Chapter 564 - Qualification Test (5)

Yeon-woo’s eyes widened. Which version? What did that mean? He didn’t know if the reflection was Kronos or himself, but he was sure that it was speaking to him. Before he could speak, the reflection smirked.

Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter.

As soon as the words appeared, the reflection faded and muck of the swamp began to climb up Yeon-woo’s hand towards his shoulder. Whoosh! “Hup!”

The muck sank through his skin and tried to enter his veins. Yeon-woo instinctively tried to pull his arm back, but the swamp tightened around him.

“Kronos!” Oceanus frantically stretched out his hand. Using his holy power, he froze the steam in the air to create a blade of ice and cut off the muck attached to Yeon-woo. However, his skin and veins had already absorbed it.  

“Are you all right?” Oceanus’ voice was full of desperation as he caught the falling Yeon-woo, but Yeon-woo couldn’t answer him.

Thump! Thump! Yeon-woo’s heart pounded like crazy. His veins pulsed like they were going to explode, and his blood circulated so fast that his breathing grew rapid. It felt as if something were tightening around his body, as though he were a towel being wrung dry. He found it difficult to regain his composure when it felt as though his soul were being shredded. Thump! Thump!

Which version of me are you?

How many times have I spun through the cycle?

Well, no matter.

I can just do it again until it works.

Countless letters whirled in his head. They combined and fell apart, creating multiple sentences. The reflection seemed to be laughing at him, and Yeon-woo could feel his consciousness expanding infinitely. The cells and Factors in his body tore apart and merged over and over. Divine Factors broke into pieces and reformed with even greater strength. Holy power swelled up inside him like a balloon and the level of his soul was refined.

A horrific divine fever tormented his mind and body. Even as he panted, Yeon-woo managed to recognize the sensation. ‘Demonism!’

It was like the feeling he experienced whenever he held Vigrid to combine with the Demonism. However, it was more painful now, most likely due to the fact that the power of darkness was being forced on him. ‘So, this guy is the Black King’s…!’ He couldn’t think lucidly anymore as the fever grew worse.

“This won’t do.” Oceanus decided that Yeon-woo was in danger and tried to carry him away on his back. Despite his terrible state, Yeon-woo was surprised to see that Oceanus was genuinely trying to help instead of taking the opportunity to eliminate a rival.

However, Oceanus’ attempt was futile. The fever made Yeon-woos’ body so hot that it was impossible to touch him, and another strange phenomenon occurred. Large bubbles formed on the surface of the swamp, and peculiar monsters began to appear. Fish? Amphibians? They were grotesque and covered entirely in scales. Even the gods of Olympus, who had traveled throughout the universe, found it hard to identify what they were.

Kieeek! The bizarre creatures each held different weapons. As soon as they met Oceanus' eyes, they dashed towards him. There were easily a hundred of them.

“Good gracious…!” Where had these creatures come from? Oceanus didn’t have time to think as he swiftly created a wall of ice to block the monsters from approaching.

Thud! Thud! However, each of the monsters had the strength of a divine being, and after ramming the wall of ice a few times, the wall looked like it was on the verge of cracking.

“Brother!”

“Are you all right, brother?”

“What is that…!”

The rest of the party rushed over to protect Yeon-woo and Oceanus, activating their powers. There were bursts of light as an intense heat rose and wind lashed around. The party was clearly afraid. The monsters weren’t only unnerving, there was another strength emanating from somewhere beyond the swamp that made their hair stand on end. They had fought all sorts of enemies, including Mother Earth, but it was their first time to face such a being—something stronger than Uranus, who dominated everything.

Soon, the ice wall broke, and the unexpected battle between the strange monsters and the siblings of Olympus began.

* * *

“What is the meaning of this! Kronos is hurt…?”

After the stand-off at the swamp, the gods of Olympus quickly retreated at Oceanus’ orders. Fortunately, the farther they were from the swamp, the weaker the strange monsters grew. In the end, it was easy to defeat them.

The news of Yeon-woo’s injury made Uranus hastily appear through a portal.

“Father! What about Mother Earth…!” Oceanus was directing the battle, and he was surprised to see Uranus appear. Uranus and the supreme gods of other societies had been working on putting Mother Earth to sleep, and Oceanus didn’t understand why Uranus would show up. However, his voice trailed off when he saw that Uranus’ left arm was missing. “Your arm…?”

“That is not important right now! This can easily be healed with holy power. What about our youngest? How is Kronos?”

‘Your injury isn’t an insignificant matter either.’ Oceanus swallowed the words at the tip of his tongue.

For a supreme divine being like Uranus, it wasn’t that simple to restore an arm with holy power. It would be a huge problem if one’s divinity were damaged. However, Uranus didn’t seem to care; he was only worried about Kronos. Oceanus knew Uranus was devoted to his youngest child, but he thought it was a bit extreme.

He sighed, but there was nothing he could do. A parent’s love for their child was unstoppable. He led Uranus to Kronos, but he wasn’t able to hide his downcast expression.

“Don’t you think Father is too fond of the youngest?” Oceanus tried to hide his feelings, but Iapetos suddenly sidled up to him.

Oceanus’ face stiffened. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying Father’s love for Kronos is too extreme.”

“Be careful of what you say…!”

“I mean, aren’t you angry, too? You’re going to lose your spot to that douchebag. You know Father doesn’t have too much time left.”

Oceanus’ face twisted. Iapetos realized he had gone too far and shut his mouth, but it was too late.

“Father is insightful. He must have his plans. Refrain from unnecessary comments.” Oceanus firmly reprimanded Iapetos and turned away. He trusted Uranus and was wholly loyal to him.

Iapetos’s eyes narrowed as Oceanus walked away. He grumbled to Theia, who appeared next to him, “Looks like we’ll have to do it on our own.”

“I told you, big brother is too indecisive. He has the makings of a king, but only in times of peace. He isn’t fit for an age of uncertainty like now.” Theia’s eyes darkened.  “We must take the throne of Olympus for ourselves.”

* * *

How tenacious.

Yes. That’s a good quality to have.

Although a long time had passed since Yeon-woo left the swamp, his body and soul were in agony from the blazing fever, and the whispers of the Demonism left him confused. The Demonism was waiting for an opportunity to take over Yeon-woo’s body. But even in this situation, Yeon-woo was becoming stronger. ‘What in the world are the springs? How important could they be if they’re this hard to find…!’

Yeon-woo struggled from the pain. The strange monsters of the swamp of darkness were clear in his mind. They looked just like the ones in the Demonic Sea, and he was certain they were otherworld gods or beings of that level. However, Yeon-woo set those thoughts aside to focus on getting rid of the divine fever endangering his soul. Otherwise, he’d be destroyed before he could progress with the quest.

“I didn’t think something like this would happen. I sent you because you have the gift… I thought you might be able to receive his blessing. But this is a curse, not a blessing. I put you in danger for my own ends. I'm truly sorry. Please forgive me.”

Yeon-woo thought he could hear Uranus’ voice through the fog of his consciousness.  

“Fortunately, I still have some strength left, so even if it’s not enough to rid you of the curse, it’ll keep it at bay.”

Whoosh!

Uranus’ tenderly stroked Yeon-woo’s head. Yeon-woo absorbed something and the intense pain and fever died away. Yeon-woo fell into a deep sleep.

* * *

When Yeon-woo woke up, he felt a weight on his lap and discovered an old man bent over it, asleep. It took him some time to realize that the old man was Uranus. It was only then that Yeon-woo realized what had happened the night before. ‘Did he…give me all his holy power?’

Two opposing energies were swirling inside his body. One was calm and warm. It circulated inside him, caressing his body and soul and supporting his new strength. The other energy was ferocious and thrashed about destructively. It was hot and cold at the same time, and it was similar to darkness.

If not for the calm energy, the ferocious one would have already torn his body to pieces. He felt as if his power had been amplified several times because of it. It was obvious what Uranus had sacrificed for his youngest child. Although Yeon-woo wasn’t really Kronos, he felt moved. It was an unfamiliar emotion.

He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t even know if the emotions belonged to him or to Kronos. When he looked at the wrinkles and age spots on Uranus’ face, he felt as if someone had knocked the wind out of him. Just then, Uranus opened his eyes, and Yeon-woo could see Kronos’ worried face reflected in them.

Uranus chuckled. He found his youngest son’s expression endearing. It was such a huge contrast to the time when Uranus had beaten Yeon-woo up. Uranus said in a raspy voice, “You look fine, considering you went around doing scumbag things.”

Even though Uranus wasn’t feeling too good himself, he had put his child’s health first. Yeon-woo realized this was what fatherly love was—it was a protective love for one’s children.

[The synchronization percentage has vastly increased.]

[0% → 3%]

[You have successfully found a ‘very small spring’ out of the lost ‘springs’.]

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