Records of Dungeon Travel Chapter 79
#33. The Achievements of the Undefeated
Three labyrinths were destroyed, unable to withstand Boreas’ rage-fueled onslaught. Naturally, a sense of crisis started to take shape. Some voiced out that blocking their path to retreat had backfired and caused more harm than good.
But Kim Jin-Woo was undeterred.
On the surface, it seemed that the tides of war were once again in favor of the 10th Floor Nobles, but in reality, it was quite different.
The labyrinths they attacked were all empty labyrinths that had already been ransacked, their cores extracted by the men sent by Kim Jin-Woo. What the 10th Floor Nobles actually got were nothing but empty shells of labyrinths.
Of course, if the other labyrinth masters in his alliance knew about this, their shaky alliance would have been easily torn apart once more, but it wasn’t a cause of concern to Kim Jin-Woo.
There was no need for those destined to die to know. The traitors had already taken that secret to their graves.
“It’s time to bring this to an end.”
Due to the repeated raids, Boreas’ army had dropped to a mere five hundred troops. There were casualties on Kim Jin-Woo’s end, but with the addition of the new labyrinths, his army had grown compared to its initial numbers.
With the expansion of his army, his troops now numbered one thousand. It was finally time for him to finish this war once and for all.
The location of the final showdown would be one of the labyrinths that he had recently assimilated—the Land of the Swamps once ruled by King Gorinthos.
When Boreas’ troops invaded the labyrinth only to be met with emptiness, Kim Jin-Woo’s own troops quickly surrounded them.
“You bastard!” Boreas exclaimed as finally, Kim Jin-Woo came face-to-face with him once more. “I’ll kill you, even if it’s the last thing I do!”
[You have entered into battle with the enemy’s commander, Boreas the Wind Piercer.]
[Both Baron Kim Jin-Woo and Baron Boreas are feudal lords and commanders of their respective armies. Their fight is not a simple battle between two individuals.]
[As per the rules of the Underworld, the winner takes complete ownership over the loser’s assets. All items, including titles and abilities, will be forfeited to the winner. The loser will obey the winner at all costs.]
Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes widened at seeing that particular message for the first time. Perhaps this was why the 10th Floor Nobles only kept each other in check while refusing to start a war.
The rule of ceding all ownership to the winner was the same on the 9th Floor, but ceding oneself to the winner was news to him.
“He thinks so highly of himself to have made it thus far.” Morrigan, seemingly upset with letting Boreas go the last time, wanted to take him on.
But Kim Jin-Woo intervened, saying, “I’ll deal with him this time.” With that, he raised his sword as he charged toward Boreas.
[The parasite’s special ability, ‘Devil’s Sight’, has been activated.]
[Power has been amplified by the commander’s Unique Ability.]
Indeed, Boreas wasn’t an easy opponent. Even with the penalty of leaving his own native floor, he was still swift and powerful. The weakness he had displayed during the war was perhaps limited to only his leadership, for Boreas displayed incredible strength and prowess during the battle.
But in the end, it was Kim Jin-Woo who prevailed.
[You have won the Nobles’ Battle.]
[Boreas’ life is now in your hands. Your words will determine his fate.]
[The winner may choose to enslave the loser, or they may choose to extort all the power the loser has accumulated. A victory in a Nobles’ Battle is sweeter than none other.]
The look in Boreas’ eyes, with his broken limbs and breathless panting, was closer to resignation than anger.
But Kim Jin-Woo was not left unscathed. His broken left arm dangled down in an unsightly manner and his ribs were cracked, bringing excruciating pain every time he took a breath. Every fiber of the muscles in his body, which had been overused beyond their limits, were screaming in pain.
“It’s our victory!”
Roars of victory erupted from all over.
“What a pain.” Kim Jin-Woo’s body wanted to give up and collapse onto the floor, but he pressed on and looked around him. The cheering soldiers look at him with great pride.
“In the end, we stand victorious!” he declared, and the surviving troops roared loudly once more.
[You have won the war.]
[The army of the 10th Floor Nobles has been annihilated, and the nobles have fled.]
[A victory unlike any of your past victories has been achieved. By overcoming unfavorable circumstances and defeating your opponent, you have gained recognition from all across the Underworld.]
[Your title of ‘Undefeated Commander’ has spread across the Underworld. The Underworld will now remember you not simply as a Baron, but as the ‘Undefeated Commander’.]
[Your reputation has increased significantly.]
[Your charisma has increased significantly.]
As he saw the messages appear in front of him, the sensation of victory finally set in.
Although they were victorious, it hadn’t come without losses. Of the one thousand troops who had participated in the final battle, only two hundred and fifty survived.
Six of the labyrinth masters who had participated in the war were killed. And the labyrinths that had lost their masters were in Kim Jin-Woo’s hands. This was also the kind of burden a commander had to carry.
There were no objections. The only surviving labyrinth masters were those who had been friendly to Kim Jin-Woo and the Naga’s Fortress from the beginning. It was almost as if this had been planned from the start.
And the surviving labyrinth masters couldn’t help but feel even more dread and awe.
Many of them had said that there was no way they could win. Some had even said their defeat was guaranteed; that the invading army from the 10th Floor was unlike anything they had seen.
But their commander had defeated such an army as if it were no big deal.
With no help from any other allies, he had cut the enemy’s army size in half with just two raids. He had then easily toyed around with the ferocious army by dragging them in circles, slowly chipping away at their strength. And not a single one of the enemy’s troops had made it out alive by the end of the war.
Even the mighty Boreas the Wind Piercer had fallen in the face of their commander. It was truly an unbelievable result.
But that wasn’t all. Their commander was many steps ahead.
Even in the heat of the battle, the commander had already dispatched strike forces to bring back the labyrinth masters who had turned their backs on him. And by bringing the traitors to the battlefield and massacring them along with the enemy troops, he proved once again that he was a smart and ruthless leader that was to be feared and respected.
“You’ve all done well.”
Kim Jin-Woo, seated on the high throne in the Labyrinth of the Swamp that still carried traces of their last battle, congratulated the labyrinth masters of the alliance while looking down on them.
It was completely disgraceful, yet no one dared to raise their voice. After all, the conferment of rewards and honors was completely up to him.
The labyrinth masters anxiously waited in silence. What he said next could make or break their lives.
Kim Jin-Woo watched on as the labyrinth masters continued to bow lower and lower with greater humility.
There were a total of nine labyrinths that had lost their masters during this war. And the ones to take over their ownership were the labyrinth masters that were still alive. Not one of them had not gotten a new labyrinth.
There were still four labyrinths without a master, but Kim Jin-Woo had no intention of conferring any more. Even the additional spoils of war, in the form of down gems and weapons from the fallen soldiers, had been distributed.
“If anyone has objections to my decision, speak now.”
None of the labyrinth masters objected. With their hard-earned victory, they were unwilling to risk it all and face the possibility of being sentenced to prison.
And with Kim Jin-Woo personally waiting to see what they would say next, there was no way they would show any sign of objection.
“If there are no objections, I’ll take it that all is well.”
With that, the surviving labyrinth masters bowed until their heads touched the floor, and praised their commander for his generosity.
The loot Kim Jin-Woo had gotten through this victory was immense. Just the Labyrinth Cores he had taken for himself without the alliance’s knowledge numbered five.
The core of the Labyrinth of the Exiles had been preemptively taken by his strike force, while the core of King Gorinthos’ Labyrinth of the Swamp was annihilated by the enemy forces, at least according to the other labyrinth masters’ knowledge.
In total, he had obtained a total of nine Labyrinth Cores.
“I’ll say it again. You’ve all done well.”
With the conferment ended, the alliance fulfilled its purpose and was disbanded.
Dominique, who had been waiting at the entrance gates to the Naga’s Fortress, teared up as she saw Kim Jin-Woo approaching.
Dominique couldn’t help but call for her master as she ran toward him and gave him a hug.
Kim Jin-Woo’s eyes widened at the sight of Dominique crying; she seemed to have been more worried than usual. Unlike her usual straight-laced demeanor, her constant laughing and crying almost made her look like a child.
Dominique finally got a hold of herself and realized the commotion she had caused, as she quickly apologized, feeling embarrassed.
At her congratulations, the countless nagas lined up at the gates bowed their heads. As Kim Jin-Woo stepped into his labyrinth and witnessed the nagas’ greetings, he finally sighed deeply, relieved that the war was finally over.
“Congratulations on your victory!” The Black Merchant, who had visited the labyrinth to convey his congratulations, bowed and shouted loudly. “The Underworld itself is astonished by your victory. Not a single being doesn’t recognize the one who defeated the mighty Lord Boreas and his massive army.”
As there was no flattery and only truth in the Black Merchant’s words, Kim Jin-Woo simply nodded in agreement and commented, “Well, he was a bit stupid.”
It seemed like a passing remark, but it was the truth. The 10th Floor Nobles were unexpectedly simpleminded idiots. Even though their very survival was at risk, they had acted like monkeys, and that had resulted in easy victory for Kim Jin-Woo.
“The Underworld is where power is absolute after all, and the strong will always crush the weak,” he continued. There was some truth in that. He had no reason to bring out any special tactics and strategies, for he knew his power was unmatched. “Even stupidity can be a weakness.”
“You are wise indeed.” Perhaps due to the scale of Kim Jin-Woo’s achievements, the Black Merchant’s words carried some weight. He carried on for a while, repeating his awe at Kim Jin-Woo’s achievements.
“Shall we start getting down to business?” Sensing that the Black Merchant was simply beating about the bush, Kim Jin-Woo cut him short.
The Black Merchant changed his tune as he rubbed his hands with a smile. “I was just about to do that.” He cleared his throat. “Regarding the spoils of this war, I was wondering if there might be too many for My Lord to handle in one go? If you wish, we, the Black Merchants, can assist you in disposing of them.”
It wasn’t a bad suggestion. Kim Jin-Woo would of course keep the down gems for future use, but the sheer quantity of armor and weapons from the countless corpses was indeed a handful to deal with. On top of that, they were the wrong size for the nagas to use, so he readily accepted the Black Merchant’s offer.
“Oh, and…” With his back hunched and his head craned forward, the Black Merchant’s eyes indicated he had more to say. “What do you plan to do with the Labyrinth Cores you’ve obtained?”
“I haven’t made up my mind. If I decide to dispose of them, I’ll hand them over to you.”
Just the look on the Black Merchant’s face indicated that he had heard what he wanted to hear.
“Anyway, how is Anatolius?” Kim Jin-Woo asked.
“Lord Parthenon attacked fiercely as expected, but the Iron-Blooded Knights are called that for a reason. Without many losses on either side, the skirmish has ended, but from the look of things, I don’t think this will be the last.”
“So he’s of no help when he’s needed the most.”
At those words, the Black Merchant gave a slight smirk. He simply had nothing to say to someone who dared talk ill of a Count in the open.
“But that’s not the entire reason why you’re here, aren’t you?” Kim Jin-Woo asked. He knew from all their past deals that there was something else the Black Merchant wanted.
“Ah, for you to expose me so easily, no wonder the 10th Floor Nobles were no match for you. There is indeed no one who can fool you, My Lord.” The Black Merchant started digging into his bag. “There are quite a few things this time around.”
In his hands, there were two envelopes and a wooden box.