[You have been afflicted with the status ‘Confusion’.]
[The ‘Cold Blooded’ trait has been activated for an unspecified reason.]
[The ‘Cold Blooded’ trait has been activated for an unspecified reason.]
Yeon-woo’s heart was pounding like crazy, and his breathing had grown shallow and rapid. He blanked out, unable to register anything.
The diary had said nothing about his brother having a child. The only person that his brother had loved in the tower was Vieira Dune, and after she betrayed him, he never gave his heart to anyone else. However, there had been a person who’d tried to heal his brother’s heart. ‘Ananta.’
Ananta had felt an unrequited love his brother for a long time. As the only Dragon Human in the Tower, she had always been lonely, and she’d been extremely happy to see someone of the same species.
His brother had also been close to her, according to Kalatus’ wishes. However, his feelings for her were strictly platonic, and when Ananta realized that she couldn’t get his brother’s heart, she left. The last time she appeared was when his brother had been staying alone in the clan house, and they’d only talked about how they’d been faring.
However, it did seem as though Ananta had wanted to tell his brother something. But after all the betrayals he’d endured, his brother had been cold to Ananta, and she left without saying anything other than: “I’ll do anything I can to protect her.”
Had she been talking about Sesha then? ‘Now that I think about it, Ananta seemed to be pretty badly injured, and she looked like she was being chased by something. Who could it have been?’
Brahm’s vestige continued to produce images in Yeon-woo’s head: Ananta leaving a newborn baby in Brahm’s arms; Brahm’s question about the child’s mother; Ananta’s shout that the child was born from her heart. When Yeon-woo reached Brahm’s thoughts, he finally understood all of his secrets as they flashed through his mind.
‘It was a mistake that I’d made fooling around with a dragon simply because I was sick of a god’s responsibilities. I felt sorry for the child, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it as mine.’
‘I heard somewhere that the child had grown up well. I pretended that I didn’t know about her, but I still thought it was a relief.’
‘I heard that the child likes another Draconic species. Is it that kid Cha Jeong-woo? What a small world for her to like someone I’ve taught alchemy to.’
‘I heard that the child’s mother died all alone somewhere, and I finally realized that the things that I’d dismissed as foolish emotions actually meant everything to me. I was filled with regret for all the decisions I made and cursed my choices. I wanted to see the child she left behind.’
‘My child brought a newborn baby to me and called me “Father” for the first time. She entrusted the baby to me, the child of Cha Jeong-woo and Vieira Dune.”
‘Vieira Dune had hidden Cha Jeong-woo’s child from everyone, but my daughter found out about it and ran away with the baby. She raised her like her own and called her “Sesha”, meaning “remnant”. Perhaps because she’s what Cha Jeong-woo has left behind.’
‘I heard that my child was fighting the witches somewhere. Cha Jeong-woo was also fighting a war with the other clans. I couldn’t help any of them, not even my own child. I had to protect Sesha.’
Brahm’s vestiges were all dark with regret, and Yeon-woo finally understood. ‘I see. So that’s what happened.’ Brahm hadn’t helped his brother not because of indifference but because he had to protect Sesha.
It was also the same reason Ananta had left his brother without saying a word. She had to protect Sesha from the witches and prevent the Walpurgisnacht from experimenting on her. Ananta had managed to save her, but she couldn’t protect Sesha from everything, and Sesha had been ill. Was Ananta still fighting a war with Walpurgisnacht somewhere in the Tower?
Despite knowing everything, Brahm had to restrain himself from helping, and in order to atone for what he’d done to Jeong-woo and Ananta, he tried his best to heal Sesha. Brahm blamed himself for everything, but there was a clear culprit: ‘Vieira Dune!’ Fire burned in Yeon-woo’s eyes as he was filled with a boiling rage.
「Master, get a grip, you bastard!」 He heard Shanon’s rough voice in his head. Yeon-woo quickly recovered his senses.
「Why don’t you have your head on properly in a time like this? Do you want to die?」
Yeon-woo bit his lower lip. Shanon was right. He needed to control himself. He put aside his anger at Vieira Dune and swallow down his grief for Brahm. Since he finally knew the truth, he had to focus on one thing now. Agares had appeared because he wanted to take the only thing left of his brother in the Tower. He had to stop it. ‘Even if I couldn’t protect Jeong-woo…’
At least, he had to protect Sesha, his niece. ‘I’ll save you.’ His Magic Circuit spun powerfully to grow his Fire Wings. The Demonic Factors that he had just absorbed reacted to the Demonic Studies. He arrived at Brahm and Agares’ location quickly.
『So that’s what you’ve been preparing all this time. Sorry, I can’t grant your wish.』Agares smiled wickedly within the divine iron chains and burst out his strength. Bang! Dozens of black wings spread out, breaking the chains apart easily and flicking away small pieces of the divine iron. Since the barrier of the illusory world had collapsed, the power of the sealing circle had weakened as well.
Brahm vomited blood and fell to his knees. The Book of Mercury was crumbling in his hands. “No…!” He reached out as though he didn’t want to lose Agares. Divine iron snapped out again, only to clank against Agares’ barrier powerlessly.
『What a pain.』 Agares shook his hand and completely destroyed the transmutation circle and the sealing circle. Brahm hugged his stomach and fell to the ground face first. His internal organs were all damaged, and blood continued to pour out of his mouth. The small amount of life force he possessed was flickering out.
Agares spread his hand out, and something began to float in the air from the middle of the empty field. It was a round bubble containing a little girl.
“Brahm! Brahm!” Sesha sobbed as she beat her fists against the bubble’s walls. Galliard quickly ran after her, but he was blown away by an invisible force.
『So this is what that guy left behind. It’s not completely to my liking, but it’s a good trophy.』 Agares made another gesture, and vines of darkness wrapped around the bubble and pulled it towards him. Agares licked his lips with his red tongue and slowly opened his mouth. His vicious-looking fangs gleamed as though he were ready to swallow her up right away.
Sesha bawled helplessly. She wasn’t scared of being eaten by Agares but seeing Brahm call out her name as he vomited blood and Galliard struggle to lift himself up caused her chest to tighten. It made her think of the woman she considered her mother. Sesha had an abnormally good memory, and she still remembered what had happened to her as a baby.
She could recall being trapped in a strange, dark place where unfamiliar faces stabbed her with knives as they muttered incomprehensible words. Sesha had been crying out of fear, but her mom saved her. “Sesha, Sesha. You look like your dad, and so you’re prettiest when you smile. So don’t cry, and smile.”
Her mom’s words were permanently engraved on her heart, and so she always made an effort to smile. At first, it had been hard for her, but after a while, it grew easier and she began to like it. Since Brahm looked happy whenever she smiled, she liked it even more.
But Brahm was injured and she wanted to help him somehow. Her mom had gotten hurt trying to protect her before, too, and now her face seemed to overlap with Brahm’s.
Sesha desperately hoped that someone would help her. She wished she had a father, but since she didn’t have one, she thought of someone else who was a father figure to her. As Agares began swallowing her, Sesha tightly shut her eyes. ‘Cain!’
A stream of red light suddenly appeared, blazing with heat as it cut Agares’ right hand off. Sesha fell to the ground powerlessly but she was suddenly taken up in someone’s arms and hugged tightly against a warm, solid chest. Sesha lifted her head with tears in her eyes.
The face she had been hoping for had appeared. It was a mask that was as scary as a devil’s face but the eyes behind it were warm. “Cain?’
Yeon-woo used Blink several times, and then quietly set her down, his arms still around her. The heat flared up, messing up his hair. He knelt so that he and Sesha were eye to eye, and he slowly took off his mask.
Sesha’s eyes started to tremble as she looked at Yeon-woo’s face. It was a face she had never seen before but there was something familiar about it—it was the same face in her mom’s bedtime stories. “Dad?” she said in a trembling voice.
Without a word, Yeon-woo pulled Sesha to him, promising to himself over and over that he would never lose her.
“Dad? Is it really you?” Sesha grabbed Yeon-woo’s sleeve tightly, her thin hands shaking. Sometimes, she had wondered to herself what her dad had looked like. Her mom always smiled when she spoke about him, saying that he was the most wonderful, kind, and selfless person in the world. And she had said that he laughed a lot. Sesha had always wished he was around to read stories to her, cook her tasty food, and play hide and seek and give her piggyback rides.
When Yeon-woo had first arrived, Sesha had thought her wish for a dad like the one her mom had talked about had been granted. At first, he seemed scary with the strange mask on, but he was a Dragon Human too, and he always played with her. He even made her tasty snacks and talked to her all the time, just like the dad she’d dreamed of. Before she slept, she always clasped her hands together to thank the stars.
But now, it seemed like her wish really had come true and her real dad had shown up. It was the same face her mother had described, although instead of the big smile, he had a faint one and sad eyes. Still, it had to be her dad. Sesha buried her face in Yeon-woo’s chest and sobbed as if to ask him why he’d only appeared now after she and her mom had suffered so much and Brahm and Galliard had had such a hard time. But she was still so grateful that he was there.
Yeon-woo just silently patted Sesha’s back, reassuring her not to worry and that she wouldn’t have to cry again. Then, he quietly blew in his warm magic power to put her to sleep. She was exhausted from the day’s events, and she needed to rest. “Rebecca.”
「Got it.」 Rebecca silently appeared behind Yeon-woo and disappeared with Sesha to take her as far away from here as she could.
Then, Yeon-woo slowly stood to look at Agares. He didn’t bother to put the mask back on. It was pointless now.
“You…?” Brahm panted, barely able to lift himself up. His body was slowly disintegrating from the loss of his holiness and holy power, but he couldn’t take his trembling eyes off Yeon-woo, as though he couldn’t believe what he was looking at.
Yeon-woo silently stretched out his hand in Brahm’s direction and activated the rune magic in his bones. “Heal. Recovery.”
Although it was just an emergency treatment, Brahm quickly recovered, his eyes remaining locked onto Yeon-woo’s face.
“I’ll tell you the details later.”
Brahm just nodded, knowing nothing else could be done. Also, he’d realized that he was only looking at someone with Cha Jeong-woo’s face, and it wasn’t Jeong-woo himself. His skills, attitude, personality, and strength were all different. Galliard, who forced himself up, also came to the same realization after observing Yeon-woo with Fairy Eyes.
Yeon-woo pulled Vigrid out and raised Aegis, glaring at Agares. The demon was looking at Yeon-woo with a small smile, like he was amused. As Yeon-woo’s shadow stretched out, Shanon and Hanryeong also appeared, holding their swords. Boo flew up high in the air, and began to create his undead army. The Guai steadily rose as well.
Yeon-woo’s Dragon’s Territory was already set up, but Agares’ impact on the twenty-third floor was too strong.
「Shit, I’ll be damned. How are we supposed to deal with that thing?」
「A demon is truly something else.」
Shanon and Hanryeong gripped their weapons even more tightly as they looked at the gigantic Agares. Hanryeong hardened his resolve. Even a high ranker couldn’t easily touch gods or demons. An entity like Agares was impossible to even approach, even at Hanryeong’s peak as the Sword God.
Yeon-woo was feeling the same pressure as well. He had confronted the goddess Urd on the sixteenth floor, but Urd, who had felt like a colossal sun then, couldn’t even be compared to Agares right now.
Yeon-woo wanted to kneel from the pressure that was pushing down his shoulders. However, Yeon-woo didn’t plan on bowing his head here.
[Extrasensory Perception – Synchronization]
Yeon-woo wanted to be released from the pressure through imitating, and he thought of the skills that Kindred had displayed in Brahm’s vestige pieces. He also thought of the exuviae of the Monkey King. Then, all of a sudden, strength started to grow from somewhere within him and pushed away the pressure.
[You are being released from the strong pressure of a demon.]
[Your trait, Cold-blooded, has helped you maintain composure.]
[You have developed resistance to mental attacks.]
He met a niece that he didn’t even know he had. This was a trace of Jeong-woo, and he had to protect it in every way he could. As though Yeon-woo’s thoughts were being relayed to them, the Guai that had been shaking from Agares’ pressure regained their reason and moaned, filled with the will to fight as soon as he gave the orders.
At that moment, an emotion flickered in Agares’ eyes. The Guai and undead were technically close to demons, and since they were from the darkness property, they would have a difficult time challenging him. However, they managed to show their hostility so blatantly—was this a measure of Yeon-woo’s mental strength? Or were his artifacts outstanding? Or both?
However, in the end, it didn’t matter. Agares smirked and looked at Yeon-woo, who was the only other person he wanted to see as much as Sesha. 『So, brothers really are bound by blood. How amusing. Seeing you in person is so different from watching you from above. Very different.』
Yeon-woo didn’t say anything. It was more important to understand what Agares was planning.
『Aren’t you going to reply? I don’t like talking to myself.』
Only then did Yeon-woo open his mouth. “What do you want?”
『From what I’ve seen of you, you seem quite clever. Don’t you already know?』
“You want me and Sesha.”
『Right.』 Agares’ severed right hand had already regenerated, and he was stroking his chin with it. He flashed his sharp canines. 『Your brother humiliated me a long time ago. I want to be compensated for it.』 Darkness started to swirl around Agares. 『But it doesn’t look too good when a Grand Demon Duke threatens a small fish like you, so I’ll give you a chance. I’m willing to take the Dragon Human…or you.』
The darkness intruded on Yeon-woo’s territory and warped around his Guai. It was soft, but threatening, like it would swallow them at any second.
『It’s not a bad deal for you. You want power? I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you the same conditions I offered your brother. You’ll shake the Tower itself. Aren’t you tempted?』 A crazy gleam had appeared in Agares’ eyes. He was an obsessive character who had to get what he wanted, even though he quickly grew bored with it afterwards.
However, the darkness around Yeon-woo was seductive, whispering promises of the power he could have. These were the same words that his brother had heard. It really was a crazy obsession, especially considering that it was focused on a dead person.
Yeon-woo knew that if he grabbed Agares’ hand, he could gain the power that he craved.
『If that’s not enough, give up your niece as a sacrifice and I’ll reward you with something even more valuable.』
However, even though Jeong-woo was at the point of death, he still refused Agares’ temptation. The reason was simple: to be bound to a demon meant that you would lose yourself. You would lose all your free will and become someone completely different. His brother couldn’t accept that, and neither could Yeon-woo. “And if I don’t want to?”
Agares’ androgynous face twisted, and a powerful demonic energy shifted around him. The darkness around Yeon-woo bared its teeth, like it would swallow him any moment.
『You don’t know your place!』 Agares had now been rejected by both brothers, and reached out to swallow him. To bind someone by force, he had to touch their soul. It wasn’t something he liked to do, but since the situation had deteriorated so much, he had no other choice.
The darkness wrapped around Yeon-woo and the Guai to trap them, then Agares could absorb Yeon-woo’s soul. Agares could feel the Guai jumping around inside, but it didn’t do much to him, since the darkness was a part of him. It wasn’t a skill that a player could easily fight off.
But for some reason, Agares felt uneasy. He’d been watching Yeon-woo from the ninety-eighth floor for a while, and it wasn’t like him to simply give up and lose like this. Unlike Jeong-woo, Yeon-woo never lost his cool. Even in front of entities that were much stronger than him, he never backed down, and he was someone who always had a trick up his sleeve.
That was how he’d prevailed during the war between Red Dragon and the Cheonghwado and how he’d managed to fuck the goddess Urd over. Wasn’t that also how he got the legacy of the Monkey King? How could such a person accept defeat so easily? It was obvious that a player couldn’t fight a demon, but it was strange that he wouldn't resist.
Suddenly, Agares straightened his back. He’d never felt this way since becoming a Grand Demon Duke—when was the last time? He realized that it was when he’d fought with the now-dead Dragon King, Lord Kalatus. He had almost been erased from the face of this world and he’d never forgotten the experience. Why was he being reminded of that right now?
He realized that a being that didn’t fall short of him was trying to appear in the sky as the transmutation circle began to float up from the ground once more. The darkness around Yeon-woo retreated from an immense force. Boom! The red sky suddenly split, and a bright light shone on Yeon-woo. Under it, Yeon-woo slowly opened his eyes. His Draconic eyes were glowing with a golden light, as though they were the Fiery Golden Eyes. Then, multiple symbols and rune letters from the transmutation circle broke free, climbing up to the sky.
Previously, an iron door had burst from the ground to allow Agares to enter, but this time, an iron door appeared in the sky engraved with images of angels and spirits.Previous Chapter Next Chapter