Oh suddenly stood up and rushed over to the cave. Eder followed him, running on those two thin legs of his.
"Haahp!" Kang Oh swung Ubist. The Death Eagle had made its way around, and was attacking him again!
A sharp, metallic 'clang' rang out. Then, the Death Eagle quickly soared into the air.
"Eder, behind you!" Kang Oh yelled.
A rhino walked backwards, threatening to slam into Eder. Eder threw himself to the side, which kept him from getting trampled. But they weren't out of the woods just yet. They had to get out of here ASAP.
Kang Oh and Eder kept moving forward, avoiding all the rhinos along the way. They looked like refugees escaping a battlefield.
They'd come here with such excitement, but they were weaklings here. Thus, they spent all of their time running!
* * *
Kang Oh managed to make his way through the chaos, and was the first to reach the cave.
"Safe!" Kang Oh looked back.
Eder reached the cave soon after, sporting an expression that screamed 'I survived!'. However, a Death Eagle came out of nowhere and snatched Eder away!
"Uhahk, Mr. Kang Oh!" Eder screamed.
Kang Oh calmly looked him in the eyes. "Wait a bit."
If he summoned Eder right away, then the Death Eagle would come right back. If that's the case, then… it'd be better to hold off on summoning him until the Death Eagle took him high up into the air.
Events played out exactly as Kang Oh had predicted.
The Death Eagle soared into the air with Eder!
"Summon Eder!" Kang Oh yelled.
Eder reappeared in front of him, looking extremely relieved. There were traces of the Death Eagle's claws on either shoulder.
"Eder! We have to enter the cave!" Kang Oh yelled.
It was chaos outside. Plus, they never knew when the Death Eagles would attack them again.
"Huh? Yes, of course!"
Kang Oh's scream brought him out of his stupor. The two quickly made their way into the cave, and took refuge deep inside.
There was no place safe in Despia. They didn't make it very far before they encountered a monster just as brutal as the Death Eagles.
They encountered a Great King Lizard, or a Talamander. The Talamander was completely coated in flame, and was around level 400. It was an incarnation of fire, one that burnt everything to a crisp!
If they wanted to proceed, then they had to kill it.
Kang Oh resolutely raised Demon Sword Ubist, while Eder tightly held his scythe in a dual-handed grip.
'Whoever attacks first wins!' Kang Oh moved first. He kicked off the floor, leapt into the air, and swung downwards with Ubist.
The Talamander breathed out, unleashing fire that instantly engulfed Kang Oh's form.
"Mr. Kang Oh!" Eder said, almost shrieking.
Darkness pierced through the flames and struck the Talamander's face.
Once the flames came at him, he used his trump card. Then, he pushed through the flames and reappeared.
"Die!" Kang Oh swung Ubist at the Talamander, which had briefly lost its composure.
He cleaved through the flames that violently blazed over its body.
This effect allowed him to cut through anything with an immaterial form, whether it be ghosts, spirits, or the Talamander, and inflict a critical strike! However, Abyss Blade's effect had only half worked.
A Talamander's flames replaced its skin, but it still had bones underneath. Because its bones, or its physical form, lay underneath the flames, Abyss Blade hadn't allowed him to cut all the way through.
Ultimately, his blade was repelled by its bones.
The Talamander quickly regained its composure, and counterattacked. It tilted ist head and blew flames at him once more. Bright yellow flames came flying at him. However, Kang Oh wasn't alone; he had Eder by his side.
"Arise!" a baritone, dreary voice resounded throughout the cave, and a thick wall of bone came in between the fire and Kang Oh.
That wasn't all Eder did. He immediately threw two lumps of bone, as well as a bone spear, at the Talamander.
Kang Oh seized the opportunity, and aimed for the Talamander's tail. Ubist cleaved through the air once more.
He cut right through the flames, showing the thick, tough bone underneath.
The Talamander retaliated by swinging its tail, forcing Kang Oh to bend backwards.
The flames singed a few of his front bangs. But that was all. He hadn't taken any real damage.
Kang Oh didn't let up at all. Luckily, Darkness Strike activated. Then, a mighty jet-black wave struck the Talamander's side.
It began wobbling around!
"Focus fire!" Kang Oh swung his sword twice in an X pattern.
Tempest Tiger! Lightning Breath!
Wind and lightning! The two powerful blasts swept through the Talamander. Eder followed that up with his own most powerful moves.
Bones wrapped around the Talamander's body.
The huge explosion echoed throughout the cave.
[You have defeated a Talamander.]
[You have defeated a monster that lives in an extremely dangerous area (Despia).]
[You have received additional experience and proficiency.]
'We won!' Kang Oh clenched his fist. This was his first victory in Despia. It was so very sweet.
Another Talamander appeared in the distance. But this time, there were three of them. The battle, as well as Eder's Bone Bomb, had drawn them over here.
The three Talamanders simultaneously breathed out. Their bright yellow flames filled the cave.
Kang Oh's expression stiffened. This really wasn't good.Previous Chapter Next Chapter