Chapter 29

A small light formed in and out of existence within the complete darkness of the labyrinth. It was the light that emanated when a dead monster left behind its moonstone. Sungyoon was used to it, so he silently picked up the moonstone.

‘I killed 11 now.’

This was his second day on the hunt, so he didn’t know if he was doing well. However, Sungyoon was ready to call it a day. He hadn’t received any injuries, but he was stressed from being so tense all day. Moreover, he had come here with the goal of killing 10 monsters.

He looked at his watch. The influence of the magical energy meant that electronic equipment didn’t work in the labyrinths, so he had brought a mechanical wristwatch. It was four o’clock in the afternoon.

Sungyoon turned back. He felt a bit relieved now that the battle for the day was over. Moreover, a feeling of repulsion was starting to arise as he ended the lives of the monsters.

Still, his desire to fight didn’t diminish. He would willingly go through such tribulation to have a future with his daughter.

While he was retracing his route back out of the labyrinth, Sungyoon saw two people.

One of them held a one-meter long double-edged sword, and he was fighting a Mad Dog. It seemed he didn’t have much experience, so he floundered every time the Mad Dog attacked him. However, the Mad Dog was unable to inflict any significant damage to him.

He held a large angular shield in his left hand, so he was able to protect himself even with his poor movement. Unlike Sungyoon’s wooden shield, this person's shield had been reinforced with steel, and its defensive capability was on a level higher than Sungyoon’s shield.

It wasn’t just that. Sungyoon was wearing a leather vest that barely covered his upper body. This man wore armor that protected his upper and lower body. His arms were protected by the arm guards, and he wore shin guards too.

As this man battled, the other person was overseeing the battle. This observer had his arms crossed. Sungyoon groaned when he saw this person. It was in appreciation of this man’s gear.

This man looked frightening at first glance. He had a broad sword equipped over his shoulder and a helmet that covered his nose and cheeks. The sturdy metallic helmet even had neck protection. The helmet could probably block any attack towards the head. He wore a long chain-mail that came down to his knees which even covered his arms and legs.

It was obvious to Sungyoon that the observer had much better gear than the one fighting the monster.

“What are you doing! Don’t become flustered!”

He angrily yelled out in English. His accent was thick, so Sungyoon had a hard time understanding his words. Still, it confirmed Sungyoon’s suspicion as to what they were doing.

‘They are training.’

Sungyoon used his exceptional hearing that came with being a Connector. It seemed the person, who was battling, had come into this labyrinth for the first time. He was on the same level as Sungyoon.

However, their circumstances differed completely.

Sungyoon only had three purple Gems and one Gold Gem that could be used to save his life. Besides, he didn't have the ability to use the Gold Gem properly. Moreover, he had to wander around the labyrinth by himself. The only preparation he had was an accelerated training course he took on Earth. In comparison to him, this beginner Connector had much better equipment than him, and he was being trained by his sunbae on how to fight.

‘He is probably contracted to a good company.’

He was probably a 2nd or 3rd Gen Connector.

Sungyoon turned his gaze away from them, and once again, he started walking towards the labyrinth’s entrance.

When he came to a crossroad, a group of people walked out of the turn-off. It was a total of four people. They were quite loud as they spoke to each other.

‘Party.’

A normal company usually paired Connectors of a similar level. It was a method that allowed Connectors to clear labyrinths in a much safer manner.

Of course, neither a sunbae nor other Connectors of his level were contracted to his company. Such a method of raiding a labyrinth had nothing to do with him.

It would be a lie if he said he wasn’t jealous of them. Connectors who were trained to fight, and the Connectors who worked in a party, could clear the labyrinth several times faster than Sungyoon, and they could do it in a safer manner.

However, he shook such thoughts away.

‘I should be thankful for my current situation.’

If it wasn’t for Jimin’s goodwill, he would not have been able to start his labyrinth exploration in such a stable manner. He had been in the dark, and the Moon had given him a faint moonlight to navigate the road. He should be thankful to the Moon instead of being jealous of the sunlight.

He corrected his mindset as he quickly exited the labyrinth.

* * *

After Sungyoon exited the labyrinth, he visited Korea’s Connector Support Center. He didn’t have the money to maintain Earth’s standard of living on Armstrong, so the support center was the only place he could rely on.

The support center was located in the second district. It was where most of the world’s support centers were located. He arrived at a building flying the South Korean flag.

He entered the main lobby where the reception desk and the receptionist were located.

“What brings you here?”

The receptionist asked in fluent Korean. Sungyoon gave the receptionist all the moonstones he collected in two days.

“Please keep this in safekeeping for me. I also would like to receive items given to Connectors raiding the Beginner’s Labyrinth.”

Afterward, he gave the receptionist his Connector ID. After the receptionist confirmed his ID, he started typing into the computer.

“Mr. Woo Sungyoon. You are a 1st Gen Connector?”

Sungyoon nodded.

The receptionist was adept at putting away the Moonstones given to him by Sungyoon. Then, he gave Sungyoon several pills and two bottles of water.

“This is your daily limit. Even if you ask for more, I do not have the authority to give you more. Please keep that in mind.”

It seemed there were a lot of people that asked for more, so the receptionist sounded a bit annoyed when he spoke these words.

“You will receive the nutritional supplements and water once a day. ”

The receptionist called for a man standing nearby. It seemed this person would be his guide.

He exited with Sungyoon in tow and led Sungyoon to the building next door.

It was a gray seven-story building. It looked like a big box, and there was nothing imaginative about it.

It was a dormitory. It was a resting place provided to Connectors that were going through the Beginner’s Labyrinth. This was in contrast to the 2nd and 3rd Gen Connectors, who received massive amounts of support from their companies. Unlike most 1st Gen Connectors, they were provided a place to stay by their companies, as these Connectors had a high probability of returning profit to the companies. Everyone who lived in the dormitory was contracted to small companies. Basically, they had no backing, and they weren’t talented enough. At the very least, this was true on the Moon.

“I hate to tell you this, but Connectors call this place the Chicken Coop.”

The guide smiled so broadly that all his teeth became visible.

The inside of the building was clean. However, that was the only positive. The amount of space assigned to each Connector was very small. On Earth, this type of establishment was called capsule hotels. Basically, a person was given enough space to lie down. That was it.

“These are the exclusive capsules for the Connectors. You can stay here until your contract ends or until you return to Earth. When you are assigned a Private labyrinth, you can use this place for two weeks before you have to move out.”

The man opened the door to a capsule. Fortunately, the security to the capsule was quite good, and only the person registered to it could open its door. 

The man let Sungyoon scan his fingerprint into the lock, and then he said his goodbye. Sungyoon was left standing by himself next to the open door of the capsule.

First, Sungyoon tossed in the nutritional supplements and water he received earlier. Then he threw his meager possessions into the capsule. When he stuffed his body into the capsule, he closed the door. The lock let out a whirr as it automatically locked the door.

Sungyoon looked over the interior of the capsule. There was an LED light letting out a bright light. Nothing else had been provided, not even a blanket. 

He was barely able to turn his body in this space. It was basically a place where one only went to sleep. The ceiling was so low that he couldn’t even sit comfortably in this space. Sungyoon felt as if he had been placed inside a coffin.

‘Are they purposefully giving us little support?’

As a country, one needed Connectors assigned to Personal Labyrinths. There wasn’t much profit to be made in the Beginner’s Labyrinth. This was why Connectors who continued to go to the Beginner’s Labyrinth weren’t considered to be valuable. If they gave too much support to them, some might refuse to move on even if they were talented enough to enter the Private labyrinths. This miserable condition was meant to nip that problem in the bud. Of course, it would also save them money.

He was about to lie down, but the blood on his clothes and skin bothered him. Sungyoon poured a small amount of water onto a towel, and he did an adequate job of wiping his body. After changing into his extra clothes, he went back to lying down on the floor. The floor was hard, and it was cold.

Sungyoon took out his wallet, and he took out Shinhae’s picture.

His eyes softened as all the stress he received today melted away. His eyelids started to get heavy, and he couldn’t overcome his sleepiness.

He looked at the picture for a while before he fell asleep.

* * *

Several more days passed like this.

When morning arrived, Sungyoon pushed his aching body to wake up. He popped the vitamins into his mouth, and he washed it down with water.

That was his breakfast.

Sungyoon changed into his bloody clothes as he headed towards the labyrinth. Sungyoon already looked shabby like the time when he was contracted to work hard labor. It was to be expected. He was wearing clothes crusted with dried blood, and there was a foul stench coming off him.

However, it didn’t bother Sungyoon. His actions weren’t dictated by how other people judged him. He didn’t care about their gazes. Moreover, there were many Connectors in a similar state as him within the Beginner’s Labyrinth.

He looked a bit accustomed to doing this now. He summoned his equipment, and then, he entered the labyrinth. He kept taking different routes when he came to a crossroad in order to find monsters.

Soon, he was able to encounter a couple of monsters. He mainly encountered the Big Rats and Mad Dogs. He also ran into a Six-Legged Lizard. Sungyoon was methodical as he defeated them. As he gained more experience, his hunting speed increased.

When he learned the basic strategy of taking down the three monsters, he became bolder with his actions. In the past, he would repeatedly knock down the Mad Dog before he used his spear. Currently, he used his spear to stab the Mad Dog to death from the beginning.

Most of the Connectors killed the Mad Dogs in such a fashion. If one took in Sungyoon’s vision, reflexes, and power, the Mad Dogs were easy prey for him to take down.

He had wandered the labyrinth for an indeterminate amount of time.

“Huh?”

Sungyoon stopped walking.

There was a large black hole in front of him. He carefully looked down the hole.

The surface was uneven as it continued to slope downwards. It looked crude compared to the structures created by humans, but this clearly was a staircase.

Sungyoon looked conflicted as he looked below.

The monsters became stronger as one went lower into the labyrinth. On the other hand, the size of the moonstones also increased. The probability of getting a Device or a Gem increased too.

‘Let’s be calm.’

This was the first time he had seen the entrance to the second floor, so he talked to himself.

‘Shall I go in?’

The monsters became stronger on the 2nd floor, but they were still monsters found in the Beginner’s Labyrinth. Still, even if the monsters were weak, the ones on the second floor would be stronger compared to the first floor. 

He glanced at his watch. He still had plenty of time.

‘I wonder how my skills will stack up against them?’

He had wandered around the 1st floor for several days, and he never encountered any difficulty. In fact, his battles became easier as time passed.

When he had that thought, a firm resolve appeared in Sungyoon’s eyes.

‘If I want to raid the Great Labyrinth someday, I have to go down.’

Sungyoon gripped his spear harder. Then his left foot left the ground, and he slowly lowered his foot into the black maw. In short order, Sungyoon completely disappeared into the hole.

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