It was dark. Night? No, this place was somewhere underground. Grid used the light elemental.
‘...It is a cave.’
It was a very narrow cave. If he didn’t squeeze his body, his shoulders would be touching the walls. If he didn’t bow, his head would be touching the ceiling. Grid started to move along the winding path with the light elemental and thought it was like a giant ant cave or a rabbit cave.
“It’s safe, nyang. The great Noe has confirmed that there are no traps and monsters,” Noe, who returned after looking around, spoke. Hell’s best demonic beast’s senses became more advanced. The higher the level, the greater his ability to sense danger.
Grid nodded with a rotten expression.
[The third gateway in the north of Pangea has been broken through for the first time.]
[It is thanks to the ruler of the toothless tiger community, the ‘Blue Tiger,’ favoring you.]
[The title ‘Pangea's New Star’ has been enhanced!]
[A new quest granted by the Red Phoenix Bow where the Spirit of a Sacred Creature Resides has occurred.]
[Red Phoenix Guardian]
[★ Hidden Quest ★
From the moment humanity was born, the red phoenix has been the guardian deity protecting the south part of the East Continent.
Due to being sealed by the expelled gods, it has been enslaved and exploited for years. The red phoenix is currently weak, like a lantern on the verge of going out.
Protect the soul of the red phoenix sleeping in the bow so that it can recover.
Quest Clear Condition: Keep the Red Phoenix Bow where the Spirit of a Sacred Creature Resides in your inventory for two years.
Quest Clear Reward: Acquire the 1,000th heart of the red phoenix. Affinity with the red phoenix will rise significantly.
Quest Failure Conditions: Three deaths within two years.
In Case of Quest Failure: The Hwan Kingdom will reclaim the Red Phoenix Bow where the Spirit of a Sacred Creature Resides.]
[★ Another Quest Clear Condition ★
Give 20 Red Phoenix Breaths to the Red Phoenix Bow where the Spirit of a Sacred Creature Resides.
Quest will be instantly cleared and the red phoenix released.
Quest Clear Reward: The red phoenix’s breath is absorbed into your body. Acquire the 999th heart of the red phoenix. Affinity with the red phoenix will rise significantly.]
The Easterners tended to use the names Four Auspicious Beasts or four sacred creatures mixed together. Sacred creature referred to a mystical animal and were different from gods, which meant the people’s faith in the red phoenix, white tiger, black tortoise, and blue dragon wasn’t as deep.
‘That’s why I thought they were of a grade lower than the gods.’
Now he saw that the Four Auspicious Beasts were also gods. They had been defending the East Continent long before the Five Seniors were driven to the east.
‘It is probably because of the Five Seniors and yangban that they aren’t treated as gods.’
Grid frowned as he recalled the blue tiger’s words. In fact, the weapons of the sacred creatures were actually seals locking up the Four Auspicious Beasts? Now he could understand why the yangbans had the breaths of the sacred creatures. The yangbans weren’t helped by the Four Auspicious Beasts. They ruled the Four Auspicious Beasts and took away their power.
‘They are deceiving people that the barrier they set up is to prevent the great demons from appearing... it’s funny that they are the grandmaster’s last hope.’
The more he knew, the worse they became. It made the Western gods, who were faithful to their emotions, seem pure. Of course, the Evil God Yatan and Goddess of Light Rebecca were questionable. It was difficult to judge them. It couldn’t be understood with human beliefs alone.
‘Stop thinking and focus on the situation in front of me.’
Grid brushed off his complex thoughts and confirmed the effect of the upgraded title.
[Pangea's New Star 3rd Stage]
[Stage 1: It is relatively easy to obtain information from the residents of Pangea.
Stage 2: The quest acquisition rate increases in the Pangea region.
Stage 3: All spiritual beings in Pangea will favor you.
* Every time you destroy a monster community formed in the north, the level and effectiveness of the title will increase.]
In the end, the effect was still only applied to Pangea. Even so, the value was not low. Grid’s heart grew heavy as he recalled what happened at the toothless tiger community.
“Tiger... are you okay?”
In fact, in retrospect, it was unlikely the blue tiger would’ve been hostile to him even if he wasn’t Pagma's Descendant. Exchange with the toothless tigers had been set from the moment he broke through the lazy cow community. The blue tiger wouldn’t randomly hurt humans.
‘He is a good guy...’
Grid’s worries deepened. The sight of Garam fighting the blue tiger and toothless tigers was depicted in his mind.
‘...No, it will be fine.’
The blue tiger had enough strength to throw Grid hundreds of meters away with only one arm. As a descendant of one of the Four Auspicious Beasts, the white tiger, he wouldn’t be easily defeated by the yangban. He couldn’t be easily subdued, even if it was Garam...
The disbelieving Grid touched his face. Then Berith's Skin Mask activated and his appearance and body shape started to change. This time, Grid’s choice was the old man Dante.
Grid’s face was hideous as he recalled the smiling Garam. The man who usually referred to Grid as the ‘ignorant masses’ now called him by name. It was like he was laughing at Grid’s disguise.
‘He has a real dog-like personality.’
Would he have become similar to Garam if his former self had gained his present power? Grid shuddered at the creepy thoughts.
‘Garam tracked me down with the conviction I would be here.’
From the beginning, Grid hadn’t expected to deceive Garam’s eyes with the skin mask. No matter how much Grid hid his energy, Garam was a transcendent with the blood of a god flowing through him and could easily see through the skin mask. However, this was a story when meeting face to face.
This time, Garam knew and tracked Grid’s location despite no direct encounter. The hunchback Nobuldam hadn’t recognized Grid at the checkpoint but it was revealed he chased Grid and was captured by Garam.
‘They must’ve found me based on a certain situation...’
There was only one situation that he could think of. It was breaking through the lazy cow community. Maybe there were watch towers spread throughout the communities. However, there was no reason to hesitate in destroying the communities when his location was already found.
‘While the blue tiger buys time, break through the rest of the communities and go to the Cho Kingdom.’
It was necessary to confirm if the king of the Cho Kingdom was really protecting him. It was because the Cho Kingdom was a precious home for Han Seokbong and Sua.
Grid finally escaped the cramped, complex maze-like structure and saw vast agricultural fields. Large rabbits dressed like humans were working hard everywhere.
[You have entered the hard-working rabbit community.]
The cave that he passed through seemed to be a rabbit cave. Grid held the Enlightenment Sword in order to prepare for any rabbit attacks.
“The rat that was able to become a member of the 12 Zodiacs by riding on the cow’s back was originally lacking in qualifications but the black cow was not an easy opponent.”
A voice was ahead from above Grid’s head. Grid, who was already ready, raised his gaze and saw a rabbit sitting on a tree. The rabbit stared at Grid and jumped from the tree. “You have a good edge to your senses. You have remarkable insight to be able to see through the black cow’s trickery. You are qualified to receive the favor of the blue tiger.”
“Rats, cows, tigers, rabbits... The 12 Zodiacs... Ah!” Grid finally noticed—the monster communities to the north of Pangea had a theme of the 12 Zodiacs.
“Originally, us 12 Zodiacs were the servants of the Four Auspicious Beasts. However, our power quickly weakened since the Four Auspicious Beasts were deceived and sealed by the gods. Most of the spiritual beings following us lost their intelligence and became monsters.”
“Only Blue Tiger, the descendant of White Tiger, Earth Dragon, the descendant of Blue Dragon, and I, the beautiful Tosun, who was particularly cherished by the Four Auspicious Beasts, barely managed to maintain our strength and reason, and keep the other 12 Zodiacs under control. Then even that became impossible after Blue Tiger was kidnapped one day.”
“Tosun is my name.”
“I’m a female.”
There seemed to be no complaints or questions about her name. Grid decided to let it go.
Tosun’s explanation continued, “The moment Blue Tiger left his position, most of the tigers were turned into monsters or wild animals, attacking humans and being hunted in reverse. Even the 10 Tigers, who retained their qualifications, lost most of their past memories. Earth Dragon, who unreasonably wanted to stay alone, blamed himself for not guarding the tigers while Blue Tiger was away and hid underground. I barely managed to to protect half my herd.”
Tosun shrugged and turned her gaze to the fields. There were around 50 rabbits in the fields but they didn’t show any hostility when they saw Grid. Some of them smiled and waved. They seemed to be classified as spiritual beings, not monsters.
“In this situation, we avoided the curse of the evil daoist. All of the 12 Zodiacs and their subordinates, apart from Earth Dragon, Blue Tiger, and my rabbit herd, couldn’t avoid the curse and became monsters.”
Tosun’s request was simple. “Human who has received Blue Tiger’s favor. There is nothing but chaos beyond here. Nothing can be obtained from the community of the sleeping Earth Dragon. After the Earth Dragon community, you will only face irrational monsters. So stop here and go back. Please. Please stay away from the eyes of the yangbans until Red Phoenix is restored.”
Grid had felt strange from the moment he received the mythical item for free. He didn’t know that he had taken on a huge role. Honestly, it was normal to be offended but Grid only felt a sense of responsibility and motivation. It was because the opponents were the yangbans.
Grid wasn’t willing to be intertwined with transcendents or gods, but the yangbans were an exception. He didn’t like the existence of the yangbans and he wondered if it was inevitable that he would clash with them as Pagma's Descendant.
‘Let’s think about it.’
Grid revisited the quest information. Keep the Red Phoenix Bow where the Spirit of a Sacred Creature Resides for two years but he couldn’t be killed more than three times in that period. The quest difficulty of the Red Phoenix Guardian quest was absurdly high. He had to operate in a safe place for two years. Even if he hid in a safe place, he would continue to be exposed to the threat posed by the yangbans. It was virtually impossible to have less than three deaths in two years.
However, this wasn’t the only quest clear condition. He could clear it immediately as long as he got 20 Red Phoenix Breaths. For the average person, getting 20 Red Phoenix Breaths would seem much harder and impossible than not dying three times for two years but for Grid, it was the opposite. Grid’s teammates were eager to give him the gold medal rewards for the National Competition. Furthermore, the method of obtaining the Red Phoenix Breath wasn’t only the National Competition.
“If I kill a yangban, will they drop the breath of a sacred creature that they hold?”
“D-Don’t tell me, you...! You are going to fight the gods by yourself!”
Tosun was shocked. He might’ve been chosen by Blue Tiger but a human thinking about fighting against the yangbans? It was absolutely absurd.
Grid’s eyes didn’t waver. “My plan hasn’t changed. I will break through all the remaining communities, develop my strength, and hunt the yangbans.”
“S-Sophistry! Vain and full of pride!”
The rabbit cave that Grid passed through exploded and a stalker appeared. It was a man wearing the same blue robe as Garam. Tosun’s face stiffened. “Yangban...!”
The yangban, Hangyeol, laughed. “I followed Garam and found something funny. Ignorant human, what indignity did you bring to Garam? What did you do to make Garam so upset when he sees you? Tell me more.”
“Run away! We’ll buy time for you!”
Tosun and the rabbits came in front of Grid. They were ready for death but Hangyeol didn’t even look at them. He treated them as insignificant.
“Come on, tell me. Tell me how stupid Garam was. Based on your words, I will be able to take Garam’s place.”
Only the most talented of the yangban could show their faces to the public and be deified. It was the Five Seniors’ plan to raise gods quickly by focusing faith on a small number of people, but it was very regrettable and unfair for those who weren’t selected.
“Haha! Go ahead!”
By chance, he found Garam leaving the Hwan Kingdom. Hangyeol followed and was thrilled to see this. He smiled as he imagined replacing Garam.
Grid snorted. “Newbie.”
Hangyeol and the rabbits doubted their ears. They had no time to wake up from their consternation. Grid was engulfed in Lightning Speed and had already moved behind Hangyeol.
“T-This technique...?! Kuaaaaak!”
A yangban who hadn’t been deified—this person allowed Grid to advance and was hit. He vomited blood while the rabbits raised their ears.Previous Chapter Next Chapter