Chapter 9 - Labyrinth Libarintos (3)

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Woong!

The howling sound of the wind came from the labyrinth’s halls.

Puak!

“Ku…ack!”

A large ax lodged itself in Cheon Mun-guk’s head. It was a piece of metal 2 meters long… nothing was left of the head to check.

He died immediately.

‘It finally came out?’

Jin-hyuk looked over to the side.

“M-Monster! It’s larger than even a medium-sized one!”

“Damn it! At such a time?”

The rest reacted late but still managed to pull out crude-looking weapons. Those were cheap weapons they must have bought from the store with the first 100 coins they had received.

Of course.

Those weapons wouldn’t even leave a scratch on it.

Even among the relics, only a few considered to be Noble Phantasms would be able to pierce the monster’s skin.

Ba-dump! Ba-dump!

Yet even his heart was beating fast, and his nerves felt iffy.

At the same time…

Thud! Thud! Thud!

Something began to approach them from the end of the passage. It was coming at a fast pace.

“Goooooooo!”

A moment later, a 2-meter tall monster appeared.

It was a mythical being with the head of a cow and a human’s body.

Minotaur.

This beast was the only monster that roamed this labyrinth.

“W-woaaaah!”

“What is that!”

“How the hell can this labyrinth be cleared!? This is still the 1st floor!”

The situation plunged into chaos almost immediately.

Woong!

The Minotaur swung the massive ax in its hand.

Kwag!

Just one blow left a huge scar on the rocks and made the wall collapse, causing dust to rise.

If that ax grazed against the body, any normal human would end up as a rag.

But it was then…

Jin-hyuk ran to the front, right towards the Minotaur.

“Gooo!”

Did a little creature attacking with his bare hands offend it? The Minotaur swung its ax with both of its hands.

A direct attack to his head…

Jin-hyuk turned slightly to avoid it.

Kwaang!

The ground shattered as the ax made contact with it.

At that moment…

[The attack was evaded.]
[The stat 'Rift' has increased by 0.05.]

Two lines from the status window appeared in front of him.

‘Nice!’

Jin-hyuk smiled internally.

If you dodge the attack of the Minotaur, a hidden stat called ‘Rift’ will be acquired. However, the reward is limited only when you select the labyrinth as the first hunting ground in the tower.

‘Rift’

It was a stat that narrowed down the Rift in a battle between the strong and the weak. Any extreme difference in levels widened the Rift during a battle.

Tring!

[Details
When you fight an enemy stronger than yourself, the Rift closes the level gap by 1 for every 3 stat points.
When you fight an enemy weaker than yourself, the Rift closes the level gap by 1 for every 2 stat points.]

It was the only way to grow while maintaining a level 1 state.

This wasn’t the only method I discovered after countless trials and errors.

The beginning was only 0.05 points, but…

‘There is no need to rush.’

Because this was just the start. Jin-hyuk continued to avoid the ax.

Woong!

Kwang!

The ax was shredding the labyrinth’s walls with a terrifying roar.

The debris from the walls had scattered around. It was a dangerous fight where a small mistake could lead to death.

But Jin-hyuk didn’t even blink.

There would be no mistake.

‘Because I am skilled.’

‘Because I survived more dangerous situations than this.’

And…

Because he enjoyed the process.

Bang! Kwang! Bang!

The storm-like attack was being dodged with the margin of a single sheet of paper.

“S-such a monster.”

“Oh my….”

“W-we were trying to mess with such a guy?”

It was a familiar fight for Jin-hyuk, but the newbies were shocked at what they saw.

Of course, they couldn’t help but be shocked at this. His movements in front of the terrifying ax were absurd.

It resulted from learning things down to the bone through constant repetition. Therefore, it was closer to foresight rather than prediction.

‘Totally fucked up.’

Park Hana gulped.

How did she even think of killing such a person to try and steal their reward? That would be like pouring oil over her body and jumping right into the fire!

---

“Gooo!”

The minotaur, drenched from the fight, ran even more violently.

Kwang!

Kwang!

The ax kept passing by Jin-hyuk.

[Fatal attack was narrowly evaded!]
[The stat 'Rift' has increased by 1.]

Avoiding more dangerous attacks gave more stat gains. It meant that with high risk came high returns.

Jin-hyuk touched the drop of blood on the nape of his neck with his finger.

‘As expected, I need to do this to get maximum stats.’

He was deliberately avoiding it at extremely close distances.

Giving up a little bit of skin for a full stat point gain wasn’t a bad exchange.

He did it frequently, despite the danger, as the minutes passed.

“Phew. Huk.”

Jin-hyuk’s breathing turned raspy, and he could feel his stamina dropping.

Muscle fatigue was building up.

‘I need to finish the first fight soon.’

The time he could gain stats was still long. He planned to stay here for a month to earn 100 stat points before escaping this place.

Jin-hyuk glanced behind him.

While he was facing the minotaur, he saw those people trying to sneak away.

‘Look at them? Are the supporting actors trying to leave on their own terms?’

This could not be allowed.

I was the one who decided when, where and how they lived or died.

‘More than anything else, you don’t even know how to escape.’

Jin-hyuk secretly widened the distance between him and the minotaur and approached the party.

“If you want to get stat points, join me.”

“… Uh?”

Park Hana was shocked.

“If you dodge an attack, you can get a hidden stat. It is actually a lot easier than it looks. Give it a try.”

Usually, good things weren’t supposed to be shared, but it was an exception this time.

With a kind and good heart, there can be just one exception.

“…”

At those words, Park Hana’s face became terribly distorted.

It was like she was saying, ‘You idiot, from what direction does that look easy?’

“Ah. Don’t back out. Try it at least once. I won’t force you again if you don’t want to.”

Jin-hyuk smiled brightly.

At the same time, he pushed Do Kwang-woo, who was next to Park Hana, to the front.

“Uh… uhuh?”

Do Kwang-woo ended up taking the step forward without even realizing it. It was just a few steps.

But those felt like he was walking between life and death.

“Ahhhhh!”

He had to avoid it. But there was no one he could beg for his life to.

Slash!

Do Kwang-woo’s upper and lower body was split in half. Nothing was left in the Minotaur’s hand as it had become angry.

“Ouch!”

Jin-hyuk covered his mouth with his palm.

“No, how could he stand still like that? You should dodge or move far from him quickly.”

It was such a lovely scene to see.

How can you stand there looking blankly?

Do something.

Work harder.

Ah.

There’s… no next time.

---

The labyrinth had changed again.

Kukukuku!

The walls and ground moved again, and everyone had to move apart to avoid being crushed.

Thanks to this, they were able to get away from the Minotaur.

“Haa. Haa. Haa.”

“T-thank god.”

“I almost… died.”

Everyone was breathing heavily.

Although they had lost two of their party, no one felt sad. Instead, they were glad to be alive.

After all, their own life was more precious.

“Is it done? It won’t chase us down, right?”

Park Hana looked at the wall and trembled.

It looked like the minotaur would appear through the wall at any moment.

“It will keep chasing us.”

Jin-hyuk said this while fiddling with a dagger in his hand. It was the weapon that Do Kwang-woo used.

It was a keepsake now.

“W-why will it chase us? The path has changed!”

“Because of this.”

Jin-hyuk opened his palm, which was dyed blue.

The minotaur would continue to follow them since their skin was covered by luminous moth dust.

It would keep coming until they exited the labyrinth.

“No way… why the hell did you do that? why!?”

Why?

“Because I need to raise my stats. Only when the labyrinth changes do I have time to replenish my stamina and continue to play with that bull for the rest of the time.”

“How… long?”

“Until we get out of the labyrinth.”

“So. How long!?”

“Um. Around one month?”

To be precise, it was a month if he moved quickly. It could take two months if he took it slow.

He was going to do it quickly, but if she continued treating him like this, he decided to make it harsh for her.

“…”

Park Hana fell backward.

One month?

She wasn’t sure if she could survive for a day, let alone a month.

“We, we will move separately. The minotaur won’t come after us if we don’t move with you.”

This time, Lee Haemin spoke carefully.

“Sure.”

Jin-hyuk nodded.

‘Certainly, the first target is me, who has dust all over him.’

But you see.

“Which way will you take?”

You don’t even know the exit.

Will you just pray to escape this and walk whichever way you want to?

Hmm. That sounds like a bad plan.

“You mean you know the exit?”

“As I said, I know this labyrinth better than anyone. Of course, I know the way out.”

“You know. Then we too will… phew, come. There is no other way.”

“Well, it doesn’t matter if you come or not.”

Jin-hyuk mumbled, which made Lee Haemin ask anxiously.

“But…?”

Why do players do this?

“But it will not be for free.”

“Uh?”

“Where in the world is there a free ride till the end? At least if you cough out the coins you have, then maybe.”

Such simple words.

It meant he wanted everything they had to give them the easy way out.

---

[Coins: 500]

The coins he obtained at the start, in addition to the coins from the four people, came up to 500 coins.

It wasn’t enough to buy useful weapons or armor.

But it didn’t matter as he could purchase what he wanted.

“Don’t stand around like a statue. Everyone, please do what you are supposed to do. Pluck out the moss and make a bed. We also need firewood for the fire. You have a lot of work to do.”

“We know.”

“Can’t we leave?”

“Phew.”

A deep sigh.

They had come here thinking they had hit the jackpot but instead lost everything.

But did they know?

The fact that this would not change their fate?

When everyone was away, Jin-hyuk activated the exchange.

[Welcome to the Coin Exchange]

A huge window appeared with a short text. It was a place to buy and sell items.

A place of opportunity, filled with jewels, mud, and gold.

This was the ‘Coin Exchange’

Jin-hyuk glanced at it.

['Ancient Degosian's Tooth (SS)' 395,250,700 Coins]
['Suzaku's Feather (S)' 188,187,000 Coins]
['Sacred Relic Sword of King Dangun (S)' 159,155.300 coins]

From items that looked enchanting at just a sight.

['Worn Small Stone (F)' 1 Coin]

To trash items too. Every kind of item was in here.

But…

‘It’s no use looking at this even for a hundred days.’

He could buy what he wanted right now, so wasting time made no sense.

Without another thought, Jin-hyuk scrolled down the category that he needed.

Lower.

Even lower.

What he wanted was gathered there.

‘This… and this. And this too.’

Jin-hyuk quickly bought the items he wanted.

['Enchanted Tarot Cards (F)' – 70 Coins]
['Worn out Bronze Key (F)' – 80 Coins]
['Wooden Wagon Wheel Fragment (E)' - 300 Coins]
['Lottery Enhancement Scroll (F)' x 10 – 1 Coin per scroll]

Just four items.

They were all trash, but Jin-hyuk smiled happily.

Individual items weren’t important. What mattered was how the items were used.

“I will combine all three items.”

[If the combination is incorrect, all items will vanish]

“Yes, go ahead.”

Jin-hyuk nodded.

And…

[Combining the 3 items]
[Synthesis successful!]

As if to show success, a dazzling light shone from the menu.

Ba-dump! Ba-dump!

His heart began to beat quickly.

‘I did it.’

Looking at the item that appeared in front of him, he was convinced.

All the time he had spent playing [Tower of Trials] wasn’t a waste.

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