Kim Jin-Woo didn’t answer. However, Lee Jun-Young nodded as if she could understand his silence, saying with a resigned expression, “Guess I’m staying here for the rest of my life, huh.”
Even while looking at her face, Kim Jin-Woo didn’t offer any words of consolation.
Although it had started out as an attempt to save her from her addiction to down gems, ultimately it was Kim Jin-Woo himself who had thrown her into the Underworld and locked her up for his own solace, so there was no consolation he could give. It was all mere hypocrisy and lies. Thus, he chose silence instead of offering false consolation.
But contrary to his expectations, Lee Jun-Young looked rather calm, saying, “Well, I expected that.” In fact, she urged him to give her something to do. “What’s with that expression? Did you think I’d be stuck in that shithole of a room as I spent my life resenting you, Jin-Woo?”
Kim Jin-Woo hadn’t thought that far, but seeing as she had already been disabled once due to her addiction, he had never thought she would react this way.
“Sure, I’ve absolutely acted like a retard, but hey, I’m still Lee Jun-Young. Lee Jun-Young. Without you, Jin-Woo, I would still be wandering the Underworld like a wild dog, looking for the faintest trace of down gems to lick up. You saved a pathetic life like mine, and yet you thought I’d resent you without knowing how thankful I truly am?” Lee Jun-Young asked.
Of course, anything was better than her falling back into her addiction, but her current state wasn’t entirely ordinary either. Kim Jin-Woo even wondered whether she was still suffering from the trauma of such a big shock.
Life in the Underworld was a bleak one, filled only with struggle. She was the one who couldn’t see the big picture. However, Kim Jin-Woo had no intention of persuading her of the truth, and of how miserable her reality truly was. Whether she accepted reality or not, he didn’t want to confuse her when she had just barely regained her mind.
“I don’t resent you, Jin-Woo,” Lee Jun-Young reiterated. She wasn’t lying. Even inspecting her with the Eyes of Truth revealed that she had zero resentment. Rather, she seemed to be very much conscious of her own ambiguous position and her own struggles.
“Well, then you can take your time to slowly think of what you can do around here. What’s important now is for you to recover,” Kim Jin-Woo replied.
The down gem supply had nearly been exhausted, but thankfully, she wasn’t an Underworld being. With just regular meals, she would be able to recover her strength in due time.
“I’ll be off then,” Lee Jun-Young said.
“Rest well,” Kim Jin-Woo answered.
Lee Jun-Young was just about to leave the master room when she stopped, as though she had just remembered something. She asked, “Shall I call you ‘Master’ the next time we meet?”
Kim Jin-Woo was left dumbfounded at the unexpected question.
The matter with Lee Jun-Young was resolved smoothly. Fortunately, thanks to her former colleague that had ruled the Labyrinth of Black Tigers, she had little opposition to her stay in the labyrinth.
The only problem was the ambiguity of where she belonged, as she didn’t really belong to the labyrinth and yet, at the same time, she did. But she seemed to understand her position as well, and Kim Jin-Woo only hoped that the issue would be resolved with time.
The Grand Labyrinth had locked itself up as repair work began, but many had free access in and out of the Grand Labyrinth, including Rikshasha and the Under-Elf Rangers. They constantly crossed its borders as they continued to complete the map of its expanded boundaries.
Kim Jin-Woo hadn’t forgotten. beyond the Grand Labyrinth’s borders. Some of the Rangers went on a long-distance search mission to inspect the other floors. In the process, the news came that the Party Hall, which he had put a lot of effort into, had completely been decimated.
“Based on the signs of a fierce battle, something definitely happened there,” Rikshasha reported.
Kim Jin-Woo frowned. The relocation of the Party Hall to the 9th Floor had been so close. But with the sudden evolution of his labyrinth into the Grand Labyrinth, the entire 9th Floor had suddenly become out of bounds, and that plan went awry.
The Party Hall had already had a hard time fending off the Moai, so there was a possibility that something had happened during its time in isolation.
“But seeing that the Labyrinth Core is completely gone, we can’t rule out the possibility that they were able to escape and are safe somewhere,” Rikshasha continued.
“Besides, if the Moai had invaded, they would have turned the place upside down and made a real mess,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked.
According to the Rangers’ report, the Party Hall’s master room had been well preserved despite the fierce battle. If it had indeed been destroyed by the Moai, there should have been traces of the destroyed Labyrinth Core.
“The question now is whether she’ll come back to me… That’s the problem,” Kim Jin-Woo added.
Now that it was revealed that Ariane, the Queen of Illusions, had approached him at the behest of Denarion, Yoon-Hee couldn’t be completely trusted either. No, it was more plausible that she too had acted according to Denarion’s plan.
“Give me a command and I’ll follow her trail,” Rikshasha said.
“If you can do so, then do it. But we’re rather short-handed, so don’t risk yourself too much,” Kim Jin-Woo ordered.
Rikshasha bowed her head and left the master room.
“Mm… but I feel as if I’m forgetting something.” Kim Jin-Woo sat on his throne as he looked in the direction where Rikshasha had disappeared, frowning as if he had forgotten something important. But no matter how much he thought, he couldn’t figure out the reason, and the wrinkles on his frowning face deepened.
“Ah! Uther!” Only after a long time did he finally identify the source of his discomfort. He quickly summoned some of the Under-Elves and ordered them to patrol the perimeter of the labyrinth, commanding, “Let no one else into the labyrinth except Uther.”
The Under-Elves bowed and melted away into the darkness.
At the same time, while Kim Jin-Woo was lost in thought, a fierce battle was taking place in the vicinity of the Grand Labyrinth.
“You bastards! Stop coming at me!” Uther was shouting expletives, faced with the terrifying sight of hundreds of Moai surrounding and rushing toward him across a wide open plain. He had guessed the cause of the incident much earlier than anyone else and left his labyrinth, and had somehow arrived near the Grand Labyrinth.
“Stop moping around, come on! Hurry up!” Uther called. Normally, he would have easily passed through the group of Moai with his unique ability to blend into his surroundings, but now that his labyrinth was destroyed, he had brought all his Greed Slimes with him, so it wasn’t such an easy task.
“Oh no! My poor babies!” Uther kept running his mouth. As he watched the Greed Slimes that he had worked so hard to collect and cultivate over the years being crushed and dismantled by the Moai, all he could do was scream over and over again.
“I was crazy. What glory!?” Uther’s regret-filled voice echoed through the Underworld. But the Moai continued to grab onto the sticky Slimes and stuffed them into their mouths.
“Ah! My precious!” Uther rushed towards one of the Moai that had swallowed a rather large Greed Slime, startled at the sight. The giant Moai, which had been sucking on the Greed Slimes as if it were slurping up egg yolks, roared back in response to Uther’s attack.
“Spit it out!” Uther stretched his slimy body as he started to strangle the Moai. Eventually, the giant Moai squeaked and spat out the Greed Slime that it had half-swallowed. The rescued Greed Slime quickly clung onto Uther’s waist.
“Good boy!” Uther, who had been busy collecting the scattered Greed Slimes, exclaimed with joy at the sight. He had finally come up with a way to overcome this difficult situation.
“All of you, gather!” Uther commanded. The Greed Slimes, who had been in the midst of a fierce battle, pushed the Moai aside and flocked to his side. As they did so, numerous Greed Slimes were caught by their tails and devoured by the Moai, but ultimately, Uther succeeded in gathering most of them.
Uther spread his body wide and pushed the Moai away as he shouted, “All of you, stick to me!” But the Greed Slimes only stood around as they stared at him blankly.
“Stick to my body! You stupid fools!” Uther repeated. Back when he’d still had his labyrinth, the Greed Slimes had been able to follow his every command without him having to utter a single word, but now that they didn’t even follow his verbal commands, he was frustrated to no end.
Seeing that the Greed Slimes were still slowly moping around despite his repeated shouts, Uther eventually started to grab the closest Slimes and manually attach them to his waist, one by one.
He yelled, “Stick to me like this!” Only then did the Greed Slimes start to cling on to him. He exclaimed, “You guys should have done this from the start!”
It seemed the Greed Slimes weren’t able to think properly, as they had gone without a Labyrinth Core for too long.
Uther finally finished sticking the Greed Slimes to himself, and his body tensed. He bent his body like a drawn bow, ready to bounce back at any moment, before flying forward like an arrow.
With this method, he was able to advance tens of meters at a time, but ultimately, there were too many Moai to escape from, and he was slowly exhausting his strength.
In the end though, despite finding himself in the middle of a group of Moai, Uther was barely able to reach the border of the Grand Labyrinth with a few more leaps.
“This place doesn’t seem so bad.” Uther sighed in relief, having barely escaped with his life. But soon, he saw the Moai closing in on him, and he could only look on with disgust.
However, he quickly started running again. The Greed Slimes hanging on to his body rattled as if they were about to fall, but he didn’t look back.
The Moai weren’t agile due to their half-rotten bodies, but the Greed Slimes were even slower than the Moai. Naturally, they had to widen the gap whenever they could.
“Damn it!” Uther cursed loudly as he reached a dead end. He relied on his memory for directions, and yet, he must have taken a wrong way somewhere, as a solid wall greeted him instead of an open passageway.
The Moai had somehow caught up and were growling right behind his back. Uther fell into deep contemplation, muttering, “Urgh, I think I’m going to lose half my slimes.”
Now that he had lost his labyrinth, every single Greed Slime was important to him. However, he had been unnecessarily losing them to the Moai that provided no nutritional value to him, and he was undoubtedly upset.
“I’m going to go crazy. I should have just disappeared with the labyrinth; what glory am I even chasing now…” Utter grumbled to himself as he stomped his feet, regretting his choice to leave his labyrinth.
He had lost his labyrinth after a similarly large rumble occurred. Thus, Uther was naturally afraid. But this time, the vibration saved him. When the shaking settled down, the road that had been blocked was open.
“Lord Uther, the King awaits you,” said a voice.
Uther was about to take a step toward the newly opened passageway when he heard the familiar voice and turned toward it.
“Oh, it’s you!” Uther exclaimed. When he turned toward the source of the voice, he saw an Under-Elf half-buried in the darkness. Uther smiled as he looked at the Under-Elf, asking, “Did the King send you?”
The Under-Elf simply nodded before turning around to guide him.
“But why are you alone? Where are the others?” Uther asked, concerned about the Moai behind them.
But the Under-Elf’s expression didn’t change. She said, “You don’t have to worry about what's behind you, so please follow me for now.”
Upon hearing those words, Uther quickly ran toward the labyrinth without hesitation.
As Uther disappeared along with the Under-Elf, the Moai followed after them while roaring fiercely. Their killing intent showed that they were ready to rip the two of them to shreds.
But they had unknowingly set foot in the entrance to hell. The hallway they thought was an empty passageway was actually the entrance to the Grand Labyrinth, and the Grand Labyrinth was such a stealthy and cunning predator that none of the Moai noticed it.
Instead of devouring the Moai at the start of the passageway, the Grand Labyrinth waited for the Moai to get sufficiently deep into the labyrinth. And when the last Moai crossed the border of the labyrinth, the truth of the passageway was revealed.
Hundreds of Moai were consumed by the Grand Labyrinth before they could even realize what was happening to them.