Chapter 182. The Soul Dungeon

The way to become a dungeon master is...

"Somehow take possession of a soul stone," Edmond said, his expression seemingly saying, 'Easy, huh?'.

"You can't get one free of charge, right?" Kang Oh said.

"Guardians protect the soul stone. You either need to kill all of the guardians or win them over. I wouldn't recommend it, but you could also try stealing one too. As I said, all you need is the soul stone. Ah, of course... that only applies to an ownerless soul stone."

Edmond referred to these dungeons as 'soul dungeons'. It seemed like that was the correct term for these kinds of dungeons.

"Guardians? Like that giant scorpion?" Eder asked.

Edmond nodded his head. "Melcapion. That child is one of the dungeon's guardians." 

"It must be the weakest guardian here." Kang Oh said.

It seemed much too weak to be a guardian.

"Indeed. That child's only responsible for guarding the entrance."

"Where are the other guardians?" Kang Oh asked.

"Behind that door." Edmond pointed at the door on the wall.

"Please show me," Kang Oh asked boldly. 

He wanted to see how powerful guardians were.

"I'd rather not," Edmond refused.

"Why?"

"I'm repaying you for sparing Mecalpion's life by answering your questions. Don't ask for anything else."

"Tch. Then I'll just ask you some more questions."

"Go ahead."

"What do you do if the soul dungeon is already owned?"

Edmond had definitely said, 'that only applies to an ownerless soul stone'. If that's the case, then there had to be a way of securing a owned soul stone!

"Either you inherit the dungeon from its previous owner, or you pay the price."

"Hoh, so you can buy or inherit the dungeon."

The more he learned, the more it sounded like a building.

"It's because ownership exists."

"Any other way?"

"If you kill all of the guardians and touch the soul stone, then a duel begins between you and the owner, or their proxy."

"Is it a one-on-one fight?"

"Indeed. It's a sacred duel that determines the owner of the dungeon. Only by winning the duel can you steal the soul stone from its owner."

"Hmm, how strong are these guardians?"

"It depends on the difficulty level of the dungeon; the more difficult the dungeon, the more powerful the guardians become. If the owner invests in their dungeon, then the guardians will become stronger too."

"How strong are the guardians here?" Kang Oh asked.

If they were weak, then he'd take the dungeon for himself!

"I don't know what your intentions are, so why would I tell you?" Edmond looked confident.

"You must've invested quite a lot into your guardians," Kang Oh said.

"If you want to die, then go through that door and fight my guardians."

"Tell me this. What if you were to kill... ahem, send the owner to a better place while the guardians aren't here?"

Edmond was an NPC, so a single death would spell the end for him. What would happen if he killed the dungeon master?

"Then it'd probably become an ownerless dungeon once more."

"Hoh, is that so?"

Then what about in his case? If he was revived by his ring's effect, would he retain ownership of his dungeon?

"Why, are you going to kill me?" Edmond said provokingly.

Eder suddenly stood up. "You can't do that! Doctor Edmond is one of the only ten Doctors on the continent! He's basically humanity's treasure! If you truly intend to go through with such brutality, then I'll stop you!"

"Would you stop overreacting? When did I say I was going to kill him?"

'I only thought about it for a second!'

Kang Oh looked at him frigidly, causing Eder to turn away.

"I mean, that's what it seemed like..." 

Despite that, Eder said what he had to say.

"I won't kill you, Doctor Edmond," Kang Oh said.

"Is that so?" Edmond beamed.

'As expected.'

Considering how confident he was, Edmond definitely had a trick up his sleeve.

So he'd rather not kill Edmond and try stealing his dungeon!

"How can you tell the difference between a normal dungeon and a soul dungeon?" Kang Oh continued. 'Let's gather as much info as we can!'

"You call yourself a Dungeon Hunter, so you must be well aware that some dungeons have secret areas within them."

"Indeed."

He made a living finding these secret areas, or hidden dungeons. There was no way he wouldn't know about them.

"If there's a soul stone at the end of those secret areas, then it's a soul dungeon."

"What does a soul stone look like? Could you please show it to me?"

"I'd rather not."

"Tch."

"You're a Dungeon Hunter, so find one yourself."

"That's the plan."

A soul dungeon, a dungeon that paid him monthly rent! He really wanted to own one of them.

"Excuse me." Sephiro, who'd been completely silent, raised his hand.

"Yes?"

"Can only one person be the dungeon master? Is there any joint ownership?"

It was clear why he was asking a question like that.

If Kang Oh managed to find a Soul Dungeon, then he'd get a piece of the pie.

"A dungeon can only have one owner. Joint ownership is impossible."

"Is that... so?" Sephiro looked so disappointed.

Whereas Kang Oh beamed. To think that he could take everything for himself; what an amazing system!

"Do you have any other questions? I've pretty much told you everything I know."

"Do you know where any of the other soul dungeons are?" Kang Oh asked. 'If you do, then please let me know.'

"I don't."

"Do you want to tell us anything else?"

"No."

Kang Oh stared at Eder and Sephiro. "If you have a question, then go ahead and ask."

"Doctor Edmond," Eder said.

"What is it?"

"Are you still writing?"

"I'm studying countless insects in this dungeon. I'm writing a book that compiles all of that info."

"I'm looking forward to it."

"I'm not sure when it'll be published."

"I'll still look forward to it," he said. 'I have nothing but time after all.'

"Do as you wish. Do you have any questions for me?" Edmond stared at Sephiro.

"No, I don't," Sephiro immediately replied.

"Mecalpion's body should be healed by now, so get going. I have to close the door again."

"Take care."

Kang Oh's party left Edmond's abode.

"A soul dungeon, huh... I should clear even more dungeons!" Kang Oh eyes were filled with excitement. 

If he managed to own a dungeon, then he'd make it into a dungeon filled with Celtuses. 

These monsters dropped gold coins and were nicknamed Gold Bugs!

What if he were to become the owner of that dungeon? He'd be the owner of a goose that laid  golden eggs!

* * *

Red Eye.

PKers, or players who unjustly killed other players or NPCs, were limited in several ways.

One huge downside was being unable to take quests from the Adventurer Guild.

Plus, the player would be labeled as a criminal, so they wouldn't be able to increase their closeness with an individual, improve their reputation in a city, etc. They couldn't use the bank either.

They were also forced to wear a mask or helmet that covered their red eyes when entering a city or village.

If they didn't want to be chased by bounty hunters, the city guard, or village militia, that is.

Mad Dog, Kraal, who'd traveled to Modrak Village via their intercity transfer gate, had to do the same.

A black robe was draped over his entire body, and he wore a goblin mask over his face.

"Welcome." A man, similarly garbed in black robes and wearing a fox mask, approached him.

He was Kraal's right hand, Korba.

"Let's go somewhere quiet."

"Please come this way." He led Kraal into the suburbs, where a shabby, desolate lodging was located.

Once they entered the room, they discarded their masks and stared into each other's red eyes.

"What about my men?" Kraal asked.

He was the captain of the Kraal Assassination Squad, which consisted of 100 members. Korba was the vice-captain.

Kraal was obviously referring to his squad.

"I've dispatched them to various villages within the Great Forest. However, we weren't able to send them to the aggressive Nedav Tribe or a few of the other private tribes."

"Modrak is the entrance to the Great Forest."

"That's why I kept most of the men here."

"Mm."

"If they're still operating within the Great Forest, then we'll find them eventually."

"They have to."

Only then did Kraal's expression change to a smirk.

After that, Kraal stayed within Modrak Village and waited for his men to find Oga and Sephiro.

At long last...

"We've found Oga, Sephiro, and the unknown."

He finally heard what he'd been waiting to hear.

"Where?"

"They were spotted in the south, in the Nuwak Village."

"The Nuwak Village, huh..." Kraal said. "Hmm. For now, keep a close eye on them. And gather as much information as you can on them. You can't underestimate them."

Sephiro was a ranker, which meant that he was pretty skilled. Plus, there was the unknown that they knew nothing about! They had to remain on guard, since they didn't know who he was.

Finally, there was Oga...

'He's strong!'

Anyone who'd seen him fight the Snake Queen would know that he was strong.

Ultimately, they needed to thoroughly investigate them and set a foolproof trap if they wanted to capture them without fail. 

'And if you kill them once, then the second and third time becomes easier.'

Sweeping, or killing those on the blacklist, wouldn't end with only one death.

They would continuously kill them.

Dying lowered a player's level and reduced their abilities by 10%. Thus, they would repeatedly kill them, stacking the debuff again and again, until their characters were completely ruined!

'That's my specialty after all.'

There was a reason he was called Mad Dog.

"Go on."

"Yes sir."

* * *

Following their meeting with Edmond, Kang Oh's party became even more absorbed in exploring dungeons.

However, they didn't find a soul dungeon.

'But one day...'

If he kept finding hidden dungeons, then eventually he was sure to find a soul dungeon.

Anyway, Kang Oh returned to the Nuwak Village after exploring a dungeon like usual, but felt as though someone was watching him. 

'What is this?' Kang Oh took a look around. 

All he saw were the Nuwak tribesman and a few players that he'd seen before. There weren't any suspicious people here or anything strange going on.

'Hmm.' Kang Oh furrowed his brow.

"What's wrong?" Eder asked upon seeing the creases in his forehead.

"Doesn't it feel like we're being watched?"

"No." Eder shook his head.

"What about you, Mr. Sephiro?"

"Not really... Why, what's the matter?"

"Never mind. I must be a little on edge because I'm tired. Don't worry about it," Kang Oh said and strode forward.

Eder and Sephiro, who sported bewildered expressions, followed him.

A short while later...

Two mask wearing Assassination Squad members appeared from the deep shadow cast by a building.

"He must've figured out that something's up."

"He's got some good senses."

"We should be even more cautious."

"Mm."

The two disappeared into the shadows once more. They had used the Assassin skill, Shadow Transfer.

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