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“I’d like to change the formation for a while.”
“Yeah? Ah, yes. How…..?”
“One by one, stand behind me. The person behind catches the collar of the person in front. Once you hold it, never let go of it.”
Once they were done questioning and being fussy for a while, they soon moved into position. Someone held onto my collar tightly. It was An Sol. Suddenly, I realized the order in which they all stood.
Behind me was An Sol, followed by Yoo-Jung, and An Hyun at the rear. After they took their positions, I spoke out in a calm voice.
“From this moment onwards, the place that we are going to enter is called the Course Barrier (進路 結界). The moment you make a mistake, you may be cut down. What I mean is, never take your hands off the other. Never let go of it. If possible step on the same footprint… And… Nothing else. Let’s go.”
I wanted to add that they must not be surprised by anything, but I deliberately avoided saying that stuff as it was unnecessary. I couldn’t predict what kind of situation we would potentially encounter. We moved slowly, taking one step at a time.
They followed my steps, but they were doubtful about certain things and had question marks on their faces. I stepped ahead carefully while keeping third eye open.
One step, two steps, three steps… My gaze was towards the footprints that were down below, yet I was able to confirm that I was heading in the right direction. The pigmentation of the grass around us was regaining its original color. Voices of excitement came from behind.
However, the dungeon of the alchemist didn’t appear immediately. The kids were following me without much effort, but I was walking on a trail while maintaining a high level of concentration. Maintaining the third eye for such long time was not an easy thing to do.
Quite some time had passed…
“Huh… you guys can release your hands now.”
We walked in a circle and reached our destination. After almost forty minutes of tracking, it seemed that all the weird air around me was gone. The sensation of touch of someone holding my collar disappeared after one breath. I was really annoyed when my collar was pulled from time to time.
I turned my head slightly and grabbed the backside of Sol’s hand on purpose so that she would let go of mine. Warm, a warm sensation passed through my palm. As I grabbed her hand, An Sol looked at me with a frightened face and panted slowly. I was in the middle of letting go of her hands….
I tried to forcibly pull away from her hand but she wouldn’t let go; I let it be and motioned towards the others. An Hyun and Yoo-Jung understood my signal and came to my side. Everyone directed their own lines of sight from my face towards the front.
An Hyun was visibly surprised at the castle standing tall in front of his eyes that was built with white marble. As I lifted my finger and pointed towards the front, An Sol and Yoo-Jung looked at the castle and their faces blanked. There were at a loss for words after seeing the castle surrounded by the bushes. This was the light in this dull forest.
After watching for a while, An Hyun blurted out with a loud voice, “This castle is……”
“This Dungeon’s owner, is the Ancient Alchemist Vivian. I know that you want to go in….”
Seeing the kids who were lost in thought, I felt a little proud of myself. I had a lot of trouble when I had to choose my own abilities. Choosing the third eye over other great abilities was a difficult decision for me. This was probably the most extensive and efficient use on the Hall Plane. In the past, it was hard to find caves or dungeons even after going through a lot of hardships.
“Hyung…. I’m not sure how, but you really did find it.”
“I don’t know either. I just followed the trail…. I guess it’s beginner’s luck.”
An Hyun was looking at me with big glistening eyes with great fervour, but I responded modestly. One usually encounters these kinds of things when they go out to explore. Surprised already? I don’t think I can rejoice just yet. I’m resilient towards peaceful sceneries, but I’m very much aware of what kind of hell awaits us inside.
“Kyah! Oppa. The castle is so pretty. When you said a dungeon, I thought of a strange, dull and disgusting facility.”
That’s right. Go inside and continue down towards the basement. I just murmured to myself. I didn’t want to destroy this bright atmosphere. An Sol opened her mouth with a face full of excitement.
“I feel like I’m seeing a fortress… the one from the movies….”
I could see a bitter smile on An Hyun’s face as An Sol spoke in such a manner. I couldn’t comprehend it, but it looked like the word movie had a story behind it.
Yoo-Jung wanted to enter immediately, and An Hyun looked at me with expectant eyes. Just a while ago, the children wanted to go some place to rest, but now their behavior had changed completely. It seemed like the kids were feeling excited.
“Oppa is so awesome. When I passed here, I obviously couldn’t see it. How in the world did you find it?”
“Well, I’m just lucky.”
“Ae…….h. How is Oppa continuously lucky? Like they say, do you really have a pole star that shows you what you want?”
Once Yoo-Jung was done talking, I saw that she smiled a little. Suddenly, I was reminded of Kim Han-Byul. I don’t know what was happening, but if she could have come with us…. I shook my head. If I was alone, I would have to listen to her tremendously harsh responses. However, both of them were poles apart.
Anyway, that was an early sensation that came into my mind, but it was nothing. I moved towards the castle, while the kids followed right behind me.
“Wait a moment.”
I stopped in front of the gate. There were definite traces that were leading into the castle. That means that the caravan already had found their way inside. However, this time, I could see five pairs of footprints. It would have been five people in the first place, or one member could’ve died on the way here. I glanced at it for a moment and then opened the door that was blocking the entrance.
I entered the castle that I had long awaited for. As I walked into the castle, the kids were moving their heads as if making sure that they could enter inside. As it was empty, it was hard to recognize this circular room as the castle’s lobby. Broken windows and chairs came to my attention. They were old fashioned, but they had a dark, gloomy aura.
Still, it was refreshing to see a ceiling made of white marble. The ceiling was circular in shape, like a dome, with marble pillars supporting it. In some ways, it was similar to a European church.
“What? There aren’t any treasure or monsters? Has someone already taken them?”
Having thought she could find it that easily, Yoo-Jung was a little disappointed. I lifted her forehead with one hand and pointed towards the centre with the other hand. On the end of that direction was a wooden door with iron ornaments attached to the floor.
“Ah, a secret base.”
“…. A door that leads to the dungeon. Some dangerous secret facility.”
“Chi. Whatever. Oppa always hates me.”
Once I found the castle, I was again excited for some reason. The kids were like puppies; they were quite excited and moved around to see it. Once I got a look at it, I took a step back.
The original meaning of a dungeon is a dungeon. It was out of question to ask why there were no monsters in the lobby of the castle. But this wasn’t enough to understand the intent behind it. Perhaps there aren’t any monsters in the beginning or maybe the caravans had already taken care of it. However, nothing was certain, because there were no bodies or traces of battle.
“We are supposed to enter from here.”
“That’s for sure. It’s not there just to see, after all.”
I simply shook my head and held the handle. It seemed pretty heavy, but it couldn’t be compared to my strength that was already around 94. When I lifted it, I heard the sound of the door creaking open. Soon, I saw a big square hole that had an identical square bottom.
“I don’t think it’s that deep. So, I will go first and you guys come along one by one.”
After I finished speaking, I immediately jumped inside. The dimly lit end was getting closer and closer. At last, I was able to land on the ground with a thud. Seeing me get down without much difficulty, Hyun and Yoo-Jung nodded at each other and jumped in at the same time.
Once again, the dust flew around with the thump from landing. In the first place, the physically well-endowed An Hyun came down with a casual expression. But Yoo-Jung was holding onto her knee. When I approached her, I couldn’t understand it, but Yoo-Jung lifted her head and opened her mouth with a pained voice.
“Uh… I landed wrong.”
As I watched Yoo-Jung, An Hyun and I sighed after looking at each other. When I lifted my head, I saw a still An Sol. An Sol hesitated for a moment from the top, but was going to jump with a look which said that she didn’t want to be alone after the hint of Hyun’s, “Jump alone and the ghost catches you.”. I looked at the lightly leaping Sol… But why is she closing her eyes?
“Please receive me.”
An Sol jumped down with her eyes closed and screamed. There was a soft crushing sound as she landed on the floor. She stroked her butt a few times and looked at us with a sense of betrayal. We stood there bending over and staring at her. Sol looked at us with disappointment in her eyes and breathed out. I sighed. I didn’t realize that no one would catch her.
I looked at An Sol who was looking back at us and rubbing her face, but something felt wrong. She fell from the high ground to the bottom on her butt, but there was a soft thump and not a big thud. I quickly raised my magic power. And….
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