Vulcan and Clutus were the two warriors who competed for the title of the strongest at the Origin of Evil, one of the most difficult hunting grounds in Act 2.
Others behind them were already having hard time catching their breath even though they were only experiencing the test to enter the Final Trial. The difference in caliber between the others and the two men were significant. The difference was the overwhelming kind that they could never make up for at the moment.
Like that, countless beings who had been following behind Vulcan and Clutus started to give up approaching the Final Trial one after the other. By the time Vulcan and Clutus came to their senses, the two were the only ones left.
“They all disappeared.”
“Yes. Ugh. There was one guy who was still following about five minutes ago. I think he was the last one.”
“Even at a first glance, they all had long ways to go before they would be qualified to come here…”
The tone of Vulcan’s voice indicated that he was puzzled by these other beings’ decision to challenge the Final Trial. Clutus said,
“It probably means they are in that much of desperate situations. Ugh. Ugh.”
“Still, I never thought there would be this many unqualified ones who won’t even be able to endure the Origin of Evil.”
“That place is open for anyone anytime, so… Ugh.”
Exchanging banters, Clutus breathed harshly.
As they approached closer to Honus, the one who managed the Final Trial, the pressure felt stronger and bigger.
Clutus’s reaction could be said as something only natural.
However, Vulcan appeared to still have some nerves to spare just like how he was at the very beginning when they first felt the deadly aura. Looking at Vulcan, Clutus felt like he was the one who was lacking in abilities.
Vulcan was marching forward with bright lights surrounding him. Vulcan looked like a god of lightning. Looking at the man, Clutus burned his competitive spirit.
‘I am behind you now, but… I’ll reach the godhood faster than you when I enter the Final Trial!”
Grinding his teeth, Clutus tightened his muscles as he followed closely behind Vulcan.
Like that, a bit of time passed, and they were able to arrive at the destination safely.
Vulcan still had nerves to spare. As for Clutus, he was not as leisurely as Vulcan, but he also still had some strength left. Honus saw that the two men made it to where he was. Honus smiled.
It was because he was proud to see the accomplishments of two Demi-gods.
To Gods, most Demi-gods were either their children or nephews or nieces. In fact, they received some preferential treatment by the Gods.
Of course, because they were Gods, they could not afford to form an atmosphere where they were discriminating against the children of other beings. So, the Gods were always careful. Still, it could not be helped that Honus was happy.
He didn’t hide his joy as he bestowed Vulcan and Clutus with his godly power.
The pressure that they felt until now disappeared as if it was simply washed away. Clutus breathed big.
He said he finally felt like living. He swung his arms around big and relaxed his body. He looked at Vulcan and said,
“I’m going to get some sleep. Vulcan, let me know when it is time for us to enter.”
“Why did you come here early?”
“So I can come here with you. Anyway, I’m going to sleep.”
As soon as he finished saying that, Clutus fell asleep. He was snoring loudly and energetically. Looking at the man, Vulcan shook his head.
‘Does one sleep longer after becoming a Demi-god? I think Tolcas was like this too.’
Because Vulcan had well established habit of training while even minimizing the time for sleep, Vulcan could not quite understand this particular behavior by the Demi-gods.
Vulcan thought Clutus was being foolish. He gave Clutus a quick glance and then looked around the area.
However, there wasn’t anything special that caught his attention.
Vulcan expected a huge gate for the dungeon. However, there was no such thing. Also, there wasn’t anyone here who arrived before them.
It seemed that Vulcan and Clutus were the first two to arrive.
‘Well, we did come here a little sooner.’
Vulcan looked at a few trees around the area. He walked toward Honus who was exuding his powerful intensity while having his eyes closed. However, Vulcan was concerned that he might look arrogant if he did, so he stopped.
After that, just like Clutus, Vulcan just lay down and rested comfortably for the time being.
‘It’s not bad to rest. It’s been a while, so.’
Vulcan looked up the clear and bright sky and waited for the others to arrive.
Like that, a few days went by.
* * *
“I think this must be everyone. Um. Is the Blue Dragon not going to come this time either?”
Honus looked around and mumbled.
Honus brushed down his long-grown beard. He stopped exuding his powerful aura. He started to carefully observe each and everyone who made it this far.
There were 29 of them in total.
That was a lot more than how it was 100 years ago.
‘It looks like their calibers are increasing and increasing. Last time, there were 15, so…’
Honus nodded and put on satisfied smile.
Many from the lower dimensions were summoned to Asgard for the purpose of raising as many powerful warriors as possible. So, sudden increase in number of talented individuals arriving at the Final Trial was something to be welcomed.
However, Honus soon wiped off the smile from his face. Instead, he put up a stern look.
He was trying to preserve the grace as a God and the manager of the Light inside the Darkness. With cold gaze, he looked into the eyes of everyone and said,
“Welcome. You have broken through hardships and adversities and reached this place. I, Honus, would like to express my respect for you all. To make it this far, you must have worked hard with iron will and continued your trainings despite the difficulty and monotony. I applaud your efforts once again. As you all know, this place leads to the light inside the darkness…”
There were 29 of warriors who possessed mid-level god powers. To listen to what Honus said, they perked up their ears and corrected their poses to be respectful.
Of many managers in Act 2, Honus was one of the most powerful Gods.
Nobody wanted to look bad in front of him, so they all heed to his words.
However, after 10 minutes, 20 minutes and almost after an hour, Honus didn’t finish his speech. One after the other, the ones gathered here started to lose focus.
From how they looked outside, they looked perfectly fine with nothing out of the order.
On average, each and every one of the individuals here had gone through excruciating trainings for over thousand years and went through over hundred chaotic messes. So, they could manage to not embarrass themselves by ruining their balance while listening to the long speech.
However, how they were feeling inside was no different from elementary school children who were listening to long lectures from the school principal.
They started to listen to Honus’s words in one ear and let it out the other ear.
“.. So, we are able to stand here today thanks to the blessing from the Greatest God, and without his care, we would all be living terrifying days in pain and suffering under the grasp of horrible demons of the demon world. The Greatest God is not the only one we should be thankful to. Through the sacrifice by the Great Ancient God of Lightning Jerumong…”
His speech really was long.
His speech started with applauding everyone for making it this far. He then talked about the background and history for the creation of the light inside the darkness, and the speech lead to praising the Greatest God who made this place and other magnificent Gods. Now, Honus was even talking about each and every individuals who achieved Enlightenment from this place and rose to the ranks of Godhood.
It looked like Honus was boasting about all pupils he taught. Everyone complained inside as they listened. However, nobody voiced their complaints out loud.
It could not be helped. Honus was in charge. No matter how unreasonable Honus was, everyone there had no choice but to comply.
This included Vulcan and Clutus.
Clutus said ‘finally’ for the 21st time. They desperately hoped that Clutus really meant it this time. They put on sparkling eyes for the show.
It was excruciatingly painful to hear the speech.
His speech felt like it would go on forever, but it ended like that.
Everyone applauded loudly like thunder. Honus had a faint smile on his face.
For a moment, he enjoyed everyone’s gazes and attention. He then raised his right hand and quieted down the applauds.
After that, he focused hard, hard enough to crumple his brows. He used both of his arms to draw a large circle.
A black portal, large enough for one person to go through, was created in the air.
It was dark. It reminded of an entrance to hell.
Although they had been calling the place ‘Light inside the Darkness,’ there was no sign of light. Instead, only desperate darkness filled it.
‘Are we supposed to find the light ourselves after going in?’
Vulcan thought it won’t be easy, but he thought it would be far more dangerous than what he expected. Vulcan’s face stiffened.
However, he didn’t hesitate or act like he was lacking the backbone.
If it was the version of Vulcan from Rubel Continent, then he might have given up here.
However, he was a completely different existence now.
He was not so weak that he would take steps back from facing this much sense of danger.
Of all 29 individuals gathered here, Vulcan stepped forward first and approached the portal.
Everyone else finally got a grip of themselves and also headed toward the portal. However, they already lost the lead to Vulcan.
They felt defeated somehow by Vulcan. They shook their bodies lightly and focused their gazes on the back of Vulcan.
After that, they wondered,
‘Just who is that? That man…’
‘I have heard of others here at least through the rumors, but I don’t know this man at all… A Demi-god? By any chance, is he a human?’
Vulcan had been hunting at the Origin of Evil for 100 years, and he was able to obtain some fame in comparison to the past. However, nobody recognized him except a few.
There were just Clutus and three others from the Origin of Evil who trained with Vulcan. They were the only ones who nodded as if this made sense.
From how others saw it, Vulcan, who was someone completely unexpected, charged ahead of them, so they were surprised. Although they did not let their wariness be noticeable, they filled their eyes full of caution and checked Vulcan.
A few impatient ones were unable to stand still. It was as if they were wanting to go test Vulcan’s strength right now.
The place was getting heated up rapidly because of Vulcan’s sudden move.
If it was not for Honus who was standing next to the portal with his majestic presence, the atmosphere may have led to a duel immediately.
However, Vulcan didn’t care at all about the mood. He just walked toward the portal.
He didn’t want to waste his time on such a meaningless duel.
‘I wonder what the monsters’ levels are inside… Filder said it was tough for him, so the monsters must be around 1000 levels? I can’t wait.’
For a long while now, Vulcan only had been slaying monsters who were below his level. So, nothing intrigued him more than a new hunting ground.
So, he ignored everyone and leaned in to the portal.
Actually, he tried to, until he was denied of entrance to the place by Honus.
“… What is it? Is there a problem?”
In respectful tone, Vulcan asked Honus.
Vulcan had excited face, so the tone of his voice was unbecoming and even laughable. However, Honus did not relax the serious look on his face.
Overall, the look on his face felt like Honus was someone who must do this by the book without any deviation from the order of things.
Wondering if he did something wrong, Vulcan tilted his head to the side. Vulcan asked again,
“By any chance, did I do something wrong…”
“Who said the test was completely over?”
Cold and sharp intensity, like blizzard storm, exuded from Honus.
Vulcan faced it directly. He moaned lightly and tumbled back. Soon, he retreated all the way back to where the other 28 were.
Vulcan looked defeated.
Also, the others had similar look on their faces.
It could not be helped.
Nobody heard that there were two tests by Honus, the manager of the Final Trial.
With anxious looks on their faces, they looked at Honus’s face.
After a moment, Honus’s majestic voice gently echoed through the area.
“It seems everyone is surprised. I can understand that. If it was like before, then making it this far would have been enough to allow you to enter. You all possess such superb caliber to allow that. Your abilities are worthy of respect. However… We have a problem now because more than I expected had arrived.”
“Only a limited number of individuals can enter. So, only 15 of you can enter. As for the rest, you will all have to wait until the next time.”
“In that case, how are you going to select the 15?”
Clutus asked as he raised his spear on the right hand high in to the air.
Everyone looked toward him and welcomed his question.
It was because he properly cut the flow of Honus’s speech. It looked like Honus was about to embark on yet another long speech, so everyone welcomed Clutus’s move.
Watching Clutus overflowing with fighting spirit, Honus smiled lightly.
‘His father Parkers is a complete lazy bum, but still, this rascal is the type with full of energy. It is not bad.’
Honus took a moment to form an opinion about Clutus and lowered his gaze.
Many individuals were looking at Honus with concerned eyes. They were worried about what Honus was going to say.
With strength in his eyes, Honus looked at the warriors who were gathered here. Lastly, he directed his gaze at Vulcan and said quietly,