Gods and demons were like laws of nature. Since they were a part of the system, they had the ability to give quests to anyone, and Yeon-woo knew who had given him this particular one. ‘Athena.’
[Athena looks at you with a depressed expression.]
After discovering the truth about Jeong-woo, Athena had grown quiet and hovered around him with a melancholy gaze. Was it because she felt apologetic, or did she have something to say? He didn’t know what she was thinking, but he was sure of one thing: that she cared about him and his brother.
She had given him this quest was because she knew Poseidon and the others were after him, and she wanted to warn him. The closer Olympus grew to Tartarus, the more pressure Poseidon and the others would create. However, this also meant Athena and Hermes were closer as well, and she wanted Yeon-woo to endure until then.
Yeon-woo laughed. While Poseidon and the older generation were trying to stop him because they were concerned about his power, Athena and the younger generation were trying to protect him. It was an internal division within Olympus. He was more curious than ever about the Black King’s identity. The more his curiosity grew, the fiercer his longing for the Black King’s power became. If it was a power that even the great beings in Olympus feared, then all the more reason he had to have it. ‘I have to take this power.’
“Kahn.” Yeon-woo turned to his friend. A questioning expression appeared on Kahn’s face.
Without another word, Yeon-woo shared the quest window with Kahn. After reading the description, Kahn stiffened and glowered at Paneth’s party. Then, he turned back to Yeon-woo with an expressionless face. It was the same face that he’d shown while hunting the descendants of the Monkey King in order to save Doyle. Although he was amiable in normal circumstances, that relaxed demeanor dissolved in front of an enemy.
“What do I need to do?” Kahn nodded frequently as he listened to Yeon-woo’s plan.
* * *
“Look out for that child.”
From far away, the Titan Iapetos’ face wrinkled as he watched Dis Pluto find the courage to get into formation to fight them. Although it was true that he had once been a leader of the Titans under Kronos’ rule and he’d been sent here in disgrace, that wasn’t the reason for his frown. He was remembering what Typhon had said to him before he left.
“Yes, the one who killed a god.”
“The player who killed Astraeus?”
“Correct. The child who has received the favor of gods, demons, and dragons and possesses their potential. The one that appears like a despicable hybrid but possesses pure blood.” Typhon had been smiling in amusement as he spoke about the mortal who’d killed not only Astraeus, but also Titans at the three holy territories.
“Are you saying…I shouldn’t kill him?” Iapetos had narrowed his eyes, not understanding Typhon’s intent. Although he followed Typhon because his power was lacking, he never forgot that he was once been a leader of Titans. This was why he disliked when others tried to give him orders, Typhon included. However, Typhon was too enigmatic and tyrannical to refuse.
“When did I say not to kill him?”
“I’m saying you should observe him. If he’s useless, kill him, or if he’s worthy, swallow him. If he’s too much, run away.”
Run away? Iapetos felt wronged. Even though he was trapped in Tartarus with most of his former power gone, he was a superior being that couldn’t be compared to lowly idiots like Astraeus or Toae. He was one of the original twelve Titans, after all.
The twelve Olympians, such as Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and Demeter, ruled Olympus now, but before them, he sat on the throne as one of the twelve, along with Kronos. Unlike modern Olympus, which had become just one of the societies on the ninety-eighth floor, the Titans had been unrivaled in power in the heavenly world. As someone who remembered the glory days, he couldn’t help becoming furious at Typhon’s advice that he run away. It was an act of mockery. However, he couldn’t express his displeasure since Typhon now held the upper hand.
Typhon knew this too and had smirked at Iapetos for not being able to speak up, as if he thought that Iapetos weren’t all that different from the gods that Iapetos thought were lowly idiots. “Anyway, beware. We wanted the columns to be opened. Gaia’s favor is with us. We’re not meant to be in this dark Tartarus.” Typhon had repeated the words he always said. “Olympus is where we deserve to be, don’t forget.”
The columns of light were symbols of humiliation for them, a reminder of their embarrassing history. They were chains that tied them to Tartarus. How much had they suffered to escape them? But now, they were becoming stairs to a new opportunity. If Olympus could descend to Tartarus, it meant Tartarus could ascend to Olympus as well. The Titans and Giants centered around Typhon weren’t fighting just for the control of the vile Tartarus. Their mission was to climb to the ninety-eighth floor, where the gods and demons were busy taking sides and speaking about peace and ceasefires. They truly believed that it was possible to take over the Tower.
Unlike the beings who had been living in peace, they had suffered in squalor for thousands of years in Tartarus. Moreover, Kronos’ death followed them like a blessing. ‘Our brother, Kronos. Please take care of us even in death.’ Iapetos murmured a small prayer to Kronos’ body, which lay behind them like a mountain. It was a small ceremony the Titans always performed before going to battle, a sign of respect to their blood brother and the god of all gods.
Just then, Iapetos raised his head, sensing something rushing his way. A black projectile was cutting through the red sky. “Begone!” It seemed like it would stop at nothing. Iapetos frowned. It was the same projectile that had taken Astraeus out in a single blow! He was displeased that he was being attacked in the same manner.
With a scowl, he directed his power to his hand, and black energy filled his palm—Kronos’ power which he had stockpiled in his body. He managed to regain a fraction of his old ability as he released the energy.
Boom! Iapetos stretched his hand out to meet the black projectile head-on. His hand grew numb, and he frowned even more. The player was stronger than he thought. Was it because he had the weapon of the Great Sage, who was as impudent as those in Olympus? Iapetos gave up trying to completely break the projectile and summoned more of the Giant god’s power to flick the projectile away. The Ruyi Bang shot into the sky, parting clouds as it passed.
The hole in the clouds revealed a dark and heavy-looking sky. Then—“Afflict!” At those words, storm clouds suddenly gathered in the red sky. Boom! Hundreds of red-black Fire Lightning bolts struck, condensing into one. They fell without stopping, turning the dark world bright for a moment. The cold air grew so warm from the heat they exuded that it was difficult to breathe. Most lower-level divine beings would have perished by now!
Iapetos scowled. With his divine eyes, he could see the different elements in the lightning bolts. “Designated Enemy, Explosion Diffusion, and Curse Contagion? All these powers…! And the Asura King’s power? You fools must be crazy!” Iapetos roared after reading the countless powers within the Fire Lightning.
He couldn’t understand why so many powers had been given to a mere human, and he thought the 5,000 gods and demons who had agreed to it were crazy. He couldn’t let the Fire Lightning continue raining down. They would create a huge explosion, and the individual bolts would join each other to devastate everything. On top of that, it was obvious what kind of horrors Vimalacitra’s Blood Flowers would bring.
Half of the subordinates he’d brought with him would be swept away. Each of them was an important source of strength to Iapetos, and he couldn’t afford to lose a single one, especially since he was waiting to ascend to Olympus. He decided to release all the power that he had been holding in.
The Giant god’s power awakened and expanded his body. A black Giant god as large as a column of light appeared where Iapetos had been standing. The Giant god grew dozens of kilometers and raised a hand to rip apart all the clouds sending down lightning bolts.
Rumble. The storm clouds tried to push Iapetos away, spewing out more bolts, but Iapetos stood firm and withstood the impact of the bolts. He tightened his hold on the storm clouds, which caused Blood Flowers to bloom on the surface of his skin. However, he didn’t even blink. The Fire Lightning scattered with no place to go. The Ruyi Bang had already disappeared at some point as well.
『Where…are you…?』 Iapetos turned around, searching for the owner of the Ruyi Bang. He’d felt a clear presence earlier, but it had vanished. Where did it disappear to?
Boom! Suddenly, Iapetos found himself crashing to his knees. Dust clouds drifted up into the sky. 『What…?!』 Iapetos looked down at his ankles. Black, shadowy creatures were moving busily around his Achilles heel, which had been cut.
「What do you think? We’re hunters, but I’ve never met a prey as large as you before.」 Shanon smiled icily at Iapetos. Compared to the Titan, he was just a small fly, but a blade infused with 〈Volcano〉 caused enough damage.
『You dare!』 Iapetos reached out to crush Shanon. However, Shanon vanished, and Iapetos only managed to leave a handprint on the ground. At this moment, his neck started to feel warm. Boom! Hanryeong had appeared and was swinging his sword around.
Iapetos let out a loud cry that shook all of Tartarus. However, the attacks didn’t stop there. Strong winds suddenly began to blow, and Rebecca whirled around, a pair of eyes opening in the sky to suffocate Iapetos with magic. Kahn and Doyle distracted Iapetos below, Galliard shot his arrows with Brahm’s help, and Creutz and Victoria struck him.
“Help Cain! We can kill Iapetos! It’s our only chance to fell one of the main Titan gods!”
Dis Pluto, who had at first been nervous at Iapetos’ arrival, followed Yeon-woo’s lead. They split into two groups: one to take care of Iapetos’ subordinates, and the other to guard Yeon-woo’s party.
『You dare…! You dare…!』 Iapetos screamed over and over, attempting to swat Dis Pluto away. Many were injured, but they continued to march forward relentlessly.
Yeon-woo’s party aimed for the Titan’s blind spots to exhaust him. At the point where everyone’s face was glowing with hope, Yeon-woo appeared using Blink and sent a burst of Wave of Fire to Iapetos’ head, aiming for an acupoint full of imperfections, a key Core of the Giant god’s power. If he pierced it, the Titan would collapse.
Just as Vigrid was about to pierce Iapetos’ acupoint, the Titan let out a large cry, releasing all of the Giant god’s power collected in his body. The energy whirled into a storm, heating the atmosphere, and spreading in all directions. It swept away everything in its path, including Yeon-woo and the soldiers of Dis Pluto.
* * *
At the same time, the waiting Elohim members began to move on Paneth’s orders:『Go.』