<Chapter 14. New Pace – 3>
“That’s right. I’m a hero!”
The Magician muttered blankly. Hearing an undead assert that they were a hero must’ve considerably shaken them; they had already stopped attacking. Lee Shin Woo felt relieved in that regard, but then Jin yelled startlingly.
“The ground. The ground!”
The problem was the spell that they’d cast before was still around. The wall, composed of sharp thorns of ice were surging upwards several dozens of meters! Now wasn’t the time be relieved!
Without thinking, Lee Shin Woo brought out a Melting Double Bone Axe and threw it hard. The axe shattered the wall’s sharp edges, and exploded the moment it lodged into the wall’s interior; even though they had responded a bit late, Lee Shin Woo and Jin somehow managed to come out relatively unscathed, amidst the shards of ice.
“I thought we’d become skewers.”
“Don’t worry, we don’t have any meat to grill, so… Wait, no. It’s my fault. I’m sorry. Stop shaking.”
“You’re really terrible. You know that? Absolutely terrible.”
“It was all my fault. I’m really sorry. Stop shaking.”
“It certainly doesn’t seem like you’ve been affected by the curse…”
While Lee Shin Woo and Jin were struggling to find a way to survive, the Magician watched them and spoke to herself. But for now, they had completely ignored the Magician in favor of reaching safe ground. They barely felt at ease.
“Are you really heroes? Even though you’re undead…?”
At last, she went back to questioning them. The slim woman stretched her hand outwards from her magician robes, holding an orb that looked like a crystal; it seemed as though she had her magic at the ready depending on how they responded.
“We’re undead, but we’re definitely heroes. If…”
The situation wasn’t favorable for them, and he assumed that they’d ultimately have to fight the magician; he analyzed his opponent’s magic, and while doing so, picked one of the lines that only a hero would know to say and just said it.
“If you can’t believe me, then would you like to access the chatting channel together and check?”
“The chatting channel… right, there was that.”
It hit the mark. The Magician’s hostility towards them was noticeably diminishing. He also considered that she might be a hero that attacked, saying ‘Death to all the undead!’, even after acknowledging his claim, but fortunately, it looked like she had abandoned all thoughts of attacking them.
“It was impossible to ascertain your identity, so I thought maybe… I couldn’t bring myself to discard the possibility that were you some unknown undead. Sorry for attacking you.”
“Ah… now that I think about it.”
She’d even given them an earnest apology! Even after hearing that, Lee Shin Woo inspected her, but he couldn’t figure anything out about her. A hero’s fundamental ability of checking their opponent’s level and identity didn’t work on her. Now that he thought about it, it didn’t work on Jin or Ye Jin Jin either.
If that’s the case, then it should’ve been plenty enough to discern that they were heroes, but… Lee Shin Woo decided he’d double check that in the chatting channel later and replied.
“I’m Lee Shin Woo. This guy’s Jin. For the record, this guy’s a hero too.”
“Kratia Melloi .”
The magician threw her robe’s hood back, revealing her face and name. She was a young lady whose beauty matched her beautiful voice; she was short, so he had roughly assumed that she was a woman before, but she looked younger than he’d expected, so Lee Shin Woo was shocked.
Her eyes were a sky blue, like the frozen sea, with large pupils; her lavender hair, which stretched in every which way as if she didn’t bother to comb it, was especially memorable. To be completely honest, her appearance matched well with the magic she wields.
‘In any case, I’ve never seen someone called Kratia Melloi enter the chatting channel before… Wait a sec.’
Assuming that she wasn’t lying, as she gave her name and showed her appearance, there was someone who matched her description.
“How long has it been since you’ve arrived here?”
“As I thought…”
She was definitely the ‘newbie’ that he’d heard about in the chatting channel a short while ago. Kratia must’ve been the one who had entered the chatting channel once and left immediately, as she felt uncomfortable with all of the seniors’ attention on her. His seniors did say that she didn’t enter again following that incident.
But what was surprising was that it had only been 3 weeks since she’d been dropped underground, yet the level of her magic was considerable. Lee Shin Woo couldn’t even assess the level of her magic, so that meant she was at least higher than level 5. But if that were true, that meant that she started out with that much power. Otherwise, she had to have received that power from God.
“Do I become like you guys by any chance if a lot of time goes by?”
The Magician, Kratia Melloi asked, her eyes filled with a bit of fear. Lee Shin Woo and Jin simultaneously shook their heads and denied her. This confirmed that she was indeed a newbie hero.
“We became like this because of our wishes. On the flip side, there were some things we got in exchange, but I can’t really recommend it.”
“You became undead because of your wishes? …As I thought, that woman’s got a mental disorder or something.”
She nonchalantly insulted God and shook her head. And even though he didn’t ask, she extended her hand gripping the orb and said.
“I don’t like other people touching me. So when I asked for ice that could grow, she gave me this.”
“So she could fulfill that wish because you were already strong, huh…”
Though she was originally a powerful magician, there should’ve been a limit to what God could give her with her powers; she’d successfully managed to receive an artifact that developed all on its own, so she may have made the best choice.
If his senior heroes were to have heard, they would’ve said something like ‘you should’ve asked for a skill that improves the effectiveness of ice type abilities!’ and would’ve been frustrated in her stead.
“Shin Woo, what are you going to do?”
Right when he was finished thinking, Jin whispered to Lee Shin Woo. Jin, who was easily frightened, seemed to still be afraid of Kratia, as he was secretly hiding behind his back.
Is this really the guy who courageously yelled out that when they died, they would die together… Lee Shin Woo softly stroked his back to tell him it was alright and said his farewells to Kratia.
“I don’t think there are a lot of cases like us, but be careful from now on. Then, we’ll get going. It was nice meeting you, Kratia Melloi.”
“Wait a sec.”
He got atop Jin’s back and tried turning around, but Kratia’s sudden urgent voice stopped them. Lee Shin Woo felt Jin inwardly yell, as he’d wanted to leave smoothly.
“I know I’ve been somewhat foolish. Teach me about how this world works.”
“If you just enter the chatting channel, our seniors will scramble to teach to you. Especially, Lloyd and Prince.”
“Those guys make me feel uneasy. I also haven’t seen their faces even once…”
Kratia asserted quite firmly. Their seniors had a tendency to be way too excited when a newbie comes in, so it was understandable that she felt unnerved by them. Moreover, though he hadn’t known her for very long, this woman didn’t seem to like socializing very much.
Even so, didn’t it seem weird that she trusted an undead whose face she’d seen, rather than a human whose face she hadn’t seen? At least, that’s what Lee Shin Woo thought.
“But you’re ok. And… I’m curious.”
She probably isn’t the type to like undead more than humans; Lee Shin Woo tilted his head, wondering what he had to say, and replied in a way that went beyond his imagination.
“The way you use your magic. I want to learn it too.”
“Oh, you were curious about that?”
“I’m not asking to learn for free. I have a good grasp on magic as well. There’s probably stuff that I can help with for you two as well.”
The situation was taking a turn beyond his wildest imagination. Lee Shin Woo had originally thought that it would be a waste of time and that he should just refuse, but he stopped for two separate reasons.
First off, no matter how he looked at it, she was a professionally trained magician, and would naturally know more about magic across the board. There’s a chance he’d profit from this exchange of knowledge, but honestly, there was also a chance that he would gain absolutely nothing.
And secondly, he hadn’t yet found a way to create a high rank administrative authority. If he were to get a hint from her regarding changes in the characteristics of mana, wouldn’t this be considered progress as well…? He thought it wouldn’t be bad to bet on this, rather than continuously hunting golems at a snail’s pace.
“Shin Woo, you’re not going to, are you?”
“Well, it actually doesn’t sound too bad…”
Lee Shin Woo commented in favor, and Jin weighed in with a slightly displeased tone.
“Is it because she’s pretty?”
“I’d like to act immature and senseless like that sometime too.”
Lee Shin Woo scolded, and turned his head towards Kratia. He’d made up his mind, and already finished talking with his partner, so now it was time to earnestly negotiate terms.
“We can’t stay with you forever.”
“Promise that you’ll sincerely cooperate, even if you don’t gain what you want.”
“You have my word. I promise upon the everlasting mana.”
“Promise that whatever goes on between us, you leak nothing to the outside.”
“Alright. Then we’ll be in your care for 2 weeks. So…”
“Kratia. Nice meeting you, Shin Woo.”
Lee Shin Woo thoughtlessly extended his right hand, a habit from his time as a human, and Kratia unhesitatingly grabbed his bare bone hand. She really didn’t care that he was undead, and proved that she was only interested in his knowledge and ability.
Though their purity was directed at different things, Lee Shin Woo suddenly thought that in terms of innocence, she and Ye Jin Jin were quite similar. From right beside him, Jin then asked.
“Then what do I do…?”
“What are you talking about? You’re the one who needs systematic instruction on magic. We’re one plus one, remember?”
“I knew this would happen…”
Even whilst complaining, Jin strangely felt moved that Lee Shin Woo was looking out for him. Seeing Jin, who’d come into possession of such a twisted feeling, Kratia seemed to be concerned about something and her eyes brightened; she soon tilted her head and turned her attention to Lee Shin Woo.
“Then let’s get going immediately. I want to know how your power works.”
“Hey, wait. Didn’t you want to learn about all that common knowledge you were missing?”
“I can just hear that stuff with the time we have left over.”
She wasn’t reversing their priority. From the very beginning, her primary objective was magic. Lee Shin Woo thought he somewhat understood her personality, shrugged his shoulders, and with no alternatives, just began talking.
Lee Shin Woo and Jin explained that they had a special contract, and using the resulting connection that came from using the Horseback Riding skill, could share their skills and resistances with each other; after hearing of this, it didn’t take long before Kratia became disappointed.
“But it’s fine. Since the way you use your mana is plenty interesting. There’s a lot I can learn from your freewheeling style. The mana you’ve accumulated is amazing, seeing as how you went from not knowing anything to this.”
“I’m more jealous of the mana you’ve accumulated, though…”
Contrary to Lee Shin Woo, who controlled the mana itself, Kratia had studied for countless years and ultimately, developed a special method of causing the mana to change.
If he changed mana purely through his will and the skill’s ability, Kratia calculated the countless ways in which the mana could change beforehand, and brought about the desired change at the right time. Lee Shin Woo’s method of handling magic was clumsy in comparison.
“It’s not the way of a magician. But it’s not the way a knight uses mana either. To be specific, Shin Woo… you seem like a monster gifted with supernatural powers.”
“…Isn’t it because I’m an undead?”
Lee Shin Woo flinched the moment she pointed that out, but he replied calmly for now. However, Kratia firmly shook her head.
“An undead being can’t control this many mana patterns. You may even understand the essence of mana more than I do. If I can imitate even just a part of what you do, my magic could undergo a groundbreaking change…”
“Shin Woo, I don’t understand this at all.”
“You just memorize everything for now. It’ll come up in the test.”
He was able to make some strides. Kratia taught Lee Shin Woo the theory established by scholars and magicians on mana, and he was able to figure out how to more effectively handle his mana, which he’d been manipulating instinctually up until now; on the other hand, Kratia got a hint on how to improve her magic by learning about Lee Shin Woo’s skills and peculiar method of using magic, which went against common sense.
“Ah, so this is how you do it. Just by introducing a few basic patterns, I can apply my magic much faster than before.”
“H-How did you learn that already?”
Ultimately, Lee Shin Woo was successfully able to make large strides in magic one week into his contract with Kratia. She thought if she taught him, it would be helpful to him someday, but he had advanced at a speed which went beyond her imagination.
[The Low Rank Mana Bone skill has become Lv10, and evolves to the Intermediate level. Your understanding of magic deepens, and you can more effectively store more mana into your bones. The power of your mana increases as well. Magic has increased by 30.]
[You have fulfilled a portion of the conditions necessary to achieve the Joker’s innate skill. You have only one step left remaining before you become a true Joker.]
And at that very moment… Lee Shin Woo got a message that he hadn’t expected at all.
[A quest has occurred!]
[You are extremely free-spirited, and are capable of imitating anything. That’s right. You can even imitate another person’s mana. It’s fine if you have a special mission, and if you don’t, that’s fine as well. Please acquire a high ranked administrative authority by copying a golem’s mana.]
[Quest reward – 3 permits to God’s secret shop, Joker’s innate skill]
 T/N: Probably a loose Fate/Stay Night reference to the El-Melloi line of magicians.