Chapter 54

She held onto the spear. The spear shaft was made out of wood, and it was smooth. It fit quite well in her hands, and she increased her grip around the spear shaft.

-Koo-raht!

In the Beginner’s Labyrinth, amongst the monsters on the first floor, the Big Rat was considered to be one of the weakest. It was a threat to a normal person, but to armed Connectors, it was a mere annoyance. Moreover, the advantage would be clearly on the Connector’s side if one had other Connectors willing to give one safe conduct through the first floor.

Poo-oohk!

The spear was thrust with all her might, and it flew towards the Big Rat. The Big Rat let out an abrasive scream as it died.

“You are having no trouble against the 1st-floor monsters.”

Sungyoon mumbled as he recovered the moonstone left behind by the Big Rat. His eyes landed on Emily, who let out a small sigh. She was holding the spear loaned to her by Sungyoon, and at a glance, one could tell that she was tired. But it wasn't physical tiredness; it was mental fatigue.

“Are you ok?”

“Yes, yes! I’m fine.”

Her face was a bit pale, but she firmly shook her head. 

Emily was currently experiencing direct combat, something she had never done before. From the beginning of their adventure, she had been in a party with her big brother. This was why she had always worked from the backline. In other words, she had always been protected by Tim. So, of course, she had never crossed weapons with the monsters. In their battle against the Bigfoot, she had become intimidated by the mere presence of the creature. As a result, a very unsightly outcome had occurred, and it had almost become her last failure in life.

Sungyoon had witnessed this absurd situation, so he had made a suggestion. Emily would slowly start to fight against monsters under the guidance of Sungyoon and Tim.

Of course, they didn’t expect Emily to become an amazing close combat fighter. However, they hoped that she would not freeze in important moments just because a slightly stronger monster showed up. At this point, she was getting in the way rather than being helpful, and she was working hard to fix that flaw.

At the very least, she couldn’t fall to the ground in fear when a monster would glare at her. It didn’t matter if she rarely got into close combat with monsters. She would remain useless as a rear combat personnel if she didn’t fix this flaw.

“Still, she is doing much better.”

She was starting to look pretty fierce when she stabbed her spear. At least, now she probably would not fall to the floor in front of a powerful monster.

It seemed Emily was embarrassed, and her face was red as she looked at the floor. However, a small smile had decorated her face. It meant that she didn’t feel bad at all. Tim looked proud of his sister, and he placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Shall we go down a floor?”

It was as if he was going to charge towards the lower floor with steam coming out of his nose. He swung his ax as if he was going to butcher all the monsters.

‘Will we be ok?’

Sungyoon looked at his watch. They won’t be able to go down too far, but they had enough time for a couple more battles on the 2nd floor.

“We have enough time. We can go to the 2nd floor.”

“Awesome!”

It seemed Tim didn’t want to waste any time. He took the lead and walked like a large elephant, intimidating everything around him. Since he was 192cm tall, he was able to look imposing just by how he walked.

This was how the party started heading down towards the lower floors.

* * *

Sungyoon and his party incrementally explored the labyrinth. They practiced basic party fights, and they had to allow some time for Emily to practice fighting against monsters. This slowed down their progress, but they steadily headed lower and lower into the labyrinth.

Then….

‘Finally, we are here.’

Sungyoon looked a bit moved as he looked at his surroundings. This was where he experienced the strength of the Fang Boar, where he had met his limitation, and where he had to turn back from the fourth floor. However, his current situation differed now. He was equipped with more powerful weapons, and he had acquired quality party members.

However, he had to confirm something. He wanted to see if his skills were effective on this floor.

“It is a Fang Boar.”

Tim’s eyes narrowed as he looked towards one side of the labyrinth. There was a Fang Boar staring back. Its long tusk was pointed towards them, and it growled as steam appeared from its nostrils.

“Shall we warm up by killing that bastard?”

Tim shook his ax as he raised his shield.

“Sure.”

Sungyoon stood behind Tim at a slight angle. Emily raised her staff so that she could support the two fighters at any moment.

Boom!

They continued to use the same formation they had used up until now. Tim took on the Fang Boar’s attack. A loud sound emanated, but Tim’s large body didn’t budge. In the past, Sungyoon had to hastily dodge all the attacks, so to him, it was quite the enviable sight.

However, he didn’t forget his role in this fight.

Hoo-oohng!

He swung his powerful mace. His spear couldn't be compared to this mace. It was awe-inspiring.

Kwah-jeek!

Before, he needed to put all his strength into his spear to barely pierce the Fang Boar’s hide, yet now, the mace made a big dent. He could feel the sensation of something being broken and crushed.

-Gwehhhhk!

Blood and spittle flew out of the creature's mouth, and it started rolling on the ground. It squealed as it flailed its legs in extreme pain.

Kwah-jeek!

Tim’s ax was immediately embedded in the Fang Boar’s skull.

“That’s all there is to it.”

Tim mumbled as he extracted his ax. The Fang Boar was a familiar monster to him. It was a monster they were used to killing.

However, it was different for Sungyoon. He looked down at the Fang Boar. It was lying on the floor with its eyes closed, and blood was pouring out of its wound. There was a big dent near its side. Sungyoon looked at the mace that he was holding. He confirmed that he had afflicted a critical wound to the Fang Boar.

‘I had a hard time piercing its hide last time.’

He had put a lot of strength behind his swing, but he hadn’t put all his strength into the attack like what he had done with the Purple Rank spear. However, his attack had been effective against the Fang Boar.

“Tim, I would like to defend against the Fang Boar.”

“You want to defend its attack?”

Tim sounded puzzled as he repeated the question.

“Yes. I struggled against its attack in the past. At the very least, I would like to make sure I can defend against it by myself.”

He would have Tim as support, and Emily would be the healer. It was the ideal opportunity to conduct a test against the Fang Boar.

“Ah. Is that so? Go ahead.”

Tim sounded willing to go along with it. Tim started moving as if he wanted to find a Fang Boar as soon as possible for Sungyoon. It didn’t take too long for them to find a Fang Boar lurking in the labyrinth.

When it showed signs of noticing their presence, Sungyoon took a step forward. As with all the monsters within the labyrinth, the Fang Boar charged forward as if it had lost its mind. Sungyoon stepped forward to block the Fang Boar’s attack. This was completely different from what he had done before.

Boom!

A loud sound rang out, and Sungyoon’s feet were pushed backward. He felt numbness in his left arm. However, that was it. The Fang Boar’s sharp tusks couldn’t damage Sungyoon’s shield.

Kwah-jeek!

Tim came in from the side with his ax. Enormous force was behind the blade of the ax, and it cut halfway into the Fangboar’s neck. Tim’s strength was frightening. He was able to ignore the thick hide of the Fan Boar to ruthlessly cut into its neck.

“How was it?”

At Tim’s question, Sungyoon closely examined his shield. A sturdy layer of steel reinforced his shield, and the Fang Boar hadn’t been able to scratch the steel plate. The numbness in his left arm was already gone.

“I can take it.”

At this point, it was clear that he could continue to explore the labyrinth. At the thought, Sungyoon sounded pleased as he answered Tim’s question.

“That’s great. Shall we continue to explore the labyrinth?”

At Tim’s insistence, Sungyoon’s party continued to explore the labyrinth. On that day, Sungyoon was able to step into the 5th floor of the labyrinth.

* * *

“Thank you for your hard work today.”

After divvying up the moonstones, Sungyoon gave a short farewell, and he headed towards his lodging. Tim and Emily quietly looked at his retreating back.

“Mmm. He is still an unsociable man.”

Tim let out a sigh. He wasn’t disparaging Sungyoon behind his back. He just sounded depressed that he couldn’t get closer to Sungyoon.

“You should talk to him more. You barely said anything to Sungyoon today.”

“… shut up.”

Her brother was extremely blunt as he said what was in his mind. Emily pouted at his words. She still had on the hood of her priestess robe, and she pulled it further down to hide her face.

“I can barely look at his face.”

It seemed her introverted personality had become worse.

“Still, how can you not say a single word? Try approaching him. Your subtle attitude won’t work on a guy like that.”

In the first place, Sungyoon had zero amorous feelings towards Emily. He would bet on his life that this was true. Sungyoon wasn’t enamored with Emily. It was the other way around, so Emily had to attract his attention. However, she sucked at attracting men’s attention.

‘Well, she’s the one that usually receives confessions from men.’

Tim observed his younger sister.

Emily looked depressed as she looked at the ground. From a subjective point of view, she was someone that had bickered with him regarding most things in life as they grew up. She was his annoying sister that had caused him great frustration. If he was to be objective, his sister was very beautiful. From what he knew, a truck full of men had confessed to Emily over the years. However, there had never been an instance where she had liked someone. She had an introvert personality, and the pressure of wanting to reach the Great Labyrinth meant she had never dated before. 

‘Why him of all people?’

Of course, he had a good opinion of Sungyoon. He had saved their lives. Moreover, Tim admired Sungyoon’s unwavering desire to reach his goal of entering the Great Labyrinth. As a 1st Gen, he would reach his limit quicker, but that wasn’t a reason not to like him. If he and Emily decided to date, he would cheer them on from the sideline.

‘However, he seems completely uninterested in Emily. That’s a problem.’

Tim had never seen a man like him. Whenever he met his friends, his friends always asked him to introduce them to Emily. All men were interested in Emily, yet Sungyoon didn’t see Emily as a woman. He was like a brick wall. He wondered if Sungyoon already had a family, but even married men wouldn’t show zero interest in Emily like Sungyoon. Let alone the fact that Connectors openly practiced polygamy.

‘The more he is disinterested, the harder she has to work in order to get his attention.’

However, Emily hadn’t been able to have a single decent conversation with Sungyoon yet. He let out a light sigh as he looked at his sister.

* * *

After Sungyoon went to space, Jimin once again started taking care of Shinhae. She was practically living in Sungyoon’s house. Others might mistake them for being mother and daughter. 

Jimin brought Shinhae to the department store today. It was to buy clothes for the child.

“Is it tasty?”

They were in the food court. Jimin laughed as she watched Shinhae eat spaghetti. She always had a cold expression on her face, so her smile was worth that much more. Of course, Shinhae always made her smile, so Shinhae didn’t know the worth of her smile.

“Yes!”

Sauce was all over her lips. Shinhae gave big nods to her head. She once again stabbed the spaghetti with her fork, and she forked a big portion of noodles into her mouth. Jimin continued to eat her own dish, and she would periodically wipe Shinhae’s lips with a napkin.

She was spending a peaceful and harmonious time with Shinhae when she suddenly heard a voice.

“Oh my! Isn’t that Jimin?”

It was a familiar voice. Jimin looked a bit surprised as she looked backward.

“Mom?”

She caught sight of a familiar face.

The lady looked a bit older, and she had a mature appearance. The beauty from her youth hadn’t faded away, so she still looked quite elegant. In many ways, she looked more beautiful than most 20-year-olds. She had a short bob hair, and an energetic personality oozed off her. The combination of these two made her seem very bubbly.

“It really is Jimin!”

She hugged Jimin, who was flustered and could not respond properly.

“Hey! Look over here! Jimin is here!”

She called out to someone behind her. The sound of heels clacking across the floor could be heard, and another woman appeared.

“Oh my. It really is Jimin.”

This lady had wavy long hair, and there was a calmness to her that contrasted with the other vivacious woman. She was as beautiful as the previous woman. Her eyes slightly curved as she let out a kind laugh.

They were her father’s wives. These women were different from Jimin’s birth mother. They were her step-mothers.

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