Chapter 37

Kim Jin-Woo was convinced that the black merchant had been telling the truth when he heard the basilisk king’s desperate voice. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been so alarmed by the fact that the owner of the naga’s labyrinth was a human.

Kim Jin-Woo’s attacks became more lethal as his confidence grew.

“Eek!” The flustered basilisk king, with a well-decorated crest that was twice the size of that on the other basilisks, struggled to avoid his opponent’s attacks.

However, that wasn’t to say that the battle was in Kim Jin-Woo’s favor. He had activated ‘Weakness Detection’, but he couldn’t find any vital points on Anaxtus’ scaly body.

The basilisk king gradually regained his composure in the midst of the attacks. “You aren’t an ordinary human from the surface, are you?!” Anaxtus clenched his teeth upon realizing that Kim Jin-Woo was different from the ordinary humans he feared. 

The situation was dire. Anaxtus might have been caught off guard by the unexpected identity of his opponent, but he was still the master of a labyrinth located on a deep floor. His attacks became incredibly vicious and savage once he regained his cool.

“Kyaaak!” The basilisk king roared and charged at Kim Jin-Woo with his claws raised. It was a minor attack relative to his massive body size, but the impact was tremendous. Green light flashed and cleared the darkness.

When Kim Jin-Woo came to his senses, he noticed a deep gash on his chest.

“Die!” The basilisk king charged at him viciously, seemingly to make up for his initial embarrassing behavior.

Clang!

Kim Jin-Woo slammed his knife into Anaxtus’ long snout, but his hand merely received tremendous recoil instead. That was to be expected from the basilisk king, who was notorious for his ridiculously strong body.

“How dare you, human!” Anaxtus gritted his teeth and swung his claws at Kim Jin-Woo’s chest; they pierced through the air and removed a chunk of Kim Jin-Woo’s flesh.

Kim Jin-Woo was in a critical situation. He would have been killed long ago had it not been for the labyrinth’s power amplification effects on the dungeon master. However, even that increase in power wasn’t enough. He was getting covered in more and more wounds over time.

Perhaps Kim Jin-Woo had underestimated the basilisk king, getting overconfident after learning about the basilisk king’s weakness. He couldn’t even try to use the human weapon that spat fire.

He only had one chance. If he failed, the basilisk king would become more cautious and retreat to the rear, where he would command his subordinates to wreak havoc in the labyrinth.

“Huh?” Kim Jin-Woo dodged the basilisk king’s attack and was waiting for the right timing to counterattack, when he suddenly felt his ankle go limp and lost his balance. He checked under his foot to find the colossal basilisk’s sharp scale piercing through his shin.

At that moment, the basilisk king’s eyes lit up. “Caught you.”

Kim Jin-Woo desperately tried to withdraw his leg from Anaxtus’ grasp. but lost a chunk of flesh from his shin in the process.

[The parasite sensed a threat to its host’s life and woke up from its dormancy. However, it’s unable to use its full power, as it has yet to recover from the last battle. An imperfect ‘Devil’s Sight’ has been activated.]

The world suddenly slowed down. The basilisk king’s claws, which resembled sharp knives, drew closer to Kim Jin-Woo. White steam rushed out of the enraged basilisk king’s enlarged nostrils.

Kim Jin-Woo twisted his body as he stared at Anaxtus’ eyes. They resembled those of a predator that had caught its prey.

Unfortunately, he was also slowed down together with Anaxtus. He felt his chest tighten with frustration, as it felt as if he were struggling clumsily underwater. At this rate, his limbs would be torn apart by the basilisk’s hideous claws. When Kim Jin-Woo finally realized what ‘Imperfect Devil’s Sight’ was, he bit his lip until it bled.

It was a critical moment that could determine the eventual outcome of the war. Kim Jin-Woo was barely saved in the nick of time.

[The labyrinth’s upgrade is complete. The labyrinth has been upgraded from Level 4 to 5. New facilities are unlocked.]

[Most creatures and beasts are now aware of the labyrinth’s existence.]

A series of messages appeared in front of Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes. The long-awaited upgrade of the labyrinth was finally complete. Then, Kim Jin-Woo noticed a new message he had never seen before.

[The dungeon master and the labyrinth’s core share the same fate. The dungeon master’s level has increased from 6 to 7 along with the labyrinth’s upgrade.]

[The core’s amplification effect has increased significantly from 40% to 80%.]

[The increase in the dungeon master’s level has replenished his stamina and energy. Wounds less severe than a severed limb have been healed.]

Kim Jin-Woo was full of energy. His ankle no longer ached as well. Anaxtus, who seemed to have noticed the abrupt change in his opponent’s strength, swung his claws with haste.

“Too late!” Kim Jin-Woo exclaimed. As soon as the basilisk king’s claws came into contact with his waist, the parasite completely woke up from its slumber.

[The parasite has completely recovered its energy due to its host’s awakening. A complete ‘Devil’s Sight’ has been activated.]

Kim Jin-Woo, who had been about to get ripped apart by the basilisk king’s attack, vanished into thin air.

***

<Ah…”> Dominique gasped. She freaked out when she saw her master vomit blood, about to collapse onto the floor. As she was worrying that she might lose her master, he suddenly disappeared like a mirage.

<Master!> Dominique’s heart sank. Thankfully, Kim Jin-Woo appeared immediately behind the basilisk king.

<Master! The labyrinth is—> Before she could finish her sentence, Kim Jin-Woo’s body began to glow brilliantly and his eyes gleamed blue. Dominique could tell that the basilisk king was flustered by her master’s transformation, as his movements became dull and clumsy.

“Endure a little longer!”

“Mind your own business!”

Quantus and Ortehaga roared at each other, while the nagas around them had almost been annihilated in their master’s absence. Ortehaga picked up the fallen naga gatekeeper’s shield and stood next to Quantus. The tired naga magician and priest began to chant spells again.

“Arghhhhh!”

Chaos prevailed on the battlefield as danger lurked in every corner. However, Dominique didn’t lose sight of her master even as the basilisks’ attacks barely missed her. She could see Kim Jin-Woo grabbing Anaxtus’ gigantic snout.

She was scared that her master would lose his fingers to the monster’s razor-sharp teeth, but Kim Jin-Woo himself couldn’t care less as he pried the basilisk king’s jaws wide open with his blood-stained hands. He whipped something out from his pocket and stuffed it inside the creature’s mouth.

<Ah…!> Nobody in the underground world would dare perform such a brutal and savage stunt. Dominique had goosebumps all over her body, as though she had been struck by a bolt of lightning.

At that instant, a pillar of flame erupted from Anaxtus’ mouth.

***

[You have won the battle. Most of the basilisks have been annihilated, and the rest of them ran away after losing their leader.]

[You have achieved an unbelievable victory against Anaxtus the basilisk king. Although you were lucky in many instances, not just anyone can achieve a remarkable feat like this.]

[Rumors about Kim Jin-Woo and the naga’s labyrinth shall spread across the entire ninth floor. Other labyrinth masters will be astonished by the defeat of the basilisk king.]

Kim Jin-Woo, who had refused to let down his guard to the very end, let out a sigh of relief when he saw these messages.

<Master! We’ve won!> Dominique squealed in delight, and Ortehaga and Quantus let out a triumphant roar. There were only five survivors, but their roar was comparable to that of a triumphant general returning home after victory.

“Yes, we’ve won,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

It had been a ridiculously difficult war. He would have been the one lying on the floor had it not been for the labyrinth’s timely upgrade and the subsequent enhancement of his abilities.

Kim Jin-Woo sat on the floor and recovered his lost stamina. A message then appeared.

[The labyrinth of Anaxtus is no longer functional after losing its master. There may be creatures seeking the unoccupied labyrinth. You have to take over the labyrinth before someone else activates its core.]

All Kim Jin-Woo wanted was a good rest, but he had urgent matters to settle first. He couldn’t take this victory for granted, as it had been hard-earned thanks to immense luck and fortune. He thus had to make use of it to recover as much strength as he could. He commanded, “Quantus, I’ll assign you a new troop to conquer the labyrinth of Anaxtus! Defend it at all costs until I get there!”

The faithful naga warrior stood up without a single word of complaint. Kim Jin-Woo was about to get up from the ground and head to the master room when Quantus suddenly roared, “Who’s there?!”

Kim Jin-Woo turned around to find a group of silhouettes approaching him from beyond the gate, which had been completely destroyed, leaving behind a vacant lot.

“Shit! Are they enemies?” Ortehaga also got up from his seat and snorted as he braced himself for another battle.

“Wait.” Kim Jin-Woo stopped them. “They aren’t enemies.” He heard an unpleasant voice as soon as he finished his sentence.

“Congratulations on your victory, king of the nagas!” It was the black merchant, who was covered in a hooded cloak from head to toe. “There there, relax, everyone. We’re nothing but mere salesmen. You don’t have to be on guard.”

“What a coincidence, huh? Appearing right after the battle, as if you’ve been watching all along.” Kim Jin-Woo lashed out at the black merchant after checking on the nagas’ battle formation.

“Whoa, that’s certainly untrue! Haven’t we been establishing a healthy and trustworthy business relationship? I’m utterly disappointed and saddened to hear that!” Despite his flippant attitude, the black merchant was sharp. He was observing the corpses of the nagas and basilisks on the battlefield when he discovered Anaxtus’ limp corpse.

“Get to the point. I don’t have much time to entertain you,” Kim Jin-Woo snapped.

The black merchant rubbed his hands together and grinned cunningly. “Every war has a victor, and every victor has a trophy. We, the black merchants, are willing to buy such a trophy at a high price.” He glanced at the basilisk king’s corpse. “For example, the corpse of the dead basilisk king.”

Kim Jin-Woo scowled at the black merchant, who had casually proposed such a horrific idea. “So this is how you’ve been amassing your fortunes,” he remarked.

“Well, I won’t deny that,” The black merchant replied shamelessly. 

“Alright. I’ll sell it,” Kim Jin-Woo replied. 

“Great choice! You’ll never regret your decision!” The black merchant grinned from ear to ear.

“But!” Kim Jin-Woo added, causing the black merchant to shut his mouth. “You’ll have to pay the price for it.” 

The black merchant brightened up, and complained that Kim Jin-Woo was saying something redundant with such a stern expression. “Ah, one more thing,” he added suddenly.

“Go on.” 

The black merchant had been talkative all this time, but now he paused for a while before opening his mouth. “You’ll be very pleased to see this.” 

“Keep it short. You’re not very tactful.” Kim Jin-Woo was still tense from the battle.

Nonetheless, the black merchant continued to keep a straight face after getting a scolding. “I came to deliver this,” he said, bringing out a wooden case.

“What is this?” Kim Jin-Woo was puzzled.

“This is actually the main reason why I’m here. The corpse of the basilisk king is just a tool to earn extra cash, since I’m already here to collect it.”

Dominique, who was on standby at the rear, hurriedly rushed over and opened the lid of the wooden case. <This is….> she gasped in shock, leaving Kim Jin-Woo puzzled.

Meanwhile, the black merchant kept urging her, “As an inhabitant of the underground world, you should know what this is. Pass this to your master, quick!”

Dominique couldn’t even reply to the black merchant’s arrogant words. She hesitantly went to Kim Jin-Woo and passed the wooden case to him. Inside it was a ring with a jewel from an unidentified source.

[You have received the seal of an underground baron. This is the first baron’s seal issued to a labyrinth master not from the deepest floor.]

[You can create naga chivalry if you become a baron.]

[Do you wish to become an underground baron?]

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