Chapter 93

“I have no idea what they’re searching for, but they’ve made a mess out of the 6th and 7th Floors,” the Wild Boar Chief said. Kim Jin-Woo let out a sigh.

It was obvious why the humans were in the Underworld. There was talk of countries that had labyrinths within their territories; they had subsequently assigned delegates to become those labyrinths’ masters.

It seemed that humans from South Korea were looking to become labyrinth masters themselves. In the past, they had thought there was only one labyrinth on the 4th Floor, but it was now certain that they were embracing the possibility of more labyrinths existing.

And the aftermath of their operations had trickled down to the rest of the Shallow Floors.

“I heard some of the 5th Floor labyrinths have already been wiped out by humans. And even if it’s okay right now, the future isn’t looking bright, so there are many labyrinth masters who’ve abandoned their labyrinths. Apart from the labyrinths themselves, even the underworld creatures are constantly being forced out by the humans.”

Human greed was truly obscene. Despite having had such a hard time during the war, they had invaded the Shallow Floors immediately without any support from the state the moment they got the chance.

“That’s why the 6th to 8th Floors are in complete chaos. The labyrinth masters and creatures that have been chased away are wreaking havoc nonstop, and some have even started their own wars over other labyrinths.”

It seemed the humans were overwhelming the 6th Floor as well. And the Underworld beings seeking refuge had caused immense disorder in the other floors as they escaped deeper into the Underworld.

“Still, you who call yourselves labyrinth masters are being chased away by mere humans?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

“We don’t have abundant resources like you, nor are our labyrinths high-leveled like yours,” the Wild Boar Chief said with a sullen look on his face. “And unlike those beings from the 9th Floor and below, the rest of us have yet to fully recover from the war ten years ago. To hear you speak of us like that now leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”

The Chief had a point. The Deep Floor Nobles had never fully involved themselves in that war. It was the Shallow Floor Masters who had in fact shed the most blood in the war with the Terran forces.

If the war had occurred in the Underworld, the labyrinth masters would have at least gotten some spoils of war in the form of down gems and Labyrinth Cores, but since the war had occurred on the surface, they had left the war empty-handed.

Hence, it was to be expected that they were severely weakened at the end of the long, drawn-out war.

Moreover, unlike ten years ago, when the humans had deployed soldiers armed with guns, dungeon babies were invading this time. Bullets could be fended off with relative ease, but the weapons used by the dungeon babies weren’t easy to defend against.

And the dungeon babies knew the weaknesses of the ferocious Underworld beasts better than anyone else.

“So what is it you want? Do you want me to clear the surroundings of your labyrinth?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

Unlike his past self, he now had the power to pull off something of that caliber. Just a few of his fief labyrinths could easily wipe the area surrounding the Big-Tusk Wild Boar clan’s labyrinth.

But it seemed the Wild Boar Chief had something else in mind. He said, “Even if you clear them out now, there’s bound to be more troops coming in the near future to make a mess of things again. That’s not what I want.”

“Then what is it? I can’t be looking after your labyrinth all the time.”

Unlike before, with his new title as Conqueror, Kim Jin-Woo had the ability to negate the penalty of leaving the residence floor for one of his dispatched army units.

But of course, he was unwilling to use such a precious ability on the Big-Tusk Wild Boars, who had had no part in his ascension to the title of Conqueror.

“I seek land to move to. I'd like to leave this damned 8th Floor.”

The Wild Boar Chief’s request was totally unexpected.

“I only wanted your help in punishing the evil Blood Lion Marcus, but who knew things would turn out this bad?” There was a look of sorrow on the Wild Boar Chief’s face as he explained himself. It was painful for anyone to leave the home they had stayed in for a long time, that they had fought tooth and nail for.

Kim Jin-Woo thought for a long while before answering, “Giving you land to migrate to isn’t difficult. But I don’t want any other labyrinths on the 9th Floor unless they become my fiefs.”

“I’m aware. I’ve heard of your move to unify the 9th Floor, and have thought long and hard about this matter.”

And with that, the Wild Boar Chief got on his knees and lowered his head onto the floor, saying, “I, Chief of the Big-Tusk Wild Boars, Okonutoshi[1], pledge my loyalty to you.”

[The Underworld Viscount’s ability, ‘Vassal’s Pledge’, is activated.]

[Okonutoshi, Chief of the Underworld beasts, the Big-Tusk Wild Boars, has pledged his oath to be the Viscount’s knight.]

[Do you accept?]

Instead of responding to the message prompt, Kim Jin-Woo called for Dominique.

“Yes, Master.”

“Seek out a plot of land for the Wild Boars,” Kim Jin-Woo instructed. He then asked the chief, “Is there anything in particular that you want?”

“If possible, I would like the land to be near the Fortress,” Okonutoshi cautiously responded, even changing the way he spoke.

“Hmm. Find a suitable spot north of the Fortress.”

Kim Jin-Woo trusted that as the King’s Advisor, Dominique would require no further elaboration to do exactly what he wanted her to.

He wanted the Wild Boars’ labyrinth to be located in the north to reinforce the satellite labyrinths that were being formed there. The Wild Boars had enough raw strength to fend off any incoming enemies, based on what he had seen for himself.

“A-and, there is one more request,” Okonutoshi added.

“What is it?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

Okonutoshi, who had been speaking without much hesitation until that moment, faltered. He struggled to get the words out of his mouth before finally speaking.

“Please, kindly provide us with some down gems to extract the core. This is embarrassing to admit, but we, the Wild Boars, have such a huge appetite that we usually end up devouring our enemies before we even have the chance to extract any down gems. We simply don’t have enough down gems at the moment to begin the migration.” Okonutoshi’s yellow snout turned red with embarrassment as he finished.

Kim Jin-Woo snickered at the Chief’s admission before conveying his orders to Dominique. “Heard that? Act on it immediately.” Sensing that the conversation had come to an end, he stood up from his throne.

At that point, Dominique’s voice coldly echoed from behind him. “There are a few things I have to check before the migration. Thus, I hope you’ll answer all my questions earnestly.”

Okonutoshi might have sensed that based on the previous conversation, Dominique was the head administrator of Kim Jin-Woo’s labyrinth. Perhaps due to this realization, his demeanor had totally changed, as he gathered his front paws and put on many airs when answering.

Kim Jin-Woo tilted his head as he looked on from afar at Dominique, whose own demeanor had also changed compared to when she spoke with him.

Kim Jin-Woo left the two of them to talk and sought out Yoon-Hee’s Party Hall. He was concerned about the Party Hall, especially with the news that chaos had spread to the 8th Floor.

But the Party Hall had totally avoided the conflict. Its various summons, which specialized in the art of confusion and chaos, had successfully fended off and lured away all the invading creatures.

In the end, Yoon-Hee had displayed her incredible sense of resourcefulness as she made use of the situation to slowly encroach upon the labyrinths surrounding her. More than that, she had already taken over one of those neighboring labyrinths, growing her Party Hall considerably.

“I have no intention of fighting on the front lines, anyway. Things would only get more complicated should my name be made known,” Yoon-Hee replied calmly when Kim Jin-Woo expressed his concerns to her.

“Oh, and one more thing.” She turned towards him as she spoke again. “You may have a guest coming your way.”

“A guest?”

“If my father knew where I was, he would send someone to check on me at least once.”

Kim Jin-Woo rolled his eyes at the ridiculousness of her statement; he felt as if a delicious piece of bait had been set up in his labyrinth, with all sorts of strange beings visiting him as of late. He asked sarcastically, “Am I supposed to welcome him with open arms? ‘Oh, thank you for coming all the way to this lowly place?’”

“No way. Master is already the undisputed Conqueror of the 9th Floor. With that level of accomplishment, even the Deep Floor Nobles from the 11th Floor won’t dare to look down on you.”

“Yeah, right. Anyway, what would Denarion’s subordinate be doing all the way up here?”

“He would look at Master’s capabilities and qualifications before making his decision.”

“Decision? What decision?” Kim Jin-Woo asked, starting to feel uneasy.

“Whether to bring his daughter back into the race for succession, or completely leave her to you.”

“How ridiculous,” Kim Jin-Woo retorted.

Yoon-Hee responded in an unexpectedly soft-spoken manner. “It’s not all bad for Master. If I’m brought back into the fight for succession, you’ll have a reason to get yourself involved with the affairs of the 11th Floor. Otherwise, you’ll receive all the dowry for taking me in.”

Kim Jin-Woo finally snapped, unleashing an outburst of expletives before saying, “Either way, he’s treating me like a dog. I hate it.”

“There’s no need for you to belittle yours—”

“Belittle? This is reality! And since he’s trying to lure me in by throwing me a bone, I’ll make sure to make full use of this. Hell, I’ll even tear apart the hand he used to throw that bone.” Kim Jin-Woo laughed coldly, as he had already formulated a strategy for invading the 11th Floor.

Yoon-Hee looked at him with a slight hint of admiration. The sight of her Master being fearless in the face of any adversary, no matter how difficult, was moving.

Kim Jin-Woo left Yoon-Hee and returned to his labyrinth. While waiting for the completion of his satellite labyrinths, he took some time off to return to the surface to update himself on the progress of the explorers.

“The Underworld? It’s complete chaos! Of course there are countless explorers scattering about the 5th and 6th Floor in search of labyrinths without masters. Their lives will change in unbelievable ways if they even happen to chance upon those labyrinths. Some have even declared they’ll find the labyrinths and sell them off to the Underworld Research Institute.”

Mr Baek was initially still upset with their last meeting, but with a couple of high quality down gems from Kim Jin-Woo, he quickly perked up and got over his foul mood.

“And this time, the government seems to have loosened the restrictions on weapons. They’ve even allowed once-forbidden weapons to be used in the Underworld now. There are even rumors that the government has released military grade firearms on the black market.”

Apparently, the government thought that getting the labyrinths was the priority, no matter who found them.

It was understandable, considering that other countries had already found multiple labyrinths as well as decided on their masters. South Korea was lagging far behind, with one of its two labyrinths still lacking a master.

The South Korean government must have felt the pressure from its competition, hence the ongoing chaos. Sending the military would have faced severe backlash from society, while dispatching a small number of troops would only result in their untimely deaths. They must have decided that the best course of action was to heavily arm any explorers who were willing to find the labyrinths.

“We should leave soon. I have news that they found something on the 6th Floor.” Lee Jun-Young, who had returned to the surface, confirmed the information.

“Ah, you’re…” But by luck, be it good or bad, Kim Jin-Tae, the labyrinth master of Harimao, had also returned with her. He seemed to recall the past, as his face turned pale.

“How are you now?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.

“Ah, let’s not even talk about it. For a guy, he sure is weak. He was sickly for nearly a month.” Lee Jun-Young spoke ill of her colleague. She had absolutely no idea that the reason for his weakness had been Kim Jin-Woo, whom she trusted wholeheartedly.

“Anyway, I heard the Underworld is rather active as of late. Will your team be okay? I’ve heard that lots of weapons are being supplied, and that worries me,” Kim Jin-Woo said.

Although dungeon babies specialized in dealing with the Underworld beings more than regular explorers, that didn’t mean they were immune to bullets like Underworld creatures. Most dungeon babies had relatively poor defenses despite their strong offensive capabilities.

“We’ve already requested support from the institute. Probably within this week…”

“Lee Jun-Young!” Kim Jin-Tae suddenly shouted at Lee Jun-Young with a serious look on his face, as if she had just leaked something confidential. His response was to be expected, however. After all, it was information regarding his own labyrinth.

But it seemed Lee Jun-Young had complete trust in Kim Jin-Woo. After all, from her perspective, he had proven himself trustworthy by sacrificing himself to save her colleagues. Of course, all of Kim Jin-Woo’s actions had been calculated risks, factoring in all the portals and nagas at his disposal.

But there was no way Lee Jun-Young would know about his meticulous plans. She was still caught up in trying to repay the debt she felt she owed after she and her team members had been saved. That mindset made her readily willing to divulge sensitive information to Kim Jin-Woo from time to time.

“Hey, brat, I already said Jin-Woo is trustworthy,” she retorted.

“Trustworthy or not, there are protocols…”

Both Kim Jin-Tae and Lee Jun-Young suddenly realized that the person in question was right there with them, and they immediately ended the conversation.

“I’m sorry.”

“I mean no harm.”

There was nothing for Kim Jin-Woo to be happy about with the two of them discussing his trustworthiness in front of him. But having understood the situation they were all in, he simply waved his hand and apologized. “I think I may have unnecessarily made you guys uncomfortable. I think we’re done here, so I’ll take my leave.”

“Ah, that’s not it, Jin-Woo!” Lee Jun-Young seemed to have misunderstood, as she quickly stopped Kim Jin-Woo from leaving.

1. This seems to be a made up name by the author, not corresponding to anything in particular, so it’s rendered phonetically.

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