Sungyoon looked at the necklace-type Device.
‘Honestly, this is the one I’m really glad to see.’
He picked up the Device. There was only one slot present in the middle of the necklace, and the rank of the slot was the lowest of the low, the Purple rank. But, the slot was shaped like a circle.
‘It is a Universal slot. I can equip my Gold Gem with this.’
If he had been able to activate his Gold Gem in the battle against Soobin, he wouldn’t have been at a disadvantage in the fight. The fact that he had gained a Device that could activate the Gold Gem made him very happy.
He had inspected all of Soobin’s Gems and Devices. However, there was still one Gem left.
When he saw it, a troubled expression appeared on Sungyoon's face.
‘What was he thinking when he gave me this?’
It was the Gem given to him by Hyunwoo as a token of apology.
Shaped like a hexagon, it was a special-ability Gem. Sungyoon became troubled when he saw the Gem's color.
A white light was coming out of the Gem. It was a B&W rank Gem, a rank above the Rainbow rank, and a rank before the Jewel rank. Sungyoon was holding the White Gem which ranked higher than the Black Gem. This was his first time seeing a Gem that was a rank below the Jewel rank.
‘When you are at Sung Hyunwoo’s level, maybe a White rank Gem isn't considered valuable?’
It was a possibility. Despite this, it was an incredibly valuable Gem to Sungyoon.
He once again gazed at the White Gem.
‘Since it was a token of apology, it should be fine for me to take it.’
In the end, Sungyoon decided to be happy about the goodwill shown to him by Hyunwoo. However, he couldn’t immediately use the White Gem.
‘I need to find another Device.’
He needed to find a Device capable of equipping a White-rank special-ability Gem. However, he had no idea how long it would take him to find such a high-level Device.
‘Now that I think about it, I still haven’t received Nicholas’ Device.’
Sungyoon hoped Nicholas possessed a Device capable of slotting this White Gem.
The newly acquired Devices and Gems would be a big source of power to Sungyoon. Aside from the White Gem, he could use all the others. He had confirmed this already.
However, he couldn’t use these Gems in the labyrinth he was headed to right now.
‘She said I should avoid using the high-rank Gems.’
He remembered Jimin’s warning. The party he was going to meet and work with would be comprised of regular 1st Gens. They wouldn’t look too kindly at him if he used his high-rank Gems around them.
‘I’ll just have to do my best to only equip Gems and Devices that I normally use.’
Moreover, he would be prepared for the unexpected. He would wear the necklace-type Device with the Gold Gem equipped in it.
After going over everything, he immediately went into his bed. It didn’t take him too long to fall deep into sleep.
* * *
The display on the Moon Surface Vehicle blinked. The signal meant he was almost at his destination.
Sungyoon increased his speed. Soon, he could see his destination.
It was unlike his labyrinth, where the entrance existed at the highest point on a crater. This labyrinth was located on a flat plain, and the entrance opened up like a sinkhole.
Four Moon Surface Vehicles were parked near the labyrinth’s entrance in no order.
‘They are already here.’
Sungyoon wasn’t late, yet everyone had already arrived before him.
It seemed the Connectors had caught sight of Sungyoon’s Moon Surface Vehicle. He saw them exit their respective vehicles. Sungyoon found a nice place to park and also came out of his vehicle.
All the Connectors approached him. Their number corresponded with the number of Moon Surface Vehicles. Of the two men and the two women, the first one to approach Sungyoon was a man. He gestured towards the labyrinth. It seemed he wanted Sungyoon to enter the labyrinth where air was present. It would allow them to communicate. Sungyoon nodded.
All five headed towards the labyrinth's entrance.
The man moved in front of the group and was the first one to jump into the hole. Everyone followed him. Sungyoon stood at the edge of the hole and looked down. He could see the floor that was about two meters away. The floor extended further downwards on a steep slope.
Sungyoon jumped in.
He could hear sounds. When he moved, the small current of air tickled his skin.
There was oxygen. It meant he had entered into the sphere of influence of the labyrinth.
“The slope is quite steep here. If we enter a little further, it flattens out. Let’s talk there.”
The man, who had entered first, spoke. Everyone just nodded as they followed him deeper into the labyrinth.
They had come here to talk, but they were within a labyrinth, so everyone activated their Gems. Sungyoon also followed suit. Since he didn’t want to be in the spotlight, he only activated his lower-rank Gems. He also delayed his activation time on purpose.
It seemed this was their first meeting, so no one talked to each other. An awkward silence descended amongst the group.
The location mentioned by the man appeared not too long after.
When everyone arrived at their destination, the man turned around to face the group.
“First, I would like to thank all of you for answering my request to form a party. I am this labyrinth’s owner. My name is Jahng Wonho.”
Wonho gave a deep bow.
Sungyoon looked at the surrounding Connectors. It seemed Wonho’s company had requested Connectors from the same country as him. They were all Korean.
“May I ask everyone to introduce themselves?”
Wonho directed the question to the woman closest to him. She was a woman with a neatly trimmed bobbed hair that reached her shoulders.
“My name is Kim Hweeyae.”
The bob haired woman nervously kept glancing at the other people as she spoke. It seemed she was a bit of an introvert.
Then everyone’s gaze headed towards the man standing next to her.
“My name is Suh Soochan.”
His voice was a bit sleazy, and his eyes were slightly upturned. It looked as if the man had a temper.
“My name is Lee Mina.”
After Soochan, the woman next in line spoke. She had long hair and cat-like eyes. She was a striking woman. But the tone of her voice wasn’t friendly at all, and she gave off a haughty attitude.
After the four gave their introduction, they all turned to look at Sungyoon.
“My name is Woo Sungyoon.”
Sungyoon was emotionless as he made his introduction.
As they all had made their introductions, Wonho brought down his fist on his palm to get the attention of everyone.
“Since I am the owner of this labyrinth, I’ll take on the role of being the leader of this party. Does anyone object to this?”
No one spoke up. But Soochan cracked his neck as if he didn’t particularly like the arrangement.
“Thank you. I’ll explain the future schedule in detail. We were scheduled to meet the day after tomorrow. However, we’ve already gathered here, so I would like to start the labyrinth exploration tomorrow. If we wait until the day after tomorrow, we’ll just be wasting our time.”
Wonho paused for a brief moment to assess the expression on everyone’s face. When no one complained, he continued.
“This party will work for a month, and I plan on going as deep as possible. The goal is to determine the rank of this labyrinth, but I don't plan on avoiding hunting monsters. Isn't that the original goal of Connectors?”
Wonho spoke in a playful manner as he winked.
“The most important part is how the moonstones are distributed….”
Everyone’s expression changed a little bit. This information would have a direct effect on their earnings, and if the distribution was unfair, no one would hesitate to argue with the terms.
Of course, Wonho knew this well.
“We’ll make it fair. We’ll split the moonstone exactly in one-fifths.”
When Wonho gave his answer, everyone became less tense.
At that moment, Mina raised her hand. Everyone turned to look at her.
“What about Devices and Gems?”
Everyone’s face stiffened once again. Wonho looked a bit cornered by the question. The rights to Devices and Gems were a sensitive subject amongst Connectors.
“Devices and Gems aren’t like moonstones. We can’t divide it equally. This is why we’ll stick to the basic rule. We can auction it on the market, and then we can fairly divide the profits. If a party member needs the Gem, they’ll have to compensate the other members monetarily at fair market price.”
“I would like to purchase a healing magic Gem if it does drop.”
Mina was direct as she revealed her intent. It seemed she had an agenda by asking the question about the Devices and Gems.
The surrounding atmosphere cooled. Wonho didn’t look thrilled by her words, and Soochan openly expressed his displeasure.
“You said your name is Lee Mina? I’m sorry, but I also need a healing magic Gem.”
Soochan didn’t plan on hiding his soured mood. He spoke towards Mina, who fully turned to look at him. Displeasure was evident in her cold gaze. But Soochan didn’t back down as he glared back at her.
“Please let’s all calm down.”
It seemed Wonho didn’t like what Mina had said, but he was the leader of this party. He didn’t reveal his true emotions. He tried to de-escalate the pissing match between the two Connectors.
‘Healing magic Gem.’
Sungyoon had two of them, the Purple rank Gem given to him by Emily and the Blue rank Gem that had belonged to Soobin. It seemed at least three people didn’t possess a healing magic Gem in this party.
‘I guess it is understandable. If I didn’t have it, I would desperately want one.’
Connectors were under constant threat of being injured, so every Connector wanted a healing magic Gem. It had the potential to save their lives.
With Wonho's intervention, Soochan and Mina ended their pissing match.
“As you all probably know, the chances of a Device or a Gem dropping is extremely low. We haven’t even found one, yet we are fighting about it. It’ll only ruin our mood and adversely affect our team chemistry. At the very least, let’s have this argument after we find a Device or a Gem.”
Wonho threw in those comments.
The situation hadn’t been resolved. The problem had been pushed to a later date. Since the probability of a healing-magic Gem dropping was extremely low, it was a good solution.
The conversation ended there that day. Everyone exited the labyrinth and returned to their respective Moon Surface Vehicles. Sungyoon also went back to his Vehicle and sat on his bed.
‘The mood is different already.’
When he had partied up with the Ross siblings, they had been considerate of each other. The atmosphere had been completely different from his current party.
‘This is the reality of a party only forming for profit.’
Of course, the mood of the party could change. With time, they could become closer to each other. They could develop trust while fighting back to back with their lives on the line. However, as of right now, Sungyoon couldn’t trust his back to any of his current party members.
‘Will this turn out ok?’
He was a bit worried as he looked out the window.
* * *
Sungyoon’s party entered the labyrinth early next day.
Sungyoon heeded Jimin’s warning and didn’t equip the good Gems. He had the evolved Indigo-rank spear and the Indigo Gem that increased his strength by three-folds. He also brought the Blue-rank Gem that enhanced his strength by four-fold, and the Blue rank Gem that enhanced his senses. The only exception was his armor. He brought the Green-rank Scale Mail for his safety, and the Purple-rank healing Gem just in case.
‘If I had it my way, I would use all of Kim Soobin’s Gems.’
However, those Gems were too high in rank.
Of course, he felt inconvenienced. But he was consoled by the fact that he had his Gold Gem. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that the Gold Gem was his lifeline. He had equipped it on his necklace-type Device and tucked it under his shirt to hide it from others.
‘It’s too bad that I don’t have a shield anymore.’
He had always possessed a shield in the past, so his left hand felt empty. However, all his shields had been destroyed. This was the reason Sungyoon had decided to use the Indigo-rank spear instead of the Blue-rank mace. Since he didn’t have a shield, he planned on compensating its loss with the long reach of the spear.
When Sungyoon arrived, everyone stared at him. He felt out of place. He hadn’t brought any of his high-rank Gems, yet his equipment stood out.
Most of his party members were wearing leather armor that only covered their upper body. The best of the bunch was Wonho, who had worn a leather armor reinforced with a big plate of steel.Previous Chapter Next Chapter