Chapter 305 - Tartarus (5)

“Jeong-woo?”

Yeon-woo lifted his head and glanced around.

“What’s the matter?”

Bodi looked at Yeon-woo with a surprised face. 

Yeon-woo had suddenly stopped in the middle of the path. 

However, Yeon-woo didn’t have the mind to care about what Bodi thought. His eyes were wavering. 

The voice made his heart skip a beat. It didn’t stop. Blood quickly circulated in his body. 

Yeon-woo looked around like he was looking for something. His intense vestige was relayed to the two Death Nobles as well. 

「What are you talking about, Master? Why are you looking for Heaven Wing here?」

「What is the matter?」

He hadn’t expected their responses. 

Under the mask, Yeon-woo’s expression hardened. 

‘You guys…..didn’t hear that?’

「What?」

「……?」

Shanon and Hanryeong seemed confused. They weren’t pretending. 

Their vestiges showed that they didn’t know. 

Yeon-woo lifted his head up. 

Above, Rebecca appeared as air bunched together. She shook her head from side to side. 

Yeon-woo quickly pulled out the watch from his breast pocket. 

The pocket watch that had just been shaking was now calmed down, and the hands were paused at XII.

It all felt like a lie. 

‘Just…..’

* * *

“…..Then I’ll leave it to you. The future of our tribe is in your hands, Paneth.”

“I’ll return as a god.”

“Yes. We feel stronger because you’re with us. Ione must’ve gone peacefully.”

An old hand patted Paneth’s shoulder. Paneth’s eyes shined brighter than before upon receiving the elders’ encouragement. 

A godly message had come. 

In the temple that was now almost useless but still taken care of by a few people, a short message had descended. 

-Go down to the deep darkness. The path for you to return will be there. 

The Protogenoi species were originally gods. They were a strong godly species that were present since the beginning of time. However, as time passed, their powers faded, and they were replaced by the gods of Olympus. 

Losing their powers, they continued to give their children the name and tradition of their species, hoping that someday, they could return to the heavenly world. 

And for the first time in thousands of years, they received a response. The gods of Olympus, who had only asked for the Protogenoi species when looking for apostles, had finally reached out to them. 

It started with Poseidon. Then, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia reached out. It was a message that four higher gods had given them. 

Of course the Protogenoi species would be in uproar. They interpreted the “deep darkness” as Tartarus. 

The tribe had invested all the forces they had to create a team. Elohim would use quite a lot of its manpower for this. 

If they failed, not only would their tribe fall, but their entire clan would crumble, but none of them worried about such things. The Factors of the four higher gods followed them. Most of all, the leader of the team was Paneth. She was the head of two families and was graced with divine blood. She never failed. 

While the team’s departure ceremony was happening, there was firm trust in the eyes of the elders who looked at Paneth. 

‘…..F***. Those old geezers don’t know anything.’

Aether was looking at Paneth with envious eyes. 

In the past, he had dreamed of such a sight too. 

Every time his great warrior father left for war, he was blessed by the elders in the tribe, the Senate kissed his feet, and he received the absolute support of the Consul. 

He used to watch his father leave through the arch, holding his little sister Hemera’s hand tightly. 

To Aether, his father was his world. 

He was the symbol of respect. Someone he wanted to catch up to. If anyone asked Aether what he wanted to be when he grew up, he would say that he wanted to be someone like his father. 

However, his father had crushed his young son’s dreams.

He didn’t know what happened. However, what was known was that his father had suffered a huge loss and betrayed the trust of the tribe and the clan. 

Their family collapsed overnight. Everyone close to them turned their backs, and they were kicked away from the tribe. 

Hemera could dream of a comeback, having thrown away the family before that, but Aether was held responsible for all the sins his father had committed. His dreams of becoming the hero of his tribe were crushed like that. 

With the stigma of a betrayer’s son, he wandered around the Tower without any home. 

Most people who once lived as nobles either became crazy or hardened their resolve after becoming a beggar. Aether was the latter. 

He gripped his starving stomach and ground his teeth as he dug around in trash cans. 

He promised to pay them back for everything they had done and return home in glory despite what his father had done.

However. 

‘Reality is a mess.’

Aether looked down at his regenerated arms and legs. He was able to heal because of the outstanding regenerative abilities of divine blood, but he could never forget the pain of his limbs being torn off as he was pressed down by Paneth. 

What did she, who lived as a noble—no, as royalty—her entire life think as she looked down at him? Did she consider him his father’s son? Or did she just feel disgusted, like she was looking at trash?’

He didn’t know. 

Aether lifted his head to look at Paneth again. The blessing ceremony of the tribe’s elders was finishing up. 

He thought about how it must’ve been if he was in that place, but he couldn’t imagine it because he never had. 

No. 

Looking back, there was a time like that. 

Arthia. 

The place that had given him a hand during the time when he dug around trash cans. 

‘I must be crazy, thinking of them again.’

He had no right to reminisce about them, having sold his comrades to return to his tribe. He was shameless for betraying the new clan that just saved him and then betraying his tribe. 

‘I didn’t want to live as a bat either.’

While Aether was clenching his teeth, Paneth returned with an expressionless face. She brushed her shoulders with her hand as if there was dirty trash on it. It was where the elders had touched her with their old, moldy hands. 

Aether looked at Paneth with a blue face. He knew that she was squeamish, but he didn’t imagine that she considered the elders of her own tribe that way. 

“Is there a problem?”

“N, No.”

Paneth turned around, and Aether stood up straighter and looked away. He couldn’t muster the courage to look into the crazy b****’s eyes. 

“Then let’s be off. Time is of the essence.”

Paneth walked past Aether coldly. Her subordinates quickly moved, and the team began to start moving as well. No one was interested in Aether, the “dog.”

Aether grit his teeth from the embarrassment.

‘Somehow…..’

He gripped the piece of the Ruyi Bang in his pocket. 

That was how the team left for the expedition.

* * *

「……Master.」

「I don’t think it matters anymore.」

Shanon and Hanryeong’s voice rang out in his head. They told him to stop. 

Yeon-woo nodded silently and plopped down on a nearby rock. The Guais he had left to search returned to his shadow weakly. They tried to look for traces of his brother, but no one could find anything. 

Bodi and Creutz looked at Yeon-woo strangely. Because they didn’t know what he was doing, his actions seemed odd. 

However, Yeon-woo ignored their gazes and pulled out the pocket watch again. 

‘I definitely didn’t hear wrong.’

The more time passed, despite Shanon and Hanryeong’s opinions, the more certain Yeon-woo was that the voice was real. 

The hands of the pocket watch were proof of that. 

The needles of the clock trembled faintly, but after hearing his brother’s voice, the shaking intensified. It was a subtle difference, but it was still visible through Draconic Eyes. 

All kinds of emotions swept through his head. 

‘I failed the summoning because he couldn’t be found. But.’

Yeon-woo’s eyes flashed. 

‘What if the skill didn’t fail?’

All the options of the Cast of the Black King were powerful enough to be called “powers.”

powers were powers that bent the laws of nature. 

There was almost little to no chance they would fail. It was because the powers of the gods and demons worked as “miracles” in the lower world. 

The Summon of the Dead that brought souls from the Beyond was also an power. 

Unless something big interfered, it wouldn’t fail. 

So Yeon-woo considered the possibility that the Summon of the Dead hadn’t failed. 

Then it might’ve been that even if his summoning had failed, his brother’s soul was influenced by the power somehow. 

If that was correct, his brother’s desperate voice might’ve been delivered faintly only to him. 

Of course, these were all guesses. They might not have been true. 

However, Yeon-woo judged that his assumptions were likely to be true. 

His insight and observing abilities after swallowing the Summer Queen and the calculating ability of the Demonic Dragon Body told him so. 

More than anything. 

‘I just feel…..’

His senses were telling him. 

It was an unexplainable feeling that only twins could recognize. They had grown up together in their mother’s stomach, and his senses as a twin were telling him that his brother was somewhere. 

‘The answer is to get the Black King’s powers in my hands.’

Yeon-woo slowly stood up, having cleared his mind. 

* * *

[Sudden Quest / Persephone’s Long-time Wish]

Summary: Hundreds of years ago, the god of the Underworld, Hades, realized that something strange was happening in Tartarus, and he received the help of the Hecatonchires to open the bronze door himself. 

However, after the bronze door closed, it never opened again. 

Persephone waited alone for her husband’s return for hundreds of years. But there was only one thing she heard from him. After he entered Tartarus, he called for the three Cyclops brothers. 

Eventually, judging that she couldn’t just wait any more, she decided to take it upon herself to find her husband. 

Because she was taking care of the duties of the Beyond herself and couldn’t enter Tartarus, she chose a representative to go in her stead. 

Become her representative from now on and chase after traces of Hades instead of Persephone. 

Conditions: Those who can approach “Death.” Those acknowledged by a god of Olympus. Those who cleared the 30th floor’s hidden stage and cleared the “Ten Gates.”

Time Limit: None

Rewards:

        1. Persephone’s holy artifact

 

        1. Persephone’s Factor

 

        1. Persephone’s power

Yeon-woo closed the quest window and left Persephone’s temple. 

A new message popped up. 

[You have entered the hidden stage, the ‘Ten Gates.’]

[Summary: You, who have passed through the Beyond’s river and land. This is the court of judgement and punishment that only dead people can enter. Living people shouldn’t come here, so if you took a wrong turn, head back. 

However, if you have come to this place knowingly, you will be met with ten difficult trials. 

The punishment, harsh even to the dead, will be even more horrifying to the living. It’ll be more cruel, gruesome, and painful. Furthermore, if you die here, you will be forever trapped in the gates and repeat the pain over and over again. 

But if you can pass through here, great honor and blessings will follow. You will have the firm will to get through any danger and trials that you are faced with in the future, and you will be respected by the dead.]

An intense heat that felt like it was going to melt his skin off whirled in the air. The heat felt even more extreme because he had just been in the fresh atmosphere that Persephone created. 

Creutz frowned. It was his second time here, so he thought he might have gotten used to it, but he couldn’t. The heat and humidity all felt unpleasant. 

Fitting of a court that judged one’s sins during their life, the sky was black, and red lava was flowing through the ground like a river. At the same time, the damp energy of the dead was chipping away at his vitality. Messages that said he was in extreme conditions kept on popping up. 

It was an extremely unpleasant location to be in. 

Creutz thought that Yeon-woo would be suffering. The Regiment Leader had struggled quite a bit when he first entered the hidden stage too. 

But…..

『Woohoo! This is great! Heeheeheehee!』

『We’ll finally be able to enjoy hot springs. Whew. This feels relaxing.』

Above the sky, Nike was flapping his wings with joy. Nemesis had already slid into the hellfire and grunted like an old man. 

Creutz stood there agape with surprise. 

“How comforting.”

Yeon-woo had a happy smile on his face. 

[The energy of fire warmly embraces you. Your entire stats have temporarily increased by 20.]

[The energy of darkness brings you peace. Your entire stats have temporarily increased by 25.]

[The energy of poison revitalizes you. Your entire stats have temporarily increased by 10.]

……

[You have earned the title ‘King of Fire’.]

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