Chapter 19

#9. The Wild Dogs of the Underground World

“Let’s lure them in and catch them.”

The explorers rammed their shields into the ground upon Jung Chan-Shik’s command. The spearmen placed their spears in between the shields. The dungeon babies stood in front of the formation.

“Any volunteers to lure them in?” Jung Chan-Shik asked.

“I can,” Kim Jin-Woo stepped forward and said.

“Sure. They’re just around this corner, so try to lure a few of them if possible.”

“Be careful, Mr. Jin-Woo,” Lee Jun-Young said.

Kim Jin-Woo gave Lee Jun-Young a brief gesture of acknowledgment and carefully made his way through the dark. It took him less than twenty steps to reach the corner Jung Chan-Shik had mentioned. He cautiously stuck his head out and scouted around the curve.

The six creatures in the dark resembled monkeys. Their peaceful roaming reminded Kim Jin-Woo of a family of monkeys on a picnic.

However, their intimidating appearance could make one’s knees wobble. Not only were they larger than gorillas, but each of them also had sharp fangs and an additional pair of arms at its flank.

Kim Jin-Woo pulled his head back and notified the team. “They’re four-armed monkeys. There are six of them in total–five large ones and one small one.”

The dungeon babies swiftly exchanged hand gestures and nodded. They were ready.

Kim Jin-Woo observed the explorers cluster their shields together. He then stepped out from the corner.

The four-armed monkeys were playing pranks with each other as though they were unaware of his presence. Kim Jin-Woo took a deep breath and clapped, and the monkeys looked up immediately. 

“Here they come,” Kim Jin-Woo said, as a huge pair of eyes the size of his head charged toward him. He hurriedly left the scene.

At that instant, two four-armed monkeys leaped out from the group.

[The battle against the four-armed monkeys has begun.]

Kim Jin-Woo shouted at his teammates upon viewing the message. “Two males!” 

As soon as he finished speaking, the pair of four-armed monkeys in fierce pursuit turned the corner to reveal themselves.

The creatures froze for a second upon running into the dungeon babies on standby. Before they could snap out of confusion, Jung Chan-Shik said in a low voice, “Flash.” 

The flashlights attached to the explorers’ shields lit up all at once. The four-armed monkeys were too accustomed to the dark. They shrieked and covered their eyes with their hands, but it was too late.

Kim Jin-Woo was wise enough to immediately close his eyes and turn his body away from the light. He charged at the monkeys, who were clutching their eyes and shrieking in agony. He bared his teeth and stabbed one of them with his knife.

Kyaaak!

Warm blood splattered onto his cheeks. The monkey’s collarbone was severed in one blow. It raised both arms into the air, but that didn’t last long. Kim Jin-Woo pushed on the handle of his knife with great strength and ripped the creature’s thick neck in half, killing it immediately.

At that moment, he heard a terrifying shriek and heavy footsteps from around the corner. His eyes widened when he turned around to look at the situation.

“Die!” A fierce roar resounded in the passageway. A dungeon baby swung his huge knife at a four-armed monkey. When the creature parried the weapon with its thick, muscular arms, another dungeon baby plunged his knife into its armpit.

Kyaak!

The monkey screamed in pain and swung its arms around. Jung Chan-Shik followed up by leaping toward it. He slammed his knife into its head, but lacked the strength to split its skull in half. Instead of collapsing on the floor, the monkey bellowed violently and reached for Jung Chan-Shik.

Jung Chan-Shik put down his sword and whipped out a crossbow from his waist. He fired an arrow at the monkey’s injured armpit. Meanwhile, the other dungeon babies chopped the back of the creature’s knee.

Woo-uhhh! 

The four-armed monkey let out a miserable shriek, which sounded like the wail of a grown man. The dungeon babies snickered.

“I’m gonna knock it down! Get out of the way!” A dungeon baby who had been quiet all along rammed his knife into the back of the monkey’s bloody knee. The monkey fell with a screech.

The other dungeon babies didn’t miss this opportunity. They dealt the finishing blow by slashing with their knives and smashing with their blunt weapons. The rampaging creature fell limp immediately.

Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes were wide with shock.

The dungeon babies had a completely different attitude compared to when they were fighting low-level creatures. They were now bloodthirsty warriors, just as they had been when they roamed the labyrinths in the past. The battle was over in a blink of an eye thanks to their great teamwork.

Their style was different from his, however. Kim Jin-Woo preferred to attack vital points, as he was used to fighting against armored creatures on the deepest floors. In contrast, the dungeon babies slashed and smashed aggressively until they could break the hard carapaces of the creatures. Their teamwork was good enough to make this an effective strategy.

“Here they come again!” Kim Jin-Woo warned them as he heard incoming footsteps.

Woo-uhhh, woo-uhh!

The remaining four monkeys bellowed at their comrades’ corpses.

The dungeon babies had just butchered one monkey. They braced themselves for another battle just in the nick of time.

Enraged by the corpses, the four-armed monkeys began to charge blindly at the dungeon babies. These rampaging monsters were no longer cunning predators of the underground world.

However, they had chosen the wrong opponents to vent their anger on. The dungeon babies were strong individuals who had returned alive from the deep floors.

While Kim Jin-Woo continued to stab the monkeys in their vital points, Lee Jun-Young, Jung Chan-Shik, and the other dungeon babies fought the monkeys the same way they had previously.

Keeek!

A dungeon baby slashed the groin of a howling four-armed monkey.

“Try calling yourself a male now, bastard!” Another dungeon baby jeered at the monkey and cleaved the back of its neck, while Lee Jun-Young and Jung Chan-Shik stabbed and slashed the creature without mercy.

It was an uncouth, yet effective style of combat. The other four monkeys were killed in under ten minutes.

“Phew. That was a breeze thanks to Mr. Jin-Woo! He handled three monkeys alone.”

“Wow, you’re the real deal! I heard you were from the eighth floor; were you perhaps from a famous labyrinth?”

The dungeon babies crowded around Kim Jin-Woo, while the explorers handled the corpses of the four-armed monkeys. They were all shocked by his fatal blows to the three monkeys.

Kim Jin-Woo was surprised by the masterful teamwork of the dungeon babies as well. Still, the dungeon babies seemed to be even more surprised. They crowded around him and made a great fuss.

“I was simply lucky enough to have guessed their vital points correctly,” Kim Jin-Woo replied.

“How can that be pure luck? Which labyrinth are you really from?”

Lee Jun-Young had been diligently preventing any commotion thanks to Kim Jin-Woo’s pleas, but his performance had now landed him in a tricky situation. She stepped in when she saw Kim Jin-Woo struggling amid the crowd of excited dungeon babies. “Mr. Jin-Woo is from the labyrinth of Marcus,” she said.

“I knew it. Didn’t I tell you all? That explains the difference in strength between you and Chan-Shik, though both of you were born on the same floor.”

Lee Jun-Young’s impromptu speech triggered a great fuss amongst the dungeon babies, but that was to be expected.

The labyrinth of Marcus, also called the Blood Lion’s labyrinth, had been ruled by a notorious master. Located at the deepest corners of the eighth floor, this labyrinth had been a graveyard for many victims until the end of the war.

“Eek, no wonder your movements are out of the ordinary. You must have fought through many brutal masters to return alive. Nice going!” Jung Chan-Shik exclaimed in admiration.

Kim Jin-Woo averted his gaze with an awkward expression and frowned at Lee Jun-Young. She made a gesture that seemed to imply she couldn’t help it.

“Well, this expedition is going to be a bit easier.”

While the dungeon babies chattered away, the explorers had completely dissected the four-armed monkey corpses. They were frustrated by the lack of profitable findings.

“Let’s cut the chatter and move. It’ll be a pain if other creatures and beasts smell the blood,” Jung Chan-Shik ordered.

They had no reason to stay in this place that reeked of blood. They erased the scent and continued their expedition.

***

The fourth and fifth floors were worlds apart. Even a momentary lack of vigilance could get the whole team killed by an ambush predator. Such circumstances kept everyone on their toes. 

Kim Jin-Woo was certainly the most distinguished member of the team now.

“It’s quite extraordinary… Are you also a specialist in detecting things?” Jung Chan-Shik asked.

“Well, I might have become one while struggling to live…” Unable to share the messages only he could see, Kim Jin-Woo concocted a plausible explanation. He was about to evade this uncomfortable topic when the dungeon babies began to join the conversation.

“That’s true. The flat snake just now didn’t move an inch, even when we stepped on it. At least two explorers would have died if it hadn’t been for Mr. Jin-Woo’s warning.”

“How did you know? There was barely any sign.”

The dungeon babies blabbered on despite the order to refrain from idle chatter.

Kim Jin-Woo looked at Jung Chan-Shik, who stood at the front line. Jung Chan-Shik would have warned the team about the ambush under normal circumstances, but he hadn’t said anything in particular, likely because the new dungeon baby on the team had sharper senses than him.

Although this had nothing to do with her, Lee Jun-Young gave Kim Jin-Woo a proud look. He faked a cough from embarrassment and turned his head away.

***

The team gasped in awe. The dungeon babies started chattering away.

“We’re here.”

“Wasn’t this the most relaxing journey thus far?”

“You’re one crazy bastard. Many have lost their lives in search of comfort in this place. Stop spouting nonsense.” 

“But we didn’t have any casualties from ambushes this time. Dungeon babies aside, this is the first expedition to have all our explorers alive and kicking.” 

This was a direct contrast to how at least one or two ordinary explorers were expected to lose their lives in any expedition.

“Mr. Jin-Woo, I assume you’ll be staying in the team for a while?” It was a hard question to answer.

Kim Jin-Woo merely smiled in response to the explorers, who looked at him with imploring eyes. They must have been thinking that Kim Jin-Woo’s presence greatly increased their chances of survival.

“Let’s stop talking and head downward. There’s a vacant lot not too far from here; we can camp there for the night,” Jung Chan-Shik proposed.

Everyone immediately returned to their positions and leaped into the hole.

***

The passage on the sixth floor was relatively wider than that of the fifth floor.

Previously, the kalni bats had had no choice but to hop around, as they didn’t even have the space to spread their wings. On the other hand, the passage on the sixth floor was as wide as a two-lane road.

It was less suffocating, but that was a double-edged sword. A wider passage granted more space for larger creatures. The creatures on the sixth floor were few in number, but each of them was large and powerful.

Kim Jin-Woo’s team had been fighting multiple enemies at a time before then, but they now had to group up to fight one strong enemy.

“Stop here.”

Kim Jin-Woo snapped out of his thoughts and looked up when he heard Jung Chan-Shik’s voice. His usual relaxed voice was nowhere to be heard. Instead, it was full of tension and wariness.

“Seems like there was a visitor before us,” Jung Chan-Shik continued. A campsite was just around the corner. The rest of the team looked nervous.

“They have similar numbers to us, maybe more… Damn…” Jung Chan-Shik froze when he stared at the area in front of him. Only now did he notice the blinking motion sensors on the ceiling and walls.

“They’re coming out. Brace yourselves,” he said.

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