Chapter 229 – Key (1)
Translated by : betterdays
Proofread by : Hogu
* * *
The dungeon where Lee Sungmin died in his previous life was not far from the city of Behenger, where he had resided in all his years as a C-Class Mercenary in his previous life.
He hadn’t ever left the City of Behenger back then. He mulled over his life on a day-to-day basis, wasting his life away as a no-class.
The distance from the Forest of the Fairies, where Lee Sungmin had been located, to Behenger was substantial. However, he had forced himself to rush in order to arrive in time for the advent of the dungeon.
Fortunately, he was able to meet his goals and arrive there before it had happened.
Coming back to this place, the place of his death, felt strange in many ways.
Of course, Lee Sungmin didn’t believe there was any possibility he would die in the dungeon now. Especially with his newfound power.
The power between the current Lee Sungmin, and the Lee Sungmin who had entered the dungeon in his previous life, was incomparable. However, he didn’t want to be too certain since dungeons were places where the unexpected occurred regularly.
The dungeon had not appeared yet.
Lee Sungmin sank his body down on the hill where he first discovered the dungeon before.
The dungeon had appeared just before the sun set fully, according to his memories.
Back then, it had been a scarlet red sunset.
Lee Sungmin, a former member of the mercenary corps led by Xeon, was conducting a monster subjugation mission near this location.
It was a request to hunt some High Goblins in the forest not far from here. But, the request was difficult for Lee Sungmin, a C-Class mercenary, to carry out.
After finishing the High Golbin subjugation, however, the mercenary corps had set up camp on the hill, since it had taken longer than expected.
And by chance, Lee Sungmin had witnessed a dungeon being created right before his very eyes, back then.
Dungeons were simply not entities that existed naturally, or were man-made. They were a phenomenon that suddenly appeared and manifested within Eria.
Most of the time, some lucky adventurers would be able to witness the creation of a dungeon and either raid it themselves, or sell information about it at a high price.
The very nature, and any preconceived ideas about dungeons, were mysterious to say the least.
Although the risk was enormous to explore something so mysterious, if they raided and destroyed the dungeon, one could get artifacts that contained powers that were just as mysterious as the dungeon itself.
Therefore, information on dungeons was always distributed at ridiculously high prices, and there were many people who risked their lives to target dungeons.
That happened to be the case for the 27 year-old Lee Sungmin in the previous life, as he had risked his life to enter the dungeon, and ultimately died.
To be 27, which wasn’t that young, was a dismal age to be living as a mercenary. This was because he had given up on trying to gain anything in his life. He knew he was worthless and lived on a day-to-day basis, spending his money on liquor, prostitutes, and the silly and pleasurable things in life, since he never knew when his life would become forfeit.
There was nothing saved up in terms of his money, and there was no hope for a future. He only wanted to comfort himself with anything he could get his hands on.
Naturally, if mercenaries accepted requests that weren’t dangerous or high in demand, they would gain reputations for not being diligent and their requests would be cut off from them.
The mercenary world was a cruel one, where one had to risk their lives just to live one more day.
It was not a straightforward matter of course. There were, and still are, so many C-Class mercenaries in the world.
It was such a situation, so naturally Lee Sungmin was impatient. When he noticed the dungeon, it was his opportunity. But, it was a make or break situation like any other, so he felt no need to mind risk. But the results of his effort were eventually met with death.
But that was also the reason why Lee Sungmin was alive now.
The sun started to go down as the red-tinted sky became purple and eventually turned dark blue and black.
The ground trembled. Feeling the slight vibrations, Lee Sungmin lifted up his body.
Lee Sungmin turned his gaze over the top of the hill and peeked downwards. There, he saw a small monument standing tall among the small pile of earth that had cracked apart.
Lee Sungmin broadened his senses around his location, and a smile formed as he caressed the ghost mask on his face. He had no choice but to smile.
It was because he picked up on something different from his previous life. It seemed, in his last life, when he attempted the dungeon… he wasn’t alone.
Not far away, a weak presence was detected. It wasn’t a presence that had much skill, but it was certainly something his previous life wouldn’t have been able to handle at all.
‘Ha.. Because back then I didn’t even know how wide the world was, nor did I try to change my view.’
He didn’t even have the skills to do that back then.
The small presence must have noticed Lee Sungmin earlier, since when Lee Sungmin first arrived, he didn’t even bother to hide his presence at all.
Then, what should I do? Should I wait for them to enter the dungeon first?
No, he didn’t have to wait for others. Lee Sungmin slowly lifted himself up.
I thought about cleaning up the presence and getting rid of them before they became a bother, but he decided against it. It’s because they weren’t someone of any skill worthy enough to be on his radar.
Lee Sungmin did not hide his appearance and went down to the hill. Then, he intentionally released his strength.
Although the mask was repressing his internal energy a bit, a terrible ominous aura oozed out of his body and flowed around Lee Sungmin.
It was neither internal energy nor Heoju’s yokai powers. He had worn the ghost mask gifted to him by Sima Ryunju, for the past year. And as Sima Ryunju had predicted, Lee Sungmin’s body developed a different type of force in the process of adapting to the mask, as the internal energy and power of Heoju, had been completely sealed during that time.
It was a Dragon’s source of power. Magical energy and mana that was distinct to only the Dragons of the continent, and was fundamentally different from the normal flow of mana or internal energy.
Lee Sungmin thought that maybe since he had eaten an entire Dragon Heart whole, that he might have been able to use magic or Dragon Tongue, but it was to no avail since he still didn’t have complete mastery over the rampant power within his body.
But, something similar was able to come out.
But in the first place, what was being emitted from his body, was not actually the Dragon’s mana. It had transformed into his body with the mysterious power of the Black Heart and had become an entirely different source of power.
[Don’t be greedy, kid. Even if you use Draconic Magic, which would be incomparable to the power you’ve cultivated up till now, your conscience and body wouldn’t be able to handle it at all.]
‘It’s a shame though.’
[It is quite a shame. Be thankful to this old man, since you were only able to consume the Dragon Heart thanks to me.]
Heoju said proudly. Lee Sungmin was deeply grateful to Heoju even though he didn’t say anything back.
Of course, he didn’t mean to say it on purpose. If it became apparent in his words or actions, Heoju might get drunk on his own pride and ramble on and on.
[I can feel what you’re thinking motherfucker.]
(T/N : LMAO)
Heoju became angry as he read Lee Sungmin’s thoughts and feelings through their shared conscience.
At the entrance to the dungeon, Lee Sungmin stopped moving.
He could feel the presence of the person watching him, become flustered.
It would be nice if they could figure this was not their place now that Lee Sungmin was here, and step back.
‘Sadly, I don’t think they will.’
A dungeon was a cradle of opportunity that was enough to have people go crazy at the countless mysteries and opportunities that could be found.
Knowing this fact, Lee Sungmin did not overpower them in a violent way with his presence like he did at the Namgung Main Branch.
The stairs at the entrance to the dungeon led deep underground.
Lee Sungmin slowly started to remember the nostalgic feelings he had once felt back then.
As he was going down these very stairs, he had felt a sense of wealth, and when he came to his senses, the end of the corridor he had gone down was blocked off with a stone wall due to the labyrinth type of nature dungeons contained.
In dungeons, there were several traps that forced those who weren’t careful to lose their lives immediately. However, Lee Sungmin, back then, had pulled out all the tricks and knowledge he had from his mercenary days to survive.
‘I didn’t meet any monsters.’
Dungeons also had various forms.
Like the doppelganger dungeon that Lee Sungmin went into to save Baek Sogo a few years ago, there were dungeons full of strange monsters that transcended common sense, and there were also dungeons with various traps and activation spells. And last but not least, there were dungeons that were a mix of the two. You would never know what you got until you traveled and saw it for yourself.
In his past life’s memory, this dungeon was a maze and labyrinth type dungeon without any monsters of the sort.
Suddenly, Lee Sungmin experienced the same feeling that he had felt, in his past life, of great riches and wealth.
Lee Sungmin waited patiently, following his previous patterns and steps without resisting the odd feeling.
When both of his feet stopped on the ground, Lee Seong-min glanced up at the ceiling. There was a ceiling, and there was a single road ahead.
Lee Sungmin did not hesitate to advance forwards though. His sixth sense warned him of the incoming traps.
There was no need to jump up or disturb his movements. In front of the trap, Lee Sungmin’s dantian, the internal energy from Heoju and himself, as well as the power of the dragon writhed .
A black current of lightning surrounded itself around Lee Sungmin, and he disappeared from the spot.
He jumped over a complicated trap and stood across it.
The shadowless footwork techniques that had been combined with the internal energy and techniques of the Dark Storm Arts, were mixed together as he slipped through the current.
Lee Sungmin glanced back as he rubbed his feet and landed on the other side of the trap safely.
For the past year, he had been training solely on cultivating and practicing the breathing technique for the Dark Storm Arts, and his revised techniques that Sima Ryunju had made for him.
He sometimes even practiced with Wijihoyeon and Sima Ryunju regularly through spars.
However, Sima Ryunju’s spars were more like one-sided beatings.
The combination between the Dark Storm Arts and the Shadowless footwork techniques were incredibly solid and harmonized.
[It was a shorter distance than I thought.]
‘It’s not like the trap would even be able to trace me over that amount of distance anyways.’
Heoju was chattering, and Lee Sungmin shrugged. The traps were all meaningless when he unfolded the Dark Storm Arts in earnest.
The pitfalls and traps in the beginning were not that difficult for him. Lee Sungmin, who was a C-Class mercenary, had broken through it as well the last time, putting his life on the line of course. So even if Lee Sungmin had walked through the traps in a trance, he would have been completely fine.
In front of a fork in the labyrinth, Lee Sungmin chose the left side as he remembered.
If he proceeded a little further, he would come upon a room with the stone of past lives.
Merely getting the stone of past lives, once more, would not ensure or guarantee that he could go back in time again and relive his life, but it would be better to secure such a dangerously mysterious item first.
Lee Sungmin stopped walking.
The old and creaky door he had come upon to enter in his last life, was in front of Lee Sungmin. There would be a small box in the room, and inside would be the stone. Lee Sungmin took a deep breath and grabbed the doorknob.
Turning the doorknob and entering, Lee Sungmin slowly moved his feet into the spacious room. It was exactly how he remembered the setting of the room in his previous life. A box was placed directly in the middle of the room.
Lee Sungmin did not hesitate and went to open the box. Lifting the lid and checking inside the box, there was a single stone the size of a fist.
[Is this what I think it is?]
Lee Sungmin nodded as he answered with his voice instead of telepathy.
[To this old man, it just looks like a plain old rock. But… you’re saying merely by touching it at the time of one’s death will allow you to go back in time?]
“It happened to me.”
[It’s hard to believe. This old man doesn’t know much about magic or sorcery, but time magic like this is impossible, even for the greatest beings of magic, the Dragons.]
However, it was certain and Heoju didn’t deny that Lee Sungmin had been telling the truth. It was impossible for him to be standing here right now like this, had this stone not been there before.
The stone of the past lives being held in Lee Sungmin’s hands began to writhe and vibrate.
Yet, this was entirely new and different from Lee Sungmin’s past memories. The stone had never caused a reaction even remotely similar to what was going on right now.
At that time, Lee Sungmin didn’t know what it was and simply kept it in his arms because he thought it was a simple stone that he could try and sell off later.
[The previous victim grabbed the stone again]
For the first time in a while, the voice of the system had rung out inside Lee Sungmin’s head. It was the same voice he had heard when he had died as well.
[It has been confirmed. The returnee has arrived back at the location.]
And that was the end of the messages ringing out from the system in Lee Sungmin’s head. Suddenly, the stone of past lives vibrated violently and shook. Shaking in Lee Sungmin’s palms, the stone started to crack bit by bit, and eventually turned into powder as it disintegrated into the air.
….Then, the scattered powder started to gather back together into Lee Sungmin’s palm in the shape of something completely new. It was no longer a stone. What was on Lee Sungmin’s hand was a heavy, golden key.
“What is this……?”
Lee Sungmin looked down in confusion and shock. Even Heoju, who was watching everything in Lee Sungmin’s shared conscience, was surprised by the sudden situation.
Before they even thought about the reason why the stone of past lives had become a key, the entire space started to shake.
Heoju warned. Lee Sungmin immediately moved.
He opened the door immediately and came out of the room, but he couldn’t go back the way he had come. When one entered a dungeon, the only way to exit… was to defeat the boss monster at the end of the dungeon.
Boom- Boom- BOOM-
The whole dungeon shook violently and trembled. The brick walls and ceiling had dust falling through the cracks as they looked fragile in light of what was happening.
Lee Sungmin was nervous, and understandably so. It was something unexplainable, and he didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. He immediately took off his ghost mask, since right now was not the time to train.
Suddenly, his footing collapsed and Lee Sungmin’s body fell down. He tried to catch himself in the air with the Air Walking technique that had been ingrained into the Dark Storm Arts and Shadowless techniques, but something odd happened. In a flash, the entire surroundings of the dungeon disappeared like a lie.
An invisible floor was already touching Lee Sungmin’s feet. Lee Sungmin looked around in confusion and wariness.
Before he knew it, he was already outside the dungeon where the entrance was. The entrance started to crumble down in the normal sign of the clearing of a dungeon.
[It looks like you don’t have to bother completing the dungeon anymore.]
Heoju murmured in an odd and confused voice.
Chapter 229 – Fin
T/N : …. well this is a little bit of a cliff….
Anyways, going to let you guys know ahead of time, but on March 3rd-6th I’ll be on a little spring break and skiing with my girlfriend. This means all series that have updates between then will most likely be paused.
However, fret not. Since I have been given a lot of time prior to this request from my gf, I will get those chapters (or as many as I can, completed in overtime before hand). I won’t be able to upload during those days, but I will try and get all the chapters that need to be uploaded during those days, uploaded the day before the trip in a bit of a mass release.
Hope you’re all doing well, and btw we’re super close to increasing release rate to 6 chapters huehue so stay tuned! – B
(P.S. : start of march, I’ll have enough money from your guys’ donations to invest it all back in for a higher cost plan on wordpress to enable a dark/light theme to ease your eyes)
Patreon Goals : 18/20 (only two more needed!)
20 Patrons = 6 chapters per week!
Patreon Link : https://patreon.com/betterdays_TRL