After receiving Doyle’s confirmation, Yeon-woo quietly terminated the communication line. “Let’s continue our discussion.” Yeon-woo tried to erase the uneasiness that lingered in his heart and focused his attention on Erlang Shen. “I want to know what you mean by wanting to find a Soulstone.”
There were fourteen Soulstones in total, and only four had been discovered so far. Vieira Dune had stolen the Stone of Luxuria (Lust) and applied its properties to Mother Earth; Jeong-woo had used the Stone of Superbia (Pride) to craft the pocket watch; and the Gluttony Emperor had once possessed the Stone of Gula (Gluttony). Yeon-woo possessed the Stone of Superbia (Pride) and the Stone of Gula (Gluttony) and had merged them into the Sin Stone.
Yeon-woo had previously heard that one of the Soulstones was in the heavenly world, but he had never been able to confirm it. He wondered if this was the Soulstone Erlang was referring to. Yeon-woo was also puzzled about what Erlang meant by using him and his subordinates to find the Soulstone.
“First of all, before I go into detail, I have something to tell you.”
“I am grateful that you delivered the medicine for the emperor.” Erlang Shen got up from his seat and bowed his head. He was referring to Yeon-woo’s visit to Three God Mountains to deliver Laplace’s liver.
Erlang continued, “Thanks to that, I heard that the Jade Emperor started coughing a little bit. All the gods of the Chan Sect will never forget your generosity, no matter what happens in the future.”
[The godly society <Chan Sect> has declared an unconditional alliance for player ### and his familiars!]
[From now on, as long as player ### and his familiars do not engage in hostile acts that endanger <Chan Sect>, the gods of the <Chan Sect> will be his strong allies.]
[Your relationship and affinity to the gods have improved.]
[Your inclination has partially moved to good.]
Although Yeon-woo saw it as simply running an errand for Laplace, who couldn’t go to Three God Mountains himself, he nodded quietly. There was no reason to reject the Chan Sect’s favor. Also, he’d gotten the chance to visit the Changgong Library thanks to the Li Fragment that the Tortoise had given him as a present. Yeon-woo did not have any negative feelings towards the Chan Sect. “Has the Jade Emperor gotten better?”
Erlang Shen smiled bitterly and shook his head after hearing Yeon-woo’s question. “He has regained consciousness, but he still finds it difficult to move. Have you ever heard of Divine Being Disease? It is also called Heavenly Demon Disease.”
Yeon-woo shook his head. “No. I’ve never heard of those terms. However, going by the name…”
“Yes, it’s just as the name implies. They are the negative aftereffects of the Heavenly Demon.” Erlang Shen began speaking of the distant past. “In the past, the Heavenly Demon had a serious quarrel with the Chan Sect, and the Jade Emperor fell ill while clashing with him. In fact, he almost perished, but fortunately, he managed to keep his life.”
Erlang laughed bitterly as he recalled how far the Jade Emperor had fallen. Who would have thought that an entity who had turned the universe upside down to create a new order and even tried to swallow up Mount Meru would become so weak? Regardless, he had made an oath to serve the Jade Emperor loyally. No matter what, Erlang intended to uphold this promise.
Yeon-woo’s eyes narrowed. “But he hasn’t been able to recover all the powers he’s lost?”
“Yes, that’s the gist of it. Furthermore, we’re not the only society that has suffered this kind of damage. The situation back then led to the fall of Brahma, who was then the head of Devas, Odin of Asgard, Zeus of Olympus…the list goes on. The creator gods who were involved in the creation of each society all collapsed or fell asleep due to the aftereffects of the Heavenly Demon.”
“So, the Heavenly Demon did all of that?”
Erlang Shen laughed bitterly. “It didn’t just end there. The Heavenly Demon is also the reason that all the gods and demons have been imprisoned within this Tower.”
The fact that the Heavenly Demon had driven all the godly and demonic societies into the Tower was…surprising, but Yeon-woo decided that it was a logical conclusion. ‘If the Heavenly Demon managed to throw the Black King into the void…it’s definitely possible.’ After all, the Heavenly Demon was an entity that had once controlled the universe with his will.
‘If I look at it from another angle, these gods and demons are in a very pitiful situation as well. These guys must have been running around the various dimensions as though it were their front yard, only to be locked up in the Tower overnight. And to add insult to injury, they were driven to a corner like the heavenly world because of Allforone.’ Yeon-woo recalled the tale he had heard a long time ago. Instead of being a challenge that attracted players from different dimensions and universes, the true purpose of the Tower might be to function as a prison for transcendents. Even those who simply possessed the qualifications or talents to become transcendents were eventually imprisoned.
What was the Heavenly Demon’s purpose in doing this? Furthermore, what was his relationship with the Tower? Only an idiot wouldn’t understand what Erlang Shen’s true purpose was. Yeon-woo cleared the clutter in his mind and asked, “You must be seeking a Soulstone for the Jade Emperor.”
“And you’re presuming that there is one on the lower floors?”
“You’re catching on quite well.” Erlang Shen nodded as he spoke. “The Soulstone we are seeking is the Stone of Avaritia (Greed). It may not be a good fit for a god…but right now, we just need to possess at least one of the Soulstones.”
“Do you know where it is?”
“The Apostles affiliated with my sect have already completed the search.”
“But they’re finding it hard to get it themselves, so you’re asking me for assistance.”
“Where is it?”
Erlang Shen hesitated.
Yeon-woo frowned slightly. “If you’re afraid of leaking information without having a signed agreement, go back. I also have no intention of making hasty decisions that will consume my power and time without learning all the information that I need.”
Yeon-woo had no intention of hiding his interest in the Soulstone, especially one with an affinity to sin. With another Soulstone, he could refine and upgrade the Sin Stone, but he didn’t want to endanger the entire warrior corps simply because of his greed. With the war going on with the Crawling Chaos, he had no intention of dividing his resources and attention.
He had more than enough issues to worry about; he had to finish consolidating his dominion of the lower floors and find Athena and the others who had entered Erebus and were planning to enter the otherworld. He wouldn’t bite just because someone was showing him favor. He had nothing to lose if Erlang Shen backed out. Once the warrior corps reached transcendence, they would soon be reborn as complete giants.
Erlang Shen shook his head. “You seem to have misunderstood. I hesitated because it’s a place I can’t even put into words.”
A place that Erlang Shen could not even mention? Was there such a place on the lower floors? Yeon-woo narrowed his eyes once more. “What is this place?”
“The hidden land of the demons, Pandemonium.”
This time, Yeon-woo was truly surprised. Pandemonium! “You’re saying that there’s a Soulstone in the Bull Demon King’s realm?”
“That’s crazy.” Yeon-woo smirked. He now understood why the Chan Sect’s Apostles couldn’t retrieve the Soulstone. The Bull Demon King was the other face of the Heavenly Demon, the one that the Monkey King had accepted as his big brother when he was young. Furthermore, the Seven Demon Kings were beings that the Chan and Jie Sect detested. Just hearing the names of the Seven Demon Kings made them curse.
Yeon-woo had already fought with one of them, the Sage Lion King. He knew that they were not easy opponents, and Erlang was asking him to get the Soulstone from them. “Are you asking me to fight the Bull Demon King? If that’s the case, I should feed you some sword energy first.” Yeon-woo smirked with his lip curled.
However, Erlang Shen remained calm. “No. To be more precise, Pandemonium is occupying the place where the Soulstone is. Since we knew that you wouldn’t want to go, we decided the only way would be to hire you as a mercenary.” After a pause, Erlang continued, “Besides, we are not the only ones trying to get the Soulstone. The Jie Sect is after it, too, since their situation is not much better than ours.”
A battlefield with the Chan Sect, Jie Sect, and the Seven Demon Kings. Yeon-woo summed up his thoughts as he narrowed his eyes. “That’s a real shit show.”
“A real shit show indeed.” A bitter smile appeared on Erlang Shen’s lips. He did not think Yeon-woo would accept the task.
“What are the chances that the other societies will intervene?”
Erlang Shen’s eyes slightly widened. “Are you going to accept the offer…?”
“Don’t start counting your chickens before they hatch. I have to do some calculations, too. I want to hear your answer first.”
“There’s no guarantee. The location of the Soulstone is difficult to access without a relevant legend.”
“Hmm.” Yeon-woo quietly fell into thought. A place that was difficult to access without a legend. However, since Yeon-woo had already absorbed the Monkey King’s Factors, he was confident he would be able to access the restricted site.
Erlang Shen cautiously asked once more, “Will you accept?”
After a long while, Yeon-woo came to a conclusion and stared into Erlang Shen’s blue eyes. His mouth opened slowly.
「What the hell are they talking about?」
「I’m annoyed, as well. If I had my way, I’d rip apart that shadow dome.」
「If you did that, your body would be torn apart.」
「That’s why I’m just standing here twiddling my thumbs, fuck!」
Even though a considerable amount of time had passed since the half-giant warriors took over the Crawling Chaos’ fourth territory, the envoys of the gods and demons had nothing to do but wait outside the shadow dome while biting their nails. They were deeply frustrated because they had no idea what kind of discussion was going on between Erlang Shen and Yeon-woo, and their societies were urging them to find out. The envoys had no idea what to do.
Yeon-woo had built a private holy sanctuary inside his shadow realm where their powers couldn’t reach. Neither could they break into it.
However, there were those among them who didn’t feel the same desperation.
「Hmph! What can that insignificant god ask that would be of any importance!」
Agares, who was in his child form, crossed his arms and muttered in an annoyed voice as jealousy flashed in his eyes. He was like a boy who’d gotten upset with an uncle who used to play with him all the time but was suddenly getting along better with his friends. Puppy Fenrir barked as though in sympathy.
Agares looked at Fenrir with a grimace plastered on his face. 「What the hell do you know? The relationship between an esteemed personage like me and ### is not something you can decide is right or wrong. I’ve enjoyed a very long relationship with him. Don’t even think of raising your spoon to taste what is mine. He is mine.」
「What? You’re saying it’s not a matter of length but depth of relationship?」
「You’re saying I’m just a greedy, power-grubbing kid, and he doesn’t take me seriously?」
「Don’t be silly! Do you know how much he loves his niece? Even if he doesn’t show it, he must be very satisfied with the way I look!」
Woof! Woof! Woof!
「What? It’s better to be a dog? What kind of dogshit are you spewing now!」
Woof! Woof, Woof!
As always, Agares and Fenrir were fighting over which of them was closer to Yeon-woo. In fact, the two supported Yeon-woo the most during every battle, and if Yeon-woo kept his promise, it was obvious that they would get the revelations.
The other envoys were already familiar with the sight of them bickering, so they didn’t pay too much attention to them. Instead, they continued to look impatient and anxious, even those who had been quite passive before. If things didn’t change, then the half-giants would gain their independence.
「Erlang Shen and the Death King…」
「We’ll have to figure out what the Death King is thinking first…」
「No, if we continue this way, the half-giants will soon be reborn. It’s best for us if the half-giants continue to be restricted to this floor.」
「Or are eliminated.」
For a brief moment, there was silence among the envoys. The other envoys who were listening didn’t react. If this conversation had happened a few days ago, the other envoys would have used this opportunity to get rid of their competition. However, these words expressed what they were all thinking at this moment. An understanding grew among them.
「It seems that Erlang Shen has already gone over to that side.」
「Whatever it is, we can’t let things continue in this manner…」
[The godly society <Dilmun> agrees with the consensus.]
[The godly society <Memphis> agrees.]
[The godly society <Asgard> agrees with the consensus and declares that it is ready to join at any time.]
[The godly society <Olympus> is positively responding to the consensus.]
In the end, the envoys separated into two factions.
「It’s opening.」 Someone who was watching the shadows quietly spoke. Immediately, the envoys scattered as if nothing had happened. The dome of shadows slowly opened up, and the envoys stared with cold eyes at Erlang Shen and Yeon-woo as they exited.Previous Chapter Next Chapter