"Your mother?" Kang Oh asked.
Grano had definitely mentioned his mother.
"Ah, it's not some amazing story or anything."
Grano waved his hand.
"Then it'd be a good story to hear while we're on our way to the island," Kang Oh smiled and said.
Grano nodded his head and began, "When I was young, my mother would tell me interesting stories before I went to bed. The most memorable of them was the story that the Bariton Desert was once called the Blue Earth."
Kang Oh tilted his head.
"It wasn't always a desert?"
This was the first time he'd heard of this.
"Yes. It was said that the Rain God, Dalla, brought rain to the Bariton Desert every day while he was there. Back then, Bariton was a fertile land where grass grew and where rivers flowed."
"Dalla... In the ancient language, it means clouds and wind," Eder said.
In the ancient language, 'dal' meant cloud, and 'la' meant wind.
"In a desert, the clouds are brought over by the wind," Grano said.
"So what happened next?" Kang Oh asked.
"Dalla fell in love with a young girl. And the young girl loved him in turn. However, it's said that if a god loves a human, then they lose their divinity and become a normal human being themselves."
"Seeing as how it's a desert, I can see what choice he made," Kang Oh said.
"Indeed. And they had children too. Dalla and that girl's blood was passed down through the generations, and my mother was apparently their descendent. Therefore, I too am a descendent of Dalla," Grano said.
"Are you trying to make it rain in place of the Rain God, Dalla?" Kang Oh asked.
"Kind of. After I heard that story from my mother, I felt a calling of sorts. That I should make the desert fertile again."
Kang Oh nodded his head.
"That's why I became a mage and why I searched for a way to make it rain. In fact, the magic to create rain already existed. However, it wasn't the magic I was looking for."
"Why is that?" Kang Oh asked.
"Casting that spell requires several mages, or one extraordinary Archmage. Moreover, it merely makes it rain for a short period of time over a small area."
If he wanted to make the desert fertile again, then he would need to make it rain continuously over a wide area.
"Thus, I decided to create a rain-making device and began my research. However, the other mages didn't have much interest in the device."
Grano sported a somewhat bitter expression.
"But couldn't you have ordered your subordinates anyway? I heard you were the director of the water magic laboratory. Why did you do all the work yourself?" Kang Oh asked.
When one becomes a research director at the Mage's Tower, they should have several subordinates under them. He could've made them do all the grunt work, so why did he have to go through all the trouble?
"This is my personal research. I can't force the mages of the water magic laboratory to help me with a personal matter," Grano said firmly.
He then added, "If they volunteer themselves, that'd be a different story entirely..."
Grano's voice dwindled. It was obvious why his voice had become so quiet. There hadn't been a single one of his subordinates that had volunteered their services.
Kang Oh looked at him and inwardly clicked his tongue.
'Tch, tch. He really is paying the price to go through hardship.'
Is this what a cricket felt when it saw an ant?
To Kang Oh, who always abused and overworked his subordinates like Darion and Eder, it all seemed foolish.
Of course, only Kang Oh thought that way.
"You truly are amazing."
Eder grasped Grano's hands. His eyes gleamed; his eyes seemingly said, 'If only you'd formed a contract with me instead!'.
"No. As their superior, it's unbefitting of me to force them into helping me in private matters," Grano said.
Eder glanced at Kang Oh. It was as if he were saying, 'He's a lot different from someone I know.'.
Kang Oh stared at Eder and scowled.
Eder quickly turned his head and forcefully said, "In any case, you'll succeed this time. I know it."
"I hope so."
After that, Kang Oh, Eder, and Grano discussed various topics for quite some time.
Then, Grano pointed towards the far side of the open sea.
Kang Oh followed his finger.
There was a small green island over there.
* * *
"Thank you, Mister."
Grano said his goodbyes to Bobo.
"Mm. See you later."
Bobo got onto his ship and left.
Because Grano had come with a return scroll, they didn't need the ship to return to the city.
Thus, he'd let Bobo and the ship leave first.
Kang Oh's party, having disembarked from the ship, passed the small sandy beach.
"There aren't any particularly threatening monsters here. At most, a snake?" Grano said.
"There should be some stronger monsters within the hidden dungeon, no?" Kang Oh asked.
"I took a quick peek inside and saw some Fishmen, but other than that, I don't know anything else since I didn't go any deeper," Grano said.
"I'll take a look myself."
The party went through the island's brush and progressed forward.
The island was quiet and they didn't see any special animals or monsters.
What's worse, nothing attacked first, so they continued along without any resistance.
How much time had passed?
Grano stopped in front of an entrance to a large cave.
"This is a hidden dungeon?" Kang Oh asked.
All that he was thinking about was the hidden dungeon.
"The entrance to the dungeon is inside the cave. This is also where I'll install the device that gathers water, the absorber."
"Let's go inside."
The party went inside of the cave.
The cave was so wide that it reminded him of Baramut's home, yet it was also deeper. Much deeper.
It also went down at an angle.
They went down for a while, eventually reaching the end of the cave.
Surprisingly, there was a small lake at the end of the cave.
"Please taste the water," Grano said.
Kang Oh scooped some water with both hands and tried it. It tasted salty.
"Is this seawater?"
"Yes. There must be a tunnel that connects this lake with the sea floor, allowing the seawater to come here."
"If I set up the device here, then the device should safely be able to provide water. It's connected to the sea, so it'll never dry out and it's inside the cave, so there's no external threat either."
This was the reason Grano had come to this specific island.
"You really are amazing," Eder chimed in.
"And that's the dungeon over there."
Grano pointed towards one side of the cave. There was a giant rock there, but there was a black crevice beneath it.
"So you're saying that there's a dungeon within that crevice?" Kang Oh asked, ascertaining the hidden dungeon's location.
Grano nodded his head.
"I'll go immediately. Are you going too, Mr. Grano?" Kang Oh asked.
"I'll stay here and install the absorber. Please come back after you've gone through the dungeon."
"It might take a while."
When Kang Oh entered a dungeon, he'd usually clear it.
Unless the dungeon was huge, or the monsters were powerful, or there were dangerous traps installed.
Obviously, he intended to clear it this time. Therefore, it would take quite a bit of time before he got out.
"Hmm. If that's the case, then please take this with you."
Grano extracted something out of his subspace. It was a pair of gold earrings that were in the shape of a magic circle.
He gave Kang Oh one of the two earrings.
"What is this?"
"It's a magical device that allows the wearers to communicate with each other."
Kang Oh accepted the earring.
"How do I use it?"
"You wear it on your ear and by rubbing it, a signal will be passed on to the receiver."
"Let's try it out to see if it works."
Grano and Kang Oh wore the earrings.
Kang Oh rubbed the earrings with his finger. Then, he heard a beeping noise.
Grano grabbed his own earring with his finger.
"You just need to grab onto your earring like this to talk."
He could hear Grano clearly as though he were listening to music from a set of headphones.
"Ah. Ah! Testing! Testing! Can you hear me?"
"I hear you."
"How far can we be from each other? No, where do I buy this? Is it really expensive?"
Kang Oh asked question after question.
Eder wasn't a user, so he couldn't utilize the message system.
Therefore, he needed a device that allowed him to communicate with him over long distances.
"Compared to the size of the earring itself, its range is quite long. I believe its max range is about 5 kilometers. And they don't sell this on the market. It's a recent invention of the Mage's Tower."
Grano answered each and every single one of Kang Oh's questions.
"Hmm. Is there any way I can get this item?" Kang Oh asked.
Eder could tell what he was thinking.
Kang Oh wanted this item so that he could speak with him over long distances.
Of course, it wasn't something that Eder wanted.
If Kang Oh could communicate with Eder over long distances... then it'd be like he was being called by his superior after he'd left work.
'They'd be like shackles!'
Eder stared at Grano fiercely. Please say that there wasn't a way to procure them!
However, Grano didn't realize what Eder was trying to tell him.
"There are still some improvements that need to be made, but the magic tower will sell them soon. I'm not sure how much they will cost," Grano said.
Kang Oh took off the earring and examined it meticulously.
Gold, exquisite craftsmanship, and a small size that belied its long range. Moreover, it's a new item, so it seemed like it would be expensive.
"If you're a part of the magic tower, do you get a discount?" Kang Oh asked.
He was essentially asking, 'Is it possible to buy it at manufacturer price?'.
"When it's on sale, I'll buy one for you," Grano said.
He was the head of the water magic laboratory.
Because he possessed a high position within the magic tower, he should be able to procure the earrings for Kang Oh no problem.
"Thank you very much."
Kang Oh smiled.
Whereas Eder's face (which was now mostly normal) wrinkled.
"Then let's get going Eder!"
Kang Oh dragged Eder along with him.
"It'll be a while before that device is put on the market, right? Right? Please say yes!" Eder looked at Grano and desperately yelled.
"Stay safe. I'll let you know when I'm done installing the absorber," Grano waved his hand and sent them off.
"Mr. Granooooo!" Eder wailed as he was being dragged off.
* * *
Kang Oh pushed Eder through the crevice and threw himself in as well.
As expected, there was a jet-black hole within the crevice.
"There should be a boss here."
Users didn't always hit the jackpot just because they had found a hidden dungeon.
Only by having a boss, which accrued riches over time, and killing said boss would a hidden dungeon bestow a player with wealth.
"If not, then perhaps a treasure."
There were some dungeons that didn't have a boss, but had treasure inside instead.
But instead of a boss, the treasure was guarded by guardians, as well as various traps that prevented the user from obtaining it.
"I just hope I didn't come here for nothing!"
Meaning a hidden dungeon without a boss or any treasure. It was like a piece of fried shrimp without any innards.
Kang Oh threw himself into the hole.
He was enveloped in darkness.
[You have discovered the Lupen Crystal Palace.]
[You are the first to discover it.]
[Fame has increased.]
'As I thought, I'm the first to come down here.'
A secluded uninhabited island in the open sea. What were the chances that a user would find this hidden dungeon?
It was obvious that Kang Oh would be the first to discover it.
But the problem was...
'Is it not a dungeon?'
A dungeon was inhabited by monsters. However, the system message didn't tell him it was a dungeon.
Obviously, a secret area wasn't always a dungeon.
Then, Eder expressed his astonishment.
"Hoh, this place is truly mysterious."
The Lupen Crystal Palace lay within the center of a dome.
Like its namesake, the palace was constructed with several crystals of different colors.
The crystals radiated every color of light imaginable and it was so flashy that it made him dizzy.
But what was important to Kang Oh was whether this was a dungeon or not.
"For now, let's go."
Whether he'd hit the jackpot or gone bust, he had to go over and find out!
A short while later, Kang Oh and Eder met the Fishmen that Grano had warned them about.
"Who are you!?"
"Tell us who you are!"
The Fishmen yelled at Kang Oh.
Their faces resembled turtles.
Although they possessed two arms and legs like human beings, they were also covered in blue scales.
They didn't wear any armor, but they did wield spears with blades made of coral.
There were four in total.
They looked like guards. Of course, he wasn't entirely sure.
This was the first time Kang Oh had seen them before, and he didn't have any information on them either.
'Let's kill them and go from there.'
Kang Oh gripped his demon sword and dashed towards them.
"Repel the invader!"
Two of the Fishman guards pointed their coral spears at them and rushed towards him.
They were aiming for Kang Oh's heart!
Once he felt the chill at his heart, Kang Oh swung his demon sword.
His jet-black sword and their coral spears clashed.
Surprisingly, their coral spears were tougher than he'd expected, and the Fishmen themselves were no joke either.
'They must be between level 100 - 130.'
Kang Oh estimated his foes' strength and quickly swung his blade upwards from bottom to top.
His demon sword pushed one of the guard's coral spear up into the air. Kang Oh seized that opportunity and swung down diagonally.
Shards of light burst forth as his blade left an incision on the Fishman's chest.
The other Fishman lunged with his own coral spear to help their comrade.
The Fishman's spear was enveloped with blue energy, and that energy began to violently rotate around the spear.
Kang Oh turned his body to the side and avoided the spear. He then approached the wounded Fishman and swung downwards.
A wave exploded from his blade in the shape of a savage beast.
The Fishman brought his spear up and blocked Kang Oh's blade, but immense destructive power caused him to fall.
The other Fishman aimed for Kang Oh's back.
Kang Oh positioned his blade behind him and blocked the Fishman's attack. Then, he immediately turned around and swiftly slashed the Fishman like the wind.
"Ugh. He's strong."
Shards of light spilled from the Fishmen as they retreated.
"Yeah, this guy's really strong."
They rushed towards him once more.
"We'll take him down together."
The two guards on standby entered the fray.
"I'm your opponent!"
Eder stepped forward wearing his red armor and wielding the skull shield and spiked mace.
He opened his mouth wide, as if he were a snake.
An evil spirit, which applied the aging curse, came flying out of his mouth.
"I'm getting weaker."
The Fishman afflicted by the aging curse became noticeably slower.
Whereas Eder, with his new body, moved extremely quickly.
"Feel my new power!"
Eder swung downwards with his mace.
His target: the Fishman guard's head.
Once his mace made contact with the Fishman's head, red energy exploded out.
It was a new knight skill he'd learned by obtaining Arumode's body. It was an intermediate level skill at that!
"How does it feel!?"
Eder pushed through the Fishmen like an angry bull.
At that moment, the Crystal Palace's gates opened and out came more than twenty Fishman guards.
"Where do you think you are!? I, Radium, will take you on!" a larger than normal Fishman wearing scale armor yelled.
Kang Oh looked at him and a message popped up.
[You have met Lupenia's Champion, Radium.]
[You are the first to meet him.]Previous Chapter Next Chapter