Chapter 166

#64. Preliminary Investigations

The workers had been reluctant to cross paths with Kim Jin-Woo as of late.

He had rescued Mr. Kim from the verge of death during the first accident. Since then, Kim Jin-Woo had been rather actively preventing countless accidents from reoccurring at the site. Nevertheless, none of the workers at the site looked at him in a good light. Rather, they were all avoiding his gaze as though they were faced with a monster.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that he possessed superhuman powers that far exceeded what any normal human being could, which in turn made them unable to see him as a fellow human being.

Faced with the suffocating silence, Kim Jin-Woo would have much preferred it if the workers went back to their old ways of uttering their grudges and complaints toward him instead.

“Is that a human being, or a monster? Perhaps he’s a monster wearing the skin of a human being?”

“I think it’s not the site that’s strange; it’s the owner of this house instead.”

None showed any signs of gratitude or pride toward the righteous man who had saved the life of their colleague. Rather, they showed even greater hatred than if he had done nothing instead.

Hatred. Fear.

The Eyes of Truth reaffirmed the way they were looking at Kim Jin-Woo. However, his expression didn’t change one bit. Despite all the hatred pouring toward him instead of gratitude, he was calm as ever.

It was only natural for Kim Jin-Woo. He had never wanted to be understood in the first place, and he had never expected any of them to. That was why he lived far away from the general public.

This was because this was the unfiltered gaze that humans looked at dungeon babies with, and he knew better than anyone else that these were their most honest feelings. Even on the surface, he was a stranger and an outcast.

Kim Jin-Woo quietly observed the workers before looking for the supervisor, saying, “Let’s wrap up the work for today. The mood’s pretty sour and we don’t want another accident to happen.”

“I apologize; I wasn’t able to properly manage the workers,” the supervisor replied.

“Next time, please bring some proper workers. It’s acceptable for work to be done faster or slower, but I hope we don’t have such accidents again from here on.”

Because all the workers avoided Kim Jin-Woo, the supervisor had to take charge of all matters of communication. Naturally, there was bound to be a lot of conversation between the two of them. But the supervisor was still looking at Kim Jin-Woo with gloomy eyes.

“Is there something else you’d like to say?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

The supervisor was awkwardly hanging around, unable to leave his seat. In response to the question, he shrugged in an exaggerated manner and replied, “That is…” He should have left by then, but he was still hanging around. He sighed deeply.

“If it’s business related, keep it short. I’m tired after exerting so much strength,” Kim Jin-Woo urged the supervisor.

The supervisor finally began speaking after much hesitation. “You know those jewels from the Underworld? Those down somethings…”

Since he’d already opened his mouth, he must have decided to be brazen about the matter at hand, as he rushed forward toward Kim Jin-Woo and revealed something in his possession.

“Can you take a look at this?” The supervisor pulled something out of his dirty bag; it was a stone. But it was a very familiar stone that Kim Jin-Woo had seen somewhere before many times. The supervisor explained, “I bought this for a high price, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect.”

“What is this?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

“Those down somethings, I heard they’re good at preventing exhaustion as well as promoting good health… Those down somethings… I was wondering if you might perhaps know something about this?”

Kim Jin-Woo squinted and frowned as he looked at the stone, asking, “Where did you get this?”

Looking through the eyes of the parasite, the stone was just a piece of chaff void of dungeon energy. Kim Jin-Woo was amazed at how the dungeon energy had been extracted without damaging the exterior.

“It’s said that wealthy people all carry one of these things, and I paid a lot of money to buy one as well.” When asked how he got his hands on it, the supervisor went on a long tangent about how much trouble he had to go through to obtain it. “I bought this guy for five million won.[1] My son’s tuition fees are pretty expensive, but you know what the saying goes, right? ‘Health is wealth’, as they say. So, I just purchased one, taking it as an expensive insurance plan for myself.”

Kim Jin-Woo stared at the supervisor who was constantly talking nonsense before asking about the stone’s origin again. “Where the hell did you get this?”

“Some association of sorts; they said they were some kind of explorer association that was well-recognized in the country,” the supervisor replied.

Kim Jin-Woo frowned deeply and asked, “Are you certain that this came from the Explorer’s Association?”

“That’s right. I bought it at their office in Ilsan. I even checked the signage; I’m sure of it,” the supervisor said proudly.

Kim Jin-Woo nodded after much thought. “If you’ve gotten it from the Explorer’s Association, I’m sure there’ll be some effect.”

“I know, right? Phew, since even our explorer boss is saying that, I feel a bit relieved. I was so worried I paid so much for a dud.”

The supervisor must have decided to confide in a famous explorer about the down gem after not receiving any effects despite paying highly for it. In reality, it was a down gem that was now nothing more than an empty shell, but Kim Jin-Woo didn’t find it necessary to inform the supervisor of that fact.

Explaining what a down gem actually was to a regular person was going to be a difficult task. On top of that, he hadn’t intended to help the supervisor in the first place, so he kept his mouth shut.

And the person involved didn’t seem to think that the down gem in his possession had any problems. Thus, he could keep it and believe in it as much as he wanted, even if it just had a placebo effect.

“Mm, then please end the work here for today and return tomorrow. And please pay special attention to the management of your workers and pick up the pace,” Kim Jin-Woo instructed.

As the supervisor gently wrapped up the empty down gem, he perked up at Kim Jin-Woo’s words and hurriedly replied, “Leave it to me. I’ll pay closer attention to whom we recruit.”

***

“Angela,” Kim Jin-Woo called.

“Yes, Master.” Angela must have been hiding in the dark while observing the situation, as she immediately answered his call.

“Where did Mr. Baek say he sold the down gem to?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

“It was a pretty tall building, but the entrance had a few people that I didn’t really want to deal with, so I wasn’t able to enter it,” Angela replied.

“Do you perhaps remember where this building was?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

“I can’t explain it, but if you ask me to return to it, I can do so,” Angela said. Kim Jin-Woo nodded, his expression turning serious. Angela began, “Why all of a sudden…”

“I need to check it out,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

Angela’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him with a serious expression, asking, “What are you thinking of this time?”

Instead of replying to her, Kim Jin-Woo turned and headed toward the basement.

Dominique was lost in thought and had totally drowned out her surroundings. She didn’t even notice Kim Jin-Woo coming down as she continued to stare blankly into the open space.

Kim Jin-Woo glanced at Dominique before ordering Angela, “Find Yoon-Hee.”

“Did you call for me?” Yoon-Hee asked as she arrived. Perhaps she realized that if she didn’t properly acknowledge Kim Jin-Woo, her survival on the surface would be greatly hindered, as her attitude was proper once more. Based on her current appearance, she seemed to be more loyal than when she had been bound by the Vassal’s Pledge.

“Let’s get started,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

“Is the construction work finished already? Terrans are amazing. At first glance, the scale of it was enormous,” Yoon-Hee remarked.

Dominique and Yoon-Hee were truly bumpkins when it came to the surface. Yoon-Hee revealed her longing for the surface, as her face lit up in surprise.

“No way. It’s only covered with dirt and sand for now. It’ll take a few more days for the work to be complete,” Kim Jin-Woo corrected her.

The construction of an outer perimeter around the vast amount of land Kim Jin-Woo had purchased for a low price couldn’t have been completed so early. However, with the current progress of the construction work, the energy of the labyrinth could be prevented from leaking out to some extent.

“It’s going to take some time anyway, so it’s better that we get started early on.” With that explanation, Kim Jin-Woo looked Yoon-Hee straight in the eye. “I need the powers of the Shadow Magicians.”

What had allowed the Party Hall to survive for so long on the 7th Floor was the Shadow Magicians’ power to blind and turn unwanted visitors away. As such, Kim Jin-Woo ordered Yoon-Hee to start working on her illusions.

***

“Phew.”

The slight oddities that had been spreading around, as well as the sense of incongruity that accompanied them, had completely disappeared, and Kim Jin-Woo threw the down gem onto the altar of the labyrinth that had had its growth suppressed thus far.

[A middle-grade down gem has been offered to the altar.]

[The air on the surface is detrimental to the growth of the labyrinth. Twice as many down gems will be required for its upgrade.]

[The upgrade will take longer than usual. It will take 120 hours until the labyrinth finishes growing.]

[Growing a labyrinth on the surface is inefficient. Do you still want to proceed with the upgrade?]

Kim Jin-Woo frowned when he read the messages. Requiring double the time and down gems was not good news.

“Upgrade.”

But despite that, he pushed forward with the labyrinth’s upgrade.

[The labyrinth has begun its upgrade.]

[Time remaining until the labyrinth’s upgrade to Level 2: 119:59:59]

Looking at the labyrinth core that began to grow with a flash of light, it finally sank in for Kim Jin-Woo that the upgrade had begun, and his eyes lit up brightly.

After the labyrinth’s upgrade had progressed to some extent, Angela appeared.

At Kim Jin-Woo’s command, Angela and Yoon-Hee looked out for any movements in the basement from outside the house, just in case the labyrinth’s upgrade caused energy to leak out. But no matter how much they waited, they could feel nothing, and Angela headed down to the basement.

“Master, when are you sta—” Angela began. But when she saw the Labyrinth Core glowly brightly, she stopped talking.

“Looks like it’s working better than I thought,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked.

“I totally couldn’t feel it from the outside. I didn’t even know that the upgrade had begun!” Angela exclaimed honestly while observing the thick concrete wall connecting the surface and the basement.

“Now all that remains is to wait,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked.

There was nothing left for Kim Jin-Woo to do until the upgrade was complete. Thus, he decided to take this time to deal with the remaining tasks that he had been putting off for a while.

The first thing he wanted to do was to track down where the down gems that Angela had reported on were.

Time was short, but Kim Jin-Woo showed no hesitation as he left the house. He had lived most of his life in darkness and gloom, rather than in a bright sunny world. The night was his time.

On top of that, Angela was a vampire, a race that belonged to the night. It was the perfect time for them to make their move.



1. KRW 5,000,000 is roughly USD 4,200.

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