Straight Face continued talking before Seol Jihu could say anything, “I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t let just anyone take my rear.”
Seol Jihu refuted as he raised his spear, “I won’t get in your way.”
“I think you will.”
When he struck back confidently, Straight Face’s eyebrows went up. She then examined the youth from top to bottom as if to check him out. His earrings, gloves, bracelet, and icy spear that gave off a frosty aura all caught her attention.
Straight Face turned back to the front. Seol Jihu took this as her giving consent.
Snake Eyes, who was watching the scene play out amusingly, opened her mouth, “Perfect. There are two waiting by the door and eight roaming around inside.”
The moment Snake Eyes finished her sentence, Straight Face threw the door open, and a sword and a spear flew in simultaneously.
At the same time the two monsters waiting by the door fell backward, the man and woman shot inside as if they’d agreed on it beforehand.
“Hm?” Snake Eyes blinked repeatedly. Her already narrow eyes narrowed even further.
‘Not bad.’ She expected the bitch with the longsword to do as much, but the man supporting her wasn’t to be underestimated either. No—
‘Wait a fucking minute….’ When she saw the energy seemingly boiling at the tip of his spear, she screamed internally. ‘Fuck, he wasn’t a Level 4 but a High Ranker?’ Snake Eyes tilted her head while thinking, ‘that can’t be—’
Of course, she couldn’t be further from the truth.
With two people going wild, the time it took to clear the room was cut in half. Snake Eyes had kept her eyes on the group’s only man the entire time. Once the battle ended, she pursed her lips. Although she didn’t whistle, it was easy to see that she was surprised.
“…Well, it’s not like there aren’t Level 4s with high mana.”
Maria was also eyeing Seol Jihu, prepared to use a spell if necessary, but when she heard what Snake Eyes said, she snorted inwardly.
Straight Face seemed to trust Seol Jihu after using him once, as she didn’t just let him support her, but gave him an entire side to take care of on his own.
As for Snake Eyes, she might have had a strange personality, but she was competent. Although she never personally participated in the battle, the fact that her scouting information was always right was a testament to her abilities.
With Snake Eyes’ accurate information, Straight Face’s charging power, and Seol Jihu’s support, clearing a room took no time at all. However, the problem was that there was no end in sight.
For some reason, Straight Face insisted on going straight, taking the frontal door every time. Perhaps wanting to get out of this place as soon as possible, she fought and marched repeatedly.
It wasn’t until the 40th room that the group’s unrelenting steps stopped. The 40th room didn’t look any special, but there was one difference.
“Oh? There isn’t a frontal door.”
Just like Snake Eyes said, the number of doors was reduced from four to three. The people following them seemed to have noticed that something was off as they carefully examined the room while walking around.
Snake Eyes drew something on a piece of paper before turning to Straight Face who was standing still in front of a wall. “Hey, where are we going? Left? Or right?”
It was then…
The sound of something falling and bumping into things rang out. Immediately afterwards…
Parts of the three walls - left, right, and front - crumbled down, revealing densely packed launchers.
Seeing dozens of sharp things raising their heads, Snake Eyes frowned for the first time. “Fuck—!”
In an instant….
A chilling sound of air being cut scratched their ears, and at the same time….
“Luxu Lu Luxuria!”
Woong! A white dome-shaped barrier spread out.
Tang, tang, tang! Maria managed to block the attack coming from the left and the right side by a hair’s breadth, but she had to pour out her mana to stop the powerful force pushing into the barrier.
Five seconds, that seemed like five minutes passed by. The room then became silent as if the previous ruckus was a lie. Hundreds of crossbow bolts were lying on the ground with smoke coming out of the launchers on the left and the right walls.
Maria was wiping off the sweat on her forehead when she suddenly went ‘Ah!’.
‘Now that I think about it….’
The trap had activated on the frontal wall as well. In that case, the bolts must have shot the three people standing there. Although Maria made a split-second decision to cast a barrier, because everything had happened so fast, she couldn’t even think about helping out the vanguard.
“Miss Maria! Are you okay?” At that moment, a familiar voice struck her ears. Maria’s eyes widened. She could see a yellowish light between the white smoke coming out of the walls.
The light was none other than a triangular shield. When Seol Jihu noticed that a trap had been activated, he instantly embraced Straight Face who was standing in front of the wall before activating his bracelet. Snake Eyes had also shrewdly hidden beside them. If it weren’t for this artifact, all three of them would have been turned into meat paste.
Because of the unexpected attack, even Straight Face had a crack in her stonewall expression. That said, it was only her eyes that had widened a bit, and even that only lasted a moment before reverting back.
Her cheek was touching Seol Jihu’s chest, so she gently pushed him away. Realizing the position they were in, Seol Jihu quickly let go of her, and Straight Face sighed as she stared at the countless crossbow bolts on the ground.
The face that had shown no emotions the entire time contorted with annoyance. Her complexion instantly became frozen, and she turned around for the first time. Behind her, four people were breathing sighs of relief.
Straight Face opened her mouth, “Who was it?”
When her cold, subdued voice flowed out, Maria and the others froze. Nothing had happened when they first came in the room. In other words, one of them must have done something to activate the trap.
Silence ensued. When no one spoke up, Straight Face asked calmly, “…Which one of you bitches was it?”
Bob Cut was planning to endure the criticism and let the incident pass, but when she heard Straight Face suddenly using profanity, she doubted her ears and asked back.
“W-What did you say?”
“Do you want me to spell it out for you?”
“Aren’t you being too harsh?”
“I almost died because of one of you fuckers, and you think I’m being too harsh?”
Bob Cut became speechless. She understood where Straight Face was coming from, but she still felt it wasn’t fair. After all, she had barely moved after entering this room.
Straight Face continued, “If you had to deal with people acting on their own and causing trouble, wouldn’t you be angry too?”
“I understand how you feel… but you’re the one who is acting on your own.”
“Of course, I’m grateful that you’re clearing the way, but we can work together to—”
“Oh yeah?” Straight Face folded her arms and twisted the corner of her mouth up. Her sneering face seemed to say, ‘Get a hold of this joker.’
“That’s an interesting way of putting it, because I never once told you to follow me.”
“Aren’t you guys the ones who followed me on your own?”
Bob Cut clenched her teeth, “I know you’re strong, but we can also—”
“Sure, we can work together.” Straight Face cut her off as if she knew what Bob Cut was going to say.
“But you only thought about working together. If you really wanted to help, you would have stepped up, like her, this guy, and that kid.” Straight Face’s chin pointed to Snake Eyes, Seol Jihu, and Maria.
Maria immediately shouted, “Who are you calling a kid!”, but her words were buried in an instant by Bob Cut’s protest.
“That’s why, in the beginning, I—”
“Ah, the self-introduction. Are you stupid? It’s not like we’re in the Neutral Zone. Do you need to have everything explained to you?”
“We could have at least said our class and level. You know, as a way of sharing information.”
“You’re an Archer. Looks like a Level 3.”
Bob Cut nodded her head subconsciously.
“Shouldn’t you have sharp eyes as an Archer? Unless someone was actively trying to hide it, you should have been able to guess our classes based on our equipment.”
Seol Jihu stood astonished as he watched Straight Face nitpick on and on. She was so good with using facts in her verbal attacks that Seol Jihu began to pity Bob Cut.
“Ha, I’m over here working hard to clear a path. I sure as hell didn’t expect to get criticized for doing something good.” These words seemed to land the finishing blow as Bob Cut squeezed her eyes shut. Her chest huffed up and down before a long sigh escaped her mouth.
Straight Face raised her eyebrows.
“It was thoughtless of me to say that. I apologize.”
Hearing Bob Cut submit easily, Straight Face grinned. She rested her chin on the back of her hand and then tilted her head. Her face seemed to say, ‘Perfect. I was just getting bored.’
“Hm…. It’s good that you acknowledged it quickly, but you already hurt my feelings. What should I do?”
“More importantly, I’m not the type of person who believes in just talk.” Her mocking tone clearly indicated her desire to toy with her prey.
Bob Cut endured the humiliation and opened her mouth, “I’ll show it with action.”
“Looks like you’re not hopelessly stupid…. You, how many rooms have we broken through so far?” When Straight Face suddenly asked Snake Eyes, who was watching the scene with an amused expression, Snake Eyes simply shrugged her shoulders.
“How should I know?”
“I know you’re drawing a map.”
“Chet. So you were just pretending not to care.”
She took out a piece of paper from her pocket and began to count the rooms one by one. “This is the fortieth room exactly.”
“Forty rooms,” Straight Face calmly recited the count before continuing, “Good. Taking the difference in our levels into account, just clear twenty rooms.”
“I don’t care whether you go left or right. But she, he, and I won’t help you. Just like we did, you guys open the door and take care of what’s inside.”
Straight Face emphasized the words, ‘you guys’. Seol Jihu was about to politely lodge a complaint as he was excluded without a choice, but when he saw Maria glaring at him to stay put, he decided to just let things play out.
“You don’t want to? Then don’t. But I want you to stop following us.”
Bob Cut bit her lip. She didn’t have a choice.
“Fine, but once we break through twenty rooms….”
“Then I’ll comply with your self-introduction and move as a team.”
A deal had been reached.
Bob Cut turned to face the three people next to her. Two of them were Priests, so they had to be excluded. The only one left was the woman holding her shield. The Warrior-Archer combination was certainly ideal.
“Are you willing to help me?”
When Bob Cut asked, the brown-haired woman, who had been watching silently until now, smiled, “Of course.”
Saying that she was feeling guilty doing nothing, she slowly held out her hand.
“I’m Sophie Chalet, a Level 3 Shield Warrior.”
Bob Cut’s face became dazed before turning into a bright smile. “I’m Lara Wolff, a Level 3 Sharp Ranger.”
The atmosphere turned wholesome for the first time since the Banquet started.
Snake Eyes snorted as she watched the two women shake hands, while Straight Face made a profound smile.
And thus, Sophie Chalet and Lara Wolff began to clear the way together.
Seol Jihu was forced to the sidelines against his will, but he stuck with his decision to let the situation play out. That said, he was cheering for the two women on the inside.
In truth, Seol Jihu didn’t see this woman named Lara Wolff in a bad light. Because it was true that she followed them without doing anything, he wouldn’t have sided with her if all she did was complain. However, she had acknowledged her fault and apologized.
‘She also brought up the self-introduction idea first.’
As Seol Jihu had learned the standard procedure, he found Straight Face’s modus operandi to be the unconventional one. While he acknowledged Straight Face taking the lead to open up a path, she had done so of her own volition. She even told him to not bother her when he first tried to help.
To be frank, Straight Face had changed her tune to her benefit when she was pushing Lara Wolff to a corner.
Because of this, Seol Jihu cheered on the two women marching forward on their own. Unfortunately, just as he realized during the rescue mission, reality often wasn’t beautiful.
Putting aside the fact that the group was now breaking through the rooms at a much slower pace, the Level 3 duo began to struggle after a short time.
The problem started with Lara Wolff.
“In front of this… mm….”
It would have been one thing if she was a Pathfinder, but as a Ranger who was more focused on combat abilities, she was lacking in scouting abilities. But even taking that into consideration, there was a world of difference between her and Snake Eyes, who would spit out accurate information in just a second or two.
She even asked Maria to cast a barrier before they opened the door, but Maria flatly refused. After all, a Priest’s spells weren’t infinite. The end of Stage 1 was nowhere in sight, so if she used a spell every time they opened a door, she would run out of them in no time.
Naturally, with inaccurate information, more burden was placed on the Warrior. Sophie Chalet had abilities matching a Level 3, but all that meant was she was average. And because her armors were poor comparatively, she became more and more wounded as time passed.
That wasn’t all.
“Ah~ So slow~ At this rate, it’s gonna take us months to clear Stage 1~”
“God, how did they even think to enter the Banquet with their abilities? Were they hoping their team would carry them?”
Sometimes, the kind sister-in-law’s concern was more annoying than the nagging mother-in-law. Though, in this case, Snake Eyes was nowhere close to being kind or concerned.
They were already having a rough time, so they couldn’t help but get angry when Snake Eyes provoked them from time to time.
In the end, an accident occurred amidst the ugly atmosphere. A monster had swung down its axe and split Sophie Chalet’s shield in half.
The Shield Warrior fell on her butt with a shrill scream. Although she managed to escape with her life thanks to Maria’s barrier, she was severely injured. Her left arm had been crushed to the point where her white bones were protruding out.
“Not easy, huh?”
Lara Wolff was sitting on the ground with a stunned expression when a shadow cast over her body. Straight Face was looking down at her while fiddling with her shoulder-length, black hair.
“Her arm can be healed, but without her shield, her combat ability would be halved.”
“What are you going to do? You’re not even at the halfway mark. Wasn’t that the eighth?”
Continually fiddling with her hair, Straight Face suddenly grinned, “Want me to let you off the hook?”
“You still have twelve doors left to open, but it’s not like there isn’t another way to do that.”
“What do you mean?” When Lara Wolff asked with a face that wasn’t expecting much, Straight Face raised her index finger.
“Ask? If it’s just that—”
Straight Face shook her finger left and right.
“I said politely.”
She then curled her finger until it pointed at the ground below her feet. “First— Crawl here on all fours.”
Immediately, Lara Wolff made an indescribable face. Even Snake Eyes’ expression contorted strangely.
“Hyaa…. You’re a huge pervert, huh. What a charming personality.”
The corner of Straight Face’s mouth twisted up. This was more of a hobby than a personality. She felt an odd pleasure in seeing dignified, confident people submitting to her.
It was the same with the current situation. Lara Wolff might have been happy when Sophie Chalet agreed to help her, but now she was driven to a corner. She had been full of hope just a moment ago, so how would she look crawling on the ground, unable to withstand the despair? Just imagining it sent a tingling feeling down her stomach, making her smile.
“Well, it will at least help my hurt feelings recover a little.” Straight Face pushed her hair back and waited for a reply.
“It’s okay.” However, the answer came from Sophie Chalet, who was receiving treatment from Maria. “We’re almost halfway done. We’ll keep going just a bit more.”
“…Oh yeah?” Straight Face smacked her lips somewhat disappointedly. “Then hurry. All this waiting around is making me bored.”
“Got it. We’ll continue as soon as my injuries are healed.” Sophie spoke without losing her smile, and Straight Face turned back.
On the other hand, Seol Jihu was struggling internally. Although he ended up on Straight Face’s side, he didn’t like the way she was handling things.
She was bored just like she said. It was as if she grew tedious waiting for an exit. She was then toying with the Level 3 duo just for the fun of it, as they ended up getting trapped in a spider web. Once she got bored of doing this, she would no doubt return to charging through the rooms.
If the three of them joined hands like in the beginning, they would be able to get out of this place quicker. Seol Jihu didn’t want to waste his time on this farce.
‘What should I do?’
Straight Face and Snake Eyes.
Sophie and Lara.
As Seol Jihu looked at each member of the party, his eyes stopped when it reached one girl.Previous Chapter Next Chapter