Solo Max Level Newbie Chapter 260

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Solo Max-Level Newbie

Chapter 260: The Seven Deadly Sins (1)

The person who had reached out through telepathy was Beriel.

I had thought he was being quiet these last few days, maybe visiting the other apostles, but it seemed he was slyly observing everything from the sidelines.

“Why do you say it could become troublesome? What do you mean by that?”

[Humans may not sense it, but there’s a foul stench in the air, striking at my nose. It’s quite a dangerous odor.]

If it was a scent Beriel could detect…

Could it be…?

“There’s a place where demonic magic is seeping through? In these ruins?”

[It’s quite far from here. That witch must be up to something. Given the stench mingling, it appears there’s someone else with her as well.]

The seventh chamber inside the Tomb of the Antichrist houses the Holy Demonic Essence, one of only three places in the tower capable of manifesting a Demon King and demons.

Furthermore, if it involves those… individuals.

Jinhyuk’s eyes narrowed.

The most likely scenarios ran through his mind.

He could roughly guess how the situation was unfolding.

And he also had an idea of how to use it to his advantage…

“Thanks for the tip.”

I never thought I’d see the day when a Demon King would actually be helpful.

Thanks to him, I’ve obtained some useful information.

[Haha, don’t be too grateful. If it is indeed a demon of rank being manifested, it’s beyond your abilities to handle.]

“Are you trying to say I’m going to die?”

[Exactly. However, if you become my apostle, you could avoid a miserable death. Even now, accept the contract, lowly human. I don’t often extend such invitations.]

“Wow, so you’re quite a charismatic Demon King, huh? Seeing how confidently you speak.”

The corners of Jinhyuk’s lips curved upward.

[Hahaha! Have you finally come to realize my greatness even a bit? If so, you must understand what an honor it would be to become my apostle. Now, quickly, let us forge a bond between our souls and…]

“No thanks.”

[What?]

“Your information is appreciated. But offering a tip and expecting a contract in return? That won’t cut it. At this level, it would take at least another 30 pieces of valuable intel before I’d even consider such a deal. So, by all means, keep it up.”

Attracting a good apostle isn’t an easy task, especially during these times of talent scarcity.

[Wait a minute! What do you think you’re doing to…! This is not just about demon culture, it’s about moral ethics, you damn brat! Even the Demon Kings don’t…]

Beriel tried desperately to hold on, but Jinhyuk had already turned off the whisper mode.

That’s when…

“It seems you were talking to someone familiar? You looked quite happy…”

Maria, standing next to him with perked ears, opened her mouth.

She didn’t hear what was being said due to the mute function, but she couldn’t help but notice his constant beaming smile.

“Ah, I received a scouting offer. Just casually declined it, saying I wasn’t interested.”

“Scouting offer? That means…”

A flash of interest crossed Maria’s eyes.

She realized that it must be a giant force, not a guild, extending the offer to Jinhyuk.

“Besides the Empire or the Martial World, was there a power in the middle strata that has yet to make an offer to Mr. Jinhyuk?”

“Um… it’s a bit higher up than that.”

Higher up?

Maria swallowed hard.

His words meant that even the upper echelons were showing interest in Jinhyuk.

What shocked her more was that he’d coolly declined them.

“Amazing, as expected…”

She couldn’t bring herself to ask if Olympus was of no interest to him.

With upper stratum forces after him, would they even catch his eye?

However, if Olympus remained passive, their influence would wane until they were forgotten in everyone’s memory.

As if anticipating her thoughts, Jinhyuk smoothly broached the subject.

“Gandharan Dangun might not be a bad option to join forces with, but everyone’s struggling to find their own bowl of rice. Besides, how could you calmly trust your back to those who may betray you at any time and place?”

“…That’s true. We’re only allied temporarily due to mutual interests for this raid.”

Ephemeral contracts like merit points or rewards could turn to mere scraps of paper on a whim.

“So, forget about such characters and join hands with me.”

“What?”

“I think Maria, myself, Yun Taemin, and you, can conquer this place together. Not to mention we would have more rewards to share among us.”

“But… why me, specifically?”

I can’t exactly tell her it’s due to the cloning condition.

I’d rather hit her over the head gracefully, but there’s a clause in the contract prohibiting such action.

And when comparing the experience points and items gained here to Hellfire…

…there was only one obvious choice.

“No other reason. I just feel I can trust you, Maria. My instincts tell me so.”

Jinhyuk smiled gently.

A warm smile that melted away all doubts and worries.

***

A new alliance was formed within the coalition.

A secret alliance that neither Nirasha nor Park Jungjin could possibly be aware of.

“So you and Miss Maria are planning to pass through the route where the recon team went missing?”

Nirasha asked incredulously.

“That’s the plan.”

“Is that truly what you wish, Miss Maria?”

“Yes. After some thought, I’ve made my decision. I will follow Mr. Jinhyuk.”

Maria nodded slightly.

“The main route we’ve found is heavily populated with medium-class monsters, but that’s it. The path is wide, and visibility is good, so there are no unexpected variables.”

Park Jungjin also frowned as he added his two cents.

Rationally, the choice was clear.

The main route, which could be brute-forced with numbers, versus an unknown shortcut that had wiped out the entire recon team.

Considering stability and the likelihood of success, the choice was obvious.

“If you’re worried, you can all take the path I’ve chosen. It’s definitely safer, I can guarantee that.”

“Guarantee? Ha. Don’t make me laugh. We reluctantly accepted you because of the viewers’ gaze, not because we trust you, understand? Moreover, we don’t need such aid; we’re more than capable of conquering these ruins on our own.”

In other words, don’t overstep.

“If that’s how you feel, then we have no choice but to go our separate ways.”

“I will assign some of my people to accompany you. It’s a decision made as the overall raid leader, so please don’t take it the wrong way. It’s merely meant as assistance.”

With a flick of her finger, Nirasha signaled a sturdy man to step forward.

Arun.

A member of the Gandhara Guild, who had received direct Mandala training from Nirasha.

Though called an assistant, it really meant surveillance.

However, Jinhyuk maintained his smile.

“Assistance. Your gracious offer is appreciated. Indeed, I was in need of people to accompany me.”

***

Shortly after, the second strike team, separate from the first, arrived at the path guarded by the second apostle.

The very place where the entire scouting team had met their end.

The straight corridor was only wide enough for about five people to pass through.

‘This must be the place.’

[Arun activates his unique ability, ‘Vibrant Deprivation Mandala!’]

A golden mist spread along the entire passage.

“Impressive…”

A content hum escaped Arun’s lips.

Thanks to the power of his Mandala, which could pierce through the essence of any object, he could identify the traps laid out in the corridor.

The Corridor of Silence.

Here, if someone talks or makes noise beyond a certain decibel level due to motions, a curse would render them asleep.

Obviously, the curse’s effect was of an absolute judgment level, rendering it impossible to counteract with skills or unique abilities.

‘Once hit by the curse, one would fall asleep for at least a week.’

No wonder the advance scouting team perished en route.

‘While it strains the body, using my ability was a wise decision.’

He had to ensure Gandhara’s passage through at least the second gateway.

This ruin required specific conditions to move on to the next level. Therefore, clearance was essential.

Not to mention, it was also a venue available for live broadcasting.

“We shall pass through first. Don’t get in the way; stay back.”

“You’ve found a way to bypass the trap?”

“Yes. There’s no point explaining to you, so we’ll go first, and then demobilize the trap later for you.”

“Fine, go ahead.”

Unexpectedly, Jinhyuk withdrew without protest.

Although a little suspicious, Arun didn’t dwell on it.

Since he had figured out the trap’s trigger and the other party had yielded, there was no need to push further.

‘There won’t ever be a trap disarmament, so enjoy standing there and watching for eternity.’

Step by step.

Arun and the other four players confidently approached the start of the corridor.

Keeping the noise down was hardly a difficult task for them.

They moved quietly, making only slight sounds with their steps, as they absorbed every sound with their breath.

Though not fast, they were steadily advancing and would reach the end soon.

‘Just maintain composure, and we’ll get through.’

A hint of red bloomed on Arun’s face as the goal loomed near.

Finally, he was about to surpass that veteran and earn Nirasha’s recognition.

But that’s when it happened.

[Ba-bam, ba-bam, bam-bam-bam, ba-bam-bam-bam! All troops, assemble at the training grounds by 06:30…!]

A deafening bugle call erupted from the start point.

“Ah. The morning call… Sorry about that. I meant to put it on silent. Haha.”

Jinhyuk awkwardly switched off the red status window.

Set to prevent oversleeping, it had blasted off here.

How embarrassing.

The sheer audacity of the interruption was unmatched.

Especially since it coincided with a thunderous military wake-up call.

“This… tearing you apart wouldn’t be satisfying enough…”

Arun’s words trailed off.

He could no longer hold off the onslaught of sleep and could no longer maintain conscious thought.

“I’m sorry. To pass here, at least five people must succumb to the sleep curse. Please know that your voluntary sacrifice is something we will not forget.”

“Sacrifice my foot… I’ll…”

As his vision began to fade, Jinhyuk seemed to bow apologetically in the distance.

Or at least his bright white teeth, seen through a twisted mouth, seemed to suggest so.

And with a thud,

That was the last thing Arun remembered.

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