Chapter 199 - Demons' Forest (14)

“Urrk! Urrk…” Runt couldn’t understand what had happened. He thought everything was over, and he could finally end the life of the person who’d humiliated. He’d even rushed over anticipating it.  

However, the explosion from the Ceratopsian Dinosaur had swallowed everything up, and even De Roy Lake, which had seemed so deep, had completely evaporated. Everything around the dried-up lake had been destroyed once again.

His subordinates were missing, and he couldn’t even find traces of a single corpse, as though they’d been incinerated. It was the same for the Blood Land.  

And the most terrifying part was that Yeon-woo was standing over him, looking down with an indifferent expression as he stepped on his shoulder. His eyes glowed behind his mask like will-o’-wisps.

Runt did his utmost to get up. He was the successor of the great goddess Freya, and he couldn’t accept being on his back in front of a pitiful human who should be bowing to him and looking at him with respectful eyes—not ones of contempt like Yeon-woo.

Yeon-woo just stepped down on him even more. Crunch. Runt’s body was driven even deeper into the ground. “Aaahh!” Runt shouted at the pain. He’d survived the fire, but he was covered in serious burns. It felt as though he were being shredded.  

Yeon-woo put more weight on his foot, breaking Runt’s shoulder. Runt’s body twisted at a weird angle. “Why did you chase after me? You should’ve laid low and stayed quiet. Why did you seek out your own suffering?”

“I’ll kill you!”

“You guys are too stupid. That arrogance is going to be the end of you someday.”

Runt didn’t even hear what Yeon-woo said. All he could think about was to escape from the pain and get the humiliation over with. His last bit of pride pulled him through. “Hehehe! Fine, kill me! Do it! But don’t think it’ll be the end. Even if I die here, Aether is probably already—”

“I know.” But Yeon-woo cut Runt off. 

Runt’s eyes widened and anxiety flickered within them.

“Didn’t you think about it at all?” Yeon-woo’s lips curved up. “Didn't you ever consider that this might be a trap?”

“What?” Runt screamed, wanting to know more, but Yeon-woo was no longer interested in continuing the conversation. In a bored manner, he swung Vigrid and cut Runt’s head off. It rolled on the ground, an expression of shock still etched on it. As Runt’s blood poured out, it dyed the ground red. Yeon-woo’s shadow stretched out to swallow the corpse and the soul.

Hehehe, ooh, we got a big one today.

I can eat my full this time.

The souls of a High Elf, other Superior species, and even the players of the Blood Land made it such a good harvest that Shanon and Hanryeong were overjoyed. They didn’t even have to work too hard to get them.

The plan to trap the Elohim that Yeon-woo had brought up to Brahm was extremely simple. If Yeon-woo were wandering around on his own, the Elohim would be forced to split up into two groups: one to deal with him, the other to find Brahm. That meant Yeon-woo and Brahm could each deal with a smaller number of players. 

Of course, it was easier said than done. Yeon-woo, Phante, and Edora were also risking being attacked by other groups, and Yeon-woo hadn’t expected that out of all the clans interested in Brahm and Sesha, it would be the Blood Land who would move first.

Still, he’d managed to lead them to their demise, and he hadn’t been too worried about dealing with the Blood Land since the explosion of the demonic energy in the Ceratopsian Dinosaur was powerful enough to completely devastate its surroundings.

Yeon-woo slowly turned around to look at the last survivor: Lao.

“Why…us?” Lao looked at Yeon-woo with an expression of disbelief. He was at his last breath, but he still wanted to know. He’d believed that things were going so well, and he’d even helped Yeon-woo. He didn’t understand why things had ended up this way.

Yeon-woo slowly lifted his mask. “Does this answer your question?”

Lao’s face filled with shock when he saw the face of someone he believed was dead. He suddenly realized something. “Is that…it? Y-you used us...we’ll be enemies with the Elohim now…!”

Lao fell back as Vigrid stabbed through his head. As he breathed his last, his only concern was that the relationship between the Blood Land and the Elohim would end in disaster. He hoped the emperor would be wise enough to see through it.  

Yeon-woo just scoffed at Lao and activated the skill he had prepared. 

[Extrasensory Perception – Synchronization]

He turned into a copy of Lao and began moving around rapidly, leaving false traces. Next, he did the same for Runt and the other players to make it look as though there had been an intense battle between the two clans.

It looked as though the two clans had battled each other and then died from the Ceratopsian Dinosaur’s explosion. The crack of enmity between the two clans would deepen. ‘While I’m at it, I should increase the scale so that it’s more violent.’ Yeon-woo’s eyes in Jeong-woo’s face were sharper than ever.

***

“They’re here.” As he looked in his crystal, Brahm clucked his tongue as he watched Aether and the Elohim pass through the barrier. They had found the section where the purple Devil Flowers were growing, just as he planned. He couldn’t believe that they were doing exactly as he’d anticipated. Were they just so arrogant that they believed they could intrude into his illusory world without any concern? Or where they just stupid? It occurred to him that arrogance and stupidity might not be that different from each other. 

Galliard smirked as he looked at the crystal. “Seems like they’ve boosted their numbers. Is Hemera here too? I thought those two were biting at each other’s heads. I guess twins are still twins, after all.” Galliard nodded in understanding. In a world full of chaos and fighting, you only had your siblings to lean on.

However, Brahm snorted in disbelief. “Love between siblings? Don’t make me laugh. You think those bastards filled with self-love and arrogance have any emotions like that?”

“Then?”

“Those bastards are people who’d kill their own parents to get what they want. Obviously, Hemera approached Aether knowing he had no other options. And if she gets the chance…” A corner of Brahm’s lips rose as he laughed at them. “She’ll probably try to kill Aether when everything’s over.”

Galliard’s eyes widened. “Would she? I don’t…”

“No. You still don’t understand. This is a godly society. People like them do that all the time, and worse. Those two have no intentions of sharing the glory.” Brahm shook his head. He felt like he could see Hemera’s and Aether’s futures already from the wariness they displayed around each other. Also, Hemera seemed to have the upper hand with their subordinates, and she seemed ready to backstab Aether as soon as she could. Aether was also clearly prepared for that inevitability. 

This was just how a godly society functioned. Olympus, Asgard, Deva…they were all the same. They had position, rank, holiness, and legends that secured them a place on the ninety-ninth floor but at their core, this was what they were like.

The Elohim were no different, full of people ready to backstab each other as soon as the occasion arose. He thought that the Devil Army, whose members would die for each other, might be better than the Elohim. 

Galliard shut his mouth as he looked at his friend. He understood his friend’s pain more than anyone. Brahm crossed his arms and continued, “The funny thing is, although they seem messed up, they’ll fight each other only after they get what they need, and so you must take good care of Sesha.”

“Of course.” Galliard nodded and left to hide Sesha in a safe place. After Brahm and Galliard confirmed that there were no traces of Sesha’s presence, they slowly opened the Book of Mercury. Today, Brahm would use those bastards as sacrifices to treat Sesha’s illness. It was the only thing he could do for her mother, Ananta, and his atonement for the person who wasn’t here anymore.

Whoosh! The Book of Mercury glowed, and Brahm’s Consciousness slowly settled down. The illusory world inside the barrier began to rotate, creaking as though it needed to be greased.

***

“Everyone, stay on guard.” At Aether’s orders, the faces of Hemera and the others hardened. They could all feel the air of the forest had suddenly changed, as well. It meant that the magic of the illusory world was activated, and things had officially begun.

Since they’d chosen to enter Brahm’s territory, they’d anticipated this, but actually experiencing it was another matter. The air was heavy enough to squeeze your lungs, and the curse poked at their brains completely drained their magic power. The trees and the black sky confused their sense of direction. It was nothing like the view that Yeon-woo and the siblings had enjoyed.

<Maze in Fog>

Brahm had prepared a large-scale magic circle to deal with intruders. 

“This is so annoying.” Hemera frowned, acting as though she weren’t affected, but her eyes were flashing. She called out will-o’-wisps, but each time she did, they melted in the fog.

Will-o’-wisps didn’t just light up the dark. They were also effective in resisting and blocking attacks, and the fact that they were disappearing so quickly meant one thing: ‘He’s revealing his holiness.’ If the god Brahma’s illusory world was so powerful, everyone had to be careful.

“Havelle? Where did that kid go? Havelle?” One player suddenly stopped and looked around in confusion. 

Aether and Hemera paused to look back. 

“What’s going on?”

“I-it’s… Havelle’s been missing for a while now!”

“What?” Hemera’s eyebrows furrowed as the other players began to shout. 

“Num Pan has also disappeared. He was beside me just now!”

“Same with Ran!”

At the sudden disappearance of some of their team, Hemera ordered them to move in teams of three. However, it didn’t do much good.

“Wh-what’s going on?” A player named Noose suddenly pulled his sword out in fear. Everyone turned to look at him. Noose shouted with a pale face, “Tanhan! Something suddenly snatched him away!”

“Shit. Everyone gather together! Don’t fall apart!”

The fog wasn’t just swallowing up the will-o’-wisps; it was also swallowing players. Sensing danger, they all followed Aether’s orders to gather together, ready for any attacks that might strike. But no matter how much they strengthened their defenses, their anxiety multiplied as their comrades continued to disappear one by one.

Thinking that this wouldn’t do, Hemera looked at her subordinates. She’d been planning on hiding something until they met Brahm, but she felt like she had no choice but to use it now. She was already feeling strength leaving her body like water leaking from a broken pot. Something strange was going on. ‘There’s something in the fog, no, the ground, eating up my holiness!”

Hemera believed that Brahm was absorbing their holiness to make up for his lack or at least doing something similar. In time, he would drain them all of their power.  

At Hemera’s gaze, her subordinates nodded and began to recite a spell. Hemera’s body began to glow. Although it had been a long time since the Protogenoi were kicked out of the godly society, they still possessed a powerful holiness. Because of this, families tried to gather as many Apostles as they could to strengthen their holiness. The Apostles were servants bound to their family, and they were ready to give up their lives for their masters at any moment. 

“Shit.” Aether had lost most of his servants in the previous battle, and he looked at Hemera enviously. He felt shivers down his back. Hemera’s holiness seemed to have gotten stronger. 

Meanwhile, Hemera got everything ready and spread her hand out. Her holiness, Day, was activated and lit up their surroundings. “White Light.”

The fog around them began to fade away as though it were being rubbed out by an eraser, revealing the bright forest. “It work—” Hemera and her subordinates were about to cheer despite their tired faces, but their expression froze as the will-o’-wisps appeared.

Ahead of them were purple higher Demonic species and dozens of Ceratopsian Dinosaurs, as if all of the Demonic species on the twenty-third floor had shown up. They stared at the Elohim, licking their lips.  

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