Dungeon Predator (Hodam)

Chapter 89: Kudal's Laboratory (3)

By obtaining the 'Unjustly Imprisoned' quest, the Tarnatose Prison became a spatiotemporal intersection point that anyone could enter. In other words, it became an instant dungeon.

However, the more time passed, the stronger the prison wardens would become.

Some players would even use this special feature to compete for the fastest clear.

It was a so-called escape game, a game where the player would purposefully wait in the prison and allow the wardens to become stronger. Then, they would try to escape the prison.

If a player waited for 40 minutes, it was purported to be impossible to clear unless they were a ranker.

Not only that, but escape game players claimed that it was absolutely impossible to clear after 1 hour.

However!

'Crazy Highschooler, Bart, managed to do it.'

Crazy Highschooler, Bart.  

Not only was he a highschool gamer, but he was part of the Numbers, the top echelon of Arth players.

'They say his skill as a gamer is top-notch...'

Bart had managed to break the record of '1 hour'. 

After accepting the quest and waiting more than an hour, he began his clear of the Tarnatose Prison and ultimately succeeded.

Anyway, Dungeon Conquering Man's 5th level dungeon was Tarnatose Prison.

"How long will it be?" Jae Woo asked Jin Cheol.

"I wonder."

"You wouldn't ask us to break the 1 hour limit, would you?"

Following Bart's success, several players had tried to imitate him, staying within the prison for an hour before attempting their clear.

However, only a handful of players had ever been successful. That's just how hard the challenge was.

"The viewers will decide that."

"Then it'll be an hour for sure."

If given a choice, the viewers would definitely choose the '1 hour' record.

"Perhaps."

Jin Cheol smiled.

'He knows the viewers will choose the 1 hour time. That's why he chose the Tarnatose Prison as the 5th level dungeon.'

Clearing a dungeon yielded a reward on Dungeon Conquering Man, but considering how difficult it would be to clear the final dungeon, it seemed as though he wouldn't be able to get the full reward every single day.

"I wonder if any of our participants will be able to clear the Tarnatose Prison. I don't think so myself."

'So why not just reduce the difficulty now?'

"If no one's able to do it, then there's nothing we can do. That's just how TV works sometimes."

It seemed like Jin Cheol had no intention of changing his plan.

After that, Jae Woo discussed various other topics with Jin Cheol. A while later, Jin Cheol stood up.

"I need to get going."

"Alright."

"I'll see you at the studio next time."

"Yes, I'll see you then."

Jae Woo saw him off.

* * *

Kang Oh and Eder began searching Kudal's Laboratory once more.

They had buildings 5 through 8 left.

The building closest to the entrance was Building 6.

"So this is Building 6," Kang Oh said after arriving at his destination.

Building 6 was cylindrically-shaped with black outer walls, so it basically looked like a giant choco pie. 

"Let's go."

"Ok."

Kang Oh and Eder entered Building 6.

The inside, like the outside, was completely black as well.

Rumble. 

They heard a bizarre sound from far within the black passageway.

"A Horned Ant."

Kang Oh already knew what monsters appeared within Building 6.

"A Horned Ant?"

"Yeah, that."

Kang Oh pointed to one side.

Eder turned his head in that direction and widened his eyes.

"How can you even call that an ant?"

It looked like a black bug with a giant rhinoceros horn, but it was larger than 1 meter.

"We've seen four-armed monkeys, buff orcs, and even wolves with steel teeth, so what's an ant the size of a human being?"

"Then that's also..."

"Of course. That too is an artificial life form created by Kudal, a Horned Ant."

Then, the Horned Ant rushed towards Kang Oh and Eder.

Rumble. 

Whenever the Horned Ant moved, a strange sound would be emitted from its body.

At some point, the Horned Ant noticed Eder, and rammed him with its giant head-mounted horn.

Clang!

The impact between his shield and its horn produced a thundering noise.

"Ugh."

Eder bit his lip.

The force behind its attack was immense.

At that moment, Kang Oh swung downwards with his sword, aiming for the section between its torso and stomach.

Whack!

It felt like he'd just struck a tree.

'It's tough.'

It was as if it rubbed a ton of hardener atop its shell.

'But still...'

Kang Oh swung his sword in succession three times.

Bam, bam, bam!

His third swing was accompanied by an explosion of black shards.

Fang Bearing Blade!

His demon sword's special ability, which ignored an enemy's defenses and landed a critical hit, had activated.

The Horned Ant tottered.

Kuwa!

It changed its target and thrust its horn at Kang Oh.

Kang Oh moved back slightly, allowing him to evade the horn.

"Heup."

Kang Oh caught his breath and attacked once more.

The Horned Ant shook its head, using its horn to repel Kang Oh's demon sword.

At that moment, Eder struck the back of its head, as if he had been waiting for this moment.

Boom!

Due to Heavy Blow, a small explosion occurred at the area of impact. It was also accompanied by a loud 'boom'.

Kang Oh swung his sword from left to right.

Slash!

Once his sword passed through the ant's horn, a clear wound was left behind.

The Horned Ant got a hold of itself, then lifted its horn and charged.

Kang Oh grinned.

He swung his sword; once his sword made contact, red shards exploded from the wound.

'Again!'

Kang Oh swung upwards from bottom-up.

Whack!

Not only did red shards explode from the wound, but the horn was actually severed from its head.

Kuuu.

With its horn severed, the monster ant breathed its last.


[You have defeated the artificial life form, Horned Ant.]


Eder approached the fallen Horned Ant and picked up any junk items it'd left behind.

At that moment, they heard the Horned Ants' bizarre sound from both sides of the passageway.

"Oh, that's right. Once you start fighting these guys, they release a powerful pheromone," Kang Oh said.

"A pheromone?" Eder asked.

"Yeah. So once the nearby Horned Ants get a whiff of it, they come rushing over."

"Ah!"

Horned Ants appeared from both ends of the passageway. It looked like there were more than 10 total.

 Kulul. Kurururu!

"We'll move and fight at the same time. Focus, and don't lag behind," Kang Oh said.

His objective was finding the hidden dungeon.

But if he just stayed here and fought the Horned Ants, then he'd never been able to achieve his goal. Therefore, he had no choice but to look for it while fighting the ants.

"Yes, sir," Eder replied energetically.

Thud.

He stomped on the ground. The Star of David formed beneath his feet and spread everywhere as black lines.

Ruined Ramparts.

What better curse was there when fighting against so many opponents?

The Horned Ants' defense reduced significantly.

Kuhang!

Kang Oh used Baramut's Roar. The roar resounded throughout the passageway.

He walked forward and swung downwards.

Tempest Tiger!

The golden tiger pounced on his enemies.

Kuang!

The tiger aura landed a direct hit on the group of ants.

At that moment...


[Kunta's Golden Talent Ring's effect has arrived.]

[A spontaneous quest for Tempest Tiger has been created.]


[Tempest Tiger 1]

Kunta's talent dwells within you. If you use Tempest Tiger 500 times, then you will receive additional proficiency.

Tempest Tiger: 0/500

Difficulty: Spontaneous

Reward: 10% increase in Tempest Tiger proficiency


His ring had created a spontaneous quest for Tempest Tiger.

'I should use Tempest Tiger more often.'

Kang Oh closed the quest window and focused on what was in front of him.

The tiger aura had swept through the area and was followed by raging winds.

"I'm going!"

Kang Oh rushed forward and Eder followed right behind him. Eder turned his head around and saw several Horned Ants gathering. He then turned his head back around and focused his attention forward.

He could see Kang Oh some distance ahead of him.

"Wait for me!"

Eder ran as fast as he could.

* * *

"Hoo."

Kang Oh, having left Building 6, caught his breath.

"Phew. Those Horned Ants never stopped coming," Eder said as he looked at Building 6.

The two of them had explored Building 6 whilst fighting off the Horned Ants. 

Because they'd smelled the pheromones, the Horned Ants had continuously swarmed them and Kang Oh and Eder were forced to fight them off over and over again.

As you can see, they had killed countless Horned Ants and had come out safely.

Of course, they hadn't been remiss in their search for the hidden dungeon.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to find it here either.

"Let's go to the next one," Kang Oh said.

"Alright."

Kang Oh and Eder arrived at Building 7.

Building 7 consisted of glass. Kang Oh and Eder could peer through the glass and see what lay within.

There were tons of wild flowers, foliage, and trees within the building.

Kang Oh and Eder entered Building 7.

"It looks like a botanical garden," Eder said.

"It's not just your run-of-the-mill garden. These are all artificial plants made by Kudal."

"Artificial plants?"

"Yeah. But there are three types of plant monsters that attack people."

Kang Oh explained what plant monsters attacked people in Building 7.

There were entangled brown kudzu roots called Galluds. They used their roots like feet and walked around whenever they wished. 

Cocurions were flower buds that possessed large leaves and a mouth; thorn vines would pop out of its mouth and attack the players.

Parles were giant plants that looked akin to venus fly traps.

However, they subsisted on meat, not flies. Of course, from its standpoint, players were delicious prey.

"These are the guys you can expect to see," Kang Oh finished explaining.

"What level are they?" Eder asked.

"Over level 150. The Parles are the strongest and the highest leveled."

Galluds, Cocurions, and Parles were all monsters over level 150.

The Parles were the most powerful and dangerous monster among them. 

"I see."

Eder nodded his head.

"Mm. The monsters will ambush us from the brush, so keep your guard up."

"Alright."

Kang Oh and Eder followed the narrow path and began exploring Building 7.

The first plant monster they encountered was a Cocurion.

"Dodge!"

Kang Oh felt a chill on the sole of his foot and jumped away. Eder followed suit, instinctively flinging himself away as well. 

Rat-a-tat-tat!

Five thorn vines popped out of the ground.

The sharp thorn vines moved like whips as if they were riding a wave, aiming for Kang Oh and Eder.

"This is a Cocurion. You have to attack its main body," Kang Oh yelled. 

He took a look around as he did so.

"There!"

Kang Oh pointed towards an area overgrown with brush. There was a large yellow-green leaf in between it that was ever so slightly visible.

That was the Cocurion.

"Ooh!"

Eder positioned his shield in front of him and charged at the Cocurion's main body.

The thorn vines came rushing at Eder. It was as if they were saying 'Don't come any closer!' as they seemingly attempted to push him back.

Of course, even if it did, it couldn't stop Kang Oh and Eder's advance.

Kang Oh swung his sword at any incoming vines and cut them apart.

Eder blocked the vines with his shield and also bashed them with his mace.

Kang Oh and Eder soon arrived at the Cocurion's main body.

"Haahp."

"Huahp."

The two simultaneously attacked its main body.

More vines popped out of its mouth and it counterattacked, but Kang Oh dodged them and Eder blocked them with his shield, making it completely ineffective. 

Ultimately, the Cocurion's yellow-green leaves were torn to shreds and its final remaining vine was cut apart.


[You have defeated the artificial life form, Cocurion.]


At that moment...

Kang Oh and Eder were suddenly overcast by shadow. They looked up and saw a giant venus fly trap above them."

"It's a Parle!" Kang Oh yelled.

Then...

The Parle closed its mouth shut with unbelievable speed, consuming Eder whole.  

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