The 31st Piece Turns the Tables
[Translator – goguma]
[Proofreader – Karane]
Seol’s eyes immediately grew cold.
“Do you know me?”
Changsik immediately turned to his side to look at the person who had run all the way into the alley with him.
“I knew it! You guys did it properly!”
"I told you, hyung! You know I've been keeping watch at the northern gate! He just happened to come in at the perfect timing, so I came running to you!"
“Good job, great work!”
Seol didn’t understand what they were talking about.
“Like I said, do you know me?”
“Ah, I apologize. I shouldn’t have done this in front of a guest… By the way, haven’t you visited Audenin before?”
“Haah… So you really are the person that we lost last time. We have been waiting for you since then.”
There was only one thing in Seol’s head right now.
‘They were waiting for me? Why?’
Seol refused to get himself involved in something like friction or fights between guilds.
Obviously, he would refuse requests that were even more trivial than that.
“Why were you waiting for me…”
“I will explain it to you slowly. However, you seem to have yet to find a place to stay. We have already prepared a room for you, why don’t you stay there? It should be much more comfortable than wherever you’d stay.”
“Y-You’ve prepared a room for me? As in a room to stay and sleep in?”
Seol’s image of Changsik shifted from just a very detailed person to someone so intricate it was almost revolting.
“Yes. It’s been vacant for a while, but we’ve been keeping it maintained since we didn’t know when you’d drop by. Why don’t we head there first?”
This was clearly a request one should refuse. How could anyone sleep comfortably in a room a stranger prepared for you? Especially when you don’t know anything about their motives?
“You don’t need to worry about anything. In fact, we’re the ones who’d face a greater loss if anything upsets you. We’ve been desperately wanting to meet you.”
“For now, I understand.”
“Thank you. Jongseo, go to the room first with the others and make sure it has been properly maintained.”
“Got it, hyung.”
“Yeah, good work.”
After the rest of the transferees left, it was only Seol and Changsik.
“Ah, is that woman…”
“We’ve prepared multiple rooms so there is no need to worry.”
Even though there wasn’t a problem at all since Karen was a shadow, Changsik had a satisfied look on his face as if he had done something for Seol.
“Aren’t you cold?”
Changsik’s clothes were way too light for the current temperature. Changsik nodded multiple times at Seol’s question.
“Yes, extremely cold. So let’s get going, the night air is way too cold.”
Seol instinctively knew Changsik had a reason for staying behind.
Because if the purpose was simply to guide him to the room, he could have asked someone else to do it.
If he was doing something so troublesome himself, there had to also be a suitable reason.
“Was there something you wanted to tell me?”
“Yes, there is. I need to do something about the guard you put against me for now. I think going there should be more than enough time to—”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“Haha, if it isn’t, then it isn’t.”
Changsik was more broad-minded than Seol had initially thought.
Changsik warmed his hands as he walked, blowing air into them.
“To get to the point, I need your help.”
“I despise getting involved in anything annoying.”
“You won’t have to worry about that. You won’t think of it as annoying at all.”
“What is it then?”
“A while ago, even before you first arrived here, I found a certain item. The reason I’ve been waiting for you is because of that item.”
Seol felt something sinister from Changsik’s words.
It wasn’t Changsik himself, but the item he was talking about.
Changsik grabbed something out of his inventory and showed it to Seol. It was a small stone with a strange pattern inscribed onto it.
Information about the stone popped up shortly after.
[[Qualification Token (Penance)]
Recommended Level: N/A
A token required to enter the Labyrinth of Penance.
One token allows the entry of five people.
Bonus Effect: You enter the Labyrinth of Penance.]
* * *
Translator - goguma
Proofreader - Karane
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* * *
Seol had thought the stone looked familiar.
Especially the pattern inscribed on it.
‘It’s a labyrinth token!’
It was a type of ruins that existed all over Pandea.
There were several reasons why labyrinths and ruins were separated, but if one had to pick the main reason, it would be their survival rate.
Labyrinths, like their names suggested, were much more difficult to escape than ordinary ruins.
Even though the monsters and traps inside the labyrinths were problems already, the most terrible thing about them was their intent to kill.
‘Labyrinths want blood from their intruders.’
It felt like the labyrinths themselves had a will.
If exploring ruins was like entering a whale’s carcass, exploring a labyrinth would be like entering a live whale.
Despite all of that, adventurers and mercenaries rushed in whenever they heard news about a labyrinth.
Because they were filled with mountains of treasure.
Unlike the normal rewards and treasures you could acquire from ruins, the rewards from labyrinths were special.
It was like a venus flytrap. The sweet scent of treasure sucked people in like flies.
However, even if people did discover a labyrinth, not everyone was allowed inside.
It was because of the minimum requirement to enter one. A qualification token.
And those tokens could only be acquired by defeating a powerful monster near the labyrinth.
In other words, the token proved that the individual had the minimum qualifications to enter the labyrinth.
‘Does the fact he acquired this… mean that they also discovered a labyrinth?’
Seol had explored all of the labyrinths throughout Pandea. It was to the point that he could safely claim he had already cleared the majority of them.
These labyrinths moved to a different area once a person cleared it.
For example, a labyrinth cleared in the south could be faced again in the northern parts of Pandea.
Obviously, though, the chances of that were low.
“Have you discovered a labyrinth then?”
“I did. Like the name on the token says, it’s the Labyrinth of Penance.”
Seol asked Changsik, who seemed very calm.
“I don’t understand. Why are you sharing this with me, an outsider?”
“Haha… what do you mean by ‘outsider’? Don’t create such a big gap between us. You were no longer an outsider the moment I told you about the labyrinth.”
Changsik scratched his head and laughed awkwardly.
Though his response was witty, Seol’s expression was still cold.
“...So you’ve already entered it once.”
“Sigh… You’re way too fast… Do you already know a lot about labyrinths?”
“It’s hard for me to say I don’t.”
“I see. Well, it does make sense, though, considering you have nearly triple my points. Maybe we can have a chat one day about your know-how…”
“More importantly, let’s talk about the labyrinth.”
“Right, labyrinth first. So… Um… Private? What should I call you?”
“Snowman, I see. That’s fantastic, and your point total is so crazy…”
Changsik gripped the token tighter.
“In truth, we didn’t have just one token.”
He put up his hand.
He then showed three fingers.
“We had three.”
“So if you only have one left, that means…”
“Once again, you are correct. We’ve already entered the labyrinth twice. I went personally on one of them too.”
Seol suddenly began remembering his past, like images flashing through his head, after he understood Changsik’s situation.
He had memories come up from time to time like this before. It was because he hadn’t regained all of his memories yet.
‘The Labyrinth of Penance, huh… So it was probably that.’
The Labyrinth of Penance proceeded in a particularly special way.
Even though Seol knew about it, he first listened to what Changsik had to say.
“The Labyrinth of Penance works in a pretty special way.”
“What do you mean?”
“First, as you saw on the item, five people are permitted into the labyrinth. No more, no less.”
This was something most people who experienced the labyrinth already knew.
Changsik was now ready to tell Seol a characteristic unique to the Labyrinth of Penance.
“First, when you enter the labyrinth, you are sent to a dark area. Your vision is greatly reduced, to the point where you can barely see the tips of your feet.”
And then there should be a door.
“There are doors there. Five in total.”
But one of them is different.
“However, the doors aren’t all the same. While most of them look normal, one of the doors has a strange, eerie pattern. Almost like… it’s a devil’s door.”
Everything up to this point was the same.
The question now is whether the rest is also the same or not.
“As the name Labyrinth of Penance suggests, each of the different doors makes you experience a different type of pain. The door I entered… made me walk through a completely dark space.”
Seol knew about that too.
It was a room that dulled your sense of time as well as your other senses. It made it so you couldn’t even know where you were going.
“Regardless, what’s important isn’t the door that I experienced. It’s the door that was locked until the end.”
“How did you open that door?”
"When the four of us entered through our respective doors, we heard the sound of the final door unlocking. It's likely our fifth member entered through that door."
“And after a while, our party was able to escape the labyrinth.”
Seol also knew the reason for that very, very well.
“It was because… the person who entered the last room died.”
“That was what I learned the first time I entered. There was also an instance after that.”
“If you’ve only entered it once, though… did you not go the second time?”
"Even though we concluded that the labyrinth was difficult to clear, others didn't share the same opinion. We had some conflicts because of that."
“With the guilds?”
"You're near the mark. Audenin has five major guilds led by the transferees of the city. They argued that the failure was on my part, not the transferees as a whole."
“They didn’t enter the Labyrinth of Penance themselves, after all.”
Seol became curious about what happened next.
He did have a good idea, though.
“To get to the point, we learned something after the second attempt.”
“What did you learn?”
"The labyrinth incessantly taints the person's mind. After a while, it becomes represented by a number. This was something we didn't learn on our first attempt."
“What happens when that number fills up?”
“We don’t know. The person who entered the final door died before it reached that point.”
"However, the person who entered the final door lasted quite a while. They were, after all, an elite in the guild alliance."
“So what did you learn from that?”
“The final door was the key. The person in the final door must have done something too because a person in the other doors felt relieved from their pain.”
Seol organized Changsik’s points.
“Essentially, the person going through the final door holds their party member’s lives in their hand.”
“There are multiple ways to fail. The party members could all die due to their inability to withstand the pain, or their minds could be tainted to the point of no return. However, there is only one way to succeed.”
Changsik looked at Seol.
“It’s for the final person to clear through their door. That’s the only way.”
“That’s really valuable information. Now, tell me what you want from me.”
Changsik bowed his head and spoke in a serious tone.
“Please be the person to go through the final door so that we may clear the labyrinth.”
“So you want me to take on all the risk, huh?”
"I plan on entering the labyrinth myself too, this time. However, I didn't consider myself suitable for the role of the person entering the final door. I may be a bit ahead of the others, but not to the extent where I could allow four people to bet their lives on me."
Changsik’s eyes were fiery, burning with passion.
“Aren’t you scared of dying?”
“Of course I am. In fact, though this is embarrassing to say, I vowed to myself that I would never enter it again after escaping it the first time. I was terrified of it.”
Changsik must have sensed the labyrinth’s bloodlust.
‘It’s normal to be scared of it.’
Seol knew a lot about the Labyrinth of Penance.
Two of his pieces, rather, two people, have already visited it.
The first of them had been swallowed by the labyrinth.
Seol wasn’t sure whether they were alive or dead, either. The labyrinth had tainted their mind, and he lost control of them.
“But what scares me more is that I’d crumble, submitting to the labyrinth. I am not someone who should fall here. I can do so much more, so many more things. This labyrinth will just be the start of that.”
“And to do that, you need my help.”
"I've met countless transferees, but you, Snowman, you have an overwhelming amount of Adventure Points, way beyond anything I've ever seen. And because of that, I thought you were someone I could risk my life on. I believe that even if a person can lie, the numbers don't. Rather than some shallow, superficial trust, I'd rather believe in an overwhelming number. It's embarrassing, but if you could please..."
Seol spoke once more.
“We can discuss the details tomorrow. It seems like we’ve arrived at the lodging.”
Seol’s piece had cleared the Labyrinth of Penance before.
They were also one of Seol’s strongest pieces, the Blood Saint.
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