Chapter 129. Winner & Loser

Whoosh!

Roar!

Mighty flames swept through a quarter of the hall.

After unleashing his final attack, Rondark bowed his head and died. 

Tae Gyu summoned a disposable shield with his glove, and reduced the fire damage via his golden armor and ring. He had just barely survived Rondark's final attack. 

However...!

"N-No way."

He looked stunned.

Yoon Se Hwa was on the ground.

Her face was burnt black!

She hadn't been able to withstand Rondark's flames.

Tae Gyu held her whilst shaking.

Yoon Se Hwa's character transformed into shards of light.

He’d obviously failed his mission, as he hadn’t protected his partner. 

But that didn't hurt nearly as much as him losing the bet!

'The vice-captain seat!'

Tae Gyu plopped onto the ground in shock. To think that something like this would happen at the very end!

Then, he was brought out of his stupor by the 'clink' of the key falling to the floor.

'No, this isn't the end. I haven't lost yet.'

When they wrote the contract, it had definitely specified that the winner was based on who ended up with a faster clear time.

If that's the case, then he needs to get out of here. If he managed to get a better time than the other team, then... maybe he could use that as an excuse.

"Eek!"

He gritted his teeth and suddenly stood up.

Tae Gyu grabbed the key and sprinted to the door.

Screech.

He threw himself into the light.

A short while later...

Once the light faded, the Tarnatose Prison faded like a mirage and he reappeared in the desolate ruins.

Plus...!

He saw them.

A man and a woman standing side-by-side, smiling at him!

"Oh, good work."

Kang Oh grinned and waved.

"H-How..."

Tae Gyu looked shell-shocked.

'How is he the one waiting for me? I definitely went into the dungeon first... That means...'

Tae Gyu's head began to turn at an alarming speed.

"But I don't see Se Hwa anywhere," Asu said.

"You're right. Did she get a game over?" Kang Oh asked Tae Gyu.

Tae Gyu said nothing. Instead, he turned around and placed his hand atop the tombstone, or the ranking board.

A system message appeared, asking him to input his name for his record.

Tae Gyu quickly inputted his and Se Hwa's names, and checked where Kang Oh's team had placed.

'My time's 32 minutes and 53 seconds... Oga and Soo Ah's time is...'

His eyes widened.

"26 minutes and 58 seconds? Unbelievable..."

What's worse, Oga and Soo Ah were at the top of the leaderboard.

They'd gotten the best time.

Then, Kang Oh placed his hand on Tae Gyu's shoulder.

"Hoo, hoo. It seems like me and Soo Ah have won the bet."

"Aah..."

Tae Gyu lost all strength in his body, causing him to fall to his knees.

There was no way around it; he had clearly lost.

* * *

The final shoot had begun.

"Did you all have fun with your final dungeon conquests?" Seong Gook asked.

"Yes!" Jae Woo and Soo Ah shouted.

Whereas Park Tae Gyu and Yoon Se Hwa looked like someone had died, even though the cameras were rolling.

"Let's see whether our teams conquered their dungeons, shall we?"

Seol Hee pointed at the screen.

The teams' names appeared on the screen, and a 'success' or 'failure' appeared next to their names.

"Aah, there was a team that failed!" Seol Hee said.

"Mr. Tae Gyu, Ms. Se Hwa. What happened? You came all the way to the end, but you failed your last mission!" Seong Gook said disappointingly.

"Ah, that's... well..."

Tae Gyu couldn't speak properly yet, as he still wasn't over the shock of defeat.

"..."

Yoon Se Hwa said nothing, merely choosing to bow her head.

"Oh dear... It seems like Team Tae Gyu and Se Hwa are still shocked from their defeat," Seong Gook said.

"But they still need to receive their punishment, right?" Seol Hee firmly said.

"Of course," Seong Gook agreed.

The staff placed the punishment box in between Tae Gyu and Se Hwa.

"Now then, Ms. Se Hwa. Please pick out a punishment."

"..."

Se Hwa lifelessly picked out a card from the box and passed it to Seong Gook.

"This punishment is...!"

Seong Gook widened his eyes and glanced at Jae Woo.

"What is it?" Seol Hee asked.

"Aah, it's a punishment that you're intimately familiar with, Ms. Seol Hee."

Seong Gook smiled impishly.

"With me? Is it perhaps..."

"Yes. It's exactly what you think it is. Drawing on the face!"

"Aah!"

Seol Hee placed her face in her hands and shook her head cutely, as if she'd recalled an unpleasant memory.

"Please bring the props for the punishment."

Seong Gook kept the show going.

A staff member brought over a bowl of squid ink and a brush.

"We have everything ready, so... Now all we need is someone to draw on their faces. I'd prefer it if they had some experience..."

Seong Gook's voice faded towards the end, and he glanced at Jae Woo.

"I drew on Ms. Seol Hee last time; she looked lovely!"

Jae Woo's hand shot up.

"It wasn't lovely!" Kang Seol Hee screamed.

Her reaction caused the others to burst out laughing. Of course, Tae Gyu and Se Hwa were the only exceptions.

"Then I'll leave the brush to you, Mr. Oga."

"No thank you!"

"No!"

Tae Gyu and Se Hwa simultaneously yelled.

"Aah. Unfortunately, this is your punishment, so we can't take your opinions into consideration," Seong Gook firmly said.

"Alright, let's do this..."

Jae Woo stood up suddenly and headed for Tae Gyu and Se Hwa, bowl and brush in tow.

"Please turn around while Mr. Oga administers your punishment," Seong Gook said. 

Tae Gyu and Se Hwa did as they were told and turned their backs on the cameras.

"Please close your eyes," Jae Woo grinned and said.

Park Tae Gyu scowled whilst Yoon Se Hwa glared at him as if she'd killed him.

"Please hurry up and close your eyes."

'Before I pour all the ink on your face!'

Ultimately, Tae Gyu and Se Hwa closed their eyes.

Jae Woo briefly set down the brush and dish, and placed their heads side-by-side.

"Our eyes are closed. And we're not moving our heads either."

Yoon Se Hwa gritted her teeth. 

"Hehe."

Jae Woo smeared the brush in ink and started drawing.

'Let's keep it simple.'

Jae Woo used their heads like an English exercise book and wrote a word diagonally.  

"Please smile."

Jae Woo finished by coloring their teeth like piano keys.

"I'm done," Jae Woo yelled.

"Ah, already? Then, Mr. Tae Gyu, Ms. Se Hwa, please turn around when I count to three. One, two, three!" Seong Gook said.

Tae Gyu and Se Hwa turned around.

...What the hell is that?

The reaction of the staff, the contestants, and the MC's was somewhat ambiguous.

"Uh, Mr. Oga? Is this your best? Are you sure?" Seong Gook asked, seemingly disappointed.

"Just a second."

Jae Woo grabbed Tae Gyu and Se Hwa's heads, keeping them still. 

"Now, please close your eyes and smile!"

"Ah!"

"Aha!"

Only then did everyone there realize the meaning of his doodles.

By joining the faces together, the word would read 'LOSER'. It was an apt term to describe Tae Gyu and Se Hwa right now. 

Then, Jae Woo whispered, "I'll see you in my waiting room later."

"..."

Jae Woo, who'd finished what he had to say, returned to his seat and allowed the show to continue.

After that, Seol Hee and Seong Gook smoothly continued the show.

"How much did the teams earn in the end... Please show us!"

Once she was done, the screen showed the teams' final earnings.

Jae Woo and Soo Ah obviously received 15 million won ($15,000 USD)!

"Let's hear what our Dungeon Conquering Men/Girls have to say."

Seong Gook oversaw the final talk with the contestants.

Soon, it was Jae Woo's turn.

"Mmnn. Mr. Oga. Please tell us your final impressions of the last episode of Dungeon Conquering Man. Please make it long!"

Jae Woo grinned.

"It was fun."

"Aah..."

Of course. Seong Gook looked disappointed, and was about to pass it over to another contestant, but...

Then, Jae Woo continued with some verbal diarrhea. 

"And I'm very thankful to all of the viewers who have supported our team and have voted for us in the popularity poll. I was able to conquer dungeons with the loving and cute top idol, Jeong Soo Ah, so I must've done something right in my past life or something."

"I was only able to conquer the dungeons because of her. I'm very thankful for the person beside me. And I'd like to have another cup of coffee sometime with our producer, Mr. Jin Cheol, who cast me for this role. Finally, I have a message for my family... Mom, Yura, Mina, stay happy and stay healthy!"

"Ooh, Mr. Oga. Do you always talk this much?"

"It's the last shoot, so I decided to talk a bit more than normal."

"You should've done this earlier. Anyway, good job!"

Seong Gook smiled and chatted with the next contestant.

Sometime later...

Jake, the foreigner who could speak fluent Korean, was the last one Seong Gook spoke to. After chatting with him, they moved on to the final segment.

Seol Hee and Seong Gook wrapped things up.

"Hoo, I'm really disappointed that this is the last time we can see our amazing Dungeon Conquering Men/Girls!" Seol Hee said.

"We may come back with a second season," Seong Gook said meaningfully.

"Eeh, really? Have you heard something from the producer?"

"No, I haven't, but with our viewers' love and support, we may return for a season 2 and maybe even a season 3."

Seong Gook smiled.

"You're right. But did you know that our writers are already preparing a Dungeon Conquering Man special?"

"A special?"

"It'll show highlights of Dungeon Conquering Man, the results of the popularity poll, the distribution of prizes, and the terrifying punishment for the last place team!"

"Wow, it sounds like fun. But when will the special air?" Seong Gook said with a nonchalant expression.

"The special will air next week in the same time slot as Dungeon Conquering Man."

"Hoo, I see. Please take a look at the special!" Seong Gook said his farewells.

"Thank you so much for tuning in!" Seol Hee beamed and wrapped things up. 

"Cut!"

"Good job everyone!"

"Good work everyone. Let's hurry and finish up, and then go home early."

The staff busily moved around, and the cast members said their own farewells as well.

That marked the end of the final shoot of Dungeon Conquering Man.

"Now then, shall we go see the losers?"

Jae Woo smirked.

"Ok!"

Soo Ah beamed.

* * *

Jae Woo, Soo Ah, Tae Gyu, and Se Hwa gathered in a single room.

Of course, Tae Gyu and Se Hwa dragged themselves over as if they were cows headed for the slaughterhouse. 

'At least they came after washing their faces.'

Jae Woo smiled and excitedly greeted them.

"Welcome!"

"Haa," Tae Gyu sighed.

He thought he'd win, so where did all go wrong?

Clap.

Jae Woo clapped, trying to clear the melancholic atmosphere.

"Now then, we're all busy people here, so why don't we deal with this quickly so that we can go home. Let's start with you, Mr. Tae Gyu."

"Yes."

"When are you going to provide me info on the Master Miners?"

"I'll provide it to you within a week."

"This is my email address. Please send it to me here."

Jae Woo passed him a scrap of paper. 

Then, he added, "If you don't send me the information within a week or send me false information, then you'll have to pay a fine of 100 million won ($100,000 USD)."

"Ahem. I understand."

"The men are finished talking. Now it's the ladies' turn..."

Soo Ah and Yoon Se Hwa merely stared at each other quietly.

"Could the men step out for a minute please?" Soo Ah asked.

Jae Woo wanted to see Yoon Se Hwa kneel and beg for forgiveness, but decided to do as she asked.

Click.

Jae Woo and Tae Gyu stepped outside.

Without saying a word, Soo Ah waited for Yoon Se Hwa to kneel and apologize.

...

There was a strange silence between the two.

Yoon Se Hwa looked like she was in agony. Her body shook, she gritted her teeth, and furrowed her brows.

"Haa."

Seeing that, Soo Ah just sighed deeply.

"I don't need you to kneel. Just don't stir up trouble anymore. No, let's just pretend we don't know each other from now on."

She hoped that this tiresome, ill-fated relationship would finally end!

"Then I'll get going."

Soo Ah made her way to the door, but then Yoon Se Hwa said, "Stop!"

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