The Hero Returns - Chapter 382
“God” and “predators”—those two terms caused Su-hyeun to snap out of his excitement at their reunion. “Third brother, how do you know those two things?” he asked, mood already quite different from earlier as they chattered away.
“Mm? What do you mean by those two things?”
“The god and the predator…”
“Ah, so you also knew about them, eh? I was really surprised, you know? I mean, I finally met the real god and not some idiots from the Heavenly World who were busy calling themselves the gods, after all.”
It seemed that Sun Wukong had also run into a real god.
“Third brother, did you become an apostle?”
“An apostle? What’s that?”
“Well, uh, should I say it’s like an agent of a god?”
“Oh, that. Yeah, we talked about something similar to that. I declined, though.”
He declined? That would mean that Sun Wukong didn’t become an apostle.
That made sense, however.
Without a doubt, it wasn’t in Sun Wukong’s personality to act according to someone else’s orders. He possessed such a wild character that he didn’t even listen to someone as amazing as the Bull Demon King and did as he pleased all over the place.
“How did you meet that god?” Su-hyeun asked.
“Some punk got in my face during one of the trials, you see. So I killed that punk that called himself the emperor and fought against an army, and then… Well, it sure was fun, though. Some of them were pretty strong in their own right, too. But in the middle of that, a god butted in.”
“A god did? Really?”
“That’s right. I was told that it’s not cool to interfere too much in the business of that side or something.”
Could it be that a god might appear if one interfered too deeply into the affairs of the other world during one of the trials?
“No, wait. Come to think of it, haven’t I behaved basically the same way until now?” he thought.
Su-hyeun looked back to all the trials he had cleared until now. Some missions were too minor to mention, but since his trials were of the highest difficulty, around half happened to be missions that boasted quite a large scale.
For one, during the 60th floor’s trial where he met Sun Wukong, didn’t he get to wreck the Heavenly World?
It was a similar story back on the 50th floor as well. He saved Roy, killed the emperor of an empire, and waged war against the alliance of a kingdom and the undead Liches.
Therefore, his actions so far weren’t all that different from what Sun Wukong had done, according to the latter’s testimony.
“Or a god will interfere if I influence something not related to the trial itself.”
This second hypothesis sounded rather plausible.
Unlike Sun Wukong, who started a war against some empire just because they got in his face, Su-hyeun never really stepped outside the boundaries of the missions he was in.
“Which might mean that gods of individual worlds and the structures of the trials found there are connected to some degree…”
Su-hyeun briefly pondered this new revelation. If this was true, then the inner workings of the tower of trials might be far more complicated than he initially bargained for.
When his thoughts reached that far, he suddenly felt that all the images he had in his mind until now were getting thrown into messy disarray.
“Why are you making that face?” Sun Wukong asked.
“Ah, no. It’s nothing. I was just amazed…”
“Amazed about me? Or the fact that I met a god?”
“That you happened to meet a god, third brother.”
“I heard that you met one, too. The first brother told me. He said that you two ran into some real weirdo gods and that they were seriously strong, too.”
The gods Su-hyeun met along with the Bull Demon King? They had to be Hades and Apollo, then. Those two happened to be gods that possessed the highest-tier godhood.
“Since you declined the invitation to become an apostle, does that mean you’re now climbing the tower just for fun?” Su-hyeun asked.
“Well, yeah. Kinda. There are plenty of strong punks to be found here, after all. Calling it a trial doesn’t really suit me, you know? This is more like playtime for me.”
Now that was a Sun Wukong-like declaration. Then again, his personality meant that he would treat a fight where he had to risk his life as an entertaining game.
“Are you here because of a trial?”
“You think I’d come here on my own two feet? Isn’t it the same story for you, though?”
“Actually, my case this time is a bit of an exception…” Su-hyeun found the matter of Luslec difficult to explain and began scratching his head. “Ah, I forgot.”
He eventually realized that he had completely forgotten about Luslec and shot up from his spot.
When he did…
“Have you finally remembered me?” Luslec’s voice, tinged heavily with sadness, could be heard coming from the marble.
“Ah, I’m sorry about this. I rushed to meet someone important. By the way, where are you right now?”
“Well, I thought following you was not the right thing to do. I also didn’t want to become the uninvited guest during your happy reunion. I mean, isn’t excusing myself without being told the sensible thing to do in moments like this?”
That was a rather sly-sounding reply.
Su-hyeun was wondering why Luslec hadn’t followed him here despite possessing enough abilities to do so, but as it turned out, this was the reason.
“Once you’re done with your reunion, call me. I’ve already collected around half a million points by now, so I’ll let you know when I’m finished here.”
“Nah, don’t mention it.”
Luslec initially sounded a bit sad, but just one “thank you” from Su-hyeun later, he seemed to be feeling a lot better already, as there was a hint of mirth in the rest of his reply.
Su-hyeun chuckled a little and let go of the marble.
Having witnessed that, Sun Wukong asked in a puzzled voice, “What was that? Were you talking to someone?”
“Yes, with a companion I was traveling with. Although, I briefly forgot about him while talking with you, third brother.”
“A companion, hmm? Is he strong?”
“Yes. Very strong.”
“Heh, I should fight him later.”
Sun Wukong seemed to be intrigued by the fact that Luslec was strong and narrowed his eyes, while his fighting spirit burned fiercely.
A thought of his third brother not having changed one bit entered Su-hyeun’s head, and he could only groan softly before asking another question, “By the way, are you also aiming for the elixir, third brother?”
“Huh? Earning that will be nice, sure, but if I don’t get it, that’s fine, too. I’m already overflowing with Dao energy, after all.”
Sun Wukong was right about that. He had consumed all of the Peaches of Immortality found in the Heavenly World and acquired near-infinite energy in the process. Therefore, if he could acquire the elixir here, that certainly wouldn’t harm his cause, but he didn’t have a reason to get obsessed about it, either.
“Then, what’s the clear condition for you this time?”
“Apparently, that bastard called the predator is somewhere here. Not just one either but several of them.”
“Not just one?”
“Yeah, and I’m supposed to prevent the elixir from falling into their hands. I’m not interested in whatever this elixir is, but I’m still kinda curious about what it looks like. What about you, though?”
“I came here to acquire the elixir, actually. The thing is…”
Su-hyeun told Sun Wukong what he discussed with Luslec, the one about him needing the elixir to awaken his unique ability, and that’s why he came here when it had nothing to do with the trial itself.
“Really? That thing was that amazing?”
“Yes, that’s why I definitely need it. That’s why there’s a way where we can be a great help to each other.”
“What? You wanna help me with my trial, and you want me to help you acquire the elixir in return?”
“How dare you put up conditions against your own sworn brother?” Sun Wukong distorted his expression. “You’re my little bro, so I’ll just help you. As for the punks called predators, they are my opponents, so don’t you touch them, you hear?”
“In that case, should I do nothing if they come at me first?”
“First, eh?” Sun Wukong contemplated for a bit when Su-hyeun asked that before shaking his head. “Well, no. In that case, you fight them. Just go somewhere and let someone hit you. A lot. Please?”
Su-hyeun knew he would reply like this, and he smirked at that.
At that grin, Sun Wukong furrowed his brow and asked, “You don’t look happy, though?”
“What do you mean?”
“You dummy, I can totally tell what you’re thinking of. I’ve been just letting it slide until—?”
Sun Wukong suddenly stopped in the middle of his sentence.
He froze up like a stone statue, and after finding this reaction rather suspicious, Su-hyeun immediately asked, “Did something happen?”
“My clones are gone.”
Sun Wukong looked into a clone’s memory. His clone’s disappearance signified that someone had defeated it. Although Sun Wukong’s clone wasn’t as strong as the main body, the opponent should still be notably strong if he could defeat it.
And that fact made Sun Wukong grin instead.
It was as if he was having fun.
“Let’s go, bro.”
* * *
“What the hell is up with these guys?”
“The punks that look exactly the same…”
“And they were pretty tough, weren’t they?”
“Look, their corpses disappeared. As soon as they died, too.”
Four men had gathered together. They were also making grave faces when the corpses lining the ground suddenly vanished.
They fought a grueling battle and finally won, but the corpses of their victims simply disappeared, and no points were added to their tally.
“I’m sure it’s like some kind of magic or a skill. Dammit! We targeted the wrong group. We ended up hunting down some idiots without any merit whatsoever…”
“And there are no parasites around here, either, all thanks to these bastards that swept them clean already.”
“Man, we wasted our time for no reason.”
Their opponents had been three white-haired men with the exact same faces. Initially, they thought the three of them were triplets or something, so they quietly sneaked closer to attack their unguarded backs.
Their sneak attack proved to be successful. One of the three got his arm severed, while another one was wounded fatally on the abdomen.
However, it was an empty victory in the end. The quartet earned nothing for defeating the trio.
“That bastard is going to shout our heads off.”
“Let’s hurry up and get out of here. We don’t have much time.”
Around 22 hours remained. Two hours had passed by already, in other words. The goal of these people wasn’t simply to amass one million points, so obviously, every minute and every second was precious to them.
“Ri-ol? Why aren’t you coming?”
The group rebuked one of their members who was just dazedly standing there looking in a direction.
But then, he suddenly said, “Something’s coming!”
They could hear something—the noises of something scratching, breaking, and ruthlessly approaching.
The noises sounded small initially as if they came from so far away, but the noises rapidly got closer to the quartet. Right at that exact moment, the heads of all four quickly snapped in the direction of the commotion.
“W—what the hell?”
“Crazy son of a—!”
“Let’s get out of the way first—!”
A massive pole was flying in their direction.
The four men hurriedly flung themselves out of the way to the left, right, and in the air. The pole that flew in punched right through where they had been standing a moment ago.
The pole stopped extending just then.
It wasn’t just flying past them but accurately taking aim at them, and the pole that appeared before their eyes was something they instantly recognized.
“Isn’t that thing…?”
“Right, that looks like the weapon that those bastards used earlier!”
This pole was exactly the same as what the trio with the same faces wielded.
The thick and lengthy polearm rapidly shrunk down and wrapped around someone’s arm, and right after that, the figures of two people riding on the pole revealed themselves.
“Hey, you four! Are you the ones that bullied our kids?”
“Saying ‘our kids’ makes us look like delinquents, third brother.”
“Eh? What are delinquents?”
“You know, those thuggish morons.”
“Ah! Wait, did I look like them just now?”
The man with white hair, who spoke with so much menace just then, suddenly made a sheepish face and chuckled awkwardly after the guy next to him said something.
The trio stared at the two and made dismayed expressions, but only the man named Ri-ol lost all color from his complexion.
“Wait, isn’t he the same bastard from earlier?”
“Is this an illusion? This punk, annoying me to this degree!”
“That’s not going to work on us anymore. An illusion’s effectiveness is halved once we recognize it, you see?”
This trio thought that Sun Wukong’s clones were illusions. There was a reason good enough for them to mistakenly think that way since several beings that looked exactly the same had appeared, while their deaths didn’t yield any points whatsoever.
“Illusion? You thought it was a sundry skill like that?” Sun Wukong scratched his head as he listed to their blabbering.
Su-hyeun sighed grandly after thinking that, thanks to Sun Wukong’s curiosity, he now had no choice but to get into a fight. Whatever the case might have been, they did attack Sun Wukong, even if they were attacking his clones, and besides, there was no reason to avoid fighting them here, anyway.
Su-hyeun unsheathed his sword. These four men were definitely no pushovers.
“At the very least, they are stronger than the apostle I met earlier,” he thought.
These four people could be judged as quite strong even in this world.
Although they weren’t all that special in terms of the enemies he met so far, the fact that four of such individuals needed to band together as a team told the tale of how difficult the challenges found in this world were.
Just before Su-hyeun could take a step forward, though…
Sun Wukong’s raised arm stopped Su-hyeun.
“What’s the matter, third brother?”
“This is my fight.”
“Do you really need to argue that point now?”
“But they attacked me, you know? Or am I wrong?”
Sun Wukong had a point there. If they were to get technical here, then their situation was the same thing as Su-hyeun just tagging along.
“Just sit back and watch carefully.”
Sun Wukong smirked deeply while lightly spinning the Ruyi Jingu Bang in one hand. “Watch how much stronger your third brother has become.”
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