<Chapter 16. A Joker is Born – 6>
[Lee Shin Woo]
[Elemental Skeleton Joker]
[He who Conquers the Impossible; 2 other titles]
[Lv – 5 (Status effectiveness 170%)]
[Strength – 397 Agility – 376 Health – 372 Magic – 577]
[Passive skills – Acting Lv11, Invisible Heart Lv3, Low Rank Avenger Lv2, Intermediate Bursting Thunder Lv1, Intermediate Mana Bone Lv1, Intermediate Shadow Sprint Lv1, Low Rank Command Lv8, Intermediate Assimilation Lv1, Intermediate Combat Sense Lv4]
[Active skills – Disguise Lv1, Bone Reinforcement Lv6, Rule of Bone Lv4, Bone Armory Lv2, Low Rank shriek of the Dead Lv8, Low Rank Regeneration Lv7, Sacrifice Lv1]
[Elements – Low Rank Fire Lv4, Intermediate Acid Lv4, Intermediate Lightning Lv1]
[Resistances – Holy: MAX, Curses: MAX, Acid: Low Rank Lv9, Ice: Intermediate Lv2]
Lee Shin Woo looked vacantly at his dazzling status and then asked Jin with a vacant voice.
“Jin, is your status effectiveness also 170%?”
“Yeah. It seems like that’s the same for everyone.And when you get to level 6, it becomes 200%.”
“So the gradually increasing effectiveness increases even further, huh.”
He could outright say this. This world wasn’t set up such that a lower leveled individual could beat a higher leveled individual. Lee Shin Woo suddenly regarded him beating the level 5 Treasure Eater when he was still at level 3 as a miracle.
‘Is it even possible to beat a level 6 opponent? You can only reach level 6 by accumulating 3,200 stats and the effectiveness of one’s stats are even increased by another 30%… There’s way too much of a difference.’
Even if he factored in Jin, who at least doubled his fighting strength, it was the same. He wasn’t confident that he could defeat Kratia if they were far off from each other. Especially when he considered the power of the catalyst magic she’d cast just recently.
‘Is Bursting Thunder and the reinforced elements my only shot? Those would increase the ‘level’ of my magic and if I were to add Rule of Bone to that, the ‘level’ of my physical abilities would increase as well; with that, I would be able to inflict an injury at the very least. The reason I was able to take down an Iron Golem in one shot was because of those two abilities.’
The power to overcome the handicap of levels; various skills were united as one, and evolved. In the end, these few skills had gotten to a level that could be called ‘authorities’. Lee Shin Woo could safely say that he was ahead of all the other heroes in this regard. He suddenly realized what a huge blessing it was that he acquired Bursting Thunder from defeating the Zombie Hero.
Lee Shin Woo wanted to assess his strength as objectively as possible, and around the time he mulled over it, Kratia, who had been looking straight at him, seemed to be deliberating something and then said this, as if it were nothing.
“Shin Woo, you should be able to reach level 7.”
“Stop complimenting me. Stop. It’s frightening just thinking about it.”
No matter how hard he struggled, would he be able to scratch Guillotine Steelworker? If he rode atop Jin’s back and charged at full speed with the Drake Horn Lance, he might be able to land a telling blow, but there’s no guarantee that Guillotine Steelworker would just sit there and take it; plus, it would be his turn to attack after.
“No, you can do it because you realized what’s important early on and kept refining yourself. I’ve never seen anyone who could harmonize their body and mana together so perfectly… Perhaps it might’ve been easier because your body’s only made of bones.”
“You want to go?”
“I’m just happy that there’s more for me to study since you leveled up.”
There was absolutely no lies in what she said. She was genuinely happy that Lee Shin Woo had leveled up. It looked as though she just wanted to stay here and study his magic. Lee Shin Woo spoke carefully, stopping her.
“There’s something I need to do before that, so just stay put while looking at this.”
Lee Shin Woo had thrown her the Limited order Bone Core. Many of its function had been released and changed due to Lee Shin Woo, and there was a lock set up that allowed those he’d approved of to control the golems. Realizing this, Kratia’s eyes opened wide.
“…Are you a genius?”
“You’ll probably get something out of studying that. Then, I’ll get going.”
“Where are you going anyway?”
Kratia wasn’t the only one curious; Jin also looked curious and asked. Lee Shin Woo briefly explained God’s garden to them. Kratia was disgusted, and Jin sported an odd expression.
“Don’t you want to meet her too?”
“I do, and I don’t. …It feels like I was too greedy, and nowadays it makes me think.”
That’s right. That’s because he had familiarized himself with karma. As he adapted and developed in this world, he became acutely aware of how childish he had been. Lee Shin Woo could definitely agree with that sentiment.
But since he still wanted to give her an earful for not telling him about what was going to happen to him, he didn’t really reply.
[Would you like to swap out 10 permits to God’s secret shop for 1 permit to God’s garden?]
Lee Shin Woo knew he had 11 permits right now. In other words, even if he didn’t acquire what he wanted from God’s garden, he could go to the secret shop later if he wanted.
Lee Shin Woo unhesitatingly nodded his head. Soon, a blinding light burst in the air, and a smallish light descended upon his head.
[You have acquired a permit to God’s garden. Would you like to enter now? You may bring the contracted Jin Taylor with you.]
He didn’t think the ‘one plus one’ rule would be applied here as well. In any case, Lee Shin Woo thought it wouldn’t be bad to take him along, so he looked back at Jin; Jin seemingly understood what Lee Shin Woo was implying and nodded his head with a bitter expression. Kratia was examining the Limited Order Bone Core with great interest, and just lightly waved her hand at them.
“We’re entering together.”
[You have used a permit to God’s garden and are entering God’s garden.]
Like when he entered God’s secret shop, the surrounding landscape softly melted away. Lee Shin Woo knew it was a senior level teleportation spell, a level he couldn’t yet reach. It was a spell that transported one’s consciousness into this space, which was neither the underground nor surface.
First, his surroundings turned to white. Next, flowers he didn’t even know the names of bloomed on the ground and emitted a refreshing scent. There was a gust of wind, as well as sunlight.
A silver table formed and chairs rose up. Finally, a beauty with red hair appeared on the opposite side. She resembled Pleine, but she was also extremely different; before him was a woman who possessed countless appearances. The woman saw Lee Shin Woo and spoke leisurely, as if she had been waiting for him.
“Why don’t you sit down?”
Lee Shin Woo replied meekly and sat down in the chair. He had just noticed, but he had returned to his human form. He thought this might happen, as this was a mental world; whatever appearance he himself perceived would manifest in this world.
He was touched that he was in his original human form again, but he wasn’t too shaken. Since he was well aware that this appearance just existed in his consciousness. Therefore, he instead asked his first question.
“Where did Jin go?”
“Did you really think I wouldn’t be able to talk to you both at the same time?”
He thought that they would both meet God at the same time like when they went to the secret shop, but it seems like they each received a one-on-one talk. He was worried that Jin had already been caught up in God’s pace. However, it seemed as though God had seen right through him and laughed softly.
“I didn’t call you to punish you, so don’t worry. Your delicate and innocent partner should easily get a new blessing. You see, there’s a suitable skill that’ll strengthen him.”
“…It sounds like that’s not the same for me.”
“Exactly. You’re neither delicate nor innocent, are you?”
God tilted her head above the table, resting her chin in her hand; she was clearly looking straight at him. Her eyes looked truly amused.
“There’s nothing more I can do for you. I assure you, your talent in handling mana is greater than any hero before you. If I knew you had such talent, then I wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of turning you into a mere skeleton.”
The moment he heard that, it would be a lie to say he wasn’t pissed. Before she sent him to the Underground Empire, she was the one who had to ascertain his talent and take measures! However, it seems as though she’d noticed the dissatisfaction in his eyes and waved her hand.
“Even I don’t have a way to measure how talented someone is who hasn’t yet manifested mana. The only thing I could do was to listen to your wish and try to answer it as best I can.”
“Well, it is true that my request was excessive. At the time, I was so scared of the Empire that I was just trying to figure out a way to stay safe no matter what. …But you should’ve told me. You should’ve explained karma in more detail.”
“I definitely said that you’d have to pay the price back then.”
Hearing that, Lee Shin Woo briefly gazed at God. Her attitude pissed him off, but he couldn’t shake off the thought that she had deliberately responded so absentmindedly to rile him up. It felt as though she tried pissing him off so that he wouldn’t think deeply about the subject.
Therefore, he thought of something else. Perhaps it wasn’t just due to her ill nature that she turned him into a skeleton, but another, important reason… However, God stubbornly didn’t give him the chance to ask.
“Sorry to disappoint you, but we can’t talk for very long. There’s nothing I can do for you in terms of skills or karma, so I’ll give you an item in exchange. If you have any other questions, ask me next time.”
“…Then I’ll ask a quick question. Is it fine to leave Ethan Cruz as is?”
Lee Shin Woo had asked under the assumption that his senior hero, Ethan Cruz, was an s.o.b., causing God to momentarily pause; however, it wasn’t something that she could just easily pass over.
“It’s really hard for me to control those who I’ve bestowed my power to. I can’t take back what I’ve given, and I cannot personally exercise my power…”
“That’s enough with the pretense. What do you really think?”
“Honestly, I don’t really care what happens so long as the Empire is purified. Ethan Cruz is, at the very least, a truly devoted hero in that aspect.”
That was bullshit; so much so that it was unbelievable that God had said it herself. God must’ve realized that what she was said was too harsh, as she quickly added.
“But don’t worry. He can’t do anything to you. Ah, your partner too.”
“If there was one thing similar between us, it’s that our curse resistance is maxed out… It seems like that asshole’s authority is connected to the curse. Well, the Empire is filled to the brim with the curse, so if you want to get stronger, someone who can handle the curse would have an advantage. …Wait a sec, did you plan for that from the start by giving us these authorities?”
“I wonder. I just gave you what you wished for.”
God played innocent until the very end, but one part of her face was stiff. Lee Shin Woo couldn’t help but acknowledge that he’d been robbed by this short talk. God’s eyebrows quivered.
“…Did you gain a lot in the Empire?”
“There was a lot I could recover from countless peoples’ memories. It’s all because of you.”
“You desperately wished for immortality above all else, yet it seems like you’re actually ignoring that ability right now and are moving in an effort to get stronger; that’s quite funny.”
“It’s because I possess immortality that I can move so proactively. …So I don’t regret it. I’m satisfied with myself right now.”
The moment he finished speaking, Lee Shin Woo was engulfed by blazing black flames. The flames that only burned what its owner wished for it to burn! His skin, hair, muscles, and flesh were all burned, and what remained was a level 5 Elemental Skeleton Joker.
He had completely discarded the part that was still attached to his human self, and he had fully accepted himself as is.
God couldn’t believe what she was seeing and just laughed. And to God, Lee Shin Woo firmly said.
“Now I’ll tell you what I want.”
“A level 6 item is enough, right?”
“Please give me a quest.”
Neither a skill nor an item, but a quest? God tilted her head, wondering what he was plotting, and then she heard something unbelievable.
“I would like to give the heroes who have died and become undead peace. Please give me their location, as well as a quest to eliminate them.”
 T/N: Talking about how he didn’t get a lot of answers despite paying such a high price.