“We’ve told you before that there is a lot of strife between us and our company. Most of it has to do with the Great Labyrinth. However, we also frequently clash on other small disagreements.”
Once something embarrassing was revealed about himself, Tim didn’t hide the dirty laundry. It showed how much he trusted Sungyoon.
“It seemed I was included in the small disagreement.”
“You saw that too?”
Tim became so embarrassed that he couldn’t raise his face. It was the same for Emily. She had reunited after a long time with the man she was interested in, but only embarrassing things kept happening. She felt vexed by it.
“It appears that the people in my company think we’ve been tricked by you. They think we are being used by you. I hate to tell you this, but in our company, you are viewed as a parasite.”
They weren’t words that should have been spoken in front of Sungyoon. However, as if he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, Tim kept speaking. He had received so much stress up until now that he had wanted to vent his plight. The fact that he had reunited with someone he felt close to was another factor. So naturally, he let out his grievances.
Sungyoon couldn’t be rash in his response. Although he understood what the siblings were going through, he also understood why the people from their company had reacted that way. This was especially true after he had partied up with other 1st Gens. He had experienced the reality of working with them.
However, there was one thing that didn’t make any sense.
“Even if I’m a 1st Gen, I’m capable of handling a Gold-rank Gem. So, why is your company still unhappy about you guys working with me when they know this?”
He was a 1st Gen, but he was unlike other 1st Gens. This was why he couldn’t understand their company’s reaction towards him.
“We didn’t tell them.”
“Then you just have to tell them that piece of information, right?”
It wouldn’t resolve the conflict about their intention to raid the Great Labyrinth, but the consternation about Sungyoon would most likely disappear.
However, Emily shook her head from side to side.
“Why should I tell them about the greatness of Mr. Sungyoon? I have no obligation to do so.”
Sungyoon shut his mouth. He looked towards Tim, who just shook his head from side to side. It seemed this was Emily’s personal opinion.
If his status were revealed, it would resolve a lot of strife, but Sungyoon didn’t try to convince Emily. Tim was her brother and was contracted to the same company, yet he wasn’t even trying to convince her. It meant this had gone past being a logical move and had entered into the emotional realm. If either of them tried to convince her otherwise, they would only hurt each other’s feelings.
“Well, that’s not the only reason why we are fighting. Even if we informed them about your status, they would still try to prevent us from going to the Great Labyrinth. This is why we are thinking about moving to a different company.”
Sungyoon was delighted by this news.
“Yes. We went to our company because our mother was contracted with them. However, we disagree on too many things right now.”
“Have you thought about where do you want to go?”
“No. At this point, we are just thinking about it. We haven’t actively looked for a new company.”
“If you do quit your company, please keep our company in mind as a potential destination.”
If they joined ‘Jungbum’, there would be no barriers to forming a party with them. It was what Sungyoon truly wanted.
“We’ll put Jungbum in the positive category when we start looking.”
Tim revealed his teeth as he laughed.
“Shall we go?”
“Let’s do that.”
The three of them headed out of Armstrong. They slowly moved towards their Moon Surface Vehicles.
“Should we tell him about ‘that’?”
The way she had spoken was coded. It was something only those having prior knowledge about the information could pick up on. Sungyoon became puzzled by it. But he wasn’t the only one confused.
“What are you talking about?”
Her brother had the same expression on his face as Sungyoon. Sungyoon was sure of it now. The two siblings didn’t have any telepathic abilities to assess each other’s thoughts.
Emily’s cheeks turned a little red as she spoke.
“I’m talking about the reason why we are going to this labyrinth. Also, we have to tell him why that bastard said what he said.”
“Ah. That’s right.”
Tim turned to look at Sungyoon.
“You said you saw our argument from earlier. Then you should have caught sight of that bastard Louis. He's the one whose eyes are sharp, and who looks like he has a shitty personality.”
“I think I know who you are talking about.”
It was probably the man leaning against the door frame with his arms crossed. He had given Tim the stink eye. Sungyoon also remembered him being called by the name Louis, and he looked exactly as Tim had described.
“Do you remember what he said?”
“He said to us to not die like her there.”
Emily butted in, not sounding too thrilled. Tim also was grinding his teeth.
‘Come to think of it, he did say that.’
The man had spoken in a sarcastic manner, and even Sungyoon had found his words objectionable. However, to the Ross siblings, it had been beyond objectionable. They had been ready to summon their weapons. If they had possessed Sungyoon’s quick summoning speed, a really big incident would have occurred.
It meant Louis had spoken something that had really offended the siblings. The cause was probably the identity of the person Louis was talking about.
Sungyoon had a guess as to who it was.
‘These siblings really look up to their mother.’
His guess was correct.
“The ‘her’ he referred to was our mother.”
“… he has no shame.”
Sungyoon immediately spoke out. Unless one had a really messed up family, the death of a parent was a sad and despairing event. Even if they didn’t have a good relationship, Louis had talked about the siblings' dead mother. Moreover, he had spoken about her in a disparaging manner. It was a really disrespectful move.
‘I can see why the two of them reacted that way.’
Sungyoon had that thought.
“Yes, that bastard has no shame. If I had to badmouth him, I can go on for a month and it wouldn’t be enough. Unfortunately, we’ll have to push that to a later time. It is as he said. Our mother died in her own labyrinth.”
He had heard that their mother had passed away, but he never heard the exact details. Sungyoon didn’t interrupt Tim and just focused on listening to the story.
“Our mother was a very talented person. She was a 2nd Gen Connector praised as someone that would be able to go to the Great Labyrinth in the near future. However, all contact with her ended one day when she entered her Personal Labyrinth.”
Tim stopped talking there for a brief moment. He bit his lips, and his sister looked noticeably crestfallen.
“My condolences to you.”
Sungyoon slightly lowered his head in respect.
“Thank you. Anyway, it was determined that my mother died within her Personal Labyrinth. But the problem with that assessment was the level of this labyrinth.”
“You said it was lower in rank than the Beginner’s Labyrinth?”
“Yes. There are a total of 8 floors, and the monsters aren’t that high in level. It was a typical low-rank labyrinth. The issue is the fact that our mother died in a low-rank labyrinth.”
From that point on, his voice revealed a fit of pent-up anger.
“Our mother was a great Connector. She had a large hand in helping our current company move to prominence. The problem is that these bastards in this company talk down her accomplishments, all because she died in a low-rank labyrinth.”
His voice turned rough.
“When we first entered the company, we would have never imagined it. We never knew the memory of our mother was being treated that way. I do not know what had happened inside her labyrinth. However, she was a great Connector who was known as a prominent figure in our company. But these bastards look down on her.”
Tim and Emily clenched their fists. Their knuckles had turned white.
“Of course, those in the company don't openly disparage her, but we aren’t dummies. We can see their attitude whenever our mother is brought up. We can easily tell what they are thinking.”
Veins had popped out on his neck. He stopped speaking for a moment and took a couple of deep breaths to calm himself. Then he also shook his head a couple of times.
“I’m sorry. I became heated.”
“No, it’s fine. It is understandable.”
“Thank you for being so understanding.”
Tim once again turned to the main topic.
“When our mother died, our company had organized a large raiding party to clear my mother’s labyrinth before its rights were returned to Armstrong. They wanted to confirm her death by finding her corpse and also recover her Devices and Gems.”
When the Connector owning a labyrinth died, Armstrong didn’t immediately take possession of the labyrinth. They gave the company time to retrieve the dead Connector. However, the companies didn’t always take advantage of this. The small companies didn’t send anyone if they didn’t have enough Connectors to retrieve the corpse, Gems, and Devices. Companies also refused to go if the labyrinth was too high in rank and there was potential for further losses. In these instances, the rights to the labyrinth were immediately returned to Armstrong.
‘If I die in a labyrinth, that’ll be it for me.’
He was contracted to an extremely small company named Jungbum, and they probably didn’t have the resources to recover his body. Sungyoon felt a bit bitter about that fact.
“However, they couldn’t find my mother’s body.”
Regret and sadness were evident in his voice. It was a really sad occasion for the children when they couldn’t even recover the corpses of their parents. However, in the world of Connectors, this was an extremely common story.
“She was probably... eaten by the monsters. It isn’t a rare occurrence.”
His voice slightly shook, and he choked up. This was why he stumbled over his words a little bit. It was an understandable reaction.
“However, the problem arose when they couldn’t find her Devices and Gems. There are only eight floors, and they had searched every square inch of the low-rank labyrinth. But they still couldn’t find the items. The company had no choice but to return the labyrinth to Armstrong.”
“Is there a possibility that your mother didn’t enter the labyrinth?”
“My mother’s Moon Surface Vehicle was parked at the labyrinth's entrance. Moreover, the black box contained footage of her entering the labyrinth. But the footage of her coming out was never recorded.”
The probability of her suffering an accident in a place other than her labyrinth was extremely low.
“Of course, this isn’t a strange occurrence either. Some have seen monsters eat Devices and Gems. Moreover, the Devices and Gems can't be retrieved even if a Connector kills the monsters that swallow those items.”
It was an odd phenomenon, but much was still unknown about the labyrinths, monsters, Devices and Gems. These occurrences and explanations were just taken at face value.
“At the time, the case was closed. We followed in our mother’s footsteps to become Connectors, and entered her company. But, not too long ago, Emily and I did a general cleaning of all our mother’s items put in storage by the company, and we found her diary.”
When he talked about it, the light in Tim’s eyes changed.
“She wrote about what had happened during that point in time, and how she was feeling. We could still smell her perfume as we started reading her diary. When we opened it, we didn't think we would find something amazing inside, but we were wrong.”
“… something was there. You found something big.”
“It isn’t a certainty. However, she wrote something strange before she passed away.”
“What did she write?”
“She wrote that she had found something odd within the labyrinth.”
Odd. It meant that something was out of the ordinary. Of course, this was her personal opinion, so others who read it probably dismissed it as a trivial detail. However, Tim didn’t think that information was trivial.
‘The labyrinth and monsters themselves are out of the ordinary.’
The siblings' mother was a Connector who considered the strange to be normal. It really had to be out of the ordinary to be considered strange by her. Moreover, she was a veteran Connector and had probably experienced a lot of things up until that point.
“That is suspicious.”
“It is suspicious.”
“Did she write anything else about it?”
“No, that was her last entry. She wasn’t able to write in her diary after that day.”
The significance of her final entry was that she had died right after realizing something strange was happening. It made everything all the more suspicious.Previous Chapter Next Chapter