Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
'Well, nothing unusual here. Except everything's black, and the only light source are the luminous minerals jutting out of the walls and ceilings. This isn't spooky at all,' Ho Sung said to himself, sighing heavily. His instincts told him that it would be next to impossible for him to get out of the dungeon alive, even with the champion by his side.
'Maybe I should've told him I wanted to go to the hospital instead,' he thought. Then, he shook off the thought as he remembered something, 'I'm not here just to mooch off of Min Sung. That was never the plan.'
When the champion had asked Ho Sung about raiding the labyrinth together, Ho Sung had had a number of reasons for taking up the challenge. First, he didn't want to seem weak in the eyes of the champion. Second, he wanted to become stronger by challenging his fears, even at the cost of his life. However, as the reality of the torment labyrinth set in, he couldn't help but second guess his decision. Fear washed over him and dug into the depths of his heart. Nevertheless, Ho Sung was still determined to overcome it.
'Don't be stupid, Ho Sung. You didn't make a mistake coming here. You have a powerful master and you will move forward. You just gotta trust him. Now, keep your guard up and focus on staying in one piece.'
With a determined look on his face, Ho Sung pulled the Death Knight's Sword out of his inventory. Glancing at it, the champion said to him, "I don't think so. Shields up."
"...Yes, sir," Ho Sung replied, putting the sword away quietly and pulling his shield out instead. Meanwhile, Min Sung stood in front of the door in order to exit the waiting room. At which point, the automatic door slid open and revealed a grand, majestic open dungeon. Under the dark sky, was an uneven terrain, and streams of the lava flowing underneath were visible through the cracks on the ground. Should anyone's feet land on the red molten liquid, their toes would surely melt away without a trace. Looking at the intimidating scenery, Ho Sung clenched his teeth tightly.
'This is friggin' terrifying,' Ho Sung thought, looking toward the champion. Despite being in the labyrinth of the highest possible difficulty, Min Sung, as per usual, was calm and collected. If anything, he seemed like he was all too familiar with situations like that.
'Come to think of it, he did say something about being in hell before,' Ho Sung thought. Then, while he was wondering what kind of life the champion had led, he realized that Min Sung was picking up the pace. At which point, he shook his thoughts away and rushed to catch up to the champion.
'Stay alert, Ho Sung. Focus. Don't let your mind wander off,' Ho Sung said to himself, gripping the handle of his shield tightly while running after the champion.
After getting out of the shower, the man in the robe walked out to the living room with a towel on his head. Then, standing in front of a full-body mirror, he pulled the towel down. The mirror showed a reflection of the man and his face. There was a long scar across his eye, which was blind, and that scar appeared to be from the blow that took his eye. Staring into the mirror, he passed his hand over the scar. At that moment, his phone started to ring. Looking toward it, he made his way for it, picked it up in order to check the caller ID, and answered the phone. A low, heavy voice came from the receiver.
"We have an order," the man in the wheelchair said on the other end of the receiver, adding, "There's been a conflict between Korea and the US. The order is to leverage the tension to our advantage."
"When do we start?" the man in the robe asked.
"Check your email for details. Your flight leaves in one hour from Gimpo International Airport."
Brushing the water off his hair, the man in the robe, staring intently at the newly-formed dungeon gate through the window, replied, "Do you think the Americans will respond the way we expect them to?"
"Considering what's about to happen, I'm sure they will. It won't be an all-out war, but our job is to decrease the number of hunters they have at their disposal."
"The day isn't far off, my friend. Hang in there."
Staring into the air with his seeing eye, the man in the robe hung up. Then, after a brief thought, he prepared to leave for the airport.
Contrary to Ho Sung, who was holding on to his shield as if his life depended on it while looking around and walking nervously, Min Sung strode over the boiling lava in swift, unhesitant steps. While even catching up to the champion was exhausting for Ho Sung, the champion, paying no attention to Ho Sung's circ.u.mstances, looked around in search of monsters. However
"Something's not right," the champion said while looking around.
"Sir?" Ho Sung asked nervously.
"The dungeon's open, yet I don't see a single monster around."
Just like Min Sung had said, their surroundings gave off the impression that the land was barren, dispossessed of even a single living thing.
"Do you think the monsters are hiding from you? Kinda like that one monster last time?" Ho Sung asked. Finding his speculation to be convincing, Min Sung started to grow aggravated. On top of the issue with American hunters, his plan to enjoy a meal after clearing the labyrinth kept getting delayed against his will, which further added to his stress. Even with heightened senses, Min Sung simply couldn't sense any presences in the area. From the looks of it, either the monsters had yet to spawn, or, just as Ho Sung had speculated, the monsters were hiding from him. At that moment...
"Wait, what's this?" Ho Sung asked, looking at the ground and adding, "It looks like a footprint."
When Min Sung looked on the ground, he saw a set of footprints just like Ho Sung had pointed out. However, it seemed to lead in a certain direction.
"Come on," Min Sung said, tracing the footsteps. Staying on guard, Min Sung followed the champion. Then, after what felt like a while, the trail went cold. At which point, the champion looked up slowly and saw what looked like a giant fish tank. Within it, were humanoid creatures that appeared to be unconscious. The apparatus looked like something that belonged in a lab where experiments were conducted on living things. The countless hoses connected to the creatures only furthered that look. Seeing as though the creature had b.r.e.a.s.ts, it seemed to be female.
Just outside the tank, was another monster that looked similar to the ones submerged in the water. It was staring intently and warily at the champion and Ho Sung. At the sight of the creature's ash-colored skin, fiery-red eyes, horns, and feeling the dark, ominous presence exuding from it, Min Sung felt a certain piece of memory coming alive.
It was a monster from the Demonic Realm. Although the monster hadn't fully matured, the very fact that there were demons around on Earth was more than enough to sour the champion's mood.
'Of course, it's you sc.u.mbags,' Min Sung thought, smiling bitterly. At that moment, the demon raised its hand. Followed by crackling thunder, a long, silver spear appeared in its hand.
"Alida Pen Tayaak Tuu," the young demon said. Unlike Ho Sung, who was bewildered by the foreign language, the champion understood almost immediately. Having spent over a century in the Demonic Realm, Min Sung was well acquainted with the demonic language.
"The monsters in the tank, are they your doing?" Min Sung asked in the demonic language.
Caught off guard from hearing the language of its kind coming from a human, the young demon asked, "How is it that a human is speaking our language?"
"It doesn't matter. You'll die soon enough," Min Sung said, hardening his face and swinging his Orichalcon Dagger. Soaring up to the sky, the demon dodged the projectile, which turned toward the tank. Soon, with an explosive sound, the ground shook, and the lava underneath it surged up through the cracks. However, despite the tremendous impact, there was not a scratch on the tank. Grimacing, Min Sung looked up at the demon, who was flapping its wings in the air while looking down at the champion.
"Tell me. How is it that you know our language, human?"
"We're from the same place, you and I. Ever heard of the Black Slaughterer?" Min Sung replied, scoffing condescendingly. At which point, a look of shock washed over the demon's fiery-red eyes. Then, just as Min Sung was about to leap into the air, the demon disappeared like smoke. The champion looked around, but there was no trace of the monster anywhere. At that moment, the female monster submerged within the tank started to give birth to an exponential number of monsters. Looking at the waves of monsters that started to crawl out of the tank, Min Sung clicked his tongue irritably. Unlike mature demons, who often showed hostile, combative behavior, the young demon fled as soon as he learned the identity of the champion.
'I should've been more careful,' Min Sung said to himself, annoyed that he had already forgotten something he had learned over the course of a century. At that moment
"Uh S-s-sir? What are those!?" Ho Sung asked, his voice shaking with terror. There was a throng of monsters charging at the two. The monster, which the female monster in the tank had birthed, were homogenous, and having seen them far more often than he would've liked in the Demonic Realm, the champion knew them quite well. They were called devil gargoyles. Resembling a large lizard with the wings of a demon, what set them apart from their ordinary counterpart, which was commonly found in ordinary dungeons, was that the devil gargoyles were made of a foreign substance that was highly-resilient.
Identifying Ho Sung as hostile, one of the devil gargoyles prepared to attack. Seeing the monster flying toward him at a frightening speed, Ho Sung was on the verge of wetting his pants. To make matters worse, his trust and faith in the champion could not save him of that threat.
Overcome with fear, Ho Sung gripped the handle of his shield tightly and desperately. Despite the urge to run for his life, his legs simply didn't respond to his desire. Although the monsters were only a tenth of Heckel's size, the fear they instilled in Ho Sung was several times greater than in Heckel's case.
With their mouths agape, the monsters shot black flames toward the pair. Conveniently called Black Breath, the black flames formed an even bigger flame in the air and came at the champion and Ho Sung. Staring at his impending doom, Ho Sung was seized with fear, his jaw clattering. At that moment, the champion pulled Ho Sung back by the shoulder, stood in front of him, and swung his dagger. Followed by what sounded like the sky tearing open, a white projectile went flying toward the gargoyles in the air, cutting through the Black Breath. Soon, the dozens of gargoyles in the air evaporated like darkness fading into light.
Yet to have made sense of the situation, Ho Sung stood in his place, blinking awkwardly. The dozens of nightmarish creatures that had been charging at him had disappeared without a trace, leaving only the champion, who was walking toward the water tank quietly.