Chapter 203

The squall ended up increasing the humidity, and Sungyoon and the others had to endure the sweltering atmosphere again. Their experience in the jungle had been miserable.

However, it was finally coming to an end.

When the party found the entrance leading to the next floor, they unconsciously raised their hands in joy, and entered the cave. 

The temperature and the humidity decreased as they moved deeper and deeper, and the faces of the four of them brightened.

When the party exited the cave, they all let out an exclamation at the sight in front of them.

Islands surrounded a vast body of water that boasted a blue emerald color. The water looked deep enough to reach their waists.

The party were standing on one of the islands. Raising their guards, all of them moved toward the white sandy beach. The waves struggled to wash over the sands, and the receding water swept up the white sand along with it into the ocean.

“Wow~!”

Emily ran toward the ocean like a kid. She took off her boots and carefully dipped her toes into the water.

“Kyaaa!”

A scream of joy escaped her lips when the cold water flowed across her toes. With her hood down, her brown hair swayed in the air.

Since this beach looked like South Beach, it appealed to Emily even more.

Grace and Tim slowly approached the ocean too.

Tim sat at an edge where the waves couldn’t reach him and looked across the ocean. Grace's gaze became curious. She took off her shoes and pressed her feet into the sand.

All three of them acted like children as they enjoyed this new location.

It seemed their suffering in the jungle had intensified the joy they were feeling.

“I really want to take a vacation right now.”

Grace spoke while approaching Sungyoon. She was having so much fun that her cheeks were flushed. 

Sungyoon's eyes swept over the blue ocean.

‘This makes me want to go to the ocean with Shinhae.’

Everyone else was enjoying themselves, but Sungyoon, as always, thought about Shinhae first.

As Sungyoon wondered about visiting the beautiful beaches of South-East Asia with Shinhae, something entered his vision.

“Everyone, I know you're enjoying yourself right now, but the time to work has come.”

Sungyoon summoned his hammer.

Hearing his warning, his party members also raised their weapons. They saw something shuffling toward them.

If viewed from the distance, it looked like a rock moving across the beach. However, it was actually a group of monsters.

These monsters had bumpy gray shells that looked very hard. Large pincers that resembled sharp teeth of a saw protruded from two of their ten thick legs.

“Rock Crabs.”

“Their shell is hard, right?”

Tim twirled his ax and asked Sungyoon.

“Well, they have rock in their name. Their defense is very high.”

“They live near the water, yet they're named Rock Crabs.”

“Well, humans named all the monsters without putting much thought into it. However, their name fits their speed. Look at how slow they're moving.”

Up until now, Sungyoon and his party had fought monsters with high mobility, of which some were even capable of flight. So, the slow speed of the Rock Crabs appeared even slower to the party.

“I guess it's better than facing agile monsters.”

Emily peeked at the Rock Crabs from behind Sungyoon and warned them.

“I’m not so sure. Their lack of speed means other aspects of their power must be developed. From what I know, their attack and defense are very high. Moreover, their attacking speed is deceptively fast.”

Emily's remarks on the Rock Crab’s offense and defense made sense. However, when she said these monsters' attack speed was fast, the rest of her party couldn't help but confusedly look toward the Rock Crabs crawling toward them. 

However, the Rock Crabs immediately resolved their confusion.

Bubble bubble bubble!

Foam appeared around the Rock Crabs' mouths.

Hoo-oohk!

Then, they shot the foam forward. 

The party flinched. Sungyoon and Tim raised their shields. However, it wasn’t really an attack, so the two of them didn’t move.

“So this is the foam of the Rock Crabs.”

Tim grabbed one of the bubbles in the air and rubbed it with his fingers. It was sticky and slick.

The foam had completely surrounded Sungyoon’s party in no time.

Sungyoon looked at the ground.

Slick!

‘This will obstruct our fight.’

The ground was now covered in the soapy bubbles that the Korean variety shows liked to use. The bubbles wouldn't prove to be a significant hindrance, but they wouldn't be of any help either.

However, this only remained true for humans.

Sssssk!

When the Rock Crabs reached the foam, they placed their stomach on the bubbles and pushed off using their legs. They slid across the ground at a speed that would shock those who had seen these monsters moving before.

“They are coming!”

Tim raised his shield.

As if they were riding a sled, the Rock Crabs smoothly slid across the slick layer of foam on the ground. One of them neared Tim's location and raised its claws.

Boom!

“Koo-oohk!”

The claw scratched Tim’s shield. The Rock Crab didn't stop and extended its leg with the claw. 

When Tim saw it up close, he realized that the leg looked thick because the Rock Crab had folded the leg in on itself using its multiple joints.

With its leg fully extended, the monster's claw shot forward like a cannon.

“Holy shit!”

Due to the slick bubbles on the ground, Tim found it hard to defend.

“This is no joke.”

After he regained his balance, Tim deflected the claw once again.

The Rock Crab retracted its leg by collapsing it, but it then once again shot its claw forward. The attacks were quite annoying.

The claws looked like saw blades, but they were as sharp as sashimi knives. 

Other Rock Crabs also approached the party. Tim swung both his shield and his ax to stop the monsters from getting closer.

Kah-ahg!

“Shit! It's too fricking hard!”

Tim was annoyed. The slick surface and the continuous attacks coming at him meant that he couldn’t put his full strength behind his ax. However, even if he could do so, he was unsure if he would be able to break through the hard shell of the Rock Crabs.

Sungyoon raised his shield as he blocked the attack from the Rock Crab in front of him. Then, it was time for his hammer.

Kwhhhhng!

When the Rock Crab's claw met the hammer, the claw was blown off into pieces. The Rock Crab helplessly swung its leg in the air.

Tuh-uhng!

Sungyoon swung his shield and pushed back another Rock Crab.

However, just as he was about to swing his hammer, a voice came from behind him.

“Stand back!”

Tim had been blocking a Rock Crab when he also heard the voice. 

Both men instantly retreated from the frontline.

Kwah-doo-doo-dooh!

The temperature fell. The Rock Crabs used their foam to slide around the ground, so the cold was especially devastating to them.

The monsters came to a stop, and soon, they were turned into ice sculptures.

“You damn bastards!”

Tim had suffered a lot under the attacks of these monsters, and he let out his frustration by swinging his ax at the ice sculptures.

Sungyoon looked around and spotted another group of Rock Crabs. It seemed the beaches of these islands were full of these monsters.

“Let’s use this island as our base. We’ll expand outward. However, we soon have to exit the Great Labyrinth.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Grace agreed. 

“If it were free of monsters, this place would be ideal for a picnic.”

As she looked at her surroundings, Grace's eyes shone, and she asked.

“Why don’t we all go visit the Mediterranean sea or the South-Eastern sea in the future?”

Sungyoon was already thinking about going to the ocean with Shinhae, and Shinhae got along pretty well with his party members, so Sungyoon nodded.

“That sounds good too. Let’s ask the others about it.”

“Yes!”

Grace laughed prettily.

***

Sungyoon and his party exited the Great Labyrinth after a few days.

If they wanted to go deeper than the 7th floor, they would need more than a month. So the party agreed they needed more preparations. Moreover, Sungyoon had another job to do in the meantime.

“It's finally starting.”

It seemed he was meeting the Mayor quite often these days. The Mayor’s face was a little red from anger.

“If you destroy all the Golems in the Beginner’s Labyrinth, those damned bastards won’t be able to say our city is unsafe. We can shut them up once and for all.”

The Mayor was losing patience with his rival city slinging mud at Armstrong city.

“We’ll use the accessibility of our labyrinths as a weapon against them.”

However, that could only be done if this mission succeded.

“What’s the plan?”

Sungyoon asked.

“Armstrong will temporarily send people away. We’ve already sent out the notices, and we're sending the civilians and the low-rank Connectors back to Earth.”

“Won’t a lot of them push back against such a mandate?”

“The fate of this city hinges on this mission. We will not put up with their temper tantrums. This might be an unpopular opinion, but they can only stay here because the city allows them to.”

In other words, anyone that went against the mandate would never be allowed to set foot on Armstrong.

The decision was a harsh one, but the Mayor knew the city was going through an existential crisis.

“I’m really sorry to say this, but we will use Mr. Sungyoon as bait to minimize the damage.”

Sungyoon nodded. For some reason, the Golems liked to charge at Sungyoon as if he had killed their parents. Therefore, he was the ideal bait.

“However, you shouldn’t worry too much. We’ll stick Connectors specialized in defense next to you. Of course, we’ll give you additional compensation too.”

“Who's participating in this venture?”

“Unfortunately, Sir Russell and Mr. Bruce couldn’t make it. However, Mr. Sung Hyunwoo expressed his intent of participating in this mission.”

Sungyoon furrowed his brows.

It was great that Hyunwoo would be participating, but the absence of Sir Russell and Bruce meant their overall battle capability would suffer a lot. 

“Are you sure we’ll be fine?”

“We’ll be. We're sure that the Golems near the Great Labyrinth are weaker. Sir Russell had stopped a Super Golem by himself. I’m sure Mr. Woo and Mr. Sung can take care of them. This is a certainty when we look at what happened in the other city. Also, you're underestimating yourself...”

The Mayor exchanged glances with Sungyoon.

“When we defeated all those Golems in the past, Sir Russell, Mr. Sung, and Mr. Bruce weren't the main force. It was you, Mr. Woo.”

Sungyoon had cut the Super Golems down as if they were daikon. He had contributed the most to the Golem elimination mission.

“Please believe in yourself, Mr. Sungyoon. If you don’t participate in this mission, it won't be successful. That’s the truth.”

“… I’m a little bit taken aback by your high praise. However, I understand. I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations.”

“Thank you. I’ll go into the details of the mission now.”

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