The Hero Returns

Chapter 23



Chapter 23: Chapter 23


Act 1


“W-what?”


“The door…”


“Damn it, it won’t open!”


Bam bam—!


Even Ahn Min-seok, who was at the back of the party, knocked hard on the door. No matter how hard he swung his magic-filled fist, the door did not budge. Everyone’s expressions were flustered at the thought of being locked in.


Su-hyeun, who had no intention of getting out, observed the surroundings quietly. With this vast space, the possibilities of various missions could be endless.


<>


He had gone through these types of missions. They would only appear in dungeons above the yellow level.


Similarly to the Tower of Trials, only when the mission was cleared could the team proceed with their dungeon attack.


What the team had gone through up until now couldn’t be counted as the dungeon at all. It was merely the dungeon’s entrance, also known as a warm-up stage.


“A trial out of nowhere… What is this…” Even Lee Ju-ho was taken aback.


And unlike before, they were another level of flustered.


A dungeon that gave missions. Lee Ju-ho had heard of dungeons like these, too, but the main problem was that the dungeon was of a higher level, too difficult for them to handle with their own strengths.


<>


Just then, a bell rang in everyone’s mind.


[The trial begins now.]


[All of you have been locked in here. To escape, you will have to choose one of two ways.]


[First, survive this trial. A group of monsters will attack you every 30 minutes. You can escape if you successfully defend 10 attacks in total.]


[Second, use the key to get through the door opposite this room. A horde of monsters will come out from there. Escape from them first. Your safety will not be guaranteed.]


[The trial will begin in 10 seconds.]


The trial had been explained quite thoroughly. It was a mission that was often given in the Tower of Trials. Although it did not have the same scenarios as the ones Su-hyeun had encountered, the rules were simple enough for this trial.


But of course…


<>


A total of 10 attacks.


Perhaps the attacks would become stronger each wave. The minimum standard would be the ones that they had encountered earlier.


<>


The dungeons weren’t made at random. Except for the lowest red dungeons, most dungeons were made with a fixed frame, similar structure, or even a trap.


Su-hyeun accepted that the monsters they met outside were a warning — if he couldn’t take those on, he would not have the right to take on the dungeon’s trial.


Of course, hunting down the monsters and clearing the trial were two different matters.


<>


Su-hyeun checked the opposite door, which the system had mentioned.


<>


The second choice.


Open the door opposite, and escape from the horde of monsters that would come from there. Compared to the first choice, it was a choice that could never be considered safe.


“Now, now, what should we do?” Lee Eun-mi asked with an anxious look.


Their way out was blocked. The tightly closed door did not seem like it would be broken or even open again.


“First… I think we’ll have to clear this trial.”


Su-hyeun nodded his head at Lee Ju-ho’s reply. Indeed, Lee Ju-ho was the fastest at making decisions in the group.


<>


No, they wouldn’t make it. Zero percent possibility.


He was certain because it was something that had been verified once in the future, a verified truth.


Only one variable had changed from that future and it was that Su-hyeun was here now.


Formerly, everyone had died in this trial. There was no exception.


They had two choices and there was no way of telling which was better.


<>


Su-hyeun had made enough verifications on the dungeon’s difficulty. Although Lee Ju-ho had great strength, the other members did not. With this standard, one could not even make it past the yellow level.


“What about the method? Which would be better?” Kim Ba-reun asked Lee Ju-ho’s opinion.


Lee Ju-ho opened his mouth while thinking.


“What does Mr. Su-hyeun think?” He turned the arrow towards Su-hyeun.


It seemed that Lee Ju-ho thought Su-hyeun’s capabilities would be second to himself.


Should they fight the horde in ten divisions or take them on all at once?


However, if one chose to open the door opposite, they would be given the option to run, which also meant that it was possible to escape.


But…


“We mustn’t open that door,” Su-hyeun replied, without thinking twice.


It was an obvious answer.


“Why did you say that?” Lee Ju-ho needed a more detailed answer.


The others had the same reactions. Some had thought it would be more convenient and better to open the door and escape from the horde of monsters.


“Didn’t you already receive the explanation? When we open that door, our only option is to run.”


“Ah…” Lee Ju-ho nodded at Su-hyeun’s answer, seemingly to have understood.


But there were, of course, some who could not understand. Ahn Min-seok had the words “I don’t get it” written blatantly across his face.


Su-hyeun continued his explanation after letting out a sigh.


“When the door isn’t open, we have the option to defend. But once the door is opened, this option will change to escape. So, which choice would have a higher difficulty?”


“It would be, of course, to escape.” An obvious answer.


But Ahn Min-seok’s opinion was different.


“But instead of fighting and winning this, isn’t running an easier way out? There’s no need to fight.”


“That’s right. Instead of defending the 10 divided attacks, it would be more convenient to just escape from a huge horde of monsters.”


“Then why…”


“Our aim isn’t to survive, but rather to continue on the dungeon attack.”


“Ah…” Ahn Min-seok had finally realized the main point which he had been missing out on.


The trial and the mission.


As he was too focused on those, he had forgotten the most crucial part. They weren’t at the Tower of Trials but in reality. And within a vast dungeon at that.


Unlike the Tower of Trials, where one had to only focus on surviving and clear the trials, in the dungeons, one had to put his focus only on the dungeon attack itself.


So, it was only right for them to put their focus on the dungeon attack and not on running.


<>


It was evident as to why they had wanted to run away from this trial. In a situation as dangerous as this, it would be safer and more convenient to make the choice of escaping.


An unfamiliar place, an unfamiliar situation, an unpredictable number of monsters, and a fight that no one wanted to happen…


[You have five more minutes.]


How friendly.


As the countdown reached five minutes, the door opposite shook slightly. The system seemed to be urging them to make a decision fast, but the members had already made their choices.


“As expected… It would be better to wait.”


Probably thinking that Su-hyeun’s words were more appropriate, Lee Ju-ho voted for his choice.


There were no oppositions.


<>


Su-hyeun drew his sword, stood at his spot, and closed his eyes.


Five minutes, an extremely long time, had started.


[You have one minute left. Please prepare for the attack.]


Cr— creak—


Kong, kong—!


Grrrr—


The door opposite opened slightly.


The monsters’ cries could be heard from that door, which was left ajar. Although they couldn’t break through the door and rush in, they could guess that there were countless monsters beyond that door.


“Um, that door wouldn’t open suddenly without notice, right?”


“Ayy, it couldn’t be…”


“But we’re inside the dungeon now. There weren’t any guarantees that the system would keep its promise…”


The wavering voices were full of anxiety.


As this was their first real trial, it was quite scary. The members had suspicions that the door might open without any notice, and the horde of monsters would rush out.


<<30 seconds.>>


Su-hyeun had been counting down the seconds since the five-minute mark from earlier.


The trial given by the dungeon would be starting soon.


Step, step—


Su-hyeun took the lead and walked towards the door.


The door might not open fully at all. As it was only the first stage, only a small group of monsters would be let out through the door and then closed.


<>


Whichever was the case, it wouldn’t change the fact that 10 groups of monsters would rush out from the door wave after wave.


The system never lies. That was an absolute rule and principle that would not change, even in the future.


Step—


Su-hyeun strode across the cave and opened his eyes. He had injected some magic into his sword’s blade.


Looking at Su-hyeun, who took the lead without fear, their murmurs stopped altogether; gathering the army’s morale was that easy.


As long as one had shown no fear and stepped up first, that courage was contagious. More accurately, the members’ fear had lessened. If one saw another who felt no fear in the same situation, it would make him believe that the situation which they were currently in now was not dangerous at all.


“10 seconds.”


Su-hyeun pooled magic in his voice and spoke. That voice was heard loud and clear in his team members’ minds.


“Please be prepared.”


After those words, Lee Ju-ho quickly walked up to Su-hyeun’s side.


The same went for Ahn Min-seok. Instinctively, they got into each of their own roles and went into positions.


10 seconds. It was sufficient for each of them to get into their own positions.


It was a time that no one had the freedom to be concerned over. The moment when everyone was prepared to fight the monsters.


Slam—!


Kyaaaa—!


As the gigantic iron door opened, monsters came rushing out from behind it. The number of monsters well over 10.


Boom—!


The door that had been wide open closed in a flash. It seemed that this was the number of monsters for the first wave.


There was a wide range of monsters.


Gorger Ravens, Moss Salamanders, Lizardcops, and Black Spiders.


They were all familiar monsters.


Rip—!


Su-hyeun’s feet slipped to the front.


Splat—


Su-hyeun’s new form quickly leaped into the air.


<>


Su-hyeun had already decided which monsters to attack first the moment he saw the group of monsters.


The Gorger Ravens were monsters with an extraordinary head. As they could fly in the air, there was a higher possibility that their team members positioned behind would be attacked.


Slash—!


The Gorger Ravens’ sharp claws came flying towards Su-hyeun’s head.



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