The Hero Returns - Chapter 320
Phaethon’s expression crumpled unsightly at Su-hyeun’s provocation .
But he couldn’t immediately vent his anger toward Su-hyeun . Instead, he thickened the wall of flames burning all around them, and only then did he begin to say something .
“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say . ”
The first thing he chose to do was to feign ignorance .
Unfortunately, his eyes faltered noticeably . He might be good at lying, but it seemed that he didn’t know how to respond when his lies were exposed .
“Hercules is the son of Zeus and has acquired his qualification of godhood through his blood . He is not the same as you, who directly borrows the power of a god through ‘Union with God,” Su-hyeun continued .
Phaethon’s eyes quivered even more .
“Union with God”—Su-hyeun had come across this ability once before .
During the trial on the 60th floor, the Jade Emperor used this “Union with God” ability to directly borrow and use Buddha’s powers .
The level of power one could borrow would vary with each individual, but according to the Bull Demon King’s analysis, the Jade Emperor only managed to bring out less than one percent of Buddha’s actual powers .
Phaethon’s case seemed to be better than the Jade Emperor’s . Su-hyeun didn’t know what method Phaethon resorted to, but he managed to borrow quite a lot of power, so much so that an ordinary person would start wondering if he really was a son of a god and possessed the qualification of the godhood through his bloodline .
“You…How do you…?”
“Someone told me,” said Su-hyeun before shifting his gaze . He scanned the still-remaining Giants and the Gigantes before continuing, “For now, why don’t we get rid of all the hindrances first?”
He unsheathed his sword . At the same time, a breeze blew among all the hotly burning flames .
[The Wave Sword—Explosion Style]
[Palm Leaf Sword]
Just as the wind blew, the magical energy permeating within the sword rapidly got amplified . The Palm Leaf and the skill that amplified the force, the Explosion Style, joined as one .
“…Palm Leaf . ”
The slowly swung sword didn’t touch any of the Giants . Even then, Phaethon instinctively placed an even thicker wall of flames all around his body .
Right after that…
Jets of blood gushed out from the Giants’ bodies . It was the same story for the Gigantes as well .
Phaethon soon withdrew the flames around him, and when he did, his eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets .
“What just happened?!” he thought .
He sensed a bone-chilling danger looming over, so he protected himself with flames but that ended up obscuring his view . However, when he confirmed the situation afterward, what greeted him was a horrifying bloodbath . Everything happened in the blink of an eye, quite literally at that .
“This…Isn’t this way crazier than what I’ve heard?!”
He had heard stories related to Hercules as well . According to some accounts, one punch of his would be enough to cause an earthquake, or one swing of his club would shatter a mountain or blow up the head of a Giant, and so on . Phaethon had heard all sorts of improbable rumors up until now .
However, he didn’t believe any of those rumors .
Even if that man were the son of the god Zeus, in the end, he was a half-blood . Phaethon believed that Hercules simply could not be stronger than he was, the one who borrowed the powers of a god .
“Alright, now . We’ve more or less created a suitable environment, so why don’t we finish our discussion from earlier? As for that thing…” Su-hyeun spoke while glancing at the wall of flames belonging to Phaethon, which hadn’t dissipated yet . “Whether you cancel that or not, I’ll leave that up to you . ”
“Damn it . ”
Phaethon cussed under his breath and gritted his teeth . He then shouted at Su-hyeun, his brows shooting up higher . “Haven’t I asked you already to clarify what the hell you are even talking about?!”
“The one who must start the interrogation shouldn’t be you, but our side . Honestly speaking, I don’t think you alone could’ve staged this whole thing, so I’m guessing that including the knight I saw earlier, Chris, pretty much all the important higher-ups are in the know . ”
The longer Su-hyeun continued, the redder Phaethon’s face got .
Nonetheless, Phaethon gradually became calmer as well because he soon realized that he didn’t need to keep lying anymore .
Phaethon sighed deeply and, with a comparatively calmer voice, asked Su-hyeun, “How did you figure it out?”
“Two reasons . One, I’ve already come across someone who had a vibe that was similar to yours a while ago . ”
He was referring to back when he fought against the Jade Emperor .
As he had experienced it once before already, Su-hyeun could figure out that Phaethon’s power was not the same as “godhood” but still rather similar to it .
If it weren’t for that, Su-hyeun would’ve been just as confused as Hercules . One could definitely sense a power similar to godhood from Phaethon, yet it didn’t actually belong to him, after all .
“As for the second reason…”
And there was another reason, one that made him far more confident of his guesses .
“Because I’ve called him here . ”
Crimson flames began coagulating in one spot . The flame that made a person think there couldn’t be another flame redder than this one rapidly took on the silhouette of a man .
The silhouette that was slightly larger than Hercules’s built was more beautiful than any sculpture in existence despite being formed out of blazing flames .
And the moment Phaethon witnessed this being, his eyes nearly popped out of their sockets . “L—lord Apollo?!”
“Nice to meet you . This will be our first time meeting and chatting face to face like this, right?”
He was Apollo, the god of the sun and fire; he was also the son of Zeus .
Phaethon immediately gathered his hands together and bowed reverentially .
Even if he dared to call himself the son of a god and tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes, he was still a citizen of the Holy Kingdom that worshiped Apollo . Besides, there wouldn’t be all that many humans in this world who were capable of standing upright in the presence of a god .
“A faithful servant to Lord Apollo, Phaethon, pays his respects to his lord . ”
“Sure, sure . Oh, and you’re supposed to be my son, right?”
Apollo asked with an amused face . Of course, this topic wasn’t something to be discussed with an expression like that from Phaethon’s perspective .
“T—that, that was…”
Apollo smirked at Phaethon’s expression which was a cross between perplexity and embarrassment . The latter briefly looked relieved from that grin, but what the sun god said next caused a dazed and blank expression to fill his face .
“I’ll ‘talk’ to you later about it . ”
A con that sold itself in the name of a god—just what kind of punishment would be in store for that?
Phaethon had never imagined in his life that Apollo would personally manifest through the flames, and he slowly fell down on his knees .
In the meantime, Apollo shifted his gaze over to Su-hyeun . The latter had no particular expression on his face as he stared right back at the sun god .
Apollo studied that expression and frowned ever so slightly . “Strange . ”
“I can’t read you . Have you acquired godhood already?”
Can’t read, he said .
Su-hyeun immediately figured out that the reason why Apollo stared at his face was to read his thoughts .
Reading a person’s thoughts simply by staring at that person? Something like that would be one of the highest-grade skills for an awakener, but to a god, that must’ve been a pretty basic ability .
Of course, it seemed that Apollo failed to read Su-hyeun’s thoughts, but still .
“How does it look to you?” Su-hyeun asked back .
“You must’ve acquired it, then . And here I was, thinking that you only managed to acquire a half-piece so far . ”
Su-hyeun made a puzzled face before raising his hand . The indigo-colored divine Flame appeared from his fingertips . “Are you talking about this?”
“That’s right . ”
“Its color didn’t want to change after reaching this darker shade of indigo . I was under the impression that it’s because the skill’s power has reached its limit…”
“Its limit? There’s no such thing for flames . ”
Apollo approached Su-hyeun as the flames danced . The latter initially thought he would be beset with stifling heat, but what he felt was a comforting warmth instead .
Apollo wasn’t hostile—Su-hyeun was greatly relieved once he confirmed this fact . It certainly would not be good news if a god was hostile to him, after all .
“The power the fire possesses is infinite . It’s the same for the power you possess . As for why its hue has not changed, should I say, you’ve run into a wall?”
“When you say ‘wall,’ do you mean the qualification of godhood?”
“The ‘godhood of fire’ is a fairly high-tier qualification . Not something you can easily acquire . ”
“I’m pretty sure you didn’t summon me here to boast,” said Su-hyeun, having already figured out that the voice that summoned him to this location belonged to Apollo . “Why did you call me here?”
“A god of my level can develop something called ‘Precognition,’ you see . In my eyes, you’re the kind of a guy who will walk on the path of Shura . ”
Walking on the path of Shura?
Now that wasn’t a nice thing to hear, but technically, it wasn’t wrong either . Judging from what the administrators had said so far, the path before Su-hyeun would no doubt be incredibly dangerous and difficult .
At least the fight against Fafnir alone would be well beyond the realm of people’s imaginations . And that was why Su-hyeun didn’t find Apollo’s declaration all that shocking and could let it go out the other ear .
Such a flaccid response prompted a chuckle from Apollo, however . He seemed to find this reaction that betrayed his expectation rather interesting .
“And that’s why I was thinking of bestowing you with a gift . ”
“Give me your hand . ”
Su-hyeun did as he was told and presented his hand toward Apollo . The sun god then placed his own hand on top of Su-hyeun’s . The flames that felt warm until a second ago suddenly grew hot enough to cook his skin .
Su-hyeun furrowed his brows and bit down on his lip .
It hurt a lot, but he endured . That didn’t mean he was going to do nothing, however . He also activated his divine Flame and began resisting against the fire .
Apollo watched as Su-hyeun fought back and quietly expressed his admiration . “Yes, just like that . Don’t take your hand away and be patient . Be patient and endure . ”
“What is the meaning of this?”
“I’m sure you’ve already realized it, have you not? The larger flame will swallow up a smaller flame, you see . ”
“The larger flame?”
“The flame you possess is merely a half-complete qualification of godhood . And I, as I stand before you, am also nothing more than a half-complete piece merely manifesting through that guy’s flames . ”
Indeed, Apollo standing before Su-hyeun’s eyes was the fire itself, a mere silhouette of the actual god created through the flames .
“Even then, divinity still permeates within this fire, so it will be of some help to you . That’s why…”
“You should try your best to devour the fire I possess . ”
The crimson flames traveled from Apollo’s hand and began to creep up to Su-hyeun’s arm . They were much hotter than before as well .
Apollo’s flames instantly reddened Su-hyeun’s arm and began devouring the divine Flame next .
“Okay, fine . ”
The indigo-hued flames roused on Su-hyeun’s hand . All of his magic count of 94 was solely focused on activating the divine Flame . His magical energy consumption had decreased by a lot through the breathing technique, and it wasn’t as if he had been fighting a serious battle until then, so there was more than enough energy left in his tank to fall back on as well .
“I’ll do just that and devour it for you . ”
Su-hyeun wasn’t exactly aggressive in nature . If one were to label him, then he would be a pacifist . However, that didn’t mean he had no competitive streak in him that desire to win .
Especially more so like now, when someone provoked him first or there was a juicy reward waiting for him right before his eyes—he would transform into a completely different person .
Two different types of flames— crimson and indigo—intermingled and danced through his hand, latching onto Apollo’s own .
As they devoured each other, they took on the hues of the other one . The crimson flames traveled up Su-hyeun’s arm, and the indigo flames swallowed up Apollo’s arm next .
A precarious balance was established and somehow maintained .
However, maintaining the perfect balance was an act that verged on impossibility .
Eventually, this balance collapsed .
Su-hyeun’s divine Flame overwhelmed and swallowed up Apollo’s fire .
He then looked at the sun god . “What are you trying to do?”
“What do you mean, what?”
Apollo’s figure, which was previously made of crimson flames, was gradually changing into an indigo hue as Su-hyeun’s flame had begun swallowing up Apollo’s silhouette .
“Lending a helping hand to a meek little lamb? Something like that?”
Su-hyeun was dumbfounded by Apollo’s reply but couldn’t find anything malicious about it . No, he should be grateful to the god, actually .
“…Thank you . I’ll use it well . ”
And so, the moment all of Apollo’s figure was dyed in the indigo hue…
[You have acquired the qualification of “godhood of fire . ”]
A message popped up in his mind .
Su-hyeun had acquired his second godhood qualification .
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