“Hup!” Benteke instinctively raised Triaina, only to find Vigrid already at his neck. Yeon-woo was right in front of him, sending shivers down his back. When had he gotten so close? Benteke was even more bewildered because he hadn’t felt anything. “As I thought.” A smile grew on his face. “This will be fun!”
Benteke looked at Yeon-woo with bestial eyes. The mask in front of him looked like a demon’s face, but it suited Yeon-woo’s attitude. “You’re like me.” Benteke recognized it as soon as he met Yeon-woo’s eyes.
The guy in front of him was also a beast. Everything about them was the same. The Hoarder was brutal and violent, and even though he looked cold and indifferent on the outside, that didn’t reflect his true nature. There was a beast hidden in him that wanted to rip everything apart. The eyes behind the mask showed it clearly.
“Maybe.” Yeon-woo didn’t deny anything. On the sixteenth floor, Urd had called him a monster, an untamable beast who was more vicious than anyone else. She also said that he wouldn’t accept having anyone ahead of him, and he had to punish those who took his possessions with extreme cruelty. His independence and melancholy were only defenses he built in order to avoid acknowledging the beast inside him. She had said that releasing his inner beast would give him a sense of freedom that he’d never tasted before and he’d be able to take everything he wanted.
However, Yeon-woo rejected her words, not wanting to be manipulated or disappoint Jeong-woo. However, in hindsight, he knew that she had been right. He started this journey out of revenge, but he felt exhilarated whenever he grew stronger. The more his claws sharpened, his fangs grew, his body became tougher, and the clearer his prey grew in his sights, the happier he felt. He’d realized this when he fought Apophis’ exuviae and the Cannibal Monster King.
Before, he would have focused only on killing the hidden boss and taking the karma and hidden pieces, but at those times, he’d found himself disappointed to find that they were weaker than he expected. He wanted to try out his new power, just as a beast would want to challenge those above him.
As the cage slowly opened to let the beast out, Yeon-woo no longer denied its presence. So what if he had a beast inside him? He’d only been afraid of it becoming uncontrollable but with a leash, there was no need to pretend it didn’t exist. Yeon-woo pushed Vigrid even closer. The black Aura flamed up, radiating waves of heat.
“Yeah. It’ll be more fun like this. That necklace around your neck…sure. It’ll be more comfortable to think about that after I get you. Right?” Benteke deflected the heat wave with a blast of icy air. He used Triaina to push Vigrid away, stabbing repeatedly at Yeon-woo’s chest and head with the trident. The River of Souls below him exploded.
Yeon-woo met the attacks head-on, parrying and attacking in turn. The explosion muffled the sound of the weapons clashing.
‘He’s not leaving himself open.’ Yeon-woo continued attacking. Now that he had the ability to control Consciousness, he’d become an expert and his ability to use the Eight Extreme Swords had improved.
He believed that only those who were warriors of the One-horned tribe would be able to stop his attacks, but Benteke blocked them easily. He even managed to push back, which meant that his martial abilities were at least on a par with Yeon-woo’s.
Yeon-woo looked for the focal points as time slowed. He saw two different areas: Benteke’s left Achilles tendon and his right side at his waist.
When Yeon-woo activated his Draconic Eyes, he could see different paths that connected to the Achilles tendon or Benteke’s waist. Yeon-woo stepped on the path that led to the waist, and following the wind’s guidance, he swung Vigrid. With its options added to it, Yeon-woo’s combat power increased.
[Hero – Unyielding]
Vigrid recognized Benteke as an enemy, and the attack was accomplished in an instant. Yeon-woo was sure it would Benteke with serious injuries, but instead—boom! Triaina blocked Vigrid.
A large tsunami smashed against Yeon-woo’s chest. “Ugh!” Yeon-woo couldn’t breathe, as though he’d been pounded with a hammer. Benteke slid below the water, and as he thrust his trident forward, the wind blew around its prongs.
Benteke’s signature skill, which he had even before he became Poseidon’s Apostle, exploded. It was a skill that blew Aura around him and could perform both close- and long-range attacks. Boosted by Poseidon’s power and the River of Souls, the spiky Vortex was powerful enough to pierce a rock. Dozens of Vortexes fell like rain. Yeon-woo stopped them from destroying his Aura with a skill called Sword Block from the One-horned tribe.
The explosion made the air chaotic. From below, Benteke appeared right in front of Yeon-woo, smiling menacingly like a beast that had found its prey. He swung Triaina around him, and the sapphires on the trident glowed. The power rushed towards Yeon-woo, who clenched his teeth, knowing that things would become really dangerous soon.
He flapped his Fire Wings and dragon wings, catching his balance, and slammed his left hand on the ground. Boom! The ground rippled, and Ceto’s holy artifact, the Sea Water Charm, flashed. He used up a great amount of the holy power inside the artifact, and dozens of sea king monsters jumped out to swallow Benteke.
“These annoying things!” Benteke scowled at the large shadows that approached him and pulled the territory of the storm close. A tornado sprouted around him, sweeping away the sea king monsters as though they were bananas in a mixer. The River of Souls turned red.
When the tornado finally calmed, Yeon-woo appeared behind Benteke. Benteke quickly tried to escape, but Vigrid pierced through his chest.
“Ha! Haha!” Benteke frowned, but he wasn’t angry. Instead, he was filled with glee, and he was clearly pumped up with adrenaline. “Yeah. This is it! I needed a fight like this. Didn’t you need it too?”
Yeon-woo momentarily forgot he was wearing a mask and almost touched his face. Was he smiling right now or was he expressionless, as always? He wanted to look in a mirror.
“Your eyes are smiling. I’m curious about the rest of your face.”
Yeon-woo could change that any time, and he didn’t want to waste an opportunity like this. He pushed Vigrid in even more deeply.
“I’ll take your mask off.” Triaina’s jewels began to change color, a navy-blue color spreading through them as they released holy power. Benteke didn’t care about Vigrid. Instead, he pushed himself into the sword so that he could reach out to take Yeon-woo’s mask off. He laughed maniacally.
Boom! Yeon-woo and Benteke both fell towards the river together, ending up at the bottom. They both pushed each other down, their struggles making currents ripple out. Power clashed against power. The River of Souls churned and sea monsters were tossed around, crashing against each other until their bodies tore apart. Blood flowed out.
When the powers of Azrael, Agares, Athena, and a few other gods and demons were released, the water of the River of Souls was pushed away. However, Benteke’s strength only grew as he used up more holy power. The jewels on Triaina began to turn dark blue, and when all had changed color, Triaina released all of its power. Benteke’s level increased exponentially.
<Sea God Descent>
As an Apostle of a greater god like Poseidon, he had an unbelievable amount of strength, and the Channeling allowed him to use an immeasurable amount of power. Benteke focused Poseidon’s Factors that he shared with his subordinates on himself, and the Factors immediately grew even more destructive.
Although Yeon-woo had the power of greater gods and greater demons, there were limits to how much he could Channel since he wasn’t an Apostle. The power protecting Yeon-woo fell apart, and Benteke grabbed Yeon-woo’s mask. Snap! The mask began to crack as he applied more force.
[Athena urges you to run away!]
[Athena gives you a Factor.]
[Azrael’s eyes widen.]
[Azrael frantically offers you an Apostle position again.]
[Hermes looks at you.]
[Poseidon bursts out laughing.]
[All the gods within the godly society <Olympus> are watching you.]
[Ceto silently watches you.]
Messages noisily popped up. The emotions of the gazes grew intense.
‘It’s too loud.’ Although Yeon-woo was in a dangerous situation, he just muttered in annoyance to himself. He pulled out the remaining holy power in the Sea Water Charm and blew it inside Vigrid. Black Aura erupted like a volcano, and a tall column of fire soared up from the sea bottom towards the sky, sweeping Benteke away.
* * *
“Haa…haa…” The Disaster that made the sky look as though it would fall finally settled down. Yeon-woo appeared over the water, panting roughly as he relied on his Wings of Fire. His Magic Armor and mask were mostly ruined. The Sea Water Charm had lost most of its holiness and was now only a simple necklace.
The fight with Benteke had been too difficult. Yeon-woo had fought with all his strength and still couldn’t easily defeat him. However, even though he was exhausted, he felt the frustration he’d felt after dealing with Apophis’ exuviae and the Cannibal Monster King fading away. Also, he could assess his abilities fairly again.
It was true that Benteke was skilled enough to be called the Ruler, but there were plenty of people like him on the higher floors. Yeon-woo had met many rankers and high rankers, but there were players who didn’t care about the lower floors, Benteke among them.
Yeon-woo felt grateful because he felt motivated to become even stronger. He looked ahead with calm eyes as his mask and Magic Armor restored themselves. There was a strange sight in front of him. The steam over the boiling River of Souls was taking on a human form, creating bones, muscle, and flesh until Benteke was right there, smiling at him and holding Triaina, which had turned black.
Yeon-woo frowned. “Monster.”
“Kahalhal! The pot is calling the kettle black. I can regenerate because I have Poseidon’s Factors, but that’s not the case for you.” The water of the River of Souls was Poseidon’s territory, which meant that Benteke enjoyed an outsized advantage and regenerative ability. Still, he looked tired and his aura was diminished. The dark Triaina was evidence of how worn out he was.
“We haven’t decided a victor yet, and I still haven’t learned anything about the necklace you have around your neck or who you are. Shouldn’t we continue?” Poseidon pointed Triaina at Yeon-woo.
Yeon-woo lifted Vigrid as well, but he didn’t have as much strength as he. Used to. The Philosopher’s Stone was overheating as it sent more power to him, but it didn’t chase away his mental exhaustion. Still, Yeon-woo felt a strange emotion: joy.
His exhaustion had awakened his bestial instincts. It was now stepping outside the cage that held it. Perhaps Yeon-woo was smiling because his enemy hadn’t disappeared and could fight again.
“Your holy artifact is useless now. With Poseidon’s curse, your powers have been weakened. That’s no different from my situation, though. I’ve used up all of my holy power, and my body is too messed up to accept Poseidon’s Factors.” Benteke seemed to mirror his feelings. “We can fight each other with the power we actually possess without any outside interference. Won’t that be fun?”
Yeon-woo nodded silently.
Benteke looked flabbergasted. “You’re such a quiet fellow. Well, I suppose it’s better than being a chatterbox.”
Before the two could charge towards each other, Benteke paused. “Eh? What’s this?” Triaina was shaking. Now that its holy power was gone, it was no more than a regular trident, so this behavior was unusual. Benteke frowned.
Then, all of a sudden, Triaina crumbled like a sandcastle swept away by a wave. The particles moved through Benteke’s fingers towards Yeon-woo. The two of them watched with wide eyes.
Suddenly, the Black Bracelet on Yeon-woo’s right wrist vibrated. Like iron powder following a magnet, the particles of Triaina whirled around the Black King’s bracelet before wrapping around Yeon-woo’s left ankle. Clank! Clank! They turned into a black chain that was as dark as the night sky.Previous Chapter Next Chapter