Sungchul had no intentions to ask or receive any compensation from them.
Sungchul abandoned those who looked upon him like some sort of savior and immediately moved onto the next building.
It was an apartment building where the lower class members of the city lived together.
The city was already dense beyond capacity, but this place had been illegally modified to have many more rooms to maximize profits from rent, causing this place to resemble a chicken coop.
The seven story human chicken coop was buckling due to the earthquake.
A person with the ability level of a knight could simply jump down but these lower class inhabitants were those of normal human abilities.
They were crying and flailing about the crumbling building.
Sungchul used his own body to bear the weight of the building.
“Go now, get out of the building!”
As the building stopped shaking, the people within raced each other to get out.
A very old man tripped near the stairs at the entrance and several men trampled the old man on their way out. But before Sungchul could shout at them, several young men helped the old man up.
Sungchul’s wrath subsided and under his protection, hundreds of people were able to reach safety.
But the situation was far from over.
Sungchul verified that majority of the inhabitants escaped before he let go of the building.
The human coop collapsed into a heap as if made of mud and kicked up a large amount of dust.
Using fly once more, Sungchul flew high up into the sky to glare at the cause of all this misery.
The centipede that once carried the name of Horneko was still wrapped around the Bottomless Vault and remained still.
Sungchul noticed that the flames around Horneko’s body had subsided a great deal. But it didn’t seem to him that it was a proof of Horneko losing his strength.
There was something else shining in the place of the light of the flames.
It was luster, a strange one of impossibly beautiful rainbow colors that revealed itself at the absence of the black flames.
The Transcendent Senses informed him that astronomical energies of the earth were gathering into Horneko.
‘Just what are you trying to do?’
As Sungchul was asking his question, another round of earthquake shook Aege Harbor.
Screams were heard from all over the city and flames started to spread. The affluent ones attempted to escape the city on Airships.
Just as the Airships carrying the wealthy were about cut anchor and fly away to safety, something unbelivably large flew up from below and destroyed the airships on its way up.
Sungchul couldn’t believe his eyes.
The objects that destroyed countless airships were float stones… no, they were large masses of stones that had every right to be called floating isles.
A large amount of gold the airships were carrying escaped from the fragments of the airships and spilled back into the ground along with the debris.
Soon, one line of text appeared before all eyes in Aege Harbor.
[None may escape.]
[Relinquish your gold]
As soon as those words appeared, everyone in the city turned to look at the rainbow colored centipede as if it was agreed upon.
The centipede had penetrated the outer walls of the Bottomless Vault and was busy consuming something with its horizontal mouth.
It was the most basic and fundamental symbol of wealth.
The gold-eating centipede suddenly turned its body to look towards Sungchul.
Another text appeared.
[You, you have a lot of gold. I can smell it.]
It was a text visible only to Sungchul.
‘It’s unfortunate but it’s time to leave this place.’
Just as he was about to turn and fly away, the air around Sungchul began to warp.
Sungchul couldn’t hide his surprise. Something that mustn’t happen was happening. The Soul Storage was being opened on its own.
‘It can open the Soul Storage without permission?’
He had never heard of such an ability.
Soul Storage was one of the blessings granted by god to greatly increase one’s capacity for possessions.
As one of the Soul Contracts, Soul Storage could only be created by artisans of a rare class by the name of Soul Smelter. Although it was treated like an otherwise ordinary tool, it was widely known that objects placed inside Soul Storage could not be stolen by another.
In other words, it was the safest and the most effective tool for storing one’s possession that most closely represented god’s will.
But at the moment, he was experiencing an event that completely nullified the value of such a tool.
Sungchul’s Soul Storage was opening without Sungchul’s permission and began to drop something.
It was coffers of gold containing the Unmarked Coins of the Allied Merchant’s Coalition.
‘Son of a bitch.’
He did not care for a coffer or two. But hidden within his Soul Storage were things that meant the world to him, things that represented the life that he had lived.
That rainbow colored centipede was attempting to force those things out into the world.
The Transcendent Senses was telling him thus, that the centipede was currently focused on the man with the most gold aside from itself. In other words, Sungchul himself.
This situation might be karma from the theft of the contents of the Bottomless Vault 9 years ago coming back to bite him.
[Relinquish your gold!]
An angry voice seemed to echo directly into his mind.
In an instant, Sungchul understood what condition his enemy was in at the moment.
There was nothing left of Horneko remaining inside of that centipede.
The unquenchable greed had finally consumed him whole. Just like the Lesser God who had merged with him did long ago.
The Lesser God Issac Laccetem absorbed the life energy of the earth and Horneko was seeking gold.
The avarice of each of these two beings were fusing into one to devour not only the Aege Harbor whole, but also Sungchul along with it.
But Sungchul possessed an ace up his sleeve.
Sungchul shouted towards Horneko.
The centipede raised its head towards him and froze.
Sungchul pushed out the gold that was filling up the exit of his Soul Storage to extract a document from within.
The identity of the document was the contract between Horneko and himself.
The document listed a number of duties Horneko was dutybound to fulfill in exchange for Sungchul staying in Aege for two weeks.
Although it seemed no different from an ordinary contract, the witness and arbiter of this contract was none other than the God of Neutrality. And enforcing it was a tool by the name of the Cross of the Unbreakable Vow.
Sungchul glanced at one particular item from the contract before turning to look at the golden centipede.
“I was promised a flag bearing the colors of the Allied Merchant’s Coalition! I demand you carry out your duty as recorded in this contract immediately!”
There was a Cross of the Unbreakable Vow embedded in Horneko’s heart. Even if Horneko had transformed into a Lesser God, a Lesser God was just a Lesser God. A Lesser God could not overcome the authority of higher tier beings, like the God of Neutrality.
Therefore, as long as the cross was still impaling his heart, breaking the vow would deal a mortal blow to him.
Whether Horneko had any sanity remaining was irrelevant, since this contract did not make any provisions for leniency for such an event.
“I shall give you one minute of time! Answer my question immediately!”
A line in the document began to glow brightly. As was guaranteed by the God of Neutrality, the contract was beginning to perform its divine duty.
But before the minute was over, the entire body of the centipede trembled before it puked out a golden colored liquid of terrible stench.
Sungchul quickly moved away from his present location to avoid being splashed by it.
Everything the yellow liquid touched were quickly corroded. It melted away buildings in no time and even exposed the earth underneath.
‘King’s Drought? No, but it’s a similar liquid.’
It was clear that it was a highly caustic acid without a doubt. It was befitting as the stomach acid of a being that ate gold.
Whatever the reason was, the attack just now satisfied the condition that Sungchul had wanted.
Horneko’s attack was a clear violation of his own contract. The promise of non-violence against the other party in a deal was the most basic and fundamental duty that underlay negotiations of every type. And Horneko broke this sacred rule.
Now all Sungchul had to do was watch the Cross of the Unbreakable Vow incinerate Horneko into oblivion.
But nothing happened. Sungchul doubted his eyes.
‘Could it be that the powers of the God of Neutrality can be nullified by the Lesser Gods?’
Not long after he had this thought, a small flame rose up from not too far away. It was a flame of a different nature from the other fires that was burning the entirity of Aege Harbor. One that had the aura of a divine power.
It was the flames from the Cross of the Unbreakable Vow.
But instead of Horneko the centipede, it was rising up from the ruins of a building that no longer remained.
Sungchul discovered that the holy flames that appeared for a moment had been from where the office of the Viceroy had been.
‘Could it be that he removed the Cross of the Unbreakable Vow somehow? That can’t be. That’s imposs…’
Just as the word impossible crossed his mind, he changed his mind to assume that it was not impossible.
The beings known as the five principle gods were not true god like the one Sungchul had met. Therefore, the concept of absolute did not belong to them.
There was no time to think. Horneko puked more of the caustic yellow acid that could corrode everything.
This time, it wasn’t aimed at Sungchul but in the direction of the sky.
The acid rose high into the sky until it was momentarily stopped by the pull of gravity. It then split into thousands, tens of thousands, millions of droplets and descended over the entire region of Aege Harbor. A literal rain of death.
This came pouring down upon the destroyed harbor.
The scale was completely different from any other enemies he had ever fought before.
Sungchul immediately searched for anything to block the falling rain. It didn’t matter what it was. Rubble from a destroyed building or even Airships, anything to protect himself from the descending caustic acid.
Luckily there was a floating isle that broke free and rising up not too far away.
Sungchul poured all the magic power he had within him to fly like a comet towards the isle and entrusted his body underneath it.
As he clung onto the bottom of the floating isle, the rain of death passed by him
And hanging from there, Sungchul was able to observe it, the final moment of Aege Harbor.
Those who had somehow managed to survive until now were melted away by the rain or died upon breathing in deadly gases released by the acid.
In some way, this rain represented true equality for all those in Aege Harbor. For the same fate befell to all without prejudice, rich or poor.
[Relinquish your gold!]
The colossal centipede shouted at Sungchul.
Sungchul was already floating away from Aege Harbor atop the floating isle. There didn’t seem to be a way for a centipede that crawled over land to come chasing after him. So Sungchul thought about escaping from this place by riding the floating isle to wherever it was headed.
The Transcendent Senses informed him that Horneko’s influence over his Soul Storage was growing weaker.
Although it felt like he had forgotten about something, Sungchul did not wish to fight against a difficult enemy for no clear reason. He had only one life and there were far too many he still had to kill.
While he was lost in thought, Horneko’s gargantuan body receded once before it straightened out again with a strange noise.
It was a stream of lethal acid fired in a straight line. It flew accurately towards the floating isle Sungchul was riding and found its mark.
Sungchul immediately abandoned the dissolving floating isle and floated in the air.
He sensed dangerous energies from beneath his feet.
Sungchul saw then, the sight of the thousands of legs of the colossal centipede each stepping on their own magic formation to climb up into the air.
‘This is on a different level from whatever small fry was attached to the king of Nimpas.’
As the centipede began its ascent into the air, the energies imbued within the earth were absorbed at an explosively faster rate.
As a side effect, the land beneath Aege escaped the shackles of gravity and quickly began to rise into the sky.
Sungchul was able to watch from the high altitude as Aege Harbor became submerged under the ocean as the lands ascended into the sky.
It was a pitiful finale for a historical city that long functioned as the largest center of trade in the world.
Now there was no choice open to Sungchul, except to fight his enemy.
“Bertelgia, hold on tight.”
A cold look settled in Sungchul’s eyes. And around him, magic formations began to appear.
His most powerful spell, Starlight, was materializing.
And at the same time, the seven Soul Stones likewise began casting the same spell.
Now, aptly named:
“Starlight, 13 Combo…!”
Sungchul was trying to recreate the same technique he had used against King Deheter.
“Why are you so weird?”
Bertelgia was instantly upset at Sungchul’s shenanigans, but Sungchul pretended not to hear and completed the incantations.
Fal Garaz in one hand and Ryze Hymerr’s staff in the other, he glared down at the centipede that was charging up towards him.
Soon, the primordial light emerged from the tip of his staff.
6 chain casting with 7 simultaneous cast, it was an attack that called upon every bit of his magic power.
Sungchul had already verified earlier that while he had full mana, his magical capacity could handle this much load without additional intake of potions.
‘There is no follow up. I’m already experiencing potion stacking effects.’
Even as he fired 13 simultaneous beams of the primordial light, Sungchul had no expectation that this would be enough to kill Horneko.
Horneko was far stronger than Deheter and even underwent transformation.
After the 13 rays of light dissipated, Sungchul flew backwards and watched to see how Horneko would fare from the barrage of light.
The light faded away and the form of Horneko became visible again.
Sungchul’s eyes twitched.
Horneko was unharmed. No, it would be more accurate to say that he was unaffected.
Sungchul realized that the glistening rainbow colored shell of this monster possessed an impossible level of Magic resistance.
[Relinquish your gold!]
The manifestation of avarice that was now incapable of thinking about anything other than gold continued to rapidly climb up into the sky as it gave off an eerie and strange roar.
Sungchul watched Horneko approach as he recalled the basic lessons taught to him during his earliest days as a beginner adventurer by the Adventurer’s Guild.
The middle aged guild master who was likely long dead had told him:
“All monsters have their weaknesses. Insect type monsters are most vulnerable to blunt weapons.”
The hand holding Fal Garaz gripped the handle stronger.
The answer was in the closest place.
Problem was, how does he make his approach to make the strike?
Although he might be able to withstand the acid attack once or twice with his powerful endurance or perhaps the help of a weapon of Calamity, but Sungchul did not wish for his only precious set of clothes to melt nor go through the terrible experience of his skin melting.
Horneko fired the caustic acid.
Sungchul flew up as fast as he could to avoid the acid attack. But even this method would not work for long. There was a maximum altitude the magic Fly could take him. And judging from the freezing cold temperature of the wind, he was quickly reaching that maximum altitude.
Bertelgia was trembling wordlessly in his pocket, perhaps from the cold, or from the air pressure.
[Relinquish your gold!]
Horneko’s voice could be heard again.
To this, Sungchul’s eyes glistened.
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3 thoughts on “Chapter 258 – Horneko (3)”
I have to say that this is probably one of the best apocalypse stories I have ever read, in the sense that we are seeing the world slip further and further into doom with every Calamity and Lesser God
“astronomical energies of the earth was” >>> were*