Chapter 275 - The Hoarder (15)

Yeon-woo’s expression hardened behind his mask. ‘It’s…Jeong-woo’s necklace.’ Yeon-woo approached the skeleton and examined the necklace of rubies. Although it was damaged, he could still identify it. Jeong-woo had given it to Lana after practicing with his smithing skills.

It had almost completely lost its function as an artifact, but the skeleton still gripped it tightly. ‘What happened?’

Lana was powerful enough that his brother saw her as a teacher. Also, this was the Quartz Palace, which even the Eight Large Clans couldn’t find. He couldn’t believe that she had been murdered here. Unfortunately, a long time had already passed, and he wondered if there would be a vestige left. He needed to find out what happened as soon as possible. Yeon-woo blew black energy into the skeleton.

However, perhaps because the damage from the river was too great, the black energy didn’t enter it. Just as he was wondering what he could do, something occurred to him: ‘What if I force it?’

He activated the Third Spirit to its maximum, knowing that its functions had increased a lot since the Factors from Azrael. He hadn’t ever tested it before, so he wasn’t sure what would happen. Black energy came from death, and so he thought maybe it would be possible to reverse the decay of the skeleton. Fortunately, his hunch was right, and the skeleton finally absorbed the black energy. A pale, human form stood with blue hair and black skin. Despite the weary look on her face, it was Lana from the diary.

Lana, do you know where you are? Yeon-woo spoke to her through Consciousness. However, Lana didn’t move at all, her head bowed and her eyes lifeless.

‘Only her vestige woke up. I suppose I can’t completely revive her consciousness.’ Vestiges were made up of memories, and he would still learn what had happened if she could talk. With no other option, Yeon-woo put his hand on Lana’s vestige. It scattered, pouring all of its memories into his head, including her last, desperate moments.

Thwak!

“Benteke! How could you…!” In the memories, Lana was sobbing. She had once been called the ruler of the River of Souls, and all her subordinates put together wouldn’t fall short of any of the Eight Large Clans. However, in these recollections, she was struggling to revive her forces, selling off all her precious treasures and allying herself with the enemies of the Eight Large Clans.

At first, she had thought it would take about ten years, but things progressed faster than she expected. She had a chance to grow her forces to a size that surpassed what she had before, and once she managed that, she would restart the war. She would make those who destroyed her precious disciple wander around the River of Souls, unable to move to the Beyond. She would also avenge her disciple by destroying the Eight Large Clans.

However, only one thing ruined her plans: the subordinate she cherished the most mutinied. He was a likeable guy and had many followers, and in the process of overthrowing her, they managed to kill many of her guards and attack her subordinates.

She’d watched the barrier crack and the river water pour in, gritting her teeth and shouting at him. She hadn’t been so furious ever since her disciple died.

However, he only walked calmly down the hall littered with corpses with an impassive expression. Even though he’d broken the necks of the comrades he’d just been drinking with, he hadn’t batted an eyelid. He looked cold and unlike the amiable person she’d believed he was.

“My ruler, Lana. My precious fiancé. You’re to blame for all of this.”

“What kind of bullshit is that!”

Benteke was Lana’s right hand and her lover. Although they weren’t friends, he and Jeong-woo had drunk together in the past. Benteke was also Poseidon’s Apostle.

Since Poseidon was one of the most powerful gods and a member of Olympus, there was a great deal of significance attached to his Apostle. Benteke was more famous than Lana on the higher floors, and he had even been a great help to the Blue Rose when they established their power on the twenty-eighth floor.

And yet, he was responsible for the coup, and Lana had been completely taken by surprise that her most trusted advisor would do this. Benteke was a rabble-rouser who drank a lot and always had women around him, but since Lana was also a free spirit, she didn’t care about any of that. In fact, that was the reason why they got along so well.

But how could someone she had trusted so much do this?

“Look at you. Things have reached this point, but you still have no idea what’s going on.” Benteke didn’t have the warm expression he usually showed her. Instead, he was completely expressionless and growled at her like a lion. “Cha Jeong-woo, Cha Jeong-woo, Cha Jeong-woo! You don’t see how tired your subordinates are whenever you say his name. I’m tired. You’re pushing us all into hell.” 

“What…!”

“If you don’t see it, then stay ignorant for the rest of your life. If it’s easier for you to think that way, go ahead.” Benteke continued, narrowing his eyes. “Even if you don’t understand, then at least just accept it. Didn’t you always say that the strongest takes all? Right now, I’m strong and you’re weak. What’s going to happen if I take everything you have?”  

“Benteke!” Lana couldn’t suppress her anger and ran towards Benteke. Although it wasn’t widely known, Lana was the Apostle of the goddess of the sea, Ceto. She was as powerful as Benteke. Boom!

Half of the Quartz King Palace was blown away in an explosion, and a new scene appeared in her memories. Within the ruins of the palace, after all the fighting stopped, Lana sat alone on her throne. The river water had reached to her chin, melting her body away. She had used up all her magic power in the fight with Benteke and didn’t have any strength left. It was horribly painful, but she didn’t care. She had only pulled out the necklace that protected her. Everything was destroyed around her, but she gripped it in her hand. “Jeong-woo, I’m sorry,” she muttered over and over.

Finally, she closed her eyes slowly and the river water rose over her frail body.

* * *

Yeon-woo pulled himself together as he was flicked out of the memories. His emotions had merged with those of the vestige for a moment, and he was confused whether he was Lana or himself. ‘Benteke’s betrayal…does this have something to do with Poseidon’s dislike of me?’ He had believed it was because he had talked about killing and disgracing gods, but it seemed like there was more to it than he had thought. 

There was no way a god that was nearly omniscient wouldn’t know about the relationship between his brother and Lana or the deep grudge that would rise between himself and Benteke. Yeon-woo had only believed the superficial excuses for Poseidon’s enmity but it turned out that they were destined to be enemies.

Poseidon knew that Yeon-woo’s plans for revenge included a few gods and demons, which was why he was trying to get rid of Yeon-woo before it was too late. ‘How ridiculous.’ After seeing what Lana went through, he felt colder instead of more impassioned. Survival of the fittest was the rule of this world. This was just another example.

However, he had been moved by Lana’s affection for Jeong-woo until the end, and he had to avenge them both. The vestige was incomplete, so he didn’t know the entire story, but from the way Benteke spoke, it seemed like he’d had no choice either. ‘But that’s none of my business.’

Whatever the reason, Yeon-woo wasn’t going to let pass. Even if it was only circumstances that forced them, if they were enemies, there was nothing he could do about that.  

[Agares looks at you with a cruel smile.]

[Agares offers you an even greater power, saying you’ll need more power for revenge.]

[Agares looks at you with expectant eyes.]

[Athena looks at you sadly.]

[Hermes is silent.]

[There is no reaction from the godly society <Olympus>.]

[Poseidon looks are you with sharp eyes.]

As though she had completed her duty, Lana’s skeleton crumbled apart, and the necklace fell to the floor. Yeon-woo pulled himself together and picked it up.

[A quest has been created.]

[Sudden Quest / Ceto’s Resentment]
[Description: The ancient goddess of the sea, Ceto, has a deep-seated grudge towards Poseidon and his Apostle for killing her Apostle. However, Ceto has lost a lot of strength and can’t challenge Poseidon on her own. However, now her patience has paid off.
Kill Poseidon’s Apostles to fulfill Ceto’s wish. As you progress on your quest, Ceto will give you Factors and gifts equal to those received by an Apostle.]
[Time Limit: - ]
[Rewards:
1. Ceto’s artifact
2. Ceto’s Factors
4. Ceto’s powers]

Along with the quest window, another message floated up.

[The first reward is being given in advance to assist with the completion of the quest.]

[You have earned Ceto’s holy artifact, ‘Sea Water Charm’.]

Whoosh! The necklace Yeon-woo was holding suddenly flashed. The corroded sections were restored, and it regained its shine—a result of Ceto turning it into her holy artifact.  

Yeon-woo observed the necklace with his Draconic Eyes. 

[Sea Water Charm]
[Category: Necklace]
[Rank: Holy Artifact]
[Description: This is a holy artifact created by the ancient goddess of the sea, Ceto, using the last of her holy power. As Ceto is the ancestor of many monsters, this holy artifact allows you command over sea monsters and sea king monsters. It may also be used to read the memory of the sea to search for clues and information.
However, there is a limit to its holy power. When it runs out, it loses its value as a holy artifact. To make this a completed holy artifact, you must complete the sudden quest (Ceto’s Resentment).] 
[*King of the Sea
You can control the minds of sea monsters and sea king monsters. However, the amount of magic power required and the chances of success depend on the type of monster.]
[*Song of the Sea
There are countless memories floating in the ocean. You can find clues within them. If you are above the sea, it will be easy to find a lost object.] 

‘This holy artifact is what made Lana the ruler of the twenty-eighth floor.’ It was something that even his brother wanted. The control over the sea monsters and sea king monsters meant that no enemy would be able to prevail against you in the River of Souls. Despite its limits, it was a great help to Yeon-woo. 

It was proof of the depth of Ceto’s resentment against Poseidon. Yeon-woo knew that he was on a path of no return with Poseidon, and he figured that he should go on the offensive first. He hung the Sea Water Charm around his neck, and the rubies glowed with a vibrant red light against his black armor. He could feel the holy power in the artifact entering his body.

[The holy power has activated your hidden Divine Factors.]

[Your holy power is being strengthened.]

Yeon-woo lifted his head as the power flowed inside him. He would use it well. However, he found something odd when he looked at the quest information again. ‘Apostles? What does that mean?’ From what Yeon-woo knew, a god or demon could only have one Apostle. 

They might have multiple priests or apprentices, but only one person could represent them, and an Apostle was their manifestation. ‘I guess I’ll see when I have to deal with it.’ He activated the option on the holy artifact to find Benteke. Urrrng!

Yeon-woo felt his vision floating up. He could see the entirety of the ashy River of Souls as though he were a god looking down. As he looked at the activities on the river, something stood out to him: around 100 large ships with a trident symbol on their masts—Poseidon’s symbol. It was Triton, the clan that Benteke led.

He could see his ghost ship not too far away from them. ‘Is it possible?’ Yeon-woo’s eyes widened slightly. Benteke was coming. 

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