#21. The King of Festivals
[Your special ability, ‘Stealth’, has been activated.]
Finally, Kim Jin-Woo had a rare break in the midst of the endless battle. A message appeared suggesting that his long-awaited stealth ability had been activated. He blended into the darkness, and Angela followed suit.
“You’re visible,” Angela said.
Kim Jin-Woo smiled bitterly and replied, “Can’t help it. I can’t leave him here.”
Although Uther had gobbled up the corpses of the creatures, he still couldn’t prevent his power from being drained. It was probably because he had strayed from the Labyrinth of Greed for too long.
Thus, Uther turned half-transparent and clung onto Kim Jin-Woo, which caused his stealth to malfunction. A slight delay persisted whenever Kim Jin-Woo moved swiftly with Uther wrapped around him like armor, as they couldn’t sync with the surroundings in time.
“I’m sorry,” Uther said.
“I’ll send you back if you cause trouble again,” Kim Jin-Woo replied.
“It’s not too late for that…” Uther began.
“Shush. Let’s move.” Kim Jin-Woo cut Uther off and began to move. He could move freely without restrictions when the stealth ability was active, compared to the camouflage ability, which required him to move slowly. Kim Jin-Woo could thus advance extremely quickly as if he were flying.
He occasionally encountered creatures that were fighting viciously to kill each other, but none of them noticed the small distortion in the air. How could they tend to other affairs when they were brutally biting and ripping each other apart? They paid no attention to Kim Jin-Woo and his team even as they passed by.
Indeed, it did appear as though all hell had broken loose on the entire seventh floor.
<Let’s go. We have some distance to cover, so we gotta hurry up,> Kim Jin-Woo urged as he stared at the point on the map that had refused to move for some time now.
Traveling with a map was more convenient than Kim Jin-Woo had thought. Although the map was torn and disjointed in the middle, he had no problem identifying the correct route.
Kim Jin-Woo could thus cross the uncharted region, which was shown as a dark patch on the map, and reach the spot where Yoon-Hee had started charting new ground out of the blue. All of this happened within two days of losing her.
<Master, it’s a dungeon emblem,> Angela said.
<I saw it too,> Kim Jin-Woo replied.
There was a familiar yet foreign dungeon emblem engraved into the wall, in stark contrast against the crude underground tunnel they had been traveling through.
Kim Jin-Woo’s expectation was spot-on; Yoon-Hee, lured by this mysterious labyrinth, would have fallen into this place having been transported through space.
<What is that emblem?> Angela asked.
<It looks like a pierrot’s mask,> Kim Jin-Woo answered. He had no clue as to whether there was actually such a thing as a pierrot in the underground world, but he couldn’t think of anything else.
<Hmm, it looks rather fishy.>
<We still have to go in.>
Finding Yoon-Hee was one thing, but the main subject of interest that had led him to proceed with this underground expedition was definitely inside that place.
The team, which had stopped right in front of the dungeon emblem, began to move again.
There was nothing special about the labyrinth, as it had yet to be activated. Only the well-polished floor and the smooth walls suggested that this place was indeed a labyrinth.
Kim Jin-Woo warned the team nonetheless, “Be careful.”
This place was different from an abandoned labyrinth. In fact, this labyrinth was still alive. If the labyrinth had indeed chosen Yoon-Hee as its master, Kim Jin-Woo and his teammates were uninvited guests. As such, anything could happen at any time.
They carefully moved forward and found a spacious vacant area at the end of the short passageway. In its center lay a large wooden box and a skeleton, both of which seemed absolutely out of place.
The old wooden box appeared as if it were going to crumble into pieces the moment Kim Jin-Woo laid his hands on it. The skeleton, on the other hand, was hugging it as if it were a valuable treasure. Kim Jin-Woo and his team came to a halt as they stared at this strange scene.
<What is this?> Angela asked.
<Beats me…> Kim Jin-Woo was just as clueless as she was.
“Should I take a look?” Uther whispered, seeming to have guessed what they were talking about through telepathy. He detached himself from Kim Jin-Woo’s body.
Lying splattered on the floor, Uther was now as small as a kid. He scooped out a lump of slime the size of his fist and threw it at the box.
<Hmm. It’s a useful ability without a doubt, but it’s hard to get used to it,> Angela mused.
Kim Jin-Woo nodded unconsciously when he received Angela’s telepathy. Watching the lump of slime wriggle across the floor was rather disturbing.
“Well then, I shall open it.” Since the object was in the form of a box, Uther naturally tried to open it.
“Wait! Stop!” The lump of slime was just about to touch the box when Kim Jin-Woo stopped Uther. “I think we shouldn’t open it. There’s no reason to stir unnecessary trouble. Just ignore that box.”
“Ah…” Uther softly groaned upon realizing that they had all been carried along by the strange atmosphere. They had unconsciously decided to open the box, forgetting that they were in the insidious underground world.
“Something’s not right.” Kim Jin-Woo was also perfectly aware of the change in his team’s attitude.
“But I think we should still open it…” Uther sounded reluctant to give up.
Angela suddenly appeared and said, “Maybe there’s a hidden treasure in the labyrinth.” That was rather optimistic coming from Angela, who usually only stated cold hard facts despite her smiling face. In fact, it was out of the ordinary for her to show herself without Kim Jin-Woo’s orders.
“You think so too? I believe there’s a treasure as well!” Uther exclaimed arrogantly. He sounded strangely excited. On a second look, Kim Jin-Woo noticed a warm blush on Angela’s cheeks as well, suggesting that she was also somewhat excited.
At that moment, Kim Jin-Woo could hear a sound echoing in regular intervals. He frowned and glanced around, only to realize that the sound was coming from the tips of his feet. He froze upon discovering his feet tapping the floor rhythmically, as though they had a will of their own.
Furthermore, a hum could be heard from somewhere. Kim Jin-Woo turned around to find Angela humming softly. Strangely, her tune was in sync with the tapping of his feet, as if they had been coordinated from the start.
“Hmm, I think we should open it…” Uther said as he wriggled and danced.
This was getting dangerous. Kim Jin-Woo’s whole body stiffened with tension when he witnessed the strangely coordinated actions of his teammates. Words of caution echoed in his mind.
“Get away from the box!” he shouted desperately, while Angela and Uther gave him a puzzled look. “Something’s strange! Move away!”
Since Kim Jin-Woo was also starting to hear a jolly tune in his head, his voice became as sharp as the tip of a broken knife. However, his teammates continued to stare vacantly at him before repeating what they had been doing.
Uther and Angela were already close to the box. Kim Jin-Woo, unable to stand it anymore, stepped forward and grabbed Uther and Angela. He then flung them far away from the box. Due to the urgency of the situation, he wasn’t able to control his strength. Uther smashed into the wall like a pancake before he slowly slid down.
“Hmm?” Evidently in a daze due to the impact of the collision, Uther glanced back and forth between Kim Jin-Woo and the box, then simmered and lowered his posture. Only now did he sense the danger.
Angela had also been thrown into the passage outside the vacant lot. She returned with a stern expression.
[You have successfully overcome the fatal trap of delusion.]
[Your team has been completely freed from the effect of the awful curse: ‘The Endless Festival’, cast by the king of festivals.]
[The effect of the delusion has faded.]
[The system admires your keen judgment, which empowered you to overcome the insidious curse that even the parasite failed to detect.]
[Your charisma has increased by a very small amount.]
The moment the message indicating that he had successfully overcome the trap appeared, Kim Jin-Woo realized that the torturous song was coming from the mysterious box.
Since they had escaped the effect of the delusion, the tune from the box no longer sounded merry and delightful. In fact, it was a dull noise of something hard knocking against a hard surface. The eerie sound sent shivers down their spines.
“Be careful—” Before Kim Jin-Woo could finish giving a word of caution after getting the team together, the song from the box suddenly stopped. A series of messages then appeared.
[The king of festivals does not want an uninvited guest to ruin his party.]
[A ‘gatekeeper’ has appeared to personally chase out the unwelcome visitor who managed to overcome the trap.]
As soon as the message ended, the skeleton hugging the box suddenly stood up.
The skeleton let out a cry as all its joints began to clash and crack. It appeared as if it had returned from its grave, and the scene was horrific enough for the weak-hearted to faint.
However, none of the people here feared a corpse.
[The battle has begun.]
Before the message announcing the start of the battle could even end, Angela appeared behind the skeleton with the tips of her hands curled up like hooks. She then proceeded to smack the skeleton’s neck bone.
The moment her savage blow landed on the skeleton’s neck bone, it instantly smashed into pieces. The detached skull flew and rolled onto the floor, and Uther spread his body thin and wide to consume it.
The battle was over before Kim Jin-Woo could even step forward. Angela treaded on the collapsed skeleton on the floor before putting on a look of satisfaction.
“To think I fell for such a cheap trick…”
Angela, who used to live on one of the deep floors, seemed upset to have fallen for a trap set by a labyrinth on the seventh floor. The same could be said for Uther, who wriggled and swallowed all the remaining bones on the floor.
“I don’t know who this labyrinth master is, but I can already tell that he’s nasty,” Uther said. He was the one who looked nasty with all the bones being digested in his transparent body, but nobody bothered to point that out.
“Let’s go. We’ve wasted too much time.” Kim Jin-Woo sighed and headed towards the deeper parts of the labyrinth.
The team faced several traps afterward, but none of them were effective, as everyone had learned to be alert after that incident.
They realized that the traps in the labyrinth were manageable as long as they kept their guard up. Almost all the traps involved delusion, seduction, and chaos, as if this labyrinth were specialized in those things.
At the last stage, Kim Jin-Woo had to combat dozens of creatures that charged at him while under the influence of the labyrinth, but the team arrived at the destination unscathed regardless.
“I can sense Yoon-Hee now. How did you know she was here?” Angela asked curiously, but Kim Jin-Woo didn’t reply. He clenched his fist tightly and flung it outward.
With a tremendous sound and a thick cloud of dust, the old stone gate they had arrived at came crumbling down. Kim Jin-Woo could see Yoon-Hee through the crevice; she got herself up after squatting on the floor absentmindedly. Behind her was a large stone table with a pierrot’s mask engraved on it.
[The parasite’s special ability, ‘Detection’, has been activated.]
Kim Jin-Woo’s world turned black and white when he read the message.
[You have found a Labyrinth Core that has yet to find a master and be activated.]Previous Chapter Next Chapter