Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 180

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Chapter 180: Fist of Heaven, Dragon and Disciple of the Dark Emperor (2)

At the eighth floor of the Tower of Trials.

The entire floor, a natural harsh terrain, is comprised of a maze extending over 10,000 kilometers.

Countless paths and innumerable traps seemingly demonstrated how difficult passing through this place would be.

‘I sure visited here often in the past…’

A few hundred meters from the entrance of the maze, Jinhyuk stood alone, reminiscing about the past.

The days he spent meticulously searching every corner of the 10,000-kilometer maze for hidden Easter eggs the administrator had concealed… they were memories he could now look back on with a smile.

Just then, someone appeared from the shadows.

“Master, the thirty members of the Black Wind Association are fully prepared.”

A boy with a relatively small stature of 170 cm, long hair and pale skin bowed respectfully.

He was a retainer sent on behalf of Yang Ho-myeong…

His name was ‘Wol Yeong (Moon Shadow)’, right?

According to Yang Ho-myeong, he was one of the top talents within the association.

Yang had made sure to boast robustly that he wouldn’t be a burden.

His internal strength seemed reasonably solid, but his appearance looked rather feeble.

‘Let’s see how substantial he truly is.’

Using the ‘Eye of Gluttony,’ Jinhyuk checked the status window of the boy.

————————————————————————

Name: Wol Yeong (Moon Shadow)

Gender: Male

Age: 22

Level: 47

Strength 20 Agility 55 Stamina 19 Magic Power 11 Internal Energy 60

Job: Escort Warrior

Unique Ability: Shadow Swift Kill (陰影亟殺)

Skills: Level 10 ‘Silent Step’, Level 8 ‘Sword Aura’, Level 7 ‘Black Heaven Skill’, Level 7 ‘Body Guard’s Vigor’, Level 7 ‘Loyalty’

————————————————————————

[Detailed Description: Wol Yeong is an orphan who was taken in by Yang Ho-myeong before he could even walk and is an assassin of the Black Wind Association. Specialized in assassination and protection, he can be a very efficient tool when kept at your side. However, a special note of caution is advised since his thought process is ‘slightly’ different from ordinary people.]

[Copy Condition: Currently, Wol Yeong is accompanying you not out of trust, but due to Yang Ho-myeong’s orders. If you can gain his loyalty, you will be able to copy one of his unique abilities or skills.]

The unique ability ‘Shadow Swift Kill’, specialized for long, mid, and short-range attacks using shadows.

‘Hoh.’

This one emerged quite appetizing.

Thanks to the false claim of being the disciple of the Dark Emperor, usable cards had substantially increased.

Of course, the elite thirty of the Black Wind Association borrowed for this occasion would be instrumental in conquering the tower.

He then turned his attention to the conditions for copying.

To gain his loyalty…

‘Honestly, at my level, loyalty should naturally spring forth, so it’s not such a difficult task.’

He had no doubt that Wol Yeong would become his as long as he behaved as usual.

Character, ability, welfare… As the representative of Go-Inmul Corporation, he had all the virtues necessary for a leader.

‘It’s about time I should get going. Perhaps I should observe the situation from a distance first.’

Jinhyuk moved to a place where he could clearly see the entrance to the maze.

There was quite a crowd of players gathered at the entrance.

Some familiar guild emblems were in sight.

While his mind had been preoccupied with the ball or whatever, it seemed the guilds that hadn’t been invited were fervently focused on the conquest of the tower.

After all, now was the perfect opportunity for the underdogs to rise while the big competitors were distracted.

But then…

‘Hmm?’

A familiar figure caught Jinhyuk’s eye while scanning the vicinity.

A woman with long red hair.

It was Melena from the Mage Association.

Though she was half-hidden behind large sunglasses, she would be recognizable to those who knew her.

‘What’s she doing here?’

It was unlikely that she was here with a noble determination to conquer the tower for the future of humanity…

Having thought she had been too quiet lately, this reeked too suspiciously.

There was no choice but to ask directly.

“I’ll just go over and have a word with that woman. Stay hidden and don’t make any noticeable moves. You can do that much, right?”

“Do we really need to stay in hiding?”

“Although you look pretty decent, the rest of you look scary enough to be feared if met at night. Do I really need to say this myself?”

Imagine a group of scarred, shaggy-haired men in black, all bunched together.

That’s not a covert operation but rather like walking billboards.

Or perhaps, they’d be lucky not to be reported to the police.

“I fail to understand your concern over appearances. A strong presence could be an advantage in battle, intimidating the opponent.”

Wol Yeong tilted his head, genuinely confused.

Reminded of someone stubborn from back home, Jinhyuk knew better than to try persuading such types with common sense.

He pulled out a magic word that would unequivocally work on the members of the Black Wind Association.

“To achieve the grand aspirations of the Dark Heavenly Sect, the fewer people know us, the better. So follow my words.”

“The fewer people know us… Yes, I understand your meaning.”

Finally grasping the concept, Wol Yeong nodded.

***

Departing from Wol Yeong, Jinhyuk approached Melena’s location without delay.

He saw the red-haired woman, deep in thought amidst the crowd of players.

“Look who we have here, in such a place?”

Jinhyuk greeted her with a light smile.

Of course, from Melena’s standpoint, it was as if lightning had struck from a clear sky.

“You, you are…!”

“Keep it down. Attracting attention here will be a loss for you more than me, won’t it?”

Imagine a mage walking around in the bright daylight. The world sure has become a nice place.

If she were to make a scene right now, it would quite likely turn into Melena being consumed by flames on a pyre…

Shall we see? He was barely resisting the urge to let loose a tirade.

“That is…!”

Melena glanced cautiously around.

Fortunately, everyone else was preoccupied with preparing to enter the maze, not paying attention to them.

For the moment, at least.

“Alright, I get it! I’ll tell you everything, just let’s move somewhere else first.”

“A wise choice.”

Jinhyuk followed Melena through the bushes, finally free from prying eyes once they reached a location slightly away from the entrance.

“Tell me why the Mages are interested in the eighth floor. Let’s start with that.”

Melena flinched at Jinhyuk’s query.

But only momentarily.

She realized there was no way she could lie or make excuses.

“A few days ago, a unique magical energy was detected. Precisely, it was discovered accidentally by one of my colleagues exploring the maze.”

“Unique magical energy?”

“You’d know what I’m talking about. The ‘double pulse’.”

“The phenomena that occur when the floors…?”

“Yes, exactly that. It means a pathway connecting the eighth and ninth floors has been established. That’s precisely why I’ve come here to investigate.”

The entire eighth floor, a mere maze, now connected to the ninth floor teeming with mid-level monsters.

Upon realizing this, a chill ran down Jinhyuk’s spine.

‘Could it be… a coalition between the two floors?’

That would mean a ludicrous spike in the current difficulty level.

“How many players have entered the maze?”

Jinhyuk asked urgently.

“Quite a few. As you know, there are countless humans who wish to become heroes. Even now, one of the major American guilds is inside.”

It was already too late.

There were more questions he should have asked Melena, but now was not the time.

“Come with me.”

With that, Jinhyuk roughly grabbed Melena’s wrist.

“Wait a minute! Even me…?”

“Of course, you’re going inside too.”

Did she really think she could just slip away?

The company and its employees are bound by fate, dying together, living together.

Melena attempted to escape by any means, but Jinhyuk wasn’t one to let go once he caught a fish.

However.

Upon reaching Wol Yeong, Jinhyuk faced yet another shocking sight.

His head was throbbing.

It couldn’t be helped.

Before him, beaming with pride, stood Wol Yeong, and around him laid players frothing at the mouth, unconscious.

Not a single one of the hundreds of players there had regained consciousness.

“Phew…”

Hold it in.

He’s still young; mistakes can happen.

More importantly, there might be a plausible explanation here.

“Explain. The short version.”

“Didn’t you command, master? As much as possible, there shouldn’t be any onlookers.”

“That’s… true.”

Indeed, he had said that.

“But that still doesn’t mean you knock everyone out, does it?”

“I simply followed the esteemed order of my master.”

Wol Yeong bowed his head, appearing ashamed.

Now Jinhyuk understood what the system had meant.

‘A bit’ different in thinking makes him not so easy to deal with.

Jinhyuk pressed his temples with his index fingers.

“That’s enough. Get ready to enter the maze right away.”

Since there were already players inside. They needed to hurry before everyone turned into corpses.

***

About 20 kilometers from the entrance to the maze, a group of players gathered.

“We’ve lost contact again…”

A man muttered to himself.

One of the top five major guilds in America, ‘Lockheed’.

And the man was an AAA-ranked Lancer, one of the pillars the guild could boast of, named Jack Freedman.

Despite his enviable position, Freedman’s expression was far from bright.

For good reason.

The force he brought to breach the eighth floor maze was the main attack unit of the guild, Lockheed’s first assault team.

Each member had been rated A or higher and had experience in conquering at least the tenth floor.

Yet, paradoxically, the maze they had succeeded in before felt agonizingly tough.

‘…It’s different.’

He wasn’t merely talking about the complexity of the maze or the difficulty of traps.

Something fundamentally altered.

The thick, sticky feeling of air clinging to his skin.

The vibe had been off since the entrance, and as they delved deeper, doubts became conviction.

Freedman glanced at the status window floating in the air.

[0h:0m:1s]

The timer displayed just ran out.

Beep! Beep!

A loud alarm resounded.

The atmosphere grew tenser.

“Commander, just now… all three hours have passed.”

Three hours.

It represented the time elapsed since Katie, leading the vanguard, entered the maze.

It also meant none of the thirteen-man vanguard had returned.

“Damn it.”

Freedman gritted his teeth.

What could possibly cause the disappearance of every scouting party?

He knew minimizing the main force’s risk was paramount, yet they couldn’t continue with futile sacrifices.

Finally.

“Rangers will stay on standby. Yoris, Michael, lead the way. We’re going in.”

The decision was made for the tank and dealer players to enter the maze.

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