“Whew. Scary. That was scary!”
Tim hugged himself with both arms and shivered in an exaggerated manner.
“Jeez. You really have loose lips.”
Emily berated Tim. If the sentry wanted to harm them, the party would have been exterminated in no uncertain terms.
“Still, it makes me mad. We almost died because those bastards didn’t do a proper job!”
“If you pissed off that guy, he might have tried to kill us. It would have been the end of us!”
It was as she said. The sentry hadn’t looked at them with kind eyes. If three beginner Connectors disappeared in the Beginner’s Labyrinth, no one would care. Too many Connectors had gone missing in the Beginner’s Labyrinth over the years. They would just be added to the numbers of casualties.
Tim didn’t have a retort, so he shut his mouth.
At that moment, Sungyoon joined in on the conversation.
“At the very least, he has the right to be able to complain.”
It didn’t matter if the high ranking Connectors had been lazy or not. It didn’t matter if they had done their best or they lacked in numbers. Tim, Emily, and Sungyoon had almost died, so they weren’t in the wrong to complain about it.
Tim and Emily turned to stare at Sungyoon. It was rare for Sungyoon to initiate a conversation. It surprised them.
“Still, the world doesn’t run according to common sense. We have to be careful in all aspects.”
He thought about all the events in his life that hadn’t turned out as he had expected, and put forth his opinion.
His voice was tainted with a lot of bitterness and anger. He was speaking from personal experience. Tim and Emily couldn't come up with a retort.
* * *
Sungyoon’s party continued to clear the labyrinth from that point on. Their pockets had become full of moonstones from the 7th floor. However, the Gems refused to drop. Not even the lowest-ranked Purple Gem made an appearance.
However, Sungyoon didn't feel desperate. He knew that Gems were a very rare drop.
Time passed like that. Once again, the period came when the Mana Stream would sweep over the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
“It really is too bad. At the very least, we wanted to explore the labyrinth until the Mana Stream manifests.”
Tim took a long sip of his beer as he grumbled. Emily, who sat next to him, nodded in agreement.
Sungyoon, Tim, and Emily had returned to the store where they had shared alcohol for the first time. Usually, Sungyoon refused to come to this store, as the price of commodities on the Moon was extraordinarily high. However, that day, Sungyoon didn’t turn down Tim’s invitation.
It was because Tim and Emily would be temporarily leaving the Moon the next day.
When the Mana Stream would start, the beginner Connectors would not be able to enter the labyrinth. This was why most beginner Connectors were starting to pack up, so they could go back to Earth. Some had already left.
This was the same for Tim and Emily.
If it were up to them, they wanted to hunt with Sungyoon until the end. However, they had to worry about their company. Their company had signed a contract with a transportation company to deliver all the members of their company down to Earth at a specific date. Therefore, it wasn’t an exaggeration to say that the two of them didn’t have a choice. They had to leave at the appointed time.
“When are you heading down, Mr. Sungyoon?”
“I plan on staying until they start sealing the Beginner’s Labyrinth.”
“Ughh. As expected, that’s your plan.”
“You don’t have to be too disappointed. We’ll be meeting each other once again in a month.”
In the end, Tim had to put away his disappointment. He took out a notebook and ripped out a page.
“If you have the chance to come to Canada, please call us.”
Tim had written his phone number and email address on the ripped paper. Emily followed suit. She quickly handed over her contact info to Sungyoon.
“Thank you. If you have the chance to visit South Korea, please contact me.”
Sungyoon also handed them his contact info.
They had relied on each other for the past three months as they explored the labyrinth. The three of them had trusted their lives to each other. Even though Sungyoon did not like associating himself with other people, he had come to trust them enough to hand over his contact info.
Tim and Emily put away Sungyoon’s contact info. This was especially true for Emily. She neatly folded the paper, carefully putting it away in her front pocket. When she went back down to Earth, this would be the only way she could contact the person that she was interested in.
How long did they chat and drink together? The drinking came to an end, and it was finally time to say goodbye.
“I’ll see you next time.”
Tim promised to meet Sungyoon at a later date and shook hands with him in an energetic manner.
“You should say goodbye too.”
Tim lightly pushed his sister's back, sending her towards Sungyoon. Emily was hesitant as she came forward. Then, she extended her hand towards Sungyoon.
“I... I’ll see you next time.”
Sungyoon grabbed her hand. Her hand was soft and pale. She was embarrassed, but her beautiful brown eyes took in Sungyoon clearly.
He avoided associating with beautiful women. Emily was on the top list of beautiful women he knew, but all this while, they had fought together with their lives on the line. This was why he didn’t find her repelling. It was the reason why he was able to comfortably say these words to her.
“Yes. I’ll see you next time, Ms. Emily.”
Emily’s expression brightened. She let out a bright laugh. Her smile was like a beautiful blossoming flower, beautiful enough to even shake Sungyoon for a brief moment.
* * *
After he said goodbye to the siblings, Sungyoon, once again, went back to explore the labyrinth. He still had a week before the Mana Stream would finally hit the Beginner’s Labyrinth. Until that day came, he decided to gather moonstones. He planned on looking for his next Gem.
‘How long has it been since I’ve hunted by myself?’
After getting his first kill that day, he suddenly had that thought. Tim had always taken the lead as he spoke with a cheerful and boisterous voice, while Emily followed them like a chick following a mother hen. When he thought about them right now, it brought him joy. If Sungyoon’s previous personality had remained, he probably would have laughed boisterously and would have tried to grow their friendship.
However, Sungyoon shook his head from side to side.
His best friend of 10 years had betrayed him with his wife, who was supposed to be with him 'till death do us part'. It had inevitably hardened his heart.
He was still using the mace. Emily had refused to take it back after lending it to him for an indefinite amount of time. The mace blew apart the monster’s head, and Sungyoon coldly looked down at the corpse of the monster.
When he was with Tim and Emily, he would sometimes converse with them. When he was with them, Sungyoon acted a bit like a normal human being. But currently, he had returned to being his old self. It was like when he first came to the Moon. He had hardly interacted with anyone, hunting just monsters.
After the monster’s corpse was swept up in light, he picked up the moonstone. He checked his watch. It was quite late.
‘I should head up now.’
Sungyoon turned back.
* * *
“That’s amazing. You get to return to Earth soon.”
Chelsea sounded a bit jealous as she spoke. Sungyoon nodded, stuffing another potato in his mouth.
“To be honest, it is amazing.”
Everything took a backseat since he would be able to see Shinhae soon. The thought put him on cloud nine.
“I’m really jealous.”
“When are you going back down to Earth, Ms. Strobe?”
She kept saying she was jealous of him, so he asked the question. It hadn’t been too long since Sungyoon had been traveling to the Moon, but in that span of time, he had never seen Chelsea return to Earth.
“I still have a half a year left. People with no family have to stay for a relatively long time. I don’t get it. Just the fact that I’m not married doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to be treated like a human being. If they want me to have a family, they have to give me the time to meet someone in the first place!”
She had started out complaining in a small voice, but her voice kept getting louder. By the end, she was almost in hysterics as her sharp voice rang out in the park. It seemed she had been suffering under a lot of stress.
“Ah-ah! I want to wear pretty clothes. I want to eat delicious food. I want to roll around in a plush bed. I want to watch tv all day.”
She grumbled as she twisted her body like a child in a tantrum. Sungyoon didn’t say anything as he kept eating the potatoes. He could only listen to her complaints. He couldn’t solve her problem, and he knew she didn’t want him to solve her problem. She just wanted him to lend her an ear and listen to her misery.
Sungyoon continued to listen to Chelsea’s rant for an extended amount of time.
“When are you heading back, Mr. Woo?”
It seemed she had finished letting out whatever she wanted to say. Her face looked refreshed, and she asked Sungyoon a question.
“The Mana Stream will surge in 3 days. I’m going to hunt until it comes. I’ll head down right after the Mana Stream hits.”
At that moment, a shadow loomed over them.
“Hey! It’s been a while, miss.”
They hadn’t noticed, but a man with a smarmy smile had appeared in front of two.
* * *
Nicholas Laughton had been in the worst mood these days. Aside from those that possessed the right to enter into the Great Labyrinth, he was part of the strongest ranked Connectors. This was why he had held his nose up high. But recently, his pride had fallen into the sewers.
It started as soon as he accepted the job of cleaning the Beginner’s Labyrinth from Armstrong city.
Everything was fine in the beginning. Among all the numerous labyrinths, the Beginner’s Labyrinth was considered to be a middle to lower rank labyrinth. A Connector of Nicholas’ caliber shouldn’t have encountered any problems culling the monsters within the Beginner’s Labyrinth. It wasn’t a difficult task. Also, he had not been the only Connector hired. A good number of high ranked Connectors were hired to cull the monsters that couldn’t be handled by the beginner Connectors.
Nicholas hadn’t hesitated when he accepted the commission. The work was easy, and the compensation was good. Plus, he had also done this work before. It also meant that the number of Connectors in Armstrong city lessened during the cleanup period of the Beginner's Labyrinth. This meant the normally busy restaurants gave him priority to enter into their establishments, and he could monopolize the services of the prettiest prostitutes. It was a minor improvement in his quality of life. However, he had already amassed a lot of money, so the improvement of the little things in life mattered more than money.
After the Mana Stream had ended, he had entered the Beginner’s Labyrinth along with the other contracted Connectors. Nicholas planned on finishing his work early, and he only thought about using the compensation from cleaning the Beginner’s Labyrinth to play around to his heart’s content.
However, any good feeling he had was ruthlessly shattered before a single day came to an end.
‘Why are there so many monsters!’
It couldn’t be compared to the prior clean-ups of the Beginner’s Labyrinth. This time the Beginner’s Labyrinth was teeming with monsters. He couldn’t clear the monsters in short order. In fact, he had failed to clean the labyrinth before the deadline of a week arrived. In the end, Armstrong had to hire more Connectors, and they had to seal off a portion of the labyrinth in order to let the beginner Connectors enter into the labyrinth. Of course, there was no way all the high ranked monsters were killed in all this mess.
They received a flood of complaints from Connectors being harmed due to the high ranked monsters that they had missed. News of Connectors losing their lives to high ranked monsters started to spread.
Of course, the higher-ups cussed out the high ranked Connectors, including him. Fortunately, Armstrong city acknowledged an abnormally high amount of monsters had spawned this time around, so all the blame wasn't placed on them.
But still, Nicholas’ pride had taken a big hit. After he had been assigned a private labyrinth, he had been on a roll in life. This failed commission was the worst failure in his life as a Connector.
He was on his way back after killing more of those damned monsters. He had spent the past couple of days within the Beginner’s Labyrinth, combing through the labyrinth since he couldn’t afford to miss any more high ranked monsters. It was time for the next Mana Stream, yet Armstrong city refused to suspend the commission given to the high ranked Connectors. The reason being beginner Connectors were still entering into the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
‘Damn bastards! The foot traffic is very low! The probability of those bastards encountering a high ranked monster is very low!’
Nicholas cussed out the leadership group of Armstrong, then he turned his anger towards the beginner Connectors.
‘Why are those trash still entering into the labyrinth! The Mana Stream is almost here! They are mere trash blinded by a little money! Enough is enough. Just fuck off to Earth!’
He really wanted to smash something right now.
But it seemed that people around him could sense his foul mood, so everyone moved away from him. A big circle had formed with him at the center.
He was walking as he seethed in anger. At that moment, he caught sight of someone.
He saw large glasses and frizzy hair. He also saw a white lab coat. He saw a familiar face whose beauty shone through her drabness.
‘She’s the impudent bitch that ignored me last time!’
To be honest, he had forced himself on her. He had used a heavy-handed method to pick her up, but she had refused his advance. That was all she did. However, in his mind, she had turned into the impudent bitch.
He was already in a foul mood right now. A bloody smile appeared on his lips as he walked towards Chelsea.Previous Chapter Next Chapter