<Chapter 10. Partner – 2>
This was his first time using his Bone Reinforcement on someone else, so even though he seemingly used the skill without hesitation, he was actually quite anxious. Sure enough, messages instantly appeared in front of him, crowding his sight.
[Reinforcing Hero—Jin Taylor’s shoulder bone. Determining the target’s suitability. Check successful. Establishing a contractual relationship with the target through mutual agreement. Contract successful. Skill activating normally.]
[By consuming a Lv2 Big Zombie’s kneecap bone, Jin Taylor’s bones are reinforced. Jin Taylor is absorbing a portion of the target’s experiences and memories. You also share a portion of the experiences and memories and are absorbing them.]
[I’ll become the one of the 12 generals someday. My mum said that if I eat like this every day, I’ll become a general. – Nameless Soldier]
“It’s not too bad. Just relax and take it all in.”
The moment Lee Shin Woo activated the skill, Jin was startled and started quivering; Lee Shin Woo calmed him down and checked each and every message that appeared.
‘Determining suitability, huh… As expected, it wasn’t something that I could use on just anyone. I can probably only use it on undead, and amongst the undead, only the ones that are made entirely of bone. But what’s this contract thing?’
Perhaps the faint string of mana that connected him and Jin the moment he activated the skill signified the contract. He didn’t feel any negative energy from it, so as long as he was concious of it in the future, it would be fine.
He didn’t know if it was because of the contract, but despite the skill being used on Jin, Lee Shin Woo was likewise able to absorb a portion of the zombie’s memories and experiences.
Of course, it was much less compared to if he had used it on himself, but… it was at that moment that he realized that using his Bone Reinforcement on other people wasn’t a complete loss on his part.
‘If that’s the case, there’s no reason to hesitate on using the skill on Jin.’
The instant Lee Shin Woo used his Bone Reinforcement, he ruminated over the zombie’s memories that had been engraved into his brain, and gazed at Jin. As expected, the small blue goblin fire that blazed within his eye sockets mercilessly shook.
“This is… No, wait, ugh…!”
“You asked me how I got so skilled in such a short amount of time, didn’t you? This is my answer.”
He definitely had a lot of things he wanted to say. Jin’s mouth opened and closed, and he looked like he was about to say something when Lee Shin Woo spoke, with a slight amount of self-scorn in his voice.
“My talent, experiences, and everything is due to this skill.”
“You, this… you sure are…”
Was it because this was his first time experiencing Bone Reinforcement, and it wasn’t easy to escape its effect? Jin tottered around as if he had become drunk.
Lee Shin Woo patiently waited until he calmed down and could stand up straight. He waited approximately 5 minutes before Jin narrowly sighed, raised his head, and spat out as if he had chewed on something foul.
“…It was a horrific experience.”
“Not a great experience?”
Of course, if such vivid memories melded into one’s brain, there’s a chance they’ll be confused. However, if he showed such a violent reaction to it, wouldn’t it make one want to tease him? As expected, Jin heard Lee Shin Woo, shivered, and replied.
“Ugh… I feel sick. How many times have you experienced this exactly?”
“Do you remember each and every piece of food you’ve ever eaten?”
“You’re crazy! …But now I understand how you got so strong.”
For Jin, taking in another person’s experiences and memories felt similar to his brain itself being injected with a foreign substance. Even though he knew this would be helpful to him, it wasn’t something he was able to do so easily.
However, if he backed down here and now, Lee Shin Woo wouldn’t help him. Perhaps this was the real test… at least, that’s what Jin thought.
“I’m telling you. You’ll get used to it soon enough. Then, let’s move on to the next one, ok?”
“Ugh… O-One sec.”
However, Lee Shin Woo didn’t really have any plans to test Jin. From the start, Lee Shin Woo passed over his moans and groans as him making a big fuss over nothing, and chose the next bone to step up to the plate.
It wasn’t really him having a wicked personality or anything; he truly believed that there was no way Jin would be this anguished from just this.
“If you get past about 10 of them, your head will get dizzy, but if you focus and keep hold of your consciousness, the only thing that’ll hurt is your head, and it won’t be too much of a problem. You just have to take in what you need from them and make it yours. It’s simple, right?”
“…Can’t you at least take it a bit slower?”
Jin finally resolved himself. In order for him to become stronger, and to catch up to Lee Shin Woo by even just a little, he had no choice but to accept this and to endure!
‘I’m sure of it now. If I work together with Lee Shin Woo, I can become strong…! I can’t just weakly stay where I am any longer!’
Lee Shin Woo thought Jin would be disappointed in him after hearing about his ability, but it was actually the opposite. To Jin, Lee Shin Woo was someone who had an overwhelming willpower, and Jin considered him as someone strong, someone who would fight regardless of what body he was in or whatever the method in this world.
And what he was seeking was that steel will. So, it wouldn’t do if he couldn’t even endure this much!
[By consuming a Lv2 Skeleton Warrior’s arm bone, Jin Taylor’s bones are being reinforced.]
[By consuming a Lv3 Ghoul Fighter’s shinbone…]
[By consuming a Lv3 Metal Bone Snake’s rib bone, Jin Taylor’s bones are being reinforced. Jin Taylor is absorbing a portion of the target’s experiences and memories. You also share a portion of its experiences and memories and are absorbing them. Health has increased by 1.]
There were 513 bones in total in the bag, and among them, close to 450 of them were level 2 bones; the rest were level 3 bones. Lee Shin Woo spent about five hours to allow Jin to absorb all of them, but the fact that just absorbing half of the effects increased his own stats by 10 was telling of just how many bones there were.
“Ugh, I feel like I’ll vomit…”
As a result of absorbing all of the owners’ various memories and experiences, Jin laid his huge body on his back and was dry heaving.
Since Lee Shin Woo was the pioneer of this specific field and fully utilized his know-how of maintaining his consciousness, most of the confusion had passed, but even so, if one were to ask if it were easy to overcome the aftermath, the answer would definitely be ‘no’. Lee Shin Woo gazed stiffly at Jin and consoled him.
“It’s alright. Since we have nothing to barf out anyway.”
“You demon! I told you to do it slowly!”
“If I had absorbed these myself, I could’ve done it in 30 minutes.”
Jin meekly closed his mouth, suppressed his nausea, and quietly stood up. The fact that his body still lightly shook was kind of funny. Lee Shin Woo smiled bitterly and asked him a question.
“So, how was it? Do you feel a bit ‘experienced’ now?”
“Though it definitely feels like a lot has changed, it’s difficult to say what exactly has changed right now. I feel like it’ll be difficult to figure out what’s changed until I actually get into a fight… Moreover, I received way too many peoples’ memories all at once, so I’m dizzy. Give me some time to organize it all.”
They were words that caused him to automatically nod his head. Originally, just using Bone Reinforcement isn’t the end; that’s because after the reinforcement is over, in the process of moving their body, they need to completely learn these skills through experience.
Then, it would be better to check something he could get a feel for right now that served as proof: the numbers.
“How much have your stats increased?”
“Strength by 7, Agility by 13, Health by 8, and Magic by 5. …They’ve definitely gone up by a lot.”
“To me, the most shocking thing is the fact that your agility, which is already over 800, went up by 13.”
It might’ve been obvious, but the higher the level, and the higher the stats, the more difficult it becomes to increase one’s stats. Despite that, the stat that showed the most growth for Jin was his agility…
“You said that you need 1,600 stats to become level 5, right? I have a total of 1,400 stats right now, so… If we do this a few more times, I should get to level 5, right?”
“It’s not that simple. If you absorb a monster’s bone that you’ve already absorbed before, its effect lessens more and more. The reason I asked you to fill that bag to the brim and come back was because I calculated that with roughly this many bones, the effectiveness wouldn’t drop.”
Jin could do nothing but nod in response. The more the reinforcement was repeated, the more the stat growth from the bones would gradually lessen, and in the end, they pretty much wouldn’t ever increase.
“Then what you’re saying is…?”
“Yeah. We have to hunt monsters befitting our level. If it’s possible, the monsters of a higher level than us, too.”
“But it’s tougher the higher level the monster is because their memories are denser!”
“Isn’t that better?”
“No way. If I don’t do something about this guy, then…!”
Lee Shin Woo snickered at Jin, who was gritting his teeth and spoke.
“For the time being, I want to focus on my own reinforcement. Will that be ok with you? Because I think it’d be better if our levels matched.”
“Alright. Then, for the time being, I won’t use that skill.”
Was he shaking off his dizziness? Jin extremely carefully turned to his side and spoke to Lee Shin Woo.
“Can you get on?”
“Yeah, I think I can.”
It seemed obvious, but he had never really ridden on horseback when he lived in Korea. Even when he did, it was only on a high school trip to Jeju Island, and he had gotten help then. The appearance of his friend’s horse, galloping in front of him while pooping had left a deep impression on him…
“It’s a relief that you’re undead.”
“You wanna go?”
However, Lee Shin Woo had the memories of the countless soldiers and knight aspirants who were active in the past Empire. It hadn’t become a skill yet, but if he rode…
“Umhp, as I thought. It feels like it’ll work.”
After he had somehow gotten atop Jin, Lee Shin Woo successfully maintained his balance even without a saddle. His dormant experiences were given shape and were aiding him. Sure enough, immediately after, he got a message that he’d acquired a skill!
[You have learned the passive skill, Low Rank Horseback Riding Lv1. Agility has increased by 5. You can draw out the full potential of what you ride. The higher the level, the higher the buffs while riding in battle.]
Though each memory one by one wasn’t enough, the combination of the countless hoarded memories and experiences had manifested into a low rank skill. Moreover, he had acquired additional stats from it!
When he thought that perhaps other skills lay dormant and were buried like this one, Lee Shin Woo felt great.
“Nice, Jin. Let’s go.”
“…Yeah. I’m a horse. I’m just a Skeleton Horse…”
When he saw Jin, who was self-suggesting that he was a horse, Lee Shin Woo just laughed again. He had thought Jin had resolved himself by now, but it seemed like he still wasn’t prepared. If he were in his position, he would feel just as agonized right now, so he could definitely understand him.
“Hoo… Alright. Where should we go?”
“For starters, let’s take a lap around this city and check if there’s anything we missed.”
Jin weakly nodded and began to move. At that moment, Lee Shin Woo felt his body rapidly lean backward and was shocked, and grabbed tightly onto Jin. The surrounding landscape quickly passed by him, and it felt like he was time traveling!
“You wasted time because of me, so let’s quickly look back and go!”
“If you keep running this fast, the only thing I’ll be able to look back at is my previous lifeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
However, Jin didn’t listen to him. Ultimately, it took Lee Shin Woo a few hours before he was somehow able to distinguish the surrounding objects clearly while Jin was running, and it soon developed into him training his Combat Sprint and Horseback Riding skills.