Chapter 216

The number of chain explosions and the monsters moving around had significantly decreased. The party decided to mount a counterattack, and they killed all the remaining monsters quickly. They had been exposed to almost thirty minutes of constant explosions, so their ears still could still hear a ringing even after the battle was over.

The party sat in a corner to rest for a little bit.

“Is this our first time fighting a large-scale battle?”

Grace's question caused the rest of them to tilt their heads in puzzlement. Then, Tim spoke up as the representative.

“Can this really be called a battle?”

It was technically a fight, but they had mostly run away from the explosions and the crystal shrapnels. They never fought a proper battle.

“Still, they were unusually easy foes. Even if they rushed us with great numbers, we just needed to create a chain explosion and move into the space that was cleared. Although, the Reverse Gravity did cause us a bit of trouble.”

“That’s not true at all, Ms. Emily.”

Grace shook her head from side to side.

“If we had let the crystal monsters get close to us like all the other monsters, they would've self-destructed in front of us. The chain explosions would directly hit us at close range.”

“Ah!”

Emily’s face turned a shade paler.

“Mr. Sungyoon and Mr. Tim would've been fine, but us, the rear support, would've been in trouble.”

Emily and Grace were wearing robes that amplified their spells. And these robes provided way less defense compared to armor.

She let out a small laugh.

“It's like going through a hazing ritual. The middle stages of the Great Labyrinth wanted to give us a rough greeting.”

“It really is like that.”

While the two women conversed with each other, Sungyoon stood up.

“I'll go retrieve the moonstones.”

“I’ll help you.”

Emily spoke and stood up to walk beside Sungyoon. Tim and Grace also followed them.

The monsters had been attacking the party in waves. It meant that they had left behind a massive number of moonstones on the floor.

The moonstones of the crystal monsters were as big as basketballs, and these moonstones could be used to create a hill with their number. If Sungyoon were gathering the moonstones by himself, it would have taken him a very long time. But with the help of his party members, Sungyoon finished this frustrating task sooner, and then, the party moved on.

“This place is driving me nuts.”

Tim mumbled to himself. However, his companions felt the same way as him.

Boom!

As they were walking, a large ball of fire fell next to them. The party jumped to the side to avoid stray sparks.

Gahhhhhhhhh!

A bizarre sound rang out. It wasn’t the sound created by a living creature. It was the noise made by the pressurized steam forcing itself out from between the rocks. 

Beings made out of large burning rocks appeared in front of the party. Red flames leaked out from the monsters' crevices in a threatening manner. The monsters looked as if rocks of various sizes had been together to create a humanoid shape.

Seeing the three monsters, Tim put his guard up.

‘Then there’s that….’

Sungyoon’s eyes headed toward the sky.

Boom!

Another fireball fell from the sky and landed behind the party.

‘Is this what the end of the world would look like?’

Tim looked into the distance at the sky full of falling balls of fire.

Boom!

Tim blocked a fist as big as his upper body. He blocked the flurry of attacks from the three monsters. If he wasn’t careful, his party members might be attacked.

Boom! Boom! Boom! 

His senses were pushed to the limit. He deflected the frontal attacks to the side and intercepted any overhand blows with his ax.

“I got it!”

Grace, who was just behind Tim, yelled. As soon as Tim disengaged from the fight, cold energy swept forth.

Zzuhk! Zzuh-zuh-zuh-zuh-zuhk!

The flames on the monsters lessened. Their movements slowed, and in the end, they came to a complete stop. 

‘They are doing well.’

Sungyoon watched how his party members fared. They had shown a considerable amount of teamwork even without his help and took care of the monsters by themselves.

At that moment, Sungyoon was...

Kwah-jeek!

He stepped on the head of the fallen monster. Its body had been destroyed, so it was powerless against Sungyoon’s stomp.

Boom! Boom!

Another monster approached Sungyoon as if it wanted to crush him.

Hoo-oong!

The monster swung its fist. Sungyoon dodged the attack by moving his upper body, then he swung his sword.

Kwah-kwah-kwah-kwahng!

Thunder rang out and the light flashed.

The attack severed the giant’s arm as large and small rocks fell to the ground. Its flames dissipated, and only the black scorch mark from the powerful lightning was left behind on its body.

Sungyoon took a step forward to get close to the giant’s abdomen and swung his hammer.

Kwahng!

The giant’s abdomen exploded. As with the arm, its body parts turned into normal rocks while it was sent flying into the surrounding. This was the sixth giant that Sungyoon had destroyed.

By evolving his Gems in the Golem elimination missions, Sungyoon had become too powerful.

He had entered the middle stages of the Great Labyrinth, yet he probably could hunt there by himself without much problem. There was too big of a power difference between him and his party members.

Of course, he had evolved the Gems of his comrades too, but there was a limit to how much he could evolve the Gems. His party members' Devices were the limiting factor.

Even if they possessed high rank Gems, most of them possessed either Platinum or Gold rank Gems. He couldn’t evolve them any further.

However, Sungyoon didn’t even entertain the idea of disbanding his party. It was hard to find trustworthy people, and he liked his current party members. Moreover, they had entered the Great Labyrinth way ahead of schedule. So Sungyoon planned on slowly leading them forward.

Puh-uhk!

The spear blade of his halberd cleanly pierced through the burning head of the giant. Sungyoon then returned to his party.

“Are you guys ok?”

“Of course! This is nothing!”

Tim's voice exuded confidence. Sungyoon could tell he was telling the truth. Sungyoon had just become too strong, so to him, his party members looked weak in comparison. However, their Gems were still effective in this place.

Kwahng!

A fireball flew past above their heads and landed nearby. The party quickly gathered the moonstones. They could see fire tornadoes razing the ground in the distance on top of the fireballs that kept falling to the ground. The fire was everywhere.

“What do you think will come out next?”

Tim spoke as he looked around at the hell-like landscape. Sungyoon answered him.

“At the very least, it won’t be normal.”

***

After clearing a decent amount of floors in the middle stages of the Great Labyrinth, Sungyoon’s party returned to Armstrong. However, they could tell something was off.

“Did something happen while we were gone?”

Grace looked at her surrounding.

“There’s no way more Golems made an appearance, right?”

“Stop saying such awful things!”

Emily shuddered at Tim’s words.

Sungyoon looked around and concentrated his hearing. Fortunately, he didn’t hear any explosions, and none of the city's sectors had been partitioned off.

“At the very least, no battle has taken place in Armstrong.”

The party relaxed a little bit.

Tim stopped a passerby to ask a question.

“Excuse me. Did something happen in Armstrong?”

The man looked a bit annoyed when he saw who asked the question. However, his eyes widened when he saw Sungyoon and Grace. He spoke in a polite manner.

“Something happened to the city built by China and Russia.”

“Something bad happened?”

“Yes. We have lost all connections with them. However, they were able to send a message out before the communication was cut off. They said their city was being attacked by monsters.”

The faces of the four Connectors hardened.

“They were attacked by monsters? Are you sure about this?”

“I heard it through the grapevine. There haven’t been any official statements yet. However, I know for sure that Armstrong is gathering all their high rank Connectors. According to the rumor, it's for the defense of this city. It seems you just came out of the Great Labyrinth. You’ll probably get a call from the higher-ups soon.”

Defense. It was an odd subject to discuss when the topic involved Armstrong. The monsters didn’t come out of the labyrinths, and the only hub of humanity on the Moon was Armstrong. This had been true for the longest time.

However, this common knowledge had been subverted recently. It all started when Golems attacked Armstrong city.

The party moved toward the transport company to offload the moonstones.

“Ah. Mr. Woo Sungyoon and his party members!”

The receptionist brightened when he saw the party.

“The Mayor wants to see all of you.”

***

Gagarin·Yang City.

China and Russia had started building their own city when they saw weakness from Armstrong city. They created the city to take away the labyrinths and moonstones from Western civilization, which was anchored by the US. It was a city created with great ambition in mind.

However, this very city was being destroyed right now as if it were a bad dream. Monsters had surrounded the city, and they kept pouring into the city through the several holes created in the outer walls.

The Connectors were desperately trying to stem the tide.

Kwahhhhhng!

One of the buildings inside the city blew up.

“What the hell! Where did that explosion come from!”

“I’m pretty sure that’s the communication station.”

“What?”

The Connectors who had been desperately holding back the waves of monsters turned to look behind them. They caught sight of a destroyed building on fire.

“Shit! Does that mean we can’t contact Earth anymore? What about our reinforcement!”

Someone yelled in a downtrodden voice.

“Even if we send messages to Earth, they can’t immediately send reinforcement! We already contacted Armstrong city! Hold out until they come.”

“Why the hell would they come to save us!”

“I don’t know, you son of a bitch! Kill more monsters instead of talking!”

This Connector had reached the limit of his patience when his comrades kept asking questions. He then swung his mace at a nearby monster.

“Why did our communication station suddenly blow up!”

“I told you to just fight… I have no idea! Maybe some idiot pressed the self-destruct button!”

“Do you think monsters have already infiltrated that deep?”

“I’d rather you shut up instead of talking like that!”

The Connectors continued to bicker with each other. It seemed they weren’t too pressed at that moment.

“Shit! It's too hard to move because of the wind!”

The holes in the wall were sucking out the air, and soon, the city would become devoid of air.

Connectors didn’t breathe, so they weren’t worried about that. However, it would be a big problem if they couldn’t talk to each other.

‘Still, I think we can last for a while...’

The Connector became hopeful, but his hope was broken into pieces by the appearance of a particular monster.

- Hmm. Even if these are low-rank monsters, they are holding up better than expected.

The first thing the Connector's eyes went to was the breasts of a naked female.

There was something inhuman about her, but she had a beautiful face. She was stark naked, so some might think she was being overtly sexual. However, none of the Connectors were aroused by her appearance.

“… What the hell is that?”

Someone spoke.

- ‘That’? Are you referring to me?

Her upper body slowly turned. It looked as if her upper body was turning in mid-air. However, that wasn’t the case. Her long lower body moved in a way that reinforced this illusion. Her lower body was that of a snake.

“… It spoke?”

- Of course, I spoke. Did you think speech is only exclusive to humans?

“This is crazy! Shit!”

- You must be confused. It's understandable. You probably have no idea what's going on right now, but that doesn’t matter. You guys are in our way.

Her name was Glaia, and she raised her two hands.

- Just die.

Chwahk!

Her fingernails that were as sharp as knives extended forward.

Suh-guhk! Suh-guhk!

Weapons, shields, armor, everything was useless against the attack. Anything that got in the path of her fingernails was cut.

“Ooh! Ooh-ahhhhhhhk!”

A man yelled after his arm had been severed. Some others died instantly after their heads or bodies were cut off.

- I’m sorry. I’m inexperienced at this, so I made you feel pain. Don’t worry. I’ll end your pain soon.

With a cruel laugh, Glaia raised her hand to finish the deed.

It happened at that moment.

Tuh-ung!

A spear flew toward her, but she deflected it.

“Back off.”

A man slowly approached her.

Alexei Volkov. 

Whenever one discussed the strongest Connector in Russia, his name always came up.

“I’ll take care of that monster.”

He picked up his spear from the ground and spoke. The nearby Connectors eyed him and slowly moved away from Glaia to focus on other monsters. 

Glaia looked at her fingernails. She felt a tingling sensation coming from them.

‘With my power reduced, I can tell this one will cause me some trouble.’

The fight against all the other Connectors had felt like a walk in the park for Glaia. However, the man in front of her was a formidable opponent.

Glaia’s sharp eyes glared at him. However, she didn’t get to fight against Volkov.

“I’m sorry, Glaia. Do you mind if I take care of him?”

Someone walked up next to Glaia. Volkov frowned when he saw who it was as he knew him well.

“… Why are you standing next to her, Sung Hyunwoo?”

Hyunwoo let out a meaningful smile.

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