<Chapter 21. Inherited Hope – 2>
[But we’ll be exposed to the curse on the way there. What do we do about that?]
[Even if we travel as quickly as possible, we’ll still be affected by the curse. Ugh… I’m concerned that we might spread the curse to the healthy trees.]
Though the concerned Dryads had been convinced to move by Lee Shin Woo, they weren’t stupid. Ultimately, they asked something that had to be addressed. However, Lee Shin Woo was sporting a relaxed expression.
“Don’t worry. It’s not perfect, but I have something in mind.”
[As expected of Zero Paul! So, what’s that method?]
Lee Shin Woo momentarily turned his attention to Jin. Jin, who had been observing how the situation was progressing, panicked and retreated.
‘What are you trying to do?’
‘No. I was just thinking that you could absorb the curse from them with your ability.’
That’s right. The reason Lee Shin Woo thought ‘it’ll all work out somehow’ was because he trusted Jin. And Jin also… had a rough idea why.
‘Like when we restored the sanity of that Corrupted Dryad?’
‘Also, they’re in much better shape than the Corrupted Dryads. Can you do it?’
Jin was anguished. After all, at the end of the day, his curse absorption ability was a by-product of his resistance, not the main facet. He couldn’t intentionally control his absorption ability. It wasn’t easy to tell whether or not it would be possible.
‘Even if it is possible, I can’t do it by myself. I need your help.’
‘I suppose it can’t be helped.’
Of course, he roughly expected him to say something like that. Lee Shin Woo chuckled, approached Jin, gripped his back with one hand, and activated his Assimilation skill. Now they could extremely naturally tie both their consciousness and mana together.
‘How is it, Shin Woo?’
‘Mm, good… I can roughly tell how it works.’
Jin himself hadn’t even figured out how his ability worked, so how did Lee Shin Woo figure it out!? He suddenly felt frustrated, but that’s what it meant to be talented, so there was nothing he could do.
Lee Shin Woo more deeply analyzed the curse absorption ability… which couldn’t be considered a status or even a skill, and added.
‘Yeah. Since it’s an ability that absorbs the curse, it probably wouldn’t have any effect on those who have already become undead, but it should be able to absorb the curse from these spirits.’
‘This ability is impressive. It’d be hard for me to replace the absorbed curse energy with life force, but maybe if I were to apply it in a different way…’
‘Shin Woo, you’re not forgetting what you’re supposed to be doing, are you?’
‘Tch, it can’t be helped.’
Jin’s curse absorption ability was such an innovative ability that it made Lee Shin Woo wonder why he hadn’t seriously looked into it before. Perhaps that ability would have a positive effect on Lee Shin Woo, as he could freely transform mana however he wished.
‘I’ll look into it more in depth later, but for now…’
Lee Shin Woo was now sure that it would work, and stretched his hand towards the closest Dryad.
“You. Could you come over here?”
The Dryad obeyed doubtlessly. While the other Dryads nervously watched her, Lee Shin Woo stretched out a hand while keeping the other on Jin’s back.
[Take care of me.]
The Dryad firmly grabbed his outstretched hand without question. Though the spirit’s body possessed a different composition, the sensation she conveyed from touching him felt the same as any other living being. Her hand felt extremely soft, and he felt a refreshing energy coming from somewhere; he grabbed the Dryad’s hand and Lee Shin Woo suddenly felt sad.
‘Damn it. If I were a human, I would’ve…’
‘Hey. Your thoughts are leaking out.’
When Jin pointed that out, Lee Shin Woo became docile, and earnestly began absorbing the curse from the Dryad.
The curse had burrowed deep into the Dryad’s body, so it wasn’t easy to find at first, but because Lee Shin Woo was tenacious and in control of Jin’s ability, he was able to gradually, very gradually draw out the curse.
[What’s going on?]
The Dryad was momentarily surprised and shouted, so the other Dryads yelled in shock. The Dryad kept holding Lee Shin Woo’s hand and yelled exuberantly.
[The curse within me is being drawn out!]
[It seems like he has an ability that lets him draw out the curse!]
[Is that why Paul Zero is different from the other skeletons?]
[I thought it was strange ever since feeling his power over nature!]
The Dryads opinions were quite intelligent. Lee Shin Woo let their lively voices stay in the background and focused on sucking out the undead curse. She wasn’t very corrupted anyway, so Lee Shin Woo quickly pulled out the root of the issue.
The Dryad, feeling the curse that had caused her heart so much discomfort leave her body completely, touched her body all over while slack-jawed. Was it just him? She looked a bit younger too.
[The curse is gone!]
[It’s true. The curse is really gone!]
[Thanks Paul Zero!]
While the Dryads made a huge fuss, the cured Dryad stroked Lee Shin Woo’s head while holding onto him tightly. He felt her soft skin all over his body, yet his heart felt calm, like an ocean without a single wave.
[You’re my savior!]
“I get it, so could you stop stroking my head? Now, you’ve seen how it works, so next! I think I can do several at once.”
[Me first, me first!]
As soon as Lee Shin Woo gave the signal, the Dryads cheered and rushed towards him, as if they were waiting for that! Lee Shin Woo and Jin were suddenly buried in spirits.
‘You must love it, huh?’
‘You already know that I don’t really like it.’
It was such a relief that he was a skeleton that didn’t need to breathe in times like this. Lee Shin Woo calmly began to suck out the curse from the Dryads everywhere and send it over to Jin.
Jin possessed the ability to absorb the curse, not Lee Shin Woo, so Lee Shin Woo would just act as the passageway that gathered the curse. Because of that, the amount of times Jin could revive through the Blessing of Death suddenly increased.
[I feel free!]
[Aw. I was freed, but the trees weren’t, so I feel so sorry for them.]
It didn’t take much time before all of the Dryads in the clearing were cleansed of the curse.
They cheered, and even clapped, but also mourned for the trees that couldn’t be saved, as they were already dead. Lee Shin Woo removed his hand from Jin’s back and clapped his hands.
“Don’t separate yourselves from me even when you get outside! Remember that!”
[We’ll stick to you like glue!]
Their responses were reliable. Lee Shin Woo felt like he had become a teacher leading kindergarten students around.
“Good. Then shall we go?”
[Before that, Paul Zero.]
The Dryads’ representative, Sinea, who looked the youngest amongst the living Dryads and wasn’t corrupted at all, as well as seemingly being the highest ranked Dryad here, opened her mouth.
[We don’t need them, but there are things inside that other people might need. You see, the belongings of the original owner of this dungeon are still there.]
“Ah, now that you mention it.”
Obviously, the Dryads hadn’t made this dungeon. Lee Shin Woo had decided to put off thinking about the message he’d seen when he entered the dungeon, as it seemed like this Mellonia figure made this dungeon so that spirits could live in it as they pleased.
But after listening to Sinea, it seemed as though Mellonia’s belongings were still inside this dungeon. It was unexpected news for him as he had been so focused on the Dryads that he had completely forgotten about the dungeon itself.
[We thought you might want them, so we brought them. How about it?]
Sinea’s green eyes brightened (if someone couldn’t tell that she was a Dryad from her green eyes, then her hair was also a light green as well) and Lee Shin Woo turned his attention to the loot she’d put on the floor.
There were a few gems and gold nuggets, earrings enveloped in a cold magic, and finally, books that Mellonia seemed to have personally wrote. Sinea watched as Lee Shin Woo examined the loot. She must be checking to see if he liked her present. Lee Shin Woo was indeed satisfied and replied.
“Thanks. They’re exactly what I wanted.”
[That’s a relief.]
[Skeletons like the same stuff humans do!]
Sinea smiled in relief and simultaneously, the Dryads behind her cheered.
Honestly, he didn’t need gold or gems, or even earrings, as he didn’t have ears to put them on, so half of the presents were meaningless to him. However, acting as though he loved the presents was an important step in solidifying a good relationship with them. Even now, Lee Shin Woo was still acting.
‘However, her handwritten books might be useful later. Though the use would differ based on what she did as a human.’
Lee Shin Woo carefully placed the precious metals, the pile of books, and the earrings into his inventory. However, the moment his hand touched the earrings, they transformed unexpectedly.
[The Lv6 Silver Ice Tiger’s Cold Whisker Earrings has been modified through Bone Reinforcement. You have acquired the Lv6 Silver Ice Tiger’s Canine Tooth.]
Damn it. He only briefly touched the chilling, hair-raising earrings, yet their original shape disappeared in an instant, and in their place was only a tiny silver tooth. It was ridiculously light, and the tooth was so cold that it felt like it would freeze the air. Lee Shin Woo was dumbstruck.
‘The earrings were changed by my skill, but the form completely changed this time. Whiskers can change into teeth?’
He knew there was nothing more stupid than questioning how Bone Reinforcement changed the material of something, but even so, he couldn’t help but be surprised.
When a piece of equipment changed in the past, it would change into another piece of equipment. But this time, an accessory was changed into bone (through Bone Reinforcement), so how could he not be surprised!?
It seemed like she was equally surprised, as Sinea questioned Lee Shin Woo. Lee Shin Woo pondered for a moment, but decided to ask her honestly.
“It seems like it’s an Silver Ice Tiger’s tooth, but do you know what a Silver Ice Tiger is?”
[A Silver Ice Tiger is a spirit!]
[A Silver Ice Tiger!? They were still alive?]
[You idiot. They’re all dead. That’s why there’s only a tooth of them left.]
A spirit…? Lee Shin Woo was wondering, so he asked Sinea.
“Was the dungeon’s original owner an Elementalist?”
[Yep. As I thought, fellow Elementalists can tell each other apart! She was friendly with Dryads. She let us use this space, even when she was dying.]
Lee Shin Woo decided to reflect on his previous thoughts of them occupying the dungeon without permission. To think they’d been allowed in here!
“Do you guys contract with Elementalists too?”
[No? Spirits only form contracts with Elementalists when they need mana… Mm, so basically, only the aggressive spirits form contracts. We just need trees.]
He didn’t understand what she was saying in the least, but he could at least understand that not all spirits form contracts with Elementalists. Perhaps the books he’d recently acquired would explain that.
Lee Shin Woo was satisfied that he had unexpectedly procured knowledge regarding a field he knew little about. He was indeed satisfied, but bones were different.
Lee Shin Woo soon reinforced himself with the Ice Tiger’s Canine, as the Dryads watched with great interest with their brightening eyes. The best way of knowing more about this bone was to absorb it!
[Executing Bone Reinforcement by consuming a Silver Ice Tiger’s Canine. Strength and Magic have increased by 8. You have acquired a basic knowledge of spirits. You have learned Intermediate Ice Lv1.]
Lee Shin Woo thought he’d be able to acquire the Ice element sometime soon, as he possessed the Elemental Reversal ability, and because of that, he wasn’t very surprised or happy about it. What he was surprised about was the vast basic knowledge on spirits.
‘This is more like the Elementalist Mellonia’s memories than the Silver Ice Tiger’s.’
This clear knowledge regarding spirits or elemental techniques was like a welcome rain for him. So much so that he felt that he could’ve been an Elementalist had the curse not befallen the Empire, causing everything to die.
[The canine is gone!]
[No, Paul Zero absorbed it! How strange!]
[I feel more elemental power coming from Paul Zero!]
[How’s that possible? Can he use ice spirits as well?]
The Dryads were in awe. They adamantly believed that Lee Shin Woo was an Elementalist.
“I’m done with the Silver Ice Tiger, so let’s go.”
That’s how the mass migration of spirits and skeleton began. Anything involving Lee Shin Woo was always like this; if another hero saw this, they wouldn’t believe their eyes.