“… What did you just say?”
The stupified Cohen could only utter these words.
In the past, Emily’s mother was a high-rank Connector in the company, and many people used to admire her. But when she went missing in her Personal Labyrinth, her reputation within the company did a complete 180. She was labeled as an incompetent Connector who lost her life within a low-rank labyrinth.
Cohen also shared that opinion behind closed doors. But even if he had disparaging thoughts about her, she had been one of his closest comrades. It was why he nagged the Ross siblings and tried to lead them onto what he thought was the right path. However, the Ross siblings stubbornly fought him every step of the way.
Of course, he became surprised when he heard that they had found Mrs. Ross’ corpse.
He couldn’t take Emily’s words at face value. When Mrs. Ross had gone missing, a search party was immediately dispatched, and they had thoroughly searched the entire labyrinth. Cohen had been part of the search party, and he had spent days and nights looking for her. He didn’t give up, but he couldn’t even find traces of her.
Emily shook her head from side to side when she heard Cohen’s question.
“My mother has nothing to do with you now. It happened in Tim’s labyrinth, and now that we aren’t in the same company, I have no reason to tell you what happened.”
She didn’t care about her mother’s reputation within this company anymore. She wasn’t even going to tell them what they had discovered. She was so fed up with this company.
“I just wanted to tell you the news that we found our mother. I'm telling you this because I remember you crying at my mother’s funeral. Ah. And this might become an issue in the future, so I would like to say this before that happens.”
This was what Emily truly wanted to tell them.
She took a deep breath, and then, spoke clearly and confidently.
“My mother didn’t die by the hands of low-rank monsters. She died at the hands of an unbelievably strong foe. Moreover, she was able to defeat this enemy before dying. She didn’t die a useless death unlike what everyone suggests in this company.”
At that moment, it felt as if she was releasing all the grievances she held up until now. She didn’t cry or scream but just spoke in a calm manner, and revealed her pent-up feelings.
“Hmmph. You guys are all talk.”
Louis spoke in a sarcastic manner. However, his sarcastic words could no longer affect Emily. In fact, she fired back using some sarcastic words of her own.
“Oh my! Mr. Sungyoon stepped on your pride like a bug. Did your pride come back now that you are amongst a crowd? You are quite shameless. No, you are amazing in some ways. It is hard to develop such a thick skin...”
Louis’ face turned red as he glared at Emily. However, Emily had already put him out of her mind, and looked toward Cohen.
Cohen was still standing absentmindedly. Emily felt a bit sorry when she saw this.
He was a close comrade of her mother, so he had been very kind to the siblings when they were young. That was why she felt very angry and sad that he had changed so much over the years.
Still, this was all in the past now. They would be walking down separate paths from now on.
“Thank you for everything up until now.”
It was as if she was using this as a ritual to shake off any residual memories of him. This was her goodbye to him. She focused her eyes and suppressed the bitterness in them, as she left the company.
The door slammed shut, like a symbolic representation of the severed relationship between the Ross siblings and the company.
Silence reigned within the company building. However, it didn’t take the Connectors too long to start talking once again.
“... What’s going to happen?”
“They really are going to leave?”
“They can leave! But do they think it’ll be easy to form a contract with a large company like us?”
“That’s right! They basically threw away their own good fortune!”
“Still, they were promising prospects amongst the new Connectors. It is too bad to lose them.”
They all started to talk at the same time. Some were surprised, some angry, some mourning the loss of such good prospects. Louis was the loudest of the bunch as he made disparaging remarks about Sungyoon.
In such unrest, Cohen stood still.
Suddenly, he remembered a very old memory.
It took him back to the time when they were clearing a particularly difficult labyrinth. At that time, Mrs. Ross had been the centerpiece of that party. Being a warrior, she fought as the tip of the spear of their party and defeated the monsters. Cohen was tasked with supporting her.
『You really are amazing.』
Cohen mumbled to himself as he looked at the monsters she had defeated. She just laughed at his words, and the heartiness of her laughter rivaled any man.
The party decided to take a break during the labyrinth run. And they conversed as they ate.
One of their party members had a storage Gem, so they all were eating bread and meat brought by him. Still eating, she spoke with firm confidence.
『I’m definitely going to the Great Labyrinth.』
『That’s dumb. Why do you want to go to such a dangerous place?』
『Ah-hahahahaha! You are the one that's saying something dumb, Cohen. We are Connectors. Everywhere we go is dangerous. Moreover, the Great Labyrinth is a completely unknown world. When something is unknown, you explore it. There is nothing more exhilarating than exploring the unknown!』
Her sense of adventure was over the top, but she wasn’t wrong. Cohen could only let out a bitter laugh.
『Well, do as you like. I won’t go near the Great Labyrinth.』
『The people in our company have no sense of romanticism.』
She pouted. However, her face soon brightened as she took out a picture from her pocket.
『Anyway, you should look at this! You should see what my children did this time!』
『Ah. I don’t want to! You speak all day when you start talking about your children!』
This bright memory had been buried within his mind. When Emily mentioned that she had recovered Mrs. Ross’ corpse, it had opened up an old door inside his mind, and the memory leaked out.
However, his memories ended in tragedy. When Mrs. Ross didn’t return from her labyrinth, he really had gone crazy looking for her. When it was determined she was dead, he had gone to her funeral, which had been carried out without her body. He had cried his heart out as he honored her.
He had been that close to her.
But soon an odd sentiment had started to float around the company. The opinions about her reputation and skills started to decline as she had died in a low-rank labyrinth. Of course, he didn’t like it when he had heard it back then.
However, days, months, and years passed by. He was faced with a monster called time, and he started agreeing with the prevailing attitude.
He had admired her, but maybe, deep within his heart, he had been fostering a monster called jealousy.
‘No. It doesn’t matter anymore.’
She had died a long time ago, and any traces left behind by her had gone with the siblings. Even if he repented with guilt, he couldn’t turn back time. Moreover, he was still skeptical about raids to the Great Labyrinth.
‘Still, I’ll wish both of you luck.’
Cohen stood within the raucous crowd that talked about the departure of the Ross siblings. He quietly prayed for the siblings as he looked at the door from where Emily had left.
After she exited the building, Emily saw Tim and Sungyoon waiting for her. Tim was standing there holding his video camera, and he started grumbling at her.
“What took you so long?”
“I had something I had to do. I wanted to tell Mr. Cohen that we had found mother's corpse.”
“Hmmph. Why did you do something unnecessary?”
Tim snorted. Unlike his sister, he had zero favorable feelings toward his former company.
“Still, he cried for our mother. He also did his best to look out for us.”
“Yet he was part of the group that tarnished our mother’s legacy. He also disparaged us for wanting to raid the Great Labyrinth.”
It was clear where they agreed in their opinion of Cohen, and it was also clear that there was a difference that they wouldn’t be able to bridge.
Sungyoon wondered if they would get into an argument, so he prepared himself. However, Tim just raised his hands as if he didn’t want to talk about it.
“Ok, ok. Our opinions on this topic are different. Let’s just drop it. Also, he has nothing to do with us now, so why should we fight about him? That would be silly.”
“Anyway, you were amazing. Normally, you hide nervously behind me. However, you spoke your mind today. My stress was blown away by it.”
Emily blinked. It seemed she remembered what she had done, and her face became dyed-red, and she lowered her head. Tim became more surprised at her reversion to her normal self.
“What? You weren’t even conscious of what you were doing?”
“I should have known. You weren’t like your usual self. You spoke without tripping over your own tongue.”
Emily’s foot hit squarely on her brother's shin.
“... You still think you can push around your big bro. That’s still the same.”
Tim grumbled as he went to rub his shin. Of course, he refused to take this standing down. Before he rubbed his shin, he slapped his sister on the back. The slap was strong enough to cause a noise to ring out. Emily groaned as she tried to reach where she had been slapped, but her hands couldn’t reach the spot on her back.
It was a realistic display of affection between two siblings. As he watched their antics, Sungyoon asked them a question.
“Are you sure it's ok for you to leave your company?”
“It is fine. All the lingering attachments we felt toward the company was severed with today’s event. We had planned on informing them about what happened to our mother, and we would have only maintained our contract if they gave a sincere apology for their past actions. However, I don't even want to give them that opportunity now. I have no appetite for it.”
The siblings had been ignored before they could even talk about what they had found in the labyrinth. Of course, Louis was the one who had spoken up. But what he spoke were the opinions generally held within the company. Of course, Tim knew this.
“We should give our thanks and also apologies to Mr. Sungyoon.”
It was as if Tim had never been angry, and a soft smile even appeared on his face.
“First, I would like to apologize for getting you involved with our company. I apologize for you getting insulted and attacked by them.”
“No. It isn’t. It especially wasn’t fine when Louis attacked you...”
Tim ground his teeth, but Sungyoon just shrugged.
“You don't have to feel too bad about it. He wasn’t that strong.”
Tim and Emily let out a bitter laugh.
“We don’t like it when that bastard gets praise, but he is a strong Connector. He is a well-known prospect in our company. His personality is terrible, but he holds great sway within the company.”
Sungyoon tilted his head in puzzlement.
“Am I strong?”
“Mr. Sungyoon is very strong.”
Tim had spoken with certainty. However, those words didn't have an effect on Sungyoon. How many times had he almost died before? He knew Tim wasn’t lying, but he couldn’t help it. He didn’t feel that strong.
“I want to thank you for intervening on our behalf about our contracts. If we think about the stunt that Louis tried to pull off, I don’t think the company will come after us for breaking the contract. However, are you sure about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m talking about putting the termination of our contract as part of your compensation. I’m pretty sure you can get more concessions out of them if that isn’t included.”
“Is there anything you want?”
Emily quickly jumped into the conversation. It seemed the siblings wanted to pay back their debt to Sungyoon no matter what.
‘Something I want….’
He had previously partied up with the beginner Connectors, and they had raided a labyrinth. And after that experience, Sungyoon had only one request he wanted to ask the two of them.
“Do you mind forming a contract with my company?”
Tim and Emily looked surprised, but the surprise lasted only a moment. A smile soon blossomed on both their faces.
“Actually, it was something we wanted to ask you about.”
“We just became jobless.”
They had to contract with another company. The two of them inwardly wanted to sign with the same company as Sungyoon, and the company's president, Jimin, had previously invited them to join the company. This move would allow them to party up and raid the Great Labyrinth with each other. Sungyoon was also making a pitch for them to join, so the two siblings no longer hesitated.
“Let us work toward our goal of raiding the Great Labyrinth.”
Sungyoon pushed his hand forward, and the siblings firmly gripped it.
And so, Sungyoon gained trustworthy comrades, a must in raiding the Great Labyrinth.Previous Chapter Next Chapter