Chapter 48 - Day 12, 9th Floor Egg
“This... Jackpot. We seem to have found it!”
Their current location was the research centre. It was a personal work and office space for the senior researchers of this facility, the druids.
“I look forward to seeing what it looks like. Leader-nim.” Yoon Chan-hee’s right hand man, Chang Ga-ram said in an excited voice. They found the clue much faster than expected.
“...” Instead of expressing joy, Yoon Chan-hee read the parchment once more. He wasn’t specifically pleased. He just wanted to confirm the existence of an item.
“Check to see if any additional people have joined.”
Yoon Chan-hee looked at a map of the facility on one side of the laboratory. Manual creation was his forte. His followers weren’t just trained in the dungeon, but also in reality. It was thanks to that training that he was able to grasp this floor easily.
In a situation where their field of view was limited, the first thing to do was use the luminous stick to display their location. In this way, those who followed Yoon Chan-hee could easily meet up again. The teamwork enabled them to avoid the gorillas, overthrow other explorers and join up with Yoon Chan-hee’s team.
With the people who joined Yoon Chan-hee, he was able to grasp most of the stairs in a few hours. There seemed to be no one strong, including ‘kings’, on the ninth floor. At best, there were those who alternated between using the tickets and running towards the stairs on the seventh and eighth floors.
As more subordinates joined and reported the place where they started, Yoon Chan-hee was able to grasp half of the dungeon. There were no other large forces apart from his group. This conclusion led him to a slow, stable search instead of a drastic exploration. The result was the item in his hands. It contained the work that the researchers of this facility were pursuing. It was a report on the finished product.
“There seems to be no additional members.” Chang Ga-ram said as he returned to the laboratory.
“It has been quite a long time... Something must have happened to the six people.”
“Jang Yoon-mi. Lee Tae-hoon. Kwak Chang-sung. Yeom Chang-jin. Oh Jin-soo...” Their dead bodies hadn’t been found yet. Maybe they were in the part of the map that Yoon Chan-hee hadn’t explored yet. It was the passage leading to the hatchery and third feeding room in the west.
“Even so... Do you think there is something more risky in the core of this facility? Certainly, the monsters on this floor are different from the previous ones.” Chang Ga-ram glanced at his left arm that was still recovering. If it wasn’t for the potions, then his arm wouldn’t be healing after a one-on-one fight against a gorilla near the starting point.
He was someone who trained to fight against four people, so he was able to suppress one gorilla. Of course, that had happened when Yoon Chan-hee wasn’t around. “In addition, Leader-nim wasn’t with them...”
Yoon Chan-hee had met three subordinates immediately near the start. They were subordinates who didn’t excel in combat. He used them to hunt an equal number of gorillas.
“We’re ready, so we’ll go when you give the word.”
“Do it.” Chang Ga-ram left and Yoon Chan-hee looked at the map again. Chang Ga-ram’s hypothesis made sense. The hatching facilities were at the core of this facility. Something there might have killed the six people.
‘But would such a key area be set as the starting point for explorers?’
That wasn’t the dungeon that he knew. If he didn’t have a key then he couldn’t hatch ‘it’, and he wouldn’t have received the clue if he started there.
“Yes!” The 19 people in his group moved in unison at his instructions. They followed Yoon Chan-hee’s instructions with no complaints or hesitation.
A group of five gorillas attacked them in the central hall. His subordinates carried out the tasks assigned to them with amazing organizational power.
[Unique Talent - No.55 Management.]
It was the ability to detect the abilities of others as well as situations where those abilities could be used properly, dramatically improving the talents and abilities of those in his group. Yoon Chan-hee didn’t care about the battle.
It was a policy that he created himself. He knew there would be no losses as long as they followed his orders correctly. He just stared down at the parchment as his subordinates got into a formation. It was the journal of the senior researcher who once managed this place.
[The sowing stage had no difficulties. Lowering intelligence and forming obedience to humans has succeeded. It seems like the desire to tame the sacred beast will come true.]
[An unexpected problem occurred. Even though digestive organs were formed, its nutrition is done solely through an energy transfer from the divinity. All other nutritional supplements have failed. All specimens have died of starvation.]
[A Malon priest came up with the idea. What if we directly supply the energy that is the basis of divine power, not actual divine power? Human desire.]
[No 115. has showed improvement. A parasitic object in the host has been created. There is just one problem. Only one person can be a host. With the desires of just one individual as a driving force, it will be difficult to extract the full performance of the sacred creature. At best, it will just be a common beast... It seems necessary to improve it even further.]
[The improvement of No. 175 has failed. There has been no progress in the last 15 attempts. The sacred creature doesn’t follow any instructions except for those that come from the one who has become the host. It is impossible to even control who will become the host. The larvae instinctively detects the best host around it. Once the host has been chosen, the parasite will begin synchronization and will take a form that reflects the host.]
[The plan is terminated. All of this was an impossible experiment... Fortunately, the Emperor seems interested. He thinks of it as a special pet. I’ve decided to prepare one fertilized egg as a present. If I am lucky then I might be able to recoup my budget. I will prepare one with the best traits...]
The journal ended there. The egg in the incubation room was probably the sacred creature. His personality wasn’t the type to go crazy over something like this. But this time, Yoon Chan-hee’s heart beat a little faster. It was for a practical reason rather than emotional.
It was a sacred creature for someone called the Emperor, so he could see the advantage of becoming the master of a creature like that. “The suppression has been completed. There are no injuries.” Yoon Chan-hee nodded as he heard Chang Ga-ram’s report.
The gorillas had already disappeared from his interests. He wanted to get his hands on the sacred creature. At this moment, it was the only thing that attracted his attention.
I knew why gorillas weren’t seen here. It was cold. Really f*cking cold.
[Current Balance: 722/741. A cold state. Health will be reduced by three points per second.]
[Current Balance: 719/741. A cold state. Health will be reduced by three points per second.]
Disable. After getting rid of the patterns on my hands, the ‘cold state’ disappeared. Due to the penalty of the inscribed patterns, I was weaker to the cold when it was activated. Apart from that, I also had the cold penalty from the Salamander and Lizardman Essence.
My body was weak to the cold, but the place itself was some type of frozen storehouse. Display cabinets filled the space. Beyond the frosted and translucent glass, ‘eggs’ of various sizes and shapes were frozen. Sometimes instead of the eggs, there was a green liquid with a fetal life-form floating around.
Every time I looked at one, an explanation of the creature popped up. Perhaps it would take me a whole two days to see all of them in here.
Maybe this was the ‘reward’ of the stairs. Just like the Kasava in the forest, some of the frozen creatures could be used as livestock or resources in my city.
I looked at the floor and the ceiling. There were pipes stretching from the cabinets and along the walls. The longer I followed it, the warmer it became. As I entered a space at the end of the incubation room, it was so warm that I didn’t need a hot pack.
Instead of a wall of shelves, it contained something else. The pipes were gathering towards a device. It was a rectangular device, similar to Talia’s generator. The letters on the device said it was a machine that used geothermal heat.
I moved away from the generator and stopped in front of a device that reached my waist. It looked like the World Cup trophy. The shape was a pedestal that supported a sphere. The sphere was the size of a soccer ball and seemed like it was made out of amber. There was something inside it. The fuel...
“...!” It sounded like a big drum was ringing through the space. I stepped back. I could clearly feel it. I felt the vibration on my skin. The ringing sound came from that little ball.
[◆◆◆’s Egg. Type: Pending Rank ???.]
[The egg of an artificially synthesized beast. It was an object to be presented to the Emperor of the Bondi Empire, but ultimately didn’t meet its scheduled master. It still doesn’t have a form or any abilities. In order to break it out of the shell, it is necessary to remove the pressure that is maintaining the surface of the egg.]
The surface of the egg ran unceasingly while I was reading the words. A dim shape seemed to be swimming inside it.
“Hey... Wait a minute.” It felt like the egg would crack at any moment, but the surface still seemed fine. The pedestal of the egg was connected to the generator through a pipe. On one side of the generator was a control panel with levers and buttons. I focused on deciphering the structure.
There was no liquid crystal, but there were stones piled up on one side like an abacus.
Perhaps... The incubation room was basically in a cold state. There was the word ‘heat’ next to the numbers, so it seemed like the generator could be used to get rid of the cold.
Right now, almost all that heat energy was concentrated on the egg. I got a sense of the operation but trying to move the levers.
[Key: ‘Master Druid’s Master Key’ is required.]
I immediately imagined the office area that I saw on the map of the facility.
An image of the ninth floor was immediately drawn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t leisurely take the time to do this process.
Footsteps were heard from far away. It wasn't just one. There were at least ten. Those guys.
Apart from the very first woman I killed, I encountered a total of six people who brought lanterns. After killing and checking their belongings, they had the same configuration of items as the woman. Even though I moved across a fairly large area, six of the seven people I encountered were all under the same leader. The meaning was clear.
That leader would be the only obstacle on this floor. It was likely that he had gathered all his companions together and come here. This meant he also found some clues.
The rules were simple. Attack and defend. Those people had found the key and were searching for answers here. I had to stop them.
“...Here...” A person’s voice was heard. I had memorized the location of the nearest staircase just in case of an emergency, so I immediately acted.
Darkness Cloud. Activate.
“What is this...?” I didn’t fear the number of footsteps and boldly ran forward.
If they didn’t have an item similar to my pendant of magnification, then they would see me when I was within one metre. In other words, if I attacked with Darkness Cloud activated then they wouldn’t be able to see me.
I could see the people at the front on the edge of my vision. I activated the patterns on my hands, causing the cold air to hurt my skin. I raised my palms and caused a long range explosion.
“Ack!” The first one was down. I was confident after receiving a small amount of experience.
The same was true of their colleagues that I had already killed, but these people didn’t have good specs. The experience I received wasn’t properly distributed and was basically trash. I aimed another explosion at them. Within seconds, a second person was screaming.
Deadly attacks coming from darkness would deal a mental blow. This alone would cause their morale to fall significantly. They weren’t trained soldiers, so it was a natural response from a human.
But… "5 o’clock. Lantern.” I heard a loud voice outside of my field of view. And at that moment...
The reaction could be described as almost simultaneous. All the lantern lights aimed for this side and completely removed the darkness. The dozen or so lights didn’t overlap at all. It took away all the darkness around me.
Of course, the lanterns couldn’t lift the Darkness Cloud but… "T-There is a strange lump!” A black chunk in the bright space would definitely be the most obvious target.
“C. Flare.” The voice was heard again. Some of the lantern lights diminished, then several flares burst in unison from different directions.
Soon, almost all the lanterns were turned off but half of the cooling room was lit by the red lights of the flares. I lifted Darkness Cloud and looked at the owner of the voice who had given brief instructions.
At that moment, I could finally see him well.
“Yoon Chan-hee.” I reached out. It was a blast that precisely targeted Yoon Chan-hee.
But the explosion stopped a little ahead of the target point. A big man stood in front of Yoon Chan-hee.
He raised his arms in a X shape and blocked the explosion, letting out a loud groan of pain as he did so. But even though there were burns, the man’s arms were fine.
Was it a body hardening technique? I had seen something similar on the sixth floor... Was it strong enough to stop my explosion?
It wasn’t just him. In the meantime, two other people had positioned themselves in front of Yoon Chan-hee. One was holding a shield. The other one was wearing thin metal armor. Although they had different characteristics, they took the same action in unison.
I fired two explosions as a test. Although it felt overwhelming, the two explosions didn’t pierce through. There was also no noticeable reduction in the HP Bar above their heads.
"You said it during the day.” A voice was heard from behind the wall of three people. “It would be safer to go down the stairs.”
“I can say it again if you want to hear it once more.” I responded casually while searching for an appropriate answer.
“No. I think you will be the one to listen this time.”
I made a decision. Number two. No matter how solid they were, I had even managed to blow a hole through the gorillas. I put forward one hand and imagined an explosion that was as large as possible...
A sharp sensation struck my left thigh.
[Current Balance: 432/741. Frostbite. Health will be reduced by 12 points per second.]
Frost was stuck to the entire left side of my body. Icicles the size of a child’s hand were stuck to my left thigh and side.
I destroyed the next icicles coming from the same direction.
It was coming from a direction that wasn’t brightened by the flares. The direction was from the entrance to the incubator. The flares were in the 9 o’clock and 10 o’clock direction from me, causing a very narrow gap that the light from the flares couldn’t reach.
I knew this but... I hadn’t thought about it. It meant that part was deliberately darkened. I wasn’t the only one who used the technique of having a conversation to buy time and earn attention.
“I’ve heard a lot of rumours about you.” A man in his mid-20s walked out of the darkness.
He had been walking slightly behind the party from the beginning. “Nice to meet you, I am Chang Ga-ram.” The man waved his hands and pieces of ice were created in the air and flew towards me. Was it magic that deal with ice, similar to Yoon Ji-hee’s wind magic?
[Current Balance: 362/741. Frostbite. Health will be reduced by 12 points per second.]
“...!” A ridiculous amount of my health was reduced. I needed to somehow supplement my health with blood-sucking. I leapt through the ice and aimed my palm towards the crowd around Yoon Chan-hee.
"Ugh!" Although my health was reduced by more than half, that health was almost instantly restored. The distance was much wider compared to when I was facing the gorilla, so the damage was smaller, but the person I hit had lower health than the gorillas.
As a result, there was damage. Various arrows were fired from behind the shield and the projectiles hit my body.
[Current Balance: 329/741. Frostbite. Poison. Health will decrease by 17 points per second.]
Very good. I avoided the barrage of ice and arrows and threw my body behind the nearest shelf.
[Current Balance: 262/741. Frostbite. Health will decrease by 21 points per second.]
Once again, a large amount of health was reduced, probably due to my weak cold resistance. However, if I turned off the patterns then it was as good as being unarmed. My fist had less power than the explosion and I wouldn’t even be able to hit anyone.
I took out the potion received from Kim Tae-hyun. But it just changed the 21 decrease in health to zero. The amount and type of recovery depended on how much was drunk.
I couldn’t help laughing. Properly. These guys acted really properly. I imagined that it would be difficult to deal with an organized group, but to think my first opponents turned out like this. If I wasn’t alone then things might be different. Even just one more person could distract or attack from the other side.
I wanted to see her. Su-jin. Really.
“There is a staircase near the entrance to the hatchery.” Yoon Chan-hee’s voice was heard from beyond the shelf. “If you somehow make it down there, then you won’t die.” There wasn’t any sarcasm in his voice.
Yet it was clear. “It wouldn’t be so bad to give it a try. Isn’t your specialty carrying out risks?”
... Did this bastard have bad feelings towards me? I could definitely feel those emotions. It was a declaration of war.
“I’ve received orders to keep you alive until he gets back from the work.” Chang Ga-ram said as there was the sound of walking. Yoon Chan-hee was going inside the incubation room.
Of course, it wasn’t that he didn’t care about me. He knew that the explosions from my hand were powerful. He would just maintain the state of confrontation without taking any risks. It was until Yoon Chan-hee came back from the incubation room.
As the temperature around me fell, frost started to form. It was due to Chang Ga-ram doing something.
[Current Balance: 276/741. Frostbite. Poison will decrease health by 3 points per second.]
“...Dammit.” Despite the effect of the medicine, my health was being reduced again. My eyes gradually closed as I became drowsy.
“Honestly, it is the first time I have seen you myself. Based on the stories, you seemed really great.” Chang Ga-ram’s voice came closer. “But not anymore. No matter how good a person is... The height that you can climb is fixed. Someday, you will meet a rock and will surely break.”
A taunt. If I left this place then there would be projectiles and icicles that would turn me into a beehive. It couldn’t be solved using Darkness Cloud since they would just aim at the darkness.
“No matter how hard you try, an egg can’t break a rock.” Chang Ga-ram continued.
“I see.” I answered in order to try and maintain consciousness.
“Indeed. But honestly, you already know that. You must have felt like this all along, before briefly living a happy dream inside this dungeon.”
[Current Balance: 193/741. Frostbite. Poison will decrease health by 6 points per second.]
It was becoming cold. My eyes closed. I wasn’t sleepy, but it felt like I was. he helplessness I felt before entering the dungeon. The feeling of not being able to do anything further due to the circumstances...
“Just go back to that life...”
... Close my eyes as the cold,
“Ah. You jerk.” I raised my nails to my forehead.
I scratched down using all my strength. The half-frozen skin was torn. Now I regained some consciousness. I opened my eyes. I no longer felt sleepy. Come to think of it.
“That bastard is a bit younger than I am...”
“Yes. People are prideful about age. Aren’t you?"
“... Well, it doesn’t matter as long as I can eat you.” I knew I didn’t have much time. I couldn’t see the answer. The only thing I had done was stop myself from falling asleep.
So... Somehow. In order to win. I moved my feet.
It was starving. Originally, it should have emerged from the egg a long time ago. The egg shell was the best environment where it could live almost semi-permanently...
The hunger didn’t just come from hunger. It wanted to taste. The sweetness that it had never experienced before.
The tiny body shook as it heard sounds nearby. How long had it been? There were things to eat nearby! If only there wasn’t this eggshell suppressing it. It wanted to taste straight away. There were more than a dozen delicious tastes, but there was a special flavour among them.
It wanted to eat. It was an instinct even before the ego was formed. And it waited. The shell broke.
[The conditions are met.]
[Unique Talent - No.99 Underdog.]