Messages of the quest completion popped up in the window. Yeon-woo breathed out in relief, thinking he had finally gotten rid of this vexing creature, but he still felt a bit uncomfortable at the same time. ‘“Do you think he’s still alive?”
“He’s not a creature who can be described as being alive or dead since he’s a piece of darkness—or a cluster of negative energy. Something like that. He can appear in any form.”
As long as the swamp that was the origin of darkness and emptiness existed, the Demonism would never disappear. He would be reborn. The specific Demonism that had tortured Kronos and Yeon-woo had been destroyed, but another similar Demonism with the past Demonism’s memories could be reborn since he was a piece of the Black King or a part of his will.
However, because the Black King was an unknowable being who was beyond a mere existence or concept, it was difficult to say whether the Demonism was an identity or another ego of the Black King. Beings with his vastness had broad and unfathomable minds, it was hard to determine his will from the surface alone.
It was similar to the time Yeon-woo experienced vertigo when he first encountered the multitude of thoughts of the Crawling Chaos, back when he was still trapped within the boundaries of a player. Of course, the Black King was beyond the weak Crawling Chaos, but the comparison provided some reference.
One thing was for sure: the Demonism was intelligent. It was why he was always anxious and desired more power. He probably wanted to stabilize his ego and become an independent being. Kronos’ and Yeon-woo’s bodies were probably tempting because they were perfect mediums for him.
“He’s like a cuckoo.”
“A cuckoo…yes. That’s one way to put it.”
Cuckoos didn’t have their own nests. They laid their eggs in the nests of other birds, leaving the owners with the task of raising their babies. The cuckoo hatchlings would grow and then kill the real hatchlings of the owner, eventually taking over the nest. The Demonism was similar. He supplied Kronos and Yeon-woo with extreme strength, making them rely on him until he was ready to take over their bodies.
‘Does Harmonia have something similar to the Demonism?’ Yeon-woo recalled the other successor of the Black King he had met at the door of darkness. Although she was a successor of the dragons, she had pretended to be dead and disappeared, causing grief to many. She had forced Yeon-woo away from the door of darkness.
It had been possible because she was more skilled in using darkness than Yeon-woo, but her strength was also powerful. It was something that mere dragons didn’t have, and if she had gained it by combining with a Demonism—and if that was the reason why she was acting as a doorkeeper—things made more sense.
“This is ridiculous.” Yeon-woo felt a burst of annoyance. The Demonism had always hovered inside the Philosopher’s Stone, waiting for the opportunity to take over his body. Even though Yeon-woo had killed him, he would appear again in some form Yeon-woo wouldn’t expect. Yeon-woo felt angry just thinking about it.
“I agree. I also did everything I could to get rid of him, but he’ll be back. But I’m certain of at least one thing.”
“That my strength alone is enough to defeat a divine being even though I’m not connected to the Demonism…?”
Kronos nodded heavily. “You can now use the Black King’s power properly.”
Yeon-woo had mixed feelings as he looked down at the chains wrapped around his arms. He was finally at step one of using the power of darkness? Since his father had said so, it was probably true, but he couldn’t believe it. It was the same thing for spirit-eating. Even though he had successfully swallowed Kronos’ true body, enabling his soul to reach full maturity, he didn’t really feel different.
Was it because he was still in the world of Kronos’ conscious mind? He opened a portal, thinking maybe things would feel different if he returned to the outside world. However, a new window popped up.
[The continuation quest (Qualification Test III - Creation of Spring) has been created.]
[Scenario Quest / Qualification Test III - Creation of Spring)]
[Description: You have successfully dealt with the missing spring that put Kronos in a paused state for a long time. You have succeeded in eliminating the impurity, repaired the broken cogs and mechanisms, and put the lost spring back into its original location.
You have equipped yourself with only one of the springs. The other spring is still missing, and since you know its location, Kronos will be active again.
However, even if the spring is returned to its original position, it cannot be wound, and the mechanisms will not work. One last step remains: wind the spring and activate the mechanisms. Then, Kronos will truly be with you and open up a new path for you.]
[Qualifications: Successor of the Black King]
[Time Limit: -]
[Condition for success:
1. Wind the spring and activate Kronos.
2. Use the manual to learn how to use the activated Kronos and help him reach his dream.]
1. Kronos’ holy power
2. Piece of the clockwork spring
Yeon-woo tensed, thinking the quest was going to make him do something weird again, but thankfully, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in the third quest. He had to equip himself with the spring. The system was using a fancy metaphor for something simple. All he needed to do was finish devouring Kronos. ‘Activating it probably means winding the spring of death.’
Yeon-woo turned to Kronos, who was looking at the window through Yeon-woo’s eyes. Kronos nodded. It was time to escape this maddening world. Yeon-woo closed his eyes. The spring of death located in his heart began to wind up.
Crank, crank! It started to vibrate with the Dragon Heart and Philosopher’s Stone.
* * *
“Sealing a god…!”
“Mother Earth, what is the meaning of this?”
Prince Nezha and Erlang Shen looked at Persephone with stiff faces. It was shocking enough that Persephone managed to overwhelm all the powerful beings present, but her actions were incomprehensible.
God sealing was something that Hyo Ma Qiu had originated and passed down until it reached the Great Sage Sun Wukong, and eventually, the Heavenly Demon. It was a power only allowed to firekeepers. Firekeepers were the beings who protected the holy fire that was also called the fire of the beginning or the fire of origins.
Since holy fire was the light of Ideas that created laws, it was incompatible with gods, who ruled over the laws of nature. It was the reason why the Heavenly Demon, who was neither god nor demon, could seal all divine beings inside the Tower. This was the fire that had caused Luciel’s fall. He hadn’t been satisfied with his position and wanted to be reborn as a firekeeper after swallowing the holy fire. Thanks to this, all gods and demons banished him from the heavenly world.
There was nothing more humiliating for gods than being sealed, and gods of the Chan Sect, who had suffered first from the Heavenly Demon’s actions, stiffened. Yeon-woo could seal gods using pieces of the Ruyi Bang, but he was a mortal. However, Persephone was a divine being from birth. The fact that Persephone could use god sealing so easily could only mean one thing: ‘Mother Earth is scheming something!’
It was impossible for divine beings to learn god sealing, especially Mother Earth, who had existed from the beginning of time. She was no doubt hatching an evil plot. There had been whispers that Mother Earth had been meeting other divine beings or appearing in front of them; had she been too busy plotting? However, there was no time to ask Persephone. The energy of Mother Earth that Persephone released spun in the air and began to expand.
Prince Nezha and Erlang Shen activated their powers and swept the energy back.
『You dare mock me?』 Agares struck his hand down with a furious voice. Black demonic energy from the blade of his hand fell on Persephone’s head. He was angered by Fenrir’s sealing. Although the two of them bickered constantly, he considered Fenrir an acquaintance, and it was inevitable that he would be infuriated. Rage led to madness, and madness was a fountain of strength for Agares.
Dududu…! Intense tremors shook Tartarus as if the stage were about to collapse. Space split, making way for falling black bolts. It was so powerful that the other divine beings didn’t know if they could face it themselves. However, Persephone returned Mother Earth’s energy and sliced the bolts in mid-air with ease. “I should say the same thing. You are the ones mocking me. You were born from Mother but you dare reject this.” Persephone’s eyes glittered. “Return to where you’re from.”
Boom, boom! Mother Earth’s energy fell on them like thorns. At the same time, Agares saw something like a phantom image overlapping with Persephone’s body. It was a giant tree that connected the heavens and the earth. The vast leaves and branches covered Tartarus’ sky, and the roots began to take what was left of the hidden stage’s powers. The large tree was beautiful but somewhat off-putting.
“Is that Yggdrasil…? Was Mother Earth trying to take over the World Tree all this time…!” Prince Nezha shouted in shock, only now realizing what Persephone was attempting.
The societies who were watching were also shocked beyond belief.
[The neutral force <Deva> harbors strong suspicions about the real intentions of <Olympus>!]
[The neutral force <Jie Sect> protests, saying this conflicts with the promises made by <Olympus>!]
[The neutral force <Memphis> has declared they will review the alliance of the heavenly world!]
[The godly society <Malach> grows tense at Mother Earth’s appearance. Metatron has convened the archangels under him.]
[The demonic society <L’Infernal> reviews the severity of the situation. Greater demons are having a heated debate under Baal’s supervision.]
“It’s too late.” However, Persephone just smirked, as if none of it mattered.
The roots suddenly rose and mixed with Mother Earth’s energy. Agares raised a storm of demonic energy to slash at the roots, but they were so tough that they managed to deflect his powers. Boom! In fact, it was more accurate to say that they were absorbed rather than deflected. Even before the powers managed to affect the roots, they had already been sucked inside.
Agares realized this was the same method that had sealed Fenrir. His powers were being used to supply the tree with strength!
[The demonic society <Niflheim> expresses their rage!]
[The chief, Loki, announces a decree regarding this situation. The society will not remain silent on this matter.]
[Jörmungandr is preparing for descent.]
[Hel is preparing for descent.]
[Their attempts to descend have failed.]
Enraged at Fenrir’s sealing, two of the three siblings of Niflheim tried to descend, but it wasn’t easy. With Theia’s death, Persephone now had most of the authority over Tartarus. Invading another holy territory required a large number of laws of causality. Niflheim had already sent Fenrir, so it was difficult for Jörmungandr and Hel to descend as well.
Prince Nezha dealt with the roots while avoiding direct contact with them. The roots were too tough, and if he was hurt, he would be absorbed as well.
“I’ve had to reveal my hand sooner than I expected but…no matter. I…Mother does not want to swallow only you, but also this entire Tower. Do not fight the return to Mother’s embrace.”
Spark! If anyone else had said these words, they would have been considered crazy, but since it was Persephone, they had to take it seriously. She was on the level of a supreme god. In fact, she was strong enough to be a king of gods, which was a level of strength that didn’t exist after Kronos.
The divine beings stiffened, not knowing how to fight Persephone. She turned in a different direction. “And as for that…” She was looking at Kronos’ still-shaking corpse. “I must take back Mother’s son, Kronos.”
Swish! The strongest root bolted through the ground towards Kronos’ corpse.
“No!” Athena frantically hurtled forward in the same direction. She couldn’t allow Persephone to take Kronos’ body while Yeon-woo was still in there.
Hercules and Ares quickly tried to chase after her, but the roots held them back. Athena reached Kronos’ corpse and rapidly spread Aegis open. However, even if it was a strong holy artifact, it didn’t seem like it could stop the roots. Everyone watched as Athena seemed to be on the verge of being swept away by the roots, when suddenly—
[Player ### is descending!]
Crack! With the cracking sound of a hatching egg, Kronos’ corpse was destroyed.Previous Chapter Next Chapter