Leveling with the Gods - Chapter 43
It was the sound of air being ripped apart.
Hephaestus swung his hammer with ridiculous force. Every time he exerted power, the penalty accumulated in his body, but Hephaestus continued to relentlessly swing his hammer.
It was a show of anger, and that anger wouldn’t subside just from whacking the air a few times.
“H-He seems really mad.”
The players that managed to survive the sonic boom of the hammer started retreating.
Hephaestus’s hammer was scarier than Agamemnon’s sword. The pressure could crush their bodies if they took even a step closer.
It was fear.
Hephaestus’s body continued to turn redder and redder. His mana made it feel like he was a gigantic being. He was physically demonstrating that he planned on ignoring the penalty, daring anyone to challenge him.
The players knew that there was no way for Hephaestus, a Ranker, to directly attack them. If he indiscriminately murdered dozens of lower floor players, even he would be unable to take the penalty.
So one of two scenarios were bound to happen. Either he’d perish before he could kill all the players present, or an Administrator would show up. That meant that Hephaestus was currently just wasting his mana, swinging his hammer in the air.
‘I could use that to my advantage then…’ Agamemnon thought.
There was still a chance. Hephaestus wasn’t at 100%, having just broken out of Petrification. So if he could just use the penalty…
That train of thought was interrupted by the sight of Hephaestus swinging the hammer in his direction.
The attack struck the air with Agamemnon in its trajectory.
The blast from the hammer directly struck Agamemnon’s body.
A powerful electric shock flowed through Hephaestus’s body from the penalty. Seeming unphased, Hephaestus stood calmly in his spot and swung his hammer onto his shoulder.
Unlike the other players, Agamemnon was a player from a relatively high floor. So despite being the first one to attack, the penalty placed on Hephaestus was significantly smaller.
“I don’t care about the other guys, but I am definitely going to kill you.”
Agamemnon stood back up, using one hand to push himself off the ground while blood dripped out of his mouth. Mixed in with the blood that he vomited out were pieces of his internal organs.
Hephaestus walked closer to him, hot steam billowing off of his body.
Penalty? It seemed he no longer cared about something like that.
Hephaestus had completely lost his sense of reason. Either that or he knew that he wouldn’t perish from just killing a single person like Agamemnon.
While ignoring attacks from the other players, Hephaestus continued to stare solely at Agamemnon.
Hephaestus’s hammer rose up into the sky.
Agamemnon couldn’t move because of the overwhelming pressure and mana. He couldn’t believe he had tried to catch a behemoth like him.
‘I-I’m going to die…’ he thought.
He knew these would be his final moments. Agamemnon shut his eyes tight as death approached him from head on.
The heavy ringing of the hammer spread, vibrating the atmosphere.
Agamemnon sensed his death… Or he thought he did.
The result ended up being different.
‘What just happened…?’
At the absence of an impact, Agamemnon carefully opened his eyes.
A large shadow covered his entire body.
Someone had stepped in between him and Hephaestus.
“▷You went too overboard.”
Agamemnon saw the side profile of an enormous man about three meters tall. With hands the size of a normal person’s head, he had stopped Hephaestus’s hammer.
Except for Giants, there weren’t many people who were that big and capable of stopping Hephaestus’s hammer with just one hand. And the only person who could have appeared with this timing would be…
Even before Agamemnon said it, Hephaestus had an inkling as to whom the gargantuan man that appeared in front of him might have been.
The Administrator of the 1st Floor.
It was honestly not strange for him to have appeared at this moment. In fact, his appearance seemed a bit late.
“Why did you have to appear now of all times?”
“▷ Did you think I’d just stand by and watch forever, leaving you be?”
Hearing Hephaestus’s complaint, the Administrator took his hammer and tossed it behind him. After leaving Hephaestus’s hand, the hammer fell with a loud thump, creating a deep crater in the ground.
“▷ If you want a proper fight, do it up there, not here. This is the 1st Floor.”
The Administrator almost never interfered outside of the test. They left most things to the players, Rankers, and guilds of the Tower. And usually when an Administrator interfered, it was because a problem occurred during a test.
The exceptions to this were in the bottom floors. Administrators took special care of the 10th Floor and below, especially the 1st Floor.
Still, normally guilds took charge and managed the floors, but right now a guild called ‘Olympus’ was causing problems. And since this was a problem that a guild couldn’t resolve, it was only natural that the Administrator came out personally.
“I had no intention of fighting.”
“▷ That’s good to hear.”
The Administrator turned his head. Agamemnon locked eyes with the Administrator, and he saw something like the great expanse of the universe within his eyes.
The Administrator. Just as the name implied, they were beings that ruled and managed the floors. They were beings that not only rivaled Ares, the person that Agamemnon served, but even Zeus, the King of Olympus.
“▷ Are you a bastard from Olympus?”
“Y-Yes? I mean, yes! That’s right, sir.”
Seeing Agamemnon stutter like an idiot, the Administrator thought how pathetic he was.
“▷ Pass this on to Zeus. If he does something like this again, I’ll come pull out his entire stupid beard again.”
“▷ Don’t just say you will.”
The Administrator stretched out his hand.
Despite a giant hand coming towards him, Agamemnon couldn’t avoid it. He felt that if he tried to dodge it, the Administrator’s hand would immediately blow his head off.
“▷ You will have to, no matter what.”
A black mark was imprinted on his forehead.
Noticing the unique mark that resembled a tongue, Agamemnon rubbed his forehead.
Hephaestus, familiar with the mark, broke out in laughter.
In the Tower, the orders of an Administrator were absolute. Still, the Administrator planted a mark on Agamemnon’s head to be sure. If Agamemnon were to ever meet Zeus, he would relay exactly what the Administrator said, including the bit about pulling out his beard.
Feeling helpless, Agamemnon looked back and forth between Hephaestus and the Administrator. What could he do between these two colossal beings?
It didn’t take much thinking. With the intervention of the Administrator, there was nothing they could do.
This fight… was Olympus’s loss.
YuWon felt like this entire body had been scorched on a grill.
It didn’t take long for him to lose consciousness, though he did remember trying his best to not pass out.
He faintly remembered what happened afterwards.
[「?’s Egg」 bares its fangs.]
It was a ridiculous message. How could a creature that hasn’t even hatched yet bare its fangs?
For a while, the egg trembled inside his inventory, as if it really was about to fight.
The egg with a purple pattern. He thought he could see something like teeth. They weren’t actually visible, but he was certain that they existed.
‘This is dangerous,’ YuWon thought. He felt goosebumps pop up, something he didn’t feel even while directly facing a Ranker.
What was this egg?
YuWon got lost in fear and in thought.
‘Was it trying to protect me?’
‘What was the purpose of the fangs that it revealed from inside its hard shell?
‘Or was it trying to eat me while I was weakened?’
He didn’t know the exact reason, but before he could find out, YuWon got another message.
[「?’s Egg」 returns to hibernation.]
The egg that had been baring its fangs for a while fell back into slumber.
This message wasn’t something that had shown up while YuWon was passed out. It was a message that popped up just now.
YuWon suddenly realized that he had regained consciousness.
He wondered when he had passed out, but YuWon wasn’t able to finish his sentence.
“‘I’? ‘I’ what?’ a thick voice penetrated his eardrums.
YuWon opened his eyes. With his hazy vision, he turned towards the source of the voice, where he saw the blur of a large head.
“Ahjussi? You really lack manners, don’t you?”
The quality of Hephaestus’s voice really knocked the sleep out of YuWon. His foggy vision soon returned to normal, and he got up and looked around his surroundings.
It was a small house in the slums. It seemed that Hephaestus decided to momentarily borrow the house of a slumdog that ran away because of the ruckus.
“When did you wake up?” YuWon asked.
“Now look here. I should be the one to ask you that.”
Hephaestus couldn’t believe it. The first thing the kid that was passed out asked him was when he had woken up.
Though that was unsurprising. When Hephaestus had woken, YuWon had already lost consciousness, so the two couldn’t help but be worried about each other.
“How’s your body?”
“I seem more or less okay.”
YuWon didn’t know how much time had passed, but most of the burns had healed up. He attributed his recovery to [Cinder Eyes] and his strong fire resistance.
“What about you, Ahjussi?”
“How long are you going to keep calling me that?”
“Well, I can’t call you Ahjumma.*”
*TL/N: Female equivalent of ahjussi, used to refer to middle-aged women.
“You really know how to flap your mouth.”
“But you survived thanks to me, so what does it matter what I call you?”
YuWon was being brazen, but Hephaestus didn’t really have a good response. He scratched his head because it was true. YuWon was the reason why he hadn’t been dragged back to Olympus.
Hephaestus was holding himself back, looking as if he badly wanted to say something.
YuWon looked closely at him, wondering what he wanted to say.
Soon, Hephaestus opened his mouth.
“I said ‘Thanks.’ How many times do you want me to say it before you get it?”
Despite having only said it twice, Hephaestus got up and started fake coughing. He was clearly embarrassed.
YuWon was actually impressed that he even said it twice.
‘He tried pretty hard.’
The Hephaestus in YuWon’s memory was someone that didn’t use words to say thanks. He was more about actions than words because that was his life philosophy. Yet here was that Hephastus, saying ‘thanks’ and using his words.
It was because Hephaestus knew that he had to be sincere.
“My name’s not actually Vulcaro,” Hephaestus said with a serious look on his face. “My real name is Hephaestus. I was a blacksmith for Olympus.”
“Is that so?”
“You don’t find that surprising?”
“I am plenty surprised.”
“Are you unable to lie, or can you just not be bothered to lie?”
Hephaestus let out a baffled laugh after asking his question. He had already guessed that YuWon probably came searching for him knowing that he was Hephaestus. And because of the timing, he had even thought that YuWon might have been a member of Olympus.
“But I’m now certain.”
It was a doubt that persisted in his thoughts for a while. Was YuWon a member of Olympus? If he wasn’t, it’d be odd. How would he have known how to find him? But then, if he was from Olympus, that’d be equally as odd. Why didn’t he try to capture him?
Hephaestus originally had no answers for either question, but thanks to this event, he became certain of one thing.
“You’re not from Olympus. And you’re definitely no ordinary player.”
YuWon was certainly not your average player. Chryses was injured after a fight with him, and he had received a significant degree of penalty. But still, for a new player to beat a Ranker in a fight…
“Favors or misdeeds, I’m someone who always pays back tenfold.”
YuWon already knew this very well.
“Since the Administrator intervened, Olympus won’t be able to immediately come back to try and get me. That’s why I rented out a big workshop in the city for a few days.”
A new workshop. The man that had no choice but to reside in a tiny workshop to hide from Olympus got himself a proper workshop.
“Just wait a few days.”
Though, that didn’t affect the speed at which he could make something.
“I’ll make you the greatest sword.”