“Back then, we rarely used to come out of the Great Labyrinth. It was to be expected. Outside the Great Labyrinth, there was nothing but space and the Moon's desolate surface.
"The Great Labyrinth contains monsters, and unpredictable phenomena sometimes occur inside it. Nevertheless, there's a semblance of nature within it.”
Grasslands, plateaus, volcanoes, jungles, caves! The Great Labyrinth had unimaginable geographic features. If one had the ability to survive inside it, the Great Labyrinth was a much better place to live than the desolate surface outside it.
Chelsea’s hands twitched. She wanted to rush up to Plu-El and ask how her people had lived on the Moon. However, Plu-El had asked everyone to keep their questions to themselves till the end of her explanation, and Chelsea had given her word to abide by that. That was why Chelsea had to hold herself back.
“However, at some point, we started noticing that something was off. Although the change was minute, the monsters were moving differently. Grenoid’s body continues to form monsters, and these monsters keep spreading across the labyrinth. In some ways, these monsters are the best way to measure how Grenoid is doing. We wanted to find the reason behind the change in the monsters, so we decided to exit the Great Labyrinth and go to the Moon's surface. It was then that we met the people of Fabion.”
Plu-El’s expression dramatically changed.
“That is where I met my husband Jungbum.”
Her voice oozed happiness.
“Sung Hyunwoo was also there.”
In stark contrast to earlier, her face now became filled with hate.
“In the beginning, we fought for a little, but we got past our misunderstandings in short order. Both groups were surprised. They didn’t expect to find people living on the Moon, while we had no idea that the humans of Earth had built up their civilization using science. Since Earth didn’t have magical energy, we assumed the humans there would be living like beasts.”
When their technology had disappeared from Earth, the Moon people thought that the humans on Earth would be sent back to the stone age and would stay regressed.
“Both sides didn’t trust each other, and tried to investigate each other’s claims. It was a slow process, but we soon started to understand each other’s situation. Humanity had arrived on the Moon en masse, and they were exporting the magic stones of monsters to Earth. This news had shocked us.”
It was the first time the people in the room had heard the term magic stone, but they soon realized that Plu-El was referring to the moonstones.
“There are two factors that keep Grenoid imprisoned. The mass of the Moon, and the Moon’s magical energy. However, we found out the magic stones were being sent to Earth. In other words, one of the two factors that kept the seal in place was weakening. The magical energy on the Moon had inevitably lessened.”
“No way! That means...”
“Yes. The seal around Grenoid is unraveling.”
Everyone groaned at the same time. If Plu-El was right, humanity had been choking its own throat in exchange for short term benefits.
“Things were still fine in those days. The amount of magical energy going to Earth was manageable. We warned Fabion to refrain from taking the magic stones to Earth any further, and Fabion quickly agreed to it. We thought the problem had been resolved. The two sides had resolved their differences, and it had given our people hope.”
As Plu-El thought about that time, a small smile made its way to her lips without her realizing it; back then, things had been so well for her.
“We had to carry out the mission that our ancestors had passed on to us. We had carved out a decent life in the Great Labyrinth, but it didn’t change the fact that it was a hard life. Moreover, we were under the constant pressure of knowing that we were the last line of defense that could thwart Grenoid's revival. This mission held our people in place like a ball and chain. However, our meeting with Fabion was a sign of change.”
That was the reason Plu-El and Jungbum could live their lives at the time as newlyweds. She was the descendant of the shaman, yet none of her people objected to her falling in love with Jungbum. In fact, they preferred it since an important figure was marrying a man from Fabion. Her people celebrated it assuming that the tie between the two groups would deepen.
“This situation lasted only a moment. We kept expressing our desire to contact the other powers on Earth, but Fabion kept delaying the meeting. It was odd, but we were told that Earth wasn’t united under a single power, and Fabion needed time to set up a meeting. How naive we were! We decided to believe their words, but our suspicions didn't go away.”
The happy expression on her face was instantly replaced by a murderous one.
“We had assumed the acquisition of the magic stones had been stopped at our request. In reality, Fabion had never stopped gathering the magic stones. In fact, they had started moving the magic stones on a much larger scale. This was when Mr. Jungbum’s expression started to worsen every time he came to meet me.”
This small change in him went unnoticed by everyone but Plu-El. Even though she had known Jungbum for a short time, Plu-El had given him all the love that she could give. How could she not notice the changes in him?
“In the end, we decided we couldn’t trust Fabion, so we planned on taking the initiative to search out other factions on Earth. However, the night we were about to move...”
Plu-El shut her eyes.
“It was when the tragedy occurred.”
The events of that day unfolded in her mind.
“Somehow, Fabion caught wind of our plans. They ambushed us in the night, burned our village, and slaughtered our people. It was the perfect ambush.”
Her fists turned white as she clenched them.
“We could only avoid extinction because some members of Fabion took our side. Of course….”
Plu-El shut her mouth for a brief moment.
“Mr. Jungbum was part of that group.”
A deafening silence descended in the room.
“Thanks to that group, a good number of our people had escaped. I was pregnant at the time, but I had also escaped. However, the people who kept Fabion occupied...”
Plu-El stopped speaking, and a sob escaped her mouth. No one pressed her to speak. Plu-El wiped away the tears that had fallen from her eyes and opened her mouth again.
“The only keepsakes my husband left behind were the Gems and Devices that he had used. When we escaped from Fabion, we moved deeper into the Great Labyrinth and stayed in hiding.”
Her people had gone through great hardships during this period. Of course, stranger monsters appeared deep within the Great Labyrinth, but the Moon people somehow continued to survive. They had no choice but to get better at fighting. Thankfully, the ability to adapt was their strong point.
“Fabion continued to guard the only tunnel that led outside. We couldn't do anything. We thought we would wither away, but we then acquired a method that allowed us to travel outside.”
“You know the rest. We suffered so much at Fabion's hands that we couldn’t trust earthlings. However, we still had to stop Grenoid's revival. Therefore, we decided to ambush the Connectors. However, our new village was attacked by Fabion once again, and we were driven to the brink of total defeat.”
She let out a sigh.
“To allow the others to escape, I fought Fabion. In the end, I also barely escaped, but I fainted somewhere along the line. When I woke up, I was at your house.
"Now, you know my story.”
Plu-El looked at the people in the room. Her tense shoulders became a bit relaxed as if they had let go of a burden.
Sungyoon and the others were embroiled in various thoughts. They expressed grave concern.
Sungyoon massaged his temple.
“Let’s cool our heads for a brief moment. Afterward, we can ask questions again.”
“Let’s do that.”
The Mayor quickly agreed with him.
“I need some fresh air.”
Tim hated complicated stories, so he practically ran out of the room. The Mayor and the Deputy mayor followed him, and Sungyoon didn't shy away too.
“I’ll be back soon. I’m sorry, but I can't release you from your shackles. It's impossible. Please be understanding.”
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t trust you either.”
Plu-El had experienced an enormous betrayal, so her words were sharp. She then asked.
“Do you mind if I ask you one question?”
“No. If I can answer it, I will.”
“What did they say on Earth about Mr. Jungbum’s death?”
“Jungb— It was reported that Father-in-law died fighting monsters within the Great Labyrinth.”
Sungyoon was starting to get used to saying Father-in-law. Therefore, he didn't use Jungbum's name.
Plu-El ground her teeth.
“He died at the hands of that bastard.”
“When you say bastard, you—”
“Sung Hyunwoo! Who else could it be?”
The words struck Sungyoon speechless.
“I saw it clearly even as I was running away.”
Sungyoon felt a great deal of shock. Even if Fabion had attacked Jungbum, Sungyoon never expected Hyunwoo to kill Jungbum with his hands.
‘I don’t know for sure yet.’
There was a possibility that Plu-El was lying. Sungyoon still looked at her with suspicion, but if her assertion was indeed true...
‘He did that, and he acted like a benevolent friend.’
Sungyoon thought about his deceased ex-friend and ex-wife.
‘He might be worse than them.’
In some ways, this was the worst insult Sungyoon could give to anyone.
‘I guess Jimin’s intuition was correct.’
To solve the mystery of her father’s death, Jimin had hired Sungyoon. That was the fuse that had started Sungyoon's life as a Connector. Now, he was closer than ever to finding the truth about Jungbum's death.
‘I hope she doesn’t receive too much shock from this news.’
Sungyoon inwardly let out a sigh. He knew Jimin looked up to Hyunwoo. However, the truth wasn’t always sweet.
‘Yes. I have to tell her what happened to her father.’
This question was the first contract that he had made with Jimin. It had tied the two of them way before they had said their wedding vows. Of course, the answer to this question might crush her.
‘If that happens, I will lift her up. I will become her rock.’
That was what it meant to be a married couple.
Sungyoon was steadily accepting the fact that Jimin was his wife.
While Sungyoon and the others were listening to Plu-El's story, Earth had fallen into a state of pandemonium.
All the countries panicked when Armstrong city fell. The stock market crashed, and unrest arose amongst the general population. The news channels repeatedly reported the great catastrophe on the TV. Politicians were in a state of emergency, and they discussed the situation as the economy plummeted into a worldwide recession.
The most powerful nations gathered to discuss their response. The research facilities that monitored the Moon were also on high alert. Any change, no matter how small, occurring on the Moon was to be reported, and the researchers couldn't return to their homes.
The director of the main observatory in charge of the Moon looked over the report he had to send to his superiors. His expression was grave.
At that moment, a researcher approached him.
“What is it?”
“We detected an anomaly on the Moon.”
The director's face turned serious as he looked at the researcher. The researcher then handed over the data and spoke.
“It seems the Moon has stopped drifting away from Earth.”
The director’s face hardened.Previous Chapter Next Chapter