Records of Dungeon Travel Chapter 69
#28. Spirit Horse
Kim Jin-Woo immediately looked around and noticed that the other mercenaries were on their knees. Boreas’ presence was so fierce that he hadn’t noticed it. He belatedly followed suit, but Boreas was already giving him an unpleasant look.
“He’s a recently hired mercenary. He used to hang around on the 9th floor, but he seems unable to break out of his old habits…” The Black Merchant slowly shifted to block Boreas’ view as he made up an excuse.
The fact that Kim Jin-Woo had to bow to someone else was already remarkable. Boreas could have simply beheaded him if he desired, but he decided to let the matter rest with one final statement. “He thinks too lightly of the nobles.”
“As an apology on my behalf, I’ll prepare a few extra items that Lord Boreas might be interested in. Please relieve your anger.” Although it was obvious that Boreas was feeling reluctant, the Black Merchant managed to convince him.
It was perhaps because of this level of wit and gutsiness that the Black Merchant could confidently traverse across the Underworld as if it were his own backyard.
“I hope the things you brought are of interest. Otherwise, you and your imbecile mercenaries will taste my wrath.” Boreas finally relieved his anger a little.
“Ah, of course! I’ll only bring you the finest and most precious of artifacts!” The Black Merchant’s voice trembled despite his air of cheerfulness.
As Boreas’ attention faded away, Kim Jin-Woo breathed a belated sigh of relief. It wasn’t that he had been negligent. The Black Merchant’s warnings aside, the sheer smell of blood and Boreas’ presence alone had been enough to put him on edge.
But that was precisely the problem. Boreas was incredibly powerful and violent. Even Iron-Blooded Anatolius, who had visited him in his labyrinth prior, wasn’t so excessive.
It was uncertain if Anatolius had simply hid his true strength, or if he had suffered a power level penalty for leaving his residing floor, but regardless, Boreas was clearly the strongest labyrinth master he had met thus far.
For Kim Jin-Woo to bow in front of such a presence was to deny his instinct to fight for survival. It wasn’t an easy task. Even at this moment, he had to hold in his desire to stand.
“Follow me!” Boreas roared loudly, and the procession started moving once again.
“Did I not tell you? Boreas is different from the other 10th Floor nobles.” The Black Merchant completed his deal with Boreas and moved quite a distance away from the labyrinth before finally speaking.
It was as he said. Boreas was indeed different. He hadn’t even let the Black Merchant enter his labyrinth, nor had he ever let his defenses down, even for a single moment.
Unlike other nobles, who had seemed joyous as though Christmas came early, Boreas had squeezed every last drop out of the Black Merchant to get the best deal possible, while only taking items that would aid him in combat.
Boreas was truly a tenacious one. After all, they had first met him in the midst of a battle.
“So that’s the true power of a baron.” From the highly disciplined creatures to the mighty labyrinth master, Kim Jin-Woo felt as if he had finally witnessed what the 10th Floor truly had to offer.
“It seems you took on unnecessary losses because of me. I’m sorry.” Thinking of the additional offerings the Black Merchant had made to appease Boreas, Kim Jin-Woo belatedly apologized.
“Even if it weren’t for you, Boreas would have found something else to nitpick about and would have done the same regardless. That’s what he’s always done in the past, and will continue doing.”
“What a disgusting guy.” Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t help but laugh. But he remembered his previous deals with the Black Merchant, so he quickly changed his tune. “Or, I suppose, he’s just being incredibly resourceful.”
“If there were only people like you and Boreas, the Black Merchants would be out of business. Out of business, I tell you!”
“At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to make a living, aren’t we?” Kim Jin-Woo quipped. At his slightly sarcastic remark, the Black Merchant simply shook his head.
“We should head back,” Kim Jin-Woo said. His desired goal of meeting and understanding the true power of a Baron-grade noble had been met with the introduction of Boreas, and he had even been able to update the map of the 10th Floor. It had been a rather fruitful expedition.
“Yes, we should.” The Black Merchant opened a portal, and the procession followed through.
After returning to the labyrinth, Kim Jin-Woo immediately gathered Dominique and his aides and declared, “We’ll take Boreas the Wind Piercer as a benchmark. Due to the strict security, we weren’t able to venture deep inside his labyrinth, but let’s estimate the extent of his strength based on what we saw.”
“To start off, I saw 25 Hero-Grade soldiers, and that only accounts for those stationed on the outer defenses. Add another 150 Elite-Grade soldiers to that. And I don’t expect those numbers to be indicative of their full strength, which should be multiple times that of what we saw.”
Based on what he had heard from the Black Merchant, Boreas the Wind Piercer liked to constantly travel around the vicinity rather than to stay put in a single location, as his name implied. As such, it was likely that there were more troops stationed around the perimeter of the labyrinth than at its core.
Based on all the intel he had, Kim Jin-Woo was able to make a rough estimate of Boreas’ full strength: Around 50 to 55 Hero-Grade summons, around 750 to 800 Elite-Grade soldiers, and a Labyrinth Core at level 9, at the bare minimum.
Otherwise, the 10th Floor was unlikely to be significantly different from ‘Graveyard’ or the ‘Land of Greed’ in strength.
Kim Jin-Woo began to rush to strengthen his labyrinth based on those estimated figures. In order to expand his maxed-out military capacity, he used a generous amount of down gems on his regent’s estate.
Yoon-Hee’s labyrinth, the Party Hall, was already being upgraded from Level 4 to Level 5. and the Graveyard was also quickly restoring the facilities lost due to Valicius’s overextended summoning spell.
At the same time, he also supported Uther, who had played a major role in the last battle. The Labyrinth of Greed, which had been stagnant due to a lack of military funds, got its gears moving once more and began a phase of rapid development.
Perhaps the busiest person in the process was the Black Merchant himself. He had to make multiple trips to fulfill the massive orders that came with such large scale upgrades.
And when the Party Hall reached level 5, Kim Jin-Woo and the nagas would begin their march. The footfalls of war would then fall once again on the 9th floor.
Yoon-Hee’s bouts of idleness became longer when the Party Hall was upgraded to level 4. She had always spent a lot of time zoning out, but now the issue had gotten worryingly serious.
“Mm.” Kim Jin-Woo suddenly stopped giving orders as he noticed Yoon-Hee’s vacant look, and simply fell silent. He had a feeling that she would need more time. He called out, “Angela.”
Kim Jin-Woo turned to face Angela, who was hiding in the shadows, and whispered, “Keep an eye out on Yoon-Hee. There are signs that she may recover.”
“Alright. All I need to do is to observe her, is that correct?”
“Just observe her, and if you notice anything unusual, report back to me immediately.”
A dungeon baby’s recovery was terrifying. As one tried to recover their identity, all the hellish memories of their past would be experienced by their mind all at once, creating a monster that couldn’t even tell friend or foe apart.
Considering that Yoon-Hee had been raised in the depths of the 11th floor, in the worst case scenario, not even Quantus nor Ortehaga would be able to deal with her. That was why Kim Jin-Woo wasn’t able to leave the labyrinth and had to constantly monitor the situation.
“How kind.” Angela seemed to have read Kim Jin-Woo’s thoughts and curled her lips. It seemed she was getting upset at him for only thinking about Yoon-Hee, especially when he had been getting busier with all the upgrade projects in the labyrinth.
But Kim Jin-Woo simply brushed Angela’s words aside. There were many limitations to regency.
Unlike his labyrinth, where a detailed status window was always available, it wasn’t easy to understand the exact state of the Graveyard because all that came up were basic messages.
In addition, he didn’t have the luxury of time to fully comprehend the nature of the Graveyard, unlike in the past, when he had been able to observe the full growth of his own labyrinth from the beginning.
It was quite cumbersome to operate multiple labyrinths at the same time, so he hoped that Yoon-Hee would come to her senses as soon as possible.
“She’ll have to regain her mind soon, so her Party Hall can start functioning properly,” Kim Jin-Woo said.
“Yes. I’ll stick by her side and keep an eye out on her. You don’t need to worry.”
“Just be careful.”
At Kim Jin-Woo’s request, Angela reassured him and disappeared.
But eventually, it wasn’t Yoon-Hee that caused a commotion.
Dominique hurriedly looked for Kim Jin-Woo. Kim Jin-Woo’s expression stiffened at her words. She continued,
“Fuck! Explain on the way!” Kim Jin-Woo made his way over as fast as his legs could carry him, with Dominique following closely behind.
“What the fuck is this…?”
In the middle of the open space was Valicius’ corpse. He had already resembled a corpse before this, but he was truly one now.
Upon hearing Dominique’s words, Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t help but curse. “That cunning bastard!”
Kim Jin-Woo quickly gave new orders as Dominique simply blinked, trying to understand what he was saying. “Locate the spirit horse, and have Quantus, Ortehaga, and Balzark accompany the scouts so they won’t be fooled.”
“Yeah, I think he’s found a new body to act as his host.”
“Lead the way.”
Fortunately, it seemed Dominique had already anticipated something like this would happen. It was in fact the best case scenario that Balzark and Ortehaga were watching over the spirit horse.
“My King.” Balzark kneeled with his helmet by his side, and Ortehaga snorted to acknowledge the presence of their master.
“The spirit horse?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.
The spirit horse did, indeed, resemble a living horse. There were scars all over its body, with barding covering those scars. But its appearance wasn’t the important part.
Kim Jin-Woo had rushed over to check on the situation, but the spirit horse seemed tame, with its head held low and Balzark holding onto its reins. The way it occasionally shook its head and loudly snorted almost made Kim Jin-Woo believe that he had panicked for nothing…
Valicius’ Vitality Source had eventually broken and led to his death, and Kim Jin-Woo had almost been fooled into thinking of the spirit horse as the final product of Valicius’ legacy. But there was no way that could be the truth.
Although he had been deprived of the right to rule, Valicius was still the master of his labyrinth. If he had indeed died, there would have been immediate changes to the ownership, regency, and management rights of the labyrinth. But Kim Jin-Woo had yet to see such messages.
As he stared into the spirit horse’s eyes, Kim Jin-Woo took the reins from Balzark. With that, the spirit horse further lowered its head.
“Even this thing knows that the King is its owner,” Balzark remarked. At Balzark’s simple-minded words, the spirit horse seemed to further humble itself. Balzark was, in turn, further impressed.
But Kim Jin-Woo knew the truth. He stared at the spirit horse long enough for their eyes to finally meet.
As if shaken with fright, the spirit horse’s eyes trembled. Kim Jin-Woo smirked and said, “You’re trying really hard, aren’t you, Valicius?”