<Chapter 16. A Joker is Born – 4>
[You have acquired 2 permits to God’s secret shop. You have acquired 10,000 Perium. Proficiency in combat-related skills has increased. You can now use your own private chatting channel.]
If heroes clear out a city of the undead, they receive a reward personally bestowed by God. He’d seen everything else before, but the private chatting channel was a surprise. Of course, it was questionable how much he would use it in the future.
If a hero performs exceptionally in the task known as ‘purification’, they may be awarded a Hero token; however, Lee Shin Woo had already obtained the Joker karma, so he couldn’t obtain it a second time. No, perhaps the purification process was much too wicked, such that he wouldn’t have been able to attain it, even if he didn’t possess the Joker karma.
[You have gathered more than 10 permits to God’s secret shop. You may exchange 10 permits to God’s secret shop for 1 permit to God’s garden.]
However, there was an additional message that appeared before him. It was the first time he’d seen a message like this. Lee Shin Woo stared vacantly at the message for some time, and then silently opened the chatting channel. He had decided that this was something that he should know about beforehand.
[Mr. Lee Shin Woo has entered.]
[Ye Jin Jin: I’m glad you’re safe!]
[Lee Shin Woo: I’m glad you’re safe as well. Seniors, have any of you gone into God’s garden before?]
[Prince Altania: You crazy bastard. How the hell did you collect ten permits to God’s secret shop?]
[Ye Jin Jin: You shouldn’t talk like that! That makes it sound like Mr. Shin Woo is crazy!]
[Lloyd H.K.: He is crazy. How did you collect ten of them already?]
As expected, it seemed as though his seniors knew about it. If it was something they hadn’t heard about before, he wouldn’t have gotten any information out of them; instead, they would’ve pestered him like crazy and it would’ve been a real pain in the ass. It was a relief that that wasn’t the case. He quickly asked them a question.
[Lee Shin Woo: I was just lucky enough to get them. What should I do with them?]
[Yasunori Akira: A small blessing. That’s what we call it. Even I haven’t gotten one before.]
[Ethan Cruz: God’s garden is a kind of temple. Though it’s a bit pricey to get in, God will personally bestow upon you her divine grace, which is well worth the cost.]
[Lloyd H.K.: We’ve heard about it from Ethan , but we’ve never actually gone there before. Since we need to continuously go into the secret shop, we couldn’t just continue gathering them.]
[Erian Ruparte: Lee Shin Woo, I’m envious of your talent and passion. I thought you were out of the ordinary ever since you rescued Jin Jin, but…]
[Lee Shin Woo: It was all because of her. You see, I received a lot of permits for God’s secret shop from saving her.]
[Prince Altania: Ah, maybe I should do some manual labor too. At this rate, I’m afraid I’ll fall behind a newbie. That would be such a disgrace.]
He wanted to say, ‘You might’ve already fallen behind Kratia already’, but Lee Shin Woo barely kept himself from saying it. And his seniors’ advice continued on.
[Seira Von Retadane: We have to periodically go to the secret shop since we can’t just fill our inventories with food. Lee Shin Woo, you’re probably well aware of this, but you cannot afford to be too greedy. Please enter God’s garden only after you have enough permits to spare or after you have acquired a quest that’s easy to complete.]
[Lee Shin Woo: Thank you, senior. I’ll keep that in mind.]
[Prince Altania: As I thought, Seira’s been to God’s garden before. It’s really clear advice.]
[Seira Von Retadane: Please call me Retadane.]
In any case, Lee Shin Woo didn’t need to eat, so essentially, it would only be beneficial for him to go to God’s garden. He thanked and said goodbye to his seniors who always gave him good advice, and left the chatting channel. But then…
[Ethan Cruz: I have high expectations of you, Lee Shin Woo. Perhaps we’ll meet soon.]
[Lee Shin Woo: I’ll work hard.]
[Lloyd H.K.: For Ethan to say something like that…]
[Prince Altania: Senior, you can’t say stuff like that. I’m close to level 7, you know? Once I get to level 7, I’ll go through all the dungeons I know about, and get to level 8 in a flash! Ah, Lloyd, if you ask me sincerely, I can help you out.]
[Ethan Cruz: Prince, you’re extremely talented as well. I just didn’t say it since it seemed so obvious, you rascal.]
Lee Shin Woo stepped away from the exchange of well-wishes between seniors and juniors and left the chatting channel. But unexpectedly, at that moment, he saw two messages appear simultaneously.
[Mr. Ethan Cruz is requesting a private chat.]
[Ms. Ye Jin Jin is requesting a private chat.]
Was this message appearing because he’d unlocked the private chatting channel function? Lee Shin Woo accepted Ethan’s request first. In no time, he heard Ethan’s voice in his ear.
[It wasn’t lip service. Lee Shin Woo, you’ll become a big shot in no time.]
“Um… thank you.”
[It’s important to know just how much you’re worth. I hope I didn’t see wrong. It’s nice to be humble, but remember that you can’t afford to fool yourself. Be aware of how special you are and proceed steadily.]
Why was this guy saying such burdensome things? He should’ve just refused, just like Arema Steelworker had done with the golems, but Ethan eventually went on to the main topic.
[I’m a high level right now, so I don’t really need them, but there are a few dungeons that only I know about.]
Even an idiot would understand what Ethan Cruz was saying. However, that made him all the more suspicious of him.
“Did you want to tell me about these dungeons…?”
Obviously, the higher level the dungeon, the more difficult it is to find. These dungeons are hidden in more unusual places and trick adventurers. That’s why heroes go crazy whenever they find a dungeon. However, he knows about a few dungeons? And was only going to tell Lee Shin Woo about them?
“There are other heroes, so are you really ok with telling me?”
[Ah, Lee Shin Woo. I just told you, didn’t I? I told you that you’d become big. …You’ll be different from useless bums like the Prince.]
[I’m glad you’re quick on the uptake. Now then, I’ll activate the minimap sharing function.]
Sharing the minimap. This feature would share one’s location with another person. Apparently, it was the feature that was unlocked following the private chat function, so it felt strange to Ethan Cruz that Lee Shin Woo hadn’t unlocked it yet.
“It feels like the image has been stuck into my head.”
[You roughly know what direction you need to go in, right?]
“Yes, thank you.”
It felt similar to opening the world map in a game, marking one’s destination, and moving towards said destination. To put it simply, a navigation system for a car. If he closed his eyes, an arrow would appear in his head that would indicate which direction he should go in.
All of the dungeons Ethan had told him about were situated in the same area. They were quite far off, but if he used the train, he could get there quickly, and even if he didn’t have access to the train, he could get there riding Jin at top speed in only three weeks; if he just walked there, he could get there in a year.
[I hope you grow quickly. Since you can’t invade the capital all by yourself.]
“Thank you… very much. I hope I’ll be able to stand side by side with you one day.”
That ended their private chat. Immediately after, Lee Shin Woo stopped acting and thought about it. What the hell is this piece of shit planning?
“Are there heroes who kill other heroes to grow…? Then does God just sit by and allow that to happen?”
“What are you talking about?”
“There’s an asshole, one of our seniors who’s trying to lead me somewhere. 100%.”
He knew since he was in the same line of business (swindler). Ethan Cruz was 100% a son of a bitch. But compared to Lee Shin Woo, Ethan’s means were quite sloppy.
For example, all of the dungeons he’d informed him about were in the same direction. A prominent figure like Ethan Cruz… no, a hero who’s been at this for a long time wouldn’t have just stayed in one place like that, so does it make any sense that all of the dungeons he’d told him about were in the same place? It was definitely a trick clearly aimed to lead Lee Shin Woo to a special area.
“Couldn’t it just be that he found a ton of dungeons that weren’t fit for his level after leveling up a lot and moved to another area? It’s not good to be so distrustful of people, Shin Woo.”
“No, my ‘s.o.b. radar’ is going crazy right now. I thought it was strange that I became a rising star or whatever just by introducing myself in the chatting channel.”
“But you are a rising star… Even from my point of view, you’re so talented that it’s strange.”
“You know pretty much everything about me, but the problem is that the other heroes don’t.”
Ethan Cruz’s objective was so clear, but he didn’t know what his motive was. What good was it to kill another hero? Rather, he should get a penalty from God, so why…?
‘Mm… I guess I could just meet with God and ask her myself.’
Lee Shin Woo thought, and around the time he felt relaxed, he got another private chat request. Of course, it came from Ye Jin Jin. As soon as he accepted, he heard a lively girl’s voice in his ear.
[Ye Jin Jin: I’m sorry if I’m disturbing you! But I have something that I really needed to tell you.]
“It’s because I got another private chat request.”
[Ye Jin Jin: Who!? Is it Ms. Retadane? It shouldn’t be Erian …]
[Ye Jin Jin: That senior…!? Ah, that’s right. I recently unlocked a new function. I’m here right now.]
He waited, figuring that she might have unlocked the sharing function, and as he expected, the minimap sharing function activated. Of course, he could’ve refused, but didn’t; funnily enough, she was in the complete opposite direction to the point Ethan Cruz had marked.
[Ye Jin Jin: I’ll work hard to catch up to your level, so let’s hunt together in a party later!]
[Ye Jin Jin: Then I’ll get going now! I’ll get back to hunting!]
Lee Shin Woo listened to the cheerful Ye Jin Jin until the very end and couldn’t help but suddenly recall what his seniors had told him. ‘Take it easy on the romance…?’ There’s no smoke without fire, but perhaps… no.
If one likes a skeleton, then they were either really screwed up in the head, or became a skeleton themselves. Now that he thought about it, both of them were pretty much the same.
Lee Shin Woo unhesitatingly interpreted Ye Jin Jin’s feelings for him as just trust. Or perhaps respect. If it was either of those, there was nothing wrong with her. It was fine to have those kind of feelings for a skeleton.
“Shin Woo! What the hell did you do!?”
Then, Kratia came flying by and landed in front of them. Beyond her, the Pauls were moving diligently to collect the bones. Lee Shin Woo marveled at the fact that they did it without him ordering them to do so. These guys were truly starting to show promise!
“I just used a skill. It doesn’t work on allies, so don’t worry.”
“If you just let me see you use that skill… No, wait a sec.”
Kratia was soon greeted with a sight that was much more surprising than the Shriek of the Dead. She had discovered the three Iron Golems that stood side by side around Lee Shin Woo, as if guarding him. There was no way she, with her magical abilities, wouldn’t be able to figure out what kind of relationship Lee Shin Woo had with the golems.
“You, this… Perhaps…?”
“Let’s increase the duration of the contract!”
As soon as Lee Shin Woo nodded his head and acknowledged her, Kratia’s eyes brightened, as though there were stars in her eyes. It was the most beautiful and lively face he’d seen since meeting her. However, Lee Shin Woo replied sharply and firmly, like a slap to the face.
“Don’t want to.”
Lee Shin Woo, who had already achieved his objective, didn’t really need to hang out with her any longer. But Kratia, who had witnessed yet another miracle from Lee Shin Woo, couldn’t let him go so easily; Lee Shin Woo ultimately agreed to increase their contract by just three more days.
In exchange, all of the bones of the undead that she killed would go to him, and… they forged another alliance.
 T/N: He never actually uses Ethan’s first name to address him, but using ‘senior’ here wouldn’t work.
 T/N: Uses the Korean term “unni” to describe Erian here. Women use this term to refer to women older than them that they’re close to or their real sisters. In this case, it’s the former.