<Chapter 2. God’s Secret Shop – 2>
When he came to, he was no longer in the Empire, but somewhere else. It was an enclosed space, with silver walls emitting a delicate light on all four sides, and one of those sides was the ‘store’. The secret shop permit gave him permission to come to this place.
“Why are you just staring at me? I’m sorry but I’m not for sale.”
Lee Shin Woo tilted his head when he saw the woman behind the counter look back at him with a bewitching smile.
“… Have we met somewhere before?”
“Oh my, are you hitting on me? Unfortunately, your body’s not my type.”
“I’m not hitting on you, you know. Even if I were, it wouldn’t matter.”
She spoke while laughing annoyingly, and Lee Shin Woo became short-tempered. He had accepted that he was an undead now, but he needed more time before he accepted his impotence!
Even so, the woman, the storekeeper, giggled.
“Ah yes, you’re right. Aw, how sad.”
The storekeeper was a remarkable beauty with burning red hair. Her red, bobbed hair trailed down to bottom of her neck, and slowly shimmered and swayed as if it were actually fire.
Yes, Lee Shin Woo had seen that almost living red hair before; he had seen it just recently.
“Are you God?”
“There’s no way God would be that free. Are all people with red hair gods, then?”
Indeed, she looked different from the God that Lee Shin Woo remembered. By Earth standards, God looked both eastern and western, had truly strange physical features (ears, eyes, mouth, and nose), and looked like a 10 year old girl, and a 60 year old lady at the same time, such that it was difficult to tell.
On the other hand, the woman in front of him was different. She looked energetic and in her early 20s, and had western physical features as well. Her hair was shorter, and her red eyes were different from God’s (God’s eyes glimmered in five different colors).
But he was sure of one thing: she was an undeniable beauty. That was her only similarity to God.
“If I were to explain… yes, think of me as a priestess. My role, given to me by God, is to supply my customers, that is, heroes, what they need in return for the proper price. I follow God’s orders, so I’m a merchant and a priestess at the same time.”
“If a hero needs something, you should just give it to them for free.”
She’d probably heard that a lot from the other heroes until now. She narrowed her eyes and explained.
“You know the term ‘karma’, right? Karma exists in everything in this world. When you are accomplishing a special feat, perfecting a special skill… or even killing others; you gain karma.”
“Then are levels and stats a kind of karma, too?”
“It’s nice that you catch on quick. You’re right, They are a type of karma. And customer, by using that karma as a price, you’re able to receive a different ‘karma’ in return. The karma I receive in return for my items is… Perium.”
The explanation was long, but it just meant that achievements, skill training, and killing would allow him to raise his level and stats and that the Perium he received from killing monsters could be used to buy items.
When Lee Shin Woo heard that Perium was also a type of karma, he took out a portion of his karma from his inventory and looked at it thoroughly, but as expected, he couldn’t figure anything out. It seemed as though the woman was used to it, and continued.
“Customer, you don’t have the ability to process, or use it in another place yet. It will be much more helpful to you if you just buy items from me.”
“… Then, one more question. You said that levels are also a type of karma, but why haven’t I leveled up yet when I’ve killed so many monsters?”
The merchant’s smile thickened. Levels were a number that represented one’s league and was also this world’s standard of absolute strength. Lee Shin Woo mentioned it so casually, so she pitied him.
“I don’t know what levels you’re talking about, but levels in this world aren’t something that can be raised that easily. You have to gather an appropriate level of karma to level up. And the most typical example of that karma are stats.”
“Then to become level 2…”
“All your stats combined must become 200, solely from your body, excluding all items or temporary buffs. It’s easy to understand, isn’t it?”
‘200? How and when am I supposed to get that much’, is what he wanted to say, but when he added up all his stats, he was already at 186. That meant that he could raise his level when he raised his stats by 14 more.
“But you don’t need to be in such a rush to level up. You see, what you did to get to that level is just as important as the level up itself. Whether it’s by a special feat or a skill, other types of karma are important as well. Well, you’ll see once you’ve experienced it yourself.”
It seems like level ups aren’t simply a change in number in this world. That means that… it might mean a job change? In any case, it would happen soon, so just like the merchant said, he’d find out for sure once he experienced it himself.
He was briefly lost in thought, and the merchant tapped the counter to snap him out of it.
“I think I’ve explained enough, back to the point that I should receive karma in exchange for goods. Would you like to buy something now, customer?”
“What do you sell?”
“I sell everything, aside from what I don’t have. First off, potions.”
He really didn’t feel like he needed potions, setting aside whether a skeleton could even drink a potion or not. That’s because his injuries could be healed through Bone Reinforcement.
“Next are magic books.”
Magic books, huh. Perhaps he might need them later, but not now. He didn’t even have enough mana for the Shriek of the Dead and he could only use it once, so what would he do by learning magic?
If he hadn’t learned the Shriek of the Dead, he might’ve thought about it, but since he already had a skill that could turn the tides of battle, it didn’t really feel very appealing to him right now.
“But you won’t be able to buy them right now since you don’t have enough Perium. Of course, we also have equipment that you can wear.”
“Equipment, huh. As I thought, I’d really like to see th…”
“Ah, and finally we have bones.”
Lee Shin Woo, who was about to buy equipment, stopped moving and talking at once without hesitation. They sold bones? What if he was right, and they were the bones he was thinking about? He wondered why they sold such a thing and he tilted his head, while the merchant’s expression remained calm.
“There are bones scattered around the Empire, so there’s no way our shop wouldn’t sell them. The other heroes don’t have a Bone Reinforcement skill, so they would mostly sell them to me at a cheap price.”
Since he didn’t really have anything worth selling right now, this didn’t mean anything to him right now, but it would change in the future. He had an inventory that could store pretty much anything now.
Lee Shin Woo decided that he’d pick up stuff he didn’t immediately need in the future and nodded his head. And he told her the type of item he wanted.
“Please show me the bones.”
“Hehe, I knew you’d say that customer, so I had them prepared.”
He pondered between the equipment and the bones, but most of his strength came from his Bone Reinforcement skill, so he went with the bones.
He simply thought that bones were, of course, better since they’d permanently increase his abilities, rather than equipment which he would have to change eventually, but it was mostly due to his experience with Bone Reinforcement, and the variety of abilities he could gain from it.
‘There’s, of course, the possibility of gaining skills, but I can’t deny that the original owner’s memories within the bones are greatly affecting my combat abilities.’
Lee Shin Woo knew well. The reason he, who hadn’t learnt any martial arts on Earth, could get this far and put up a decent fight against the Treasure Eater, was because he had indirectly gained the combat experience from absorbing the Skeleton Soldiers’ bones.
The true ability of Bone Reinforcement wasn’t just the increase in stats or the acquisition of skills. It was inheriting the innate experiences and memories that only others had! If he continued to gather these, it would eventually become his strength, and no one else’s, that would surpass everyone.
“Oh my, customer. You have 3,420 Perium on you right now…? I honestly didn’t have any expectations, but you came with quite a lot, didn’t you? Let’s see, a bone that you could buy with that much money… here, you can buy one of these two.”
The merchant took out two pieces of bone and placed them on the counter, though he didn’t know where she had taken them out from. Both of them were large, so he couldn’t even guess what part they came from. One of them was slightly dyed red, and the other was dyed blue.
When he saw the two bones, Lee Shin Woo couldn’t help but retort.
“You won’t wake up from a dream just because you choose the red bone. After all, this is reality.”
“No, wait. Can’t I just buy a lot of bones? I want to acquire as many experiences as possible.”
“You can only buy 1 bone with the money you have. Our shop doesn’t sell level 1 monster bones. I won’t stop you from buying bones cheaper than these two, but you’ll regret it.”
Ultimately, it seemed like he had no choice but to pick one of the two bones. If so, he wanted to at least get the most information possible before buying, but she firmly shook her head.
“Item information is also karma. Customer, you don’t have enough Perium to get information on these bones, and buy them.”
At this point, this woman didn’t seem like a priestess who helped heroes under God’s orders, but a scammer instead, but it didn’t seem like she’d give him the information on the bones no matter what he did. If both bones cost the same, then their potential should be the same as well… if so…
“Of the two, which is more expensive?”
“The blue one’s a bit more expensive. It costs 3,350 Perium.”
He would only be left with 70 Perium once he bought it… It would be irreversible, regardless of his choice. He nodded stiffly.
“Please give me that one.”
“A manly choice. Here you go.”
The Perium disappeared from his inventory, without him needing to pass her the money. When he saw the blue bone replace the money in his inventory, Lee Shin Woo felt somewhat relieved. Then, the merchant clapped her hands.
“Now, it’s time to part ways. If you work hard on quests, you’ll probably see me again soon. I’ll tell you one thing, you just made a very good decision, customer. Since the base is important.”
“Then, I’ll see you next time.”
She said grinningly, and though he was incredibly confused, she smiled beautifully and clapped her hands again. At that moment, the space surrounding Lee Shin Woo instantly broke down, and he was returned to the place he was before entering the shop.
To be honest, he was a bit disappointed. These past few days, he hadn’t been able to have a proper conversation with someone else. Regardless of how similar she looked to that cheeky god, just the fact that he was able to have a conversation with her was a huge comfort to him.
Only after that thought did Lee Shin Woo realize that he was starved of human contact.
“No… Don’t be negative.”
The only thing that could push Lee Shin Woo forward right now was positivity. If he wasn’t positive, he wouldn’t be able to do anything. He shook his head so much that his neck joint creaked, and then, took the bone out of his inventory.
[Would you like to use ???’s bone to reinforce your own bones? You can reinforce your skull.]
He had a good feeling about this. It was his first time reinforcing his head, but he felt like it wasn’t a part that he could reinforce very easily.
He proceeded with the reinforcement without hesitation, and then, the blue bone in his hand disappeared without a trace; simultaneously, he felt a dull shock to his head.
[You have reinforced your skull. Magic has increased by 7. You have gained a portion of ???’s memories and experiences.]
[I can’t understand you people. This research will lead us to ruin. – ???]
When a portion of the memories of the original owner of the bone flowed into his head, he understood the ‘base’ that the merchant had told him about. He didn’t know about Earth, but it was the ability to wield the energy that was at the base of all existence in this world.
[You have gained the passive skill, Beginner Magic Affinity Lv1. Magic recovery rate increases.]
After Lee Shin Woo had barely overcome the migraine, he blankly raised his head and looked at the world.
He had thought there was only death in this world, but there was something that remained that still harbored life.
It was mana.
 T/N: Author writes 90 Perium, but that’s not correct based on what he wrote earlier.