Chapter 563 - Qualification Test (4)

The children of Uranus hacked through the grass in the swamp of darkness. Although they were great divine beings, they sensed a great threat. Perhaps it was because they were outside of Olympus or the energy of the planet itself, but no matter how much they tried to activate their holy power, it just sparked and died away. They found it difficult to move.

The closer they were to the swamp, the heavier the sensation grew, and they almost felt as though they would disappear forever if they let their guard down. Even those who had entered confidently grew anxious. They hadn’t felt this even when they battled the other societies. It was a nervousness they only felt when facing Mother Earth. Fortunately, the soldiers they brought were the ones opening the path to the swamp, which protected them a little.

Yeon-woo was at the very back, and he was silent for a different reason than the others. His eyes were fixed on Rhea, who walked in front of him. ‘Mother.’ Yeon-woo swallowed the word that was about to escape his throat. He could barely stop himself from embracing his mother and telling her he missed her. She was that important to him—and to Jeong-woo, too.

Unlike their father, who disappeared when they were young, their mother had always lovingly watched over them. Even during Yeon-woo’s rebellious phase when he didn’t focus on his studies, she never scolded him at all and was patient with him. She only reprimanded him and Jeong-woo whenever they fought, but in the end, she always hugged them.

Even though they didn’t have a lot of money, she stopped at nothing and worked day and night to ensure they were educated, and she’d even grown sick from overwork. Yeon-woo and Jeong-woo had blamed themselves for their mother’s health, but their mother denied it was from overwork and reassured them.

Jeong-woo discovered there was a way to cure their mother and began to climb the Tower, and their mother passed away while waiting for him to return. Yeon-woo was left with his anger bubbling inside him until he grew numb. ‘So, this is what she looked like when she was young.’

He never imagined he’d see his mother in her younger days here. Because Kronos looked like his father, Yeon-woo braced himself for the possibility that Rhea might be his mother, but it was still tough to deal with. ‘I have no idea at all what’s going on.’ Yeon-woo tried to contain his longing for his mother while attempting to make sense of the situation.

From the legends that he knew, Rhea despised Kronos. Not only did Kronos lock the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires, who were like family, in Tartarus, but he was also a tyrant who swallowed all of his children. This was why Rhea had been one of the instigators of Kronos’ fall. She secretly hid their youngest child, Zeus, and awakened the Cyclopes and Hecatonchires to help her overthrow Kronos. Although Kronos and Rhea were married, they were enemies.

However, Yeon-woo remembered his mother saying until the end that he shouldn’t resent his father. Her mother’s love for his father had been genuine. That wasn’t the only thing he didn’t understand.

Aside from the mystery of his mother’s escape from the Tower, if he and Jeong-woo were truly the children of Kronos and Rhea, that meant they were Zeus’ siblings. Why didn’t they have any holy power? And if their mother was a great divine being, why couldn’t she overcome her sickness? Why did she weaken so much and die? He suspected that his mother’s sickness, which couldn’t be cured by modern medicine, was actually the Heavenly Demon Disease. Yeon-woo had difficulty keeping his calm. Even though the level of his soul was greater and he had the Cold-blooded trait, he struggled to keep his composure.

“Ha, you’re funny.” He suddenly heard an unfamiliar voice from behind. Yeon-woo turned and frowned to see Theia. She was the mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos, and in his time, she had stabbed Typhon in the back to become the Titans’ new leader. However, Theia only looked mischievous now.

‘But it’s hard to say if it’s just an act.’ Yeon-woo spoke up. “What is it?”

“What do you mean ‘what’? You keep denying it! Aw. You guys fight at the drop of a hat, but I’ve always known.”

Yeon-woo’s forehead wrinkled as he wondered what kind of nonsense she was talking about. When he finally understood, he scoffed. Theia misunderstood the reason he was staring at Rhea. However, talking with Theia helped him understand what kind of being his mother had been when she was younger.

“Do we fight that much?”

“Oh my, what are you saying? You don’t just fight, you’re always growling at each other like enemies. You guys said you would reconcile over your dead bodies, but now you guys have grown fonder of each other, eh? Or…were you trying to get on Rhea’s nerves to grab her attention? Hm? Hm?”

When Yeon-woo didn’t respond, Theia babbled in Yeon-woo’s ear as she whirled around him.

‘She’s so loud.’ It was annoying, but at the same time, he was happy to learn more about his mother. It seemed like this quest wasn’t all that bad, after all.

“Say something, kid! Are you mute? When did the chatterbox suddenly get so quiet? So frustrating. Huh? Rhea’s looking this way. Is she jealous because I’m here with you? Did my strategy work? Ha, you’re pretty good at this. And here I was, thinking you’re just a bad-tempered oaf. You’ve got a sly side to you, eh?”

He felt like he would go deaf from listening to Theia. However, just as he was about to say something, Oceanus, who was leading them, suddenly raised his hand. Stop! He used his true voice, which boomed with holy power.

Yeon-woo and Theia turned. The grass that seemed like it would go on forever had disappeared, and they could see an ocean-like swamp ahead of them. Their faces stiffened at the intense energy they sensed.

Theia realized that things had grown serious, and she returned to her forces and prepared for what was ahead.

Yeon-woo looked at the swamp of darkness with a grim expression. This place was familiar to him, even though it wasn’t for the others.

Ding.

[You have discovered the ‘Swamp’.]

[Begin your investigation of the ‘Swamp’.]

‘Is this the abyss…no, the Demonic Sea?’

The swamp of darkness had various energies, and Yeon-woo shook his head. ‘No, that’s not it. It’s a more primordial place than either of those.’ Yeon-woo guessed the abyss and the Demonic Sea had originated from this swamp because of their similar nature.

This was something else: emptiness. Yeon-woo was certain this was the true emptiness that existed before the beginning of time. Since he was the successor of the Black King, Yeon-woo was familiar with it, but the gods of Uranus’ era didn’t know darkness, and they couldn’t muster up the courage to get closer to it.

“They said this was present even before the beginning of time…”

“Is this the reason why the elders call it the ‘Great Chasm’ and Chaos…?”

As the group murmured uncertainly, even Oceanus, who was nearly at Uranus’ level, looked at the swamp of darkness with a fearful expression. Then, with a look of determination, he gritted his teeth and began to walk forward. His soldiers tried to persuade him not to do it, but he didn’t listen to them.

Oceanus was the commander of the party and the oldest of the siblings. He thought he needed to lead by example. Yeon-woo tried to follow since examining the swamp of darkness was a part of the quest. He thought he might be able to obtain clues regarding the springs.

“Master.” At that moment, Ananke stepped in front of Yeon-woo.

“What is it?” Yeon-woo was about to tell her to move aside, thinking she was trying to stop him from doing something dangerous. But that wasn’t the reason why she blocked him.

“Was Lady Theia speaking the truth?”

“What…?”

“Please tell me.” Her voice was firm. Yeon-woo’s face hardened since he hadn’t seen this side of her before. She seemed unhappy about Theia trying to play matchmaker between Kronos and Rhea. “It is impossible for the two of you to be together. More than anyone else, you know your family and Lady Rhea’s family cannot mix or even work together. Since your ancestors, it has already been…!” Was there a secret about Kronos and Rhea that the legends didn’t reveal? Yeon-woo wanted to ask what it was, but this wasn’t the right time.

“Let me take care of my business.”

“Master!”

“Move aside. I need to examine the swamp.”

Ananke bit her lip at Yeon-woo’s determined attitude and nodded vigorously. Yeon-woo moved past Ananke and the rest of the party. Theia and the other gods were surprised to see Yeon-woo so unaffected by the aura of the swamp, but he ignored them and reached the swamp.

Oceanus, who was already there, turned back to Yeon-woo in surprise. “Kronos, you…?”

Yeon-woo ignored Oceanus and looked down at the bubbling swamp. Steam rose over the popping bubbles, creating a sinister atmosphere. The surface of the swamp was as shiny as a polished glass bead, reflecting Yeon-woo’s face—or rather, the face of his father, Kronos.

“It grows more fearsome the more I look at it. How can Father think we can gain strength from here? This is neither order nor chaos, and it’s too difficult for us to handle since we are seekers of creation. I don’t understand him. Kronos, do you know something?” Oceanus didn’t hide his skepticism of the swamp of darkness. Showing this side to a rival would only make him vulnerable, so did that mean that Oceanus didn’t see Kronos as a rival? Or was he just that righteous?

Whatever it was, Yeon-woo didn’t think it had any relation to him, so he stayed silent and extended his hand to the swamp.

“Kronos, it’s dangerous…!” Oceanus was aware of his youngest sibling’s temperament, and he didn’t scold him. However, he didn’t want Yeon-woo to be endangered. Then, his eyes widened when he saw what happened next.

As soon as Yeon-woo’s hand and his reflection’s hand met, the surface of the swamp rippled. Yeon-woo’s reflection smiled—or rather, it smirked at Yeon-woo. The reflection began to speak.

You’ve come a long way back to this place. How foolish of you to return.

Letters spun around the reflection to create a sentence.

‘Come a long way?’ What did that mean? Suddenly, something flashed through Yeon-woo’s head.

You again.

Yes, your fate is twisted, and your life is still short. Nothing has changed at all. Your fate is to fail over and over, and you will continue failing in the future.

Is this your fourth time here? The time…yes. You’re closer than before. But that’s all. Nothing has changed. I supposed the fate engraved into your soul won’t change?

Child, you’re dreaming of nightmares over and over, trapped inside a cycle. I hope you can escape the nightmares and understand your path someday.

Yeon-woo didn’t know why the words Allforone had told Jeong-woo in his pocket watch dreams suddenly floated to his mind. He had the strange feeling that the reflection wasn’t looking at Kronos but at himself.

Let me ask you this.

The letters spun and spun to write out another sentence.

Which version of me are you?

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