Chapter 117

“Did you talk to your company about it?”

Tim frowned.

“No, we didn't. The evidence we have is just a single line written in my mother’s diary. It is too weak for the company to take action. Moreover, these are the same people that looked down on my mother after she passed away. I’m pretty sure that even if I do talk to them, nothing will come out of it.”

‘That is why he contacted me.’

The Ross siblings had found about an odd passage from their mother’s diary, yet the only person they could call was Sungyoon.

“If something suspicious exists in the labyrinth, the chances of it being connected to our mother’s death are high. If we find something, those that killed our mother will no longer be able to ignore us.”

Tim was full of determination, and it was the same for Emily. However, Sungyoon was put in a bit of an awkward spot.

‘This isn’t just about clearing the labyrinth once.’

“If something really is fishy inside the labyrinth, wouldn't it be dangerous for us? Your mother was very capable, yet she lost her life. The degree of danger must be very high.”

“I believe it will be.”

As he gave that answer, Tim looked at how Sungyoon would react.

“If we do find something strange inside, we plan on immediately coming out. Our mother had the chance to write in her diary after witnessing it. We determined that we’d be fine if we do the same thing. If Mr. Sungyoon doesn’t want to do it, you don't have to participate. You aren’t obligated to come with us.”

Sungyoon agonized over the problem for a brief moment.

This might turn out to be dangerous. If it were any other time, he would have walked away. However, the problem had arisen because the Ross siblings were the ones asking. He wanted them as party members for the Great Labyrinth.

‘Do I avoid the danger that’ll be sure to come, or do I want the siblings to be indebted to me?’

However, Sungyoon didn’t think too long.

‘Since I’m going to attempt the Great Labyrinth, it is better to have comrades that I can trust.’

If it would aid him in his quest for the Great Labyrinth, he was willing to take the risk. Moreover, it would be a lie if he said a small part of him wasn't worried about the siblings.

“I have a general idea of your situation now. For now, we just have to comb through the labyrinth as if we are trying to catch a flea.”

Even after learning everything, Sungyoon was willing to help them. Tim and Emily’s expression tremendously brightened.

“Thank you very much. As expected, we were right in asking Mr. Sungyoon for help.”

“Thank you very much.”

After Tim and Emily gave their thanks, Sungyoon spoke in a muted manner.

“We can think about it as practice for the time when we’ll raid the Great Labyrinth together.”

Sungyoon floated the idea in a discreet manner. Even if it was a little bit, he wanted to get a commitment from the siblings regarding the Great Labyrinth.

He had acted sly, but it seemed that his crafty plan had worked. Tim and Emily smiled.

“Of course.”

“Please look out for us when that time comes.”

The Ross siblings gave a firm answer, their voice infused with trust.

* * *

The three of them traveled using the Moon Surface Vehicles. In preparation for this day, the Ross siblings had rented a Moon Surface Vehicle. It was slightly larger than Sungyoon’s vehicle, and possessed two beds. Jimin had been very considerate and generous in purchasing a Moon surface vehicle for Sungyoon. But unlike him, the Ross siblings couldn't use their company’s Moon Surface Vehicle for personal use. They had no choice but to spend a fortune on renting one.

Five days passed, and the party arrived at their destination.

They could see the labyrinth's entrance on a slope leading up to a small hill. The slope wasn’t steep, so it wasn’t hard to approach it.

After parking the Moon Surface Vehicles before the slope started to incline, the three of them walked up to the labyrinth’s entrance. The siblings looked at the entrance with great emotions in their eyes. This was their mother’s labyrinth.

Tim gestured with his hand and went inside first. Sungyoon and Emily followed him.

As soon as they entered, they were greeted by a monster.

‘The place must be overflowing with monsters.’

It was a labyrinth previously owned by someone, yet a long time had passed since the owner had disappeared. Moreover, this place was probably going through the same phenomena as his labyrinth. Sungyoon guessed it was overflowing with more monsters than usual.

The first monster to appear was a Mad Dog. It had very scary eyes, and it growled, revealing its canines. However, the party looked at it without much emotion in their eyes. Tim even snorted.

“I’ll say this again, but…”

Sungyoon thought Tim had relapsed into his bad habit of taking things carelessly. He was about to say something, but Tim stole the rest of his words.

“‘Don’t get careless.’ You wanted to say that, right?”

Tim winked as if he understood Sungyoon’s sentiment. Then he took a step forward and raised his shield that was unfamiliar to Sungyoon. Tim probably had acquired a new one.

“Well, it has been a long time, but let’s hunt together as a party!”

Tim sounded excited. However, his stance had no opening. It was rock solid, unlike his excited voice. 

Sungyoon looked towards Emily, who let out a bright smile.

“He’s matured a little bit.”

She looked towards her brother. Normally, she constantly bickered with him, but now pride and love could be seen in her eyes.

‘This is what it means to be siblings.’

Siblings constantly fought each other as if their lives were on the line, but they also worried about each other.

Sungyoon summoned his halberd. Emily had to act as support, and she was faithful to her role as she stood a bit away from the fight. But when she saw Sungyoon's weapon, her eyes turned round.

“You changed your weapon?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you the details after we kill that monster.”

He moved to the rear of Tim. The Mad Dog had jumped to rip open Tim’s throat, its canines in full view. Tim responded by swinging his shield.

-Kang!

It was way too easy. The Mad Dog was sent flying. Even if Tim didn’t look down on his opponent, it was too weak.

‘This is no fun. Jeez.’

While he was inwardly grumbling, Sungyoon dashed forward.

‘Huh?’

This time, it was Tim, whose eyes turned round.

His eyes followed Sungyoon’s back. It wasn’t odd to see Sungyoon dash forward, since this was their usual formation, and Sungyoon was doing what he was supposed to do. Tim was surprised because of Sungyoon’s equipment. The man looked completely different than before. He now possessed a powerful halberd and a sturdy armor along with other armors that he hadn’t possessed before.

Tim saw Sungyoon swing his halberd. An indomitable force powered the attack. He wasn’t the target of the attack, yet he felt a chill run down his spine.

Suh-guhk!

The Mad Dog was severed into two. It was too easy.

The battle had ended in a flash. It didn’t even feel like they had been in a battle. The siblings didn't look at the dead corpse of the Mad Dog. Their eyes were filled with curiosity as they looked at Sungyoon.

Tim looked over Sungyoon’s equipment.

“It seems your equipment went through a complete overhaul, Mr. Sungyoon.”

“It turned out like that.”

Fortunately, Tim and Emily didn’t show any jealousy.

“Come to think of it, we haven’t really talked about what happened since we’ve parted ways. I really want to hear your story, Mr. Sungyoon. It’ll give us the opportunity to discuss how our Gems and Devices have changed.” 

Emily’s eyes shone as she spoke. She was curious about the changes that had occurred to him. It let her overcome her introverted personality.

Sungyoon had already planned on telling them about his Devices and Gems after entering the labyrinth. Since they were going to fight together, they had to fully know his capabilities. Moreover, it would quench their curiosity. It was basically killing two birds with one stone.

He started telling them about what had happened after he parted ways with them. Then he talked about his Devices and Gems.

The expressions of the Ross siblings was quite interesting to watch. Shock, anger, happiness, their expressions changed as time went on. It was as if they were showing him every emotion they could express.

“It really seems…”

Tim spat out.

“It really seems there is an endless stream of events occurring around Mr. Sungyoon.”

Emily nodded from next to Tim, and Sungyoon turned his gaze on her.

“That is why the shield given to me by Ms. Emily was destroyed. I would like to apologize about that.”

“Ah. No! I gave it to you as thanks for helping out in the fight against the Bigfoot. I’m glad that it came to your assistance.”

She let out a gentle smile. The delicate smile could strike a man’s instinct of wanting to protect a woman. Even Tim became mesmerized for a brief moment. Of course, an enormous wave of self-denial washed over him when he realized his sister’s smile had mesmerized him. It was destructive enough that he almost fell into self-hate. Sungyoon still had his expressionless face as he lowered his head.

“Thank you for saying that.”

“I feel very reassured that Mr. Sungyoon has become so strong. We made a great decision in inviting you here, Mr. Sungyoon.”

Tim had his arms crossed. He nodded at his sister's words.

Sungyoon turned his head.

“What should we do about that?”

He pointed towards the moonstone left behind by the dead Mad Dog.

“As I’ve told you, I have a storage Gem. Should we use that? Or should we put it in the bag like before?”

It was a sensitive topic. If trust wasn't established between the party members, the use of a storage Gem was discouraged. In some parties, it was outright banned. This was why when he had worked with a temporary party, he left behind his storage Gem in his Moon Surface Vehicle.

The siblings looked at each other for a brief moment. They nodded once to each other and turned to look at Sungyoon.

“We’ll leave it to you then. It’ll make our hunt easier.”

“We won’t have to lug around a big bag.”

Not even an ounce of suspicion were in their words as they entrusted the moonstones to Sungyoon.

“... understood.”

How could these people trust him so much? Sungyoon couldn’t understand them. The moonstone in his hand went into the Gem. He even put the siblings' baggage inside.

Tim and Emily looked sorry that they were causing too much trouble for him, but they didn't even show a bit of suspicion towards him.

“I’ll give you this one warning.”

Sungyoon suddenly opened his mouth.

“You shouldn’t trust people too much even if that person seems trustworthy.”

It was a warning that came from personal experience. This experience was bitter like a concentrated brew of espresso. Tim and Emily looked a bit surprised by his words, but in the end, they just quietly laughed.

“Don’t worry about it. We aren’t dumb. We are selective in who we trust.”

“At the very least, Mr. Sungyoon is a trustworthy person. A person who is untrustworthy wouldn't say such words.”

“... I see.”

They were saying something dumb. Sungyoon had been betrayed by two people whom he really trusted. So, to him, the words of the Ross siblings sounded naive. 

However, a foothold was made in his heart when they had expressed unlimited trust towards him.

***

Sungyoon also heard about Tim and Emily’s Gems. Unlike his completely revamped equipment, not much had changed with their Gems. Tim now had an Orange rank shield and a Green rank armor. Emily had acquired a Green rank defense magic Gem.

Still, it was enough to clear this low-rank labyrinth. Above all else, Sungyoon had become much stronger.

Too-hwahk!

The halberd shot forward like an arrow. The spear blade was precise as it ruthlessly pierced the space between the monster's eyes. The enormous body of the Bloody Rhino shook once and then fell to the ground.

“Whew. These guys are just food to you now.”

Tim let out a whistle as he kicked the corpse of the Bloody Rhino. Sungyoon felt a bit of pleasure at Tim’s words. In the Beginner’s Labyrinth, the Bloody Rhino had forced Sungyoon to turn back from the 4th floor. However, the dangerous charge, the hard horn, and the hard leather of the monster didn’t stand a chance in front of him now. 

The party once again started to move after Sungyoon picked up the moonstone. They weren't traveling in a random fashion. Tim held the map created by his mother. The three of them had decided to explore every location that looked a bit suspicious, and they were thorough in their search. However, everywhere they went, it looked like a normal labyrinth. The only differences were the old marks made by Mrs. Ross when labeling the forks in the tunnels.

After a while, they finally arrived at the entrance of the 7th floor. 

“Until the 6th floor, only monsters from the Beginner’s Labyrinth showed up. However, on this floor, it will be different. Stronger monsters will start to come out. So please be cautious.”

Tim warned them.

‘I’ll finally get to see it.’

Although the monsters from the Beginner’s Labyrinth were considered to be monsters, it felt as if they were just a stronger version of animals. This was why those monsters were the only ones left behind when they swept the Beginner’s Labyrinth.

But the ones they would encounter from now on would be different.

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