Chapter 177

“Isn’t it a bit too early to be disappointed? The Beginner’s Labyrinth has ten floors, and we still have five more floors to go.”

Grace tried to cheer up the two researchers.

When McGregor heard those words from a woman about half his age, he felt a bit embarrassed by his own behavior.

“I’m just letting out my pent-up frustration. The most ideal characteristic needed in a researcher isn’t smarts or educational background. I believe it is persistence.”

“Is that the reason why you nag at us so much?”

“Does it ever not work out?”

“It totalllly works out, director~”

Chelsea teased McGregor with a big smile on her face. McGregor also let out a small laugh at his subordinate carrying out her insubordination in an adorable manner. Then he turned to look at Sungyoon’s party.

“I really want to thank all four of you. I never expected you to help us to this extent.”

McGregor had asked his request only a week ago. He was well aware of the fact that Sungyoon’s party was losing a significant amount of money by coming here. The only thing he could do was say thank you to them.

“We already have a lot of money. I believe it's more important to investigate why the labyrinths and the magical energy are starting to behave abnormally. Please think nothing of it.”

Sungyoon spoke. The other members of his party nodded. 

“… You're all very different from the Connectors that I know. I will never forget this debt.”

McGregor spoke as if he were etching those words into his heart.

***

The investigation advanced, and the party reached the 8th floor. 

By this time, the device known as the magic energy controller was renamed as magical energy suppressor, and more of it had been made. The number of researchers had also increased to five.

As always, the researchers stuck close to the wall and checked for any abnormality. Sungyoon’s party killed the nearby monsters as the researchers carried out their work. Sungyoon was looking down the tunnel to keep an eye out for monsters when it happened.

“Director!”

He heard a voice call out with urgency.

Sungyoon thought that his party had missed a monster, and a researcher was being attacked. Thankfully, there were no monsters.

He only saw Chelsea jumping up and down near the wall. She was acting odd.

“What is it?”

“Please look at this!”

Chelsea was pointing her flashlight toward a specific location on the wall. The other researchers, who were investigating the other portions of the wall, started to gather around her.

“We have to protect our designated location, Mr. Tim.”

“Ah. O...of course!”

Tim startled in surprise. He had been overcome by curiosity, so he had started to drift towards Chelsea. After saying those words, he looked forward with renewed concentration.

Emily and Grace also made sure nothing was amiss in their surrounding. However, all their ears pricked up to hear the conversation.

McGregor hit the rock with the hammer.

“… It's different.”

“Isn’t it?”

“This part doesn’t feel like a rock. It feels more like metal.”

McGregor quickly put his backpack down and rifled through it.

All kinds of instruments came out. Multiple experiments were carried out, and the researchers came to a conclusion.

“This is a vein of ore.”

“A vein of ore? Is it something like iron?”

Tim couldn't hold back his curiosity. He kept looking forward as he asked the question.

“It isn’t iron. It's a metal unknown to us.”

McGregor placed two hands on the metal.

“What's this? I don’t think the rock is mixed in with it. I believe it's a vein of pure metal. We won’t even need to refine it. We can just extract it.”

“You probably know this, but let me reiterate that you cannot damage the wall of the labyrinth.”

Sungyoon gave a warning. It looked as if the researcher was thinking about doing something dangerous.

“May I just take a small sample?”

“No.”

Up until now, Sungyoon had acted amicably towards the research team. However, he was resolute this time.

McGregor became sullen. It wasn’t a good look to see a white-haired old man look so down, yet Sungyoon didn’t change his mind.

McGregor had no choice but to give up. He just placed an X on the map.

Despite this setback, the researchers continued their research. All of their research was superficial since they couldn’t damage anything in the labyrinth, but they conducted their research to the best of their abilities with the equipment they possessed.

Sungyoon discreetly called Grace over, and he told her to keep an eye out on the research team.

If one of the researchers attempted to damage the labyrinth walls, it wouldn’t be easy. However, if one somehow succeeded, all hell would break loose.

Fortunately, none of the researchers went rogue.

“Let’s move.”

They had spent the night inside the labyrinth as they conducted their research. McGregor felt regret at having to turn back now. However, he forced himself to turn around. In the end, they found over 20 similar veins of metal below the eighth floor.

***

The artificial light of Armstrong lit up the entrance to the labyrinth. It couldn’t be compared to real sunlight. Some even called the artificial light depressing.

However, the research team had returned from the darkness of the labyrinth. They had felt like they had been in the abyss, so the artificial light felt brighter and warmer than sunlight at that moment.

“Thank you for your hard work.”

McGregor put out his hand, and Sungyoon shook it.

“What do you plan on doing?”

“Since it was proven that the magical energy suppressor works, I plan on entering other labyrinths. We’ll keep improving the instrument until we are able to enter the Great Labyrinth. That’ll be our final goal.”

Sungyoon nodded.

“Your path to getting there differs from us, but we have the same goal of challenging the Great Labyrinth. I guess you will have to increase the size of the research team.”

“For the near future, I don't plan on adding any more researchers to the team.”

It was unexpected.

“I'm still not confident that there is no long-term side effect from using the magical energy suppressor.”

“What about you, Director?”

“I’m willing to put my life on the line for my research. Everyone in the present party feels the same way.”

It sounded like he was making a joke, but McGregor was dead serious. The number of years he had lived was higher than the number of years he would live. Despite his age, his eyes were full of life, and they shone like the eyes of a young man.

“Let me ask you this before I go. Do you know what that vein of ore was made out of?”

Of course, Sungyoon was curious about it.

“I’m not a hundred percent certain, but my guess is that it was the metal used to create the Golem and the Jewel rank weapons.”

“It's an important ore.”

“Yes. However, it's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Both Sungyoon and McGregor looked at the Beginner’s Labyrinth with regret.

“Maybe, you should try entering with high-rank Connectors. They might be able to defeat the Golem. I don’t even want to attempt it.”

“Ha ha. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“I wish you luck.”

“You too, Mr. Sungyoon.”

The two turned around went to their respective parties.

When he reached his party, Sungyoon found an unexpected person.

“Why are you here, Ms. Chelsea?”

She should have been with her research team, yet she was standing here.

“I wanted to say goodbye. It seems the Director is going to drag me to various locations, and I won’t be able to see you for a while.”

“I see. I wish you luck, Ms. Chelsea.”

“Thank you. I wish you all the best, Mr. Sungyoon.”

She blew a kiss with her hand as she left.

“How should I say this? It seems Mr. Sungyoon is acquainted with a lot of beautiful women.”

Tim couldn’t hide the jealousy in his voice. However, Sungyoon shook his head from side to side.

“I won’t deny it, but it isn’t a good thing.”

Sungyoon was sincere in his words.

***

The Beginner’s Labyrinth was open all day. It allowed the Connectors to go in and hunt whenever they wanted.

However, most Connectors kept a regular schedule. Even if Connectors didn’t sleep, there was no good reason to start a hunt at night. So at night, the foot traffic would become sparse.

Despite this fact, right now, shadows were moving through the dead of night. Of course, there were some Connectors who hunted at night. However, these shadows moved in a very suspicious manner.

“Over here.”

Someone pointed a flashlight at the wall of the labyrinth.

It was a surprising sight. There were only a few magical energy suppressors that allowed one to activate electronics within the labyrinth, and all of them belonged to the research facility. However, someone was nonchalantly using an electronic device in the labyrinth at that moment. 

At a closer look, he was one of the researchers who had accompanied McGregor and Chelsea into the Beginner’s Labyrinth.

“Good job.”

Someone walked forward from behind. 

At a glance, this newcomer looked very strong. His black armor was striking. He stared at the vein of ore pointed out by the researcher. Four more Connectors revealed themselves. One of the four Connectors was a woman clad in a white robe. She looked like the exact opposite counterpart of the man in the armor. 

She asked as she looked at the vein.

“Are you sure this ore is really something amazing?”

“It's beyond amazing. If it can be researched and commercialized, the aftermath of introducing this ore to the market would be beyond imagination.”

The researcher spoke with confidence in his voice. However, he inwardly worried his lies would be revealed. He had no idea how much this ore was worth.

“Hmm. Alright. I’ll trust you this time.”

“You have to keep your promise! I guided you here!”

The black-armored man moved his hand. Soon, two bags appeared from within his storage Gem.

Hweek!

He then tossed the bags toward the researcher.

“Check it.”

The researcher clumsily opened the bags.

He could see hundred dollar bills inside.

A smile appeared on the researcher’s face.

He wouldn't have to endure hardship on the Moon with this. He wouldn't have to eat trash food anymore.

“Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!”

He laughed as if he had lost his mind. The black-armored man looked at the researcher as if he was trash and proceeded to ignore him.

“Alright! Let’s get out of here!”

The researcher quickly took possession of the bags as he stood up. However, the others didn’t move.

“What? Why are you being like this? Let’s go back up.”

“If you want to go up, you can go by yourself.”

The white-robed woman spoke coldly.

“W... what are you talking about! I’m not a Connector! How will I get out of the labyrinth by myself!”

“That’s none of our business.”

“Stop joking around!”

The researcher was taken aback as he yelled. However, the Connectors looked at him with cold eyes. The man wearing the black armor spoke.

“Our contract has been fulfilled. You guided us here, and we paid you money. It was never stipulated in the contract that we have to protect you on the way up.”

“T... that’s…!”

The researcher sunk to the floor in despair. A sneer appeared on the black-armored man’s face.

“Well, let’s take this and head out.”

The man wearing the black armor summoned a large hammer. At a glance, one could tell he had summoned a very high-rank weapon.

“Wait a moment! What the hell are you doing!”

The researcher, who had collapsed from despair, suddenly stood up.

“You told me this is rare. If we take this back, we’ll gain honor and prestige for being the first ones to acquire this ore.

“Don't be ridiculous! If you damage the labyrinth, the Golem will show up!”

“Oh! Did you hear that? The amazing knight of London apparently gave him a stern warning.”

The black-armored man cackled.

“However, I am higher in rank than that man. The fact that he couldn’t handle the Golem doesn’t mean I can’t handle it. If the Golem shows up, I’ll destroy it and take it with me!”

It had turned out all wrong. The researcher could do nothing. Most Connectors wanted incredible wealth because women came with wealth. However, some Connectors coveted gaining reputation or political power.

This man… No, this entire party was obsessed with gaining honor and reputation.

‘These bastards planned on doing this from the beginning!’

This party had approached the researcher when they heard of a rare ore being found. They told the researcher that they just wanted to see the ore. He should have declined their request.

At that moment, the researcher could only wish that these Connectors could win against the Golem.

Boom!

The hammer struck the surface of the wall.

Zzuh-zuh-zuh-zuhk!

Too-doo-doohk!

Cracks formed on the hard wall of the labyrinth, and fragments of the wall started to fall to the ground. Then...

Woo-oong!

Light appeared around them.

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