Before the uprising to end the tyrannical abuse of the Holy Kingdom of Rutheginea, Sungchul Kim was just another ordinary Adventurer. He had grouped up with others he got along with to complete quests from the Guild Hall or went exploring in the Dungeons to make his living.
Dungeon Exploration was the primary source of income for adventurers.
Sungchul started from the very bottom, learning under a sturdy looking middle aged veteran Adventurer until the basics of Dungeon diving became his second nature.
One of the lessons that he had learned was to explore methodically with a plan of action.
The objective for the dive, as well as the maximum time to devote in the exploration formed the foundation of any plan.
Going in recklessly without a plan, blinded by the potential riches ahead of them, the number of Adventurers who met their demise before their time was unimaginably large.
If it was just another typical Dungeon, Sungchul would have not thought twice about it. But this dungeon bore an addition appellation by the name of ‘Divine Ordeal’.
This dungeon was likely incomparably more dangerous than any other dungeons he had ever seen until now.
Meanwhile, the remaining time available to him was just about 20 days or so.
‘There is not much time remaining before the first full moon on the month of the Mountain Goat.’
It could certainly be considered a long time, but it could also be considered desperately short. Especially in the face of Aegehiros that towered over him before his eyes. Exploring such a massive dungeon would likely require at least a month.
The problem was that he also had to consider the time it takes to travel from Aege to Ixion.
Even if he were to ride the airship at maximum speed without a stop, it would easily take more than a week. If Sungchul were to run at his utmost fastest without taking a break for sleep, he would still have to plan on spending 3 days traveling.
Also, Sungchul disliked terrifying ordeals like long distance running.
Luckily, this problem was solved by Tigon who had somehow ended up on Sylphid without wanting to.
“I have dispatched priests trained in the Dimensional School of magic to board your ship.”
It was difficult to tell due to the craziness from Deheter’s ambush that quickly led to the annihilation of the Aege Harbor, but it seemed that Tigon had prepared many things in preparations for his meeting with Sungchul.
From hearing about Sungchul’s announcement about the session of World Parliament, he had deduced that Sungchul would need to travel around the whole world. And after doing a clandestine examination of Sungchul’s ship, he noticed that Sylphid lacked a mage capable of casting long distance teleportation and immediately requested a priest with Dimensional Magic to be placed under his authority.
Just in case he could use this as a bargaining chip later for an eventual negotiation of a temporary alliance with Sungchul.
“If someone could go ahead and provide coordinates, we could complete the long distance teleportation in just a day’s time”
Tigon was trying his best to appeal to him.
Sungchul didn’t exactly like this man, Tigon. But his presence was like a gentle shower in the middle of a drought.
Sungchul agreed to do as Tigon had suggested and quickly allowed Tigon and his priests to board his vessel ,Sylphid, as his guests
After boarding, Tigon requested one more thing of Sungchul.
Tigon wanted Sungchul to take him along in the exploration of the absurdly large dungeon that had appeared in the wake of the profane desecration and annihilation of Aege Harbor. Despite witnessing the unspeakable horrors that had taken place, he wished to investigate this so called ‘unholy’ structure” for his duties as Inquisitor
“You might die.”
Sungchul stated, his words laced with distaste.
But this level of warning had no power over those of the inquisitorial order.
“I can come back to life even if I am to be slain.”
Sungchul had absolutely no interest in wasting time bickering over something so utterly inconsequential, so he relented Tigon and company to board the ship and began planning for the dungeon exploration.
Sungchul’s plans were as follows.
Objective – Full completion of the Dungeon Aegohios
Time limit – 15 days
It was a spartan itiniary. Completing this goal would require Sungchul to bring to bear all that he was, with all his skills, experiences, and wisdoms he accumulated until now.
“I’m counting on you.”
“I leave it to you, Cabungbung.”
Sungchul had one of the soul gems enter a miniature golem and had ordered it to moor the Sylphid far out into the ocean. There was always the possibility that the Order of Extinction would come to ambush.
The miniature golem’s eyes glistened as it directed Sylphid towards the western seas.
It wasn’t until Sylphid left their field of view that the exploration of the Trials of God, Dungeon Aegehios began in earnest.
The parties were as follows.
Sungchul and Bertelgia, a man and a book.
As baggage was Tigon Bosborot and there was Marakia as the mascot.
Marakia’s enthusiasm was on par for the course, but truly it was top class party.
“My blood boils! A dungeon bearing the trials of God! Aah~ My beak is restless.”
Meanwhile, Inquisitor Tigon Bosborot’s expression was overflowing with disgust.
“Trials of God, what a joke. This unholy structure, I shall reveal its profane nature for all to see!”
Sungchul very much wanted to just discard these two abominations, but he was convinced by Bertelgia that he should at least allow them walk through the front door at least. He led his party through the wide open dungeon gates and made his way into the darkness within.
The now-familiar darkness quickly enveloped Sungchul’s party. Sungchul noticed a similar sensation to a portal to the Transcendent World, but got the strange feeling that it was subtly different somehow.
If it were like before, Sungchul would have simply dismissed it with the assumption that they were the same thing. But now that Sungchul had the mysterious Transcendent Senses at his disposal, he was able to learn what the minute difference between the two were.
Suddenly, they were in complete darkness.
“Oh! What kind of Lesser God’s sick joke is this?”
Sungchul came to realize that Tigon was a bigger problem than even Marakia.
At least Marakia knew how to read the atmosphere to a certain degree. But this obstinate old man seemed wholly incapable of flexible thinking.
Being among the top five most powerful individuals within a massive religious order like Mura sect that claimed more than half of all humans as its adherents, it wasn’t difficult to understand why he was this way.
As far as the world was concerned, even the late Horneko was considered beneath Tigon.
Whatever the reason may be, none of this amounted to anything as far as Sungchul was concerned.
‘I really want to leave him behind.’
As uncharacteristically evil thoughts began to bubble up from deep within him, something triggered Sungchul’s transcendent senses.
Something was trying to manifest itself before him.
Sungchul cast away his idle thoughts and focused on looking at what was going on before him. And soon, a large humanoid figure walked out from thin air.
Witnessing that was mystical in its own right. Sungchul had seen more tricks and techniques than anyone else ever did, but not even he had ever seen anyone appear from thin air without traces of magic or residue.
“W…who goes there! Identify yourself!”
The one who reacted the strongest was Tigon.
Marakia couldn’t take it anymore and he rammed his body against Tigon’s hips.
While Tigon was squirming on the floor from an unexpected strike, Sungchul continued to look up at the giant who had appeared before him.
It was a humanoid monster with a bovine head. Similar looking monsters by the name of Minotaur existed, but the being that stood before Sungchul was incomparably more divine and unfathomably powerful compared to mere Minotaurs.
More than anything else, the blood thirst in its eyes was emphasizing its otherworldly godlike presence.
“Ah, how long has it been since the last challenger?”
The towering being with the cow’s head opened its mouth with an exclamation of surprise. It had an almost scholarly soft voice one would not expect from a being with such a fearsome appearance.
“It has been ten thousand years since the last.”
Sungchul continued to stare at that being for a while longer before opening his mouth to ask calmly.
“Who are you?”
At that question, the cow-headed giant gave a polite gesture and revealed its name.
“My name is Aegehios. The dungeon is I.”
The cow’s eyes glistened brightly once. At that moment, Sungchul’s transcendent senses reacted, which allowed Sungchul to see. That the entirity of this gigantic structure was connected to this bovine headed giant by unfathomably many invisible strings.
And through that, Sungchul was able to surmise the identity of this giant.
‘He claimed to be the dungeon itself, but he himself amounts to nothing more than just another piece of the dungeon.’
Meanwhile, Tigon who had been temporarily pacified by Marakia began to kick up a fuss again.
“Ten thousand years…? That’s nonsense! Aege harbor had already existed in this lands by…”
Tigon’s words were cut off. Aegehios raised a finger and muttered something briefly, and something stopped Tigon’s voice from sullying these hallowed halls any further.
“What a loud human. I don’t know where or how you came to this place, but I do not feel not one shred of sincerity making you worthy of the trials of god. It seems you have a fair level of qualifications otherwise, but no one with that mindset deserves a place in these halls.”
Aegehios waved his hands slightly, which caused a dark hole to materialize beneath Tigon’s feet, swallowing him whole as if pulling him in.
“How did you do this?”
Sungchul returned his gaze to Aegehios to ask. Even if he was nuisance, Tigon was someone who was inconvenient for Sungchul to let die.
“I have simply expelled those unworthy of the god’s trials from the dungeon. There is no need to worry.”
To this, Sungchul gave Aegehios a thumbs up.
“Ttabong? What kind of expression is this? Is it that you also hold the God’s trials in low regards as well?”
Aegehios asked with a sternest of tone of voice. But to this, Sungchul gave a thin grin and shook his head.
“Far from it. It’s among the highest forms of a praise.”
“Highest form of praise, is it?”
Aegehios placed its long fingernails onto its chin for a moment to ponder on its meaning before nodding.
“Understood. Let us end our pleasantries here and begin the trials in earnest.”
Aegehios craned its head very, very, far down to gaze upon Marakia.
“Are you going to challenge the trials as well, young Avian?”
Marakia raised both his fists and wings into the air at the same time and gave a rowdy confirmation brimming with confidence.
“It appears you have reincarnated. Good. I shall permit you to challenge the trials.”
Finally, Aegehios’s gaze returned back towards Sungchul. But its shining eyes were not trained on Sungchul himself but Bertelgia that was inside of his breast pocket.
“Are you intending to challenge the trials as well, Living book?”
Bertelgia poked a bit of herself out of the pocket.
“Yes you, o’ human in the form of a book.”
Aegehios replied as if to urge her on.
Bertelgia fell quiet and hesitated because she didn’t expect this question before she finally viberated slightly.
“I am not a challenger. I am just this man’s companion.”
Aegehios seemed obviously displeased. Sungchul recognized this and stepped forward.
“This friend is my comrade. She has nothing to do with the trials. The one being tested is I.”
“So you say…”
Aegehios stared at Bertelgia thoughtfully as his words trailed off.
A powerful glint flashed through his blood thirsty eyes. After a bit of time after this, Aegehios nodded as if he accepted it.
“In the ten thousand years that had passed, there are now things I cannot fathom even with my observation. Whatever the case may be, I take back what I said. I shall grant permission for this Living Book to accompany you.”
For one reason or another, they somehow received his blessings to continue.
Two pillars appeared before Sungchul. Some form of magical energies could be detected coming from between the columns.
“Mmm? What is this?”
A similar, but tiny pair of pillar proportional to his small stature appeared in front of him as well.
Aegehios spoke up.
“This is the gateway to the trials. If you feel ready, prepare yourself to be tested.”
Sungchul didn’t hesitate in the slightest when he heard the explanation and walked to the space between the columns.
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