Woosung chewed at his lips. He had never seen Jimin this mad before. He no longer felt like an adult. He was back to his childhood days, as he shrank back in front of Jimin.
“Get. The. Hell. Out!”
She didn’t yell out loud, and her words were soft. However, she clipped each word. The effect was more powerful compared to when she had screamed at him.
Woosung had no choice. In the end, he turned back.
He looked like a duckling that had been abandoned by his mother. His shoulders slumped, as he shuffled out of the room. One could tell his grief by looking at his retreating back.
When her brother left, Jimin fell into her chair. She placed her forearms over her forehead, leaning back into her chair. She stayed in that position for a long time without saying anything.
Sungyoon didn’t say anything either. He silently stood there as he waited for her to recover.
The silence continued like that.
“I’m sorry. You saw something unsightly. It seems that I only show you the weird side of my life.”
It looked as if she had recovered somewhat. She pulled her body up from its reclined position. She sat straight up, yet signs of exhaustion could still be seen in her expression and voice.
“It’s fine. Shall I come back later? You probably want to rest right now.”
“No. This was a personal affair. I have to separate personal and professional affairs. Also, I’m not that tired.”
She looked like death warmed up. He could tell she was pushing herself too much, but he didn’t comment on it.
‘Work is one way to avoid problems.’
Sungyoon correctly identified Jimin’s state of mind.
“You were about to talk about the Gold Gem earlier?”
“I’d like to hear about it.”
Jimin placed her hands on top of her table as she prepared herself to be all ears.
“In short, I had to activate the Gold Gem, because I was put in a very dangerous situation.”
“… I see.”
Jimin let out a deep sigh. Sungyoon was a beginner Connector. He had forcefully activated the Gold Gem using a mismatched Device. There was only one result that could come from this action.
Jimin had already been in a bad mood. She felt her mood fall further. She placed a hand over her heart to calm her beating heart.
‘It’s fine, Jimin. You expected this.’
As a Connector, Sungyoon would always be in danger of losing his life. She had given him a Gold Gem, so he would be able to escape in a time of crisis. He had just followed her advice. She was taken aback, because he had used it much sooner than she had expected. However, she had expected this day to come, and she had hardened her heart against the eventual loss.
‘Still, it is a punch to the gut.’
Jimin was in a daze as she thought about it. This was her last hurrah. The shadow of her father had haunted her, and in order to dispel that shadow, she had given Sungyoon the Gold Gem. If Sungyoon had destroyed the Gold Gem by using it, the last vestige of her father would be gone. The Gold Gem had always been a crutch for her. Since the Gold Gem had been destroyed, she wondered if the shadow within her heart would start to recede away a little bit.
‘I’ll get used to it.’
Her heart hurt so much that she wanted to cry right now, but she calmed her emotions. She knew Sungyoon had been punching above his weight, but she tried to push down the small amount of resentment that was starting to creep up into her heart. She thought about the time when Sungyoon had handed over his Devices and Gems for storage.
‘Yes. Was the Gold Gem missing...?’
Jimin’s eyes turned round. According to her memory, the Gold Gem was present when Sungyoon handed over his Gems. She had given the Gold Gem to Sungyoon, but it was an item she treasured. So of course, her eyes had automatically searched out the Gold Gem.
Another possibility presented itself in Jimin’s mind.
“What happened after you activated it?”
Jimin quickly asked the question. She was always calm, cold, and collected. That was why her reaction was unexpected. However, it was understandable if the possibility in her mind had come to pass.
Unlike her urgent attitude, the way Sungyoon spoke was calm.
“The Device’s slot was destroyed, but the Gold Gem remained intact.”
That meant only one thing.
Jimin felt strength leaving her body, and she once again leaned back into her chair. Despair had turned into hope. Sadness had turned into happiness. Her emotions had gone on a repeated rollercoaster ride, and she was tired now.
Still, she couldn’t let her exhaustion take over. According to Sungyoon, he just needed a Device that could support the Gold Gem. The probability of him entering into the Great Labyrinth had significantly gone up. He had proof of that fact now.
“It seems I’ll have to hear the story again from the start. Please don’t leave out any details.”
Jimin stood up, and she brought in a chair for Sungyoon. They would be able to talk face to face in comfort. Then she made coffee in the corner of the office.
She placed the two cups of coffee on top of the desk. Jimin started to listen to Sungyoon’s story in earnest.
How much time had passed? Two-thirds of the steaming hot coffee was gone when Sungyoon’s story came to an end.
Jimin let out a deep sigh. She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She gazed at Sungyoon.
‘How did he manage that in just 3 months…’
It was strong. It was like drinking several dozen shots of espresso. His experience in the past three months was extremely concentrated and strong.
When he had gone to the Moon three months ago, Jimin didn’t think too much about it. Even if he moved quickly, she expected a year to pass before he could be assigned a Personal Labyrinth. But in just three months, Sungyoon had surpassed her expectations by a mile.
However, this wasn’t a bad thing for her. For her company and her cause, Sungyoon’s rapid growth would only be helpful.
“So what do you want to do, Mr. Sungyoon? You’ll probably gain the qualifications needed to be assigned a Personal Labyrinth in the near future. If you want, I’ll try to acquire an Indigo Gem for you. If you have that, you’ll be assigned a Personal Labyrinth immediately.”
He didn’t have a Device capable of activating a Yellow Gem, and one of the Blue Gems wasn’t his. However, he possessed a Green Gem armor and a Blue Gem shield. He was close enough to be qualified for a Personal Labyrinth. He satisfied two of the three requirements. If he just had an Indigo Gem or a higher rank Gem, he would satisfy all three requirements for the Personal Labyrinth.
Of course, she would have to really overextend her finances to be able to acquire an Indigo Gem. However, if one considered his achievements, Sungyoon was worth the investment. She even thought about asking her mothers for support, if the need came. Last time, they had offered their support.
However, Sungyoon shook his head from side to side.
“For the near future, I would like to continue entering the Beginner’s Labyrinth.”
Personal Labyrinths were much more dangerous than the Beginner’s Labyrinth. Sungyoon had personally experienced the dangers in the sealed section of the Beginner’s Labyrinth. He had to activate his Gold Gem. While he had been peerless when the Gold Gem was active, without it, he would have been slaughtered. This was the reason why even though they were qualified to receive a Personal Labyrinth, Tim and Emily were acquiring experience within the Beginner’s Labyrinth. He understood their actions.
He needed a little more seasoning.
“Please do as you like.”
Jimin didn’t make a fuss about it and gave him permission. She wanted Sungyoon to enter into the Great Labyrinth as soon as possible, but she wasn’t going to force him into doing it. Of course, Sungyoon’s quick growth had a part in her decision too.
“Are you going to continue going around the labyrinth with the same party members?”
Jimin mulled over it. It wasn’t rare to see Connectors team up to form a party. In fact, Connectors raided the Great Labyrinth as a party. However, most of them were affiliated with the same company. If one partied with Connectors from other companies, the distribution of moonstones, Devices, and Gems became complicated. There was a high probability that the other companies would complain. Sungyoon and his party members seemed satisfied with the arrangement, but their company might not like it.
‘Still, it might be best for them to stick together based on their results.’
At the very least, while they were inside the Beginner’s Labyrinth, it would be best to maintain this party.
“Do you perhaps know their company name?”
“Mmm. I have no idea.”
“Is there any way you can find out that info?”
“We exchanged contact info. I can ask them.”
“That’s good. Please ask them for their company name when you have time.”
It seemed that she would have to make contact with the higher-ups from the other company.
“Let’s move on to the next item.”
Jimin’s voice turned cold. Her voice turned low, and she didn’t bother hiding her anger.
“I’ll learn more about that man named Nicholas. I have to know why he did this. Of course, we have to receive some kind of recompense. Please don’t worry about it. I’ll make sure to take his lunch money.”
He wasn’t going to lie. At that moment, Jimin reminded him of a hyena eating meat to the bone. Sungyoon wordlessly nodded. That was all he could do.
“Ah. I deposited money into your bank account. It would be best if you double-check the amount.”
She was hinting to him that he would like the number he would see. It seemed he had received a significant amount of money.
‘I made 40 thousand last time, right?’
After checking the amount, he would take Shinhae shopping. That’s what he wanted to do.
“When should I go back to the Moon?”
“It’ll be around a week before you go up again. The Mana Stream would be coming to an end, and the clean up should be done by then.”
He made a prayer as he spoke. He hoped the clean up would be completely finished this time around.
That was the end of their business.
Sungyoon said goodbye to Jimin and left the company.
He immediately went to the bank. He put in his ATM card, and he checked his checking account. As soon as he entered his secret PIN, the screen displayed the amount in the account.
‘… I have no choice but to be surprised.’
He had a rough idea as to how much he had made. A single bag full of moonstones had netted him 40 thousand dollars last time. He had brought three bags full of moonstones. At the very least, he would receive six figures. He might even receive seven figures. It was a possibility.
When the ATM displayed the figure, Sungyoon realized he had been spot-on.
One hundred thousand dollars had entered into his account.
* * *
After sending Sungyoon on his way, Jimin was in a very good mood. Until a few moments ago, she had a headache from dealing with her brother’s tantrum. The headache was completely gone now.
The reason was obvious.
Until now, the entry into the Great Labyrinth had been an illusion. This illusion was starting to take shape into reality.
There were very few instances in her life when she had been this happy.
‘Maybe, Sungyoon is my blessing.’
If he was here, she wouldn’t hesitate to give that handsome face a kiss.
‘He has only been a Connector for half a year, yet he’s close to receiving a Personal Labyrinth. He is fast even when compared to the 2nd and 3rd Gen Connectors. It is almost miraculous considering he didn’t receive much support.’
However, her smile slowly faded as she thought about Sungyoon.
‘… it’ll be dangerous.’
He was growing much faster than others, but it also meant he was in more danger than others. He had been going to the Beginner’s Labyrinth for the past three months, yet he had almost died twice.
If it was anyone else, they might have faltered from fear. Some Connectors would probably want to be assigned to a Personal Labyrinth, so they could earn enough to live a good life.
However, Sungyoon remained firm. He was aiming for the Great Labyrinth. He was doing so knowing it’ll become more dangerous for him.
There was only one reason why he was doing this.
It was because Jimin desired it. She wanted to find traces of her father. He was doing this for this very selfish reason.
In the end, the smile completely disappeared from Jimin’s lips.
He was working for her, because she had bought his debt. He was doing this, because she was taking care of his daughter. However, this didn’t change the fact that she was pushing him towards a place full of danger.
If Sungyoon showed displeasure, she might have felt better about it. If he had acted like her former employees, who moved according to their greed, she might feel less guilty about it.
Sungyoon was almost like an idiot as he followed Jimin’s design.
She looked down at her hands.
Her hands looked like the hands of a witch that was slowly choking a person’s neck. She wordlessly shook her head from side to side as guilt ate away at her heart.Previous Chapter Next Chapter