<Chapter 21. Inherited Hope – 4>
[Paul Zero, you have to come see us again!]
[Heuk, heuk . Paul Zero, don’t leave me.]
[Bye, Paul Zero!]
When Lee Shin Woo declared that he would leave immediately, the Dryads’ reactions were quite the sight. There were those who grabbed his hands, and there were those who acted like they were parting with their lover, as tears streamed down their cheeks.
Their initial reactions of him being a skeleton and being astonished were nonexistent at this point. This is usually what happens. While a first impression seemed like it was of utmost importance, they had ultimately forgotten all about it.
“I said I’d come back.”
[You have to come back!]
[Since we want to repay you for introducing us to such lovely trees!]
“Yeah. I promise to come see you again.”
Though he had established his relationship with them through a false name, Lee Shin Woo suddenly thought that perhaps his relationship with the Dryads was actually more “truthful” than his relationship with the heroes he conversed with in the chatting channel.
[Paul Zero, whenever you need our help, just give us a call.]
Sinea, as the representative of the Dryads, stepped forward, softly embraced Lee Shin Woo, and said her farewells. He softly tapped Sinea’s shoulder with his bone hand.
“Yeah, I’ll do that. I promise.”
She said, and simultaneously passed Lee Shin Woo a small grapevine branch. As it possessed Sinea’s magic, who had been reborn as a Dryad Princess, he thought it might become the material for an artifact, but fortunately him grabbing the branch didn’t transform it into bone.
[If you break this branch, I’ll come to your side, no matter where you are.]
He felt like his lie had worked almost too well, but Lee Shin Woo obediently took the branch.
Sinea looked relieved when she saw Lee Shin Woo pocket (into his inventory) the branch and then kissed his forehead… his frontal bone, and whispered so that only he could hear her.
[An undead who’s not undead; without the energy of death. I hope that one day I can return to you your true appearance that has been hidden by the appearance of a skeleton.]
Lee Shin Woo was slightly surprised, but his reply didn’t really give that away. It seemed like his silence was enough for her, as Sinea smiled softly and stepped back. She had instantly gained a commanding appearance upon absorbing the spirit stone and being reborn as a Dryad Princess.
‘Good for you.’
‘Ah, knock it off.’
Jin was jealous that Lee Shin Woo monopolized all of the Dryads’ attention, and left the orchard whilst inwardly quarreling with him. Of course, they weren’t going above ground immediately. They were using the railway to travel to the winery and leave through that exit instead.
And by doing so, Lee Shin Woo wouldn’t have to worry about the Dryads for some time. They had everything they would need underground already, so as long as nobody disturbed them, they should be able to stockpile energy and grow from within.
Moreover, their leader, Princess Sinea, had promised to aid him unconditionally, so he couldn’t ask for a better result. If he was a human, he probably would’ve sighed refreshingly right now, but it was quite unfortunate that he couldn’t.
“In any case, we’re finished with this.”
“When I’m with you, everything becomes so hectic that I can’t even remember what we were originally trying to do.”
Jin pointed out, and that resonated with Lee Shin Woo a bit. When he thought about it, he hadn’t originally set out to save the Dryads. He’d just gone to the forest using the knowledge of Vitas’ troops to level up his Acid Resistance.
However, even when he thought about it himself, he couldn’t really give a good reason as to how the situation had become like this. He could only say that he had acted according to his instincts and this was the result that followed!
“But you were able to rest a little because of the Dryads, as we’ve been fighting all this time. Plus, you were able to see some beautiful women too.”
“If this constitutes ‘taking a break’, then how much do we have to move around for it to be called ‘hectic’? …Besides, all those beautiful women were flirting with you!”
It seemed like Jin had accumulated a lot of stress from acting like a normal horse in front of the Dryads. Moreover, they had spent almost two months training their Acid Resistance skills, so they had managed to escape the throes of death. Maybe he’d achieve the feat of being the first undead that died from overworking himself.
“I got it. You used your curse absorption on them, and you’ve been working really hard lately, so let’s take our time for now.”
“That’s not what I wanted to say, but… you said it, not me, so no take backs.”
“Alright. We won’t do anything regarding resistances or dungeons for now.”
Jin sounded quite satisfied! However, as soon as Lee Shin Woo relayed his next destination to Jin through Assimilation, he soon uttered in a stiff voice.
“Hey. This is where that senior who turned into an undead is.”
Lee Shin Woo’s destination was an area that was somewhere between a danger level 2 zone and a danger level 3 zone. It was also the location where Shino Rendu had died and been reborn as an undead! It had been some time since, so he wanted to see if Metafel had left as well.
“You said we wouldn’t do anything regarding resistances or dungeons!”
“While we’re taking it slow and sightseeing, I wanted to see how our senior is doing.”
“And hunting him.”
“Why do you have to say it like that? I just want to inherit my senior’s will. If I can, his abilities as well.”
“You cruel bastard…”
Though Lee Shin Woo responded sarcastically, he didn’t actually feel all too good about this. There was no way he could be happy about fighting against his undead-turned senior when he had never treated him badly. Although he was both a swindler and an actor, he wasn’t a psychopath.
‘…Even so, it’s not something I can avoid. And it’s not something I should avoid.’
Especially because it was highly likely that Shino Rendu had encountered the Mercenary King, Metafel in his final moments. If those memories are intact, he had to acquire them no matter what. He didn’t have time to waste on pointless affection.
“You’ll go, right?”
“Fine, you asshole.”
“I wasn’t joking when I said we should go slowly. You don’t need to go full speed.”
“What’s the occasion?”
Jin inclined his head, looking for the direction the sun rose, even though no such sun existed in the Underground Empire. Seeing that, Lee Shin Woo just shrugged his shoulders.
“Since we’ve been growing too rapidly thus far. We need the time to examine and get used to our abilities.”
“That really doesn’t sound like something you would say…”
Even though Jin snorted in astonishment, he did as Lee Shin Woo said and began moving slowly. Though he was still moving so quickly that others couldn’t even see him, this speed was walking slowly for Jin.
‘Good. Right now my abilities are…’
Lee Shin Woo had become comfortable on Jin’s back, as if it were the living room of his house, and examined both his stats and skills.
Thus far, he’d encountered similar enemies and fought similar battles in the Forest of the Dryads, and had concentrated on using his skills. If he didn’t meditate over his skills and adapt to them at times like this, he might destroy himself  from using those skills over and over again.
‘I’ll forget about Acid Resistance for a while. The same goes for the Acid element as well… However, the method I figured out at the end of my training wasn’t bad.’
Since he was thinking about it, he decided to summon some weapons into the air. If he excluded the armor set he was wearing right now, he could summon four pieces of equipment. All of the summoned weapons were the Lightning Tooth.
When he fought in the Forest of the Dryads, the axe was the most appropriate weapon as it was of the Acid element, but in normal situations, the Lightning Tooth was the best, as it emitted powerful lightning. On the other hand, the Drake Horn Lance was… obviously an impressive weapon, but it bothered him that it didn’t possess its own element.
“You’re not going to throw those somewhere, are you?”
“Don’t worry. Just look forward.”
Magic. The mysterious energy that inhabited all existence. It could possess an infinite number of properties depending on the wielder. However, one such property of magic was that those properties couldn’t be maintained for very long when magic is poured into something from the outside.
‘However, that rule isn’t applied to my bones, which are both my equipment, as well as my body.’
To be more exact, Lee Shin Woo made it so that rule didn’t apply. It sounded easy, but it required a substantial amount of willpower, as well as concentration.
As he split his magic into four different streams and inserted that mana into his weapons, he absorbed the outside surrounding mana within him, replenishing his magic. It wasn’t easy, but if he was able to do this naturally, his combat ability would increase as well.
‘Rather than trying to explode the weapons with the infused mana, I need to become proficient in collecting that mana back and using it.’
If he did so, his Bone Armory wouldn’t be just a simple storage house, but an extension of his body. And if it did become an extension of his body, Lee Shin Woo could gain ‘power that couldn’t be measured strictly through levels’!
‘Now that I think about it, my stats are already at a total of 3,093. I only need to raise my stats by 107 to get to level 6…’
He’d bragged that he could get to level 6 in just a month when he was still level 4, and ever since he’d reached level 5 to now, he’d made the best choice he could in most situations, so it would be strange if Lee Shin Woo hadn’t grown by this much.
Unfortunately, there was a huge gap between Lee Shin Woo and Jin now. When they had first met, Jin had been a higher level than Lee Shin Woo, but now, there was a difference of about 500 stats between them. Still, at the very least, Jin possessed the Child of Light skill, which increased his agility stat gain by three times, so the disparity hadn’t grown any larger than this.
‘The number of skills we have are way too different.’
Jin only had a few skills he could use (Steel Heart being the main one) and concentrated on those few skills, whereas Lee Shin Woo trained the variety of skills he’d gained from Bone Reinforcement as much as possible.
Most low rank skills wouldn’t increase one’s stats very much even when they leveled up, but when they reached the intermediate level, even the most lousy looking skills would increase one’s stats by at least 5, so there was no way there wouldn’t be a gap between the two.
‘It doesn’t seem like Jin can obtain as many skills as me, even if I reinforce him with the same amount of bones as me… It can’t be helped. This might be the directions of our respective karmas.’
There was only a fixed number of bones that Jin could absorb, so there was a difference in the amount of bones the two could absorb; it would probably be better if he gave up on equalizing their stats.
Of course, it wasn’t like Jin wouldn’t be helpful if his level dropped below Lee Shin Woo’s. Jin’s sprint related skills, his body designed for running, and above all, the imbalance of his high agility stat with his other stats that resulted in his speed, would certainly increase Lee Shin Woo’s strength.
“Shin Woo. Shin Woo!”
“Look over there.”
Lee Shin Woo, who was thinking far into their future, was awoken by Jin’s voice. Because of their connection, Lee Shin Woo immediately knew what Jin was pointing at. It was a city. The amount of death energy being released from the city confirmed that it hadn’t been purified by the other heroes.
“What do you think? Should we stop by?”
“…Yeah. I suppose we could stop by and then continue.”
It should be ok, as it had nothing to do with resistances or dungeons. Lee Shin Woo shrugged his shoulders and followed Jin’s offer. Both Lee Shin Woo and Jin were unaware of this, but Jin had been considerably corrupted by Lee Shin Woo.
Exactly three hours later, they managed to purify the city. Anyone hearing that they’d purified a level 2 danger zone city within three hours would be shocked, but unfortunately, the two skeleton heroes had already forgotten what it meant to be ‘normal’.
 T/N: Crying sound.
 E/N: His identity as a Joker and/or his adaptability.