<Chapter 19. Clean Up – 2>
All beings possess a magic inherent to them, and the properties of this magic gradually change as one accumulates karma and grows. For example, if one were to train in ice magic, their magic would become colder, and if one used magic to reinforce their sword and body, their magic would become heavier.
However, Lee Shin Woo’s magic was a bit different. Since he had such a variety of abilities, and had used these abilities so diligently, his magic didn’t have a chance to go in a specific direction. No, that’s what he had thought in the beginning, but that wasn’t actually the case. His magic was…
“That means the innate quality of my magic can change case-by-case!?”
“Yeah sure, why not?”
Kratia couldn’t understand how Lee Shin Woo’s magic could so freely change, and made her hair even messier than before, but Lee Shin Woo just shrugged his shoulders.
In the process of creating a golem’s mana, he had a small realization: his mana had become a part of him, and was something he could fabricate like his speech, his expression, or his clothes. He could say that even his mana had become an extension of the Acting and Disguise skills.
“If I attempted to do it consciously, the magic loss would be too severe. But you… can control it freely. Yeah, that’s the characteristic of your mana. The quality of having an indeterminate form that can change into anything!”
“In other words, my magic is like Xitto… ”
Considering the fact that Lee Shin Woo could control three of the elements themselves, Lee Shin Woo’s magic already possessed limitless potential.
Kratia recognized that she couldn’t do what Lee Shin Woo could do before, yet even so, she couldn’t stop her research. What she said next was something that would be helpful to Lee Shin Woo as well.
“My Catalyst Magic was an attempt to replicate your ability to change mana. Since it’s hard for me to change my own mana, I decided to change the naturally existing mana instead.”
“That sounds even harder!”
“No, it’s not hard. Because a lot of techniques already exist that induce the naturally occurring mana to change. But in the process of analyzing your mana, I was able to create a new mana pattern that has better mana cohesion and efficiency.”
“Mm, I understand it all, so keep going.”
Lee Shin Woo decided to memorize everything Kratia was saying and insisted that she continue. She sighed and continued.
“If the focus of your ability is to change your own mana, then mine is to change external mana. And my way of barely doing so is through a ‘catalyst’. So what I’m saying is…”
She paused and raised a small orb. It was the growing artifact she got from God, the Orb of Eternal Ice. As expected, that everlasting ice crystal was the catalyst of her magic.
“I was narrowly able to induce the magic to change. It hasn’t been long since this child was born, so its course hasn’t completely been set yet, so… in a lot of ways, I was lucky. Since it’s now easy to impart a will upon an item.”
“So are you trying to brag about your artifact to me or what?”
“More importantly, don’t you feel something from looking at this orb…?”
“It’s big and beautiful.”
Lee Shin Woo gazed at the orb piercingly, the orb being daintier than Kratia’s white hand. Kratia pushed the orb forward, as if she were ok with him holding it and gazing at it, but Lee Shin Woo shook his head.
“If I touch it, it might change into bone.”
“What a terrifying ability.”
Lee Shin Woo examined the orb more carefully than before. He felt a vortex of ice cold mana within that was expanding even now.
He’d used ice mana a bit before through the elemental reversal ability. He expected that he’d be able to completely master that element as well, if he practiced just a bit more with the Bifurcated Snake Spine.
‘But that’s not the issue right now.’
The pattern that caused the mana to remain inside the orb was extremely unique. That was probably why Kratia had told him to take a look.
Looking at it once wouldn’t be enough for him to memorize the pattern; it wasn’t that easy. This whole thing was a magic circle! If the difficulty of creating a golem’s seal was increased by 100x, then this is what it would look like.
“Ultimately, this technique just allows me, who’s proficient in ice magic, to use the ice artifact, Eternal Ice, to change the surrounding mana into ice, but… you should be able to learn something from this.”
“Yeah… Alright. I completely understand it.”
Like always, Lee Shin Woo maintained his poker face and spoke calmly, but Kratia knew that Lee Shin Woo had no idea how it worked.
“…Should we increase the duration of the contract?”
“No. If all I need to do is memorize it, I can do it within a day.”
The moment her plan to continue accompanying Lee Shin Woo and acquire some magic inspiration from him failed… That’s right. This was the last day of their contract. Starting tomorrow, they had to go their own separate ways.
Kratia inwardly spewed out curses at Lee Shin Woo, as he failed to acknowledge her passion for magic, but outwardly, she endured with a slight pout. Being angry would be a waste of precious time.
“In any case, I’ll continue explaining. I was barely able to manifest the magic through a catalyst, but you’re capable of transforming your mana into anything. Right?”
“I can’t transform it into anything. Just what I know.”
“In other words, if you figure out how this ‘catalyst’ works, you should be able to turn your body itself into a huge catalyst. At least, that’s what I’ve been thinking.”
Time froze at that very moment. As expected of a woman who handles ice magic; her skills were peerless.
“You know, you’re saying something really frightening right now.”
“It’s not that frightening compared to your latent potential.”
Lee Shin Woo dwelled over what Kratia had said so nonchalantly, and his body slightly quivered. ‘I can become a catalyst, huh…’ If that happened, he’d be able to control the mana in the entire area however he pleased.
Especially because Lee Shin Woo could freely change his mana. If he could actually change his mana into a catalyst, the products that came about from it would be limitless.
“I can’t even imagine it.”
“It’ll be possible for you someday. As long as I help you.”
“Why are you going so far to help me?”
“Since I want to see it happen.”
Kratia replied unhesitatingly, her eyes surging with a delicate enthusiasm. It might’ve been unbecoming for an Ice Magician, but Lee Shin Woo thought that this pure passion of hers may have been the driving force behind her growth to level 6.
“Even so, I’m not extending the duration of the contract.”
Kratia yelled, genuinely frustrated, and Lee Shin Woo just grinned and replied.
“What’s wrong with you? It’s not like we’re never going to see each other again. We can just form another team when we meet again. I’ll probably be stronger than you by then.”
“You seem plenty strong now…”
“I’m not interested in strength that can only be used in a self-contained situation.”
If he didn’t have the strength to overcome an enemy face-to-face, he would ultimately have to rely on unconventional tactics each and every time. Lee Shin Woo was confident in his unconventional tactics, but he also believed that he couldn’t rely on such shallow methods forever.
‘Rule of Bone, Bursting Thunder, Mana Bone… I can become strong. As long as I strive for it.’
Lee Shin Woo forcefully balled his hands into fists and suddenly resolved himself. He didn’t show what he was feeling very often, but before he knew it, he’d begun to trust Kratia more and had done so unconsciously.
Seeing that, Kratia felt that they fundamentally weren’t very different and was very slightly relieved. Meanwhile, Jin had been ignoring everything else and was training his Steel Body.
[The Intermediate Mana Bone skill has become Lv4. Magic has increased by 10. Any action concerning the use of mana is buffed.]
Before it became dark, Lee Shin Woo successfully memorized the Eternal Ice’s structure, and that was enough to cause his Mana Bone skill to level up. That meant the knowledge she’d passed on to him was something extraordinary.
Kratia also gained something from this. Lee Shin Woo lent her his Bifurcated Snake Spine, and demonstrated how he changed the elements; that deepened her understanding of her own element and naturally caused her Catalyst Magic to develop further as well.
If she were still on her home planet, the two of them wouldn’t be able to separate, as they had shared so much of their information and experiences with each other. They would be together until death.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t.”
“Haha, you’re funny Mr. Feynman , but you can’t do that here.”
“I’ll contact you when I can private chat.”
“Alright. About what I requested. You can do it, right?”
Kratia firmly nodded her head, holding the Limited Order Bone Core that Lee Shin Woo had remodeled.
She wasn’t finished studying the core, but it was still Lee Shin Woo’s, so she was about to tearfully return it to him. However, Lee Shin Woo said it was fine if she kept it and instead asked her to fulfill a request of his.
‘If you find any golems on the way, don’t destroy them. Instead, command them to go to a specific place.’
Originally, others couldn’t command golems with the core aside from Lee Shin Woo, unless they were temporary commands. Lee Shin Woo had drastically increased the functions of the core, and in the end, succeeded in infusing the core with the Steelworker command authority.
His goal was to maintain an army of golems! If he were able to gather golems, they would become a reliable fighting force later on. Of course, Lee Shin Woo also planned on giving any golem he encountered the same command.
“Ah, thanks for the grapes. I feel like I could just eat grapes until I die.”
“Make sure you get enough nutrients.”
The two extended their arms and shook hands. A warm heat transmitted to his bare bone hand. It felt like his completely empty heart was being warmed as well.
It felt qualitatively different from when he had shook hands with Erian; for a moment, Lee Shin Woo felt a bit regretful as he might’ve been able to form a relationship like this with Erian as well, but… Lee Shin Woo soon erased that thought from his mind.
‘Since it was my choice.’
He didn’t just have to part ways with Kratia. Lee Shin Woo had to part ways with the forty three Pauls, who were reborn as level 4 elites.
[We are truly… in your debt, Captain. I’d like to always serve by your side, but…]
“It’s not yet time. I told you last time, but I still have a lot I need to do.”
“However, I promise you. There will be a time when we fight together. There’ll be a day when the curse is lifted from the Underground Empire.”
[We’ll do our utmost to prepare for that day! We won’t trouble you, Captain!]
Originally, they trusted and obeyed Lee Shin Woo because of his connections to both Anti-Skull and General Seagald.
However, once they became his subordinates, they didn’t really think about General Seagald. He was just someone they once pledged their loyalty to; their lives already belonged to Lee Shin Woo!
“I’ll give you the golems. I’ll save those who are wandering through the darkness like you and send them to you.”
[I understand, Captain!]
If his final goodbye with Kratia felt like a story of youth, then his final goodbye with the Pauls felt like a war story. Kratia, who hadn’t left yet, saw that and was deeply touched; that was the icing on the cake.
[We’ll return no matter what, Captain! No matter what!]
“See you later. Don’t die.”
“Yeah, don’t die.”
The Pauls, accompanied by the three Iron Golems which had reduced their size, and Kratia, who wielded the orb and core in each hand, went in separate directions. Lee Shin Woo sent them off with a smile.
“They’re completely gone now, right?”
And when they couldn’t see them anymore, Lee Shin Woo secretly lowered his head. He wasn’t even doing something that made him feel small, but pointlessly felt as though he couldn’t hold his head up high.
“…Good. Then, shall we go?”
“Go by yourself.”
“You have nothing to be afraid of…”
Lee Shin Woo smiled bitterly at Jin’s firm reply… he now had four permits to God’s secret shop due to the battle; he used one of them and entered God’s secret shop.
 T/N: Pokemon reference.
 T/N: May be referring to Richard Feynman, but I’m not really sure.