Chapter 45

A clear blue sky was overlooking the space center. The spacecraft, which would be shot into space, had finished its preparation. It was on standby and was ready to fly into the dark space at any given moment.

The spacecraft could be seen through the glass window of the waiting room. The head of the spacecraft was pointing towards the sky. On any other day, Shinhae would be looking at the spacecraft with curious eyes, but that day, her head was down like a wilted flower.

“Shinhae. You have to say goodbye to your father.”

Jimin patted Shinhae’s back. Shinhae took faltering steps forward.

“Dad.”

Shinhae called out to Sungyoon, her voice scarcely audible. Sungyoon smiled as he hugged her.

“Listen to unni, Shinhae. Dad will be back soon.”

For the past three weeks, Sungyoon and Shinhae had been inseparable. However, that would be coming to an end now. Sungyoon had to leave for the Moon, which was hanging up in the sky.

“… can you not go?”

Shinhae’s voice was filled with tears. Sungyoon again patted Shinhae’s back.

“I will buy you a lot of tasty treats the next time I come back.”

Shinhae didn’t say anything and just nodded with her head in Sungyoon’s embrace. Then, Sungyoon sent Shinhae back to Jimin’s side.

“Please look out for her.”

“Don’t worry.”

Jimin took a firm grasp of the little girl's hand. Sungyoon’s heart was set at ease when he saw this. On his last trip, Jimin had resided in his house to take care of his daughter. Also, Shinhae had become attached to her. At the very least, he wouldn’t have to worry about Shinhae like before. A boulder had been lifted from his heavy heart.

“Please take this.”

Jimin pushed something towards Sungyoon.

“This is...”

Sungyoon became surprised when he saw a sparkling purple item on her palm.

It was a Gem. And judging by the shape of it, one could deduce that it was a star-shaped Gem that could increase one’s physical abilities.

“It is a Gem that’ll enhance your senses.”

Sungyoon took the Gem. It would be used with the Gem that would increase his strength. It would level up his battle capabilities.

He didn’t ask where she had gotten the Gem. She probably had worked desperately to find and purchase it when she learned he had acquired the new Device.

He suddenly thought about the day when she had given him his Device and Gems. She had told him she couldn’t give him more, because she was running short on funds. Had she been lying? He didn’t know the answer. However, he had spent a good amount of time with her, and he had realized that she wasn’t someone that would lie. She had probably squeezed all her funds to be able to purchase this Gem. That was the more likely explanation.

‘But I can’t be sure.’

His Achilles tendon had already been cut by the two people he had trusted the most. He still didn’t fully trust Jimin. However, Sungyoon soon erased such thoughts. There was no proof that she had deceived him. That meant she was still his president, who had done him great favors.

“I’ll use it with thanks.”

Sungyoon inserted the Gem into the Device, which was already hanging around his neck.

“Most of the stronger monsters would have been exterminated from the Beginner’s Labyrinth by now. However, you have to remember that some of the high ranked monsters still exist, and there are rare instances where they cause harm. Please remember that.”

“Understood.”

He took Jimin’s warnings to heart, and then he turned around.

It was time to leave.

“Mr. Sungyoon.”

When Jimin called out his name, he turned his head back.

“Please be careful.”

Sungyoon silently nodded and then fixed his gaze forward. He walked towards the spaceship.

It was time to go to the Moon once again.

* * *

Kwah-jeek!

The spear handle left an impact on the Slash Cat’s back. However, since Sungyoon’s strength had increased by several folds, the Slash Cat received damage from the blow. It couldn’t even let out a scream before it was flung to the floor. Its back was clearly broken as its spine was in odd angles. It struggled on the ground.

Kwah-jeek!

The spear blade planted itself in its head. The Slash Cat stopped moving, but Sungyoon couldn’t rest.

Puh-uhk!

He backhanded the charging Mad Dog with his shield. It let out a scream as its body hit the wall of the labyrinth.

Puhhhhk!

This time he had kicked it. After taking two strong blows to the body, the Mad Dog was barely conscious.

Poo-ook!

As always, the last blow was a spear strike. He ended its life. Sungyoon didn’t lower his guard as he made sure all his enemies were dead. He stabbed the Mad Dog’s body several more times, but it didn’t move at all. Only when he was certain that it was dead, did Sungyoon lowered his spear.

‘It really is amazing.’

Sungyoon touched the necklace around his neck. The newly slotted Gems were shining brilliantly, and he overflowed with confidence. The two Gems made him feel that way, because they were clearly helping in his fights.

It was a strength enhancement Gem and a sense enhancement Gem.

Sungyoon had participated in close-ranged fights with his spear, and the Gems were clearly beneficial to his fights. He was able to kill each monster in far lesser time than before.

However, the overall level of difficulty he felt within the labyrinth felt similar to before.

‘Another one?’

Sungyoon’s ears caught the sound of a growl. Soon, he caught sight of a Mad Dog stalking towards him.

‘As expected, there are more monsters compared to before.’

Was this the effect of the Mana Stream? 

The high ranked Connectors had been perfect in their sweep, so, fortunately, there weren’t any powerful monsters left. However, there clearly was an increase in the number of monsters. In the past, he was able to explore the 3rd floor without much trouble. After returning to the Moon, Sungyoon could only explore the second floor for the past couple of days. He was almost in constant battle. Moreover, he already fought multiple battles where the monsters teamed up with each other. These weren’t easy fights.

However, Sungyoon wasn’t flustered. He had gained new Gems, and he had some prior experience in this labyrinth. He was somehow able to get through the fights.

In the past, he only possessed Gems for his spear, shield, and armor. He also had a Gold Gem that he couldn’t use. Basically, he had come in here with basic equipment.

This time he had entered with his two newly acquired Gems. It clearly had the effect of making him a legit Connector that could explore this labyrinth.

Hweek!

He heard something flying towards him. He felt a chill down his spine.

Ddah-ahk!

He took a big swing with his spear. The spear shaft broke the Needle Hedgehog’s needle.

‘Amazing!’

He was impressed. When he had been attacked by multiple monsters in the past, he had no choice but to block the Needle Hedgehog’s needle with his body. He was in a completely different situation now.

Of course, his fights were not perfect. These were abilities given to him from mere Purple Gems. He could listen and react to attacks from one or two monsters. That was his limit. Still, there was a big difference from the past when he had to stop two needles using his arm.

-Koo-roong!

The initial attack alerted him to the Mad Dog. Its red eyes headed towards Sungyoon.

He couldn’t afford to hesitate.

Tahk!

He kicked off the surface of the floor as he spun around. The Mad Dog was some distance away. It would take time for the Mad Dog to get close.

‘I have to kill the Needle Hedgehog first.’

Shoohk!

The needles were pouring towards him. In the past, he would have been cautious. He would have blocked each needle with his shield as he approached the Needle Hedgehog. However, he wasn’t fighting a one on one battle. If he used too much caution in approaching the Needle Hedgehog, the Mad Dog might join in at the most inopportune time. It would create a bigger headache.

Moreover...

Hweek!

Sungyoon easily dodged the needle flying towards him.

‘Slow.’

His vision was sharp as his eyes picked up the needle. It was like a rubber ball thrown by a kid with a noodle arm. His sharp senses could pick up all the Needle Hedgehog’s attacks.

Tuh-uhk!

He dodged all the needles shot towards him, and he arrived in front of the monster. Its quills were standing upright.

Too-hwahk!

The spear exploded forth. The needles shook as if it was trying to shoot out another needle. He planted his spear in the body of the Needle Hedgehog from above.

-Kee-eeeek!

It screamed in pain.

It was like a piece of meat skewered on a stick. Sungyoon raised his spear with the Needle Hedgehog stuck to his spear.

His eyes headed backward. The Mad Dog’s tongue was lolling as it ran towards him. He swung his spear.

-Kang!

-Kyahk!

The two monsters screamed one after another. The Needle Hedgehog, which was stuck on the shaft of the spear, had collided with the Mad Dog.

The Needle Hedgehog was already in pain from being pierced by the spear. The collision was like adding insult to injury. The Needle Hedgehog’s quills pierced through the entire body of the Mad Dog.

Poo-oohk!

He struck the final blow on the Mad Dog, which had fallen to the floor. The Needle Hedgehog, which was stuck on the shaft, was already dead.

Sungyoon silently watched the light engulf the two corpses. He collected the moonstones, and he looked at his surroundings. He no longer saw any monster.

Even if the monsters teamed up, he could kill them without much difficulty. It would be a different story if he was mobbed, but he was skilled enough to kill a party of three or four monsters. 

Clink!

As if it wanted credit for his success, the necklace shook as it let out a clear sound. Sungyoon gripped the necklace, and he brought it up to his eye level. The two Gems swayed in front of his eyes.

‘I have five Purple Gems now.’

Fortunately, he was talented enough to be able to activate more than four Purple Gems at the same time. He wasn’t that low of a trash Connector. However, there would come a time when he would hit the limit of a 1st Gen Connector. He was always worried about that eventuality.

‘Please let my limit come much later.’

He prayed as he let go of the necklace. The necklace hit his chest, and it chimed once again.

‘Shall I go on for a little longer?’

Sungyoon once again stalked through the labyrinth.

* * *

For the past couple of days, Sungyoon hunted monsters mainly on the 2nd and 3rd floor. He was quite familiar with the layout of the labyrinth on those floors. Of course, this didn’t mean he had completely memorized all the layout. The Beginner's Labyrinth was very large.

Sungyoon was piling up moonstones without much trouble, but he wasn’t satisfied. If he wanted Shinhae to eat tasty food and dress in good clothes, he just had to acquire more moonstones. The best way to acquire money was through moonstones, but his goal was to raid the Great Labyrinth. 

For the past couple of days, he hadn’t found any Device or Gems.

‘As expected, I have to go to the lower floors.’

The probability of a Device or a Gem dropping from powerful monsters were higher.

‘The 2nd and 3rd floor are starting to feel easy. It should be fine if I start heading down to the 4th floor.’

He wondered if his spear and shield would hold up on the 4th floor. Currently, his shield could take a powerful blow from a Slash Cat. The probability of it breaking after a single blow was low.

He had already found the entrance to the 4th floor. He decided to start exploring and hunting monsters on a new floor tomorrow. 

On the next day...

‘It takes forever to get to the 4th floor.’

Sungyoon glanced at his watch. He thought he had come out early, but the needles of his watch had moved far by the time he reached the 4th floor.

‘It would take a full day to make a round trip to the 4th floor.’

If he pushed it, he could go to the 5th floor. However, it wasn’t as if the 5th floor dropped an astronomical amount of moonstones. His effectiveness would suffer a lot if he went to the 5th floor. In the case of the Beginner’s Labyrinth, the 5th floor dropped slightly better quality moonstones compared to the 4th floor.

‘I have to come up with a plan.’

He could cross that bridge when he was ready to head to the 5th floor. First, he had to get used to the 4th floor. He didn’t need to think about it right now.

Sungyoon’s concentration became razor-sharp as he started exploring the new floor.

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