<Chapter 20. Forest of the Dryads – 1>
This was a world where skeletons and golems walked the earth, and where rats could speak. Because the world was such, Lee Shin Woo wasn’t surprised in the least at the thought of trees spewing Acid Poison.
“Ugh. The energy coming from the forest is no joke…”
“Hmm, guess not.”
But when they arrived at the forest, which had cut Vitas’ troops in half and caused him to retreat, Lee Shin Woo had to correct his past judgment. The forest wasn’t just filled to the brim with trees. No, to be more exact, there was something else aside from the trees.
“Maybe Erian would’ve known…”
“That girl… Wait, why are you talking about an elf? Because it’s a forest?”
“It just feels like an elf would be more accustomed to dealing with things like that.”
Lee Shin Woo looked at the vast forest before them… and shrugged his shoulders, observing the area spewing out rotten and withered mana.
The undead, who didn’t even possess clear egos, might’ve seen it as the trees attacking all of a sudden, but to Lee Shin Woo…
“I see something stuck to the trees. They might be spirits.”
“Ah, now that you mention it, it definitely seems like…”
It possessed an extremely pale complexion, and looked like an expressionless old lady; the ones stuck to the tree didn’t seem to be in healthy condition.
[Lv5 Corrupted Dryad (Elite)]
[Lv5 Acid Great Tree]
“Ah, as I thought.”
Lee Shin Woo, who could ascertain their identities, was naturally given information pertaining to them as well. Dryads, or spirits who live in the trees! If dryads were to become undead, that’s exactly what he thought they’d look like.
“Did they become like that because the dryads latched onto the trees, which should’ve withered and died, and supplied them with mana?”
“If that’s the case… That’s kind of sad.”
As a result of their efforts to save the trees, the Dryads and the trees both became ghastly. Though Jin sported a bitter expression, Lee Shin Woo patted his back and comforted him.
“But because of that, we can kill both the dryads and the trees. That’s all karma.”
There were a ridiculous amount of trees within the forest, whereas there weren’t that many Corrupted Dryads managing the trees. That meant that the dryads were skilled enough to transform all the trees in the forest into level 5 monsters, despite being low in number!
“If they’re that skilled, then we’ll get a better reward to compensate. Plus, they seem like a rare species.”
“Your cruel way of thinking has made my budding tears wither and die.”
“Good. Let’s cry after we send them all off!”
“Seriously, what color is your blood!?” 
Lee Shin Woo activated the Assimilation skill prior to entering the forest, and shared his Acid Resistance to the best of his ability, like what he’d done when he had first fought Kratia.
Back then, he’d only had a connection with Jin through Horseback riding, but now that his Assimilation skill had developed significantly, he was able to completely share his level 9 Low Rank Acid Resistance with Jin.
“The effectiveness of your own Acid Resistance should go up as it levels.”
“You’re not planning on quickly breaking through, right?”
“Yeah. I’m going to cut them down one by one. Just think of the acid as a ‘mist sauna’.”
There probably weren’t a lot of people who could call immersing their body into acid the same as a mist sauna. Jin sighed and took a step forward towards the forest.
Lee Shin Woo performed a final inspection of his gear before they entered the forest. He obviously wore the Acid Bone Full Armor, as there really wasn’t any other option. This full armor, which covered his entire body, increased the effectiveness of his acid type abilities by 40%, so it would naturally increase the effectiveness of his Acid Resistance. Therefore, he could say that he was all set.
‘And my weapon will be the Melting Bone Double Axe.’
The Melting Bone Double Axe likewise had an option that increased the effectiveness of his acid type abilities by 20%. Even though Lee Shin Woo knew that the acid mist within this forest was more powerful than the Acid Ghoul’s, the reason he entered without any hesitation was because this was a place where he would be able to improve his Acid Resistance.
“If I use some other tricks, I can reduce the acid damage even further, but I’ll make that call after seeing their acid attacks.”
“Yeah, you’re so amazing.”
They weren’t low leveled enemies, and each and every tree was level 5, yet Lee Shin Woo didn’t think of them as anything more than a training center for his skills!
Even as he asked whether they could really go on like this, he continued to run forward, finding no other alternative. The moment they entered the forest, a Corrupted Dryad that seemed to act as the chief gatekeeper and was latched onto a giant tree noticed them!
“Ugh!? It’s not even a banshee!”
Lee Shin Woo’s goblin fire contorted at the sudden sound wave attack. This was no joke; someone with eardrums would’ve sustained considerable damage from the attack!
“These senile old bags, how dare they try to teach me a lesson in screaming…”
Lee Shin Woo grit his teeth, thinking about what method he would use to land the first strike, but soon changed his mind. He’d come here not to grow as a Joker, but to develop his Acid Resistance and Regeneration skills.
“Shin Woo, they’re coming!”
“Yeah. I see them too!”
The Dryad’s scream was the signal; all the trees began spewing out their Acid Poison all at once. It wasn’t a simple Acid Poison, as it seemed as though there was a suspicious compound mixed in. Fortunately, it seemed it didn’t really have much of an effect on Lee Shin Woo and Jin as they were undead.
[You are being affected by a high ranked Acid Poison that has spread throughout the entire area. Reducing the damage of Acid Poison by at least 70%!]
Of course, that wasn’t the end. After spewing the poison mist, the trees extended their branches towards Lee Shin Woo, as if they had become living organisms. The branches stretched like rubber bands, and were swung at them like whips!
However, Lee Shin Woo was already well aware of how they would attack through the skeletons’ memories, and skillfully swung his axe, cutting bundles of branches that came flying towards him.
The tree branches possess a powerful Acid Poison as well, so when they made contact with a weapon, they’re supposed to corrode them. However, the Melting Bone Double Axe’s element was acid, so its blade remained intact despite cleaving through dozens of branches.
“Ugh. The poison’s getting worse…!”
“Concentrate on our connection!”
“I got… it!”
In the process of cutting through the branches, the Acid Poison liquefied once more and spewed out; the cut branches more violently spewed out a higher volume of acid.
In terms of level, the Acid Poison was perhaps at a high intermediate level, and dozens or even hundreds of trees stacked that horrific Acid Poison, causing the effect to become even more violent than before! If it was like this from the start, he couldn’t imagine what it’d be like when they got deep into the forest.
“Yeah, I know. It’s ok.”
Jin wasn’t the only one suffering. Even his reinforced resistance couldn’t completely block the poison, as it started to slowly melt away his armor.
Lee Shin Woo calmly cleaved through the branches that lay beyond the poison, and inspected the condition of his armor. He carefully placed his hand atop the armor and muttered.
Regeneration. It was an ability that restored his ‘body’. However, like Lee Shin Woo had roughly expected, it activated properly and regenerated the melted armor. At that moment, his Regeneration skill, which he hadn’t had an opportunity to use in such a long time, leveled up.
[The Low Rank Regeneration skill has become Lv8. Health and Magic have increased by 2. Regeneration speed increases.]
‘Good. As I thought, it does work.’
Normally, Regeneration could only be applied to the body. That’s why he had de-equipped all of his gear when he had trained his Acid Resistance and Regeneration with the slimes.
That’s right. Previously, his Regeneration skill could only be used on his body. No, to be more exact, that’s how it was even to this day. There was only one thing that changed: the ‘identity’ of his equipment.
‘I was sure after seeing that Rule of Bone applies to the equipment formed through Bone Armory… The equipment summoned through the stored information of Bone Armory are all considered my body.’
If his equipment were treated as his body, there wouldn’t be any reason for his Regeneration skill to not to work on his equipment too, would there? Lee Shin Woo had thought so, and in reality, he had been right on the money. As a result, Lee Shin Woo wore his full set of armor and started training.
Jin saw that moment of fraudulent healing, and screamed, his goblin fire quivering, even in the midst of enduring the Acid Poison.
“You have Steel Body which protects your entire body.”
As they were affected by the Acid Poison, their respective resistances grew, and at the same time, Lee Shin Woo’s Regeneration skill (Steel Heart for Jin) was trained as well. Since the skills ultimately used mana, his Mana Bone skill was trained as well. This training method was like killing three birds with one stone.
At the Dryad’s excited command, the branches flew towards them as one; Lee Shin Woo cleaved through the branches before they reached them, and in the spur of the moment, decided to train his defense zone as well. It was no longer killing three birds with one stone, but four.
Lee Shin Woo hectically swung his axe with both hands, clearing away the branches, and inwardly nodded his head in approval. This place, with branches flying in every direction, was perfect for training his defense zone with Bursting Thunder applied to it.
‘It’s not perfect yet, but… this is good enough. It’s much better than when I had to use my fists!’
Lee Shin Woo recollected his past training, even though it hadn’t been a few months since, and suddenly felt a sense of longing. Level 5 seemed so far away back then, yet he’d already reached it. Things had become a lot better compared to back then!
Above all, what he was most prideful of was the fact that he hadn’t died even once since then.
He cleaved through the tree branches that flew from various angles, and proceeded 1 cm forward every minute for a while. As if answering the old dryads’ screams, Lee Shin Woo forcefully struck with his axe and finally succeeded in toppling one of the trees.
He’d verified before, but they were indeed normal level 5 monsters; with Rebellion in effect (status +10%), as well as reinforcing his axe with Rule of Bone, the trees couldn’t withstand a few blows and toppled to the floor.
As soon as he cut through the rotted tree, the nearby Dryads emitted a truly horrific scream. Though they had become hideous, they seemed to retain their love for trees. The old ladies’ screams were of genuine sadness, and even Lee Shin Woo felt a stir in his heart.
[You have acquired an Acid Tree Root. It is transformed through Bone Reinforcement. You have acquired a Melting Bone Root.]
[You have acquired 17,560 Perium.]
“Ugh. I’ll purify you all so that you don’t have to suffer any longer…!”
“I saw you smiling, you asshole!”
The skeleton who couldn’t help but smile, Lee Shin Woo, was bombarded by countless tree branches and Acid Poison once more. Lee Shin Woo’s goblin fire blazed as he swung his axe once again. It was time for the skeleton lumberjack to begin his felling operation in earnest.
 T/N: I could’ve just interpreted this as “are you really human!?”, but it could also be a reference to the Japanese series, Hokuto no Ken. It’s very similar to Rei’s line, “what color is your blood?”
E/N: even though he has no blood…