Chapter 170 – Preparations for Darkness (1)
There was a mythical dungeon that worked as a prison to retain people until they died.
Wasn’t the place they found themselves in, a fog prison you couldn’t get out of until you died, similar to that?
‘This is a place it seems neither a human nor a devil would live in, but still, if only we could find one…’
Hyun was looking around when…
“Long time no see!”
Hyun was surprised by the voice that came out of nowhere.
Ain’s shoulders jumped, and Louise almost bit her tongue.
Hyun slowly turned his head and saw a familiar face.
There was no way that person wearing such a unique robe was a Priest.
“Oh, so you remember my name today! That’s right!”
It was the Priest he’d seen for the first time at the Twilight Temple.
He’d seen her once more in Iluna’s Symmetrical World, so that was the third time he’d seen her.
He always met Rutia out of nowhere in situations like that.
‘Don’t they say that unknown kindness is the scariest thing?’
Although she didn’t feel animosity toward him, Hyun couldn’t figure out her identity, so he couldn’t feel relaxed around her.
“Oh, come on,” Rutia complained while looking at Hyun being wary of her.
“I’ve helped you every time we’ve seen each other… Isn’t it about time you just trust me?”
“Who are you…?”
“Why are you asking me the same thing? Did you already forget? I’m that girl’s guardian!”
Rutia was proudly puffing out her chest, and her cleavage was prominently displayed.
Just like before, Hyun couldn’t help but think a Priest’s robe didn’t suit her.
He had numerous things he wanted to ask her…
How was it possible that she could appear there? What was her identity?
“Then, are you also a demon?” Ain asked first before Hyun could open his mouth.
“…Because she’s a demon,” she said while pointing to Louise.
Since she was the guardian of a demon, she was also probably a demon. It was a reasonable line of thought. Rutia thought about it for a while but then nodded.
“Hmm… This is something I can now say. Yes, you’re right!”
Hyun wasn’t that surprised.
The moment he realized Louise was Darkness, he’d thought of the possibility of Rutia being a demon. Then he asked a follow-up question.
“What’s… your name?”
According to Hyun’s information, there weren’t any angels or demons named Rutia.
Just by hearing a Transcendent’s name, Hyun could figure out whose faction they belonged to and their rank.
Since the name of all demons ended with -al, there was no need to keep insisting on the name ‘Rutia’.
“Hmm… I cannot tell you that yet… Also, this isn’t time for you to ask me my name!”
Rutia put her hand on top of Louise’s head.
As a red wave spread through her, Louise’s expression calmed down.
“What did you just do…?”
“I restrained her Empathy. She’ll be okay for the time being.”
“Restrained her Empathy…?”
“Yes. I should do this much, at least. After all, I’m her guardian!”
After checking over Louise, Rutia called out the group.
“Weren’t you trying to go to the sanctuary?”
“Yes. That’s right, but…”
“That’s why you should follow me.”
She suddenly started to guide the group.
When he thought about it, Rutia had offered herself to be the guide on Illuna, too.
‘ How suspicious…’
But since it seemed like she was really trying to help them, Hyun began following her.
“Too slow. Can’t we go a bit faster?” Hyun anxiously asked while they walked.
The Heavens’ Knights should’ve been rushing toward that place at the moment… but considering that, Rutia’s steps were too slow.
If they kept moving at that speed, by the time they arrived at the ruins, they might have already been destroyed.
But Rutia just shook her head.
“We mustn’t run.”
“This is currently the fastest way there.”
Rutia explained while walking through the chilly fog.
“We’re following the land’s aorta at the moment. You’ll get absorbed by the fog if you go against the flow.”
Suddenly, a thought crossed Hyun’s mind.
[The road toward Darkness starts from the lighthouse, connects with a canyon, and leads toward the heart, but if you want to reach the heart, you’ll have to wander the fog.]
—The passage he’d found at the interloop.
Rutia’s explanation kept going on while Hyun was recalling that.
“The fog is the blood that runs through the land of Darkness. It might be poison for those that aren’t used to it, but for others, especially to Darkness, it’s like the source of life.”
“Darkness is okay…?”
“Ah, but don’t even think of throwing that girl into the fog, okay? Give it a few more years and she’d be fine.”
While they were talking about numerous things, the group reached a place where they couldn’t see anything in front of them.
“Don’t move from now on.”
When Rutia finished talking, the group felt that an unknown strength was trying to pull them.
It felt as if they were going down a water slide. They were being dragged somewhere, but they weren’t sure where that was.
…But what they were sure of was that they were moving at an incredible speed.
“Don’t touch anything. You could die, okay?”
Ain, who was looking at the wall of the passageway in interest, flinched and moved back her hand.
After warning Ain, Rutia looked at Hyun.
“Do you have enough tiredness percent?”
[Tiredness Rate: 48]
[If your tiredness surpasses 100, you’ll be forcibly logged out!]
In the state he was in, he could perfectly game for another 10 hours.
“I’m okay at the moment…”
“That’s good to hear!”
Rutia smiled brightly.
She kept talking to Hyun, who had fallen deep into thought.
“If you have time, «Pray». No, it would be better if you forcibly made time to «Pray».”
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“Yes. You haven’t used «Pray» recently, right? If you had, I wouldn’t have struggled this much,” Rutia complained while looking up and down at Hyun.
Numerous thoughts crossed Hyun’s mind. He couldn’t even fathom what he should ask first.
“Rutia, is it possible that you’re…”
But before Hyun could ask anything, she had disappeared and left a final message.
“If you don’t get lazy, it shouldn’t be impossible if you start right now. Following the Aorta will give you about two hours of advantage. Two hours should be enough, right?”
After saying that, Rutia entered the fog, and her figure started to get blurry; then she completely disappeared.
Even after Rutia disappeared, Hyun and the rest of the group kept following where the fog took them.
Hyun used «Pray».
The target was Louise, of course.
According to what they’d heard from somewhere, if you lowered your consciousness and accepted the Transcendent’s feelings, the effectiveness % increased.
They were in a sanctuary that was called the heart of Darkness.
Was it because of that? Hyun could feel Louise’s emotions more clearly.
Admiration, Regret, Thankfulness…
Hyun laughed as he used «Pray».
There were lots of mixed emotions, but the biggest one was ‘Trust.’ Louise believed in him too much.
Demons were, by nature, beings that had a lot of doubts… was it okay that the demon of demons, a great demon, believed in him so innocently?
‘Maybe it’s because she’s still young.’
Darkness was still young and weak.
Even if he managed to clear the main quest successfully, he wasn’t sure if Louise would become a great demon.
Even when she’d recovered her old strength for a short while, wings didn’t grow on Louise’s back.
It was because her Ego was still too small for her to become a real demon.
‘Well, I guess she still has a lot of development to do in order to become a real demon.’
[Your «Pray» has reached level 9!]
[Part of the seal on the Robe of the Praying Priest has been unlocked!]
Hyun «Dissimilated» when he heard the notification.
His proficiency rate was close to 9 in the first place, but his proficiency rate increased faster when he was «Assimilated» into Louise, so it didn’t take long.
The robe had a black and white pattern.
Hyun opened its status window to check out the transformation.
[The Robe of the Praying Priest (Legendary)]
Requirements: [Empathy 300]
It’s the Robe of a Priest who prayed to a demon. A powerful strength is hidden within it.
– Lv.6: [Protection of a Transcendent]
– Lv.9: [Possession] (※ New Ability!)
– The item’s abilities are sealed.
– It will unlock when [Skill: Pray] reaches 12.
Hyun blinked numerous times. He was wondering if he hadn’t seen wrong.
“Hmm? What do you mean by ‘legendary’?”
“Wait, I’m also not sure what’s going on yet…!”
He clearly hadn’t seen the Robe of the Praying Priest’s rank wrong.
Although there were a few growth-type items in Asra, they did exist. He had never imagined that the unique robe he’d obtained was one of those items.
‘There weren’t any posts in the communities that said that a legendary-rank item was given out, right?’
After reading that the first legendary-rank item would appear in the ‘Black Town’ quest, every user went crazy and went to the Symmetrical World at the risk of their own lives.
According to what Salon told him, Asrian-related sites were going crazy.
A legendary was something that was just that attractive to users. To think such luck would come to him.
But soon, Hyun realized another impressive thing.
‘But there’s still another ability!’
One that unlocked at level 12 of «Pray»!
The item he thought was exclusive to a Support was starting to show more of its real self as time passed.
It wasn’t legendary just by name, but it had an ability worthy of being called that.
The one that «Pray»s is set to become like the one they pray to! The most familiar being will dwell in your body.
– You turn into the form of the Transcendent you’ve most recently Emphasized to.
– You can use the ‘normal skill’ that the Transcendent has.
– Duration: 30 minutes.
(※ Warning 1: If your trust with the target is shallow, the skill won’t activate!)
(※ Warning 2: If the difference in power is too big, part of its strength will be sealed!)
Although Louise wasn’t that powerful at the moment, she would probably grow a lot once the main quest was over.
As she learned more skills, «Possession» would probably become as strong as an ultimate attack.
It would probably become a transformation ultimate attack similar to Ain’s.
‘How much does Rutia know?’
At that point, his interest in Rutia’s true identity grew.
Seeing how she asked him to «Pray» before doing anything else, she probably knew about the hidden potential of the Robe of the Praying Priest.
The effect of the item, the way to the Symmetrical World, the hidden truth about the fog, secrets related to Louise… Rutia was truly a woman who knew everything.
If she knew everything…
Did she already know the future and how to change it? Was that why she told him to «Pray»?
‘It’s almost as if she told me to use this skill.’
If the time when he had to use «Possession» came… Rutia was definitely not a normal NPC.
“What’s a legendary?!”
Hyun came back to his senses after hearing Ain’s voice.
It seemed like Ain was looking at him from a short distance.
He showed her the status window of his upgraded item.
“It’s nothing now… but a skill appeared.”
He told her the effect of «Possession» while moving.
It was Ain, after all, so there was nothing wrong with her knowing the effect of it.
“To put it simply, it’s a skill that lets me turn into Louise.”
“Wh-what? Turn into me…?”
It seemed like Ain had understood it, but Louise became surprised by what she’d heard.
Hyun had to explain things to her, who wasn’t a user, in a way she could understand for a while.
Anyway, he’d increased the level of «Pray», so Hyun could think of future plans a bit more relaxedly.