<Chapter 31. Giants’ Domain – 7>
Lee Shin Woo, who’d successfully stolen away the compass (the actual name was [Lv6 Mana Guide]) and gotten away from Metafel, told the Giants to get ready for their next mission. After that, they used a giant cave near their domain as their command center.
Because the outskirts of their domain was quite a ways away, it wasn’t suitable to use as a base of operations.
“Wow, it’s deep. Plus, this chill…”
“It’ll be worse if you go outside.”
Whereas, this cave allowed the Giants to communicate whenever they pleased and was situated in a location that was difficult for the enemy to find. Therefore, Lee Shin Woo planned on gathering his subordinates here.
“It’s a really nice place.”
“I thought you’d say something like that.”
To be honest, there was another reason he hadn’t set up his command center directly inside of the Giants’ domain. It was because of Kratia.
Of course, because of his influence, the undead under his command had long since overcome their instinct – their instinctual hatred of living beings. However, the Giants had merely acknowledged Lee Shin Woo; they hadn’t actually pledged their loyalty to him. There was no reason to provoke them by showing them Kratia.
“It’s been a long time, so what have you two been doing?”
Lee Shin Woo had used his Bone Gate (ever since he realized that the Bone Gate evolves the more bones it eats, Lee Shin Woo hadn’t felt bad about feeding it bones) to bring Kratia to the cave, or their command center. Then Jin, who was forced to stay behind due to the Bone Gate’s max carrying capacity, spoke sullenly.
“You’ll be surprised. Can you tell? This blinding and brilliant bone compass…!”
“…Is this what you were telling me about? Did you miniaturize it… Huh?”
Lee Shin Woo, as if waiting for her to say that, extracted a few small compasses from his inventory.
They were very different from the original compass in size, but they looked so similar that one would believe it if Lee Shin Woo said that he’d miniaturized the original. Kratia analyzed them from the side.
“It turned into bone because Shin Woo touched it, but because of that, it became easier to analyze. The effect’s the same, but its range has lessened a bit, so it was divided into more than one. Despite splitting into six pieces, it’s still a level 6 artifact.”
“That was possible…?”
Originally, the Mana Guide was an artifact that could cover Metafel’s entire army. Kratia studied the artifact with Lee Shin Woo and split it into several pieces.
Of course, it wasn’t easy, but her manufacturing ability, which had improved due to her study of Huginn’s Eye, combined with Lee Shin Woo’s magic, resulted in the Mana Guide’s new form.
“If you have this, you can resist the spatial magic.”
“Anyway, I should give these to each of the Pauls’ leaders.”
He’d give one to Kratia, keep one for himself, and the rest would go to Shino Rendu, Chi Paul, Bester Moon, and the group of golems. If the Archmage knew about this, then he’d hit the floor wailing. Why, you ask…?
“We didn’t completely remove the tracking function, so right about now, the enemy forces should be in chaos.”
“It must feel like they’re looking for the scattered dragon balls…”
He heard someone interrupting his satisfying monologue, so it had to be Jin.
“I know about Dragon Ball!”
“I suppose there was a similar comic in your world too.”
“Shin Woo, you won’t always be able to use that excuse to get away with things!”
Lee Shin Woo did his best to ignore Jin’s hot gaze, and he passed a few of the compasses to Rem. He heard a report that his subordinates would arrive soon.
“Come back after you’ve passed them around. While you’re at it, find out where their main forces are.”
By the time Lee Shin Woo was done seeing Rem off and had turned around, Kratia was already analyzing things all over the place. Then again, Kratia would be curious about the giant flow of mana that hid the mountain range, the overwhelming cold here, and the Giant Tribe, so it made sense.
“Kratia, I’ve already told you this before, but you can’t provoke the Giants.”
“I’ll leave the Giants to you, Shin Woo. I’m interested in the cold.”
“The cold is probably connected to the Giants too.”
Kratia tilted her head and soon began her study, but quickly realized that Lee Shin Woo was right.
“The center of the Giants’ domain is… the source of the cold.”
“Metafel called it the frozen Titan’s Heart.”
“You’re saying that a single item caused all this? …Freezing the entire mountain range?”
Kratia’s eyes shined. Her eyes were silently asking him for something! Of course, even if she looked at him like that, he couldn’t bring her the Titan’s Heart.
“Be patient for now. Plus, even if we do get it, it’s not yours.”
“But it’s an artifact that really, really suits me! …It really, really, really, suits me!”
Kratia grabbed both of his hands. Lee Shin Woo thought of a way he could use the frozen Titan’s Heart, but… he had to throw out some bait. He acted as though he were smiling benevolently and said.
“I’ll give it to you then. I promise.”
Kratia snorted and agreed to cooperate with the ‘big picture’ for now; she decided to take control over the surrounding cold.
As she was able to use ice magic, the colder her surroundings got, the more powerful her magic became. It was the same as Lee Shin Woo’s lightning; in an area filled to the brim with lightning, his lightning would come out even stronger. Moreover, Kratia was able to use Catalyst Magic to influence her surroundings, so…
“It’s tremendous. Perhaps this area was a battlefield created for me alone.”
Kratia ran across the snowy fields with her orb (which had gotten even smaller than before). He couldn’t help but laugh, as it was like watching a little kid, but wherever she went, the cold in the surrounding area would change bit by bit, which was a little scary.
She was attempting to put the entire area’s mana under her control. The fact that it was actually working was most shocking!
“…If we were to fight here, then Kratia might be our greatest asset.”
“Even so, don’t get careless. …Someone like her is rare.”
“Of course. I got through that pandemonium too, remember.”
Jin said, and Lee Shin Woo nodded his head. They’d managed to beat Metafel once, but if Lee Shin Woo’s ability had been lacking even a little bit, the plan would’ve failed. That just proved how great their opponent was.
‘Metafel’s Command skill is the worst fit for my Instigate skill. Even if I can trick his troops, I can’t do it for very long. No, it might not even work a second time.’
Metafel, who he’d encountered not far from here, proved that he had earned his post, rather than just playing cards and getting in through luck, as he was indeed quite powerful. What was even more impressive than his power was his skill to command his troops! Lee Shin Woo’s Instigate skill, which shined the most when he was against an army, was sealed, which was, in several ways, a pain in the ass.
Moreover, according to Shino Rendu, Metafel’s true strength lay in the Ghoul’s innate ability, but since he hadn’t used that ability yet…
‘Plus, his subordinates are no joke…’
There was an even bigger problem: the unexpected presence of powerful elites. Especially his guard, the level 7 elite, Setoin Miletus.
Most archers he’d seen hadn’t been a high level like Setoin, and at the minimum, he possessed High Rank Archery, allowing him to attack from long range with such precision and ferocity. He’d managed to dodge his arrows because of Jin’s exception agility, but the level 7 Giant who’d been hit in the forearm was still complaining about its wound, despite its size.
“If you take all of that into account, it’s not something you can handle with just your wit.”
“Yeah. That’s why I brought Kratia over. Moreover…”
Lee Shin Woo had found Metafel’s location through Rem and nodded his head in satisfaction. He had split his troops into dozens of groups and they were wandering around the mountain range.
If a single, unified army was powerful, then all one needed to do was split it up! Even now, the moving corps didn’t realize that they were getting increasingly far from one another. Since their compass which blocked the mana interference was gone! Once they found a trace of Lee Shin Woo, they moved towards it; the more they moved towards that trace, the further they got from each other, isolating them!
[Paul Zero, we’ve come.]
[Paul Zero, we’ve come as well. We were found by heroes halfway through, so we had to take the long way, but…]
[As per your instructions, Master, the golems are opening a path.]
[Paul Zero, we’ve come to stomp on any insects who follow the Emperor’s command!]
Then, as if planning this, his subordinates (who were at least level 6 elites) reported in. Lee Shin Woo planned out how they, Kratia, and the Giants would move, and grinned. He had this many forces, and perfect information as well. He didn’t think he’d lose at this point.
“Rem, hurry up.”
[I’ve found our comrades. I will now begin handing out the items.]
The level 7 Wolf Avenger, Bester Moon’s force consisted of 50 level 4 or higher Pauls.
The level 6 Undead Avenger, Shino Rendu’s force consisted of 50 Pauls as well.
The level 7 Chimera Avenger, Chi Paul’s force consisted of 31 level 6 Chi Pauls.
And finally, the Emerald Corps consisted of 10 Silver Golems and 200 Dark Emerald Bone Golems!
They had all received a compass from Rem and had entered the mountain range. There were some who didn’t possess Ice Resistance, so they were weakened as they entered, but the enemy forces would have sustained a similar penalty. It wasn’t too big a deal.
‘Plus, there’s something I’ve prepared for that as well.’
Three hours later, his subordinates had quickly scaled the mountain and arrived in front of the command center. Then, Lee Shin Woo spread hundreds of bones in front of them. His subordinates watched vacantly as he did so, and he explained his actions kindly to them.
“These are the bones of the monsters which had previously inhabited this area. If you each pick one up, it’ll make you stronger. If you don’t get Ice Resistance from that, then you’ll be hunting until you do.”
“Shin… Paul Zero, you’re really scary.”
Half of his troops received Beginner Ice Resistance or higher from the absorption, but before they could go on to fight the Imperial Army, they would need to hunt the undead inhabiting the mountain range and be reinforced.
And before it even became dark, all of the Paul Zero troops had gained at least level 5 Beginner Ice Resistance.
“It seems like you’re all ready for battle.”
[As you command, Master.]
[Thank you very much… for giving me this opportunity, Paul Zero.]
Lee Shin Woo saw the assembled undead before him, which shined with death energy filled goblin fire (especially Shino Rendu), and suddenly wondered how he’d become able to lead all these troops, but soon grinned and discarded that useless thought.
“As I’ve already told you, our enemy’s strong. There are many of them, too. But we should be able to sow chaos in their ranks. …This is for the Giants, who may become our comrades in the future. Be prepared for death, but don’t die.”
[I’ll keep that in mind!]
“Paul Zero… you really are cool.”
With this, everything was in place. Now all they had to do was execute their plan.
Lee Shin Woo saw his subordinates yell vigorously, imagined the moment that he proved his ‘pride’ to the Giants and their resulting reactions, and laughed wickedly.
“Good. Then, shall we begin!?”
Finally, the curtain had risen; now, they would hunt one of the 12 generals in earnest.
In a place unknown, most secretly and splendidly.