<Chapter 20. Forest of the Dryads – 5>
[You have encountered an enemy a higher level than you. Rebellion increases all stats by 10%! Because of your partner, your stats increase by an additional 5%. All effects are shared with your partner.]
“Shin Woo, what did you do?”
“Oh, it’s just a buff. It’s a buff that lets us overcome the insurmountable wall before us.”
After Lee Shin Woo confirmed that his Rebellion skill had activated, he nodded his head with satisfaction, and raised his head. The cause of the buff… was the enormous boss monster that seemed like an agglomeration of the forest.
[Lv6 Corrupted Tree Golem (Elite)]
The Corrupted Tree Golem was entwined with countless trees, and the Dryads’ wills had entered in the spaces between, allowing for the creation of this fused monster!
They gathered a similar type of karma into one spot, sublimating it into an even greater karma; though its appearance differed, the fundamental principle behind this fusion was similar to the slimes’ transformation, where they would fuse with other slimes and be reborn as a high ranked slime.
[I’ll kill you.]
Lee Shin Woo had experience hunting a level 6 elite, the Corps Commander Vitas. However, Vitas was a magician, as well as a commander, and he had even been distracted by the magic cast by a level 6 hero.
However, this foe was only aiming for them, was incomparably larger than Vitas, and possessed a special ability!
[I’ll kill you!]
“Shin Woo, it’s poison…!”
The golem, which was essentially one huge tree, shook its body, spewing out an overly deep concentration of black poison mist that instantaneously covered the entire area. Lee Shin Woo comforted Jin, who was watching with an uneasy expression, with a calm voice.
“Our connection. Don’t forget.”
The mist covered an extensive area, so it was impossible to escape it. As a matter of fact, doing so would essentially be giving up on the fight. He no longer possessed the Avenger skill anymore, so he didn’t need to run away and come back anymore.
[You are being affected by High Rank Acid Poison Mist! Intermediate Acid Resistance is reducing the damage by about 50%!]
It was as Lee Shin Woo had expected. The Tree Golem, which resulted from merging the energy of the forest into one being, could spew out High Rank Acid Poison! If he hadn’t equipped armor specializing in acid, he and Jin would’ve been a handful of bone powder by now!
“Mm. Surprisingly… I can take this much.”
Lee Shin Woo watched as the Acid Poison spewed by the enormous golem quickly began melting the surface of his armor. If he had activated Regeneration a bit slower, his ribs would’ve been melted away as well, but Regeneration and Acid Resistance worked well together, so he could endure. No, he could actually…
“Please say it ain’t so. Please. You’re not doing what I think you are, right?”
Jin knew exactly what Lee Shin Woo was going to do and spoke with a quivering voice. He was also enduring as Lee Shin Woo shared his Acid Resistance with him, but if he lost that Acid Resistance for even an instant, he figured that his leg would get melted away; so he was slightly afraid.
Though Lee Shin Woo, who was maintaining his connection with Jin, could understand how he was feeling, he ultimately spoke like this.
“Now that we’re here, why don’t we level up our resistance to high rank before we go?”
“We need to analyze it to figure out how it attacks; our analysis might take a little bit longer, though.”
“Ah, I thought as much…”
Maybe this was Lee Shin Woo’s intent from the start. The moment he could no longer properly train his resistance with the ordinary trees, he made up his mind to train his resistance through the boss monster!
Jin realized that there was already no turning back, and when he resigned himself, Lee Shin Woo said something meaningless.
“You have to start concentrating. We need to thoroughly analyze its techniques and attack patterns.”
“You mean while we endure all the Acid Poison, right?”
He was saying that he’d train his Acid Resistance while scouting out the boss. Even at this very moment, the Tree Golem stretched out its wooden arm and attacked; at the same time, it violently spewed out its High Rank Acid Poison!
[You have being affected by High Rank Acid Poison Mist! The mana in the entire area is contaminated by acid!]
A high rank didn’t just mean it was powerful; there was also the contamination of mana! At this level, the Acid Poison covered the entire area, contaminating the air, mana, and everything else! Even though Lee Shin Woo and Jin didn’t need to breathe, as they were undead, they naturally absorbed mana, but by doing so, they would instead absorb acid into their bodies.
“Damn it. I’m not taking any damage because of my resistance, but when I filter all the acid out, I don’t have much mana left…!”
“I guess this is how an enemy possessing the ability to use a high rank element fights. It completely controls the area by changing it to its own element and prevents its enemy from moving; ultimately, it’s not much different from a game of Go.”
But even as he said this, Lee Shin Woo sported a smile. Comparing it to Go was only applicable when both players’ pieces were different colors. Unfortunately, Lee Shin Woo possessed intermediate level 8 Acid Resistance!
“Jin, tell me when you’re running low on mana. I’ll give you mana when you need it.”
“Are you ok!?”
“Yeah, I have plenty of mana.”
He was indeed overflowing with mana. Lee Shin Woo had more mana now than when he started the battle. It didn’t matter whether the surrounding mana had been contaminated by acid or not. He would draw in both acid and mana through his intermediate level 6 Mana Bone!
‘You can change mana into acid, so it isn’t very difficult to do the reverse. This situation… is actually in my favor.’
It might’ve been different had it been High Rank Acid Poison, but he didn’t sustain any damage from mana mixed with a lower concentration of acid, and was able to transform the acid into mana. It felt like his Acid Resistance, Acid element, as well as his mana were undergoing training right now.
“Hooo… Nice, my mana’s rising.”
Lee Shin Woo felt his Acid Resistance and Acid element growing sharply and his jawbone rattled in satisfaction. Whenever the golem spewed out the mist, he felt like his Acid element grew slightly… it really wasn’t so bad.
“Moreover, I may not know what it’s protecting, but it’s not moving from its spot. It may not have been so easy if we had gone in and recklessly attacked, but it should be an easy win if all we have to do is dodge and defend.”
“It’s not easy, you know? My body’s already melting away, so it feels like I’m dying!”
“Keep it up. Another branch is coming!”
As Lee Shin Woo said, the golem acted like it was desperately defending something, even though there was nothing remaining in the forest; it firmly remained in that spot, guarding it with its life, spewing acid and stretching out its branches.
If it had started to move, Lee Shin Woo wouldn’t have had any other choice but to respond more aggressively. However, he didn’t need to evade or block its Acid Poison, and as long as he dodged its extending arms, he didn’t really have anything to worry about.
[Stop hurting the forest!]
“Don’t worry. There’s no forest to hurt anymore!”
Hundreds of thick tree branches shot out from the golem’s body and stretched like whips towards Lee Shin Woo and Jin. Each branch possessed a frightening amount of force, as it was a level 6 elite.
However, before those branches could skewer them, a rotating Melting Bone Double Axe in the air swooped down and cut past the branches. Dozens of branches broke with a cracking sound, fell to the ground, and emitted Acid Poison before vanishing.
“It’s not over yet!”
Then, two more axes swooped down and violently cut through the branches. The sight of the axes, reinforced by Rule of Bone, going into flight formation and cleaving through the branches was truly magnificent. Not a single branch could come close to Lee Shin Woo or Jin.
That’s right. Only Lee Shin Woo was able to protect himself with this ‘expanded defense zone’ as the axes followed his will, the one who possessed Rule of Bone! He could cover a certain range with these axes and anything that came within that range would be destroyed!
“You dumbass! You should be shooting those tentacles at someone else, not me!”
As soon as he perfectly guarded against the attack, the infuriated golem’s branches burst forth, but Lee Shin Woo calmly controlled his axes and blocked them as well.
It would’ve been a bit harder if it had attacked him from all sides, but because it consolidated its attack, it was even easier to guard against!
Because it was a level 6 elite monster, there was quite a hefty weight behind each and every branch, but because he had prepared for this moment by training his Rule of Bone skill, Lee Shin Woo wasn’t pushed back the whole time. If there was something he couldn’t cut through with one axe, then two or three axes attacking simultaneously should do it!
“I’m a lot different from when I fought Vitas! To be precise, my stats have increased by about 1,200 since then!”
Whenever a branch shot out, Lee Shin Woo’s axe would block it, so the golem started rampaging about. Because of that, the Acid Poison that it was spewing intensified as well. That was exactly what Lee Shin Woo was hoping for.
“If I play my cards right, my skill should level up within a day.”
“You’re saying that I have to avoid this awful bastard for an entire day…”
Jin had a hunch that what Lee Shin Woo was waiting for had finally come. Now he had no choice but to die. There were several moments until now where he felt like he would die, but this time, he’d die 100%. He would just ‘hang out’ with a level 6 elite monster for an entire day? It was finally his time to die.
But at the very least, it was a relief that his Blessing of Death’s revival ability had increased to three as he had gone around and fought several high leveled enemies (in other words, enemies deeply affected by the curse) with Lee Shin Woo.
“It’s alright. We can do it. It’s not much different from the rest of our fights in the forest… Uhmp.”
Meanwhile, had the Tree Golem figured out Lee Shin Woo’s abilities? All of a sudden, the Tree Golem’s tree branches became tougher. To be exact, the branches entangled with other branches, taking the form of a twisted bread stick; it had begun shooting out the dried branches. He couldn’t take care of those branches with just the axes he controlled from afar, so he had to move his body.
“Shin Woo, won’t it come at us with a huge attack at this rate?”
“No, it shouldn’t. This is probably the best it can do… Heup!”
‘Well, as long as we don’t get any closer that is.’
As they were barely out of range, the tree couldn’t attack them personally by swinging its arms and legs. The golem would never attack them personally and just attacked them with its Acid Poison and by extending its branches.
They would have to get closer to take down the main body, but Lee Shin Woo still needed to train his Acid Resistance, so there was no way he’d do that. Right now he was worried that cutting the branches would weaken its poison!
[Don’t come… Don’t comeeeeeeeeeeeeee!]
Even when it changed its tactics, Lee Shin Woo didn’t die and the golem spread its acid as its temper flared even more. The Dryads, which the golem had absorbed, shrieked with the voices of old women that struck Lee Shin Woo and Jin like a curse. However, Lee Shin Woo and Jin possessed the ability to ignore the curse, so they didn’t cower in the least!
“Man, what the hell are you even protecting? You’re really pissing me off…!”
“I think I know what they’re protecting now.”
Lee Shin Woo swung his axe once more, cleared the branches, and laughed. If what they were so desperately protecting couldn’t be seen above ground, then there was only one answer there.
“There’s a space under its feet.”
And the space under its feet was probably a dungeon. They went so far as to be corrupted to protect it… he really wanted to figure out what it was immediately, but was prudent. Right now, training his Acid Resistance took priority.
The Tree Golem wailed. Lee Shin Woo tightly gripped the axe, and his goblin fire blazed.
The lengthy battle had just begun.