<Chapter 13. Arema Steelworker – 2>
“Shin Woo, are you alright!? Lee Shin Woo!”
He knew nothing would come out, even if he vomited, yet he still attempted to do so, and roughly breathed out. It was something he retained from his days as a human being. Repeatedly doing so calmed him down and was certainly effective, though it could just be a placebo.
“Get a hold of yourself, Shin Woo!”
“I’m ok. There was way too much information coming in all at once. Which means that it was also that helpful to me as well.”
Lee Shin Woo raised his front foot, slightly pushed aside Jin, who had been hitting him wildly, and replied. Then, the seemingly dissatisfied Jin scraped the floor and spoke harshly.
“It’d be great if I could make one for you as well.”
“You want to give me something like that; when it was even difficult for you to absorb!? Are you crazy?”
“Nope. You probably won’t be able to absorb the memories, so don’t worry. It’ll be helpful enough if you just learn the fundamental principle behind how the golems use mana, as well as how their body operates.”
This was especially important for Jin, as he didn’t even know the basics behind mana usage; therefore, it would be even more helpful to Jin. Hearing that, the goblin fire in Jin’s eyes spun around, and he felt like he was at a loss, but he soon calmed down. Because he realized the reality of his situation.
“But there aren’t any more golems in the entire area, so there’s nothing we can do. I really want to get stronger too, but it can’t be helped since there aren’t any golems left that can drop cores.”
“Haha. So you’re saying that if we can somehow get those cores, you’re willing to accept it?”
“Well, yeah. But there aren’t any. …Right?”
Hearing Lee Shin Woo’s laughter, Jin suddenly felt anxious and replied timidly. Lee Shin Woo was smiling. The red light of his mana appeared in the palm of his outstretched hand, developing into a peculiar pattern. It was none other than the pattern that had been inscribed onto the Original Core.
“Please say it’s not.”
“Why do you think so many golems were here? There are two possible causes. First, this was the golems’ ‘destination’.”
With just that one line, Jin figured it out. The next moment, the entire area seemed to resonate with the seal, composed of mana and created by Lee Shin Woo… But to be exact, the center of the highlands began to tremble.
A gold circle appeared atop the ground, and the party of two entered inside the circle. Though they weren’t even connected, Jin was able to tell what Lee Shin Woo intended.
“Then is this by any chance a ‘production site’ for the golems…?’
“Yeah, you’re right. If you go below here, shouldn’t there be some more golems remaining? The golems that were trapped inside, following the Empire’s collapse…”
Lee Shin Woo rode atop Jin and the area within the golden circle began to sink into the floor. It felt as though they were on an elevator going down to a secret base. The seal atop Lee Shin Woo’s hand was slowly rotating.
Jin thought it looked like a magic circle seen in fantasy movies and asked.
“Did you get a permit? Like in a dungeon?”
“I reverse operated the Original Core’s code, and attained the rights of a general administrator. But the owner should still have the director’s rights, so I shouldn’t be able to steal it.”
As always, Jin wasn’t able to understand him, but nonetheless agreed enthusiastically. As expected, he’d thought that Jin wouldn’t be able to understand the natural sciences, but Lee Shin Woo was honestly a liberal arts major as well. Fortunately, calculating the composition of mana didn’t rely on arithmetic skills, but on intuition and logical reasoning.
“But how far is this thing going to go down?”
“Since our senior heroes dug as much as they could and still weren’t able to reach it, it probably means that this thing goes really deep underground.”
This entire empire was constructed underground, yet they had to go further underground? Now he could understand why the entrance was in the highlands. The more he thought about it, the less he could comprehend the scale of the Underground Empire, and just laughed bitterly.
“Ah, look. The ceiling’s closing.”
The ceiling plugged up, like a container being closed. In an instant, everywhere became dark, but due to the blazing goblin fire in their eye sockets, they could tell where the other was.
Though it was cool, wouldn’t it be useless when trying to move stealthily in the dark? Lee Shin Woo suddenly had that concern.
“I should practice turning off the goblin fire.”
“Your imagination’s frightening… By the way, I followed you down here, but wouldn’t the director be down here?”
Lee Shin Woo affirmed unimportantly, and Jin narrowed his eyes.
“Then it’s dangerous!”
“It’s always been dangerous for me. This time is no different.”
Lee Shin Woo acknowledged Jin calmly and then said.
“But if we overcome that danger, we can grow tremendously. That’s our advantage over the other heroes. Not the fact that we have multiple lives, but the fact that because of those lives, we can attempt things that are dangerous to others even just one more time.”
“If need be, I’ll give up a life and we can just run away. Though I’d gain as much as I’d lose on the way out no matter what.”
Jin marveled at Lee Shin Woo’s statement. It was amazing that Lee Shin Woo wouldn’t hesitate to stake his life and would stubbornly struggle in those situations where he might die, yet had survived up until now without losing many lives.
If he had 97 remaining lives like him, Jin felt as though he’d become lax; but on the contrary, Lee Shin Woo was much more guarded. He really had a frightening tenacity and state of mind.
Their descent came to a complete stop, and the slight tremors ceased. It was still dark everywhere, but Lee Shin Woo could sense that there was a passageway that stretched far ahead. As well as the golems that filled it, too.
[Detected a trespasser.]
[Confirmed a general administrator’s seal.]
The golems activated instantly, emitting a screeching noise, but ceased their movements immediately after, once they recognized the seal floating atop the palm of his hand.
Jin marveled at the sight, but Lee Shin Woo suddenly gripped the seal tightly and contorted it. At that moment, the golems’ attitude changed completely.
[Detected a trespasser.]
[Blocking intrusion into the production base.]
They could’ve gone through this in a relaxed manner, yet why is he making things so difficult!? Jin yelled in astonishment, but Lee Shin Woo replied calmly.
“We won’t be able to grow at all if we just go through it like this. I thought I could at least improve my Acting skill, but it would be pointless against golems which don’t even have an ego.”
“You dumbass… they’re coming!”
Something flashed in the darkness; the closest golem had swung its greatsword!
[Lv4 Bronze Sword Golem]
The instant Lee Shin Woo dodged its attack, he confirmed that there were greatswords attached to where its arms should’ve been. They were different from the golems above! They were probably stronger, too!
[Entry failed. On standby.]
[Attack failed. Resuming attack.]
Unfortunately, the passageway was so narrow that he couldn’t fight them all at once, despite the sense of danger they gave off. The golem’s greatsword got stuck into the wall, and it did its best to remove it.
Seeing that stupid golem, Lee Shin Woo thought there’d be no way to train his skills, regardless of whether they were hostile to him or not.
“Then… go ahead and try fighting them yourself, Jin.”
“But they look stronger than the Bronze Golems up top!”
“You have an absolute advantage here with your high agility. Just try it out!”
He said as he pushed Jin from behind. At that moment, the golem succeeded in pulling out its greatsword and continued with its second attack. Jin was startled and moved his body, successfully evading the attack.
Even as he grited his teeth, Jin activated Steel Body. His body became as tough and sharp as steel; it was an extremely useful skill which simultaneously made his body into both a shield and a sword.
Immediately after, Jin forcefully struck the flustered golem, as its greatsword was stuck in the ground, with his front legs. It was an attack that simultaneously propelled his body forward with his hind legs and struck with the weight of his front legs!
[Confirming critical damage. Retreating for repairs.]
[Confirming target’s survival. Switching out.]
Since his agility was so high, there was a frightening force behind his attack with just the simple motion of pushing his body forward. To the point that he was able to inflict critical damage onto a level 4 golem!
Before, this kind of attack would’ve been overwhelmingly burdensome on Jin’s body, but here Steel Body exhibited its usefulness. It would temporarily rid him of his knee joints and transform both his front legs into a substance akin to steel, which simultaneously reduced the burden on Jin and strengthened his attack.
“Oh. Why are they so weak?”
“As I thought, you can do it if you try. Now we just need to keep fighting and practice so that you keep attacking with that force.”
Jin didn’t even have the opportunity to respond and hectically moved his body. That’s because as soon as he finished off the golem attempting to retreat and its body had disappeared, he had to dodge the incoming spear strike from another golem.
‘It’s not like he doesn’t have the talent. Since he’s so fundamentally nimble.’
Lee Shin Woo watched Jin’s struggle and nodded his head. If one’s agility was high, their ability to respond to external stimuli would increase, though unfortunately Lee Shin Woo couldn’t give him any advice in terms of his movements.
The problem was that Jin would feel uneasy whenever his enemy attacked him; however, he saw that Jin was gradually becoming better in that regard. If something went wrong, Jin’s attack, infused with his high agility, might be even more powerful than Lee Shin Woo’s own. Lee Shin Woo felt slightly happy.
“Don’t be careless. There’re guys up above.”
“I see them!”
Compared to Lee Shin Woo, Jin was slower at clearing them, but he was still plenty fast. He quickly cleaned up the golems and gradually cleared up the passageway. He fought intense battles against the golems (though, of course, the golems were huge and the weapons they wielded were likewise large, so they were at an overwhelming disadvantage) and Lee Shin Woo could see his movements improving by the minute.
Lee Shin Woo picked up the cores and the Perium, and relaxingly followed behind him. Then, when he confirmed that Jin wouldn’t have any trouble taking down the golems by himself, he earnestly began examining the core’s information.
[Reinforced Attack Type Bone Core]
[Original Core Synchronization Rate: 17%]
“Ah, so that’s why.”
The difference between the golems up top and the ones below was clear. Compared to the ones up top who protected their stations and were charged with defense, the golems trapped in here were mostly focused on offense. Thus, they were fitted with weapons like greatswords or spears, but they were comparatively weaker in defense.
‘Whether it’s the Autonomous Defense Type Core, or the Attack Type Core, their original form was the Original Core, so I don’t really need them.’
The Autonomous Defense Type Cores and the Attack Type Cores were mass produced versions of the Original Core. Lee Shin Woo, who had already absorbed the Original Core, didn’t feel like he needed them. Truthfully, Lee Shin Woo was able to easily look into the information of the Attack Type Cores, even though the synchronization rate was only at 17%.
“Yeah, actually I do need it.”
Despite him fighting impressively, Jin still had spots where he was lacking, so Lee Shin Woo shook his head and began to reinforce a core in earnest. Since they were all reinforced cores, one successful reinforcement would increase the synchronization rate by 1.5%, and if he was lucky, it would be increase it by 2%.
[The Bone Original Core has been completed. You need more materials to manufacture golems. You can analyze the core in order to figure out what materials you need.]
As they diligently passed through the passageway, he would absorb the cores from the fallen golems, and completed another Original Core.
“Be happy, Jin. Now you’ll be able to learn the fundamentals of combat and magic…”
Hearing Jin urgently call for him, Lee Shin Woo, who was about to pass him the Original Core, stopped, raised his head, and looked forward.
There was an object made of iron in front of him, something he’d seen many times before coming to the Empire. It was extremely large and long, with compartments and doors. That object which sat on tracks in front of them was…
“It’s a train…”
“Isn’t that a train…?”
Lee Shin Woo and Jin simultaneously muttered, raised their heads, and looked at each other.
They were sure of one thing. The two had discovered a secret that no other hero before them had found.