Team: HH, thursdays, Yahiko (300(0)/12)
‘I was lucky.’
Yeon-woo’s eyes shined as he looked at the apostle of one of the Cyclopes, Aldin. Was it because he had exuded an intense Consciousness before he died? It might’ve been because he was an apostle. Whatever the reason was, despite the time that had passed, Aldin’s soul was relatively intact.
He looked a bit out of it, but it seemed like there would be no problem communicating with him.
‘And I don’t know if Brontes had a hand in this, but a part of his holy power is left.’
Yeon-woo spoke with flashing eyes.
“Wait a moment. I have something to take care of first.”
Aldin seemed to want to say something, but Yeon-woo intentionally ignored him and quickly scanned the gate.
Nemesis and Nike were unleashing all the power they had stacked up during their slumber in the Philosopher’s Stone.
The poisons and acids were rapidly purified by the Holy Fire, and the ghost monsters that had been threatening at first were now being pushed back.
Boo cast his magic, and below him, Shanon, Hanryeong, and Rebecca were running around the battlefield. Monster Portents popped in and out from the shadows.
Just then, the head of the first ghost monster was crushed, and its body fell down.
It was a rough explosion, and Yeon-woo could feel the heat from where he was. In this battle, Yeon-woo was using everything he had.
On one side, Creutz was fighting busily. Since he was a player who used holy power, it looked like he was being pushed back by the ghost monsters, who used completely opposite powers from him.
‘This isn’t enough.’
He narrowed his eyes.
They had taken down a ghost monster and were doing what they could to take care of the rest of them, but the ghost monsters were learning from the fights. They were looking for the chance to fight back. It meant they were memorizing the attack patterns of Yeon-woo’s party.
Moreover, additional ghost monsters continued to pop out from the surface. Underground, even more ghost monsters were trying to squeeze their way up. He couldn’t imagine how many of them there were.
‘Is there a way?’
If he had to fight, he would. Although it would be exhausting. Each ghost monster may have had an aura that was equal to Yeon-woo’s, but Yeon-woo knew how to fight. He was confident he could run from here or stall for time somehow.
‘But the problem comes after that.’
Then what happened if he entered the next gate? With his strength drained, there was no way he could get through it. Also, there could’ve been stronger monsters than the ghost monsters in this gate.
Yeon-woo had to find a solution.
His right wrist and left ankle trembled. It was like the Despair and Grief of the Black King were asking what he was doing.
Suddenly, Yeon-woo realized what he had been missing.
Why had he only thought of fighting? All the gates that led to Tartarus should be advantageous to him.
[Sea King Stone – Tannin Fear]
Yeon-woo began to combine fear with his Consciousness. Tannin Fear. An aura any monster would feel threatened by started to be projected around him.
He spread his hands out in front of him. Tannin Fear spread across his selected domain and pushed the shoulders of the ghost monsters down.
Like they were all tied to heavy stones, the gravity around them began to bind them.
The ghosts that made up the ghost monsters realized something was strange and began to jump around.
Tannin Fear bent the will of your opponents and forced them down. It might’ve been difficult against the monsters as a whole, but it was fine against each individual ghost.
They were pained from the mental pressure they received.
The movements of the ghost monsters slowed. They realized it was because of Yeon-woo and slowly turned their heads, but they were already like broken robots.
「Huh? Why are they like that?」
「I suppose he’s trying to do something」
Shanon and Hanryeong looked over at Yeon-woo. Still, they had their guards up in case something went wrong.
Yeon-woo was also being pressured by the monsters.
‘I’m gonna lose it.’
Each individual ghost was no problem, but there were too many of them when they were combined like this. It was like all of the souls of the players who died in the ten gates were gathered here.
All kinds of emotions and vestiges were intertwined complexly inside.
If Yeon-woo took a wrong step, he could easily join them. Too many things were spinning around his head.
The impact from causing chaos among the ghosts almost took over Yeon-woo’s mind.
[You maintain your rationale through the ‘Cold-blooded’ trait.]
He activated the Authorities of the Black King with the help of the trait.
Despair dealt with souls, and Grief with death. He felt it was possible if he used the greater Authority of the two.
[The 2nd Soul]
He clenched his fist.
Like he was pulling the strings of a marionette, the ghosts at the end of the string began to shake.
The ghosts all trembled.
Pew pew puk—
The ghost monsters crumbled from explosions. Not only did the ghost monsters standing above ground fall, even the ones who were trying to get to the surface were destroyed.
Instantly, the sixth gate was filled with ghosts. There were ten thousands of them at first glance. No, there were probably hundreds of thousands.
An ashy fog spread out, and it began to move in a great vortex.
Creutz widened his eyes in surprise. Ghosts were screaming in front of him. Despair and grief rang throughout the gate.
Yeon-woo pulled his fist towards him. Then, the twisted bunch of ghosts came in his direction.
A new abyss opened in front of his eyes.
Soul Collection. The chest of his enslaved souls opened its mouth gruesomely.
The ghosts realized what Yeon-woo was trying to do and tried to escape, but they couldn’t turn away from the process that had already started.
All the souls were being sucked up into the Soul Collection. It was a wonder how it was possible through that small hole, but the abyss was eating everything up. Then, it shut its mouth.
Koong, koong, koong—
Of course, there was no way it would end well.
The space shook. The door to the Soul Collection appeared and disappeared again. The souls inside were trying to kick and squirm to get out.
They were all souls that were pent up in this gate for a long time, and they had intense vestiges. The number of souls could probably make up an army. The souls seemed to be familiar with working together.
Binding them by force with the Authority wasn’t easy, especially at his current level.
Furthermore, the size of his collection had a limit of 20,000. He had already exceeded it.
『Alright. I didn’t think of using ‘Dream’ in this way.』
Nemesis began to lay the dream around him onto the Soul Collection.
It was a strength that swallowed everything around it. There were no exceptions to the souls. The Soul Collection turned to nothing in an instant. It had been bound to Nemesis.
The forced binding began. As each soul was marked, their resistance decreased. And when the last of them was finished…..
Yeon-woo was able to unclench his fist. He had put so much into this that his blood was dripping from beneath his scales.
His hands were still trembling, and his clothes were drenched with sweat.
But looking at his bracelet that was crying in joy, he grinned.
Aldin looked at Yeon-woo with a blank face.
Creutz had the same dumbstruck expression.
* * *
‘It’ll take some time to summon all of them.’
Yeon-woo was able to clean up the situation after he recovered a bit.
The first thing he checked was the Soul Collection. His mind was feeling heavy because too many souls were floating inside of it.
[Collected souls: 121,334]
‘……This is crazy.’
Looking at the collected souls, Yeon-woo clicked his tongue. It was a ridiculous number even for him. How was this possible?
‘No. I guess it’s obvious in a way.’
He had swept in all the souls on the stage. Also, they were all souls that had been powerful when they were living. They were of good quality.
The Black King was a being who was respected by all gods and demons who ruled over death. Azrael called himself the Black King’s servant. It might’ve been obvious that the artifact of such a being could do things like this.
It was accurate to say Yeon-woo was unable to use the artifacts to the fullest because his level was too low.
‘When I digest all of these, I’ll evolve the Monster Portents first and take a deeper look into the Authorities of the Black King.’
Yeon-woo was quite satisfied.
『Ha, must be nice. It’s me who’s doing all the work. 』
Nemesis complained. Yeon-woo had only been able to take care of the souls all thanks to Nemesis.
‘Thanks. But shouldn’t you do that at the very least since you’ve been sleeping inside of the Philosopher’s Stone all this time?’
『Then what about Nike?!』
『You called for me?』
Nike had returned to his bird form atop Yeon-woo’s left shoulder. He looked like he was having the time of his life.
Yeon-woo stroked Nike’s chin and spoke to Nemesis.
‘That’s child abuse.’
『Then isn’t this abuse to me too?!』
‘Do you want to make him do it that badly?’
Nike tilted his head with shining eyes, like he didn’t know what Nemesis was talking about.
Nemesis cursed, unlike his usually calm self.
Nike was bigger, but he was still a child inside. Because Nemesis treated him like a little brother, he would never ask Nike to do anything difficult. Yeon-woo knew this well.
『Argh, that personality of yours……!』
Feeling wronged that he was the only one doing manual labor, Nemesis shouted at Yeon-woo and turned around.
His previous owner had never done anything like this. They were twins, but they were completely different people.
‘I guess I’ll have to do something for him in the future.’
Nemesis got upset easily.
Yeon-woo turned around, thinking he should give Nemesis a present sometime, when he saw Aldin looking at him with a black face. When they met eyes, Aldin straightened his back.
「Y, You…… how.」
Aldin was a powerful player when he was alive. He was confident he wouldn’t lose if he fought Yeon-woo in his youth.
However, Aldin had fought the ghost monsters alone, letting his brothers run away before him, and in the end, he died.
On the other hand, Yeon-woo not only defeated the ghost monsters but also enslaved them. Aldin found it hard to believe even though he had seen it himself.
Most of all, the power that Yeon-woo used was…..
「How can a player wield the power of Death……!」
It wasn’t a power that was allowed to mortals.
However, Yeon-woo didn’t need to answer Aldin’s question. Right now, he was rushed for time.
‘His soul is fading.’
The vestige around Aldin was losing its color. Unless he made Aldin a spirit like Rebecca, Aldin would probably become a ghost. He would lose sight of his identity.
“Is the Channeling with the Cyclops Brontes still connected? I want to speak with him. I want to know where Hades is.”
Aldin snapped to attention.
「Who are you? How do you know about the god I serve….. and about Lord Hades, too!」
“I’ll just tell you I’m a messenger heading to Tartarus on Persephone’s request. I want to tell you more, but it seems like you don’t have much time.”
Aldin understood what Yeon-woo was saying and nodded his head solemnly. Once his identity was gone, the Channeling would be cut off as well.
What he did needed to be of utmost secrecy, but someone who had received orders from Persephone deserved to hear.
「Lord Brontes was asleep with me here. Waiting for Lord Hades to appear….. chasing after the prophecy….. and it seems like you’re the person in the prophecy.」
Just when Yeon-woo was about to ask what he was talking about,
Aldin disappeared. The last of the holy power he had vanished, and white light soared to the sky.
What descended from the column of light was a Giant god with a single eye.
『Are you the one who called me?』
It was the descent of the oldest of the Cyclopes, Brontes.
“Yes, that was me. I’m here on Persephone’s request to chase after Hades into Tartarus, and I found you here.”
The time allowed to Brontes didn’t seem that long either. He was fading away. His soul seemed to have been injured greatly, seeing as his body was covered in injuries. He didn’t look like a god.
Yeon-woo got straight to the point. Brontes spoke with a nod.
『As you already know, we were heading to Tartarus with an item on Hades’s command. However, our youngest accidentally revealed what we were doing, and we had to run away.』
“What is the item?”
It was definitely the item in the chest from the vestige Yeon-woo saw. The item that Hades said to bring. The secret of Tartarus would undoubtedly be contained inside of it.
What was that supposed to mean?
『It’s the fire that can vanquish the darkness that’s polluting the Undergrounds of Tartarus, Erebus, and the five rivers around it—Acheron, Cocytus, Phlegethon, Lethe, and Styx.』
When Brontes opened his hand, a small chest appeared. It was the chest that the three apostles had. When the identity of the “fire” was revealed…..
Yeon-woo’s eyes widened.
It was Luciel’s Soulstone.