Chapter 54

“The underground baron is coming through! Clear the way!”

“You bastards! Didn’t I tell you to step aside?!”

The sallow wild boars roared noisily as if they had been Kim Jin-Woo’s subordinates from the start. It was a ridiculous scene to watch.

“Is it because of the seal, or were they just weird to start with…?” Kim Jin-Woo was lost for words, while Angela giggled next to him.

“You bums! I sent you to go hunt the prey, not mingle with them!” The chief—a colossal wild boar—couldn’t hold back anymore. He waded through the herd of wild boars and stepped forward. 

Easily twice the size of the other wild boars, the chief had a long, sharp tusk that resembled a spear. Furthermore, his four bulging eyes gave him charisma befitting his status.

As soon as the chief roared, the two startled wild boars began to give a myriad of excuses.

“You’re mistaken! A VIP from the deep floor is here!” the two wild boars exclaimed simultaneously. The chief rolled his four eyes around and examined Kim Jin-Woo and his crew. 

<He’s stronger than we thought. I can’t believe he’s only from the eighth floor,> Angela quietly warned Kim Jin-Woo.

<I know.>  Kim Jin-Woo had already sensed the chief wild boar’s immense strength before listening to Angela’s words of caution.

[The baron’s unique ability: ‘Low-Class Noble’s Authority’ has been activated.]

[Creatures with intelligence cannot rebel against authority. However, if the target is stronger than the baron himself, it can attack and claim the seal for itself.]

[The chief of the ‘Large Tusk’ clan has resisted the effect of the ability, albeit only partially. The chief wild boar has been mildly intimidated.]

The authority of the underground noble, which had perfectly subdued the two wild boars, failed to work on the chief.

“What brings you, a high and mighty underground noble, here? I’ve never heard of a noble that leaves the deep floors.” The chief sounded more timid than when he had reprimanded his two subordinates, but he still managed to express his intentions clearly.

“I’m just passing by on the way to the seventh floor. It’s my first time on the eighth floor, so I requested your subordinates to lead the way.”

Puzzled, the chief wild boar tilted his large head sideways. “Why would a noble climb up the floors? There shouldn’t be anything interesting on the seventh floor.”

“I have personal matters to settle there. I’m afraid I can’t share them with you.” Kim Jin-Woo was bold. Although there were many wild boars, it wouldn’t be difficult to penetrate the herd with his current team.

“Hmm…” The chief contemplated for a moment after listening to Kim Jin-Woo’s story. He then said, “Do you know what’s happening on the eighth floor now?”

“How would I know? I told you, this is my first time on the eighth floor.”

“I see. I’m afraid you have to turn back.”

“Are you going to stop me?” Kim Jin-Woo growled, his eyes blazing blue.

The chief wild boar took one step back and shook his head while exhaling through his nose. “Relax, I’m not stopping you. It’s just that the situation on the eighth floor is a little messy.”

Kim Jin-Woo asked for an explanation, as there seemed to be some background he was missing. The two wild boars answered instead, “There’s a war ongoing on the eighth floor. The chief is probably worried that a VIP like you may get caught in the turmoil.”

“A war?” Kim Jin-Woo grimaced upon hearing their explanation.

“Yes, you heard that right. There’s chaos on the eighth floor, so it will be a rough journey for an aristocrat like you.”

There was no such scenario in Kim Jin-Woo’s plan. When he gave a frustrated look, the chief wild boar flared his nostrils and asked, “Is it urgent?”

“Depends on how you define urgent. Still, I’m not keen on turning back.”

The chief wild boar narrowed his four eyes and read Kim Jin-Woo’s mood, saying, “Actually, there is a way to pass through the eighth floor.”

“Get to the point. Say whatever proposal you have in mind.”

The chief wild boar saw Kim Jin-Woo’s frown and hurriedly proposed, “I’ll guide you to the quickest route across the eighth floor, but you have to help me in return.”

“I don’t have any business on the eighth floor. It’s difficult for me to stay on this floor for long.”

“It doesn’t have to be now. You can swing by after you’ve settled your business on the seventh floor. I’ll request your help then.”

“Did it not cross your mind that that may be more cumbersome?”

“You can hear me out first. If you aren’t keen, then feel free to refuse.”

Kim Jin-Woo stared at his teammates for a moment before nodding. “Sounds like a decent deal, but I don’t know what you can gain from this.”

“That’s for me to worry about. Just remember to pass by later.”

Kim Jin-Woo shrugged. After all, he didn’t have such an amicable relationship that he’d worry about the wild boar, and he had more urgent matters to settle. “Alright, let’s do that then,” he said.

“Good. It’s a deal.”

***

“Urgh.” Kim Jin-Woo groaned as he tapped on his waist. In front of him lay the passage linking the seventh and the eighth floors.

“Well then, I’ll excuse myself here, since I’ve kept my end of the bargain,” said the hero-grade wild boar, who had been forced to guide Kim Jin-Woo to this place. 

Kim Jin-Woo waved his hand to suggest that the wild boar had done well. The latter bowed to Kim Jin-Woo again and yelled, “Let’s go, you bunch of lazy swine!” 

The wild boars, as grey as if they had collected all the dust in the underground world, had been lying on the floor and breathing heavily with their tongues out. They got up immediately upon hearing their leader’s command. Seemingly having recovered their energy within that short period, they squealed and disappeared from sight. 

“As expected from a wild boar. That was so brain-dead,” Angela muttered, looking uncharacteristically fed up as she watched the wild boar disappear.

“Urgh,” Kim Jin-Woo groaned, with a look that seemed to suggest he agreed wholeheartedly with her. He had expected a secret method to cross the warzone on the eighth floor, but the wild boars had just carried his team and dashed madly through the eighth floor.

They had run with such vigor that even the creatures in the middle of battle had been frightened and made way for the wild boars. In essence, the herd of wild boars had just stampeded through in a frenzy.

“Those wild boars aren’t the best to ride on,” Kim Jin-Woo complained. 

“I couldn’t agree more. They shook so much, I might have lost half of my precious body.” Uther wasn’t exaggerating. His slimy body was now half as large as it had been at the start of their journey.

“Well, we did manage to arrive quickly thanks to them,” Kim Jin-Woo said as he watched his teammates shudder at the thought of the wild boars’ fast and furious charge. He ordered Uther to investigate the situation at the other end of the passage. 

“It’s quiet,” Uther reported.

“That’s what you said before we arrived on the eighth floor,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked.

“I sent my lumps further to investigate, so I’m quite certain this time,” Uther asked Kim Jin-Woo to trust him this time.

Kim Jin-Woo then cautiously went up to the 7th floor. He could feel the distinct darkness and lack of gravity when he passed through the portal, but the sensation faded as soon as he arrived on the seventh floor.

The next day, Kim Jin-Woo and his crew had to battle an endless wave of red-eyed creatures.

[You cannot activate stealth during battle.]

[You cannot activate stealth during battle.]

He tried to hide, but he couldn’t activate his stealth ability as he was still in the midst of a battle.

“Hai-ya!”

“Keek!”

Kim Jin-Woo smashed the creatures’ skulls with his knee before glancing around to assess the situation on the battlefield. 

Judging from how Uther was fighting effectively while driving the creatures away, he genuinely seemed immune to physical attacks. Furthermore, Angela and Yoon-Hee were fighting better than Kim Jin-Woo had expected.

 “Argh, these creatures are completely insane!” Uther cried flippantly.

Kim Jin-Woo nodded. These creatures felt out of place, as they were too vicious to be on the seventh floor.

“That’s the last one!” 

However, their bloody bodies soon lay splattered on the floor due to the incredible strength of Kim Jin-Woo and his team. 

“Are all the higher floors like this?” Uther asked while he lay on the floor, looking fed up. He looked much smaller than he had been when he first entered the seventh floor.

“Of course not. If intense battles like this happened every day, no labyrinths would be left,” Kim Jin-Woo said as he stared at the corpses of the creatures scattered on the floor. 

He already lost count of the number of times he had been caught in battle. There had been fight after fight every day, except for his first day on the seventh floor. Even with Angela, who could detect the presence of living things and warn him in advance, Kim Jin-Woo had been unable to avoid the battles as every single creature on this floor had gone berserk. 

“What’s really going on? From what I’ve seen so far, I could believe that the seventh floor was more horrible than the deep floors.” Angela shook her head and lamented during their first break in a long time.

Kim Jin-Woo didn’t reply, as he was focused solely on grasping the situation. An explanation did come to his mind: The drastic change in the underground world must have been induced by the thousands of explorers who had entered to find the abandoned labyrinth on the fourth floor.

He had no clue as to how the explorers could have made such an impact, but there wouldn’t have been such widespread chaos on the entire floor otherwise.

Kim Jin-Woo regretted not asking the chief wild boar for the cause of the widespread turmoil on the eighth floor. He had assumed that it was just a common turf war.

“Hmm?”  Kim Jin-Woo was about to activate stealth after organizing his thoughts, but he paused and raised his head to glance around his surroundings. There was a serious expression on his face for some reason.

“Where’s Yoon-Hee?” he asked. Yoon-Hee, who had been battling creatures beside him just a moment ago, was nowhere to be seen.

Angela looked around and shook her head. “She’s not here. There are many living things in the vicinity, but none of them is Yoon-Hee.”

“Try again. She should be around here.”

Angela put in more effort to survey the vicinity this time. However, she still couldn’t find the female dungeon baby. “She’s gone for real. She’s not around here,” she reported.

Kim Jin-Woo frowned upon hearing the vampire. “Angela, you really can’t sense Yoon-Hee’s presence nearby?”

“I’m positive. She’s not here.”

“I tried as well, but I couldn’t even detect her silhouette.” Uther supported Angela while sticking the lumps of slime he had sent out for investigation back onto his body. 

“What in the world—” Kim Jin-Woo began to mutter with a puzzled frown on his face when he suddenly froze.

[The map of the seventh floor has been updated.]

[A portion of the uncharted areas on the map has been revealed.]

Kim Jin-Woo gasped upon reading the messages and noticing the half-transparent map in the corner of his eye.

A region distant from the route that his team had taken, which would have been blacked out on the map under normal circumstances, had been revealed. A bright dot appeared in the middle of the map like a hole and began to expand excruciatingly slowly, erasing the black portions of the map.

Kim Jin-Woo grimaced as he constructed his hypothesis. There could only be one explanation. He recalled how he had been teleported instantly to the ninth floor when he was wandering around the entrance of the underground world. On that day, he had claimed the naga’s labyrinth.

“Hmm…” He began to brainstorm rapidly. Mr. Baek had informed Kim Jin-Woo that the abandoned labyrinth would be on the seventh floor. The labyrinth, however, had been found on the fourth floor, which had led him to assume that the original information was flawed. The situation only made sense if the information had been correct from the start, and the labyrinth was on the seventh floor and not the fourth.

However, it was peculiar for the labyrinth to have summoned Yoon-Hee. It must have required coincidence after coincidence for Yoon-Hee to be attracted by the abandoned labyrinth. Moreover, it was incredible to think that both he and Yoon-Hee—the two dungeon babies—had been lured by the labyrinths.

Nonetheless, he wasn’t absolutely certain about his deduction.

“Don’t tell me...?”

The map continued to renew itself even while he was immersed in thought, but at some point, it stopped changing.

Kim Jin-Woo stared at the half-transparent map in the air and extended his hand. He swung his hand around to fumble in the air.

He then drew a line in the air with both hands, which pointed toward a location beyond the dark, uncharted portion of the map that had just stopped moving. His gaze traced the line and eventually stopped at one point.

Kim Jin-Woo called Uther and Angela over, saying, “We found Yoon-Hee.”

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