[The ‘U-Plex Dungeon’ cannot be forcibly entered from the outside without a ‘special right’.]
I already had that special entrance right. It was the fair reward my party earned through the bet with the Herdsman of Las Vegas.
4. Upon quest clear, you will receive ‘U-Plex Dungeon First Entry Rights’.
Thanks to that, my party members and I had the ‘First Entry Rights’ and could enter the dungeon while it was activating.
The dungeon began to expand via a System revision after the [No ‘humans with lifeforce’ have been sensed within the ‘U-Plex’] notice. In other words, as long as there was human lifeforce inside the dungeon, expansion would no longer occur.
As the notices continued, we entered the U-Plex Dungeon straight away.
[Expansion of the U-Plex Dungeon has been suspended.]
I looked around. It was a fairly bright indoor space with clean marble flooring. It felt like we were on the 1st floor of the ‘U-Plex’ building, but without all the stores.
There were people trapped in a giant glass cylinder. Cheon Sooji, Gong Jinhoon, and two civilians were trapped in the container with water up to their chests.
[‘Normal entrance’ has suspended dungeonization.]
[‘Normal entrance’ has suspended the acquisition of ‘lifeforce offerings’.]
The glass shattered with a sharp crack, and Sooji, Jinhoon, and the two ordinary people were able to come out safely.
‘If we hadn’t blocked the expansion…’
Countless people would have most likely been trapped and killed in that glass cylinder in the acquisition of ‘lifeforce offerings’.
There was an ‘Escalator Going to the 2nd Floor’ near the entrance. It was similar to the one in Gwanghwamun D-Tower from the Tutorial.
[Escalator Going to the 2nd Floor]
The escalator going to the 2nd floor of the U-Plex Dungeon. Can transport 15 people at once.
Cooldown: 20 minutes
*Currently not in operation (special condition required).
Yeonseo had her sword drawn. "Boss Hyukjin. I see a number."
It wasn’t visible with the physical eye, but all of us were seeing the same number.
The time was ticking down by the second. We had been given three minutes.
"Fuck. We’ve got three minutes, yeah, but… what do we do with those people?"
Having collected their wits, Sooji and Jinhoon walked towards us.
The Poison Witch, Cheon Sooji.
The Golden Priest, Gong Jinhoon.
They’d been forcibly sucked in because of the sudden expansion process. If we hadn’t done a ‘normal entrance’, they might have been swallowed alive.
"Should I… be thanking you?" asked Cheon Sooji.
"There’s no need for that." We simply did something we should. "However, I’d like it if you didn’t hold us back in our raid."
They didn’t know the strategy, and there was no time to explain the particulars now.
"Keep your eyes sharp and do as we do. I won’t walk you through it. I recommend absolute obedience to my commands, at least here in the U-Plex Dungeon. I won’t take responsibility for your lives."
I called Yoohyun to me, and he trotted up, saying, "Yes, hyungnim."
"You’ve got a stun skill, right?"
"I do, hyungnim."
"Anyone else have a stun?"
Only Yoohyun had a stun.
"Make Gong Jinhoon unconscious," I told him in a low voice.
We only had two minutes and twenty seconds left. Once that time reached 0, they would come swarming in.
"He has to be down for five minutes."
"I-I will do my best to control my strength."
It would be better to take a small head injury than to die. I also spoke to Sooji.
"Miss Sooji, please listen to me very carefully."
There wasn’t much time before they would appear.
"Even if monsters appear, don’t be alarmed. We will not resist."
"What does tha—"
"If it’s difficult for you, you can close your eyes."
Sooji closed her mouth and stared at me. It seemed the timer wasn’t visible to her. The remaining time was only shown to us, the people who came in with the special entrance rights.
"Also, Mr. Jinhoon will be knocked unconscious."
Jinhoon crumpled, knocked completely unconscious by the strike to the back of his head.
Sung-gu trembled. "Ah, fuck… His head made a cracking noise. He doesn’t have a concussion, does he? He’s not dead, right?"
Yoohyun gave an awkward smile, looking perfectly innocent. "I wasn’t sure how to make sure he stayed down for five minutes, so I just hit him hard."
The time continued to tick down. We only had one minute and thirty seconds left.
"Sunghyun. Give me the Black Yak Lean Meat."
Sunghyun took out the ‘Black Yak’s Lean Meat’ from his Inventory and passed it to me. After leaving the Hill of Blowing Wind, Sunghyun did as I said and cleared the Seoul Station Dungeon several times with the party, acquiring a pile of Black Yak’s Lean Meat in the process.
"Go with Yeonseo and keep the people over there calm."
The two civilians were a young man and a young woman. Two regular non-Awakened people had gotten wrapped up in this.
"Hyungnim. Should I also knock them unconscious? I don’t think they’ll be able to stay quiet."
"Do you wanna kill them?"
The Golden Priest Gong Jinhoon was different. He could recover even if he got a slight concussion, but it was possible the civilians would die to Yoohyun’s fist.
‘We have to give them plenty of warning.’
Whether they lived or died was purely up to them. I emphasized my instructions again.
"Everyone, do not move and do not react. Just stay still. I will pull most of the aggro."
My words were relayed to the two young civilians by Yeonseo and Sunghyun, who were telling them to stay quiet, no matter what, and that in about one minute, a horde of monsters would show up.
I wasn’t confident we could achieve a perfect clear of the 1st floor while keeping them alive.
"If you don’t think you can do it, close your eyes and block your ears."
I emphasized multiple times that only people who could keep their calm should watch. The two civilians were embracing each other tightly, their eyes squeezed shut.
Only thirty seconds were left before the 1st floor scenario of the U-Plex Dungeon began.
I gave one last warning.
"If you move, you’ll be eaten."
* * *
The thirty seconds passed. Choi Hanna, who had been waiting for a friend in front of the U-Plex front doors with her boyfriend, swallowed anxiously.
‘Just stay still. Stay still.’
She decided to do exactly as the Players said.
‘I want to live.’
The powerful desire to live dominated her mind. Little did she know that her intense wish to survive was the reason why Hyukjin didn’t have her knocked unconscious. If she lost her cool and was eaten, then that was her inevitable fate.
Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!
‘Oh-Oh my god…!’
Hanna knew that wolves would be running in. No, they were far bigger than the ‘City Wolves’ that were now frequently seen in cities. They were about the same size as the tigers she’d seen in the zoo. It was like black panthers the size of tigers were running in.
She trembled uncontrollably. They were running in like crazy, barking raucously the whole time.
It was too scary, so she closed her eyes. A very quiet voice came into her ear.
"It’s alright. Hanna. It’s alright."
It was the voice of her boyfriend of six years. His voice was trembling a lot, but the simple fact that he was there was a great comfort to her. Her boyfriend, Kim Minsung, also closed his eyes. What he saw before closing them was terrifying.
‘Massive dogs with blood red eyes.’ There were easily over ten of the beasts. Among them was even a dog with two heads.
The intense smell of dog washed over them. Minsung closed his eyes and prayed. He prayed to come out of this place alive with the girlfriend he loved.
A little ways away, Cheon Sooji was standing next to Gong Jinhoon. She hadn’t been able to make heads or tails of why Jinhoon had been knocked unconscious, but as soon as she saw the monsters that streamed in, she realized.
‘How did he know that Jinhoon is scared of dogs?’
It was baffling, but the feeling of intense pressure the massive, drooling dogs gave off as they ran over was too overwhelming to entertain complicated thoughts.
‘How are we supposed to kill such monsters?!’
Their levels were even marked as ‘?’ The name of the monsters was red.
Big Black Dog LVL ?
From the looks of it, Hyukjin and his party members didn’t have their weapons out. Choi Sung-gu was even clinging tightly to So Yoohyun with his eyes closed.
Sooji bit her lips.
‘They can be that calm even with monsters like that in front of them?’
It must be because the sovereign had instructed them in advance that they were able to stay perfectly still even with such terrifying beasts charging madly their way. They could only act that way if they had complete and utter trust in Kim Hyukjin.
Hyukjin was the only person who moved. He, of course, had to keep his mind focused and controlled at all times.
His heart thumped.
The pressure the Big Black Dogs gave off was like a mountain pressing down on him. They were powerful monsters Players in their early level 30s could not defeat by any means. If those dogs were stimulated and went wild, everyone here would die.
‘I have to stay calm.’
He had Eye of Perception, which was fused with ‘Calm Observer’s Eye’.
He didn’t hurry. He very, very slowly took out the Black Yak’s Lean Meat while staring at the Big Black Dogs.
[Black Yak’s Lean Meat]
Very juicy meat.
A food ingredient that can make the eater extremely full even with a very small amount.
It was similar to when they hunted the Swamp Alligators before.
Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!
Their big, wickedly gleaming red eyes were as large as their bodies. The whites of their eyes flashed, and saliva giving off a terrible stench dripped from their maws.
They ran towards Hyukjin, their charge so terrifying that even though Yeonseo was endeavoring to keep her eyes wide open to not miss a single movement Hyukjin made, she squeezed her eyes shut in horror for a moment and had to suppress a near scream.
He was completely surrounded by Big Black Dogs and could no longer be seen. After getting a taste of meat, the Big Black Dogs growled as they tore ravenously into the flesh.
And then, the Big Black Dogs turned their interest to other Players again. One of the Big Black Dogs pressed its nose against Yoohyun, who had his eyes closed. Yoohyun endured the cold wet nose and the terrible stench in silence. Sunghyun did the same.
While clinging to Yoohyun for dear life, Sung-gu quivered.
Every single time he was with Kim Hyukjin, he found himself stuck in ridiculous scenarios like this. Monsters with red names and ‘?’ for levels had appeared in a swarm. One of them even had two heads and gave off the feel of a boss monster.
‘We’ll 100% die if we fight that thing, right?’
That was probably the case. These beasts weren’t meant to be fought in the first place.
‘I swear to frickin’ God I won’t enter a dungeon with Hyukjin again!’
On the other side, another few dogs licked Cheon Sooji’s cheek. Because of their size, the Big Black Dogs also produced an immense amount of saliva. After a few licks, Sooji looked as if she’d washed her face. The sticky, horribly smelly drool ran down her face and neck.
Several dogs also took an interest in Kim Minsung and Choi Hanna. One dog approached the pair and started licking Minsung’s body. The young man endured it desperately, knowing that if he moved, Hanna would be in danger. With Hanna in his tight embrace, he stood stock still, driven by his determination to protect his girlfriend of six years. If he were alone, he probably wouldn’t have been able to stay so still. It was because the person he loved was next to him that he was able to maintain his calm.
At some point, the Big Black Dog stopped licking him. Minsung cracked his eyes open and nearly yelped in surprise.