Return To Player Chapter 212

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# 212

World of Veterans (1)

The Operations Room of Deerside.

An odd array of characters filled the operations room, and the sight of half a floating key caught my eye. Although it was only half a key, it was still sufficient to proceed with the collaborative quest.

If half wasn’t enough, I could always use the Shining Trapezoheadron. I could afford to sit back and watch.

“Success at last.”

Sure enough, about an hour later, Idra reported with an exhausted expression.

He sat down next to me with a thud, wiping the sweat from his forehead.

“As you said, Bango must have registered as a player of Petroya and hidden himself. Since he triggered the quest, he won’t be able to escape.”

Just as I had expected.

To fool the eyes of the system and hide, transcending beings like him had no other choice.

He tried exploiting the system’s weaknesses and ended up ensnared by his own trick.

Now Bango had no choice but to quietly wait in Petroya until we arrived.

“What about Gail?”

“I’ve hidden him in the next room, just like you suggested. Neither Imlerith, Bango, nor even the system itself will be able to detect him.”

“Perfect.”

With Bango in Petroya, this was almost over.

“But if we had to do this, was there any need for us to fight at all?”

“If we hadn’t fought, Gail wouldn’t have trusted us.”

“Why?”

“We needed to give him the belief that we can defeat Bango.”

Gail acquiesced to our guidance because he judged that the power we displayed was capable of defeating Bango.

The very gamble we took would have been for naught if we couldn’t bring down Bango.

Not only would we die but so would Gail’s family.

“That’s quite bold of you. Even with that judgment, it amazes me that he chose to sleep, risking his family and his own life.”

Indeed, it was pretty remarkable.

If it were me, I wouldn’t have made such a choice so quickly.

Only after understanding my opponent and calculating the chances of victory would I have taken action.

But Gail astonishingly followed our words simply.

I knew it was in his nature, yet it was still surprising.

“Since the quest has been triggered, I’m going straight to Petroya. Make sure nothing happens to Gail.”

“Leave it to me. But, are you sure you want to go alone?”

“I had planned to at first, but…”

My thoughts turned to the girl waiting outside the operations room.

The poor genius who had been shaken by the fight with Gail.

“I want to give Lyn a chance to gain some experience.”

***

The ones decided to go to Petroya were Lyn and me, just the two of us.

I considered inviting Jisu along, but unexpectedly, she shook her head.

“I’m sorry, brother. I have something I need to do.”

She seemed genuinely regretful for not being able to accompany us, but she had her reasons and didn’t look like she intended to follow.

‘What could she possibly be doing?’

Under normal circumstances, she would have been the first to tag along.

‘It’s her own business, after all.’

At some point, I had taken for granted that Jisu would always heed my requests.

This realization made me feel guilty, and I could no longer press her for details.

Besides, with a good-child trait like Jisu’s, she wouldn’t be up to anything troublesome.

“Did you pack everything you need?”

“Yes, brother Shiwoo even made me new weapons.”

Lyn adjusted her outfit nervously.

A closer look revealed that each piece of gear she wore was of S-grade or higher, artifact-level equipment.

“Did Shiwoo make all this too?”

“Ah, that… Grandpa Zeus gave it to me. He said Petroya was dangerous and to be careful.”

Lyn spoke, her face flushed with embarrassment.

After all, for Lyn, Olympus was as much a second home as any.

Especially Zeus, who almost treated Lyn like his granddaughter.

I didn’t tell Lyn, but the person most opposed to bringing her to Petroya was Zeus himself.

‘He scolded me so much in his letter.’

I knew how dangerous Petroya could be.

But it was as valuable as it was perilous.

Particularly for Lyn, who had not fought against beings with divinity often, Petroya was the land of opportunity.

While Sword Saint Gail was peerless, that place was a land of veterans.

No matter how quickly Earth advanced, it was incomparable to Petroya.

There, beings brimming with divinity were simply a dime a dozen.

***

‘I really wanted to go.’

Jisu forced herself to turn away from watching Sehan and Lyn leave for Petroya.

If she kept looking, she felt she might impulsively follow them.

She truly wanted to be with them.

But this was the only chance she had.

During the two weeks Sehan was absent from Earth, Jisu had something truly vital to do.

“Welcome. I hear the raven left today?”

A beautiful girl dressed in a white gothic dress. Azazel. Smiling sweetly at Jisu, at first glance she seemed like an innocent child, far removed from strife; however, she was one of the strongest in the demon realm.

“Yes, he’s gone.”

Azazel approached Jisu slowly and gently took her wrist.

“My children won’t be back for two weeks either. I sent them away because they seemed to fall behind in the shadow of the raven.”

“Where did they go?”

“Well, what do you think?”

Considering Azazel’s nature, she could have sent them to the demon realm, but her mentioning of the raven suggested she likely sent them to Petroya.

“What matters is, we have two weeks.”

“Right.”

Sehan didn’t know.

If he did, he would surely have stopped her.

Neither did the other guild members of Deerside.

It wasn’t out of a lack of interest in them.

She was simply ashamed of her actions.

“Take a seat here then. We’ll start right away.”

“Sure. But, by doing this, I won’t be bound to you, right?”

“If I say no, would you believe me?”

“Yes. Because you never lie.”

“And why would I?”

“Lying is too bothersome for you.”

Azazel smirked at Jisu’s words.

“That’s correct. I don’t lie. You will truly be an independent being from me.”

The joy in Azazel’s voice could not be concealed, a child-like purity radiating from her anticipation for what was to come.

“Here.”

Swick.

Azazel scratched her white wrist lightly with a nail, creating a fine line from which red blood began to drip.

“Drink. If you can absorb this and make it yours, you will certainly become a demon.”

Jisu had been learning to harness the power of demons from Azazel, but that alone did not make her one.

A demon is akin to an external god in this world, a singular entity with universal influence.

While she may not possess the same indestructibility as Idra or Nyarlathotep, a demon’s body is special.

Even as a human who had developed her physique to its utmost, Jisu’s form was different from that of a demon.

While humans die from physical damage, demons are the opposite.

They are beings of strong will, almost pure mental force.

As embodiments of desire, their ‘demonhood’ is solid as long as their spirit is intact, unable to perish unless it is shattered.

Just as the Demon of Wrath was consumed by Ahriman, his rage was simply overpowered by Ahriman’s evil—the energy of his desire crushed by another.

“Of course, as a player, you’re special. Who knows what kind of change might take place. Like with Abaddon, you might become a different kind of demon.”

Drip, drip, drip.

As Azazel prepared a wine glass, her red blood gradually filled it.

The position of the Demon of Sloth belonged to the demon with the most outstanding talent among all demons.

Undoubtedly, the blood of Azazel, who occupied this role, was purer than any other demon’s.

“Why don’t you feed Shin Jiwon your blood? If you did, you could make her completely yours.”

As Jisu looked at the teacup filled with Azazel’s blood, she asked her question.

Azazel’s eyes widened at the unexpected inquiry.

“Curious about that now?”

“Yes.”

Jisu was sensitive to others’ emotions and had a vague idea of the odd feelings Azazel had towards Shin Jiwon.

Azazel herself was oblivious to it.

“She doesn’t want it. That child wishes to become strong as a human, not as a demon.”

“I see.”

“Do you think differently?”

“Yes.”

For Jisu, it made no difference whether she was human or demon.

All she desired was one thing:

To not fall behind Sehan, to follow by his side.

Not just to be protected, but to protect.

Gazing at the teacup of blood before her, Jisu slowly brought it to her lips.

***

Petroya was a star composed of five continents.

Not just humans, but elves and dwarfs lived there, and it was a fantasy world where swords and magic reigned.

“Divinity is overflowing…”

It was Lyn’s first remark upon stepping foot on the land.

Divinity was indeed overflowing. The observation was apt.

“This is a place heavily influenced by gods. Just as with avatars dubbed players, there are gods with numerous followers under the guise of religion.”

Simply put, because of the numerous gods and their avatars who descended onto the land, divinity openly flowed through the earth’s veins.

The results of continuous inflation.

“It’s like stepping into a fairy tale.”

We were in the forest, a region abundant with natural magic and faint traces of divinity wafting in the air.

Surely the power of the deity that governed this mountain.

Even the small faeries lurking between the trees and observing us were evident.

Lyn’s eyes sparkled at the sight of these faeries.

‘She’s still a child after all.’

Despite her recent growth, she was still just fourteen.

That fact hadn’t changed.

“But that also means it’s a tough place for the weak.”

“Excuse me?”

“Stagnant water tends to rot.”

Lyn blinked, not quite grasping my meaning.

But she would understand soon enough.

Petroya appeared to be an enchanting place on the surface, but for ordinary humans, it was a harsh land to live in.

“Shouldn’t we have teleported directly to a city?”

“Sometimes walking like this isn’t so bad.”

“It’s true. I can’t even remember the last time I took a stroll through the forest.”

I had no say in the teleportation location; Idra decided that.

Choosing the forest to avoid attracting attention in the city was likely his reasoning.

“Luckily, the city isn’t far off.”

Using the eyes of a crow, I scanned the surroundings and saw a small city not too far away, enclosed by high walls like a medieval fortress.

“It’s a castle!”

Although it was not particularly large, seeing the castle was enough to draw a wide smile from Lyn.

But that smile faded as soon as her eyes landed on the city gate.

“There’s a line of people at the entrance. Is something happening?”

“I’m not sure…”

I had a rough idea, but I chose not to explain it to Lyn.

She would find out soon enough.

“Oh my, lord! I assure you, I am truly not a refugee but a merchant. I have nothing to do with the war in the next town!”

“Then show us your trade permit if you conduct business in the city! Anyone can make claims with mere words.”

“That, well, it seems I misplaced it during the journey.”

“Lies!”

At the retort of the guard at the entrance, the man claiming to be a merchant had no choice but to step back with a fallen face.

Although Lyn frowned at the sight, she did not intervene.

“Brother, they’re on high alert. Will we be able to get in?”

“Probably.”

I had already researched Petroya through the community.

Here, the weak are considered criminals.

Particularly, there was no end to the number of refugees wandering with nowhere to go.

‘On the other hand.’

If you possess strength, there is no place freer than this.

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