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Chapter 45. Event Dungeon (8)
'Sorry, but I'll be the first to get stronger, father. I'll pay you back for letting me become a dungeon explorer later!' I said in my heart. I knew that if I said it out loud, father would continue the fight we couldn't finish before. I decided to call it even by forgetting about his shameful act when Arachne first appeared.
As I finished up the negotiation with father in my head and looked at the spear in my inventory with smiley eyes, Mastiford flinched slightly. It seems she got 2nd in contribution.
"Ah, I'm 2nd. Good, It would have been too shameful otherwise. Let's see… ek."
Mastiford clicked her tongue as if she didn't like what she saw. Mm, I couldn't fault her. There were really two items she could choose from. The Silk Dress was obviously the better one, but she already had an excellent battle dress. There was also no guarantee that the reward from the A-rank dungeon, Spider Den, would be better than the battle dress she made using 45th floor's named monster drop.
She would obviously choose the earring, which meant Minami would end up with the dress. Even if her contribution was higher than father's, she would not choose the bracelet over the dress. However, the dress wasn't a suitable equipment for a tank like her.
Although father would gladly take the dress if that was what was left, Minami, who didn't know how much father cared for mother, would undoubtedly take the dress to be considerate of father. Mastiford likely knew all this, and thus could not easily pick the earring. She was thinking of Minami.
Minami mumbled to herself and asked Minami. It seemed she wanted Minami to make the decision.
"Sumire, between an earring, bracelet, and a dress, what do you want?"
"U-Unni can choose what you want. You don't have to be considerate of me. My contribution is probably the lowest anyways."
"How can I!? I could freely use skills because you were protecting me! I'll get angry if you keep saying that."
I expected as much, but she was too good a person! How could she act so compassionately toward girls!? I wondered if she was bipolar. No, maybe it was a scheme to draw Minami into her organization!
If so, she had a terrifying acting skill… Of course, I could only feel sincerity from Mastiford's words. It was unlikely that it was false. Minami must have felt it too as she looked deeply touched.
"D-Don't look at me like that. I only said what was on my mind."
Seeing the two girls embracing each other, I looked away. Stop showing off and pick your items, so we can check whether a raid boss appeared or not!
In the end, Mastiford chose the dress which would have no meaning in Minami's hands. With this, Minami had the chance to get the earring. Mastiford looked quite content with the black web-patterned silk dress, as she was smiling.
It was father's turn next, and he unexpectedly took his time.
"What are you thinking about!?"
I wondered if I needed to treat father like a pervert from now on. Of course, father quickly dispelled my worry.
"No, I was just thinking how beautiful my wife would look with the earrings."
"You can stop with the devoted husband act… just buy her some other pretty earrings. Minami-ssi would prefer the earrings over the bracelet, too."
"Ajusshi's wife is quite fortunate. She has a husband who thinks of her before his own reward."
"Kuhum, right… Yeon Hwawoo is right. Earrings would be better than a bracelet for a young lady."
In the end, father took Minami into consideration and chose the bracelet. There was only one other reward left. Before Minami picked it, we gathered in one place as promised before.
"Make sure your health and mana is recovered. If a raid boss appears, I'll tie him down with a huge skill, so use your strongest skills before it causes any casualties. Got it?"
"Couldn't we have just warned the other ability users? If people end up getting hurt, it's on you, Mastiford-ssi."
"Raid bosses automatically focus on the party that cleared the Event Dungeon. Other people won't get hurt unless they try to get in our way. Don't look down on an SS-rank ability user!"
"Mm, well, okay."
I was kidding of course. Once Mastiford's mana was completely recovered, I believed she could restrain the raid boss just like she said. Now that I had experienced clearing a dungeon with her, I fully understood where her confidence came from.
If only she was a bit more serious about her fights, she could become much stronger… Perhaps her clumsiness was a side-effect of obtaining such a strong ability so suddenly. I didn't need to worry. I believed she would realize it by herself one day. I just hoped it wouldn't be in a situation of life or death.
After we all had a good rest, Minami took the earrings and finished the reward distribution. Everyone tensed up and prepared for the raid boss to appear. However, a fanfare rang out once again.
[You completely cleared an A-rank Event Dungeon! All party members gain 1 bonus stat!]
[You will now return.]
"Eh? What about the raid boss?"
"There is none! When a raid boss appears, the clear reward is given out, then it pops out after the ground collapses. In any case, hurry up and gather! I'm going to cast anti-recognition magic!"
Leaving behind the sense of emptiness we felt, we quickly gathered around Mastiford. She mumbled something to herself then opened her hands. At the same time, a black whirlpool appeared below us, and I once again lost consciousness.
When I woke up, we were at the shopping mall where the Gate was. When the Gate suddenly disappeared and revealed the shopping mall, the Guardians protecting the area became startled and started looking around. We did our best to hide any trace of us being there as we made our way out. Just like that, we took care of a source of trouble without having to face a raid boss.
Since I had to deal with the giant spider's corpse and Bluestone, Arachne's corpse and Bluestone were also left for me to take care of.
Ability users could create an ability user-specific account at the bank, meaning the account could be under an assumed name. Although there was a catch that the ability user needed some way to prove his identity to use the account, it was more than made up for by the fact that it could be used anywhere in the world.
I wrote down everyone's bank account to evenly distribute the gains from Arachne and to give each of them 10 percent of the gains from the giant spider. As we had partied together, there was at least that much trust between us.
After we had planned everything out, we were done with our day.
"Huu, thanks for listening to my request. Sumire, Yeon Hwawoo, Yungoong Ajusshi. With this, I'll forgive the two of you for refusing to enter my organization."
"You were still holding that against us?"
I remembered her saying she was weak in close-combat, but her elbows certainly hurt. After silencing me, Mastiford offered father a handshake.
"I liked how you charged in without fear, Ajusshi. You were pretty strong."
"Hahaha, you were cool too, young lady. I'd be happy to be in a team with you in the future."
"You're more honest now! If it's Ajusshi, just contact me at any time. You'll always be welcome!"
After fighting together, we were much less on guard against each other. Moreover, by fighting together, we confirmed that we were virtuous people. After shaking hands with father, Mastiford hugged Minami again.
"Sumire! Thanks for coming all the way from Japan for me. I love you!"
"Me too, unni!"
Although I only found out later, it seemed they had met each other before after talking in the communication channel. That was why Minami had flown over from Japan so wholeheartedly. Perhaps it was because they were both actively working as ability users, but they were certainly quick to act.
"You can sleep over at my place today. Mom said she'd prepare something delicious."
"Wow, thanks, unni!"
"Well, I'm off."
Because the two of them looked like they'd continue for a while, I wanted to quickly get away. When I tried to leave after waving my hand, Mastiford hurriedly grabbed my wrist.
"Th… Thanks for coming. Although it wasn't as much as me, y-you at least had the strength to back up your confidence."
She was still embracing Minami, not showing me her face. However, I knew she was being sincere. Feeling my impression of her becoming better and better, I answered, "Yeah, it's good that you know. I'm off then."
"D-Do you… want to come too? To my place."
"No, I'm fine. Who knows what'll happen if I go?"
"My house is a normal home!"
I found it funny that an SS-rank ability user who could build a mansion out of gold was living in a normal home. Well, she did mention she was staying at her mom's place. With a smile, I lightly shook her hand and let go.
"Then see you later. Same for you Minami-ssi. You really were tough. I'll see you later."
"Y-Yes. Take good care of me, Yeon Hwawoo-nim!"
"Yeon Hwawoo, I'll see you later."
"Yeah, Kang Yungoong Ajusshi."
After exchanging a strange goodbye with Minami and an awkward goodbye with father, I turned around. Lizard Knight's Scale Armor was making a pleasant clicking sound.
A lot had happened. It was a good opportunity to see other dungeon explorers' strengths, and a good opportunity to explore a dungeon that had appeared on Earth.
I felt good. The bone-chilling danger I felt for an instant while fighting Arachne. The Divine Speed that I activated at the perfect moment without saying anything. Plus, the Thunder Beast I obtained.
Everything was satisfactory.
'How fun. I might become addicted.'
If I were to give it a review, I would rate it all 5 stars. I felt an exhilarating surge of strength that went beyond what could be described with numbers, and came not from heightened tension, but from something more fundamental. I couldn't hide the smile coming out of my mouth.
The world was a beautiful place.
Dungeons! Monsters! I didn't know who set these dangerous things loose in this world. But I knew one thing for certain: They were making me stronger!
"I will become the strongest."
The strongest that no one could dare to go against! Pledging to myself once more, I began to head toward the trade center. It was then that I received a call from Yua.
[Oppa, where are you? Did you register as an ability user yet?]
"Yua! Yeah, oppa hit a jackpot in his first hunt too!"
[Really? So cool! … How much did you make?]
"Hundreds of millions! I'll bring some fried chicken on my way back. If there's anything else you want, just tell me."
[Fried chicken! I love you, oppa!]
"Yeah yeah, oppa loves Yua too. Just wait a little longer!"
Ah, it was truly a perfect day. There was nothing better than eating chicken with one's younger sister!