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Chapter: 110


Chapter 110

I triggered a hidden piece, and the first one in the Bloodless Entry category. As such, a familiar set of notices came in.

If a Player with the [First Pioneer] title is the first to discover a [Hidden Piece], it is possible to trigger a linked scenario. Linked scenarios can be triggered three times.

Linked Scenarios Triggered: [2/3]

Linked Hidden Piece: [Find Charles’ Owner!]

Scenario: Find the Twin-Headed Big Black Dog Charles’ owner for him.

[Trigger the linked scenario?]

I had to think for a moment. We came here to clear the U-Plex Dungeon. If I accepted this, it was possible I might be teleported somewhere else. If the others went up to the 2nd floor without me, they would all die without even finding out the identity of the monster that killed them.

Yeonseo came up to me. "Boss Hyukjin, what are you doing?"

"It’s nothing."

It was too risky for me to accept the quest now. The U-Plex Dungeon had the highest difficulty out of all the beginner dungeons. It was a dungeon that should normally be impossible for us to clear at our levels. Eliminating as many variables as possible was the right call. I could hardly let myself be blinded by the prize in front of my eyes and lose track of the bigger profits ahead. That was my line of thought, but then, the Whispering Devil sent me a message.

[The ‘Whispering Devil’ is having fun.]

The Whispering Devil had started watching me pretty early on and probably knew about my ‘First Pioneer’ title effect.

[The ‘Whispering Devil’ makes a proposal.]

A note came into my Inventory.

[Upon accepting the quest ‘Find Charles’ Owner!’, it will be set so that all party members can Play together.]

This Guardian was a tricky one to figure out. He disliked justice, loathed fairness, and put his own amusement and curiosity above all else.

‘The fact he sent a message like this means…’

It went without saying that it was because the Whispering Devil thought this quest would be a source of great amusement for him.

I heard another notice.

[Upon accepting the quest ‘Find Charles’ Owner!’, the linked quest commencement can be deferred.]

* * *

Yeonseo giggled. "I’m in, of course!"

She wasn’t lying.

State: Having Fun / Interested

As expected of a top Ranker, Playing was fun for Yeonseo. She was like those people who enjoyed dangerous, extreme sports played with one’s life on the line. She enjoyed Playing to the point where ordinary people might see her as a weirdo.

Sunhwa said calmly, "I’ll do whatever Oppa tells me to do."

She, of course, wasn’t lying, either.

State: Trust / Faith / Unperturbed

Sung-gu had cold sweat going down his forehead. "C’mon, you guys. Think carefully about this. We could die. It’s a hidden piece, a hidden piece! What’ll we do if the clear is just as fuckin’ hard?"

Sunghyun shook his head. "It occurred to me before, but…" He threw shade with his characteristic calm and quiet voice. "You’re a real scaredy-cat, Hyung."

As I expected, Sunghyun was fully in favor of going ahead with the linked scenario.

State: Slight Interest / Up for a Challenge

As was Yoohyun. The big guy raised both fists and shouted, "If you’re a man, you can’t back down, Hyungnim!"

Sung-gu tore at his hair. "Fuck! Whatever. I’m in."

All my party members agreed. The quest commencement would be deferred thanks to the Whispering Devil’s assistance. We would tackle it later.

Yeonseo licked her lips. "I think it’ll be really fun. A linked scenario for a hidden piece! Ha. I already can’t wait."

"Fuck. You’re all out of your minds. You’re all crazy! Crazy, I tell you!"

That was when the unconscious Gong Jinhoon woke up. "What are you doing, Mr. Yoohyun?!" he shouted, storming towards the person who had knocked him out. Cheon Sooji stopped him.

"Oi, shut up. If Mr. Yoohyun hadn’t stepped in, you’d already be dead."

"Wha—?"

Sooji gave him a brief explanation. Jinhoon was extremely scared of canines. Apparently, he had a traumatic experience of getting bit by a dog when he was a kid, or something like that. Whatever it was, Jinhoon wouldn’t have been able to keep his calm in front of dogs the size of tigers, a fact he also accepted. 

"...So that’s what happened."

I had no intention to force them, but also no desire to look after them like the members of my team. I decided to give them a little time to make their own decision. The 1st floor was cleared, and there wasn’t any more danger here, anyway.

"You can stay on the 1st floor. I’ll have those non-Awakened people stay here, no questions asked. If you want, you can stay on the 1st floor until the dungeon is cleared."

The two civilians had managed—in admirable fashion—to stay alive. They hadn’t freaked out, even with huge monsters they’d never seen before up close and personal.

After some deliberation, Sooji came up to me. "Can you include us, too?"

It was a little unexpected. Gong Jinhoon preferred safety, so I thought they wouldn’t want to be involved in the linked scenario.

I repeated myself one more time. "I cannot guarantee your safety if things get dangerous."

"We know. We’re not so weak as to beg you to keep us safe."

What was that strange interest gleaming in her eyes? Was the effect of Mirror Sight from before too strong? But that shouldn’t be the case…

More unexpected words came out of Sooji’s mouth.

"Being able to clear a dungeon with Players of the highest level right now will be a great experience and boon for us."

* * *

[The linked Hidden Piece ‘Find Charles’ Owner!’ has been activated.]

As per the Whispering Devil’s proposal, all party members were given the quest.

‘Which must mean it’s not a quest that can be easily cleared, even with all of us.’

That was why the Whispering Devil gave such a proposal, and I intended on accepting the challenge.

[Find Charles’ Owner!]

Find the owner of the Twin-Headed Big Black Dog Charles.

Time limit: 30 days

Reward: ?

It was pretty simple and clear-cut for a quest linked to ‘Bloodless Entry’. The time limit was thirty days. We had to find ‘Charles’ owner’ within that time.

‘Let’s think about this later.’

We could look for Charles’ owner even after leaving the U-Plex Dungeon, thanks to the condition offered by the Whispering Devil.

We also got rewards for ‘Bloodless Entry’ aside from the linked quest.

[The Hidden Piece ‘Bloodless Entry’ has been fulfilled.]

[10,000 Coins acquired.]

[‘Beginner Free Pass Scroll’ acquired.]

[‘One-time Free Pass Scroll Enhancement Permit’ acquired.]

10,000 Coins, a Free Pass Scroll, and even a permit to upgrade that Free Pass Scroll. 

‘Free Pass Scroll…!’

This was something people called a second life. If you were stuck in a gate or dungeon you really could not clear, using this consumable scroll would allow you to escape it.

‘By beginner, it must mean the scroll can be used in all beginner dungeons and gates.’

On top of the Free Pass Scroll, we got the enhancement permit. I pulled up the detailed explanation.

[One-time Free Pass Scroll Enhancement Permit]

A permit to enhance the Free Pass Scroll one time.

Required Coins: 50,000 Coins

Sunhwa asked, "Oppa, what happens if you enhance a Free Pass Scroll?"

"Not sure. It’ll probably go from a Free Pass to a Free Clear, don’t you think?"

"Free Clear?"

A Free Pass was like an Escape Rope in Pokemon, whereas a Free Clear was like a Game Shark, a cheat scroll.

"Yeah, clearing it as soon as you go in."

"Wow!" Sunhwa’s eyes grew wide and sparkled. "Then you’d also get the reward right away?"

"If I’m right, then probably."

"That’s amazing! Shouldn’t it be upgraded no matter what, then?"

"I wonder about that."

It was too early to tell. Were there any dungeons or gates in the beginner period worth using a ‘Free Clear’ on at the cost of 50,000 Coins?

‘There are.’

There were definitely dungeons out there that were evaluated as being impossible to clear in the beginner period.

"But it’d be sad if you used this to clear and got less than 50,000 Coins as a reward."

"Ah! That’s true!" Sunhwa grinned sheepishly. "I’m a dumbo."

"..."

That elicited a dumbfounded laugh from me. Yeonseo also relaxed and laughed brightly.

"Didn’t think I’d hear words like ‘I’m a dumbo’ from the current roster, much less think the words were cute!"

It seemed Yeonseo had taken a liking to Sunhwa. She giggled, her eyes curving into crescents.

"R-Really? Why? Was it weird to say?"

"No, it’s cute. Really cute. Wanna get married to Unnie later?"

Yeonseo pulled Sunhwa into a half-forced hug and rubbed her cheek on the kid’s head. Apparently, this Sword Empress was completely relaxed, even though we had to go up to the 2nd floor now. Our goal was the 4th.

"We’re gonna go to the 2nd floor."

I stopped in front of the 2nd floor escalator.

[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).

Before I activated it, I heard a notice.

[The ‘Shepherd Boy’ has sent you ‘Fig Tree Club’ as a sponsorship.]

Hm? A sponsorship, already?

He was one of the most famous Guardians in the Scotland server. He only joined Senia’s channel today, but already sent me a sponsorship.

‘And a Fig Tree Club, even.’ With this, I was certain of it. ‘The Guardians already know the contents of the 2nd floor.’

That was why the Shepherd Boy gave me this item. He also seemed to think there was a chance we would die on the 2nd floor, and to prevent that from happening, he wanted to give me what hint or help he could offer within the bounds of the System.

‘The Shepherd Boy, huh.’

It was a little odd. I wasn’t a tamer, and that Guardian was one who only sponsored tamers, and not just any tamers, but a select few.

‘The Guardians know what’s on the 2nd floor.’

And I knew, too. I drew out the picture in my head, thinking about what I could do to produce a Play that the Guardians would go wild for. The gift from the Shepherd Boy gave me a clearer idea of what the Guardians wanted to see.

[Move to the 2nd floor?]

As soon as we ported to the 2nd floor, the safe zone was deactivated. The 2nd floor was an open plains field, a hillock lush with grass. The sun was above our heads, meaning there was a very high chance this place was set to be 12 pm.

‘It’ll show up now.’

Someone came dashing our way. Yeonseo spotted them first with her sharp eyesight.

"Huh? Someone’s coming from over there!"

It was a blond-haired boy who looked to be in his mid-teens. He ran towards us helter-skelter.

"H-Help!"

It was an NPC. Eye of Perception read the NPC’s info. Name: ‘Even’. Age: 16 years old. This dungeon NPC was no ordinary NPC, a fact I knew before and confirmed with Eye of Perception.

‘As expected.’

"Help with what?" I asked.

From the moment this seemingly unthreatening young NPC showed up to give us a quest, the 2nd floor raid had already begun.

____


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