“I don’t think so. It sounds like humans running.”
“Some monster’s footsteps can sound like a human's.”
Russell’s party discussed what the sounds were.
“It could be Fabion Connectors.”
When Bruce spoke those words in a low voice, everyone became tense. Until now, the monsters of the Great Labyrinth hadn't been much of a challenge to the group, and that would only change if they went much deeper into the Great Labyrinth.
However, it was an entirely different story if they had to face Connectors.
Everyone raised their weapons.
“I hope so. I don’t want to stay here any longer without knowing the reason Fabion is here.”
As Bruce grumbled, the footsteps came closer and closer. A figure rushed past a steep bend in the tunnel and appeared before the group. He was a human, a fully-armed human. As his eyes fell on the group, he stopped in his tracks.
“Hey! Hello there!”
Bruce waved at him.
As of right now, the group wasn’t enemies with Fabion, and Bruce didn't want to instigate a fight without a good reason.
“I heard you guys are doing something fun here. We want to participa—”
The sudden attack forced Bruce to shut his mouth. He had been friendly with his words, yet the newcomer had attacked with reckless abandon.
“Did this bastard lose his mind?”
Bruce became furious.
“You fucking bastard! Fucking Fabion! In the end, you decided to attack us!”
The attacker stopped moving for a moment.
He stammered as he repeated 'Fabion'.
Then, with a scream of despair, he started attacking once again. His scream contained despair, anger, hate, and grief, and it made Sungyoon’s party flinch. Their reaction wasn’t about strength. Any ‘human’ with normal thoughts and values would react to such a display of anguish.
However, they were still in a battle, and nobody would concede an inch.
“Did he lose his mind?”
Bruce clenched his fists within his Gauntlets, then swung them toward the halberd nearing his face.
Bruce effortlessly deflected the halberd.
“Sleep for now!”
He then spun his body to move behind the attacker and chopped down on his neck.
Despite a helmet covering the attacker's head, due to the blow, the attacker let out a scream and lost consciousness. He rolled across the ground as if he were a marionette whose strings had been cut.
“What does this guy do for a living?”
Bruce grumbled as he shook his fist. His opponent hadn’t been skillful, and he couldn't even take down any member of the group. However, the attacker's spirit had been amazing, and everyone had felt an oppressive sensation from him. It was as if a special brand of madness had infected the man’s heart.
Russell approached the fallen man.
“Are you sure you didn’t kill him?”
“Of course. Do you know how much trouble I had to go through to control my power?”
It would have been much easier for Bruce to just crush the helmet and the head.
Russell took a knee and observed the attacker’s body. It was almost a miracle that the man's armor Gem hadn't broken. The armor had been damaged in many locations, and blood seeped out of the cracks in it.
It was also evident that the halberd was damaged.
While Russell was checking the body, the attacker's shield disappeared and one of his Gems broke. Extreme damage to the shield had done irreparable damage to the Gem.
Russell clicked his tongue.
“He’s a complete mess. Close to death’s door.”
“I’m just putting this out there. I didn’t do it.”
Bruce sauntered forward.
“Where did he receive these wounds though? It seems he was running away by himself. Did the Fabion Connectors get wiped? I thought Fabion had dispatched Hyunwoo Sung and their elite team here. What’s going on?”
“We’ll soon find out the answer.”
Russell called out to one of his party members, a skinny man clad in a similar robe as Emily's.
“Please heal him.”
“Are you sure?”
“We have to keep him alive to extract information.”
Russell's party member nodded and raised his staff. The staff radiated light.
‘So he's the Connector in charge of healing within Sir Russell’s party.’
This Connector's outer garb and role in the party were the same as Emily's. After activating his Gem, the healer from Russell’s party was about to place the healing spell on the attacker, when—
At first, a small flash of light appeared in the tunnel where the attacker had come from, but the light soon turned into fire. In the blink of an eye, fire was all the group could see.
The raging fire swept through the labyrinth like a tsunami made out of flames. The heat increased the surrounding temperature, and light burned bright. Flames danced in exuberance before it all disappeared.
However, the heat remained even after the fire had disappeared. A normal person would have instantly died facing such heat.
A man walked through this oven in an easygoing manner. He looked at the fallen attacker, then at the people surrounding him.
“Oh my! Look who it is?”
Hyunwoo sounded happy as if he had seen a couple of old friends, but the group wasn't in the mood to humor him.
“You fucking bastard! I knew you wanted to pick a fight with me!”
Bruce madly hopped. He had ordered everyone to retreat and blocked the attack head-on. As he looked at Hyunwoo, he clashed his gauntlets into each other to create a threatening sound.
Russell was the opposite, and he just glared at Hyunwoo with his cold eyes.
“I picked a fight? No way! I didn’t know it was you. That's why I attacked. In fact, I'm even close to someone in your group.”
Hyunwoo looked at Sungyoon, and his eyes became the shape of a crescent moon.
“Alright. What are you guys doing here?”
“Ah! What a moment.”
Hyunwoo raised his hand to stop Sungyoon from speaking. He then walked toward the attacker. To dodge Hyunwoo’s attack, Sungyoon and the group had distanced themselves from the attacker. So Hyunwoo was closer to him than them.
Surprisingly, the attacker had survived the fierce flames. However, that was it. He was barely hanging on. The attack had destroyed his armor, and his Gem had broken; burns had appeared all over his body. He no longer shed blood as his wounds had burned shut.
The attacker felt enormous pain from his blackened flesh, but he didn’t have the strength to scream. He just let out a whimper.
As he heard footsteps close in on him, the attacker barely opened one of his eyes to look at Hyunwoo. He opened his mouth, and several words leaked out. His voice was very low, but Sungyoon and the group could hear it with their enhanced senses.
‘What language is that?’
Fabion was a Korean company. Even though a Korean company could also have connectors from other countries, such as the Ross siblings in Jungbum, Fabion mostly consisted of Koreans.
However, the ambusher hadn’t spoken Korean; his words couldn't be linked to any language the group knew of.
Hyunwoo raised his sword.
Russell stepped forward when he realized what Hyunwoo was about to do.
“Hey! Wait a moment! What are you doi—”
However, Russell was too far away to stop Hyunwoo. Without any mercy, Hyunwoo thrust his sword downward. The tip of the sword pierced through the attacker's head, and his body shook once before slumping.
Hyunwoo let out a bright smile toward the Connectors looking at him with surprised eyes.
“Shall we talk about this current situation?”
Every Connector had the same thought. They hated how Hyunwoo was acting.
“So you're saying that...”
Hyunwoo led the group forward, while Russell continued speaking.
“You guys came here to exterminate the ambushers who had attacked Armstrong's research team?”
Hyunwoo seemed quite familiar with this region, and he led the group down the tunnel without any hesitation.
“They’ve caused a lot of trouble recently, and they slowed down our ability to gather moonstones. Fabion wants to be profitable, so we couldn’t stand by and do nothing. We worked very hard to gather information about the ambushers, and we found their base not too long ago.”
Russell didn’t trust Hyunwoo and Fabion even after the explanation.
“Then why are you here by yourselves? You should've reported it to Armstrong before moving. That’s the much safer option. Moreover, you have a duty to report this information.”
“We thought the information might leak out if we did that. Information always leaks from unexpected places. These people are terrorists who can freely travel between Earth and the Moon to conduct their acts of terror. We thought it was likely they had some spies within Armstrong.”
“And your company has no spies?”
“We were very careful in who we chose for this mission.”
“Do you think such an excuse will work on us?”
Bruce shot back from the side.
There were too many holes in Hyunwoo’s explanation to take it at face value.
Hyunwoo just shrugged.
“It can’t be helped if you don’t believe me, but it's the truth.”
Hyunwoo's voice sounded as if he didn’t care whether they believed him or not.
Bruce wanted to hit Hyunwoo, but Russell held him back.
“So you attacked us because you mistook us for terrorists?”
“Of course. I was chasing down the ambusher who had run away, and I saw you guys around him. I assumed there were only the terrorists and us Fabion Connectors in the Great Labyrinth. I never expected a third party to enter this place. Thankfully, you blocked my attack. I don't want to kill Connectors from the same side.”
“You killed the man who ran away because he was a terrorist?”
“You didn’t kill him to shut him up?”
Hyunwoo looked at Russell with a blank expression.
“I know you want to link me and Fabion to something nefarious. However, you will be sorely disappointed once you find out the truth. I killed an enemy. That's all.”
Russell was about to speak again when Hyunwoo spoke again.
“We are here.”
A large space appeared at the end of the tunnel, and Sungyoon and the group immediately scrunched up their faces.
Emily pinched her nose. The others did the same in the presence of the acrid burning smell.
“This is the base of the terrorists.”
Hyunwoo pointed at the open space. The corpses and mounds of ashes everywhere proved that something like a village once existed in this place.Previous Chapter Next Chapter