Boss “Basilisk” let out a weird cry of pain as it collapsed on the spot. The Operator soon gave out an announcement.
[Boss ‘Basilisk’ defeated]
[You will be returned to Hunter’s Hall in 1 hour 29 minutes and 44 seconds.]
Bukitai yelled out loud
“Hey! Are you all alright?”
Igor responded from next to him. He was drenched in sweat, but not a single injury marked his body.
“I’m… also ok.”
Ralph replied, still laying on the floor, raising his Axe. He was exhausted after pouring a long chain of attacks on the boss under the effects of ‘Zealot’.
He looked fatigued, but otherwise had no major injury on him. Last was Munir, but he was nowhere to be seen.
Munir was on his knees praying to the heavens. He was caught by the tail and flung in the air, but he also appeared to be well without any life threatening injury. All three of his comrades were okay.
Bukitai let out a sigh of relief. For one reason or another, he assumed the role of a tank in the raids, but whenever someone died, it felt like it was his fault, even when it wasn’t necessarily true.
Meanwhile, he heard a voice coming from above.
“Well, since everyone looks like they’re alright…”
The hunters looked up at the speaker. Kei, who’s been missing the entire raid, was standing on top of the dead Basilisk.
“If you all will excuse me, I’ll get going then.”
He hopped and slid down the tail of the Basilisk as if skating and then took off, running into the distance. He ran as if his life depended on it.
Bukitai muttered under his breath upon seeing him leave.
“Where is he going? Raid is already over…”
That man was full of mystery. But it was alright. The raid was over, and the hunters were no longer in a rush. They could rest and take it easy.
Thanks to the large body of the Basilisk, it provided shade from the desert sun. The remaining four hunters sat together under the shade. Ralph tapped the side of the Lizard with his axe and asked
“Anyone see its eyes? I couldn’t move when I saw it.”
“Yes, the paralysis was terrifying.”
Munir replied, biting his lips.
“I thought it was over for me when it grabbed me with its tail, especially when I fell on the ground. Thank God it was sand and not hard earth… Otherwise, I would have been sent to the Almighty.”
Bukitai remembered something and turned to Igor.
“Ah, that’s right. Thank you, Igor, you have my gratitude. You saved me back there. Thanks to your boomerang-like round shield.”
Unlike the three other men who were gossiping about the earlier battle, Igor simply nodded to Bukitai instead of speaking up.
‘How did you do that with the shield earlier?’
Bukitai wanted to ask. But he couldn’t. Igor did not look happy despite the raid being complete. Bukitai passed that off as just being Igor’s quirk.
‘Since Russians are naturally cold people…’
However, Igor soon opened his mouth.
Everyone turned to look at him. But the target of Igor’s attention was not a man, but the Operator’s Cube.
“Operator, what’s my current raid contribution?”
[Your Contribution is 10.3%]
Now everyone was staring at Igor’s cube. Igor’s face twisted in both anger and disappointment. He looked side to side at the others and said
“Quick, check your contributions too!”
One by one, the hunters did as he bid.
[Your Contribution is 6.3%]
‘High-Level Scout’ Munir:
[Your Contribution is 5.9%]
Last, ‘High-Level Guardian’ Bukitai
[Your Contribution is 7.1%]
All the hunters were shocked at their levels of contribution. Ralph was first to comment.
“How can this be? I have never earned less than 20% contribution in any raid. Especially once I’ve received this axe…”
Bukitai snorted and added
“…Hmm… Since the 2nd chapter I was always in the first place…”
Munir stroked his beard as he replied
It was an unbelievable situation. Each of the four hunters had always maintained a minimum contribution level of 20% per raid, and yet all four combined now reached just 29.6%. Slightly short of 30% of the total. There was only one possible explanation.
“That Chinese man…”
Igor whispered. The others stared at him. Kei had disappeared once more into the distant desert landscape. Ralph stared off into the distance and commented
“No wonder the boss just randomly appeared…”
Igor suddenly stood up and addressed the other men.
“Listen all, Let’s use whatever remaining time we have left to hunt monsters. What are we doing here, resting? Let’s go try and secure even one more point.”
The remaining three hunters glanced at each other. And without complaint, all three stood up. They realized that this was the best course of action.
In any given chapter, earning even a single more black coin meant having an easier time in the future chapters. The hunters picked up their weapons and began to move back into the desert.
Meanwhile, Sungjin was dashing through the desert dunes. There was only one reason to why he was running; searching for the hidden piece. The scorching sun and the heat were intolerable. Sungjin wanted nothing more than to finish quickly and return to ‘Ninety Nine Nights’ for a nice bath and rest.
But this damnable desert seemed to never end. He had been searching ever since he had killed the raid boss, but he didn’t even run into the boundary line. The only thing breaking the monotony were lizards who from time to time ambushed him from blind spots.
Lizards were killed with a single slash of his sword. After a while, Sungjin stopped for a moment.
He surveyed his surroundings while showering with the magic waterskin. But nowhere did he find anything of interest as far as his eyes could see.
“Haa… Where is it?”
He couldn’t help but be tempted to activate treasure hunter, but he held himself.
There was no way to know how things would progress later. He decided to continue searching for a little longer.
“Operator, is Swift Paw off cooldown?”
[It is available for use.]
He had used it earlier when searching for the boss, and the cooldown had already ended. Sungjin activated Swift Paw and began combing the desert.
During his search, he found something peculiar in the distance. In the endless ocean of sand, there was an area with a bluish glow.
Sungjin, filled with renewed vigor, ran towards the Oasis. There was no doubt in his mind that the Oasis would hide a ‘Hidden place’ or a ‘Hidden boss’.
But after running for a while, the Oasis disappeared from view.
Mirage. It was a phenomenon that occurred due to light bending over long distances above hot terrain. Sungjin was aware of such a phenomena, but seeing it for real, he couldn’t help but be disappointed.
Sungjin took a look around. This time, the Oasis was located behind him. He ran towards the Oasis.
And soon, he began to run slower and slower. The Swift Paw active time had run out.
Now he had to wait for another five minutes before Swift Paw was available for use. Furthermore, at Sungjin’s dismay, the same thing happened where the Oasis would disappear and appear behind him.
Whenever he would get close to the Oasis, it would disappear like a wisp of smoke. The water and green plants growing by the water’s edge would dissipate into sand dunes without a trace.
Sungjin felt like he was under some illusion spell.
But he couldn’t give up. Once more, he searched for the Oasis. This time, it was in the distance off to the side.
‘I don’t even have Swift Paw…’
But he had no choice. Sungjin diligently climbed the dune and made his way towards the Oasis. And once again, the Oasis disappeared before he got there.
The mirage had again disappeared, and nothing but sand dunes remained. Sungjin was now utterly frustrated and annoyed. He had chased nothing but illusion three times now and felt like someone was toying with him.
He faced the sky and shouted at the top of his lungs
It was then that he saw something flying towards him from a distance. It had a Lion’s body with a Human face, sporting a giant pair of wings on its back.
Sungjin prepared to fight. He must have discovered a hidden boss by coincidence. In one hand he prepared his ‘Moon Specter’ and the other, he pointed towards the Sphinx.
Once it reached his targeting range, he began the incantation.
“Incinerate everything in your path!”
The Operator began an announcement. He knew the next words.
‘Hidden boss has appeared.’
[Attacking a non-hostile lifeform will cause penalties from the Raid Rewards.]
Unlike what he was expecting, he got an entirely different warning message. Sungjin hastily canceled the casting of the spell. Not too long after, the Sphinx landed in front of Sungjin.
The Sphinx wasn’t as large as he had thought. The body was about the size of an elephant. It was just that the wings were twice as long as its body, so it greatly exaggerated the size of the Sphinx.
Sungjin looked up at the Sphinx’s face. It was only after their eyes met that the Sphinx began to speak.
“Young wanderer in the desert, what do you seek?”
Sungjin answered simply.
“I see. I will take you to the Oasis if you are able to answer my riddle. How about it? Will you like to try my riddle?”
Sungjin nodded. Sungjin’s behavior seemed to upset the Sphinx. It asked again.
“Answer with your words. Young Wanderer, will you try to answer my riddle?”
It was another strange character. Without understanding why he was insisting on a verbal reply, Sungjin decided to comply with its wishes.
“…Yes of course.”
“Good. Here is the riddle. What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?”
It was a question he had heard many times in the past. Sungjin already knew the answer.
“The Answer is Man.”
“Why is that so?”
“Man crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age.”
“That is correct. But of course, this is only common sense. I was only testing your common sense. Now I shall give you the real riddle. Are you prepared?”
Sungjin frowned. The Sphinx did not appear to be an honest and forthcoming character. But unlike the Wandering Merchant Ruff Han, it didn’t seem like a character he could threaten at the sword point.
Noting that Sungjin did not answer, it asked him again.
“I ask again. Are you prepared to receive the true riddle?”
It appeared that this creature just loves asking questions. Sungjin decided to act in accordance with its wishes.
“Yes, I am prepared.”
Finally, the Sphinx told Sungjin the actual riddle.
“Good. Now, Listen well, and answer carefully.”
Sungjin focused his attention to the Sphinx and watched its lips. The Sphinx spoke out the riddle.
“What is the first cut, the proof of ties? This, owned by all, is utterly useless; and yet without it, you cannot exist. What is this?”