<Chapter 26. New Element – 2>
[There’s nothing more for you to gain here. So, don’t come here anymore… and try to gather them.]
God said enigmatically, and Lee Shin Woo was chased out of God’s garden. As expected, Jin seemed to have come back before him, as he was waiting with a sour expression (Lee Shin Woo could see past Jin’s Steel Heart armor now and could tell what expression he was making).
“What’s up, Shin Woo.”
“Why do I feel even more confused than before I went to clear things up?”
“You shouldn’t be asking me. I’m dumb, so don’t ask me anything in the future either.”
“It’s nice to see you so confident… Hooo.”
By meeting with God, Lee Shin Woo realized that he was the center of this situation. That’s just how powerful the ability he’d gained was.
…To be honest, it was really troublesome. He had clearly done his best to roam around the world, as well as figure out the truth, grow step by step, and focus only on ensuring his own safety, but he hadn’t really planned on becoming the protagonist and go wild on the main stage.
“After you gain great power, you get caught up in trouble, huh.”
“I feel like I’ve heard that line before…”
Jin tilted his head and Lee Shin Woo continued to play dumb; and in no time, Kratia returned. Even though she was the first to leave, she was the last to return. …But there was a reason for that.
“Shin Woo, take a look at this.”
Once she found him, she rushed over to Lee Shin Woo, put her palms together, and pushed them forward. There was a tiny ice crystal floating above them… it was the artifact that exponentially increased her strength, the Orb of Eternal Ice.
“It got a lot smaller.”
“It’ll eventually get so small that you won’t be able to see it. But that’s not what’s important right now.”
She yelled and tightened her palms together causing the orb to instantly break apart! Lee Shin Woo was shocked, yet Kratia remained calm… Soon, he found that the energy that comprised the orb flowed through her body.
Her once light purple hair and sky blue eyes turned silver, and were radiating light. Lee Shin Woo could feel the power of that light, as it seemed to push her magic in a certain direction.
“Is that Lightning Shadow?”
“No, it’s different from that idiotic technique. Think of my goal as assimilating the Eternal Ice, the high rank magic formula. And the power I gain from doing so is…”
He could tell without listening to her explanation. Since Kratia had invoked her catalytic magic through the Eternal Ice. Lee Shin Woo was well aware that now that she’d assimilated the Eternal Ice, the surrounding mana was quickly being sucked into her and turning into cold air.
Contrary to before, where she used the orb to transform the surrounding mana, gather it, and launch it, she could now finely control her magic. It was all due to concentrating the Eternal Ice’s mana internally.. Therefore, it was like she had gone from Imperialdramon Dragon Mode to Paladin Mode. 
“To make this, I had to use the artifact you gave me, but it’s ok since its ability is still intact.”
“But if you were going to do this, wouldn’t it have been better to ask to absorb it instead?”
“I’m not you…”
“Ah, that’s right. My bad…”
She talked about how amazing this technique was, and how much stress it put on her body; she made sure to emphasize a few times how a human’s body was unable to handle catalytic magic, so she used this inconvenient method of storing the orb’s power into her body, and that he wouldn’t be able to understand her. And she added just one more thing.
“You should be able to turn yourself into a catalyst without this.”
“I told you I can’t.”
“Watch and learn!”
“You know it’s not something I can just ‘watch and learn’!”
No matter how he thought it, Kratia’s expectations of him were way too high. Kratia released her catalyst mode, and pestered him a bit; after that, Lee Shin Woo sighed (though nothing came out) and stood up.
Then, he watched over to the Lv7 (Elite) Chimera Avenger that had… just been watching him until now.
[What will you do now? Are you going to go look for another general?]
“No. We were only able to defeat him because of our information, and our adaptation of the situation. But things won’t go this smoothly next time, so now we have to thoroughly prepare and gather our strength.”
[Gather our strength…! How right you are. Then how should we do that?]
The other Chi Pauls heard him and their eyes gleamed. It seemed as though they were still misunderstanding something, so Lee Shin Woo decided to be honest with them.
“You guys will move separately from me. You need to become stronger your own way, and I have to get stronger my own way as well. Of course we’re not going our separate ways forever.”
[How can that be… We weren’t going to continue to travel with you?]
[That’s… I don’t feel that we can burn with hatred and revenge without you there to guide us.]
Lee Shin Woo smiled bitterly at their response. Of course, they were a powerful force. They were a group of level 6 elites with even a level 7 elite as well, so if he were to travel with them, he wouldn’t die in most situations.
…However, objectively speaking, neither side would be able to properly grow. It would almost be like a restriction on them. It would be restricting to both Lee Shin Woo and the Chi Pauls.
“I don’t plan on controlling you through your hatred alone. For now, go where your feet take you. Watch the current world with your own two eyes… there should be something you get from it. It’s fine if it’s hatred or a completely different emotion. In the end, you’ll be able to get even stronger.”
[The current world…]
Rather than bring them along with him, it’d be better to release them onto the world’s stage. Moreover, he could just bring them when he really needed them. They’ll eventually fight together, even if he didn’t want to.
So, for him, as well as for the purpose of purifying the Empire and their own growth, it would be best to go their separate ways.
[We still don’t really understand. It’s much too vague.]
“Ah, before you go, there’s something I need to show you. It might even encourage you.”
[A place you need to show us?]
[Something that will… encourage us?]
Lee Shin Woo looked at the Chi Pauls… his completely destroyed surroundings, Kratia, who was blankly staring at him, Jin, as well as the collapsed satellite city, Kadinan.
He smiled bitterly. His original plan had been so much simpler, so how did things turn out like this?
“Now, shall we go and see what’s hidden within the secret facilities?”
“Are you going to show me too?”
“What’s with you all of a sudden?”
Kratia became a bit happy at Lee Shin Woo’s words. To be honest, he thought it would turn out like this when he had first asked her for help, but it wasn’t a bad feeling to be recognized by one’s information sharing partner.
“Hey, he’s a skeleton.”
“I know. He’s a skeleton who’s really good at handling magic.”
Jin commented from beside her, but Kratia tilted her head as if to say ‘and what about it?’. Lee Shin Woo heard their chat, but he had no idea what they were even talking about.
“So you got a request from the golems?”
“Yeah. We’ve been in contact even before then.”
[Are you saying that there are knights who succeeded the experiment…?]
Lee Shin Woo led the party, entered the facility, and explained the events to Kratia. It was also an explanation to the Chi Pauls, who were turned into golems and sacrificed for the experiment.
“The Golden General, Arema Steelworker…”
“The reason I didn’t tell you earlier was because I was concerned that you might go looking for him. Plus, it would’ve become a pain for us, as we need to use the golem trains.”
Kratia agreed; if it were her from a few months back that was extremely curious about how golems worked, she might’ve stuck with Lee Shin Woo and been a pain in the ass. Of course, she was different now. She knew when she could be greedy and when she needed to resign herself.
“If they figured out who I am, they would be suspicious.”
“Assuming that they know about every single hero in the Empire, there’s no reason to link us with the heroes. As you know, we don’t look like heroes, right?”
“Yeah. So long as we don’t know their intent, there’s no reason to tell them about the heroes.”
While conversing, they explored every nook and cranny of the facility. The Chi Pauls heard Lee Shin Woo talk about ‘other golems’, as well as finding traces of other knights being sacrificed as test subjects just like them and began to feel a powerful emotion that they couldn’t define.
[The test succeeded, but they were indeed sacrificed. To think that there’s a core capable of making someone absolutely loyal.]
[Yet, that core is what allowed us to be reborn. Though there’s no trace of it anymore.]
[Do you think they’re hostile to the Emperor as well?]
[They’re probably not like us. Moreover, Arema Steelworker? I remembered when I heard his name. It seemed like he wanted to hide it, but… we saw it.]
One Chi Paul spoke in the middle of the other Chi Pauls. It seemed as though its intellect was far greater than the other Chi Pauls, probably as much as the level 7… it compared the memories of countless knights’ imperfect memories and extracted them, coming into possession of a massive amount of intact memories.
[Isn’t it him? The one who recommended this damn plan to the Emperor?]
[Is that true?]
“…What did you say!?”
That’s the first even Lee Shin Woo had heard of it! He immediately turned his head, and the Chi Paul stepped back slightly, as if flustered, and bowed his head.
[I’m sure. I couldn’t be sure before, due to the fragmented memories, but… I can tell now. The one who recommended that the Emperor turn knights into golems was… No, the one who first introduced the technique of making golems came from him.]
“…Is that so?”
Arema Steelworker was definitely the one who proposed the experiment, but he’d never told Lee Shin Woo who had come up with the plan. Moreover, at the time of the experiment, he had volunteered himself and pledged his loyalty to the Emperor, so he hadn’t lied.
‘The truth was merely hidden; it wasn’t a lie. Even so, it’s still deception.’
Lee Shin Woo’s mouth gaped, as though his jawbone would fall out, but he was smiling. That’s because he’d gotten a hint from a place he’d never expected to get one from.
‘He sent me here himself, but to think I’d hear about this from the knights who were supposed to be buried in the past… Moreover, he probably didn’t think that there was a way to gather all the knights’ fragmented memories and rebuild them.’
Of course he wouldn’t know. Lee Shin Woo hadn’t known either!
“Even so, was there anything that changed? They just went from loyal psychos to people who got a hold of themselves and ran away following the Emperor’s activation of the curse, no?”
“Well, that could be it. But if Arema Steelworker was the one to recommend the formation of the golem army, then…”
Lee Shin Woo was remembering. All the golems possessed a mark that allowed the Emperor to control them, and under that, Guillotine Steelworker and the others held a high rank administrative mark. Then under that was a general administrator’s mark.
“But from what I remember, Arema Steelworker possessed a mark for just himself… one that wasn’t the Emperor’s mark, or even the Steelworker mark.”
Of course, he probably needed it to control the golem army. Rather than the Emperor giving orders, it would be much better for the general, Arema Steelworker to be commanding the troops in battle.
However, if he was the one who started everything… and if he had a different intention in mind…
“What if Arema Steelworker’s mark is even higher than the Emperor’s?”
His sharp statement caused everyone to keep their mouths shut. At that moment, Lee Shin Woo, who had been feeling up the wall, stopped his hand. At his fingertips, the Steelworker mark was radiating a blinding light.
He’d finally found the facility within the facility; the entrance to the secret area.
 T/N: Digimon reference. Just a way of saying she’s reached her “final form” or something.