The most famous quote about Athena is “the owl of Athena spreads its wings with the falling of dusk”. The light that shone through darkness represented wisdom. The Tower required strategy, tactics, courage, combat will, justice, wisdom, and creativity, which was why Athena was worshipped by the heroes she protected.
Players who climbed the Tower to prove themselves said that she blessed their luck and fate, so it made sense that she had read his brother’s luck and fate after he entered the Tower because of an invitation. In fact, Yeon-woo was curious about a few things related to Athena. She had no reason to look upon him kindly since their only connection was Aegis, and he hadn’t done anything to earn her goodwill. But if she felt guilt because of his brother, then things were different.
Athena knew his brother’s luck and fate, which was why she always looked at him sadly without showing herself. When Yeon-woo appeared after his brother called him, she tried to help him because she felt sorry. It made sense.
“Is that it?” Yeon-woo revealed all his thoughts as he looked at Athena’s gaze.
[Athena is silent.]
[Athena looks at you with sad eyes.]
But Athena didn’t say anything, as always.
[Athena drops her head powerlessly.]
She probably didn’t want to speak about what she’d done. However, Yeon-woo felt like he understood the luck and fate she’d seen in his brother because it was his luck and fate, not Jeong-woo’s.
‘The Black King.’ Persephone said that the Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades’s generation hated the Black King, but the gods of her and Athena’s generation didn’t think that badly of him. She’d said that a few of them even admired him.
At first, Yeon-woo had believed the Black King was Kronos, the king of the Titans who fought over Olympus in the great war against Zeus’s generation and fell to his demise in Titanomachia. But if Persephone said she couldn’t speak about the Black King because of the Styx River pledge, why had Hades spoken about Kronos with ease? And besides, Kronos’ corpse was still in Tartarus being absorbed by the Titans and Giants. It was likely that the Black King wasn’t Kronos after all.
Although his identity was confusing, the Black King wielded a great deal of influence over Olympus, and the power of the being who was respected by gods and demons even beyond Olympus was being passed onto Yeon-woo.
Just as Hermes seemed to like the Black King, Athena admired him. If she had seen some future related to the Black King in his brother which put them in this position today, it made sense that Athena had always accompanied him.
[Athena is silent.]
‘What is it?’ Yeon-woo couldn’t help but think of the Black King again, feeling annoyed that he and his brother had simply been pawns being moved around by someone.
[Athena shakes her head and says that isn’t the case.]
Yeon-woo scoffed. He was grateful that she’d treated him so well, but he couldn’t trust her anymore. There was no way she could change his brother’s luck and fate since she was trapped on the ninety-eighth floor, and he couldn’t look at her kindly when he thought of how she hadn’t helped his brother at all.
[Athena’s shoulders droop.]
[Hermes pats her, smiling bitterly.]
[Agares giggles at the position she’s in.]
[Hermes opens his eyes wide in anger.]
[Agares snorts and asks what he plans to do.]
[Sparks fly between Agares and Hermes.]
[The godly society 〈Olympus〉 refuses to participate.]
[The demonic society 〈L’Infernal〉 announces it will not help Agares.]
Messages popped up about the little quarrel between Hermes and Agares, but Yeon-woo ignored them. He needed to wake his brother up, but how? Although he had taken all the Soul, the purple energy from the medium, the benefit was still in progress. He had watched Jeong-woo close his eyes after rubbing the pocket watch, while in another corner, Jeong-woo was entering the Tutorial. No matter how much Yeon-woo shook him or shocked him with magic power, his brother didn’t budge, his white wings still wrapped tightly around him.
Yeon-woo glared at his brother in annoyance and turned to the scenes created by the letters. ‘The only thing I can do is break the benefit.’ As he muttered to himself, he spread his Fire Wings open. The red and black wings that contrasted sharply with the Sky Wings illuminated the world. He shot his Consciousness inside.
[The synchronization is being strengthened.]
[You are being connected to player Cha Jeong-woo.]
* * *
Although I had just barely passed through the entrance of Section A, the shield I was holding was already covered in arrows. My hands and feet trembled from the traps that continued to activate. What could I do? How could I get through?
My mind was blank. I couldn’t think of anything. I never would’ve come if I’d known it was a place like this. I wanted to go home. I missed Mom. But when I thought of her, I clenched my teeth. She was probably bedridden in the hospital. My desire to see her smile again ignited, and so I stepped forward again after getting a grip on myself.
Swish! The sound it made was tiny, but I heard something fly behind me. I reacted a second too late since I’d been expecting the traps to appear in the front as they’d always done. I was flustered and didn’t know what to do.
‘Huh?’ I suddenly turned around and stretched my right hand out. The arrow seemed to get sucked into my hand, and things didn’t stop there. I twisted my arm to deflect the arrow.
Clang! It collided with another arrow approaching from the opposite side. I had done all of this without even realizing what I was doing. I looked down in disbelief before whipping my head around to look behind me. Someone had helped me from behind, I was sure of it, but I couldn’t see anyone there. The feeling had been so familiar. Was I deluding myself?
‘Hyung,’ I muttered, thinking of someone who wasn’t there. I clenched my fists again. Although I had acted without awareness, I suddenly grew more confident, and a determination to press forward filled my head. I got into the proper position behind my scutum and slowly marched forward again. My legs had stopped shaking.
Little by little, the world began to change.
“They’re behind us!”
Walls of ice suddenly shot up from the ground, scattering the attacks against us. The scavengers who’d tried to ambush me from behind were lost in a labyrinth of ice.
“Ptooey!” I spat roughly on the ground in relief. Just one moment too late, everything would have been over. But—‘Who warned me?’ The dust clouds had blinded me so much that I couldn’t tell what the right time to attack was, but the timing had worked out because I heard someone say “Now”. The voice was familiar and sounded just like hyung. Psh. I smirked at myself. It wasn’t possible. Hyung was on Earth. Still, I was grateful that we were victorious thanks to the voice that sounded like his.
“You sons of bitches! You’re all dead!” I gripped my sword and ran forward.
Every time I might have died, someone was there next to me.
The clan members were silent when Kun Khr announced that he was going to leave the clan. I slowly stood up, the gazes of the clan members on me. Kun looked at me with a blank expression, not understanding what I was doing. I grinned at him. Thwak! I brought my fist down on his head.
“Aaaack!” Kun Khr grabbed his head and stumbled. The face that looked obstinate and ready for a fight was now tearful and questioning, as though he felt wronged.
I snorted. “Are you looking me in the eye right now? Do you think you have the right?”
Kun Khr was silent
“Shut up and trust me. I’ll take care of your revenge.”
“Tsk!” I cut him off, glaring at him fiercely. “Just accept it with your thanks. Why are you still talking? Shut up and follow me.” Normally, I would’ve let him leave since he had probably thought about his decision over and over, but I felt like I would regret it someday. I didn’t want to lose someone special to me. I wondered what hyung would have done, and the answer came easily. I knelt to look him in the eye and patted his head. I said with a warm smile, “I’ll be your lighthouse.”
There were times when I regretted my choices. I could’ve made better ones. Why hadn’t I stepped up during those times?
“You’re the one who’s been poisoning me.”
All those moments changed.
“Martial King ahjussi.”
“What now? Did you come because you want to get beaten up like yesterday?”
“No. I just wanted to say this to you.”
The Martial King waited.
“You should know how to be nice sometimes, hm? And be more generous to your hoobaes. Try to tone down your temper.”
“You must really wanna die, huh?”
“I’m going to die someday, anyway. Shit! Whatever! If you want to kill me, go ahead! I don’t care anymore! Come on, stab me!”
If those changed moments could create a new future…
She was about to turn away in disappointment, but I smiled faintly at her. “Thank you. For everything.”
Could I smile at the end?
Crack! I could hear a breaking sound.
No. Can I smile now?
It was the sound of a glass wall cracking. The fractures spread throughout the entire wall like spiderwebs. The world came crumbling down, and the many versions of me joined together as one. I felt like my head was about to split from all the vestiges and information that was pouring in it, but I realized what was happening.
Slowly, I pulled back the wings that were wrapped around me to see a familiar face that looked exactly like mine, as though I were looking into a mirror. But it was so cold that it looked ugly. My face was better-looking than that. “So you came, hyung.”
As he looked at my bright smile, hyung opened his arms with an impassive expression. Was he asking for a hug? He looked like a robot because of his expression. Still, my tears brimmed in his eyes because it had been a long time since we last saw each other. He was the same as he’d always been: a cold exterior with a warm heart. I grinned, planning to hug him when he suddenly hit the back of my head. Smack!
“Aaack!” My head felt like it was vibrating.