Author: Gumi

Dark mode for a better experience.

 

‘Ah… I used a skill before entering.’

Evie quickly took two bottles of low-grade mana potion from her inventory and drank them. Her foggy head cleared, and her fatigue eased. 

Evie clenched her fists and took a step forward. She hated being treated like a burden.

The leader pulled a small brown bottle from his bag and lowered his voice to address the party members.

“You all bring chocolate syrup, right?”

The party members nodded and retrieved their own chocolate syrup bottles. The sugar monkeys, in particular, loved sweet treats outside the dungeon—an artificial sweetness so overwhelming that it could numb one’s tongue. As the lids opened, the sugary aroma permeated the surroundings.

The party members plucked fruits from the trees and liberally doused them with chocolate syrup to the point where their hands became sticky.

At the leader’s signal, the party members simultaneously hurled the syrup-drizzled fruits. Sugar monkeys, vigilantly scanning their surroundings while eating fruits with both hands, turned and sniffed as the syrup-coated fruit scent wafted toward them.

Kkyuuu!!

The sugar monkeys, grouped on several trees, dispersed in search of chocolate syrup.

Approaching silently from behind monsters quarreled over syrup-coated fruits, Evie started killing them one by one.

“Miss James.”

“Yes!”

In response to the leader, Evie noticed the buff effect had disappeared like a ghost, so she used her skills again. Suddenly, a sugar monkey crossed her path. She deftly evaded its long claws and ended its life.

Kee-eek…!

Just as Evie was catching her breath after eliminating all the sugar monkeys around her, she heard an anguished cry of a struggling monster, but it soon stopped. After finally defeating Sugar Monkey Chief, the leader wiped the sweat from his forehead.

Though sugar monkeys were not difficult monsters, their sheer numbers made the task cumbersome.

Evie averted her gaze, disliking the sight of crimson blood splattered across the once-green orchard. 

She hadn’t anticipated having to endure this for long.

Even if they were monsters, killing a living thing with one’s own hands could not be pleasant. Evie rinsed her blood-stained hands with bottled water from her inventory while staring at the system window that appeared before her eyes.

Defeated Sugar Monkey Chief

Cleared Hurem’s Orchard (F)

Distribute items based on contribution

Check your inventory

Gate open

You can now freely enter and exit the dungeon

The leader sighed in relief and turned to the party.

“Great job, everyone. Should we take a short break before continuing the remaining work?”

“Yes, that sounds good. My legs are about to give out.”

“Thank you all for your hard work.”

“Ah, ouch. I have a deep cut here.”

Each party member collapsed where they stood, pouring potions to heal their injuries or eating meals and snacks to replenish. Evie also took out chocolates and cookies from her inventory to satisfy her hunger.

Nothing else happened.

What a relief.

‘That skill I used…geez’

Evie’s mood lifted slightly as sweet treats entered her mouth. Despite the bruises and aches all over her body from rolling around, she cleared this dungeon safely.

Just minor scratches and bruises.

Compared to the last time in the Spider Nest, these injuries were ridiculously trivial.

Now, all that remained was simple labor. Everyone relaxed, enjoying the respite. A gentle breeze blew.

It was then.

 

Warning ! Warning ! Warning !

Current survivors inside the dungeon: 7

The system window appeared before the party members, flashing red with a big exclamation mark.

Everyone scrambled to their feet, speaking anxiously.

“What the hell? What’s going on?”

“I’ve never seen something like this…Does anyone here know anything?”

“Why is this happening…Should we get out?”

“Then what about these fruits?”

You can now freely enter and exit the dungeon

 

You can now free▒ enter ▒▒ exit the dungeon

 

▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒ free▒ enter ▒▒ exit ▒▒  ▒▒▒▒▒

Suddenly, the system window displaying dungeon accessibility glitched, and letters started breaking apart.

The party members’ faces turned pale, stumbling backward.

Evie’s expression hardened as well.

Soon, some party members broke into screams and bolted toward the gate as more windows appeared.

Dungeon exit is now impossible

Condition fulfilled

Second Gate emergence imminent

The first party member to reach the gate was thrown backward by a purple barrier. Others frantically punched the barrier like mad, but the gate was already blocked, trapping them inside.

Panic spread like wildfire, and the dungeon descended into chaos.

“Arghh! I’m getting out of here. Let me out!”

“We cleared it, damn it! Open the fucking gate!”

“Someone, please do something…!”

Evie stood there motionless, paralyzed by uncertainty. She had no idea what to do. If the Second Gate were to truly open, she would likely be the first to die.

The weakest member of the party.

A low-rank hunter with only buff skills. Evie’s hands trembled.

Open Second Gate

Enter

The lush orchard scenery gradually dissolved from the far end.

The faint smell of blood and ripened fruit sweetness vanished, smothered by an ominous, nauseating blackness enveloped the dungeon.

The shabby gazebo, fruit trees, nearby ladders and straw hats, and even the corpses of sugar monkeys – all were swallowed in an oozing blackness.

With just a few blinks, the surroundings had entirely transformed from moments ago.

A grim hallway tinted pitch and red. The air reeked of blood. Evie hurriedly covered her nose and mouth with her hands, fearing she might regurgitate the chocolate and cookies from earlier. Her insides churned uneasily.

Her stomach rolled like riding a rickety bus for hours. The smell of blood was overpowering.

Even though most had rushed toward the gate, creating quite a distance from them to Evie and the leader, the gap between them closed in an instant.

For a while, an eerie silence hung in the air, filling only the sound of their breathing. No one was in the right mind to speak.

Despite the presence of light, the hallway remained shadowy. Dim fluorescent bulbs, barely intact, emitted a feeble glow amidst the shattered ones.

Even those lights flickered intermittently, making it difficult to see ahead. Evie shut her eyes tightly and then opened them again. Her eyes stung.

Only after some time passed was Evie able to survey her surroundings. The hallway was a wreck. The walls, ceiling, and floor were all drenched in crimson red—no spot remained untouched.

Numerous spots bore gouges as if something sharp had struck them. Pieces of the ceiling fell with thud sounds, startling the party members.

Blood. Blood was splattered everywhere.

Only upon closer look did she realize the red wall under the dim light. The walls, ceiling, and floor—everything covering this place was someone’s blood. Some dried so dark it was impossible to guess their age, while others dripped freshly red as though recently splashed.

Evie withdrew her foot with a pale face. Squelching sounds emanated as if water slightly flooded the floor.

As she backpedaled unaware, Evie felt something pulpy underfoot. Looking down, Evie gagged in horror at what lay on the floor—eyeballs, crushed and burst.

It was human eyes.

“Ugh…”

It wasn’t just eyes. As her consciousness took hold, she saw it all. Human flesh, torn fabrics, limbs crudely severed. Blood oozing from those cross-sections.

Killing monsters and handling their corpses were two different things.

While monster corpses could turn profits, handling remains was not something most could stomach for long. No reward justified enduring such trauma.

When Evie had almost died in the dungeon for the first time, she had sworn off dangerous places and joined the Corpse Disposal—only for less than 30 minutes was she unable to flee. She was weak, and so was her constitution.

Suppressing the urge to gag, she shouldn’t vomit here.

She knew she would be the first to be abandoned in dangerous moments, so she had to keep her wits. Fighting back dizziness and nausea, Evie looked around through watery eyes.

Rooms lined both sides of the hallway. The odd thing was that every single door was wide open.

Tok tok – droplets falling from the ceiling hit the pooled liquid on the floor. The droplets and pooled water were all blood.

Evie averted her gaze to check the wall beside her. Incongruously amid the eerie atmosphere, a picture frame hung adorned with cute party decorations.

Due to spatters and splotches of blood over their faces, it was hard to distinguish the individuals. Yet, the person in the largest photograph at the top was still discernible.

Lab Director Gillen Landis

The man gazing into the camera, smiling brightly, was quite handsome.

With thin round glasses, slightly tousled gray hair, prominent eyebrows, and well-defined features, his look appeared scholarly.

However, the fact that a “building” used by humans had become a dungeon indicated a dreadful event beyond words.

Such dungeons were several times harder to overcome than regular dungeons of the same level, with nightmare difficulty of B-level or higher.

Unlike “Hurem’s Orchard,” which Evie’s party had previously cleared, the following dungeon was formed based on a condition, even not a human-built structure, as it was enclosed by walls on all sides.

The worst dungeon, even as a Second Gate, had appeared.

Unconsciously, Evie shook her head.

It was over.

There was no way out alive.

In Evie’s party, the highest-ranked hunter was D.

How could a party of low-ranking hunters hope to survive in the Second Gate? Perhaps suicide now would offer a kinder fate.

Evie bit her lip, clutching her trembling hands together.

“We’re going to die, all of us…”

“Mom, Mom… Save me…”

Except for the leader and Evie, the other party members were losing their sanity. Some slumped where they stood, muttering nonsensically, and one even wet themselves.

It was then.

One of the flickering fluorescent lights at the far end of the hallway went out. Everyone jolted, holding their breath. A party member stepped backward and tripped over torn fabric on the floor, letting out a scream.

“Aahhh, huagh!”

“Quiet! How can you scream when we don’t know what’s there?!”

The leader, who, like Evie, managed to retain his composure, quickly covered the mouth of that loud-cried party member. However, his efforts soon proved futile.

As soon as one party member caught Evie’s gaze, their expression contorted, and they lunged toward her, shouting.

“You! It’s your fault!”

“Ugh, why are you… Let go!”

The party member seized Evie by the collar and shook her violently. Her throat constricted, making it difficult to breathe.

Evie exerted all her strength to pry the party member’s grip on her, but the more she resisted, the tighter their hold became. Bloodshot eyes bore into Evie’s.

As someone started blaming Evie, the sentiment spread like wildfire among the others.

The crowd closed in on Evie, yelling and cursing.

“That’s right! She’s the culprit! She mentioned the Second Gate earlier!”

“Change it back right now! I need to leave!”

“Let me out!”

Evie’s head spun.

She felt ready to vomit.

Right now, these people crowding in to kill her seemed even scarier than this space.

At that moment, a new system window appeared before their eyes. The one grabbing Evie’s collar and the others surrounding her were startled enough to withdraw, distancing themselves from her.

Evie slumped to the floor, clutching her throat and gasping for air.

Enclosed Laboratory A

Lab director Gillen crossed a line he shouldn’t have. Now, this lab is entirely under his control. There is nothing you can do here. Please escape before he captures you. If someone becomes his plaything, attempting an escape might be slightly easier.

▫️ Survival condition: Find the exit within the time limit.
▫️ Dungeon boss: Lab Director Gillen Landis

Time Limit: [12:00:00]
Gate closed and Status System terminated if time expires

Even with her vision blurred, the system window message cut through the haze.

A-level dungeon, accessed through the Second Gate – For Evie and her party, who struggled with injuries even in the lowest-level F dungeon. It was a death sentence.

“…Escape… Within the time limit…” 

The leader muttered in a somber tone. He swiftly turned his head to Evie.

The people around him seemed ready to charge at her without hesitation.

Not only was she the party’s weakest member, but she had also uttered suspicious statements before entering the dungeon. Evie was a perfect target for their wrath.

She still sat on the floor, struggling to breathe.

Just then. 

The fluorescent lights flickering in the hallway started shutting off rapidly, starting from the farthest end.

Everyone stumbled back in fear as the hallway plunged into pitch darkness.

From the end of the lightless hallway came the sound of someone humming a tune.

Author's Thoughts

Sorry for the inconsistent updates. This month, I will focus on this novel. Happy reading!

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Gumi

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Comments (6)

  1. Oh my, I really like the dungeon messages. And the fact there’s a skill helping you see more than others, too! Wonder if it can help MC see the conditions for the Enchantment activation?