I arrived at the gate a few minutes ago.
“Thank you for coming. Fing- I mean, Miss Hunter. Currently, the surroundings are left empty for smooth entry to the dungeon gate.” As soon as I arrived, the seemingly old-fashioned middle-aged man, the head of the Korean branch of the Hunters Association, rushed over and bowed his head. Ah, yes. How often have we seen each other? I want to stop seeing you, but this country and the gate won’t let me go.
“Currently, five guilds and the S1 Team have entered the dungeon. The second input is set for 9 AM tomorrow.” The branch manager, who had no fighting ability, was sweating as he looked at me. I sent a message to the competent errand boy on my terminal and listened to his words.
I need something. Bring it to me. ◀
▶ What is it?
“Of course, Miss Hunter, we can postpone the second input if you want. However, since we do not know how much gate spread is left-”
“Yes. Do as you please with the second input.”
“Thank you for your understanding.” The branch manager bowed at a right angle of 90 degrees and then started explaining. Daybreak, Paradise, Constitution, Hundreds Thousands, and Research were the guilds that had gone ahead. Why hadn’t he just said the five major guilds? “Information control has already been completed. Your information will not leak out, so don’t worry. However, if it leaks inside the dungeon, we can do nothing about it.”
“It doesn’t matter. Can I ask you a favor?” I asked while looking at the terminal screen.
The branch manager nodded enthusiastically. “Of course. Please feel free to tell me.”
“Someone’s coming at midnight.”
▶ I’ll be there at midnight.
“What is that person’s name, by any chance?”
“Even if you don’t let them in, they’ll come in on their own, so you just need to know.”
“Can I help you with that?”
“Mm, I’ll be right in.”
“Thank you. I wish you a safe return.” The branch manager, who once again bent his back at a right angle, took a step back. You never knew what would happen inside, so it was good to have something prepared.
I’d called an errand boy with useful characteristics under the pretext of bringing a terminal, so it should be fine. I tightened my shoelaces and gestured toward Wreath with my chin.
“The S1 Team is in there. You’re not excluded, are you?”
Wreath, with a bewildered face, was dragged along.
[You have entered the Rank ■ gate.]
[System is activated.]
[You have entered the territory of the King of Pride.]
[Collecting environmental data.]
[Estimated to be the King of Pride Lucifer’s ■■ area.]
[Estimated gate rank ■]
[Estimated dungeon rank ■]
[Estimated monster rank A+~S]
[Estimated boss rank ■]
[Estimated overall rank ■]
[Estimated Rank ■ Dungeon – ‘The Pit Where the Stars Fell’ has been entered.]
All the information that came to mind was covered in black squares. It meant there was no information except for the monsters’ rank. I wasn’t sure about the second input, but the third one would surely die. Even without having that in mind, the gate was a total hell.
There was a constant scream from somewhere. What a good way to make someone’s heart beat fast.
“Why is it so cold here? It’s cool to the bone,” I muttered, scratching my neck. Wreath, who’d been dragged along, was on the verge of freezing to death as if he had no resistance to the cold.
“Hey, wake up. If you close your eyes here, you freeze to death, man.”
“Ah.” Wreath, dragged by the collar, shook his head as if he had come to his senses. Even an Awakened would lose their mind in this place. “I-I’m sorry. I-It’s too c-cold.” Even the sound of his teeth grinding expressed so. This was why I liked body-strengthening characteristics. When others were cold, I was just cool to the bone.
It was an endlessly black space. After a long time, I touched my piercing to open a subspace. A Hunter who goes in and out of a dungeon must be prepared for any situation. Actually, there was nothing much inside.
I removed a hot shaker pack from the subspace and threw it at the human snowman. After receiving the hot pack, Wreath fumbled with the item several times, then realized its use and shook it like crazy.
Judging by the slippery underfoot, this was not ground, but ice. It was not snowing, but the wind blew like crazy and was incredibly cold.
My eyes, which were much better than those of other Awakened, scanned all the way into the dungeon. It was an endless ice field, but this place was hollow.
After adapting to the darkness, I had a rough understanding of the structure. A wall was blocking the edge around the great ice circle. The center part was more hollow.
That much could be guessed from the sound of the wind. It wouldn’t have been possible to hear that scream without a pair of very good ears.
Had that come from the center? In this situation, the first thing to secure was a safe base. Other Hunters must be moving with that thought in mind.
“First, let’s set up a base.”
I had the same idea and grabbed Wreath. Wreath, hanging like a sack, opened his mouth to say something, but I ran faster, pounding the ground. The floor was icy, so I kept slipping. I had no choice but to step on it with all my might.
Every time I stepped on the ground, I heard the sound of the ice breaking. Running usually wouldn’t make you cold, but I was still cool to the bone now.
“Wait! Hold on! Please hold on! Aaaaargh!” My luggage, Wreath, screamed loudly. I lightly ignored his words and moved forward.
Originally, well-prepared monsters came out in groups in dungeons. That’s because someone’s army came with the purpose of invading, but this dungeon was a little different. This was not an army but the ■■ area of the King of Pride. The gate analysis also changed once in the middle.
If you combined this with the information given by Polar Night, it was clear that the King of Lust had something to do with the change in the middle… I was unsure why he had to build a gate in the inner dimension. In our country, on top of that. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was made in another country? Why are you doing it here and making me shiver in the cold?
I cut through the wild wind and pressed close to the edge of the wall. Seeing that the sound of the wind was slightly different, something was there.
I listened carefully and saw something.
“P-please save me!!”
I thought I could hear human language. I didn’t know who it was, but seeing as they were asking for help, there was definitely someone there.
I checked the half mask on my face once and kicked the ground. As the sound got closer and closer, the shape of the monster came into view. It was an incredibly huge guy.
“Hey! Get out of my way!!”
I’m going to kick his head!
“Or you’ll get hit!”
Don’t look at the timing. Just step back!
I threw Wreath, whom I held with one arm, and launched myself toward the monster’s head.
Gwoooo-!! The monster hit in the forehead roared and fell backward. It sounded like it’d been hit hard.
Ngg… How could an A+~S-class monster be so soft?
I came down from the top of the monster and rescued the person who’d been caught earlier. Wreath, whom I’d thrown away, was also talking as if he had come to his senses.
“Miss Hunter! I almost died!”
“It’s because Mister Hunter was grumbling. I wouldn’t have thrown you if you had followed me properly.”
“I was not even ready when you forcibly dragged me away!”
That’s right. I was the one who’d chosen to rush in. But weren’t you on the S1 Team? You had to come here anyway. And didn’t you know that going with me unprepared was safer than going in with your team prepared?
“Stop complaining and find the S1 team. There are people here, so ask them.”
Seeing there were many people here, it could’ve been one of the five major guilds or the S1 Team itself. But if it were Daybreak or Paradise, things would have been a mess long ago, so it seemed to be one of the other four.
Scratching my head, I went in front of people. Then the rescued person shouted tremblingly, “W-we are from the S1 Team!”
Oh. S1 Team?
“Senior! What you just said is the truth, right? Then is it Finger Technique who saved me just now!?”
The atmosphere turned tense. I felt the remaining respect disappearing as I put down the rescued human on the ground.
“Is Daylight Robbery there?”
It has been said that seniors should be beaten if their subordinates do something wrong. Instead of asking the subordinate for fault, I called the senior.
The answer came back quickly.
The voice was indifferently solemn. The atmosphere worsened, perhaps because a team member had been caught a while ago.
I knew we were not in a situation where I could joke around as I did outside. I returned the 50 jokes I’d almost gotten out of my mouth.
“Let’s move first.”
This environment was cool for me but not for them. We would establish a base where the monster had lived.
I put the stunned monster aside and went inside the cave. I heard the S1 Team members following behind whispering.
“Is that person really Finger King?”
“Since Senior Soheon brought them, it must be right. They’ve got a better voice than I thought.”
“Right? Isn’t it a bit cute?”
“Hey, Finger King has the half mask. Everything we see and hear is not their real self.”
“That’s true, that’s true.”
Unlike people in a crisis just a moment ago, they were carefree. Is this the reality of K-safety insensitivity? Finger Technique will take care of it, right?
“Everyone, keep quiet. There could be a horde of monsters coming out from inside.” Someone who wasn’t completely out of his mind immediately blurted out the right thing to say.
“Do you need a flashlight?” Daylight Robbery, which raised its flashlight and illuminated my face, strode forward.
Ooh, I thought it was a ghost. I shook my head and said no.
“That’s enough flashlight.”
Because there was something more certain than a flashlight.
I stretched out my index finger and drew in the air. Blue flames that purify everything flutter.
It’s better to make a fire where there’s no wind. But perhaps because I was in such a dark place, my eyes ached when I made fire.
“Everyone, this way!”
There’s nothing like a fire to keep you warm. I hit one more flinching monster, keeping the flames steady. Its fluffy hair was very cute.
By the way.
「“Come to me.”」
The whispering voice was seductive. The fluttering blue flame tilted its head in one direction.
「“Here is what you want to know.”」
The voice I heard every time I used the flame excessively was calling me very close by.
I left the S1 Team people in the cave and came out for a while. A weak light flickered in the center of the hollow.
「“Come to the center.”」
The original owner of the flame summoned a fragment of power. It seemed that I had to go to the center to confirm the abnormality that Paradise’s people were discussing.
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