“Alright. Shall we do our best in working towards the goal of reaching the Great Labyrinth?”
Tim gripped his ax and made powerful swings at the air. He was a strength-based Connector. His Gems amplified his strength, so it was quite dangerous for him to swing his ax like that. Emily’s biting hand flew towards a location where his armor didn’t cover his body, and she scolded him. Tim stopped ferocious swinging to express his joy.
However, he was still in a good mood.
Of course, Tim wasn’t under the delusion that Sungyoon completely trusted them. Tim had somewhat come to know his personality while they partied with him. He knew that it wasn’t possible for him to fully trust them. Still, they would be placed above strangers on his hierarchy. Tim was now sure that Sungyoon thought of them as comrades.
‘Yes. We’ll take this slow.’
When Tim had conversed with Sungyoon about the Great Labyrinth, a feeling of admiration had bloomed within himself. Even if it happened slowly, he wanted to strengthen their ties with Sungyoon.
However, Tim and Emily’s good mood didn’t last too long. It was the same for Sungyoon.
They tried their best to avoid low-rank monsters that weren’t too profitable to kill. Still, if they came across a monster charging towards their party, they slaughtered it. They were on their way towards the 7th floor, where they spent most of their time clearing monsters. As befitting a place called a labyrinth, tunnels branched every which way, but they continued to walk down tunnels they were familiar with.
However, they had to come to a stop in their journey.
Tim spat out his words in annoyance.
They were about to pass by a tunnel, but it was cordoned off with a rope. A sentry stood in front of the tunnel to deter anyone from accessing this specific path.
It was a sealed section.
Tim looked backward. Someone had poked him from the back with a finger. Emily was giving him a meaningful look.
‘Don’t do anything stupid.’
In the past, her brother had complained in front of a sentry who had been guarding a sealed section. This was why Emily tried to beat him to the punch. Tim was about to complain without giving much thought, so he quietly shut his mouth.
They slowly went towards the path that would take them away from the sealed section. The sentry didn’t move.
“Ah, shit! What is up with them? Are they even doing their work properly?!”
When they had moved away to a place where the sentry couldn’t hear them, Tim started to vent his anger. Emily didn’t hold him back. Although she didn’t want to make a mountain out of an anthill, she wasn’t pleased either.
“It seems we will have to be cautious once again. If it is only the sealed section, it’ll only be a minor annoyance. However, the situation might be like before. There may be monsters that are ranked higher than the normal monsters of the Beginner’s Labyrinth.”
“You are talking about the Bigfoot incident?”
Tim frowned at Emily’s words. They had continued to enter the labyrinth, but it was a wonder that they hadn’t been traumatized by their past experience. On the other hand, the incident had been a blessing in disguise. They had met Sungyoon. However, they didn’t want to experience such a scenario once again.
“As expected, this is one of the anomalous labyrinths?”
Sungyoon had been silent as he listened to their conversation. However, he had heard something that he couldn’t ignore.
“What do you mean by that, Ms. Emily?”
Sungyoon asked a question.
“You don’t know about it, Mr. Sungyoon?”
“Yes. I’ve never heard the term anomalous labyrinth before.”
It was an opportunity to teach Sungyoon something he didn’t know. Emily put on a small smile as she explained.
“Something out of the ordinary is happening within the labyrinths.”
“What do you mean by something out of the ordinary?”
“To be a bit more precise, should I say some labyrinths are becoming more dangerous?”
He had to hear this out. Sungyoon focused on her words.
“We heard some stories when we had gone back to Earth. The monsters in labyrinths are spawning at a higher number, and it is causing a lot of confusion in the other labyrinths. Our company is half-way to declaring a state of emergency. Fortunately, no one associated with our company has died. However, I heard that numerous Connectors from other companies lost their lives."
“Is that the reason why they haven’t finished cleaning-up the Beginner’s Labyrinth? Is it because of the increased number of monsters?”
“That might be the most likely explanation.”
Last time, the clean-up of the Beginner’s Labyrinth hadn’t even finished when another round of Mana Stream had started. The probability of it happening again was high. It was an unexpected obstacle. Sungyoon furrowed his brows.
“Do we know what’s causing it?”
“Nope! We have no idea. In the first place, we don’t know a lot about the labyrinths. It is a place of many mysteries.”
Why were there labyrinths on the celestial body called the Moon? What was magical energy? Where did these monsters come from? Most of the information about the labyrinths was still under a veil. It was impossible to find the cause behind the population-explosion in such a short amount of time.
“Fortunately, the Connectors hired to clean up the Beginner’s Labyrinth are good at filtering monsters. They leave behind monsters that can be handled by beginners, so we should be fine if we don’t enter the seal section.”
Tim tried to reassure Sungyoon, who had turned serious.
“You are right.”
Sungyoon acknowledged his companion's words. However, he had almost died thanks to a high-rank Connector hired by Armstrong city. This was why he didn’t really feel the same way as Tim.
In any case, they were faced with the downside that came with sealing a section of the labyrinth. They couldn’t explore the entirety of the Beginner’s Labyrinth. Also, there was a chance that a strong monster might attack them. Still, they weren’t exposed to the same amount of danger as the hired Connectors. They just complained for a little bit as they continued to head downwards.
* * *
The three of them had spent the whole day descending into the 6th floor. Their destination was the 7th floor, but they had spent most of the time getting to the 6th floor. Since it was safer than the 7th floor, they decided to spend the night there. They would start their hunt in earnest on the next day.
It let out a squeal as if it were a pig. The noise it let out was a bit funny, but its power was no joke. The monster opened its big mouth as it charged towards Tim.
Its long incisors were stopped by Tim’s large shield. The monster’s mouth was about 1m wide, wide enough to probably swallow a human in one bite.
The Hard Leather Hippopotamus was trying to swallow Tim and his shield. It put strength into its jaw. It looked as if its large and thick incisors would punch through the shield.
Tim glared at the monster as he swung his ax.
He put enormous strength behind the ax, yet it could only damage the surface of the monster's leather. The Hard Leather Hippopatomus’s eyes flinched a little bit, but it was all that happened.
“Tsk. It is too tough!”
Tim grumbled as he pulled back his ax. When the Hard Leather Hippopotamus realized that Tim couldn’t damage it, it started to push forward once again. Tim leaned his whole body into his shield, as he started the battle of strength in earnest.
Tim was slowly being pushed backward. It seemed that in terms of strength, the Hard Leather Hippopotamus was much stronger than Tim. But something happened when the Hard Leather Hippopotamus was glaring down at his prey with scorn in its eyes.
Sungyoon dashed out from behind Tim.
He let out a powerful shout as he swung his mace. When Tim had swung his ax, he had only used one hand, so he couldn’t put his full power behind the attack. But unlike him, Sungyoon held the mace with both of his hands. He used his momentum to rotate his body as he swung his mace.
Unlike Tim’s attack with the ax, Sungyoon’s attack was on a different level. The Hard Leather Hippopotamus let out a scream. It staggered on its feet as it disengaged from Tim.
The mace in Sungyoon’s hand disappeared, and a spear made its appearance. Sungyoon immediately stabbed the monster.
Even if he hadn’t been able to put his entire strength behind the attack, Tim’s ax had been bounced off by the leather of the Hard Leather Hippopotamus. There was no way a Purple Gem spear would work against it. However, Sungyoon wasn’t aiming for the thick leather that covered its entire body. His spear flew towards the pink flesh that could be seen within its large mouth.
Sungyoon’s prediction was correct. The spear was too low in quality to smoothly pierce through its flesh, but he was able to jam it in using his strength.
The monster started to run amok. Sungyoon didn’t want to lose his spear, so he quickly unsummoned it. This was more effective than extracting the spear.
The mace, once again, appeared in his empty hand. The monster was gagging as it choked on its own spit and blood. Sungyoon, with all his strength, brought the mace down on its head.
A big dent appeared on its head, and the monster let out a scream.
‘It still isn’t dead.’
Any other monster would have died by now. That strike would have crushed the head of the lesser monsters. However, the Hard Leather Hippopotamus had somehow survived the attack with a big dent in its head.
‘Hard Leather Hippo… It lives up to its name.’
However, it wasn’t as if his attack had no effect. Sungyoon once again swung his mace.
Tim joined in. In terms of pure strength, Tim was stronger than Sungyoon. His strength-enhancing Gem was higher in rank than Sungyoon’s Gem. The Hard Leather Hippopotamus hadn’t recovered its faculty yet, so Tim didn’t even have to bother with his shield. He didn’t hold back as he kept swinging his ax with both hands.
The terrifying sound rang out in a rhythmic manner as blood flew into the air. After receiving two critical wounds, the monster let out a short sorrowful cry as it fell to the ground and died.
“I hate monsters with high defense. They are so annoying.”
Tim shook his head from side to side. Emily looked baffled as she stared at her big brother.
“You earlier said monsters with high offense are annoying.”
“Did I say that?”
“In the fight before, you said monsters with high speeds are annoying.”
“They are annoying. Am I wrong?”
Tim cackled as he waved his hand.
“You are shameless.”
She knew her brother had thick-skin. As always, Emily needled Tim with her words.
While the siblings were having a good time bickering with each other, Sungyoon recovered the moonstone of the Hard Leather Hippopotamus.
“Let’s move on.”
At Sungyoon’s words, the siblings stopped their playful banter, and they started to move once again. They killed monsters on the 7th floor, whenever they ran across one and avoided the sealed section that they occasionally saw. Soon, the staircase to the 8th floor appeared before them.
“What should we do?”
Tim asked the question to Sungyoon. For a brief moment, Sungyoon looked down at his body. He saw the Scale Mail, whose hard steel pieces clinked as if the armor wanted to make its presence known. It was a Green Rank armor. This armor could easily hold up until the 10th floor of the Beginner’s Labyrinth.
Even if he went up against a powerful monster, a single blow to the body wouldn't kill him.
‘It is too bad that I don’t have a helmet.’
He was able to acquire a reliable armor that would defend his body. He just had to do his best to protect his head at all costs. If he wasn’t dead, Emily would be on standby with her healing spell.
“Let’s head down.”
Soon, Sungyoon stepped onto an unknown territory called the 8th floor.Previous Chapter Next Chapter