Chapter 231

The Connectors split each time they came to a crossroads in the labyrinth as they searched the labyrinth in groups like an encircling net. The leaders of each group were chosen beforehand.

Kwah-doo-doohk!

Sungyoon’s halberd pierced the Orc’s neck, and the growling orc fell over like a corpse. He picked up the moonstone and led his group forward. 

Sungyoon was famous for his exploits as the Knight, so no one had objected when he was chosen as this group's leader.

Seeing a corner coming up, Sungyoon raised his hand. The Connectors behind him lowered their bodies to the best of their abilities and decreased their pace. Sungyoon placed his back on the labyrinth wall as he put up his guard. In a flash, a hammer and a shield appeared in his hands.

After making sure the Connectors behind him were ready, Sungyoon turned his eyes toward the corner.

Tuhk!

His body almost bounced as he turned the corner, then he pushed his shield forward and raised his hammer.

However, Sungyoon only saw space.

“Hoo-ooh!”

He lowered his weapons to his sides, and everyone relaxed at the sight.

“This sucks. We have to do this every time we turn a corner.”

Tim grumbled.

The group had no idea when the ambushers would attack them. The most likely place for such an attack would be sharp corners like this one, so they had to be very careful in advancing there. Tim was a hot-headed man. It wasn’t in his nature to be so cautious.

“In that aspect, monsters are better. They don’t ambush you.”

“That only applies to monsters that aren’t from the Great Labyrinth. Still, you do have a point.”

Emily responded to Tim.

Sungyoon looked over his group. His group had a total of three parties, including his own. At the very least, he would have to command all of them until they came to a crossroad where they would have to split.

Sungyoon turned his head toward the tunnel once again, and he was about to move forward when something caught his eyes. It was a familiar item that silently came shooting toward him.

“Get ready to fight!”

Sungyoon yelled while raising his shield.

Kwahhhhng!

A loud sound rang out as a tremendous force impacted Sungyoon’s shield. The object was an arrow, but the power behind it was too big to call it an ordinary arrow. As if it wanted to cause a reverberation, the arrow kept moving before it dissipated.

‘Vibration Arrow!’

The light in Sungyoon’s eyes changed.

An archer had exploded the Moon Surface Vehicle and inflicted the most casualties in their previous engagement. Sungyoon was sure that this archer was the same as the previous one.

A gray shadow moved down the tunnel as Sungyoon chased it. But the shadow disappeared as it turned the next corner.

“What the hell was that!”

Tim kept his shield forward as he stood next to Sungyoon.

“It was an arrow.”

“Arrow?”

Tim knew about the destruction of the Moon Surface Vehicle, so he understood what it implied.

“Is it him?”

“I believe so.”

Sungyoon glared down the tunnel with murderous intent.

He had become familiar with most of the researchers that had been killed in the last attack. However, what infuriated him the most was that Chelsea had been attacked. His anger for the death of the researchers was less in comparison to the anger he felt for Chelsea, but it was still considerable.

Unfortunately, the culprit had already escaped.

Sungyoon turned behind.

“Please go contact the command center. We found the rabbit on the fourth floor, section D.”

“OK!”

The Connector in charge of contacting the command center answered. 

“The rest of us will slowly move forward. We have to be careful of the ambush from the rabbits. We aren’t going to rush this. I want you to think of it as we slowly choking out their lives.”

Their opponents were mice hiding within a jar, and there was no upside in rushing this. They did not need to take unnecessary risks.

Sungyoon gestured two Connectors. Tim and another Connector with a large shield came forward and advanced with their shields raised.

The group crept forward.

***

At the same time...

One of the groups had chosen to advance without care for their safety. They were a stark contrast to Sungyoon’s group, who had chosen safety above all else.

Boom!

The spear fiercely clashed against the sword. Jinsoo and an ambusher broke apart and put some distance between each other.

Ptooey!

“This rabbit is pretty good!”

Jinsoo spat before taking a firmer grip of his spear. A devilish smile appeared on his face.

“A little rabbit should act like a little rabbit! Don’t use your teeth against me! Go run away into your hole!”

Puh-uhng!

Several of his Gems erupted with a wicked light. When the ambusher saw this—it was unclear if it was due to the anger or fluster—his movements became rough.

“Ha ha ha ha! What the hell! You're only a rabbit, so why are you getting angry? Do you hate me? Ah! I guess it can't be helped?”

Jinsoo cackled as he shouted.

“One of these might be your mother or father!”

Kwahhhhhng!

The ambusher’s ax violently pushed Jinsoo backward. There was no mercy in his attack. However, Jinsoo was in complete control of the fight now, unlike a few moments ago.

“What’s wrong! Rage harder! Use your hate! Cry and beg toward the sky!”

Boom!

The spear blade continuously stabbed his opponent, and the ambusher barely dodged the attack or blocked it with his shield. However, marks had started to appear on his armor.

Tuhk!

After staggering backward, the ambusher’s foot got caught in a rock protruding from the ground, and he lost his balance.

“I got you!”

Jinsoo took a big stab with his spear. The spear spun like a drill as it split through the air.

Kwahhhhhng!

An explosive sound rang out.

Jinsoo retreated backward when he felt the numbness in his hands. Surprisingly, the ambusher had completely blocked his attack. He silently glared at Jinsoo.

“Tsk. You have it too? I guess it's to be expected. It was your technique in the first place.”

After clicking his tongue, Jinsoo brought his spear up toward the ambusher. Since he knew the ambusher was using the same power as him, he couldn’t play around anymore.

“However, a strong rabbit is just a rabbit. Your power works only when you're running away or copulating. How dare a herbivore bare its teeth against me!”

The murderous energy at the end of Jinsoo's speartip thickened. He moved his feet to get a sure footing, then lowered his body.

Jinsoo resembled a carnivore about to hunt down its prey.

The ambusher expression made it seem he wanted to rip apart Jinsoo’s neck, but...

He turned around.

“Huh?”

It was totally unexpected. Jinsoo shook off his shock as he thought about chasing after the ambusher escaping deeper into the labyrinth.

“Hey! Hey!”

The ambusher had appeared to be in an emotionally heightened state as if he was going to attack Jinsoo. That was why Jinsoo was a beat late in reacting when his opponent ran away. By the time he had reacted, his opponent had a significant lead.

“Shit!”

Jinsoo's legs twitched. He thought about chasing down the ambusher, but he gave up on it soon. The ambusher could have been trying to lure him into a trap. Jinsoo looked at the back of the ambusher in dismay, and his face resembled a dog that had been chasing after a chicken.

“That was why I had told you not to play around.”

Jinsoo heard a familiar voice from behind him.

Then….

Boom!

A torrent rushed forward. A blue wave roared as if it wanted to rip apart the surrounding magical energy and ground.

The scene resembled a million blue fireflies surging forward at once. But unlike its beautiful appearance, the current was violent and brutal. The ambusher, who had been running away, looked backward. He quickly raised his shield in surprise when he saw the blue current converging on him.

Puhng!

The blue current swept over the ambusher, and the pitch-black labyrinth became bright for an instant. Like an eagle surrounding its prey to rip apart its flesh, the blue current ran rampant around the ambusher.

Hoo-oohk!

After reaching the zenith, the current disappeared. A darkness deeper than before settled in the labyrinth, and the aftermath of the rampage came into view.

Jinsoo approached the site of the attack.

“You made a real mess.”

The armor had cracks everywhere, and blood seeped out of those cracks. The fallen ambusher’s body was twisted in odd angles. It was a horrible sight.

Jinsoo approached Hyunwoo from the back.

“Is he dead?”

“I think so.”

Jinsoo kicked the corpse, which rolled over without giving any reaction.

“What shall we do about this?”

“Take it. Even if they investigate the corpse, they won’t be able to find anything. However, we should give as little information as possible.”

Jinsoo and Hyunwoo were in the company of other Connectors, but no one objected to Hyunwoo’s words. Every one of them was from Fabion, and they were all in on it.

“Heave ho!”

Jinsoo put the corpse into his storage Gem.

“That thing is amazing. Is that the power of a Diamond rank Gem?”

Jinsoo asked as he recalled the current made out of blue light.

“Yeah. I stole this Gem when Gagarin·Yang city fell.”

“Its power gave me chills.”

Jinsoo shook his head from side to side.

“I can’t use it when outsiders are watching. I’ll have to use it to my heart’s content here to get used to it.”

“Many condolences to those that come across you, Mr. Hyunwoo.”

Unlike the lies and pretense Jinsoo liked to speak, he truly meant this. The Diamond Gem Hyunwoo had acquired possessed overwhelming power. However, Jinsoo didn’t have to worry about it since it would be used against their foes. He put on a smile once again and energetically took the lead.

“Let’s start the rabbit hunt once again! Rabbit hunt! Ha! I don’t know who came up with the name of this mission, but I really like it. It's quite apt.”

When one considered the identity of the prey they were hunting down, there was no better name for this mission. Jinsoo was sure of it.

***

Boom!

The arrow packed a heavy punch as it landed on the shield. Tim frowned.

“Ah. Shit!”

The powerful vibration passed through the shield and made his arm numb. Tim's body stiffened. However, he gritted his teeth and took a step forward. But the ambusher who had shot the arrow had run deeper into the labyrinth once again.

“Does that rat never run out of arrows?”

Tim had moved past anger, and his voice now contained dismay. The arrows being shot from the distance really got on his nerves.

“They aren't normal arrows. Normal arrows don't disappear after hitting its target. I’m sure it's the ability of a weapon Gem.”

As Sungyoon had said, none of the arrows had fallen around Tim.

“Don’t get too heated. We are getting close to the end. Soon, it will be the end of the crossroads. He can’t run away forever.”

Two days had already passed since they had started chasing after the archer. As pursuers, they were tired, so Sungyoon was sure his opponent was exhausted too. 

It also meant that Sungyoon had every intention of taking this slow since the end was nigh.

Ooh-uhhhhhhhhh!

A roar rang out on the other side of the tunnel. At the same time, the party heard the sound of battles.

“It seems he ran across a monster.”

Grace stared down the tunnel. They were basically playing hide and seek in here, but a labyrinth was usually full of monsters. Moreover, the monsters were neither on the side of Armstrong city’s Connectors nor on the ambushers'. So of course, the two opposing forces had to deal with the monsters while fighting each other.

Sungyoon made a gesture with his hand, and the party increased their speed a little. As soon as they turned the corner, they arrived at the location where the ambusher had fought the monster.

The ambusher had already left, and the only thing left was the body of the monster that had yet to turn into moonstone.

“It’s a Troll.”

Emily mumbled. Sungyoon checked the corpse of the Troll.

“This one also wasn’t killed by an arrow.”

He saw a long cut starting from the shoulder and ending at the opposite hip. It wasn't the mark of an arrow. This had been the case for the last two days. None of the recently-killed monsters Sungyoon's party ran across in their pursuit had been killed by arrows.

“Does this mean the archer is traveling with other ambushers?”

“The probability is high. However, I can't say with certainty. Even I'm capable of using multiple weapons.”

Sungyoon stood up as he answered Grace.

“Well, we’ll eventually find out once we corner them.”

Sungyoon led his party forward again.

When he had reported that they had found the ambushers, the command center had sent more troops as support. So Sungyoon’s party had grown in size.

“Huh?”

Sungyoon suddenly felt something and stopped walking. He raised his hand and felt something flowing past it. The others sensed the current too.

“Mana Stream!”

Emily exclaimed as she looked at the empty air.

“Now that I think about it, they did say we were close to it.”

Sungyoon remembered the briefing. 

Every Connector participating in this mission could withstand the Mana Stream, so Sungyoon didn't worry about it and continued moving.

The group soon arrived at a corner once again, and as always, the whole group became tense. Space had always greeted them up until this point, and it was the same this time too. 

‘They aren’t here. It won’t be long before we reach the dead end.’

Sungyoon felt a bit puzzled. He was about to turn toward his party members when it happened.

Hoo-oong!

The chilling sound of destruction split the air.

Sungyoon quickly backed away as a greatsword sliced through the spot he had been at.

‘It seems they’ll be fighting back in earnest now.’

Sungyoon raised his sword and shield as a man clad in black armor appeared out of the shadow in front of him.

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