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Chapter: 102


Chapter 102

I took everyone with me and headed home, going to the central park in front of the DMC Riverview Xi.

"Whoa. Boss Hyukjin, this is where your house is? It’s great! The park in front is super big too! And there are a ton of flowers."

Choi Sung-gu jokingly pinched his nose. "Eurgh. What’s with this intense middle class smell? It’s heavy af. Have mercy on this poor bastard with boujee allergy."

After Yeonseo and Sung-gu briefly gave their opinions, we entered the park. A lot of people were gathered and murmuring amongst themselves, and a yellow police line had been put up.

–A dead body was found in front of our house.

I came immediately after getting word from my sister.

–Apparently, the body is black from head to toe.

A blackened corpse. A grotesque corpse that was severely decomposed even though the death was recent. A corpse that almost completely matched the appearance of the ones discovered on Plum Blossom Island.

On the way here, I contacted Song Kiyeol. When I asked him if it would be possible for us to go past the police line, he said, "It’s still tricky for a Player to act at their own discretion. That would mean the police would be handing over their authority to the Players."

By now, Players should have been given the reins to hunt monsters a little more independently, but the process of change seemed a little slow. It was likely closely related to me preventing the Seoul Station dungeon break.

One of the policemen came up to us, looking displeased. "What company are you reporting for? Show some restraint, please. Stop trying to get closer."

A black corpse was found in a park in the middle of Seoul.

‘And two of them, no less.’

I could feel it with Eye of Perception. There were two corpses that had lost all traces of life.

‘It’s dangerous here.’

This was no place for regular civilians to be gathering around. It was dangerous for the reporters, and even the policemen containing the site. Yoohyun went up to the policeman at the front of the line and said what I told him to say.

"Do you know me, by any chance?"

At times like this, the Tutorial Ender’s fame was helpful.

"Ah… you are—!"

"My name is So Yoohyun. This place is dangerous."

The police knew, too. They knew what kind of danger monsters posed, especially after what happened recently at the DMC Lucentia Tower. Many of their comrades had died because of the Orcanthropes.

"Do you believe that this is the doing of monsters?"

Upon hearing the policeman’s question, many reporters flashed their cameras at Yoohyun. 

"Players must take an active role here," Yoohyun said.

The reporters began to pepper him with questions.

"Are you, the Tutorial Ender, confirming that this incident is related to monsters?"

"Mr. So Yoohyun, do you think that this was not caused by human hands?"

"Are you claiming that this is not a murder, but an accident?"

Yoohyun didn’t answer the many questions. He probably didn’t really know, either—he was just doing what I told him to do.

I could definitely feel it with Eye of Perception.

‘It’s somewhere underground.’

My proficiency [2] Eye of Perception was definitely picking up the presence of a monster somewhere underground. I couldn’t sense what it looked like or its approximate size, but it was moving. It was definitely moving.

‘Focus.’

More people could die. If it was the monster I knew, the list of casualties would not end here.

‘A weak bloodthirst.’

I could feel the bloodthirst. It wasn’t bloodthirst exuded by a human. It was definitely a monster’s bloodthirst. But because it was obscured by energy from the earth, earth ki, I couldn’t get a good read on it.

Regarding this monster, the Great Explorer Jackson said:

–The Pearl Centipede will suddenly emerge from a hole in the ground, snatch a person with astonishing speed, and burrow back into the ground. The hole it made will then disappear. After sucking out all the human’s vital ki using the tentacle at its tail’s tip, it returns the body to its original position. A corpse created by a Pearl Centipede will be blackened and undergo instant decomposition.

At some point, the monster would suddenly burrow out of the ground.

‘Even through cement.’

The holes created by Pearl Centipedes were different from the ‘physical holes’ we knew. It didn’t actually make a hole and come out. Almost like a magic warp portal, a hole would appear for a moment, and the monster would emerge from that hole. Then, it would snatch its prey with extreme speed.

‘How can their response be this slow?’

By now, the police should have pushed the civilians as far back as possible. But they were treating this like a regular murder scene and were investigating after merely putting up a police line of limited range.

‘They still haven’t gotten their act together.’

It seemed it would take some time for people to come to their senses. I decided to do the best I could in the current circumstances.

[Activating the power Future Sight.]

[You are within ‘Observer’s Domain’.]

[You are using ‘Observer’s Eye’.]

[The mana and mental power consumption of Future Sight is reduced.]

Using it for a long period would tire me. I could only hope to be lucky and have it pop out before long. At that moment, I felt it.

‘That policeman.’

There was no time to explain. Future Sight only showed me less than one second in advance. I grabbed Yeonseo’s hand and immediately surged forward.

[Using the special skill Flash Step.]

It wasn’t far, only about three meters away. I used Flash Step to cut through the distance instantly.

"Wh-What?"

Shock passed through Yeonseo’s eyes, but she rapidly assessed the situation and pulled out her sword from her Inventory. Faint black light leaked out of her transcendent godsword, ‘Asura’.

Yeonseo swung her sword.

Slice!

Something was cut off.

People screamed.

"KYAAAA!"

"Wh-What’s that?!"

Something large was writhing on the ground. A piece of an insect’s body about thirty centimetres large was wriggling on the ground like an earthworm.

Sizzzzzzzle–!

Green fluid oozed out of the cut piece, and smoke rose from the dirt that came in contact with the fluid.

‘It smells terrible.’

The stench of rotten wastewater pervaded the air, and the surrounding earth turned black.

‘Pearl Centipede poison.’

It was only for a brief moment, but I saw the Pearl Centipede, a massive centipede one meter in size. Because of its ability to freely move through the ground, it was a very tricky creature to hunt. Yeonseo cut it quickly, but it had already bitten the policeman.

The policeman’s face started turning pitch-black, along with his arms and legs. He flailed in agony on the ground.

‘A bite like that… won’t kill you.’

Though it would most likely have him suffering horrific pain for about two weeks.

‘But…’

Why did a ‘Pearl Centipede’ show up here?

‘There was no record of that in the past.’

Did I just not know about it? Or did something change? I didn’t know. I would have to look into it more.

‘We have to find the gate entrance.’

* * *

After getting word from me, the Guildmaster of ‘Taeguk Shield’ personally came over, which helped things go a little more smoothly for us.

Once again, Sunhwa played a key role.

"Oppa! There’s something weird over here!"

Sunhwa discovered something in a flowerbed blooming with yellow flowers—a black larva about thirty centimetres large. It was the thing I’d been looking for.

Sunhwa clutched the hem of my clothes.

"Eurgh. It looks gross. That’s gotta be at least a thousand legs."

The larva didn’t move. It just lay there, completely still.

‘It’s exactly the same as the one that appeared on Plum Blossom Island.’

This thing couldn’t really be called a monster. It didn’t give items or EXP when killed. What it did do was activate a gate.

"Yeonseo."

"Got it, Boss."

Yeonseo stabbed the black larva.

[A special condition has been fulfilled.]

[The gate ‘Centipede Cave’ has been generated.]

A shimmering black space appeared. We could ‘click’ it with our eyes and open the description.

[Gate - Centipede Cave]

The entrance to a cave inhabited by centipedes. There is no entrance condition, and there is a high chance there is more than one entrance.

‘Centipede Cave’ was a familiar name. It was one of the gates that showed up in my study notes.

–Plum Blossom Island’s Centipede Cave. Entrance to a cave inhabited by centipedes. Having no entrance condition is its distinct characteristic, also has various entrances. Inhabited by a large number of Pearl Centipedes. A gate known to be nearly impossible to clear without a fire magician.

Something was weird. Something had changed from the past.

‘It’s an established theory that there are no gates with the same name and structure…’

It was just like how there were no two same faces out of seven billion people. Gates and dungeons could be similar, but they could never be the same. Then did that mean Plum Blossom Island’s Centipede Cave moved here? But that couldn’t be; the same corpses had been discovered on Plum Blossom Island as well.

I turned to Taeguk Shield’s Guildmaster, Song Kiyeol. "The last part means there’s a high chance there are entrances other than this one."

"Which means…" Thankfully, the Guildmaster was pretty quick on the uptake. "We’ll need to make sure the other entrances aren’t opened."

"Yes. When clearing gates or dungeons, it’s good to eliminate as many variables as possible."

The Taeguk Shield guild members assembled quickly after getting contacted. Good of you to come, my business partners in name but subordinates in truth.

‘First of all… we’ll clear this place.’

It was true that the Centipede Cave was a place we had to clear before going into the U-Plex Dungeon. It was weird it appeared in the central park in front of the DMC Riverview Xi instead of Plum Blossom Island, but that didn’t change the fact that we needed to clear it.

"Sung-gu. Let’s go in."

* * *

We decided to have my party members and the Taeguk Shield guild members focus on containing the situation outside. Only Sung-gu and I went into the Centipede Cave.

"Gosh darnit, seriously? Why are we the only ones going in when I’m already scared af?"

Sung-gu shivered all over. I suddenly noticed that he’d gained a little weight. The future Choi Sung-gu was extremely large—he was famous as the Superobese Flame Lord.

"Don’t shout. They might react to sound."

"Mmph!"

Sung-gu covered his mouth with his hand. From the way he was trembling like a leaf, he seemed pretty scared of this dark cave.

"Just kidding."

Sung-gu gave me a tearful look. "I’m scared of bugs, darn it."

"The bugs are scared of you, too."

"I’m being serious. I’m fuckin’ scared of bugs. Bugs are the scariest things in the world to me. Especially ones with many legs. Eurgh. Terrible."

"Let’s quickly get to work."

"You heartless jerk. I’m about to croak from fear right now, but you? You have steel for blood, don’t you? No, I bet you don’t even have blood or tears. You damn robot."

Despite muttering a stream of complaints, he listened obediently.

"I just have to go that way, right?"

He pointed to one side of the dark cave passage, the opposite direction I would be going. Sung-gu inched forward, peering uneasily into the darkness. The reason I picked the other direction was because I felt something there.

As we moved away from each other, the sound of Sung-gu’s footsteps grew quieter.

Whoosh–!

There was the faint sound of wind. I plucked a hair and held it up. Even a feeble wind would send it fluttering.

‘The wind is coming from that way.’

It was the direction Sung-gu had gone off into. Apparently, the exit was over there. Feeling the wind on my nape, I walked a little more, keeping my guard up.

‘There’s no knowing when or where they’ll pop out.’

Pearl Centipedes excelled at surprise ambushes. If I was poisoned by just one of them, at least two more would show up to completely drain me of life essence.

Eye of Perception captured something.

‘Corpses?’

More corpses were littering the passageway. They were most likely people who had come inside from a different gate, people who discovered the gate before we did. It was more than just a few.

‘I think there are about five corpses.’

The bodies were already completely rotten. They were victims of Pearl Centipedes.

‘Just when did they come in?’

Because there was no entrance restriction, regular people could freely enter the gate as well. The smell of rotting corpses was thick in the air.

‘There must be a den nearby where they’re all gathered.’

Resolving myself, I focused on Eye of Perception, since it should be able to detect the monsters before they attacked me.

But just then, someone Eye of Perception didn’t perceive at all grabbed my throat, closing off my airway.

____


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