<Chapter 16. A Joker is Born – 2>
[You achieved the feat of executing a higher leveled (elite) foe. Strength has increased by 10. Skill proficiency in Bursting Thunder has increased.]
Lee Shin Woo watched as the Iron Golem scattered into pieces in front of him (or at least, where it was) and couldn’t even react. That’s because the recoil at the moment of impact was too much for them to handle.
At the very least, the lance broke apart at the moment of impact so the recoil was dispersed as much as possible. If it hadn’t, Lee Shin Woo’s arm bone or Jin’s leg bone would’ve broke. It was definitely an absurdly powerful technique, but without coming up with a proper countermeasure, it was unusable.
[Who are you? If you’re a knight of the Empire, how dare you not recognize me… there’s no way you’d fail to recognize who I am and do something so wicked!]
It seemed as though it couldn’t help but be shaken after watching one its most powerful forces get destroyed so quickly, as the Skeleton Commander yelled in a quivering voice.
As expected, it possessed a clear ego, perhaps due to being level 5, but it inevitably couldn’t remember its own name! When Lee Shin Woo became aware of that, he instinctively yelled.
“Do you really not know why I’m here?”
[I-I don’t know…!]
There was no way it’d know. If there were some special reason, Lee Shin Woo would like to know himself.
He just spoke whatever came to mind and circulated his mana to help him and Jin cope with the accumulated shock. Surprisingly, Mana Bone, which circulated the mana, could be applied to Jin through the Assimilation skill. It truly was a cheat skill.
However, he was slyly lying to the Skeleton Commander even while being astonished by how far his skill had developed.
“Bah. There should be a reason you can think of. We’re not dispatched just anywhere.”
[D-Dispatched…!? Were you perhaps sent by the imperial family? L-Look here. Stop attacking for now. Stand by! I said to stand by!]
Huh? He’d just haphazardly said that to buy time for them to heal, but their reaction was much better than he’d expected. While the lord was flustered, Lee Shin Woo collected the loot with a relaxed posture without giving anything away and even approached the lord, dragging Jin with him.
The golems acted like obedient hunting dogs, and when they heard the words ‘stand by’, they immediately stepped back; on the other hand, the knights looked uneasy and were unable to easily approach.
[You have acquired 17,500 Perium.]
[You have acquired a Deteriorated Original Bone Core.]
As expected, the drops changed at around level 5. He felt as though they were being way too stingy with the Perium for an elite level 5 monster, and despite the Original Core being ‘deteriorated’, it was still an Original Core!
He was extremely satisfied and raised his head. Lee Shin Woo saw the lord’s hand not leaving the core, even while flustered, and was impressed; he then decided to put out a feeler.
“So are you going to talk now?”
[I… I haven’t done anything wrong! They offered it to me first! I wanted to leave the underground!]
Hearing the lord’s unexpected response, Lee Shin Woo was momentarily speechless. What the hell is this senile skeleton even saying? They offered it to me first? He wanted to leave the underground? This wasn’t just some common corruption from a noble, but something a lot bigger!
“Still… that doesn’t lessen your crimes.”
Lee Shin Woo strived to not let the confusion show on his face, and had to try really hard to adapt to what the lord was saying. Just because a skeleton’s face didn’t change didn’t mean that there was nothing else to do. He had to prevent himself from being quiet for too long, or speak with a flustered tone, or even control the pattern by which his goblin fire swayed.
If he interrogated him for a bit longer, it seemed like he’d be able to learn something new. Perhaps it would be about the relationship between the underground empire and above ground!
[…You’re not, huh?]
However, despite Lee Shin Woo acting with his entire body, the Skeleton Commander had somehow figured him out!
[Yeah. If you were the Golden Shadow, then you wouldn’t have destroyed a golem! You’re not! You aren’t! Who the hell are you!]
He didn’t know where he’d gone wrong, but it was pointless to continue acting after he was caught. Before the lord, who had figured him out, could retreat, he quickly stretched out his hand and stole the lord’s core. It was only possible because the lord’s close combat abilities seemed fairly low!
[We won’t let you touch the lord!]
The moment he’d reached out his hand, the Elder Knights came at him from both sides. Fortunately, because Jin acted quickly and retreated, Lee Shin Woo wasn’t cut by their swords filled with tumultuous death energy.
“What the hell were you thinking, you idiot!”
“Sorry. I went overboard thinking that I’d found some kind of hidden quest or something…”
[Catch him! Take the core back!]
The lord, or rather the Skeleton Commander, shrieked, and the three level 5 Elite Skeleton Elder Knights, as well as the twelve level 4 Skeleton Knights charged at Lee Shin Woo all at once.
At that moment, a bizarre black light surged from the Skeleton Commander and was absorbed by the knights; Lee Shin Woo could see that their mana was being amplified. It was a special Command type skill!
[The lord has given us his command. I’ll bury my sword in his heart!]
[How dare you put your filthy hands on one of the lord’s possessions!]
The Skeleton Knights attacked quickly, as if the lord had increased their strength by 50%, and made it so that Lee Shin Woo and Jin were busy running away. If Lee Shin Woo were alone, he would’ve just given up an arm to the oncoming swords in all directions.
[How is it that we can’t take down that one guy! Why can’t we hit him when he’s right in front of us!]
[Connection with commander has been lost.]
However, the golems didn’t respond to the Commander’s shrieks. He was certain that the lord couldn’t issue commands without the core. Lee Shin Woo decided that that’s where his hopes lie.
“What do we do? Do we run first?”
“No. We’re ending it here! If that bastard goes outside and starts getting set up, we’re screwed.”
“Ah, damn it!”
Even while matching their breathing, and dodging the incoming swords tinged with death energy by hectically moving their bodies around, Lee Shin Woo yelled confidently. At the same time, he concentrated on the core that he’d swiped from the lord.
Of course, the core had transformed into bone the moment he’d stolen it from the lord, but grasping the original flow of mana within wasn’t difficult.
[Limited Order Bone Core]
[With your superb analytical skills and knowledge, you recognized that this is a transformed Original Core. The Original Core records a person’s mana, and when that mana is injected into the core, it is changed to a particular frequency, enabling you to order the registered entities, I0918, I0919, I0920, I0921.]
[In the process of changing into bone, the original commander’s registration has been erased. It is unknown whether the core will activate normally.]
‘In other words, the core registered the lord’s mana and locked it so that only he could use it, and it also possesses a lock that enables him to control all of the golems here. Fortunately, one of those locks have been released…’
And the only ones who could tamper with that set-up were level 7 golems like Guillotine Steelworker. Lee Shin Woo suddenly thought the system of manufacturing golems in the Empire was messed up.
So how tough would it be to control all of the golems without a core? While being vaguely frightened of doing so… at the same time, he couldn’t help but feel happiness welling in a corner of his heart.
‘I came here for a change of pace to take my mind off of the administrative seal, yet I found a crucial part here. I hadn’t believed in it before, but I guess fate does exist.’
With Jin’s help, Lee Shin Woo was able to avoid the Skeleton Knights’ attacks and while moving extensively, infused his mana into the Limited Order Bone Core.
Of course, it didn’t go so well at first, and after repeatedly trying to activate it as its previous registration hadn’t been erased, it seemed as though he had finally satisfied some sort of condition as the bone core began to radiate light. At that moment.
[Recognizing new commander.]
The golems hadn’t been a part of the unfolding chaos, and were on standby in a separate location, yet they suddenly spoke. Lee Shin Woo suddenly clenched his fist since it had gone as he’d planned, but the lord, the Skeleton Commander was extremely taken aback.
[H-How can you use the core when you haven’t gotten their permission…!? You’re worse than the Golden Shadow!]
“As I thought, since you’re an undead, you’ve lost a lot of your common sense. Umhp!”
Whether he could properly use the core or not would decide the outcome of the battle; Lee Shin Woo was well aware of that, so he focused on the core. It seemed as though the Skeleton Commander had likewise realized that fact.
[You have to kill him quickly and take back the core!]
[The lord has commanded us! Bring some of the soldiers over here. Where are the soldiers!?]
[Damn! If I had my horse, I wouldn’t have to suffer so much from that skeleton horse!]
The things the Skeleton Knights were saying were becoming laughable. Lee Shin Woo continued to infuse mana into the core and fixed everything that came from the transformed Original Core into his mind.
‘Yeah, that’s right. The answer’s inside here. If I study this, I’ll get the basic idea. The way to control the golems without a core, as well as how to create them with mana!’
Lee Shin Woo’s realized that his intent and how much mana he infused would determine what part of the core reacted, as well as how it would change the mana; he also realized how that transformed mana would be transmitted to the golems, as well as how the golems would move through that transmission.
It would normally take a few months before he was proficient, but to him, who’d already acquired a general administrator’s seal, this kind of mechanism was easy for him. He could control them as easily as if he were moving his own body, no… it was actually more simple to do than that! As a result.
[Result of searching for mana. There are reinforcement troops in the back. Executing them first.]
Instantaneously, the three Iron Golems became the skeletons’ enemies, and the Skeleton Commander was mixed with both feelings of anger and panic, so he didn’t know what to do.
The Skeleton Commander raised his hand, as if he were preparing an offensive spell, but he then lowered his hand since he didn’t want to damage the golems; he was definitely thinking of killing the trespassers as quickly as possible and retaking the core.
[Protect the lord!]
[But we have to kill the trespassers…]
[The lord takes priority! You guys take care of him!]
[You guys, y-you can’t destroy the golems!]
While the Commander was hesitating, the Elder Knights hurriedly took on one of the Iron Golems each and the level 4 Skeleton Knights continued to fight against Lee Shin Woo. What a turn of events!
“I was waiting for that!”
Lee Shin Woo acted as if he’d been waiting for that very moment, wielding the Lightning Tooth in one hand and the core in the other, sweeping through the skeletons. It was a superb showing of multitasking.
[Kihek! M-My lord…!]
Regardless of how much stronger they’d become from the Commander’s skill, most of Lee Shin Woo’s main skills had grown to the intermediate level, and was a monster close to level 5.
[The Lightning Tooth is strengthening Bursting Thunder. Your lightning becomes stronger.]
As Bursting Thunder reached the intermediate level, the Lightning Tooth could finally show its true strength; blue lightning streaked across the Lightning Tooth and spewed out onto his enemies, suppressing them. Whenever he struck with his sword, which they couldn’t even see, the skeletons’ skulls and ribs would break to pieces, scattering everywhere!
“It’s quite simple.”
[H-How is this possible…!?]
The three Iron Golems and Elder Knights were fighting against each other as all of the level 4 Skeleton Knights had instantly been annihilated. There was no one left to protect the lord!
This had all happened within the span of 5 minutes after he’d swiped the core that controlled the golems from the lord. The lord couldn’t believe this at all.
[Listen up. It’s fine if you destroy the golems. We have to stop that atrocious cheater!]
When the lord realized that Lee Shin Woo didn’t really care if the stolen golems were damaged or not, he urgently called out to the Skeleton Elder Knights, but it was already too late.
From the start, Lee Shin Woo had desperately sought to steal the Iron Golems as they were solid, tough and powerful elites! Even if they were indeed strengthened Skeleton Elder Knights, they weren’t able to take on an Iron Golem 1 on 1; what’s worse, they had been ordered to not damage the golems, so the Elder Knights were put on the defensive and couldn’t move an inch.
[Damn it…! Where are the other soldiers and knights!? Where the hell did they go!?]
“You’ll be able to meet them soon.”
Lee Shin Woo controlled the golems and hectically drove the Elder Knights into a corner; Lee Shin Woo simultaneously steered Jin and instantly came within distance of the Commander. At that moment, the Commander’s jawbone clattered and chanted something, causing mana to collect in the air. He was trying to cast a spell. However…
“I heard that commanders double as magicians as well. I also heard that they’re jam packed with magic, but they don’t have any internal stability.”
The spear he’d created with mana was easily split apart by the blue sparks rising from the Lightning Tooth. If he took it straight up, it might’ve hurt, but that’s it. That’s because he wasn’t a magician specialized in magic, but completely specialized in commanding only.
Seeing that, the Skeleton Commander babbled that he was wielding a treasure unfitting of a thief and so on and so forth, but Lee Shin Woo obviously didn’t concern himself with that.
A single strand of blue lightning from the air shot down onto him. This technique was both the alpha and the omega of Bursting Thunder; following the lightning strike, he would quickly slash with his sword!
As Bursting Thunder reached the intermediate level, its true potential was unlocked; this sword strike may be an extremely basic technique, but it was as imposing as divine punishment.
He might’ve had some trick left up his sleeve as Lee Shin Woo felt like he heard him clattering, but Lee Shin Woo just intensified the mana and thus the lightning. Ultimately the Skeleton Commander screamed awfully and disappeared. He had been completely destroyed, as if a gust of wind had passed by.
The Skeleton Commander’s floating skull blazed with goblin fire as if cursing him, but soon was consumed by the flames and vanished.
[You have achieved the feat of defeating a higher leveled enemy. All stats have increased by 1.]
The Lightning Tooth burned the air, emitting an intense ozone smell. It was pointless to ask at this point, but how could he smell again? Lee Shin Woo thought trivially and withdrew his sword.
“We have to take care of the others quickly.”
[H-How dare you kill the lord…!]
A little while later, a fine, but certainly recognizable flaming pattern could be seen from above the city. The Pauls and Kratia, who seemed to have just been waiting for his signal, immediately entered the city… and were soon able to see it.
The city, which Lee Shin Woo had turned into a scene more horrific than any Hell.