Chapter 1. Prologue
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Wouldn’t it mean the way to ascend to the sky?
The labyrinth that he entered this time was literally a perfect place for its name.
― It’s high.
“… … I know, right.”
A large mountain with no summit in sight. Clouds and fog made it seem like he could only see an inch ahead.
All he could see was the stone steps that one would see at the temples.
“Is this a trace of some civilization?”
― How would I know? Even if I did, you would know better.
However, Do-joon doesn’t know that much about the labyrinth either.
He has seen a lot of structures similar to a civilization somewhere.
The first labyrinth, the Catacombs, was a labyrinth building itself, and in the third, the collapsed temple, there were temples and walls built by Siewellin’s colleagues.
In the fourth, the Middle Orc Kingdom, the wooden barriers built by the Orcs and Kalish were found.
And the fifth labyrinth is right here.
A place where there is only one mountain and there are only stairs placed over it.
‘Aren’t there any monsters?’
Do-joon squinted and looked around. He even used the vision raising skill to look around, but there was no trace of life at all.
He can’t even hear the usual sounds of grasshoppers and cicadas. Along with the fog, the absence of any kind of sound gave him a strange feeling of silence.
― If we go up, we’ll be able to see something.
“I guess so?”
Do-joon nodded at Kalish’s advice.
Whenever he enters a new labyrinth, he always checks around and acts accordingly, but there was nothing more to look further here. All he could see was a staircase leading up.
Do-joon tapped the ground with his toe and prepared. And he began to climb the stairs.
Jumping over two or three steps at a time, the divine form of him quickly headed upwards.
The view passes by swiftly. However, nothing special was reflected in the passing view. Only the stairs were passing by endlessly.
It was when he climbed for about three minutes that he felt something strange. But for now, Do-joon kept teasing his feet. It was a strange feeling, but nothing particularly worth stopping yet.
After 5 more minutes, and after another 5 more minutes passed.
Do-joon stopped his foot.
“Whoo… … .”
Stopping in the middle of the stairs, he simply chose to breathe. It was not because of his lack of stamina, but to replenish his mana.
Perhaps because it was a mountain, the air was very clean. The clean mana in it began to fill Do-joon’s body.
Taking a deep breath like that, Do-jun finally talked about what he was bothered about.
“Here… … There’s really nothing here.”
― That’s what I’m saying.
Kalish also replied as if it was absurd.
Do-joon felt uncomfortable. The point was that the scenery did not change at all even though it had risen so much.
What has changed is that the ground on the starting line is now obscured by fog.
In other words, now Do-joon was stopped in the middle of the stairs covered with fog and clouds up and down.
“I’ve been running for over 10 minutes…….”
― Even if your steps are not refined, they will be much faster than those of ordinary people.
As he said, the speed of Do-joon going up the stairs was quite fast. It was natural that he ran with Mana generously on his legs.
He didn’t sprint at full speed because he didn’t know what would appear in the middle, but nevertheless like the wind… … It was still enough to be able to hear words.
“I’ve never been in such a labyrinth before. Until now, everyone had monsters, so I was slaying them.….”
― What kind of place did you say you had been to?
Do-joon briefly explained the labyrinths he had been through. Khalish made a ‘Ummm……’ as he listened.
― I’m sorry, but I don’t know either. It seems certain that this place is of a different kind.
He also did not have a clear answer.
What he expected was, of course, a new monster.
Monsters that had a much higher fit rate than orcs and dropped new items!
Didn’t he come into the labyrinth to catch them and keep growing?
But it’s making him climb up the stairs like some kind of sh!t training?
― You can’t do something like this.
At that moment, Kalish spoke out in a tone of insignificance. Do-joon looked at him with puzzled eyes.
― Why don’t you take this opportunity to learn the running style?
“the running style?”
― Originally, I was going to teach you a little later, but you’re progressing quite fast, so it doesn’t seem bad now.
The Running Style.
He has heard a bit about it from Kalish. The spear of the Storm God Nox, there is also something about running style.
If he learned it, he can run much faster than the automatons of his world.
― It’s not all about being fast. If you succeed, you will be able to even step into the skies.
“… … What?”
At Khalish’s words, Do-joon blinked and asked back. Does he mean walking on air?
“You mean I will be flying around? Bare, without equipment?”
― It’s far from flying. That’s only what the wizards do……. It is a much more helpful technique than such simple magic.
Kalish talks cheerfully.
Do-joon remembered the scene where he was smiling slyly. A picture of a large, muscular grandfather with a smirk on his face.
“… … I don’t think that’s a ‘running style’ anymore?”
Looking at him giggling, Do-joon spoke as if he was dumbfounded.
* * *
Wind blew from his toes.
Using that power as a driving force, Do-joon’s body soared up and jumped several steps up the stairs.
― A lot of waste. Compress it a bit more. As if you’re collecting mana into one point!
Kalish’s remarks continued to ring in his ears.
Taking into account each of those comments, Do-joon adjusted his magic power. As he said, in order to compress the mana smaller and more densely.
But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
If he slips even a little, the wind immediately escapes and the power is lost. The mana that has been painstakingly compressed is lost and scattered like a balloon with a hole in it.
The problem wasn’t just that.
― The beat is off. Tong, Todong, Tong. It means stepping on this feeling! Running style isn’t for use in battle now. Following the most efficient standard over application comes first!
Do-joon tried to take a step in the same beat as Kalish had said.
The first few times were fine. He was able to get it right like that. However, as he continued, he would go out of the way.
He doesn’t know how many times this has happened. Kalish stared at Do-joon and suddenly spoke up.
― I mean… … . Did you ever learn to play an instrument well when you were young?
Do-joon didn’t answer. His steps slowly slowed down and soon stopped in the middle of the stairs.
He sighed softly and nodded his head.
“Actually… Music has been a gem from a long time ago.”
No matter what the explanation is, the actual performance is almost the lowest. What was particularly bad was the sense of rhythm that Kalish emphasises now.
“Once, the whole class sang a choir show… … .”
― Is it?
Do-joon spoke slightly while avoiding his eyes from the spear.
“That morning, I was told by my teacher that it’s okay not to sing, so I had to lip sync.”
― Lip sync?
Because of the unfamiliar word lip sync, Kalish couldn’t understand it at once. When Do-joon explained what he meant, he let out a sigh.
― There was a teacher like that? That’s a bad guy!
Do-joon was thankful to his teacher for saying that, but what he is trying to say now is not about the teacher at that time. It was about his sense of beat.
“It must have been that messed up.”
― That’s what I’m saying.….
Kalish seems to be worryingly thinking.
Do-joon’s eyes gleamed slightly with anticipation. If so, wouldn’t he come up with a solution?
― Well, don’t worry. I have an amazing way.
“Amazing way? What’s that?”
Kalish replied as if it was really a good way.
― It’s simple. You’ll do it until you get it.
“… … What?”
― Practice with the determination that the soles of your feet are going to be smashed. Take another step while you think you’re really going to die if this doesn’t happen. Originally, weaknesses are overcome in this way. Just in time…
Kalish continued to talk.
― Aren’t we at the perfect place to practice?
At his words, Do-joon raised his head and looked up. The sky, where only clouds, mountains, and stairs are visible.
There is nothing here. Anything that could distract his nerves and disturb his concentration.
A space where you can focus on yourself. That’s why it’s a perfect place for training.
Do-joon answered with a firm expression on his face. And he started moving his feet again.
Once again, mana wraps around his legs and his feet. Wind gathered at the tip of his feet and he felt it was compressing into smaller points.
It explodes. This divine form of him soared up the stairs.
He was still inexperienced. It is said that it is normal if all the mana is compressed into one point and there is no sound at all like a stray cat.
However, Do-joon’s wind couldn’t clump together properly, scattered around, and the sound was loud for no reason, and the mana was leaking.
Nevertheless, Do-joon’s expression did not subside at all.
Now in his head, good or bad didn’t matter at all. Just one thing.
That he can become a little more proficient than he was before.
In this place, where there was no disturbance, he moved his feet, focusing solely on himself.
How long has it been?
By the time the mana was almost exhausted and his breath began to smell stuffy despite his steel-like stamina.
He reached the end of the stairs, no, halfway.
It was the place where there were stone statues holding huge swords on both sides.
* * *
“It is said that a large expedition has already been set up on the Chinese side. They said that the government stepped in and gathered quickly. It is said that the formation of the American side will be finished soon.”
“We can’t just stay like this, right? How long are we going to waste our time like this?”
At the loud voice from one side, the president of the association pointed to his forehead, which was throbbing. He talked while looking at the guild leader of Light One, who had just spoken.
“It’s a completely unknown land. Moreover, there may be a strong opponent like the elves of that time. For safety’s sake, isn’t it one of the ways to wait until they get the results?”
“If we do that, we’ll be late! Besides, do you think they’ll release the information?”
“Still, the fact that the expedition team has returned can infer some degree of risk.”
“That’s too passive.”
The guild leader shook his head as if to dismiss without hearing anything.
Yeah, there’s no way it will work.
Son Chang-il sighed and nodded. It’s not something he came up with thinking that it would work too.
‘When the roots first appeared…… So many people went in without knowing and died.’
There were a lot of people who died because of the monster that came out of the root, but there were as many people who went inside and died.
At least the outside of the root was guarded by modern weapons and military systems, but there was no such thing inside.
But not everyone who entered died. There were also those who returned with results.
They are the first generation hunters, the established forces represented by today’s four major guilds.
‘The dead…… In the end, only numbers were left. But those who survived became great powers.’
That was the reason why Light One and other guilds wanted to enter the stem quickly.
They don’t know how many died at the root. Even if someone knew the numbers on the paper, he couldn’t feel it with his skin.
On the other hand, guilds other than the four major guilds simply like beasts next to them.
For guilds who always have lived in the wind of their noses, it was understood that they had a greater desire for power to gain there than the unknown danger within the stem.
Contrary to such people, the spokespersons from the four major guilds remain silent.
They are those who are already in power. It wouldn’t be what they want to turn the table around with this opportunity.
However, the president of the association knew. Even if they are taking a wait-and-see stance right now, they will eventually participate in the exploration as well. To maintain their current position.
“If an expedition team is formed, our guild leader says he will volunteer himself.”
Mir’s guild member said. Originally, they would have thought that he was making this public and planning something that they didn’t eat back.
In fact, people from other guilds are sending their eyes to check.
However, the merit of Shin Yu-seong, the Guild leader of the Mir guild, participating in the expedition is too great to oppose.
Son Chang-il thought a little differently.
‘The Mir guild leader has become a human being.’
He learned a little more about him after the last Hwaseong incident.
It would be a lie to say that he has no intentions at all, but at least he will do his best for his duty as a healer.
That alone could be trusted.
“As expected, the issue is too big to be entrusted to only one guild. Let’s unite and…….”
“But if all the guilds want to participate, wouldn’t it only increase in size needlessly? It’s a problem as if there are more people holding back. Even a small number should be filled with people who can definitely do their part… … .”
“On what basis are you going to choose it? Are you thinking of having an interview somewhere? If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be too late?”
In the midst of a wasteful and exhausting debate, one person quietly spoke.
“President of the Association, I heard that you personally applied for a special promotion of a person directly.”
The low yet charismatic voice made people around naturally focus on his words.
The president of the association made a displeased expression. It’s not really a secret, but he didn’t reveal it here and there either.
Where did he pick it up from….
“That’s right, but isn’t it a story that has nothing to do with the agenda?”
“I heard that person was the one who killed the elf who appeared in Seoul. There seems to be a lot of relationships.”
It was Oh Tae-jin, the guild leader of Karma, who spoke these words.