Soochan swung his hammer. However, like its namesake, the Blue Mane Lion moved with feline grace, using the unique agility of an animal to dodge the hammer. However, Sungyoon had been aiming for this.
Even though the Blue Mane Lion was agile, when it landed, for a split second, it became vulnerable. Sungyoon used his long reach to stab with his spear.
Even if its rank had gone up, the spear was only from an Indigo rank Gem. The Blue Mane Lion was one of the most difficult monsters to fight in the Beginner’s Labyrinth. Of course, the spear wouldn’t work well against it. However, Sungyoon had activated the Gem that enhanced his strength by three-fold. He half-forced the spear to pierce through the monster's leather.
A deep puncture wound appeared in its front right leg, and Sungyoon immediately retreated after extracting his spear.
Sharp claws swiped at where Sungyoon used to be. If the claws had met his flesh, his muscles and blood vessels would have been sliced. His body would have become a ragged mess.
However, Sungyoon wasn’t afraid. In fact, he was like a starved predator. He only thought about hunting down the injured Blue Mane Lion.
The other party members saw the injured monster approach them once again, so they swung their weapons. But they didn’t break their formation at all cost. The sword and hammer came out from behind the shields at opportunistic moments. It kept the monster occupied. The spears stabbed either from the back or at an angle, and inflicted small wounds.
“Please get out of the way!”
They heard a shout from the back. It was like the miracle where Moses parted the red sea. The four Connectors jumped to either side, and a red fireball flew through the opened path.
The head-sized fireball hit the Blue Mane Lion.
Its scream rang out. Its proud blue mane was engulfed in fire. The high heat had damaged its fur and leather. The damage extended below its epidermis.
Hweeyae ran forward. She held her large battle-ax, and in a flash, she was in front of the Blue Mane Lion.
It was a Yellow rank battle-ax. Amongst the Gems in the party, it was one of the higher-ranked ones. She split open the Blue Mane Lion’s head without much difficulty. However, she was interfered with by an unexpected source.
While she had been solely focused on the Blue Mane Lion, something clashed against her axe. She was sent flying to the side.
Another scream could be heard. It was the rough and deep voice of a man. Soochan was sent flying to the opposite side of Hweeyae. The Blue Mane Lion stood between the two.
The new development had happened in a flash, so almost everyone in the party was stunned. Only Sungyoon moved to confirm the kill of the Blue Mane Lion. Fortunately, the Blue Mane Lion was dead.
“Shit. Don’t suddenly run out from behind like that!”
Soochan yelled at Hweeyae, whose eyes widened. Then her gentle eyes became sharp.
“I said to get out of my way!”
She was an introvert, but it seemed she was too angry right now. She shot back in a harsh voice.
Soochan stood up as Hweeyae continued to glare at him.
“Please! Let’s all calm down!”
Wonho quickly got in between the two. As he did so, he gestured towards Sungyoon and Mina with his eyes. They both gave a small nod, and Sungyoon moved to Wonho’s side, while Mina moved to Hweeyae’s side. They were there to make sure nothing happened.
On Earth, they would probably get into a fistfight at the worst. However, right now, they were armed to the teeth in a labyrinth. If they weren’t careful, the two might swing their weapons against each other. If things went really awry, one of them might die.
Fortunately, the two of them didn’t come to blows. They just glared at each other.
When it became clear they weren’t going to explode in anger, Wonho patiently listened to both sides of the story.
The opportunity to hit the final blow had appeared. The Flame magic had landed on the Blue Mane Lion, and Hweeyae had moved to apply the finishing blow. It was as planned. Her battle-ax was the highest rank weapon in the party, and it had the highest killing power. This was why she had been dealing the finishing blow against most monsters up until now. This was also their general strategy.
However, the only problem this time was that she had been a bit too far away from the monster when she shot the flame magic. Soochan didn’t believe she could close the distance in time, and he had swung his hammer in order to keep the monster in place. When Hweeyae planted her ax, his hammer hit it, and the rebound sent them flying back.
From a certain point of view, the mistake happened because both of them were trying to help the party. However, Soochan and the introvert Hweeyae refused to back down. If Hweeyae’s last blow hadn’t killed the Blue Mane Lion, one of the two of them would have died under the monster's large front paw. It didn’t matter that they were strong. There was a high probability that one of them would have died. This thought chilled both of their spines.
Hence, this argument couldn’t be ended easily. If they trusted each other, it might have been resolved. However, trust was yet to develop within this party.
Wonho had to work very hard to calm the two grumbling party members.
* * *
The argument between the two had come to a close for now. No, it looked like that on the surface. Thanks to Wonho’s intervention, the two of them shook hands, but the chilly atmosphere refused to go away.
To make matters worse, the fights on the 5th floor were tough. It wasn’t something they were unable to handle, but it was unlike before where they could easily kill the monsters. They had less room for error now.
Previously, there had been a good amount of conversation between the party members. But now, only a deep silence surrounded the party.
Wonho tried very hard to change the mood, but it was useless. In the end, even he became tired and shut his mouth.
‘That guy isn’t too bad.’
Sungyoon looked at Wonho in a new light. As a leader, he was trying to make his party members move past this incident. Sungyoon could clearly feel his intent. Moreover, his leadership skill wasn’t bad at all.
However, that was it. This current situation was beyond his leadership skills.
After exploring the labyrinth until a predetermined date, the party exited the labyrinth. The cold mood was reflected in everyone's actions. No one said much as they all headed towards their respective Moon Surface Vehicle.
‘This party is on the verge of falling apart.’
Sungyoon had that thought as he lay on his bed.
As time passed, the divide within their ranks was becoming apparent. It centered around Hweeyae and Soochan as they had started to argue more and more.
‘There are still seven days left.’
There was one week left until the month requested by Wonho.
‘I hope nothing bad happens.’
Sungyoon closed his eyes.
The party was once again exploring the 5th floor. The discord between the party members continued. Wonho had become tired of it all, so he focused on drawing the map of the labyrinth. He decided not to interfere unless the fighting became severe.
It could be directly attributed to the fact that the bickerings had increased on a daily basis.
“This is why you should time your attack!”
Soochan’s rough voice rang out. Wonho gripped his head as another argument had broken out. Sungyoon crossed his arms as he watched the sight. Hweeyae, who didn’t get along with Soochan, glared at him.
“You just have to match what I do! You should be the one that should work around me!”
This time Mina was yelling at Soochan. Unlike her haughty and prim appearance, she was going toe to toe with Soochan. They both yelled at each other in anger.
“What happened this time?”
Wonho wasn’t going to stop the argument, but he still wanted to know what caused it. He asked the question to Hweeyae and Sungyoon.
“In the last battle, Ms. Mina stabbed her spear over Mr. Soochan’s shield. It seems he didn’t like that.”
Wonho grabbed his head. He didn’t know how many times they had fought in the past couple weeks regarding this same topic. Mina's primary weapon was a long spear, and there were times when she had to attack past Soochan's shield. It seemed the man felt that the spear got in his way.
‘This all comes down to practice and skill.’
The person with the shield blocked from the front, and the person from behind used the long spear to attack one’s enemy. However, both combatants had to be on the same page. This party had formed only three weeks ago. Of course, they couldn’t pull off this synergy in so short a time. In the beginning, they had complaints, but there had also been margin for error. So they were more tolerant of each other’s actions. However, past the 5th floor, the margin for error became razor-thin. It caused ill feelings to develop, and the party members started to argue.
‘It isn’t as if I don’t understand why this is happening.’
They were putting their lives on the line for this work, and a single mistake might cost them their lives. Of course, their nerves were frayed. Moreover, the disagreement was with Soochan, who fought closest to the monsters. The pressure he felt was higher than the other party members.
‘It really makes me appreciate Mr. Tim. He’s an amazing person.’
Sungyoon thought about his ex-party member who was as big as a bear. He always moved to the front to confront the claws and teeth of monsters. He protected his party members and never lost his happy-go-lucky and relaxed attitude. He was even considerate of Sungyoon’s feelings. Sungyoon probably wasn’t imagining it. His good feeling towards his ex-party members had increased after he joined this party.
After a while, Mina and Soochan got tired of fighting.
The party started to move once again. Sungyoon could see Wonho making an assessment of his party members.
‘Is he going to terminate the party early?’
At this point, it might not be a bad idea. Of course, they had made a promise to party up for a month. Even if one member didn’t want to break up the party early, Wonho would be put in an awkward position. However, Sungyoon doubted Wonho had to worry about that.
After killing another monster, Soochan cussed. His eyes were unkind as he looked at Hweeyae and Mina. Of course, the two women weren’t looking kindly at him either. However, it wasn’t just Soochan against the two women. Hweeyae and Mina would sometimes turn their cold gazes on each other too.
‘This isn’t going to work.’
Sungyoon had that thought. He could see Wonho shake his head from side to side. The promised end date was several days away, but Sungyoon predicted the party would come to an end today.
“Why are you always in the back?”
Sungyoon heard the disgruntled voice of Soochan that was clearly directed at himself. Sungyoon moved his gaze away from Wonho and looked toward Soochan.
Soochan had been in a war of nerves with Hweeyae and Mina. Now, in a flash, he had approached Sungyoon.
“What do you mean?”
“Why are you always staying in the back, being so timid?”
“Hold up, Mr. Suh Soochan!”
Soochan was clearly picking a fight with Sungyoon. Wonho quickly approached them, but Soochan didn’t show any signs of stopping.
“Is this all for show?”
Soochan pressed his finger into Sungyoon’s armor. The Scale Mail was made out scale-shaped steel meshed together. The armor clinked.
“This looks incredibly sturdy, yet why are you swinging spear from the back?”
‘Ah. Is that how he sees it?’
Sungyoon was wearing a really sturdy armor, yet he was using his spear from the backline. It seemed Soochan had a problem with this.
“I don’t have a shield.”
“Then you should let me use that.”
Everyone’s face stiffened at Soochan’s unorthodox request. However, Sungyoon didn’t look offended. He spoke in a calm manner.
“If you let me borrow your shield, I’m willing to stand in the front.”
This time Soochan’s face crumpled. It looked as if Sungyoon was trying to live the good life from the backline, so he had tried to antagonize Sungyoon. However, Sungyoon had given the perfect retort. Of course, Soochan wouldn’t let a stranger borrow his precious Gem.
He couldn’t let Sungyoon borrow his Gem for the same reason that Sungyoon wouldn’t let Soochan borrow his Gem.
‘It seems Emily put a lot of trust in me when she let me borrow her mace.’
His good feeling towards the Ross siblings was at an all-time high right now. It was rising in an endless fashion.Previous Chapter Next Chapter