Chapter 306 - Tartarus (6)

‘I didn’t expect this.’

Yeon-woo laugh was one of disbelief. 

The hidden stage that rankers came to train themselves not only gave him all these buffs, but it even gave him a title. 

However, in a way, it was obvious.

A place that imitated the Beyond had to amplify the power of death. 

It was a perfect place for Yeon-woo after he gained a strong affinity for the darkness property through the Grief of the Black King. Also, his affinity for fire had almost reached a player’s limits. There was nothing difficult about this. 

Creutz looked at him like he was a monster, but Yeon-woo ignored his gaze. 

He was the person who wanted to follow him until the end. It wasn’t something that Yeon-woo had to care about. 

‘Or should I just get rid of him since he’s annoying?’

Tartarus was beyond the ten gates. Creutz was an outstanding player, but this hidden stage didn’t suit his strengths well. To someone who dealt with holy power, this place of death would be a cruel location for him. 

“What’s wrong?”

Creutz must’ve felt uncomfortable at Yeon-woo’s blatant gaze because he had a bit of a begrudging face. 

It seemed he had read what Yeon-woo was thinking. 

Instead of answering, Yeon-woo pointed behind Creutz. 

“I think that sword is crying.”

Creutz moved his hand behind his back and smiled bitterly, realizing what Yeon-woo was talking about. The holy sword Zulfikar was crying endlessly. It had been like this since they entered the hidden stage. 

“This sword is a source of holy power. A place like this would be difficult for it. I was wondering how to calm it down because it kept on complaining about how painful it is.”

Yeon-woo’s eyes shined keenly. 

“Does it speak too?”

Creutz chuckled. 

“Of course not. It’s not an Ego Sword with an awakened soul. Mm. Well, it’s just…..”

“I guess you can hear the sword’s feelings?”

“Indeed. They call it Sword Call. I didn’t know for sure, but I see you know about it too. Actually, when I talk about this subject, all my subordinates look at me like I’m weird.”

Yeon-woo nodded silently. 

Sword Call. It was what the One-horned tribe taught had to be known by those who were at the master level. 

Hearing the voice of the sword. 

It meant that you could check the condition of the sword and see how much you were synchronized with it. 

No matter how fine the sword was, if your body couldn’t assimilate with it, the sword would break. Moreover, no matter how bad the sword was, if you could use it well, you could easily split a rock. 

It was the pinnacle of swordsmanship that Yeon-woo was just beginning to learn. But it seemed Creutz was already far along on the path. 

‘Amazing.’

It was hard to find players who trained themselves until the master level outside of the One-horned tribe. Yeon-woo realized what kind of peak Creutz had reached with his sword. 

“Ah, the Regiment Leader understood me though.”

“Even the Regiment Leader?”

“Indeed.”

‘Then the Fantasy Regiment Leader must also be a master. Just who is it?’

There was no one that came to mind. 

“Anyways. Are you planning on following me in that condition?”

Creutz smiled bitterly. 

“I know what you’re worried about. You’re concerned I’ll hold you back, no?”

“You know me.”

“Wouldn’t you try to kick someone away without any mercy or kill them depending on the situation if they were just a suspicious nuisance?”

Yeon-woo didn’t reply. But that was enough. Creutz had learned a lot about Yeon-woo observing him for the last few days. 

“You do what you have to do. I don’t know the specifics, but didn’t Goddess Persephone assign you an individual quest? I won’t get in your way. I won’t even ask what it is. I pledge this on the honor of my name and knightage.”

Creutz thumped his heart with his fist and spoke firmly. 

Yeon-woo nodded and turned back. That was good enough for him. Creutz was a true knight. He wouldn’t break his oath. 

‘Even if he does, it won’t matter. He won’t be able to avoid the Draconic Eyes.’

Then, he could just kill him mercilessly. 

Hwaak!

Yeon-woo spread his wings of fire apart. Then, he kicked off from the ground. 

Pat—

[You have entered the first gate, ‘Hell of Knives.’]

* * *

Creutz whistled to summon his wyvern to catch up to Yeon-woo, who was becoming a small dot in the horizon. 

〈Flying Dragon Summoning〉. He was planning on following with his wyvern again. It would be crazy to carry his holy sword and heavy armor and run after Yeon-woo. 

But…..

[You have failed the summoning.]

[You have failed the summoning.]

“…..Hm?”

For some reason, messages kept popping up, saying he failed the summoning.

[Due to an unknown reason, you cannot summon your creature (Flying Dragon) here. Please move to another location.]

“No way…..”

Creutz looked at where Yeon-woo had disappeared to with a crumpled face. Hot water was boiling on the ground. What would happen if he ran above it with his armor? Wouldn’t he be cooked nicely like a hard-boiled egg? 

His face paled. 

* * *

The ten gates were based on the ten hells that King Yeomra and the ten kings ruled over. 

The first ‘Hell of Knives’ was filled to the brim with blades, and it was a gruesome forest. 

The ten kings judged the dead in the Beyond. Each of them ruled over a single hell, and they decided whether they should send souls to the next hell or reincarnate them into another life. 

Of them, the first hell, the Hell of Knives, was a forest of blades. 

‘I need to get through it as quickly as possible.’

Yeon-woo scanned the gate standing on a cliff with his Draconic Eyes. 

Below the cliff, a black abyss’s mouth was wide open. He tried to shoot Consciousness at it, but he couldn’t feel where it ended. If he fell into it, that was the end. 

Each foothold was only a few meters long, and they were narrow. There were sharp knives below them, so if he took a wrong step, his body would be shredded to pieces. 

‘And even if I stand on the footholds, I’ll fall right away if I lose my balance. It’s intense from the beginning.’

He could see multiple players moving along the gates. 

They were all rankers or those of equal strength. He couldn’t see any players who had just passed the 30th floor. 

‘I’ll have to use a shortcut.’

Yeon-woo confirmed where each of the footholds had a shadow and tossed his body without any hesitation. His Draconic Eyes shot open and showed him different routes he could take. 

Papat—

[Wind Path – Gale]

Gales blew around where Yeon-woo saw flaws, and he quickly stepped on each foothold. 

Every time his foot touched a blade, Guais popped up from the shadows and held him up while Wind Path moved Yeon-woo smoothly to the next location. 

He moved weightlessly like a feather. 

Actually, even if the first gate was hard, Galliard would scold him if Yeon-woo couldn’t clear it, and he wouldn’t be able to talk back. 

“Huh? Did something just move past us?”

“The H, Hoarder?”

“Why is he so fast? The f…..!”

The players who had been focusing on the steps in front of them were shocked. They looked at Yeon-woo moving smoothly through the air with envious gazes. 

“So that’s a New Star, huh…..”

Being defeated by a player who hadn’t even fully cleared the 30th floor yet. 

Humiliation filled their faces. 

And behind them…..

“Huk, huk huk…..”

Creutz jumped around with much effort.

* * *

[You have arrived at the second gate, ‘Hell of the Boiling Pot.’]

‘This is much easier than the last one.’

The second gate was extremely comfortable for Yeon-woo. Boiling water flowed along the ground and formed a river. 

It was heavy and damp. 

There were two ways to clear this gate. 

One of them was to create a boat using the few resources along the gate’s entrance, or…..

‘Just swim across.’

Of course, the resources were extremely limited. Not only was there a cap on the number of boats that could be made, in most cases, the boats burned even before they touched the water. 

It was easiest to swim across. 

But it was likely that you would drown from exhaustion halfway across or die from your internal organs being steamed by the heat.

Even if you swam well, you would die from the heat, and even if you were resistant to the heat, you would die because your health would run out before you could reach the other side. 

Most people didn’t have both attributes, so they turned back at the second gate. 

The same went for Yeon-woo. He was only specialized for fire property. He could swim across, but the gate was too long, and he couldn’t fly across with his wings of fire because there were no footholds for him to stop on.

‘Of course, I’m not planning on doing either of them.’

He had another weapon. 

‘Ceto.’

The holy artifact from Lana. He lifted his hand to the necklace around his neck. 

[Ceto’s power (Sea King Stone) is activating.]

[Sea King Stone]

Rank: power

Proficiency: 0.0%

Summary: The power that a goddess of ‘Olympus,’ Ceto, gifted you.

Ceto designated you as her dead apostle Lana’s successor, and she gave you the power she had.

*Sixth Sense

Ceto can be said to be the origin of all sea monsters and sea king monsters. While you are using the stone, all senses and muscles will exceed their limits.

Also, your instinct will become as sensitive as a sea king monster’s, so your intuition will increase dramatically. You can move with dexterity in unexpected situations. 

*Tannin Fear

You exude an intense fear and will bend the instinct of monsters. This debuffs the receiver of the option and drains them of their vitality, and you can control them. 

*Guide of Water

If there is a great body of water around you, you can control a part of it as you wish. 

Ceto’s power that took the place of Azrael’s 3rd Spirit. 

It worked smoothly with his Dragon Body Awakening and had a buff effect. 

The Sixth Sense helped his Extrasensory Perception, and his Dragon Fear’s effectiveness also increased. 

However, the most beneficial option was the Guide of Water. Fighting near water had been a weakness for Yeon-woo, but it now gave him an advantage. 

As soon as Yeon-woo activated his power, he slowly stepped on top of the river water. 

When his feet touched the surface of the water, a gentle wave rippled along it. The heat from the boiling water didn’t affect him. Rather, it was a pleasant feeling.

‘It works.’

Yeon-woo smiled when he stood above the water. 

Just then. 

Rooar—

A large monster suddenly jumped out of the boiling water. It was the size of a sea king monster from the River of Souls, and its violence matched that of a sea king monster. 

The monster widened its mouth to swallow Yeon-woo, but it froze when it looked Yeon-woo in the eye. 

The Fear that flowed from Yeon-woo was twisting around its heart. 

Then, above Yeon-woo’s head, two narrow eyes appeared. Blue Inferno Sight glared at the frozen monster. 

「A. Mere. Magical. Creature. Dares.」

The monster was a predator that easily ripped apart a sea king monster and occasionally swallowed players in one bite, but the aura of Inferno Sight wasn’t one it wanted to approach. 

「Go.」

Phew—

The monster’s head exploded like fireworks. Pieces of flesh came down, and the river was stained red. 

‘I guess I won’t have to make any particular effort.’

Technically, he could easily fly across this gate using flight magic from Boo. 

However, if he used that method, his Karma wouldn’t increase because it wasn’t something he was doing. 

After seeing the corpse of the predator sink under the water, a thought occurred to him. 

‘This is nice too.’

Yeon-woo closed his eyes and spread his Consciousness across the river. 

Hwaaa—

He could see countless monsters swimming under the surface of the river. 

He sent Fear to them. The monsters froze and thrashed, trying to escape the pressure. 

Yeon-woo unexpectedly felt amusement from it. The monsters were still trying to escape. 

Holding them forcefully helped Yeon-woo learn to better use Fear. 

In the past, he had used something similar when fighting Benteke, but he had only been depending on the holy artifact. 

When Boo’s vestige was combined with it, the monsters were easily overpowered. He could feel the life fading from their eyes little by little. 

Yeon-woo pulled them above the water through the senses that were connected to him. 

“Huh? What is this?”

“Why are the sea king monsters suddenly coming in bunches…..?!”

Players who had been trying to cross the river were taken aback. 

Yeon-woo didn’t pay any attention to them and began to dash across the river’s surface. He quickly crossed, using the monsters’ heads as stepping stones. The monster heads were crushed under his feet and turned the river water red. 

Pababat—

People who had been swimming above the water were swept away and tried to stay afloat. There were also people who Yeon-woo stepped on by accident, and they ended up sinking below the surface and drinking the water. 

‘This reminds me of Super Mario.’

Thinking of the arcade game he used to play on Earth, Yeon-woo quickly passed through the second gate too. 

「That personality…….」

Of course, he ignored what Shanon said. 

“Ahhhhhh! Nooooo!”

Creutz let out a shout of despair with an ashen face.

* * *

[You have arrived at the third gate, ‘Hell of Icy Glaciers.’]

[You have arrived at the fourth gate, ‘Hell of Blade Trees.’]

…..

[You have arrived at the sixth gate, ‘Hell of Venomous Serpents.’]

Yeon-woo finally arrived at the gate where the three Cyclops brothers had disappeared after blazing through at full power. 

Everything was covered in damp swamps. 

When he took a step forward, blood gurgled up with a squelch. 

How many people needed to die for such a brutal scene to occur?

The problem was that the blood was acidic and poisonous. It could melt artifacts, and it wasn’t easy to breathe the air. 

‘It won’t be easy even with Residual Poison Blood.’

From this point on, it wasn’t easy for Yeon-woo either. He had a substantial resistance to it thanks to Residual Poison Blood, but he was still affected. 

‘I have to clear this as quickly as possible.’

Yeon-woo bit the detox bead that he bought from Atran and took a quick glance around. 

‘But how can I look for traces of the Cyclopes here?’

The last hint of the three Cyclops brothers was here, in the sixth gate, and it wasn’t known if they had managed to cross over to Tartarus. 

It was possible they didn’t clear the gates and were one of the pieces of flesh on the ground. 

Actually, it would be strange if any traces of them were left here since it had been almost 200 years. 

However—

‘It’s annoying, but there’s still a way.’

Yeon-woo lifted his head to look up. 

“Boo.”

Checheche—

A portal opened, and a Lich with a monstrous aura appeared. Boo raised the black bead in his hand and began to mutter incomprehensible words. 

Kookookoo!

The longer the spell went on, the more the flesh under Yeon-woo’s feet shook. At the same time, white smoke came up, and a horrifying scream rang out. 

An innumerable amount of ghosts began to float around. They couldn’t do anything other than scream after waking up from their deep slumber. 

He had woken up the vestige of all the players who had died in the sixth gate in the last 200 years. 

It was too great of a number, but if each of them was examined, he would be able to learn something. 

「Give. The. Answer.」

Countless waves of vestiges flooded Yeon-woo’s head. 

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