Sungjin briefly thought about it for a moment.
‘First cut… proof of ties…’
And in less than 10 seconds, he came up with the answer. Sungjin looked up at the Sphinx. It was watching him full of anticipation. It seems like waiting for an answer gave the Sphinx quite a thrill. Sungjin gave his answer.
“It’s Belly button.”
The Sphinx’s expression changed dramatically.
“First injury that everyone has… Belly button. Proof that we were once connected to our mothers, so in many ways it is a proof of our ties. I couldn’t have been born without a belly button… but it has no uses anymore, so it is useless.”
The Sphinx stared at Sungjin with an undecipherable expression. Sungjin rested his hand on the handle of ‘Moon Specter’. It was possible that the Sphinx might rapidly change its behavior unexpectedly like in the case of ‘Wandering Merchant Aindell’.
‘If that’s the case… the Sphinx would be the hidden boss.’
“…Correct. How did you get the answer so quickly?”
That’s all the Sphinx wanted to know. Sungjin didn’t reply.
“I thought you would take at least 10 seconds… no, even 30 seconds to consider the answer. Why were you so confident about your answer?”
“Ok, that’s enough. Take me to the Oasis.”
The Sphinx replied looking down at Sungjin.
“…Yes, a promise is a promise. Can you ride on my back?”
Sungjin hopped on its front paws and climbed on top of its back. The Sphinx addressed him once he got on.
“Grab on tight. If you fall off before you reach the Oasis and die, it’ll be a shame, right?”
As soon as he spoke, the Sphinx took off into the air without waiting for a reply. Sungjin got the high altitude view of the desert from the Sphinx’s back.
Once they climbed higher, he could see the Oasis off in the distance. Sphinx flew towards the Oasis with a powerful beat of its wings.
Meanwhile, the others were roaming the map. They were combing the desert for any monsters that remained so that they could get their hands on even a single more coin.
Two Giant Lizards came charging at the group at the same time. Bukitai shouted from the vanguard.
“Here they come! Get ready!”
Munir slowed the advance of one Lizard, and the four hunters focused fired on the other Lizard. Of course, the one leading the charge was Bukitai.
But even before he reached the first lizard, the ground began to shift. Bukitai shouted out, alarmed.
“Sandworm! There’s a Sandworm!”
The hunters immediately backed off from the spot. Even the Lizards quickly got out of the way. Moments later
A giant Sandworm emerged from the ground and burrowed itself again.
“Spread out! Make room!”
Igor shouted. This was the standard procedure for fighting Sandworms. The Sandworms could only create one tunnel at a time.
Standing apart from each other meant only one person could be targeted at a time.
When the hole emerged from underneath one person, others could rescue him while focus firing on the Sandworm once it emerged. Using this strategy, the hunters had killed several Sandworms until now.
The problem was, that there were also two Lizards in the mix, complicating things. One of the Lizard charged Bukitai and swung at him with a paw.
Bukitai lifted up his shield to block the attack, but he wasn’t able to devote his attention to the enemy. He was distracted by the thought that the sandworm might appear beneath his feet. To make matters worse, the other Lizard also charged at him and targeted him.
“Munir, can you use magic?”
“I am out of Mana!”
Bukitai swore under his breath. If he had to face the Sandworm and both Lizards at the same time, he would be in grave danger. But he heard shouts from the back.
“Uh… It’s on me! Me!”
It was Ralph’s voice. Bukitai couldn’t help but let out a sigh of relief.
While he held off the Lizards, the other two could rescue Ralph, defeat the Sandworm and then come to his aid.
“Help me! Igor! Munir!”
It was unfortunate that Ralph became the target, but he should be okay since he had capable teammates such as Igor and Munir. However,
He heard Ralph cry out in pain. Bukitai was surprised. He wanted to look back to check, but he was under the combined attack of two Giant Lizards. He couldn’t look away from the fight.
He continued to swing his mace and block with his shield as he shouted back.
“Ralph? What happened?”
There was no answer from Ralph. All he heard was
‘Sh sh ssh’
‘Woosh woosh woosh woosh’
Igor’s flying shield.
And the sound of the Sandworm’s death throes. He didn’t know what had happened, but they were able to kill off the Sandworm. Bukitai took the time to shout back while facing the Lizards.
“Ralph are you alright? Munir, Igor, give me a hand.”
But there was no response. If they had managed to kill the Sandworm, Igor should have come running in with his sword, along with Munir’s covering fire.
Bukitai backed off from the Lizards to take a look behind him. Seeing the scene, he froze for a moment.
Next to the dead Sandworm was Ralph, missing his lower half. And standing with their weapons down were Igor and Munir, who were just watching him.
Bukitai shouted at them.
“What are you doing? Help me!”
He had looked away for too long. One of the Lizard managed to land a strike on his side with its long claws.
Bukitai, pierced by claws, swung his mace to strike the Lizard’s hand.
The Lizard cried out and retreated its claws. But the other Lizard came to strike at him.
“I said help me!”
Bukitai shouted, but neither of them took up their weapons. Bukitai fiercely put up resistance with his weapon, but he couldn’t outlast the two enemies.
One Lizard pierced his shoulder with long claws, and the other knocked the shield out of his hands.
Disarmed, Bukitai was ripped apart to pieces by the Lizards. Until his final moments, Bukitai stood even as he was ripped apart by the Lizards, staring at Munir and Igor who watched him die, whispering
“Munir… Igor… Why…?”
Once Bukitai died standing, Igor finally spoke.
“I’ll take the right, distract the left.”
As instructed, he pointed towards the Lizard on the left.
“Binding Frost! Frostbite!”
While the Lizard was slowed, Munir began firing upon the Lizard.
The Lizard cried out in agony as the bolts found their target. Meanwhile, the other Lizard began a fight with Igor. He calmly blocked the claws with his shield as he surgically wielded his sword, removing the Lizard’s foot, tongue, tail, and finally the head.
Munir thought as he continued to snipe the remaining lizard from afar.
After turning into a porcupine from Munir’s Crossbow bolts, the Lizard was beheaded by Igor without having a chance to properly attack even once.
Once the combat was over, Munir walked up to Igor.
Igor did not respond to him. He only asked the Operator
[Your Contribution is 20.7%]
Munir also checked his own contribution.
[Your Contribution is 11.4%.]
Each of their contributions had doubled from before. Munir let out a toothy grin as he offered his hands in a handshake with Igor.
“It was good doing business with you.”
Igor also smiled and grasped his hand.
“Yes, it was.”
When Igor returned the handshake, Munir asked Igor
“Why did you pick me, though? Why not offer the same to someone else?”
Igor answered while shaking his hands
“First of all… because you had the lowest contribution amongst us. I thought that you would not refuse.
“That seems logical. Anything else?”
“Second… You are the weakest. I am certain I can win in 1 on 1.”
While Munir was confused, Igor took his sword and cut off Munir’s hand which he was holding.
Munir stepped back, holding the stump of his hands.
Igor calmly walked up to him.
Munir quickly shouted
The magic took hold and held Igor in place. Igor was unable to move for a moment. Munir shouted at him to complain.
“You said there’s penalty for direct attacks against others!”
But Igor’s expression could not possibly get any colder. Penalty or not, Igor has decided to kill him. Once Munir realized this, he began to run away.
‘Crunch crunch crunch’
He could hear one foot crushing the ice.
‘Crunch crunch crunch crunch’
Now he heard two feet walking on the ice. Igor had begun his chase. Munir turned around and cast another spell.
Igor was rooted in place again. But, this time, the Operator gave out a warning.
[Low Mana. Less than 10% remaining.]
‘Not enough mana…’
He had lied to Bukitai earlier, but now it was for real. He only had one shot left. He had to run away as far as he could and hide until the raid ended. In the long run, he held the advantage if he could get some distance between them since he originally came from a desert country. With this in mind, he climbed on top of a large dune. But…
‘Woosh woosh woosh woosh’
Igor’s shield came flying and hit Munir’s calf.
Munir fell, holding his leg. Unfortunately, he tumbled down the side of the dune towards Igor.
Igor freed himself from the spell and continued to walk towards Munir. Out of mana, missing his primary arm, Munir had no choice open to him except to beg for mercy.
“Igor you told me yourself, you’ll receive a penalty if you kill other people! Why are you doing this?”
But Igor did not respond, stabbing Munir with his sword instead. He held the sword until Munir died.
[You have killed your fellow Hunter. Entering ‘Troll’ state.]
[Hunters in ‘Troll’ state receive 10% penalty to Raid Rewards.]
[And in the event that the Troll is killed by other hunters,]
[It will not inflict the ‘Troll’ state on the attacker.]
After listening to the Operator’s explanation, Igor told Munir, who lay bleeding out on the desert sand, his reason.
“Even taking on the 10% penalty, killing you is more profitable.”
Of course, Munir was unable to hear him.
At that moment, Sungjin was sailing through the air, riding on the back of the Sphinx. Once the Oasis grew close enough to see clearly, the Sphinx addressed him.
“Hold on tight, human. It would be a shame to die after coming all this way, wouldn’t it?”
The Sphinx suddenly initiated a high-speed dive. Sungjin had no choice but to hang on for his life.
‘… couldn’t he just fly slower?’
But even before he was done complaining, the Sphinx touched down close to the Oasis.
The Operator let out a congratulatory message.
[Congratulations! You have discovered the hidden Oasis]
Jumping off the Sphinx’s back, Sungjin complained.
“Hey, couldn’t you just descend slowly?”
The Sphinx looked Sungjin square in the eye and answered
“Next time answer slower. Otherwise, it’s no fun for the person giving the riddle, no?”
“So you did that on purpose?”
Sungjin bubbled in anger and reached for his sword.
“Well then bye. See you later if we ever have another chance.”
Sphinx quickly returned to the sky and flew away. Sungjin stared after him for a moment.
‘You appear again?’
He didn’t want to meet him again if he could help it. Once the Sphinx had disappeared far into the distance, Sungjin turned his gaze towards the Oasis. In the end, he did, in fact, manage to reach the ‘Hidden Place’.
Sungjin rubbed his hands together in anticipation as he began to look around the Oasis.
‘Let’s see… where could the treasures be hidden?’
Note: Shoutout to Dark Jackel, notfluent, Shadowminion and AlbaFox! People who gave multiple answers(there was one who got belly button with 2 answers) do not qualify. There can only be 1 guess^^ sry. Umbilical cord guessers y’all were close haha. It was nice seeing so many people trying to guess it 😀 We love reading your comments and we read each and every one of them even if we are unable to reply to all.
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