Chapter 198

Sungyoon directed his attention toward the other Frost Wolves.

His sword disappeared, and the halberd appeared in his hands. He swung it at the nearest Frost Wolf.

Suh-guhk!

The halberd easily cut the Frost Wolf into two, and at the same time, Sungyoon felt something flow into his body.

If he were injured right now, his wounds would have completely healed.

This was the ability the halberd had gained when it became Platinum rank.

It was a healing ability.

If Sungyoon cut a monster with the halberd, the number and depth of his wounds would quickly diminish.

When he had used it for the first time, he had felt a warm energy enter his body, but he hadn't been able to identify what was happening.

However, just before that fight, Sungyoon had cut his finger while preparing food at the camp. It had been a minor wound. Sungyoon had later found out that his wound had completely healed after fighting with his halberd. 

If Sungyoon used it well, this weapon would be useful in a protracted battle. It would also give him a great advantage in a situation where he had to attack knowing he would take damage.

Sungyoon killed two Frost Wolves, and Tim took care of the last one.

The Frost Wolves had died in a manner too futile compared to their fierce charge.

The party moved once again.

The next monster they encountered was the Snow Tiger. It resembled a saber-toothed tiger. Two fearsome canines protruded from its mouth, and its fur was white. Three of these monsters were running through the snow toward Sungyoon’s party. 

They looked very cool. However, they only looked cool in their outward appearance. They weren’t animals, but tyrannical and brutal monsters. 

Puh-uhk!

Tim stepped forward and swung his shield. He squarely hit one Snow Tiger on its head and forced it to retreat.

Sungyoon took out his ax and swung it.

Hoo-oong!

The ax ripped through the Snow Tiger’s side.

Koo-huh-uhng!

The monster let out a scream as it fell. 

Its innards spilled out, but it didn’t lose its will to fight. It flashed its sharp canines and tried to stand back up again.

Kang!

However, the Snow Tiger started to act weird. Its body shook, and it fell onto the snow. Foam leaked out of its mouth. 

The region where it was wounded rapidly decomposed and emanated a foul stench. The monster was in extreme pain as it died. 

‘This one changed into something terrible.’

Sungyoon looked at his ax.

The ax had also acquired a special ability when it was upgraded to Platinum rank like the halberd. Its ability was poison based.

Its poison would enter the opponent's body through the wound and spread all over. Moreover, the region near the wound would rot away, and the monster would writhe in pain. The monster’s mobility and ability would also be decreased.

‘The only downside is the grotesque mess it leaves behind.’

His party members didn’t voice it, but Sungyoon could tell that they hated the ax.

Two Snow Tigers were still left, and this time, Sungyoon summoned his hammer.

Tim had been occupying the two Snow Tigers up until now, but one of the monsters realized that its comrade had fallen. It left Tim's side and charged at Sungyoon.

Sungyoon just swung his hammer.

Kwahng!

As the hammer closed in on the Snow Tiger, a large explosion rang out.

Puh-uhng!

The Snow Tiger was swept up in the explosion, and its body was ripped apart into pieces that were sent flying into the surrounding. It looked as though the Snow Tiger's body had said goodbye to its four feet.

Tuhl-suhk!

The head of the Snow Tiger fell on the ground in front of Sungyoon. Its luxurious white fur had turned red.

Tim killed the remaining Snow Tiger shortly after.

“Amazing.”

As Tim checked the completely-obliterated body of the Snow Tiger Sungyoon had brought his hammer upon, he shook his head from side to side. However, he consciously avoided looking at the corpse of the poisoned Snow Tiger nearby.

‘It's all thanks to evolving my Amplification Gem to Jade rank.’

Sungyoon looked down at his Jade rank Gem, which had saved his life several times in the past. When he had received it from Jimin, it had been a Gold rank Gem. And in no time, it had risen to the Jade rank.

This Gem's amplification ability was the reason Sungyoon could display such power.

“Every time we get a little closer to you, you pull away further. You're amazing.”

When they had met for the first time, Sungyoon had been much weaker than Tim and Emily. However, at some point in the past, he had leapfrogged them, and now, he was far ahead of them.

Tim felt as if Sungyoon always pulled away every time they worked hard to close the gap a little bit.

‘He really is an amazing person.’

Tim thought.

If he had considered Sungyoon his rival, Tim would have probably lost his mind from a sense of inferiority.

“I was just lucky.”

Sungyoon tried to be modest. Tim anticipated this kind of answer. He didn’t think it was true, but he couldn’t say otherwise since Sungyoon was the one stating it. So, Tim just spiritlessly nodded.

“We've roamed around most of the snowy fields.”

Grace approached the two men.

“What should we do? Should we go immediately to the next floor?”

“Wouldn’t we hold Mr. Sungyoon back? We aren’t as strong as him.”

Emily sounded worried. However, Grace shook her head from side to side.

“It’s fine. According to the information I have, the floors above the 9th are the intitial floors of the Great Labyrinth. Our Gems and Devices will be effective on these floors. What happens after we clear the 9th floor is a problem, but Mr. Sungyoon is taking care of that problem with our Gems.”

Emily accepted Grace’s reasoning.

“What would you like to do?”

Grace let Sungyoon make the final decision.

Sungyoon turned his head. He could see a dark cave through the flurry of snow in the distance.

“Let’s go down.”

***

Hwahk!

As soon as they entered the 4th floor, they felt the intense heat. The unusually high temperature made the party stop in their tracks.

“The 4th floor should be...”

“It's the volcanic region.”

The Ross siblings sounded nervous. They were from Canada and were strong against the cold, but the heat was their bane.

“… It's really hot.”

Grace was also weak against the heat.

London wasn’t that hot, so she wasn't used to it.

Still, the party couldn’t just twiddle their thumbs at the entrance.

“Let’s go.”

Sungyoon was the first one to step forward.

The first thing he saw was the smoke emanating from various locations, and then, the caustic smell of burning sulfur hit his nose. But the heat irritated his skin.

However, the most unique feature of this floor was the lava.

Puhk!

A bubble popped up as lava splashed into the surroundings. It had happened quite far away, yet everyone flinched when they witnessed it.

“The environment itself is our enemy.”

Grace fanned her robe with her hands.

The snowy plains on the 3rd floor had also been a hostile environment, but the party now preferred it over the volcanic region.

“Do you think a Connector could survive falling into the lava?”

“Even if it's possible, I don’t want to test it.”

Tim and Emily were in consensus when it came to that topic.

Sungyoon led his party through the lava region. Thankfully, the floor had a large swath of land where they could walk on.

Still, they couldn't let their guard down. The party made sure they didn’t go anywhere near the lava.

***

They didn’t stay long in the volcanic region. A month had passed, and it was time for them to take a break in Armstrong.

After killing a couple of monsters, the party scoped out the region near the entrance. Then, they returned to Armstrong.

“We’ll have to bring thin clothes next time.”

“I agree.”

Grace wholeheartedly agreed with Tim’s suggestion. 

All of them had suffered under the heat of the volcanic region. Emily and Grace had kept fanning their robes, and Tim had just groaned. Sungyoon had also suffered a lot.

When they returned to their lodging, they found it empty. It seemed Sukhwahn had gone to the Beginner’s Labyrinth.

The party decided to have a drink together at night, but the night was still far away. Sungyoon entered his room.

“Huh?”

The communication device displayed two short messages. The first one was from Jimin, and the other one was from Armstrong.

Sungyoon carefully went over the two messages. He read Armstrong’s message with an expressionless face, but his face crumpled when he read Jimin’s.

‘I’ll have to iron things out with the higher-ups of Armstrong first.’

Sungyoon looked at his watch.

‘There's still some time before the drinks.’

He took up the communication device, and after a short delay, he was connected to the city hall of Armstrong. 

Sungyoon had a brief conversation, and then, he left his room.

***

The city hall building was as magnificent as before. A clerk at the information desk guided Sungyoon to the sitting room where he had met the Mayor the previous time.

“Welcome.”

The Mayor was already waiting for him inside.

“I’ve heard reports about you. You did great things this time around. I’m the one that recommended you, so it feels very good. I can hold my head up high.”

“The others worked and accomplished more.”

“How should I say this? Please don’t take this the wrong way. I found Koreans have a propensity of being too modest. You should be proud of your achievements. Of course, the others achieved much, but Mr. Sungyoon performed very well too. You might be in the top five in terms of accomplishments in this venture.”

“Thank you very much.”

The Mayor uproariously laughed as he gestured Sungyoon to sit.

“One of the reasons I called you here is the rewards. You contributed too much in the mission, and your company building isn’t enough of a reward.”

The Mayor had to think about Sungyoon’s power, fame, and reputation. It would be more beneficial for the Mayor if he could forge a closer bond with Sungyoon. He took out a tablet and opened an app.

A map appeared on the screen. It was the map of Armstrong.

“As I promised before, we’ve handed over your company building to you, Mr. Sungyoon.”

He used a stylus to draw a circle around the place Sungyoon’s company building was located.

“Aside from that building, we had to think hard for your reward. Since Mr. Sungyoon performed so well, we decided to give you a big reward that matches your accomplishments.”

The Mayor was deft with his fingers as he moved the map.

“First, we’ll give you a villa that's the best luxury house in the fifth sector. And the fifth sector is populated by many high rank Connectors.”

The Mayor touched a location on the map, and a photo appeared.

It was a picture of a luxury house built on a large tract of land.

Land was a limited resource in Armstrong. One could roughly guess the worth of this villa by the large piece of land it was built on.

“Secondly, we’ll give you a permanent room at the Armstrong Hotel.”

Sungyoon was surprised. The hotel was located at the heart of Armstrong, and it basically signified the power and wealth of Armstrong city.

It was just a room, but he could've never imagined he would be given such a reward. 

“Whenever you want, you will be able to use the room and the hotel’s service for free. The only time you won’t be able to use it is if someone made a reservation beforehand, and any profit generated from the room will be given to you. I hope you understand. And this is the last location.”

The Mayor tapped on the map, and it brought up a building in the first sector.

“This is a fourteen-story building. As you can see, the nearby region is a prime location that has the airport and other major buildings of Armstrong. If you rent this place out, you’ll be able to make a good amount of money. Of course, you can use it for yourself too.”

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