Chapter 111. The Sphinx’s Riddle (2)

[Since it’s the first question, I’ll give you plenty of time… 1 minute! Hehehe.]

The first Sphinx smirked with great amusement. The second and third Sphinxes flanking him were equally entertained.

[There’s no way you can solve this in 1 minute.]

[Absolutely impossible.]

They chuckled among themselves and began scanning Damdeok and Baek Gureum as if evaluating their meat.

[The one on the left still looks underdeveloped.]

[The one on the right has a much better build. I’ll take him!]

[What are you talking about? We have three mouths! We’ll divide them equally!]

The Sphinxes started a gruesome argument, as if the outcome was already decided. In front of these predators, Damdeok and Baek Gureum were drenched in cold sweat.

Baek Gureum spoke up with a serious expression.

“Brother, do you know the answer…?”

“…No.”

Damdeok answered weakly and started scrutinizing the problems written on the floor.

7×2 = 455

5×4 = 91

8×3 = 555

7×5 = 242

10×1 = 999

10×4 = ?

It seemed like he might understand, yet he didn’t. If he thought one way, it didn’t work; if he thought another, it still didn’t work. Finding a clear answer was challenging. This was fundamentally different from the math problems he had studied diligently in school. Moreover, under this intense pressure and within the 1-minute time limit, solving it seemed impossible.

[30 seconds left. Hehehe.]

The Sphinxes were now drooling openly, watching Damdeok with anticipation.

Drip, drip.

The sound of saliva dripping echoed in the small room.

‘This is driving me crazy.’

Thump, thump.

Damdeok’s heart pounded wildly. The numbers on the floor blurred and spun before his eyes. Baek Gureum, who was nervously swallowing dryly beside him, was likely feeling the same.

[20 seconds!!]

The first Sphinx began counting down excitedly, as if about to set off fireworks.

His breathing became labored.

What should he do?

How could he…!!

Sweat pooled in Damdeok’s tightly clenched fists. Just then, a message popped up.

[Papi: Brother! I’ve finished my delivery! Where are you? I’ll come help!]

Papi’s message. Sure, he only had one cube, so he should be done around this time.

‘So what? We’re stuck here with no way out!’

How could he help them now? If Papi came here, it would only provide the Sphinxes with more to eat.

[You look like you have no clue about the answer.]

[It’s over. It’s all over.]

[Hehehe. Good, good.]

The Sphinxes began to close in on Damdeok and Baek Gureum from all sides.

[Now for the final 10-second countdown!]

[10!]

[9!]

[8!]

‘Damn it! In that case…!’

With a desperate hope, Damdeok sent a picture of the problem to Papi.

Meanwhile, the Sphinxes, lost in thoughts of their feast, were frantically wiping the drool from their mouths.

[5!]

[4!]

[3!]

[2!]

[Enjoy your meal!]

As the Sphinxes opened their mouths wide and approached from all directions, Baek Gureum gritted his teeth and drew his sword, while Damdeok’s eyes widened.

Bang!

Suddenly, Damdeok slapped the floor and shouted.

“The answer is 846!!”

The Sphinxes froze in their tracks. The first Sphinx blinked his large eyes.

[What…?]

His mouth, filled with sharp fangs, was clearly visible.

Damdeok slowly stood up.

“The answer is 846.”

Damdeok’s gaze was on the system message, but the Sphinxes thought he was glaring at them.

[How insolent. Explain. You need to provide the solution to fully solve the problem.]

The first Sphinx spoke with a disbelieving expression.

Damdeok recited the solution exactly as it appeared in the message from Papi.

Papi’s method was simple:

First, subtract the two numbers and place the result at the end.

10 – 4 = 6

Next, add the two numbers and multiply the sum by the result from the subtraction.

10 + 4 = 14 → 14 × 6 = 84

Finally, place the result of the multiplication before the fixed last digit ‘6’.

The answer is 846.

As Damdeok explained, his voice grew more confident.

‘This has to be right.’

Running the same logic through the other equations confirmed that it was correct. The Sphinxes, especially the first one who posed the riddle, looked at him in disbelief, as if thinking, ‘No way, he couldn’t have solved it this quickly…’.

[What…? Did you really solve it?]

[Solving this in under a minute? Are you a math genius?]

[This won’t do. The next problem needs to be harder….]

[Gather around! Let’s come up with a problem they definitely can’t solve…!!]

The Sphinxes huddled together in a corner, faces filled with frustration, whispering among themselves. Watching the entire scene, Baek Gureum looked at Damdeok with amazement.

“Wow, brother, you’re amazing… Not only are you a great fighter, but you’re also smart? You’re like a total cheat character.”

“Fighter? Say that my swordsmanship and martial arts are excellent.”

“Whatever, it’s all the same… Anyway, you’re incredible….”

Damdeok gave a wry smile to Baek Gureum, who was staring at him with an astonished expression, and then turned back to the system window.

[Papi: Brother! How was it? Did I get the answer right?]

‘This Papi guy is something else, huh?’

Damdeok was genuinely amazed. How did Papi manage to solve such a complex problem so quickly? Knowing the solution now, it seemed like a simple rule-based calculation, but still….

Damdeok couldn’t help but be impressed by Papi’s intellectual prowess, which was so incongruent with his massive frame.

‘I have to ask him how he did it.’

When Damdeok inquired how he managed to solve the problem so fast, Papi’s response was surprising.

[Papi: Huh? How did I do it? Of course… Oh right, I didn’t tell you my full name, did I?]

Full name?

Damdeok tilted his head in confusion as another message popped up.

[Papi: My full name is ‘Papyrus’. People often refer to me as the ‘oldest math book’ but actually… I’m the ‘god of mathematics’.]

Damdeok’s mouth fell open slightly.

Papi was the god of mathematics?

This was completely unexpected.

‘A big guy who looks like a mafia thug is the god of mathematics….’

Meanwhile, the Sphinxes were still whispering in the corner. Damdeok’s lips curled into a mischievous smile.

This might mean….

The next problem could be even easier to solve…?

The Sphinxes, after a lengthy discussion, finally spoke up with a solemn tone, as if they had made a significant decision.

[…The second problem is not a math problem.]

Upon hearing this, Damdeok made a face like he had bitten into something bitter.

‘Damn, I thought it would be easy from now on.’

With the ‘god of mathematics’ Papi on his side, he had assumed that the remaining problems would be a breeze….

‘Those cunning bastards, they decided to avoid math from now on. What a waste.’

Papi’s brilliance had shone only for the first problem. Damdeok glared at the Sphinxes.

‘What kind of problem are they going to give us next?’

Their faces were brimming with confidence. They must have come up with a really tricky problem, judging by their smug smiles.

‘What’s going on? Why are they so smug….’

Just as Damdeok’s anxiety began to rise, the third Sphinx, Kr, fished around in the statue of the Sphinx they had been trapped in and pulled out an old sword, tossing it to them.

Clang—

Damdeok stared blankly at the sword that fell at his feet.

‘A sword? They’re giving us a sword for the next problem?’

The second Sphinx, Ping, stepped forward.

[Hehehe. Here’s the second problem! First, pick up the sword!]

With a reluctant expression, Damdeok picked up the old iron sword.

[Listen carefully. We’re only going to explain this once. Soon, we’ll be eating you… but as you can see, there are ‘two’ of you and ‘three’ mouths to feed.]

[You have to figure out how to divide your bodies with that sword so that we can eat you equally. That’s the second problem. Hehehe.]

Upon hearing this, both Damdeok and Baek Gureum scowled deeply.

This was essentially telling them to solve the problem while imagining how to cook themselves.

‘Are they kidding?’

‘These bastards are cruel.’

Seeing the instant look of shock on Damdeok and Baek Gureum’s faces, the first and third Sphinxes joined in the fun.

[Oh, and you can only use the sword once!]

[Assume that both of your weights are the same. Don’t consider height or build, just make one cut to divide equally.]

[Hehe, yes! Make sure we can taste the same part equally!]

[You have 1 minute! Start!]

The Sphinxes were busy chattering excitedly among themselves.

“Damn it… Shit….”

Baek Gureum muttered a curse under his breath.

“Brother, can’t we just charge at them?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. The difference in divine power is huge. It would be suicide.”

“Then what about running away?”

“That’s impossible too.”

“Shit, then what do we do? This problem doesn’t make any sense!”

“…….”

He was right. It was an insanely tricky problem.

‘Using the sword only once, we have to figure out how to divide us both equally for those three to eat….’

Not only was the problem disgusting, but its difficulty was extreme.

It wasn’t like those childhood problems where you had to divide a pizza between Cheolsu and Younghee equally. This was on another level entirely.

Even when he asked Papi, the ‘god of mathematics’, for help, the answer was that even he didn’t know this one.

It’s one thing to divide numbers to the decimal, but another to perfectly divide objects.

Swoosh, swoosh—

Damdeok sat on the floor and drew two stick figures.

Then he began to try various ways to divide them with the old iron sword.

Slash, slash—

No matter how he tried, there was no way for the three Sphinxes to divide the two of them equally.

Watching Damdeok, Baek Gureum also sat down and began to rack his brains.

[30 seconds left!]

The Sphinxes were in a festive mood. They were clearly excited about finally getting to eat fresh meat.

Damdeok gritted his teeth.

‘Damn it… there must be an answer….’

The Sphinxes wouldn’t give a problem without a solution. It was a matter of their pride as riddle-lovers.

‘So there must be an answer….’

He alternated his gaze between the stick figures drawn on the floor and the Sphinxes’ drooling mouths.

Wait…?

Suddenly, Damdeok’s eyes lit up.

[Hehehe!! Now for the final 10-second countdown!]

[10!]

“Answer.”

The room fell silent instantly at Damdeok’s declaration.

The Sphinxes stared at him, eyes full of disbelief.

[Answer…?]

[An answer, you say…?]

[What’s the answer…?]

Damdeok stood up, using the sword as a staff. A faint smile played on his lips.

“Brother, are you serious…?”

Baek Gureum, who had been trying to solve the problem with him, opened his eyes wide in surprise. The stick figures at his feet were already divided into over a hundred pieces.

Persistent fellow.

Damdeok, smiling, slowly approached the Sphinxes.

[Do you really… have the answer to this riddle?]

The second Sphinx, Ping, who had posed the question, asked in disbelief.

Step, step—

Damdeok walked right up to the Sphinxes, who were full of suspicion, and rested the sword on his shoulder, grinning.

“Yes, I figured it out. The key to the problem is that you three need to eat us ‘equally’. Isn’t that right?”

Gulp.

The Sphinxes swallowed hard.

[Yes, that’s right! So what’s the answer…?]

[Stop stalling and tell us! What’s the answer…!!]

Swipe.

Damdeok pointed his sword at the third Sphinx, Kr, right at his throat.

Aiming for a vital spot.

[What are you doing…? Are you asking to die…?]

A low growl seeped through the third Sphinx’s sharp teeth.

A dark, murderous aura filled the room, as if he was ready to tear Damdeok apart at any moment.

“Ugh.”

Baek Gureum, overwhelmed by fear, instinctively drew his sword. It was a reflexive action driven by terror.

But Damdeok didn’t budge. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the point of the sword aimed at the Sphinx’s throat.

A murderous intent just as strong as the Sphinx’s emanated from Damdeok’s sword.

[

With a sinister smile, Damdeok spoke.

“The answer is to remove one of your mouths.”

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