A crowd had gathered around the police line, and people craned forward to look past the policemen guarding the site. The hill that used to boast a great scenery had turned into a pile of ash. A deep ravine now existed in the middle of the hill, and steam was still coming out of it.
The battle between Sungyoon and Kevil had left very deep wounds in this peaceful vacation spot.
People frowned when someone pushed them, but they became surprised when they recognized who it was. A policeman quickly moved forward to stop the figure from moving past the line, but when he recognized Sungyoon, he moved back to his post.
An entire day had passed since the battle, yet it was still an appalling sight. As Sungyoon looked down at the ravine, he heard a voice.
“Welcome, Mr. Woo Sungyoon.”
The officer in charge of the site approached Sungyoon, and as if he had been notified beforehand, he greeted Sungyoon without hesitation.
“Did you find Mr. Lee?”
“No. Unfortunately, Mr. Lee is still missing.”
“What about his family?”
“We found and confirmed two corpses of Mr. Lee’s daughters-in-law and four corpses of his grandchildren.”
Sungyoon’s face hardened as he climbed the hill and followed the person in charge.
“Have all of your wounds healed, Mr. Woo?”
“That's good news. I heard your comrades were also hurt.”
“They have also recovered and are resting right now.”
Emily and Grace had never suffered such severe wounds before. They were fine for now, but Sungyoon worried they might develop a mental trauma in the long run.
“Don’t you need to rest, Mr. Woo?”
“I’m used to it.”
Sungyoon was used to recovering from serious injuries. But he did not know if these experiences of his were a good or a bad thing. As he thought about it, Sungyoon felt a bit dumbfounded.
The white brick house atop the hill had been burnt black. The explosion had blown the roof off, and half the building had crumbled. The fairytale-like scenery had vanished.
“Did you find any traces of the monster?”
“No. We're still combing the nearby area.”
Sungyoon was the Knight, who had saved London in style against the Behemoth, and the current him was much stronger than that time. Yet, he had been defeated without being able to put up much of a fight. That was why the world was in an uproar.
Above all else, Sungyoon had reported that the monster was capable of rational thought, and it could talk and make decisions for itself. Moreover, the monster had spoken about a possible unknown power pulling the strings from behind the scene.
Kevil's decision to retreat showed one of the many ways how it was much different than the regular monsters. And its successful retreat meant that it might cause harm at a different location.
Sungyoon thought about the monster and remembered its frightening red eyes.
‘It said it’ll come back for me.’
Sungyoon had no idea why Kevil had retreated, but he knew it hadn’t been joking when it made that promise. Of course, he felt a sense of crisis. His power couldn’t even come close to the monster’s power. The only solace was the fact that he had been able to exchange blows by the end of the fight.
‘I survived thanks to that power.’
The power that came out when he faced the Golems had helped him against Kevil too. Sungyoon knew he had to learn more about this power, but he also felt worried about doing so.
He had also felt the fear like all other 1st gens, but for some odd reason, this fear had been delayed and it came out blunted for him.
However, that power was the only thing he could bank on right now.
Sungyoon stood in front of the entrance to a labyrinth. It wasn’t the Great Labyrinth or his Personal Labyrinth, and neither was it one of the Personal Labyrinths of his party members. He was facing one of the many labyrinths near Armstrong. One could reach it by traveling in a Moon Surface Vehicle for less than a day, and so, it was a very popular spot for Connectors.
- Are you ready?
Sungyoon heard the voice from a bone conduction earphone.
He was clad in his usual armor. The armor had been heavily damaged in the fight against Kevil. However, the damage wasn't enough to destroy the Gem, and the Gem had recovered with time. Of course, the shield Gem couldn't escape its destruction.
But right now, Sungyoon wasn’t just wearing his armor. Cutting edge sensors were placed all over his body within his armor. These sensors were like relentless stalkers that would assess and analyze the status of his body.
A signal was sent into the labyrinth, and the Connectors on standby destroyed the wall.
Sungyoon summoned his halberd and firmly gripped it. He couldn’t enter the labyrinth because it would make the sensors useless. So he placed the butt of his halberd on the ground and waited.
Soon, the Connectors who were baiting the Golem ran out of the labyrinth.
The Golem which had been about to attack the Connectors came to a stop. Its inorganic eyes moved toward Sungyoon.
- Can you feel the power?
Sungyoon replied in the negative.
The Golem moved, and the Connectors formed a wall in front of Sungyoon to stop it. They were trying their best to stall the Golem from attacking Sungyoon, who tried to stay loose while watching the battle.
Ba-dump! Ba-dump! Ba-dump!
When he heard the heartbeats, Sungyoon tapped at his communication device to create a vibration. When he was done sending the signal, he took up the halberd and entered the battle. Soon, the Golem existed no more.
As expected of the ultimate weapon against the Golems, Sungyoon lived up to his reputation. Even if the Golems from the labyrinths near the Great Labyrinth were relatively weaker, Sungyoon’s halberd was cutting through their hard bodies as if they were butter.
Sungyoon pushed aside the broken fragments of the Golem at his feet and got ready for the next one.
The Golems had been annihilated, and the number of labyrinths free of the Golems increased by one. However, Sungyoon hadn't come to this labyrinth because he wished to free this labyrinth from the Golems. He had joined this mission for an entirely different reason.
“How was it?”
Sungyoon entered a large trailer parked a good distance away from the battlefield.
“Ah. You're here.”
Numerous displays were hung on the wall of the trailer, and the screens showed all kinds of graphs and figures. One’s head would hurt just by looking at those numbers. And going over these very same numbers was the man who had greeted Sungyoon.
He was the lead researcher in the field of the anatomy and physiology of Connectors.
Sungyoon wanted to study the power that surged within him alongside the heartbeat, and Chelsea had introduced him to a scientist in the relevant field. This researcher had already wanted to examine Sungyoon’s body, so he had quickly accepted Sungyoon’s offer.
Sungyoon stood next to the Researcher and looked at the displays. Of course, he had no idea what the numbers meant, and they just gave him a headache.
The Researcher furrowed his brows.
“I see nothing out of the ordinary. The figures match up with what we see in most Connectors.”
Sungyoon also furrowed his brows.
“Does that mean we found out nothing?”
“Unfortunately yes. Even if the quality of the magical energy within you is different from others, we have no way of measuring it. There is no research that produced any meaningful results.”
The Researcher stared at Sungyoon.
“Of course, dissection might be the only way to bring about a concrete answer….”
“I’ll never let you do that.”
“It was a joke.”
Could he really trust this researcher? Sungyoon already had many doubts, and the Researcher's words made him revisit his skepticism once again.
The other researchers in the trailer helped Sungyoon remove the sensors from his skin.
Sungyoon then posed a question.
“How long are we going to continue this experiment?”
“We got all the data we need. We went around multiple labyrinths, so we have a very good sample size. Also, Armstrong city is starting to show reticence in clearing out more labyrinths.”
“Is it because of the Golem Role theory?”
The Researcher nodded.
Golem Role theory.
This theory proposed that the Golems fulfilled some unknown but important role in the labyrinths, and it was very important to retain the population of Golems. Armstrong city had been eliminating the Golems under the guise of making the city safe, but this theory undercut their excuse.
It was well known that the Golems repaired the labyrinths. So it wasn’t a stretch to say that they might fulfill other important functions. Thus, the theory made some sense.
“Armstrong city destroyed many Golems. They did this in the Beginner’s Labyrinth and many labyrinths around Armstrong city. So they have many sites where they could excavate the ‘Mana-Knights'. They have no excuse to further destroy the Golems, and they also want to monitor the other city to see what happens if too many Golems are eliminated.”
The other Lunar city, which Russia and China were still constructing, was indiscriminately destroying all the Golems around their Great Labyrinth. So if it had any side effects, they would appear in the other city first.
“Mana-Knights? Why did they have to name it that?”
“I had nothing to do with that decision.”
The Researcher responded to Sungyoon’s complaint. However, Sungyoon could tell by the Researcher’s voice that he was amused by the name.
Mana-Knight was the name of the ore found in the labyrinths near the Great Labyrinth. Normally, a substance would be named after the one who first discovered it. Chelsea’s boss had led a group of researchers to find the ore, and Sungyoon had helped in the discovery. So, the Director wanted to name the ore after Sungyoon.
However, Sungyoon had become aghast when he had heard that idea. So, they combined Mana, which referred to the magical energy, with Sungyoon’s nickname, and came up with a new name.
“I thought it was a pretty good name.”
“It really isn’t.”
“Well, Mr. Woo can file a complaint if you dislike it so much. Anyway, this is the end of our experiments since we have nothing else that we can test. We've discovered nothing, and the only thing left is to dissect your body.”
“That's too bad. Let’s end the research here.”
Sungyoon spoke quickly as a small smile appeared on the Researcher's lips.
“I’ll stop joking around now. We still have a lot of interest in your power, Mr. Woo. If we come up with another idea for a test, we’ll contact you. For the near future, we’ll be comparing the figures gathered from your various battles.”
“Please do so.”
“Are you going back into the labyrinths again, Mr. Woo?”
Sungyoon shook his head from side to side.
“After we fought the demonic type monster, our party decided to take a half-year break. I only came up here for a short time for these experiments.”
Sungyoon had bounced back from Kevil's attack pretty quickly, but he decided it would be best to delay the party's activities for a short time. Emily and Grace needed some time to rest and calm down. And so a suggestion was made to take this opportunity to rest for half a year. Thus, Sungyoon had been living a comfortable life on Earth, and it had been a while since he could do that.
“Are you heading back to Earth now?”
Sungyoon left behind the Researcher, who looked at him with envy, and returned to Armstrong.
Sungyoon walked through Armstrong city. He had purchased his ticket, and he would be riding the spaceship to Earth the next day. Since he had a day to burn, he had left his house to head toward the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
With the elimination of all the Golems, the Beginner’s Labyrinth was deemed safe again, and it functioned as the sole labyrinth for beginner Connectors in Armstrong city. However, something was different from before.
Sungyoon easily killed all the monsters that got in his way of descending the labyrinth. Soon, he caught sight of a sealed section. In the past, he had gotten in trouble when he had walked into a sealed section that was still being cleaned of monsters. But this section was sealed for an entirely different reason.
Without any hesitation, he entered the sealed section, and none of the Connectors on guard stopped him.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Sungyoon heard noisy sounds ringing again and again. He arrived at a location that looked more like a mining shaft than a labyrinth. Several people were making holes in the wall and excavating the Mana-Knights.
“Oh. Mr. Sungyoon is here.”
Chelsea greeted him. With a safety helmet covering her head, and a magical energy eliminator protecting her body, she had been overseeing the excavation.
Hearing Sungyoon's name, everyone in the area turned to look at Sungyoon.
“What are you doing! Hurry up and get back to work!”
An extremely muscular man yelled at the workers, and they once again went back to excavating the Mana-Knights.
The muscular man was the task leader who oversaw the work crew.
Sungyoon had hired this crew when he had received the rights to excavate Mana-Knights in the Beginner’s Labyrinth.Previous Chapter Next Chapter