Chelsea observed them as they entered the door. Thankfully, no one was missing, and it washed away the worries in her heart.
“You were a bit late this time.”
She had just casually spoken, yet all four of them frowned. Chelsea had known them for a while now, so her face hardened.
‘Something must have happened again.’
How many times had he gotten in trouble? Chelsea looked at Sungyoon, whose spectacular experiences were on par with his fame.
“Please go wash for now. I’ll make dinner.”
Her words meant she would toast some bread and heat frozen food. However, it would be better than cooking right after returning from the labyrinth. Thus, no one objected even though they knew Chelsea was a terrible cook.
An hour later, all of them gathered around the kitchen table. Tim’s large hand picked up a beer bottle, and he took a big gulp.
He released all the pent-up stress in his body through that sigh. Tim abstained from drinking alcohol in the labyrinth, so whenever he returned to this house, he would drink the alcohol as if it were the water from the fountain of youth.
The others took a sip of their beers too and grabbed some appetizers. They were eating frozen foods heated up through the microwave, but they didn't care about that as they shoveled the food into their mouths.
“Let’s hear the account of your heroic exploits.”
Chelsea spoke as she chewed on a sandwich.
“What happened this time? Don’t try to hide it from this noona. Spill it.”
“Please don’t talk about me as if I’m some troublemaker.”
Sungyoon sounded a bit offended. However, he had to go silent when Grace spoke up with a gentle smile on her face.
“If you think about what we have gone through up until now, it isn’t surprising to hear such a statement.”
“That is especially true for Mr. Sungyoon.”
Chelsea delivered the final blow.
Tim guffawed, and Emily and Grace also laughed.
“… Understood. I’ll tell you about it now. I was going to do it later anyway since I need your consultation.”
Sungyoon started from the beginning when the party had been attacked inside the Great Labyrinth by the ambushers. Expressions of worry for Sungyoon and anger toward the ambushers appeared on Chelsea’s face.
When Sungyoon reached the next portion of the story, Chelsea's jaw fell to the ground.
She suddenly stood up and asked while leaning over the kitchen table.
“When you said portal, do you mean THE portal? The portal that allows interdimensional travel?”
Chelsea’s eyes had almost burst out of their sockets, and they became as scary as the red eyes of the monsters inside the labyrinths. Chelsea usually looked slovenly, but the soul of a scientist burned in her eyes at that moment.
Sungyoon placed the Gold Gem in front of Chelsea.
“It's the Gem that I stole from one of the ambushers. It has the ability to create a portal.”
“D-do you mind if I take a closer look?”
“Of course not.”
Chelsea carefully grabbed the Gem as if it were a priceless and irreplaceable item. She slowly turned the Gem and observed it, but found nothing out of the ordinary in the end. After placing the Gem back on the table, she continued her barrage of questions.
“Where! Where did you move to?”
Her face was getting closer to him after each word, and Sungyoon pushed his chair back a little.
“I don't know the exact location. However, I assume it's somewhere on the Moon. It was connected to a city.”
“Yes. It was an ancient city abandoned a long time ago.”
Chelsea’s eyes became feverish. Sungyoon unconsciously pushed his chair back a little bit more, and everyone else did the same.
“That’s the only word that fits it. It was pretty well preserved, yet a lot of the buildings were starting to fall apart. We could see the passage of time in the city. I do not know any more details. We only saw the building connected to the portal and another that looked like a palace.”
Sungyoon took out several items from his storage Gem. Most of them were objects like the sculpture from The Palace.
Chelsea realized these were relics from an ancient city, so she rushed forward to examine them. Archaeology wasn't something she had studied, but the prospect of studying relics from an unknown civilization made her blood boil as a scientist.
Sungyoon talked about the building with the portal and The Palace. His party members chimed in if they thought he missed anything. Chelsea was practically hugging the sculpture, but she still paid attention to and processed all the importation.
Finally, Sungyoon started to talk about the most shocking part of their discovery.
“In order to open the portal, we had to recharge it with magical energy. To do so, we went up a spire. There, we saw something odd.”
Chelsea noticed that the mood of the party had turned serious.
“They were wall paintings.”
“The paintings showed the abridged version of the history of an ancient civilization. The problem remains that I do not know the veracity of the story, but if it's true, it might end all our efforts to clear the Great Labyrinth.”
“You're scaring me. What did you see?”
“I’ll keep it short. The paintings were about the ancient civilization, a creature, and the birth of the Moon.”
As she listened to Sungyoon slowly describe the content of the wall paintings, Chelsea’s face hardened. The burning curiosity in her eyes was replaced with anxiety and worry.
“… If that's true, it's a serious matter.”
“Yes. It might stop the raids in the Great labyrinth.”
“I’ll have to inform the Director. Of course, the Mayor will probably hear it through him.”
“Please do so. Fortunately, after that shocking discovery, everything was normal.”
Sungyoon detailed how they had escaped the city by recharging the magical energy to the portal, and the story reached the end.
Chelsea let out a sigh full of admiration.
“You had another amazing adventure. I’m sure Jimin would love to hear this story.”
Sungyoon silently turned his head away. Jimin was always exasperated by all the trouble he got into, and Sungyoon was well aware of it.
Chelsea stood up from the kitchen table.
“I'll be going to the research center to report this right now.”
She felt a sense of urgency. What she had heard today was too big of a bombshell.
“I know you all went through a lot in the Great Labyrinth, so I feel bad telling you this. Many people will want to meet with you. I'm telling you this right now because I want you to be prepared.”
As Chelsea had predicted, a day later, the Mayor sent a message to Sungyoon and his party.
Sungyoon and his party had arrived at the city hall. They sat on one side of the room, while Chelsea, the Director, and the Mayor sat on the other.
“I heard most of the details from the Director.”
The Mayor didn’t hide the serious expression on his face as he spoke.
“If I’m being honest, we wouldn't have taken this information seriously if it had come from anyone else.”
Sungyoon had no evidence for his story. He couldn’t open the portal, and he had no idea where this ancient city was located. The only thing he could show was the artifacts his party had brought back. Researchers were trying to determine the authenticity of these artifacts, but that would take a lot of time. Some of the researchers didn’t even want to bother checking them out.
After all, Sungyoon’s story was outrageous.
However, Sungyoon had built up his credibility over time. He was a top Connector even amongst the highest-ranked prospects. The Mayor relied on him. Sungyoon was his best card in any crunch situation. Moreover, someone of Grace’s stature was also corroborating the story, and her words carried weight as the princes of England.
“We have decided to trust your story for now.”
Sungyoon lowered his head by a little.
“When our business is done, I would like you to describe the city in detail.”
The Mayor spoke as he touched the artifacts. Sungyoon nodded in reply.
“May I see the Gem?”
Sungyoon placed the mysterious Gold Gem on top of the table, and the Mayor immediately picked it up. With a monocular, he examined the Gem as if he were a stalker. However, he eventually put down the Gem with a sigh.
“If I’m being honest, I can’t tell the difference between it and a normal Gem.”
“Do we need a specialized equipment to examine it?”
“This is embarrassing to admit, but we've already done a thorough examination of it in the research lab. We didn’t gain much from it, and as for what we did discover, we get the same results from normal Gems.”
Mixed emotions appeared on Chelsea's face as she listened to the Director.
After the International Research facility was established in Armstrong city, they had received a massive amount of funds for their research. However, even after studying the Gems for dozens of years, they didn't learn much.
As the director, McGregor was stressed about it.
“It would be best if Mr. Sungyoon kept it with himself. He might eventually learn how to use it, and the Gem could impart some knowledge like last time.”
The Mayor looked at the Gem on the desk, then stared at Sungyoon.
“Please tell me more about the wall paintings that you found.”
The atmosphere turned heavy.
“Let me ask this question to the Director first. Do you think the wall paintings are credible?”
McGregor had heard everything from Chelsea, and he stroked his beard.
“I haven’t seen the wall paintings for myself, so I can’t give a definite answer. For now, we don’t have the evidence to make the determination. Except...”
He brought down the hand that had been stroking the beard and continued.
“The most credible theory on how the Moon came to exist matches up with the story: the Moon was formed when part of Earth was ejected into orbit.”
“It corroborates the story within the wall painting!”
The Mayor sounded very serious.
The Director spoke up to assist the Mayor.
“In truth, there are many wild theories about labyrinths. The existence of the labyrinths is indeed quite mysterious. But don’t we have a myth that tells a similar story? I’m talking about the Minotaur.”
McGregor was referring to Greek mythology: the story about a creature with the head of a bull being housed in a labyrinth.
“I know that story. Many organizations used it to say that we shouldn’t be clearing the labyrinths. They have been a thorn in my sides, but it seems they might have been right.”
The Mayor let out a hollow laugh. He had treated these organizations as megalomaniacs who wanted to avoid reality. However, it seemed there was credible evidence now that might put him in the wrong. This development left him dumbfounded.
“No truths have been revealed so far. We need evidence to claim it as fact.”
The Director warned the Mayor to not rush in drawing conclusions.
“However, this might be a turning point. It could allow us to get closer to finding the true nature of the labyrinths. All the questions that we had about them might be answered."
The answers had eluded then for the past couple dozens of years. So, the Director couldn’t hide the excitement in his voice at a chance to unravel it all.
The Mayor looked down at the desk for a moment as he fell deep into his thoughts.
“Do you realize it? The portal and the wall paintings are amazing discoveries, but they are dangerous at the same time?”
The mood in the room sank further. In this pin-drop silence, Sungyoon calmly replied.
“I do.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter