Chapter 144. Clearing the Labyrinth

"What is it? Did you figure something out?" Kang Oh asked.

"This is the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth, right?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"In the ancient language, ru means east, ma means west, pa means south, and bal means north," Eder said.

"Oho."

"Aha."

As soon as they heard his explanation, Kang Oh and Sephiro felt like a light bulb had gone off in their heads.

In the ancient language, Parmarl meant southeast and west/east.

Of course, they couldn't solve the riddle with just this at their disposal.

But when they looked at the map...!

The labyrinth was shaped like a rectangle, and there was a staircase at each corner. 

In total, there were four stairways in the labyrinth. 

There were stairs in the north, south, east, and west.

Thus, if they went through the southern stairway, and then made their way through the eastern, western, and eastern stairway, then they'd clear the labyrinth. 

"This must be the northern stairway."

Kang Oh pointed at a spot on the map; he was pointing at the stairs that led to the upper floor, or the entrance of the labyrinth.

"That sounds right. That's the only stairway that goes upstairs. All the other stairs go down," Sephiro said.

"This is the east, this is the west, and this is the south."

Eder showed on the map. 

"Good job, Eder," Kang Oh complimented him. It'd been a long time since he'd last done that.

"You're amazing."

Clap, clap, clap!

Sephiro applauded him.

"Hehe. It just came to me when I realized that the map had north, south, east, and west quadrants," Eder laughed.

"Alright. Let's get through it."

"Ooh!"

* * *

"Out of my way!"

Kang Oh's party quickly disposed of the Mash and Jungk that blocked their way, and progressed forward.

Then, they went down the southern stairway.

Once they went down the stairs, they found themselves at the beginning of the labyrinth. This was the northern stairway!

"The eastern stairway is next."

Kang Oh's party didn't get lost because of their map.

They went through the eastern stairway, and then the western stairway after that. Now, they stood before the eastern stairway once more. 

"I wonder what'll appear..." Sephiro muttered.

"You'll see soon enough."

"Yes."

Sephiro took point, and Kang Oh and Eder followed him.

"The stairs have never been this long..." Eder said.

Like he said, Kang Oh's party descended the stairs for some time.

"That means we were right," Kang Oh said.

Kang Oh was certain that they'd never been here before. 

Sometime later...

He was proven right.

"Ooh! It's a new place!" Eder shouted.

Gray walls and a forked road!

However, the walls weren't covered by vines, a clear indication that they were someplace different.

Which meant that Kang Oh's party hadn't returned to the beginning. Instead, they'd come to a completely new location!

"Monsters are coming!" Sephiro yelled.

Something appeared from the left side.

"Ooh, a new monster!" Eder shouted.

They were sick of the Mash and Jungk. Fortunately, these monsters were completely different.

"Slimes."

Kang Oh instantly knew they were. 

A slime was a sticky, pudding-like monster, and was well-known by the community. 

"All the monsters here are red," Sephiro said.

The slimes were red, as if their bodies were made of tomato juice. 

They were also much larger than the low level Melon Slimes, which were commonly seen in beginner hunting grounds.

"They probably possess the Life Steal ability, so they may be able to steal our abilities or spells like the Mash or Jungk..." Sephiro muttered.

"We'll know once we fight them."

Kang Oh stood in front.

Then, the battle began in earnest.

The slimes spewed acid out of their mouths like a sprayer.

Even Kang Oh couldn't dodge all ten of the slimes' attacks simultaneously, especially because it would bounce on the walls or floor upon contact.

"Tch."

Ultimately, shards of light spurted from his body.

Splurt!

Then, as if they'd been waiting for this moment, a few of the slimes sucked in the shards of light. As expected, the slimes did indeed possess the Life Steal ability.

However, the slimes who'd ingested his shards didn't use Kang Oh's skills or spells.

'They don't have the ability to use our skills or spells. If that's the case, then...!'

Kang Oh pushed through, and got in the middle of them. 

In the process, he took some acid damage, but it was worth it, since they couldn't steal his skills or spells.

"Huahp!"

Kang Oh swung his demon sword, striking all the slimes around him.

He knew immediately what their weak points were via his Hyper Intuition, and had aimed for them accordingly.

Whack!

The tip of his sword got stuck in a slime's sticky body. Then, the slime helplessly melted away!


[You have defeated a Blood Drinking Slime.]


A slime's weak point was its core, which was located somewhere inside its gooey body. Striking at this weak point would kill the slime quickly. 

However, each slime's core was different, and when fighting a slime, their core would move around in real time. Thus, it wasn't exactly easy to find a slime's core and destroy it.

At the same time, Kang Oh could easily do what was difficult for others because of his Hyper Intuition!

By the time he was done with his assault, all ten of the slimes had been killed, becoming nothing more than tomato juice.

However, he noticed something shimmering on the wet, scarlet floor. 

Kang Oh picked it up.


[Underground Labyrinth's Key Fragment (1/100)]

A key fragment. The completed key opens a door that is located somewhere within the Parmarl Underground Labyrinth. When you collect 100 fragments, they will fuse into a single key. 


"Please take a look at this."

Kang Oh passed Sephiro the key fragment. 

"So we'll have to gather all 100 pieces, and then find the door to use this on," Sephiro said.

With this, Kang Oh's party had found a new goal.

* * *

There were less traps here than in the previous area. In exchange, there were several monsters that roamed around the labyrinth.

"It's a new monster," Eder said.

"When you think of a labyrinth, you can't leave this thing out," Sephiro said.

"Man, I suddenly want a bowl of ox head soup."

Kang Oh smacked his lips.

Maa!

It was a minotaur, a monster with a humanoid body topped with a bull's head.

The minotaur held a giant axe in its hand, and several red tattoos were drawn on its body.

Bam!

The minotaur targeted Eder first, and swung downwards with its axe.

Eder retreated, avoiding the axe, and then rushed forward.

Kang Oh got behind it and Sephiro, as always, didn't miss a shot.

Mau!

The minotaur possessed the ability to increase its strength and speed by screaming.

It had also used the Suppression skill, which doubled one's attack power when using a downward strike, and like the other monsters here, possessed the Life Steal ability. 

Its strength and speed were far greater than any monster they'd encountered within the labyrinth.

But alas, it was alone!

Kang Oh, Eder, and Sephiro gradually wore it down like lions hunting a water buffalo. 

In the end, it dropped its axe and its head slammed onto the floor. 


[You have defeated a Parmarl Minotaur.]

[You have leveled up.]


Kang Oh was now level 190.

If he just leveled up 10 more times, then he'd finally reach his goal of level 200.

Then, he'd be able to equip the Wind Yearning Fire Necklace, and become even stronger as a result.

At that moment...

"Here."

Eder passed him a key fragment that the minotaur had dropped.

"Mm."

That made two key fragments.

From here, they needed to find 98 more key fragments and find the door.

They didn't have time to rest.

"Let's go."

"Alright."

After that, Kang Oh's party battled against a variety of monsters.

For example, they encountered the Quiantula, a monster that suddenly popped out of the wall and swung its sharp claws.

They also ran into Twilight Armored Lizardmen as well; they wore reddish brown armor that almost seemed rusted and wielded spears as well. 

Then there were the red-eyed Giant Vampiric Bats, which fully extended their black wings. 

They also encountered the slimes, the Mash, the Jungk, and the minotaurs as well.

Because they continued to hunt without rest, they gradually gathered the key fragments.

And so...!

They discovered a door with a keyhole; the door was adorned with intricate patterns.

"It's the door we’ve been looking for!" Eder yelled.

"We found it a lot faster than I thought we would."

Sephiro looked overjoyed. What exactly would be waiting for them within?

'Whatever it is, 20% of it is mine.'

His lips curled into a smile.

"We just need to gather ten more key fragments. Let's finish gathering the remaining key fragments ASAP."

They found the door, but they didn't have enough key fragments yet.

There was a fire within Kang Oh and Sephiro's eyes now, and they roamed around looking for more monsters to kill.

Then...

They saw a minotaur walking around with a long stride.

"Give me your key fragment!"

Kang Oh dashed towards it.

Mau!

The minotaur swung downwards, aiming for Kang Oh. A black haze rose from its axe.

Suppression!

He felt a chill at the top of his head! Kang Oh quickly turned his body to the side and avoided the minotaur's attack. Then, he rushed forward and attacked a weak spot.

Swish!

His jet-black blade cleaved through its side.

Then...

Kang Oh was greeted with a joyous system message.


[Basic Evasion has risen to the intermediate level.]

[Fleet Footwork has risen to the intermediate level.]


"Hoo, hoo," Kang Oh laughed.

His incredibly high Sense stat, coupled with his many times evading, had caused his Basic Evasion and Fleet Footwork skills to reach the intermediate level in no time!

Kang Oh felt as though his movements became lighter than before. It must be the result of the leveled up Fleet Footwork.

'Moreover, I'll soon gain access to another demon sword!'

Kang Oh mustered up all of his strength.

"Haahp!"

Slash! A diagonal slash! A thrust! Darkness Strike! An upward strike! Finally, a Tempest Tiger!

Shards of light exploded out of the minotaur's body, flying everywhere.

Mau! Mau!

The minotaur feverishly swung its axe, trying to cut Kang Oh in half no matter what.

But like a cow being sent to the slaughterhouse, it was a pointless struggle.

"Just die already!"

He felt great; not only had his proficiency gone up, but his concentration had as well. Thus, Kang Oh was currently much stronger than usual. 

Plus, Eder and Sephiro were helping out, so it was almost sad that the minotaur had to fight them all on its own.

A short while later...

Euu.

It screamed for the final time and then died.

"Next!"

Kang Oh picked up the key fragment, and then immediately looked for his next prey.

"Next!" Sephiro repeated exactly.

* * *

Kang Oh stomped on the head of a lizardmen, which was wearing reddish brown armor.

Bleh!

The lizardmen let out a death cry and died. It then spewed out a key fragment, which Kang Oh promptly picked up. 


[You have collected 100 Underground Labyrinth's Key Fragments.]

[The key fragments have combined into a single key.]

[You have acquired the Bull Ornament Key.]


"It's ready," Kang Oh said.

"Let's head for the door," Sephiro said.

A short while later...

Kang Oh's party stood before the intricately patterned door. 

"Hoo."

Kang Oh caught his breath and pulled out the key. The end of the key was shaped like a cross, and there were wavy grooves as well. The handle of the key was also shaped like a bull's head.

He placed the key within the keyhole. It was a perfect fit! Once he turned the key, he heard something slowly turning.

Creak.

The door was finally opening!

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