Sungyoon took a closer look at the equipment of his party members. Wonho held a short sword and a round shield reinforced with a steel plate. Hweeyae had a large battle ax, which looked way too big for her. Soochan had a large battle hammer and a shield in which steel covered only the center and the corner of the shield. Mina had the same weapon as Sungyoon, a long spear.
“This will be our formation. Mr. Soochan and I will be in the front to defend. Mr. Sungyoon and Ms. Mina can attack and cause a diversion from the rear. Ms. Hweeyae will wait for the most opportune time to strike a big blow.”
It was an adequate formation. Everyone nodded.
“First, we have to know each other’s abilities. Does anyone perhaps have a magic Gem?”
At Wonho's question, Hweeyae carefully raised her hand.
“I have a Flame magic Gem.”
Wonho’s face brightened.
“I’m pleased to hear that. What is its rank?”
“It is a Purple rank Gem, so it isn’t high in level. I can shoot three balls of flame, each the size of my head. I just call it a fireball. Its cooldown is 10 hours, and it takes me around 40 seconds to activate it.”
“That’s more than enough.”
Sungyoon raised his hand.
“I have a healing magic Gem.”
Everyone turned to look at him. A mixture of jealousy and envy appeared on their faces. It seemed healing magic Gems were really popular.
“What’s its rank?”
Wonho’s face had already been bright. Now, it had turned radiant.
“It is also a Purple rank Gem, so its level isn’t that high. It can heal pretty severe wounds, but it works on only one person at a time. I can heal two times. Its cooldown is over 15 hours.”
“That’s very good. At the very least, you’ll be able to save someone’s life twice.”
Everyone nodded as if agreeing with Wonho’s sentiments.
‘As expected, my experience was out of the ordinary.’
He had partied up with the Ross Siblings within the Beginner’s Labyrinth, where he had always enjoyed the benefits of Emily’s healing and support magic. He realized he had been very lucky.
“Ah. If you have Gems with any kind of storage ability, you should fess up right now.”
Until now, Wonho had been very friendly. This was why it was unusual to hear him speak in such a threatening way. Gems with storage ability could store food and water. Of course, it was also a great way to store moonstones, Devices, and Gems. It was the ideal way a Connector could steal the loot dropped by the monsters. A new party like this couldn’t trust each other, so storage type Gems were usually banned from temporary parties. If this weren’t the case, Sungyoon would have brought all his other Gems and Devices within the storage Gem.
Afterward, each party member gave explanations about their Gems. They were going to fight in battles together, so it was essential to know each other’s abilities.
‘What a hodgepodge of Gems.’
Sungyoon had this thought when he saw the Gems possessed by his party members.
Tim & Emily, his previous teammates, had Gems specifically based on their roles in a party. Tim possessed a large shield, thick gloves, and other equipment specialized for defense. It allowed him to always be in the front line against the monsters. Unlike Tim, Emily solely focused on her healing and support magic. She was always in the back line supporting her brother. This was why she carried a staff that was useless as a fighting weapon. She wore a priestess robe that almost had zero defense. She did this because these items boosted her support and healing magic.
However, the equipment of his current party members added up to nothing. There was no coherent strategy for their equipment.
‘Well, I’m not in a position to criticize either.’
His rank was a bit higher than them, but his Gems were also a hodgepodge of everything.
‘This is how all normal 1st Gens operate.’
The 1st Gens possessed subpar abilities and lacked support from their companies. So they had to use whatever Gems that dropped. They couldn’t specialize like the Ross siblings by collecting specific Gems. Moreover, a bigger reason why the siblings were such great Connectors had to do with the Devices and Gems left behind by their mother.
“Shall we start now?”
After hearing the abilities of his comrades, Wonho opened his mouth. A small amount of nervousness and cautious excitement was clear in his voice.
Finally, the battle would start. He nodded towards his party members.
Wonho and Soochan took the lead, and the rest followed them.
“From my experience, this place isn’t too far off from the Beginner’s Labyrinth in terms of rank.”
The party members watched their surroundings as they listened to the quiet words of Wonho.
“I’m not going to rush it. I’m not trying to clear this labyrinth. This temporary party was formed to gauge the level of this labyrinth. Let’s take this slowly.”
It didn’t take too long for a monster to show up after Wonho stopped speaking.
“It is a Big Rat.”
He spoke in a low voice when he saw the large rat shaped monster.
A monster had appeared, but the party wasn’t nervous at all. Soochan even snorted.
Although they had done it at a different time, everyone here had cleared the Beginner’s Labyrinth in the past. The Big Rat had been one of the weakest monsters there, so they didn’t consider it a threat.
Wonho gave out a warning when he realized his party was being careless.
“Please remember the fact that even the weakest monsters can kill us. We are practicing fighting as a group, so let’s take this seriously.”
He immediately took the lead as he spoke those words.
Sungyoon looked at Wonho’s back.
‘He has pretty good leadership.’
At the end of the day, they were fighting with their life on the line. Sungyoon welcomed the fact that the leader seemed to possess the ability to lead. From what he saw, all his party members had an independent streak. He really wanted Wonho’s leadership to have an effect on them.
The Big Rat caught sight of the party. It clacked its front teeth as it threatened the party, heedlessly charging towards them.
The party members got into their fighting stance. They should have been trying to fight as a team, but their opponent was too weak to do that.
Before the Big Rat could get close to the other party members, Sungyoon’s long spear pierced through the Big Rat. It immediately died.
“We can’t judge the level of the labyrinth by fighting Big Rats. Moreover, they are too weak to practice against as a party.”
“I guess so.”
Wonho agreed with Mina’s words. The monster really was too weak.
“We can go deeper into the labyrinth as we continue to hunt.”
After Wonho stopped speaking, he walked deeper into the labyrinth, with everyone else behind him.
* * *
As expected of five Connectors who finished the Beginner’s Labyrinth, they nearly cleared the 1st floor on the first day. The size of the moonstones was small, but the quantity was quite high. It seemed they could expect a decent payout at the end.
Since the battles were going well, the party’s mood became much better. They even started to have short conversations with each other during breaks.
On that day, the party came out confident as they dispersed into their respective Moon Surface Vehicles.
‘Is this the process that a normal party has to go through?’
Sungyoon had that thought as he laid down in his bed.
When Sungyoon had partied with Emily and Tim, their good feelings towards Sungyoon had been set to max. A great amount of trust had existed between the three of them. This was why they had entirely skipped the process where the party slowly became closer with time.
However, this wasn’t bad either. It would be great if things continued to turn out so well. Sungyoon truly felt that way.
Still, it wasn’t as if he didn’t have any worries.
‘The mood is not too bad because we are easily clearing the labyrinth.’
Some spark might cause an internal fight. It was unknown as to how the party would respond when the labyrinth would become difficult to clear.
Most humans were like that. When things went their way, they were magnanimous. However, they became mad and irritated when things started to go against them.
‘I hope this job ends without anything going wrong.’
However, he kept remembering what Jimin had said. He had to experience the reality of partying up with other Connectors.
‘Let’s sleep for now.’
Nothing would change from him worrying about it. Sungyoon did his best to close his eyes and sleep.
* * *
Sungyoon’s party continued to clear the labyrinth. In a couple of days, they were able to map the entire first floor. Sungyoon’s face stiffened when he saw that Wonho was capable of drawing a decent map unlike himself. However, that wasn’t really that important.
The party went down to the 2nd floor. On the first floor, monsters from the first and second floor of the Beginner’s Labyrinth had appeared. On the second floor, monsters from the third and fourth floor of the Beginner's Labyrinth appeared.
The party kept on rolling on. After slaughtering the monsters on the second floor, they moved deeper into the labyrinth.
For a long time, they moved without encountering many problems. An amicable atmosphere appeared amongst the party members. Sungyoon did his best to keep his personality in check and get along with his other party members. It felt as if this mood would last until the party broke up.
However, it had only been a couple of days. It was too much to expect zero strife.
In the end, they had reached their limit.
It arrived two weeks after they had started raiding this labyrinth. The party made preparations to sleep overnight in the labyrinth as they stepped onto the fifth floor.
It was as if someone had pre-arranged the monsters of labyrinth F-038. Whenever they descended a floor, it became twice as difficult. On the first floor, monsters from the first and second floor of the Beginner’s Labyrinth appeared. On the second floor, they encountered monsters from the next two floors.
If the rule held true, the 5th floor of this labyrinth should be filled with monsters from the 9th and 10th floor of the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
As soon as they stepped onto the 5th floor, they encountered a monster. Wonho and Soochan, who had been in the front, stiffened at the sight.
“Blue Mane Lion.”
Wonho spoke in a low voice.
Red eyes glared at them. Sungyoon looked towards the owner of the eyes.
The monster looked like a lion. It stood on four legs, yet its shoulders came up to the height of a man. Moreover, there was a characteristic unique to this monster. Even in the darkness, its mane shone with blue light.
On Earth, this monster would probably become a famous star attraction in a zoo. However, Wonho’s party had to fight it, so they didn’t care if the monster looked cool or not.
The only thing in their mind was how dangerous this monster was.
“What a rude welcome.”
Wonho forced out a laugh. However, it was as if he was forcing his facial muscles to make a smile. It didn’t have the effect of uplifting the party’s mood. In fact, it made it worse.
Blue Mane Lion.
It resembled a lion, which was called the king of the beasts. In the Beginner’s Labyrinth, this monster was classified as one of the endgame monsters. An overwhelming number of overconfident Connectors had disappeared into its stomach after arriving at the 10th floor of the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
Still, everyone here had cleared the Beginner’s Labyrinth before. They had the experience of fighting this monster at least once.
No one showed signs of wanting to run away. All five party members raised their weapons as they got into their battle stance.
It growled. The monster’s peculiar red eyes took in the five Connectors.
Wonho and Soochan moved forward. They raised their shields as they glared at the monster. The other members stood behind Wonho and Soochan. They prepared themselves to attack the monster at any moment.
‘I really miss it.’
In order to face the monster, Sungyoon raised his spear. However, he found that his left hand was twitching. Whenever he fought a battle now, he yearned for the shield he had lost. This was especially true when facing a fearsome opponent.
‘I’m fine with anything. But, if possible, I hope Nicholas coughs out a shield for me.’
It seemed the Blue Mane Lion wasn’t going to be understanding of Sungyoon’s inner thoughts. It slowly closed the distance. Then….
It started running full tilt.
The monster closed the considerable distance between it and the party in an instant.
It let out a fierce roar. A timid person would have fallen to the floor and pissed his pants. The roar was capable of breaking a person’s nerves.
Several members of the party were a bit shaken when faced with this monster. However, none of them reacted in an extreme manner.
The Blue Mane Lion jumped towards Wonho and Soochan. Its large body moved like a tsunami.
Wonho stopped its charge.
He groaned. A monster with incredible weight had hit him at high speeds. The force generated was incredibly high.Previous Chapter Next Chapter