<Chapter 20. Forest of the Dryads – 2>
About three days after entering the forest of rotten trees that was under the Dryads’ control, Lee Shin Woo had become trapped deep into the forest without knowing where he’d even come from (without looking at the minimap of course).
“It’s still like this despite cutting down every single tree that came our way…”
“I want to just set this entire forest on fire.”
“No way. At least, not yet.”
The Dryads screamed with such great timing, as they were finished with their conversation. As if waiting for that signal, a group of Acid Trees’ sharp branches stretched towards them in all directions.
Lee Shin Woo tightly gripped his axe with both hands and swung while on horseback; he cleaved the approaching branches, with the closest taking priority.
“Hoo… Heup! Lightning Scatter!”
It wasn’t possible without maintaining his speed; no, he needed to be even faster than that! His defense zone had been incredibly clumsy at the beginning, but it was easy to see that he’d fine tuned it now. To the point that he could feel what part of his body he needed to reinforce.
[The Intermediate Bursting Thunder skill has become Lv4. Strength and Magic have increased by 10.]
“Holy crap. It felt like this was going to happen, but Bursting Thunder did actually level up. I was training my Acid Resistance, but now I’m just training my weapon skills.”
“What are you talking about? You’re training your Acid Resistance and Regeneration plenty.”
Honestly, Jin was right. For the past three days, Lee Shin Woo and Jin were affected by the Acid Poison spewed by the Great Trees without even a second of rest. Like they were enjoying a mist sauna!
If someone else saw them, they might’ve thought that the two weren’t in any sort of pain, but despite them being undead, they did feel pain; and the forest’s Acid Poison wasn’t a tingling sensation, but it felt more like thick metal thorns violently piercing their bodies. It was the same now as well.
“Kuuuuuu…. This doesn’t hurt for you?”
“It does hurt. But I knew this is what it would be like before coming in.”
Though Jin had a strong urge to just escape the forest by himself, he managed to endure with a peculiar athlete’s spite that, ‘Lee Shin Woo is enduring just fine, so I can’t complain.’
Of course, the results of that were clear. Lee Shin Woo’s Acid Resistance became intermediate level 2, while Jin’s became low rank level 7. Even his Regeneration skill, which was quite difficult to level up had already gone up to low rank level 9.
‘This guy couldn’t have been just some ordinary guy on his homeworld.’
Jin suddenly recollected the pain he’d endured over the past three days, but when he saw Lee Shin Woo calmly swing his axe from atop him, he grit his teeth.
Even if he considered the fact that Lee Shin Woo was undead, and possessed a skill that protected against mental ailments, no ordinary salaryman would be able to endure that kind of horrific pain! At least, that’s how it was in Jin’s original world.
‘I wonder what Shin Woo did in his original world? Was he like me? Damn it, we’re partners, yet there’s too much we don’t know about each other. No, am I just too concerned about the past when it’s completely useless here?’
“Jin, one step to the left… Jin?”
“Yeah, I know.”
Even while inwardly gritting his teeth, Jin moved his body at the optimum time, assisting Lee Shin Woo’s own movement. It was like they were moving as one. That’s right. Lee Shin Woo and Jin’s connection (Assimilation) was developing by the day.
[The Intermediate Assimilation skill has become Lv3. Agility and Magic have increased by 5. You can now match your breath with your target. You can guess what the other is thinking without even saying it.]
Because his Assimilation skill had risen from level 2 to 3, Lee Shin Woo’s own Acid Resistance was almost fully applied to Jin, and Lee Shin Woo succeeded in sharing Jin’s dynamic visual acuity, as well as the reflexes that came from his agility.
[You have acquired 17,220 Perium.]
[You have acquired two Melting Bone Roots.]
From the start, the reason he wanted to train his defense zone was because he wanted to maximize the effectiveness of those sluggish movements; as a result of his struggles…
The range at which he could perceive attacks through his dynamic visual acuity became wider, and because his reflexes likewise improved, he was able to stop attacks with his concise body movements. His defense zone had improved significantly, to the point that even a senior knight would click his tongue at the change.
“As I thought, it was a good idea to pick this spot.”
“Are all the other heroes like this? They go to strange places to train?”
He didn’t know about fighting against an entire undead corps, but he thought that the other heroes would definitely like this place, as it offered invaluable training (Acid Resistance, Regeneration, mana, weapon techniques) and wasn’t particularly that difficult if one possessed Acid Resistance (that’s what he thinks). Therefore, he did feel like telling the other heroes about it, but…
“It’s pointless telling the others about this place since this place will be gone by the time we leave…”
“You say such scary things in such a nonchalant way.”
“Hmm, maybe I should train my fire element as well.”
“In the end, you’re going with what I suggested. You’re going to burn the forest, huh…”
Lee Shin Woo uninterestingly swung his axe and, as they passed by a tree that a Dryad had inhabited, Jin muttered in amazement. Lee Shin Woo didn’t hate the other heroes, but he fundamentally thought of himself first!
[You have acquired 16,800 Perium.]
[You have acquired a Melting Bone Root.]
In the beginning, he swung his axe several times just to get past them, but now, the trees always died in one hit. Though he had indeed figured out the way to kill them, the fact that he killed them in a single blow meant each and every strike was a critical hit.
Lee Shin Woo thought it would be strange if someone couldn’t land a critical hit, despite the fact that their enemies couldn’t move as their roots were embedded into the ground. However, the difficulty in cutting through a gigantic tree when there were hundreds of branches coming his way in all directions was beyond imagination.
‘I’ve somewhat grasped the basics of the defense zone. Now I have to more proactively use it… Fine, I can do it. Let’s try it.’
He had honestly only intended to train his Acid Resistance in the beginning, yet it had now become a time to train his combat fundamentals. It was worth doing, and was quite the satisfying situation!
Lee Shin Woo inwardly laughed satisfyingly. Jin, who seemed to have read him like a book, desperately yelled. He needed to desperately absorb the surrounding mana so that he could maintain Steel Heart!
“You idiot! The poison mist is still pervading our bodies! We’re still training our Acid Resistance!”
Two days more passed, and his Acid Resistance had leveled up once more. At the same time, another skill leveled up as well.
[The Intermediate Acid Resistance skill has become Lv4. Magic has increased by 10. Your understanding of acid deepens, and have acquired proficiency in acid type skills.]
[Intermediate Acid has become Lv5. Magic has increased by 10. The acid’s density control has increased.]
He’d thought that this might happen, but his Acid element had leveled up following his Acid Resistance!
Though Lee Shin Woo was happy about the level up, he couldn’t wait to acquire Fire Resistance or Lightning Resistance. While his elements wouldn’t hurt their master, would he have to make it so they could to obtain those resistances? If Jin heard about this, he would say that he’s a crazy bastard!
“You crazy bastard!”
Even though he couldn’t read his mind, Jin condemned him anyway. Of course, there was a different, valid reason for that condemnation.
“Why are you taking off a piece of your armor?”
“Well, since my resistance leveled up too fast, their poison isn’t really working on me anymore… so I took off a piece of armor. See, my bone is melting. Now this is how you level up a skill.”
He was normally calm and composed and even had some cool parts to him, but why did he become so crazy over skill training!? However, what pissed Jin off the most was that when one gets familiar with that stupid behavior, they realize that he can only make those calls because he’s taking into consideration the most effective way to train!
[The Low Rank Regeneration skill has become Lv10 and has evolved into the intermediate level. Severe injuries and status ailments can be restored. Health and Magic have increased by 10.]
As expected, maintaining a harsh training environment resulted in his Regeneration skill going up to the intermediate level in about another day! Now, aside from the Twin Horn Charge that he’d gained recently, as well as the low rank level 8 Fire element, all of his skills had grown to the intermediate level!
“Ah, my Steel Heart went up to the intermediate level too…”
“See? It was effective training.”
“Yeah, you’re right…”
Jin replied while desperately gritting his teeth. Then, Lee Shin Woo discovered something, stopped his hand which had been swinging the axe, and spoke.
“More importantly, look over there.”
Jin raised his head at Lee Shin Woo’s call. There was a Dryad that had fallen and come out of the tree that Lee Shin Woo had just felled that flew deeper into the forest.
“Man, they’re helplessly running away again. You’re really not killing them?”
“You’re supposed to save the best dish for last. And…”
Whenever the Dryads saw Lee Shin Woo, they would scream and command the trees to attack him, but they didn’t dare show up in front of Lee Shin Woo. And when he’d destroyed all the trees in the vicinity, they seemed to retreat into the deep depths of the forest.
Of course, Lee Shin Woo had a method of stopping their retreat, but he didn’t do so. That’s because the Dryads who retreated deeper into the forest were acting as signposts for him.
“Yeah. The answer’s there when you think about why the Dryads are protecting this dead forest and attacking trespassers.”
“Isn’t it instinctual? They’ve become completely corrupted, and their sense of self seems faint.”
“No. Though their consciousness has become weak, they’re still spirits. Moreover, why would they so desperately attack trespassers, and when they fail in defending it, why do they lose that hostile attitude of theirs and escape deeper into the forest… That means.”
It definitely meant that there was something they wanted to protect deep within the forest. That meant that they had something they wanted to protect, despite being corrupted! Lee Shin Woo was absolutely sure. Hearing that, Jin was in awe and muttered.
“Wow, you’re such an asshole.”
“Why? I was just making a rational inference.”
“You’re letting them escape so they lead you to that valuable thing of theirs.”
“You noticed that? You’ve really grown…”
He was right. Of course, his primary goal was to train, but if he could, why not kill two birds with one stone?! Since the Dryads were so desperately trying to protect it, that meant that it was definitely not something ordinary.
“Maybe it was their intention to allow this rotten forest to spread. The undead corps tried to pass through here, yet they had to make a detour, remember?”
“Yeah. I’m sure they didn’t imagine that a demented bastard would call this place a training area and willingly enter it…”
It’s much easier to run away than personally face something dirty. That was the same for heroes and undead. But what others considered dirty, Lee Shin Woo considered worth exploring.
“In our country, there’s a saying that heaven assists those who can help themselves…”
“There’s a saying like that in our country too; it also says that heaven will protect those who are honest.”
“I don’t believe in God!”
Would heaven aid Lee Shin Woo, or would it abandon him? Lee Shin Woo, who’d just decided to become an atheist, didn’t really concern himself with whether it would or wouldn’t, and quickly urged to follow behind the Corrupted Dryads.
Jin stretched his legs, sighed, and began running after them.