Chapter 149

Sungyoon approached her. Did his aversion to beautiful women get better or had he become used to being around them at this point? Whatever the reason was, he didn’t hesitate in approaching the exceptionally beautiful Princess Grace. Still, his movements were slow and deliberate.

He placed his hand on her face, and he could feel the warmth.

‘I believe she is still alive.’

A Connector’s heart didn’t beat, and they didn’t breathe either. So, it was very hard to check if a Connector was alive or not. 

Sungyoon lightly shook Grace’s body.

“Hey!”

However, Grace didn’t open her eyes.

“I... is she dead?”

Emily, who was standing behind Sungyoon, looked at Grace with a worried gaze.

“I don’t think she is dead, and I don't think she is sleeping either. I think she fainted.”

If she had fallen asleep, it would have been during his battle with the Chimera.

“Still, we found her.”

Honestly, Sungyoon thought that the possibility of the Princess's survival was quite low. He would have considered the party to be fortunate if they could find her corpse, like her two escorts. 

“Let’s head back up.”

Sungyoon looked toward Emily.

The two men had to respond to the unexpected, and Emily always stayed away from the front-line. That was why it would be best if Emily carried the Princess.

As a Connector, Emily wouldn’t lose much stamina in carrying a woman on her back. Sungyoon thought it would be the best option, and it seemed Emily agreed with him. She didn’t complain as she put the Princess on her back.

Sungyoon’s party immediately started to climb the labyrinth. Tim took the lead. Emily, who was carrying the princess on her back, was placed in the middle, and Sungyoon brought up the rear.

Tim and Emily were star-struck, and they kept stealing glances at the Princess.

They encountered no difficulty on their path upward.

All the monsters appeared on the correct floors. And they didn't encounter high rank monsters like the Chimera.

Another day passed. It happened as Sungyoon’s party kept heading toward the entrance to the labyrinth.

“Mmm.”

They heard a small groan. They all had the enhanced hearing of a Connector, so they had picked up on the small sound. The three of them looked toward Grace, who was the source.

‘Is she about to wake up?’

As Sungyoon had predicted, the Princess’s eyelashes fluttered, and her eyelids trembled. And soon, her eyes started to open.

The beautiful blue eyes took in the world. They were out of focus, but they kept moving as if trying to assess the situation. This continued for a while before the Princess fully awakened. She suddenly raised her upper body.

“Ah! You are awake.”

Emily, who was carrying her, turned her head. Grace’s eyes were filled with confusion, and she kept looking around as if she wanted to check if she was safe or not.

“Where am I?”

Her red lips moved. Emily carefully put her down on the ground. The princess did her best to keep calm in this confusing situation. The party considered themselves lucky at her reaction.

“We came here to rescue you, Princess.”

Sungyoon took a step forward. It was their job to guard her now, and the Princess's life was in danger not too long ago. That was why Sungyoon didn’t act like his normal self, and had spoken in an unusually soft voice.

Of course, this was all very awkward for him. Still, he desperately tried to think about how he acted when he talked to Shinhae. He tried to emulate that behavior.

“You came to rescue me?”

“Yes. After you went missing, the UK government sent out an SOS to the Connectors nearest to your labyrinth.”

Relief appeared on Grace’s face. The confusion in her eyes cleared a little bit.

Still, her calmness only lasted for a brief moment, and she spoke with desperation in her voice.

“Comrades! What happened to my party members?”

Sungyoon slightly shook his head from side to side. Tim and Emily, who had been listening in on the conversation, turned their faces away. The meaning behind their gestures was clear, and Grace's face turned pale.

“One of your party members passed away after she sent out a message saying you were in danger. We recovered the bodies of the other two later on.”

Sungyoon raised his Device, and he meaningfully looked at his storage Gem. Grace at once picked up on what he meant.

Tul-suhk!

The princess fell to her knees. She felt as if the sky had fallen on her, and a thick aura of despair surrounded her.

The Ross siblings looked at her with pity. Although Sungyoon wanted to give her time to mourn the loss of her party members, they didn't have time to waste.

“I’m sorry, Princess. We have to move right now.”

She turned her gaze toward Sungyoon.

Her eyes were full of unshed tears that were about to flow down her pale cheeks.

Most men would subconsciously try to comfort a woman in this situation, but this wasn’t the case with Sungyoon.

“Something abnormal occurred within this labyrinth. Monsters on this floor shouldn't be able to threaten us, but I don’t know what will occur if something out of the ordinary happens again.”

‘I hope she gets what I’m trying to say.’

If it were just the three of them, it might have been a different story. But they had to guard Princess Grace. He had checked her Devices when she was on Emily’s back and had spotted several empty slots.

Moreover, most of her remaining Gems had turned gray. Just like her party members, she had overclocked them.

This meant her power had been reduced by a significant amount, and she probably wouldn’t be of much help in any upcoming fights.

‘If she resists, I’ll have to ham it up with the melodramatics.’

He would have to say something like, ‘Your dead comrades would want you to live!’ He’ll have to lay it on thick.

‘If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to forcefully drag her out of this place.’

It might cause big trouble for him later on, but he wouldn’t mind it. At least he would be alive to face those troubles.

However, Sungyoon's worries were for naught. Grace got on her own two feet.

“Yes. You are right. We are still in danger.”

She hid her tears as she looked straight at Sungyoon.

“Please excuse me. Let’s start moving right now.”

“Understood.”

Sungyoon gave a signal to Tim. Tim nodded and took the lead once again.

Emily approached Grace and gestured with her hand. Grace followed Emily.

As always, Sungyoon brought up the rear. He was on alert for an ambush that might come from the back. 

‘She’s a tough princess.’

The woman had gone through a lot, yet she walked with poise. As he looked at her back, Sungyoon thought she was very mature.

He had seen how she carried herself on TV, and he had seen her stand up against Nicholas before. He could understand why the Princess entered the labyrinths even when she knew she might lose her life.

However, he could sometimes see her shoulders tremble. It seemed she hadn't completely recovered from the shock of losing her party members.

He felt uncomfortable watching her struggle, yet he had to ask her this question.

“Do you mind telling us what happened back there?”

Grace came to a complete stop for a brief moment. Tim and Emily gave reproachful looks to Sungyoon.

The Ross siblings admired the man, and they always followed his directions. Therefore, their looks indicated how bad the question sounded. Grace’s emotional wounds hadn’t healed yet, and Sungyoon’s question was like sticking a knife in an open wound.

However, Grace unexpectedly started walking again.

“Alright.”

“Are you sure it is ok?”

Emily, who was next to her, spoke up.

“It’s fine. He has to know what we went through. It’ll allow him to avoid the mistakes we made, and he could respond in a better way if a similar situation arises. Isn’t that right?”

Grace turned to look at Sungyoon.

“That is correct.”

Even if he had to stick a knife in this person’s wound, he had to make preparations for the unexpected.

The siblings finally realized why Sungyoon had asked such a question. They became a bit embarrassed and lowered their heads in apology.

Sungyoon waved to indicate all was ok, and then, he turned to look at Grace who started speaking.

Like always, we were clearing this labyrinth. If we could acquire a few more Jewel rank Gems, my entire party would've been able to enter the Great Labyrinth. This was why we were in a good mood.”

Sungyoon remembered the news he had seen. The segment did say that Grace had been close to acquiring the rights to enter the Great Labyrinth.

“We stayed around the floors where we usually hunted. We had hunted for several days when it happened.”

Grace crossed her arms as if she was hugging herself. Even if she was putting on a brave front, she was having a hard time getting rid of the lingering fear.

“The magical energy around us suddenly became turbulent. Yes, it was a Mana Stream. However, it was odd. This labyrinth’s Mana Stream was still three months away.”

A Mana Stream had suddenly appeared. Sungyoon, Tim, and Emily, all looked at each other. They had experienced a sudden appearance of a Mana Stream before.

“Did you perhaps damage the labyrinth in any way? Did you break down a wall, or did you perhaps make a hole in the floor?”

Sungyoon asked as the representative of his party. 

However, the answer he got was a negative. 

“No. The walls of the labyrinths are famous for being extremely hard. How could we break it?”

If anything, due to the question, Grace stared at Sungyoon as if something were off about him.

“Did a strange robot attack you, by any chance?”

“I have no idea what you are talking about. We were attacked by powerful monsters.”

Grace didn't know why this man was asking such questions. She frowned.

The faces of Sungyoon, Tim, and Emily stiffened at her words. It seemed Grace had experienced an anomaly that was different than what they had experienced.

“… May I continue my story?”

She realized a serious air appeared around Sungyoon’s party. So, she tried to read the room for a brief moment before speaking again.

“I’m sorry, Princess. Please continue your story.”

“Please stop that. Please do not call me Princess.”

People called her Princess as a term of endearment. It wasn’t something she asked for.

“What should I call you then?”

“You can call me Taylor. It is my father’s last name.”

“Understood, Ms. Taylor.”

Grace looked satisfied when Sungyoon called her that. She then continued her story.

“We were taken aback by the unplanned Mana Stream, but we didn’t take it seriously. During a Mana Stream, monsters sporadically appear. And we thought even if a strong monster were to appear, only one of them would show up. So, at the very least, the four of us could run away if things went sideways.”

However, there was a large flaw in that line of thought.

“If one anomaly can occur in the Mana Stream, other anomalies can occur too. I should've anticipated that.”

Regret, sadness, and guilt were evident in her voice.

“While we were heading up, a light suddenly appeared. It was the light that precedes a monster’s appearance. As I’ve said before, we were confident. And we would've been fine if it had been just one or two lights.”

But lights had appeared as if they wanted to surround them. The labyrinth was lit up as if it were daylight.

“Monsters appeared, powerful monsters, and not just one or two that we could handle. There were too many of them.”

She couldn’t remember the exact number, but there were at least ten of them. Her and her party members' life and death battle had started at that moment.

They had even overclocked their Gems, yet it hadn't been enough. The number of wounds on their bodies kept increasing as time passed.

Basically, it was almost a foregone conclusion that they would be eventually wiped out. Her party members realized this, and the three of them came to a decision on their own.

They would let Grace run away by herself.

In the beginning, Grace stubbornly refused. She knew death was a possibility when she had started raiding the labyrinths. Moreover, she didn’t want to run away by leaving her comrades behind.

However, she didn’t get her way. One of the party members had slapped her, and all three of them begged her to run away.

Their bodies were drenched in blood, sweat, and tears as they frantically screamed at Grace to escape. And at some point, Grace found herself running through a path opened up by them.

“Afterward, I kept running away. My magic is specialized toward damage dealing, so I couldn't escape the labyrinth by myself. I just ran away. I must've lost consciousness from exhaustion. And when I woke up, I found myself rescued by the three of you.”

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