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"Salamander? Does anyone here have the water attribute?"
Jayden asked as he stretched, but there was no 17 year old cadet who had accepted the mana of water. At the very least, one had to have undergone enlightenment to do so. It seemed Jayden didn't expect much, as he held up his sword without being disappointed.
"Well, I'm sure it'll be easy."
I also took out my handgun. A Salamander of that size should be low-intermediate rank grade 6.
Eight people were more than enough to kill it. But what worried me was how easy it seemed.
The team members walked forward with their senses heightened.
"Oh, there it is."
Jayden pointed at the Salamander loafing around on the ground.
"…So you were right. I guess it's true you can find dog t.u.r.d if you want to use it for medicine."
"It's the other way, r.e.t.a.r.d."
Jayden glared at me but quietly asked Kim Jingyu.
"Wasn't I right?"
"The Proverb. That you can find dog t.u.r.d if you want to use it for medicine."
"It's the opposite, you can't find dog t.u.r.d even if you want to use it for medicine."
After realizing his mistake, Jayden glanced at Yoo Yeonha, fearful that he had disappointed her. But Yoo Yeonha seemed uninterested in our conversation, as she imbued her magic power into her whip and prepared for battle.
"Get ready. Though, if it's a switch, it should be a piece of cake. Huup!"
Yoo Yeonha swung her whip, which shot towards the Salamander's tail like a snake.
With its tail tied up by Yoo Yeonha's whip, the Salamander couldn't use its most powerful attack, firebreath.
Immediately afterwards, Kim Jingyu shot an arrow at its eye, while the warriors rushed forward to cut its skin.
In the blink of an eye, the Salamander was killed.
There wasn't anything for me to do.
"Easy as pie. That was amazing, Yoo Yeonhssi. How did you instantly grab its tail like that?"
Jayden flattered Yoo Yeonha, to which she returned a smile.
Feeling vain at how easy the fight was, I stepped towards them.
At that moment…
Thwick. I tripped on a rock. I fell forward silently and instinctively grabbed onto what was in front of me. Most likely, it was Yoo Yeonha's head.
A high-pitched scream rang out.
At the same time, a sharp and unnatural object brushed past my hand and Yoo Yeonha's hair.
Yoo Yeonha fell.
"W-What? Is it an ambus.h.!.+?"
Jayden made a fuss as he pointed his weapon in all directions. Soon, his eyes landed on me. I was kneeled with my hand ramming Yoo Yeonha's head to the ground.
Jayden and the rest of the cadets stared blankly at a loss for words.
An ominous and dreary silence descended.
Yoo Yeonha's said coldly. I could feel my heart contracting. I immediately took my hands off and pretended like nothing happened.
Yoo Yeonha staggered up and gave me a deathly glare without caring for her messed up hair.
"Huh? What's that?"
At that moment, Hazuki pointed at the wall. Thanks to Hazuki's insensitive interruption, I could finally catch a breath of air.
But when I looked at the direction Hazuki was pointing at, I saw an arrow stuck in the cave's wall.
Then, I finally understood the situation.
The sound of something cutting through the air and that strange brus.h.i.+ng sensation… It wasn't hard to figure out what just occurred.
Yoo Yeonha's head turned with a creak to the arrow. I was genuinely terrified. When she discovered the arrow on the wall, her eyes widened.
Though it wasn't what I intended at all, I immediately let out a dry cough and bluffed.
"There's no need to say thanks, Yoo Yeonhssi. We're teammates after all."
"Wow. How did you know? I didn't feel it at all!"
Hazuki asked in genuine awe.
"…Sharpshooters have good perception."
Perception or whatever, the real reason had to be my high luck. All eight of us had perception that far surpa.s.sed that of normal humans. If the others couldn't detect anything, I most certainly couldn't have either.
That arrow was likely a trap that used magic power. I mean, just look at the power of that thing, it completely dug itself into the wall! It was too strong to be a trap for training.
"That was close. Are you unhurt, Yoo Yeonhssi?"
I approached the arrow while making idle remarks.
I could hear the sound of Yoo Yeonha's breath from behind me. Was she forgiving me? Or was she still angry about what happened?
In any case, I squatted down in front of the arrow and turned on my laptop.
「Killing Power - 4/10」
「Additional Effect - Silent Ambush」
—An arrow tipped with nerve poison.
It was as I expected.
"I'll take this."
I put the arrow in my bag along with my laptop
Yoo Yeonha spoke. I flinched for a moment before turning around. Yoo Yeonha had tidied herself up and was now staring at me while biting her lips.
Jayden asked as he glanced at Yoo Yeonha's face to see her expression.
"Yeonssi, are you okay?"
"Yes, got it."
After that, we walked without much talking.
After walking past the Salamander corpse, the scenery began to change. The dark surroundings began to light up, and plants and trees began to appear. Surprisingly, the trees were red like maple trees.
Furthermore, a wind began to blow. But it was far from a cool refres.h.i.+ng wind. Rather, it was a hot wind that made it hard to breathe.
Jayden murmured as he took off his outer clothes. Jin Hoseung, Kim Jingyu, Lee Shaung, Hazuki, and I also took off a layer of clothes. Only Yoo Yeonha remained fully clothed. Even as she sweated in buckets, she protected her dignity.
"Haa… It must be a Field type."
Dungeons were generally separated into two types - Stage and Field.
Like its name suggested, Stage Dungeons had multiple layers that had to be cleared in order, while Field Dungeons just had monsters that had to be killed until the boss monster appeared.
"Did the advance team hunt everything? There's nothing here."
After walking for about 20 minutes, Jayden yawned, seemingly bored.
"No, each team had different entrances. If we started from the east, the other team should have started from the west. Also, I can see a group of monsters up ahead."
On the tiny craters up ahead, there were four Salamanders and 11 Peanut Flames.
"15 in total, Salamanders and Peanut Flames. Looks like it'll be tough."
Hazuki's eye widened.
I held up my gun, at which Jayden gave a condescending sneer.
"Pft, what can you do with a gun? You won't even be able to kill a Peanut Flame… r.e.t.a.r.d."
Jayden whispered the last bit so that Yoo Yeonha couldn't hear it.
I had to admit, with this training handgun, I couldn't pierce through the Salamander's skin. Peanut Flames were also monsters capable of wielding magic power, and the flame barriers they constantly covered themselves with gave them a tough exterior.
But I wasn't completely out of options. If I hit three bullets in the same spot, I should be able to break through the flame barrier.
Jayden twisted his lips as he released his sword qi.
"If you're so confident, do you want to make a bet?"
But I still wasn't strong enough to beat Jayden. Just when I was about to refuse…
A whip flew in like lightning, striking the ground between Jayden and me.
Jayden and I both turned towards Yoo Yeonha.
But she only spoke two words with a dead-cold face.
Same time. Chae Nayun's team had already suffered various difficulties. The main cause was Sven, whose body had been paralyzed by a trap.
"G.o.d, where did that arrow even come from?"
At Chae Nayun's grumbling, Sven murmured quietly.
"You can leave me behi—"
"Leave you behind? If you know you're a bother, just stay put."
Even without Sven, Chae Nayun had led her teammates this far. If she could clear the Dungeon, she would receive an overwhelming score with her individual result and the teamwork she showed. Chae Nayun couldn't give up the only chance to win against Kim Suho.
"What should we do?"
Demian, her teammate, asked.
"Wait here for now. I think the Dungeon's boss is up ahead. Can you see it?"
Chae Nayun looked far into the distance.
A giant golem with a body made of lava. The lava spilling from its body clearly marked its territory.
"…Yeah, it has to be the boss."
It was a Magma Golem, a monster that was at least intermediate rank grade 5. Chae Nayun and her team somehow managed to make it here, but they knew they couldn't defeat the Magma Golem even if Sven was fine.
"We won't be able to beat it with just us. Another team should be arriving here soon. Let's join forces."
"…But what if no one chose the same pathway as us?"
"That shouldn't be possible. At least three teams should come here by design."
Other cadets might have thought the choice was random, but Chae Nayun knew something they didn't. A pathway would disappear once three teams entered it.
"Remember, we're graded on our individual performance, not who finishes first."
Sven couldn't hear Chae Nayun's heated voice.
To him, his entire surroundings were dead silent. He felt as though he was in a vacuum. In this comfort, he slowly collected his breath. The guilt he felt towards his teammates, his self-loathing and inferiority complex all seemed to disappear, as tranquility descended in his mind.
—Child, don't you want to get stronger?
At that moment, a bewitching voice invaded his heart, causing a ripple in the serene surface. Sven opened his eyes slightly. Two brilliant spheres of light lit up the dark sky. As though they were eyes, the spheres of light curved to an arc before pouring into Sven's pupils.
—Wasn't it painful? I can give you power.
The voice became clearer and pounded Sven's heart. Feeling the wave of emotions surging from the deepest depths of his heart, Sven teared up.
I want to get stronger. I want to get stronger. I want to meet the expectations of my country's people, who hails me as their greatest hope, and the expectations of my parents, who believes I will become the world's greatest Hero. I don't want to suffer from this endless sense of hopelessness and defeat. I don't want to hate myself anymore…
—You only have to pay a cheap price. It's far lighter than giving up everything.
Sven nodded his head at the warm voice.
And he slowly reached out towards the gentle light caressing him.