Chapter 33

Jimin’s words were so cold that it could cause frost to form. Suh Ahjung’s face stiffened. She took a step backwards when faced with Jimin’s vehemence. Still, she decided to act shamelessly by forcing a smile onto her face.

“W...what are you saying? I birthed you. I’m your mother.”

Jimin’s gaze cooled another notch. Her gaze had already been frosty, and right now, it could even create a blizzard. Jimin didn’t say anything as she approached the front door of her company.

“Get out of my way.”

Ahjung loitered around in front of the door. But Jimin roughly pushed her aside as she opened the door.

“W...wait a moment! Your mom came here to see you… At the very least, you could hear what I have to say.”

Jimin completely ignored her as she tried to close the door. Ahjung quickly put her foot between the crack in the door. 

“You better move your foot. I don’t have money to give you!”

There was only one reason why this shallow woman would be standing in front of Jimin’s company. Ahjung was a woman that would use her daughter strictly for her own benefit. It was as if she didn’t have an ounce of motherly love in her bones. Jimin wanted to erase the fact that this woman’s blood was flowing within her body.

‘She also never learns.’

This wasn’t the first time Ahjung had visited Jimin’s company. Jimin chased her away every time, yet her mother kept coming back to beg for money. It was quite stressful.

“Do you really think I only come here for money?”

However, Ahjung didn’t retract her foot, which was keeping the door open.

“I came here for a different reason...”

“I don’t care! Just go!”

Jimin was a bit more forceful with her words this time. However, Jimin’s words went in one ear and out the other. Jimin started to kick Ahjung’s foot, and she started forcing the door closed.

“W...wait a moment! I’m here to introduce you to a good marriage partner! At your age, you should start thinking about marriage! You should meet him at least once...!”

Bam!

Jimin finally pushed out Ahjung’s foot and slammed the door closed. Then she locked it. It seemed Ahjung hadn’t given up yet as Jimin could hear her pound on the door. However, she wasn’t going to open the door.

‘She wants to sell me away through marriage?’

Jimin was aware of her own beauty. Her mother was probably trying to set her up with a wealthy man that had fallen for her. Ahjung would gain much by facilitating the match. Her mother probably hadn’t checked if her prospective marriage partner had a good personality or not. In fact, she was probably conspiring with some trash of a man with the promise of money.

There was a possibility that Ahjung had recognized her own sins, and she was trying to do good for her daughter. However, Jimin knew that would never happen. Turning over a new leaf was an impossibility for this woman.

A big ruckus could be heard through the door. It seemed her mother would not give up. If she was the only occupant of this building, it wouldn’t have mattered. However, other companies rented out space within this building. If she left her mother alone like that, she would become a nuisance for other people within this building. This didn’t mean Jimin would let her mother into her office.

Jimin contacted the security office of her building. Loud noises could be heard outside, and Ahjung’s sharp and vulgar screams could be heard within the building. However, the security guards were good at their job. Soon, silence descended outside.

Jimin held her head with both hands. All the good feelings from the morning were gone.

* * *

Sungyoon wandered around the 2nd floor for a couple days. The 2nd floor was clearly tougher than the 1st floor, but he became somewhat used to the place after a couple days. Afterward, it didn’t take him too long to find the entrance to the 3rd floor. 

‘This is the 3rd floor.’

Was it his imagination? The air felt heavier here, and the magical energy in the air was denser. Sungyoon gripped his spear tight. He was on his guard as he walked forward.,

‘Mad Dog!’

It seemed he had some weird fated relationship with this monster. It had been the same on the 1st, the 2nd, and the 3rd floor. He always ran into a Mad Dog first. It had the familiar long head of a canine, and drool was dripping down its sharp canines. It growled at Sungyoon.

Sungyoon got into his familiar stance. He was quite experienced in hunting Mad Dogs now. He wanted the Mad Dog to be his trophy for his first victory on the 3rd floor. However, Sungyoon noticed something when he lowered his spear into place.

“What the hell?”

Sungyoon’s question was infused with bewilderment. If past experiences were any indication, the Mad Dog should have rushed towards him. However, it wasn’t moving. It didn’t look afraid. Its red eyes glared at Sungyoon, and it was filled with killing intent.

Tuh-buhk!

The Mad Dog took its first step. However, it didn’t rush him. Its eyes remained on Sungyoon as it circled him. 

An alarm rang inside Sungyoon’s head.

‘This bastard is different from the others.’

It seemed the monster's behavior changed as one went deeper into the labyrinth. Since he had hunted so many Mad Dogs, he had let his guard down a little bit. He forcefully put himself on edge. He pushed his shield forward and returned the glare of the Mad Dog.

It was as if the Mad Dog was looking for a weakness. It circled around Sungyoon like a hunter trying to end the life of a wounded animal. Sungyoon matched its movement. They slowly circled each other.

-Koo-roong!

In the end, the Mad Dog became impatient and rushed towards Sungyoon. Fortunately, it had the same attack pattern.

Puh-uhk!

He was almost sick and tired of using this maneuver. He bashed the Mad Dog with his shield when it rushed him. It let out its unique yelp as it tumbled to the floor. However, it reacted differently compared to the other Mad Dogs. It stood up immediately, and it glared at Sungyoon. The past Mad Dogs had needed time to recover from the bash. This wasn’t true for this Mad Dog.

Then…

-Kuh-huhng!

It charged towards Sungyoon once again. However, it didn’t leap like before. It dodged the shield, which had been covering Sungyoon’s upper body. It went low as it tried to bite Sungyoon’s leg. This surprised him. He hurriedly brought down his shield on the Mad Dog’s back. 

Crunch!

-Kang!

He heard something break. The Mad Dog was a couple centimeters away from his foot, but it hadn’t been able to reach him. Sungyoon brought down his spear on its back. He stabbed it once more before it could struggle.

Slump!

Sungyoon let out a sigh of relief when its body lay limp on the floor.

‘Its attack pattern changed now that I’m on the 3rd floor.’

As he watched the light surround the corpse, he reassessed the dangers he would be facing now. His previous information about this place could still be used, but he had to expect some variance starting from the 3rd floor.

-Koo-roong!

Another monster appeared in front of him.

‘Slash Cat.’

It was a large monster that looked like a large cat. Its long claws left behind a big impression, and it showed no efforts to hide its claws. Each claw was around 10 cm long, and they looked very sharp.

-Koo-ahhhhhhng!

It charged headlong towards Sungyoon. The distance between them was covered in an instant as it swung its front paw towards Sungyoon’s body.

Kwah-jeek!

Splinters of wood flew off the wooden shield. However, the claws failed to damage Sungyoon. Sungyoon took a big swing with his spear.

-Kyang!

The Slash Cat flew across the air.

‘Shit. What the hell!’

Sungyoon quickly looked at his shield. There were four shallow claw marks clearly carved into his wooden shield. His skin was much frailer compared to the wooden shield. If this attack had landed, his skin would have been shredded into a bloody mess.

‘It said that its attack power was high, but as a price, its defense was poor.’

He recalled the information he had memorized. The data was correct. After falling to the floor, the Slash Cat was struggling to get back on its feet. If it was the Mad Dog from the 3rd floor, there would have been no delay, and it would have immediately attacked Sungyoon.

Sungyoon carefully closed the distance. The Slash Cat was barely able to get to its feet. It hissed as it raised its hackles.

Boom!

Sungyoon took a big step. The Slash Cat jumped straight up into the air in surprise. Sungyoon’s eyes shone. Until now, he had been gripping the middle of the spear’s shaft, but now he moved his hand to the rear of the spear to lengthen his reach. Then he struck out with his spear.

Puh-uhk!

It struck the flustered Slash Cat. It flew through the air. Sungyoon quickly followed after it and stabbed his spear into its body.

-Kyahhk!

The Slash Cat shuddered before its head fell to the ground. Soon, its corpse was surrounded by light.

“Hoo-ooh~!”

It was a bit unexpected. It usually took more than two blows to kill a monster unless he hit a vital point. This monster had died after taking a single thrust to its body.

‘It has low health.’

Anyways, he had succeeded in the hunt once again. Sungyoon recovered the moonstone. Normally, he would continue to explore the labyrinth, but this time he didn’t move. Sungyoon raised his shield, and he checked the claw marks once again.

‘I’m only on the 3rd floor, yet it is like this.’

Of course, the weapons summoned through the Gems couldn’t be completely destroyed. One just had to unsummon it, and it would regain its original form after time passed. His shield had taken blows from the Needle Hedgehog on the 2nd floor, and the Slash Cat had gouged the wooden shield on the 3rd floor. At this rate, he wouldn’t be able to use this shield if he went further down into the labyrinth.

‘This is the limit of the Purple Gem.’

It was the lowest Gem. When clearing a labyrinth, the quality and amount of magical energy possessed by the Connector were important. However, one’s magical energy meant nothing if one was without high ranked Gems. Of course, the opposite was true too. Since his shield was in this state, his purple ranked spear and armor would reach its limit soon.

‘I’ll keep going until I reach my limit.’

He knew the limit was close at hand. It was obvious. It might be the 4th floor. If he held out a little longer, he might be able to last until the 6th or 7th floor with these equipment.

However, one thing was for sure.

‘She can’t have a cat as a pet!’

It didn’t matter how much Shinhae begged. Sungyoon had made up his mind.

* * *

One had to put one’s life on the line to explore the labyrinths. The monsters were like animals on earth, yet they were completely different in many aspects. The biggest difference was the moonstones that could be extracted from their bodies. However, there was no way these monsters would die without putting up a struggle. In order to defend themselves, the monsters attacked the Connectors with everything they got. It was a life and death battle for both sides. The conditions and circumstances of the fight didn’t matter. Even if there was a low chance of dying here, one was putting one’s life on the line. The exploration of the labyrinth continued under such dire circumstances.

Sooner or later, there came a time when one had to put one’s life at risk.

“Koo-oohk!”

The sharp needle flew towards Sungyoon’s shoulder. Fortunately, the needle embedded itself at the edge of his armor. Sungyoon felt like letting out a sigh of relief and a shout of joy. He had been lucky, but he didn’t have the leisure to do either.

-Kyahhng!

Something was swung at his face. He desperately moved backwards.

Sss-kahk!

His cheek felt hot, and he felt liquid flow down his cheek.

“Shit!”

Sungyoon cursed as he wiped his cheek, which had been cut by the Slash Cat’s claw. His cheek stung as blood seeped into his sleeve.

‘Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like the wound was deep.’

He hoped that was true.

He wanted to immediately tend to his wound, but the Slash Cat’s claws weren’t the end of the attack.

-Kuhng!

A Mad Dog ran forward in an attempt to rip out Sungyoon’s throat.

“Son of a bitch!”

Puh-uhk!

He struck out with his shield. The Mad Dog was sent flying backwards. However, the 3rd floor Mad Dog wasn’t discouraged by the attack. It immediately got up as it bared its teeth.

Sungyoon gripped his spear as he looked at his surroundings. The Mad Dog and Slash Cat were growling as they glared at Sungyoon. A Needle Hedgehog wasn’t too far away, and it glared at Sungyoon with its needles pointing into the air.

It was a frightening team-up of three monsters. Sungyoon gritted his teeth.

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