Chapter 85

#36. The Terrans’ Labyrinth

Kim Jin-Woo’s mind turned blank at Yoon-Hee’s words. ‘Right to succession’ sounded fancy, but in truth, it was just an excuse for sore losers.

And on top of that, for someone who had to deal with the 10th Floor’s labyrinths first before even considering the 11th Floor, fighting for succession on the 11th Floor was out of the question at this moment.

Of course, it was undeniable that this was the sweetest reward he had come across yet. But to reach for the reward, knowing all the harm he could receive along the way if he were unprepared for it, was plain stupidity.

“Your possessive nature is incredibly strong.” Yoon-Hee disturbed Kim Jin-Woo’s deep thoughts with her out-of-the-blue comment.

“What?”

“I have never seen you let go of something once you have it in your possession,” she said as she inched her face closer to his, almost letting them feel each other’s breaths. “Be it an object or a living being, you never let go of them.”

As Kim Jin-Woo thought back, he realized that even in the case of Morrigan and Ortehaga, instead of getting rid of them and the problems that came with them, he had decided to take them in until the very end.

Of course, it all turned out for the better in the end, but now that he thought about it, he wondered why he had made such rash and dangerous decisions.

“And I, too, belong to you. My life, my mind, and my body are all yours,” Yoon-Hee said.

It was less of an attempt at persuasion and more of a blunt declaration, Kim Jin-Woo sighed at her straightforward crudeness.

He let out a bitter smile as he recalled how he’d had no intention to abandon her from the beginning. Unbeknownst to her, in his head, he had been calculating his possible gains and risks he would have to take.

And he had just finished his calculations.

“Does Krasto have anything to do with you wanting to leave the Naga’s Fortress?” he asked. Yoon-Hee nodded in response. He continued, “Krasto seems to recognize you.”

No one had recognized Yoon-Hee when she was put up for sale at the auction house. But it seemed she was unable to escape the eyes of the mercenary army that operated on the same floor she had once lived on.

No, maybe the nobles had known, but decided to stay silent for their own sick idea of entertainment as they watched what would happen to her.

“The one that brought me down was Krasto, after all,” Yoon-Hee answered.

Kim Jin-Woo was stunned beyond belief at her words.

***

Eventually, Yoon-Hee was allowed to remain in the Party Hall. Now that Kim Jin-Woo knew Yoon-Hee was no ordinary dungeon baby, there was no longer any reason for him to be worried about her.

He began reorganizing his army after having overbuilt it out of concern for Yoon-Hee should she return to the Party Hall. As he watched the troop movements and the expansion of major facilities, he couldn’t help but realize that he would never again witness Yoon-Hee’s clumsy and dependent past self.

“It feels like there’s only been trouble brewing at my labyrinth lately, doesn’t it?” he mused.

From the troublemaker drakan to the crow that had sown discord all across the Underworld, and now the succession dispute of an Underground Noble that was no different from a time bomb, it almost felt as if someone were deliberately setting him up for these incidents..

“She’s definitely a dangerous entity. There’s no way the person who put her into the auction house wanted her to recover her memories and power. They would have wanted her to live her life out as an abused slave and die quietly in the Underworld,” Angela remarked.

There was definitely no way her seller would like it if they found out that not only was she alive and healthy, but that she had also regained her memories and become a ruthless labyrinth master.

Angela continued, “But despite all of that, she has her own merits. If we were to enter the 11th Floor without any justification, we would be wiped out by the nobles there in an instant, even if we had Anatolius’ backing. But with her, it’s a different story. We can use her right of succession as justification for dipping our toes into the 11th Floor.”

Kim Jin-Woo breathed a deep sigh at Angela’s comments. It seemed not even she could give up on Yoon-Hee after finding out the truth. He said, “For now, inform Uther to keep an eye out on Krasto. He might spell trouble down the road.”

“Are you going to leave Yoon-Hee as she is?” Angela asked. Kim Jin-Woo turned to look at her in response. She continued, revealing her true thoughts to him. “If it were the old Yoon-Hee, we would have nothing to worry about. But the Yoon-Hee that we have right now? I don’t trust her one bit.”

Angela’s eyes shifted around before she continued, “On top of that, Yoon-Hee is someone involved in a succession conflict for the position of an 11th Floor Count. If she had been pushed out of power due to deceit, I would be relieved instead. But she said she lost to Krasto and his formidable strength.”

As Angela’s tone deepened, so did the look on Kim Jin-Woo’s face.

“The tricks of a quick-tongued liar can cause great harm, but one with overwhelming power can yet break such lies and hypocrisy. My guess is that Yoon-Hee is the latter kind of person.”

In other words, Angela was saying that because she couldn’t trust Yoon-Hee, it was best not to leave her alone.

“You have a point. But don’t worry,” Kim Jin-Woo said with a solemn look as he sat on his throne. “I’ve already made my move.”

***

It had been four days since Yoon-Hee had gone to the Party Hall, and Kim Jin-Woo had just checked another item off his to-do list. Boreas had finally woken up after his injury-induced coma.

“Are you finally awake?” he asked.

Boreas blinked as he laid blankly on his bed before finally sitting up. His eyes looked dead, unlike their first encounter. It seemed he would never be able to move past his defeat.

“You must be tired, so I’ll keep this short,” Kim Jin-Woo continued.

“S… speak.” Boreas mustered all his strength as he replied to Kim Jin-Woo.

“Follow me.”

[As the victor of the Noble’s Battle, Kim Jin-Woo offers the loser, Boreas, a chance to take the Oath of Submission.]

[There is no other option for the loser. Boreas accepts the offer to take the Oath of Submission.]

Boreas struggled to stand up, before going down on all fours and saying, “I pledge my loyalty to you!”

[Boreas the Wind Piercer, a 10th Floor Noble with the rank of Baron, has sworn an Oath of Submission.]

[The Winter Castle ruled by Boreas the Wind Piercer is now part of the Naga’s Fortress. Everything that exists in the Winter Castle belongs to you from now on.]

[300 soldiers are now under your command.]

[In the deepest part of the Winter Castle, all the goods in the warehouse are now yours.]

[The Frozen Lands once belonging to Boreas are now your fiefdom.]

[You may open a gate connecting the Winter Castle and the Naga’s Fortress. Gates are always open, unlike portals. If you want to close the gate, you must convey the order for the gate to close.]

[The weakening penalty applied when the soldiers of the Winter Castle leave the floor they were born in is now limited. They will exert the same power on the 9th and 10th Floors.]

Countless messages appeared in front of Kim Jin-Woo, enough to almost cover the kneeling Boreas. He quickly scanned through the messages in succession.

[For the subjugation of another noble, you are no longer an ordinary noble.]

[Underworld Baron Kim Jin-Woo has now acquired the title of Lord.]

[As your rank is still low, you are unable to fully utilize the Lord’s Abilities. You are unable to activate your Lord’s Abilities until you have surpassed the rank of your subordinate Noble (Baron Boreas).]

Kim Jin-Woo was momentarily excited upon learning he had obtained the qualification of a Lord, but after realizing that he was unable to use his abilities properly due to his low title, he clicked his tongue in disappointment. However, for a brief moment, the fact that he had obtained the 10th Floor Noble’s estate as a fiefdom was still a source of pure joy to him.

Kim Jin-Woo checked the subsequent messages that appeared before turning around to face Boreas, who was barely standing with his shaking legs. He commanded, “Treat Boreas. Once he has recovered, we’re going to pay a visit to the Winter Castle.”

At his command, Dominique called forth a couple of naga priests and started their work on Boreas’ recovery.

***

The Black Merchant paid the Naga’s Fortress a visit.

“Seeing your Fortress expand by the day makes me feel warm on the inside.” He greeted Kim Jin-Woo with flattery, pointing toward the procession behind him. “These are the congratulatory gifts from Lord Anatolius for your well-deserved victory.”

Congratulatory gifts, my ass. These are just rewards for slaving away for him,” Kim Jin-Woo replied derisively.

The Black Merchant shrugged at those harsh words, and ordered his workers to bring down a large chest from the procession.

The nagas, who had been waiting on standby, started to carry the chest, but its weight was so considerable that it took three strong nagas to just barely bring it over.

“These are more Hero-Grade summoning stones,” the Black Merchant explained.

“Huh. These won’t be more troublesome summons like Morrigan, will it?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

The Black Merchant was startled by Kim Jin-Woo’s comments and waved his hand. “Ancient Hero-Grade summoning stones and regular summoning stones are completely different things. Don't be like that." As a Black Merchant who had been constantly tormented for helping Anatolius, he was seemingly desperate to make excuses to cover himself.

“Anyway, the Black Merchants also owe me one, don’t you? You weren’t thinking of letting this matter slide, were you?” Kim Jin-Woo added.

“Of course not. We scoured the ends of the Underworld to find the most appropriate object to express our utmost consolation.”

Kim Jin-Woo was unmoved by the grand words from the Black Merchant. Winning multiple wars meant an equally large amount of loot, and there was little that could excite him any further. The Black Merchant seemed to have realized this, as the look on his face betrayed how much pressure he felt.

“That aside, there is something I want to ask,” Kim Jin-Woo began.

“Please.”

“Do you know of Denarion, Lord of Nightmares?”

“Ah, if you’re talking about Lord Denarion, you mean the 11th Floor Noble.”

“Correct. That Denarion.”

The Black Merchant’s face implied he was unsure of the details, as he tilted his head.

But upon seeing that, Kim Jin-Woo snorted. He knew there was no way the Black Merchant wouldn’ know about Yoon-Hee’s past, when she had been put up for auction in the auction house. In fact, he was flabbergasted at seeing the Black Merchant feign ignorance so shamelessly.

“First of all, I’m not in charge of this matter, so I don’t have the exact information, but may I ask why you’re interested in this?” Once again, the Black Merchant asked various questions, attempting to pry more clues out of Kim Jin-Woo.

“There are just some things I needed to find out,” Kim Jin-Woo replied. He knew both he and the Black Merchant knew Yoon-Hee’s true nature, but he decided there was no need to reveal that information.

The Black Merchant merely replied that he would find out before his next visit. “That seems like everything,” he said as he handed over the last of the items from his procession. He was just about to leave when Kim Jin-Woo called him over.

“Ah, is there something else you would like to say?” He seemed nervous as he waited for what Kim Jin-Woo might say next.

“I have one more thing to ask.”

“Ah. Please do.”

Kim Jin-Woo walked over and lowered himself to the Black Merchant’s eye level, and asked, “What are the exact floors you handle?”

“Um. That’s a company secret… Why do you ask?”

“Is that so? Then let me change my question. Do you happen to know of the new labyrinth on the lower floors?”

“What exactly do you mean by ‘lower floors’…?”

Kim Jin-Woo craned his neck as he looked the Black Merchant in the eyes and said, “5th Floor.”

The Black Merchant shuddered at the mention of the 5th Floor. Upon seeing that, Kim Jin-Woo grinned widely and continued, “You seem to know about it.”

“I have no idea wha…”

Kim Jin-Woo, knowing that the Black Merchant was feigning ignorance, mockingly cut him off. “The Black Tiger’s labyrinth on the 5th Floor. Its master called it ‘Harimao’.”

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