Chapter 34

‘Where the hell did these bastards crawl out from!’

Sungyoon ground his teeth. He had been targeting the Slash Cat in the beginning. It had its hackles up as it hissed at Sungyoon. It was a monster, yet it couldn’t let go of its feline instincts. Sungyoon had crept up on the monster as it lazed on the ground. However, the monster sensed Sungyoon’s presence when he got close, and its tail went straight up into the air as it growled.

However, Sungyoon wasn’t discouraged. He had merely failed at taking the monster unawares. He was experienced at fighting this monster, so he would have a somewhat easy time killing it. The only concern was his shield. The outer surface was ragged from taking all the blows from the Slash Cats, so he had to be mindful of the shield’s durability.

However, Sungyoon had been mistaken.

Sungyoon first realized something was wrong when he easily blocked the Slash Cat’s first attack.

Shweek!

A terrifying sound rang out. It was a familiar sound. Of course, he knew this sound as he was sick and tired of hearing it. It was the sound of a needle from a Needle Hedgehog in flight. He felt a chill all over his body, and an alarm bell rang inside his head. 

‘Where is it?’

His mind desperately churned to come up with an answer, but he was in the midst of fighting the Slash Cat. He couldn’t locate the Needle Hedgehog. There was only one thing that was certain.

‘It isn’t in front of me!’

He didn’t have any time to think. Sungyoon lunged forward as he lowered himself.

Shook!

A destructive sound went past above his head. The sound had approached from his left, and it had traveled past towards his right. If he had to make a guess, the needle had been shot from his side. However, he didn’t even have the chance to direct his anger towards the Needle Hedgehog, who had ambushed him. He had to immediately block the Slash Cat’s next attack. He had lost his balance, so he was lying flat on the floor. The Slash Cat must have thought Sungyoon would be an easy prey now.

“Shit!”

He yelled out in anger as he raised his shield. When he felt a weight land on his shield, he used the Slash Cat’s momentum to throw it in the opposite direction.

-Kyahk!

It let out a screech of anger when it realized that it had failed its attack. Sungyoon didn’t care if it was angry. He quickly stood up.

Gulp!

In his very short career in the labyrinth, this was the most dangerous situation he had found himself in, and he had to somehow overcome it. He unconsciously swallowed his saliva. As he tried to predict the Slash Cat’s movement, he kept looking out of the corner of his eyes. He saw the Needle Hedgehog shuffling around.

‘Shit. They are working together.’

It was good that he had located the Needle Hedgehog’s location, but his situation didn’t improve with this information. This was the first time he fought enemies that were working together. Moreover, one monster was capable of long-range attacks, and the other one was adept at close-range attacks. It was a good composition, and they were putting a lot of pressure on Sungyoon. 

However, that wasn’t the end of it.

—Grrrrrrrr!

He heard a growl filled with anger. However, it hadn’t emanated from the Slash Cat or the Needle Hedgehog.

“Fuck. There’s a Mad Dog too!”

Sungyoon couldn’t help but swear when he caught sight of the dog-like monster edging towards him.

This was when Sungyoon’s desperate battle started.

‘These bastards work so well together!’

The Mad Dog was tough, and it had high health. The Slash Cat was powerful enough to kill its prey with one blow. Then there was the Needle Hedgehog attacking behind the two frontline monsters. It was a truly well-balanced team.

‘What should I do?’

He was somehow able to hold out up until now. However, it couldn’t last. If his concentration lapsed for even a moment, his neck would be ripped out by the Mad Dog’s sharp teeth. He would be cut down by the Slash Cat’s sharp claws, or he would be pierced by the sharp needles of the Needle Hedgehog. In some form or fashion, he would greet his death.

‘There is no way someone would show up.’

There was the probability of another Connector coming across him and saving him. However, the labyrinth was large. He hadn’t seen many Connectors after he reached the 3rd floor. Above all else...

‘I’m just a stranger.’

He thought about the betrayals perpetrated by those that he trusted the most. The two people, who were closest to him, had conspired to push him into the depths of hell. People that used to be close to him treated him differently after he fell. Everyone had cut off their relationship with him as if Sungyoon had treated them poorly in the past.

Even if another Connector came to this place, there was no guarantee that this person would save him.

Sungyoon tried to look at it from a different point of view. What would he do if he came across someone in the same predicament as himself?

‘I would just walk past him.’

He didn’t have the luxury to pay attention to a complete stranger.

Of course, not everyone thought like him. On the other hand, a lot of people would choose to do the same as him.

‘I have to overcome this by myself!’

If he didn’t have the strength and will, he would once again fall into the depth of hell. This thought made him raise his head.

A strong resolve entered Sungyoon’s eyes.

-Kuhng!

The Mad Dog once again tried to bite Sungyoon’s lower leg. He kicked it, and sent it flying across the floor. Then, Sungyoon took off his shield, which had been affixed to his forearm.

Shook!

He could hear the needle flying towards him. He took a big swing towards the direction of the sound.

Kwah-jeek.!

The needle broke as it was hit by the shield, and the broken needle fell to the floor. Sungyoon didn’t even spare a look at the needle. He threw his shield.

The shield flew in a straight line and struck the Mad Dog.

Kwah-jeek!

-Kooh-ehhhhk!

The Mad Dog, who had been ready to charge in, let out a scream. The shield had squarely struck the Mad Dog on its face, and it caused several broken teeth to fly into the air. Again, Sungyoon didn’t take the time to check the aftermath of his attack. He grasped his spear with both hands, and he ran in towards the Slash Cat.

The Slash Cat was already charging towards Sungyoon. It extended its paw to slash Sungyoon.

However, the spear had a longer reach.

Kwah-jeek!

Sungyoon’s spear hit its target. The blade of the spear brushed past its extended claws. It pierced through the open mouth of the Slash Cat and exited through the back of its head.

-Kehk!

Even a monster couldn’t survive such a wound. The Slash Cat fell to the floor. However, Sungyoon didn’t stop moving. The battle hadn’t ended yet.

Hweek!

He quickly swung his spear to dislodge the Slash Cat’s corpse. However, it had caused him to come to a stop for a brief moment, and it became the root of his troubles.

Poohk!

“Koohk!”

A groan escaped his lips. The Needle Hedgehog’s needle had embedded itself above his right elbow.

‘It’s fine. I was prepared to take a couple shots.’

Sungyoon kept repeating those words in his mind. It was inevitable that he would be taking damage in this fight. If that was a certainty, he would rather be attacked by the Needle Hedgehog than be attacked by the Slash Cat or the Mad Dog.

‘Fortunately, it all turned out like I expected.’

The Needle Hedgehog’s attack was weaker than the other two monsters, but it would be a killing blow if the needle hit his head. However, the Needle Hedgehog always focused its shots at his body. His body was protected by his armor, and he would be able to fight even if his arm was wounded. If the needle hit his armpit, it would be very dangerous, but it was an acceptable risk. 

He had been prepared to be hurt, but pain was pain. His anger towards the Needle Hedgehog reached a boiling point. However, he had to put off his confrontation with the Needle Hedgehog. After being hit by the thrown shield, it had added fuel to the Mad Dog’s anger. Blood dripped down its mouth as it charged towards Sungyoon. It looked to have lost its mind, and Sungyoon had to take care of it first.

-Koo-ahhhng!

It pounced towards Sungyoon. Up until this point, he had always had his shield to defend against its charge. He no longer had his shield, but his eyes could keep up with its attack.

‘I’ve killed many of your brethren!’

Sungyoon brought down his spear in a large arc.

Puh-uhk!

A resounding thud rang out as the Mad Dog was flung to the floor.

Poohk!

Another needle impacted Sungyoon's body. Fortunately, the needle had hit his armor. The needle was sharp, but it didn’t have much durability. The Needle Hedgehog’s attack couldn’t do much damage to his armor or shield.

This didn’t mean he wasn’t afraid. He felt a chill run down his back. He tried his best to ignore this sensation as he struck out with his spear.

-Kang!

It jumped into the air. Normally, he would take a step back. He would be careful in his next attack. However, time was basically of the essence. He stomped on the head of the Mad Dog to extract his spear then he once again pierced it with his spear.

-Goo-rook!

It stopped moving after letting out its last breath.

Poo-oohk!

At that moment, the third needle flew towards Sungyoon’s body. Sungyoon was unlucky this time. It hit his wrist.

He felt a burning pain emanate upwards.

“Son of a bitch!”

There was no way anything good would pop out from his mouth at this time. However, his situation had changed compared to before. No one would interfere with Sungyoon now, so he immediately approached the Needle Hedgehog.

However, he didn't rush in with excitement. He had barely been able to kill two monsters. If he underestimated the Needle Hedgehog, he might become more injured. He might even lose his life. He would feel aggrieved if such a thing happened.

Sungyoon adroitly dodged the needle flying towards him as he closed the distance to the Needle Hedgehog.

Then…

-Kek!

The death scream of the monster sounded like water breaking through a dam. It fell to the ground.

Tul-shuhk!

He confirmed the death of the Needle Hedgehog when light surrounded its corpse. Afterwards, he collapsed to the floor.

‘I guess I’m still alive?’

He felt around his body. The sensation was quite vivid. It seemed his soul hadn’t left his body. His feet were still attached to his body.

“Koohk!”

The pain, which he had ignored, came back with a force when he relaxed. Sungyoon grabbed the needle that was making his right arm hang uselessly in the air. 

“Hoohp” 

The needle came out without any complication. If the end of the needle was hooked, it would have worsened his wound when he extracted it. It would have driven him nuts, but this wasn’t the case. The Needle Hedgehog's needle was straight, thick and long.

Sungyoon was irritated as he threw the needle away.

His emotions had run amok for a brief moment, but he felt calmness return to him. The reality finally sunk into him.

He had almost lost his life right now.

Sungyoon desperately reached into his pocket as he brought out something. It was the picture of Shinhae. His trembling hand brushed Shinhae’s picture.

“I’m fine. I’m fine. Your dad is ok.”

He was like a madman as he repeated those words. He spoke as if Shinhae was in front of him. It also became a mantra that he repeated to himself. In front of his child, he had to be superman. He spoke as if he was talking in front of Shinhae and told himself that this was nothing. 

His actions were that of a madman, but it was effective. Sungyoon was slowly able to regain his calm. He was barely able to calm his hands, and he returned the picture into his pocket.

‘Let’s head back.’

There was no way he would continue his hunt today. Moreover, he had been injured. Fortunately, he had the body of a Connector that recovered quickly. His body would recover from these wounds in short order.

Sungyoon stood up.

He picked up his shield, which was thrown far away from. He also picked up the moonstones left behind by those damned monsters. He had gone through a lot of hardship for these moonstones. There was no way he would leave them behind.

Sungyoon picked up the Needle Hedgehog’s moonstone first. Then he gathered his shield and the Mad Dog’s moonstone. Then he moved towards the Slash Cat’s moonstone. The Slash Cat was basically the culprit of his unfortunate situation.

“Huh?”

Sungyoon’s eyes widened. There was something else left behind with the Slash Cat’s moonstone.

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