Chapter 177 – Just in Case (2)
‘Maybe they really died.’
There were 10 of them… Had they really all died?
Hyun couldn’t help but feel that they had managed to survive, so he decided to give a warning to Ain, too.
「Ain, is there anyone suspicious around?」
「Hmm? No. Why?」
「Try to maintain the buffs at all times just in case.」
「I don’t have the ultimate attack anymore. You’re talking about «Latent Potential Boost», Right?」
「Yes. Also, try to maintain your HP bar at full. I’m going to send some devils you can hit.」
「Fufu. If it’s your order, I’ll do it.」
It had been dozens of minutes since she began protecting the altar, but nobody had neared it.
Although, at first glance, it might have sounded like too much, she followed his orders without question.
「If you see a user around there, send me a message.」
Hyun quickly realized what she meant, so he quickly replied.
「I know what you’re thinking, but don’t try to fight alone.」
「I know that much. After all, you care a lot about Louise.」
「No. It’s an important quest, after all…」
「But you know that, If three years pass, Louise will probably grow a lot.」
「What do you mean…?」
「Come on. Even if I don’t say it, you know it. The only one that suits Hyun’s tastes will be me…」
Hyun said the rest of what he had to say before his head began hurting.
「Anyway. Send me a whisper immediately if you feel like something is going on.」
Hyun sighed and shook his head.
At the same time, he saw a group of Knights moving toward the altar.
‘I’ll have to block the remaining ones.’
[Remaining time before Darkness recovers part of her Ego: 60 minutes 16 seconds]
Once again, Hyun borrowed the lich’s strength.
The commander’s order was sent to every one of its underlings.
The huge group of undead, by itself, was like a lethal weapon.
They were cutting off the cliff, redirecting the fog, and blocking the passageway with their corpses.
He’d given an order to block the Knights at all costs.
‘Haa… As expected, their specs are lacking, so it isn’t easy.’
Even if they’d lost their commander, they were still a Knight squadron.
The only thing that he could do was slow them down. He couldn’t help but think that he was able to slow them because it was him who was doing it.
He really needed Ain’s help, but she was the last line of defense for Darkness, so he couldn’t call her without thinking about it carefully.
‘It really is hard.’
Hyun looked to Louise at the top of the altar and smiled bitterly.
She was very demanding until the end.
The heart of Darkness…
In the past, people believed that they thought and felt from their heart.
The fact that the brain was in charge of consciousness was revealed quite a lot of years in the future… so the title of ‘Heart’ was probably put in many years before.
Darkness’s heart kept going up. Fog spurted from the altar like a fountain.
“Ah. If we cannot block Darkness’s ceremony…!”
The Heart was the Transcendent’s consciousness.
The Underground rising meant that Darkness was starting to get an Ego.
The few Heavens followers that knew what that meant were looking at the scene in front of them with desperate eyes.
“Darkness is going up to the surface…!”
In a place that was far from the altar…
Steel Rock heard what the NPCs around them were mumbling.
‘How weird. The NPCs seem to be talking about Darkness… But it isn’t time yet for an episode related to Darkness to appear.’
Even ‘Deception’ hadn’t appeared yet.
In the previous game, the episodes related to Darkness appeared a year after Deception’s episode.
Unless the main story had completely changed, that wasn’t something that should happen.
While he was thinking about that, an alarm sounded.
[You’ve recognized Darkness!]
[You’ve fulfilled the conditions!]
Steel Rock suddenly stopped.
“Do you want to go to the bathroom?”
Steel Rock couldn’t answer the questions of his allies due to the influx of quest messages he was receiving.
[You’ve activated the ‘Main Quest: The Will of Light’!]
You have the brightest possibility, so be prepared to accept my oracle.
– Go through the road indicated by the light.
– If you cannot block Darkness’s ceremony at the end of the road, the seed of Darkness will rise to the surface.
Reward: Increased affinity with the forces of Light, Divine Power.
“Darkness…! Main quest…! The oracle of Light…!”
Steel Rock had received an unexpectedly huge quest.
While he was mumbling some words, his partners began gathering around him.
“Hey, guys, wait. Steel Rock is acting weird.”
“You’re right. What is he mumbling about…?”
While everyone was looking at him in worry, someone guessed a few things from the words he mumbled.
“Light, Darkness… Are you talking about the archangel and the great demon? And a quest on top of that. Don’t tell me, did you receive a quest from them?”
“What? Steel Rock, give us more details!”
He returned to his senses after hearing the guild leader’s voice. He explained to the rest what he’d just discovered.
“The Black Town’s Quest… I don’t think it’s a normal quest.”
“It’s related to Darkness.”
“Darkness? But there was never an episode like this before.”
“That’s right. It also isn’t time for Darkness to appear yet.”
Steel Rock began answering the other’s questions.
“Just like Iluna’s event time changed, it seems like Darkness’s appearance also changed.”
“Then, this Black Town’s Quest…?”
“It’s probably the first part of Darkness’s episode. To put it simply, it might be the prologue.”
“Yes. Of the story that was advanced by NPCs in Asra.”
[You’ve recognized Darkness!]
[You’ve fulfilled the conditions!]
After Steel Rock finished explaining, everyone got the same message.
“What? Me too!”
“Main Quest…? What’s this?”
As something unexpected happened consecutively, there was a commotion among the group.
It took them a bit of time to realize what was happening.
“It really is Darkness’s episode?”
“Yes. Even if it’s the prologue, it’s the main story!”
“Haha. We’re finally at the front! We’ve finally caught up!”
“As expected of Steel Rock. You don’t miss any information related to the world’s story!”
“Everyone, calm down…”
The guild leader raised his hand and calmed everyone.
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“Darkness’s story is already being done. What does that mean?”
“Ah, don’t tell me…!”
“Yes. That probably means that there’s someone who has advanced history.”
Hyun, and Ain…
Among the Returner’s Guild, those two IDs had a special meaning.
It didn’t matter what they did, they weren’t able to surpass them. How much they’d lost against them had become a trauma for them.
“I’m not sure if we’re going to meet them… but we don’t have a reason to be afraid anymore.”
“We already know their specs. We’re going to overwhelm them.”
The guild leader thought that they couldn’t live forever having trauma.
It was time they got their revenge. It was also time to make them feel defeat for the first time.
“Steel Rock, record it properly.”
“Hmm? I’m doing that already.”
“I’m telling you to focus on recording. If we face them, we must figure out their skills.”
Was it cowardly to try to win a fight with numbers?
In the past, they’d lost despite having the number advantage. Winning, no matter what, was the most important thing.
How much had they prepared to make the main quest a success? Feeling the desperation of all your efforts crumbling to dust… It would be great if Hyun and Ain felt it at least once.
The guild leader took a step forward while biting his lips.
A beam of light shot from the group.
The light from the Returner’s Guild was melting down the fog and opening a road.
They went along with the oracle’s indications and followed in the direction the light indicated.
Suddenly, they were crossing through a fog tunnel.
“This fog… Seems dangerous.”
“I think that we better not touch it.”
From time to time, they heard the ground shake, but they didn’t know what was going on outside.
Except for the path indicated by Light, all of their surroundings were covered by a curtain of Darkness, so they didn’t know where they were walking.
They just walked along a passageway where there weren’t any humans or devils.
“How much do we have to walk?”
“There doesn’t seem to be an end.”
After they’d walked for dozens of minutes, the light’s guidance finally ended.
They saw a pyramid with a waterfall of fog falling below it through a half-transparent curtain.
They saw a devil there looking around.
Judging by how she blinked, it seemed she couldn’t see them.
“No. Her face seems similar.”
While everyone was looking at the devil that looked somewhat familiar, someone shouted.
“It’s Ain, you idiots!”
She wasn’t covered by Demonic Energy, so everyone was able to recognize her face.
“I knew we were going to meet her! But isn’t Hyun here with her?”
At that moment, a new task appeared in their shared quest.
– Before the time runs out, you must cut the Seed of Darkness.
– Make sure fear doesn’t spread to the surface.
“It’s obvious, right? Fight!”
“Are you recording?”
“Yes! I’m recording in the highest possible quality!”
Suddenly, he felt somewhat disappointed.
It was true that Hyun’s death would have a bigger impact than Ain’s, but what if they weren’t together? Things might end too easily.
The guild leader hoped things wouldn’t end so boringly.
A disturbing sound echoed everywhere.
Hyun turned around in surprise after hearing a loud sound.
‘To think that the entire land would go up.’
A surface that went over dozens of kilometers was separated from the rest of the land and became an island floating in the sky. A huge hole appeared from where the land was.
It was something that had happened because they were in the last part of the ceremony. Darkness’s heart was rising up into the air.
“Ah, this humble man wasn’t able to defeat Darkness!”
“I’ll pay the price with my life…!”
As a waterfall of fog fell from the floating island, the Heavens NPCs screamed in desperation.
Hyun sighed and looked at the sky after retreating from the dangerous place.
‘This is better for me.’
As time passed, the altar rose higher up into the sky.
The road that led toward the altar was cut, so except for a few NPCs, they probably couldn’t even get close to her.
‘Now I just need to be careful about the flying Magicians!’
Even for a Magician of over level 300, going through the fog and reaching the altar shouldn’t be easy; that was also probably the case for users.
‘Is it about to end now?’
The moment he was sure that the quest would be cleared successfully…
Ain’s hurried voice reached HHyun’s ears.
Hyun’s heart sank after hearing Ain’s scream.
「Ain? What’s wrong?」
「Come right now!」
「What’s wrong? Did an enemy appear…? Ain?」he asked back, but he didn’t hear Ain’s voice again.
Hyun checked his friend window.
Seeing that she was still online, it seemed like she hadn’t died yet.
Was she in such a desperate situation that she couldn’t answer?
‘What’s going on…?’
Hyun bit his lips. After giving a giant bat an order, Hyun «Disassimilated» from the lich.
「Try to resist. I’m on my way!」
Hyun got up on a bat that approached.
Fwoosh-! The moment the bat began flapping its wings, the floor he had been standing on crumbled.
When he rose into the sky, dozens of rays of light suddenly flew toward him.
He blocked the rays and turned his head. There, he saw that the Archers from the Holy Kingdom were targeting him.
He had made a mistake in his urgency.
After flying up into the sky without looking around, he’d become a target for enemies.
A rain of arrows was about to pour on him when…!
As if time had halted, the arrows flying toward the bat stopped.
The arrows changed direction and… Pang! They flew back toward where they were loosed.
It was «Reverse Track», a magic that changed the direction of an attack.
Hyun saw Mayday sitting on a bat behind him.
“Hyun, so you were here!”
It seemed like Mayday had gone to him while blocking the enemies.
“It seems like the entire world is crumbling… Shouldn’t we return to the town?!”
“Go alone. I can’t.”
He was thankful for her help, but he didn’t have time to explain.
After making a short reply, Hyun rose toward the sky.
A foggy rain dripped from a very high place.
Did he have to go through that foggy rain? Suddenly, he understood how Shakron felt before dying.
He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to go up to the top of the altar… But he would have to do it anyway.