The Return Of Apocalypses Tyrant Chapter 37

Episode 37: “Something’s Off…?”

Nangong sensed something out of place as he followed the route the beasts had taken through the maze.

“The direction is correct, but…”

The three beasts had indeed all disappeared after reaching a certain common location.

This meant that he had at least secured three paths to that place.

“They’re not coming out.”

Following the first beast’s route should have led to the space where the beast died, yet there was only a dead end.

He returned to the entrance and took the second beast’s route, only to find a deep abyss at its end.

Now, as Nangong attacked the maze along the path the last third beast had taken, he could no longer deny the truth.

“They’re not going to let us in easily.”

He felt as though he was running on a Möbius strip, endlessly coursing through the labyrinth.

“Save me…!!”

Just then, he heard a sharp scream from a woman. Nangong halted in recognition of the familiar voice.

“Park Hyo-ju?”

“Huff, h-huff…!!”

Racing out of the darkness, she was drenched in blood.

“Park Hyo-ju!!”

Nangong grasped her arm and pulled her towards him.

“What happened to you?”

“There were monsters… Horrible monsters. All my team members are dead.”

Trembling, her eyes unfocused, she screamed at Nangong.

“What are you talking about? It was just the three of us who entered. Get a hold of yourself!”

He shook her shoulders, wondering if she had been subjected to a psychic attack.

“There were three of us? The one who needs to come to their senses is you! Don’t you know? My dear team members… they’re all dead!”

Chills ran down his spine as he witnessed the look in Park Hyo-ju’s eyes.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know. You sent my team members to their deaths.”

“…What?”

“You commanded them. Told them to guard the subway tunnels at Seoul Station. To buy us time. You said you would handle it all. But what’s this?”

Crack-!

Park Hyo-ju snatched at Nangong’s collar.

“To catch that damn demon…! You used my team as human shields while you went back in time alone!!”

His head reeled as if struck by a bludgeon.

“The team members who trusted you and entered that hell… No… I’ll even resent you in death…”

Swoosh—!

Just then, Park Hyo-ju’s face seemed to melt as her skin flowed, and chunks of red flesh fell away and vanished.

“…”

Nangong stood petrified.

“Don’t be deceived by the fake. The maze is meddling with your mind. Think simply, and you’ll lessen the confusion.”

“Jang Gil-su…”

He turned, more confused than ever, to see Gil-su who had pat his shoulder.

“How did you get here?”

“Ha, if there’s no way, you make one. I just broke through the maze walls and kept going straight.”

Nangong couldn’t help but chuckle at his words. It was a very Jang Gil-su approach.

“Thanks to you, I’m in my right mind now. It seems the maze is indeed causing hallucinations.”

“Indeed. But who can tell if those are merely hallucinations… or real?”

“What do you mean…?”

“Do you truly believe in your regress? The last demon you seek to catch. The devil of the stump. He deals with souls.”

Nangong suddenly felt there was something off about Gil-su’s gaze.

“Did you really kill him? The soul is the essence of the mind. Have you ever considered that you might just be dreaming the dream you wish to dream, caught in the devil’s trickery?”

“…What nonsense?”

“Nonsense, you say.”

Squelch… Squelch, squelch, squelch…!!

Suddenly, Gil-su’s mouth split along the corners and gaped.

“Did you forget that for your sake, to send you to the past, my brothers and I were torn apart and killed by that devil? And yet you have the nerve to come to me again? The audacity…!!”

“…!!!”

A demonic face emerged from his mouth, hissing with a tongue like a serpent’s.

[Did you think you killed me? Kekeke… foolish one… you haven’t gathered all 666,666 demon heads. You’re just playing in the illusion I created.]

The demon spoke to Nangong with a noxious laugh.

“Nangong… why did you send us to our doom?”

“I trusted you…”

“You think you achieved your feat? Don’t make me laugh… you just exploited our deaths.”

Like an echo, the voices of many people began to resound in Nangong’s ears.

Crack-

Feeling as though someone was tugging at his hem, he looked down to see a bloody arm.

Crack-

Another hand grasped his arm, his waist, his shoulder, his face… Countless rotten arms, reeking of decay, began pulling him into the darkness.

[Kekeke… This is reality. You’ve been deceived. Let it fall apart. There was never such a thing as regression…]

Thwack—!

That’s when Nangong drove his fist relentlessly into the head of the demon popping out of Gil-su.

“Is that so?”

He grabbed the crushed demon head and pulled it in front of him.

“Is this reality? Then let me start with you. How many of the 666,666 are left alive? Doesn’t matter. I will slice them all apart.”

[You…!!]

“Is that all you got? I’ve borne the lives of not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands, cutting down your kind. Just returning to the past?”

Nangong drew the Penitent’s Sword.

“The regress that cost their lives is no trivial matter. Some may resent me. There are countless who have been forced to sacrifice.”

Swish—!!

As he swung his sword, the countless arms clinging to him were swiftly severed.

How much time had passed?

Once he could smell nothing but blood, and his nose was numb with it, nothing remained around him.

Crunch!!!

He drove the sword into the demon’s face.

[Arrrghhh!!!]

“Even so, I do not regret my decisions. Let them curse, let them resent. I will accept even that sin. But…”

Crunch, crunch…!!

As he twisted the hilt embedded in his forehead, a grotesque sound of bone fracturing filled the air.

[Cr… chok… cough…]

The demon’s face was cleaved open by the sword.

“I won’t forgive anyone who claims my life is fake.”

Nangong stepped on the bifurcated demon face and murmured quietly.

Whooosh—!!

In an instant, like mist clearing, both Jang Gil-su’s body and the severed demon head vanished.

‘Was it an illusion?’

The blood that had covered him disappeared, and breathing in, the scent of moist moss now felt refreshing.

“I’m out.”

Nangong looked at the immense door before him, which had not been visible until now.

“The maze traps even human hearts. What a merciless place.”

He leaned against the door, tired.

The whispers of the beings in the hallucinations once more echoed in his thoughts.

‘How did Jang Gil-su conquer this illusion? It’d be tough to withstand with only mental strength.’

Boom—!

Then it happened.

The wall to the right of the door Nangong stood before collapsed with a loud noise.

“…?!”

“Damn, I thought I was a goner.”

The distinct voice belonged to none other than Jang Gil-su. He walked over to Nangong, shaking off moss from his body, having broken through the wall.

“Ah! There you are. Impressive. I thought I’d be the first to arrive.”

“You… broke through a wall to get here?”

“Yep. From the entrance, I chose a direction and kept going straight. After all, the place with the boss is always either in the center or at the very end.”

‘Was it really a wall that could be broken?’

Nangong’s face expressed his incredulity as he looked at the remains of the shattered wall.

‘To think he conquered the maze like this. Simple, or clear-cut? Well, it’s typical of him, isn’t it.’

Having spent 25 years in this world, he had never once thought to break through a dungeon wall to create a new path.

‘Dungeons aren’t human constructions but the work of aberrations. I had assumed they couldn’t be altered by human strength…’

Ssss…!

As he watched the wallpaper crumble effortlessly to dust on his palm, he sighed in disbelief.

“I’m still naive.”

Brushing the dust off, he stood up.

“Nice work.”

“You seem the worse for wear, though.”

“Ah…”

Shrugging it off, Nangong reached for the handle of the closed door.

Click-

The lock disengaged, and the maze’s door slowly opened.

A pedestal with three pillars standing in the center of a large room came into view.

“Looks like it requires another person to activate… wonder if the other guy’s okay.”

“He’ll come. He’s capable.”

“Hmm…”

Gil-su’s face showed a bit of concern.

“Huff, puff…”

Just then, Park Hyo-ju appeared, her face pale and sweating profusely. She looked at the two men and collapsed, drained.

“Are you alright?”

“What is this place? Those damn nightmares… I thought I was going to die.”

Gulping down the water from the bottle Gil-su handed her, she seemed repulsed as she spoke.

“But you made it. Tough girl.”

“…The tip you gave helped a bit. I thought I had nothing to lose, but…”

“A tip? Why didn’t you share that with me too? You’re really… cheap.”

“I figured you’d figure it out on your own.”

While Nangong watched the bickering pair, he asked Park Hyo-ju,

“Did you see an apparition?”

“Yes. My deceased subordinates appeared.”

“You managed to shake it off well.”

“The subordinates looked rather strange.”

“Strange, how?”

“One of the apparitions was a subordinate from my unit before joining the NIS. He had lost his leg protecting me during a mission.”

She let out a bitter smile.

“Funny thing though: your suggestion about the right side helped. That guy’s amputated leg was the left one, but the apparition that clung to me had the right side cut off as if reflected in a mirror.”

“Oh, see? Right side’s the answer. I also broke through to the right.”

“…What did you break?”

“Well, not in that sense…”

Nangong accidentally let out a laugh as he realized how differently the two had interpreted what Jang Gil-su had casually mentioned about navigating the maze.

“Well, anyway, it’s good we all made it out alive.”

He stepped onto the pedestal.

► The offering has been made.

Following the notification, the others joined him on the pedestal, revealing red letters in the air.

[Offering on the altar: 3/3]

The front of the pedestal rumbled as the huge door began to split and open.

► The master of the labyrinth will appear.

[Koooowwww!]

A minotaur wielding a massive hammer emerged with a puff of white breath, advancing toward them.



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