Chapter 303 – Tartarus (3)
Team: HH, thursdays, Yahiko (300(0)/12)
『Where did you find this information, sir? It was something that not even our union had…….』
Atran returned after a few hours later with an excited face.
Yeon-woo asked in a low voice.
“So you found something?”
『Of course I found a lot of information! It was just hard to compile it all. But once I finished, it seemed about right. We also gained nice information from this too. Hehehe!』
It must’ve been priceless information because Atran had a huge smile.
Yeon-woo added two more chests on top of the original three he was going to give.
“I’ll add these two more for being discreet.”
『I love you, sir customer!』
Atran bowed. He looked ready to kiss Yeon-woo’s feet if they weren’t talking through a hologram.
Yeon-woo shook his head as he spoke.
“The three Cyclops brothers first.”
『You said the three Cyclops brothers moved towards Persephone’s temple 200 years ago, right?』
『To be exact, it was 192 years ago. And they were the apostles of the three cyclops brothers.』
The three Cyclops brothers weren’t well-known, but they were the first gods to be born from Ouranos and Gaia in the legends of Olympus.
Beings born from the union of the sky and earth. They had the cruel deformity of only having one eye, but their abilities of handling iron were on par with Hephaestus.
『I was able to confirm that they visited Persephone’s temple from the official records of visitors. You’re aware of the hidden stage on the 30th floor, right?』
Yeon-woo nodded. There was no way he wouldn’t know.
On the 30th floor, after finding the antidote for the soul poison, the necessary trial is finished. But upon ascending to the 31st floor, two choices are presented.
You could move onto the next floor through the portal or get to it through the hidden stage.
The hidden stage of the 30th floor could be called an “extension” of the test. An exam that tested you on everything you obtained from the floors in the twenties.
Of course, there wasn’t any penalty for not doing it. It was like extra credit.
‘But after the hidden stage, you can earn a lot of Karma. You can also train yourself. Since it’s a place you can actually call the Beyond.’
The stages between the 27th to the 30th were based off of the Beyond. To be exact, it was based off of the “path to the Beyond.”
However, the hidden stage was actually the Beyond.
There were two parts to it—a court for judging the dead souls and 10 different gates that punished players based on their ruling.
Each of the gates were so horrifying they could all be called hell. There were a lot of rankers who liked to brag about how far they reached, how long they endured, and what they earned.
They were all perverts. But like the Sadhu on the 21st stage, the hidden stage of the 30th floor was like heaven for people who wanted to train themselves.
If the Five Mountains of Penances were for sharpening your senses and Consciousness, the 30th floor was to train your mentality and mind.
It was easy to enter it.
‘Persephone’s temple is at the very end of the 30th stage.’
Persephone’s temple was the entrance and marker of the hidden stage.
『Anyways, the three Cyclops brothers requested to enter the ten gates, and on the sixth, they went off the grid.』
Yeon-woo’s eyes shined.
“Off the grid?”
『Yes. They went missing. The Bureau must’ve thought that they were just among the many who died….. and there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary to make them think otherwise, so it seems like they just moved on. However…..』
Atran’s voice faded away, as if he had found something amusing that he didn’t want to give up easily.
Yeon-woo lifted the Yaltabao Chests and shook them in the air. Atran pouted and resumed in a complaining voice.
『Before the three disappeared, it’s said that they met with someone. And the youngest, Arges, said this when he was drunk.』
-Hades called us.
Yeon-woo’s eyes widened.
‘Hades called them?’
What kind of bulls*** was that?
『Thinking that something was strange, I also looked into Hades. However, the information about him….. there is almost nothing from the last hundred years. He has never showed interest in the lower world, and for the last thousand years, he hasn’t had any apostles, so most players do not care about him.』
Atran’s eyes shined keenly.
『You know something, don’t you?』
Yeon-woo grinned unknowingly.
“So you want to know, huh?”
『It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t curious. The lower world cannot see the actions and business of the gods. It’s always them who are watching us, not us watching them.』
Yeon-woo tossed the five Yaltabao Chests towards the hologram.
[You have supplied ‘Yaltabao Chests × 5’ to ‘By the Table.’]
“It’s not a good habit to get involved in players’ businesses.”
『I already know that you have no intentions of telling me.』
“Then is there nothing related to Hades?”
『He disappeared before the three Cyclops brothers. This is all I have. There’s nothing else. I can’t find anything either. It looks like he suddenly disappeared. The only records left are what I just told you. 』
Hades called us. The words that the apostles of the three Cyclops brothers said in passing. Hades had hidden himself much better than Yeon-woo had thought.
‘When the gods and demons of death were expressing themselves, Hades remained quiet. Even when Astrape and Triaina were absorbed into the Cast of the Black King.’
Yeon-woo thought that the disappearance of the three Cyclops brothers 192 years ago and Hades’s silence were related.
‘I need to find the three Cyclops brothers first.’
Yeon-woo checked his body. The change was almost complete, and the Divine Blessings were held in place. His abilities were urging him to grow faster after absorbing the Summer Queen’s soul.
“I have one last question.”
『What is it?』
“Hades’ holy artifact, Kynee. Do you know where it is?”
Atran shook his head.
『Since he didn’t have any apostles, it’s unlikely his artifact would be on the lower floors.』
Yeon-woo nodded in understanding and quietly put away Freesia’s Jade Mirror.
Again, he had a lot of things to do.
* * *
Yeon-woo finished getting everything together and left the cave. Shanon and Hanryeong went back inside of the shadow, exhausted from keeping guard all this time, and Nike flew out to replace them.
『The air here is so damp!』
Nike looked upset at the air of the 30th floor. It seemed he didn’t like the world of the souls since he symbolized life.
Yeon-woo stroked Nike’s head and headed north, when he felt the shadows suddenly becoming heavier.
They turned in that direction. A large wyvern covered the sky. Soon after, Creutz lightly stepped down from the wyvern.
Even after having fallen from quite the height with his characteristic heavy armor on, Creutz seemed fine.
“How are you? Are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere?”
Creutz spun around Yeon-woo, checking to see if Yeon-woo was injured anywhere.
After the battle, Creutz looked in every nook and cranny of the 30th floor to search for Yeon-woo. He was the precious friend of the Regiment Leader, so he was worried that he might be hurt somewhere.
Yeon-woo swept Creutz’s annoying hand to the side.
“Stop, It’s alright, so stop.”
“It’s a relief that you’re alright. Still, you might be hurt somewhere that you can’t see, so why don’t you stay still and call over a priest or a doctor?”
Yeon-woo didn’t say anything further because it was annoying. He used Blink again, spreading his wings of fire apart. Creutz had a stunned face and quickly got onto the Flying Dragon to chase after Yeon-woo.
‘Just who is this Regiment Leader for Creutz to be so faithful?’
Yeon-woo thought to himself as he saw the shadow of the wyvern following him. Just who was the Fantasy Regiment Leader that he was able to have such loyalty from his subordinates?
* * *
Yeon-woo headed south with the map he received from Atran. After staying awake for four days and nights, he was able to reach the end of the stage.
The South was extremely hot. The sun was simmering, and the ground was filled with forests and swamps, so it was hard to move.
“The temple of Persephone? Are you headed towards the hidden stage?”
Creutz looked dismayed. He already knew about the hidden stage on the 30th floor because he was a ranker.
The ten gates were so difficult that even he wasn’t guaranteed to get through all of them. It was a place filled with trouble.
It would be painstaking for Yeon-woo since it was his first attempt.
The Yeon-woo that Creutz had observed until now would never leave the 30th stage until he cleared all the gates.
Since he wanted to lead Yeon-woo towards their Regiment Leader as quickly as possible, he felt frustrated.
And it wasn’t like he could strike the back of Yeon-woo’s head and force him to move with him. He had to persuade him somehow.
Yeon-woo ignored him whenever he tried. He slowly stepped through the swamp and moved towards Persephone’s temple.
It seemed like he would have to follow Yeon-woo into the hidden stage.
He looked at Yeon-woo with amazement. He was throwing himself into another trial although it hadn’t been that long since he fought Benteke.
‘Is this why he’s called the greatest of the Six New Stars…..’
It was now the Five New Stars since Benteke was dead. But it truly was amazing.
He hardened his resolve to save Yeon-woo if he was in danger again.
His holy sword, Zulfikar, shook as it cried, reading his thoughts.
Yeon-woo arrived at a cottage at the end of the swamp with an annoying acquaintance in tow.
It was a tiny cottage house that looked like a resting spot for a hunter.
The long vines on the walls stood out. There were beautiful flowers on the walls with pleasant scents.
There was also a magical mood to it.
This was Persephone’s temple.
It was the holy land of the goddess who ruled over the Beyond along with Hades.
Just then, the door to the cottage burst open, and a priest wearing a leaf-green robe quietly walked out. The man’s emerald hair was quite striking.
“You’ve come. I’ve been waiting.”
Creutz’s eyes widened. He realized who the priest who greeted them was.
Bodi of Green Shade. It was Persephone’s apostle.
Most people were led into the hidden stage by Persephone’s priests or students, but it was extremely rare for her apostle to come himself. Also, Bodi said that he had been waiting for them.
Despite this, Yeon-woo nodded, like it was to be expected.
He had clashed with Poseidon, and all the gods of Olympus would know that he was looking for Hades. He had expected Persephone would react to this, too.
“Please come this way. The great Persephone is waiting inside to greet you.”