Chapter 159

Grace had been about to take a sip of the black tea when she heard those words. Her body froze, and her face stiffened.

Clank!

She placed the teacup back on the table. The action was so abrupt that it almost looked like she had thrown the teacup. She didn’t plan on hiding her emotions, and she looked toward the prime minister.

“Are you sure?”

“I hired a Connector who was available on Earth, and he confirmed it. We must do something about this problem.”

“Is it possible that a labyrinth has appeared on Earth?”

“I do not know yet.”

“How are you handling this problem?”

“We’ve quarantined the nearby region. If we aren’t careful, civilians might die through magic poisoning. However, this is only a temporary solution.”

“You did a good job. How far has the magical energy spread?”

“It spread around ten meters with the cave as the center. Fortunately, the magical energy isn't spreading any further. Still, we can’t let our guard down. The location of this cave is very problematic. If the magical energy further leaks out of the cave to hit London...”

The Prime Minister trailed off. However, it was clear as to what he was referring to.

Magical energy had the potential of poisoning everyone in London. It would be a calamity.

“Since I am the Prime Minister, I had to do something. I had to find a solution. We experimented with some animals, and it didn’t cause any magical poisoning. In the past, whenever lab animals were placed in magical energy, they had suffered from magical poisoning. Moreover, one of our employees was exposed to the magical energy in the beginning, and he also experienced no side effects. So we are theorizing that this is a neutral form of magical energy.”

When Grace had gone missing, government employees had been dispatched near her Personal Labyrinth. There, they were exposed to magical energy, but no harm had come to them. It seemed something similar had happened near the cave.

“However, this doesn’t mean we want to go through with human experimentation. Even if we do, it would be best to conduct one after gaining some more information. That is why we need someone to explore the cave...”

The Prime Minister discreetly gauged the reaction of Grace and the Queen. The Queen snorted as if she was in a foul mood, but the Prime Minister refused to back down.

“I would like to entrust the investigation to Ms. Taylor.”

“Me?”

“To be precise, we want Ms. Taylor and your party.”

Grace thought about her party members, who were resting in different countries.

“She almost died not too long ago. Are you sure you have to ask her to do this, Prime Minister? Moreover, it hasn’t been long since she has returned to Earth.”

‘So that's why grandmother looked agitated.’

The Queen really didn’t like putting her cute granddaughter in a potentially dangerous situation, and even more so when she had almost died not too long ago inside her labyrinth.

However, the Prime Minister didn’t back down even when the Queen continued to glare at him.

“Honestly, I thought about calling someone else, someone like Sir Russell. However, all such Connectors of our country are on the Moon. Moreover, it will be tough to contact them if they enter their respective labyrinths. That is why I am asking this of you, Ms. Taylor. You are one of the high rank Connectors still on Earth."

“And there is also the fact that if we recall high rank Connectors back home, the number of moonstones they send back will decrease.”

“I won’t deny that.”

The Prime Minister agreed with the Queen’s sarcastic comment.

“Our supply of moonstones is inconsistent these days because of the abnormal events occurring on the Moon. The economy is struggling right now. If we bring in the high rank Connectors, the loss will be too great. This will especially be true if we call back the Connectors who raid the Great Labyrinth.”

The Prime Minister then turned to look at Grace.

“I was informed that Ms. Grace’s party is strong. I heard all of you are close to acquiring rights to enter the Great Labyrinth. In fact, I am told Mr. Woo Sungyoon already satisfies all the requirements.”

When he had gained his new Platinum rank Gem, Sungyoon checked off all the requirements needed to enter the Great Labyrinth. He possessed three Jewel rank Gems now.

However, his party members were yet to fulfill all the requirements, and in the case of Sungyoon, one of his Jewel rank Gems was useless in battle. It was a Gem that could enhance other Gems. That was why he was delaying his entrance into the Great Labyrinth.

“Ms. Taylor’s party qualifies as a high rank Connector party. In my judgment, you are capable of carrying out this investigation.”

“If it's neutral magical energy, couldn’t you investigate it using machines? I heard those can work fine in this situation.”

The Queen shot back. It seemed she hadn’t given up yet.

“Of course, we will investigate it with machines. However, we need Connectors to check it out with their eyes too. This is the first location we’ve found on Earth that is emanating magical energy. We have to approach it in a multifaceted way.”

“… Understood.”

“Grace!”

The Queen tried to dissuade her granddaughter, but Grace displayed a calm smile as she held her hand.

“Don’t worry too much about me, grandmother. I haven’t been with them long, but my party members are very dependable. Moreover, I’ll be happy if I can help my country by doing this.”

Then she looked toward the Prime Minister.

“I’ll contact them. But if they say no, it is out of my hands. Also, they should be rewarded for this.”

“Please do not worry about that. I’ll prepare plenty of rewards.”

The Prime Minister had a smile of satisfaction on his lips.

Even if he had to hand out high amounts of rewards, it would be pennies compared to what the high rank Connectors could acquire in the Great Labyrinth. This was a deal that would be beneficial to his country.

The Queen found him detestable at that moment, but her granddaughter had agreed to it. Moreover, there was logic in his words. In the end, she let out a sigh, and she agreed with the plan.

***

“… That happened?”

Sungyoon had suddenly received a call from Grace. When he heard what Grace had to say, he was surprised.

- Yes. That is why we want to hire Mr. Sungyoon, Mr. Tim, and Ms. Emily.

Sungyoon thought for a brief moment.

‘I don’t really want to go, but...’

He glanced behind him. Shinhae was holding a gamepad for a console he had bought her. She looked at him.

The man had been in the midst of playing with his daughter when the call came. He wanted to go back to playing with her. 

When he was on Earth, he didn’t like taking on jobs. He would have turned down most jobs, but this was different. This was too important.

‘If that occurs in Korea...’

Shinhae was a regular human, and if a labyrinth appeared in Korea, she might die of magic poisoning. He didn't even want to think about it. It was too horrifying a thought. Shinhae was his everything, and if she was gone, he had no reason to live.

‘I should investigate it, just in case.’

“I’m fine with it. I’ll talk to the President, and Tim and Emily about it.”

- Thank you.

“It is nothing. In the first place, I don’t think this is a problem that’ll only affect Britain.”

They exchanged a few more words before he ended the call.

‘Yes. I thought it was too quiet recently. I should have known another anomaly would show up.’

But this time the anomaly hadn’t occurred on the Moon. It happened on Earth, where humans lived. His expression had turned dead serious without him noticing it.

“Dad! Hurry up! Come here!”

Even after ending the call, Sungyoon was still standing in his place. So Shinhae waved her hand.

“Ok. I’m coming.”

He decided to think about this at a later time. So he approached Shinhae, picked up his gamepad, and sat cross-legged on the floor.

“Ho-eet!”

Shinhae sat on Sungyoon’s legs, enveloped by her father. They played the game connected to the TV, and the little girl soon became immersed. 

Sungyoon looked at his lovely daughter, who was moving as she concentrated on playing the video game.

‘Yes. If I want to keep her safe, I have to solve this problem.’

If he had to, he would convince his party members. Sungyoon inwardly made the decision.

After a couple of days, the plane containing Jimin and Sungyoon left for London.

***

The location was surrounded by darkness. The surrounding area was quarantined, and no humans could be spotted here. It was creepy in the fact that no bugs were present either. 

This place was the cave located on the outskirts of England. It was where the magical energy was emanating.

The magical energy was starting to pool within, but the cave looked like any other cave on Earth. Even the magical energy was sluggish as if it were asleep. Unlike the magical energy within the labyrinth, the magical energy here was heavy and stagnant.

However, that lasted only for a short amount of time.

The magical energy started to churn. 

The movement became a breeze and then a strong wind. In the end, a maelstrom appeared.

At that moment...

Ssssssk!

A small light appeared within the cave.

The light was very small, the size of a person’s fingernail. However, it was slowly but surely growing in size.

Similar lights started to appear in other locations. They resembled the lights that appeared during the Mana Stream, and the lights that spat out monsters.

***

Sungyoon and Jimin arrived at the London Heathrow Airport. As with all international airports, it was quite crowded.

‘This is the second time I’ve been to London.’

He had come here for the first time on his honeymoon. But that was a very unpleasant memory for him now.

Sungyoon quickly erased it from his mind.

Just the thought of it sucked.

“Let’s go to the appointed place.”

Jimin had accompanied him because she would have to negotiate with the British government.

Shinhae was left in the care of Jiyoon for the time being. Sungyoon wanted to bring Shinhae along, but the anomaly could be unpredictable. Magical energy might wash over the city, so he inevitably decided against the idea.

He remembered the tears in his daughter's eyes when he had left. Parting from her was always painful for him.

Thankfully, Jimin had been to London several times, so Sungyoon followed her like a baby bird following its mother.

“Mr. Tim and Ms. Emily will be here in two days?”

“Yes.”

The Ross siblings were not with them. They had personal business in Canada, so they had returned to their home country.

When he had asked them over the phone, they had accepted Grace’s proposition without reservation. However, they couldn’t immediately come to London.

“He’s over there.”

Jimin pointed at a man wearing a sharp suit. He was carrying a sign with Korean words on it.

Since Grace was a famous figure here, it would create many complications if she showed up at the airport. So she had sent someone to greet them.

The guide led them to a car, and they exited the airport.

The sight of the foreign land of London passed outside the window, and Sungyoon admired the sight.

How long had it been since he was able to view London like this?

The car slowed down when they almost reached their destination.

‘I expected this, but...’

Sungyoon was impressed as he looked out the window. He could no longer see downtown London.

Instead, a massive building welcomed his sight.

It was Buckingham Palace, where the Queen of England resided.

He knew Grace’s station in life, so he was prepared to be invited to the palace. However, it still felt surreal when it became a reality.

Buckingham Palace was a historically significant site, and it looked fancy and elegant.

The guide led them down a corridor. Sungyoon kept swiveling his head to take in the sight.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Even the usually calm Jimin couldn’t keep her head still.

Finally, they arrived in a rather large and fancy sitting room. 

Having finished his job, the guide left.

Soon, a servant brought drinks and desserts. Sungyoon and Jimin sat in their chairs as they enjoyed the amenities. They waited for the person who had invited them.

“I never expected to enter this place in my lifetime.”

“I feel the same way.”

Jimin agreed with Sungyoon’s sentiment.

Who could have imagined he would be able to enter a palace on the other side of the world?

After he had awakened as a Connector, he had experienced many amazing things, but this was amazing in many ways.

The two of them conversed as they waited for their host to show up. 

How long had it been?

The door to the sitting room opened.

“Mr. Sungyoon.”

The one who entered was Grace.

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