[Ksitigarbha has ended his manifestation.]
[The King of Seven Hells has ended his manifestation.]
[Aesma-daeva has ended his manifestation.]
Thud. Yeon-woo collapsed to the ground, extremely exhausted. The soul power that filled up his body was sucked back out and the violently circulating Dragon Heart and Philosopher’s Stone slowly came to a stop.
The manifestation of 666 transcendents had only gone on for a mere five minutes, but its impact was formidable. The cool-down time of Sky Wings stretched out for such a long period that he thought it would be impossible to use them for a while. The world spun. If he didn’t have the Dragon Heart, what could’ve happened? He didn’t even want to think about it.
“Haa…haa…haa.” He couldn’t even muster the strength to breathe properly, and he thought that if he died, it would be from exhaustion. However, the Philosopher’s Stone had limitless magic power and a depth that could not be comprehended, and it was already ridding him of his fatigue with the purple energy.
When he somewhat regained his energy, he managed to lift his head and look around. Everything was in ruins. The ground had been turned up, and it was impossible to tell that they were on a stage. Deep traces of holy power were left in places like the sky. ‘She sure played rough.’
He had been so out of it after closing the portal that he hadn’t noticed how vast the traces that Mother Earth left behind were. Her will alone was enough to make the stage shake, what would happen if her actual body appeared? He couldn’t even imagine it.
“Cain!” Just then, his comrades came running over. Kahn scanned Yeon-woo’s body and helped him by using a Bian for recovery. Brahm immediately cast healing magic, as well.
As his external injuries mended rapidly, Yeon-woo asked, “What about Doyle and Henova?”
“Doyle’s still sleeping. Victoria was able to move Mr. Henova to the Outer District so he’s fine.”
Yeon-woo nodded in relief.
“All of Dis Pluto escaped safely too.”
Yeon-woo turned to Dis Pluto. As he met the soldiers’ eyes, they tried to get up to greet their new master, but Yeon-woo shook his head, indicating that there was no need to. They were just as exhausted as he was, perhaps even moreso.
Since they lost the master they had been serving all their lives as well as their lands in the span of a day, their feelings were evidently full of turmoil. They needed some time to organize their thoughts and rest.
The soldiers thanked him instead of paying their respects. They had been cut down to less than half of their number at their peak, but their eyes blazed with a fire that was brighter than ever.
Yeon-woo had been worried they’d be sunk in despair, but fortunately, his concerns were unfounded. ‘More importantly…’ He moved his gaze to the message that popped up in his vision.
[You have completed the first condition of the sudden quest (Exodus).]
‘What’s going on?’ The first condition of completing the Exodus quest was to earn Dis Pluto’s trust. This hadn’t been too difficult because he had already gained their trust after fighting with them several times. Also, he’d been acknowledged as Hades’ successor while escaping from Mother Earth. However, he’d been expecting a message to say that he’d also completed the second condition—escaping Tartarus—but none had appeared.
‘Hm? Does this mean the exodus isn’t over yet?’ Had any soldiers been left behind in Tartarus? It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if they’d left one or two soldiers behind, considering how chaotic the situation had been. However, the system should be aware of that. Or did it mean Mother Earth would harm them in some other way? ‘But how?’
In the meantime, the High Guardians bustled around. They had temporarily paused the stage mission, using backup data to restore the damaged areas. Just then, Yvlke approached, pushing his monocle up. “Ohyohyohyo! ###, this is the second time after the twenty-third floor. Now that I think about it, you also performed fantastically on the eleventh floor, yes? It seems to be your hobby to ruin stages every ten floors.”
His eyes curved with a smile. “Next time, please alert us beforehand. We’ll be able to prepare ourselves, ohyo ohyo!”
Although it wasn’t as though he’d been destroying floors for fun, Yeon-woo only smiled ruefully with a nod. “I’ll do that next time.”
“Ohyohyo. I like that mindset. I like you because you understand things quickly. Also—” Yvlke’s eyes narrowed. “We need you to provide a testimony about what happened. Can you come with us?” The Guardians watched over all the floors closely, but there were places their eyes couldn’t reach.
It seems like there are different arrangements between the transcendents and Guardians that players don’t know about. At the very least, from what I’ve seen, they didn’t like to take interest in each other.
The heavenly world on the ninety-eighth floor and the hidden stages every ten floors were such cases, as was Tartarus. Because of Hades’ settings, the Guardians couldn’t check what happened in Tartarus, and now this had happened. It was understandable that they needed to investigate the matter.
Yeon-woo was planning to help them to some extent since he’d used the Guardians, who abhorred transcendents, to help him with Mother Earth. Also, there was no knowing what would happen if he didn’t help them.
Yvlke, who had been watching Yeon-woo make his decision, suddenly felt sharp gazes around him. For the past few minutes, Dis Pluto had been getting up to surround him, pointing spears still wet with blood at him. A fierce atmosphere rose. However, Yvlke seemed to be unaffected as he lightly fixed his monocle and looked around. “Mm? What’s this now? Did I do something to get on the bad side of you Underworld sirs? You may not realize this, but I’ve placed manners before everything else all my life! Ahem!”
“You cannot take our king without permission.”
“Our king?” Yvlke tilted his head and laughed when he realized what was going on. “We’d been wondering what happened because there was a system message that the king of the Underworld had changed, and that person is…oh, right. It’s a secret. Ahem! How amusing!” Yvlke had been expecting that the exodus of Dis Pluto had something to do with the throne of the Underworld. However, from the way he giggled, it seemed like he found it surprising that Yeon-woo was at the center of it all.
It was unthinkable that the throne would have been passed down to a player, even if it was someone like Yeon-woo. It was so shocking that Yvlke couldn’t have even dared imagine it.
The Dis Pluto members glanced at Yeon-woo, wondering if they’d made a mistake. Yeon-woo was smiling ruefully under his mask, but he pretended to be calm as he spoke to Yvlke. “I’ll help with the investigation, but in exchange—”
“You want us to do this?” Yvlke made the motion of zipping his mouth.
As Yeon-woo nodded, Yvlke smiled slyly. “Ohyohyo! You don’t have to worry about that. I’ll keep it from the other Guardians as well.”
There was no need to speak of this amusing fact to others. To Yvlke, Yeon-woo was like sweet rain during a boring day. “However, as your dear friend and a High Guardian, I have some advice.” Yvlke’s eye briefly glittered under his monocle. “So many soldiers of the Underworld entering this stage may be considered an invasion of territory. Just as we managed Mother Earth, we can use the same control on them. You should be aware of this.”
There were a few lower-level divine beings among the Dis Pluto, and although they were considered weak during the Gigantomachia, in reality, they had a power that most players would never reach in their lives.
Since there were hundreds of them here, they were a force that could break the balance of the stage. Because the system prioritized the stage over everything else, Dis Pluto could be identified as irregularities.
In fact, the stage seemed to be acting on them already. Their faces were pale, and they were clearly unaccustomed to such a different environment from Tartarus. Their strength was being limited already, and although the constraints ended there, the Guardians could activate their control at any time.
However, Yeon-woo wasn’t too worried. The third condition of the quest was to find a new base camp for Dis Pluto, and he’d already thought of a place. ‘Boo’s dungeon will be good enough.’
The dungeon, which was a space that connected multiple Intrenians from Red Dragon, was almost complete. It was large enough to house all of Dis Pluto, and if the environment settings were set to be like those of Tartarus, it would be an ideal place for them to temporarily stay. The system wouldn’t try to interfere either.
If he tried to use Dis Pluto to clear the stage, the system’s control would activate but if he was only looking for a place to stay, it would likely let them be. After he exuviated and properly grasped the throne, he could pull them out.
However, Yvlke shook his finger back and forth as if he could read Yeon-woo’s mind. “That’s not what I mean. Of course you know your way around the system’s loopholes. But the problem is that the control in this Tower isn’t just limited to the system.”
Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes, not understanding. There was a controlling force other than the system? He had never heard of it. He asked Jeong-woo with his mind power, but received a negative response. 『I don’t know either.』
Just as he was about to ask Yvlke what he meant, the calm sky suddenly began to shake. The High Guardians who were restoring the stage paused and looked up with frowns.
Dis Pluto and Yeon-woo’s comrades realized something strange was going on. They raised their heads, their weapons and shields ready. The sky…was distorting. The appearance of a sky that was twisting and deforming was impossible to describe, and it was as fearsome as it was impressive. As the sky split into cracks, colorful auroras appeared through the fissures, dyeing the sky different colors. A heavy fog began to gather.
Yeon-woo felt shivers down his back. Although he hadn’t attempted the Dragon Body awakening, scales were automatically growing on his skin. They were tougher than ever, a sign of his nervousness at the celestial display.
If Mother Earth herself descended, would it feel like this? No, this was more extreme and overpowering. A formidable existence was trying to pass through the fragmented sky, forcing back the High Guardians’ control and putting pressure on the entire stage.
“What is that…?”
Even Dis Pluto was nervous. They had dealt with Typhon multiple times already, but this being was leagues beyond Typhon. It seemed as though the sky had come to life.
However, although it was Yeon-woo’s first time seeing this phenomenon, he recognized it.
Jeong-woo appeared next to Yeon-woo in his spiritual form and muttered in a voice full of mixed emotions, 『Allforone.』
The being who had been a wall to countless players for the last thousand years, a focus of hatred for transcendents, and an exception to the rules for the Guardians, was trying to descend.
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