Chapter 157

If she was busy or otherwise occupied, Jimin would sometimes bring Shinhae to the company. So it wasn’t strange to see the little girl inside the company premises.

However, Jiyoon found Shinhae’s reaction a bit odd. Normally, the little girl would smile brightly and cling to her. But this time, she fidgeted her hands as she monitored Jiyoon.

Of course, such a reaction startled Jiyoon, so she decided to strike up a conversation.

“Hello, Shinhae! You are drinking milk?”

“Yes.”

As always, the little girl answered her questions well. Moreover, Jiyoon didn't feel as if Shinhae disliked her.

She carefully placed her hand on Shinhae’s head and stroked it. Shinhae didn’t try to avoid her touch. In fact, she seemed to like the warmth that she could feel through her head. She even moved her head in rhythm to Jiyoon’s hand strokes.

Jiyoon then made herself a cup of coffee and sat down next to the little girl. Shinhae held a transparent cup with milk inside. She slowly sipped her milk to match the speed of Jiyoon drinking her coffee.

“Did you come here with Jimin unni?”

“Yes. Unni said to play here for a moment.”

Jimin was her president, but to Shinhae, she was merely a close unni. So in front of Shinhae, Jiyoon always referred to Jimin as 'Jimin unni'.

Jiyoon then took the initiative to chat, and they started conversing about various topics. Like all young adults her age, Jiyoon liked getting off work on time, and she would wait for Friday to arrive. However, she was having a lot of fun interacting with Shinhae, so she didn’t mind going home a little bit late.

But she continued to notice that Shinhae was reacting to her in an odd way. Her usual lively self was nowhere to be seen.

“Is something wrong, Shinhae?”

In the end, she decided to be direct. However, she didn’t browbeat her, and made sure Shinhae didn’t feel pressured to answer. She tried her best to look kind so that the little girl wouldn’t be scared.

Shinhae showed hesitation, so she added.

“If something is wrong, unni will help you.”

She took a firm grasp of the child’s hands. The small and soft hands were dainty and cute. 

It seemed Shinhae had come to a decision, and with some hesitation, she opened her mouth.

But the words the child spoke were very surprising. And they were especially shocking for Jiyoon.

“Do you not like me, unni?”

Shinhae shrunk in on herself as she glanced at Jiyoon. Jiyoon’s heart fell into her stomach. She had forgotten this version of Shinhae. It was the past version of her that Jiyoon had seen at the orphanage.

“What do you mean? Why would unni hate you?”

She pressed down on the shock and bewilderment she was feeling and did her best to calmly speak. However, she couldn’t help it, and her voice rose a pitch.

“Recently, unni acts like you don’t want to see me.”

“What do you mean…!”

She shut her mouth as a suspicion came to her mind. In the past, she had a conversation with Jimin and Emily, where they had talked about Sungyoon, and whether they liked him or not. At the time, she had been taken aback when the topic of marriage was brought up. Sungyoon was a divorced man, and she was a woman in her early twenties. Moreover, she had grown up in a regular household. Even if she was interested in Sungyoon, she couldn’t easily accept the topic of marriage to a Connector.

The problem had arisen when she had felt the weight of the word called marriage. Due to it, she was maintaining a bit of distance from Shinhae.

She thought she wasn’t making it obvious, yet the little girl had noticed it.

“No. Unni really likes Shinhae.”

“Really? Unni won’t become like my mom?”

Her doe-like eyes were filled with anxiety and doubt. Jiyoon hugged her slim and small body without realizing it.

“No. Unni will never become like Shinhae’s mom. You don’t have to worry about that. Alright?”

In the beginning, Shinhae had been a bit tense. But when she heard Jiyoon’s words, she melted into her unni's body.

“Yes!”

The girl sounded ecstatic as she returned Jiyoon’s hug.

‘I’m an idiot…. I acted that way toward an already hurt child.’

Jiyoon blamed herself as she hugged Shinhae tighter.

‘Mr. Sungyoon is Mr. Sungyoon. Shinhae is Shinhae.’

She made a promise to herself. She wouldn’t let other problems change how she treated Shinhae.

But then, something odd happened. When she made that resolve, a new feeling arose within her heart.

‘If it's becoming a mother to a child like her, wouldn’t it be ok?’

Up until now, she had been flustered when the talk of marriage was brought up. This was the first time she had a positive mindset toward the idea. It germinated in her mind.

***

While Jiyoon was in the midst of repairing her relationship with Shinhae, Jimin was listening to Sungyoon’s report.

“… Can you repeat that again?”

- I would like to accept a new member into the party. 

He was sending this transmission through the communication device in the company building on the Moon.

In the past, whenever something truly important happened, he would return to Earth and personally give Jimin a report. If it wasn't possible, he would send her a short text.

Of course, everything came down to money, and the prospects of Sungyoon’s party had risen. They were able to buy a Moon Surface Vehicle with a communication device, and they could now afford to install one in their company building too.

Jimin could see Sungyoon’s face through the screen on her phone. As usual, his face was expressionless. But for some reason, she found his face looking impudent today.

“Who’s the party member again?”

- Ms. Taylor. Her full name is Grace Elizabeth Victoria Taylor.

“So this is the Princess Grace you went to save? Do I have this right?”

- It seems she doesn’t like being called Princess Grace.

Jimin was at a loss for words for a brief moment. The Connectors who were called strongest belonged to another stratum, but still, in terms of name recognition, Grace was equal to them.

No, the regular people in the streets were more familiar with her name.

However, Jimin quickly calmed down. Her calm and cool nature had a role in this, but there was also the fact that Sungyoon was someone who always brought her shocking news.

Basically, she was used to it now.

‘Should I be happy, or...’

The Princess' powers were not bad. It was a well-known story that she was close to entering the Great Labyrinth.

Moreover, Sungyoon was a very picky person. If she wouldn’t be any help to their party, he would've turned her down. He wouldn’t have cared if she were a princess or not.

‘The problem is me.’

Jimin had dealt with large corporations with confidence before. However, with Grace, it would be different. 

‘I’ll have to talk to the British monarchy.’

Corporations were easy to handle if one could find profit for each side. But dealing with a government entity was something else.

- If you are uncomfortable with it, I can turn her down.

He still hadn’t contacted Grace yet. And although he had agreed with the Ross siblings to let Grace join their party, he wouldn’t force it if the president of his company was against it.

“No. I've heard about her abilities ad nauseam. It is a good thing since the power of the party would grow.”

She would be a great party member, and as a small company like Jungbum, it was almost impossible to snag such a prospect.

- I think so too. Above all else, she is also aiming for the Great Labyrinth. We’ll be able to achieve your goals faster. 

“….”

- President?

Jimin became oddly silent. She had been single-minded in her pursuit to find the traces of her father. So Sungyoon had expected her to be happy about that news.

But her reaction was unexpected

“… That’s right. You’ll be closer to achieving my goal.”

She replied, but there was no strength to her voice.

- Are you feeling ok?

“I’m fine. I was thinking about work that’ll be coming my way. The preparations will be slightly different from when we signed the Ross siblings.”

Jimin recovered, and she spoke in a calm manner, showing her normal self.

They then spoke for a while more.

When the call ended, Jimin tossed her handphone on the desk. She had slammed it as hard as if she were throwing it. Then, she leaned back in her chair and looked up at the ceiling.

She had forced herself to act normal in front of Sungyoon. It was quite obvious, and she looked very tired from doing it.

“Yes. They have to raid the Great Labyrinth.”

She had ignored all the objections in her surroundings that had tried to stop her from achieving this goal. She had come this far. That was why they had to raid the Great Labyrinth.

“This feeling of uncertainty is temporary.”

She kept thinking she was driving Sungyoon toward his death. This thought significantly weakened her resolve.

“I have to gather my resolve once again.”

But even when she said those words, the strength didn’t return to her eyes.

***

Monsters rushed at them, but their number wasn’t just one or two. Five of them were attacking the party. Moreover, these weren’t weak monsters like the Goblins or the Orcs. Their ranks were similar to that of the Centaur.

However, Sungyoon and Tim remained calm as they faced their opponents.

They had done this on purpose. All five monsters had been spread out across this floor, yet the two Connectors gathered them in one place.

“Please disengage!”

They heard the signal which they had been waiting for.

Sungyoon and Tim ruthlessly pushed back the monsters, and then, ran backward without hesitation.

Boooooom!

They could feel high heat erupting from behind them.

The duo continued to run, but they turned their heads to look at Grace’s magic.

Two monsters immediately died after being squarely hit by Grace’s spell. The other three suffered massive damage from the heat, and they were barely able to stay on their feet.

Sungyoon and Tim immediately changed course. They charged at the remaining monsters, who had lost a significant portion of their ability to fight. The monsters were no match for the two.

In a flash, they had slaughtered all of them.

“As expected, your magic is amazing.”

Tim sounded giddy as he picked up the moonstones.

Grace had officially joined their party, and as expected, their party’s firepower had experienced a massive increase.

Their party could take on these monsters without Grace too, but it was clear Grace’s power would shine with the monsters getting stronger.

‘Her ability to kill multiple monsters is outstanding.’

In the past, they had to kill monsters one by one. But they could now hunt in an efficient manner. 

“Still, it's a bit too bad. I didn’t really get the opportunity to use this.”

Tim raised his shield. But it wasn’t the shield he had carried in the past.

It was a very thin Kite Shield letting out a platinum light. If one went by its appearance, one had to wonder if this shield could block an attack. However, it was more durable and offered more than any shield Tim had possessed before.

“Do you feel the same way, Mr. Sungyoon?”

“Not really. I hope we don’t run into a situation where I have to test the defense of this armor.”

Sungyoon let out a bitter laugh. However, a platinum helmet was covering his face, so his party members couldn’t see his expression.

It was the armor from the Gem he had received as a reward. However, it wasn’t a normal armor Gem.

Since it was a Platinum rank armor, its durability and defense were guaranteed to be high. However, this armor had another drastic difference from the other armor Gems he had possessed before.

The others summoned a piece of armor such as body armor, helmet, gauntlets, leg armor, etc. But this Platinum armor protected his entire body. It consisted of a helmet, a breastplate, faulds, gauntlets, and boots. It even had a chain mail that protected his joints.

It really was the perfect set of plate armor.

The armor gave him the appearance of a knight that had jumped out from a fairy tale.

There were very few armor Gems that summoned a complete set. It didn’t matter what rank the Gem was.

Thanks to his new armor, his attack style had changed.

In the past, he was tasked with defending the party members. And although his shield had a quite high defense, he no longer had to use it. He left the defense to his armor, and he would use either his sword or halberd. His battle style had changed to a more attack-oriented style.

Even if he took up his shield, the shield would be worse in defending the attacks than the Platinum rank armor.

However, this didn’t mean he wanted to push his armor to the limit.

Even if he was wearing good armor, that kind of experience wouldn’t be fun at all.

“Oh. A Gem came out.”

Tim found a shiny Gem next to the moonstones.

“Isn’t it Mr. Sungyoon’s turn?”

“It is, but I don’t need it.”

It was an X-shaped Gem, which let out an orange light. It was an armor Gem. Sungyoon already had a Platinum rank Gem, so he didn’t need it.

“I don’t need it either.”

The Orange rank was the second-highest rank in the Rainbow rank Gems, but Tim possessed an armor that was one rank higher than it.

“Let’s check what it is first.”

Sungyoon took the Gem from Tim and placed it into an empty slot. He unsummoned his current armor, and then summoned the Orange rank Gem.

“Wow!”

Tim exclaimed.

“That is quite stylish. If it’s this, I think you can keep it, Mr. Sungyoon.”

It flowed down from his shoulders, and it was quite soft. Sungyoon turned his head to look at the red cape flowing down his back.

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