<Chapter 3. Level Up – 1>
“It’s a good view.”
Lee Shin Woo carelessly muttered. Although he was underground, mana was everywhere, and harmoniously floated about. Lee Shin Woo stretched his bare hand, and the mana briefly remained at his fingertips, and then went somewhere else. It seemed it was because his Beginner Magic Affinity was still only level 1.
‘Getting this skill early on was definitely a good call.’
He stayed there, playing with the mana a bit more, and then, withdrew his hand and nodded his head. After experiencing the mystery of mana, he finally felt like he was in a different world. He had felt, how should he say it, that it was just a survival game up until now.
‘If the blue bone was this effective, then what would the red bone do? It feels like the red bone would’ve been really helpful. I can’t ignore Perium anymore… oh.’
[A quest has occurred!]
He wasn’t that surprised this time seeing the quest message. Before the message appeared, he saw the mana in front of him distort, and not only that, he had predicted that it would appear at around this timing.
[The Ability to Survive Here]
[Though you have safely infiltrated the Empire, you are still too weak. The Underground Empire is vast, and there are powerful undead who have lived a long time within. However, there are fortunately some who evaded the undead curse and continued to live. These living beings inhabit an isolated environment, the dungeon.]
[You must first build up your strength in the dungeon before you start your battle with the undead in earnest. Pick a dungeon nearby and get to level 2. When the sum of your stats reaches 200, the karma that you’ve gathered up to that point will determine your future appearance and potential.]
[However, be cautious. The dungeon itself is safe from the curse, but those who were cursed and entered into the dungeon are not.]
[Quest reward – Open Heroes’ Chatting Channel]
After he read the entire quest, Lee Shin Woo’s eyes glared. A chatting channel? It would’ve been nice if they’d opened the chatting channel earlier!
If not, is this karma too!? If that’s also not it, is getting to level 2 the prerequisite to entering the chatting room!?
“Let’s go now. Right now.”
[The dungeon’s location is being shown on the minimap.]
However, contrary to his massive complaining, he immediately nodded his head and accepted the quest. He had been lonely since he hadn’t had anyone to talk to, but a channel where he could talk to the other heroes inside the Empire? He would be lying if he said he wasn’t happy.
Furthermore, realistically speaking, this chatting channel would be helpful. The heroes agreed that their mission was to save the Empire. Then that meant they were on the same page. Lee Shin Woo hoped that the heroes deep within the Empire would each say a word or two to their junior.
‘No wait, I might be thinking too optimistically since I’ve been starved of human contact, but… in any case, I’ll know when the channel’s open.’
As long as he behaved himself, Lee Shin Woo would be able to use this chatting channel effectively. He was extremely satisfied with the quest reward, nodded his head, and finally noticed the last phrase of the quest.
[However, be cautious. The dungeon itself is safe from the curse, but those who were cursed and entered into the dungeon are not.]
He tilted his head. The monsters inside the dungeon aren’t affected by the curse, but the heroes who had entered the empire have already been affected by it, so be cautious if you don’t want to die, is that it? He was an undead that was blessed with immortality, so he didn’t really worry about it too much.
‘…Alright, let’s find a suitable dungeon nearby.’
Lee Shin Woo leaned against a nearby building’s wall and concealed himself; then, he gently closed his eyes and saw the minimap.
Things like the monsters’ locations didn’t appear on the minimap, but aside from that, it showed the surrounding area in fair detail. Lee Shin Woo tended to not have a good sense of direction, so showing the surrounding area would give him a solid sense of direction.
‘There are three shining points above the minimap… Their size is subtly different; does the difficulty correspond with the size?’
There were three dungeons in the immediate vicinity. Right now, he couldn’t tell what kind of monsters were in a certain dungeon, nor could he tell their difficulty level. He wouldn’t know until he personally entered the dungeon.
If that’s the case, picking any of them should be fine. Lee Shin Woo started to walk towards the closest dungeon. First, he needed to get out of the ruined city; then he would need to go past the desert terrain, which was all he saw, to reach his destination.
‘The surrounding area should be safe. Since those skeletons just stayed atop the castle wall.’
Of course, he couldn’t afford to be careless. After all, a Treasure Eater had appeared in the external passageways, which could be considered the tutorial stage, just because a Lv2 item had appeared.
Lee Shin Woo still wasn’t confident that he could beat a Treasure Eater one on one with ease. The wall called ‘levels’ was huge and sturdy. However, it would change soon. As long as he raised his stats by 9, that is.
‘First, let’s be cautious of our surroundings…’
He had been afraid of the Empire ever since he saw the quest alert window, and he had comparatively been recklessly charging forward until now. Even so, Lee Shin Woo had no choice but to be on his guard. He couldn’t afford to be reckless, even when taking on level 1 skeletons as his opponents.
However, fortunately, his concerns were unfounded. He hadn’t encountered a single zombie or skeleton before reaching the dungeon that hid on the outskirts of the ruined city.
‘…It’s strange though.’
Since he hadn’t encountered anything, he was even more concerned. How could there be fewer skeletons within the Empire than the skeletons guarding the external passageways? To him, who had prepared for a much more dangerous fight with the Treasure Eater, he felt all his energy drain away.
‘Perhaps it’s a matter related to the dungeon.’
He didn’t ignore this sense of disharmony. He returned his bow that he had taken out to intercept enemies from a far distance and tightly gripping the bone spear. Then, he cautiously moved forward, being watchful of his surroundings.
His level 4 Beginner Spearmanship would be better than his level 2 Beginner Archery against a strong opponent. More importantly, his bone spear was at level 2. He felt more reassured when he held the spear than the bow.
He recollected his faint experience in the army, and instinctively guarded in all directions poorly, and after a while of walking tactically, he finally arrived at the point that shimmered on his minimap.
The problem was that it kept shining.
‘I arrived but… So where exactly is the dungeon? Do I have to dig into the ground or something?’
The dungeon entrance was so well hidden that if the dungeon’s location hadn’t appeared on the minimap, Lee Shin Woo wouldn’t have been able to recognize it.
He couldn’t find it by looking at the ground, and it was a structure where he would find the stairway that led underground only after digging for quite a while, but honestly, there was a secret that was hidden here. And before he went through the effort of digging, Lee Shin Woo, fortunately, realized that.
“What’s this pattern?”
There was a pattern on the ground that faintly emitted light. Lee Shin Woo scrutinized it for a while and realized that the pattern didn’t actually exist but was a trace of mana that had become fixed, albeit faintly.
‘This does look like the dungeon’s entrance. What do I have to do for the mana to, oooh.’
The moment Lee Shin Woo’s bare bone came into contact with the trace of mana, the magic circle that blocked the dungeon’s entrance responded to Lee Shin Woo and started to strongly surge up. Lee Shin Woo instinctually directed the mana that was gathered in his bone and touched it.
Then, it seemed as though a light more powerful than the pattern was emitted, and Lee Shin Woo absorbed it! At the same time, Lee Shin Woo saw a series of texts in front of him, like when he saw his status or quests.
[Level 1 dungeon – You have received a permit to enter the Rural Rat Nest. All of your stats increase by ten in the dungeon. Info on the dungeon is added to your minimap. All your actions in the dungeon are buffed.]
[Beginner Magic Affinity has become Lv2. Magic recovery rate increases.]
The pattern on the floor naturally shut off, and the stairway that led underground appeared. If he hadn’t learned Beginner Magic Affinity, he probably would’ve had to dig into the ground until he found the stairs. He also wouldn’t have known that the dungeon was level 1, that his stats would be increased in the dungeon, or that he’d be buffed inside the dungeon.
Lee Shin Woo suddenly self-praised his choice (though it was more like a gamble than a choice) and went down the stairs into the dungeon.
The surroundings gradually got darker, and while going down the top of the stairway, suddenly the ceiling made a sound as it closed, and pieces of rock fell down in a flurry. If he were still human, he would’ve said it was dirty and freaked out, but after becoming a skeleton, he didn’t need to wash up. It was fine as long as he didn’t take a lot of damage.
‘I don’t need to eat, don’t need to bathe, and I don’t even need to sleep. I might even have the greatest advantage in roaming around this undead nest.’
Just considering the fact that he was thinking so strategically about his undead situation meant that his thought process was already far different than when he was still human, but he wasn’t self-aware of this. He was just curious when this stairway would end and busily moved his feet.
But in the midst of that, his tension and his wariness helped to keep him from foolishly losing his life.
The incident happened in a split second. Finally, at the end of the ladder, he saw a stone floor exposed underneath, and while he was going down the ladder two steps at a time due to his excitement, suddenly, a bright light attacked him from within the darkness.
It was extremely fast and at the same time, powerful. Lee Shin Woo instinctually used Sprint and tried avoiding it, but despite that, the elbow of his arm not holding the spear starting from the bottom was completely severed.
Even though he had changed into an undead, he retained his sense of pain. The pain he received was naturally awfully huge.
Still, Lee Shin Woo suppressed his desire to roll on the floor and raised his spear. He couldn’t even tell where his opponent was, so getting angry at his injury was just a luxury right now!
‘I was careless. I thought that the dungeon entrance would be ok.’
No, that wasn’t it. He had put up his guard. His opponent was just too fast, and he just couldn’t evade it.
Even right now!
By the time he had seen a glimmering light in the darkness, it was already too late. Lee Shin Woo hunched down without thinking the instant he felt goosebumps on his entire body. Something passed over his head, possessing both destructive force and speed.
[Beginner Sprint has become Lv5.]
After he had barely dodged his enemy’s attack, he grit his teeth and stabbed his spear forward. Until now, he had always thrust with the strength of both arms, but now, since he was gripping it with one arm, the force behind it wasn’t like it was before.
“Ugh, damn it…!”
His enemy couldn’t dodge his quick counterattack and his spear did indeed pierce its flesh, but he could tell that it wasn’t a fatal blow from the blunt feeling that was relayed from the spear. He withdrew his spear, desperately retreated back and grit his teeth.
It was at that moment. He didn’t know where exactly his enemy was, but after it yelled out a strange sound, the torches on the walls that no one knew about were lit in order and the whole area was slightly illuminated. Lee Shin Woo was finally able to see what his opponent looked like.
It had rotting, decaying clothes, and similarly dressed down and dirty. There were cracks here and there on its body, and contrastingly, it wielded a long sword that gleamed silver… That was definitely a zombie.
Lee Shin Woo didn’t think an undead would appear, yet one had appeared at the starting entrance. He didn’t know what to think and momentarily stiffened. That was his mistake.
His opponent’s rotten eyeballs rolled, and it advanced towards him, swinging its sword. Lee Shin Woo instantly lost his head. It was an absurdly nimble and sharp strike.
Lee Shin Woo had been reduced to a head and rolled through the air. As he did so, the damn zombie that had killed him didn’t stop looking at him until the end.
He had vowed to never die again, and it felt unfair that he had lost one of his lives so futilely. They said that undead wouldn’t appear in this dungeon, but the fact that an undead had suddenly appeared from the start pissed him off.
At that time.
[Invisible Heart has become Lv3. All stats increase by 3.]
[97 levels remaining until the max level.]
At the same time as he saw the message, he was familiar with it since he had seen it once…
[Your total stat count is above 200. Would you like to receive level 2’s karma? It is also possible to put it off briefly.]
[You have encountered an Undead Hero (Lv2). If you succeed in giving the Undead Hero peace, you will inherit the opponent’s Perium that he gathered until his death, as well as a permit to God’s secret shop.]
His eyes were filled with the appearances of strange messages.