Return To Player Chapter 225

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# 225

Chapter 225: The Demon Realm (1)

Two days had passed since my return from Petroiya.

During that time, Lyn had not opened her eyes. Although her injuries had fully healed, she remained in a tranquil slumber.

“It’s only natural. She overindulged after all.”

Idra commented with a nonchalant expression while looking at the resting Lyn as if to say it should have been obvious.

“Sure, this kid has tremendous talent and possesses a cheat-like trait. However, her opponent was none other than Bango. It’s no surprise there’s backlash from consuming his techniques indiscriminately.”

“That makes sense…”

Lyn’s face was the picture of peace.

In short, Lyn was currently digesting what she had gained from Bango.

“When do you think she’ll wake up?”

“Hmm, it’s hard to say, but it could be a month or two?”

“That’s vague.”

It wasn’t that the time frame was too long, but given that Imir could invade at any moment, it was a source of unease.

In the recent battle, Lyn had acquired the highest divine status and completely awakened her trait, Mary Sue.

On top of that, the situation was precarious as Lyn, capable of wielding the power of the Key, remained asleep.

‘If Imir invades before Lyn wakes up…’

Even if I confronted Imir, he wouldn’t come alone.

Especially not after Bango’s ordeal—they wouldn’t arrive unprepared.

All I could think about now were the external forces.

With beings comparable to Bango among the external forces, their assistance could spell real danger.

‘Putting aside how Imir would persuade them.’

The worst-case scenarios seemed endless.

I felt suffocated and could almost let out a sigh.

“Don’t worry too much. Being an administrator, he must have applied for authorization from the system. That’s not something that happens instantly, and with all the preparations, it should take them about a month or two.”

“That’s similar to when Lyn might wake up.”

“That’s true. But what can we do about it? It’s not like there’s a clear answer.”

There was no way to awaken Lyn for the time being.

I had tried entering her dreams using Idra’s Transeunt Skill and even resorted to elixirs.

However, there had been no response from Lyn.

All Luke could do was softly stroke her hair.

I really couldn’t face her.

“Anyway.”

Perking up the gloomy atmosphere, Idra started talking with a brighter expression.

“Did you see it?”

“See what?”

“The community. If not, you should check it now.”

Community?

At Idra’s words, I accessed the community.

Having not checked it in a while, the flood of notifications felt foreign.

“I opened it, but why—”

My sentence trailed as I unintentionally opened the community and beheld the chaos within.

The community, like Earth’s internet, had various portals and game-related communities, including GodTube, where Idra uploaded videos.

Currently, all these communities were engrossed in a single topic.

──Publisher, Bango’s death.

It was the headline dominating the community’s main page, detailing recent events in Petroiya as if it were the news.

The catalyst, the fight with the Sword Saint.

The journey Lyn and I took to Petroiya.

And the tales of the Hero Waster who battled numerous heroes.

The final chapter was written about Lyn’s one-on-one battle and how she defeated Bango.

Not just the news articles, but even the trending videos on GodTube were all about Lyn and me.

The number one video depicted a white pillar piercing the skies above Petroiya.

While the scene of Bango being split in two wasn’t shown, nothing more needed to be explained after the pillar swiped vertically, signaling the complete dissolution of Bango’s divine status.

There was no way the numerous deities in Petroiya hadn’t noticed.

‘The problem, however, is…’

The details were too precise.

Besides the pillar of light, our movements were outlined incredibly meticulously.

Moreover, stories about Earth now being hated by the Publisher and the potential invasion by the Giant King Imir continuously emerged from the community.

The chat rooms related to Earth were beyond reach, congested with the influx of deities.

“Who spread this information, exactly?”

“It was me.”

You?

“Don’t give me that look. It was necessary.”

“Meaning?”

“Soon we’ll face off against the Publisher. You’re aware, aren’t you?”

“Yes.”

The battle with Imir was now inevitable.

We had crossed a point of no return when we killed Bango, his right-hand man.

“Indeed, Earth has become much stronger. Enough to stand against the Publisher in a fight? Uncertain.”

You’re right. Even if we brought down Bango, the Publisher isn’t a small-fry. There are plenty more mighty beings, and most importantly, Imir fully owns one half of the Key as an ‘administrator.’ The power of an administrator is unknown, even to me.

Even after clearing all the quests that emerged on Earth in the first cycle, I couldn’t achieve transcendency.

“That’s why I plan to spread this information widely in the community.”

“How does that help?”

“It does. We’re not the only ones bearing a grudge against the Publisher.”

Now I understood Idra’s intent.

“You’re seeking help from the other stars?”

“There are countless potential allies lying in wait,” he said with a slight smile.

However, I wasn’t fully convinced.

“Do you think others will actually move on this?”

“We’ll make them move,” he responded confidently, declining to disclose more about his plan.

Suspicious as it was, if Idra was behind it, he likely wasn’t causing harm.

‘So much has changed.’

Even with the impending battle against Imir, I wasn’t deeply anxious—a far cry from my first cycle.

Even at the very beginning of the second cycle, the thoughts that used to be hazy were now clear and present.

Moreover, I was not alone this time.

Imagine my surprise, if the me from the first cycle could see how much I now trust Idra.

Not just Idra, many lives from the vanished stars were still thriving and breathing.

‘We must change the ending this time…’

***

“You’ve caused quite a stir again, crow.”

After parting with Idra, I immediately sought out Azazel.

By her side, as always, were Mina’s friend, the Minsuho and Minsua siblings, and Shin Jawoon.

Unexpectedly, Jisu was also there.

“You’re back, brother.”

“Ah, yeah.”

Why is she here?

I knew she had been in frequent contact with Azazel lately, but if she were around this much, weren’t they almost living together?

‘And the atmosphere has subtly changed as well.’

Could it be the faint trace of divinity flowing through her?

Jisu had reached the extreme level of Cheon Su-ra Gong and acquiring divinity wasn’t strange for her.

However, something felt off.

The divinity Jisu possessed was different from Lyn’s or mine’s—it felt similar to that of a demon…

“So, what’s the matter?”

Interrupting my thoughts, Azazel spoke up.

Reclining on an extravagant bed, she yawned leisurely.

“Can’t you expedite the martial tournament in the demon realm?”

“Why? Ah, the Grand Banquet?”

“That’s another term I’ve heard.”

Upon mentioning the martial tournament of the demon realm, Azazel’s expression turned curious.

“How do you know about that… Is it a measure against the Publisher?”

“Yes.”

“That might be difficult.”

As expected.

I bit my lower lip in response to Azazel’s reply.

“Is it because of the Key in the demon realm?”

“That is an intact Key, not like the halves Imir and Lyn have.”

The Key. Access to the system. There were only two in existence.

Imir and Lyn each held a piece, and together they were one.

And in the demon realm, there lay a complete Key.

“If I obtain the Key from the demon realm, we can gain the upper hand against the Publisher.”

“That makes sense. It’s the ultimate weapon capable of toppling the Publisher itself.”

“I’ve heard that the winner of the demon realm’s martial tournament can claim the Key.”

Fixing my gaze on Azazel, she looked back with a baffling expression, as if questioning how I had such knowledge.

“Did Idra tell you?”

“Something like that.”

“Hmm…”

Azazel mused, tracing her well-defined jawline with her finger.

“Mostly correct but slightly different.”

“Different how?”

“The Grand Assembly of the demon realm is indeed a fight for the Key’s right, but that is only a side dish.”

A side dish? Could the Key be merely that?

“The martial tournament of the demon realm actually contends for the position of Demon King.”

Demon King. An unexpected revelation left me speechless.

There was no Demon King in the demon realm.

It had been vacant so long that no one found its absence peculiar.

The Seven Deadly Sins filled the King’s role, and no demon coveted the supreme position of Demon King.

“So the winner is granted a seat as the Demon King?”

“More precisely, the right to challenge for the seat.”

The right to challenge for the seat of Demon King?

According to Idra, the martial tournament occurred regularly.

Yet the throne had been empty for tens of thousands of years, as per my knowledge.

“Do you wonder why there’s no Demon King?”

“Of course.”

“It’s simple.”

With a sly smile, Azazel looked me in the eyes.

“Seems no one has ever passed the test.”

An ambiguous response. Not that no one could pass, but rather they ‘seemed unable to.’

“What does that mean?”

“As I said. The details… I can’t divulge. It’s highly confidential.”

She was taunting me with her tone, but despite her casual demeanor, Azazel would never satisfy my curiosity.

“You seem down.”

“The Key from the demon realm could change the game; of course I am.”

“Haha.”

Azazel chuckled lightly and then glanced at Jisu by her side.

“What about you? Would you like me to help?”

Azazel asked Jisu, her face nearing, an insinuating tone to her voice.

Jisu looked back at Azazel with a somewhat reluctant expression before speaking.

“Yeah… sure.”

“Then that’s good.”

Azazel affectionately ruffled Jisu’s hair while their familiar interaction left me somewhat flustered.

“Are you wondering when they got so close? …Is that what you’re thinking?”

Azazel quipped as if reading my mind.

“After all, she’s like a daughter to me now.”

What nonsense.

“What do you mean?”

“Anyway, what’s important for you now is finding a way to get the Key in the demon realm, right?”

“…Correct.”

Jisu and Azazel’s relationship piqued my interest, but the Key was the priority, so I let it slide.

Even if I inquired further about their relationship, the atmosphere suggested it would remain unanswered.

“Acquiring the demon realm’s Key means becoming the Demon King.”

“I’ve heard enough already. And the fastest way to attain that is through the martial tournament, right?”

“Not exactly. That’s just a last resort because no one genuinely wants to be Demon King.”

A last resort? Hence the name ‘Grand Banquet.’

Indeed, recalling memories from my first cycle, true demons scarcely participated in the martial tournament.

Even I, without any divinity, managed to perform well.

‘Although I did fight and lose to the demon of gluttony.’

But aside from the demon of gluttony, no participants were of notable demon realm strength.

Considering community involvement in the tournament wasn’t substantial, perhaps it was indeed treated as a mere gathering.

“But isn’t only a demon eligible to become the Demon King?”

“If you pass the Key’s trial, anyone can. Demons worship strength, and if you pass the trial, they will show absolute loyalty to the King. Of course, if it’s not a demon, it would be somewhat regrettable.”

“But even if you get the Key, isn’t it unusable for most?”

“Haven’t I mentioned? The Key’s trial.”

The trial enables one to wield the Key, even without special powers like Lyn’s.

‘I think I understand.’

It’s not that the Demon King handles the Key, but rather, whoever operates the Key becomes the King.

“That means there’s another way to challenge for the throne besides the martial tournament, right?”

“Correct.”

Azazel smiled broadly, as if applauding.

“With the consensus of more than half of the Seven Deadly Sins, you can challenge the trial.”

I could imagine what that entailed without further explanation.

Azazel had said it herself.

Demons admire strength.

In other words, Azazel suggested I needed to subdue at least four of the Seven Deadly Sins.

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