Chapter 89

[Naga Maid (Hero-Grade) Dominique has evolved.]

[Dominique has evolved from Naga Maid (Hero-Grade) to King’s Advisor (Ordinary).]

[Dedicated to her master's honor, she is now a true advisor.]

Dominique now resembled a human more than ever before. Her dark hair and purple eyes were still there, but her pale blue skin made her look like a human from the waist up.

[Her pure desire to devote herself to her master has activated the Mysteries of the Underworld.]

[The Mysteries of the Underworld has been engaged. At a low chance, her rank has ascended.]

[Her rank has ascended from King's Advisor (Ordinary) to King's Advisor (Elite).]

And she started morphing again once more inside her cocoon.

[The King's Advisor is a being who has everything a King needs by his side. She has grown wiser, and she has become worthy of devotion to her King.]

[The special ability ‘Administrator’s Dignity’ has been acquired. No one else is superior to her in the operation and management of the labyrinth. All nagas’ work efficiency increases under her command.]

[The special ability ‘Deputy’s Authority’ has been acquired. In the absence of her King, she is able to summon or command troops at will. She is also given the power to forcibly withdraw all reinforcements from the fiefs belonging to the King.]

[It is no exaggeration to say that her change was solely due to her loyalty to the King. Her desire and loyalty has unlocked her innate potential.]

[The unique ability ‘Devotion and Service’ has been created. She will always exceed her abilities when executing any of her King's orders. This effect applies in battle.]

Thanks to the endless messages, Kim Jin-Woo was now aware that Dominique had finally transcended her role of being his maid, as she had always desired.

“Master!” When her metamorphosis ended, Dominique ran over to Kim Jin-Woo with a big smile on her face. But instead of using telepathy, she now spoke out loud. “I wasn’t away for too long, was I?”

She ran over as if she wanted to hug him. But she stopped in her tracks before extending both her hands, each emitting cold and heat at the same time, as if to show them off.

“Hehe, now I can finally stand tall beside my Master.” Seemingly disappointed with her past self for not having given much strength to her master, she looked at her new body while beaming with pride.

“That’s a strange thing to say,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked.

Dominique tilted her head in confusion at his words. Her excited demeanor quickly gave way to timidity.

“Dominique is the one that has always been by my side. So I don’t understand what you’re saying now,” Kim Jin-Woo continued.

“Ah…” Dominique sighed in relief and felt overwhelmed with emotions as she looked at her master. But that lasted only for a brief moment, as she quickly collected herself and bowed her head.

“I have returned, my one and only Master.” The old Dominique returned as she pledged her loyalty once more.

***

Returning as the King's Advisor, Dominique immediately began to deal with the backlog.

The labyrinth that had somehow felt dead immediately came alive upon her return. Although Angela had been standing in for Dominique, there was indeed no one who could match up to her when it came to handling the labyrinth’s affairs.

“Whoa, in some ways, she’s truly a monster.” Even Angela could not help but be reluctantly impressed with Dominique’s speed and proficiency in completing her tasks.

“Dominique is truly a Gongshin[1]. Without her, my labyrinth wouldn’t even be Level 4 yet. I would probably have lost my life during our fight with the Basilisk King,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

Angela rolled her eyes at Kim Jin-Woo’s expression of infinite trust in Dominique, saying, “You seem to trust her completely.”

“She’s never betrayed my expectations,” Kim Jin-Woo answered.

Dominique had never been active on the battlefield, but he knew that with her around, he could comfortably leave the labyrinth in her hands and head to the Underworld or the surface at any given time.

“Hmph. Now I’m feeling jealous,” Angela grumbled.

Kim Jin-Woo frowned at the vampire’s characteristic obsessiveness, saying, “I trust that you won’t do anything stupid.”

“Don’t you think you’re being too unfair? Both she and I only have eyes for Master, but this is too much. Don’t tell me that you think I might do something bad to someone I consider family?” Angela asked.

Kim Jin-Woo could feel her sense of loneliness and neglect, but he also saw a hint of rage in her eyes. And she was expressing her sense of neglect even more than usual. Still, he said, “I’m warning you. Don’t do anything I don’t order you to.”

For some reason, upon hearing Kim Jin-Woo’s harsh words, Angela unexpectedly had an excited look on her face as she licked her lips.

“Angela,” Kim Jin-Woo began. He would have let it go on any other day, but for some reason, he knew he had to be harsher than usual today. He knew that vampires have a twisted sense of loyalty and obsession toward their masters, due to their excessive and selfish tendencies.

And although she had been relatively mild-mannered all along, seeing her get angry toward her own family members was something Kim Jin-Woo had to set the record straight on.

“I’m not that stupid. Why would I do something that would only make Master angry?” Angela asked.

She was certainly broken on the inside. But Kim Jin-Woo was more relieved about the fact that she wouldn’t do anything behind his back to harm his allies.

“Phew,” he sighed. If there were truly a God of the Underworld, he wanted to ask them so badly—Why was he burdened with the task of dealing with such troublemakers?

But at that moment, he saw Balzark, Morrigan, and Ortehaga rushing towards him, and he let out another long sigh.

***

After completing all the remaining work on the labyrinth, Dominique showed great interest in the newly created satellite labyrinths. And it was inevitable for her to also find out about the atrocities that had been committed by the Naga Sorcerers.

“If the labyrinth-obsessed Black Merchants were to find out about this, they would flip out,” Dominique remarked.

Kim Jin-Woo laughed bitterly, but it seemed that Dominique was rather optimistic about the synthesized Labyrinth Cores.

“But Master, think about it. Even if we get a useless core through the synthesis, it may not necessarily be entirely a bad thing. Because what Master and the Fortress needs is no longer a simple expansion of numbers alone.”

Perhaps it was because she was now at the rank of a King’s Advisor, but she was far more active in giving Kim Jin-Woo necessary advice than before.

“Master’s goal isn’t the 9th Floor, but rather the Deep Floors. Other than the 10th Floor Nobles we defeated in the last war, if we’re to truly challenge the Greater Underworld Nobles, we should start looking to have more than the mediocre troops in our army.”

“So, you’re basically saying it’s worth risking a failed synthesis in order to obtain a better quality synthesized core.”

“That’s not entirely what I meant, but the point is that the Naga Sorcerers might have found a potential solution to the current problems with our labyrinth.”

Kim Jin-Woo clearly understood what Dominique meant.

When compared to the Counts hiding in the Deep Floors, there was a vast difference in the quality of the Naga’s Fortress and its troops.

Despite the fact that the labyrinth was Level 6, only the quantity of the troops had grown; their quality hadn’t improved significantly. Whether it was Naga Warriors or Fighters, the fact was, they couldn’t hold a candle to the Iron-Blooded Knights.

“Master, from now on, we have to be resolute about this.”

“What do you mean?”

Dominique looked at Kim Jin-Woo with a spark in her eyes that he hadn’t seen before. She asked, “What exactly is your goal, Master?”

The fact that Kim Jin-Woo had a grudge against someone from the Deep Floors was something the nagas all knew, but he had never revealed that someone’s identity.

Up until now, that had been the reason why Kim Jin-Woo had fought so hard for survival; but now, Dominique seemed to want to tackle the issue head-on.

“If you simply want to conquer the 9th Floor, the army we have now is more than sufficient. Just the Naga’s Fortress might not be enough, but we have enough fiefs, including the Land of Greed. But Master’s endgame isn’t just the 9th Floor, isn’t it?”

“Mm…”

Kim Jin-Woo had first accepted the labyrinth to take his revenge against the 12th Floor Duke—the King of Hell Spiders. But now, when faced with Dominique’s question, he realized that he had now grown completely accustomed to the Underworld’s systems.

And the more he came to understand the Mysteries of the Underworld, the more he realized how absurd it was for him to target an Underworld Duke. He was hesitant to reveal his goal because the target was a force that not even the 11th Floor Counts would dare to challenge.

But that hesitation was also brief. Kim Jin-Woo finally said, “My goal is to kill the 12th Floor Duke—the King of Hell Spiders.”

Surprisingly, Dominique seemed unfazed at the revelation. But she also didn’t seem to take the target lightly.

“Starting from the 10th Floor Nobles, all the way until the 11th Floor Counts, there’s a lot of work for us to do.” After listing the priority targets one by one, she pondered for a long time before giving a clear answer. “For now, our priority should be to subjugate all the remaining labyrinths on the 9th Floor.”

“There will be opposition,” Kim Jin-Woo noted.

War without a cause sometimes provided a rallying cry for the weak.

In its current state, the Naga’s Fortress and its subordinates weren’t strong enough to wage war against the entire 9th Floor.

“If you try to bring them to their knees at once, there will be a backlash, just as Master said. And that would never be good for you,” Dominique answered. Having said that, she pointed at the huge map in the center of the master room. “For now, please summon the labyrinth masters who are friendly to you.”

“And?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

Dominique casually responded, “Let them decide.”

“Are we going to try and get them to rally under me?”

Although the alliance had been formed by selecting relatively more mild-tempered labyrinth masters and avoiding the more ferocious and violent ones, their mildness didn’t mean they were weak.

Even Malaxus, the King of Hammer and Anvil, had a temper. He was so headstrong that he had proudly declared that he would rather die with his labyrinth than give it up to the 10th Floor Nobles.

The other labyrinth masters were also just as brutally straightforward.

In hindsight, it made sense that they were all equally headstrong, as they had allied to fight against the overwhelming forces of the allied 10th Floor army.

“They’ve already come under your command once in order to fight against the 10th Floor Nobles,” Dominique noted.

“That was a special case. And although I may have been in charge, in reality, the only ones that truly obeyed me till the end were the Nightmares and the centaurs.”

“That should be enough.”

Dominique was clearly different from when she had just been a Naga Maid not too long ago. Now, as the King’s Advisor, she had become calmer, as she maintained her composure throughout the entire conversation.

“The beginning might have been tough, but since you’ve gained their respect as their commander once before, the second time would be a lot easier,” She said as she pointed toward the Land of Greed that was highlighted on the map. “Those who have experienced the sweet taste of victory once will never forget it.”

***

The labyrinth masters who had allied in the previous war gathered once more. They were all curious as to why Kim Jin-Woo had called them together again.

“Don’t tell me there’s another war coming?”

“Are the 10th Floor Nobles about to take their revenge against us?”

As their very first encounter had been a fight against the 10th Floor Nobles, their past experiences seemed to have made them rather sensitive.

They might be proud victors now, but they had once been on the verge of losing their labyrinths to the 10th Floor Nobles, so their reactions were unsurprising.

“That’s not it,” Kim Jin-Woo said as he looked down at them from his throne, which had been shifted from the master room to the open square in order to accommodate his guests.

“Then why did you call us here?” the short-tempered dwarf Malaxus stepped forward and asked.

“I just have one thing to ask you all.”

The labyrinth masters were already alert toward Kim Jin-Woo’s every move. They perked up their ears and listened with bated breath.

Kim Jin-Woo, satisfied with the focus they had on him, said as he looked at them, “Were the spoils of the previous war satisfactory enough for you?”

The labyrinth masters couldn’t answer, and only looked at each other in response to such a loaded question.

Kim Jin-Woo leaned forward and asked again, “If there were another opportunity for you all, would you accept it?”


1. A term in Korean used to refer to someone who has made exemplary sacrifices for their country.

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