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    Go-woon stopped running and bent one knee, placing both hands on the ground.

    “What are you doing?”

    Instead of answering, Go-woon pointed in a direction with his chin.

    At a glance, a cloud-like purple mass was rapidly flying towards them.

    “You’re not using your gun?”

    “I don’t want to waste the magic bullets.”

    “Then what do we do?”

    “We do it like this. [Molding].”

    The ground trembled slightly for a moment, and then huge mounds of dirt resembling large hands rose up on both sides of the mass.

    And with a bang, as if clapping, the two palms collided.

    Purple blood dripped between the dirt hands.

    “That’s how we get them in one go. Let’s keep moving.”

    As Go-woon started running again, Taeju, who was beside him, asked,

    “Did you just use alchemy?”

    “Yeah.”

    “H-how? I thought you found using alchemy difficult, hyung.”

    Go-woon chuckled at Taeju, who rephrased his dislike as difficulty.

    “It’s not that I found it difficult, but that I disliked it. And I disliked it because I didn’t know much about alchemy.”

    “Do you know it well now?”

    Go-woon shrugged and smirked.

    Taeju nodded, as if to say he understood from what he just saw.

    He never thought alchemy could be used this way. When people think of alchemists, they imagine them creating gold, so he thought of them as production classes.

    “It’s possible to do this too.”

    Go-woon stopped running, placed his hands on the ground, and raised another mound of dirt. This time, it wasn’t in the shape of a hand. Go-woon created a high cliff that looked as if waves were carved into it, instantly burying the moths passing underneath.

    “How’s that?”

    “…That’s incredible.”

    The reason hunters prefer parties is because monsters don’t attack humans in order.

    They are all desperate to tear humans apart, so as soon as they spot a person, all the monsters rush in.

    The higher the grade, the more monsters pour out, but since their abilities are not unlimited, most of them end up sustaining some degree of injury.

    However, if it becomes possible to suppress all the attacking monsters in a single move like now…

    ‘If it’s just an A-grade dungeon with a large quantity of monsters, hyung could probably conquer it alone, right?’

    Taeju was startled by the sudden thought.

    “What are you doing?”

    I made a dumbfounded expression at Taeju, who was vigorously shaking his head.

    Why are you suddenly shaking your head after spacing out?

    “Ah… it’s nothing. Let’s go, hyung.”

    I shrugged and walked towards the silver ginkgo tree again.

    The moths seemed to have ended, as no more masses were approaching.

    “They’re coming from the left, Yong.”

    I turned my head to the left and clicked my tongue.

    The monsters that appear in this dungeon are all C-grade, but the reason the dungeon is B-grade is because the monster types aren’t fixed and appear randomly.

    And as luck would have it, the monster that appeared after the moths was one I was vulnerable to.

    “I have bad luck.”

    “Why? What’s coming?”

    “What else, a monster.”

    I spoke as if it was nothing and looked at the monster hopping and approaching.

    ‘They said it was cute.’

    The cotton fluff, the most troublesome monster among the random appearances, had a very cute appearance as described in the materials distributed by the Hunter Bureau.

    Soft, fluffy white fur the size of a fist covered its entire body, and the visible areas were like black beans, similar to Salt’s eyes.

    At a glance, it felt more like a doll than a monster.

    “After seeing only fierce-looking monsters all the time, these guys look cute.”

    “That’s even more fierce-looking.”

    “Where?”

    I looked around the ground, picked up a pebble, and threw it with all my strength at the cotton fluff that was hopping.

    As the flying pebble hit the cotton fluff squarely and it rolled on the ground, a large mouth appeared as the middle of its body split open.

    The cotton fluffs rushed towards the one that rolled on the ground. A single short scream rang out, and the size of the green-stained cotton fluff doubled.

    “D-did it just eat it?”

    “Don’t they have monsters like this in S-grade dungeons?”

    “No! They don’t. H-how could it eat its own kind…”

    “They sure grew up in a twisted way.”

    I chuckled and drew my sword, and Taeju looked at me with a puzzled expression.

    “You’re not using your gun?”

    “Magic bullets don’t work on them.”

    I had occasionally used a sword while running dungeons with Michael and Lee Chaewon, but it was my first time wielding a sword alone.

    ‘Will it be okay without those two?’

    I glanced at Taeju.

    Bringing Taeju to the dungeon was partly to obtain the Wall of Silver Flowers, but it also had a significant meaning of letting him know that I’m not someone who needs protection.

    However, if I were to get hurt while swinging the sword alone…

    ‘He might even say it’s not okay because I’m doing this.’

    Judging that fighting alongside Taeju would be better than being needlessly nitpicked, I gestured to Taeju with my chin.

    “Wanna do it together?”

    Given Taeju’s personality, he would never say no.

    And as I expected, Taeju nodded.

    “Their abilities don’t work on them at all?”

    “Yeah. They need to be torn apart with a sword to die.”

    After confirming that Taeju was picking up his sword, I charged towards the cotton fluffs first.

    First strike, certain victory.

    It was the word of truth that my teacher, Lee Chaewon, taught me first.

    The sword reflected the moonlight, creating a trajectory, and green blood stained the path it passed.

    ‘He’s supporting me better than I thought?’

    I had suggested fighting together, but given Taeju’s personality since joining Seomun Noeul, I thought he would rampage alone. However, Taeju was surprisingly skilled at providing support.

    Not only did he kill the cotton fluffs I missed, but he also moved his sword to lure the cotton fluffs towards me.

    “Hyung. Did you learn the sword from Lee Chaewon?”

    “Huh? How did you know?”

    “How else? Recklessly charging in like that is just like Lee Chaewon.”

    The cotton fluffs, split in half by Taeju’s sword, fell with thuds.

    “Why are you learning the sword from him?!”

    “Then who should I learn it from?”

    “I’m here, you know.”

    I spoke while dodging a cotton fluff that was rushing in, evading the sword.

    “You’ve got some nerve saying that when you’re telling me to quit being a hunter.”

    “I could still teach you!”

    “Bullshit.”

    Taeju snorted and struck a cotton fluff with his sword. The cotton fluff that flew away with a shriek fell to the ground.

    “Hey. They won’t die if you do that.”

    “You’re catching monsters to kill them?!”

    “Then are you trying to save them?!”

    ‘Now he’s just saying whatever he wants because he’s angry.’

    Taeju, who had been fuming, glared at me. However, his hands were busily slashing at the charging cotton fluffs.

    “Since it’s come to this, let’s talk it out. Why the hell are you trying to enter the Cradle?”

    “Because I know a lot about the Cradle. And didn’t I tell you? If the attack on the Cradle fails, the world will be destroyed.”

    “That’s just an excuse! Does it make sense to participate unconditionally just because you know the Cradle well? You can only explain it!”

    “Hey. Do you memorize all the guides that come out when you enter a dungeon? Plus, the Cradle is a labyrinth, so how can I explain everything?! Even if I explain, can you remember and find your way?!”

    “You think I can’t?!”

    I let out a hollow laugh.

    In the novel, Taeju’s downfall was partly due to the party and the surrounding environment, but it was also his own problem.

    Taeju was notoriously bad with directions.

    Even if it wasn’t a labyrinth, Taeju would get lost if the dungeon was just a little complicated. And yet he says he’ll remember and find his way. Where did he get the nerve to spout such lies?!

    “Hey. Okay. Let’s say the guide is taken care of. What about the contamination? Just because it’s SSS-grade doesn’t mean only monsters will come out in overwhelming numbers. All the monsters there are SSS-grade. Do you know how much the contamination level will rise each time you eliminate them?”

    “…I can sufficiently eliminate them even in a contaminated state.”

    “No. You can’t. The Cradle is different from other dungeons.”

    It was true.

    As the final dungeon, the contamination level generated when killing monsters in the Cradle was more than three times higher.

    In the novel, the reason Taeju was able to survive was simply because he was the protagonist.

    ‘The Cradle scene really lacked probability.’

    Other hunters were instantly tainted by contamination and went berserk and died, but Taeju survived until the boss battle and died from going berserk right after killing the boss.

    “Then I can just bring Salt with me.”

    Taeju stabbed his sword into a cotton fluff’s body, threw it, and drew a new sword.

    “Will he even go?”

    Taeju pouted as if he had just thrown out a casual remark.

    He taught me about the homing instinct himself, and now he’s talking nonsense.

    “Give up. I’m someone who absolutely must be included in the party.”

    -Squeak.

    As a high-pitched sound that made me frown rang out, the charging cotton fluffs quickly retreated. And they began to eat each other.

    As the cotton fluffs disappeared one by one, the size of the ones that ate them gradually grew larger.

    However, both Taeju and I were glaring at each other, paying no attention to the cotton fluffs.

    “You’re not even thinking about me worrying for you, hyung?”

    “They say worrying is a luxury. Hey. Look now. Am I being overpowered anywhere? Why are you worrying unnecessarily?”

    “Because we’re family.”

    “If I tell you to quit being a hunter because I’m your family and I’m worried about your life, can you quit?”

    “……”

    I sneered at Taeju, who pressed his lips tightly together.

    Except for production classes, all hunters develop a fighting spirit along with their awakening, and that fighting spirit turns into pleasure the more they fight monsters.

    People think hunters fight for money, fame, or the noble cause of saving humanity, but the real reason hunters risk their lives to fight monsters is precisely for that pleasure.

    ‘Because they can’t forget the pleasure of killing something.’

    “…Still, the Cradle is dangerous. No way.”

    Look at that bastard. This won’t work either?

    ‘Oppa, you need to stimulate Taeju’s protective instincts to get the answer you want. Otherwise, Taeju will never be persuaded.’

    Recalling Hanseong’s words that flashed through my mind, I smiled slightly.

    Right. There was only one way. It was just something I didn’t use because I disliked it.

    However, if I’m told to do it, there’s nothing I can’t do. If this can lead me back to my world, I could even shed tears.

    “The Cradle has a time limit, like a rift. We have to pass through the maze and defeat the boss within that time. To clear it in time, it’s better to know the path of the maze.”

    “Then you can just tell me that.”

    “The maze will change every time you make a choice. So it’s better to take me with you. Even considering all possibilities, that’s the right answer.”

    “The Cradle is dangerous.”

    “Why would I be in danger if I’m going with you?”

    Taeju flinched.

    ‘Looks like he’s taking the bait?’

    “Think about it. I could get caught up in monster waves or rifts while the Cradle is open. Wouldn’t it be safer for me to be by your side? Plus, high-grade hunters will be going to the Cradle.”

    Taeju’s eyes shook intensely.

    He seemed to recall the monster wave I was involved in on the day I possessed this body.

    “I’ll just guide the way. I don’t have to step forward at all. Right?”

    -Screech!

    The last remaining cotton fluff, after eating each other, screeched with sharp teeth exposed.

    The ground shook each time its huge body jumped and landed.

    “…Do you really have to go?”

    “Yeah.”

    Taeju scratched his head furiously.

    Seeing it as a sign that he was swayed by my persuasion, I moved behind Taeju.

    “I’ll really stay put like this.”

    Taeju, who was looking at me taking cover behind him like a fragile female lead in a movie, threw his sword at the cotton fluff.

    The sword that flew at a fast speed pierced through the cotton fluff that had its mouth open and stuck into the ground.

    The cotton fluff fell with a thud, but Taeju didn’t take his eyes off me.

    “Taeju.”

    “…I’ll think about it.”

    Watching Taeju turn his head away, I narrowed my eyes.

    Should I push further, or should I take a step back, pretending not to know?

    If I sway him, I could probably do it, but if I make a mistake, the wavering might solidify again.

    “Don’t say anything more.”

    ‘Tsk. Pushing further might backfire.’

    I obediently nodded.

    “Okay. I got it. Let’s go make the Wall of Silver Flowers.”

    “What about the boss?”

    “There isn’t one. That was the boss.”

    The Silver Ginkgo Dungeon randomly spawned monsters instead of having a boss. Since there were only two types of monsters appearing, the cotton fluff could be considered the boss monster.

    No more monsters appeared, so we walked to the center of the field as if taking a stroll, and saw silver ginkgo trees growing up to waist height.

    “You’re saying if I strike lightning here, flowers will bloom?”

    “Yeah.”

    Taeju looked at the small silver trees and generated electricity in his hand.

    Suddenly, the sky flashed, and lightning struck one of the small trees.

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