The Hero Returns

Chapter 277



Chapter 277: Chapter 277


Act 5


Fluff, fluff—


The fog that covered their surroundings began gathering in one place.


Falling rain met with the flames burning on the ground and evaporated. The fog created in that manner soon morphed into something closer to clouds and, in turn, became Su-hyeun’s “territory.”


“So, this is it?” Su-hyeun thought.


Su-hyeun was in a dreamy state after creating this territory. It felt as if the whole area had become a part of his flesh. More importantly, everything within it was under his beck and call now.


“This is what the Somersault cloud is.”


“Freely wield it” was what the Somersault cloud told him.


Along with that permission, Su-hyeun was able to wield the divine artifact anyway he saw fit. More correctly, he began believing that he could wield it as his heart desired.


But he was naive.


He thought he managed to figure out what kind of being the Somersault cloud was and that he had seen through all the types of power it possessed. But he was so wrong.


He didn’t even know one-tenth of what the Somersault cloud was capable of.


“The proof of godhood, was it?”


The cloud of the beginning and the proof of godhood. Initially, Su-hyeun couldn’t understand what those words implied, especially so when it came to godhood—this term just felt so foreign to him.


But now, he thought he finally got it.


“Godhood.”


It was basically the qualification to become a god, and it was something you should obviously possess if you were indeed a god.


The Somersault cloud was a divine artifact that allowed its wielder to take a peek at the abilities of such a godly being.


While he stood inside the fog, he felt as if time had come to a standstill. He became one with the fog covering the surroundings, and he felt that the world was in his palm.


For a very brief moment there, a moment shorter than even a blink of an eye, he felt confident enough to do anything he wanted.


“Isn’t this…?”


In the meantime, the Jade Emperor’s eyes grew extremely large from pure shock because he knew intimately well what that aura emanating from the fog surrounding him was.


It was from the divine artifact that the Great Sage Heaven’s Equal wielded.


“But how can that bastard control the Somersault cloud?!”


Sun Wukong’s invasion of the Heavenly World 500 years ago still remained fresh in the Jade Emperor’s head even to this day.


This was the greatest weapon—an ability of sorts—that symbolized the boundless strength of Sun Wukong, along with the magical staff, Ruyi Jingu Bang.


He couldn’t forget it since he felt the exact same aura from the Somersault cloud while it summoned storm winds and lightning bolts half a year ago when the Heavenly World’s army tried to invade the Bull Demon King’s territory.


Crackle, craaaackle—


The arcs of lightning buzzed and danced within the Somersault cloud that was spreading out to seemingly everywhere. Su-hyeun hadn’t even issued any particular commands at that—the artifact itself simply changed its shape according to its wielder’s current emotions.


“Dammit!”


Finally realizing the situation he was in, the Jade Emperor hurriedly curled within himself once more.


Right after that…


“Destroy him…”


FLASH—!


The “clouds” cast over the ground emitted a bright light and then…


“Somersault cloud.”


At that very moment, Su-hyeun finished issuing his commands…


RUUUUUMBLE—!


Heavenly calamity got underway.


WHOOOOSH—!


Violent storm winds whipped crazily within the “clouds.” These winds were sharper than prized swords and vicious enough to shatter tough boulders into smithereens.


Rumble, flaaaaash—!


On top of this, lightning bolts twirled and writhed with the vicious winds. Those lightning bolts that were powerful enough to split the earth and turn one’s body into ash ceaselessly exploded everywhere.


Su-hyeun was in a complete trance as he stood tall within this maelstrom.


As for the Buddha statue, it had been torn apart to pieces by the winds and scorched black by lightning a long time ago. The story wasn’t any better for the Jade Emperor hiding within.


Su-hyeun looked at the burnt-black Jade Emperor’s quivering lips and muttered, “All you can say in your final moments are cheap profanities and nothing else?”


He then flicked his finger at the Jade Emperor who barely managed to open his lips at this point.


Swiiiiish—


Splat—


The scorched Jade Emperor’s head transformed into a pile of ashes only to crumble away.


And at that very same moment, all strength escaped Su-hyeun body, and the bluish aura swirling in his eyes flickered out.


“And so…it’s really the end.”


[Immortality’s duration has ended.]


[The recovery effect on your stamina and the abnormal status conditions have disappeared.]


[Physical stat points have reverted to their original values.]


[Fatigue: 87]


The Immortality trait had lost its effect almost at the same time, and a great amount of fatigue washed over Su-hyeun’s body.


Shu-ruru—


He slowly fell on his back.


And at that very moment…


[You’ve acquired 10,000,000 achievement points.]


[You’ve attained the highest possible accomplishment points.]


[You’ve surpassed the clearance condition for the 60th floor’s trial.]


[Your ranking cannot be possibly determined.]


[Awarding of additional rewards has been postponed.]


[The Administrators have convened for a conference.]


[Please be on standby for a little while.]


Su-hyeun, who was gradually fading into unconsciousness, woke up abruptly for a moment there when he heard the vague echoing of the system messages in his head.


“…What?”


**


“How surprising,” said the Bull Demon King with a serious voice.


Erlang Shen’s own impression after witnessing the battle while sitting next to the god-like Yogoe wasn’t all that different either. He shot up to his feet, his shock obvious as he tried to take in the unfolding spectacle. “That…was that the Somersault cloud?”


Sun Wukong mentioned earlier that he handed the Somersault cloud to someone else. And that someone else happened to be Su-hyeun.


Erlang Shen thought that was a rather foolish choice.


The overall power and the total worth of the Somersault cloud as a divine artifact were hard to fathom. Depending on how it was utilized, it could even exhibit an even greater worth than Ruyi Jingu Bang—tens of times greater, in fact.


But that also meant wielding the Somersault cloud was incredibly difficult. Even Sun Wukong, who was referred to as the Victorious Fighting Buddha, couldn’t bring out the cloud’s full power.


Yet a human who only recently took over the ownership of the artifact was wielding it even better than the previous owner, Sun Wukong.


“This can’t be. This doesn’t even make any sense…”


“This only goes to show you that the Somersault cloud has indeed acknowledged my last brother,” the Bull Demon King replied to Erlang Shen’s murmur of astonishment. “However, what surprised me more was the fact that, in order to conserve his strength as much as possible while summoning the cloud, he chose to use fire and water together to create his own clouds instead.”


“Are you saying that the rainfall earlier was a part of his action to summon the Somersault cloud?”


“The Somersault cloud is the cloud of the beginning. The most suitable environment to exercise its powers should be a location filled with clouds, wouldn’t you say?”


Clouds and fogs were similar in nature. The former was basically tiny particles bunched up higher in the sky, and the only notable difference between the two would be where they were found—one was nearer to the ground, while the other, up in the sky.


Su-hyeun used this point and fought his enemy while utilizing his flames and then told his dragon to cause the rainfall.


In actual reality, it wasn’t rain but more like a great amount of water being poured down through some kind of a magical technique, but whatever the case might have been, the fog was still created in the end.


“Of course, even if there was a cloud, it was my last brother’s cool-headed judgment that allowed him to use the Somersault cloud to this degree,” the Bull Demon King said and then shifted his gaze to Erlang Shen. “And so, what will you do now? Your Jade Emperor has been defeated, and all of my brothers are currently incapacitated.”


The Bull Demon King made himself very clear that other than killing the Snub-nosed Monkey Spirit King, he would not participate in this fight at all.


If Erlang Shen wanted to kill Sun Wukong and Su-hyeun right now, then nothing would be able to stop him.


And if he chose to do that…


“Who knows, you might become the hero of the Heavenly World. No, you may even become the next Jade Emperor, no less.”


“Aren’t the changes in your whims a little too extreme, considering you were doing your best to carry out your little brother’s revenge not too long ago?”


Erlang Shen’s stared back at the Bull Demon King with a puzzled expression. However, the latter didn’t reply and simply formed a faint smile, which caused Erlang Shen to frown deeply as if he was displeased about something.


To Erlang Shen, it seemed like the Bull Demon King already knew how he would reply when he asked that question.


“I’m not interested in fighting against the Great Sage Heaven’s Equal when he’s in that state. And I’m even less interested in the emperor’s throne. I’m a warrior, after all,” Erlang Shen replied as he got ready to leave. “When the Great Sage wakes up, pass this message along. I, Erlang Shen, will wait for his arrival in front of the eight-way trigram Crucible, the very same one used to confine him. When he does come…”


Clank—


He reached down to pick up the guandao that was resting on the ground and finished the rest of his sentence, his determined voice filled with dense fighting intent, “We shall finally finish our battle.”


**


The entire Heavenly World was in an uproar.


The new God of War was dead. Even the former God of War, the Pagoda-Bearing Heavenly King was dead. The battle left not only the Heavenly World’s soldiers but also its capital city in utter ruin.


And most important of all, the Jade Emperor was killed.


This was a completely different result from the war against the Great Sage Heaven’s Equal 500 years ago.


No retaliation attempt was made.


The Heavenly World was in no state to retaliate, to begin with—all because of Erlang Shen’s unexpected declaration that followed directly after the announcement of the Jade Emperor’s passing.


“I’m a sinner. I shall step down from my position as a general after my final battle against the Great Sage Heaven’s Equal.”


Great turmoil swept across the Heavenly World, which was primarily caused by many high-ranking gods, including the likes of the Jade Emperor, abandoning or becoming involuntarily absent from their positions.


Never mind revenge, the survivors were having a hard time trying to bring back order to the Heavenly World.


Besides, even if Erlang Shen helped them, it was still too difficult to attack the Great Sage’s group, anyway, after they were taken away by the Bull Demon King.


And so, the second war against the Heavenly World came to an end in that fashion, and three more days went by.


“You’ve woken up.”


“…”


Su-hyeun raised his upper body while looking somewhat dazed. He could see that the Bull Demon King was waiting before him with a bowl of gruel-like food.


He briefly wondered whether this was a dream or reality. The dreamy feeling didn’t want to go away even now.


“What’s the matter?” the Bull Demon King asked.


“May I ask how long I was out for? And what about our brothers?”


“You were out for around three days. My back almost gave out while I was trying to lug you, three grown adults, back home, you know.”


Three adults—that could only mean Su-hyeun, Sun Wukong, and the Roc Demon King.


Upon learning that, Su-hyeun felt deeply relieved. No one had died. “That’s great.”


“You also almost died, yet the first thing you do after waking up is to worry about the others?”


“Well, for one thing…I didn’t die, after all.”


“The third brother woke up a while ago. As for the second, he’s still unconscious, but I think he should be waking up soon.”


“The third brother is already up? So soon?” Su-hyeun immediately asked, too stunned by the Bull Demon King’s revelation.


If you asked who among the three was wounded the worst, then it would obviously be Sun Wukong. No one besides him would have survived the level of mental trauma and physical injuries he had suffered on that day.


“That child’s recovery ability is certainly out of this world, isn’t it?” the Bull Demon King replied.


“Where is he now, though?”


“He went to meet Erlang Shen. Erlang Shen told me earlier to pass along a message to our third brother. He said that once Sun Wukong was up, he should seek out the Heavenly World’s general. He wishes to end their fight once and for all.”


“But doing that as soon as waking up is…”


“It’s probably because he found it hard to endure without doing something, without fighting someone.”


“Even then…”


Su-hyeun was about to voice out his opinion after listening to the Bull Demon King but closed his mouth shut right away.


No matter what, no one understood Sun Wukong better than the Bull Demon King. Su-hyeun knew practically next to nothing about the Monkey King’s past, so there’s no way he would understand Sun Wukong’s heart better than his first brother.


“For the time being, let’s leave him be. He might feel better after going all out for the next couple of days.”


“…Understood.”


Su-hyeun decided to stop talking about Sun Wukong anymore.


Instead, he chose to take a bit of the gruel the Bull Demon King had prepared. The inside of his stomach was completely empty after being unconscious for the past three days, after all.


While eating, Su-hyeun belatedly recalled something he had forgotten about.


“Now that I think about it…”


He remembered seeing several messages before he passed out.


“Impossible to determine my ranking. Postponement of an additional reward. Administrators convening a meeting.”


He forgot about them because he passed out without having enough time to organize his thoughts, but once his worries about Sun Wukong were answered, the contents of those messages popped back in his mind.


He clearly had passed the trial, yet Su-hyeun was still inside this world. Maybe the message that said, “The Administrators have convened for a conference,” had something to do with it.


“I wonder what that was all about,” he inwardly said.


While Su-hyeun was mouthing the gruel and thinking to himself…


“Goodness me. I almost forgot,” the Bull Demon King said as he placed a bundle wrapped in cloth on top of the portable dining table that he brought with the bowl of gruel. “A being called the administrator asked me to pass this along to you. He said that he couldn’t give it to you earlier because you were unconscious.”


“The administrator did?”


“That’s right. And that one seems to have prepared a rather generous present for you. Even I can’t tell where he managed to procure this item from.”


Why did the administrator request the Bull Demon King rather than do it himself?


It was unknown whether or not the Bull Demon King knew the question floating in Su-hyeun’s head. He simply smiled faintly as he unwrapped the bundle.


“It’s called the Peach of Immortality.”



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