1

A month after the two factions in the Surface World had executed their Blitzkrieg Operation against each other, William finally acquired the amount of Hell Credits he needed to go up to the fifth Layer of the Underworld, which he believed would be enough to reunite with his wives.

“You’ve gotten this far, I’m so proud of you,” Erinys said as she looked at William with a satisfied look on his face. “See you in the next layer.”

“I’ll see you there as well, Will,” Kasogonaga replied before drinking the fruit juice in his hand. “Don’t take too long, okay?”

William’s steely gaze landed on the doll-like beauty, as well as the rainbow-colored Anteater, who was riding Erinys’ boat headed towards the Third Circle of the Underworld.

As a Ferryman, Erinys had many advantages, and among them was to freely go anywhere as long as she performed her duty as a Ferryman.

The reason why Kasogonaga was also going to the Third Circle was due to the fact that he, and his bandmates, Erchitu, Psoglav, and Jareth, had been invited to perform there.

Erinys had taken the initiative to ferry the popular Kazo Band to their destination, leaving William behind, making the latter have the strong urge to pinch her cheeks to oblivion.

Alas, the black-haired teenager couldn’t use violence against the little Half-ling because once he did something like this, a great number of Hell Credits would be deducted from his savings.

In the end, William had no choice but to walk a seemingly-unending road that would take him to the next layer, which was called Gluttony’s Paradise.

Using his abilities, William tried to fly, and transform himself into a bolt of lightning. But, each time he did that, he would find himself standing back at the starting point of the path that he had to take.

Erinys had already explained to him that he could only walk within the Passage of Gluttony. Running, flying, teleporting, and any other special means of travel was not allowed inside this path.

Once they broke the rule, they would find themselves at the entrance once again, and had to repeat the same trial again.

Left with no other alternative, William trudged the long, and winding road, towards his destination.

After three days of traveling non-stop, something appeared in front of him that blocked his path.

It was a Clown with a big red nose and an even bigger smile on its face.

The Clown was holding a placard in his hand and showed it to William.

“Congratulations! You are halfway to your destination. I am the Secret Listener, and I am the Guardian of the Gate that led to Gluttony’s Paradise. Anyone who wishes to reach the end of this path must first defeat me in battle.”

William frowned, but since this was something that couldn’t be avoided, he had no choice but to play by the rules of the Underworld.

As soon as he finished reading the placard that the Clown was holding, he immediately attacked it using a black lightning bolt.

The Half-Elf expected his attack to immediately defeat his opponent, but contrary to what he was expecting, the Clown simply swatted the black lightning bolt away as if it was just an annoying fly that hovered above its food.

The Clown lifted another placard as it glared at William from where it stood. “Violence will not allow you to pass through this point. Only by beating me in a game will you be allowed to advance.”

“What game?” William asked as he walked towards the Clown, while flames, and lightning made up of darkness circled around his body. “Stop wasting my time and spill the beans.”

The clown made a chuckling gesture, but no sound came out of its lips. It then took out two placards, and waved them in front of William, so that he could read them.

“I am the Secret Listener. One who wishes to defeat me must first understand what it means to listen. The Six-Eared Macaque is one who has mastered this law, and for you to beat me, you must understand it as well.

“Here are four people, whose Fate is connected to you. Choose one of them and listen to whatever their heart is saying. But, be warned. You may only listen to it for two minutes. After this two minute grace period has passed, you will be unable to hear their words, their thoughts, and the voice of their heart.

“You will tell me what they said, word for word. If you miss even a single word that they said, you will once again be teleported to the starting point, and have to reach this point again for your second try. So, make sure to choose wisely!”

After reading the information that was presented in front of him, the Clown took out another placard, which showed the names of the people that he had to choose from.

——-

– Chloee

– Nisha

– Melody

– Belle

——-

The Half-Elf arched his eyebrow after seeing the list of names in front of him.

“Let me clarify something first,” William said. “If I choose one of them, I will not be able to hear their words, thoughts, as well as their heart’s voice, right?”

The clown nodded its head in affirmation.

“Are we talking about a matter of days, weeks, or months?” William inquired.

Usually, he could communicate to his subordinates using telepathy, but he was unable to do that now because he was in the Underworld. However, once he returned to the Surface World, he would be able to instantly talk to them using the power of their connections.

The clown smirked at the black-headed teenager before lifting another placard, containing only one word.

“Indefinite.”

This word meant that the duration of William being unable to communicate to one of the four people listed in the options was unknown. It could last for days, weeks, months, and even years.

The Half-Elf didn’t like the notion of not being able to talk to his subordinates for long periods of time, so he decisively chose the last option, whom he thought was not important.

“So, you wish to choose Belle?” the clown asked as it lifted a placard. “You can still change your choice.”

William shook his head. “No need. I chose her. Let’s get this over with.”

The black-haired teenager didn’t have a good memory, so he wasn’t confident that he would be able to say what the lady named Belle would say, word per word.

Because of this, he asked Optimus to record everything that the lady would say with her lips, thoughts, and her heart’s voice.

After gaining Optimus’ cooperation, William signaled to the Clown that he could begin his trial.

As if finding this whole scenario interesting, the Clown once again chuckled without emitting any sound. A moment later, William heard a voice that he felt that he had heard in the past. But, the problem was, he couldn’t pinpoint on whom it belonged to.

Optimus, whom William had asked for help only told him that he didn’t have enough data to guess who the voice belonged to. Naturally, the System knew who the lady was, but due to certain restrictions imposed on it, the true identity of the fourth name on the list remained a secret.

William listened to the lady’s thoughts, and was surprised that she was thinking about him.

“The Pope has returned t o the Palace of Light, and everything has toned down for a bit,” Belle thought. “We were no longer ordered to attack the Ainsworth Empire due to the three Virtuous Ladies being taken hostage by William’s forces.”

William, who was simply listening at first, was perplexed about this piece of information that he had acquired in less than a minute of listening to Belle’s thoughts.

“Also, three out of these four Virtuous Ladies that have remained in the Palace of Light bare his mark on their wombs. The bastard, I told him to only have nine wives, and he goes and makes love with women left and right. Cherry was right, he is a Demon who taints any beautiful girl he sets his eyes on.”

William suddenly felt a tingle run down the back of his spine, after hearing Belle’s complaint. Although he didn’t know who she was, the way she talked made him feel as if he should have known her for a long period of time.

However, no matter how much William tried to match her voice to a face, he only came up with a blank.

“I’ve been seeing Fake William everytime I gaze at his territories, making me wonder if something has happened to him. But, I will not be deceived. When the time comes, I will make him give me a proper explanation for breaking his promise. That damned Half-Elf. I’ll make sure to pull out his ears the next time I see him!”

William blinked in confusion after hearing Belle’s words.

‘Promise? What promise? I don’t even know you?’

Those were the words that appeared in William’s mind as he continued to listen to the lady named Belle, who seemed to be hell-bent on making him sleep on the floor, and give her an explanation for everything that he had done.

‘Just who is this weirdo?’ William thought. ‘Why is she cursing me?’

After wracking his head for answers, the Half-Elf decided to just continue listening to what she had to say. However, the more he listened, the more grievances he could hear from her heart, making him very curious on who the lady really was.

“Time’s up!”

The clown raised a placard and pressed it over William’s face, telling him that the two-minute eavesdropping session was over.

Five minutes later, WIlliam passed by the Guardian of the Gluttony’s Road with a confused look on his face.

He still didn’t know who the lady was, but one thing was for sure.

He wouldn’t be hearing anything from her, until the duration of the “no-talking-and-hearing” policy had ended.

As the Clown watched William’s retreating back, another silent chuckle escaped its lips. A moment later, the Clown turned into an otherworldly beauty wearing a black dress.

“A small price to pay for your happiness,” the Primordial Goddess said softly as a devilish smile appeared on her beautiful face. ‘I’ll make sure that you will never hear any of her words again.’

The Primordial Goddess of darkness didn’t know how Belle appeared on Hestia. She could tell that someone was manipulating things from behind, but she was unable to find any leads as to how this happened.

Even so, as long as she was able to ensure that William wouldn’t be able to listen to her, the goal she had in mind wouldn’t change.

“Darkness cannot drive out Darkness, only Light can do that,” the Primordial Goddess muttered. “Hate cannot drive out hate, only Love can do that.”

Even she understood that Darkness gave birth to Love, and right now, she was doing her best… to extinguish the love that William had for the girl who was the greatest threat to his entire existence.