Chapter 32

[The parasite has detected an invisible enemy. The ability ‘Devil’s Sight’ is temporarily activated.]

With a searing pain in his eyes, Kim Jin-Woo could suddenly see clearly in the darkness, albeit in slow motion. He saw Rikshasha struggling to open and close her mouth. She appeared to be shouting something, but he couldn’t hear her at all. The uncomfortable, foreign sensation made Kim Jin-Woo frown.

At that instant, he noticed that the space behind Rikshasha was distorted slightly. The curves expanded to eventually reveal the outline of a gigantic beast. It belonged to a predator covered in crimson fur called a Blood Leopard.

Kim Jin-Woo wondered why he hadn’t been able to notice this gigantic creature that almost occupied the entire passageway.

To make things worse, there were two of them; one behind Rikshasha, and one next to the naga magician. The predators nimbly and stealthily crawled toward their prey despite their massive size. Their jaws opened wide as they attempted to bite the heads of Rikshasha and the naga magician off.

Both Rikshasha and the magician were still looking around aimlessly as if they hadn’t noticed the presence of the Blood Leopards.

Shing!

With the sound of a knife being drawn from its scabbard, Kim Jin-Woo blinked into the space right in front of Rikshasha. The slowed world finally returned to normal when the muffled sound in his ears subsided.

“Run away–” Rikshasha tried to warn her master, not having noticed the huge pair of jaws approaching her. Kim Jin-Woo swiftly grabbed her by the waist and gripped his knife firmly.

Kyaaak!

A scream resounded in the passage when Kim Jin-Woo’s knife slashed the Blood Leopard’s jaw, splitting it vertically.

“Keeek!” At the same time, the naga magician whom he had failed to protect let out a shriek.

[The effect of Devil's Sight has ended. The parasite has entered dormancy to replenish its lost energy.]

[The battle begins.]

The battle notification arrived a little late.

***

Rikshasha gave up struggling and stared at her master in stupefaction.

To be honest, she wasn’t truly loyal to Kim Jin-Woo. They had barely spent any time together, especially since his advisor had her eyes on the under-elf constantly.

Nevertheless, she wanted at least Kim Jin-Woo to escape this place safely. Maybe it was because he looked more similar to her than the other labyrinth masters, or maybe it was due to his apathetic yet caring attitude.

She struggled to open her mouth with all her might. “Run away–” 

However, her master was nowhere to be seen.

Kyaaak!

Before she could even get a good grasp of the situation, she heard a gruesome shriek behind her and felt a hand wrap around her waist.

“Keeek!”

She also witnessed the naga magician collapse onto the floor, its body folded in half while blood spurted out from its wounds.

“Prepare for battle!”

She came to her senses as soon as she heard the bellow from behind her.

“Quantus!”

“Haaa!”

Neither Kim Jin-Woo’s voice nor the naga warrior’s characteristic howl trembled.

Kyak!

Quantus smashed the Blood Leopard’s skull with his gigantic weapon, causing the Blood Leopard to shriek and release the naga magician from its jaws.

“Venadla-Kum!” The naga priest grabbed the magician’s bloody waist with both hands and chanted a spell.

“I’ll deal with one! Buy me some time, by hook or by crook!”

Rikshasha realized that nobody had given up in this battle yet upon witnessing the blue beam of light flicker in Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes. 

Kyaaak!

The shrieks of the Blood Leopards and the roars of the nagas resounded on the battlefield.

***

[You have defeated two Blood Leopards, the vicious and fierce predators of the underground world. In addition, you subjugated these terrifying creatures without suffering any damage. This remarkable achievement shall go down in history.]

[The nagas admire your courage. Your charisma has increased exponentially.]

[The naga warriors have become braver and stronger. They are now elites.]

It was an excruciatingly tiring battle. Having depleted all his energy, Kim Jin-Woo collapsed onto the floor. He was covered in blood, which oozed out from wounds inflicted by the Blood Leopard’s razor-sharp claws.

However, he had been rewarded generously for his efforts.

[Quantus has evolved into a hero-grade naga warrior.] 

[The naga magician has evolved from low-grade to intermediate class. It is now able to cast more diverse and powerful spells to annihilate its opponents.]

[The naga priest has evolved from low-grade to intermediate class. It can now miraculously revive its comrades from the brink of death.]

The naga magician and priest had different looks in their eyes. Moreover, Quantus was surrounded by a brilliant veil of light, befitting a hero-grade unit.

[Rikshasha, the under-elf who relied on you only to seek shelter, genuinely marvels at your victory. She has decided to quit being a nomad and instead settle down as a true member of the labyrinth.]

Before the message could even end, Rikshasha approached Kim Jin-Woo and prostrated herself on the ground to pledge loyalty. “Your humble servant shall devote her entire life to her master. Please allow this slave to at least lie in front of your feet to witness your heavenly light.”

[Rikshasha has sworn allegiance to you. You no longer have to pay her down gems. She will become a faithful patroller of the naga’s labyrinth.]

Kim Jin-Woo saw her eager gaze and nodded. He then realized that Quantus had finished his transformation as well.

[Quantus is no longer an average naga warrior. He is now a hero-grade warrior, stronger than any of the other warriors. His strength, stamina, and agility have increased substantially.]

Quantus, who was now as gigantic as the naga gatekeeper, let out a roar to celebrate their triumph.

“My king!” To Kim Jin-Woo’s surprise, Quantus began to talk. The tone of the naga’s voice was as crude as his rugged appearance, but it contained genuine respect for his master. Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t help but smile.

[Kim Jin-Woo has obtained a marvelous victory again despite the odds. He has evolved from an average commander to a courageous commander.]

[Kim Jin-Woo and the naga’s labyrinth have defeated the Blood Leopards that even the basilisks couldn’t deal with. Their reputation is spreading to all corners of the labyrinths. The labyrinth’s bar will have more visitors.]

Kim Jin-Woo lingered on the last message for a long time before getting up from the floor. He commanded, “Take the corpses of the Blood Leopards. We’ll extract the down gems back in the labyrinth.”

“As you wish, my king,” Quantus replied.

***

<Master!>

“What in the world…”

Dominique and Ortehaga couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the Blood Leopard corpse occupying the entire passageway.

“We unexpectedly encountered these bastards on the way,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

<But still…> Dominique was still bewildered. 

“There’s one more?!” Ortehaga exclaimed.

Another Blood Leopard corpse barely passed through the wide gate. Ortehaga gasped in horror at the fact that Kim Jin-Woo had caught not one, but two of these monstrous creatures. 

“We barely made it out,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

He wasn’t joking. Many more nagas would have lost their lives had it not been for the Blood Leopard’s gigantic body getting stuck in the passageway.

“To think I suffered so much because of this bastard!” Ortehaga exclaimed. He seemed to recognize the Blood Leopard.

It would be interesting to hear how the Blood Leopard had troubled the prideful drakan, but Kim Jin-Woo decided to postpone that until next time. He was too tired to think about anything else.

Despite that, Dominique and Ortehaga refused to leave him alone.

“How the heck did you do it? I only encountered one and lost a third of my subordinates. It wouldn’t have been difficult if we fought fair and square, but this bastard was just too stealthy.”

<Master, you didn’t have to endanger yourself like that… The labyrinth’s upgrade will be completed soon.>

Ortehaga continued to blabber on in an attempt to justify himself, while Dominique worried about Kim Jin-Woo relentlessly, frightened by the monster. Both of them refused to stop talking.

“Cut it out. I’ll explain later. Let’s deal with the Blood Leopard corpse first.”

Kim Jin-Woo had brought the whole corpse along without even extracting the down gem, as he didn’t wish to let anything go to waste. Its thick leather, sharp fangs, and claws could be used for various purposes.

Dominique stopped talking immediately and summoned the naga workers.

<M-Master, we found a top-grade down gem from the corpse!> She made a great fuss when the naga workers fished out a large down gem after slicing through the tough leather of the Blood Leopard.

“So the Blood Leopard really had a down gem.” Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t help but gasp in awe at the top-grade down gem, which was about the size of an adult fist. Its color and sparkle were simply out of this world.

The down gem was hot, even though it was freshly taken from a cold corpse. A message appeared on his screen the moment he held the precious stone.

[You have obtained the Blood Leopard’s heart (top-grade down gem). This gem contains the power of the Blood Leopard, which has been accumulated over countless hunts. You may be able to utilize its power once the gem is processed. As of now, it’s nothing but a jewel rich in dungeon energy.]

[You need a forge and laboratory to study the power of the Blood Leopard’s heart.]

Without hesitation, Kim Jin-Woo invested 100 Dungeon Energy and instructed the naga workers to begin constructing the forge and laboratory immediately.

There were about 10 days left until the completion of the labyrinth’s upgrade.

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