Chapter 232

The pitch-black armor resonated with the darkness and exuded an ominous feeling.

Since Connectors had the ability to see their surroundings through magical energy, they could differentiate between the black armor and the surrounding darkness. However, it didn’t change the fact that the armor made them feel uneasy.

Sungyoon looked around. The tunnel behind the man in the black armor got smaller and smaller along its length. Most of the labyrinth was massive in scale, so the size of this small tunnel was unusual.

‘It's a great place to face a large group of foes.’

It seemed the ambushers had been waiting for Sungyoon's group to reach here. However, a labyrinth was a labyrinth. Even if the tunnel was narrow, it was still spacious enough.

Sungyoon sent a signal toward his back, and the Connectors in his group moved. A wall of shields appeared in front of the black armor.

“Let’s start.”

As soon as Sungyoon spoke, the Connectors holding the shields slowly advanced. However, the black-armored man, who occupied the center of the narrow tunnel, didn’t budge an inch.

At an instinctual level, the Connectors felt that they were gazing into an abyss, and a chilling gaze glared at them.

Sssssk!

The man in the black armor swung his enormous greatsword as if it were a chopstick.

Kwahhhhhng!

The hard shield shook under the attack of the greatsword. The Connector who had blocked the attack couldn’t hold up and was pushed backward. The Connectors waiting behind the shields, including Sungyoon, dashed at the man in the black armor from the sides.

These Connectors planned on slipping behind him to pinch him from both sides.

Sssssk!

However, the man in the black armor swung his greatsword, and something crawled out of it.

Too-hwahk!

Tendrils shot toward the Connectors trying to slip behind the man in the black armor.

“Tsk!”

Sungyoon raised his shield. His steel plates unfolded like flower petals and fiercely spun.

Tuh-uhng!

The shadow bounced off the shield, but the power behind the attack was significant. Sungyoon gave up on slipping behind his opponent. It was the same for the others.

Sungyoon then observed the shadows that had emerged from the greatsword.

‘They are swords.’

Two identical shadow greatswords had appeared from the handle of the greatsword in the hands of the black-armored man.

Puh-uhng!

Suddenly, an arrow appeared from behind the man and landed on a shield. As always, the vibration of the arrow affected the Connector blocking the attack. The Connector frowned as he lowered his shield arm by a small amount. However, this movement revealed his face, and the shadow greatsword grasped this opening.

Kwahhhhng!

A large explosive sound rang out. 

The Connector’s eyes had turned round as he had been watching the shadow greatsword fly toward his face. However, a halberd coming from the side intercepted the shadow. Cold sweat ran down the Connector's face.

“Get back!”

Hearing Sungyoon's shout, the Connector jumped in surprise and retreated. Sungyoon filled the empty spot in the defensive line.

‘He is strong.’

After deflecting the shadow greatsword, Sungyoon glared at the man in the black armor.

However, the man showed no reaction. He freely moved the shadow greatsword with his will and attacked any weak point in the shield wall.

‘He's better than me in terms of skill.’

A sharp voice coming from the rear jolted Sungyoon out of his thoughts.

“Get out of the way!”

The entire line of combatants, including Sungyoon, retreated all at once.

Kwahhhng!

A large fireball shot forward from the rear, and the flames swept through the labyrinth. The fire lit up the dark labyrinth. Grace and another magician had combined their might for this attack. However, the attack had yet to end.

Hweeeeeeeng!

Fierce winds surged forward to support the previous attack. The oxygen breathed life into the flames, and the fireball grew in size. Another magician had used his wind spell to increase the intensity of the previous attack.

Puh-ung!

The wind and the flame danced. The enhanced heat was contained inside the labyrinth thanks to the special nature of the labyrinth. Like an oven, the labyrinth concentrated the heat as the flames ran rampant.

The heat became so fierce that even the high rank Connectors protected by the innate resistance of their armors had to retreat to a safe distance.

“Whew! I don’t think even ashes will be left behind.”

Tim watched the spectacle with a happy expression, but Sungyoon’s expression remained tense.

‘If my prediction is correct….’

The fabulous dance of the flame and the wind ran its course and started to die down. Since the temperature was still high, the air was distorted.

The Connectors couldn’t see any traces of the black-armored man.

“Huh? It really left no ash behind.”

Tim was taken aback.

The spells were powerful, but the man in the black armor was as strong as or better than most of the Connectors here. The spells shouldn’t have turned him into ash.

‘As expected...’

Unlike the flustered Tim, Sungyoon calmly observed the tunnel.

Ssssssk.

In front of his eyes, a black helmet emerged from the floor followed by the re-emergence of shoulders, arms, body, legs, and feet. When he fully emerged from the ground, the Connectors could see that the black-armored man wasn't affected in the slightest.

“What the hell….”

Tim was shocked, while Sungyoon’s eyes sobered.

‘As expected, that's Mr. Hahn Jungbum’s armor...’

Before Sungyoon had entered the labyrinth, he had asked Hyunwoo about the abilities of Jungbum’s armor. Hyunwoo wouldn’t tell him how Jungbum had died, but he hadn't hesitated to reveal Jungbum's abilities.

Sungyoon’s gaze headed toward the armor.

‘The armor can melt into the nearby darkness, and the user can move around in the darkness...’

His eyes once again turned toward the greatsword.

‘The shadow greatswords that the sword creates depends upon how much magical energy is injected into the sword by the owner.’

Sungyoon then gazed at the man wearing the black armor.

‘Is it really Mr. Hahn Jungbum?’

Sungyoon discreetly glanced at the Connectors from Fabion. They didn’t show much emotion and silently followed Sungyoon’s orders while fighting the black-armored man.

Of course, not all of them probably knew about Hahn Jungbum, but Sungyoon still felt their reaction was a bit too subdued. However, he decided to move on from that thought.

‘The higher-ups of Fabion might have mentioned it in passing, and these Connectors might not know much about Hahn Jungbum.’

It didn’t matter if the man in the black armor was Jungbum or not. He was their foe. Still, Sungyoon couldn't shake the uncomfortable feeling in his heart. Since they were inside a labyrinth, verbal communication was possible, and this uneasiness could be put to bed with a short exchange of words.

Therefore, Sungyoon asked the man in the black armor.

“Are you Hahn Jungbum?”

The man looked at Sungyoon.

‘What kind of reaction is that?’

The man had reacted, but it was unclear if he was reacting to the content of Sungyoon’s words or to just the sound of them.

Hearing Sungyoon speak a familiar name, the Connectors from Fabion flinched.

Just as Sungyoon opened his mouth to speak further—

Kwahhhhng!

“Koo-oooohk!”

An arrow flew toward him and stopped him.

A shout came from the other side of the tunnel.

‘Is it the archer?’

The archer, who had yet to reveal himself in the battle, had peeked his head around the corner to yell. He was probably speaking to the man wearing the black armor. However, Sungyoon couldn’t understand what he was saying.

‘What language is that?’

Sungyoon was proficient in English. Although he hadn’t studied any other language, he could usually identify the language on hearing it. However, the archer had yelled in a language that Sungyoon had never heard before.

‘Are they speaking in codes?’

After the archer’s shout, the movements of the man in the black armor turned fierce. Sungyoon no longer asked any questions. No, he couldn’t do it. The black-armored man had become too fierce for Sungyoon to ask any questions.

One sword and two shadow swords attacked the Connectors in waves.

The black-armored man used the small terrain to his utmost advantage. His use of the three swords bordered on being fantastical as the Connectors couldn’t break past the barrage of attacks.

As the fight went on, another voice came from the other side of the tunnel. This time, it was the voice of a woman, but her words were still undecipherable. 

The man in the black armor instantly disappeared into the ground.

‘He hid in the darkness!’

With the disappearance of the man in the black, the Connectors could clearly see the sight ahead. A wave of water was coming crashing toward them.

“Everyone defend!”

Sungyoon yelled. He then grabbed Grace, and Tim grabbed Emily. Both of them planted their shields on the ground and rooted themselves to the floor.

Puh-uh-uhng!

White water sprayed as a large wave hit the party. The Connectors had to use all the strength in their bodies to prevent themselves from being swept away.

Sungyoon and Tim were the same. If they let down their guard even for a moment, the current would sweep them away down the labyrinth. Even in this situation, Sungyoon continued to look ahead.

Ssssk.

It seemed the wave was gone, but the current still flowed. The black armor emerged from the floor once again. He gave Sungyoon a glance, then ran deeper into the labyrinth.

‘That bastard!’

Sungyoon had no idea what that man was planning, but he didn’t intend on being at his mercy any longer. He placed Grace next to Tim. Tim looked a bit surprised when Grace’s hand was placed in his other empty hand.

Puh-uh-uhng!

Stalagmites erupted in front of Sungyoon. The water moved around the stalagmites, and the current raging around Sungyoon weakened.

Chwahk!

Sungyoon ran up a stalagmite and spotted the back of the escaping black armor. Then, Sungyoon’s cape turned into a pair of luminescent wings as he surged into the air.

Puhl-luhk!

The wings flapped, and Sungyoon’s body accelerated. He was aiming for the black-armored man, and his ax and hammer appeared in his hands.

The man in the black armor sensed Sungyoon’s presence, so he turned around and swung his greatsword.

Boom! Boom!

Two shadow greatswords clashed against Sungyoon’s ax and hammer. Seeing an opening created by the clash, the black-armored man tried to attack Sungyoon with the real greatsword.

Kwahng!

Sungyoon summoned his sword to block the attack. His activation speed surprised the man in the black armor as lightning assaulted the man. The black-armored man's movements slowed for a brief moment. Sungyoon took hold of this opportunity and striked.

“PLU-EL!”

The archer yelled from the sides.

Was it the name of the black-armored man? Or was it just a word in that unknown language? Sungyoon didn't know that, but what he did know for sure was that the archer had aimed his bow at him.

Toohng!

An arrow shot forward.

Since Sungyoon was still in the air, he couldn’t dodge the arrow. So he desperately twisted his upper body and let go of his sword. The halberd made its appearance. Then, as if he were unwinding his upper body, Sungyoon threw the halberd toward the archer with all his might.

Poo-yoong!

The arrow and the halberd reached their targets at the same time.

Boom!

“Koo-ook!”

Sungyoon blocked the arrow with his shield, but the power behind it was immense. His wings couldn’t do anything as he was sent flying backward.

Koo-jeek!

“Ahhhhhk!”

As soon as Sungyoon landed on the ground, he heard a scream. When he raised his head, he saw the archer stagger. The spear blade had pierced through his armor and blood flew out. 

However, the black-armored man supported the archer, and the two disappeared deeper into the labyrinth.

Sungyoon stood up.

“Mr. Sungyoon!”

Tim ran up beside him as the effects of the wave had dissipated. His comrades looked like mice wet from rainwater. Sungyoon pointed at the direction where the ambushers had run away.

“Let’s chase after them. After we pass this tunnel, we'll arrive at the last room on this floor.”

With Sungyoon in the lead, the group followed the trail of blood left behind by the archer. As always, they advanced with care. 

‘We've cornered them.’

Soon, they would arrive in the last room in this region. Sungyoon prepared himself for the final battle as he entered the room.

However, he found the room empty.

“… Where are they?”

Sungyoon mumbled in a surprised tone. 

The Connectors behind him also looked flustered as they glanced at their surroundings.

“… Did the black-armored man hide them all in the darkness?”

Tim asked.

“No. If they could use such a method, they wouldn’t have run so deep into the labyrinth. Still, we should make sure they aren’t here. Please divide yourselves into groups of two and search this place.”

Under Sungyoon’s orders, everyone spread out in each direction.

Sungyoon followed the blood of the archer. The drops of blood led to the center of the room, where it came to an abrupt stop. He looked around his surroundings, but failed to spot any further tracks of the archer’s blood.

‘Did a ghost steal them away?’

He felt as if his enemies had performed a great escape at a magic show, and he had no idea how they did it.

“Huh?”

Upon seeing something sparkling near the blood, Sungyoon bent over.

‘Gem?’

In front of his eyes was a necklace-type Device whose strings were broken. The slot at the center of the Device held a Gem.

The Gem smeared with warm blood let out a subdued light as if it were announcing its presence.

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