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Secret Room

The corridor didn't get for long as there were stairs that led underground. Up until now, their way was straight, not making them get more underground.

Mizuneko's research mentioned nothing like that, so this brought their hopes up of the possibility that this was a special place they found.

After a while, it seemed like the room was opening ahead. As usual, Shingi and Hineko scouted ahead while both were under the effect of the CAMOUFLAGE spell of Shingi.

When they reached the entrance, they stayed motionless and close to the wall and left the spell and their STEALTH skill to do their work as they looked inside.

There seemed like some abandoned lab, as there were a few tables with different vials and tools for mostly alchemist work. There were also three big glass spheres, one being completely smashed while the other two had cracked but had no complete openings. Inside, they seemed to be filled up to the middle with a red substance.

After Shingi made sure that there weren't any creatures around, he lowered his spells' effect to make a motion at Hineko. Then, Shingi entered the room while Hineko stayed behind just in case something went wrong.

He looked at the equipment, tools, and some of the desks' papers, but they seemed to be in a code and quiet old that they would turn to dust on touch, so he left them for now. Then he moved on the spheres and first on the broken one which, other than dust and some webs, didn't have any remains of that red substance the others had.

He noticed a slight movement from the others and the strange substance when he got closer, but it was barely noticeable. He didn't go too close just to be safe, but from that distance, he could tell that this substance was similar to the Ooze with the transformation ability.

He motioned Hineko to call the others as he dropped his spells, as he was sure nobody was around.

Again, there was a slight movement when he completely dropped the spell by the substance in the sphere near him, which was the middle one, but nothing else.

He kept looking around, especially on the notes, to see if there was anything useful until he noticed a strange barrel.

The barrel itself wasn't strange, but the space at the bottom of it was. Some of its dust at the left and right of it was less in volume than the rest.

He waited for the others and told them to be aware of any movements from the spheres as it may be another Ooze and told Hineko to check the strange barrel and its surroundings.

Quickly, he found something strange with it, as he couldn't move it like it weighed a ton. He checked for any mechanics, but he didn't find any, and neither did Shingi.

Wild Tycoon, being the one with the higher STR in the group, tried to move it. Still, she couldn't move it an inch, not even making a scratch on it after attacking with her axe cause of frustration.

Shingi used his MANA SENSE, but there wasn't any mana around it or anything else. His PERCEPTION didn't help him either, which was a strange thing to happen but not the first time, as he hadn't noticed the secret door that led them here.

'They hid this place pretty well. Even high-level ones would have a hard time finding it. It may have something to do with the Boss of the dungeon.' [Shingi]

Even if Players weren't looking for it, that didn't mean they wouldn't encounter the Boss by chance. As far as Mizuneko knew, it didn't seem like anyone knew the Boss's nature other than most likely be a type of Ooze as well. It was strange, but none minded it, but it made sense if the Boss was in a secret place.

"This may lead to the Boss Room or give clues about it. Either way, we aren't ready yet for it. We should return then." [Shingi]

Everyone nodded, and Tycoon seemed excited about the mention of a boss, but that got ruined when she understood they wouldn't even try to fight it yet.

Shingi, of course, noticed that.

"This is a secret place, and I don't think any normal adventurer would find it soon. Also, even if they find it, this barrel seems to be quite tricky, that I doubt one would solve it soon. So we have the advantage in either case. The Boss will be ours." [Shingi]

He didn't care that the dungeon would disappear. It could give him some resources, but nothing he couldn't find elsewhere, and his party wouldn't be able to hunt these low-level monsters forever.

Of course, even if he could fight the Boss right now, he wouldn't, as he still could use the dungeon to earn himself some level when he gets his class.

They started making their way back and faced fewer monsters on the way back, so it didn't take them too long to reach the dungeon's entrance/exit.

Shingi motioned for the party to stop as he quickly cast ROCK THROW towards a tree nearby when they reached it. Unfortunately, it turned into dust before it got to the tree as it hit something not visible to normal eyes.

And the figure dropped whatever way was keeping him invisible, and actually, a familiar figure appeared.

The figure was none else than Fire Whip, the Elemental Tamer.

"God damn it, you and your damn aim. Do you always have to aim that thing at my eyes?" [Fire Whip]

He started removing the dust from his eyes as Tycoon was ready to charge but stopped by Shingi, who walked towards Fire Whip while telling the others to stay behind.

When Fire Whip could see again, Shingi stood right in front of him, staring at him with his arms behind his back.

"So, to what do I owe that visit? You were waiting for us for quite a long time and even used your special ring charges. It seems you have something important to tell." [Shingi]

It surprised Fire Whip that Shingi had noticed that he had followed them when they got here and waited for them outside all the time.

Shingi also knew about his Ring Of Invisibility. It allowed him to be under the effect of the INVISIBILITY spell for an hour. Still, he could use it only three times, and then the ring would turn to dust. So this was something important that he didn't want to use for something unimportant. Still, after the two encounters he had with the boy, he had to be extra careful.

He even used an alarm scroll, which allowed him to know if anyone passed the position he used the scroll at and had used it on, not too far from the dungeon's entrance, to be sure to know when they were exiting it.

Of course, Shingi, with his MANA SENSE, which he always had active and was almost Master Rank, could detect the alarm spell, which made him wary that something was wrong.

It made sense why they didn't meet any other players, as most likely Fire Whip 'persuaded' them to come another time.

"It seems once more I have underestimated you." [Fire Whip]

"One would think like a dog would learn tricks faster if they keep making the same mistake and getting punished for it." [Shingi]

Shingi wasn't afraid of him at all. He was confident that there weren't any other players around, and after the training, he had this past week, he could face him even without his students' help.

Fire Whip kept his face as serious before responding.

"Well...we gave started our relationship on the wrong foot, so I think we..." [Fire Whip]

But before he continued to say what he wanted to say, Shingi interrupted him.

"There isn't any relationship between us. Neither for one to consider it to be at a good or a bad foot." [Shingi]

This child's confidence surprised Fire Whip, but he knew he had the power to back it up.

"Well then. I guess the reason I am here is to start a good relationship." [Fire Whip]

At that point, he brought forward his open hand with his palm facing up as he summoned a quiet sizable pouch. It was close to 3 times the size of the one Varic had given to Shingi the first time he used SPECTATOR MODE.

"I know you are the son of the local Blacksmith and have been his apprentice, so I am sure you and your father can use those." [Fire Whip]

Shingi got the pouch and checked its contents. It seemed to be pieces of different metals, some relatively rare, but nothing as rare as the amount of Mithril Garry had given him, and he used it for his dagger. But the back contents would be worth a couple of hundreds of gold coins, which wasn't a small amount.

Of course, Shingi didn't expect a gift like that. He understood that the Guild this Player belonged to could easily afford them, but gave something like that wouldn't be a simple choice.

'They must think my Quest is quite important. '[Shingi]

Shingi wasn't interested in having a relationship with a Guild. It might hold him back, and possibly people who should know learn his plan. Still, he wasn't one to appreciate a gift, especially one that he could use.

"Hmm, there seems that there are some interesting ones in here but nothing too fancy, but I guess it will do. I accept your gift for the damage you have caused." [Shingi]

At that point, Fire Whip was full of confusion about what he was talking about as during their battle, he wasn't able to touch him even once, and they didn't even get close to his shop, not to mention that the, damaging it.

"My sister's fists still hurt because of the tough skull of your friend and his attacks. This small gift is the least to pay for something like that." [Shingi]

Fire Whip wanted just to struggle with Shingi at that point. How was he responsible for the damage his friend caused and had to pay for it? They were part of the same Guild, but would this NPC consider them like one just cause of that?

"Well, if you have nothing more to say, this is the end of our conversation. Also, you can tell your friend that he is forgiven for now, but he isn't welcome to my shop." [Shingi]

Fire Whip didn't know what to say as it didn't seem that things got any better as most times in these situations, the System would let him know if his reputation with an NPC had increased. However, there wasn't something like that, and also, he still couldn't see the name of Shingi, which would also be a sign that he could take missions out of him.

'Could it be that there isn't a Quest after all?' [Fire Whip]

He had put much thought into it in the past few days. After learning by one scout, the Guild had at the gates of the town that Shingi head out of the town together with a party of players. Then he was confident that it was because of a Quest.

I mean, why would they kill his Guildmates if not cause of a Quest?

He was also sad cause the pouch of metal he gave at Shingi was something he had gained by his own and not the Guild and was planning to use them in the future for his equipment, but considered that the Quest would be more critical. As for his Guild, they didn't know his plan fully, just that he had told them to monitor Shingi's movement and report to him if anything strange happened.

Shingi motioned the others, and they started making their way towards the town in a hurry as it was late and left Fire Whip behind, motionless by himself.

Shingi said his goodbyes to the party, and with his ACCELERATION Skill activated, he moved like the wind and made it in the town and reached his house.

He noticed that the house's door was open, which was strange, so he activated his senses at their limit. After detecting something, he made his way in a hurry to the kitchen, seeing something unexpected.

There were three figures in the kitchen, one at the table and the other two in the middle of cooking.

The one sitting was Mayor Aneta, while one of the two cooking was Annoue. Or, more specifically, the one who was in the middle learning how to cook, as the other person showed her how to cut some vegetables.

Annoue seemed to be a little scared and primarily focusing on the hands of this chef. Still, she turned her head towards a specific characteristic of the Chef's head.

His horns.

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6 Νοε 2021

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