<Chapter 21. Inherited Hope – 5 [End of Volume 4]>
[You have perfectly purified the intermediate city, ‘Buote’ where countless merchants from small towns gathered! You have acquired 2 permits to God’s secret shop. You have acquired 100,000 Perium. Proficiency in all combat related skills increase. The finding friend location function has been added. If your comrade permits you to do so, you can track their location.]
[You defeated every undead in the city with a single blow! You are powerful enough to be called the most powerful level 5, as you easily overpowered similarly leveled undead. All stats have increased by 3.]
Lee Shin Woo had experience in clearing the similarly sized city, Kehebe, so he didn’t even need to worry about conquering this city, and just slaughtered every undead that came his way. But perhaps because of that, he achieved another feat and his stats increased.
Well, he’d repeatedly killed level 5 elite undead in a single blow, which couldn’t be common within the ranks of level 5 heroes. Even if Lee Shin Woo was right about to level up to level 6, that is.
“So that’s how it is. The strongest level 5…”
Lee Shin Woo felt like that title was exposing his location, so he wasn’t all that happy about it. No matter how much he boasted, he was still only the strongest amongst level 5s!
However, he quickly regained his spirits. Someone might pick a fight with him if he were self-conceited or became too relaxed. It was always important to strive to improve oneself; even his own parents had told him that.
“So what did your parents do for a living?”
“What’s with you all of a sudden?”
In the process of conquering the city, he had consumed all of the level 5 elites bones he’d acquired, but the effects weren’t worth writing home about, so while he was here, Lee Shin Woo investigated all of the sewers as well. There was nothing in the sewers this time too.
There were some Anti-Skull hidden facilities remaining, but there was no one inside of them, so he felt twice the dejection. Was he becoming careless after recruiting the golems and Dryads as allies? He became angry, even though it didn’t really matter.
“Maybe the guys in here were smarter than the rest and regained their intellect on their own and left.”
“It’s not that unfortunate, you know.”
Lee Shin Woo left the city gaining essentially nothing, and began running towards his destination with Jin once more. A few more hours passed like that.
‘Mmmm… I think I’m done with this now.’
After he’d infused mana into the weapons, he maintained it, as well as drawing out that mana to use for his skills; in less than 4 hours of training, Lee Shin Woo mastered that technique. At the very least, he wouldn’t make a mistake while controlling this few weapons.
‘I’m done checking my stats too.’
Lee Shin Woo clenched and unclenched his fist a few times, and then nodded his head. He checked his stats, his skills, and even the titles he’d acquired thus far. His self-inspection was perfect. Even if he encountered a level 6 elite monster, he would be able to take it on without any problems.
‘Then, I suppose I should start resting a bit…’
Of course, it was just called ‘resting’, as Lee Shin Woo couldn’t waste his time with that. He took a ‘deep breath’, opened his inventory, and took out a book from it. It was the book seemingly left behind by the Elementalist Mellonia, who had an amicable relationship with the Dryads.
‘There are a total of 5 volumes… It’s sorted by number.’
He opened the first volume. Though he was given the ability to speak and read this world’s language, because he had absorbed countless undeads’ memories and experiences, he didn’t really need to use that ability anymore, and was able to read the letters naturally.
Perhaps because of that, he could understand the meaning behind each and every letter.
[I hope that this book comes into the possession of one who loves spirits.]
The 1st volume started with such a cliche and pretentious line, and could be considered an introduction to spirits that was written personally by Mellonia. As he read the first volume, Lee Shin Woo was able to supplement his knowledge considerably with the absorbed Silver Ice Tiger’s canine.
There was a difference between theory and actual experience. He laughed at the fact that he was able to acquire both from Mellonia. High ranked knowledge and experience; it was easy for him to tell that Mellonia was someone renowned when she was alive as she possessed both.
‘But even Mellonia is saying that an Elementalist can’t use elemental power themselves, but instead uses the spirits to acquire it…’
Based on the experiences he’d acquired from the earring, elemental power just referred to elemental magic.
But contrary to Lee Shin Woo, who had realized that he could transform his mana into said elemental power, Mellonia stated that one must form a contract with a spirit to do so.
Of course, Mellonia was wrong. Since Lee Shin Woo was proof that she was wrong.
‘If that’s the case, then I don’t need to contract with a spirit as I can already use elemental power.’
However, it didn’t seem like that was actually the case. As Mellonia said, spirits are as smart or smarter than humans, so they can also move independently, and the more authority the spirits have over an element, the more powerfully they can wield that element…
[Above all, they lead their contractor to immortality.]
As Lee Shin Woo read that section, his goblin fire blazed. It was a phrase that he really didn’t like. Since entering the Underground Empire, the term ‘immortality’ could cause Lee Shin Woo to shake.
Moreover, if one could actually achieve immortality from contracting with spirits, then Mellonia shouldn’t have died.
[A spirit causes their contractor to slowly, very slowly become like them. These spirits do not have the physical constraints of an aging body, but are composed of magic and a soul; in theory, they possess eternal life. But as the contractor slowly starts to resemble these spirits, what would happen to them in the end?]
[The contract between a spirit and an Elementalist is like the relationship between trees and the Dryads who parasitize them. It becomes easy to understand by comparing the Elementalist to the tree, and the Dryads as the spirits. The moment the Dryads attach to these trees which have no ability or will of their own, the trees begin to obtain a certain spiritual power.]
[In the process, the trees become a place where Dryads are born, as well as the resting place for the other Dryads. Ultimately, the tree becomes a new spirit. One of the reasons I made a research facility in the Forest of the Dryads is because I wanted to thoroughly observe the trees’ changes.]
It seems like Mellonia hadn’t come to the Forest of the Dryads with innocent intentions, contrary to what the Dryads had thought; it didn’t seem like she spent her days pleasantly researching by strolling through the forest, and breathing in the aroma of the forest. She said that she didn’t want any harm to come to the Dryads, yet she was clearly a researcher who studied the Dryads.
[This is my supposition based on the Dryads’ relationship with trees. One day, an Elementalist contracted with spirits will lose their body and will become a pure astral body. If that’s the case, can we even call that an evolution? Can we call that immortality?]
Lee Shin Woo didn’t think so. They wouldn’t become a different species regardless of if they had a physical body or an astral body. There would be living organisms with superior physical bodies, as well as living beings with inferior astral bodies. One couldn’t conclude whether one was strictly better than the other.
And if turning into an astral body was indeed considered a form of evolution, he wouldn’t walk that path. Giving up one thing to gain another; he was sick and tired of those kind of deals. He wanted it all now.
Lee Shin Woo had already read 3 of the 5 volumes and inwardly sighed. He had attempted to learn a specific method of handling spirits, but the history of spirit theory was extensive, and there was a lot of knowledge and usage of spirits which seemed to be filled with only subjective opinions.
Of course, that wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad, but it felt like he was licking an extremely delicious and sweet fruit. Or the feeling of figuring out the history of the painting, but not providing the winning bid at an auction.
‘What about the other two remaining volumes? …Huh?’
The 4th volume’s contents were much shabbier than the previous three volumes, yet it was the book detailing the method of contracting with spirits. It was the book Lee Shin Woo had been wanting to read the most!
‘Plus, the contents are dry.’
Volume 1-3 had explained spirits quite enthusiastically, yet when he actually got to the method of contracting with spirits, it was extremely abstract, stating that one must find a place abundant with the energy of nature, which wasn’t very helpful and only stated things that were discouraging.
[Spirits are living beings. Without life, there are no spirits. You must find a place most abundant with life.]
[If one can become a knight through their own efforts, and a magician is heaven sent, then an Elementalist is chosen by nature. Personal training isn’t really instrumental in becoming an Elementalist. An abundance of mana is important, and above all, luck is paramount. That’s because one must be chosen by a spirit.]
[An Elementalist must try to take after nature. Spirits love the most natural mana. Next, the more captivating you look to the spirits, the better.]
The first half of the 4th volume evoked the feeling of ‘Conquer them! Make the spirits fall for you! The makeup that’ll make them fall for you!’. And the second half sounded like something a guru cultivating himself in a forest would say; the disconnect really bothered him.
“It’s exactly like I thought.”
“It was impossible to contract with spirits in this Empire, as the curse had already taken root.”
“That’s quite unfortunate.”
If he went into a dungeon, would spirits be in there? Even if there were, they wouldn’t easily form a contract with him. Moreover, he would need a charming exterior appearance; so long as Lee Shin Woo didn’t continually maintain his Disguise, the clear conditions were impossible! Since he was a skeleton!
“Ah, I already knew it all, but I read it thinking that maybe… Damn it. There’s only the last volume remaining, so I should read that.”
“Are you the type that can’t stop reading a series even when it goes to shit?”
“Don’t traumatize me.”
After Lee Shin Woo quieted Jin down, he started reading the 5th volume. It was Mellonia’s journal, and seemed like it was written after she had become an Elementalist. The dates were all mixed up, but they were properly arranged by time.
[His name is Silver. They say all Silver Ice Tigers are like this, but Silver’s the only Silver Ice Tiger for me.]
[Silver lead me to a different world. I was able to meet other Elementalists as well, and I, who was once a stupid countryside girl, was able to become a Royal Elementalist and wear nice clothes. Everything feels like a dream.]
To think she didn’t erase this section of her journal, the time when she was so naive. Perhaps this was the last thing Mellonia could remember? He felt slightly resistant in reading further, but Lee Shin Woo resolved himself and went to the next page.
[It seems like I have an aptitude for magic. Since I have an aptitude in magic, and I’m also loved by a spirit, I can become a talented Elementalist. I’m not used to getting complimented by others.]
[Someone more talented than me entered. They’re only 7 years old, yet they’ve been chosen by 3 high ranking spirits. Moreover, she’s the royal princess. Is it really ok for someone to have it all?]
Lee Shin Woo stopped at this part. If they were clearly this powerful, then perhaps Lee Shin Woo would meet them later.
But if that were the case, then Lee Shin Woo had to read further. He continued onto the next page without rest, and was able to obtain more information regarding the princess from Mellonia. However, Mellonia’s diary which detailed her life in the palace, ended abruptly with one sentence.
After that, what was depicted afterwards was dark. Reviving a spirit, the research involved, leaving the palace, as well as regarding where she disappeared to (the Forest of the Dryads)… And.
[When I had no way out, and had fallen into despair, they found me.]
[They said they would give me all the materials I needed, so I plan to follow them.]
[I knew their resistance, their treachery would end in the worst way possible, but…]
[But still, it doesn’t matter. A world without Silver can go to hell for all I care.]
That page ended with that final line. Ultimately, this was clearly related to his quest of uncovering the secret of the Empire (but not telling him about how things progressed beforehand)!
Lee Shin Woo sported a discouraged expression and wanted to burn the diary to a crisp, but he suddenly saw something written very small on the last page.
[Does anyone have the Key to Heaven’s Gate? At the very least, that is something that doesn’t belong to either Anti-Skull or the Emperor.]
Putting aside the fact that she knew about Anti-Skull, what’s with this clearly suspicious line…? Lee Shin Woo tilted his head. However, Jin called Lee Shin Woo at just the right time.
“Shin Woo, we’ve arrived.”
When Lee Shin Woo raised his head, he saw a completely ruined city before him. It looked a lot bigger than any other city he’d seen before, but because everything was broken, it felt truly empty.
Above all, what was most peculiar was the disorderly traces of undead in various places, yet they had already left the city. As well as the presence of a hero who’d become an undead… that had died alone silently within the city.
“What are you going to do?”
“What do you mean?”
Lee Shin Woo shoved the five volumes of Mellonia’s books into his inventory and gripped one of the swords in the air. He pushed away the various thoughts in his head and sharpened himself, like a blade.
He could progress the quest later. That was the appeal of quests: he would have a bunch of them at once and eventually he’d complete them one by one.
There was only one thing of importance right now.
“He’s my senior, so I have to pay my last respects.”