The monster growled. When it opened its mouth, its sharp canines could be seen. They could easily rip through his tender flesh. Sungyoon glared at it.
Kicking off the ground, the monster quickly moved its large body as it charged towards Sungyoon. It was terrifyingly fast. Its feet had only shifted a couple of times, yet it had almost appeared in front of Sungyoon.
He stabbed it with his halberd. His weapon let out a terrifying sound as it flew towards the monster. Sungyoon kept his eyes on the Blue Mane Lion. The long reach of a spear-like weapon was its greatest strength and weakness. If the spear blade missed, the monster would have free access to his body. It would be a great disaster.
The Blue Mane Lion was trying to dodge the attack. However, Sungyoon was ready for such an outcome. If the worst came to pass, he would unsummon the halberd and take up the ax and shield.
A heavy sensation ran up his hands. It was the sensation he felt when his attack landed. His eyes confirmed it. The sharp spear blade had pierced through the Blue Mane Lion’s cheek.
The spear blade and the ax-blade on the side cut the Blue Mane Lion’s hide. The monster had avoided the fate of being completely impaled, but it had suffered a deep wound extending from its right cheek to the right shoulder and side.
Letting out an ugly cry, the Blue Mane Lion fell to the ground. Its hide and muscles had been split open, so its bones and organs were exposed to the air. Blood kept gushing out of the wound. The monster had suffered a critical wound, but it refused to die. It was taking deep breaths, but one could tell that it was barely alive.
Sungyoon raised his halberd and pierced the monster's head with his spear blade. Finally, it was dead.
He stared at the corpse of the Blue Mane Lion with an odd look in his eyes. Then, he looked at his Devices and Gems.
Sungyoon felt numb inside. Aside from monsters not supposed to be there, such as the Bigfoot, the Blue Mane Lion was one of the high-rank monsters that he had fought. So, he had been very tense leading into this fight.
‘A Blue Mane Lion is this weak?’
It had been incredibly weak. It couldn’t even dodge a single blow from him, receiving a life-threatening wound.
‘Well, this is a good thing.’
Even if the Blue Mane Lion was strong, it couldn’t hold a candle to the monsters within the Great Labyrinth. As someone aiming for such a place, he didn’t mind this result at all. He considered it as him moving one step closer to his goal.
Sungyoon decided to spend the remaining time he had on roaming around the 3rd floor.
* * *
After returning to Armstrong, the first thing he did was to hand over his moonstones to the professional transport company. Afterward, he gave his poorly-drawn map to the map maker so that the map could be polished. This pretty much concluded all he had to do in the city, so he slowly headed towards the rendezvous point with the Ross siblings. His destination was located in front of the store where they always drank alcohol after raiding the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
‘Am I going to be a bit early?’
When he looked at his watch, he realized he still had some time.
‘If I go the roundabout way, I might be able to probably catch the Ross siblings coming out of their company building. We can go together from there.’
Even if he did that, he would arrive at the promised location on time. Moreover, he might be able to meet up with the siblings if he stopped by their company building. So, Sungyoon took a turn and chose the roundabout road.
It didn’t take him too long to arrive near the Ross siblings' company building. His eyes subconsciously moved to the front of the building, and he caught sight of the two of them.
‘They are there.’
It would be great if he could meet them, and even if he didn't, it was no loss. He had come with that mentality. But, his timing was great. He could see the Ross siblings standing in front of the building. Sungyoon was going to make his presence known, but he stopped.
It wasn’t just the two of them.
‘Aren’t they contracted to the same company?’
The front door to the company building was open. He saw strangers standing near the doorway, and by the look of it, they belonged to the same company as the Ross siblings. They were supposed to be comrades, yet a cold atmosphere was evident between the two groups. Sungyoon decided to monitor the situation from afar.
The man standing in front of the Ross siblings spoke up. He was a big guy who was on par with Tim in terms of body build.
“Are you guys really going to go?”
Even if he was a distance away, thanks to the excellent hearing of a Connector, he could hear the conversation. The sound was faint, but he could make it out.
‘Isn’t he the guy...’
Sungyoon narrowed his eyes and looked over the man who had just spoken. On the night he had returned the drunk Ross siblings to this building, this man had greeted them.
“Yes, we are going.”
He could see Tim answer the man. His voice sounded very disgruntled as if something was really bothering him.
“You do know resting is part of the job too, right?”
It seemed the man had become angry at Tim’s insolent tone of voice. Or maybe he was already angry. His tone wasn't great either.
“Why do you care what we do on our days off? Does the company have to dictate what we do even on those days?”
“No, we don’t. However, it’ll put us in a tough spot if you perform poorly when it's time to work.”
“Please don’t worry. We aren’t going to do anything stupid.”
“From my point of view, you guys are already doing something pretty stupid.”
Tim’s eyebrows twitched.
“People enter their own Personal Labyrinth or the Beginner’s Labyrinth on their off days. I’ve already had this conversation with the company. So why are you being so persistent about this?”
From what Sungyoon could discern, this man didn’t want Tim and Emily to enter their Personal Labyrinth.
“The company agreed to it because you guys made such a stink about it. Moreover, those other people go there to make easy money or to stay sharp during the break. None of them use such a time to dig deep into a labyrinth.”
“We are still going.”
Tim spoke as if he would not listen to the man any longer. The man frowned as he was about to say something else.
“Just leave them be.”
The voice of another man came from the open doorway. This man was languidly leaning against the door frame. With his arms crossed, he looked at Tim and spoke up. His sharp eyes were quite striking.
“You won’t be able to get through his thick head. I also believe he’s promised to meet up with that ‘amazing’ 1st Gen.”
It seemed they were talking about him. An awkward expression appeared on Sungyoon's face. The man had spoken disparagingly about Sungyoon, yet the large man didn't say anything. It seemed most Connectors within the Ross siblings' company had a uniform opinion about him, and the opinion was on the bad side.
Tim glared at the man leaning against the door frame.
“This is an argument between us, so don’t bring him up. Also, he isn’t someone you should disparage like that.”
“It’s no surprise, coming from you.”
He shrugged and spoke in an overtly sarcastic manner.
Tim ground his teeth. He was about to say something, but a cold voice joined the fray before he could.
“Why don’t you leave it at that?”
Tim, the sharp-eyed man, and the large man all became surprised. Normally, Emily was introverted and remained docile most of the time. She was so shy that she barely said hi to anyone, and yet, she was staring daggers at the two men right now.
“No matter how I think about it, you are meddling too much with our affairs. We aren’t children.”
She took a deep breath at this point and then continued with her words.
“I keep feeling this time and again. Please don't talk bad about him. Aren’t you embarrassed?”
It looked as if the mood of the sharp-eyed man worsened.
“Ah. Is that so?”
He turned his back on them and spoke while walking into the building.
“Let them do as they like. Just wish them luck.”
He turned his head to look at the siblings. With a grin, he spoke.
“You should be careful, or you will die there like her.”
The large man quickly spoke up. Instead of following after Louis, the man had something more urgent to do.
“Don’t activate your Gems, Ross!”
Tim and Emily both went by Ross, but it didn’t matter whom he was calling out to. Both the siblings' faces had hardened, and they were ready to activate their Gems.
“It is strictly forbidden to activate and fight in Armstrong! You guys should know this!”
They glared at the empty doorway. It looked as if they wanted to chase after him and kill him. However, the large man’s warning had gotten through to them, so they stopped themselves. The man let out a sigh of relief.
“I’ll reprimand Louis. Still, you should think over what we said. You guys don’t know how this industry works. That is why you still dream about raiding the Great Labyrinth. Moreover, you are trying to accomplish this with a 1st Gen Connector. I don’t know how he cajoled you guys, but he is simply taking advantage of you. You have a better chance of winning by buying a lotto ticket than this.”
“… let’s go, Emily.”
Both of them ignored what the large man had said. Tim led the way and left the vicinity of the building. Emily coldly glared at the large man and the building before she followed her brother.
The large man spoke a couple more choice words at Tim and Emily’s back. However, the two pretended to not hear. The man grumbled as he entered the building.
The door was slammed shut.
Sungyoon had seen something very unexpected before he could even reach his destination. He stood there for a brief moment before clicking his tongue.
* * *
Since he couldn’t stand here indefinitely, he took the same road as taken by the Ross siblings, heading towards the promised location.
“Ah. Mr. Sungyoon!”
When he arrived, the Ross siblings were waiting for him. Tim was the first one to greet him. Emily had a bright expression on her face as she looked at Sungyoon from behind her brother.
“It has been a while, Mr. Tim and Ms. Emily.”
Sungyoon did his best to greet them as if nothing were wrong.
“Yes, it has been a while. How have you been?”
“I’ve been doing good. How about you, Mr. Tim and Ms. Emily? How have you guys been?”
“Ha ha. We’ve been doing well too.”
Sungyoon shook Tim’s offered hand a couple of times, and then, he did the same with Emily. Her face turned red as she shook Sungyoon’s rough hand a couple of times. Afterward, she carefully retracted her hand.
She was the absolute picture of a shy beauty. Tim couldn’t help but look embarrassed seeing her act like that.
“How’s your progress in clearing your labyrinth? Is it going well?”
No signs of the earlier fight could be seen on his face. He had occasionally contacted Sungyoon through phone calls and emails. It had been a while since they had met face to face, so the only emotion floating around Tim was a happy emotion. It was the same for Emily.
“Yes. Thankfully, it is going quite well.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
Tim’s white teeth were revealed as he laughed.
Sungyoon wondered if he should reveal that he had witnessed the argument between the Ross siblings and their fellow Connectors. The siblings were one of the few people he trusted, so he felt uncomfortable hiding anything from them. The trauma of being betrayed by his friend and wife stuck with him in a persistent manner.
“In truth, I....”
He explained to them that he had seen their argument.
“You saw that?”
Tim looked surprised. However, he didn’t sound upset by it. The only emotions appearing on his face were embarrassment and bemusement. And as for Emily, Sungyoon could see her face turn red.
“Jeez. We showed you something embarrassing.”
Unbefitting his massive body, he looked abashed as he scratched the back of his head.Previous Chapter Next Chapter