Chapter 305

“Why are you here?”

Plu-El tilted her head in puzzlement when she saw Aruwen look at Sungyoon.

“I have a request that I want to ask of Mr. Woo Sungyoon. I hope he can give me a bit of his time.”

“Request?”

According to her knowledge, Sungyoon and Aruwen hadn't come into contact with each other in recent days. In the past, their relationship had been frosty to the point where both men wanted to kill each other.

Aruwen stood in front of Sungyoon and spoke.

“Do you mind if I borrow the Royal Gem?”

“… What are you talking about?”

A harsh expression instantly appeared on Plu-El's face. Her party members and Aruwen’s party members all looked at Aruwen with disagreeable expressions. The atmosphere had turned awkward.

‘This bastard still can’t throw away his foolish ambition?’

Aruwen’s obsession with the Royal Gem had caused many unfortunate events. Did he still not understand that? This was especially true in the case of Tiotudo’s death. Tiotudo’s death couldn’t all be blamed on Aruwen, but he bore the brunt of the responsibility.

However, after that event, Aruwen had become a completely different person, and Plu-El had assumed he was no longer obsessed with the Royal Gem. Moreover, he hadn’t shown any dissatisfaction when she had negotiated an alliance with Earth. This had contributed to a significant increase in her trust in Aruwen. 

But now, the possibility that Aruwen had never discarded his obsession had appeared. Worry, anger, and confusion gripped Plu-El's heart. 

Sungyoon silently stared at Aruwen, but Aruwen’s eyes remained calm; they didn't contain greed or desire. In some ways, Sungyoon felt like he was looking at a high priest who had been liberated from all desires.

When they had first met, Aruwen had glared at him with eyes full of killing intent. That man was no longer present in front of him.

“You should give up—”

Plu-El had been about to unleash her anger, but Sungyoon held her back.

“How long do you need it for?”

“I just need it for a brief moment. I’ll return it to you right here.”

Sungyoon took out the Royal Gem from his Device and threw it toward Aruwen. The absence of any hesitation in his action surprised everyone.

Aruwen slowly looked at the Royal Gem.

Click!

After putting the Royal Gem into his Device, he sent his magical energy into the Gem, but nothing happened.

“I knew it.”

Without any hesitation, Aruwen took out the Royal Gem and returned it to Sungyoon.

“Thank you for humoring my request.”

“It was no problem. If it isn’t too much, may I ask what was the point of all that?”

“It was a lingering attachment that I wasn’t able to let go of.”

Aruwen looked at the Royal Gem in Sungyoon’s hand.

“After my best friend died, I thought I had completely given up on it. However, I felt greed start to rise within me after I awakened the Warrior Gem. I do not want to relapse into who I was in the past. I already lost one friend, and I’m afraid I will lose the other if I’m unable to let this go.”

Aruwen’s gaze landed on Plu-El for a moment.

“I thought if I try to unnecessarily internalize this struggle, I would get strange ideas once again. So, it was better to end this once and for all.”

Aruwen shrugged and continued.

“It seems I was right to do this. It didn’t activate for me, and it means I'm not suited for the Royal Gem.”

“You look relieved.”

“Yes. When I look back, I have no idea why I was so obsessed with it. If I wasn’t, Tiotudo might still be—”

“Aruwen.”

Plu-El placed her hand on his shoulder, but Aruwen shrugged it off.

“I don’t want pity from you. I haven’t fallen so far that I need your pity.”

Even if he had changed, he still had his special brand of pride. However, this version of his pride was cute compared to his pride from the past.

Plu-El could only catch glimpses of his past self, so she grinned.

In the past, the Royal Gem was used by those who stood at the top of our people. Please use it in an honorable fashion.”

“I’ll do so.”

Sungyoon once again slotted the Royal Gem into his Device.

***

A portal opened. Of course, the destination was the Great Labyrinth Hyunwoo had informed them about. Teams consisting of high rank Connectors exited into the Great Labyrinth. 

Even though this was the Great Labyrinth, monsters near the front entrance didn’t stand a chance against these Connectors, who slaughtered all the monsters in their path. 

The traps they had been worried about weren’t there. It was just like the Great Labyrinth located inside Armstrong city, and the Connectors only faced the sinister monsters. In a flash, they pushed past the 3rd floor, the floor where the advanced party had stopped their reconnaissance. 

The focus was on speed rather than safety as the teams quickly pushed through the floors. However, they couldn’t push past the 10th floor with impunity. 

“In the end, it splits.”

Sungyoon tilted his head as he looked at the three tunnels that had been created by the bumpy walls.

“Ah, shit! What should we do?”

“We knew this might happen. We’ll continue to carry out our plan.”

Russell calmed down Bruce even though he also had a sour expression on his face. He then gave orders to the rest of the group.

“We’ll split as planned! Make three groups!”

All the Connectors knew how to split themselves up, and they followed the order without any difficulty.

Sungyoon’s party was in Bruce’s group.

“Good! Let’s move!”

Bruce took the lead and headed to the middle tunnel. Their group had decreased to one-third in size, but their speed never slowed down. It was easy to kill the monsters on these floors even with one-third of their force. In the first place, all the members participating in this mission were powerful. 

However, they continued to encounter tunnels, and their progress stalled each time as they split the group again. By the time they arrived on the 15th floor, the only group left was Sungyoon’s party. 

Sungyoon used his previous experience in the Great Labyrinth to his advantage as the party slowly descended.

“It has been a while since we moved through a labyrinth as a party.”

“Indeed.”

Grace agreed with Tim, who had spoken in an enthusiastic manner. She then resumed drawing a map of the Great Labyrinth.

“It has been a long time since we entered a labyrinth. We had to deal with various incidents, and it made us feel much more keenly.”

As Emily had said, they had been so busy that they felt like years had passed since they had last entered a labyrinth. There was this sense of dissonance between reality and what they felt.

“They are coming!”

The four of them had been on alert even as they talked to each other. Therefore, when Sungyoon shouted, everyone went into their battle formation in an instant.

“What's that?”

Tim narrowed his eyes. Something was coming toward them from a distance. Here, the ground looked like the regular floor of a labyrinth, and an open blue sky was above their heads.

It was a phenomenon commonly seen in a Great Labyrinth, so the party wasn’t surprised. The more important matter was the four monsters flying toward them.

“They look like... Griffons?”

Emily mumbled.

“They shouldn’t be much of a threat to us.”

Tim spoke. The party had killed these monsters before in the Great Labyrinth. They got into their familiar formation, and as always, the first one to start was Grace.

Gwah-roo-roo-roong!

A streak of lightning struck one of the Griffons.

Gweeeeeeeeeek!

Its hard and stiff feathers stood on end, and the Griffon became unable to flap its wings. It helplessly fell to the ground.

Koo-oohng!

A heavy thump rang out as the ground shook a little, and the Griffon lay motionless on the ground. While this happened, the other three Griffons approached Sungyoon’s party.

Sungyoon summoned his halberd.

“Hoohp!”

He strained his muscles as he threw it. His strength had increased a lot compared to before, so his halberd shot forward like a cannon. The destructive sound of the halberd splitting the air resembled the screech of a bird. 

However, the distance it had to travel was too far to accurately hit the Griffons. Moreover, the halberd was flying in a straight line, so the Griffons easily dodged it. After losing its target, the halberd continued to travel higher into the sky.

However, Sungyoon hadn't thrown the halberd without any plan.

As the halberd continued to soar, from behind it, an ax flew toward one of the Griffons. 

The Griffon belatedly noticed the attack and tried to twist its body in midair.

Suh-guhk!

Gwehhhhhhhhhk!

It avoided the worst-case scenario, but the blade of the ax still scratched its neck. The wound was shallow, yet painful. The Griffon screeched in anger. Someone had dared to hurt it, and it wanted to rip the culprit into pieces.

Sway!

It tried to use its wings to fly, but something was wrong with them. The Griffon was having trouble moving them, and it felt the strength in its wings diminishing at a rapid rate.

Ggoo-roo-roo-roohk!

It tried to scream, but no sound came out. The Griffon's body shook as it rapidly approached the ground. Chills traveled through its body, and its eyes spun as it felt pain. Everything was signaling that something was very wrong.

Boo-gool boo-gool!

The poison had started to break down its body. The Griffon tried with all its might to move, but it crashed into the ground. Then, it no longer moved.

Two Griffons had died before they could reach the party, but the remaining two continued to fly. It seemed the death of their comrades hadn't scared them. They might have thought they had a chance at victory since they had gotten closer while the other two died.

However, a shield got in their way.

“Ooh-ryahhhhhhhhht!”

Tim rooted his feet on the ground and stopped the charge of the Griffons.

Kwahng! Kwahng!

Keeeeeeeeeeeek!

Kyahhhhhhhhhhk!

“Koo-ooohk!”

The Griffons managed to push back Tim's body a little, but Tim stood his ground. Even though the Griffons had bashed into Tim’s shield, they couldn't breach his defense. In fact, due to the shock from the impact, the Griffons fell to the ground.

Sungyoon had been standing behind Tim all this time, and his eyes shone.

“Hahhhhhhht!”

He stabbed his long spear-blade of the halberd into the body of the Griffon on the left.

The Griffon let out a scream as it flapped its wing. It then stood up on its hind legs and threatened Sungyoon with its forelegs. Sungyoon deftly moved his halberd and aimed it low to the ground. The hook of the halberd cut into one of the hind legs, and Sungyoon pulled it.

Ggweeeeeeeek!

Boom!

The Griffon flapped its wings, but in the end, it lost its balance and fell to the ground. Sungyoon immediately raised his hammer, but the other Griffon tried to attack him.

“I won’t let you!”

Tim got in the way again. His sturdy shield blocked the Griffon’s charge. At that moment, Sungyoon had moved closer to the fallen Griffon.

Hweeeeek!

Kwahhhhhng!

When the hammer struck the monster, an explosion detonated on the Griffon’s head, and the Griffon’s gruesome scream rang out.  Sungyoon continued to swing his hammer and cause explosions. He kept at it until the Griffon stopped screaming.

Only one was left now.

Three Griffons had already died before they could do anything, so of course, what could one of them achieve?

Tim’s ax cut down the last Griffon.

“Ha-haht! As always, we work so well together!”

It had been a while since they had hunted as a party, and Tim felt proud of the way they easily dispatched the monsters. The others felt the same way.

However, Sungyoon's expression was different from that of the others.

“Mr. Sungyoon?”

Tim carefully called out to Sungyoon. 

Sungyoon shook his head a little bit as he felt a strange sensation.

At that moment, the holographic screen in the royal city was changing. The blue color had expanded and spread to half of the rooms displayed on the cross-sectional diagram. A sound rang out in the building, and the Royal Gem in Sungyoon's Device started to sparkle.

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