Yeon-woo, Shanon, Hanryeong, and the Vampiric Lord all looked at the Heavenly Demon in shock. But the Heavenly Demon just shrugged, as if he didn’t know what the matter was. This reaction shocked Yeon-woo even more.
From what he knew, the Black King had always been a respected figure to the gods and demons and a father figure to the otherworld gods. He assumed the reason he couldn’t identify the Black King was because he was a progenitor god like Mother Earth, but even an even more supreme being than she was. But the Heavenly Demon had been the one to exile him into emptiness? He suddenly remembered the folklore passed down by the orcs.
In the beginning, dreams cycled endlessly in blackness…
Then, light suddenly bloomed and the dreams awoke. Blackness began to fight with light to regain its lost dreams…
A light had suddenly appeared in blackness—his guess that the light was the Heavenly Demon was correct, after all.
“Why do you look so surprised? Is it your first time seeing a celebrity?” The Heavenly Demon smirked and swept his hair back. His tone and attitude reminded Yeon-woo of the Monkey King. “Well, to be exact, I was the one who rendered him powerless, and the ones under me stuck him into emptiness. But it's the same thing, right?”
Yeon-woo was speechless.
“Thanks to that, I lost all my strength and was forced to rest. That’s why my mind is in the Changgong Library. I need to learn more about Gnosis.”
Yeon-woo had no idea what Gnosis was, but he felt the fog in his head clear. “Then the Tower is…!”
“Shh.” The Heavenly Demon put his finger to his mouth and cut Yeon-woo off with a grin. “That’s enough with the details. Can you see this?” The Heavenly Demon lifted his arm. A faint iridescent light flickered, revealing white chains. They looked like the same chains on Yeon-woo’s arms, except for the color difference.
“What is that?”
“Divine iron, also known as the law of causality. Restraints that bind all immortals and mortals in the Tower. Does it make more sense if I call it the system?”
Yeon-woo was shocked again. Divine iron, law of causality, and the system—these all referred to the same thing? He hadn’t known the law of causality that bound the beings on the ninety-eighth floor also applied to players as well. ‘No. I suppose it’s obvious, in a way.’
The system bestowed strength to challengers who wished to climb the floors. However, if the system disappeared, all that strength would freeze. In a way, it was apt to call it a restraint. The stronger a player grew, the more they would be shackled to the system.
‘It gives the weak a chance to become strong, but also limits them at the same time. And when one becomes a transcendent being, the system will be in complete control. Is it like a leash to curb people that can’t be handled?’
It was something that could limit even the Heavenly Demon, who was powerful enough to defeat the Black King. The Tower wasn’t what it claimed to be, at all. It was a prison where the strong could be restrained.
The players who challenged it were the strongest of their home worlds. The Tower lured them with opportunities to become stronger and reach godhood, and then it trapped them. Who could have created this trap? He couldn’t imagine a being so supreme they could trap the Black King and the Heavenly Demon. He wanted to ask if his guess was correct, but he swallowed his words. ‘I can’t.’
His question would only bind the Heavenly Demon more tightly. The Heavenly Demon grinned as though he could read his thoughts. “You probably want to learn everything, but there’s no need to hurry. The higher you stand, the more you’ll be able to see. You probably already see a lot in your position, and you’ll open your eyes to see more in the future.” He crossed his arms. “But to look for the Black King…hm. I see. You’re the current Black King’s successor?”
Yeon-woo took a step back. The Heavenly Demon had sealed the Black King in emptiness, so it was natural that they would be enemies as well.
“What are you so scared of? You think I’d hurt a kid like you?”
Yeon-woo didn’t speak.
“Nah. I don’t have any hobbies like that. Harassing a little kid isn’t right; why would I do that?”
“But the Black King might awaken because of me.”
“You got it all wrong. Even though I fought the guy, we’re not enemies. I just beat him up because he couldn’t get himself together. If he awakens, that’s part of the universe’s process, so I have no plans to stop you. Well, of course, there’s the danger of the universe ending.” He raised a corner of his mouth. “And I don’t think the world I’ve formed so far is that weak. Everything goes according to the ways of nature.”
Yeon-woo still didn’t understand what he was saying, but he could see the Heavenly Demon was proud of the path he’d walked on, firmly believing that no one could destroy what he’d achieved. His confidence in his accomplishments moved Yeon-woo. Only the assured could smile like the Heavenly Demon.
‘Could I be like that someday too?’ Yeon-woo wondered if he would ever be like the Heavenly Demon. After his brother had gone missing, he’d been constantly hounded, and that smile seemed out of reach. ‘Jeong-woo…yes. The Heavenly Demon resembles Jeong-woo.’
The Heavenly Demon continued smiling in a dazzling manner as he pointed at a corner. “Head there. You’ll find what you’re looking for.”
Yeon-woo nodded in response.
* * *
The archives that Heavenly Demon indicated were in the depths of the Changgong Library. If the Heavenly Demon hadn’t guided Yeon-woo, he would have never found it, as it was another room separated by a wall from the rest of the library.
[This is the first-class secret section.]
[You lack viewing rights. You cannot view this section.]
[You have been given permission to view with the authority of a special-class librarian.]
[One of the rewarded viewing rights will be used.]
“Usually, this isn’t a place you can visit since you haven’t exuviated or transcended yet.”
Yeon-woo looked around at the books. They were all different colors. Some exuded blackness, while others glowed with a blinding light. He could feel a divine energy from them.
“But since my potential future opponent wants to see, I thought I’d be generous.” The Heavenly Demon left after patting Yeon-woo’s shoulder, saying Yeon-woo could look around until he used up all his viewing rights.
Swish. The Vampiric Lord came out of Vigrid and stiffened as she scanned the archives. 『Are these detailed records of the beginning and origin of time…? This place must be restricted even to creator gods or gods who are ranked highest in their societies.』
And yet, the Heavenly Demon had opened this location easily and simply with his authority. The Vampiric Lord said to Yeon-woo with a grave face. 『Cain, the Heavenly Demon is definitely a greater being than we ever imagined. Someone who…looks down at beings like Mother Earth and the Crawling Chaos. Don’t ever turn him into your enemy.』
Shanon, Hanryeong, and Rebecca had also come out and nodded in agreement. Being magnanimous to someone who might be your opponent one day could only come from an absolute confidence that no one could defeat you. It wasn’t even like the Heavenly Demon was arrogant or pretentious. They were scared of him because they didn’t know how to fight him, assuming that they would inevitably clash after Yeon-woo managed to retrieve the entire legacy of the Black King.
『But on the other hand, this is an opportunity for us. All the secrets you’ve been looking for will be in here. Right now, let’s not think about anything else and just focus on that.』
“All right. Let’s do it.” Yeon-woo used all his familiars to scan through the archives. They didn’t have much time, so he wanted to learn as much as possible. The path to darkness would most definitely be in here.
「Ugh. Damn it, who would have thought I’d be reading books now when I never read them when I was alive.」 Shanon grumbled as he pulled out a book. He could read the words thanks to the viewing rights, but they still looked like black scribbles to him. He felt a migraine coming on, and he had no idea what he was reading.
When he glanced to his side, he saw that Hanryeong had taken a seat, his nose deep in a book. There were already six books stacked next to him.
「Huh? You’re this type of guy?」
Hanryeong didn’t reply.
「I thought you were just a fighter. Shit. I’m going to be compared unfavorably to you now.」
No matter how much Shanon complained, Hanryeong didn’t budge. He seemed to enjoy meditating during his free time, and it looked like he enjoyed reading as well. Shanon sighed and looked around. Rebecca, who had been an Apostle, was focused on her book, and the Vampiric Lord was flipping the pages of a book with a studious expression. Boo was acting insane because he could now read the forgotten records, and the other subordinates and Spirit Guai were busily reading on Yeon-woo’s orders, even though they didn’t understand anything. And Yeon-woo…
「Nothing. You just look really human for the first time.」
Yeon-woo had stopped reading and was rubbing his eyes. He felt Shanon’s evil grin and frowned. Shanon just smiled cheekily, and Yeon-woo lifted the book again. Deep creases appeared on his forehead. Unlike his bookworm brother, he never had a thing for books.
* * *
Yeon-woo wasn’t just having trouble reading. He was also focused on analyzing and organizing the information his subordinates were absorbing. With the structure of Dragon’s Knowledge and his connection to Laputa, he managed to learn a few things quickly. The first was the Black King’s identity. Just as Mother Earth had many names, the Black King did as well. But most of them were vague metaphors: Great Crevice, Egg of Chaos, Endless Whirlpool, the One in the Boiling Abyss. None actually provided a real identity.
It was because he had already existed even before the universes and dimensions were born. He wasn’t tied to space and time and transcended everything. He was considered blind because he could see beyond seeing. He was called “dull” because he could think beyond thinking. He was an unpredictable being even to the gods and demons and the truth-seeking dragons. It was no exaggeration to call him the void that existed before the universe began.
The Heavenly Demon was different. He also had a lot of titles, like the Light of the Beginning, the One Who Exists on His Own, Ahura Mazda, Mitra, and Vairocana, to name a few. However, they were clear and precise.
All legends or folklores had traces of him. In the legend of the Chan and Jie Sect, Suiren handled fire and gave knowledge to humans. In the Olympian legends, civilization began when Prometheus gave fire to humans.
Most legends began with the lighting of fire and the disappearance of darkness. Even the universe began with the faint explosion of light. Darkness represented chaos, ignorance, and fear of the unknown, while light represented civilization that defeated fear. The Heavenly Demon was the spark, the light.
Blackness would disappear in the face of a great fire. Knowledge and wisdom defeated disorder and ignorance. However, blackness always existed and waited for the fire to be extinguished. Fear of the unknown always lurked around.
This meant from the legends of creation to the present, the standoff between the Black King and the Heavenly Demon never ended, even though one of these characters was trapped in emptiness and the other in the Changgong Library.
‘But they’re always attempting the Black King’s resurrection.’ Kronos’ ruin and Luciel falling from the skies were incidents that stemmed from attempts to awaken the Black King from emptiness. It was the same in the lower world, where there were followers of the Black King like Faust and the Vampiric Lord. Secretive groups and players that chased after the Black King’s power still existed, Yeon-woo among them, and as long as they were around, the Black King’s power wouldn’t disappear.
‘This is crazy.’ He felt shivers down his back because it felt like he’d peeked into another side of the universe. ‘Why are Jeong-woo and I involved in this ridiculous business?’ The thought suddenly occurred to him. Why were a pair of ordinary twins swept up in a fight between two cosmic beings? They never had any intention or even thought of interfering with the Black King or the Heavenly Demon. His brother merely wanted to heal their mother, and he wanted to avenge his brother. He just didn’t understand. Was there a secret to their birth they didn’t know about?
‘Damn it.’ Thoughts of their father flashed in his mind, but he quickly shook his head. This was also a secret he’d uncover if he found his brother’s soul. There was no need to think about it right now, and there were other matters he was curious about.
After the creation of the universe, how did gods and demons appear, and what separated them from otherworld gods? Why was the Tower built, and why were transcendent beings trapped inside? What was the identity of the beings who brought the Black King?
[You do not qualify to view this section.]
[Will you use a viewing right?]
But even those questions weren’t important. As soon as the time was over, he used his second viewing right without any hesitation. ‘I have to find the path to darkness, even if I use up all my viewing rights here.’ To do that, he needed a better understanding of the Black King.
Of course, there was no need to learn everything about him, and Yeon-woo already knew what he should focus on. ‘The revelations.’
It was the original copy of the Emerald Tablet. It was something the Crawling Chaos said he could never give him. If Yeon-woo possessed the object that contained the records of all universes and dimensions, the beginning and end, history, and records of space and time, wouldn’t he understand the Black King and the path to darkness?
He would not only learn how to use the Cast of the Black King, but also the Stone of Sin.
[You have used a viewing right.]
[The database of ‘Revelations Original Copy’ is being retrieved.]
The appearance of the archives around him changed, revealing a new form. A papyrus appeared. It seemed so fragile that it looked like it would crumble if he touched it. At that moment, the Stone of Sin in his heart trembled, as if urging him to hurry and take a look. When he touched the papyrus, it trembled. Dust floated to the ground.
This was it. He could sense it in his gut. He pulled it out.
* * *
[You have peeked into a part of the forgotten secrets of the beginning.]
[Your level has increased.]
[Your level has increased.]
[You have used your last viewing right]
[You have learned a majority of the forgotten secrets of the beginning.]
[Your level has increased.]
[Your level has increased.]
Yeon-woo read the revelations like a madman. He didn’t even know how much time had passed. Thanks to this, his soul grew out of control, like it had been given vitamins. The Stone of Sin tried to adjust to it, and the Draconic, Demonic, and Divine Factors all responded to the modifications actively.
Crack! When he reached his limit, hard dragon scales grew along his skin, and waste leaked out between them. Bit by bit, his exuviae was falling off. It was the beginning of his exuviation.
[The 6th step of the awakening is being attempted.]
[Your Draconic, Divine, and Demonic Factors are combining to transform into a new trait.]
[Metamorphosis is beginning.]Previous Chapter Next Chapter