Chapter 595 – Erebus (3)
Apostles were the shadows of G.o.ds and the leaders of a G.o.d’s followers, so G.o.ds took special care choosing their Apostles. Apostles became a part of a G.o.d’s legends, and the reputation of an Apostle was a factor when it came to attracting a large number of followers. Also, the powers of an Apostle affected a G.o.d’s future strength and level, so although the standards for choosing Apostles varied, all G.o.ds were very careful about picking Apostles.
This was the reason why even though there was a mult.i.tude of players and rankers in the Tower, there were only a few Apostles. It was true that G.o.ds strongly desired to interfere in the lower world, but it was this very greed that made them so cautious about choosing their Apostles. Sometimes it took hundreds or thousands of years for a G.o.d to find an Apostle, and there were eras without any Apostles in existence at all.
However, this also meant if a player with extreme potential and talent showed up, countless G.o.ds would rush to try to take that player for themselves. This was why many G.o.ds and demons had taken an interest in Yeon-woo after he customized the martial arts of the One-horned tribe for himself. A player like Yeon-woo was difficult to find, and they were often prideful and preferred to become transcendents or Lords over being Apostles.
G.o.ds could have as many Apostles as they wished, but they usually only accepted one Apostle in order to dedicate all their powers to a single person. However, there was nothing stopping them from accepting two, three, or even dozens of Apostles at the same time. Because G.o.ds had to share a significant amount of holy power or give constant blessings for their Apostle, most of them preferred not to manage a large number of people. The most would be three Apostles.
Yeon-woo had taken Doyle as his Apostle to manage Arthia, and he’d accepted Valdeb.i.+.c.h as his Apostle to take care of the giants. But now, here he was trying to make Apostles out of two great divine beings. Ares was Zeus’ son, and Hercules was a hero with impressive legends as well.
It was rare to take such beings as Apostles, even within the heavenly world. Binding such great beings would be hard, even for Yeon-woo, but it wasn’t impossible. Knowing this, Ares and Hercules didn’t shoot the idea down right away.
Yeon-woo had swallowed Kronos’ giant corpse and defeated the Crawling Chaos and Mother Earth. Although the level of his soul was mortal, his prowess was greater than that of most conceptual G.o.ds. And on top of that, he said he was Kronos’ son. That meant his status was possibly greater than theirs and equal to Zeus’. Where else could one find a being as mighty as Yeon-woo? If Yeon-woo insisted on it, there was almost no way to refuse.
“H-Haha…U-Uncle? D-Do you have something against me…?” Ares stumbled over his words and barely managed to speak politely. He had lived recklessly all his life, but he felt that he had no choice but to lower himself at this moment.
They could tell from Yeon-woo’s smirk that his offer was genuine and not some trick to scare them. “Something against you?”
“Yes…we should try to talk it out—”
“Of course, I have something against you. A lot of things, in fact.”
“Hehehe. Then how about we start a deep conversation between a cute nephew and a manly uncle?”
“That’s what we’re doing now. Why? You don’t like it?” Yeon-woo’s grin deepened.
Ares became tongue-tied. He froze, trying to search for the right words to say. Whoos.h.!.+ As Yeon-woo focused on Ares, Hercules suddenly began to run away, each step propelling him forward vast distances.
“H-Hey, you b.a.s.t.a.r.d! s.h.i.+t!” Ares decided not to think about the consequences and ran in the opposite direction, thinking this was a good idea since Yeon-woo wouldn’t be able to chase after both of them. However, Yeon-woo just chuckled. Pfft.
『Poor things. They’re only digging a deeper hole for themselves.』 Kronos shook his head in pity for his grandchildren.
* * *
Ultimately, Ares and Hercules ended up kneeling on the ground with their arms raised, displaying matching black eyes.
“Raise your arms properly.” When their arms started to lower, Yeon-woo noticed so quickly that they couldn’t give their arms a break.
[You have appointed ‘Ares’ as your 3rd Apostle!]
[You have appointed ‘Hercules’ as your 4th Apostle!]
[All achievements of the two Apostles will be bound to their G.o.d, player ###.]
Ares and Hercules looked downcast. They had been trying to take Yeon-woo as their own Apostle or subordinate, but their plans had backfired on them. However, attacking Yeon-woo was not an option.
Athena smiled wryly as she watched. She had been thinking the two had behaved too thoughtlessly, and she knew they would end up paying for it, but not like this. The famed troublemakers within the heavenly world were meek in front of Yeon-woo. Only Yeon-woo could force an Apostolate on these two and ignore their pride.
‘Anyway…’ Athena smiled sadly as she turned to Yeon-woo, who was carefully supervising the two. ‘An…uncle.’
It was unimaginable. From the start, Athena hadn’t been able to turn away from the twin brothers, and she hadn’t known why she felt pulled towards them. When Cha Jeong-woo had first entered the Tower and struggled, it was a complete coincidence that she found him. She’d sensed Allforone ignoring the constraints of the systema and attempting to descend to the Tutorial, and she discovered Cha Jeong-woo there.
‘Allforone acted because of Kronos…I mean, Grandfather.’ At first, she’d watched Cha Jeong-woo because it was entertaining. She only wanted to cheer him on. Unlike the other novices of the Tower who had basic abilities, Cha Jeong-woo was completely ignorant in magic. Even so, he pushed himself through the hurdles, determined to obtain the medicine that would heal his mother.
He was pitiful, and she wanted to help him. Perhaps that was why she became so involved with the brothers. When Cha Jeong-woo and his comrades were brought down by various Lords and Yeon-woo entered the Tower, she couldn’t help feeling concerned about him. Although he had the same face and voice as Cha Jeong-woo, he displayed an entirely different personality as he climbed the Tower and defeated his enemies. Her heart had felt heavy as she looked on.
In a way, she had been with the brothers from the beginning. It might have been the pull of blood that made her notice them out of all the other players. ‘Still…!’ A thought occurred to her but she smiled bittersweetly with a shake of her head. Yeon-woo had gone from a ward she needed to protect to someone who would protect her. Then…acting a bit childishly in front of her youngest uncle probably all right. It wasn’t easy for her since she’d taken on the role of a mature older daughter her entire life.
Athena smiled at Yeon-woo. It was hard to tell what she was thinking.
* * *
“If you obey, I’ll cancel the Apostolates.” After a short period, Yeon-woo released Ares and Hercules from their punishment. Before crossing through the gate, he dangled this carrot in front of their eyes, and the despondent duo turned around sharply to look at him.
“Only if you obey me. If you cause trouble like you’ve done so far, I won’t show any mercy.” Yeon-woo cut off his nephews and emphasized his words. However, that was enough for Ares and Hercules. Their dull eyes were sparkling brightly once more.
“Ahahaha! Just leave it to Ares, Uncle! This is my specialty!”
“You know who I am. Hercules is the one who killed a Nemean lion with a single hand. Leave the heavy work to me!”
Ares and Hercules pounded their chests confidently. As he stepped through the gate into Erebus, Yeon-woo thought to himself that it wasn’t easy for great divine beings to be so half-witted. “Then let’s go.”
[This is the hidden stage, Erebus.]
[Warning! You have left the laws of Idea. The will of transcendent beings will not have much effect. If you stay too long, your soul will be damaged. It is advised that you leave quickly.]
‘It’s too dim.’ Erebus was a lot different from what Yeon-woo expected. He thought it’d be entirely dark, like the path to the abyss, there was a sky and ground like Tartarus, although the ground was swampy, and he would sink into the muck up to his ankles if he didn’t move.
Most importantly, this place seemed somewhat familiar. ‘This is….’
『The swamp of darkness.』 Kronos muttered in his sword form. 『It’s similar to the swamp of darkness.』
Yeon-woo had seen it in Kronos’ legends, and it looked like the place where Kronos had been taken over by the Demonism.
‘Was Erebus always like this?’
『No. Erebus is one of the territories of Olympus, just like Tartarus. I remember what it used to be like: a place darker than the Underworld where it was hard to tell between the living and the dead. Many divine beings, including myself, dislike coming here. But it wasn’t like this.』 Kronos’ voice was heavy. 『Did it change when the Tower swallowed Olympus? How strange.』
‘The environment could have changed over time.’
『That’s possible. But since I’m being restrained and my holy power is being taken and taken… This is a bit annoying.』
Athena and Ares didn’t look too good either, as if something was binding them. Erebus’ environment was straining their souls.
‘A stage that refuses holy power. Can a place like this exist?’ Of course, there were all kinds of strange things in the Tower, after all, it made sense that something like this would exist.
“This feels like s.h.i.+t. I see why you two were so unwilling to enter Erebus.” Like Yeon-woo, it was Hercules’ first time in Erebus, and he didn’t look too good either. However, since he wasn’t entirely a divine being yet like Athena and Ares, he was feeling less pressure.
“First…we’ll take the lead since we have to guide you.” Ares’ playful demeanor in Tartarus was gone as he began to walk forward with a stiff face. They were now returning to rescue their relatives, and it was a solemn moment.
Slosh, slos.h.!.+ They slowly plodded forward.