Records of Dungeon Travel Chapter 76
“Urgh!” Boreas finally pulled himself together after being knocked down by the sudden blasts. The explosions themselves weren’t that big of a deal, but the massive pieces of debris that had fallen from the ceiling were a bigger problem.
He groaned at the horrendous sight that lay in front of him, as he barely managed to stand up from the rocks and dirt that weighed down on his body.
“Lord Boreas!” The lieutenant returned from the passageway and asked, “Are you alright?”
Boreas didn’t even respond to his concerned query. He was still trying to comprehend the tragedy that had occurred right in front of his eyes.
The passageway that had existed just moments prior had now totally collapsed.
Screams and groans could be heard from all over. The soldiers who were still alive considered themselves lucky.
The soldiers who had been near the epicenter of the explosion, or were swept away by the subsequent blast of fire, left not a single trace behind.
“We lost fifty percent of our troops! Those that survived are badly injured! The passageway is also now completely sealed and further advancement is impossible!”
At his lieutenant’s report, Boreas let out a rage-induced howl. “Gaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!”
“What… What did you do?” Uther’s skin crawled at the sight of what had just happened, and finally managed to piece together a few words. “It didn’t look like magic, and yet an explosion that big…”
Kim Jin-Woo didn’t respond, and instead was focused on the screen that was receiving visuals from the last remaining slime in the vicinity of the explosion.
It looked like hell itself. Soldiers crushed by debris, their limbs lost from the explosion, were wailing in agony from all across the passageway. Those fortunate enough to survive were busy climbing over the rocks, desperately trying to rescue those buried alive. It was chaos.
There weren’t even that many that could be rescued. It appeared as though almost half of the troops had been wiped out.
“This should buy some time for the other labyrinth masters, just as I promised,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked
Uther looked at Kim Jin-Woo as if he had just seen a ghost. How he had managed to totally collapse the passageway without any magic was something Uther couldn’t even begin to comprehend. He exclaimed, “You didn’t just buy them time. You’ve dealt such massive damage to their army before the fight has even begun!”
Kim Jin-Woo looked down upon the overly excited Uther and answered, “No. The 10th Floor soldiers are stronger than you think. Look. Even now, survivors are still appearing.”
At those words, Uther turned to the screen and let out an inaudible gasp. Soldiers were climbing out of the pile of dirt and stone, as though the undead were rising from their graves.
“From the way I see it, they’ve lost around twenty percent of their troops, not the forty percent we expected. They’re indeed stupidly tough,” Kim Jin-Woo remarked.
Despite that, the results were better than expected. The main purpose was to block off the passageway and the advancement of the troops, so any damage dealt to the troops directly was simply an added bonus.
This was no sheer luck, either. Those that left their respective floors would suffer a debuff penalty. The farther they were from their labyrinth, the weaker they would become.
Kim Jin-Woo couldn’t help but wonder exactly how many had willingly accepted this penalty as they climbed to the 9th Floor.
It had been ten years since the end of the last war, and most survivors had been left to be wanderers without a home, confined to their own floors. Knowing this fact, Kim Jin-Woo had specifically targeted this weakness in the army, who were unaccustomed to traveling between the different floors.
The darkness of the passageway had blinded their sight, and the long journey upward had only made it more difficult for them to use their senses. All that accumulated into what had just happened.
The explosion itself wasn’t that deadly, but even reducing the army’s strength by ten percent would still have been a massive success. Besides, the survivors were in poor condition to fight.
“I still expected more. How unfortunate.”
Seeing Boreas without a single wound despite having been in the epicenter of the explosion, Kim Jin-Woo was undoubtedly disappointed. The army’s leader had lost his majesty to the mud and debris all over him, but it only served to fuel his rage even further.
“Inform those pathetic labyrinth masters who have locked themselves in their labyrinths. The enemy has lost one-tenth of their troops and are currently in chaos due to having their path blocked.” Kim Jin-Woo gave the order the moment he returned to the Naga’s Fortress, and the nagas, who were all ready and waiting for their commander to return, all roared in unison. He continued, “But we didn’t manage to buy too much time. So tell them to hurry up and keep their promises.”
The Dragon Knights and Rangers all bowed and hastily left the labyrinth.
“Now, it truly begins.”
The labyrinth masters were shocked at the news that the nagas brought forth to them. They couldn’t believe that the enemy had lost a tenth of their troops despite the fact that the war had yet to begin.
And with a fierce war imminent, they knew the nagas had no reason to lie. The power of the Naga’s Fortress was once again proven to be formidable.
“Inform the awaiting troops! We’re moving out!”
However, they couldn’t keep standing around in shock. The enemy’s movements were definitely slowed down by the collapse of the passageway, but all it would take to rectify the problem was to move aside the rocks and debris blocking their path.
Thinking of the enemies who would soon resume their advance, the labyrinth masters left half of their troops to defend their labyrinths while sending the remaining half to the nagas’ aid. The latter troops lined up and marched towards the Naga’s Fortress.
“A hundred dwarves sent by the King of Hammer and Anvil await at the border of the labyrinth!”
“We’ve received a report that a hundred and fifty Nightmares sent by the Queen of Illusions have arrived!”
Kim Jin-Woo got up from his throne at the sight of various reinforcements’ arrival. “Dominique,” he called.
“Take care of things here while I’m away.”
Dominique nodded seriously at those words.
“What kind of trick did he pull this time?”
The labyrinth masters who had gathered outside the Naga’s Labyrinth were gossiping, trying to grasp the situation. They had heard from other labyrinth masters, who had scouted the goings-on at the passageway.
“It’s not magic. If it were magic, there’s no way the 10th Floor Nobles wouldn’t notice it. I even heard that their army is composed of creatures sensitive to magic.”
“I agree. According to my scouts, they didn’t notice a single thing before the explosion went off. If it were magic, they would have sensed the flow of magic beforehand.”
“The nagas are truly something else.”
The labyrinth masters were discussing Kim Jin-Woo’s unexplainable feats when Hecarim, King of the Wanderers, passed by them. With a disgusted look on his face, he finally broke his silence and spoke. “I understand your curiosity, but you guys are weird. In any case, isn’t the Undefeated Baron on our side?”
Even the Queen of Illusions herself, who had vowed her loyalty to Kim Jin-Woo with the Vassal’s Pledge, spoke up as if to show her partiality. “You guys aren’t naive, but just stupid, aren’t you? Is there any guarantee that that mysterious power won’t be directed at us? If it happens, do you have any way of stopping it?”
“Just the thought of it is scary enough. If an explosion like that happened in the middle of my labyrinth, I don’t know what I should do.”
At the labyrinth master’s words, Hecarim nearly spoke out once more before deciding not to. The subject of the discussion had made his appearance.
“You guys are as easygoing as ever.” Kim Jin-Woo had a cold expression on his face, as his ‘Stealth’ ability ended and his pale afterimage faded in. The labyrinth masters squirmed at his sudden appearance.
“If only my enemies were like you guys. If that were the case, they would have given up on taking the 9th Floor and run for their lives by now.”
The labyrinth masters were taken aback by Hecarim and Ariane’s display of fierce loyalty as they got on their knees and greeted their master.
Regardless of their surprise, Kim Jin-Woo continued. “If you have time to make small talk, you should be thinking of how to chase away our enemies. This war hasn’t even started and yet you’re worrying about the future beyond that. I’m disgusted beyond belief. You’re all pathetic.”
The labyrinth masters belatedly realized their mistake and shut their mouths.
“But anyway, is this everyone?” Kim Jin-Woo asked. Compared to their previous meeting, there were a couple of labyrinth masters missing. He continued, “Uther, what’s going on?”
Uther, who had been hiding behind him using his own ‘Stealth’ ability, showed himself and replied, “Hmm. Gorinthos’ labyrinth has completely shut its doors. The same goes for the other labyrinths. It seems they’ve chosen to hide rather than fight.”
“It seems they’ve already decided who will be the victor,” Ariane stated bluntly, and the mood turned sour.
But Kim Jin-Woo could only feel his rage rising. “Weaklings. Well, who knows. Maybe they’re wiser than me.”
His eyes indicated otherwise. If those very labyrinth masters in question were in front of him, he would probably have devoured them whole.
“Of course, if the 10th Floor Nobles win, they’ll be rewarded in a way. But should they lose, I’ll make sure that they’re punished and pay the price for their insolence. I’ll see it through to the end.”
The thought of what might happen to Gorinthos and the other labyrinth masters shook the hearts of the labyrinth masters who were present. The circumstances of the war hadn’t changed, and yet they felt they had made the right choice.
“Seeing that there won’t be any more joining us, we should consolidate our forces.”
At Kim Jin-Woo’s straightforwardness, the labyrinth masters exchanged nervous looks.
But before he could even bat an eyelid, Malaxus stepped forward and lowered his head. “I hand over the command of my hundred battle dwarves until the end of this war.”
[You have taken command of a hundred battle dwarves led by Malaxus, King of the Hammer and Anvil. They will obey your orders first, unless their king repeats your command.]
In response to Malaxus’ declaration, the other masters also announced the transfer of their command in a hurry.
[One hundred and fifty Nightmares led by Ariane, the Queen of Illusion, are now under your command.]
[By the effects of the Vassal’s Pledge, they will receive the same amplification effect as the nagas.]
[One hundred and forty centaurs, led by Hecarim, King of the Wanderers, are now under your command.]
[By the effects of the Vassal’s Pledge, they will receive the same amplification effect as the nagas.]
Following Hecarim and Ariane, ten other labyrinth masters also handed over command of their forces.
[You, the commander of the Naga Fortress, the righteous king and Underworld Baron, have become the commander-in-chief of the alliance.]
[The position of the commander-in-chief will be maintained until all 10th Floor Nobles have been fended off from the 9th Floor, and his orders are absolute.]
With that, Kim Jin-Woo amassed an army of seven hundred. Except for Ariane, Hecarim, and Malaxus, the rest of the labyrinth masters had left about half of their troops, and thus the number wasn’t as large as he had expected. Nevertheless, he was still satisfied.
“Very good. You won’t regret your decisions,” Kim Jin-Woo said.
The labyrinth masters awkwardly looked at each other before bowing.
“We’ll take care of the small details on the way, but first, we’ll move out!”
“Onward!” Assuming the position of vice commander, Uther shouted his order, and the seven-hundred-strong army started marching forward.