The set was completely the same.
The participants’ chairs were behind the MC's, and the huge monitor was in the same place as well.
Jae Woo and Soo Ah sat side-by-side, waiting for the shoot to start.
Yoon Se Hwa, wearing high heels, passed by Jae Woo with a haughty expression.
She didn't even try to bully Soo Ah this time. It felt like she was completely ignoring her instead, as she didn't even spare a glance at Jae Woo or Soo Ah.
'Works for me.'
Jae Woo likewise didn't concern himself with her. He had no reason to get involved with her, so long as she didn’t come at him first.
Participants began trickling in one or two at a time and sat down. The two MC's, Kang Seol Hee and Jeon Seong Gook, were finished with their prep.
"We're starting the shoot!" a staff member shouted.
The cameras began rolling, the ‘messy’ atmosphere from before completely gone.
"Hello. This is your precious Kang Seol Hee!"
Kang Seol Hee made a V sign and waved both her hands.
"This is Jeon Seong Gook."
"Mr. Seong Gook. Dungeon Conquering Man has already aired. Did you get a chance to see it?"
"Of course. I'm one of the MC's, so it's a given that I watched it!"
"How was it?" Seol Hee asked per the script.
"I enjoyed it. The chemistry between our participants was tremendous and all of them act differently."
Jeon Seong Gook gave a thumbs up.
"But... Although the dungeon conquests, as well as the teams’ chemistry made for an enjoyable viewing experience, there was still something missing."
"Competition. Competition between the teams!"
Jeon Seong Gook emphasized the word, 'competition'.
"Exactly. Many of our viewers were disappointed that there wasn’t any competition amongst the teams. So!"
Kang Seol Hee paused briefly.
"Our writers decided to do a team popularity poll!"
Kang Seol Hee applauded.
Clap, clap, clap!
The participants clapped mechanically. None of them looked surprised, as they’d already been told about it beforehand.
"A popularity poll?" Jeon Seong Gook asked, playing dumb.
"Whenever Dungeon Conquering Man airs, our viewers will vote on which team was the most entertaining and had the most chemistry," Kang Seol Hee said.
"Ooh, do you get anything if you win?"
"Of course. Whichever team places first will get their total prize doubled!"
Dungeon Conquering Man consisted of levels 1 - 5 dungeons and their mission objectives.
If one conquered a dungeon, then they would be rewarded.
Clearing the level 1 dungeon yielded a prize of 1 million won ($1,000 USD), 2 million won ($2,000 USD) for the second level, and 5 million ($5,000) for the last one.
By beating every single level, one would be awarded 15 million won ($15,000 USD), which wasn't a small amount by any stretch of the imagination.
But by winning the popularity poll, that 15 million won would be doubled!
'Which means that if we clear all 5 dungeons and win the popularity poll, then we'll win 30 million won ($30,000 USD).'
Jae Woo's eyes gleamed. 30 million won! It was a tempting proposition.
"Wow, two times?" Kang Seol Hee asked exaggeratingly.
"Yes, that's correct. And whichever team ends up last will receive quite the punishment following the final shoot."
"I see. This'll get a lot more interesting, won't it?"
"Let's see how our participants feel about this?"
"That sounds like a good idea."
Then, Seong Gook chatted with the participants.
Park Bae Shik stated that he wouldn't be last no matter what, as he'd experienced a punishment in the past.
On the other hand, Yoon Se Hwa stated that she had prepared a secret weapon, asking that the viewers look forward to it.
Seong Gook approached Jae Woo next.
"Mr. Oga. Please tell me how you feel."
"I'll do my best."
"...Is that it?"
"As expected of the cool Oga."
Seong Gook quickly covered for him.
Then, he stared at Soo Ah.
"Ms. Soo Ah, please say something."
"Sure. I'll try my best not to slow Oppa down and do my part."
Soo Ah clenched her fists.
"Did you prepare anything for the popularity poll?" Seong Gook asked.
"Oppa and I are just going to go at it like normal. We'll just be ourselves. I'd rather not go out of the way and act differently just because of a popularity poll."
"Ah, I see. Thank you."
Seol Hee took over once he was finished with them.
"Now let's begin selecting the level 2 dungeons. Everyone, please take a look at the screen."
The writers had picked out the level 2 dungeons for them, all of which appeared on the screen.
Jae Woo sifted through the list of dungeons.
'Level 100 - 120 dungeons, huh... They're all easy, so it doesn't matter which one I choose. I guess I'll just choose a dungeon that'll make Soo Ah look pretty.'
Jae Woo grinned.
"The picking order will be determined via rock-paper-scissors. One person from each team, please step forward," Seong Gook said, and moved on to rock-paper-scissors.
Paper. Paper. Paper. Rock.
"Tch," Jae Woo clicked his tongue, as he'd picked paper.
"Mr. Oga will pick last."
Jae Woo trudged back to his seat.
"We're dead last," Soo Ah said.
Jae Woo clasped his hands together.
"You don't need to be sorry about that."
"Tch. I wanted to pick a nice place like last time."
Jae Woo looked disappointed.
"What is it?"
"Beneath the Snow-Chilled Wind. There's white snow and purple crystals there, so it's really beautiful."
"We may still be able to pick it. Just be patient," Soo Ah comforted him.
"We'll pick Beneath the Snow-Chilled Wind," the second picker, Park Tae Gyu said.
"The Tae Gyu, Se Hwa team has picked Beneath the Snow-Chilled Wind!"
'As I thought...'
In the past, Yoon Se Hwa had asked Jae Woo to give up Maroon Hill, which was renowned for its beautiful red sunset, to her.
This time, her team had picked Beneath the Snow-Chilled Wind.
It felt like she wanted to appear like a princess surrounded by beautiful scenary.
"Lastly, Mr. Oga, Ms. Soo Ah. Please pick your dungeon," Seol Hee said.
"Where should we go?"
Soo Ah glanced at Jae Woo.
"How about Worm Body Tunnel?'
"Worm Body Tunnel?"
"Yeah. It's a really simple dungeon."
"I'm ok with that."
"We'll go with Worm Body Tunnel," Jae Woo clearly said.
"The Oga, Soo Ah team has picked Worm Body Tunnel! Then, shall we see the mission?"
The card shown on the large screen flipped over, showing the mission.
[Mission: Clear the Worm Body Tunnel in 1 hour!]
'What an easy mission.'
Jae Woo smiled in satisfaction. Although the Worm Body Tunnel was highly populated with monsters, the path itself was short.
"Everyone, please take a look at the screen."
Seol Hee pointed at the screen.
The screen changed, now listing each player's name, their designated dungeon, as well as their missions.
"Everyone has picked their dungeons, as well as their missions."
"Ahem. I'm excited to see what they'll do. Aren't you?" Seong Gook asked.
"Yes, I am. Now we'll move on to the dungeon conquest!"
When the show actually aired, the camera would cut to a view of the participants following Jeon Seong Gook’s comment.
'We're done filming in the studio now.'
All he had to do was complete the mission, return to the studio, and finish up.
As expected, Jin Cheol stopped filming.
The staff, which had been waiting with bated breath, began moving around frantically.
"We'll move to the capsule room in 30 minutes," one of the staff members yelled.
Jae Woo stretched and stood up.
"Uhaah! Let's go and conquer the dungeon."
* * *
Worm Body Tunnel.
In the past, a giant worm had dug through the ground, creating this tunnel. Hence the title, 'Worm Body' Tunnel.
People used to use this tunnel to go back and forth, but a new tunnel formed nearby, making this tunnel obsolete.
With people no longer using the tunnel, monsters began to reside within it, causing it to become the dungeon, Worm Body Tunnel.
Of course, this place was also a spatiotemporal intersection point, or an instant dungeon. If ten people entered, then ten different instances of the same dungeon would be created.
Kang Oh, Asu, and the youngest writer arrived at one end of the tunnel.
"Please sign here."
The writer passed them a Sabra's Contract.
It stated that he would be limited to 60% power.
The writers began easing the limitations on the players’ abilities due to the increasing difficulty of the dungeons.
His abilities were halved in Maroon Hill and now they would be cut by 40%. Following this pattern, the next dungeon would reduce his abilities by 30%.
'The last dungeon must not have any restrictions whatsoever.'
Kang Oh signed the Sabra's Contract, allowing him to only exhibit 60% of his full power.
"Please turn film mode on. Good luck. I'll wait here for you," the writer said.
Kang Oh and Asu simultaneously activated film mode.
The two entered the half-moon shaped tunnel side-by-side.
[Entering the spatiotemporal intersection point, Worm Body Tunnel.]
The dim darkness cleared, and they were able to see the inside of the tunnel.
There was a magic lamp embedded in the ceiling that radiated an orange light. It had been set up back when people still used the tunnel.
Because of that, it wasn't pitch black inside.
"What kind of monsters appear?"
"I'll tell you when we see them."
Kang Oh and Asu walked a certain distance forward and were met by an unwelcome guest.
They had round heads shaped like rice balls with stubby arms and legs; they also didn't have a torso! Not only that, but they continued to hum as well.
There were four of them.
"They're called Crying. During battle, they yell, inflicting damage onto their enemies."
"What about those?'
Asu pointed at a completely different monster beside the Crying.
Whack. Whack. Whack.
A human-shaped entity was picking at the wall with a pickaxe.
"It's called a Najim."
A Najim looked like a human being, but its face didn't possess eyes, a nose, or a mouth. Also, they wore safety helmets and wielded pickaxes.
They were also called Soulless Miners.
"If you don't get in their way, then they won't attack you."
"Then we shouldn't attack them?"
"Yeah. There's no point in starting an unnecessary fight."
They had to clear the Worm Body Tunnel in 1 hour. It was better to avoid fights when they could.
Asu unsheathed her sword.
Battle had begun.
Once they saw Kang Oh and Asu rushing towards them, the expression on the Cryings’ faces changed.
The monsters roared.
Unwilling to be beat, Kang Oh let loose one of his own; Baramut's Roar!
The roars cancelled each other out and Kang Oh, who'd leaped into the air, landed in the middle of the Cryings.
The Crying raised its stubby arms, assuming an expression of anger.
Kang Oh twisted his body.
His demon sword swept through them and the Crying fell.
'Hit them fast and hard!'
Kang Oh quickly swung his sword at the fallen Crying before him.
His attack left behind a wound at the center of its body. Before it could even react, he kicked it away.
Then, he rushed towards it and thrust his sword at the wound.
Red shards of light burst out like a fountain of blood.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Kang Oh swung his sword three more times, killing one of the Crying.
Kang Oh turned his head to his next target and saw Asu in the process.
She slashed a Crying, and a flower of ice bloomed.Previous Chapter Next Chapter