Clank, clank. The chains grew into a black band around Yeon-woo’s neck, thick enough to appear like a pillory although it was more like a necklace.
[You have earned the Fury of the Black King.]
Yeon-woo could feel the heavy weight as he checked the information window.
[Fury of the Black King]
[**This is a unique artifact. No other artifact like this exists in the Tower, and it will be bound to its owner. It cannot be transferred or traded between players.
**All information is sealed. You must meet the qualifications or conditions in order to view the information.]
‘Just as I thought.’ It was just like the time he’d received the Grief of the Black King. He hadn’t satisfied the conditions and couldn’t read anything about it. He had managed to unlock the Grief in the span of a day. but there was no guarantee he would be that lucky again this time.
“This is Kynee?” Henova walked over with a pipe in his mouth and tapped lightly on Yeon-woo’s pillory. Clink! Henova’s eyes narrowed at the clear, ringing sound. He was one of the best blacksmiths in the Tower, and he immediately recognized that the pillory wasn’t made of any common metal. He breathed out smoke and turned his head. “Cyclops, this is—”
『It’s an item made to bind an extraordinarily strong criminal. But…why is this so familiar?』
Henova’s shadow stretched out, and the Cyclops Brontes and Steropes appeared, looking at the pillory thoughtfully. For the past few days, they had been following Henova around to fix Dis Pluto’s weapons and share their knowledge with him.
“Right now, it’s called ‘Fury of the Black King’.”
“Fury?” Henova’s eyes widened and he clucked his tongue. “Despair, Grief, and now Fury? Seems the original owner went through a lot. This isn’t your everyday…” Henova trailed off at the stiff expression on Brontes’ and Steropes’ faces.
『I see. That’s why!』
They trembled as though they were frightened but also relieved and joyful to have found the answer to a difficult puzzle. But when they turned back to Yeon-woo, their eyes were solemn. 『If you’re his descendent, then it makes sense that you managed to bind us, even though we were once divine beings. So that’s why…』
『The sins we committed in the past have returned to chain us up like this.』
『It appears so.』
As the two sighed, Yeon-woo asked, “What do you mean?”
『The Cast you’re wearing was made by us—or rather, we assisted in its creation.』
Yeon-woo’s eyes widened. Henova and the other members of the party didn’t know how to react since the conversation had lost them by now, but they were sure of one thing. If these three blacksmiths, who once created weapons for three of the Olympians, had assisted in creating the Cast, it was most definitely more phenomenal than a great artifact.
『How did we fail to recognize it? A lot of time has passed, but…is it because the item has been worn down as well?』 Brontes’ voice seemed somewhat rueful.
“Please tell me about it.”
『Those three Casts were our master’s, ####, Zeus’…』 Brontes frowned. 『####…As expected, I cannot even speak about him.』
Just as Yeon-woo’s name was blurred out by the system, the master Brontes was speaking about was also garbled. Yeon-woo’s eyes flashed. “Is it because of the pledge of the Styx?”
『It’s something like that. It seems like Lord Zeus has placed a lock on the word. I don’t know how much we can say about him. Anyway, the Casts that bound the Black King were created at Zeus’ request. We used all the Divine Iron in Tartarus and Erebus. It was remarkable.』 Brontes eyes narrowed. 『I didn’t expect it to shrink to this size.』
“Can you tell me about the situation back then?”
The pocket watch trembled. The more secrets Yeon-woo uncovered about the Black King, the closer he would get to resurrecting Jeong-woo.
『You know very well that a pledge of the Styx cannot be broken easily.』
Yeon-woo clenched his fist. The Black King’s power was always above the features of the system, but it seemed there were limits to its abilities. Did he have to give up here?
『I can tell you this much. After the Black King was confined to the Void, the ranking in Olympus shifted. You’ll be able to learn more if you look into the reasons behind the Protogenoi’s fall and the banishment of the Titans and Giants.』Suddenly, sparks exploded from Brontes’ body. 『Mm. I see even the system limits even this much.』Brontes’ forehead wrinkled as his body began fading. If he spoke any further about the subject, his soul would most likely be crushed by the pledge of the Styx.
However, the information was shocking enough for Yeon-woo. It meant the Titanomachia and Gigantomachia was related to the Black King. ‘And it’s related to the Protogenoi, too?’ He was flustered that traces of the Black King could be connected to the Elohim and the descendants of the former divine species like Aether and Paneth. ‘Do you know anything about this?’ Yeon-woo rubbed the pocket watch and Jeong-woo’s thoughts were delivered through his fingertips.
『Not really. There wasn’t anything in the special benefit, at least. I’m surprised, too.』
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes. ‘Then is the only option to invade the Elohim?’ He had a reason to climb the floors again.
Just then, Creutz, who had been silently listening to the conversation, spoke up with sparkling eyes. “If you’re planning on leaving Tartarus, when do you think you’ll do it?”
He wanted the Regiment Leader and Yeon-woo to meet as soon as possible. After observing Yeon-woo for so long, he was sure that they needed to have Yeon-woo as an ally. He was a natural leader. It was clear as water that walking with Yeon-woo would someday lead to a war with the Eight Clans, which could put the Fantasy Regiment in danger as well, but Creutz wanted to know where Yeon-woo’s path led. Kahn and Doyle looked at Yeon-woo with curious expressions as well. All that was left was to connect the stairs to Olympus. Since Yeon-woo had already received Kynee, they knew their tasks were done.
“As soon as the Feng Shan ceremony is over.”
Kahn looked at Yeon-woo strangely. “But won’t that be dangerous? If the gods of Olympus descend, Poseidon will stop at nothing to kill you.”
Yeon-woo only snorted at the thought. “Tell them to go ahead if they want to give me more Factors.”
This was Hades’ territory. No matter how reckless they might be, there were limits to what they could do. It was unlikely the other gods would only observe, too. In fact, Yeon-woo was thinking that this was an opportunity for him to finally meet Poseidon. “Also...” he trailed off. A faraway gaze was focused on him from someone whom he wanted to meet in person, too.
[Athena looks at you.]
Athena had been observing from the time Jeong-woo started in the Tower’s Tutorial to the current moment. He had a lot to ask her.
“Lady Persephone hopes to catch you before you go and thank you. She says she wants to reward us for helping Hades as well.” The rest of the party members nodded at Doyle’s explanation. No player would refuse a reward, especially if it was given by a god. Just then, Lam’s voice rang out in the temple. “We’re starting the Feng Shan ceremony two hours from now.”
They were finally about to connect Olympus and Tartarus. Yeon-woo put down his drink and slowly stood up.
* * *
“Typhon! Typhon!” Thud, thud, thud. Footsteps echoed in the fancy hall. Boom! It was a holy location that required everyone to behave in a respectful manner, but Iapetos pushed the door at the end of the hall open in a vexed manner.
“What is it, Iapetos?”
There was a large magic square on the marble floor inside the room. The edges of the complex magic square were ringed with candles which illuminated the dark room. In the center of the square, Typhon quietly opened his eyes. Although his gigantic eyes had loomed in the sky over everyone, his physical body was smaller than those of ordinary people, and his face was covered with messy hair, making it difficult to see his features.
It was difficult to believe that he was the king of the Giants, who once threatened Olympus and nearly took over Tartarus. His appearance only added to Iapetos’ rage.
“Are you serious?!” Iapetos seemed to be ready to kill Typhon at any minute.
“Six have died because you didn’t step up! Six! My brothers! While that good-for-nothing Hades was killing them, neither you nor the Giants appeared! What in the world are you thinking?!” Iapetos had stood on the frontlines for the entire of the war. “Allies” was only a nice way of saying that they were essentially the Giants’ subordinates. Still, he had never complained. Even if he lost his fellow Titans and subordinates, it was worth it if they could take over Tartarus, invade Olympus, and restore his power.
However, when the backup he expected from Typhon and the Giants hadn’t materialized at the battle of Buwangji, the Titans lost seventy percent of their precious forces. And yet Typhon looked at Iapetos without an ounce of apology.
Something snapped in Iapetos’ head, and he tried to run at Typhon.
“You are forbidden from approaching any closer.”
A man and a woman suddenly appeared from the side and prevented Iapetos’ approach. They were Gration and Mimas, the right and left hands of Typhon.
Iapetos attempted to use his holy power to push them away, but before Gration and Mimas could move, Iapetos’ shadow suddenly lengthened over the ground and tightened around its owner like a coil of rope.
“Urk.” Iapetos was forced to his knees. The more he struggled to tear the shadow ropes, the tighter it wrapped around him.
“Iapetos, do not forget our plan. We belong in Olympus, not Tartarus. You know that we need divine blood as a sacrifice to distract the Olympians. You Titans agreed, too.”
“You didn’t say they would die!”
“They haven’t died. They’ve just returned to Kronos. As long the queen is with us, death is a blessing. Why don’t you understand that yet, you fool?” Typhon said in a cold voice. “The queen will arrive at the temple soon. We’ll march under her flag and take it. We’ll complete what Kronos couldn’t.”
Iapetos screamed, but no amount of shouting would make his brothers return.
Typhon watched him silently.
* * *
Unlike the complicated battles and preparations before the Feng Shan ceremony to connect Olympus and Tartarus, the ceremony itself was quite simple. As he stood before an altar within a light column, Hades looked at the sky and said a single word. “Open.”
It was a command filled with his newly restored holy power. It moved the system of the Tower and released the constraints between the floors of the heavenly world and the lower world. Rumble. It sounded like a large, heavy door was creaking open, and suddenly, the red sky over Tartarus widened as shooting stars came raining down.
Yeon-woo could feel multiple Channels around him become clearer, as though they were growing closer. He felt as though he were being surrounded and then there was a sudden explosion of light in front of his eyes.
Boom! A dampness whirled around like a storm. His friends and Dis Pluto lost their balance and fell over. A large trident trembled in front of Yeon-woo, but it had been blocked by something. An intense pressure nearly swallowed Yeon-woo and shook the atmosphere. Yeon-woo didn’t blink an eye as he looked at the blue-haired man in front of him.
“You!” Poseidon thrust his trident forward with a scowl but he couldn’t get too far. Hermes and Athena were blocking the trident with a cane and sword respectively, as if protecting Yeon-woo.
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