<Chapter 15. New Relationship – 4>
The city, several dozens of years following the fall of the Empire, looked truly wretched. It had only been dozens of years since, yet the sturdy bricks and cement, and the houses formed of a material foreign to them had mostly fallen apart.
The undead curse not only transformed living beings into the undead, but also withered away and killed anything that was still alive, so it was only natural that the city was in this state. It truly was a curse that killed the world itself. Whenever he looked at it this way, he realized how frightening the curse actually was.
“The other cities we’ve gone to weren’t like this.”
“That’s because those cities were small. And they were on the outskirts… Since there wasn’t much in those cities, it didn’t look as bad.”
Lee Shin Woo was definitely right. The cities they’d passed by until now didn’t have an assortment of goods, but this unknown city, possessed huge walls, a commercial district, as well as a slum area.
There were streets leading to the houses, a city hall, as well as traces of various people in different places trading with each other. It wasn’t just leftover goods; there were also traces of people.
[The weather’s great. It seems like it’ll rain soon.]
[Ha. Did you hear that the Lord is coming to visit this street today?]
The only undead they’d met before entering the city had been an undead battalion in the middle of patrolling, but after entering the city, their surroundings were littered with undead.
It might’ve seemed obvious, but just because it was a danger level 2 zone didn’t mean that there were high level undead everywhere. Rather, most of them were level 1 undead. They didn’t really have any special features and the only piece of information that appeared was [Lv1 Skeleton]. If they were still human, they probably would’ve shown up as [Lv1 Human].
[Haha, that costs 3 Perium. I can’t give you a discount.]
[That’s too expensive. Then throw in that small one, too.]
“…How is this possible?”
Jin had forgotten that they were travelling incognito and spoke stiffly. Lee Shin Woo could understand how he was feeling. That’s because the skeletons were haggling over a valueless rock.
“They’re repeating what they did when they were still alive. The lower leveled the undead, the more the rely on their instincts…”
“… I was looking forward to it a little bit.”
Jin, who realized that speaking a little louder wouldn’t release Stealth, spoke bitterly.
“I may just be speaking nonsense as the skeletons you’ve made into your subordinates abandoned their still ‘alive’ general and decided to follow you as their Captain, but in any case…”
“They’re acting based on their own will.”
One couldn’t say the Pauls’ conditions were normal either. But despite being tricked by Lee Shin Woo, they definitely understood that they had become skeletons and moved accordingly. Just that was enough to make them look ‘normal’.
“I’ve restored their egos and even give them a name; I really am like their savior.”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying.”
Jin denied him right away. At the beginning, he wondered why Lee Shin Woo had set the skeletons free, but he’d ultimately turned them into his subordinates once they seemed like they would be useful!
Lee Shin Woo’s fickleness was truly frightening. The only thing he was sure of was that Lee Shin Woo would always be true to himself. It felt a bit awkward thinking about it any further, so he decided to change topics.
“…Is killing them the only way to save them?”
“Don’t misunderstand. They’re already dead. Even if you talk to them, they probably don’t even remember their names.”
“Then what about us? We’re undead, too.”
“We can say our names. That means we’re not dead.”
It sounded quite simple, but there was a much more complicated meaning within that statement. Whenever Lee Shin Woo would say something like this, Jin would admire him a bit, but he didn’t really want to accept that Lee Shin Woo had more knowledge or wisdom than him when he was already stronger than him as well, so he didn’t say it out loud.
“There’re a lot of level 1s here, but it’s not a danger level 2 zone for nothing. The closer we get to the center of the city, the more tightly-guarded it’ll be, so focus on your connection with me.”
“Mine’s at Beginner Lv7, so it won’t be tough for me.”
Of course, Jin didn’t have the ability to learn Stealth, but while going through a few small towns, they discovered a rural rat nest dungeon; Lee Shin Woo gave Jin all of the rat bones, and as a result, he was barely able to learn Stealth. Both of them knew the same skill, so it was easy to raise the effectiveness of his skill through their connection.
[Through the connection from the Horseback Riding skill, the Stealth skill’s effectiveness increases. In special situations, the skill proficiency rapidly increases.]
Lee Shin Woo and Jin took the opportunity and escaped the notice of the two skeletons, who were stuck in the past, and slowly went around the city like ghosts. The shadows cast by the ruined buildings easily concealed them, and they observed the city, as if they were memorizing every facet of it.
“We shouldn’t even worry about the level 2 ones, right?”
“They’re at least level 3 elites over here. We don’t need to count them if they’re not even level 3 elites.”
No matter how strong they were, they wouldn’t be able to handle overwhelming numbers. That’s how Lee Shin Woo had thought in the past. However, that was something that only applied to Earth. Even if thousands of level 3 golems came rushing at him right now, he was confident that he could take them all on without even breaking a single bone.
There was the fact that there was an overwhelming disparity between their stats, but also because undead possessed the special characteristic of never physically tiring.
‘And that’s also the same for skeletons, as well.’
But that also meant that there was a high possibility that he would be helpless against a higher leveled undead. Those were the ones that Lee Shin Woo had to find and kill first.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been too difficult for them to just straight up attack them since they had the level 6 magician, Kratia, but since she would reduce their contribution, they had moved quickly.
‘Honestly, I wanted to take my time and look around, as this is the first city that seems big enough to be called a city.’
They had pretty much finished up clearing the outskirts of the Empire, so now it was time to deal with the danger level 2 zones. It wasn’t a bad idea to go through the cities and ascertain their levels while they still had the assistance of a level 6 magician. Though of course, each city would have their own specific circumstances…
‘There are a lot of knights. There’re at least ten skeleton knights above the walls, and there are five knights that periodically go on a patrol. And there are thirty of them on standby in shifts inside of their private barracks…’
If a hero were acting alone, they would likely feel terrified at around this time. Because they only had one life, they wouldn’t have been able to boldly infiltrate the city like Lee Shin Woo, and they wouldn’t even dream of attacking the city by themselves.
‘It would definitely be impossible for a level 4 hero, and even if they were level 5… It would only be possible with a few level 5 heroes.’
Lee Shin Woo suddenly realized why heroes preferred going through dungeons. The cities were huge and difficult to kill undead popped out in various areas. On the other hand, monsters popped out regularly in the dungeon, and would provide a more definite reward, so it was the much more attractive option.
[Shino Rendu: Even though it’s a danger level 2 zone, it would still take more than a year to fully clear it with a few people. Take down the high priority targets first, and then look for the right opportunity to take down the rest. Remember, Lee Shin Woo. Your life is most important.]
Shino Rendu was the most hot-blooded amongst his seniors and even he spoke like that. So he could understand why his seniors grew so slowly. He could even understand why they cheered whenever they discovered a dungeon…
Lee Shin Woo heard Jin’s voice and then froze too. When he, who had been lost in thought, raised his head, he understood why Jin’s voice was so stiff.
In an area slightly askew to the city’s center square, and in front of an imposing mansion above a sloping road, there was giant monster roaming around… No, it was a golem. It wasn’t just a normal golem either. It boasted a height of around 4 meters, and its imposingness seemed unshakable…!
[Lv5 Iron Golem – I0918 (Elite)]
“A level 5 golem…!?”
As he thought, after the Bronze Golem was the Iron Golem, the one he was most worried about. It had only gone from level 4 to level 5, yet why did it suddenly seem so upgraded; when he thought about it, the difference between level 4 and 5 was like the difference between the heaven and the earth, so he could roughly understand too.
“Shin Woo, you haven’t seen it yet, huh. The golem’s not the problem.”
“No, it is a problem. Why is the golem living in a place outside of where it was produced… no.”
Lee Shin Woo was speaking and then stopped, groaning at his stupidity. Why were the golems created from the very beginning? It was probably to protect the Empire.
Of course, after the fall of the Empire, the several golems didn’t have a place to go and were abandoned, but until then, the manufactured golems were probably sent to various regions in the Empire! And that golem was one of them.
“There’s something controlling that golem.”
“Something controlling it!?”
Lee Shin Woo was shocked. And despite yelling in shock, his Stealth wasn’t released; that fact shocked him even more! What’s worse, at that moment, his skill leveled up!
[The Low Rank Stealth skill has become level 10, and evolved into the Intermediate level. You do not possess the talent to covertly kill your opponent, but you do possess the ability to move secretly and quickly. You have learned the Intermediate Shadow Sprint skill. Agility and Magic have increased by 10. The higher the skill level, the lighter the shadow.]
‘I lost Combat Sprint and gained Shadow Sprint….’
How ironic. Moreover, he could use this skill in tandem with his connection with Jin to draw out its full ability, making it a truly effective skill. Lee Shin Woo was satisfied by the result that came out from his negligence and smiled. Jin called out to him with a cold voice.
“If you’re done checking out your skill, then could you start checking that guy now?”
“Ah, my bad.”
He scratched his hairless head and looked at the area that Jin had pointed at. It was the mansion’s balcony, and he could see the undead that stood at the balcony. It was a level 5 undead, and it was none other than the lord, the [Skeleton Commander]! And gripped within its emaciated finger bones, there was…
It felt as though he’d received a blunt impact to his head. That’s right. They couldn’t control the golem’s mana on the outside, so they would instead control the core that produced their mana! Lee Shin Woo had never enlisted the aid of an object to help him radiate his mana, so he’d never thought about it before.
‘But is that the only option available?’
If the core could change even an undead’s mana to that of a golem’s, then wouldn’t there be no reason that he, who had absorbed the golems’ magic knowledge and everything, couldn’t do the same?
Hadn’t he been thinking about this too complicatedly? Guillotine Steelworker might have caused him to tunnel vision on his statement, that none other than the golems could create that seal, and had approached the matter in a much more complicated way than needed. It was time to start fresh.
“I feel like I’ll be able to know for sure after killing that guy and examining the core…”
“Hold on, Shin Woo. The Shriek of the Dead doesn’t work on golems.”
“…Yeah, that’s a good point.”
They could only see one outside, but considering how they could feel the same quality of mana within the mansion, there weren’t just one or two golems. They didn’t know if they could take care of the golems quickly, and if they factored in the concentration of knights nearby the mansion, it would be best to retreat.
“…Yeah, I got it. Let’s give up on killing the lord first. Let’s start at another place. Just not here.”
“That’s a good idea.”
There were several sections of this city that they hadn’t checked yet. Lee Shin Woo and Jin completely backed off from the lord’s mansion in order to perfectly conquer the city without injury.
Forty minutes later, horrific screams resounded through the city. The battle had just begun.