Okeanos punched and punched his way down, his arms turning into blurs as the shockwaves from his hits blasted sand away. The speed at which he excavated sand was almost frightening, every passing second getting him noticeably deeper and deeper underground.
'Wait! Wait!' said the genie. 'If you don't answer my riddle, you'll never break through the entrance! It's sealed by my magic!'
"We will see about that!" Okeanos shouted enthusiastically. After all, he was meant to be king of the seas. There was nothing he could not break. There was nothing that could be denied to him.
With a final burst of energy accentuating a punch, Okeanos smashed through to the bottom. There, over a dozen meters deep into the sand, his fist collided with solid grey rock. Upon the rock were carved the images of eyes.
Okeanos unleashed his Burst, creating an explosive aura of green energy around himself that prevented the sand from collapsing back in on him.
"So this-," Okeanos raised his fist into the air. It started to glow, a rising siren sound emanating from it as energy charged into it for a super punch. The red and green stripes on his forearm filled up with a bright gleam.
However, they did not fill up with light all the way. Okeanos kept his punch at 50% strength to make sure he did not destroy what was underneath. "Is where you are!"
Okeanos slammed his fist into the ground, unleashing a torrent of blue energy. The stone underneath glowed with a golden light that looked like some kind of shield, resisting the super punch.
Okeanos growled as he shoved his fist down even harder, the tidal wave of energy pouring out from his punch growing even further. Any sand in the nearby vicinity turned red hot, melting into glass.
'Haha! See that! In this domain, my magic is untouchable!' said the genie.
Then, the golden barrier started to flicker.
'…' the genie watched this in disbelief. 'No way, you can't possibly-,'
Then, the barrier shattered.
When the barrier broke apart, the wave of energy from Okeanos's punch pushed through and instantly obliterated the rock beneath, revealing a deep pit that seemingly had no end.
"See that? Do not underestimate me, head voice," said Okeanos as he stood up, his piston fist locking back into place. Hot air gushed out from his gills.
'…Do not get ahead of yourself!' said the genie. 'The maze of accursed bone beneath will crush you under its traps!'
"Maze? What is that?" Okeanos asked.
'It is a place of great challenge, where every path you take leads into unimaginable danger!' declared the genie dramatically.
"Sounds fun!" Okeanos jumped into the pit. Instead of of free falling, he ran across the sheer vertical surface at high speeds.
Soon enough, Okeanos reached the bottom of the pit, so far down that there was no light at all. Unlike on the surface, there was no scorching sun here. Instead, it was surprisingly chilly.
Good. Okeanos liked this a lot better.
The chamber Okeanos found himself in had only one path leading into a narrow hallway.
'Step into that hallway if you dare, intruder!' said the genie. 'And challenge the maze!'
"Okay," said Okeanos simply as he made his way through the hallway with zero concerns.
As he strolled through, some tiles in the ceilings and walls opened up, shooting out arrows of bone. Okeanos sensed them the moment they fired towards him, his sensitive antennae picking up on the movements with such accuracy that he basically almost had future sight.
However, Okeanos just waltzed right by. The arrows smashed against his hardened shell and broke apart.
Okeanos stepped on an elevated tile, and the floor beneath him opened up to reveal a pit of large snakes the size of an average human. They hissed at Okeanos, baring their toxic purple fangs.
Okeanos fell down and released his Burst. His bright green energy lit up the dark area for a brief moment. He jumped out of the pit, leaving behind a grave of a dozen charred, ashen snake corpses.
'W-well then, you certainly are handling yourself well, but that was only the first hallway!' said the genie. 'Behold, the maze itself!'
At the end of the hallway, Okeanos saw that it funneled into a much larger entrance that split into a forked path, indicating the beginning of the maze proper.
Okeanos's antennae twitched as he stood in front of the split path, wondering where exactly to go.
'Choose wisely, intruder!' said the genie. 'For only one path leads to the Hierophant's tomb!'
"Really?" Okeanos looked at one path, then the other. He could not tell anything different about them. They looked the exact same.
'And no matter which path you take, you will face a horde of undead to thwart you at every step!' stated the genie.
"Sounds annoying." Okeanos stepped up, not towards any of the split paths, but towards the wall of the maze. He put a hand on the dark rock and nodded to himself.
'What is it? Have you realized the path of hardship that lies before you now!?' said the genie. 'You should have come here with an army! That way, you could have spread your troops out and figured out where to go!
But you alone will spend eons within this maze!'
Okeanos pushed his palm against the rock, and it cracked easily under his tremendous strength.
A wide smile graced itself upon Okeanos's face.
'Why are you smiling!? Have you gone mad!? Why do I have a bad feeling about this?'
"I hate confusing things. Attacks from lots of directions. Paths that lead me to lots of places. So I'll make my own path!" Okeanos began to unleash a rapidfire volley of punches against the maze walls.
As expected, the walls crumbled under his strength. Boosted by his energy generation, Okeanos was confident his hits could even beat out Valera, the commander, not to mention they were even faster.
'Wait! This is not how you are supposed to do this!' exclaimed the genie in despair.
"But it's the way I want to do it," countered Okeanos. His unending volley of punches unleashed countless explosion like shockwaves through the air, blasting apart huge chunks of rock. The ceiling of the maze trembled, and it sounded like an entire demolition crew was working there.
Okeanos punched and punched, carving a very simple straight path right through the maze. Every so often, he would encounter a zombie or skeleton that had about half a second to stare at him in utter surprise before they got pulverized by his punches.
Like this, Okeanos literally just smashed his way through the area.
'You…why are you even here!? You're ridiculously strong!' said the genie about a minute in Okeanos's rampage.
"I know I am," said Okeanos proudly. If there was anything he was proud in, it was his power. His power was the biggest gift his mother had granted him. He therefore cherished it for it was the only real gift he had left from his mother.
Okeanos knew the Voice wanted his mother to kill all the humans, and his mother had birthed Okeanos with that same command. But now that he was under the master, free from the Voice, he did not really care much about that command anymore.
'No, I mean, you have too many levels of strength for this area!' complained the genie. 'You should not even be here! And wasn't this place level gated? This is completely unfair!'
"Then you should have made the maze easier!" said Okeanos.
'That defeats the entire purpose of a maze!' countered the genie. By now, enough panic had settled into the genie that its once deep, ominous voice faded away, making it evident the genie was a woman.
"I don't like boring things." Okeanos shrugged before his punches let him break into a much larger chamber. On the other end stood a huge set of closed golden doors marked with the image of an eye within a sun.
A large creature sat in front of the doors. It was the size of a tank with the body of a lion, the tail of a scorpion, and the wings of a bird. The creature growled at Okeanos.
"A big one!" said Okeanos. His energy aura started to surge around him. "Will you be worthy to join the family, I wonder?"
"Phinx, do not bother. Go back to sleep and let him pass." The genie's voice echoed through the cavern, now audible outside of Okeanos's head.
"So you are here!" said Okeanos.
"I am through those doors, yes," sighed the genie. "I am thoroughly demoralized, and I do not want this place destroyed any more than it is. You may pass through."
The monster, Phinx as it was called, moved away from the doors and curled up in a corner, going back to sleep. The doors then slid open with heavy weight, dust and rubble falling from the ceiling.
Okeanos passed through the doors, and when he did so, they closed with surprising sped behind him.
Now, Okeanos was in the biggest chamber he had been in so far. At the end, there was a large golden sarcophagus embedded in the wall, and surrounding it were treasure chests that he knew the master would want.
"But as per my own master's old orders, I do have one more trial for you!" said the genie's voice.
In response, a small army of winged soldiers made of sand materialized in front of the sarcophagus, blocking it. Each of them wielded huge greatshields and spears, forming a sturdy defensive line.
"These soldiers are indestructible in this tomb! You shall not pass through them! If you wish for me to dispel them, you MUST answer my final riddle, okay!?" said the genie, sounding quite desperate at the end.