<Chapter 13. Arema Steelworker – 3>
“So this Empire had trains as well, huh.”
“More importantly, your world had trains too?”
“It was a place called Earth. Contrary to the Empire, there were several continents on the planet, and there were several nations on those continents… I came from a country called the United Kingdom.”
“I see. I’ll remember that.”
Jin carelessly disclosed where he was born. Lee Shin Woo wasn’t very surprised. Since he had figured out that their civilizations were roughly the same as they talked to each other.
Especially since the names of their planets were the same; it was highly likely that their planets only differed nominally. But what was most important was that confirming that fact was difficult. Because of that, he couldn’t add anything to the conversation. However, it seems like Jin thought differently.
“Were you born on Earth as well, by any chance?”
“Why’s that important now?”
“Well, it just feels different, you know?”
“There’s no reason to look into things like that. It isn’t the name of the planet we’re from that’s of greatest importance, but the train right in front of us.”
Lee Shin Woo meticulously surveyed his surroundings, rather than hastily looking inside the train. Though the passageway had been filled to the brim with golems, when they had gotten outside of said passageway and arrived at this clearing, there was nothing here.
To be exact, aside from the train with its opened door, as well as the tracks that it ran on, there was nothing else in the vast clearing. It was to the point that they believed that this underground clearing was designed for the sole purpose of running this train.
“Where does this go… I probably won’t be able to tell.”
“The only thing I’m sure about is that it’s really long.”
Jin pushed his head forward, examined the continuing railway, and was astonished. Meanwhile, Lee Shin Woo exercised his rights as a general administrator again to access the train, but there wasn’t really any information he could gain from doing so.
But there was one thing he did change; it was the reactivation of the train that had long since been silent. Of course, that wasn’t his intent.
[The train will depart in three minutes.]
A voice rang out from the train itself. It was then that Lee Shin Woo realized that this lump of iron that resembled a train was also a golem. He didn’t know who made it, but they had to be damn smart!
“Try stopping it for now, Shin Woo. Shouldn’t we know more about it before getting on?’
“Well, I can turn this thing on, but I can’t turn it off.”
“What are you…”
“Let’s get on. It feels like a waste to just let it go.”
Jin just gaped at Lee Shin Woo’s recklessness. However, it was true that there was nothing else they could gain from this space, and he was also curious about what lay at the end of the railway.
“Alright, let’s get on.”
The body of the train, as well as the door, was huge. He could easily guess as to why. This was a freight train designed to load golems onto it. Lee Shin Woo’s guess just a short while ago was a bit off. This wasn’t a production area for golems, it was the first place the golems were delivered to!
“If that’s the case, then the golems that our seniors found in other areas were…”
“We can assume that there were trains like this one there too. No, that’s not the issue here.”
If they were lucky, they might be able to use this train to go to those areas as well! They could explore every nook and cranny of the Empire with this train!
“But if something goes wrong, we could be dumped into the wrong place and get ourselves killed.”
“Could you not say something so ominous…?”
The two entered the train and examined the interior, but the only thing they could discover was traces that this train was once a place that transported golems. Then again, it wasn’t likely that it would tell thieves like them where the next station was.
“Oh, it’s departing.”
“Seems that… ugh!”
The moment the train door closed, the train began driving at a crazy speed. He didn’t know what kind of magic was set-up on the railway or what skill the golem was using, but it was much faster than Jin running at top speed!
“Are you alright!?”
The highly agile Jin was able to swiftly regain his balance and took to one side of the train, but Lee Shin Woo flew around the inside of the train and hit the back wall. It was a relief that he was able to use Rule of Bone to reinforce his bones before the collision.
“I would’ve died…!”
Lee Shin Woo gritted his teeth tenaciously at the pain all over his body and kept his balance by gluing himself to one side of the train. If he was not made of bone, he would’ve spilled his guts, as well as his internal organs.
“They should’ve announced it. What shitty manners.”
“Can you stand?”
“I can now… somehow.”
How terribly fast did it run? Around the time Lee Shin Woo couldn’t even tell how fast it was going, the train gradually began to slow itself down.
If there was something different about this train compared to one in modern times, it was that this train didn’t have any windows. Lee Shin Woo and Jin just quieted their breathing and stood still within the slowing train.
[We have arrived at the manufacturing headquarters.]
The golem’s characteristically dry voice came out, notifying them that they’d arrived. Lee Shin Woo just flinched again when he heard that they’d come to the manufacturing headquarters.
He talked all big about how Jin shouldn’t worry, but he actually couldn’t help but be afraid since he was encountering the unknown. However, he couldn’t just turn back and leave. He carefully stepped away from the wall and stood in front of the door.
“For starters, let’s activate the seal.”
“Should I absorb that core, too?”
“No. When you absorb this core, you’ll roll on the floor for roughly thirty minutes while you grunt and groan, so let’s keep that for later.”
The door opened. Lee Shin Woo held the seal out, slowly walked out of the train, and surveyed his surroundings. The first thing he saw was another train on the station platform right next to them.
When one enters the large station, they’d be able to see several trains coming and going…
“Six, seven, eight… nine. Holy shit.”
There were nine more trains in the station. If they included the train the two rode on, there were ten trains total! Most of the trains came into the station and were on standby, and only the platform on the right end was completely empty.
“I’m kind of getting scared here. It’s way bigger than I’d expected…”
“Wait, didn’t you expect that it’d be this big? Even so, it’s just a place that manufactures the golems we just took down. We’re ok.”
Lee Shin Woo lightly used his Acting skill to conceal his unease from his partner. Jin relied on Lee Shin Woo, so if he ended up seeing how tense Lee Shin Woo was, he’d be dispirited. It seemed as though his bluff was effective, as Jin calmed down a bit as well.
[Ah, you actually came.]
Jin shamefully shrunk back when he heard the sound of an unfamiliar man’s voice from somewhere! He knew they’d be discovered eventually, but he didn’t think they’d be discovered as soon as they arrived… Lee Shin Woo naturally manifested a sword in one hand and put up his guard. However, he couldn’t figure out where the source of the voice came from.
[No. I’m not going to kill you, so don’t be so tense. If I wanted to kill you, I would’ve killed you earlier. But are you guys really undead?]
“Can’t you tell by just looking? We’re just bones.”
[True. I only see bones.]
“So you’re saying you can see us, huh…”
Lee Shin Woo realized at that very moment. The man’s voice was coming from the trains everywhere simultaneously. That could mean only one thing: their opponent was someone who had higher authority than Lee Shin Woo.
[If you were an undead spawned by the Emperor’s curse, then there’s no way you’d be moving so freely; how strange. What exactly are you?]
“I have no reason to answer you, but… if I were to tell you one thing, it’s that we weren’t affected by the Emperor’s curse.”
[Yeah. It seems that way to me, too. You guys are truly strange. Especially the skeleton horse, who has a clear-cut will and can move on its own; this is the first time I’ve ever seen one like that.]
Seeing as how he’s speaking like that, the man they were dealing with definitely retained his reasoning and will, and moved accordingly. Lee Shin Woo wanted to ask him about that, but he didn’t hear the man’s voice for quite some time after.
Jin looked at Lee Shin Woo with eyes that seemed to signal that he wanted to immediately go back onto the train and get the hell out of there (the goblin fire that he emitted was quivering and the fact that he was able to interpret the pattern to this degree touched Lee Shin Woo), and Lee Shin Woo also pondered on what he needed to do first to secure a retreat path.
‘That way’s no good, so long as I don’t have the top authority.’
Otherwise, the highest chance of survival lay in him crushing one of the golems, and them running the opposite way by following the tracks.
No matter how far apart their levels were, it would be extremely difficult to follow Jin, who was a horse born for the sole purpose of running. Though their enemy might be able to match his speed temporarily, Jin possessed unlimited stamina as an undead, so they wouldn’t be able to keep up with him!
[I told you. There’s no need to run away. More importantly, the General said he’d like to meet with you. We won’t hurt you, so won’t you come this way?]
Hearing that, Lee Shin Woo instinctually retorted. Why was it that he was so caught up with the word ‘General’? If that General was one of the 12 Generals in the Empire, then would he perhaps be… the missing pieces in his head started to match, and it felt as though fireworks were going off in his head.
‘Is he General Seagald by any chance…!?’
General Seagald was in charge of the Anti-Skull Project, which attempted to stop the undead curse through the research of several different methods. What if he had been interested in golems, which were artificial life forms immune to the undead curse? And if they prepared for an emergency and created this facility to manufacture golems, then…!
“What are you going to do?”
“…I want to meet him at least once.”
“As I thought…”
He had gone this far, so he couldn’t back down now. However, he didn’t blindly move while trusting in the man’s promise that they wouldn’t harm them. But, he had a strong hunch that if he backed out now, he wouldn’t be able to come back here again.
“If we’re unlucky, I might die not once, but several times. You stay put, but if it seems like things are going south, break one of these trains, follow the tracks, and go back. Since I’ll come join you later.”
“No. I want to meet him too. You told me how you had gotten stronger before, remember? Moreover, it’ll be better if I’m there if we’re faced with a situation where we have to run away.”
It really was a response befitting an undead; he was unwilling to stay out of it. Lee Shin Woo smiled bitterly, and nodded his head.
Honestly, if things didn’t go as planned, it wasn’t as though he didn’t have skills to protect him. That skill was none other than the Sacrifice skill.
[Sacrifice Lv1 (Active)]
[You can activate this skill when someone else is about to die. You save the target’s life in exchange for your own. The user will die without fail.]
‘Though I’d like it if I didn’t have to use it.’
When he had first received the Savior karma token, as well as this skill, he’d thought it was a useless skill that just came along with a half-assed karma. Thinking, ‘what kind of useless skill is this? I sacrifice my life to save only one other person?’.
However, it wasn’t a useless skill for Lee Shin Woo. Why? Because Lee Shin Woo had 97 lives remaining, that’s why. He certainly couldn’t use the skill recklessly, but he could use for his partner, who more than doubled his fighting strength.
[Good. Come this way.]
They went to the stairway beyond the wide platform, and the door above opened automatically. He wondered what he’d do if there were several golems in there, but… there weren’t.
[Welcome, Undead. Even if you go crazy, please don’t attack me.]
There, a colossal, burly golem stood awaiting them.
[Since I’m not alive. Understand?]
With mana more powerful than anyone he’d ever met before.
[Lv7 Golem Ark Knight – Guillotine Steelworker]