‘What’s going on?’ Yeon-woo’s eyes narrowed. The Illusory World wasn’t breaking apart easily. If the being who created the Illusory World had an unrestrained Consciousness, the Illusory World could restore itself over and over no matter how much damage it endured. This was why those trapped in an Illusory World could not use their full power. That was how the Monkey King’s exuviae had managed to seal the Crawling Chaos.
Yeon-woo had already experienced the power of Illusory Change at the demonic sea, so he had already prepared himself for a struggle inside the Illusory World. No matter how Yeon-woo looked at it, the situation seemed unfavorable. ‘This air… It’s all part of a holy territory. It’s also a great holy territory that a huge society has unfolded. This must be Asgard’s doing, those bastards.’
Yeon-woo realized right away from the rich divine power that Asgard had completely changed the level of the Illusory World. However, he was alarmed to discover ruins within the Illusory World, something that didn’t usually happen. Despite its self-restoring power, the holy territory had been trashed.
The land was already a horrendous environment. The ground had turned black, with large mounds and deep holes. The restoration that had attempted to proceed had been interrupted for some reason, and the half-completed areas only made everything looked even more bizarre.
Asgard’s divine power, which filled the Illusory World’s atmosphere, was also in a strange state. One’s divinity affected the characteristics of one’s divine power, which could overwhelm the entire Illusory World. Yeon-woo sensed that the divine power had been burned to a crisp, as though it were deteriorating. Perhaps it was the result of the battle between Asgard and the Martial King. Even Yeon-woo found it hard to guess just how intense and fierce the battle had been.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Whoosh! At that very moment, as if in reply, the clashes rang from afar. A shockwave reverberated, and even though he had already achieved unity with Kronos and was close to being a supreme god, Yeon-woo grew tense.
『Son, is that…?』
“Yes. I believe it’s my master.”
『Hmm! I heard a lot of great things about him from you, but what the hell is this level…? Can a mortal really possess this level of power?』 Kronos laughed in disbelief. Even he was surprised. Kronos had existed so long that many beings would find it hard to even guess his age. It was possible to say that Kronos had existed with the history of the universe, and he had overseen many worlds and ruled over many universes. He had seen and encountered many mortals, and before meeting Shin Rhea and starting an ordinary family, Kronos considered mortals as insignificant as grains of sand on a sandy beach. His surprise meant that the Martial King’s existence was beyond understanding.
『Are you sure he hasn’t exuviated or transcended?』
“Yes. I’m sure. If he had exuviated or transcended, Allforone would not have let it go.”
『That’s true, but…』 Kronos let out a hmph before continuing, 『You had a lot of influences and advantages from me and Jeong-woo that allowed you to make such great achievements, but I can’t fathom how a mere mortal with no background could rise to such a level.』 Kronos’ words were filled with astonishment. 『Even if he’s the descendent of Shaohao-Jintian… Hmm. Hahaha. I’ve had such a long life that I thought I’d already seen everything.』
Yeon-woo rolled his eyes. It was true that the Martial King was great, but to Yeon-woo, Kronos was no less impressive. “I’ve always known that Master’s powers and abilities were spectacular, but is he really that great?”
『Don’t be silly. If he’s already this powerful, then, once he exuviates…』 Kronos stopped speaking and clucked his tongue. 『He’d start at the king of gods level. About as strong as I was in my prime.』
Yeon-woo listened carefully. Kronos was implying that the Martial King would bring out his full power and glory if he were to exuviate or transcend.
『And if he transcends…? Hmm? I guess he’d start at the emperor level from the start, right?』 Kronos mused. 『Then… how strong is Allforone if he can block a being like your Master?』
As he listened, Yeon-woo flew to the source of the violent clashes. Bam! ‘Where is Allforone? Is he ignoring this because this world is outside the Tower? Would such a nosy guy let this happen?’ Yeon-woo wondered the same thing that the Martial King had. However, Yeon-woo didn’t have much time to think as something like a burned piece of wood flew in front of him.
Crack! Yeon-woo swung Vigrid to cut down the object flying towards him, however, it felt like he was cutting through a lump of sand. The burned wood shattered and scattered in the air before it even had the chance to hit the ground.
『###...! How the hell did he get here?』
At that moment, the three gods who had come to rescue the blackened firewood recognized Yeon-woo and froze in place, stunned, as though they couldn’t believe how Yeon-woo managed to appear. They were completely dumbfounded.
‘I see.’ Yeon-woo realized that their plan had been to quickly assassinate or capture the Martial King and then retreat. After their defeat, Asgard had requested a peace treaty with Yeon-woo’s allies, but behind the scenes, they were plotting with Faceless and others to attack the Martial King.
Asgard was likely hoping that taking some of Yeon-woo’s allies hostage would give them the upper hand when it came to negotiating the peace treaty. Furthermore, Asgard was probably hoping to take their revenge against Yeon-woo by harming those close to him. In their arrogant eyes, the One-horned tribe must have been nothing more than just a group of mortals. Despite the Martial King’s reputation, they probably considered him a simple target they could easily subdue.
However, the Martial King possessed such outstanding skills that even Kronos had been astonished. Thus, since their supreme god Odin was still under the influence of the Heavenly Demon Disease, Asgard had realized too late and with great humiliation how difficult it was to capture the Martial King on their own.
Rumble! Before the three gods could even regain their composure, Yeon-woo swept them all away with sword energy and continued moving until he finally arrived at the epicenter of the battlefield, where the Martial King was.
“Ha, ha, ha, ha…!” The Martial King was breathing heavily. His torso was drenched in so much sweat that he looked like he’d taken a shower. The bulging veins on his muscles seemed on the verge of exploding. It was a terrifying sight. Steam rose from his body, illustrating just how fiercely he had been fighting. The Martial King was so tired that he did not even realize that his disciple Yeon-woo had arrived.
Sss! The gods that the Martial King had just dispatched were reforming. When he saw that a battle was about to break out again, Yeon-woo was ready to jump in and assist the Martial King. He gathered his sword energy when, unexpectedly, something shot at his blind spot. Whoosh!
At Kronos’ warning, Yeon-woo quickly turned and deflected the arrow that had almost reached his forehead. Clang! The impact made Vigrid tremble violently even though it was full of magic power. Yeon-woo’s expression stiffened.
Bam! The arrow was not real; it was a bundle of light. Furthermore, it did not break and only changed directions, splitting into three before flying towards Yeon-woo’s knee, chin, and forehead.
Boom! Bam! Bam! Bam! Yeon-woo layered sword energy onto Vigrid and tore through space as he tried to parry the arrows of light. He managed to destroy two of them, but the one flying towards his forehead split into multiple beams before his sword energy could reach it.
The beams of light bent at odd angles to form a cage over Yeon-woo. It was as if mirrors had been placed around him. Yeon-woo had to create a swirling tornado of sword energy to destroy the beams of light. Once the cage collapsed, Yeon-woo was returned to the ravaged battlefield with its pungent, smoky air. He looked up.
Bam! Someone quietly descended, and as soon as Yeon-woo saw that person’s face, his own expression stiffened. It was the face of someone that Yeon-woo did not expect to see here at all. “Jang Wei.”
Jang Wei the Bow God slightly smiled as he raised his Sun-Shooting Bow at Yeon-woo and pulled. It was the same arrow of light that had perplexed Yeon-woo just a moment ago. The aura Jang Wei emanated did not seem like one from an individual player.
Yeon-woo’s eyes narrowed. “No, you’re not Jang Wei. Who are you?”
The god who wore Jang Wei’s face smirked. “We are called the Trinity Wonders. I am Hou Yi.”
Bam! Hou Yi let loose an arrow. A single beam of light penetrated the world.
『A disciple who knowingly walks to his grave to save his master. Martial King, you have a pretty decent disciple, no?』
Sss! Thor smirked as he restored his spirit body. The situation was going well for him. Thor had planned to capture the people Yeon-woo cared about and use them to gain advantage over him. However, Yeon-woo had appeared of his own accord. If Thor could get rid of Yeon-woo right now, he would do it. Thor and the others had prepared for this possibility, but he hadn’t expected that it would actually happen, considering how clever Yeon-woo was. This disciple’s heart was much softer than Thor had believed.
“Foolish kid,” the Martial King said as he read the situation. When the Illusory Barrier first appeared, the Martial King had overwhelmed Asgard’s forces. However, while Asgard’s forces could revive endlessly, the Martial King had reached his limits and was slowly succumbing to the environmental constraints of the Illusory World.
The Martial King grew more exhausted as time passed. He didn’t even know how long he’d been fighting—it seemed like several months had passed. He was completely disconnected from the outside world, and the Hydra’s venom and Gaia’s Curse were gradually eroding the Martial King’s soul.
Hydra’s venom made even great gods shake with fear, and even with his ability to repel toxins, there was only so much the Martial King could do to keep the venom’s effects at bay. At the same time, Gaia’s Curse tried to scatter the achievements that the Martial King had accumulated so far, which disrupted him as well. If the Martial King had been an ordinary mortal, Gaia’s Curse wouldn’t affect him so badly. However, the problem was that his achievements were so vast that he could exuviate at any time. The One-horned tribe’s martial arts was their medium for accumulating achievements. In other words, the Martial King’s incredible martial arts level was built on his achievements. Thus, if his achievements were damaged, his martial arts would crumble.
It was the same principle as Yeon-woo’s skill, Thought Control.
『The fact that you’re still fighting despite your sorry state speaks to your greatness. My peers and I all have to admit it: your power is astonishing, and it’s a mystery why you’re still a mortal.』
Spit! "You sure have a dirty tongue. Are you scared? Shut up and fight.”
『No. Since ### has arrived, our business with you is over.』
“What kind of bullshit is this?” The Martial King’s face contorted. Didn’t these bastards start the fight? And now they decided they didn’t want to fight anymore? The Martial King’s physical condition had reached rock bottom, and the rational choice would be to leave the battlefield. However, his pride wouldn’t allow him to do so.
Now that Asgard’s forces were planning to focus their attacks on Yeon-woo, as Yeon-woo’s master, the Martial King couldn’t run away and save himself, leaving his disciple behind. However, Thor’s smile became broader as if he already knew the Martial King’s concerns.
『There is someone who’s been waiting his turn, so you’ll be fighting him.』
“What kind of…!” The Martial King’s words faltered when an unexpected person appeared behind Thor.
『Master, it has been a while. I’m not even sure how many years it has been.』 It was Nocturne. He was the Martial King’s second disciple, and the Martial King had thrown him away, just as he did with his first disciple.
However, unlike his encounter with the Sword God, the Martial King’s eyes trembled. “You…!”
“Actually, I didn’t really want to see you like this.”
Nocturne glanced at the Sword God whom Thor was possessing before turning back to the Martial King. Nocturne spoke in a calm tone, “I heard something unexpected recently.”
The Martial King was silent
“I’ve been trying to recover my lost memories but I heard that Master has always known about my past. You’ve been hiding something from me.”
Still stunned, the Martial King didn’t reply.
“I guess what I heard was right. I didn’t want to believe it.” Nocturne smiled bitterly once he saw the Martial King’s eyes tremble. Even though the Martial King had discarded him, Nocturne still saw the Martial King as his master and trusted him, but now, his trust in the Martial King was crumbling like a house of cards.
Nocturne’s expression grew cold as he spoke bluntly, “There’s a secret on the twenty-first floor, in the Shadow Dojo, that none of the ordinary players know, right?”
“Nocturne, listen to me…!”
“In the final section where the number-one player’s simulation should be, Allforone’s simulation is missing.” Nocturne’s eyes darkened. “Is that missing simulation…me?”