115. Chapter 115
In a room shrouded in darkness, not letting any sunlight in, in the center of that closed room, a man sitting low in a leather chair looked down at a woman crawling on the floor. The woman’s red hair was dull and damaged, but there were no visible injuries on her body. Even so, the woman’s complexion was paler than that of a sick person, as if about to collapse at any moment.
It was clear that the cause was the man in front of her. The woman was terrified of him from the bottom of her heart, trembling like a child after having a nightmare. On the other hand, the man was enjoying himself, holding a cigar in his mouth in a way as if nothing was in his sight.
The fragrance spread along with the exhaled purple smoke. As the room filled with such fragrance, the man finally shifted his gaze to the woman and slowly opened his mouth.
“I’ve received information from a prostitute who has an employee of an equipment shop as a regular. Seems like a man came to sell a large number of weapons there. And his characteristics match your information. He must be the guy who killed my younger brother…”
The man smoked the cigar again and paused for a while before continuing his words.
“Giusto wasn’t that stupid, but sure, he was a hot-tempered guy. Besides that, he also didn’t have much power to boast. Really, a stupid younger brother of mine. But in this f*cking shitty world, blood ties are unbreakable. You know that too, right? Lycka.”
Lycka, a woman who had come here from the magical silver mine in a rush, nodded her head many times to the man’s words, which sounded as if a master scolding a bad pupil.
“Seems like he managed to teach his subordinates well. I’m not a demon, so as this is the first time, I’ll forgive you… In order to repay the favor for getting you out of the brothel, you even brought the report of my enemies back like this. Really courageous, aren’t you? That should be it, otherwise, I’d have given you to the poor people for free, or fed you to the rats in the underground waterways.”
Lycka knew that the man in front of him, Giesel, wasn’t just spouting a mere threat. In order to climb to the top of the underworld, especially in Belgana, the Labyrinth City, which had a large slum that spread outside the gate, the man had used every kind of evil means.
“Just as you said, seems like he’s not your average guy. After all, he managed to kill Digor just by himself. Also has a skill that works in a wide range, to the point where it was enough to give Dalimarx, who was outnumbered, a victory… But, in the end, he’s breathing air, shedding blood, like other humans, right? That younger brother of mine, his way was wrong. Sure, using power to deal with that guy in a straightforward manner, was excellent. Simple, yet has an immediate effect… Instant result if done correctly. Such a way isn’t without risk after all.”
Assault, threats, murder, the list went on and on, by such evil means the man had buried any enemies into the ground. Lycka was also complicit in some of them. Sending the fingers of the family, burning the skin to make them spit out information, and even peeling off the skin and sticking it on the street as examples, still, all of those were among the cute methods. Otherwise, in the underworld of the city with a light called the labyrinth, where myriad malice wriggling in the dark, Giesel wouldn’t be able to stand at the top of the dark side of such a place.
“Inns, bars, places that he goes in and out frequently… hobbies, tastes, goals, anything’s fine. Gather information as much as you can. This is the first step, the start.”
Although Giesel was good at violence, he wasn’t the best. In Labyrinth City, where people and things were the most diverse even within the archipelago, except for the main island, information was still the most important thing. For that reason, he used not only violence but also a carrot-and-stick approach, and had many associate members and collaborators. From former prostitutes like Lycka, to active prostitutes, servants of nobles, and even guild staff, his information network was wide. Aristocrats who struggled for power in the Labyrinth City, even the underworld of other countries would find value in Giesel and thus formed a cooperative relationship with him.
Of course, Giesel wasn’t the only one who was feared by not only Lycka but also those who were living in the dark side of this city. The old man covered in a robe who stood behind Giesel and was looking up at Lycka, was also feared.
“Once your honor gets tainted, it sticks with you forever. You need to shake it off completely, Giesel.”
“Yeah, I know. Old man, you’ve told me that, over and over again.”
The owner of a dead tree-like old body, with only bones and skin standing out, was the one who picked up Giesel and Giusto when they were young, scavenging for garbage in the slum, and taught them how to scheme and use violence until they became rulers of the underworld. As far as Lycka knew, he was a ‘monster’ who had been lurking in the slum for more than fifty years, sometimes committing grisly incidents and massacres. Despite his decaying body, for some reason, his eyes, only his eyes, were sparkling and didn’t look as if they had lost any vitality.
“Now, go. It’s time to work!”
Right after Giesel’s shout, his minions left the room all at once.
In that way, malice nurtured by the dirty and muddy side of the Labyrinth City was about to creep on one man.
Walm, who had restored his energy, threw himself into the labyrinth earnestly. The 1st to 5th floors which he inspected carefully the day before were passed in fast since he didn’t need to suppress his movement speed, and so he advanced all the way to the 6th floor.
The floor up to now was called the surface layer even among the lower floors, and it was nothing more than a place where even commoners who were after meat, fur, rare coins, and any kind of equipment could dive in and conquer. Even a novice adventurer would ridicule those floors as a playground for kids.
On the 6th floor, not only goblins but also multiple orcs appeared. Although mixed, they might appear in a group of 4. It was too much for the common people, who depended on the difference in numbers to obtain resources. And so, the bustle one could find below the 5th floor was lost in instant. On the other hand, any monsters that Walm met were full of vitality and annoyed the hell out of him.
Not only monsters, but also the number of battles, and in every battle, he must think of how to reduce the numbers as they were closing in distance. Even if Walm had no trouble killing them, since he was always surrounded by a group, his equipment might get damaged and if careless, his body might even get hurt, he must fight without any skill after all, so as to not get exhausted fast. Also, for that reason, it was essential to reduce the number of enemies by killing them with one blow after another.
Anyway, turning the monsters into nutrients for the labyrinth, Walm dived deeper. It was on the 9th floor that there was a clear difference.
“Now you start to take advantage of civilization huh?”
Until then, Walm had only witnessed primitive equipment, but here came Orcs armed with metal. Based on the progress, it made a lot of sense. Still, the swords and spears were so rusty that anyone could tell that they were on the verge of breaking, but they were definitely made of iron.
That meant, blood would overflow if it got into the gaps of the armor, and if it got into a vital point, it would cause serious injury.
The jump in difficulty also happened on the 4th floor. So Walm concluded that the floor before the floor with a transfer room was about one level tougher compared to the monsters up until then.
Three orcs rushed in, two spear-wielding orcs leading the way, and the remaining one following the two was wielding a mace.
As if to reply to the enthusiastic greeting, Walm also ran at them.
One of the spears came in a slam, and the remaining one was a thrust. The movement speed was fast, but Walm, who saw the trajectory early, quickly tilted his body. He caught the sound of the spear hitting the ground that failed to catch him, and caught the other spear that was approaching in front of him with his halberd.
The spear thrust by the second orc was deflected overhead, and just like that, together with the arm, it flew into the air. Walm inserted the spear tip of the halberd into the orc’s body. Ripping through the flesh, smashing through the ribs, to finally reaching the heart. Felling it, Walm immediately twisted his hand and pulled it out. The orc spat out death agony and blood, before finally dying.
“Such a busy day!”
From the side, the other spear-wielding orc swung the spear horizontally as if to take revenge. Along with that, the last orc slammed a mace from the front.
Walm sunk his lower body while twisting his upper body. The mace grazed his face, and the sweeping spear passed over his head.
No time should be given to let the orcs regroup.
Gripping the ground with the soles of his shoes, Walm stabbed the mace-wielding orc. The spear tip entered from under the chin, accurately severing the orc’s artery, and the blood spurted out and colored the ground.
“The rest is only you”
After being threatened from behind, the last orc still, which didn’t fall into the threat, boldly held the spear in a thrust stance and rushed towards Walm.
Utilizing the twisting momentum, the halberd drawn out horizontally cut off half of the spear and one of the orc’s hands.
The orc then tried to utilize nothing but a wooden stick with the other remaining arm, but stepping further meant letting itself go into Walm’s attack range. So, the halberd gladly welcomed the prey, and the claw-like blade of the halberd cut off the neck, reaping its life. The orc staggered a few steps closer, but in spite of the efforts, it fell down to the ground.
“Not only sword and mace, but also spear? What’s next?”
Facing these kinds of weapons meant that, losing too much energy to exert physical strength and lack of concentration could lead even Walm to death. He had been trying to preserve his mana to save energy, so he didn’t use any magic or skills. Even so, he was forced to use them. This reality that he was having a hard time getting through the low-rank floors alone, more so without using any of them, hit him hard.
“……No, you can’t falter, you can’t stop. Remember, what did you come to the labyrinth for…”
Walm realized that the labyrinth was also a battlefield. Just that, it was a different kind from the battlefield he knew very well as a soldier.
Once again, he must pass through the deadly ground. And in that kind of place, there were no shortcuts.
There was no choice but to pile up the corpses one by one, while vomiting blood, while the spirit kept weathering down.
But, such was how Walm had survived in this world up to now. So, he didn’t need to change his way here.
After putting the blunt weapon, a memento from the orc, into the magic bag, Walm quietly continued his exploration of the labyrinth.
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