2 A Debt

"Let us form up and tackle the first layer together," Alan declared, his voice filled with determination. "The first layer is teeming with draconic lizards, but we'll clear it in just two hours. We must hasten our progress to have ample time for conquering the third layer."

The group quickly rearranged themselves as directed. Arthur swiftly dashed towards the luggage, shouldering the weight of two heavy bags that threatened to strain his back. Though burdensome, they did not hinder his ability to keep up with the group or cause him to stumble and fall.

Positioned in the middle of the formation, Arthur glanced around to see the others assuming their assigned roles. Alan, with his mace and shield, took the vanguard position. Juan and Beatrice positioned themselves on the upper flanks, while Yuran guarded the rear. The petite woman, Rosie, whom Alan had finally introduced by name, joined Arthur at his side in the middle.

"Advance!" Alan's resounding roar reverberated through the group, a clear attempt to boost their morale. They followed closely behind him, their determined footsteps propelling them toward the imposing 10-meter tall door leading to the first layer. Its intricate engravings, covering every inch, induced a sense of dizziness merely from gazing upon them.

The door would open every ten minutes, permitting only five people to enter at a time. Porters were exempt from this limitation, as their lack of mana rendered them inconsequential to the dungeon's acceptance of their presence. However, the role of a porter came with its own risks, as one of the main qualifications was being mana-less and non-awakener.

"Hey, is it true that The White Fangs are challenging the boss today?" Arthur's ears perked up upon catching a fragment of conversation nearby. Intrigued, he listened intently, but the duos drifted away before he could glean any further information.

The rest of the group caught wind of the discussion as well, sparking a feverish exchange of words. Juan, in particular, waxed enthusiastic about The White Fangs and their awe-inspiring member, The White Fairy, a renowned beauty and powerhouse in the Union.

As Arthur remained oblivious to the details, everyone's interest piqued, even the typically reserved Rosie. Only Yuran grew uncharacteristically silent, a hint of displeasure shadowing his expression. Arthur made a mental note of this, choosing not to pry into the matter.

Soon, it was the group's turn, and the door hissed open, allowing them passage. The architecture of the first layer greeted them, adorned with brick walls and sturdy pillars connecting the floor and ceiling. Enigmatic engravings and inscriptions in an unknown language adorned the walls, lending an eerie yet captivating ambiance. Patches of green mold dotted the surroundings, bearing witness to the passage of time. Arthur's awe at the sight surpassed that of his companions, as it marked his first foray into one of the Sins Dungeons.

As the group ventured deeper, Alan held his shield at chin level, cautiously surveying their surroundings. He signaled their scout, Yuran, in a hushed voice, instructing him to report any signs of enemies. Arthur had learned that magic gunmen possessed heightened perception, making them ideal for scouting tasks.

"Three draconic lizards, two o'clock," Yuran reported.

The group assumed their positions, steadily advancing toward the indicated direction. With the central pillar out of their line of sight, they beheld a group of three draconic lizards feasting on an earth rabbit. Arthur relayed the signal to Juan and Beatrice, and then commanded the rest to encircle the monsters. The first battle of the day commenced shortly after.


Arthur's breaths came in desperate gasps, as though each one might be his last. He gazed down at the deep gash in his stomach, where his internal organs peeked through. A Cerberus, a monstrous hound-like creature, had inflicted the wound upon him. Dizziness overwhelmed him as his lifeblood seeped away.

He finally understood why the pay for this job was so enticing, despite the few qualifications required. The others had emerged from similar encounters with nothing more than minor scratches. Yet here he was, teetering on the brink of death. He overheard Juan's voice, callously suggesting that they leave him behind, citing the explicit dangers outlined in the job. In that moment, Arthur felt a surge of anger towards Juan, vowing to exact revenge on the heartless man. He berated himself for hastily rushing here in a moment of despair, instead of seeking help from someone he knew.

However, a hesitant voice cut through the harshness. "But..." Alan's voice wavered.

"What are you doing?" Beatrice's voice held surprise as someone approached. Arthur managed to open his eyes slowly. Yuran stood by his side, a flask containing a radiant red liquid in his hand. The potion seemed to possess a life of its own, emanating a gentle glow.

"Are you giving him such a high-tier potion? To a porter?" Juan's disdainful tone dripped with mockery, igniting a fiery determination within Arthur to retaliate. Then, he felt a liquid trickling down his throat. It felt as if his body were ablaze, his consciousness gradually returning to his battered form. After a five-minute respite, the wound had vanished, leaving him restored. Even though the potion's efficacy was enhanced due to his lack of awakening abilities, Arthur marveled at the miraculous recovery as he examined his unblemished body.

"Are you okay?" Yuran approached him, concern evident in his eyes, while the group took a moment to rest. Arthur, his voice trembling, expressed his gratitude for escaping the clutches of death. "I can never repay you enough."

"I did it because it felt like the right thing to do," Yuran replied, his tone sincere. "That's all that matters to me. Besides, that potion was useless to me." Yuran's words did little to assuage Arthur's shaken state. Sensing his unease, Yuran sought to divert his attention. "Why did you take such a risky job?"

Arthur recounted his days as a scavenger, his livelihood stolen by the emergence of scavenging abilities that surpassed his own. Yuran then offered alternative job suggestions, ones that would not endanger his life. Warmth enveloped Arthur, unexpected kindness reminding him that goodness still existed in the world.

Noting that Yuran appeared at least five years his senior, Arthur mused if this was what having an older brother felt like—someone to watch over and protect him. Thoughts of his neglected younger brother resurfaced, guilt seeping in for prioritizing work and worries over their bond. He resolved to treat his sibling better, making a mental note of the commitment. As the group quenched their thirst and found respite, a rumbling earthquake shook the dungeon, causing the ground to tremble violently.

"It appears the time has come," Alan's countenance grew solemn, referring to the boss hunt taking place on the sixth layer. The dungeon consisted of seven layers, with the boss residing in the sixth. The seventh layer harbored the gateway to another realm, where creatures of varying ranks roamed freely. Alan turned to Yuran, his gaze questioning, but the latter shook his head, unnoticed amidst the chaos caused by the earthquake.

The group resumed their hunt, progressing for another four hours until they reached the third layer. Unlike the previous layers, the third layer's passage structure allowed them to forgo defending their rear. They instructed Arthur to remain at the back for safety reasons. Grateful for the respite, he complied and watched from the rear as the group battled against the creatures inhabiting the third layer—Earth Golems.

As they advanced, the group eventually encountered their target in the third layer: the Regeneration Golem. It was a mutated Earth Golem with regenerative properties. Potion masters coveted its mana core for crafting regenerative potions of higher quality than mere healing potions. It seemed the group had set their sights on this prized objective, and from the way Alan deferred to Yuran, Arthur surmised that the latter was leading the charge for this particular party hunt.

"Assume formation!" Alan's commanding voice boomed as the colossal Golem charged towards them. Each thunderous step sent shockwaves rippling through the passageway, a testament to the formidable enemy they faced. Although The White Fangs had previously slain this monster in their party, the Sins Dungeon resurrected the creatures on each layer every hour, preventing them from overwhelming the dungeon with sheer numbers. Their objective was not to clear the dungeon entirely, but to harvest the regenerative core, a fact made evident by the group's strategic approach.

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