Translated by: ShawnSuh
Edited by: SootyOwl
After arriving in Manhattan, the Class 2 Investigation Team stared nervously at the tower floating above the sea, their hearts beating like the waves breaking violently around it. The tower had a presence like nothing they had ever come across before, and the fear of the unknown suffocated the hunters. Noticing that, Mike, the team leader, broke the silence to encourage his men.
"Our job as the investigation team has never been and never will be an easy one. It will cost you your life sooner or later. However, who's to say that our sacrifice is meaningless? Do your damned best, and your legacy will bring your family and this country honor."
Hearing that, a look of determination washed over the members of the investigation team, replacing their fear.
"We travel by boat. Then, upon reaching point A, we abandon the boat and head straight to the ground floor. Stay within the area, and do not wander off," the team leader said to his men, who were warming up by stretching and hopping in place. Once ready, the hunters took out their weapons, ready to cut down any monsters that came their way. At that moment, the team leader said, "Go."
At the team leader's command, the hunters bolted toward the motorboat, which had been prepared ahead of time, and started sailing toward the black tower, where lightning crackled relentlessly. Upon reaching the designated area, the hunters jumped off the boat and swam toward the tower like seals. However, it wasn't long before they were hindered by the violent waves surging against them. The sheer force of them made it extremely difficult to swim through them. As the hunters started to grow weary, the team leader shouted through a megaphone item, "Keep up, men! Don't give up! You let up now, there's no coming back!"
Hearing the voice of the team leader, the hunters started swimming with everything they had. Bright lightning crackled above their heads. Eventually, having swum through the violent waves successfully, the hunters approached the tower cautiously at the team leader's signal. When they arrived at the entrance, a light started emanating out of the lowest part of the tower.
[Enter Tower (Y/N)]
A warm, friendly female voice very unlike the tower's ominous presence and appearance echoed from the tower. Signaling his men to be cautious, Mike, the team leader, tapped the Y button. When his men, including Mike himself, started to levitate toward the gate of the tower, the members of the investigation team brandished their weapons.
Upon receiving a report on the incoming hunters, the demon in charge of the ground floor identified their location using a crystal. Similar to the hunters, the dungeon system also informed the demons within the tower of their current situation.
'Hunters or not, you're all just humans,' the demon thought, grinning and revealing its long, sharp teeth, which glistened from the light emanating from the luminous crystals in the area.
Leading his men, Mike arrived at the ground floor of the tower. Unlike in labyrinths, there was no waiting room. Looking around, the team leader realized that he and his team were in a large hall, like that within a medieval castle. The ceiling was incredibly high and shrouded in darkness. Although the hunters were inside the tower by that point, looking up made them feel as though they were in another world, one where the sky was black. Using various items as light sources, the hunters moved onward slowly and cautiously, filming and studying the area carefully.
Killing monsters was not the only responsibility of the investigation team. In fact, their mission was to search the ground floor of the tower and study the monsters and elements of danger within it. Analyzing their surroundings with an array of S-grade items, the hunters looked for hidden mechanisms and rooms meticulously.
The sounds of footsteps echoed throughout the silent tower. The surroundings grew darker, and there were fewer and fewer windows the further in they went. Although the hunters' eyesight was significantly above average, the dark hindered them from moving any faster. After a while, the fear and apprehension of the hunters started to fade.
"Seems like this is just the starting floor."
"It appears so. Maybe a waiting room of sorts?"
"I don't think we'll come across any monsters until we reach the second floor."
At his subordinates' comments, Mike nodded briefly and replied, "From the outside, only the first floor was lit. I suppose that's not a bad thing since our mission was to search the ground floor from the start. Nevertheless, focus, and keep your guards up."
"Sir!" the hunters replied, looking much more relieved and at ease, anxious to go home to a delicious meal and an ice-cold beer. Of course, being professionals, the hunters remained vigilant. Having witnessed the deaths of their comrades countless times, they were well aware that their lives could end the moment they let their guards down. Searching the area, the investigation team picked up the pace. At that moment, Mike and his men felt chills running down their backs, so they stopped in their tracks and prepared for combat. However, contrary to their instincts, there was nothing visible. While the hunters remained baffled, a series of footsteps came out of nowhere, so the hunters pointed their weapons toward the sound, swallowing nervously. After that, hearing what sounded like a gust of wind, the hunters realized that they had been tricked. When they looked up with widened eyes, they saw dozens of blades coming down at them.
"Move!" Mike shouted, and the hunters backed away in a hurry while surrounding themselves with protective shields. However, they simply weren't fast enough. With the blades piercing through their arms, thighs, and even their heads, the agonizing screams of those who lived through it filled the once-silent hall.
Remaining calm, Mike looked for the suspect. However, the situation at hand was simply too dire. Despite being only at the first floor of the dungeon, the trap had left an eighth of the team wounded and incapacitated. Looking at his men in a bloody mess, Mike clenched his teeth tightly, thinking, 'It would be selfish to pull my men out now.'
The best course of action was to find and eliminate the target, and leave the tower as soon as possible. With a plan established, there was only one thing left to do: attack. Then, as Mike's eyes gleamed with determination, something fell at the center of the circle of hunters with a thunderous roar, creating a cloud of dust. After the dust cloud dissipated, the mysterious figure revealed itself to the hunters. Standing about five-meters tall, which wasn't exactly the tallest for a monster, the creature appeared to be humanoid. However, the only thing it had in common with humans was that it had a pair of arms and legs. Its face and skin were far from those of humans. With horns jutting out of its hairless head, the monster's skin looked like its head was covered in scorching ashes. Its eyes were blood red, and its sharp teeth shone like swords. Looking down at the hunters, who were on the ground, wounded and helpless, the monster chuckled ominously, smoke rising from its body. At the intimidating sight of the monster, Mike felt as though his legs were giving out. Its presence itself was more than enough to sap every bit of will to fight out of everyone.
The hunters cried out, running away from the demon, limping, only to be torn to pieces and have their heads ripped away from their bodies by the demon, who killed them like a child killing an insect. Unable to run away or defend themselves in any way, the hunters met their unfortunate demises.
The tower posed challenges incomparable to any of the labyrinths the team had ever been in.
'If this is what the first floor is like, how much worse is this going to be the higher we go up?' Mike thought, staring helplessly at his men being torn to shreds. The hopelessness of the situation led him to believe that he needed to get out of the tower alive, even if it came at the cost of the lives of his entire team.
'I'm terribly sorry, men, but I have to get out of here alive. It's the only way your sacrifices will be meaningful. I have to inform the Great Lord of what we found here.'
The desperate cries for help mingled with the harrowing screams of the wounded and the dying. However, Mike gave his men the cold shoulder.
'I have to get out of here. Otherwise, our mission here will be in vain.'
Leaving behind the screams of his men, Mike ran frantically in search of the entrance. Unlike when him and his team were entering the tower, the entrance felt significantly farther away.
The only way to get out of the labyrinth was by clearing it. However, remembering that the system within the tower hadn't mentioned anything about how to leave it, a glimpse of hope sprouted within Mike. It was for that reason that Mike was attempting to escape the tower at the sacrifice of his team. Finally, upon reaching the entrance, Mike placed his foot on the magic circle. At which point, intense beams of light started emanating from it. However, when he looked back, he saw the demon wearing a ghastly grin. With that, Mike found himself getting surrounded by bright lights.
When he opened his eyes, he was in midair, falling into the water under the tower. The piercing coldness coiled around his body. Letting the wave carry him away, Mike stared blankly at the massive tower.