[You have entered the tenth gate, Hell of Black Darkness.]
The path to the last gate was a dangerous one.
Especially near the ninth gate, the appearance of Minotaurs and Nemean lions almost decimated Yeon-woo’s party.
Shanon and Hanryeong, who had been fighting on the frontlines, had to recover their stamina in the shadows.
「Haaa…… Haaa…… what a ridiculous master.」
「It’s been a while since I fought so crazily like this.」
Shanon and Hanryeong seemed quite exhausted mentally. Theoretically, they could fight forever without any rest as long as ghosts were supplied to them, but because they were once humans, they couldn’t ignore the mental stress from fighting nonstop.
The sustained fight against monsters under the Titans and Giants was that hard.
The gate itself and the monsters. They had to fight against both.
Still, Yeon-woo silently persevered.
Nemesis occasionally asked him to go back. Yeon-woo’s other subordinates didn’t say anything and moved according to his wishes.
It was because they knew how desperate he was from their connection to him.
The desire to look for any clues of his little brother.
The resolve to gain the Black King’s power.
He was so desperate for all of it.
This was the reason why Yeon-woo had pushed himself to the limit all this time.
His subordinates wished to heed their master’s wishes. Even if they failed.
In the end, Nemesis realized what the other subordinates wanted to do and didn’t try to stop him any further.
He also wanted the power and clues as much as Yeon-woo did.
His longing for his previous owner was so great that he appeared in his dreams.
“Please bless us with your spirit and wash away the darkness with light in this place…..”
Creutz planted Zulfikar in the ground and activated a barrier around them with a prayer.
〈Holy Light Barrier〉. It was a spell that didn’t allow the approach of enemies with bad intentions and offered protection from spells. However, the barrier couldn’t be transported, so he had to continue to recite the prayer as they walked.
Still, with the barrier cast, they were able to rest for a little while.
Creutz was doing everything he could while moving with Yeon-woo’s party.
Although he must’ve been curious about many things, as promised, he didn’t ask. Yeon-woo realized his sincerity and respected him as a comrade.
“…..Are they not allowing us inside until the very end?”
Yeon-woo looked at the heavy darkness beyond the Holy Light Barrier.
The tenth gate, Hell of Black Darkness, had players walk through the territory filled with a fog-like darkness to reach the final destination.
Actually, that in itself wasn’t that hard for Yeon-woo.
Even if his sight was blocked by the darkness, after realizing Consciousness from the 20th floor, he was confident he could clear this gate without any problems.
However, the problem was the monsters he could see bustling through the darkness.
The subordinates of the Titans and the Giants. From the Hydras to the Nemean lions, the monsters that kept on bothering Yeon-woo’s party were swarming around. There were tens of them just from a brief headcount.
Each of them was gruesome and violent. They were all tens of meters tall, and attempting to pass through a bunch of them was like walking through death’s door on purpose.
It was a relief that the Tannin Fear and Boo’s Inferno Sight were very useful in controlling the monsters.
If not for both, they would’ve been in critical danger already.
Yeon-woo turned around.
‘Do I have to have these gazes on me here too?’
Yeon-woo was sick of the additional gazes that were on him since he entered the hidden stage.
Up until now, he felt that the gazes were coming from “above.”
But the closer he got to Tartarus, the gazes were coming from “below.” And each of them felt unpleasant and fearsome.
The Titans and Giants. It was definitely their gazes. The information from the quest window was correct.
‘I almost can’t feel the gazes from above like Hermes’s and Athena’s.’
Obviously, the stronger the energy from Tartarus was, the weaker the gazes from the heavenly world would be.
Other than those he was connected directly through Channelings, there were almost no gods or demons who could see Yeon-woo properly.
[Agares laughs at the other gods and demons who are frustrated at being unable to see you.]
[Agares goes to a group of gods and demons who are having a talk about Tartarus and mocks them.]
[The godly society ‘Olympus’ ignores him.]
[The godly society ‘Asgard’ is annoyed at Agares’s visit.]
Agares seemed to be doing his own thing again. Yeon-woo just swiped it away from the message window because it was annoying.
Just when he was spinning his magic circuit to regenerate, Boo slowly lifted his head. Clack. The click of his bones bumping against each other rang out.
“Did you find something?”
「After. Looking into. All the ghosts. Here.」
Yeon-woo had brought all the scattered ghosts from each ghost monster with him. If not, his subordinates would have faded away already.
「It. Appears. The other. Cyclopes. Have gone this. Way.」
Yeon-woo brushed himself off and stood up. Boo had been chasing the traces of the rest of the Cyclopes’ apostles. He had been able to confirm that they had just cleared through all the gates to cross over to Tartarus.
If so, they didn’t have any time to lose.
“Should we move again?”
Creutz read Yeon-woo’s presence and stopped the prayer, sighing heavily. There were deep, dark circles under his eyes.
* * *
The moment they left the Holy Light Barrier, the gazes of the monsters started to crowd over to them.
The other players who had been passing through the gates were already in their stomachs.
Their starving stomachs that couldn’t be satisfied were desperately looking for their next prey.
Yeon-woo had already taken back his subordinates. It was impossible to handle all of those monsters.
He had to move quickly while avoiding the monsters to get to his destination.
His party began to run with all their strength.
Above Yeon-woo’s head, Boo’s Inferno Sight burst open and began to protect them.
* * *
[You have cleared the hidden stage ‘Ten Gates.’]
[You have accomplished an unbelievable feat. The title, ‘One Who Endured Ten Trials,’ has been created.]
[Additional Karma is being rewarded.]
[You have gained 20,000 Karma.]
[You have gained an additional 30,000 Karma.]
[Would you like to challenge the second hidden stage?]
『Goodness, to come here as a player.』
The Cyclops Brontes spoke in a moved voice, looking at the large bronze door in front of him.
He had finally arrived at the entrance of Tartarus, the place he wanted to come to no matter the cost.
Yeon-woo rubbed the bronze door. This door had similar patterns to what he saw in the Olympus Treasury and Poseidon’s temple. It was a great door with all kinds of holy paintings on it.
However, the holy paintings on it were much more detailed than on the others.
He could see the Titans and Giants plunging into a dark abyss, falling from the white clouds after being hit by Zeus’s lightning.
There was a being who didn’t take its eyes off of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades even while falling into the abyss.
The god of time and death and the king of Titans had a more realistic face compared to the other gods’.
He seemed furious, yet also saddened by his sons’ betrayal.
After the two great wars against the Titanomachia and the Gigantomachia, the gods of Olympus locked up the Titans and Giants who fought against them.
Beyond the heavy darkness, beings like Kronos were probably swarming.
It was a prison filled with godly beings that a mortal couldn’t dare approach.
This was also one of the few locations that gods and demons could move freely without their holy territory, so Yeon-woo couldn’t help but feel anxious.
The same went for Creutz.
The tenth gate was a horrible place that was worse than all the other gates combined.
He was even feeling proud of himself for having cleared it.
He supposed it was true that nothing was impossible if he worked hard enough. A bitter smile spread across his face as he suddenly remembered what the Regiment Leader once said.
Yeon-woo examined the bronze door with his Draconic Eyes and turned to look at Brontes.
“But how do I get past this?’
No matter how much he pushed it, the bronze door wouldn’t budge. He thought it would open automatically because he had received the quest from Persephone, but it didn’t budge.
That was understandable since it was a door meant to keep in criminals of Olympus. Of course it wouldn’t open easily. If it did, the Titans and Giants would’ve kicked it down already.
『There’s a side entrance only Lord Hades knows. To be exact, it’s somewhere only him and those allowed by him can move through.』
“Can you tell me where it is?”
Brontes closed his eye and muttered a spell.
Light flashed around them. When Brontes held his hand out, something resembling a dandelion seed floated around. It was a seed with an ashy atmosphere above the brilliant white light.
『Fortunately, it still works.』
“What is it?”
『It’s a spirit of the Underground. Technically, it’s a guide that borrows Lord Hades’s strength to lead the way to his location. He originally gave it to us….. and it’s still possible to summon it. Did he believe that I would come someday?』
Brontes closed his one eye with a touched face. Tears brimmed in his eyes. He began to speak again, opening his eye.
『Let’s not stay here and get moving quickly.』
Yeon-woo and Creutz began to follow the spirit. The bronze door seemed infinitely tall.
In the place filled with darkness, Yeon-woo continued to observe the holy paintings. Each of the holy paintings was different.
Then, the spirit paused. It disappeared, and a small red portal appeared in the bronze door.
Yeon-woo and Creutz looked at each other without saying anything. With a nod, they entered the portal.
When the light settled, Yeon-woo was standing alone under a dark sky above a giant ridge.
[You have entered the second hidden stage, ‘Tartarus.’]
[Warning! This is a prison where Olympus’s criminals, the Titans and Giants, are locked in and under special care by the Bureau. This stage is difficult for players to approach, so a speedy escape is advised.]
[An ominous gaze is reflecting on you.]
[An ominous curse is approaching.]
[The sudden quest (Persephone’s Long-time Wish) has been updated.]
[Please check the quest window.]
Inexplicably, Yeon-woo felt creeped out.
The gazes of the Titans and Giants that had somewhat been blocked by the bronze door were now directly on him.
He could feel a bit of emotion from within the gazes.
Curiosity, surprise, longing, envy. They were all different gazes, but there was a similarity among all of them.
What had they seen to make them feel distrust in Yeon-woo?
‘Could it be?’
Yeon-woo realized that the exact receiver of the gazes wasn’t him but the Despair and Grief of the Black King.
『……How are you here?』
『……Why is his trace here?』
From far away, he could hear a voice. It was faint, like an echo.
Then, Yeon-woo realized that what he was standing on wasn’t a ridge but the head of an enormous Giant god.
Huge eyes that were tens of meters long glared at him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter